On a cold and windy Saturday in November, I made my way north of Atlanta to meet with an up and coming band from the Atlanta area. The Armory just released their first full length album “Rediscover” and I was approached with the opportunity to sit down with the band for an interview and then to check them out live. Admittedly, I had not heard the The Armory prior to being asked about doing an interview and live shoot with them. I spent a few days listening to the new release before Saturday night’s show and I was intrigued by their sound.
HHM: How did The Armory come together as a band?
John: Four of us, myself, Ben, Sean, and Marc met through a mutual friend that they went to high school with and I went to college with. We started a skin and bones version of this band and it just grew through the years. We took it a lot more seriously as time went on and then, as of January, Ricky joined the band because our last guitar player, Matt, decided to leave. We’ve been playing with Ricky for almost a year now. That said, as “The Armory” we have been together since the summer of 2009.
HHM: So you’ve been together about 5 years?
HHM: And you just released your third album?
John: It’s our first full length with legit recording sessions
HHM: Who or what would you say has had the greatest influence on you musically?
Ben: I think my biggest influence would be that year between 2003 and 2004. We even play it in some of our sets, when Thrice and when my brother introduced me to Circa Survive and some of the other bands heavily influenced how I play the drums. I’d say that whole era of music from like 2003 to 2006 is a big influence on what I bring to the table. I know it influences most of these guys too.
John: Thrice is a huge influence on me as well as far how I play and what I like to play. Stage presence wise though, I’d say Story of the Year got me going. Their stage show is just wild. They have fun. I try to have fun every time we play no matter where we play. Whether it’s for 10 people or 1,000, you’ve gotta have fun. The crowd will see that and they will want to have fun with you.
Sean: I found that watching YouTube and just watching live performances, the ones I take a lot from just get it. The little details of their performances make the difference.
Marc: I’m influenced by a lot of bands, especially growing up; all I listened to was 96 Rock. Bands like AC/DC, Van Halen is what I grew up on. I was born in ’85, so I got into all the stuff from the 90’s, Grunge like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Bush, but like now, every band they said like Story of the Year, Thrice, Circa Survive. I am a huge Circa Survive fan. I tend to like front men who capture the crowd. They get out there and they just own it. That is what I try to do. I’m still trying to craft that but it’s difficult because there are different things that go on at shows and you have to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Ricky: My turn?
Marc: Dream Theater….
Ricky: Yeah. Dream Theater was definitely a big musical influence on me. I started out playing at a pretty young age. I was introduced to a lot of different styles of music. I started off playing Blue Grass with my Dad at a really young age and from there I kind of went into a Blues setting and Stevie Ray Vaughn was a huge, huge reason as to why I wanted to play guitar and that alludes to the stage presence. Watching him play was phenomenal and listening to him play was phenonemal, it was really the best of everything. From there I wanted to reach into a little more technical aspects of playing and that got me into Rock and Metal. I started getting into Metal bands like Killswitch Engage, and then Dream Theater. I heard them when I was in the studio recording. I think I was 12 years old when I heard Dream Theater for the first time. I was absolutely blown away and it became a mission of mine to be a John Petrucci rip-off (laughs). I really focused on the technical aspects of playing for a long time and when I got to a point that I was really happy with the technical side of my playing, I got into the beauty behind song writing itself. That got me into some other bands like Circa Survive which really brings all of us together with mutual likes and musical influences.
HHM: What would you say is the greatest challenge facing bands, particularly independent bands, today?
Ricky: You know it’s hard because the market is extremely saturated. There is so much out there for people to have to sort through and the thing is, because of technology, it’s got its pro’s and con’s. There are people, I won’t say musicians, but there are people that get together and record crap and then put it out there and that is just something else that true music fans and your record labels and just anyone that is interested in music have to sort through to get to somebody that puts in 10, 15 years of hard work at what they are doing and actually cares about it. The level of saturation makes it extremely difficult and you have things like downloads that hurt the pockets of the people that continue to try to put music out there. Let’s say you are someone that just releases something, now you have your music everywhere online and that is just something else people have to sort through. We are in that same boat. We just released our stuff too, so if you look at it, we are at that same level, but because we are a band that really tries and wants to succeed and to pursue this as professionally as possible, we do more than just release the stuff, we play gigs and support it, but you have downloads that takes away from the potential of earnings that a band needs to try to continue to pursue it professionally. So I guess ultimately, oversaturation is the biggest obstacle.
