Before playing a mindblowing show in a remote yet crowded venue in The Netherlands, the guys in Stray From The Path took some time to sit down with us and talk about their new record, their video for ‘Damien’, fake people and fake bands.
So first time in Europe! Excited?
Drew: “Yeah! We played one show so far in Germany yesterday and it was awesome. Reactions were great. Coming over not knowing how it’s gonna be… and if anything is gonna be like last night we’re gonna be satisfied. The kids are really nice to talk to and we got a lot of positive reactions.”
Yeah, also on Facebook I saw a lot of exciting comments of the European kids that are stoked to see you play on this tour.
Let’s talk about the video you shot for ‘Damien’. It contains some pretty shocking material…
Dan: It’s an anti-ignorance song. The video shows a lot of anti-semitism, anti-homosexuality and all the ignorance associated with that and with religion. That’s also what the song is about and how those people are evil. People think we hate religion because of the video, but we don’t. We hate the corruption behind religion.
Tom: We’re not religious at all and in generaly agnostic, but it connects with a lot of Christians, because a lot of religious people deal with problems like these. So a lot of people that are religious and get it, connect with us and are like: “thank you for writing this song, because I feel the same way.” And that’s the thing, if it works out for you, if you are religious, that’s great. It just doesn’t work out for us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be on the same page, you know what I mean?
The song is called Damien, because those people are the son of the devil: they think they’re doing it with good reasons, brainwashing kids and don’t leaving them a choice. In the video you see four year old kids crying and crying, but it’s like: let them make up their minds themselves. If they wanna find Jesus and they find Him and it works for them: good. But let them be their own person.
Drew: If you want to check more in dept of it, there’s a documentary called Jesus Camp. That’s where all the clips are from. Check it out yourself and it will blow your mind.
And is that in general the message you’re trying to get across?
Tom: We try to get a lot of things across. On Make Your Own History there’s Damien, but also a lot of personal songs. We write about the negativity in the world in ‘Negative and Violent’, as far as kids of our age do things for all the wrong reasons, to get attention for themselves. We really write about anything we feel writing about. With the new cd, we literally just got out of the studio and got on tour, there’s a lot of personal songs that we wrote for ourselves. We have a song on the cd that’s about religion again, but about bands that claim that they’re Christian or whatever religion they want to do. But they do it for the sake that there’s money involved.
Cause my thing is, personally, we all agree though, that music is meant for reaction. With a lot of bands that are out there, that are writing stupid songs, just to get big… Kids like it because they don’t have to think about it. And even if someone doesn’t like us or doesn’t like what we’re talking about, at least they’re thinking about it, and that’s the thing. We get asked a lot [there’s a band called out called For Today, that we’re best friends with and they’re a huge Christian metal band]: how do you get along with them? But we’re like: “we have more in common than you know.” Because that band will die for what they’re talking about and even if the kids listen to it, but don’t agree to what they’re saying, they’re thinking of something. There’s the reaction that I feel music is about.
There’s also a song on our new cd that’s about bands like that, that just don’t do that. They write about nonsense, they write stupid, mindless songs that people listen to, because they don’t have to think and they only make people dumber. And that’s just not what music was ever meant for. Even if you think of all the best bands in the world, that are groundbreaking music wise as far as drums, guitars or even bass, that you’re presenting to this entire audience.. And than there’s bands that just make whatever songs they can make, and sing whatever words to make the song round. And then they focus on their merchandise, their Myspace layout or a logo.. Than it’s just like: you’re in this for the absolute worst reasons possible and this is not why we [Stray From The Path] are here. And those people, I just have no respect for… Sorry, I talk a lot [laughs].
So you said you just came out of the studio and recorded a new album. What can we expect from it?
Dan: We recorded it at The Machine Shop with Will Putney. You can expect… shoot… It’s very passionate. It’s extremely passionate. There’s a lot of personal songs and a lot of stuff our band feels strongly about.
[Bassist Ryan comes in to join the interview]
There’s just a lot of emotions involved and it’s just very passionate and very real.
Tom: Basically, anything we choose to write about, we put 100% into it. We don’t pick a topic or say: “ahhh let’s just write about this.”
Dan: We try to pick certain issues that we do really feel strong about and try to pick the best words and ways to describe how we feel about that topic. And I think that we did a really good job on this new record. I think soundwise it sounds a bit similar to Make Your Own History, but a lot less “produced” and more raw sounding.
Ryan: When you put the record in, you’re still able to tell it’s Stray From The Path. But it’s the most different record we’ve ever written and I know a lot of bands say that: [on a whiny tone] “we’re really excited to put this out, this is the best stuff we’ve ever written.” It’s just very different and it’s like the next step for the band.
Tom: People often ask me if it’s better than Make Your Own History, and it’s like: it’s just different. I’m not gonna say that it’s better, it’s just different. They’re two different cd’s and I think they’re both awesome. I love it and I’m very stoked about that it’s coming out.
Is there already a release date set?
Tom: We’re working on it. Expect it to come out this summer.
What are the plans after this tour?
Tom: We’ll be touring the States with Norma Jean and After The Burial. In our perfect world we would be doing some festivals in the summer and tour Europe again in the fall. We would definitely love to come here more frequently.
So what do you guys do when you’re off tour?
Drew: We like watching hockey, and I recently started watching [what you guys call football] soccer. Just watch sports and hang out with friends.
Dan: I spent a lot of time at my local pub.
Tom: Oh yeah, the bar is awesome.
Dan: And Tom spends a lot of time at the local sushi place.
