The guys in Pop Evil have had a year that every band wishes – the first three singles off their new album, “Onyx,” have hit number one on the charts. This feat may be a huge accomplishment but the biggest reward is the fact that this album is truly the first effort that Pop Evil did themselves. I recently talked to bassist Matt DiRito about the band’s sudden success.
“Onyx” is the band’s third album, and has since yielded number one hits with “Trenches,” “Deal with the Devil,” and “Torn to Pieces.” First of all, congrats on the massive success.
Hey, thank you very much.
How did you decide which songs would become singles? Is that the band or the label’s doing?
It’s more between band and management. We have a separate management; they’re not connected to our record label at all. When we were in the studio working on ‘Onyx,’ it became pretty clear to us what songs we wanted to push out first. There really wasn’t even a whole lot of discussion about it. We all sort of felt the same way and moved in the same direction.
How different was the writing and recording of this album versus previous ones?
This is the first time we’ve really had the chance to sit down and write an album start to finish. Our very first album we wrote when we were still doing cover songs and everything like that and sort of pieced it together; and even our second album we dropped our record label like halfway through the recording and it really had an impact on how that album started. So, being able to sit down in the studio with the other guys and write songs, work on songs, from start to finish and have a decided plan and a plan of attack for all of it was just phenomenal. We were way more productive.
The band has had a couple line-up changes since you joined in 2007 with Chachi (Riot) and Nick (Fuelling) in 2011-2012. How difficult was the adjustment at first and was there ever a time when the chemistry just wasn’t working?
Yeah, it’s kind of funny you ask that. When we brought Chachi out originally we were like, ‘hey, man, you know the songs?’ and he was like, ‘yea, yea, yea, I’ve been working on the songs.’ He came out and it was nothing like we expected at first and I worked with him one-on-one for probably like a month and a half just developing the songs. ‘Just make sure you hit this and don’t forget that.’ That’s a lot of stuff for one person to take on especially for someone who wasn’t doing it full-time at that point. It kind of took a minute to get the groove with him. Actually, the same thing with Nick too, he came in and was sort of like the opposite. He knew all of the songs right off the bat and played them perfectly and we thought, ‘we’re not going to rush ourselves into a decision. We’re still going to audition a couple other people and see what our options are.’ And low and behold we went back to Nick because he did play everything perfect and he’s a monster player and phenomenal writer.
The rock music industry appears to be growing bigger and bigger each year. How does Pop Evil separate themselves from getting lost in the pack?
We try to not really listen to anyone else when we go into the studio. We’ve had producers who have tried to do that before and say things like, ‘this is what’s number one right now on the charts,’ or, ‘these are the bands who have been in the number one position on your active rock charts for the past 12 months. Let’s see what they’re doing and what they’re sounding like and what it is that is catching on with people.’ We’ve never really bought into that. We have our own formula, our own way of doing things, the way that we write and the way that we bounce ideas of each other.
I saw the band live in 2010 with Chevelle in Rock Island, IL. I’m heading out to see you guys with Sick Puppies next week. The band has also played with monster bands like Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Sour, and Theory of a Deadman. What have you learned personally from touring with such big named bands?
You see a lot of behind the scenes, how they interact with each other, and there are definitely some dos and some don’ts in terms of how they work with their road crews and stuff like that. Their efficiency, just on small things that you don’t think about from a band’s perspective, like the amount of time to get off stage, go through sound checks, and it’s really critical for a band to play their whole set. There’s a lot that we’ve learned specifically from their road crews.
Being a bass guitarist, which song(s) do you like playing live the most and why?
I love playing ‘Sick Sense,’ just because of the simplicity of it. I love ‘Goodbye My Friend;’ that song starts off with a bass line. Anything that’s a little faster paced, because a rock bass player just kind of sits back and holds things down. But every once in a while there are a couple songs where I can throw a couple licks in; actually, a good example would be ‘Silence & Scars.’ I really enjoy playing that live.
As mentioned before, “Trenches,” “Deal with the Devil,” and “Torn to Pieces” have all hit number one. This has to be beyond the band’s expectation. This is huge! When you release an album, are there benchmarks you strive for?
We’re always trying to drive forward. The ultimate goal is always just pushing ahead, selling more units, reaching more people. We definitely had some decided numbers when we released the album and what we could expect compared to our last albums. It just continues to grow.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He also is the author of the novels, The Extraordinary Life of Shady Gray, Hello Lesbian!, Hello Fabulous!, and Anonymous. Visit him at www.tanamor.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.