The Joys, Secrets and Lives of Pop Evil
When I interview someone I want to ask them questions that I have always wanted to know the answers to. I always want to know the things that no one else knows. The questions you normally couldn’t ask without getting them three sheets to the wind.
I want to know things that nobody knows about or hasn’t asked. I want to ask about the time that you hung out with Zakk Wylde at The Echo in L.A 5 years ago that I found some obscure blurb about in an interview. (BTW this is just an example. This didn’t actually happen as far as I know)
That is why when I am going to meet someone or a band I spend days or weeks combing the web of interviews they have already done.
I had met Pop Evil probably 15 or 16 different times but this was the first time that I was actually “professionally” interviewing Pop Evil. Over the years, I had learned tid bits about them here and there.
For instance, the guitarist, Dave who is the only other original member beside Leigh, and I have sons that are the same age and have the exact same name for the exact same reason. Go figure!
Don’t you want to know that Matt Dirito once admitted in an interview to a sleeping with a man’s wife because the guy kept showing up at shows begging Matt to do it and he finally just gave in. Now after my Pop Evil interview, I tweeted Matt asking him to tell me whether that was really true but all he did was like the tweet. Is that a confirmation? I guess we will all just have to wonder.
And did you know that he loves bats and has a tattoo of a giant bat across his chest?
Also, Leigh once said in an interview that he doesn’t want to do covers because they had to do covers when they were just a garage band and now they don’t have to.
These are all things I learned trolling the web looking at different interviews.
I once asked Matt DeWolf, of the now broken up band Taproot, what bugged him the most about interviews. His answer was being asked the same damn question all the time…like being asked things that they could find out if they just looked on their Wikipedia page. One band once said that they sometimes made up answers to questions because they got so sick of being asked the same question.
That was my goal. To not ask any questions they had already been asked.
So, I started out my interview right. First I found out inadvertently that Matt has a sweet spot for Little Debbies and Hayley (the new drummer) for Mature English Cheddar Cheese. So, I brought some. I found that it never hurts to bring a little something with you. Touring is hard. You live in a big metal box with 8 other people who only get to shower maybe 1 time every 3 days and your only personal space is the size of a coffin.
No literally. I am not kidding. You lay in your bunk and you have room for your head and feet. The ceiling of your bunk might be 5 inches above your head and you get a nice little curtain you get to pull closed and that’s it. That’s your privacy.
So….onto the actual interview.
First….you get like 15 minutes to do your interview and we were put in the side room next to the stage. Which you could hardly hear. So, Matt
and Hayley were nice enough to invite me onto their bus.
FYI it was the first time Leigh has actually ever acknowledged me. He actually smiled and nodded Hi. Thank you Leigh. That was awesome :). The other times I have ever met Pop Evil I never got to talk to Leigh he always disappeared. Back when Luna Lounge was still in business Matt, Chachi, and Dave and the rest of us had a good old time laughing and joking around, standing out back while the gear was being loaded, talking about music and stuff. It is just the nature of rock n roll and music. But that was back when they only had a few hits under their belts.
So, we sat in the bus and got started.
Me: It was mentioned in 07 that you guys do about 250 shows a year which is about a show every other day and when you push it to 300 gigs a year that is about a gig a day with only 2 days off a month. That is a lot of time away from home and missed time away from your family. How do you do it from a physical, spiritual, and rejuvenation standpoint? Hayley, I know you are just getting started on this journey but how long do you think this type of touring is maintainable?
Matt: I think it depends on the person and Hayley’s got a lot of experience as she’s toured a lot before Pop Evil too, but you know even as we get older it becomes, I think, a little bit harder. We all know each other’s lifestyles and how to get along with each other on the bus and what not to do and what not to say, things like that. I think just the older you get the more time you want to spend with your family, mentally being out here and being away from home, the more you appreciate being with your family.
When I was younger and touring I could be out a year and a half at a time and it didn’t bother me at all because all was so excited about seeing new things and meeting new people. Not that I’m not now, but I think that I just equally enjoy my time at home as well. So, now we do maybe tops, 5 or 6 weeks out at a time and then probably have a week off. So, a week off for every 5 weeks out. You make it work.
Me: You gotta love it more than 40 hours behind a desk.
Hayley: Oh hell yeah
Me: I have asked this of Three Days Grace and of Corey Taylor (of course Mr. Taylor never answered it) you hear certain “older” rock stars say that rock ‘n’ roll and true rock ‘n’ roll fans are dead or dying. Award shows rarely if at all show the award being handed out for Rock or Metal artists and artists like Fall Out Boy, Lorde and Alabama Shakes, all of which I enjoy, are being considered Rock ‘n’ Roll. Do you believe that Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead?
