There are bands that are fun to listen to. There are bands that are exciting to see live. There are also bands that have down-to-Earth members that are always willing to chat about what is going on. Pop Evil's bassist Matt DiRito is one of those guys in one of those bands... one of those bands being one that is fun to listen to and even more exciting to see live. We caught Matt during a little down time in the studio as Pop Evil prepares their fourth release. Here's what he had to say about the new material and more...
Toddstar: I want to thank you so much for taking time out for us. I know you guys are busy right now.
Matt: Absolutely. It's my pleasure.
Toddstar: Tell us what's going on in the world of Pop Evil right now. I've seen some video popping out. Are you guys in the studio?
Matt: Yeah, we've been cooped up in the studio in Seattle most of the year so far. We went in in January and started work on the new album. We're in the final phases of it right now. We're actually finishing up mixing and mastering it this week and turning in all of our artwork and everything to the label to get approved and put out and distributed all over the U.S. and the world.
Toddstar: Very cool. What can fans expect from this? Your last two albums have been pretty solid and pretty faithful with popular rock. Are you guys looking to deviate from your recipe or...?
Matt: I think it changes every time that we go in the studio. It's like they say, you've got your whole life to write your first album and then like two years to write your next album. Every album from one to the next we go through different experiences of different battles, different accomplishments. It all kind of affects the way that we look at everything; the industry, our fans, the world, our lives, our personal lives and all of that kind of shapes our music. This album definitely does sound different than things we've done in the past. I think you'll still recognize it as Pop Evil and there's still some good rockers and everything on there and elements of things that we've done before. We've introduced sort of a new side and quite a bit is just very positive. We try to focus on a lot of different positive things and getting past the things that get you down or the people that get you down and moving forward and onward and upward.
Toddstar: You mentioned things from the past and how they affect the current process. You guys have a high mountain to climb in that Onyx just tore it up. You guys had three number one singles. You guys toured like crazy behind it. Did you guys come into the studio with any added stress, even if it was from yourself saying, wow, how do we top this?
Matt: You know, that was our initial thought when we finished Onyx because we had felt like the maturity in that record was far beyond anything that we had ever done before. We felt ourselves pouring our hearts and emotions into it. Leaving the studio we were super happy with Onyx. We were just like, oh my God, how are we going to top this but going into the studio this time around, this process was a little different than things we had done before. Often times we would write songs as individuals and then come together in the studio and learn them on the spot and record the parts and work through the arrangements. This time, we actually went in the studio like three weeks ahead of time and just took time to jam as a band and played through these songs live, start to finish and adapted them to feel good and have everybody's flavor on each song. I think it's really cool, man. We did feel some pressure for sure going into the studio and trying to do as good or better than we did with Onyx. My personal opinion, I think we crushed it but I'm also pretty close to the project.
Toddstar: Sure. It's like trying to pick your favorite child.
Toddstar: One of those singles that just broke out for you guys in the last album, "Trenches." It was cool for anybody that got to see any of the tour dates, especially somebody like me who's in Michigan, got to see it at the Machine Shop. You guys were doing that live with Darryl McDaniels. How did that come about? How did that whole tour come about where he came out and did some dates with you guys?
Matt: You know, we were playing out in Kansas City for, I think it was called, ThrottleFest and Jesse Dupree from Jackyl puts that together. He had us out there playing and of course he had Darryl McDaniels out there for himself because they do a couple of songs together and they're good buddies. They were both side stage watching us play and perform "Trenches." As soon as we walked off stage DMC grabs us and he's like, hey, I already got my verse written. We were like, what? He's like you got to let me sing on that song. I got a verse, I'll sing it to you right now. Not less than two minutes after we walked off stage he already had this verse put together and sang it to us. We said, man, we have to do a version of this. This is way to cool.
Toddstar: Cool. Any surprises like that on the new album or is this just going to be the five of you guys just rocking it out?
Matt: Mostly just the five of us. We had a couple of things that we were working on, not really seeking out anybody but just sort of like if it lined up it lined up. You know who would be really cool on this track is so and so. Let's put some feelers out. Some of that might come to fruition, some of it might not. For the most part, it's just the five of us rocking. We don't necessarily feel like we have to do anything like that. We don't want that to make or break us, like have people say, they did a song with this person so they're reaching out and they need that person's fame to ride off of. We want to be known for doing our own thing.
Toddstar: You guys definitely do your own thing. I mentioned The Machine Shop [http://www.themachineshop.info/]. You guys have a show already sold out May 30th.
Matt: That's right.
Toddstar: Tell me, man, you guys could almost be the house band there, you guys play so much. What is it about The Machine Shop, Matt?
Matt: I think it's got to deal with Kevin. Kevin Zink, he rubs his mojo on everything. By mojo I do mean his penis. No, not really. That guy's got so much personality and so much heart. I think everybody sees that. His staff sees it. The bands coming through see it. The people that attend the concerts see it. There's just a vibe about it. He makes everything his own, makes sure everybody is comfortable; people are having a good time. He's a very fair dude. Real funny guy. Great to hang out with. That guy just makes it.
Toddstar: Very cool. I'd agree with you. I love dealing with Kev. Any experiences you've had there? Any cool stories that you can tell about The Machine Shop?
Matt: In the early days I used to ride my Harley out there. I still do from time to time. I go out there a lot on my off time just to hang out with Kevin because he and I have been buds for a long time. Back in my drinking days we used to get all messed up and I'd ride my Harley inside the bar and do burn outs on the floor, leave my bike there overnight and stuff. Shoot, man, I got tattooed there quite a few times in The Machine Shop. In fact, I have a Machine Shop tattoo on my leg that I got while laying on the bar at The Machine Shop.
