Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: April 2009
Brian Rademacher: Hey guys so you are both from New Jersey?
Matt Raunick: Yep I was born right over here in Colonia, grew up and moved to Monroe.
Matt Simon : Iím originally from Old Bridge where our bassist Kenny is from and thatís how we made that connection, but now Iím in Monroe. Two of us are from Monroe, oneís in from Jamesburg and one in Old Bridge.
Brian Rademacher: Who started the band?
Matt Raunick: It grew out of a couple different projects. Jake the lead guitarist was in a band called BREWTUHL and they went all through high school and I was playing drums and secretly wanted to get in that position and I really liked the band because they were so talented. After they got out of high school I started hanging out with Jake and we started jamming, so Jake myself and the singer and new bassist started jamming.
Matt Simon : That kind of fell apart and Jake and I were doing the coffeehouse idea just doing acoustic stuff. It was like I wrote a song today and Jakeís response was I did too, we should do this more often and so it kind of went from there. So we gave Raunick a call and since he played both bass and drums we gave him the choice and he wanted drums and it took us a while to find Kenny our bassist.
Brian Rademacher: So your very first show where and when was it?
Matt Raunick: It was in Red Bank at Chubbyís August 19th, 2007. That was the venue, it was an awesome show
Matt Simon : We sold a lot of tickets kind of a surreal moment, especially for me and Kenny since weíve never been in a band.
Matt Raunick: Iíve been in bands starting in freshman year in high school but this was different. When I met these guys I knew it was awesome, I worked with a lot of musicians and it really never worked out, but this was the real deal.
Brian Rademacher: How do you go about getting shows?
Matt Raunick: It started with Jerseyshows, it was good for us but a pain in the butt and we started learning how to book shows ourself, talking to owners or the guys who book the shows. We call or e-mail and start a conversation and hopefully they book us.
Brian Rademacher: So do you guys headline shows now?
Matt Simon : Itís a mix bag a lot of the shows itís a mixed genre so they place you were they think you will do the best. If itís a show that suits our style we usually end up in the middle which is a prime spot. Headline those shows usually is not a good thing because people start leaving.
Matt Raunick: We usually never have a headline spot but there have been times like when we played in the city we had the longest time slot in the middle. The other bands didnít want to play longer and we have plenty of material so we got to play a longer set that was nice.
Brian Rademacher: When did you start singing?
Matt Simon : I was always running around the house singing as a little kid. I got to high school and was kind of forced to join the music program, but I met some great singers and musicians and it became my haven. Iím not sure how I ever ended up in rock music but Iím never looking back. It's the only thing I see myself singing.
Brian Rademacher: So who writes the music?
Matt Simon : Lyrically itís our guitarist Jake and I, we write the lyrics. The new CD we actually split the songs six and six. We go through so much material between cut and paste jobs. Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Vocals are mainly written by Jake, Kenny, Raundawg, and I, respectively, but we all contribute to ever part. Writing a song is a group project and to limit ourselves to our own instrument is not very constructive.
Brian Rademacher: Whoís in charge of your MySpace?
Matt Simon : Iíve taken control of it by default. We put the MySpace up even before Kenny joined us. We created something just to have a page and the business stuff came after that.
Brian Rademacher: Does it still work at a show how many tickets you sell is where the time slot is?
Matt Raunick: A lot of times your slot is based on sales, but only at the big venues does it decide if you can play or not. Our local hot-spot, Finniganís in East Windsor, NJ isnít based on sales although that is how we get paid.
Brian Rademacher: What was it like playing at Starland Ballroom?
Matt Simon : Starland was amazing. They have an e-mail address on their website and they say looking for local bands, so we e-mailed them a couple times and they sent an e-mail out they were looking for a lot of bands to play a battle of the bands for Music as a Weapon and twelve hours later they e-mailed us and said we have a spot. Even then we said this is great. It was a surreal experience since we saw SHINEDOWN, SEETHER, and ALTER BRIDGE there. To be on that stage was overwhelming, but it felt right.
