by DJ Ray
On Tuesday, November 20th, I had the privilege of interviewing Deal Casino before they played at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. A huge thank you to Jon, Joe P., Chris, and Joe C. for the great conversation about music, the importance of playing live shows, experimenting with sounds, and robot hot dogs.
JR: I’m Jon Rodney and I play the bass guitar.
JP: I’m Joe P., Joe Parella, and I play guitar and sing.
CD: I’m Chris, I play the drums and I’m crazy.
JC: I’m Joe C., and I play keyboards and guitar and percussion stuff.
WMXM: Awesome. So before I get into questions about music, I did read in an interview that you were talking about touring across America, you were gonna try as much pizza as you could, or something along the lines of that. (band agrees) What kind of success have you had in that so far?
JP: Once, in Denver.
JC: Denver! The pizza was amazing.
JP: And it was amazing, but it wasn’t.
JC: Yeah, I mean it was like…
JP: I guess when you go anywhere besides New Jersey and you like pizza it’s like you’re just trying to get as close to the New Jersey/New York style. And yeah, nothing’s done it but Denver was the closest and it was good. I think at the end of the day, pizza’s pizza, but there’s a lot of Midwestern pizza that’s really bad. Like actually just bad, which is weird.
WMXM: Have you had any Chicago pizza recently?
JP: No, that’s what we gotta try after the show, I think.
JC: Deep dish? Is that really good, or…?
WMXM: Some people have different opinions on it.
JP: People hate on it.
WMXM: Some people are like “It’s good,” some people are like “It’s like a casserole” because there’s so much in it.
JC: Yeah, I want to try that.
JP: Maybe after the show, we’ll be able to.
CD: [To JP] It’s the ultimate thick crust for you, boy.
JP: Yeah! I like thick crust, so that’ll work.
WMXM: Nice. Alright, for those that maybe don’t know the band or haven’t heard the story of how you got your band name, how did you come up with the name Deal Casino?
JP: The whole story – we were always gonna always tell a different story every time, but it’s just too much effort. There’s an actual place called The Deal Casino in the town of Deal, which is right next to Asbury Park, which is where we live, and we named [the band] that before we even lived in Asbury Park. Honestly, it was a matter of going around in a circle, coming up with different band names, and for some reason that stuck out and everyone was like “Oh, okay.” I don’t know who said it, but someone said Deal Casino – I think it was The Deal Casino – and we were like “Oh, okay, that sounds kinda cool.” And we were getting so frustrated because any band name sounds really stupid when there’s nothing attached to it, we hadn’t made any music really yet, it just made no sense. So we were like “You know what, the next thing that sounds kinda cool, we’re going with it,” and someone said that and we were like “Alright, The Deal Casino.” And then we decided to just drop the “the” because…
JR: People would do that automatically.
JP: Yeah, people might do it automatically. So it’s literally just a matter of ‘it sounded kinda cool’ and we actually knew that it was an actual thing that existed, so it was tangible in our minds. We could think about it and be like “Alright, we know it’s a real place.” That’s really it, there’s no significance to it, really, but that’s kind of it.
WMXM: Did you debate any other names? What do you think you’d be called if you weren’t called Deal Casino?
JP: Literally nothing.
JC: I forget the other names.
JP: I don’t think we had any other…yeah, I can’t remember one. That’s how desperate we were.
JR: Yeah, we were like “Ah, whatever, let’s just go with this.”
JP: We were just like “There’s nothing that sounds cool, let’s just pick the next thing,” and that was it. So yeah, I don’t know. We would’ve probably come up with some really stupid stuff by that point.
WMXM: Also, with the genre of music that you play – that was another thing I read about, that it’s kind of hard to put something under one genre – if you had to create a name for the style of music you make, what would it be?
JC: Billy (from The Wrecks) said something good the other day.
JC: Yeah, he said something real good, I forget what it was.
JP: Was it serious?
JC: Yeah, he was serious. It was either Billy or Tanner. Someone from The Wrecks came up with a really good genre.
CD: Should I call him and ask him?
JC: Yeah, call him up.
JP: The songs are pop songs for the most part, I would consider it some type of pop. I don’t think we’re trying to be all ‘indie, under-the-radar’ kind of band. We’re sitting on a tour bus right now, we’re definitely trying to succeed, you know? So I guess it’s alternative, but that doesn’t even mean anything anymore ‘cause alternative used to mean something but…I don’t know. It’s rock. It’s pop. It’s pop rock.
JR: (laugh) It’s Pop Rocks.
JP: There’s little elements of alternative/indie, so it’s like alternative-indie-pop-rock, which all used to be opposites of each other.
JC: Yeah, there we go.
CD: Spotify has jammed us into indie pop now.
JP: Oh, that’s nice.
CD: So we’ll stick with that. Let’s stick with that, indie pop.
WMXM: It’s interesting that you said the thing about alternative because I took a class where we were talking about genres of music and they said alternative did used to mean something, but now what is it the alternative to?
JP: It just means there’s a guitar. Like, Imagine Dragons is probably considered alternative rock just ‘cause they have a guitar player.
WMXM: I think they are considered alternative.
JP: Right. But to me, that’s just very, very pop rock right now, it’s three-minute songs that are designed the same way a Katy Perry song is designed. But I feel like if you go back to the 90’s, alternative rock was awesome ‘cause it was like, Radiohead…you could even consider Pearl Jam or Smashing Pumpkins alternative rock ‘cause it wasn’t…what was main rock in the 90’s, what was pop rock in the 90’s?
CD: Well, it was called alternative not because it was different than. Nirvana was called alternative because it wasn’t like-
JP: Michael Jackson?
