Yup. It seems I’m still in a party mood ;) Here’s my interview with THE MASQUERADE, a pop punk from Erie, Pennsylvania. Composed of Geo Martinez, Brandon Eaton, TJ Hess and Dakota Valerio, the act just released their debut single, “Set Your Mind To It”, and took some time with me to talk about the band and their future plans. We even simulated a label signing interview to find out how they present themselves ;)
Hey, guys! So good to have another Erie band here. How are you? How’s spring treating you?
It’s great to be another Erie band! What other Erie band have you guys interviewed before?! Spring is treating us great. Slower than ever since we are so excited to be releasing our EP this summer.
Obviously you’re a part of a slightly different music scene, right? Tell me about your pals and local bands worth checking out.
We are definitely a newer addition to the music scene. Those dudes have been doing work for over a decade now in this town. Erie’s mostly known for its hardcore community. We have only been around since this past August so it’d be cool to start playing shows with other fellow Erie hardcore bands you would never expect us to play with.
Have you been in other bands before? How did you form THE MASQUERADE?
Yes, I have been in a few bands over the past 5 years. The Masquerade has been an idea I have had for about 3 years now of starting a band that stayed true to my roots and the music I originally started listening to when I was younger. After moving on from previous projects, it was really cool to actually sit back, get away from the world for a bit, and say, you know what, it’s time to do this. I started demoing out a few songs, talked to some friends, and before I knew THE MASQUERADE had a full line up and a show lined up. After months of playing shows, we were getting a really good response in our hometown, along with winning an independent music award for “best punk band”. So we decided to take our music to the studio and actually go for it. We went with Nick Ingram in Columbus, Ohio (CITY LIGHTS, BEFORE THEIR EYES) who was able to see eye to eye on what we were doing and brought our music to life.
What would you define as a foundation of this band and what’s new that popped out in the process of your development? How have you changed since those early days?
The foundation of this band can be the fact the we are just some dudes trying to have fun and we cut out whatever drama would kill the vibe we have as friends and bandmates. That’s something you learn if you’re in a band, is how easily it can crumble apart when you take some things way too seriously. You have to kind of mature and think, how can I better what’s going on, instead of giving up on it. We try to fix what is broken, instead of throwing it away. That tends to kill a lot of bands.
Alright, so now when we know your approach, it will be easier to talk about your new work, I guess. You have just released your debut single, ‘Set Your Mind To it.’ It’s a teaser for a bigger release, right?
Absolutely. Early next month, you can expect a little surprise for our single on YouTube and that same day the song will also be on iTunes and we will also be announcing the release of our second single “Best Day Of My Life”. All in one day.
A video coming up?
We are planning to work on a music video soon but this one will be a lyric video for our single.
Alright, but both singles call for a full length, right?
We wish! But it’s a little too early for us to do something like that. We are putting out an EP in mid-June titled “Home Is Where You Make It”. 5 of the best tracks we’ve been able to put together in the short period we’ve been a band.
How will you be releasing it?
Digitally only for now at least. Physical copies are a near future possibility.
Any idea who will take care of the distribution? Are you looking for a label?
Absolutely. As of now, we are taking care of everything ourselves, but there’s only so much we can do or know how to do. Then there are the things a label can do for us. So for now it’s a self-release. So, hey labels, *cough* sign us *cough*. Haha
Any particular desired labels you’d like to be on?
We have our favorites, for sure. But we don’t want to jinx it. Definitely someone who knows it’s in our best interest to tour full time.
How would you present yourself at a signing interview? :D Let’s pretend I’m a big fish, shall we? :D
Ekkhmm.. So… Welcome, gentlemen. Let’s start from the beginning. Mmmm… When and how did you form this… mmm… band?!
Summer of 2012 some friends came together to make some awesome music. We are just some boys trying to turn our dreams into plans.
Annnnnd we are like reallllly, really good at playing shows and stuff :)
Well.. I’m not sure. Hmm hmmm.. Tell me about your experience. How did you teach yourself the musical instruments?
I started playing guitar when I was 14! I got a guitar for Christmas and the rest is history.
What bands have you played in?
I played in a band from Columbus called THE PROMISE ESTATE. A band from Boston called HOLLYWOOD LIES and I joined a band back at home after a couple months of touring with HWL called RADIO EMPIRE until it disbanded in the summer of 2011.
Do you guys spend a lot of time writing? I’m not sure we can afford waiting forever, ya know?
Yes. We are currently working on 5 other songs. Just to be ready for the next step.
How important is an album with good production nowadays? Where woul you draw a line between a well polished sound and a DIY approach? Is it even relevant?
I think it’s very relevant. With a DIY sound you can hear the production done completely from the artist point of view. I mean, in this case if the production is done well. A producer is a way of having an outside input into the music being written and recorded. For our first record, we are glad we went with Nick Ingram. As a lover of older pop punk like me, he knew exactly what to do.
Do you expect us payin’ for everything, a music video perhaps? How would you like a label to support you, huh?
Uhm, this is a weird question for me since this is my first rodeo managing that side of being in a band. So I’m not sure. If we do fall on a label, we definitely want someone who knows what we are doing inside and out and can become a little more personal with what we want out of this.
Do you have support from your family? We can’t be the ones that care for you, buds.
Yes, we do. My parents have been supporting my ambition into music since day one. I can say the same for the rest of the guys. Their parents are infinitely cool.
How do you guys like to interact with fans the most? Gigs? Social media? We need to plan a strategy for you, hope you realize it, hm?
Shows and twitter. Shows is that personal, natural platform where you get to interact with kids, expose ourselves and show kids what we are about in a personal level. Twitter is incredible because it gives you the chance to interact with people who might not be able to come out to our shows and interact with us in a way they want to. I mean, think about it, it gives you the chance to interact with people from all over the world!
What are your lyrics about, generally? We don’t want no crazy incorrect shit right here!
Our lyrics are stories. It’s the truth about our lives, our emotions, what we care about and what we don’t care about. Past experiences, people who we are friends. People who we are not friends with anymore. Our lyrics are a way of voicing our opinion on what we like and what we don’t like. Friends, ambitions, wants, needs, etc.
How do you stand out from the hundreds of thousands of bands out there?
Not sure how to answer this question since we are just doing what we love doing and we don’t care what people have to say about us. We are doing this for ourselves and people who can relate to what we are singing and yelling about. Haha.
Where do you see your band going 5 years from now?
“Turn our dreams to plans instead” kinda says it all. We plan on going places we never even thought about going to. Meeting people we never thought we would meet. And do our best at it. Touring full time is something we want out of this.
Alright, you’re in! Welcome to Fat Wreck Chords! :D
Ok, let’s get it over with :) What’s next for THE MASQUERADE? Any secret news you’d like to share thorugh IDIOTEQ pages? ;)
Keep on the look out for something out this next Christmas. ;) Something not most pop punk bands do. Trust us when we say we just wanna change the game a little bit. ;)
Thanks so much for your time! Cheers from Warsaw!
Thank you for giving us the pleasure of answering a few questions. Lets do it again, sometime? Deal? Deal. :)
Haha, deal! Thanks for your time!