The Paradise Rock Club had a line over a block long outside of it starting an hour before doors. At 6PM, when the doors finally open, people flooded in and moved up against the barricade between the crowd and the band. At 7PM, when Threads of Scarlet went on, they did so with a bang. They played loud and clear and got the crowd well warmed up to receive the remaining two bands. The typically four piece alternative rock outfit added a keyboard for the evenings performance, and it was definitely a performance. I expect to hear a lot more out of them in the future as they will likely be on the rise in the near future.
IAMDYNAMITE, the second opener and national tour mates with Sum 41 absolutely killed it. Chris Martin came on without shoes, and Chris Phillips in a bandana and bright red pants. The electricity was palpable as they opened up with the single Where Will We Go off of their new album SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC. Their set was entirely comprised of songs they have put together since renaming themselves IAMDYNAMITE, and it was definitely what the audience needed to get them off of the ground on a cold night like it was. The harmonies orchestrated between Martin and Phillips were perfect. Well timed clap-alongs made the audience really get into the music. Phillips’ unique approach to drum kept the rhythm varied and dynamic, and Martin on the guitar could have easily passed for rhythm and melody, doing his best to create a vibrant sound. IAMDYNAMITE were fantastic, and if you have the opportunity to see them live, take it. Martin and Phillips strike their set and go to the merch tables to meet with fans, take pictures, and sign whatever you have on you to be signed.
The main attraction though, was Sum 41, and they struck back onto the scene hard and loud. Deryck Whibley has every move he did when the band came on the scene back in 2001 with All Killer, No Filler and the audience ate it up. There really are no words to describe what happened as soon as they hit the stage. Something came to life in the crowd because when Sum 41 opened with Mr. Amsterdam, the pit opened up instantly and there was more dancing and stage diving then I have seen in years. They did a great job keeping the rapport going with the audience too, at a certain point Whibley even invited six kids from the audience up on stage to spend the rest of the show on the wings. Lead guitarist Tom Thacker kept all eyes on his hands during his solos, and even covering when the power went out on the wireless for Whibley’s guitar. Steve Jocz kept perfect pace with his drumming, proving why he is so admired by punk rock drummers of all ages. Cone McCaslin, as always, backed up the vocals and kept his hands busy. The four of them absolutely dominated the stage, the crowd, and the venue. When it came down to the end, at the end of their set Sum 41 left just long enough that the crowd began to lose hope for an encore. However, back they came and with enough energy left in them to rev the crowd into a new level of excitement. Closing with Pain for Pleasure, Sum 41 left the taste of the old school that will revive old listeners and capture new ones as well.
Of all the shows I have seen at Paradise, Sum 41 and IAMDYNAMITE definitely ran the place the best. I have never seen that tiny venue as packed as it was, but the performance by Sum 41 definitely explains the crowd. Anyone who missed this show, who had tickets but didn’t come, missed out on an amazing concert.
Before the show I had the opportunity to interview the drummer from IAMDYNAMITE Chris Phillips.
Let’s start with the basics. How did you and Chris Martin meet?
We actually went to highschool together and it was my senior year his junior year that we kinda started jamming out in his basement and playing Rage Against the Machine Covers. Eventually it got to the point, I had just graduated and that summer they had a show booked and no drummer. And it was a small town so I was one of like, two or three drummers, and I had a PA, microphones, a van, all that stuff. So they picked me and the rest is history. It was very, chance, I guess. They could’ve picked a couple of other guys but they picked me, and we’ve been a band together throughout the years ever since.
So it was a local outfit near Detroit right?
Yea we grew up south of Ann Harbor, which is about a half hour south of Detroit. It gets pretty rural out there, but it was a nice small town.
Everyone likes the introductory stories but I have a few questions that I thought I should ask you more indepth: IAMDYNAMITE is a Nietzche quote… So which of you is the philosopher?
When we started the duo, we were called Mahoney and we based that off of a Steve Gutenberg’s Police Academy character. That’s it, that’s as low as we got. But, you know, we didn’t mind it. We thought it was tongue in cheek it was kinda funny. We ended up signing with the new management company and they basically said to us, “Hey if you ever think you’ll want to change your name you should do it now.” So we gave it a fair shake, and he (Martin) was actually reading Existentialism for Dummies. No joke. And that was a quote that stuck out to him. Everyone knows Nietzche, you know from the “God is dead” billboards or whatever, but the cool thing was, we kinda took it as, “Hey, I’m not a man, I’m dynamite!” And we literally just thought that’s just how you have to live your life. You live your life as if you’re dynamite, and it’s smooth sailing, ya know what I mean? It was kind of our philosophy anyway as we became a band. Everyone was gonna think , “Oh… you’re a two man band?” and oh this, oh that. Whatever dude. If we act like we’re dynamite, we’re gonna be dynamite.
