Dru Broda and Kramer White of Reverse Grip Interview
DRU BRODA AND KRAMER WHITE INTERVIEW:
June 27, 2014
Websites: www.reversegriprock.com – www.facebook.com/reversegriprock
Canadian sleaze rockers Reverse Grip have taken a different path than their contemporaries in their quest to bring their attitude filled rock and roll to the masses. Rather than touring extensively in Canada and branching out into the United States, the band — consisting of the three Broda brothers and bassist Kramer White — have toured all over the world including Australia, Brazil, Japan and many European countries in the last two years. Sleaze Roxx met up with lead singer Dru Broda and bassist Kramer White to discuss everything from Reverse Grip’s different path to stardom to when we can expect some new music from the band.
Sleaze Roxx: Unlike many Canadian bands that have been coming out of Toronto, you guys have already toured extensively internationally. How many countries and how many continents have you toured in?
Kramer White: We have toured five continents over the past year and a half and I think we have covered about 16 countries — 16 or 17 countries now ranging from down under in Australia to Japan to Brazil to all the way through trekking Europe including Poland and Germany. All over! Just everywhere! We have developed some good accents too (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: Which country has been your favorite?
Kramer White: Favorite country? Hmmmm, Japan was really cool — very cool. It is quite a blur but it is such a different place compared to what Canada and the States are like. It is very unique and everything. The fans are great. The shows were great. The culture is amazing and the food was great too. I could not complain about that place!
Sleaze Roxx: What about you Dru?
Dru Broda: My favorite place? I will say Brazil just because the crowds were just absolutely insane! They just love their rock and roll and metal and they love anything hard rock and anything that’s got that kind of ’80s influenced kind of stuff behind it. They really get behind it and they are like true fans. They have people making us petitions to come down to play in Brazil and that is why we ended up going there. So, yeah — there are people with Reverse Grip tattoos down there. There are Facebook groups popping up all over the place like ‘Bring Reverse Grip to Brazil’. A lot of people were very supportive of us coming down there so it helped out a lot to get us there. I think that was one of my favorite places. It is hard to name one place because there are so many great fans and awesome cultures and different places that we have been to. Yeah — a lot of cool places. I would say that Germany is right up there with everything.
Sleaze Roxx: You toured with Lordi, which I would say is a band quite different than Reverse Grip. How did you land that gig and how did the tour go?
Dru Broda: We landed the tour through our management that is in Germany, which is called Rock N Growl — they ended up getting us the tour. We had other offers to do other tours, I think we had one with Manowar and Amorphous and stuff like that. We just thought Lordi would be a really cool act to tour with — they are Eurovision champs. You could not ask for a better group of people to tour with. They were completely amazing. They took us in right away and they are all pretty much behind the scenes. You do not get to see what they look like but they were all just decked out in Reverse Grip wear. They were really supportive of us as well — they all had their t-shirts on. It is pretty cool to see how they do their make-up and stuff like that too. They are, like you said, very different from us. We are just kind of like roll out of bed, throw your boots on and go up and fuck shit up on stage. They are very prepared and they have some stuff that they do that if something screws up, it kind of ruins the whole show. With us, if something screws up, that kind of makes the show better (laughs). It is more real, but I am not saying that theirs is not real. It is just a very planned out act as opposed to us being kind of — I do not know how you would say it — just improvising almost on stage every night, just making it up as you go. Nothing really planned, you know? Like our set list, just do whatever we want kind of thing and feed off the crowd. We would play one song one night and we would be like, “Okay, this crowd is not feeling that. Let’s switch it up and play another song.”
It was kind of interesting to see the Lordi audience take on Reverse Grip because some of them when we walked out on stage were like “Oh God… what’s this?” It is like Guns N’ Roses meets Poison and they were like “What is this?” and then all of a sudden, by the end of it, they got their devil horns up and they were singing along to “Sold My Soul”. We were like “Alright, won that guy over” so it is cool to see that kind of transition. There are some really hard core diehard fans that we still keep in contact with. We are very into Facebook and stuff like that — interacting with fans. If they ever message us, they are definitely going to get a response from us.
Sleaze Roxx: I noticed that you self finance a lot of your tours, but why would you not tour the U.S. or Canada which would probably be cheaper for you then to tour internationally?
