Hey guys! First off, can you introduce yourselves and tell us your roles in the band?
Matt: Hey, I’m Matt and I play drums in The Dirt Radicals. I also do a bit of backing vox.
Mas: I’m Mas, I play the guitar and sing in The Dirt Radicals.
Sam: Hi, I’m Sam I slappa’zi’bass-mahn and sing in The Dirt Radicals. And write a lot.
With Enter Destroyer set to drop on the 25th, can you tell us a bit about the writing/recording process?
Matt: We started off recording in studios around the world. From Singapore to Tokyo to London… Using gear we love and people we want to work with. Then we took more and more control over the recording process until it was completely DIY. We always wanted it mastered at Blasting Room Studios. We love the albums they do over there, so we decided to get Enter Destroyer mastered with Jason Livermore. Go and check out what he has worked on… nuts!
Do you have any personal favorites off of the new record? Can you tell us a bit about those?
Matt: My personal favourite is 25, Alive. It takes me back to my ‘skater punk’ roots. It’s also the fastest song on the album.
Mas: Each song has a different story, background and message and I love them all and it’s the kind of thing that’ll change over time depending on your mood and such, but my personal fav’ at the moment is March April Maybe.
Sam: I’m with Mas on this one. But, I’m also really digging the set of balls The One That Got Away (With Murder) has on it. Just a bit more attitude’y and I think it’ll be a good ‘Live’ song.
Is there anything you did differently? What can your long-time fans expect from the new record?
Matt: We used one of those sub-kick mics on the kick drum. We’ve never used one before and it just opened up a whole load of control when it came to mixing drums. Other than that, a nice DW kit, and a selection of snares… Fun times!
Mas: I’ve almost always been the only guitarist in this band since our older days and so I’ve always had to keep in mind not to do anything that can’t be played live, like layers and harmonies that’d need more than 1 guitar to play, but with this record the songs are a lot more dynamic sounding and structured so I focused more on letting the songs have whatever they needed to have. The guys would come to me and say “Hey I think this part needs more depth?”, if we all agree then I’d go and record some clean arpeggios to add some depth. Turned out great and the songs sound epic as hell.
Vocal-wise, there’s a lot more going on as compared to our older stuff. With Matt in the ensemble, there is a lot more going on with vocal melodies/parts. Sam and I tried different techniques like the slides in The Greatest Depression Since The Great Depression and The One That Got Away (With Murder), and experimented a lot with our throats to hit a higher range like in iHate and My Everything.
Sam: I think fans expect to walk away from the album kinda confident in The Dirt Radicals? If that makes sense? We took a really long time making Enter Destroyer and I think people will be more willing to say they’re confidently a fan of the band after listening to it.
Sonically, what bands would you say are your biggest inspirations with this release and/or past releases?
Mas: I can’t really think of one right away as there are too many, but with the death of Tony Sly, I went over a lot of his music and realized how much I was influenced by him. It might not be anything noticeable but the ideas, his messages and everything. He was an amazing musician.
Matt: Yeah I have to agree with what Masashi said. I also found that I was just trying to be a more solid musician on this album. Just doing what is necessary and playing consistently – I think that comes from some of the latest releases of my all time fav bands like MXPX and NOFX.
Sam: One night Mas and I got pretty fucked up listening to The Wallflowers in my apartment in Chancery Lane, right above a Chicken Cottage. I think that was a really pivotal point in ‘making the album’ for us. The music was good, there was the smell of friend chicken in the air, and we kinda just spaced out listening to The Wallflowers’ One Headlight about 17 times. Sonically, I think we took a lot away from that night. We were also pretty messed up for about 3 days later…
You’ve mentioned that Enter Destroyer features a darker, rock-infused edge to your signature punk sound. Care to elaborate?
Matt: We never sat down and said ‘let’s write a dark album’… I’d say it’s just very honest. In terms of what we were going through when making it. It’s not all doom and gloom though.
Mas: As we grow up and get older we go through a lot of stuff and sometimes it can get pretty overwhelming that we forget what it was like when we were kids… Enter Destroyer to me is letting it in and accepting it in order to move forward with life.
Sam: Yeah, I’d say we still have that energetic punk rock vibe going on… It’s just gone in a new direction. I think we made a record that we would want to listen to as 28 year old punk rock fans.