Brian Rademacher: The CD we review is that the newest one RockEyez review
Matt Simon : Yeah thatís the current one, we did a first release called Ataraxia which was actually released a year to the day before the new one and so we did the first one in an immature recording experience, everything was a live cut except vocals banged out twelve songs in two eight-hour days. Late winter early spring Ryan Marsa was a engineer major at New Haven and for his final project had to record a band and we knew him from high school, so he said come up and record a couple songs and we recorded "Forgive Me" and "Damaged Calm". His production skills were amazing so we decided to work with him for the new album.
Brian Rademacher: When you wrote "Prayer" did you expect that to be a highlight song?
Matt Raunick: Whatís funny is when they first wrote "Prayer" my reaction was this is our best song and they looked at me like are you kidding. They werenít into it and almost left it off the record, they wanted to scratch it.
Matt Simon : Itís a good song but there was something that was not right. So when we were getting into the days of preproduction with Ryan we started throwing around some ideas. The original cut of that song does not have a solo, the harmony wasnít there, and itís probably the song that changed the most out of the album from preproduction to the final mix. Once we laid it down and mixing it, we thought it might be a good song for us, it may catch on. Its definitely one of our favorites to perform as well.
Brian Rademacher: Are you working on new stuff now?
Matt Raunick: Always, we have two songs that are done and already battle tested at a couple of shows.
Matt Simon : One of those songs, "Look Away", we opened with at Finneganísí and that song was only twenty-two hours old. The song came about very organically, which is hard to do sometimes, but it just came together really quickly and we decided to give it a shot. Each song is born out of an acoustic session between Jake and me. From there itís brought to the guys and then we go to work. Plenty of songs have been tried and then dropped, such as the last track on our new album. "Shatter" was much different in its early stages and we decided it was not a keeper and we dropped it from our repertoire. A few months later, Jake and I were messing around with it and all of a sudden it was fixed. That taught us a lot and weíve used that mentality that sometimes a song needs time to develop. Weíve grown a lot as far as the writing process is concerned and I really think that the new songs are going to blow away "Damaged Calm".
Brian Rademacher: Matt when you sing what do you think of?
Matt Raunick: Obvious not lyrics because he forgets them all the time. (laughing)
Matt Simon : Thank you! I have had the occasional mental mess-up.
Matt Raunick: Weíve played a few shows where we played a verse and a chorus totally without vocals (laughing).
Matt Simon : Its one of those things where you can get so lost in the music that sometimes you just have mishaps. I try to think about why the song should matter to the audience and how I can show the feelings behind the song. There was a time early on when I was very conscious of myself on stage, being that this is my first band, but as time went on I found my niche on stage and its really developed our live show. We pride ourselves on our ability to put on a great show, musically and visually, and Iíve found my way.
Matt Raunick: We try to put the best show possible and after the Starland show we were drained. I feel all my muscle exhausted same as the rest of the band. I might have to work on endurance if we do longer sets (laughing)
Matt Simon : We love bands like SHINEDOWN, RED, and SEVENDUST, and these guys leave everything out on that stage, and we work very hard to be the Ďit bandí live. We want people to say, "Hey, you want to see a great live show? See DOWNCAST THEORY"! You canít connect with fans by standing still; if I don't look like Iím enjoying it, why should I expect you to feel any different.
Brian Rademacher: Has anyone asked for an autograph yet?
Matt Simon : Yes that was actually funny because we did an acoustic set at Hot Topic at Freehold mall and so we were selling CDís being there for a couple hours and there were a couple girls there about fourteen fifteen years old and they could have thought we were the biggest band ever and they came up and asked for our autograph and we said sure. It was awesome. Thatís cool because somebody appreciates what we are doing and such a cool feeling.
Matt Raunick: Weíve been doing so much work and a lot of times you think you are getting nothing out of it because we are doing the same thing for two years now., but moments like that show how we have grown and that we are actually making a difference to someone.