HHM: One of the things that I hear across the board, whether it’s an established band, a band that is just breaking out, or a local band that is just trying to make it is that people just don’t buy albums anymore.
Ricky: No, they don’t
HHM: People hear a song they like and they tend go and pluck that song out and that’s it. There is a whole lot less buying of entire albums, if there is buying at all. They might buy that song from you and that’s it.
Ricky: Yeah, that is very true. They might just buy that song or they might just download it and that is all they do. That still doesn’t provide you with much because you are spending thousands to put that out there. That’s on promotions, that’s on recording it, that’s on equipment to record it.
John: We’ve had this discussion several times over the last few weeks about Spotify. Spotify is good and it’s bad for the music industry. For us, it’s fantastic because we get exposure through it. We’re not trying to make millions of dollars on our stuff off of Spotify, we know that’s not going to happen, but then you have these big bands that rely on their music to make a living and they are getting like a tenth of a penny for each stream and that is hurting bigger artists. For bands like us, I think it is a good thing. We can say “hey, go stream our album on Spotify, just as long as you listen to it”. I want you to listen to our music and then maybe they will come to a show and maybe they buy an album from us.
Ricky: Yeah, that is part of the pro and the con of the technology. It definitely gives us a way of putting our stuff out there, but at the same time it’s so easy to put stuff out there that everyone is doing it and it doesn’t have to mean anything. There could be a hundred bands out there that are releasing music and not recording it very well and they don’t take it very seriously because it is so easy.
HHM: You recently released a video to “If I Ever”, where did the concept for that video come from?
Ben: We worked with this company ECG Productions before and they did a video for us a couple of years ago. They always do awesome work with green screens and stuff. The guy that produced it, Jason, he has like a lot of uhhh, sexual tendencies. So when we get in he always wants to do something real sexual. Our last video he was like “hey man, I’m gonna get a Sybian and have a couple of girls riding it in the back. Is that cool?” and I’m like “nope”. (laughs) We got in on this video and he had one of his ideas and he told us about the girls. We didn’t really think about it until we showed up that day for the music shoot at 6:30 in the morning and we walk in and there are these naked girls getting spray painted and we were like “alright, thank you Jason”.
HHM: Good day at the office, huh? Guessing no one called in sick.
Marc: Yeah, we can handle this one!
Ben: So, Jason came up with the concept. All credit for that one goes to him. He has some really cool ideas. He is very, creative. I think he just wanted to go for shock value because he knows that is what people will click on, if they see a naked girl.
John: Sex sells
HHM: It will definitely bring you views anyway
HHM: Your latest album, “Rediscover”, has been out there for a couple of months now, how has the response been so far?
Ben: We think it’s been good. We haven’t really got the report back yet. It was officially released October 28th, so we really haven’t heard anything yet. We went through a distribution company called Tunecore and they are handling all that kind of stuff. We feel like the response has been good. Locally it seems to be going well.
Ricky: And regionally. When we play out at places the response has been great for the live performances. We can tell as we are playing that people are getting into it and they aren’t leaving while we are playing our originals (laughs). From the PR stuff we’ve had a few radio stations overseas that have been interested in spinning it. So it seems to be doing good at this point.
John: I think the video is helping that a lot. The video has only been out 4 days and it already has over 2,500 views, so that is definitely generating a lot of interest.
HHM: I promise I wasn’t like 2,000 of those views.
John: I think I might have been 200 of them. Just freeze framing it on certain spots. Oh yeah, I’m at work. (Laughs)
HHM: Do have any tours planned in support of the new album?