Tom: Yeah I don’t really know any time that I go out. Since we toured in September I kind of stayed home [Drew: loserrrrrrrr], just playing guitar and I don’t go out anymore. I’m kind of a loner [everyone laughs].
What’s your opinion on the current hardcore scene?
Tom: It depends man, on the tour we do, but I think it’s f***ing shot. There’s like 75% of mindless crap. Like honestly, [what I explained just know about those bands] it’s that crowd. It’s not like it’s their fault, because what they’re hearing is nothing. That’s the way I feel. If we do a really cool with bands that are not our sound but the same mindset, it’s sick. It really depends on the show.
Dan: People’s perception what a hardcore band is nowadays, is so screwed, it’s ridiculous. A lot of kids haven’t grown up with the original hardcore bands like we did and don’t know much about the roots of hardcore. Kids nowadays think that bands that aren’t a hardcore band, actually are a hardcore band. You know what I mean? Just because the band might have a breakdown or playing in a lower tune. Kids don’t really get it so it’s really hard to judge “what is the hardcore the hardcore scene like”? It has become so “trendy”.
Tom: There’s two songs on our new record: one about the bands that don’t get it and one about the kids that don’t get it. To me, hardcore isn’t a sound, it’s a mentality. It’s just unfortunate that kids didn’t grow up to hardcore like we did. It’s not because I think it’s so much better for them, it’s just the fact that kids can’t connect with music like I did. No one ever waited online at a record store to buy a cd at 9 in the morning. No one made a mixtape on a casette and listened to that for a week. Now they go to their Facebook page, and go to a bands page and be like: f*** it, let’s go to the next page, and the next page and I’ll download the cd for free. You know what I mean? They don’t get connected to music the way I did.
Dan: And the scene’s just flooded with bands.
Tom: Yeah that makes it unfortunate too and the bands keep coming. Kids are making bands, but they’re all doing it for the wrong reasons, throwing songs together just to play a show. They don’t think about their actual music or their lyrics and that’s just unfortunate.
That indeed what you see a lot nowadays: kids at shows with the colorful tshirts of all the bigger bands in the scene.
Dan: Exactly. In America we have a store called Hot Topic, that sells tshirts from Twilight, Black Veil Brides, shit like that. And it’s not like we hate on those kids, but… When their friends show them stuff, that’s what they’ll listen to.
Tom: They’ll find it eventually man.
Our last question: what [upcoming] bands can you recommend to our readers?
Drew: Stick To Your Guns, Structures
Dan: The Ghost Inside, Cancer Bats
Ryan: letlive., Lower Than Atlantis
Dan: Yeah Structures. It’s not like they’re preaching any message, but they just push themselves musically. They’re not doing what’s cool, just to do it. They’re doing what pushes themselves, because they think it’s awesome. And that I admire.
And one final question: what inspires you to write music?
Drew: Fake bands, fake people
Dan: We all have our own personal reasons, whether it be the love of your own instrument, the love for travelling, or just knowing from a young age that you never want to sit behind a desk. Or maybe seeing where your parents come from and how upset or not happy they are with their lives. And not wanting follow in those footsteps. Or just be able to write about personal things and get those feelings out.
Tom: I like for my band to write songs that rule. Like, my favorite band is Rage Against The Machine, but my second favorite band is Stray From The Path for sure. I would listen to our record a lot, because I think it rules. And I don’t think a lot of bands do that. It might be weird to say, but from the beginning I started this band [I was 14] it was always like: let’s make songs that we think rule. And that’s what we still do.
Ryan: I think it’s easier to do things sometimes, than say it. The overall impression that this band gives by touring, playing shows, writing songs, is something more unique that you can’t really put into a constructed paragraph. We can say that we hate this band, or this thing about it, but when we actually do and it’s all over and you look at it from the outside, the impression it something you can’t really say. And I feel that the band is able to say that by what we do.
Tom: Sorry for talking a lot, but that’s what a lot of bands don’t get. They play for thousands of people, listening to what they’re saying, and you know what they say: nothing. And it’s gone to f***ing waste. There’s bands that selling out tours all over the United States and play for a 50.000 people and they don’t tell them a f***ing thing. And that is a huge problem.
And that’s why I connect with Rage Against The Machine so much. Because I might not agree to what they’re saying or understand what they’re saying, but they’re saying something with their voice or instruments. Like Tom Morello, the sounds that he gets out of his guitar, that’s what destroyed my life. I was like waaaaauuuw, that was the best thing I ever heard in my life. And that’s why I admire them and why I looked up to them and no one does that anymore.
Ryan: That’s the thing about being a “favorite band”, because it’s important. I think about it as in: would they be missed if they didn’t excist? And if they did, it wouldn’t matter, because there’s no point, you know what I’m saying? That’s an interesting reasoning for being this band, that it fills a certain hole or they’re a niche for it. I don’t think you should do something unless they’re a certain point in doing it. Like if this band didn’t excist, people wouldn’t be able to replace it.
Drew: There’s no gimmicks with this band. Like Black Veil Brides, what is that? They’re taking a gimmick and forming it around their shitty songs. It’s mindless and selfish.
Dan: They try to recycle old bands and they have a certain idea of how they supposed to look and how they supposed to sell. It’s marketing. I bet the idea for that band was made, before they even wrote one song.
Ryan: Yeah it will make you bigger, but for a shorter amount of time. And I don’t want that. I’d rather look really cool for a long time [everyone laugs].
And that wraps it up. Thanks a lot for you time and your thorough answers! Have an amazing first European tour and looking forward to see you you this fall, hopefully.