Dru Broda: Basically what we did was we really looked at it as where are we going to benefit the most by putting our money into. We did look at the U.S. and Canada but then we also looked at everywhere — like anywhere else that we could. And we have played a lot in Canada, we have gone around Canada but it is not to say that Canadians are not great fans or anything like that because we have a lot of diehard people here such as yourself. But what we found was that the Brazilian culture, the Japanese culture and the European culture — a lot of them really like to go out a lot to still see rock shows. Like in Japan — this is just kind of like a random story, but they have different nights on the weekend. Friday night would be metal night and a guy will bring out his leather jacket and his spikes and stuff like that and he will go down and he will be going to this heavy metal concert. Then the next night, it will be punk rock night and he will come dressed up like a punk rocker. But then at the end of the night, they go the bathroom and they change into their suits and ties and they go home. It is the weirdest thing you will ever see but that is just the way it is in their culture. For whatever reason, they do it like that. Kramer — do you want to say something?
Kramer White: I was going to say one definite benefit of touring Europe is that when compared to Canada and the States, if you want to go from one major city to the next — so Toronto to Ottawa, the next major city that actually has a substantial amount of people — you have to drive quite a long time. In Canada, after Ottawa and Toronto, you are going all the way to Calgary or Edmonton which is quite a hike if you have ever tried to do it. Whereas in Europe, you can cover countries that have basically the same amount of people in Canada in a much denser population — like a much denser country. So in a country such as Japan, you can cover a billion people in just a couple of hours on the bullet train. And then you go to Germany and you can do all the big cities in Germany and hop over the border and have a four hour drive and next thing you know you are in Milan. You can just do so much more in a smaller amount of space — cover more people and basically market yourself a bit better.
Dru Broda: Spread your seed?
Kramer White: Yeah — spread your seed (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s go back to the beginning a little bit. Dru — I understand that you and Sean were living in Australia when you started the band. Why did you guys end up moving back to Canada?
Dru Broda: Basically my Visa ran out in Australia (laughs) and I could no longer stay or else I would definitely be living there right now. It is just amazing to live there. You have the sun, the beach, the surf and everything like that. I kind of really got into that. It is almost like a California living kind of lifestyle but with nice people. The Aussie people are just so polite, nice and very easy to get along with — no worries kind of style. So we all got along with them really well. That is why we decided to go back to Australia even though that was probably one of the more expensive things to do. It was kind of like “Yeah! We got to do this. Bring some rock down to Oz.”. So, yeah — Visa ran out (laughs by everyone) or else we would still be there.
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s go back to the original line-up — I assume that it was the three Broda brothers as well as Eskander Mirza. Why did Eskander leave the band?
Dru Broda: Well, I will say that the original line-up was myself, my brother Sean, Trevor Scott and Dan Sprague and then we had to kick those two losers out of the band (laughs). No, no. Trevor and I are still best friends. We just went down two different paths when it came to our careers — no hard feelings. It was actually very big of him — no pun intended — to step away when he did. Much respect to both those boys. We then brought in Dylan and Eskander. Eskander had to leave the band. It was kind of like we were all planning out these extensive tours and he kind of had his own thing going and he could not partake in that adventure. So we thought who could we get that slings and axes as well or better than Eskander? I would say that is Mr. Kramer White. We have been pretty lucky to find a guy like that to come and jump in and ride alongside with us.
Sleaze Roxx: Even though you are talking about Kramer now, there was actually one guy in between because there was another bassist that played on your ‘Hunger For Chaos’ CD.
Dru Broda: Ah yes!
Sleaze Roxx: What happened to him?
Dru Broda: He was basically a studio musician. Eskander was unable to do the recording and we needed someone that could just jam out some songs really quick because we had a lot of money and time invested into it. We had not found Kramer yet I don’t think. This guy came in, laid it down pretty quickly and was able to really mesh with us personally and got what we were trying to do. I can’t remember his name — Stefan’s brother — Christian Di Mambro! Yeah, he was actually one of the producers of ‘Hunger For Chaos’. It was his brother and he was a studio musician. He is a bass player for Pyramid Theorem. If you have not heard of them, they are very trippy and psychedelic — a very cool band. Check them out!
Sleaze Roxx: So that takes us to Kramer joining the band. Now Kramer, this is a very weird dynamic for you because you have three brothers that have grown up together all their lives and you join them. How have you been able to fit in?