Anything specific that inspired that change?
Matt: For me, I think we are just growing and with that our taste in music evolves. I think we are finally maturing? [Laughs]
Mas: Personal lives I guess. Moving out of Singapore and starting up new lives elsewhere has been quite a lesson.
Sam: I think the biggest inspiration for change in music style was our Live Show. I wanted to make sure we had some cool stuff to work with live.
You guys are now based in London. What’s the music scene like there? How does it compare to a place like Singapore and why did you decided to move there?
Matt: It’s pretty dog eat dog. A million bands, a million venues… It’s hard to get your head above the water.
Mas: There definitely is a wider scene there and bands are touring all the time so it motivates us a lot as a band.
Do you think growing up in a country as an expat that has shaped the way you’ve developed as a band and as musicians?
Matt: I wouldn’t know because I haven’t lived a different life to compare it to what I’ve been through. If you know what I mean? But if I had to guess – I’d say we had the same struggles (booking gigs, recording, making fans etc.). Just little things are different I guess. Like you can’t really hop in a van and tour Singapore. You know?
Mas: We got to go through lifestyles that I don’t think any international band has ever been through, and I believe it just adds to it.
On a more personal note, where would you do consider your “home country”, and why?
Matt: No clue! Haha. I’d say England is ‘home’ at the moment. I have my friends and family here. But I’ll also always consider Singapore and Australia home too. I grew up there!
Mas: I feel pretty safe being back in Nagano, my hometown in Japan although I’ve only lived there for 3 years throughout my life.
Sam: Cue the song Pop-Punk Left Me In A Pop-Funk off the new record to hear my answer in full…
[Laughs] Can’t wait to hear it. What’re some of your favorite things about being in a band?
Matt: Seeing someone in a crowd in another country sing along to one of your songs is pretty powerful. Nothing really beats it!
Mas: Being able to travel with my best friends, getting free drinks, driving in van for 15 hours and smelling like shit.
Sam: I think walking away from a real special show with Mas and Matt, and re-grouping, and being like ‘That was fucking awesome.’, and just partying together after the show. We have a few of those shows which we treasure pretty dearly.
Matt: A show we did with Sum 41 at the Hard Rock Cafe Singapore. It was my birthday, and the crowd was awesome. How can you top that?
Mas: Our first visit to Indonesia was pretty epic and memorable.
Sam: We did a small club show in Nagano, Japan last year which was our own headlining show. I just remember the crowd going nuts, and looking at the guys thinking how far we’d come with the most massive smile on my face.
Lastly, let’s talk about some firsts. How did your first band come together?
Matt: Going to gigs and making friends. [Laughs] Old fashioned. Didn’t have any of that ‘internet’ stuff back then!
Mas: We met at a gig when we were in different bands and found out that we lived close, hung out for drinks and jammed and bam!
What about your first musical experiences?
Matt: Playing the trumpet in a school band. I sucked and I hated it. Always wanted to be on the drums.
Mas: I think my first cry was in a key of Bb minor… Then I started learning the piano when I was 5.
Sam: I caught the drumstick at a Presidents of United States of America concert when I was 12. They were my favorite band in the world, and I remember just holding that drumstick for dear life thinking “That’s all I want to do. I want to be in a band.”.
Awesome. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us guys! Any last words you’d like to share?
Matt: Come down to one of our gigs and hang out with us. We love meeting people and trying local beers.
Mas: Thank you! Check out our stuff online!
Sam: Buy our new album on iTunes – it’s good shit!
Hey! First, let’s get formalities out of the way: could you guys introduce yourselves and your band?
Sure! We are Greg Martin (Guitar/vocals) Josh Loren (percussion), Carlos Nieto III (Bass/Backing vocals), Brian Martinez (Rhythm guitar) and our band is called Harmful if Swallowed.
Awesome! First, let’s talk about your impressive history. You guys were featured in tons of MTV shows. How does it feel to have gone through such amazing experiences?
It’s been surreal. To be watching an episode of Fantasy Factory or Nitro Circus and to hear our music come up in a random scene is the best feeling in the world! We have many of those episodes recorded for posterity.
You guys also toured with the likes of Green Day, Weezer, KoRn, and Bad Religion, big names in the music industry for sure. How have these unique experiences contributed to your growth as a band?
