We got together in about early 1994. Jeff Hamm, Kenny Swann, and myself, the three guys in the band. We had another guy with us at the time when we started playing the clubs and whatnot. We had a demo that we were kicking around. Sending it to some different indie labels and ended up getting signed with TNA Records out of Dallas, Texas, New Mexico, and Arkansas. One of the guys from the label saw us play at a club in Dallas and liked what he heard. He liked the demo and we went from there. After we got signed, we started releasing CDs for them and we’ve been with them ever since.
He saw you at Dallas City Limits, wasn’t it?
Yeah, that was a funny deal. We were opening for Joey C. Jones And The Glory Hounds at the time in ’94 at Dallas City Limits. He just happened to be there and he liked us. He went up and struck up a conversation with us and it was real cool. He enjoyed the music, he like our stage show, and Mark Lee is his name. He was one of the first people who really believed in the band. They were just getting started at the time. We were one of the first people on their little indie label so that worked out well for us. Actually I’ve known Joey for a while. He and I played in a band together right after The Glory Hounds and it was just called The Joey C. Jones Band and then basically changed their name to Crabtree. I was playing bass with him and playing in The Pozers at the same time.
I remember all those incarnations of his band. Every time I go to see Warrant or Broken Toyz I see him there. Didn’t he have some kind of a record deal?
Yeah, he’s had a lot. The Glory Hounds were signed to a label out of L. A. I don’t think they’re around anymore. It was Tony Nicole Tony Records.
That was the label Peter Criss was on.
Peter Criss was also on that label. That’s right. They were with them and I think they did that one CD. Then the label fell apart and the band fell apart.
Actually about that same time KISS was asking him to come back. That was the deal with that I think. You guys have basically put out four CDs and a video. Tell me about the video.
It’s just a little indie thing that we did. We had some time off after the last full tour that we did and we had the ideas about doing some sort of video. We really didn’t know what we wanted to do and then a couple of guys that we knew and ourselves started writing this Spinal Tap type video. We did it ourselves. In fact we did it without the record company’s money. We just did it with camcorders and had a screen up with a bunch of different actors. It was this little indie thing that we did. We really didn’t want it released. It was something we just did for our own creativity and then we showed it to Mark at the label. He thought it was pretty funny and he said “we’ll go ahead and put some packaging around it. If it sells, it sells. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” We didn’t sink a whole lot of money into it but it’s okay. It’s just something we did for our own entertainment.
Did it sell?
It sold a little bit. The people who were diehard fans bought it but we were really stressing the fact that this was very independent because you never what people are going to think when they buy a video. We definitely didn’t put forth a whole lot of dough to get the point across. It was just a little creative thing that we thought would be fun to try. It may be a rough draft for a future project with a bigger budget. Like if we decided to go and take this strip and do something else with it. We could show some professional people that actually work in film what we have an idea for and they could take that and upgrade it a little bit.
You’ve got a degree in literature, Jeff reads a lot, and the other guy dabbles in arts and video stuff.
Yeah, yeah. I majored in English in college and I’ve got my Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in English. It’s a unique spin for a rocker. Kenny is real well read as well but he’s more of a computer guy. He’s probably about a semester or so away from a Bachelor degree in the computer field. He went to college and he just stopped going but he’s very computer literate. Of course Jeff went to the Art Institute of Dallas and studied art and things like that. We have a diverse background between the three of us.
The songs on your CD are so versatile. What are some of your musical influences?
I think all three of us have a common interest in The Beatles obviously. We like all of The Beatles. We all tend to like a lot of the same bands. We have different influences. We all of course come from that ‘80s background. We all came up in the late ‘80s with the hair bands and stuff like that. We really were into that at the time. I think probably if I’m speaking for the band, somewhere in between The Beatles and old KISS. Somewhere in there are The Pozers. We enjoy good lyrics. We enjoy trying to make our lyrics have a little depth to them. Probably more depth than the general hair bands had but we also like the rock and roll like heavy guitars and heavy drums. Kind of a cross between heavy music and then melodic melodies is I guess where we are. When you listen to the CD what jumped out at you? Like the style of music, what did it remind you of?
