Russ Stevens - Drop

April 13, 2004

Tell us about yourself aside from being the new vocalist.

I've been in bands playing music since I was 10 years old and my dad was a musician. I've been writing songs ever since I was in grade school. I was in another band prior to this one out of Chicago that did pretty good called Bunker Hill and I played at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland. I also play guitar. I've played SXSW and I've done a lot of touring on my own. We've been working real hard with this new CD we put out. It's just been leaps and bounds. Within the short amount of time I've been in the band, it's just done a complete circle and we're just moving ahead. It's nice to see that happening and we're having a lot of fun doing it.

Tell me about Suckerpunch and how it deviates from the first two albums the band put out.

Well, besides me being the new vocalist I would say it's a little more rock. Heavier, more adventurous I think. I think we've taken some time towards thinking about trying to keep continuity or trying to keep a direction but at the same time trying to do some things that are a little bit different. I would say one of the most noticeable changes would be a lot more background vocals and variations in singing. A lot of times when I go to record vocals or to write vocals or anything like that, what I'll do is listen to the song, set up a microphone in front of my face, and whatever comes out I record it. Then I'll go back to that later and put those parts and pieces together. I do that because I write more from my subconscious mind than my conscious mind and it took me a long time to break into that. That's the way I do it. Just blurting stuff out and recording it and then you later on listen back and go "hey, that's pretty cool." That's not something consciously that I can do. I can't sit down and write a song. I have to subconsciously do it. I keep it real for myself really. Back to Suckerpunch, I think that falls into play with everybody in the group too as far as of the song writing and in its entirety. That we did it more as "this is a fun thing and let's have a good time and let's keep it real", that's pretty much how it came out. Suckerpunch is just "here we are, bam."

Did you do a lot of the lyrical writing on this one?

Yes, I did everything. I wrote all the lyrics and all the vocal melodies. There a few tracks that I wrote entirely. Guitars, bass, drums, and everything. We also collaborate together. There are parts and pieces that each individual writes and I think it's more of a collaboration than anything.

They let you have a lot of creative license this being the first record you've done with Drop.

Yes. They held the door wide open for me which was great. I've known these guys for quite a while prior to me being in the band. I always knew how they operated and what they were about. I had an opportunity and they gave me a call. It was great for me and it was great for them and it just gelled really good. They already knew what I was all about and I knew what they were all about so I think that had something to do with them leaving that door open for me as well. They knew me prior to me being in the band so I think they were a little bit more secure with having that door open and letting me have that creative time with my lyrics and things like that. I do get a little wild but that's a good thing. I would think that was one of the noticeable changes to the group as well. It's some of the heavier edged stuff. I can go from a whisper to a scream which it says that in our bio. That's true, I do that. I like to scream. Sometimes I feel like screaming but sometimes I want to sing too and I think the mixture of the two is a good marriage for the songs. That's the direction that I go. We don't really have a direction. I would say that our direction creates itself which I guess we do have a direction then. What I mean to say is again we don't sit down and say "okay, let's try to do this" or "hey, let's try to do that." This is stuff that just flows naturally. It's been a blessing for me because it's so hard to find the right guys and I really, really couldn't be more happier than I am now. The progress we've been making. The crowds are getting bigger. The CD's selling. Merchandise sales are up. It's just really, really great and the response at our live shows is great. The energy on stage is good. Everything's great. It's a great day.

It is just great. This is the band's first national release. Is there a chance of the first two having the same kind of opportunity?

There might be later on. That depends. Me personally because I'm not on them, of course I would want to focus more attention on the album that I'm on. Later on, who knows? I don't know at this point. To me, the direction of the previous albums is different. It's not me on there. None of my creative expressions are on there. I don't think that it's entirely impossible to see that come out later on in the future but I think we're going to concentrate more on this album. Had those albums received a nationwide distribution, then it would have been a different story.

Is there any reason why they didn't?

Maybe because I wasn't in the band. I'm just kidding. I don't know. Actually to a degree that might be a little bit true. I think that they needed me and I needed them. I think it's the same reason that some of my previous releases from other groups haven't gone on to be nationally released. I think it's a chemistry and I think that we've tapped into that. I think that some people have noticed that and want to help us more now because I think that they've noticed that chemistry. I think that something's going on. There's some magic happening.

You guys have been compared to bands like Godsmack, Black Sabbath, Drowning Pool, and Alice In Chains. Are these bands major influences.

Oh yeah, that's right up my alley. I pretty much like everything. Everybody in the band pretty much likes a variety of music. When people ask us who do we sound like, we want to have a realistic answer to that question than be straight up. The worst thing we could do is mislead people and I don't think that would help our album sales at all. But that's it, yeah. We definitely have our own sound. If you listen to it side by side you would definitely hear our own sound. That's what we could be compared to as of right now.

The Drowning Pool guys are from my area.

Actually before I got into this band I was trying to audition for them.

Your album is not overproduced Pro-Tools and studio enhanced stuff. Do you guys pretty much do your own production?