So it’s a testament to your music?
Yeah, it’s a lifestyle choice and a testament to the music, yeah. Absolutely. So a philosopher no, but Existentialism for Dummies definitely. We actually had a few other names but that one, not so much the meaning but the way it looked on paper and the flashiness of it; what logos we could have.
I do like the dragons on the album cover.
Yeah that was cool that was done by Brad Bond who works at our label and management team did all of that freehand.
So I read online that you guys try not to use computers and computer effects in your recording. You try to avoid a lot of layering and try to keep it so you can perform the same songs on stage, live, right?
WE ended up doing an EP as Mahoney and it was all triggers and everything was completely separated and it wasn’t us. It kind of lost it’s us. It’s me. So when we actually recorded we did everything to tape, kinda old school. Actually we did split the signals, we did, and we still used Pro Tools, but we tried to use evertthing natural and it was and he ended up using – you know here in the studio you have a ton of amps, a ton of guitars and everything, and it was nice because we used our own stuff, we didnt layer that much. There are some other guitars on there, and some other stuff, but we wanted to keep it in its raw form because that’s who we are. We didn’t want to send out a CD and hear back, “Oh… this sounds completely different than what you guys sound like live.” So it was definitely something we wanted to do, for sure.
Kinda reminds me of old school Foo Fighters, where they basically said, “We’re done with everyone thinking we’re just a computer band” and then they proceeded to record their most recent album in his garage in his hometown.
A million dollar garage, but yes.
Yeah of course, but definitely not an acoustic paradise.
So it doesn’t seem as though the novelty of the music has worn off on you guys yet with an album title like SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC. right?
Yeah, and that’s the biggest thing is that if we’re not enjoying ourselves then there is no point in even doing it. I think SUPERMEGAFANTASTIC was sort of like, all positive words. That is what we wanted you know? All positive words. Because we could go out there and be sad and be down and sing about that stuff, but we don’t want to be those people. We don’t want to be sad and be down all the time, or mope around. So it was more, bright colors, positive words, positive thoughts. It was right there. If we’re out there and we’re all bumming out then that’s what the audience is gonna do and we don’t want the audience to do that. We want them to get excited and jump around: clap, sing, you know all that kind of stuff. So that’s why we did that.
I know of a lot of bands that tried so hard to make it big that they lost sight of the fun. They were trying so hard to get followers and get fans that they just ended up quarreling. So it’s awesome to see that you guys just said, “We’ve got a label now? Sweet, let’s just take this and run with it!”
Yeah exactly, and it was an easy choice too. Having two members helps too because there was no majority. If one guy feels strongly against something, then we just don’t do it. Unless they have a really good argument. It’s easy, and we’re lucky. We still consider ourselves lucky. We like going over to merch at the end of shows and meeting people and signing. And hopefully we don’t lose sight of that but if we do, we have Spike our tour manager to punch us in the face. We tell him that all the time. We don’t want to get to the point where we’re like, “we don’t drink Kroger brand water, we have to drink Smart Water.” That’s just silly to us. We want to keep it fun, we want to keep it simple and that’s just how we are as people. We don’t have alter egos on stage. We want to keep it personal. We’re lucky that we’re able to do this and that’s how we still feel and hopefully that is how we’ll always feel!
That is just amazing to hear, man. I know I was a part of a generation that grew up listening to Sum 41 and Blink 182 and all the pop-punk bands that started just at the beginning of the 2000’s so my question is, did you listen to Sum 41 when you were in high school?
Yeah I did, their first album came out right at the end of high school for me as I was going into college, and it was cool! I was at that age where I was shapeable with music – and I still listen to everything – and it was cool to meet Stevo, it was funny when we met I was just like, “Hey, I’ve seen you on TV.” Know what I mean? He’s a great drummer so it was cool to see him and see a guy who I actually respected. And for me, I lean towards music that either has really good drums or really good rhythm outside of drums and it was cool to see that. It was cool to get the news that we would be going on tour with Sum 41. Then getting to do the west coast and now going out to do the east coast. It was exciting. It’s hard to believe that it was 10 years ago when Does This Look Infected? came out.
A lot of my friends, I know, are coming to reminisce about the glory days when Sum 41 was still playing all the time and it was all you heard on the radio. So you guys will probably get a bunch of old school taste being revived!
Yeah, we’re hitting audiences that we’ve played, and we’ve built our little following up. Sum 41 has something like three and a half million likes on Facebook, and that is nowhere near us! But you know, that’s the thing. They’re worldwide and they’ve done it for years and that’s sort of the cool thing about it is that we can watch them and learn a lot from them. It’s definitely been a fun experience so far, and I look forward to keeping it going.
Well I think that about wraps it up. This has been Chris Phillips of IAMDYNAMITE and I’m Gus Altobello with WRBB. Thanks again Chris.