REV (UNDERRIDE) INTERVIEW:
December 2, 2008
Who would have ever guessed that one of the must own rock albums of 2008 would come from a band out of Seattle? Yes THAT Seattle, the city that sucked the life out of the 80s hard rock movement. But Underride is here to make amends, offering up a brand new CD entitled One Of Us that has managed to sound current while still appealing to close-minded rock fans such as myself. In this interview with vocalist Rev, he talks about the new album, the “spoiled cry baby fucks” that took over Seattle and life in general for a band trying to make a name for themselves. And if One Of Us is any indication, the sky is the limit for Underride (www.underride.net).
Sleaze Roxx: First off, how did such a cool sounding band come out of Seattle?
Rev: Underride formed in 2000 with a simple goal, to play straight-up American rock. Seattle was pretty entrenched in the whole indie scene and people just stood around in the clubs with horn rimmed glasses trying to look cool. It sucked. I’m originally from Cleveland, we have enough to be depressed about back there, we don’t need to manufacture more and try to make it look trendy at some shit soaked club in Seattle.
We like to go out and riot, get drunk and chase women. We came out of the gate with Sammy Hagar’s old pyro rig, fire, guitar solos, songs about nothing and became the most hated band in Seattle. It was fucking great! Wouldn’t change a thing.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you manage to snag Sammy Hagar’s old rig?
Rev: Sammy’s old pyro guy lives in the area. He came out to a show and liked the band. After a few beers and some Jack he said he was gonna dump the whole rig and asked us if we wanted it. He gave us the whole fucking rig with powder and cannons and the whole nine yards.
Totally rock and roll… pass the torch!
Sleaze Roxx: What is the music scene like in Seattle these days? Has grunge pretty much died off there?
Rev: The Seattle scene is cool enough. The clubs and the owners are for the most part, pretty cool people and the venues are nicer than most. If you avoid the high-brow indie fucks who think they’re above it all, you can have a pretty damn good time.
Grunge has been dead for a while. It got stupid gay and finally died when everything turned indie/emo. It was fucking dreadful. A bunch of fucking spoiled cry baby fucks all pissy because their rich-ass Microsoft millionaire parents just got a divorce. Give me a break. Try growing up in a trailer on the Eastside of Cleveland eating frozen sausage and beer nutz for your first 12 years.
Sleaze Roxx: It must have been interesting growing up in Seattle in the 90s and watching a city revolutionize the music industry.
Rev: Ya, the whole anti-glam thing came in vogue and before ya knew it, JC Penny was selling a God damn line of grunge-wear. I remember the back to school radio tag line… “because dressing like you don’t care isn’t easy.” Whew… I knew it was dead then and time to wear my guy-liner with pride.
I admit, the early Sub Pop and SST Soundgarden type releases, Alice In Chains, Gruntruck, it’s all fine kick-ass rain soaked rock from the land of Starbucks. The big thick guitar element crawling through the distortion was and always will be rock.
Sleaze Roxx: Your new CD, One Of Us, has been getting good reviews. How happy are you with the way it came out?
Rev: I think we’re all pretty happy with the disc. We sat down one night over a bottle of Jack and agreed to make the best fucking rock record we could… no matter what. We went underground for 15 month and wrote 30 songs, recorded 17 and put 14 on the record.
If anything, this record is a return to the main ingredients of our first full length record Horsepower Kills. Just straight up man-rock, loud and in your face. Fast, fun and loaded with guitar solos over shallow lyrics about the simple pleasures of a rock n roll life style in the USA.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you plan on releasing the other three songs you recorded, or even using all the other songs you wrote in the near future?
Rev: A couple of the songs aren’t on the record for a reason. Sometimes you try stuff and it just doesn’t work so it gets buried in the bone yard. We write about 4 crappy songs for every good song. It’s just the way it goes.
A couple may come out for TV or Xbox or something along those lines but I doubt it. We’d really rather write new stuff. That’s what keeps ya going.
Sleaze Roxx: My favorite songs on the new album were “Candy Girl” and “Road To Nowhere”. Which ones do you think represent the band the best?
