ANEW REVOLUTION has been investing serious time on the road this year in support of its latest album, Imerica, which arrived in May. The quartet has shared the stages with such bands as HELLYEAH, NONPOINT and VOLBEAT during its trek across America, and will resume touring this fall on the HardDrive Live lineup with SEVENDUST, 10 YEARS and SINCE OCTOBER.
Technical difficulties (that is, a damaged micro cassette tape) meant we had to get back on the phone with singer Joey Duenas for two rounds of phone interviews, which he gamely submitted to while the band was traveling in between gigs. He had plenty to say not only about the creation and themes behind Imerica, but also regarding life on the road, how big mistakes can lead to major life lessons and his secret to surviving a few liquid rounds with HELLYEAH drummer Vinny Paul.
What kind of celebrating did you do after the last show with Hellyeah in Cleveland?
We did about the same celebrating we do every night. [laughs] So it was pretty brutal. It was brutal at the time, but in the morning it was even worse.
When you’re drinking with Vinny Paul, and when you look at his brother—God bless Dimebag—he’s not exactly a man who drinks tea. What are your secrets to hanging?
Uh, just know what you’re going to get into. [laughs again] Because, you know, that’s guy’s done decades worth of domination all over the world and so he’s a fun guy to hang out with, he’s a really great dude and he’s just very hospitable . . . We were finishing up South Dakota, I think it was, and Vinny’s the kind of guy that’s like, “Hey, you need to do some shots ’cause it’s your birthday,” and I’m like, “Yeah, but it’s not midnight yet. I got a few more minutes.” He’s like, “Screw that, man. We’re on Texas time. We’re both Texas boys. It’s your birthday. Let’s do this.” I would just be very, very careful. [laughs more]
It’s always Texas time somewhere.
If you can’t hang in a regular bar on a regular night, you’re definitely to going to be able to hang with this guy ’cause he will send you home pretty nailed. I mean, I tell people who drink with me, they’ll just want to keep doing shots and shots, and I’m like, “Stop taking shots with me. I’ll do a shot for you, but do them one for one with me, you will die.” I think the last person who did that, they told me the last time I saw them, “Aw man, we left and we drove straight across the street to the parking lot and fell asleep.”
That was probably the better thing for them to do.
It was the better thing for them to do. But I warned them, “Stop taking shots with me, man, come on!” So for me to go out with those guys, I could hold my own pretty well.
That’s the nice thing about being a girl, because people don’t expect us to hang. We can go, “No, I’m not doing that ninth shot of tequila.”
Yeah. You also meet those girls who think they can.
Yeah, they’re funny too.
They [get about] five in and down goes Frasier. [laughs] That night we were leaving Cleveland to go to Wisconsin to do a radio show and about two hours into the drive, my drummer [Robert Urbani]—who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t do anything, just a normal guy or whatever—was complaining massively about abdominal stomach pains. And it got to the point where he was screaming and he couldn’t control his breathing and he was starting to shake. So around 4 o’clock in the morning we end up in the emergency room outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I was up until about seven with him until they got his test results. They finally gave him fluids and drugs to calm him down and nothing was wrong with his stomach. Just came back exhaustion and dehydration. For someone who doesn’t drink, that kind of was like us going, “Wow, we’ve been on the road since May. And it’s like it’s starting to really kick in, even on the people who don’t demolish their bodies.”
You can be in the best shape possible but travel is tiring. The longest I’ve ever done is five hours to Seattle. I consider myself a pretty healthy person but just sitting on the plane is enough to make you nuts, and you get off and you’re wiped out.
Yeah, that will demolish you. I’ve done the seven-hour to Germany and that was brutal. I did a five-hour from Detroit to Las Vegas not too long ago, and then stayed up for two nights in a row and then went to Reno the next night too, and the first day of the Hellyeah tour it was like, “Oh, my God.” I could literally not pull myself down the stairs. I was wondering, “Was I hung over?” and I realized it was actually a little bit of hangover and a little bit of jet lag. Kind of threw my body for a loop.
