Facedown Recording artists Means have just released their newest CD To Keep from Sinking and are preparing to take their music and message on the road. The band has a solid tour schedule for 2008 and will be making a few festival appearances as well. To Keep From Sinking is filled with blistering guitar riffs that are offset by ferocious vocals and guarantee the listener will be banging their head for the duration of the disc. I recently caught up with vocalist & guitarist Matt Goud to discuss the band and their music.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Matt: It’s certainly overwhelming and humbling when people connect with our music. I find with our band that it’s hard to anticipate the crowd’s reaction to our songs, and that’s fine.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Matt: Growing up on the prairies we were influenced a lot by Comeback Kid, Every New Day, Figure Four and Propagandhi. Current bands that we respect and look up to for inspiration are Life In Your Way and Shai Hulud.
The name of the band Means is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Matt: The band formed in high school by Aaron and I, and was originally called ‘Means To An End’. We began to really hate the name and decided to change it. At the time we were moving out on our own into the city, going to school, getting apartments and jobs and we were starting to get a little bit of a local following. Most of our friends were calling us ‘Means’ for short, so instead of changing our name we finally decided on Means.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion keeping things interesting thematically. Can you talk about some of the subjects you tackle on this record?
Matt: We did this record in Freeport, New York with Mike Watts and his staff at Vudu Studios. The studio was about a 20 minute train ride to Manhattan and was about a 10 minute walk to a ridiculous little pizza place. While writing this record I was crashing with a friend in the city and working the morning shift at a full service gas station. We had just got off a solid summer and fall of touring and it was very cold. During that time I could tell that I was drifting into a bit of a lethargic state. I wasn’t angry or sad, I just felt dried up…like nothing was going on at all. I think having that really monotonous job helped a lot because it gave me some structure and something to do and time to wonder what the new record should be about. I listened to country music all day at the gas station and I would think about riff and ideas for what we were going to do at rehearsal that night.
Personally, I rely on music as an outlet to express and explore things that go on in my head and heart more than anything else in my life. I don’t trust much else… other than good music. I feel like the experience of playing in this band, in a way, preserves my life or vitality in a sense. That is the attitude I had surrounding this one.
It is good to see a number of bands breaking away from the usual gore/horror/misogynist and anti-religious themes normally associated with the Metal genre. How has your music and your message been accepted by the Metal Community? Has there been any backlash at all?
Matt: Our band has its root in the punk rock scene. I drew a lot of inspiration, and still do, from bands that tackle political, social, and spiritual issues in their music. I have always loved music that is aggressive and also informed. There was also open mindedness in the scenes that we grew up playing in.
The art work by Dave Quiggle is quite amazing. How is it tied to the albums title?
Matt: We are so happy to have Dave doing the artwork for our records. This album artwork was influenced by a lyric from the song “Steadily”. It reminds me of all the natural disasters that seem to be occurring all over the world. I really feel like Dave’s artwork looks like our album sounds.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Matt: Roswell, New Mexico is probably the weirdest place we have been, however we did not see a live alien. Our waiter at IHop might have been an alien though.
Do you find it difficult being away from family and friends for such an extensive period of time? How do you cope with the separation?
Matt: Yes. We toured most of the last year and a half. In that time the lives of close friends and family at home have been evolving and changing. It is hard to miss out on things that are happening in the lives of people that you care about. Other than that, I love the Canadian prairies but I don’t miss it that much when we are gone.
How do you maintain that level of energy and exuberance?
Matt: New friends that we meet on the road definitely breathe life into a tour. On our last tour I met a guy in the Seattle area named Charlie and a girl from Florida named Jessica. Both of these people were encouraging to hang out with. I find that some time spent alone reading or walking will help re-energize me when I’m feeling worn out. Having a good laugh is probably the best medicine though.
All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Matt: On tour I drink a lot of coffee. It is physically draining to tour because of the lack of sleep and the time spent in the van. I find that it is easy to get mentally worn down as well so that you are not as sharp when you want to talk to people or you fall behind in reading or in keeping up with news. It can be easy to zone out if you’re not proactive in some learning.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since recording and touring your first CD Sending you Strength?
Matt: Business-wise, the best advice that I have heard lately was that moving your band forward is about team building. It’s kind of cheesy but I think it’s true. We are going forward into the remainder of this year with a really strong team in Facedown in the US and internationally and with Underground Operations in Canada. We feel like we also have enthusiastic and professional management.
On the music end of things, we’ve grown individually into better players and collectively, musically, and personality wise, into an identity as a band.
Some other lessons: Consider traffic delays, breakfast is good anytime, characters from Lost and the Office can become like friends in reality, and going shirtless under a hoodie is ok. [ END ]