Matt: We just had this conversation a little while ago. Do you want to take this one?
Hayley: No, no you take this one.
Matt: Rock ‘n’ Roll is a lifestyle. To me and to the people that come out and to the people that enjoy it. It’s a lifestyle. As long as those people are alive, it will never die. That’s my take on it anyway.
Hayley: That’s exactly why I wanted Matt to answer that question.
Me: With that question comes the second part. Red Light Saints a band that you have played with about 12 times
Matt: I remember them. They’re a good band.
Me: They did 2 tours with Faster Pussycat and they experience the 80’s Rock ‘n’ Roll version of the extreme form of touring. Is there a difference in the 80’s bands version of Rock ‘n Roll to what Pop Evil’s, Papa Roach’s and Asking Alexandria’s vision of what Rock ‘n’ Roll is?
Matt: Yeah, and this is where the question comes in a lot too where people say “Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead” is because we don’t party the way they used to.
Me: Sex, drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll
Matt: That’s not the essence of it. That’s a by-product. That’s not what makes Rock ‘n’ Roll. I used to think when I started touring in my early 20’s that by getting fucked up every night that I was “Rock ‘n’ Roll, I’m livin the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle”.
Bullshit! It’s got nothing to do with all that. It was a different time and a different place in the industry. Now we have social media and all these different outlets like you. People to hang out with and talk to and ways to occupy our time. I’m on the road to be productive and help spread our music and hopefully affect other people’s lives. Rather than just sitting around getting messed up all the time.
Hayley: Rock ‘ n’ Roll is definitely music to make people feel stronger. Uplift people. Definitely, the current album is about being ‘Up’. Being stronger and that to me is being Rock ‘n’ Roll. There is a lot of music that enters the charts and it feels very meaningless. It comes and goes in a week or so. It doesn’t resonate with people. True Rock ‘n’ Roll resonates and it stays with you.
Matt: Rock ‘n’ Roll to me is when I was 15 years old in my bedroom the songs I would crank up. When those hormones would start hitting you and you are having a hard time in school, things like that. The songs that got me through that period in my life. The songs when I go home off tour and I’m in my truck cruisin’ around by myself and I’m like “I haven’t heard this in forever. I’m gonna put this song on. I’m gonna crank it up. Just for me. Just for me, right now.” That’s it. That’s what it is. It’s that feeling that it gives you.
Me: In many interviews people say that the Midwest takes Rock ‘n’ Roll seriously. Most of the big Rock ‘n’ Roll festivals are held here, Rock USA, Rock Fest, Rock on the Range. In L.A there are almost no Rock ‘n’ Roll radio stations. In fact, there are over 6,600 radio stations in the U.S and only a little over 350 are rock based. Based on your touring which area of the U.S do you think has the best Rock fans and please do not feel obligated to say the Midwest just because you are sitting in Fond Du Lac right now.
Matt: Oh, but it’s true there are markets like Kansas City that is a huge Rock ‘n’ Roll market for us. A lot of other ones just happen to land in the Midwest. I think the reason for that is there are so many blue collar workers. Once you get into the city there are so many nightclubs and influences and distractions. Your typical job in the city versus your typical job outside of the city are very different.
When I worked at a regular 40 hour a week job before joining a band, I worked in a shop. Which is kinda what you did where I grew up. If you don’t go to college and you don’t go into the armed forces you work in a shop. You live and die by your radio in the shop. It’s like your best friend. You’ll be off punching parts or whatever it is your doing and you’ve got your radio all day long. That is your friend. I just think those blue collar workers do the same thing day in and day out, there’s not a whole lot goin’ on in their town or city. So, when bands come through their town they come out and show their appreciation.
Me: It was mentioned when you replaced Dylan Allison and brought in Chachi Riot that your two requirements were talent and being from Michigan. It was even mentioned when Nick came in that even though he was from Pittsburgh and he was a Penguins and Steelers fan, he went to school in Michigan so it was ok. So, how do you go from that to picking a girl drummer from the U.K?
Hayley: Well, there is a slight link. Cause I’m from a place called Lancing in England and then there’s Lansing, Michigan.
Me: (laughing) So, that is how you justify it.
Hayley: (laughing) Yeah. That’s how we justify it.
Hayley: Lancing to Lansing
Matt: It was a nice coincidence to have. It’s nice to try to keep that connection but realistically where we’re at in our careers we’re never in Michigan. We hardly spend any time there. When it came time to hire Hayley we wanted the best fit for Pop Evil, and she’s the best fit.
Me: Why did you decide to bring in a girl drummer?
Matt: We didn’t we decided to bring in the right drummer for Pop Evil.
Me: In other interviews, it was said that you guys put out feelers looking for a girl drummer.
