By: Alex Curley (@CurleyAlex) –
After waiting outside in the chilly April air, I’m escorted into the dark recesses of the Kool Haus by some friendly public relations folk as they buzz excitedly about the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch party that they have worked so hard to craft.
The media area is in the Chroma Lounge, now closed and full of gear.
I meet with Gianni Luminati and Ryan Marshall of Walk Off The Earth for a quick chat after sound check.
Aesthetic Magazine Toronto: Why are you playing this gig?
Gianni Luminati: I thought we were just supposed to do this interview.
Ryan Marshall: We’re playing a gig?
They mock surprise as Luminati reclines on the couch drinking his beer. Marshall is sitting alert as their handler carefully watches the interview play out.
GL: The Kool Haus is a cool club and we love playing gigs. Samsung is killing it lately. We don’t stand behind everything that comes our way, but they have some wicked products and we are down to support them.
AMT: Your band has had a close relationship with technology, how would you say it has influenced your growth as artists?
GL: Massively. We started shooting videos with iPhone, even though this is a Samsung event. I didn’t know about Samsung products until recently, they got awesome. We just started shooting and uploading from our phones. It was a go to thing. Technology is kinda a weird question for us; everyone relies on it to do everything. No musicians would really be known without its support.
They are both laughing at the odd question.
AMT: The band has just finished its European tour, how is the band holding up after this big whirlwind of activity?
Marshall perks up and enthusiastically answers with a cheeky smile.
RM: We’re good, we are actually busier when we are not touring. Touring is a vacation because we get to travel around Europe and see a bunch of beautiful countries and have a bunch of beautiful European women screaming at us every night.
Luminati pipes in letting his fatigue show.
GL: It’s pretty crazy to get back. There’s always more stuff to do and we always want to do it all. It’s a constant job, at least 18 hours a day.
AMT: R.E.V.O. is the first time all of you have worked together on one album, how was that experience?
GL: It was pretty smooth; we have all worked together on different projects. [Working together] removed a lot of constraints. I’ve been working with Marshall, obviously, for years. We’ve known Joel [Cassidy] and [Mike “Beard Guy”] Taylor for a long time so it was smooth. The writing process was just right. We recorded it all in one month at our home studio in Burlington.
Luminati shakes his head with a smile.
GL: Yeah sure, We’re pretty lucky because I’ve heard horror stories with other bands.
AMT: You co-produced the album with Tawgs Salter, how did that come about?
GL: I was at the studio in Burlington, my friend and I own it on the side. My friend was in the studio on the other side and was working with Tawgs on a lot of projects. So I when I completed my session and they completed their session, we’d hook up, drink beers and listen to the music we’ve been working on. So, I’ve known Tawgs for a long time and he’s super talented.
GL: We didn’t want to go to LA or New York where all these other producers were. We knew Tawgs lived just down the road, so we commandeered him to come in and start writing with us as we finished up the songs for REVO and we were like, “let’s produce it now!” and he was like “I’m in.” Just like that.
AMT: You guys have exploded really quickly onto the scene, does it feel like you made it, or is it more like a process that keeps going?
RM: A shit-load of bands that people find out about, people say “wow, they came out of nowhere, they must be brand new.” That is kind of how this industry works, whenever that band’s break happens, is when everyone starts hearing about them. They think they are brand new.
RM: We did a lot of groundwork, we’ve been playing for years. It feels rewarding that we put in all those years to accomplish this [renown] but we definitely don’t feel like we made it. We try to get better with every show and every video, and there are many people who still don’t know who we are, so we definitely don’t think that we “made it.”
GL: If we had the mind frame that we had made it we would probably just plateau so even if we had made it we never would think that we have made it.
AMT: What was the transition like from working with a small production team to working with a major label?
Luminati brightens up.
GL: It hasn’t changed much to tell you the truth, especially with production. We do all that ourselves. We did it before ourselves and we do it ourselves now. There are a few videos that the label hired a production team to help with. The label is good at what they do, that’s like radio promotions and getting us shows around the world.
That changed and it was a big help. But other than that, it is surprisingly the same situation; we just work a lot harder because we all got to quit our jobs. We kinda knew that would be the case. We’re not like a boy band put together by the label, we had our thing going already and they knew that. They told us to “keep doing what we were doing.”
AMT: Your band has some innovative music videos and has gained a lot of attention with them, how do the videos effect your creative process?
RM: A lot of our cover videos end up that way. Gianni has a lot of amazing ideas for videos and he will have a vision for how the video is going to be. That definitely plays into what instruments are we going to use or noises we are going to make for the video, so for the cover videos that is a big part of it. When we were writing R.E.V.O. I don’t think we were thinking about the videos.
AMT: “Realize Every Victory Outright,” what does it mean?
GL: That’s a motto that we live by and it’s the way we think in our work and life. It’s also something that we want people who listen to our music to live by to realize their goals. It really does work; you just set your sights and keep working towards it. It took us a good 15 years of working on our music before we actually started making any money from it. There were many times where we just thought that this was never going to work, but we just kept punching away at it and shit happened. From my experience, this works. I’ve seen a lot of other people who it has worked for as well. It would be great if everyone in the world was just positive, saw their goals, and tried to realize them, the world would be a better place.
AMT: You’re now in a position to be a role model, how is this affecting you?
GL: It has definitely changed since we’ve started making videos; we’ve got such a massive fan base now. Little kids, old people and teenagers are watching our videos. Originally, when we were starting we were there for the college and high school kids, so we would swear a lot in our videos and have dirty jokes. Now we are realizing that there are 4-year olds who are watching our video, so we need to keep that in mind when we are making videos. We still have the edge and we still swear, but now we will bleep it out. As a role model, I don’t think it’s less positive if we swear or not. It’s not like we are singing about going and shooting up your school, that’s not we are about.
AMT: How do you guys feel about file sharing?
RM: I like it because I would have less music [if it didn’t exist]. Although, recently I would say in the last year and a half, I have not file shared. I buy everything I want to listen to. I think it’s good in one way, if people really want to listen to Walk Off The Earth and they can’t afford to, I want them to listen to us anyways. It’s cool that they are going to get to listen to our music anyways. It’s not as cool because now we don’t get paid for it.
GL: We use the money we make; we aren’t in this to get rich. It’s used to make our videos, record songs and pay for tours. That shit is expensive. Marshal said, I want everyone to have our music, even if they can’t afford it. I don’t rip music, but I barely buy music myself either. I don’t have a big collection.
In contrast, Marshall smiles and motions with his hands that he has a huge collection of music.
GL: But, if a band’s awesome and I just like one song, I’ll usually buy the album. File sharing isn’t going to go away, so I don’t think it really matters what we think about it at this point. I hope that people will realize that we are not rich and that we use our money to make more awesome content. If they want to invest in us they can buy our music.