You’ll only read it here! Even though we met at a coffee house, these guys don’t drink coffee to de-stress. Bryce and Alex play aggressive music—that’s their outlet.
Here’s how it went down, at Volstead Public House in Mesa, Arizona.
TPF: So do you want to start out by telling us about Colonist, who the members are and how the band came together?
BE: David Scordato is on guitar. Dan Brecht on guitar as well. Richard Friedrich on bass. Alex Sladek on vocals and Bryce Evenson on drums.
This band kind of formed as a side project. I was touring a lot for the last year with another band I was in at the time.
TPF: Was that Hotel Books?
BE: Yes. Yeah last year we were out for quite a long time. Towards the end of that tour in November, after about a month-long tour—me personally—I was feeling a lot of angst and wanting to write Hardcore music again. I just really missed a heavy outlet—to just let things go—I just really missed Hardcore a lot. So at the end of that tour, it was in December, I came home to Tucson. I hit up my friend David who plays guitar and we started writing songs. We put together a couple promo shoots for what we thought the band should look like and be represented as. Then we put up a quick single to see what would happen. Slowly, friends started to connect. Alex joined the project. And that's kind of what the collective is, mostly. It was just kind of like a random occurrence. It was two dudes writing music as an outlet—because I was sick of being out and touring—and not being able to aggress through music. David worked in Tucson, and hadn’t been in a band in a very long time.
AS: Yeah, I started out—I was living in LA—I had been there almost 2 years. David had emailed me some demos to the first few songs. To "Caving In" and to one of our others songs "Victim" and then had me write some vocals up. I sent off a little demo video to them [David and Bryce] and then a couple weeks later I was flying down back here to Arizona to track vocals and do some stuff. I flew back out there for a little while. And came back out in February and we did our first little run, a couple shows. We played down here [Tucson], in Phoenix, in Anaheim...
TPF: So are you in Tucson now?
AS: Yes, I moved back to Tucson. It wasn't really feasible to keep flying back and forth—I might as well come back.
TPF: Alright, so then you said originally it was you [Alex and Bryce] and David that was writing the music and you guys are the ones I saw on Bandcamp that produced "Caving In" and "Victims"?
TPF: So it sounds like a collaborative, that you were all writing music. Yes, no?
BE: Yes. It's kind of, it's kind of not really—yes, but no...[laughter] No it's like, now, it's more of like a band collaborative sort of thing because now whenever we're playing shows, we're doing more tours, and things so people are kind of starting to kind of come in. Like even for this tour [May 17-25] we have an old bassist that we had on the last tour, and now this tour we have someone new. But with the writing process, it started with just me and David and then Alex came down. So the two singles that we put out, like anything you actually hear that is out as a brand, are just the two singles "Caving In" and "Victim", were just the run in process with only Alex, me and David.
Even just those two singles that came out, were...I started writing ideas on guitar and drum parts. And then David obviously wrote his guitar parts and bass as well. And then for the two songs that Alex did, the lyrics for it, and did the vocals for it as well. So those songs were just us three, and then the way that we wrote those songs was...I put me down as a producer because I would come up with the outline of the song—the basic riff, like how the song is going to be laid out, and then David would obviously write on top of that. And then, me and David do all the tracking in our room. So it's just us.
TPF: So you're laying the music down first, before you write the lyrics?
BE: Yeah, that's been the new process. Now, we're not doing that anymore. We're not writing music, then lyrics. Now we're doing it all, like, the newest song that we just started working on that we're playing on this tour and will be playing on other tours as well.
TPF: What is that newest song called?
BE: For that song? It's called "Fathers and Daughters." That song, we haven't really talked about when we're going to put that out. But it will definitely, come out eventually as another release single.
TPF: One of my questions was when you're performing a live set do you switch up on the lyrics?
TPF: Or are you pretty straight on?
BE: It's all solid, straight. All of that type of stuff. We have our own little personal recordings that we did so that everybody can practice on their own and do their own thing. And so, everything that we have that we play, is all set in stone. It's already written down.
TPF: So often are you guys actually physically together rehearsing?
BE: At least once a week, if not more.
TPF: Sounds like you are doing a lot of it independently, remotely as well?
BE: No. Like yes, and no. [laughter] Like yeah, we'll come up with something, have something written then everybody goes and runs it off on their own, so we're not all sitting in a room trying to teach each other parts and things like that. But when we are together, we try and make it more of a collaboration thing. We will run through the set, we'll practice everything, get everything down—that type of stuff. I'll come in with a set, lyrics that I want to do and just fit it to the song that we're practicing, and try to see how things go from there. And so when we're together that's basically what we're doing, it's just running through the songs over and over.
TPF: Right, just getting more tight.
AS: Yeah, exactly.
TPF: One of my questions on "Caving In" is—I don't know if that's the chorus or what, but—am I saying it write? The "opedame" of sin?
AS: The epitome.
TPF: Okay, the epitome of sin. Guess the lyrics on Bandcamp were not right. I was wondering where that came from...So it should be "the epitome of sin."
AS: Yes, right. [laughter]
TPF: Yeah, I was like whoa, what does this mean, must be a really cool word. [laughter]
BE: We can't even handle two singles [joking and laughter]. Can't even copy and paste correct, yeah.
AS: It might have been my bad too though. [laughter and joking]
TPF: In terms of the genre, you were saying you really missed the Hardcore music. Help me understand the difference between Beatdown and Hardcore. What's the nuance, like what is that?
BE & AS: It's funny, always talking about me and genres now, especially how many bands are out, how many genres are talked about. We, for that, consider ourselves a Hardcore band, Beatdown band just because that seems like what we think fits. So we've already had friends and people say, "You’re not a Hardcore band", "You're not a Beatdown band." Like dude, honestly, on a record, we don't care. We don't care what genre we are. The reason that we call ourselves like a Hardcore band is just because we may play...it's heavier music and it allows us to move around and have more fun. It's basically, that's how we get the aggression out. It's basically saying that if you were to sip a cup of coffee, you could let your aggression out that way, that's fine, or you could punch a punching bag, and that's how you let your aggression out. So we consider our music to be...
TPF: Stress relief!
BE & AS: That's it. Exactly. It's the greatest thing to just go over on stage and be able to let all of your frustrations, and your worries and your angers, and just let it out on stage. That's what this music is about. And that's what we started this to do.
TPF: How does the outlet maintain the relationships? I thought that was really interesting in how you're representing your band. It's like this release of aggression, where everyone gets together and just kind of lets it all out and so it brings us closer together, is that where the idea came from? How does it maintain the relationships?
BE: For us as friends, I think it's nice also because we all have our daily problems and this gives us a moment when there’s no pressure and crap, where we can play shows and practice, and get together where we can have a release through playing music. So that's nice. But, as of the family and friends part, it just kind of stands for, you know if you go through life with so much pent-up aggression and you don't have any kind of outlet, it's just going to destroy relationships. It's just going to build up in you—ruin friendships, ruin family, ruin relationships—stuff like that. That's kind of what the friends and family part is about. It's just you need an outlet, and that came from again the past tours that I did last year, that were just pent-up aggression with friends and everything, it's just I didn't have a Hardcore outlet, I didn't have anything where I could have a lot of fun and just have a release so that I was having a lot of problems with friends and family...just not really doing 100% of what I wanted to do. And so that's what the maintaining part of it is about. Just keeping a level head, not blowing up on people, which I don't feel great at [laughter] having pent-up aggression. No I'm cool! [joking and laughter] Damn!
AS: And I think it's determined by everybody within the band, differently too as well. Like for me, I grew up within the music scene. I grew up going to Hardcore shows, going to all these things. So for me, people that I have met going to shows have become some of my best friends. I never would have imagined that I would hang out with these people beforehand and become so close with these people. So that's it for me. It's a place to be part of a community, to make all these friends, and to go to a place where I can just be me—where I can let out my frustrations and anger—and then leave and go have dinner with all of my friends, and then just hang out and have a good time. That's what it is for me.
TPF: Awesome. So considering some of your experience...I was going to ask you about your single "Victim". Was that inspired by a real life event, or?
AS: "Victim" was a collaboration with me and David. We kind of sat down, and I had a base idea of what I wanted to do. "Victim" is another one of those things where it's just about relationships. Whether it's a relationship with a spouse, or a relationship with family, things like that. I had a lot of trouble with my family growing up and going through a lot of problems with that, and so that was my way of voicing out my feelings. I was sick of seeing these people victimized by these people they're having relationships with—their family, their friends—all these things like that. And just kind of like a way for me to voice my opinion, without fully voicing my opinion, a place where I can voice it and not be judged.
TPF: Yeah, I feel like a lot of people relate to that.
AS: Oh, yeah.
TPF: Seriously. So I think it's great that you're putting it out there. So, like you said, people have an outlet
BE: Mm hmm
TPF: To let it go. And process it through.