Definitely a touch of Beatles influence. Each song was totally different from the other but yet they all flowed together real well. It wasn’t like you had a certain amount of tracks of filler material or one track sounded like another. The CD holds the listener’s interest because you don’t know what the next track will be like.
Right. Our last CD or the CD before Cover This which is a cover tribute album that we had been doing. We’re The Pozers And So Are You CD was even more so versatile than the last one we put out. We didn’t really realize at the time because we like versatility and we like different styles of music but a lot of people don’t. A lot of people like that real core sound as far as the songs sort of sounding alike or the style so we tried to make this new style have a little bit more of a thread between the songs. There’s still that versatility but we tried to have a little bit of a similar sounding production going throughout. It is versatile. I think another thing that makes it versatile is we all three write and we all three sing. We’re not the typical band where the lead guitar player writes the music and the singer writes the lyrics and the band just works it up. Us three actually bring in finished songs and show them to each other and then we record them. Although our styles are similar, they are going to be a little different as well.
That definitely has a lot to do with it because if everybody in the band writes, each person has different ideas and different influences, and they bring something different to the table. Where does some of the inspiration for your songs come from?
That’s a good question. I think different things. For me the music usually just comes out of playing. Sitting down playing guitar or playing the piano. Just messing around and then you’ll come up with a riff. Lyrically, usually I like to be inspired before I write lyrics because if I’m not inspired to write something I just feel like I’m forcing it. Lyrically for me usually, whether it’s a dream I might have had or a memory of something or maybe just something happened to me or some experience that happens on a daily basis or something, I want to write about it. Then sometimes I just write without being inspired. It’s different every time and I think the other guys are pretty much the same thing. Usually the lyrics are always the last things we write. The music’s written first with the melody and then you try to put your lyrics to that particular melody.
Each one of you plays numerous instruments. Do you guys stick to your main ones on albums?
Right. That’s an interesting question. Going into this album, usually we don’t. Usually when we go into the studio we all play different things while we record but this last album that we did, originally we had a fourth member who had finished the last tour with us that we did. When he was in the band, he was on the video that we did and he was on Cover This so what we were going to try to do for this last album is go in like a real band and record like a real band. I was going to play all the drums, that other guy was going to be just the bass player, then Kenny and Jeff were going to do the guitars. Between them they both play guitars. We really rehearsed for about six months trying to get all of the songs down tight and then this other band member left the band and moved. It threw us into a predicament because we had all intentions of going in, recording as a band, and then going on tour as a band like this. We wanted the album to reflect the live show and vice versa. After he left we just scrapped that and just went into the studio and recorded like we always do. I did all the drums and all of the bass. I think Jeff actually played bass on one song on the CD. He already had a part worked out and I said just go ahead and play the rest. Usually rhythm guitar, depending on who wrote the song, is usually the rhythm guitar player of that particular song. That’s how we record in the studio. It’s like whoever wrote the song usually plays the main rhythm part just so they don’t have to show the other person how to play it. Kenny does all of the solos though. That’s one thing he does. He’s the lead guitar player. That’s how we do things. Usually what we try to do is whoever is singing lead on a song, the other two will be the backup for that particular song.
You own your own studio called The Music Room. Is that a main source of income for you?