I haven’t stayed up two days straight since college. I remember when I went to sleep it was utter blackness, I remember how black it was because I slept for 18 hours straight. I said, “This is what death feels like.”
Yeah, it does. I think the last time I spoke to you we were on our way to Michigan, and I actually fell asleep after I talked to you and I woke up in Michigan. I slept through, like, six states. The exhaustion is what killed me. We did our last show in Wisconsin with Godsmack and Buckcherry and Sevendust and that was just a phenomenal show, but our drummer, again was sick. So he had stayed at the hotel room the whole night and finally got carted over to the venue at four before we had to go on at 6:20. We headlined second stage, so we were on at 6:20, Godsmack was on right after us. And for a headlining show, at that caliber, it’s like 18,000 people. I never get nervous, but man, that day was a little bit intimidating. [laughs]
Because of the size of the crowd?
The size of the crowd, the kind of responsibilities that the radio station had given to us. We had done those shows with them a couple of times and this is the first time they’d gone, “You guys deserve this spot and want you guys to really bring it.” So we had a full-on production come in and put together a show for us. Just really went out there and showed, “Hey, we are that kind of band that can hang out with these other bands of this caliber.” It was fun. It was hot as hell though. I remember running offstage and I had no foods in me but I was dry heaving, dry heaving. I was like, “Oh, my God, this is horrible.”
Now you’re going back out on the road with 10 Years and Sevendust?
We have to finish up August with Volbeat, so I leave here Saturday morning to Kansas City to do a show at Volbeat. Yeah, we just got announced for HardDrive Live.
I saw on Facebook there was a fan that offered to let you guys stay with them while you were on the road when you came through their town. Do you get offers like that often?
Yeah, all the time. We know so many people in so many cities . . . we’ve been going to cities so often for the last five years that they became, actually, close families in those parts of the country, to the point where it’s like, we can get a hotel room or we can hang out at our friend’s house and just barbecue and go out that night and just come beck and have a little after-party and relax and have some kind of home-cooked meals and whatnot instead of the typical hotel breakfast.
You take fans up on that often?
Yeah, totally. It’s a really fun thing to do, it’s a real fun way just to kind of get out of that tour groove for a little bit.
Ever had any kind of weird experiences?
Um, no because we don’t stay anywhere we really don’t know the person. We won’t just go, “Who’s so-and-so?” “I don’t know, someone I met on Facebook.” We really have to be close with these people in order to take that offer. [laughs]
Some bands are like, “We’re broke. We’re going to stay with anybody.”
Yeah, back in the day that was the M.O. I think back in like the ’90s, and even the early 2000s, I think you’d find a girl to hang out with that night and then that’s where you would stay with the whole band. [laughs again]
Oh, it’s a very Motley Crue M.O.
I remember reading about that in “The Dirt.” They would date girls for food and gas money.
Yeah, and not much has changed when you’re a baby band. [laughs] But we’re an older band and we’ve been around the block a lot. But now we come to town and hang out with people we know . . . either that or we’ll take the friends out for dinner . . .
Everybody in the band was in bands before this one. One of the things we talked about earlier was what some of the lessons were that you had learned in your previous band that have come in handy in getting this band off the ground. What would you say some of those lessons were?
In my previous band, it was just we were so new to the limelight, we were so new to the business that we didn’t know jack about anything. You’re just sitting there in meetings like a deer in headlights as your lawyers and everyone’s talking about this and that and you’re just like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but OK.” At that point you have to learn how to trust somebody. And at that point you learn in the music industry that it’s really hard to trust anybody. [laughs] That there’s a few who will fight for you but that most will kind of just shed you like skin.
