A wee while ago, I had the opportunity to catch up with some of my favourite musicians to chat with. Prior to meeting up with them, I had a brief chat with Poem’s drummer before Lars, their tour manager, came out and brought me down to have a good catch-up chat with the guys. Given their latest album Aathma came out recently, (which I rather enjoyed) the chat focuses in on that album as well as the guys’ plans for the next couple of months.
You’re currently doing a series of dates throughout Europe with Poem. How have the dates been so far for you guys?
Mark: They’ve been pretty good and in fact they’ve been above our expectations.
Carlos: This is the first time we’re actually doing a headliner and it wasn’t even our decision. When we did the tour last time, we were trying some new things out and it went OK. Management then said that given we have a new album coming out, we should try and do a headliner. We were initially a little apprehensive, but so far it’s been incredible. There’s been way more people than we ever anticipated and everyone’s been awesome.
Moe: The fans and people have been very welcoming in every place we’ve been.
CL: That’s right yeah. We can’t complain to be honest!
ME: As musicians, when we start to prepare to do an album we try and do the best we can and deliver the best version of ourselves. We don’t go into it to try and please anyone, we just want to make music. So when we receive a good review from the media and the fans, it’s not only quite surprising but also quite humbling.
CL: Every album we have done so far we have put the same amount of energy and passion into it. I mean obviously we have improved as musicians over time and we have learnt a lot of things. Once you get it done and out, you can never predict how people are going to react. It depends on a great many things and not just the music. For us as musicians, it all depends on the vibe of the album from when you were writing and recording it. There might be one song that people love and I don’t really enjoy and others that I enjoy and others don’t. The sad thing about music is that you never can really get excited about your own stuff.
CL: That brings me back onto a story actually. We are big Symphony X fans and when their fifth album came out, I said to Moe that “I bet the Michael Romeo doesn’t get excited about his own music”. It was amazing for us, but to Michael he’ll see the flaws and everything.
BV: We’re already talking about the next album and things we can improve and change. And the album is only two months old!
MM: We can see the mistakes and things and we already have an idea for what we can improve on for next time.
CL: That’s the path of the musician though. We are never happy!
The latest album was also crowdfunded as well…
CL: Yep. We didn’t have any money to do it. We are not a big band at all and we are trying to get the best production all the time. We’ve always paid for everything. We wanted to go with Jens Borgen but he’s quite expensive. And then there’s touring as well which is even more expensive. So we did the crowdfunding thing and the amount of love and support we got was incredible.
MM: It was quite humbling to be honest.
CL: Everyday we got a lot of messages encouraging us to do the album. So we worked for three months on the album after work.
BV: We were sleeping only four hours a day whilst we did this album. We try and do everything ourselves even though we have the label and manager. We try and make sure that we are involved in everything so that we can be almost self-sufficient.
ME: When we were working on the album, we had the computer next to us whilst we were doing it as a kind of motivation kind of thing. We were so tired whilst we were doing it but having the support alongside it as well as the money, it made it worthwhile.
MM: Our wives and girlfriends weren’t exactly happy but we love this.
CL: Yeah, exactly.
Has the live gear changed much since we last spoke?
CL: As I said, we are poor so nope!
BV: Because we are headlining, we need to bring all our own stuff this time. So we have to bring all the drums, amps, sound engineer and light engineer as well. We bought some lights as well.
CL: We spent some of the additional money on the show so that we can have more of an experience.
BV: We spent the money so that the fans can feel as though they are part of the experience rather than their just been no production at all.
CL: One band I saw recently had no production at all and the performance kind of fell flat.
BV: So as a result, we figured we’d spend some money on the production and make more of an experience.
CL: We spent all our money on the lights and stuff so we are broke again! But we are doing this as a thank you to the fans. It’s kind of like a “Thanks for coming. This is for you.”
What are the bands plans for the next 6 to 12 months?
CL: Back to the day jobs!
MM: I think this tour finishes on a Sunday and on the Monday everyone is back in work.
CL: But you know what? It’s ok! We are fine with doing this and you have to sacrifice some things. And it’s tough you know.
MM: My daughter turned one when we were on the road to Milano.
CL: That’s really tough. But he’s here because of the passion and because we all love each other. So we’re trying to grow up and be able to tour more and also try and work things with our personal lives and families.
BV: We have a festival here as well, Techfest in the summer. I’ve really looking forward to that.
CL: I’m looking forward to that as well.
You guys have been a band for a while now. Is there any advice you’d give to new bands?
ME: Work hard.
BV: It sounds like a Disney sentence, but never give up.
ME: It’s very important to know why you are doing this. If you’re doing this for the money or becoming famous, then you are in it for the wrong reasons. It’s all about the passion for the music and you need to have that passion. At some points, money can be tight and fame will never get you as far as you think. You need something else to keep going and persevere with it.
CL: In my opinion, if you are not expressing something with your music then just don’t. There are many bands. Stay at home, play with your games and do other things. If you really need to express yourself through music, then sacrifice everything. You need to be prepared to sacrifice everything.
BV: We were talking about this the other day actually. Big labels sign so many bands that just end up sounding the same. They just sound like copies and there’s literally nothing new to them. We don’t even know some of these bands.
MM: So many bands sound like copies.
CL: We’ve been around for about 15 years now and I’ve seen so many talented guys playing awesome music. We are kind of outsiders to this as we’ve always done what we want. You see many talented musicians struggling and then you get labels signing their friends and throwing money and promotion at them.
MM: We have a strong fanbase though and that’s what matters.
CL: So yeah, if you are not doing this to express something deep down inside then just don’t do it. There are many bands.
And finally, describe yourselves and then the band in 3 words.
CL: For Mark I’d say… Quiet, Savage and Loyal. He’s a sexy man as well!
MM: I know that!
MM: For bobby… Hard worker.
CL: Erm…. I’d say Fresh. Cool and Fresh.
ME: What to say…. I’m looking for the right thing.
ME: Yeah, that works!
MM: For Moe, I’d say The Boss.
CL: Maybe, the babysitter.
BV: Passionate. He’s so passionate for this and the other day he was dancing!
BV: He’s funny.
ME: He’s the Glue.
MM: He’s the soul. I’d say he’s the soul of the band.
CL: Fillipe, I’d say is the Rockstar.
BV: Yeah, we love him a lot. And Carlitos.
ME: The ground. The ground for the band.
MM: The technical one.
BV: Meticulous I’d say. Everything needs to be perfect.
MM: Fast thinker as well.
CL: I used to be in a bad mood sometimes as well and I was quite often hard on the guys as I’m a bit of perfectionist. I’m working on that though.
BV: That’s why he said funny. He’s trying to be nice!
CL: Hahaha! Yeah. He is funny though. And now for the band.
MM & CL: Family.
BV: Oh yeah.
BV & CL & MM: It’s Real.
ME: It’s dreamy as well. It’s our path to make our dreams come true.
CL: We have learnt so much about the world through the band as well.
ME: It’s given me everything this band. My wife, my family, my job, everything.
CL: Moe and I have been friends since we were kids. We both shared the passion for music and we went from being no-one and now we have a lot of good friends.
MM: I went from having a lot of ‘friends’ to having a lot of true friends. You guys are my brothers though.
CL: It’s not all about the band, it’s about the members more so now. When our previous drummer left, we weren’t really wanting a musician as much as a friend to play with. And I can safely say that we are the best we have ever been now. Everyone cares for each other so much and that’s all we kinda wanted really.
ME: At some points is does get stretched, but we are one big family.
All photos courtesy of Bukavac Photography.