Toddstar: No shit? I guess you do love the place.
Matt: Yeah, we've got plenty of stories from that place, that's for sure.
Toddstar: How about the story about a clothing optional hall photo, Matt?
Matt: Oh yeah, in the early days those hall pictures, it was like everyone was trying to outdo each other and come up with a crazy pose or whatever. I told Kevin, I'll just do it naked. I don't think my band mates even knew about it until two minutes before we walked on stage they snapped the shot. We all got together and I took my shirt off and dropped my pants. They were like, okay, whatever, take the picture. I scrambled to get my pants back on to then hop on stage. I don't think the crowd would have appreciated that too much.
Toddstar: Or they might have, who knows.
Matt: Yeah, maybe. You never know.
Toddstar: You guys have a huge female following. They might have dug that. Speaking of tours, again, the May 30th show at the Machine Shop but you guys are jumping on a big tour in the summer. Judas Priest, how big is that?
Matt: We've got a couple of dates with them. It's not like a solid tour or anything like that. In fact, we're still looking at booking up something solid and keeping our options open for right now. Right after the Machine Shop we're flying out right after that show to Sweden and we'll be in Europe for the entire month of June doing some different big festivals over there like the Download Festival, Rock am Ring, we've got some other dates with various artists and some headline things too. As far as back in the States, our schedule is still pretty open, a handful of festivals here and there. Like I said, the ones with Judas Priest. We toured with those guys back in the day, like 2009 was one of our first tours and those guys took us out.
Toddstar: Who's out there that you'd still like to tour with or share a stage with? The last year or more than a year you've shared stage with Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, you've done festivals. Is there somebody still out there that you'd love to tour with?
Matt: I would love to tour with Motley Crue but it looks like I might have missed the window for that.
Toddstar: How about collaborating with, anybody out there you'd like to collaborate with still?
Matt: You know, I've had the opportunity a couple of times and it's just never quite worked out to sit down and write together with Jeordie White, he's one of my big influences. I don't know why it hasn't worked out so far but I'd still hope to sit down and write with him at some point.
Toddstar: Who inspires you? Who still inspires you to pick up that base and do what you do day after day?
Matt: Seriously, and not to sound hokey at all, it's the fans. That's the number one reason for me getting out there. Seeing some of our biggest fans are our smallest fans, the little kids. The five to 10 year olds that come out and rock their faces off out in the crowds. You'll see them up on mom and dad's shoulders throwing the horns or whatever it is. Those kids inspire me to keep going and keep doing what I'm doing because I feel like they enjoy it on such a bigger level. I see in them what I used to have when I was a kid. Music was everything to me. It still is but I guess my view on it is a little different now that it's also what I do for a living. They kind of relight that fire in me and get me excited about music again.
Toddstar: You can tell you're excited. When I see you on stage normally the bass player is kind of relegated to the background, hiding a little bit and you're just all over the place.
Toddstar: How do you keep that up? How do you keep that energy up night after night where you're so excited to be there?
Matt: It's just something that I've always done as I play the music and let it take me over I can't help but move. If you asked me to stand still I would have a very hard time doing it. I guess it comes naturally. It's just what comes out.
Toddstar: Okay. Looking back over what you guys have done. You've got some really great music. You've got some great touring experiences. Of everything you've done professionally Matt, what are a couple of things you look back on so far and you're most proud of or want to be remembered for?
Matt: We had a great moment with Rock on the Range. We took Darryl McDaniels up on stage with us to sing Trenches. We brought a handful of Marines from the Lima Company in Ohio up on stage with us and took a moment to honor our troops and get the crowd riled up. You see 60,000 people just losing their minds in support of our troops was very moving. Definitely one of my favorite moments.
Toddstar: As a veteran I appreciate the fact that you guys do show that support and the love for the Armed Forces.
Matt: That's awesome. Thank you for your service.
Toddstar: Okay. Looking forward to May 30th, what are the couple of songs that the fans can expect to hear, not only that night but what songs, looking back at the Pop Evil catalog you think will always be part of a Pop Evil show?
Matt: I'd like to say that the radio singles will always be part of our show but that's not always true. We've had a handful of songs go to radio in the past that we don't always play live. "Purple" is one that we get requests for a lot. We do it sometimes, sometimes we don't. "Broken & Betrayed" was a song that we had a little bit of radio time that we hardly ever do. Same with "Shinedown" and a lot of the early stuff like that. We try to be really picky about what we play. Now that we're moving on to our fourth album, we've got a lot more material that we have to cram into 45 minutes to an hour or whatever it is. Honestly, I don't even know what to expect at The Machine Shop yet. We always kind of sit down as it gets closer to the show and we'll do up our set list and everything based on how everyone's feeling and what we decide to rehearse and everything like that. This far out, I just kind of leave it a mystery.
Toddstar: Okay. Any tracks from your guy's catalog that you would just love to bust off and play? Is there any that maybe you guys haven't played or just haven't played in forever that you would love to play live anywhere?
Matt: I kind of like the song "Epitaph." That was a fun song for me off of War of Angels. Something about that one is it's fun to play live and we hardly ever do it because it doesn't really match many other songs that we do.
Toddstar: It's actually one of my favorite songs from War of Angels.
Matt: Right on.
Toddstar: Listen Matt, I know you're busy. I know you guys are trying to get this thing wrapped up and out to the fans and also getting ready for some tour dates. Again, I really appreciate you taking time out for us today Matt.
Matt: My pleasure. Thanks for the interview.
Toddstar: We'll talk to you soon.
Matt: Sounds good. See you.
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