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Earlier that evening, I had had the chance to sit down with long time drummer Joe Stillwell who originally collaborated and started the band with Bear and we talked about everything for this band. Be it the fact that they plan to hit the studio to record their next record right after the Rock Boat to how they normally go about the song writing process and everything in between. Along with the serious, we talked about the goofy including their top tour essentials to Joe's first musical experiences and how they influenced him today. Enjoy the interview and catch the boys as they finish out this current tour!
To start it, this is a twitter question from @smificki for you. Why did you decide to combine at this show?
Us and GRO, why we decided to combine? Well I mean we're buddies with them and we've known them for years and years and when you're doing shows in the same town on the same night with bands that you're buddies with and you know you kind of draw a little bit of the same audience, it just kind of works out. So you might as well just combine the show and get every body into it, you're good to go. Instead of having to choose between well do I go to see Needtobreathe or Green River Ordinance, like just combine the shows. It could be fun!
And then she actually wanted me to ask about the Rock Boat, which I was going to bring up considering both of you are actually playing this year. What are you most looking forward to?
Yeah I've never been on a cruise before so it's going to be interesting for me. I just hope I don't get sea sick but I think, like I've heard that a lot of the bands like change out members and there's a lot of jams that go on and stuff. So I'm really looking forward to that. To getting in on some of that.
Perfect and then you've been together for a while with the project starting about ten years ago. It's been the same line up and you added a touring member I believe. Did you ever imagine that you would get to this point? I mean you're playing the House of Blues that fits up to 2,500 kids.
I think you imagine that you might, like you dream that you might but it seems a lot farther off back then and I mean just in the last two or three years since like our live touring has really kind of stepped up as far as people coming out to shows. Mostly since the release of 'The Outsiders', it's kind of taken off like leaps and bounds. So I mean at that point, I think a couple years ago I was thinking 'Oh we can definitely do this' but then ten years ago I was thinking you know I just hope we can afford to buy a trailer (laughs). Like hopefully we can get all of our gear to the show on time.
And both of you guys have been around for a long time. I know they started when they were in like high school!
Yeah and I think the first show we ever did with GRO was maybe like five years ago. Something like that. Down somewhere in Texas like in Fort Worth or something like that, maybe Dallas I can't remember.
And then I know you've put out the EP but it's been a while since the full length. I think a year-
Yeah a little over a year.
A little over a year so are there plans to start maybe writing/recording or has it already began to happen?
We've already started demo' ing. We've got a lot of song ideas down and like we have our own studio back in South Carolina so that's where we do most of it. We haven't actually gone into properly record the record yet. It's all just demo ideas at this point but probably right after the Rock Boat is done we're going to head into the studio and really put our nose to the grind stone and get it done.
Perfect, then how do you normally go about the writing process? I mean you guys have been working together for so long on this project.
Well the way it is now. Bear and Bo are the two main song writers and they'll come up with a general idea or have like a verse and chorus or they'll just have a riff or something and then they bring it to us and we all just kind of throw our hat in. It morphs into whatever it eventually becomes. You know sometimes we'll have a song like a proper song in ten minutes and sometimes it will take us days and days of hashing things out to really get it right.
Then maybe what's like the strangest place you've found inspiration from like be it for anything from a song lyric to a song title?
Hmm strangest place we've found inspiration. I don't know if this ever made, really kind of developed into a song but like a few years ago, our van burned completely to the ground on the side of the road. We were sitting on the side of the interstate watching our van just kind of go up in flames and like it felt a little surreal. Like I didn't feel as upset as I thought I might. I felt a little more just like 'uh it's okay. It's just a van' kind of thing so that was inspiring for me and I think the other guys felt a little different. They were different emotions flying around at that point but I don't know that's probably the strangest place I've ever felt inspired.
Then I know some of the story of how the project began. I believe it was Bear and Bo who were brothers and went school-
Bear and I.
So you and Bear went to school together.
Yeah Bear and I roomed together in college so we started the band and there were some other people from our school that we were playing with as Needtobreathe but it didn't really work out and it came down to just me and Bear. Then we decided to get Bo and Seth and kind of go for it that way and it worked. We've been doing it ever since.
Yeah no changes in the line up. Pretty rare these days!
Yeah it's incredible.
Then you guys are a touring band and on the road a lot. What would you say are your like three tour essentials that you must have to survive on tour?
For us, Diet Coke or (looking at his current can) the Polar Diet Cola whatever this is. We drink way too much Diet Coke. Also you got to have peanut butter and jelly and what else? Tyler, what's another tour essential?
Socks. Clean socks apparently. It's kind of like in Forrest Gump whenever Lieutenant Dan says 'Got to protect your feet. They're your most valuable assets'. Socks.
Then maybe what's like, not on tour because I'm sure you've seen plenty of wild stuff on tour, maybe what's like the wildest thing that's happened at one of your live shows?
Um gosh. One time, this is more of an embarrassing moment. I don't really know how wild this is but we were playing in Greenville, South Carolina which was basically like our hometown show. Playing in front of I guess probably about 3,000 people outdoors and up on this big stage in downtown Greenville. We're getting ready to go play, our intro music playing and we're going up to the stage. I'm not typically the first one on stage but tonight, you know, I happened to be the first one walking up on stage and my drums were up on this platform up on the risers but it was kind of an awkward height. You couldn't just step right up onto it and there were no steps so you had to kind of just jump with one foot and I started to jump up onto it but then my other foot kind of like caught on the edge and slipped off. So I tumbled into my drum set just like had to brace myself on my seat and everything. All the mikes were open so it was like a huge sound just rattling around and I was like the very first one just as we're trying to look cool and I just take a dive.
First one and at hometown.
Oh yeah it was very ridiculous.
Then obviously you've toured a lot! You've toured with bigger bands, with smaller bands. Like obviously you're headlining this show in particular with Green River Ordinance opening. What would be like the three past bands that you would want to bring out now on like a dream tour?
Oh gosh like would we be headlining and them opening? Any three opening bands. Gosh! Mumford and Sons would be one, they would definitely be one. I think honestly, I think, a really really fun show. We wouldn't be headlining this show. It would go Mumford and Sons, Needtobreathe, Radiohead. That would be my ideal show. That's just me.
Then what can fans maybe look forward to with in the next few months? Do you think you're going to take a little break? I mean you have the rock boat, you have this tour?
Well we've got this tour that goes through the end of December and then we have the Rock boat in January and then we're going to be in the studio for a couple months working on the new record and you know who knows after that. That's a little too far in advance to be planning right now.
And then two goofy ones. What was like the first cassette you bought, or CD? Then I'll do the second part of the question!
The first cassette I ever got was-. I can't remember which one came first. I got the C+C Music Factory cassette. You know the one with everybody dancing on it and the soundtrack to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. Those were my two first cassettes.
Perfect and then the first concert. Do you think it influences the style at all you're doing today?
First concert I ever saw was actually a really big concert. It was Van Halen. It definitely influences us. Well it influences me just seeing that big of a production and like how just huge it was. Like how big a band can really get so it was pretty inspiring for me.