CD: It wasn’t glam. (agreement from band) It was coming out of Poison and Mötley Crüe. The Seattle guys like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, it was an alternative to that, coming out of the 80’s. So it’s not an alternative, it’s basically music with guitars, you know? The guys from Badflower were trying to explain to me last night the difference between what active rock is.
JC: Active rock?
CD: That’s what – so, things that are on rock radio, they’re called active rock. It’s so confusing, it really is ridiculous.
JP: Honestly, there’s no rules anymore because it’s just about –people want to hear something new and s***, so you could just make a song that sounds like hip-hop with guitars in it and then people might say “That’s the biggest rock song right now” or “That’s the biggest hip-hop song.” Like, there’s just…there’s no rules. Kids aren’t held down by one genre anymore, they’re all just held down by specific tiny bands that no one knows about. It’s very cool to have your very own tiny, “only-you know-about-them” band. I feel like the further you go back, you keep seeing, collectively, everyone liked one band. Everyone loved Nirvana, everyone loved…you know, Michael Jackson, and I feel like now there’s not one band that took over or anything like that.
WMXM: This is probably different for all four of you, but how did you know you wanted to be a musician, performing on stage the way you do?
JC: I guess, in middle school and high school you play in bands and it’s a lot of fun. And then you try to go to college, and then you’re like “Alright, this isn’t that fun.” Then you’re like “I really love music” so you just kinda go for the whole music thing and hope it takes you the right way. ‘Cause then you just have this itch always if you’re not playing music, and you’re like “I want to play music.”
JP: Yeah, it’s definitely a very out-of-control thing. I don’t think you can look back and know why you chose to do music with your life. If you’re doing it the right way – I think if you are completely out of control, and this thing is causing you to sleep on a bus with fourteen people, and you’re like “Why would I want to sleep on a bus with fourteen people and eat oatmeal out of a Solo cup?” I don’t know, but you don’t hate doing those things. If you had to do that for some other reason, like some type of corporate job or something that you didn’t like doing, you’d be like “I’m not gonna do that.” You realize how okay you are with all these really terrible things. It takes a toll on relationships in your life, it takes a toll on obviously making any form of money. So you realize there’s all these really crazy negative things that surround it, but you still wouldn’t want anything else. It isn’t much of a conscious decision, I think. And that’s why I think when you’re a little kid, that’s why you fall in love with it. It’s ‘cause that’s when nothing matters, there is no money, there are no problems. So if you maintain “the same thing I liked doing when I was three years old, I’m sitting on a bus still doing now,” that’s good. Happiness is in there somewhere, if you’re in search of that.
CD: I don’t know what it is, but it keeps you coming back. I mean, I hate this, this sucks.
CD: I love playing with this band so much, the next time this opportunity comes around I don’t even have to think twice about it, I’m just gonna go do it, you know? There’s like basically nothing else about this that is enjoyable. Like, off days laying in a hotel in Iowa watching Harry Potter.
JP: Well that’s kinda nice, though.
JC: Watching Harry Potter and going to a vending machine, away from all the things that you love and are near to.
JP: But the funny thing is that all the people that are the same age – if you look on Instagram – they have houses or they’re getting married soon or all those kinds of things, I look at that and it’s the same. To me, that is how they would feel about, like, “I’m not eating oatmeal out of a solo cup, you know, that’s crazy.” But to me, I’m like “I don’t want to f**kin’ just have a job and drive to work every day and be miserable and make a ton of money or whatever.” It’s the same thing, one is just more socially justified and kind of glorified. So when you tell someone “Hey, I’m in a band” – like, you could tell someone we’re having so much success right now with this tour ‘cause it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us, but literally being extremely happy about that and explaining that to someone – let’s say like a 50-year old guy or someone like that – explaining that to them still to them sounds like “Okay, maybe you should start thinking about your life and get it together.”
JR: Yeah, like when you see extended family on holidays and stuff like that.
JP: Right, they’re like “Oh, why don’t you try out for The Voice?” You know, stuff like that. But another person could be right next to me and talk to that same 50-year old guy and say “I’m working at this place 9-5 and I’m a junior this or I’m at a desk just doing this, I just got a promotion or whatever,” but they’re really bummed about it, they’re not actually that happy. They would get more “Oh, that’s great!” and more attention on that because it seems like you have more of your life together. There’s so many of those people that are miserable. Just ‘cause they’re working at a job that most of the rest of the world does, it’s okay that they’re miserable, and it’s always swept under the rug. But if you’re extremely happily doing this, people still want to be like, “What are you doing with your life?”
WMXM: Like, “Try to have a backup plan in case this…” It’s always one of the biggest responses, “Make sure you have something else in case this doesn’t work out.”
JP: If you have a backup plan, that’s the first sign that you’re not really into the first thing. That’s what I always thought. “Make sure you have a backup plan,” is like…this is already impossible, to try to succeed at this. So to have a backup plan, you’re just halfway in halfway out, you’re not gonna do it. You have to be completely head-on; you might crash and burn or you might make it, so you gotta go for it.
WMXM: You just released an album called LLC, it’s been out for less than a week right now. How does it differ from any previous album that you’ve made?
JR: We kinda just wanted to take the reins ourselves and just change it up and not really let any outside influence take control over what we kinda wanted to do artistically and creatively. So we locked ourselves in a studio in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina and just kinda went crazy and…this is what happened.
CD: Joe and I had the “Would you listen to your own band?” conversation and the answer was no. Yeah, so let’s make a record that we would listen to, and that’s what we did.
JP: And that’s when you make your best stuff, usually, when you’re doing it for you.
CD: Yeah, just make a record that you would like. I mean, it’s a f**ked up question to ask yourselves, “Do you like your own band?” I bet a lot of bands would say no.