Right. It’s a 50/50 thing. There was actually a short period of time when we weren’t on TNA Records because as you probably know most labels only make their money on the group touring or playing live shows because the sales of any indie merchandise isn’t going to keep a record company afloat. They make more money when they get you out in the clubs playing. We had been touring pretty much nonstop since ’94 and after the last tour ended we were just completely burned out and the record company wanted us to go back in and do another record. Then we’d have to promote it and we didn’t want to go back out and hit the clubs like we’d been doing so basically it was like “well we’re not going to give you guys any more money to make an album if you’re not going to go promote it.” We said okay, well cool. At that point a friend of mine who had owned a recording studio was looking into going in the business at another location and so I was moving into another house that had an area specifically for a studio set up already. He and I just went in together and opened our own recording studio and we’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. We record a lot of different people, various styles of music, whatever. After I opened a recording studio I called Mark at TNA and told him “look we’re going to start recording again. We’re not going to go out and tour like we used to. Just leave for months at a time and then come back but we may do some shows. Are you guys interested in promoting our music?” He said sure because he wasn’t having to put up studio time so that worked out for us. We recorded the last album at our own studio. We produced it ourselves and then they paid for the production of CDs which doesn’t cost a whole lot and then of course we’re working with them again. Yeah, we’ve had the studio for a few years now and it’s doing real well. I can’t really complain.
What kind of gear do you endorse and why?
In the studio I guess a lot of gear. We do probably for our guitars Marshall amps. I’m not real technical. I’m not going to be able to quote off the exact model numbers but we’re pretty much straight Marshall amps. Gibson Les Paul guitars. That’s pretty much our guitar tone. We have some variety of bizarre guitar settings that we use in the studio like we’ve got a Digitech rack. We’ve got a Rockman XPR rack. We’ve got some Zoom effect pedals. Those are the main ones that we use to record. We also use some other stuff like a Rickenbacker electric 12-string if we need a 12-string on a song. Drums, we’re using triggers now. We’re using the Alesis DM5 drum triggers for our drum sound in the studio and the Roland V drums are what I use in the studio as well. Now live I use a Pearl drum kit with Sabian cymbals.
I hear about the pros and cons about triggers. Some people don’t like them and other people do. Why do you use triggers specifically?
I love the drum effect racks where we can pick different sounds that we want for our drum kits. I don’t like triggers because they don’t a lot of times catch all of the notes. You’ll hear it and it might catch some or it double trigger adds some. I don’t like triggers so that’s why I went ahead and invested in the Roland V drums which they look like drums, they feel like drums, but they’ve got a mesh head and they’re really just one big trigger is what they are. I went ahead and invested in those. They were close to about 2,000 dollars for a full kit because we already had the racks we were using. I went ahead and got those because I got tired of using the triggers to get the sound and since I’ve gotten these V drums I love them. I mean it catches every note you hit and it’s just like playing real drums. The main reason I like it is because I like a variety of drum sounds. I might like an Eric Carr drum sound on one song but I want a Tommy Lee drum sound on another song. I want a diversity of sounds. You really can’t do that with miced drums unless you’re in a really, really, really expensive recording studio with an unbelievable producer that knows how to do that. If you do get that, he’ll probably suggest rack effects anyway because that’s what I found out later on a lot of the Motley Crue stuff from the ‘80s were triggers. Tommy’s using samples and things like that so I like the, I guess, user friendliness of being able to just dial up an effect and get a different drum sound. I can get an old school drum sound or I can get a techno sound or I can get a really heavy metal sound or a dead jazz sound by just moving a button. I still get to play normal. In fact I use live cymbals. We use overhead mics from live cymbals. I just get to have the different drum sounds at the touch of a finger so that’s the reason I personally use them. This is the first album I’ve ever used those on. The last album we used live drums and in fact, I borrowed this 10,000 dollar DW drum kit from a buddy of mine that had one. I wanted to use it on the album and it sounded great but unless you’re recording in a 150 dollar an hour studio, some really big studio, that has somebody that’s producer, you’re not going to be able to get the most out of the drum. The studio we were in was a good studio and it had a decent producer but it just didn’t sound the way I wanted it to sound so after that experience I decided to go ahead and go the electronic route. I think probably when you listen to our CD, did you think anything particular of the drum sound? What were your thoughts of it in general since you’re a drum person?
I noticed a variety of different drum sounds. I was impressed with that. I couldn’t tell that it was electronically done.