It has humbled us and made us appreciative of every opportunity we get to play in front of people. It has also given us a crash course in getting along with each other and taught us to always be prepared for the unexpected…Valuable lessons for any band.
Do you guys have any additional plans to tour anywhere outside of the United States?
We’ve been in talks with bands to do a mini west coast tour, maybe further down the line we might venture out of the states depending on if we hook up with the right booking agent.
Your EP, Allergy, was just recently released. It definitely sounds different than your previous work. How do you feel about the evolution of the sound of Harmful If Swallowed? Do you like the direction it’s going?
We’re so stoked about this EP! It has been a long time coming and by far our best sound to date. Allergy is the next step in our musical evolution!
You guys recorded Allergy with the help of Sunset Lodge Recording’s owner Chris Rakestraw and Grammy-winning producer Matt Hyde. How was that?
It was an amazing experience working with Chris and Matt. To be around that level of talent and workmanship was awe inspiring. We learned a lot from them. We had a lot of help from others in the music industry as well. Carlos’ old high school friend Oliver Charles, drummer for Gogol Bordello, lent our drummer Josh, some of his drum equipment, which upped our game immensely. Mr. Tio Banks, keyboardist from Duran Duran stopped in during our recording to lay down some sweet synth tracks!
Any favorite tracks on the EP, or just in your discography in general?
Each member has their favorite song or songs but over all we feel that our strongest songs are Sabrina, Allergy and Hateful.
What hobbies do you guys have? Besides, of course, making kickass songs and rocking out in front of your fans.
Greg DJs in his spare time, Carlos is a professional fine artist, Brian is a graphic designer and Josh loves astronomy.
How is the music scene in LA? Where does it thrive and where is it lacking?
Like anything else, you have to put the work into it in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That being said, the music scene out here in LA seems to thrive when it happens organically and for the love of the music and not for the money.
Any cool stories to tell about anything you guys have went through in the past few years?
We are a fiercely DIY (Do It Yourself) band so laying the groundwork for bigger and better opportunities are what we strive for. The people in the music industry that we’ve met and the connections that we’ve made with them have been amazing! Watching doors open via our own hard work is the best feeling ever!
Great! Last question. Favorite ice cream flavor?
That’s a tough one, it teeters between plain vanilla and Rocky Road!
Hi there! First off, can you introduce yourself and tell us your role in the band?
Hi, my name is Pat and I play drums in The Maine.
So, Forever Halloween is set to drop on the 4th. Is there anything on the record that you think will surprise fans? How do you think Forever Halloween compares to your previous releases?
I think the album has more of a human feel than any other album we have done in the past. You can feel the energy and the connection between five people playing in a room together. I would say that is the biggest difference between our past albums; this time we learned about a different way of recording that will change the way we do things from now on.
What’re some of the lyrical themes behind the album?
That is probably a better questions for John [O'Callaghan, singer], and I do not want to speak on his behalf. But to me, what I love most about John’s writing on this album is that it comes from a very personal place. Some songs are written in a more straight-forward way, where you can really tell that it is a story that happened, which I really enjoy.
Regarding the music, what are some things you guys experimented with?
We experimented with a bunch of different sounds on this album as far as guitar/drums/ and bass tones go. I think sonically there is more of a mood than anything we have ever recorded and I think that is because of some of the tones we used. We ended up making a pretty straight forward rock album and just did what we do best, which is drums, bass, two guitars, vocals, and maybe a little bit of piano here and there. I think we made a recorded that is pretty rounded, which I am really proud of.
What was the songwriting process like for this album? Has it differed from how you’ve written previous albums?
It was kind of the same way we have gone about the past albums besides maybe Black and White but John usually comes in with an idea for a song, we get in a room and work it out as The Maine. It is pretty simple and we just do what works for us, we all add in our own flavor on top of what is really John’s vision for a song.
What would you say were your biggest inspirations when writing this album?
Our musical tastes are always growing and changing so I do not think we could really pin point any specific artists but just rock music in general was an inspiration. Listening to albums that are not recorded to be perfect but to have a feel and a vibe, that is what we took inspiration from.
You recorded Forever Halloween on analog tape instead of digitally, what was that experience like and what brought about that decision?