Learning from then till now, we really watch our business, we really watch who’s working for us and what’s behind us, and we don’t just sit there and let somebody else take the reins. We’re a very hands-on band. We have a management company who’s very, very good, we’re with a big management company now that we do trust, but at the same time, at the end of the day, it’s still the four guys that make the last decision about everything. We have somebody watching our money, and we watch the person who’s watching our money. [laughs]
We just engulf ourselves in everything. When it comes to touring, offers, everything, we make sure it’s the right move, as opposed to back in the day we were like, “Yeah! Let’s just do it! Party!” It’s not so much that anymore. Now we’ve kind of become businessmen in this realm and learned from our mistakes of not being businessmen in this realm . . . People always say, “I played in a band but then it got too business-y and I lost the art form of it and I got out.” It’s like, “Well, that’s because you didn’t find a balance.” I still write like there’s not tomorrow, I still feel like everything I write about, regardless if it’s for my band or solo stuff or whatever, it’s inside of me.
How would you say your official debut album, “Rise,” differs from “Imerica” sonically?
It was one of those things where the band had gotten together and we had started writing songs, I had written a handful of songs, and we came in, kind of tweaked them out . . . we were kind of writing anything that we could just possibly write, whether it was heavy, pop, whatever. It took us a while to really get an album’s worth of music going. And it just seemed like at that point in time we hadn’t find out niche yet, we hadn’t found what kind of focus we were working on for the band.
The first record as great, I love it to death, but it was a little schizophrenic. It was heavy on one side—songs were like this, songs were like that. A song like “Let Go” was a great acoustic song I had written many, many years ago and we didn’t think about putting another “Let Go” on the new record, “Imerica,” it was just not even in the cards.
I mean, we started writing “Imerica” when we had an idea of what we wanted to sound like. We had an idea of what we wanted every song to sound like. We wanted them to have the same tone, the same kind of structure but yet be a different song each in itself. We didn’t want it to sound like three other bands had written this album. I think that’s what we’ve accomplished. Not to mention working with Ben [Schigel], the producer, who really fine-toned everything for us . . .
Would you say you faced any particular kind of challenges when putting it together?
We were dealing with a lot of crap writing that record. We had just come off the road of having like the worst year financially, structurally, within the label; everything was kind of up in the air, a mess. So on top of dealing with the business situation of stuff and then having to go and write a record, it was a lot of frustration on our end, just having to kind of sit there, it’s hard to focus when you have all this outside trouble going on.
On top of that, having writer’s block was probably, it was an intense thing. We’d be sittin’ in the rehearsal room and it’d be like, “What do you got today?” And everybody’s like, “I ain’t got nothing’.” [laughs] We would sit there and jam Metallica songs for four hours. [laughs again] It would take one spark. [Bassist Frank Salvaggio] had a lot of the inspirational ideas, Frank’s mind was always constantly moving. I came in with a handful of songs I had prewritten before we had went into the studio to start writing. And once you kind of worked on those and pushed those out of the way, we’re like, “OK, now what?” I’m sittin’ there goin’, “Man, I did about five songs, I’m kind of tapped.” But Frank was just coming in. He goes, “I have this riff in my head, and it kind of goes like this, and I hear this kind of melody line,” and I’m just like, “Alright,” so me and Frank would sit there for like three hours and put a song together and then have the band come in and put their points and their notes on it, what they didn’t like, what they liked, what could be better.
The writer’s block, we were writing so many songs that when in the studio recording the record, I was still writing lyrics. There were a lot of songs I didn’t know what to write about. That’s my thing. If I don’t write the song personally, and you give me music, I’m sitting there going, “Well, OK, what did you think when you wrote it? What was in your head? What did you envision?” Because me, I envision a movie, I envision parts of movies, like where would this song be if it was in a movie, and that’s the way I write the lyrics.
Having gone through all that, what songs would you say came together particularly well?
“Crucified,” no doubt about it.
Why is that?
