The Rev of Too Metal For Church was at Heavy Montreal for Metal Nation Radio this year and had a conversation with drummer Hayley Cramer and bassist Matt DiRito of Pop Evil. The PR company had sent a list of recommended questions. We didn’t use it.
Rev: I’m with members of the awesome hard rock act of out the U.S., Pop Evil, why don’t
you introduce yourselves folks?
Hayley: I’m Hayley the drummer.
Matt: And I’m Matt the bass player.
Rev: Awesome, now, I did have the opportunity to catch your set. It was early in the day!
Hayley: Super early!
Rev: But the crowd seemed to be really pumped.
Matt: Ya, they were very receptive, we haven’t played Montreal very often and it was cool to come out, especially this early in the day and see so many people getting down and throwing down, it was nice.
Rev: Now, your PR people sent me a list of questions that I was allowed to ask, are those the only questions I’m allowed to ask?
Matt: Well my people aren’t here right now so you can ask whatever you want!
Rev: Ok cool, ’cause I don’t have them in front of me anyway. (we all laugh)
Rev: You guys have had what some would call a meteoric rise in the rock and metal world. how do you characterize that when so many bands don’t seem to get where you are already?
Matt: The band actually formed in 2001 but we started touring nationally around 2008/2009 so our first album we started recording back in 2007, it’s just been slow and steady for us ya know, it may look like in the past couple of years we came to the surface but it’s been a long slow grind for us and that’s been the key to our success.
Rev: What do you say to young bands that are starting out in such in a difficult business climate in music? Nobody’s getting rich selling albums anymore. So what do you say to young bands who are starting our that maybe have the so-called dream?
Matt: Ya, you have to be more creative these days, to find different avenues to make money, it used to be where you’d go on tour to support albums but now people make albums to stay on tour, it’s totally backwards. And you know there are a lot of bands that come out that I think they forget sometimes that songwriting comes first, they see the big bands, the Motleys and the GNRS, the larger than life acts and I would look up to them thinking wow they’re so cool, they do this and that, jump around on stage but the one element I wasn’t focusing on early on in my career was the actual songwriting. Doesn’t matter what you do, what you look like, how you play, how you dress or anything like that, if the songs are good they’ll shine through and that’s the one thing that I believe with my whole heart – write good songs and they’ll rise to the top.
It’s gotta be for the love more than ever right now. You’ve gotta absolutely love what you do. I think if there’s gonna be a decline in the big bands it’s because nobody wants to stay on the road if you don’t love your job. You’ve got to absolutely love it. It’s not the dream that it used to be – it’s not the 80’s – there’s not money flying around everywhere ya know? But it’s great people. If you still party like it’s the 80s then you probably won’t last long either because there’s such stiff competition
Rev: Ya it’s a really difficult climate and I’ll tell you what, on this show I tell people, buy your music! I get free music every day through our submissions department from labels and pr firms, but I’ll tell you what, and I told this to the guys in Carcass a couple of hours ago, if I really dig a band, even though I can get their shit for free, guess what? I’m going go spend the equivalent of a Starbucks and buy the album because I want the band to continue and I think that’s the thing that the audience has to understand – (you have to buy the music) in order for the bands to continue to produce the music that the fans are digging for the rest of their lives. An album lasts forever, it’s not a cup of coffee right?
Matt: Right exactly.
Rev: You’re going to have it for a long time and it could change your life. A cup of coffee isn’t going to change your life. A cup of coffee is not going to get you through the shit going on in your day.
Matt: That’s a good way to look at it. Even from a musician’s perspective album sales are a huge part of it that gives you the leverage with the label to make more albums, the more you sell the more they want you to keep making albums. But even living day-to-day, coming out to shows like today on the road, showing up when bands come to town ya know, buy a t-shirt while you’re there, if you like the band that stuff goes a long way as far as day-to-day living . I couldn’t agree with you more, whenever we’re out on tour with other bands and stuff and one of the first things I’ll do is go buy their music on iTunes so that I’ve got it, not only so I know it but just as a show of good faith, you support me, I’ll support you.
Rev: The message out to there to the audience is if you want bands to keep showing up and play ya gotta support these people who are doing the job and it’s work, it’s not all fun and games it is?
Matt: Absolutely there’s one fun hour in the day, which is when we’re on stage, the rest is a lot of behind the scenes stuff, we don’t just sit on the bus and watch tv all day, it’s a lot of meetings and different things going on, it’s a lot of stuff.
Rev: And the band life when you’re travelling together ain’t easy right?
Hayley: It’s a very small space.
Rev: Personalities gotta mesh, you’re gonna have conflict from time to time like in any family.
Matt: Absolutely – even more so than that, if you work with someone who you don’t get along with the best at the end of the day you get to go home and get a break from them for a while or if you have someone at home like a roommate that you disagree with from time to time you can leave the house or go to work and get away from that, but we live and work together so it’s constant. so there’s definitely some learning curves as far as being able to live with a whole group of people 24 hours a day and maintain.
Rev: Refresh my memory, you’re last album came out last year
Matt: Last year ya.
Rev: Any future recording plans?
Matt: Maybe next spring, next summer, something like that, we’ve already started to throw a couple riffs together here and there so we’ll be writing more over the next couple of months as we’re touring and hopefully have something for the fans next summer.
Rev: Cool, I heard from your PR people that you’ll be sharing the stage with 3 Doors Down soon.
Matt: We toured with them maybe four or five years ago, great tour.
Rev: Is that a good mix?
Matt: Ya they’re great guys, we’re kind of a radio band, they have a ton of radio hits so it’ll be a sing along tour.
Hayley: Also the support band for that tour Red Sun Rising they’re a great band as well.
Rev: I’ll have to look them up, don’t know them at all.
Matt: They’re album is probably my favourite of this year as far as a new act coming out, it’s got a great mix of melodies and different things.
Hayley: Great songwriters , great musicians and really great people, I’m super looking forward to being on the road with them, they’re just great guys.
Rev: I don’t want to take up to much of your time and like to keep interviews short as I think most of them are extremely dull…
Hayley: I’ve enjoyed this one…
Rev: Cool, the one thing I wanted to ask you when I heard your tunes was this: I wonder, do you ever run into so-called metal elitists who go, oh, those guys aren’t metal, they’re hard rock or they’re album rock or they’re radio rock, do you ever get that kind of flak?
Matt: I was one of those before I was in Pop Evil
Rev: Do tell!
Matt: I’ve been a metalhead my whole life and it’s all music, even bands that we’ve toured with as Pop Evil where I’ve thought, I don’t really dig this band or only know them from radio then I’m ashamed to say that as soon as we start touring with them I’m like, OMG, these guys are great, I really love this band now and find myself going out and buying their albums. To each their own and I get it, this is obviously a metal festival and not everyone is going to love us but that’s not our aim, ya know, we don’t really run into that too much. We don’t really get too much flack.
Rev: Well we’re getting the evil eye from the PR person over there, thanks for doing this and we’ll see you again.
Hayley and Matt: Thanks for the support man.
Tune in to Too Metal For Church with Reverend Rock on Friday September 2, 2016 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to hear the full interview!
Concert photos provided by and used with permission of Evenko
Interview photos by Teemu Lavikka
Reverend Rock is host of Too Metal For Church – Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. exclusively on Metal Nation Radio.