It was an amazing experience, it brought us back to how it felt to record the first album in the sense that we didn’t know how the recording process worked and did not understand how things were go to go down. That is a really scary thing but it is exciting and brings something different out of you. You just kind of have to let go a little which lets you make more on the spot decisions. For me I have become so comfortable with how modern digital recording works that there isn’t any fear or worry about how the process will unfold. With recording this album live it was like starting over and learning a whole new craft which is really exciting and thats when the best stuff happens.
Do you have any personal favorites off of the new record? Can you tell us a bit about them?
I change my mind on this question each time I am asked it but right now I am going to go with a song called Blood Red this song goes from being a mess to all coming together and then does that all over again. It has tons of ups and downs and a lot of what we used on the song was kind of done in anger/a joke after a late night and it captured a mood that we could not have forced. I am very excited for people to hear thats song!
You guys has come a long way from Stay Up, Get Down, how do you feel your band has progressed and evolved since your formation?
The word I would use would consistent, we have continued to evolve with each year and each release. It has just been slow and steady and it all just goes along with we are getting older along with our fans.
You’re set to embark on tour with Brighten, A Rocket To The Moon and This Century this summer. What’re somethings you’re excited for about it?
Everything!! We will be with our best friends and playing some new music along with old music. It is going to be a great time.
Since we’re on the topic of tours, can you share a tour story with us?
A few months ago we were driving through Texas and a car coming the other way on the freeway flipped over into our lane and kid flew out of the back of the car. The kid landed on his feet and didn’t have a scratch on his body. We were able to stop in time and did not hit the car but we all got out of the van to help the people in the car and John was kind of shaken up by seeing the car flip over and the kid fly out that he passed out. It was a pretty crazy day to say the least.
That is insane. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Any last words?
Thank you!! Very excited for people to hear Forever Halloween on June 4th.
I’ve read that you wish to become a well-known musician not because of your basketball career, but because of your music, which is a very humble and grounded mindset to have. I’m just wondering though, has there been any overlap between your music career and your basketball one?
Music was always in my blood. When I played basketball, music was always my sanctuary. I never thought about making music as another career but it happened organically.
Did you ever think the nickname “The Spin Doctor” would extend outside the basketball court?
It’s very ironic but never thought it would.
What was your first exposure to music? Could you tell me more about the “music rooms” in your homes?
My parents were music enthusiasts. They would play classical music, disco and other genres always at the house and my dad would always play his guitar. When I turned 14, I wanted to get my own equipment so I saved up my money and bought two turntables and a mixer at first, then turned a storage area into my own club. All my friends would come and hang out for a nominal fee where I would play the music and with the money made I would upgrade the lights and sound. As the years went by and I started playing in the NBA, I would always turn one of the rooms in my house into a music room and invite friends — only difference was that it was free of charge.
Your music seems to have a very wide spread of influences. What was your favorite era of music and what influenced your sound the most?
I grew up on disco, early hip hop and early house but always had a wide range of musical taste from ethnic, tribal, rock to classical.
What has been your favorite moment in your music career so far? How does that compare to your favorite basketball moment?
Nothing compares to the adrenaline of sports. Music is a hobby, sports is my love. The highlight of my musical career is when I released my first track and thought it was so surreal.
What’s next for you?
I am enjoying the moment. Not looking ahead just yet.
How do you feel about how the way the NBA Finals ended this year?
I have my special ties with the Miami Heat as I was the number 1 pick in that franchise’s history. So it’s very satisfying for me personally to have seen the transformation of the franchise from its inception to champions.
Thanks for taking the time to chat. Best of luck with everything, Rony!
Below, you can see my interview with Emerald Ruins. There’s no denying his talent (listen to “Find Out” and “Stay” below) and considering how young he is, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll have a long and productive career ahead of him.
You’re 15, correct? When did you start producing and how did you learn?
Yes, I’m 15 years old — think I started producing at around age 13. I don’t really remember what inspired me at the time to want to start making music but it must’ve been something dope, I was a big Ja Rule fan at the time, as was everyone else, so no doubt some heavy influence comes from them. I downloaded the FL Studio demo and shit was a headache, and since I was using the family computer which was in the living room, I couldn’t really be on it too much to play around on it cause someone always needed to use it. So it wasn’t until like 14 that I knew about mixing and mastering and effects and all that producing bullshit that keeps a song from sounding good to sounding amazing. Now, I’ve learned my way around the program and making music is funner because of it.