Rev: Candy Girl seems to hit on all the things we feel like we do best. That mid to up tempo, driving rock with the killer guitar hook layered with a vocal melody.
We never get too soft but we never go metal either. We tip toe around pop because our songs are pretty basic and short. It’s just a version of rock that you can’t really find much of these days. It feels like the most pure version of rock because it falls somewhere between punk and metal but nobody really does it anymore.
Sleaze Roxx: The production on CD sounds great, and you did it all yourself. How did you manage to capture a sound that would make seasoned veterans proud?
Rev: I heard some big shot producer once say the good songs mix themselves. I remember thinking that was just some bloated line of crap that he spews to magazines. Then we recorded One Of Us. The songs are bit more put together than stuff from the past and they just kind of fell together sonically.
Ya know, we’re not fucking Radiohead or some shit like that. It’s just drums, guitars and vocals. We got robots on Mars for Christ sake, it shouldn’t be that hard to record this Neanderthal rock. Put up some 57’s and go for it!
Sleaze Roxx: In my opinion, Underride sounds current without losing sight of what makes hard rock great. Do you think of both old and new rock fans when writing material?
Rev: Velvet Revolver did it and you have Buckcherry, Hinder, Airbourne, Endeverafter and a few others but shit man, that can’t be enough to fuel the whole world. These bands are starting to sell out big arenas again. Motley Crue is kicking some ass again too. So ya, we just write songs that we think are cool and we think the old stuff still holds water and the new stuff like Beautiful Creatures breathes new life into the scene.
It’s just odd that the big kids pulling the strings in the biz still avoid this scene like the plague. I guess we are sick! Fuck ’em.
Sleaze Roxx: You sell the album on CDBaby (available at cdbaby.com/cd/underride) which is a great resource for bands these days. How has your experience been with them?
Rev: Great! They’re located right down the street in Oregon. It’s perfect for us and where were at right now. A lot of the kids in Europe wanna by the disc. They seem to prefer the disc over an iTunes type download so this gives em the option to buy the format they want. The fans always get what they want!
Sleaze Roxx: What plans do you have in the way of touring to support the new CD?
Rev: We just wanna play the world and connect with as many rock people as possible. I know there’s fucking boat loads of people on this planet who use rock like a drug… to escape from life and have some good times. We wanna find all of those fuckers and unite them in one giant fucking keg’er! Just because the record industry has turned its back on rock doesn’t matter to us. We’re gonna turn this fucker out!
If we get picked up by a label that’s cool. We’ll reach more fans and hopefully tour Europe too. For now, it’s cool and either way, the shows still rock and the beer flows the same.
Sleaze Roxx: How difficult is it for a newer band such as Underride to get people to come to your shows?
Rev: At first nobody came to our shows. It’s tough. New bands usually suck ass hard… as did we. But we worked hard, polished the show, bought some pyro and plastered flyers all over town.
Word got out and people came out. The web and email really helps too. A lot of dudes are like whatever, I play guitar and that’s enough. Sorry pal, those days are over. Guitar Center killed rock n roll and now everyone is in a band and most have no right to be on stage.
You still have to have some chops and put on a real show. Oh and did I mention that you still need to learn how to write a fucking God damn song? Sheesh, these kids today.
Sleaze Roxx: Have you been lucky enough to open for any major names? If so, how have they treated you?
Rev: The dudes in the bands are usually pretty cool. Frankie Banali was a total fucking chode but Kevin DuBrow was extremely kind. Rest in peace brother. It’s usually the roadies who try to mess with ya, fuck with your gear, rail the compressors on the mains, kill your subs. Whatever, they just wanna have fun and it’s all a part of taking your lumps.
Bands we’ve played with… Pacific Northwest luminaries such as Duff McKagan’s Loaded, Rorschach Test, grunge founding fathers Gruntruck and Hog Molly (formerly TAD), Henry Rollins’ band Mother Superior and Motley Crue.
