Pop Evil has wrapped up their tour with Puddle of Mudd that brought them to People’s in Des Moines last month, and the Michigan rockers are now on a headlining tour of their own. Pop Evil bassist Matt DiRito took some time recently to talk to Examiner about the band’s influences, the state of the music industry, life on the road, Des Moines radio, and more.
Examiner: Tell my readers a little about Pop Evil and how all of you met.
DiRito: Pop Evil is a group of five guys all from the West Michigan area. We grew up playing in different bands and eventually pieced ourselves together to make what we considered the “best parts” of each band. Our music scene was very small back then, and everyone sort of knew each other and grew up together.
Examiner: Who did all of you listen to and idolize growing up?
DiRito: One of the things that makes Pop Evil unique is the fact that we all have very different influences. For me, it was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, Motley Crue, and Manson; Tony would be Guns ’n’ Roses and Pantera; Dave would be the Cult; and Leigh would be Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam.
Examiner: Take yourselves out of the running. Who is the best rock band going today?
DiRito: I REALLY enjoy Shinedown… I think they are an outstanding rock band that has GREAT songs….also, Seether and Papa Roach.
Examiner: On stage at People’s you stated that Des Moines is one of five major cities in the U.S. where Pop Evil cannot be heard on the radio. Why is that, and what can rock fans in Central Iowa do about it?
DiRito: There are a lot of different reasons why we are not heard on the radio in Central Iowa. A lot of it has to do with politics. Some program directors at these radio stations just flat out don’t like us. It might be that they have had an issue with our management in the past, or that they are scared to play us and think their listeners won’t like it. The best thing to do is to call in or write in to your local station and request Pop Evil music. Other than that, we are going to keep coming back as much as we can until we can create a demand for it. It really does have SO much to do with the listeners and the fans though.
Examiner: Does the band keep track of where your songs are on the charts, or do you just play your shows and let the bean counters worry about all that?
DiRito: Most of us don’t really pay attention to where the song is placed on the charts. Leigh tends to watch it pretty close though. I prefer the old saying, “A watched pot never boils”, meaning if you stare at the charts day in and day out, then it’s going to seem like you are never moving up! I figure we have done the best that we can to write good songs, and if they chart well, then that’s great…. if not, better luck next single! So much of it has to do with what other bands are releasing songs at that point in time. I mean, we could be moving steadily up and Nickleback could come out of left field with a new single that automatically shoots up the charts and bumps us out.
Examiner: If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
DiRito: I think that I’d try to change the amount of information that people are presented with about it. I’d try to help educate people about the music business, so they understand where it is that bands are coming from and how a lot of things are just a product of what their label feeds them. It’s more of a struggle than ever before in this industry, and bands don’t make the same kind of money that they used to. I’m not talking about big house and sports car money; I’m talking about gas money and food. It’s really, really tough out on the road now, and I think the more that people understand we aren’t getting rich off this, the more they can do to help support up-and-coming bands and keep us working.
Examiner: Tell my readers how “In the Big House” came about.
DiRito: [The University of Michigan] athletic department approached us as to do a newer anthem for their football team. They wanted something a little more modern sounding, and lucky for us, they chose a Michigan-based band to carry out the song. We got very lucky to have the opportunity to sit down and record something for them, and the response has been overwhelming.
Examiner: What is the funniest thing that has happened to the band on the road?
DiRito: Oh man…. I can’t even begin to tell you how many crazy pranks and inside jokes there are on the bus. I guess recently we were doing a few acoustic shows for Christmas and our guitar tech pushed his way out on stage in a full Santa costume, while drinking a 5th of Jack and chain-smoking. He took over the mic and began telling the crowd embarrassing stories about the band in a drunken stupor. It was hilarious.
Examiner: A lot of musicians, athletes, and actors are superstitious. Are there any superstitions in Pop Evil?
DiRito: Not so much…the only thing we are really sort of superstitious about is trying to treat people the way we want to be treated. We have seen a lot of other bands fall down the path of treating their fans like sh–, and we try to live by the Golden Rule as much as possible.
Examiner: If you weren’t musicians, what would all of you be doing right now?
DiRito: Working in a factory, or building motorcycles.
Examiner: What is on tap for Pop Evil in the upcoming months?
DiRito: We have a new single, “The Boss’s Daughter”, hitting radio on January 10th, followed up by extensive touring. Last year we did well over 250 shows. We can’t announce any tours yet, but be sure to check out our Facebook page for updates.
Examiner: Besides Facebook, where else can fans follow the band?
DiRito: Popevil.com, or follow on Twitter: @popevilmusic, @mattdirito, @chachiriot, or @tonygreve.