Right. Back in the ‘80s, a lot of times unless you had the money, a lot of the electronic drums in the ‘80s sounded electronic. Sounded really kind of fake and keyboardy, keycheesy. The ones they’re making now, I’ve got some effects on there that are just hilarious. There’s one effect called “broken down drum set” or “pawn shop drum set” and you hit the snare and it just rings. It sounds like an old broken snare. Technology is just amazing on what you can do nowadays and then for 500 dollars or 1000 dollars you can get that effect and pretty much sound just like something you would get if you just miced up an old broken snare. I’m not a purist. I just want something that sounds good and the pure thing is great for people that want to just have everything real and everything miced but for me, my main concern is making it sound good. I just want it to sound good no matter what we can do. Now I do have my standards. I don’t want to have programmed drum tracks from a computer or a keyboard. A drum machine. I don’t want to do that. I want to be playing the drums and everything on the album was me playing the drums. There wasn’t any keyboard stuff.
You just want it to be able to go along with the material that you’re doing at that point.
You guys released an album called You Just Don’t Get It Do You. Tell us a little about the album.
Of course the title goes in with our sense of humor. You’ve got to have a bit of a sense of humor if you’re going to call yourself The Pozers anyway. That’s a musically derogatory term but for us it was something satirical. Something sarcastic to say because we played melodic rock and in the early ‘90s if you played melodic rock, a lot of times you were just labeled a poseur. So we had that thing and we answered the same questions over and over. A lot of times we answer things like “why do you call yourselves The Pozers? Are ya’ll really poseurs?” We thought that this album would be funny just to call it You Just Don’t Get It Do You just because we feel like sometimes people aren’t getting the point that we’re trying to do. We have a bit of a sense of humor about certain things. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and I think you can see from the album cover, it’s an unusual cover with the band members or the whole album concept of us being laughing on the cover and then the audience not laughing at all. Then we’re in black and white and the audience is in color. There’s a lot of contrast there and then you turn the album over and we’re gone and then the audience is laughing. Almost like we’re one step ahead of the critics. I like all of the songs on the CD for different reasons. I’m always fascinated by other people who listen to it. I get more interested in what their favorite song is because we get too close to the songs. You write them and you record them and you release them. You’ll be thinking this song is a good song and that will be the song that nobody really likes. They like some other song over here. Do any jump out from the CD that you remember?
I liked all of them for different reasons. “Corporeal Cell” really stood out to me. I also liked “Superficial Superman”.
It’s interesting you say that. “Corporeal Cell” probably would be the one that I’d have to pick as a release if we released a song because that has been the most consistent of the feedback I’ve gotten. Depending on the circles we get in, if it's the rock and roll circle and we have a diverse following anyway. There’s some really, really Beatlesque stuff on the tape and The Beatles people tend to gravitate more toward it. The song “So-Called Friend” got a lot of reaction on the Internet and the people that were fans of ours. I don’t people would like that song unless they are really into that genre of music. “Corporeal Cell” has been one of the few that’s been just consistent with most people. “Superficial Superman” has also been a pretty big favorite. I would say the three biggest as far as feedback goes has been “Corporeal Cell”, “So-Called Friend”, and “Superficial Superman”. Then after that it’s anybody’s ballgame.
“Little Mary Sunshine” was one I liked too.
Yeah, that has a funk groove going there. There’s pieces of ‘80s on there I think. There’s songs that remind me of songs that could have been in the ‘80s. I think “Little Mary Sunshine” probably could have been a song in the ‘80s.
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s why it grabbed me.
We even took a funny little shot at the rap rock thing. I don’t know if you heard it or not. That hidden track that we had. There’s a hidden track. I think on the CD it’s track 31. After it gets past track 12 there’s these blank tracks up until track 31.
That one caught me by surprise because I didn’t pull it out of the CD player after “The Secret Life Of Tiffany Gramillian”. I did hear the hidden track.
