Hello and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview! The new album ‘Along Came A Spider’ is in stores now. This is your fifth studio album. How has the writing process changed over the years?
I don’t think our approach has changed, but maybe it has gotten more intense. We start with guitar riffs, a melody line or words. Very simple. But from there it can get hairy fast and usually does. As a song starts to come together, more parts are added to the good parts. Then we practice, dissect, move stuff around, remove parts, change lyrics and alter melody lines. This is a little like putting together a puzzle while also creating pieces for the puzzle…. Anyway, this moving, adding, removing and changing happens a few dozen times until we start recording. But, I have to say, there have been rare occasions when the stars align perfectly, we find Valhalla and a song comes together quickly.
The first single “Rip Your Heart Out” is a real raw ballsy rock and roll song. What can you tell me about the creation of the song?
We were in the middle of writing the songs for our new album, ‘Along Came a Spider.’ Johnny, our lead guitarist, was messing around with a riff and needed me to come up with vocals to get things moving along. I listened and then came up with the chorus vocal “I’m not here to change your mind but I will rip your heart out.” A lot of times, I’ll come up with something and end up changing it many, many times, but this time the line stuck for both of us. And it was funny — to me anyway. The initial thought started as a f*** you to naysayers. I’m sure many people can relate.
But, as the verses developed, the concept went another direction. Not consciously. Instead, Johnny started riffing and I grabbed onto one of the ideas that made me think of AC/DC’s “Let There Be Rock.” Not the riff itself, but a vibe about it. Anyway, AC/DC is always a great inspiration, so things moved right along easily. Instead of “In the beginning,” I began with “This is the story…” The song evolved into a tale of when two flawed characters meet and what happens next. In the earlier versions of the song, we even had blood curdling screams (from the guy) but ended up nixing them to make a tighter song without distractions.
There is a killer cover of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.” It’s true to the original but you also give it your own spin on it to make it your own. Whose decision was it to record such a classic rock song from one of the biggest female icons of the 80’s.
Group brainstorms are great – the more minds at work the merrier! So, via a few brainstorming sessions, we created a long list of songs. Bottom line, we were looking for a great song that fit into the tone of the album but didn’t want to pick one that had been recorded a million times already. We did that before on an earlier album. I’m not mentioning which album…. “Heartbreaker” fit our criteria and it was surprising how many other songs on our list didn’t. Anyway, a big thanks to Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade for creating the song. And, also, to Pat Benatar for her epic version — we would not have heard the song without her shooting it to the stars.
What are the collective influences of the band? I hear metal, punk, and hard rock in your sound.
Yes, to all of them. Good ear! But, there is probably a lot more that you are not hearing… For instance, when we are travelling as we get close to our destination, we blast Journey’s ‘Greatest Hits.’ Every single show. A band guilty pleasure? Maybe. It’s a little reminiscent of the Wayne’s World car scene with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” but probably not as awesome. Everyone participates in the sing-along. It’s like an angelic choir — in fact just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. Very moving…. And, keep this on the down low, but there are some elements of hair metal that touch some of our souls. Not naming names in the group, because that would not be right. But, let’s just say that maybe you hear that, too.
How did the band come to be? Originally it started as a duo correct? How has the band dynamic changed over the years both in studio and on the stage?
Yes, Johnny and I started the band as a duo initially. We played dive bars in New Jersey and New York with an electronic rhythm section, which was unique as we were playing rock music. We usually played three sets a night and mixed our own songs with songs by Judas Priest, AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses and Metallica. But, as we progressed and wrote more of our own music, we found being tied to an electronic rhythm section was kind of limiting. The attack of a note, the crescendo and decrescendo in different parts of the song. So, we decided to expand to a full band – and released our album ‘Flipped Off’ to celebrate. Ha! The live dynamic is exponentially more powerful, as a visual and musically as the ebb and flow is more intense. And I don’t have to jump around on tables in bars anymore to keep the live energy up. Yup, those days are gone! As far as recording, Johnny doesn’t have to spend the hours he did programming anymore, and we spend better quality time writing and testing ideas. Yes, definitely more freedom from our duo days!
You recently announced that you will be touring the U.S. with Puddle of Mudd, Saving Abel, and Tantric, three bands who had a good deal of success over the years. How did the tour offer come about?
We could tell you, but then we’d have to kill you and you seem too nice for that. No, actually what I can tell you is that we have opened for Tantric before. In fact, our manger used to work with Tantric some years ago. And we almost crossed paths with Puddle of Mudd on a prior tour. The music world is so incestuous and the degrees of separation in some cases are too close for comfort. But, on the other hand, it’s sometimes reassuring to run into a familiar face here and there. We’re definitely looking forward to these upcoming shows.
Speaking of live shows, how would you describe a Spider Rockets concert for someone who has never experienced you in a live setting?
At our core, we are an aggressive rock band with music that weaves and winds, turns upside down, shakes you around and then comes back for more. Put that in a live setting with electrified passion and emotion and what you get is a fun, sweaty, loud and raucous show.
What do you think the greatest accomplishment of the band has been so far and what is the biggest thing you would like to achieve in the future?
We just released our fifth album and have had the opportunity to play in almost every state in the United States, touring with Pop Evil, Trapt, Saliva, among others and performing on dates of the Warped Tour. We’ve had the opportunity to perform in Europe. Also, one of our songs was licensed by the WWE and used as an entrance and victory song for their wrestler, Charlotte Flair (daughter of legendary Ric Flair). We just want to do more of the same things and expand our horizons even further. This makes us happy and fulfills us.
Thanks again and best of luck with the album and the tour!