Kramer White: This is a question I have been asked many times on tour actually. You go backstage with some of the other guys in the band and they say, “Well, how do you do it with three brothers?” I basically just join in when I feel that it is calm and then when the storm starts to come, I go and hang out somewhere else (laughs by everyone). I get out of Dodge! It’s fun — it’s cool, because at the end of the day they are three brothers. They all understand each other versus a band that is just four unknown guys to each other where anyone could just piss another guy off and the next thing you know they quit. But with these guys, they have been together their whole life so they fight a lot but they get over it. They do fight a lot so I try and stay out of that because if I get involved, they are like “You don’t know anything,” right? (laughs). But it is fun.
Sleaze Roxx: Dru — one question I had for you is that on the ‘Nasty Reputation’ EP cover it is only the three brothers. Why was that?
Dru Broda: Because Eskander was too ugly to put on it (laughs). I think it was more or less because we were not really sure what he was going to do and we did not want to really have him. He was kind of like on the outs during that time so we were trying to figure out what we were going to do with him. We kind of just figured that we would market ourselves as the three brothers going forward. That was kind of the deciding factor — plus he is an ugly monster (laughs), Shrek…
Sleaze Roxx: And what was the idea behind the ‘Hunger For Chaos’ CD cover?
Dru Broda: That was my idea. The idea of that cover was basically we had found an artist and we had a bunch of different ideas. Everyone that he had drawn did not really come across as what we were looking for. I think that was actually supposed to be the back of the cover and the back of the album was supposed to be the cover of the album. So then we were just like “The back of the album is not as eye catching as we had hoped for.” We figured that the girl — and if you have not seen it, it is a woman eating the world basically — and we kind of put that as like Mother Nature. The world is kind of just eating itself and it is hungry for chaos — hungry to just explode at any moment in time.
Sleaze Roxx: This might not be a very rock and roll question, but from what I have seen Dru it seems that the Broda family has backed you guys up quite a bit for what you have done. I was wondering how much support you have received from your parents? I know they flew to Barcelona, Spain to watch one of your shows so what has their involvement been with the band?
Dru Broda: Well, first off, our parents — my mother Maggie Broda is an artist in Toronto. She is an awesome painter and she is very heavily into the arts already. And our dad plays guitar and stuff like that — he kind of taught Sean at the beginning stages. And our dad works in theater was well — he is a stage hand for IASE Local 58 so he always had a bit of a hand in theater work and stage work. It got us backstage at a lot of cool events — we got to meet a lot of cool people like Paul Stanley when he was at the Phantom Of The Opera in Toronto. I think that them being heavily influenced themselves in the arts really pushed us to do what we want to do. Our mom had always said “You need to do it. You are young — go for it.” They love to see us on stage. They obviously take pride in seeing their children succeed at what they are doing. For them to come all the way out to Barcelona to see our show was just phenomenal. It was so cool to have them there, bring them backstage — they got to meet the whole crew. Yeah, it was pretty wicked.
Sleaze Roxx: One thing that Reverse Grip seems to have marketed is that you have a mantra to bring the rock and roll attitude back. What has forged that mantra?
Dru Broda: What forged us to do that kind of thing? I think — well, myself growing up — I always liked that type of music. Any kind of music, whether it was hip hop, like Tupac or Biggie or something like that, or go all the way to Axl Rose and Guns N’ Roses and stuff like that, you go from those two extremes — the one thing they have in common is attitude and a FU (fuck you) and very rebellious kind of thing. Growing up, I guess I just loved that kind of feeling you get from putting in a CD and just listening to it over and over and over again. I just wanted other people to have the opportunity to feel like I felt. A lot of the rock now, like Nickelback or Theory Of A Deadman and all that kind of stuff that claims to be hard rock, it has no feeling — it is kind of almost dead sounding. I don’t know what it is about it, maybe the way it is produced? It just sounds dead to me and there is absolutely no attitude or nothing coming through that speaks to you. So I want to make music that is able to speak to people — something to get their anger out or to have a good time to. A lot of music today is kind of depressing.
