Dave with Hellhound Music had a chance to catch up with Joe Whiting, the drummer for Clear For Takeoff from Ellicott City, MD.
HHM: You guys formed Clear For Takeoff in 2009 right? Was this most of your guys’ first project or had you been in other bands previously?
Joe: Yes, we started the band in 2009, however we’ve all been involved in previous musical projects as well. Part of what makes Clear For Takeoff unique is that we all come from various backgrounds and musical influences.
HHM: What brought all of you together?
Joe: The history of our band goes way beyond our first practice together during the summer of 2009. Our lead singers, Marc and Brendan, practically grew up together, as they both trained at the same martial arts school when they were younger. By pure coincidence, the two found each other again over a decade later after their respective bands parted ways, deciding to join forces to make music featuring two lead vocalists instead of one. Our current lineup also features Joe, who has played drums for the band since we formed in 2009, and Joey, who has rocked the bass since the summer of 2010.
HHM: What would you say were some of the biggest hurdles up to this point?
Joe: When we first started the band, Myspace was still popular and was the “one stop shop” for music and bands. However, we learned quickly that with the digital age, hundreds of new platforms became available for musicians to promote their music. So one of our biggest hurdles at this point has been keeping up with all of the latest social media trends and finding the best place for online promotion.
HHM: Some of the high points that stand out the most thus far?
Joe: We were pretty fortunate to have a few opportunities come our way right out of the gate. Before we even released our first album, we were selected as a Top-12 Finalist to play DC 101’s 2010 Chili Cook-off and competed in front of a judges panel of industry professionals for our first show ever as Clear For Takeoff. Talk about pressure! Once we released Wake The City in June of 2010, not more than a month later, Hollister Co. contacted us asking to put our song “Rockaby In E-Flat” on their Fall 2010 Playlist alongside Maroon 5, Hanson, Travie McCoy, and others. That was a no-brainer. Since then, we’ve been touring the east coast and midwest, building our following from the ground up and perfecting our sound. We’ve had the chance to play on some pretty big stages as well, such as the 2010 Virgin Mobile Free Fest with Cee Lo Green, The Black Keys, DeadMau5 and Two Door Cinema Club. And recently, we opened the main stage at the Charm City Music Festival with Weezer, Flogging Molly, and Eve 6.
HHM: You have been lucky enough to play with some great National Acts, how do you think you’ve managed to snag all those opportunities for CFT? (outside of your obvious musical talent)
Joe: It’s really not just one thing that has opened up the doors for us to play with these acts. It takes a lot of hard work, not only musically, but from a business standpoint. We work together as a team to constantly search for the next great opportunity, promote the band and our brand, and of course, make new fans.
HHM: Being an unsigned band, are you guys purposely doing the DIY thing or are you actively pursuing a recording contract for future records?
Joe: Right now, we are working extremely hard to be the best DIY band we can be. It is our goal to eventually partner with the right record label, however it needs to be a great fit for the band. We want to make sure that whomever we partner with understands our core values and supports us for who we are. These days, the industry is such that becoming a successful touring band is no easy task, but we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Our ultimate goal is for our music to reach as many people as possible and have a positive impact on the world.
HHM: What is the writing process for CFT? Who tends to get the ball rolling so to speak?
Joe: This is a tough question to answer because honestly each song is a little different. Generally speaking, Marc and Brendan, our two frontmen, spearhead the writing process by coming up with song ideas. We then work as a team to polish and perfect the song, which has been the process leading to our two albums: Wake The City and Line Of Fire.
HHM: How much time do you spend in the studio recording your records?
Joe: Wake the City, our debut full length album, was recorded over several months time. Our EP Line Of Fire was recorded over a 10-day period.
HHM: Where are guys most comfortable, in the studio or on the road playing out?
Joe: If we had all of the resources at our disposal, we would be in the studio 24/7 working on and perfecting new music. However, we equally love performing and being on the road, so we’ve had to learn to balance the two. Nevertheless, when we’re not in the studio or playing live, we’re usually at home writing new material for the next album.
HHM: How much time do you try to spend touring?
Joe: We try to spend as much time as possible touring and playing for new audiences.
HHM: What’s your favorite part about touring? Worst part?
Joe: Favorite part of touring is meeting the new fans and seeing different places around the country. The worst part about touring is having to stop touring. It’s always a bittersweet moment when you realize that it’s over and you have to come home.
HHM: You released your Line Of Fire ep back in April, it’s been a little while for you to really absorb it now. What are your thoughts on it now?
Joe: Being a bunch of perfectionists, it’s easy to look back to say: “We should have changed this” or “We could have done this different.” But, at the end of the day, we’re really proud of the album and we have no regrets.
HHM: Do you still have that proud parent feeling when you listen to it?
Joe: When you put so much time and energy into something like an E.P., you should never lose that feeling. It is something that we’ll reflect on for the rest of our lives.
HHM: Where would you say that you have progressed the most as musicians since your previous release Wake The City?
Joe: Since Wake The City, we’ve worked really hard to perfect our instrumentation and develop the true sound of Clear For Takeoff. Our first album was really a musical experiment, and with Line Of Fire, we really started to find our niche.
HHM: How far along is CFT on writing material for your next record? Are you planning on doing another ep or a full length?
Joe: We have a handful of songs that are in the final stages that we hope to include on our next record. At this point, we haven’t made a decision yet as to the length of our next album, however we hope to start recording later this year.
HHM: What are you looking for the most in 2013?
Joe: We’re always looking for new fans and 2013 is no different.
HHM: Do you have any special show dates planned or that you would like to see happen? Festivals, etc?
Joe: We would love perform on Warped Tour 2013. Also, we plan to release a music video from our next single, “It Takes Two To Make An Accident” (EP: Line Of Fire) this spring and kick it off with a live show.
HHM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us…In closing, any news or plans you’d like to share with the fans and readers?
Joe: As we mentioned above, we plan to release a new music video in the spring and have started an online funding project in which fans can become a part of the process: www.indiegogo.com/cftvideo
In closing, we’re honestly just four guys who really want to make a difference in the world. Just watching the news and seeing some of the horrible things going on drives us to keep making more music. We want to be an outlet for our fans and give them an opportunity to forget about the challenges they face everyday, even if it’s just for three and a half minutes as they listen to one of our songs.
Band Twitter: @cftband
Brendan Biondi – Vocals / Guitar
Marc LaMartina – Vocals / Piano
Joey Enste – Bass
Joe Whiting – Drums