It’s about the rap/rock thing and the rap movement and we thought that would be funny. Then we have a lot of people saying “man there’s something wrong with this tape. After 12 it goes a long time and then some rap song comes on. It’s obviously not you guys.” No, actually it is. We’re just being smartasses.
I can do without a lot of the rap rock but some of it is kind of cool. People groan but I like Linkin Park.
It’s kind of ironic. Lyrically, the lyrics are talking about grunge overtaking glam. There’s some shots in there about Cobain killed the singers and shredders and there’s some little funny, sarcastic lines like that throughout it. It’s very ironic because it’s a rap song but it’s talking about glam and grunge. It’s a little different but we had a fun time doing that. It was so easy. It’s always neat to hear somebody do something completely different than what you’re used to hearing.
Are you guys doing any gigs right now?
Right now we are in the process. We’re rehearsing as we speak. We have another bass player that we’re bringing in to go play live with us because we don’t like playing as a three piece live. It’s just hard to reproduce our songs that way. We brought in another bass player and we’re rehearsing right now. Hopefully by the end of the summer we’re going to start playing consistently again. We’re probably not going to go out on the road like we did in the past. Just go and leave unless of course we get picked up on a really big tour. We’re going to start playing the clubs again and start trying to promote this album. We’ll probably do some gigs with Joey C. Jones and his band and we’ll probably do some gigs with a group called Cherry Blossom Clinic. We’re trying to stay with bands that are similar in genre as us. That have the same kind of musical style. We’ll probably do something with them and those guys are playing all the time. Dave is a complete workhorse. I get emails from him all the time and they’re playing all over the place. I think I’d rather just make music and release it. I’ve played so much in the past that I can take or leave playing live but I also want to get the music out there. I want people to hear the music and enjoy it so we’ll probably go back out. The Pozers haven’t played a live gig since ’97. It’s been a long time. We were getting booked in clubs where there was a death metal band that played before us and then we would play. Then there was a rap/rock band after us. The crowd was just so split up. The people who played death metal hated us and the people who played rap/rock hated us. It was just so frustrating. Now there’s a lot more power pop bands out there doing similar stuff like what we’re doing. That’s cool to be able to play with bands that are similar to what you’re doing. Kind of like in the ‘80s. You could put any band together and their fans usually liked each other. Great White fans like Motley Crue and Motley Crue liked Tesla. It was just this big happy family.
I actually appreciate a wide array of music. I like to go to Ozzfest and see all the wild, weird shit. Most people aren’t like that. They are embedded in one particular area and they aren’t going to stir from that. You’re not going to get them to dig death metal when they actually like Barry Manilow.
There’s a lot of close minded people in the world. I’ve got a wide variety of music that I like. Of course you probably heard that on the CD with the diversity but a lot of people aren’t like us. There’s a lot of music out there. The Internet’s really completely changed the way music can be promoted. We’re able to now that we got hooked up with mp3.com, our music’s out there now 24 hours a day and anybody that wants to go to that site can go listen to the songs or download the songs for free. You’re able to get your music out to a lot more people than you were say five or 10 years ago.
Speaking about MP3s and being able to download songs off the Internet, a lot of bands are getting into an uproar because they feel that they’re music is being downloaded for free and therefore these people won’t go out and buy the official CD. How do you feel about people being able to download stuff off the Internet?
I see both sides to be honest with you. For any band it’s great. If I hear of an indie band griping about that it really doesn’t make any sense because indie bands are bands that are trying to get their music out there. They’re trying to get heard because the more people that hear it, the more people that will like it and maybe buy it. If they don’t buy it, at least you’re getting free press from it. Now the big bands have a legitimate argument because they are losing sales. It’s a situation where “why buy a CD when you can get it for free?” A band that sells 10 or 15,000,000 records every time they put one out or Metallica or whatever, they are losing a lot of money. Somebody else can argue that well, they’ve already got a lot of money. Why are they griping? I see both sides of it but for us, we don’t mind if people go and download. We put the songs out there for them to download if they want them because we’re just trying to get the music out right now. We’re not selling a whole lot of CDs anyway. We’re not selling millions so I think for us it’s better because if the people really like it, a lot of times they’ll buy the CD anyway just to have the artwork. The J-card. You still don’t get that on there. With mp3.com what we’ve done is, you can either stream it or download it. However they want to do it. It doesn’t bother me that they’re getting it for free. If we didn’t want that we could change it.