Lyrically, sonically, it all pieced together very, very well. It all just kind of went, “Wow, like that tune just, it came out exactly the way it should have come out: explosive, really dark, heart-felt song, that written any other way it wouldn’t be the same.” I think I wrote that song staring at myself drunk one night. [laughs] I was looking in a mirror in like 4 o’clock in the morning, I was hammered, kind of was starting at myself in the mirror and I started writing the lyrics to that song. And I had no idea what to write the song about at the time.
Do you write that way often?
Ummmm . . . sometimes.
Slight hesitation there.
Sometimes. [laughs] There’s times when I have to write, what was it, “Social Suicide,” on “Imerica,” I wrote it just kind of in the middle of the day, pacing back and forth—I pace a lot, like even right now I’m pacing, I walk all over the place when I’m on the phone—I pace when I’m writing lyrics. I would say half the songs are written with me just pacing back and forth and just trying to like think about the lyrics and just going at it and going at it and going at it. I need quiet, very, very peace and quiet, but I also need background noise. [laughs] A couple of songs did come out that way . . . so that’s the beauty sometimes of taking your mind in a different place—it allows you to be free and not so closed off and worried about anything else but the lyrical content.
What’s the song “Social Suicide” about?
“Social Suicide” was written when I was living in Los Angeles. I’m currently not in L.A. anymore. I was livin’ there, and every day I saw on the news, this was during all the economic crash and where everyone was losing money and everything was bad, not that it’s better but it’s not as worse as it used to be. But I turn on the news or whatever, and every single day, there was somebody who lost their job, went home, or couldn’t find a job for the last year or whatever, and one day just snapped, went home and killed themselves and their family. Wow, like shit’s that bad that you would just take that route.
It’s kind of a fictional song, if you will, but even my father, he just retired a few years ago and he lost a crapload of money, a lot of money. So stuff like that hit me personally too. But it’s a fictional song about a man who basically loses his job and tells his wife, “I’m goin’ to work,” but that day he decides to go and rob a bank. And she finds out and he’s sittin’ there tryin’ to explain to her, “No, this is the best thing to do. This is the only thing I have left to do. It’s either do this or I’m not going to be able to feed my family or pay my bills.” . . . It’s based upon this stuff I saw in L.A. where people were so drastic that they would go to those measures, like robbing banks or just killing off their family. Wow, that’s pretty intense, to drive you to do something like that. It’s like, “Wow, I wonder how far to the edge you must have been.”
How are fans reacting to the new stuff live?
They’re loving’ in. It’s been awesome. They love the old record but they’re loving’ this new record even more, which is great because it means we graduated as writers and as a band. But the connection between us has just been awesome. And again, my favorite song is “Crucified,” and nine out 10 times people come up to me and go, “Oh, I love that song.” It’s just like, “That’s me.” [laughs] It’s a song about self-reflection is what it is.
The band describes the song “Broken Bones” as its “Master of Puppets.” How do the fans seem to be liking that one?
That song is a great song too. That song was about basically learning from your mistakes. Here’s my whole thing about that song: You learn from your mistakes, correct?
Well, hopefully you do.
Even though you learn from your mistakes, you end of having new mistakes and then you learn from those, and then you learn from those and then you learn from those, and that’s called growing. That’s the way the song is. It’s like, you’re never ever gonna be perfect. You’re always gonna make a mistake somewhere, not necessarily the same one, but you get past one mistake, you get to the next step and there’s another one, and then you get to the next step. It’s just ladders in life, that’s basically what it is, it’s a ladder in life. Leaves you broken bones to remember why you made that mistake in the first place, move on, and you have another one, and you remember that one and you move on to the next one. [laughs]
So have you ever broken a bone as a result of a mistake?
Uh, no, I have never broken a bone.
I haven’t either. Knock wood.
Yeah, knock on wood. I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve been through crazy-assed accidents and shit like that, but I have never broken a bone. I should have broken my neck a couple of times. [laughs]
by Christa Titus