Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interview - National Product

I caught up again with California's National Product, who have been touring relentlessly in support of their album Luna since I talked to them last year. Read on to see what they have to say about their experiences working hard on the road.

PPJ: First, tell us who you are and what you do in the band.

Danny Casler: Hey, what's going on? My name is Danny and I sing in the band.

PPJ: What were your favorite bands growing up? How do you think this influenced the music you're making now?

Danny: Growing up I was really into a lot of stuff my parents and grandparents would play. Everything from Frank Sinatra, to Led Zeppelin to Bon Jovi and more. As I started to find music of my own I got into hip hop and from there branched off into indie and punk rock stuff that spans from Fugazi to Jimmy Eat World to Strung Out to a lot of obscure stuff. I think a lot of the ideals that musicians had influenced me more than their music. Obviously their music impacted me in a serious way but there just seemed to be something a lot more tangible and real about bands when I was growing up. Now everything feels so fake and synthetic. Not all but way to many band do. I don’t think I'm alone in saying that, in fact I know I am not.

PPJ: Luna has been out for just over a year now. What was the initial response like, and how have you been maintaining the hype around it?

Danny: Um, I don’t know if we got to experience initial anythings. We have been touring 8 months straight out of that year so you kinda don’t get to sit back and think about to be honest. We have done the USA like 4-5 times, Japan & Hawaii and I think Alaska. My brain is racked from all of it to be honest. I know its making its impact and I'm thankful for that. We were told people would not catch on for about 6 months to a year because that is how this record is, and they were right as we are now watching the fruits of it in certain markets. For example. In Japan, there had to be close to a thousand kids at our headlining show in Kawasaki. First time there ever, and it was pretty huge. Surprised the hell out of us.

With the hype question. I always feel like hype is a bad thing so we don’t really ride that train. We have marketing behind us, a great record label, a great publicist and radio dept. I just feel we are fortunate with a great team. We don’t have all these massive tours but to be honest, we are working as hard if not harder than ANY band in our position right now and we feel confident that all that will come. Some days we get to play festivals with 10,000 people and some days we get to play a small town and get up close and personal with 30 kids. Its all what we love so either way, its equal to what we are trying to do. I said this in Colorado Springs. I would much rather play to 30 kids who come to shows because its all they know and love verse 5,000 kids who don’t care about the bands, don’t support the bands and come only because its a radio crowd. I grew up in the underground punk rock scene of going to shows, so I have more of an emotional attachment to it, and the people who support it. I know it doesn’t make money, I know it doesn’t have fame and glamour but I know it has passion and that’s more than all of those things.

PPJ: Is there anything on the album that you look back on and wish you'd done differently?

Danny: Um, with respect to James Wisner, cause 1. He's my buddy and 2. He is one of the most incredible producers, I would have liked to turn some of the lead guitar up in the mix. Made the drums much heavier, more full. There are some vocal inflection I do live I wish I would have done to make it just less slick and more raw. Other than that, we are very happy with LUNA and have no major deals. We got to do what we wanted to do so that counts. The next one will allow us to take in account all things we forgot and implement the new things we have learned.

PPJ: How does it feel to be recognized by outlets like MTVU and absolutepunk.net?

Danny: Well, you know I am an absolutepunk.net kid. I always have been. I share a lot of the same ideals as the people who created it, and run it as well as the users who make the site what it is. I also disagree with a lot of people in their too and I am not about just bashing bands to bash bands so I get in there and slug it out with users and use my platform as an educated touring musician who knows what it's like to have no privacy, to put yourself out there every night, to lose fiancĂ©es and girlfriends and miss out on life and try and make a living doing your passion and then have some 14, 17, 23 year old get online and call your band a piece of crap for reasons that are either biased or not backed to a reasonable extent. If you do something really dirty, AKA Sprout (Google it), I am not going to back you up. If you're good dudes who make music you love, you help people and your moving your life forward and helping others with your art AKA Hawthorne Heights and many other bands I get up and defend (not like they need my support) but I back those bands. If you don’t like someone, that’s cool, but don’t get on there calling the fags and saying you wish they were dead or you hope they crash in a fiery accident. All of those statements are unprofessional, not tactful, and very shallow.

MTVU has been dope to us and we get emails from kids all over the country saying things like, “I was in our school gym on the treadmill and I saw you guys,” so that kinda stuff is really cool for us. We come from a small town, who knew?

PPJ: You guys are originally from Hawaii, but you transplanted to Orange County. What was different about the scenes? What was it like to be a more pop-oriented band in a town known for punk?

Danny: Everything full on. Hawaii will have shows with metal bands, reggae bands, punk, indie and ska bands. Here in the US its more genre specific and not even about mixing it up. Ill tell you what. You get more kids to Hawaii shows like that because your introducing new music to kids who may have never had the opportunity to like that style of music. Hawaii just is very eclectic with all types of music so we share that with one another.

PPJ: How is your tour with 1997 going?

Danny: It's going good, I'm in Kansas City with a day off so I'm in bed, resting, watching movies on my computer. We love 1997, great people, and a greater band.

PPJ: What are your plans for after this tour?

Danny: We finally get some time off however, there is talk of a tour in Colombia and Brazil doing some dates with a major acts and after that we will be writing for a new record as well, and I will be headed to Chicago for a lil while to work with a great producer while the guys do their individual writing before we come together to show each other our ideas and start writing as a whole. I love that everyone is so open to writing in different styles to do whats best for the record.

I personally just got invited to India on a mission for the charity organization Faceless International that I'm apart of. So I will be there in Dec/Jan, then off to Ukraine for a short period and Hawaii for my father's birthday and then back to the mainland to take on whatever comes our way.

PPJ: What does it take to be noticed in today's music scene, and to stay in the spotlight?

Danny: Everything you got. A great sound, a great group, a great gimmick, and I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but for example: 30h!3. Great gimmick. You may not like the band or you may absolutely love them, but I think its brilliant. I do the hand thing all the time. I feel like DMX or something or even Jay Z “HOVA!”

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Danny: How about I tell you more than 3?

Jimmy Eat World
Will Hoge
Lorene Drive
The Appleseed Cast
The Get Up Kids

There are many more, but I need to take a phone call, email me, ill turn you into some good music. Danny@npmusic.com.

Thanks again to Danny for answering these questions. Thanks also to Mike Cubillos at Earshot Media for arranging the interview. Be sure to catch National Product on one of their many tours, and to pick up a copy of Luna!

Web Site | MySpace

No comments: