The record begins with the line “Lets take this all the way.” Two years after their release of their EP, Self Against City are back again and most definitely taking it all the way. Since the EP, Jonathan’s vocals have gotten stronger, there is more variation and the band has a much tighter sound. The result is the disgustingly catchy “Telling Secrets To Strangers.”
I recently had the chance to conduct an email interview withÃƒ”šÃ‚ Florida’s own DaveÃƒ”šÃ‚ Melillo.Ãƒ”šÃ‚ It wasÃƒ”šÃ‚ really exciting for meÃƒ”šÃ‚ because he is easily my favorite artist to come out of my hometown.Ãƒ”šÃ‚ His current EP Talk Is Cheap is out now on Drive Thru Records.Ãƒ”šÃ‚
What was it like touring with such huge bands at a young age and how has it effected you? I remember seeing you open up for Something Corporate and The Format at UCF a couple of years ago and you must have been only 15 or 16.
What’s great about my situation is that I get to perform with bands that I truly love and respect. Because I’m still pretty young, Im very in touch with the music scene that I feel I am a part of now, so everyday I get to meet musicians that changed my life in some way. For example, that show with Something Corporate was like a dream come true, because they have been one of my favorite bands since the Audioboxer EP, and The Format being there was a HUGE plus. When it comes down to it I’m still just a fan who got really lucky, so I try to enjoy every moment of it.
Describe what it was like being exposed to the music industry and being signed while you were so young. Was there ever a time when you wished you waited?
This is a tough questions, because as much as I’m thankful for the opportunity I was given, I also have some resentment because it changed the way that I think about music. When you see the inner workings of the industry you realize how calculated and manufactured a lot of music is today, and I took it very hard because music has always been a very sacred and pure thing to me. Being in the music business definitely forces you to become a different person, because you have to grow a thicker skin and learn to deal with issues that people usually don’t ever have to deal with. It just forced me to grow up very fast and realize that everyone in the world is ultimately looking out for themselves.
The Talk Is Cheap EP came out in June of this year. Are you happy with how it turned out? Even though you had it available for free, it’s sold a ton of copies.
I’m very happy with how that album came out because it captured my life very accurately at a certain time. I was also happy with the reaction, because it seemed like people were able to relate to the songs and apply them to their own lives. Right before the EP came out I did an interview with AP.net, and I said that I would only be happy with the EP if it was able to take us to the next level, and I believe that by the time I have the LP released “Talk Is Cheap” will have served its purpose 10 times over.
When can fans expect a full length? What will it be like in comparison to the EP?
What I’m trying to do with the full length is make it similar to the EP, and at the same time add some songs that will show a progression in my song-writing. I think that its very important that each release builds on itself and gets across a different message rather than writing the same thing over and over again. Not only does it keep people interested but it also allows me to perform as passionately as I want to because I really care about the songs. The LP will have a mix of acoustic and full band tracks. There will be some songs that have already been released, and some that I am writing right now. What I hope to have at the end of the whole process is a cohesive album that tells a story about my life after high school and the challenges that I’m facing transitioning into the “real world”.
What is your favorite song you’ve written so far and why?
There is a song on the new album called “The Same Sad Song” and its very important to me because it sums up the way that I feel about life right now. It also is the first song that I ever wrote with a certain sound in mind. Usually what I do is let the song go where ever it wants to go, but with this song I lead it in a certain direction and spent alot of time on it, so I feel very close to it.
What are your touring plans for the next year? Is there any chance of a headlining tour?
We’ll be touring the UK at the beginning of the year, and then following up with a US tour right after. There wont be any headlining stuff for a while because were still trying to focus on getting the music out to new ears before the LP is finished.
Describe your dream tour.
Any tour with Cute Is What We Aim For, or opening up for Incubus and Bruce Springsteen.
You’re from Central Florida where there aren’t very many singer/songwriters similar to yourself. Did that make it easier or more difficult when starting out?
It actually made things much easier for me because there wasn’t any “competition” for the attention of people around here. I never really built a fan base where I live before we started touring though because in all honesty I don’t feel like Orlando is my home. I only live about 20 minutes away from the city, but where I grew up and made the music that got me to this point is a very small town that is completely separate from the greater Orlando area.
As a musician, what has been the one monumental goal that you’ve been working towards since the beginning?
My main goal is to have something to leave behind by the time I die. Making money and gaining popularity are all good and fine, but you can’t take that 6 feet under. I want to leave behind songs that people hopefully remember and can still enjoy long after I’m gone.
If five years ago someone had told you where you would be today, what would you have said?
Does that mean I get to tour with Mest?
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Stay true to yourself and your music.
Deja Entendu is is #3 on your top ten albums list on your website. What do you think of the new album?
There are some great songs on the new album, but I just haven’t been able to give it enough time to really get into it.
What albums are you looking forward to in 2007?
I heard Something Corporate might be making a new album, so Im psyched about that. I’m also pretty excited for The Starting Line, and of course the new Springsteen record which is going to include the E Street Band.
If you could only have one new year’s resolution, what would it be and why?
I want to stop biting my nails….
Hey guys. Within the next couple of days I will be doing an email interview with producer, engineer and mixer, Mike Sapone. I’m sure most of you know, he has worked with Brand New, Taking back Sunday, Straylight Run and many others. If you have any questions for him, please leave them in the replies!
Reema Desai: Could you all introduce yourselves and state what you do in the band please?
Kenny Vasoli: IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m Kenny and I play bass and sing.
Matt Watts: IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m Matt and I play guitar
Mike Golla: IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m Mike and I play guitar too.
RD: How has the tour with the All American Rejects been going to far?
KV: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s been going good. Some shows are goodÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦some shows are great.
MW: I think that all around, IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m going to say 8.5 out of 10; Maybe 9 out of ten.
MG: We have a whole lot of down time but the shows are good.
RD: Do you guys prefer smaller clubs or the arenas that youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re playing on this tour?
MG: I prefer kids that like us. I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t think it really matter what venue.
RD: (laughs) Are you saying that there arenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t kids that like you on this tour?
MG: (laughs) no!
MW: the arenas are kind of overwhelming. Every show is really big and the kids are kind of young to the point of not being really familiar with who we are. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s cool cause weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re winning over a lot of kids, but the club shows that we normally play are just strictly for our fans so weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re used to seeing kids rocking out a little bit more and being able to interact with the kids. Both things have their plusses and minuses.
RD: So youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ve made a lot of new fans on this tour?
MW: IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢d like to think so.
RD: You were on Drive Thru Records when they were huge and arguably at their peak. How has that affected your band today?
KV: Yeah, we definitely were on Drive-Thru at a good time. It was sort of like the Fat Wreck Chords of its time. When they were doing really well I was always looking at Drive Thru to see what bands were coming out and to be signed at that kind of time was really exciting. It did really good things for our band.
RD: How has the recording been going for the next album?
MW: we actually havenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t started recording yet. We go in the studio the first week of January but all the songs are pretty much done. WeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re all really excited about it and weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re excited to make this record.
RD: Do you think that the songs are carrying a certain theme so far?
KV: No, IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m trying to stay away from themes for this record, because when you start getting tied up in a theme and trying to make everything follow some sort of common tie then I think itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a little bit too difficult to write what youÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re thinking about. So all the songs are completely disjointed; itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s just going to be a bunch of songs.
RD: When is the soonest anyone will hear the new songs?
MW: ThereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a couple of floaters on youtube and we have demos but our managers being a nazi about letting them out. (laughs) So weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re gonna try to muscle some out of him but hopefully soon.
RD: How would you describe the transition the band has gone through from Say It Like You Mean It to Based On A True Story to now this upcoming record?
MG: I think its better and a lot more positive than the last record we did. We got out of Geffen and that was really a low point in The Starting Line as far as morale and being positive while writing the record. This time everybodyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s really excited and energetic. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s kind of like going into the studio for the first time all over again.
MW: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s sort of been like a natural progression. I think as a band, weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re all just super excited to do this.
RD: How was the transition between labels?
KV: It was a great transition! ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s no real secret that we had our differences with Geffen. Our relationship with Virgin is something weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ve never experienced before from labels. We really seem to be a high priority for them over there, which was definitely not the case at Geffen.
RD: Is there a certain band that has been particularly influential to you while writing the new songs?
KV: Personally, Radiohead has influenced me a lot. Its not gonna sound anything like Radiohead because you knowÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦
RD: That would be really different!
KV: (laughs) yeah! I just really like what they do with every record that they put out; the steps that they take towards maturing and all the different kinds of music that they put into their own music.
RD: Are there any musicians from this generation that you think will be remembered in the future?
MW: ThatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a really good question. IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢d definitely say Coldplay. I think theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re the closest ones to itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦or Radiohead. I think those two bands are the kind of bands that will stand the test of time. I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t want to say their marketing, but their music isnÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t built on a shtick or a certain selling point. People buy their records because theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re genuinely great records and they love the band. I think a lot of the bands that are popular, that sell a couple million records nowadays, I feel like two or three records down the line they wont be remembered because theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re big right now because of a certain cool trend.
RD: So its safe to say that you guys would prefer to get big the way that Radiohead did versus the way that a band like Panic! At The Disco did?
KV: Much rather.
MG: I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t want to be a fad.
KV: With bands like that (Coldplay and Radiohead), they were never trying to hop on something that was already going. Those bands took a kind of music that wasnÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t really commercially successful and just stuck with it and perfected their sound and perfected what they were trying to do so much that people couldnÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t help but listen. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a lot different from kids now looking for a carbon copy of another band. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a lot easier for a band to get successful that way than to try to pave their own path.
RD: What is one album that you would suggest as required listening for everyone?
KV: IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢d say Clarity because itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s such an under-heard record. A lot of people in our scene know about that record, but if you tally up all the people in the world that listen to music, not a lot of people have heard it.
MW: That recordÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦everybody can enjoy it no matter who you are, no matter what music you like.
KV: At least something on that record
MW: Yeah, itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s for everybody.
RD: What upcoming albums are you looking forward to hearing?
KV: Brand New (everyone agrees)
RD: They played here at UCF a couple of nights ago and it was amazing.
MW: Did they play all new stuff?
RD: It was like three or four older songs and the rest were new.
MW: How are the new songs?
RD: REALLY good.
MW: Yeah? IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m psyched.
RD: Has their been a specific moment in your bandÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s history that has stuck out for you?
MW: Getting signed to Drive-Thru was the coolest thing. I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t know if weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ll ever be able to top that in my book. It was such like a surreal moment. It was so huge to sign to a label with like New Found Glory, Fenix Tx, Midtown on it. To be apart of thatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦ I just started freaking out. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s like someone being like Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”Here, hereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s your dream. You have to work your ass off now but hereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a ticket to go do that.Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? It was a big deal.
RD: What is your opinion on the current state of the music industry?
KV: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s in shambles! (laughs)
MG: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s hard to find honesty. ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s like a diamond in the ruff.
KV: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s tough because you know the music industry still spends so much money on a lot of shit that they really donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t have to or that ends up costing them more than it makes them. Especially since downloading is so big now, kids arenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t buying records nearly as much as they were but you know labels are still spending the same amount and kids arenÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t buying nearly as much so it kind of causes turmoil, for major labels especially.
MG: Labels donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t really want to take a chance. If you are a unique band, to find a label that actually wants to support you is difficult cause labels kind of just look for the next carbon copy of whatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s big right now.