Yeah, we have a guy named Ron Gonzalez who owns the studio that we did our recording at. I've heard some of his previously released stuff and I was always very happy with the production that he had done. I think that's why we chose to go to his studio. He knows the band. He knows what we want. We pretty much tell him what we'd like to hear on the album and give him freedom and control as far as the production goes. It was great. I've been into multi zillion dollar studios and came out with turds. To me it doesn't really matter where you record it, it matters who's behind the board. In some circumstances. I'm not saying that you can record in your basement and have the same thing as a multi million dollar studio. I'm saying that you can go to two of the exact same studios and come out with two different completely sounding albums.

I think sometimes if you go to a lower budget studio, that person may be more interested in what you're doing.

I agree. You're absolutely right. Of course.

If you go to a multi million dollar studio, this is usually someone who is used to getting paid big bucks and it comes out really quick.

Hurry up and get out of here. You're exactly right. I've done both and I genuinely think it's the amount of time that was spent on it as well. I should say that there was quite a bit of time spent on the production but not overly produced. We wanted to stay away from the overproduction, over saturation, over thinking the album. It's the same thing with our song writing. Everything flows free and everything is first impression stuff and it works for me. I think when you start analyzing your work no matter what it is, it gets destroyed especially when you form a part.

Bruce Springsteen once put out an album called Nebraska. It was something he just recorded on a home recording type thing instead of using a studio. Out of all the albums he put out aside from Born In The USA, that one's my favorite.

That's funny you say that. I have a studio and that's where we rehearse. I also record there. I have a Tascam Adat and I've recorded some stuff on there that just blew me away and then later on I'll go to the studio and try to redo it. It just doesn't sound the same and I'll have to keep doing it and keep doing it. Sometimes that magic comes through because I think you feel uninhibited in your own place and you're a little bit more relaxed and a little bit more in tune with your surroundings. I think that has a lot to do with it. I definitely hear what you're saying with that. I've done a lot of my own recording. I remember recording on a Tascam little four track with a cassette tape years ago and coming out with stuff and going "wow, that sounds great." It's just one of those things.

Sometimes stuff off the cuff comes out better than something you've been practicing on.

Totally. I think that's what it's all about. Especially in rock. At least that's how I've always written. We write like that as a band. It's like "hey guys, let's jam and record this and let's have fun." Then we'll listen back to it and put it together and that's how we've been writing. It's just been working. It's just been a freight train nonstop. Nonstop writing. Creativity is going crazy right now and it's a lot of fun and we're just getting larger and larger audiences. I'm blown away by it myself. I've been at it for so long and to see it starting to take off now and to do good and to have as much fun as I'm having is wonderful. It's great. I couldn't ask for anything better.

Your first release is going to be "What You Say" and you guys are doing a video for that. Do you know when you'll start working on it?

Yes, we are. It's in the pre-production stages as far as just throwing ideas around at this point. The video stuff for me, I personally don't like to put a story behind a video. I'd rather just have the band keep it as little of a story as possible only because I don't want preconceived ideas of what the song means. I think that ruins songs. You might think a song means one thing and really, really like that song. You might be in love with that song and then all of a sudden you see the video and you go "man, that's not what I thought."

Songs mean different things to different people.

I agree and why squeeze the life out of it. Keep it an art form.

A video is one thing the song could mean but I don't necessarily feel it really means that. It's just a video director's idea of what he or she thought it meant.

Exactly and that's usually what it is. You're right. For me, I like to keep it a band having fun. Band doing goofy things and band having fun again.

Some of the best videos I like are the ones where the band is basically on a stage playing their instruments. I'm not really into videos where the band members act out roles.

I think it's really hard to make a video like that. I think that there's a real fine line between success and failure with your video if you're going to do something like a movie video. It might flop and there you go. You put all this time and effort into this thing and now look. I just want to jam and have fun and that's what we're all about and I want that to be expressed. Not only on our CDs but with our video and anything else we do. I don't want to analyze it.

Let's not get too anal. You guys are releasing a DVD in the fall.

Yes, we are. I don't really know too much about what's going on with that. I think it's just going to be a lot of on the road stuff and concert stuff. Drop having fun and Drop having a good time and this is what we've been doing and our fans and different cities we've been to and some of the audience. The clubs and concerts we're playing. Festival stuff is probably going to be on there too. Probably a lot of that.

Your record release party will be on May 8th.

Yeah, Tower Records and we're doing a live show there actually. We're bringing in our own sound. It's going to be an hour and a half and then we're going to be doing an after show party signing. It will be a pretty large event so a lot of people from around here are going. It should be pretty fun.

It looks like your touring schedule this spring and summer is pretty heavy.

Yeah, and it's growing too. There's more stuff that's going to be coming on there too. We just found out we might tour with Godsmack , Tantric, and Soil at the Tweeter Center. I'm not sure at this point but it could be a good possibility that we might be on that show. I'll keep my fingers crossed real tight.

You're doing an NHRA event in California.

I can't wait for that. It's cold as hell over here right now. We're doing two days.

Two days in California, one day in Texas, and one day in New Jersey.

It's going to be fun.

Racing is very cool. I'm a huge NASCAR fan. Any other thoughts or comments?

Thank you very much for the opportunity of having us. We really appreciate it. Thank you again.