JP: I mean that’s like…because it’s like your voice, like, I don’t like my own voice. When I hear my own voice, I’m like “Agh” and then someone would be like “Oh wow, you’re a great singer!” and I’m like “What are you talking about?” Or the same thing with anything else, whenever someone tells you that they like something that you do, you’re kinda like “Oh, weird, okay.” It’s what you want, it’s weird ‘cause it’s our goal. We play a show and we hope people are all stoked, but when they’re finally like “That was a really good song!” we’re like “Oh,
alright, we just – we’re just trying.” We think everything we do is just an attempt now, I think. It’s very hard to be like “We finally made the song that we’ve been trying to make, or the album.” It’s always like “This was a better attempt than the last attempt” but it’s never 100% satisfied, which I think is good.
WMXM: What was the hardest song to write on LLC, would you say?
JP: Hardest in the sense of, it took a lot of time?
WMXM: It can mean anything, whether it was how much time it took or lyrically, maybe?
JR: Maybe “Happy People”?
JP: Yeah, probably.
(Aaron Kelley from The Wrecks enters the bus, everyone says hi)
JR: But yeah, probably “Happy People”, right?
JP: Yeah, I think “Happy People”. Because it was very easy to go down a road of…
JR: It took the longest. It almost had, like, a funky kind of thing.
JP: Funky. Like, John Mayer-y, almost. It was very guitar-y and it just wasn’t that…it was a cool song that we knew had potential, but we were like “This doesn’t sound that cool.” The other songs immediately had a thing about them.
CD: Kind of like trying to pick your outfit.
CD: You know what I mean? “How do I want to look when I go out today?” You know you’re cool, but sometimes you whiff on the outfit.
CD: It’s true. So that’s what we did, we tried with that song.
JR: Yeah, so much.
CD: And it just got changed, like four times.
JP: Our producer Erik Romero had a huge part in making it work. The most classic use of a producer was in that song, ‘cause it was like the band had completely lost sight of how to make it better or worse. And then he came in with a fresh set of ears and eyes and was like “Oh, let’s just do this,” and we were like “Oh, my God, how did we not think of that.” It wasn’t like this genius thing that no one could’ve thought of, it was just like he was able to see it from a different point of view and he knew how to make it sound the right way. So I guess that one was hard to make fit with all the other ones.
WMXM: Yeah, I can see where sometimes you become unsure-
Everyone: Bless you.
JR: Thank you.
WMXM: Because you’ve heard it so many times, you just need someone who hasn’t heard it.
Everyone: Bless you.
JR: Thank you.
JP: Yeah, exactly.
WMXM: Everybody has a very different process when it comes to creating a song. Was it super different with LLC because you were trying to make something that you liked, or was it kind of the same?
JC: On the last record, we had to run everything through someone else, so that made the last one really difficult. We fought with ourselves and this other person that we were working on the record with, so this one I felt like was just all about us and Erik [Romero] helping us, so…totally different process.
CD: The process wasn’t entirely different, there was just no stop-cap that we would use on this record where it’s like, you know, as far as, like, our writing and demoing process, all we did was just go record the songs that we wrote. Our previous process was like “Okay, that’s cool, well, how do you make this…U2?” You know what I mean? You don’t.
JR: U2 is U2.
JP: I think on the first album it felt more like we were trying to write things or trying to record and produce things that were achieve something that we had listened to. Which I think is cool, you’re always trying to do that, you’re inspired by the bands, but this second album is much more like…we didn’t know what we were doing.
JR: Yeah, where should we go?
JP: We were like, just kids having fun and it felt like just playing around and experimenting, and that led to a more unique sound because there were no rules, there was no objective. The objective was just to have no objective and have fun.
WMXM: Cool. So this can either be used on the album or when you’re touring, what kind of equipment do you use? How much equipment?
JP: A lot.
CD: Do you wanna write this?
(more laughter) JC: Oh God, no, you don’t have to, it’s too much stuff.
JR: You don’t have to.
JP: We’ve just for some reason become comfortable with using equipment that’s not practical. When you’re on the road or you’re touring or moving around, it doesn’t make sense to bring this because it probably will or could break and if it breaks, that song can’t work anymore. There’s so many variables, where there’s now a lot more digital-type things that you could use, it’s foolproof. You put a laptop on stage and hit play on it and you know it’s gonna work, and your light show is tied to it; there’s a lot more ways to be positively sure that it’s going to work. The way we do it is a little more like “This could all fall apart,” but that’s kind of our sound. We think about the whole “playing to a click” or “playing to a perfect thing” and we get anxious thinking about it, ‘cause it’s a scary idea of trying to keep up with something even though it’s a gridded thing for you.
JR: Yeah, if one person thinks three is four and they come in early, then everything just gets messed up.
JP: We’ve seen it happen.
JR: With us, it’s just so nice to be able to – someone’ll look over and be like “Oh, can you…?”
JP: He makes a face.
JR: Yeah, we’re so well with communicating with each other without even talking, someone’ll make a face and we’ll, like, draw out the outro of a song. With tracks you couldn’t do that ‘cause you’d have to stop.
JP: Right, yeah. So the equipment is very…obviously guitars and amplifiers and bass, that’s very simple, clic. Guitar pedals and things like that are nothing crazy, nothing that no one else has ever used or anything. Then on this new album we wrote a lot of parts using synthesizers and really strange sounds that you couldn’t recreate. I have to play guitar and sing, Jon has to play bass, Chris has to play drums, so Joe became not just “second-guitar-guy” anymore, now he’s much more like, “Oh, remember all those parts we put in that one song? You’re the only one
who can do it.” Because I can’t look down at pedals and tweak them, I have to sing; Jon has to play bass ‘cause if bass is gone it feels really bad; and [Chris] is obviously playing drums. So Joe now has like eighteen different synthesizers (laughter) and plugins and pedals and everything, and he has to set them up for each song and it’s so much work on his end. And those parts are really essential to it, so he has the most equipment. And it’s not easy equipment, it’s very particular equipment.