MW: I feel like labels will probably be obsolete in the next like ten years just because there is so much like home-recording equipment. Bands can essentially cut out the middle man and with something like iTunes, if its marketing the right way you can still be a successful band and put out your own records and you might as well do that. No oneÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s going to believe in your band as much as you.
RD: Do you support illegal downloads then?
KV: No, I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t support illegal downloads unless you canÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t find the record like if you cant find it on iTunes because then how else are you going to get it?
MW: Or if the Brand New record happens to leak like a week before, IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢m totally listening to it but IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ll buy it the day it comes out.
RD: It did leak!
MW: I know! I canÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t find it though!
RD: So if you could do one thing to change the industry, what would it be?
MG: Fire a lot of people.
KV: I would un-sign a lot bands that have been signed to major labels. TheyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re just too many bands that do the same thing and labels just sign them because they play that kind of music not because of how good they are or how long theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ve been together or how many fans they have. I wish that that shit meant a little bit more.
MW: I feel like thereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s none of those classic bands anymore. ThereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s no like Led Zeppelin. ThereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s no band thatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s going to stick around for thirty years.
MG: ThatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s like the Coldplay-Radiohead thing.
MW: Right, those are the only two bands. It seems like nowadays labels almost bank on a band being disposable within like three to five years. People sell their couple of million records and then they know theyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ll be done. I wishÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦
KV: I wish there were more career bands out there.
MW: Yeah, thereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s not. But bands also used to be a lot more talented than they are nowadays.
RD: Do you think bands nowadays can even be revered the way those classic bands were?
MG: ItÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s definitely possible.
MW: Yeah, look at Nirvana; they changed the world. There has to be another Nirvana.
KV: Right, thereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s always, at least in technology, a progression in music. Its been going on since music started so something big is bound to happen with music again.
MG: People are gonna get sick of seeing all that stuff. WhatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s the next genre going to be?
KV: It kind of feels like weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re in the eighties again right now as far as music goes.
MG: We need a big grunge take over. Not grunge but something like that.
RD: What do you think that next big thing will be?
KV: I always pictured music turning more experimental and a little bit more electronic. Not like eighties dance electronic, but actually like intelligent electronic kind of music. It seems like itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s just kind of likeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦
MG: Watered down pop right now
KV: It seems like its still Hawthorne Heights bands right now. I really donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t know what musicÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s gonna have for us next. Every time I say Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”ThatÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s going to be a total failure!Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬? its like number three on TRL! (laughs)
RD: Where do you see the band heading in the next five to ten years?
KV: Doing what weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re doing right now. Probably on this bus someplace.
MW: Hopefully trying to carve our own path.
MG: Hopefully not has-beens!
RD: Do you ever get tired of playing Best Of Me and will it ever be retired?
MW: you know what? Kenny can answer that question!
KV: I always get tired of playing it and I donÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t think weÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ll ever retire it!
MW: I still like the song and I enjoy playing it.
KV: Yeah? How much do you listen to it?
MW: I listen to it every night when we play it!
MW: I think itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a good songÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦ I think itÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s a catchy song.
KV: Thank you.
RD: Matt, is it difficult managing bands while touring?
MG: No. WeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢re on a bus with wireless Internet and thereÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢s so much downtime throughout the day that I can kind of do what I need to do and still have timeÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦
MG: and still have time to play football.
MG: Yeah, I still have time to play football and lead a normal life so it works out perfect. IÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢d probably be really bored if I didnÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢t do it.
RD: Ok, any final comments?
KV: Thanks for listening, if you listen to it or heard it before.
MW: Thanks for reading it, if you read it!
KV: Yeah, thanks for reading. Thanks for looking.
RD: Thank you!
MW: Yeah, of course!
Voting for the Dew Circuit Breakout has begun.Ãƒ”šÃ‚ This year Brandston, Fallen From The Sky, Halifax, I Am The Avalanche, Lorene Drive and Zolof and the Rock & Roll Destoyers are all in the running.