BE & AS: Totally that comes across cause it's even...we always talk about that...even the Hardcore shows ...we've heard it for years that kids say we go to Hardcore shows to release because it's just good to have fun and we just swing away and hang out with friends. That's their outlet. So that's what we are trying to do through, like lyrically and just as people, like when we play shows and talk about what we are as a band. Yes, we just want to embody the outlet for what the music is about...give people a place to go and be, and just go crazy. Where they can take any frustrations or anger that they would feel and use out on the streets to go out and get into fights, and do bad things that they shouldn't be doing. You know, I would much rather have somebody coming to our show and just go nuts—let out everything there—and then leave there feeling refreshed, "like I have a better outlook on things because I've had a place to actually get all of my anger out."
TPF: How do you use social media to bring people together—to get your audience out? This run, your May run in the Southwest was DIY. Tell us a little more about how that works. How did you bring it together?
BE: Let's go piece by piece. There's a lot of things. So are you saying like the booking portion or with fans?
TPF: The first questions was how are you using social media to bring your fans together, but then the booking, the whole experience - what does a week in your life look like as far as pulling this together DIY?
BE & AS: [laughter] Sitting in front of the lap top, like the whole day man.
BE: No, for this bit it hasn't been really that difficult connecting to venues and connecting to promoters, as much as from traveling. I've been in DIY bands for a couple of years so I still have friends throughout the US. So it's decently easy to book the tours and get in front of kids in the cities. So I guess with our social media right now our focus is on Facebook, and things like this with Instagram. We have not linked up with Twitter or the Tumblr market. We've been strictly focusing on getting a small fan-base through Facebook and Instagram. The plans that we have later on, maybe this year, maybe next year whatever comes about, but we just want to get a small following at least, mainly West Coast for right now. That's why we keep doing DIY runs throughout the West Coast. Just two sites trying to connect with people through that, and just playing shows. That's why we put out just two singles. We do everything ourselves, like with recording so that it's very cost effective. So we put out small amounts of music to gain some fans throughout the West Coast. We plan to play shows and do as many gigs as possible to finish out this year and see what happens—see if something comes up.
TPF: So how do you keep up engagement with your fans? Is there anything you do in addition to just doing the runs?
BE: I run our socials and all the fun money junk. We have our small secret tactics of trying to get fans through Instagram and Facebook, and friends just giving us tips. I'd definitely say that everyone in like the past three years, maybe it's been more, that everyone has been on the buying likes and all that. I think that is totally against what we are. It's about being an outlet and about meeting new people and enjoying your time. If you're just going to buy fans to look like a cool band and look like you're doing better than you are, you're just going to inflate the market. People are going to treat you like, oh you got good fans here, you look like you've got a good following, you're going to play shows and get in front of these promoters. You know kids are obviously going to show up. I don't see the point. I don't get it, why would you just wanna look cool? I don't get it, I don't understand it.
TPF: Yeah, it's not real.
BE & AS: No, it's not real.
TPF: It's not a real community.
BE & AS: There are so many bands nowadays that are like, look at our Facebook, check our music and they have 20,000 likes on Facebook—you guys must pull a pretty good amount of people. And then I'll go out to a show and there will be like seven or eight kids.
TPF: Oh wow.
BE: Seven or eight kids on a Friday night. It's like 7:30 p.m.—20,000 eh? Wow man, I think I just did the math. [laughter]
TPF: Tell us about your merch. What's the concept behind those two designs? And who designed them?
AS: For the merch printing we go through a company out of Anaheim.
TPF: So are they printed on demand?
BE & AS: Yeah. We go through and order a specific amount, what we want to take out with us. Obviously, depending on how many shows we're going to do, depending on how many kids we think are actually going to be there, and all that—then we'll order accordingly.
AS: Another person I met a while back does the actual designs. His name is Dan Axelson. He's from New Jersey. Every time we do a design, we'll send him over like a rough draw-up or whatever, and tell him that this is kind of what we're going for, what we want to do. He'll obviously send us a couple of drafts and then we'll be like, yep that's the one—that looks good. Then we send it over to our friends in Anaheim, and they print it and ship it back to Tucson.
As for the designs of the shirts, they typically don't really mean anything. Especially the two that are online.
TPF: Yeah, I was wondering what the inspiration was for the moon girl and eagle.
BE: Yeah they are just cool shirts for kids to wear. We have more shirts now. Obviously we will be printing more that reference the songs. We'll probably be doing a shirt for "Victim" that will have some of the lyrics on it that will obviously stand for that song. We have another shirt now that we printed for this tour just to see how it does. It has the ghost concept on it, and it has a lyric from our newer song we haven't put out yet, just to see if anyone was going to grasp onto that.
TPF: So that's kind of your market research through the merch.
TPF: Does it move pretty good? I mean, are the fans pretty good at coming and getting stuff?
BE & AS: We do a lot, yeah. We'll sell a couple shirts a night, here and there. It really just depends on the night. It's been pretty good so far. Enough to break even with the order, and then maybe have extra left over for another order.
