Interviewer: Brian Rademacher
Date: January 2007
Hey Joshua, how’s it going today?
Other than pure exhaustion… no complaints.
Tell us what Joshua Reed was like growing up as a child?
I lived in a rather conservative home in Florida. My father was an Air Traffic Controller and a part time Baptist Minster, and my mother a home maker. It was kind of an interesting combination. I was pretty much the loner kid who kept to himself. It was difficult for me to relate with people in Church and school so I guess that is when I began listening to a lot of different kinds of music and concentrating on writing as a creative outlet. When I was about two or three my mom put me on the piano and I really learned music through the Church. Coming from a place where music is used to convince and entrance minds really showed me the power of music, and how so much of that power is lost in a trite and predictable industry.
How were you in school?
Well, when I actually showed up, I did well. I’ve always been bored easily so I’d end up skipping class after class and just showing up on test days. I ended up graduating early and then began focusing on forming the band. My whole intentions were to get out of Florida and begin a new creative slate where I could utilize all aspects, which inspired and drove me to the point of wanting to make music in general.
Do you remember the first record you got and the first concert you attended?
It was Tori Amos and I was fifteen, I was a late bloomer when it came to concerts.
How is California life compared to Florida?
We maintained a pretty strong following in South Florida. There really wasn’t much going on in 1999, when we surfaced. There wasn’t much of a scene or support for local acts. Actually, the last band to draw a strong local following was MARILYN MANSON almost ten years prior. After a year or so of heavy promotion the band’s fan base and the scene, in general grew. I started GODS AND MONSTERS when I was sixteen and learned a lot through the years.
I have no regrets- everything was a stepping stone to what I feel is our strongest line-up of members and songs to date. It’s all about trial and error.
What was the name of the first garage band you were in and what kind of music did you play?
I was fifteen and I don’t even think we played out. We were more of a warehouse band we were called DE SADE. It was a cheesy metal band pretty much. Like I said it’s all about trial and error.
Back in 2003, it looked like the band was going to take off being recommended by Universal Records. Why did the band dissolve?
That’s a complex question- with an even more complex answer. To be quite simple- it just wasn’t our time. When the first line up started to see some success it was very stressful. We had just embarked on a short tour and it was our first taste of traveling together as a band. None of us were in a place to take off in general. We were all young and inexperienced. Time had its own plan, and at this point only one original member remains. Through certain situations you can tell who’s cut out for it and who isn’t.
Did you know there is a band called GODS AND MONSTERS fronted by Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart, & Jeff Buckley?)
Yes, I’m aware of that, it’s a small jazz-esc outfit that played with Jeff Buckley over a decade ago. We’re on completely opposite spectrums both musically and aesthetically. I’m not too concerned I must say. I’m more concerned with what GODS AND MONSTERS as a name means to me and how it reflects the music. At this time we legally own the name- and the record will be released under GODS AND MONSTERS - and that’s how I intend it to stay.
You were working with Dogbite media who was designing a website that had a lot of animation. Was it good working with them and do you still have the drafts for that site?
I keep all revisions and old drafts of all our work. We will not be releasing anything under the site at -www.godsandmonstersband.com until closer to the records release. The plan is to launch a completely interactive website- that goes beyond simply a band’s informative page. Dogbite was good at capturing certain key elements that I personally liked and wanted for our own site. Unfortunately, they have since folded- and we are working with a new company that works with many other bands in our realm and genre. There is a lot to come this year- hold tight.
What was it like working with Cyril Helnwein Photography who did press photos for you?
Cyril is a great photographer and a dear friend. I’ve enjoyed his and his father Godfried Helnwein’s work for many years now. Cyril’s photos really caught my eye with his antique–esc look he acquires through use of black and white colors. And I had always envisioned “Shame and Fortunes” art work to take on an almost film noir look. He will be doing most of the artwork for the album cover. I know he’s the man for the job.
You are now working with Fran Ashcroft (GORILLAZ, BLUR, and DANDY WARHOLS) on your future release “Shame and Fortune” What was it like working with him?
Fran is great. He was the one I originally wanted producing this record. Being that he’s in London- and we’re in Los Angeles- we ended up a bit side-tracked working with other producers and engineers in the area- that in the end- just didn’t grasp what we wanted to do with “Shame and Fortune.” I feel if your behind this band- and our music- then get on board.
The industry now is so fearful to back anything “not safe” Fran produces music I respect- and I feel has integrity attached to it, because he’s a visionary producer that serves the artist and the music they create- not simply a gimp to top 40 radio, It was a set back letting our old producer team go- but was worth not compromising the music and the album in general. It’s also good to finally be working with someone more involved and insightful with what we are doing. I mean let’s face it- Europe is light years ahead of the time when it comes to music- among other things. We needed that revolutionary ideology accompanying the creation of these songs. And Fran Ashcroft was and is the man to do the job- and do it right.
You say it is on a major label, so you’re already signed?
Right now we are in negotiations in which I’m not permitted to speak on.
Your music has a wide variety of sounds, “Down on Getty Drive” sounding like 80’s rock to “Black Water Velvet Sky” more in the DEPECHE MODE style and you vocals sounding like vintage T.REX and Holly Johnson of FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD. Do you try to change direction with each song?
Well what you heard were a lot of scratch tracks. We do have a wide array of feelings on this record when it comes to the songs. The worst thing is to have an album that sounds the same from beginning to end with the same structures. Now that we are a five piece band again and writing more from a live standpoint and less studio work there’s more camaraderie between songs and it gives us the opportunity to create an eclectic and balanced record. We’re able to put everyone’s spin on it and have an equal and more empowering force.
On the Unreleased tracks you sent us there are six tracks are you working on more or is this release going to be an EP?
It will be an entire album, most likely 12-13 tracks. Most of what was given to you was rough/scratch demos- some of which may not appear on the record. The main “meat” of the record is being perfected- with the assistance of an outstanding production and engineering team. We wanted to challenge and explore each others influences and come up with a great record that we would want to hear.
On your MySpace site it seems your fans more related to a Club Kids is that the forum you’re trying to reach?
I don’t discriminate when it come to our listeners. We have a wide array of styles we’re into so naturally that’s going to reflect in our fan base. I have talked with and am interested in possibly doing a separate compilation of DJ mixes for “Shame and Fortune” but that’s would be down the road.
Tell me a little about each member in the band starting with Allen Ashworth (programming, guitars), G.K. Via (guitars), Joe Navarro (bass), and Tracy Hatcher (drums).
Allen’s my right hand man and writing partner. We have very similar backgrounds and easy to work with. I know I am pretty stubborn with my ideas. He was a guitarist and front man in his own band which probably made it easier for him to relate to myself and not just write me off as an asshole. We challenge each other and really understand the greater good for the greater cause.
G.K. is by far one of the best guitar players I’ve heard. I was gun ho on getting him to join the band simply for the fact of all I’ve heard about him through the years. He’s quite the guitarist and is really helping bringing the whole picture together.
Joey is someone I known since I was fifteen. He’s really a great support system. He was the only member of the band that I was keen on keeping from the original line up.
Tracy is the drummer that I’ve wanted from the beginning. Easy to work with challenges himself as much as others. It took me a few years to get him in the line up but well worth the wait.
Is there a particular song you like right now?
Hard to pick a favorite, Just when I think I have one- we write another. We consistently write and create new material. It keeps us all sane and focused. But, there is a newer track- not heard yet by many- called “Strange Tides” that I am quite fond of.
I’m going to mention some words, tell me your feelings for each.
I have been a loner in that realm well conventionally I guess. I’ve focused on music from such an early age that I never seemed to find the time for “personal relationships.” I focus more on the music. Everyone has a different path they take in life. My destiny steered me toward this career. Life will drop you hints. For now, my relationship is with my music.
If you asked me in the 60’s and 70’s I would have brought up John Lennon. Now that we’re in a similar state of alarm and concern, I guess we’ll have to settle for FALL OUT BOY?
I think that goes without saying.
Well growing up in a religious forum I was told what was good and evil. My Mom would go through my book back and throw away my rock CDs and anything that she viewed as inappropriate. It went as far as I wasn’t allowed to wear black. I finally realized at a young age that it was about control. What I was made to believe to be my only hope I then feared. Is God any less of a God if I put on a SLAYER record? I just grew tired of the cliché circus it became to me. I knew there was no convincing me to follow a 300 pound Reverend who wants to talk about the moral decline of civilization or the “sanctity of marriage” then go scarf down 3 Big Macs and have sex with his secretary. It’s not about stereotyping a whole group of individuals but if there’s a fly in your Cheerios you’re most likely going to throw the whole bowl away.
I am very close to my family and they support me as their son. They might not understand what it is that I do but that’s not their job. We agree to disagree you can say.
I think is it something that is natural. I think you put so much work into something you should be proud of it. But at the same time you can’t have a blind ego. You have to have a strong balance. And appreciation of what others bring out of you as well and vice versa. A little self preservation never hurts.
With Image you must be able to convey what you’re saying musically. So many of these bands today are only marketing an image. I’m more concerned with visually conveying the material itself. When it comes to bands now of days when you think image you think Coca Cola and Nikes because it’s become that trite. Then “I wear black eyeliner to piss off my parents and be that outcast turned really something” generation, so overproduced and predictable. Okay you’ve got cool hair and pants what am I suppose to do with that? It’s also become just as cliché to complain about it and do nothing to combat it.
What would you consider evil?
Many things! Many of which today’s moral majority might see as inherently good.
This is a heavy question but to make it short and simple go see the documentary “Jesus Camp” I see that type of lifestyle and upbringing as dangerous and the real collapse of morality in this country. The real evils today seem to come polished and ready for the Fox News Channel and wide acceptance from the “traditional American family.” It’s a real “us against them” regime. Seems the middle ground is now in the basement completely polarized. You can even look at the name GODS AND MONSTERS itself. It’s about parallels. I have strong moral convictions but not in the conventional way I suppose. I try to see the good and the bad in everyone including myself, less room for disappointment.
If you could donate money to a cause what would that be?
I’ve never really explored the idea of charity. I’m not saying I am against it. I feel much is ignored in that realm when it comes to what’s going on in our own back yard. People tend to not see what’s going on right in front of them.
Honestly, I’d be more likely to support a cause that promotes and enables artists’ creativity. Then again artists seem to be a large percentage of people with a cause. Sad state of affairs when Hollywood is sending more people to AIDS stricken countries and New Orleans than the SBC.
What are talking like a Jimmy Swaggart?
(Laughing) He dug his own grave. I’m talking about the Pat Robertson’s and John Hagee’s who want the pulpit without the responsibility, the conviction without compassion.
What is your real expectation of the album?
In the end we simply created an album that we would want to hear. That meant not going by some imaginary market. It’s what drove us to change who had their hand in working with us on the music. At times it can be difficult to find people within the industry willing to take risks. I feel very strong about working with a production and engineering team whose goal is to create a timeless record over simply a top 40 one. I feel people are ready for that stand out record. I’m confident in what 2007 will bring to the band and our listeners.
Joshua, Rockeyez would like to thank you for taking the time and talking with us. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
I’m sure I summed everything up. We look forward to finishing this record and bringing it on the road across the world. Thank you all.