Where do you find your samples?
I find my samples everywhere man. YouTube, vinyls, forums, cassettes, CD’s, 8-tracks, commercials, toys, outside, anywhere — I hear a dog barking and look up dogs barking on YouTube and add that in my music, I play a video game and hear some spacey ambient shit and look up the soundtrack and sample that. Samples are everywhere mayne.
Is it hard balancing your music with school or are you able to keep both of those worlds fairly separate?
It’s not really hard balancing the two: if you took music away from me I’d probably still be getting the same grades I get, which are mostly C’s.
What’s it like working with Lil B, perhaps one of the most prolific artists currently out?
Working with the Based God man, it’s pretty dope cause now I have that under my “belt,” nahmean? Like if I want to work with someone I can say, “I’ve worked with Lil B,” and that’ll like, increase the chance of them wanting to work with me. Pretty cool.
Are you two working on anything else in the future?
Lil B has told me to keep sending him beats. He gave me his other contact info so he still wants to work with me, which is cool. So yeah, we’re working on some stuff.
Do you think you’ll be able to take a similar route as Clams Casino did after working with Lil B?
I sure hope so, Clams Casino is probably my favorite “new” producer at the moment, hearing rappers over his dreamy-spacey ass shit is like, fresh, you know? Like it’s something different and I really like that, I hope to take the same route Clams did and end up working with some really buzzing up-and-coming artists. Only time will tell I guess.
You’re young — from your perspective, what’s right and what’s wrong in the music industry today?
The music industry, well to be honest, me being as young as I am, I don’t really see much wrong with it other than Pitbull, that cat needs to chill it ain’t funny anymore DALEEEEEEEEE MR 305 WORLDWIDE enough of that shit. Oh and there really isn’t much variety in mainstream radio music, it’s mostly all generic house, but I dig most of it. Overall I think the music industry is fine, I read and hear from many industry artists that the industry is evil and fake and all that but until I experience that myself, it looks like an okay thing to me.
Where do you hope to be in about a year’s time? Are you hoping to turn this into a career someday?
In a year, I hope to have a pretty good following, artists everywhere wanting to work with me, and just you know, being bigger than I am now. That was my goal last year, and now I’m doing interviews like this, working with Lil B, getting my music posted on the Weeknd’s tumblr (which doesn’t exist anymore, sadly), more rappers asking for beats than last year, and basically am bigger than I was last year… so I’ve accomplished last years goal, now to double that this year, we’ll see how it goes, haha.
Anything you want to add?
Not much, thanks for the interview, and to artists: send me a message or tweet or anything if you make good music and want to work with me! Would like to thank everyone who been supporting me and listening to my music, who been sharing my music, giving feedback whether it be positive or negative all feedback is appreciated, thanks to my fam they dope and supportive, everyone who’s been apart of my music all of that, thank you and keep looking out for me and my music! Thanks.
You guys have come a long way since releasing 2010′s Undeclared. What’s been the biggest change for you guys in terms of your music career?
Definitely the release of The Drive In. That was our breaking point and took us to a new level. The buzz we got off of that, an average artist would get from two to three well-marketed mixtapes.
When we released The Drive In and followed it up with the Pledge To Rage tour we got a sense of the appreciation for the project and really connected with our audience. It’s been a lot more personal ever since.
How did you balance school and music when The Dean’s List really started picking up?
It was definitely late nights and a lot of work. Some of us were still working one or two full time jobs as well. We really had to prioritize things and there were late nights with homework and what not, but it came to the point where we started to make a living off The Dean’s List and that became a priority.
We didn’t feel that the courses we were taking were really teaching us the modern music industry and were learning more on our own so we figured we should go more in that direction.
How hard do you think it is to stand out as an artist nowadays, when anyone can pick up a mic or a computer and start making their own music?
It is definitely really tough. People try hard to emulate an artist they look up and that often leads to copying them. A lot of people lack original material and just become a mimic of their favorite artist. We think you have to listen to a lot of different music and make YOUR music. It’s important to stay true to what you want to do and not be phony or fake.
What are you guys listening to right now?