(i.e reference point – Regarding how POP EVIL ended up hooking up with Cramer, Kakaty said: “[We got word out] through the grapevine [via] some friends that we were looking for a female drummer, and we didn’t know if she existed out there.
Read more at Blabbermouth.net )
Matt: I’ll tell you how it happened.Our manager he’s been in the industry for 30 plus years and he has a very good friend who signed Motley Crue, Guns ‘N’ Roses. So when we were initially looking for a drummer we talked about it amongst our closest friends and this guy happened to be one of our closest friends in our circle. We said, “Hey, keep your eyes and ears open, we’re looking for a replacement drummer.” He said, “Well, I’ve got this girl you’ve got to check out.” That’s how it started.
Me: How did all the women in your lives, mothers, girlfriends, wives react to going from 5 guys on a bus to 4 guys and a girl.
Hayley: There are actually about 11 guys on the bus.
Matt: There’s no difference. We are all here for the same reason. We all have a common goal. We are all working towards that common goal.
I’ve got a new sister and she’s got a bunch of new brothers. That’s all it is.
Me: Is there an initiation for new members?
Matt: Did you feel like we put you through the ringer?
Hayley: (laughs) No. God, no. I just got straight on the bus. We just wanted to see how we got on. Chachi was still playing so it was both me and Chachi on the bus. I had it in my mind that if it didn’t work out I would be going home in two weeks. But we got on so well that I’m still here.
Me: Did you have an “OH Shit!” moment? Like when you are packing your bag. You are not only leaving your current band, friends and family but you are going all the way to the United States.
Hayley: Of course,of course. I have an adventurous spirit. I’ve never looked back.
Me: Is it true that you know how to play the guitar, the bass, the trombone, the flute, and that you are a classically trained soprano?
Matt: Is that true?
Hayley: Yes. It is true.
Me: See look at that. I just taught you something new about Hayley.
Hayley: I don’t know how you found that out but yeah. A classical trained singer and pianist. But that was many many years ago. I’d be very rusty now.
Me: So in the future is there a chance we might hear some female vocals on a Pop Evil song?
Matt: I hope so. I’d be willing to say that.
Me: I know you have to go so in the style of The Actor’s Studio. I am going to do some quick fire questions. Ready?
Cake or Ice Cream?
Matt: Ice Cream
Me: Motorcycles or cars?
Me: Jack, Jose’ or Jim?
Hayley: I have no idea what you are talking about
Matt: None of them
Me and Matt together: Jack Daniels, Jose Cuervo, Jim Beam
Me: Favorite curse word?
Hayley: Noooo…am I going to do it?
Hayley: The C word?
Me: Hottest actress dead or alive?
Hayley: Hottest actress?
Matt: The dead ones aren’t very attractive to me.
Me: I’ll tell you mine is Ashley Judd. I have given my husband free reign that if Ashley Judd gives him the ok, he’s allowed to sleep with her.
Matt: Do you have to be involved though?
Me: No. I just want to know he actually slept with her and it’ll be like my husband was hot enough to sleep with Ashley Judd.
Matt: That’s awesome.
Hayley: I can’t pick one
Matt: I don’t know. Betty White.
Me: Highway 1/101 or Route 66
Matt: Route 66 baby. The drive up California’s coast is alright but 66 is classic and I like it hot. You asked before car or motorcycle and I am a motorcycle guy. Going up the coast you get all that wind and it tires you out.
Me: Burgers, Pizza or Tacos?
Matt: Ohhhh…all of it. Throw all of that shit together on a pizza
Me: Almost Famous or Rockstar?
Hayley looks at us bewildered
Matt: That’s a really good question. (FYI to Pop Evil. Would love to hear a cover of Fever Dog!)
Me: I know every band I’ve ever talked to watches them. It is usually how a tour starts out for Red Light Saints.
Matt: Yeah that’s a really good question.
Matt: I’m going to go with…God…..Almost Famous
Me: You should watch them. Now you have to make her watch them. There you go that’s her initiation.
Me: Tornadoes, Earthquakes or Hurricanes. Which is scarier?
Matt: Hurricane. I think
Me: Finally. What sound do you love the most?
Hayley: Drums and a well-played piano
Matt: Nature. Sitting in the woods at fall time. Listening to the leaves falling.
Hayley: and the dog’s bark.
Me: And if you are in Michigan or Wisconsin the sound of a rifle going off in the distance.
I really appreciated Matt and Hayley taking the time talking to me. They were awesome. I have seen Pop Evil play more times than I can count (I think 16…maybe) and they are always full of energy and kill it. So if you have a chance get out there and support them, buy their album and see a concert. And if you get a chance to meet Matt or Hayley bring a little bribery some Little Debbies for Matt and some Mature English Cheddar Cheese for Hayley.