TPF: So you guys just turn over back into the merch?
BE & AS: Yes. They basically just turn themselves. It's not like we're just killin' it. [laughter] Ah, definitely not.
TPF: So how much do you guys have to independently finance the runs? I mean, are you guys with the runs able to break even or line your pockets at least a little bit? How does all that work?
BE: It's funny, we talk about this all the time. We're from Tucson. We grew up in the scene and hung out with a lot of bands from there. The question, that for some reason everybody always asks is "we wanna tour, we wanna tour" and like you can tour but, there is smart ways to do it and there is very naive ways to do it. I mean, if you're a band that doesn't have any kind of following, no promotional song, nothing out and you decide you want to go and play seven shows, like we're not going to go and stomp on your dreams, but you might want to come up with some kind of strategy to how you're going to be able to support yourselves. Life is not free.
BE & AS: So with the small DIY tours that we've been doing, we come a tad bit out of pocket. Nothing insane, you know, maybe a couple bucks here and there for gas. Usually the shows that I book us along the runs, we end up doing door splits, we get some monies that do guarantees that will most likely take care of our gas, and then we have merch on top of that as well. We break even or we might have enough left over to put toward gas or go to dinner, or something like that. Something small. In the long run, we usually break even on about everything, which we are cool with.
BE: I would much rather be able to keep going out consistently than doing super well one night and then having it horrible the next two nights. It's more of a consistency that I like when I'm out on tour. Consistency is key.
It really is. It's like man, I just really love, like not changing. [laughter]
TPF: So is there anything you wish you knew before becoming musicians in this whole experience?
AS: This sucks. [laughter] I don't know man, you go for it.
BE: It's a lot of work. It really is. Like I said, I grew up within the music scene. I've been playing in a band since I was 14 or 15. It's a lot of hours. You've gotta constantly do things that you don't want to do, "I don't wanna go do this today, but I have to do this."
AS: Nobody really wants to play a 35 minute set with four other really smelly [laughter], awkward people you can't stand at 2:30 a.m. in the morning. No one wants to do that in a basement of all things.
TPF: With no A/C right? [laughter]
BE & AS: We do. We do have A/C now. [laughter] We're stoked about it. We had a fan. We were lucky that it wasn't summer yet. Let's go someplace with A/C. See, do more DIY tours and you get A/C. [laughter] That's how this world works.
On that question, if you were a 13 year-old kid and you haven't ever played music, and you picked up your first guitar—HEY, so you're going to fall in love with this. All you're ever going to want to do but, along the way, you're going to have to like drive ten hours overnight to some awful place and play for like three kids for a couple nights. You'll have to do that. And then after that, you're going to be behind on bills, because you're just not working, obviously, and this doesn't pan out. And you might have a girlfriend, but she's really not going to like you after a while because you're just never there. But, HEY, strum away! Like go for it! This is crazy, but like at the same time, it's worth it. It's the passion! It really is.
AS: For me, there's nothing better than just being up on stage and being in front of people, and being able to say what I want to say, and not be judged. And just do what I want to do.
TPF: Awesome! Is there anything that you want us to put out there and share with others?
BE: Please come out to shows. [laughter]
TPF: You have this current May run, and then you have one in August—The Brain Buster, am I calling it right?
BE & AS: The Brain Busters Tour. [laughter] Yeah, May is now, this is day two [May 18]. This is just a couple shows, till May 25, so please come out to shows. Please support bands that are on the bills that we play. Please pick up the merch. Please listen to what we have to say. Have a good time! Let it be an outlet. Have fun! And then in August, yeah that tour would be good, the same thing for that. Come out to shows. Play some of our music.
If you listen to the band, and you like the band, you will want to go see them.
We want to get you from your room to another room where we're at. We'll play some music and then we'll head out and talk about our lives, and your lives, life in general.
TPF: Yeah, great. So you're inviting people to hang out with you, and get to know you, besides just having a good time at the show.
BE & AS: We love meeting new people. Last February we met so many people. We hung out, we went to Denny's and ate after a show. We went to Disneyland with some people. It was rad.
TPF: Are you actively publicizing that?
BE: Yes, Disney. This is for you. [laughter]
TPF: On your Instagram and your Facebook, are you actively publicizing that?
BE: That is something we're definitely going to start doing more of. We are a brand new band. We technically put out "Caving In" I think, January 5th, that was like the first day that it came out. We've just been focusing on staying busy on runs. We’re going out and playing shows.
TPF: Well, I’m really glad you guys reached out to us. It’s been great talking to you. We’ll keep an eye out for your next tour this August.