CD: But everybody that walks by it looks at all our s***and says “Wow, you guys do that?” And that’s very validating.
JP: When other musicians do that, yeah, it’s cool.
CD: Yeah, I really obsess over my drum gear, I’m on some new bull**** every day. Like, I bought some new s***today. People walk by me and they’re like “Oh, your s***sounds great.” Yeah, f**kin’ spent a lot of time on that. Like a lot of time and energy on it!
JR: I love nothing more than when someone asks Joe a question about “The Box.” They go, “What’s the box?” and then it’s just like a whole tutorial.
JP: He explains it and they’re like “Okay, nevermind, I’m sorry.”
(laughter) JC: Yeah, and I like teaching people stuff but I have not figured out a way to explain this synthesizer to people that don’t understand synthesizers, it’s so hard.
JR: Yeah, the other day at breakfast you were going through all of these different things – oh my God, Westen (from The Wrecks) was probably like “What is going on?”
CD: Yeah, he got up, paid his check, left, [Joe] was still talking about it.
JP: Yeah, so the equipment thing is really important to us because it’s a very tangible and for-sure way of feeling unique. It’s like “Hey, no one else knows about that good synthesizer, no one else can plug all those things in and know how to use it.” It doesn’t mean your songs are better, it doesn’t mean you’re better at anything, it just gives you this mental thing, like “Oh, this is me, this is my thing.” It’s like why sports teams have different colors of jerseys and things like that, it gives you your identity. It doesn’t make you a better football or soccer player or anything like that, but it puts you in a state of mind of like “Okay, now I can be Joe C. with this box” and like, that gives you an edge rather than feel like, “Oh, I’m just another person with a guitar doing the same four chords as everyone else.” It doesn’t make the songs better, but it makes our mental state a little more unique to us, to ourselves.
WMXM: And I did hear something about – I have no idea, I’ve never heard of these – robot hot dogs?
JP: We’re trying to make them famous, so this is good.
JC: This kinda ties into the whole “Box” thing, the synthesizer box. We watch a lot of gear videos on YouTube, so we’re always like “This thing that this guy did in this one YouTube video’s cool, how can we apply it to our band?” Especially when we’re writing new songs, trying to change it up, add some new stuff. So we built this contraption where we have a battery attached to a drumstick with aluminum foil-
JR: Here it is. (laughter)
JC: -and then a piece of wood with aluminum foil on it, and all these wires that go to this box, the synthesizer box. So it looks like hot dogs, I guess, ‘cause they’re drumsticks, but robot hot dogs, ‘cause they’re metal?
JP: I think they’re robot hot dogs because a robot would eat them.
JC: A robot would eat it, yeah.
JP: That’s why, not because they’re metal.
JR: Or what about like – it’s like a robot’s whoo-hoo.
(lots of laughter)
JC: Oh, a robot’s hot dog…
JP: Well, there you go. Robot hot dogs!
(more laughter and robot noises from JR)
JP: Really all it does is make the opening drum beat from “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. This crazy, convoluted way to do that.
WMXM: Yeah, cool. Um…that’s not the answer I was expecting. (laughter) But still, awesome!
JP: Yeah, no one was expecting that. (laugh) Yeah, robot whoo-hoo.
WMXM: I’m just gonna be laughing about that in the middle of your set. JP: Oh, please do!
JR: All of a sudden you’ll see him start playing it and I’ll be like “Woo-oh!”
JP: Yeah, feel free to holler that out.
WMXM: Sweet! So you’ve been touring with The Wrecks now, it’s not quite halfway through the tour-
CD: Feels like we’ve been gone for a f**kin’ month.
WMXM: I mean, November right now feels like it’s been going on forever.
CD: Okay, so it’s not just me?
WMXM: Yeah. (laughter) Yeah, so how’s that been? How has it differed with other tours you’ve done? What’s it like?
JP: This Is like the best thing.
JR: It’s absolutely amazing. This is like the first tour we’ve ever done.
JP: Yeah, it really is the first real thing we’ve ever done.
(Billy Nally from The Wrecks enters the bus)
JR: Billy! Yo, what was – what would you classify us as?
JP: Billy, what was the genre you had for us?
JR: You said something good, you said something real good that you’d classify our music as.
Billy: You’re puttin’ me on the spot.
CD: I’ll ask you tomorrow morning before blunt number one.
CD: Yeah, that brings me back.
(Billy leaves the bus, we forget the question)
JR: Oh, yeah, it’s great! (laughter)
JP: It’s insane, it’s the best thing in the world. The idea of people, just, guaranteed being at the shows is like, very new. Like, usually, it’s like, “This show might be really sick, this show might be really bad.” These are all like – people are waiting outside right now as we speak and it’s like, “that’s insane.” Not for us, but it’s still very cool. There’s people there and they all love music. And it’s cool ‘cause they’re younger kids, which is different than when you play for people our age or a little older because those people are much more, like, snotty. ‘Cause they’re just very like “Impress me,” you know? These kids just wanna have fun, and they love music and they’ve already listened to the album before they’ve ever seen us. They care.
CD: Yeah, this is not like “What time does the headliner go on?” These kids have been out in line all day, you know?
JP: Yeah, these kids know the words to the songs, and it’s just like…it’s just been great ‘cause we’ve never experienced that, where it’s just a guaranteed great show every night where the crowd is awesome.
(Tanner enters the bus, everyone says hi)
JR: That’s our tour manager, Tanner.
WMXM: Hey, Tanner.