Underride has opened for many other national acts passing through Seattle too. A few of these shows include bands such as Quiet Riot, Faster Pussycat, Great White, Static X, Trust Company, Dokken, W.A.S.P., Bullet Boys, LA Guns, White Lion and too many more to list.
Sleaze Roxx: What did Frankie Banali do to you guys?
Rev: Frankie was ok I guess. If I was him I would probably do the same thing. They were trying to make a comeback and had to play some pretty small clubs. A far cry from opening for Black Sabbath or whoever he said.
His drum kit was so massive it literally gave me no space to stand on stage. It was about two feet by two feet. I was like, yo Frankie can ya help a brother out? And then he unloaded about all these big bands he played for when they were coming up and how he had to set his drums up in the bathroom or whatever on the floor blah, blah blah. I was like whatever… come on and feel my boys! It’s cool, dudes have a right to be that way, but to me it’s gay.
Sleaze Roxx: What are some of your best ‘life on the road’ stories?
Rev: At the legendary Central Tavern we were doing shots on stage. They were going down easy that night so someone brought a whole tray of shots and set it on stage. As I slammed the shot in my hand I threw the glass down and shattered all the shot glasses on the tray.
Rather than ordering up a new round, I drank all the shots right off the tray. Glass included! That was about two years ago. Fans still hit me up on the street about that and I’m still shitting shards of glass. It’s a dirty job but the Rev is glad to do it!
Sleaze Roxx: One Of Us is actually your forth release. I haven’t heard the others myself, but is the sound similar?
Rev: Horsepower Kills, the first release, is probably the closest. It’s all hard rock but we went off on some tangents and had a revolving door on members. Things changed a bit but eventually all roads lead to rock!
Sleaze Roxx: How did the band first come together?
Rev: The current line up for Underride has only been in place for two years. We had a couple band mates finally fall to the trappings of their vices and another who ran into the law. We hijacked some new blood and spent about 15 months writing and recording One Of Us.
Sleaze Roxx: Is it hard for a relatively new band like Underride to keep a consistent line-up, because I assume you all have day jobs as well?
Rev: We try to make a buck here and there but the economy sucks ass pretty hard. Gas and booze are expensive now and that’s killing us. Thank God we don’t have to pay for our women… or wait maybe we do? They say you pay either way.
Sleaze Roxx: Being the vocalist you must have to behave yourself a little more than the others to save your voice. How much does that suck?
Rev: The reason I sing in a band is because it’s the only job where I can be a loud mouthed party mother fucker and get paid for it. My voice blows out sometimes but what the fuck. I scream for a living ya know? If you’re drag racing and you blow a gasket on the quarter mile… its just business. I only really try to avoid smoking.
Sleaze Roxx: Who were your musical influences growing up?
Rev: I started listening to KISS and Led Zeppelin when I was a kid. The fire and blood, devil worship, masks… all that crap sucked me in like a crack whore to a glass pipe.
I heard Immigrant Song on the radio on our way to my grandmother’s house for Sunday pasta in Cleveland. I asked my sister, “what is THAT?” and she said “oh, you like that?” It’s called HEAVY METAL! It was so fucking bad ass, I was all in. When we got home, she gave me her Van Halen album and it was all over.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s how it was for me as well. The minute I heard heavy metal I was hooked. What do you think it is about this form of music that can have such a powerful effect on people?
Rev: I can only tell you what it means to me and why I connect with it. I’m pretty intense and run at 100 mph all the time. I like to live like there is no tomorrow and hard rock is the sound track to my balls out way of life.
To play it live is a bigger high. And when you connect with even just 500 kids and they get it and you’re serving up double helpings of kick-ass rock… it’s better than any drug and maybe even better than sex. No wait, nothing is better than a good fuck.
Sleaze Roxx: Looking into the future, where do you see the band in five years?
Rev: We’ll be finished with touring for One of Us with a world wide rock following and working on the next record. There will always be another record to write and gigs to play. As long as they keep making beer and the kids wanna rock, we’ll be out there leading the way to the dark side.
Thanks to Rev and Underride