Pop Evil rolled into Baltimore, MD on Thursday delivering a fun night of stripped down high-adrenaline rock n’ roll to their enthusiastic fans. Before the show at Rams Head Live started AXS had the chance to hangout backstage with bassist Matt Dirito and drummer Hayley Cramer to talk about Pop Evil’s latest release Up and the band’s positive mindset. This is a band whose success is well-deserved and their performance last night demonstrated why this Pop Evil has come to be known as a must-see act.
AXS: Pop Evil has always come across as a band that captures the moments in which they are living in their songs. The track “Footsteps” off your latest album Up talks about lifting yourself up and climbing out of darker times. What was the motivation behind this song?
Matt Dirito: Like you said, we sort of write about what we are going through. The previous album Onyx had some really, really dark material on it and it was through that we were able to get out a lot of our angst. Once we released that album things started to get better for us. We started getting some of the biggest tours of our lives, doing bigger festivals and all these sorts of things. We came off of that album, even though it was a dark album, feeling very uplifted. We felt like we were leaving a lot of that stuff behind and moving up-moving on and moving forward.
AXS: Some of the other songs on the album such as “In Disarray” and “Ways To Get High” have been interpreted as songs about addiction. Did addiction play a part inspiring those songs?
M.D.: Actually that isn’t what either of those songs is about. I can speak personally though, I have struggled with addiction. I just hit my three year sobriety mark for being clean and sober. Addiction is something that is really evident in this world we live in and especially in this industry. Not with just our band, but do you know how many friends I have lost in this industry to stuff like that? I’ve seen great bands become terrible bands because they can’t handle their addictions. “Ways To Get High” isn’t really about getting high. It is about different things in life that get you high and make you feel good. It wasn’t pinpointed on addiction or sobriety, but if people want to interpret it that way that’s cool. I can see the correlation with the lyrics but it wasn’t what we meant.
AXS: Do you have any advice for fans that may be struggling with their own sobriety?
M.D.: When you are first getting sober it is all about whom you surround yourself with. Surround yourself with people that you look up to or want to be like-someone you aspire to be like. If all your friends go out drinking every single night that is probably not a good group of friends to be with if your goals are different than that. Misery loves company and they will bring you back into it time after time. Not that you can’t be friends with them anymore, but if you are looking to get sober at first you have to kind of remove yourself and break the ways of old habits. The lifestyle is a big part of it. You have to do it for the right reasons too. You have to do it for yourself. There is no other reason in the world a person with get sober and STAY sober unless they are doing it for themselves.
Hayley Cramer: That’s true. If you are doing it for a wife, a husband, your kids, or your band-anybody else it’s not going to work. It’s got to be for you.
M.D.: If you got sober for your marriage and you get in a fight with your wife or she cheats on you and leaves with some other guy anyways, what happens then? Then you don’t have a reason to stay sober anymore. Gotta do it for you.
AXS: The video for “Take It All” is in 360 degrees, which is something new we have not seen before. How did you come up with the idea to create it? (Click the mouse on video and drag it to rotate the video while watching.)
H.C.: I know, it’s pretty great, right?
M.D.: We had some people approach us a few years ago at a festival. They showed us a few 360 videos they shot. I had never seen anything like that before either. They explained it a bit and showed how you can look at the clip from different angles and turn it around. They asked if we wanted to do a video with them and that was that. The whole thing just came about.
H.C.: It is fun to play around with.
AXS: Who is the predominant song writer for the band?
M.D.: It is a pretty good mix of all of us in the band. Lyrically Leigh is the foundation, but musically our ideas come from all sorts of places. As far as recording goes, we haven’t really done two albums the same. Typically we all sort of write on our own and compile ideas. As we get closer to going in to do an album we sort of throw our ideas at one another and see what sticks.
AXS: How was it working with producer Adam Kasper?
M.D.: He was awesome! That dude is fantastic. The amount of freedom he gives you in the studio is really nice. A lot of producers you get in with nowadays want to put their sound on the album. They want to take control. Some even grab the guitar out of your hand to fix things or change things. Adam wasn’t like that at all. He wouldn’t even really tell you if something was good or bad. He would just sit back and let you be an artist. He would put the pressure on you to figure it out. A lot of other producers would baby us. Three-quarters of the way through a song we would bring it into the studio and the producer would grab ahold of it, shake it and say it needs to sound like this. We let them do it. We figured it was their job. But Adam really turned it on us and would say something like he thought we should revisit a song. That there was something there but we needed to jam on it. He would make us go sit in a room and just jam it out. We would sit there and jam for about a half hour without any feedback at all. Then he would say he though this one part sounded pretty good and maybe we should focus on that sound a bit more. He would make us do the work, work through the creation.
AXS: How did his process get you to think differently?
M.D.: He definitely had an impact on the sound of the album, but he didn’t really change anything as far as changing the sounds. He guided us and helped us figure out the sound. He helped us change things so that the record worked with itself.
AXS: So what’s next for Pop Evil?
H.C.: We are kicking off a big tour in Jan. It is a headline tour. We are going out with Red Sun and Badflower. The first date is Jan 10 in Louisville, KY and the last date is in Mar. We’re going across the U.S. It will be our last tour for this album cycle. We’re going out all guns blazing! The show is going to be very special.
AXS tickets or Pop Evil’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Right Now tour are available now, a complete list of tour dates and ticket information is available on Pop Evil’s website. For information on upcoming shows at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, MD visit their event calendar.