WMXM: Now, like you said, it’s awesome to be touring in this band with bands like The Wrecks and Badflower; if you could choose any band – they don’t even have to be together anymore – one band to tour with, what would it be?
JP: It’d have to be Radiohead.
CD: Yeah, it’d have to be Radiohead.
JR: Oh, I was gonna say Foo Fighters, dude.
JP: Foo Fighters would actually be – honestly, yeah!
JC: It’d be sick to tour with pink, uh, Pink Floyd.
JP: Oh, that’d be so sick!
JC: I feel like that’d be cool for us.
JP: Or P!nk. JC: Or P!nk.
CD: I’m gonna go Lana Del Ray.
JR: I was gonna say Taylor – I was just asking Joe, Taylor Swift.
JP: This is my – okay, so there’s different answers to this question, where it’s like-
JR: The dog! The Saint Bernard dog! (howling noise)
JP: I would want to tour with Radiohead just to hang with Radiohead, I think that’s about it. And just talk to them about stuff if they’d talk to us.
CD: He says that, but every time we go to see Radiohead, he realizes that he’s not entertained by them.
(Photographer enters the bus, we say hi)
JP: Radiohead’s just kinda boring live, but they’re still my favorite band. Anyone that would take us out, I think. We just want to play, like, Madison Square Garden.
JR: Anybody, everybody. Like Wiz Khalifa?
JR: That’d be chill.
WMXM: So when it comes to touring: While you’re touring, what’s the thing you miss most about not touring? But while you’re not touring, what’s the thing you miss most about touring?
JR: I don’t know, I like this a lot, this is great.
JP: I think meeting new people, easily the coolest part of this. Even more than playing, just like meeting people afterwards and they’re like “Hey, I’m from…Wisconsin.”
JR: Yeah, I would miss just playing all the time. But being on tour I miss, like…
JR: Taking a shower every morning and-
JC: The pow-pys? (puppies)
JR: The pow-pys.
CD: Yeah, we miss our doggies.
JR: Doing laundry, like, when you kinda need to and stuff.
CD: I’ll be pretty honest about it, I f**kin’ hate being away from home. I absolutely hate it. I love my band, I love my apartment, I don’t like going out anywhere.
JR: Comfy Chris?
CD: Yeah, Cozy Chris. This is the antithesis of everything that is other than me that goes on the stage, you know? My favorite part of being in a band is playing, but I like making records. If we could figure out a way to do that and make a living at it and never ever have to go on tour, that’d be so sick.
JR: Yeah, that’d be so steep.
JC: I love playing out.
CD: I guess I do too, but it’s not my favorite part.
JP: To me, whenever I get into the dark zone where I’m like “What am I doing with my life?” it’s when we don’t play shows for a while.
CD: Yeah, it’s good for the brain chemistry.
JP: Yeah, if we haven’t played a show for like two weeks – you could play the worst show for like two people that were like “You suck!” and you’d still be like “Now I know how to do this with my life.” But like, if you don’t play a show for like two weeks, everyone starts to like, get mad at each other about stupid s*** and you start – you start to overanalyze, like, things that don’t matter with the band, like “We need to, uh, work on our social media!” (laughter)
JP: “We should do this!” Nah, you shouldn’t do anything, you just need to go play gigs.
JR: “Go play, shut up and play the hits!”
JC: We didn’t play for two months straight, it was f**kin’ bad.
JR: Yeah, it’s crazy! (laugh)
JP: Yeah, and it works every time when you do play because when you start, you start for the only purpose of playing shows and playing in a garage with your friends. When you’re in middle school, like you were saying, you literally don’t think about writing, you don’t think about anything, you just go play cover songs, you don’t care. And you go play somewhere and you’re like “Whaaat? This is the best thing in the world.” As it goes on, there’s more pressure, slightly, where it’s like “Yeah, it’s about having fun and playing music,” but you kinda have to be more aware of “Alright, well, what song are you gonna play first in the set?” ‘Cause that has a lot to do with whether or not people stick around after the show. “Should you wear this? Is this cool? Should we stand for this?” There’s a lot more things that go with it as you progress and you lose sight of like “Oh, we should just play music for fun.” And then once you go back to that and play a show, it all goes away. But like Chris said, a very small part of being in a band is playing music. Like, we play thirty minutes. We drove up, I don’t know, whatever many hours, and you play thirty minutes and you’re done.
CD: Yeah, thirty minutes. The other twenty-three hours and thirty minutes are just bull****.
CD: Not this interview.
JR: Not this, no, not this.
CD: Interview’s a half hour, so twenty-three hours of bull****.
WMXM: Yeah, alright!
CD: No, and I went to Chicago Music Exchange and that was f**kin’ sick, so it’s really more like twenty-two and a half hours.
JC: But then we went to Guitar Center and we got some sick stuff, so it was really twenty-two hours.
CD: But then I had a taco over there, that was pretty sick too!
WMXM: Thinking back, what would you say is the coolest performance you’ve done yet?
JR: Throughout our career or this tour?
WMXM: Either one.
JP: It would have to be on this tour.
CD: It’d have to be on this tour, yeah, it’d have to be on this tour, nothing has come close.
JC: The big venue, uhh…St. Louis.
Band: St. Louis!
JC: St. Louis was so sick!
JR: The quarterback for the St. Louis Rams actually was there!
JP: Was he?!
CD: They’re not even in St. Louis anywhere, they’re in f**kin’ LA, dude!
JR: Whatever, dude!
CD: Yeah, it’d have to be on this tour because we have some big, special moments that have happened in the past, but now I think back to them and we’re like…
JP: Not that big of a deal?
CD: Not that big of a deal, or playing songs that we don’t give a s***about.
JP: This is the first time we’re playing songs that we love and that people are going nuts over, and we’re like “This is it.”