Kramer White: I think it is natural. It is really just how we act — when you see us, we get rowdy. It is all pure attitude, to do offensive things and say offensive shit. Some people do not like it and some people do. So you can advertise it like that and that will kind of weave out the naysayers right away. We are pretty nice people but I mean it is definitely like sitting in there and it comes out. It comes out in the music and also due to large amounts of whisky. The fact that Lorde won rock song of the year on Billboard I think is ridiculous. We need some balls in rock and roll again because it is clearly lacking — and some more pussy (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: You guys already have three videos under your belt. Which one is your favorite?
Kramer White: “Sold My Soul” — it is like a little archive of the first few tours that we did. There is not too much chaos going on because it was all filmed by us, so we just filmed whenever we had a brain in our head. We got some new videos coming out. We got some new concepts coming so those should be fun but you will have to wait for those.
Dru Broda: The most fun to make was definitely the “Nasty Reputation” one. I don’t know why, but it is just hilarious — it is just a ridiculous video. The entire thing was just $500 thrown down at a bar, go drink your face off, get retarded and have a good time. It was a fun video to be a part of. We do have a new video that is in the works to come out. We have had a bit of an issue with the editing so we are still waiting to have “Dancing On A Bullet” be released. We should be having that out pretty soon.
Sleaze Roxx: That was going to be my next question (laughs)! So Dru — when you were interviewed by Sleaze Roxx back in December 2011, you had described the Toronto scene as “brutal”. Do you still feel that way or do you feel that it has improved in the last two and a half years?
Dru Broda: I didn’t say that (laughs by everyone). I will throw Sean under — no, no — I will throw Eskander under the bus on that one (laughs).
Sleaze Roxx: Eskander did not do the Sleaze Roxx interview (laughs).
Dru Broda: No — I am pretty sure it was Sean that said that! You know being an artist in Toronto, it gets really frustrating but you can’t expect to play the same city over and over and have the same amount of people come out. If people have seen the show, they are going to want time to wait for something new so you have to leave and go away for a while for that — and it is like that with anyone. We were just at the Skull Fist show at the Opera House on the weekend and that show was packed and it was pretty crazy — lots of stage diving and stuff like that. We went straight over to see another band afterwards and it was not as crazy or packed but still lots of raw energy and it was a great show. So it kind of varies, right? It is kind of just the luck of the draw.
We are going to be playing with L.A. Guns at the Rockpile. Who knows if anyone is going to go to that show? We are hoping that people go. There are a lot of options — Toronto is a big city. I think there is a festival that weekend. It is a long weekend and Famous Underground is playing the night before. There is so much stuff going on in the city of Toronto. It is a huge massive city — metropolitan — so you have your options to pick and choose and they are like “Oh, they’re playing tonight. I can see them another time. I’ll go see this band instead.” It is good because there is a lot of competition. You have got to try and fight as hard as you can to get people to come out to your shows. We are in the dog fight with everyone else and we are trying to gather up a scene. We would love to play a show with as many of the sleaze rocky kind of bands that there are in Toronto — just kind of make a bigger scene. I think that would hopefully help with the scene and help draw out a lot more people to come to the shows. Some people may not even know that a certain band exists — some people may not know we exist, but if they go to a show for Midnight Malice and then they see us opening for them they are like “Oh, I like that band. I would see them again.” So it would help everyone if everyone worked together and a lot of bands do work together. I am not saying that they don’t. Anyways, that is how I feel about it. Not “brutal”, but very difficult to stay afloat.
I don’t know if it is different than Germany (laughs) — definitely different. It is still growing which is cool to be a part of. Toronto is one of the biggest cities in the world so you are going to get a lot of people — lots of people that like all sorts of music from rock to rap to DJs. You name it — this city has it. I don’t know — to each their own.
Sleaze Roxx: What about you Kramer?