Right now we are definitely listening to a lot of Florence & The Machine, Kanye & Jay-Z, John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix, classical music, Bob Dylan, The Beatles… and we listen to this type of music because there is more that goes into it and that is what we are looking to develop with our sounds. It’s more evolved than a rapper rapping over a beat.
What’s your favorite Dean’s List song so far?
Mik: I would have to say “La Vie.” I worked really hard on the mix for that, a lot of these techno tracks we can do a lot of production but it’s the mix that really brings it together.
Sonny: My favorite song to date is “The Dream” because it’s the most honest, and a very self-motivating song to me.
Mendoza: I would say “Burn It All” or “Dear Professor,” they have great stories behind them and were big songs for us. They are always great to perform and people recognize the song as soon as it drops.
If your new album Generation X were a person, who would it be?
It would be a hybrid between Will Smith, Steve Jobs and JFK.
Why did you choose to name the album Generation X?
The album Generation X really stemmed from the fact that we had the generation before us and we are a product of them and those that came before them. The melting pot that leads to us.
You guys just recently released “Youth”. How did you guys decide on using that song as the lead single?
It really fits what we are trying to accomplish. A big thing we discuss and stand for is the youth of our generation. Not giving a fuck is a theme of Generation X and this song represents a few sides of that mentality.
Will there be any samples on the new record? “Dear Professor” found a lot of love when it was released.
There will be songs in there that sound like there might be samples but they are actually not. We manipulated things to make them more us. There will be no samples on the album!
I’ve heard that a Dean’s List clothing line is now in the works. Can you provide any details about that and what we can expect to see?
We’re working with a lot of different artists. One of the main ones we’re working with is called Bandulu as well as Mendoza’s grandfather, who is an artist in a New Mexico. We are going to put a stylish twist on our merchandise and not make it just a “band store,” but something that stands alone and makes a statement. The clothes will be something our fans can feel a part of and represents them.
What are your next plans for your music?
There will be a lot of music videos off of Generation X. It’s all about Gen X now! We plan to do a video for every song.
Thanks for taking the time to talk. Any last words?
Can you first state your name and role in the band?
I’m Nicholas. I play guitar and sing and do just about everything you hear on the recordings.
When and how did Kent State begin?
Kent State began as a side project to my 80′s punk/hardcore band Deep Sleep. My love for Guided By Voices and a friend giving me his dusty four track recorder inspired me to start messing with home recording. After about a month or so I came up with the Spahn Ranch EP and I’ve been writing and recording daily and have released 5 more EP’s. In October, I moved to Los Angeles looking for warm weather and a change of scenery. I’ve teamed up with some friends I’ve met along the way through Deep Sleep and will hopefully be playing live soon.
What is the music scene like in LA and how does that affect you?
I’ve just arrived and have been to a few shows but don’t really know too much about the scene. I’ve already seen some rad stuff that I never would have seen on the East Coast. We are having a blast out here.
What is the meaning behind the name Kent State?
I hope to conjure up dark imagery with the name, lyrics, and mood of the songs in Kent State. The name is referring to the Kent State massacre which occurred May 4th, 1970 at Kent State University.
You have done some split albums with Doleful Lions, Airlooms, and At The Heart of The World. What is your take on split albums and how does it affect the style of the music you produce?
I wanted to release my own stuff and thought I’d start out by doing tapes. I asked some friends who also were doing home recordings to do splits with Kent State. The whole thing snowballed into a three tape set. If you put the Kent State recordings together, you could also consider it our nine song full length. We have them all up separately or together as Past Lives on our bandcamp for free.
How does being more independent affect the production of your music? Would you choose to sign to a record label if you had the opportunity?
I’ve been writing, recording and touring with independent punk and hardcore bands for years. I prefer the D.I.Y approach as I like to have as much creative control with the art and music as possible. After a few months of releasing stuff for free online I decided to make the jump to physical releases, which is what brought about the split tapes with Airlooms, Doleful Lions and At The Heart of The World. There were a few labels who got in touch but they weren’t interested in keeping the music free online so I decided to do the tapes myself.
Will we be seeing some new material coming soon?
I am always working on new stuff and putting free stuff for download on my blog/Bandcamp on all of the time. Hopefully some vinyl by the end of summer.