Matt Simon : You might never have a second chance so you have to make the best of it. We want people to understand us through our music and maybe help them learn a bit about themselves too. "For the Rest of My Life" has its own personal meaning to the band, but someone told Jake what it did for them, and had nothing to do with the original intent of the song. I love how a song can change meaning over time. A song can be about love for another person one day, and the next itís simply an anthem for life. Music has a way of living on because people can find their own meaning.
Brian Rademacher: So what do your parents think of this?
Matt Simon : My parents have been 100% supportive the entire way. We owe them so muchÖour success so far can be attributed to their ability to help us, whether mentally or financially, although we always pay them back!
Matt Raunick: They are supportive but they do not come very much. I tell them not to because I know it isnít their scene.
Matt Simon : JakeĎs parents are great, Kennyís parents are great. We practice in JakeĎs grandmotherís basement and she loves every second. Jakeís dad has been by far the best thing that has ever happened to us, providing the van for us and we are totally indebted to him, we would not be able to accomplish anything without him and Gram.
Brian Rademacher: What do your friends think of all this?
Matt Raunick: I give mad props to my friends; I would never ever in my life go to as many shows as my friends do of ours. I kind of almost got upset because we play the same songs at every show and same crowd at every show we do the same thing every time, we know we have to start getting our name out there and start bringing in new faces, our friends are paying ten fifteen bucks every show.
Matt Simon : They bought ninety tickets for the Starland show, theyíve been buying shirts, CD and having their friends come to our shows. So we have a great appreciation for them.
Brian Rademacher: If you reach star status what would you donate to?
Matt Simon : My aunt has MS and I see the struggle so I would donate to that, also and a cancer foundation. I have a friend who has cancer and the mother of a close friend died of cancer, so it has touched me in so many ways. Even if I didnít reach that kind of level I would still like to help out.
Matt Raunick: "A Song for DJ" is on our new album and it is about our friend DJ Blish who died early last year at the age of 21. He had epilepsy, which contributed to his passing, so I would definitely look to donate towards epilepsy research.
Brian Rademacher: Do they perceive this band as a Christian band?
Matt Simon : No. Thereís some mild religious content in our songs and we are all religious in some way, Iím not the church go-er but I have a cross on under my shirt. We are not the preaching type and not the concept for us.
Brian Rademacher: Have you shopped your CD to any labels?
Matt Simon : The major labels will not take you unless you have a well known lawyer or manager. We are in talks with a guy named Eugene Foley, critically acclaimed all over. He does great management for bands and there is a lot of room for growth for our band and somewhere along the line he might be able to open a door for us. We feel this is our year and start to make a move and we put out an album we really are proud of.
Brian Rademacher: What happens if you end up on a small tour opening for someone, what happens to school and your jobs?
Matt Raunick: If it's a big time band, we are in all the way.
Brian Rademacher: So what are your guys hopes?
Matt Raunick: Get rich and famous (laughing)
Matt Simon : That would be great (laughing). Honestly, it comes down to wanting to be able to make a living out of something you feel passionate about. We are not four guys who just write some music and sell CDs. This band is truly a family and to be able to succeed with people who are like brothers is a dream. We want this to go as far as we can take it and hopefully be an inspiration to other musicians to go after what they love.
Matt Raunick: We would really like to get in front of a huge crowd and get a response and hear what they think of us. The crowd is so important to us because if they don't have fun, we don't have fun.
Matt Simon : You learn so much from a crowd. You learn things about your songs that you didn't know. Out least favorite part of a song could be someoneís favorite part, and then its like, oh okay I see it now.
Stephanie Rademacher: Did you ever think of making a video?
Matt Raunick: Weíve done one. Major-league hack-job video. We are not necessarily proud of it, but it was free!
Brian Rademacher: Hey man I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to stop by and everyone check these guys out DOWNCAST THEORY
Matt Simon : Jake and Kenny apologize for not making the interview but we had a great time. Check out our MySpace and our new website at DOWNCAST THEORY.com, pick up a copy of "Damaged Calm" on iTunes and we will see you out there.