WMXM: When it comes to – a lot of people, they’ll discuss what happens if you get stage fright, or being nervous about performing. Do you ever get that, and how do you deal with it if you do?
JC: Everyone has a different way of doing it. Every time I’m really nervous, I yawn a lot, it’s really weird. So then I drink a lot of coffee, but I’m not tired, and then I just bug out during and after our set.
JC: That’s my personal nervousness. It’s really weird, it doesn’t make any sense.
CD: Uh…I don’t get nervous at all. I’m more nervous about being a human than I am about being on stage.
CD: Yeah, seriously. I’m just trying to clean myself or…I’m bored or-
JC: Chris is a downer, this whole interview!
JR: Every night, Chris goes “I’m bored!” and just goes to bed!
JC: “I miss my dog!”
CD: Yeah, it sucks! I miss my dog, I don’t like staying up late, that’s when I’m trying to sleep and the f**king bus is rocking. That’s what I’m nervous about!
JR: Yeah, it’s rocking ‘cause we’re playing rocking music!
CD: That’s what I’m nervous about, that s***! Go to do the gig, it’s the best part!
JR: Yeah, the other night I was actually scared to be on this bus because I was, like, lifting off from the bed in the back! It was crazy! (laughter) CD: I got up in the middle of the night last night and I actually spent a good hour and a half while Dennis the bus driver is just cruising through a Wisconsin f**kin’ snowstorm. Total
whiteout, there’s accumulation, and he’s just cruising this bus in the middle of a two-lane highway.
WMXM: Oh my God…
CD: And I’m just like “Man, this f**kin’ sucks.” Got off at a Pilot, got a coffee, hurt my stomach…yeah, that’s what I get nervous about.
JC: (laugh) Every part of this interview with Chris is just gonna be the most depressing stuff.
CD: No, it’s not depressing at all, I’m just keepin’ it real.
JC: Keepin’ it real.
CD: “Yeah, dude, we were out here, we were drinking, f**kin’ chicks, blehh!” No.
JC: No, that’s not actually it.
CD: So not real.
JP: I get pretty nervous at certain shows. I’m never sure why or when it’s going to happen, but I’ve definitely gotten nervous these first few-
CD: He scratches the back of his neck.
JP: Yeah, I actually have a cut on the back of my neck right now ‘cause when I get real nervous, I wanna throw up, so I have to try to focus on painful things. So I just, like, hurt my neck really bad.
JR: That’s crazy, man, that’s so crazy. JP: But I don’t know, like recently – in the last month or so – I’ve been having this thing where on stage I’m just, all of a sudden, I’m gonna throw up everywhere. And it’s crazy, like I am going to 100% throw up.
(Photographer enters the bus, everyone says hi)
Photographer: What’re you guys doing, you want to do pictures?
JC: We’re doing an interview.
Photographer: Oh, is that what you’re doing?
WMXM: Yeah, hi!
Photographer: Oh! I thought you were a friend.
CD: Yeah – she is our friend!
CD: We gotta go sound check in fifteen minutes, but afterwards we’re down!
JP: Yeah, so certain shows, I get nervous for, certain shows I don’t. Sometimes it’s while I’m on stage, which is weird. I’ll go on and be like “I’m good” and then like halfway through I’ll start talking and as I talk, it happens and I’m like “Oh, no!” and I just gotta start playing again. But there’s certain songs where it’s just me and guitar for a while, and that’s when it gets the worst and I’m like “But I can’t!” It’s weird ‘cause I’m like “I cannot throw up in front of all these people right now in this silence of me playing and singing this song.”
JP: So it’s a weird feedback loop of like “Okay, I can’t, but that’s making me anxious, but I can’t, but that’s making me-“ and you’re just like (hyperventilating) and then it’s over and I’m like “Okay, thank God I didn’t throw up.” Some shows are better, you know. But if I throw up tonight, you’ll be like “It’s all good, I knew you were gonna do it!”
WMXM: “I get it!”
JP: “Yes! I know why!”
WMXM: A lot of interviews will talk about long-term future goals – if you have them, you can talk about those – but you just released an album and that’s usually the long-term thing to talk about. So, as a band, or even just personally, do you have any short-term future plans or goals?
JC: I think just going back on the road soon. ‘Cause we don’t have anything scheduled right now and this experience has been so amazing, just realizing how important it is to be on the road playing for people. One-year goal from now is to hit all these cities again.
CD: We have to make more music, too.
JC: Yeah, that too.
CD: We have to make more music very quickly, ‘cause it’s the only way to stay alive. So we’ll probably record again, sooner than later. I don’t know if we’ll do another full-length album again.
JP: We’ll do an EP.
CD: We’ll do an EP. But yeah, just keep releasing stuff. We turned a little corner artistically, I think, in the summer of 2017, where it was like “You know what, I think if we just keep making dope s***and don’t stop ever, that’s a success.”
JP: Yeah, that started to feel good, ‘cause like, if there is nothing to do, writing music’s good because I’ll write something and be like – if I know I have a cool song on my computer or something that I made, or a demo, it’s like “Oh, sick!” I like going through s***on the backburner. ‘Cause even with this album we have now, it’s like nine songs or whatever, and it just came out, so you’re gonna have to spend some more time on it, playing it and touring it. But even while that’s happening, while you tour it’s very hard to write music, recording nevertheless. So the sooner you can get all that, like, prepared almost, I guess, the better I feel, anyways, I’m like, “Alright, cool.” When it’s time to release that, it’s already ready to go, and then the one behind that is ready to go, you know, as much as you can. But, um…I don’t know, yeah, so we just gotta keep recording and writing.
WMXM: Do you already have song ideas for things that you want to record next?
JC: Yeah, we got some.