Kramer White: I have only lived here for five years so I have not been able to see much of the scene as it is. I have been to quite a handful of shows but only recently have I discovered a lot more local bands that have been going on. Like Dru had mentioned, the city is too big — there is too much going on in any given night. So to get 300 people in one specific location is pretty difficult. It does not matter who you are at this point. I have got DJ friends, I have got friends in other bands, and everyone has the same issues. I mean working together is definitely one — hopefully one case that can bring a bigger scene together. In Brazil, they had this cool thing called a sleazy zone party where it is built up. People that did not really know too much about the whole sleaze genre, they bring them and they play all sleaze music — ’80s, Crashdiet, Hardcore Superstar, newer stuff from the 2000s and even last year. So people just go out — they normally know what they are doing but they like to dress up — it is kind of a Steel Panther type of deal. You know — you go out, everyone dresses up and listens to all these tunes. We got to be a live act for one of the shows. Now, they are incorporating live bands that come to Brazil as well. Sebastian Bach might have been in that one too — I am not sure. But yeah, so building up this crazy scene where people that do not really know the genre but they want to go because they hear it is going to be fun. You get to dress up, listen to good music and that is how they build the scene and they started with nothing! I would not mind doing something like that in Toronto. I am not sure how well it would go over but it would be something interesting to try out.
Sleaze Roxx: Here is a bit of a loaded question for you. When I first saw Reverse Grip, you opened for L.A. Guns but it was with Tracii Guns’ version. Reverse Grip is now opening for Phil Lewis’ version. Which one is your favorite out of the two?
Dru Broda: That is pretty hard to say. I mean you have two huge faces of L.A. Guns in two separate bands. Hearing Tracii rip his guitar as wild as he did that night was awesome — he really was whaling! And to have the chance to party with him was really special. The advice he gave us was priceless. He is just a really cool down to earth dude. Plus he was able to make the guitar sound just like it did on the album if not better and more modern. But for me, it is really the voice of the band that makes it and maybe that is because I am a frontman myself and I am biased (laughs). But hearing Phil Lewis sing L.A. Guns songs just sounds like, well… L.A. Guns, you know? But also I think that for me, Michael Grant — I discovered him when Endeverafter opened for Airbourne years ago in Toronto and I thought he was an awesome guitarist then, so it is pretty cool to see him join L.A. Guns. I am excited to see them since they have not been in Toronto in what seems like forever. So I guess to answer your question, I would say Phil’s version is the version that I would have to pick to see since I have not seen them yet. We are all excited to see what they have got to offer!
Sleaze Roxx: What about you Kramer?
Kramer White: Kramer White has no opinion (laughs by everyone).
Sleaze Roxx: What are your future recording plans?
Dru Broda: We just recorded four demo songs in December. Right now, we are still fine tuning them. We are going to be, hopefully, recording a new full album by the end of the year — if not a full album it is going to be another EP. We are sort of deciding on funds for how we are going to come up with the money to be able to afford to do a full album. Because, like we have said before, money is tight. Unfortunately, that is the case but we are hoping to have a new product to be released by 2015 — if not January. We will say spring 2015, when we will have something new to be released. We will probably be doing some singles and stuff like that in between from here and then so be on the lookout for those. If we do, we will release a video with the single and then have that go out and about and see how it does and then build up on that from there. Hopefully, we will have the new album out and be able to be touring behind the album. We want to go back to Europe, I think that is our main goal — to be back in Europe and hit that hard again and then come home and regroup and see what we can do back home.
Sleaze Roxx: You have one gig planned for the end of June. Do you have any other gigs planned for the rest of 2014?
Kramer White: Absolutely — we have a few gigs coming up. One we can confirm is Friday, July 18th at the Bovine Sex Club in our hometown of Toronto in Canada! We will be rocking the stage with a cool young hungry band called Rynheart — I’m super stoked! It should be a booze bath of a night! We are hoping to branch out in a couple of other local scenes. I am from the London area so we are going to try and go down to London and rip that up and then maybe go up to Hamilton, Peterborough — stuff like that. We are also working on a show with Chemical Burn in London hopefully in mid-July. So stay on the lookout on our Facebook site. We just wrapped our world tour but we are already working hard on getting back on the road — sooner rather than later.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question — what are your three favorite albums of all time and why?
Kramer White: Skid Row is my favorite band of all time so I am going to go with ‘Slave To The Grind’ on there at number one. Number two — let’s do ‘Dr. Feelgood’ by Motley Crue.
Dru Broda: That should be number one for you (while looking at Kramer’s Dr. Feelgood like tattoo on one of his arms).
Kramer White: And then I am going to throw a curve ball for number three and say the ‘Marshall Mathers LP’ by Eminem. It is actually my third favorite album — attitude (laughs).
Dru Broda: For myself — number one album of all time is Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Appetite For Destruction’ without a doubt and I don’t think anything else really matters (laughs).