To me it’s an opportunity to listen to a CD before you buy it. You’ll know you actually want to purchase it. When you purchase the actual CD, not only do you get the artwork but you get an official product. I think people will always abuse things.
When you think about it, it was no different in the ‘80s when people had cassettes. You could dub a song on cassette. A friend of yours buys a CD and you dub the songs. That’s pretty much what it is nowadays but it’s just with the Internet, it can be at such a bigger scale. People are getting thousands of songs a day if they want them. I guess I can say it could be a problem. It’s tough. I see both sides of it. If you really think about it, it’s like a store holding this big sale and they’re practically giving away a certain item and they’re not making a lot of money or any money on this one item that they’re putting on sale but that brings everybody into the store. When they come into the store for that one cheap item, they may purchase other items in the store. You make your money there. By an Eminem song or a Metallica song getting really big maybe they’re not making a lot of money on that single or that album but maybe they’ll make a lot of money on the tour because all these fans that are downloading the songs will come out and see the band.
Touring is the only way the band really makes any money. I’ve read where bands get two to five cents for each CD that gets sold which isn’t much money. If you want to make money, going out on a huge tour is where you’re going to cash in.
Yeah, you’re exactly right. That’s like us with The Pozers. We were able to do this last CD and record it for free in my studio so that got the record company off our back because if a record company invests 10 or $15,000 or more in recording time, they’re going to want to get their money back. Really the only way they can get their money back is for the band to be touring. When we played with The Pozers, we were making a lot of money at the shows. Management did a good job booking us as far as making sure that we were paid decent as far as it goes. We sold a lot of merchandise at the shows too. Yeah, you’re right. You make a lot more money playing than you do with the CDs. Plus it’s just hard for an indie band to sell a whole lot of CDs anyway. It’s funny. We sell a few thousand every time we put one out but that’s not a lot in terms of the big picture. The thing I like about it is the people that buy our music are the people that really dig our music. That’s neat because you how the bandwagon is. People jump on the bandwagon. When a band starts getting big, all of a sudden all of these fans come out of the woodwork.
It’s kind of amusing. Each decade goes by and when the decade is over people talk about how much they hated the last decade’s music even though during that decade they loved it. It seems trendy to say that.
You really start seeing people who are strong in their convictions. You see people that liked the 80’s then. What happened? Did they find a new bandwagon to jump on?
Any other comments or ideas?
I think we’re definitely proud of the CD. I think from talking with you, one thing that I am proud of, love or hate our CD we were able to put out something that musically we believed in. Lyrically we believed in. We like the CD. We were able to put out a CD that if we bought it in the stores from the style of music that we like, we would have liked the CD. If nothing else, we were happy with it. Also I think from just talking with you, when you listen to it you don’t immediately say “oh they’re trying to sound like somebody.” I think we have our own style. “They’re trying to be Nickelback. They’re trying to be Kreator.” There are a lot of bands out there that sort of sound just alike. I think that one thing I feel about us is you can tell some of our influences but there is no band you can just directly say “they’re just like this band.”
You hear tinges of influences on different songs. Nothing like “oh that could have been The Rolling Stones.” I think the reason a lot of bands sound alike is because they figure they can only sell records if they sound like Creed or Silverchair. I don’t think it’s intentional.
That’s true. That could be a point. If we were really interested in doing that, I think that it would be a completely different band. We don’t want to completely alienate anybody as far as the music, but in the same respect we want to try to stay true to what we like which is heavy guitars, melodic vocals, and decent lyrics.