JP: Yeah, ‘cause I feel like when you record something – like this album we just put out – it inspires the next thing pretty quickly. It’s like “Oh, like, this is what we have to do now.” You wanna immediately just jump on that before you lose it. Put it in while it’s still fresh, you know?
CD: We also wrote LLC really quickly and there was a lot of material. I think what ended up on the album was basically where we had to cut it as far as what we could work on, and I actually have been listening back to some of the stuff that we worked on before that.
JP: There’s a lot of cool stuff. We’ll go back to it and be like “Oh, that was cool” and then we’ll just touch that up and that’ll be on the next thing.
JP: That’s usually how we do it.
WMXM: Alright. These questions, they’re kind of just little questions I was coming up with on the fly. Do you have any pre or post-show rituals or anything that you do as a band?
JC: Nah, we’re pretty laid back.
CD: So boring. JP: Everyone just kinda does their own thing pretty well and then meets up.
CD: Yeah. I like to have a drink afterwards because the social aspect of it is kind of crazy.
JC: Or a few drinks.
WMXM: Just make sure everyone’s on the bus before you leave?
WMXM: Do you have a favorite classic rock artist? I hesitate to say “old” because everybody’s got different meanings of that.
JP: I feel like you’re not allowed to say The Beatles because everyone has to like The Beatles.
CD: Unless you’re one of those contrarian idiots that’s like “I don’t like The Beatles!” Oh cool, you’re so f**kin’ cool!
JP: Yeah, so, I don’t know, I guess I’d say Led Zeppelin. WMXM: I couldn’t really figure out a way to delicately say this, so favorite artist who is currently dead?
CD: Favorite artist who is currently dead?
WMXM: Yeah. Maybe they’ll come back in the future, who knows.
JP: That’s true.
JC: Currently dead….
JP: Oh wow, yeah, true. That’s pretty good.
JC: Yeah, that’s nice.
CD: Jeff Buckley. I would’ve loved to have seen where his career went.
JP: Uh…Jimi Hendrix.
WMXM: Jimi Hendrix, nice.
JP: Yeah, or David Bowie, one of those two. Something like that.
WMXM: Hey! (shows them my David Bowie shirt)
JP: Oh, there you go!
JC: Yeah, Bowie – the last thing he put out was pretty f**kin’ sick.
JP: So sick! Yeah, he’s always been ahead of the curve.
JC: Imagine what came out after that, if he was still alive, that’d be so sick.
JP: I think he would make the most sense to bring back, ‘cause he’d make cool s***.
CD: (in an English accent) David Bow-ie.
WMXM: Do you have a favorite current artist? Maybe an artist who just came to the light in the past few years or so?
CD: I love the band DIIV. They’re cool, they’re from New York.
JP: It’s like, shoegaze-y
CD: It’s like shoegaze-y, the instrument – yeah, the songs are just really pretty. It’s not so much pop song, just – the guitar melodies just stick with you. Easy to listen to.
JR: 5SOS. (pronounced like 5-sauce) (repeating of 5-sauce and laughter)
WMXM: I love when people say it like that.
JR: They’ve got great songs, man.
WMXM: I have been hearing their most recent song on the radio a lot and I’m like, “I like this.”
JR: Yeah, it’s almost like a 1975 kind of spin.
WMXM: Yeah, that’s cool. How about just something that always makes you smile? ‘Cause sometimes you just need something that makes you smile.
JC: Jon Rodney’s laugh.
(Jon Rodney laughs)
JP: Are you saying, like, musically?
WMXM: Uh, anything.
JP: Oh, puppies!
(agreement and excited talking about puppies)
JP: Every time we see a dog on tour, we’re like “Ohh!”
CD: Aw, the puppies!
WMXM: I could show you a picture of my dog!
CD: I’ll show you a picture of mine!
(more excited puppy exclamations)
WMXM: If you had to go get a tattoo right now, like we immediately go to the tattoo place and you had to get it right now, immediately tell the artist the design, what would you get?
JR: Oh, hell yeah! I would get-
JR: I have a whole thing planned out!
CD: It says “Hell yeah.”
JR: So, I would get a skyline (at wrist) with a giant building here (points to forearm) with King Kong on top swatting away the planes. And then up here (shoulder) would be one of those old-school pilot caps and it’ll be a chick with vampire teeth licking her vampire tooth. Yeah, that’s what I would get.
JP: What, you never told me that!
JR: I’ve had that idea for years!
JP: That’s sick!
WMXM: That’s very detailed, that’s really cool!
JP: I like that, yeah.
JC: Alright, so I guess, uh…
JP: We should think about this, though, if we’re trying to get tattoos on this tour.
JR: But it’d be, like, so much money and time! That’d be crazy… (laugh)
JC: I was thinking of getting this honeycomb pattern on my arm.
CD: ‘Cause you’re so sweet?
JR: He’s so sweeeeet!
JC: This hexagon, ‘cause…ah, no, it’s a weird story.
(Nick “Schmizz” Schmidt from The Wrecks enters, everyone says hi)
JC: It’s not about bees.
CD: It’s about science.
WMXM: Is it the…I don’t know what it is, like a chemical diagram?
CD: So he made polystyrene pillars-
JC: Wow, you got it dude!
CD: -for his thing at UPenn. He’s an Ivy League graduate here throwing his life away.
CD: So I could tell you all about polystyrene pillars and how they move and how they mutate, and that’s what he wants to get a tattoo of.
JC: No, that’s not what it is.
JC: But close, yeah.
WMXM: My sister would probably be able to talk about that a little more, she’s a chemistry major.
JC: Oh, yeah. I mean, I probably forgot everything by now so yeah, threw my life away.
CD: Joe Calculus over here. Cowell-culus.