Ben: 2015 we are trying to put a lot of focus on original stuff. Touring wise, we definitely want to tour behind it unlike what we’ve been doing, that we aren’t always that happy with, doing these shows with a lot of covers along with some of our originals. It’s kind of been a give and take because it is what funds the record, but our plans for 2015 is to do some touring with straight original material in the region we’ve been doing, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, Birmingham, Florida, all the surrounding regional stuff.
HHM: You’ve played Warped Tour and a few other festivals in the past, any plans to try to get festival dates in 2015?
John: Not “Itchthis” (Ichtus) Festival
Marc: I think they went under
John: You can print that too
Ben: Hopefully some of this PR stuff we have been doing will pay some dividends and get us some connections so we can get up to par on some of the bigger festivals.
HHM: What is the next step for you as a band?
Ricky: We want to promote and push this record as much as possible. We put a lot of hard work into it and we are really happy with the way it sounds. We want to do it right. We don’t want to release it and just let it sit on our bedroom floors. We want to release it and give it a chance to do something. We’ve got a promotion company that is doing the PR for us. We released the video, along with touring in support of it. For 2015 we are going to be writing over the next few months with plans of recording maybe in the winter of 2015. We have a lot of ideas already, so I think that would be a pretty logical timeline for that. Those are our steps. We love making music together. We are a band of brothers. We don’t want to stop. We hope we garner success with it.
HHM: What has been your greatest moment on stage so far?
Marc: Let me take this one. We were in Columbia, South Carolina and we started playing and we were about 30 or 40 minutes into our set when we noticed this man and woman, I think they were husband and wife, with this ton of money in their hands and I was like “oh man”. I was just eyeing it, thinking what are they doing with this cash when all of a sudden they just started making it rain (money) on us. I mean like dollars, fives, tens, twenties, they were just going everywhere and we were, well I can’t speak for everyone, I think we performed at like 150 percent for the rest of the show. We were just sweating after the show. We were all soaked.
Ben: It ended up being $600
Sean: Most of it was ones. There wasn’t a lot of anything else, so we looked like strippers when we walked into the bank.
Marc: We were picking up ones all over the stage. It was crazy.
John: For me personally, I think Warped Tour was awesome. I mean, it wasn’t in front of a huge crowd, but it was still several hundred people, maybe a bit more than that. I went to Warped Tour growing up and I was always like “I wish I could play Warped Tour. I wish I could play Warped Tour” and we finally got to play it. It was only one day and it was hometown, but it was a lot of fun. It was a very cool experience.
HHM: If you had the chance to perform for just one show with any musician, living or dead, who would it be?
John: I’ll hit you right off the top. Led Zeppelin. They are the kings of Rock. They opened the door for harder Rock and even for Metal. That was an easy one for me. To be on stage with them back in their day would be amazing.
Ben: This is going to be ruder, but I’m going to have to say Metallica. Back in the 80’s, I’m pretty sure they set people on fire and just had sex with everyone. If I could go back in time I’d do that.
Ricky: I mean no disrespect to this artist at all, but I would have to go back and try to give Jimi Hendrix a run for his money. To go dueling back and forth, that would be phenomenal.
Marc: Someone has got to say Motley Crue, even though Vince Neil is a douche. I’m going to say Rush. One of the greatest drummers ever, Neil Peart, I would love to go back and play bass for him.
Sean: It would probably be U2. That or Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, Smashing Pumpkins.
HHM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
(Rapid fire from all): Give us a shot. Buy the album, listen to it. Check us out on Spotify and ITunes. Check out our new video. Like us on Facebook.
For More Information:
- photos: The Armory live at Sixes Tavern in Canton GA photo credit: Gary Flinn
- Interview with Ryan Hayes of Righteous Vendetta
- Interview with Miss May I front man Levi Benton
- Interview with Nashville-based female-fronted alt-rock band The Nearly Deads
- Interview with Atlanta-based modern rock band Electra Vega
- photos: Volumes live in Hell at The Masquerade photo credit Gary Flinn