JP: I can’t get any more writing, I have so much writing. I don’t know, I want to get something with color really bad. Everyone says not to, but I think it’s so cool.
CD: We’re all due to get – we had a little TV design to commemorate this record.
JP: Oh, f**k yeah!
CD: The first song on the record is called “Color TV,” so we were all gonna get the art with Erik, the guy that produced it. We were all gonna get it, but we just never did that.
PR: It’s probably too long, now.
CD: Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe if this record wins a Grammy. Probably not.
JC: (laugh) Wins a Grammy.
JP: If it wins a Grammy, then I’ll get a Grammy tattoo on my face.
JP: Yeah, I’ll say that right now!
WMXM: Face tattoo, alright!
WMXM: Um…oh! Holiday season’s coming up, do you have any holiday traditions you’re looking forward to at all? JP: Eating Thanksgiving dinner at Nick’s.
JR: Not looking forward to missing Thanksgiving with my parents.
JP: I don’t know. Yeah, I’m cool with missing Thanksgiving.
JC: I’m cool with missing Thanksgiving.
JP: I’m excited for it. I’m excited to change it up, I’ve done it for 25 years, why not something new?
CD: I like Christmas, though, Christmas is very warm. I like getting my tree and s*** like that, very traditional.
JP: Yeah, staying at home with his dog getting his tree.
(Overlapping voices saying traditional Christmas things)
JC: Throw a campfire on the old TV.
JR: The Yule log!
CD: Yeah, the Yule log. Maybe make a little gingerbread house with some little gumdrops on it.
CD: Put my little onesies on, I don’t know.
JR: Chris has a onesie where his toes pop out of the bottom so he can tickle his pup.
CD: Yeah, all that shallow s***, I like.
WMXM: It’s nice! Christmas is pretty chill.
CD: Christmas is good.
JP: Christmas is great!
CD: I like the movies.
JP: You know what I like about Christmas-
JR: I thought you were just saying, like, you like the movies!
CD: “I like going to the movies!”
JR: “Snorkel!” (laughter)
CD: No, Christmas is cool because it’s cold for a little bit. After Christmas, then the cold f**kin’ sucks! Then you’re like “This whole thing blows!”
JP: I feel like yeah, Christmas tree, the smell of a Christmas tree, the cookies.
(JR is still laughing)
CD: Joe P., pretty antisocial guy, throws the biggest parties you’ve ever been to.
JP: New Year’s Eve, that’s my favorite holiday. New Year’s Eve is the best.
(Another bus guest quickly walks through to leave; JR is still laughing)
WMXM: If you need a Yule log idea: my sister – it was two years ago now – I had no idea she was gonna do this, she found a four-hour loop of Darth Vader’s funeral pyre and that was our Yule log for Christmas!
JP: That’s pretty sick.
WMXM: We just had Darth Vader burning on our TV for a while.
CD: We’re gonna wrap it in, uh-
JP: Yeah, we gotta get-
CD: No, tinfoil! Call it robot Yule log!
JR: Robot yule log! (softly) Robot woo-hoo.
CD: What do you got? You’ve gotta have more.
WMXM: One last question, if you got sound check. Live shows, you kind of get a different feeling from those than just putting on headphones and listening to an album, and you usually feel better about yourself – at least try to – after seeing a cool concert. For all the people who are coming to see the show tonight, what do you want the main takeaway from your set to be? What message do you want to be in the audience’s head when they leave this venue?
CD: Just like, “That was so weird, but I liked it.”
(laughter) JC: Yeah, I think that nails it.
CD: I could also go for a “Damn, those guys are good,” you know?
JP: That’s what, like, the 40-year old guy says. “Damn, those guys are good.”
CD: Yeah, “Those guys are good.” I like that, you know?
JP: I like-
JR: “I like movies.”
JP: I like the idea of – for some reason, I feel like the way we play is so loose and weird and crazy that I want people that have nothing to do with music to feel like “Man, look at these crazy, misfit, weird guys jumping around on stage. They’re falling down and making all this crazy noise. If they’re doing that, I’m gonna go try that thing that I want to do.” Even if it has nothing to do with music, I just like that idea of “Yeah, I’m gonna just f**kin’ try to start an ad agency, or “I’m gonna try to start my own business.” Just things like that, I think that’s cool. Just seeing a bunch of idiots jump around on stage could make someone push to go to extra mile.
CD: I try to push the old ‘crazy envelope’ every night on stage, but what happens is sometimes I try to keep myself entertained and sometimes the GoPro catches it and then these guys watch it back and they’re like “Dude, were you f**kin’ serious with that?!” No, of course I wasn’t serious with that!
JC: Well, because in the moment you remember it and then after the show you forget. Then you watch the GoPro and you’re like “I forgot that we did that.”
JP: Yeah, he likes doing that.
CD: Just gotta keep ‘em guessing.
JC: Yeah, true. Alright, we probably have to roll outside.
WMXM: Alright, sweet!
CD: Sorry about all that you have to write down!
WMXM: No, that’s totally fine! Thank you so much for your time!
I had forgotten to ask the band one question, so I asked it after their set:
WMXM: Since this is for a radio station: if you were a radio DJ, what would your DJ name be?
(pause and deliberation)
WMXM: Totally not putting you on the spot or anything.
CD: Okay, mine would be DJ Whack-Ass.
WMXM: DJ Whack-Ass, nice!
JR: There it is, folks!
(another short pause)
CD: C’mon, outdo that one!
JC: Uh…I mean, DJ Jozii, I guess.
JR: I’d probably be DJ Diamond John Rodney.
JR: So like, DJR!
WMXM: Yeah, nice!
JP: That’s pretty good! I would just be DJP, ‘cause it sounds like three letters.
WMXM: DJP, alright, sweet!