Stay Dead interview with Chris Borrelli (guitarist, writer, mastermind behind the project) with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
CB: It’s always tough to put a label on yourself. When I started this project, the idea originally was to create a doom metal project. The guys I chose to join me in this endeavor have such different tastes and influences that it has become more than just doom. It’s honestly become almost an experiment. Take 4 guys with vastly different backgrounds (doom, progressive, metalcore, punk, hardcore, pop punk and alternative), put them in a studio together, and see what comes out the other end. So far it’s been a really cool mix of bone-crushing riffs mixed with melodic vocals that turn dark at times, and some really cool bass runs. I’ve been working with Jeff Matz (High on Fire, Mutoid Man, Zeke) with the bass writing so we’re coming up with some really wild stuff. It’s always nice to have a Grammy winning artist helping with the writing process.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
CB: I started out a little more than 30 years ago. My dad played blues and classic rock guitar and bought me my first guitar when I was 12, back in 1990 along with some guitar magazines. I never had any lessons so it was up to me to figure it out so I would try to imitate some of the finger positions I was seeing in the magazines. Eventually I taught myself how to read and play tablature. My dad had given me the Black Sabbath “Paranoid” album and I listened to it over and over again until I could play along with it. The following year in 1991 I went to my first punk and hardcore show in a basement near our high school. That show changed my life and I immediately knew that’s what I wanted to do. In 1992 I started my first hardcore band, a few years later I launched one of the very first E-zines, and in 2003 I launched my first hardcore and punk record label.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
CB: Oh man, I take inspiration from so many things. Books, other musicians, everyday life around us… I read a ton of Dead Koontz so always had a thing for suspenseful thriller and horror stuff. I try to weave stuff like that into our music and lyrics by relating it to some of the things we see and experience in this comedy we call “life”. Comedy is also a big thing for me. I write some heavy stuff about depressing topics at times such as mental health, current state of the world and media, war, things of that nature, so I use comedy and meditation to drag me back out of those mindsets. Comedy really is a cure for so many things. My other inspiration is Mojo Rawley, former WWE superstar. He’s actually my younger brother-in-law and we’re super close. You want to talk about someone that can make lemonade out of lemons? That guy can turn dogshit into diamonds hahaha. Seriously, there is nothing he can’t accomplish, he refuses to take “no” for an answer, refuses to give up, and is the most hyped dude on the planet.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
CB: As long as I am creating and sharing music in some form or another, I’m happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Creating music is my passion and as long as I’m doing that, my aspirations are met.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
CB: That’s a tough one. I’ve played in some really fun bands, written a ton of music, put out some great records, and made memories I’ll never forget. I think looking back on all of that as a whole makes me really proud. For me, it’s not about the accomplishments, but the overall experiences.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
CB: You know, this has been a crash course in promotion from several aspects. First off, we’re a studio project band so we’re not out there touring and playing live shows and getting in people’s faces which presents an issue in itself. We’re relying heavily on outlets and people like you to raise awareness of great music and bands that may otherwise never be heard.
I had this conversation with Jeff Matz a few weeks ago when we were releasing our first single. I was explaining to him how the playing field has changed so much from when I was playing early on and running my label. Back then it was all about posting on message boards, chat groups, street teams, ad spaces on websites and magazines, and handing out cd’s and tape demos at the mall. Now we’re in the age of streaming platforms and it’s an entirely alien world to me. We see all these “pay for plays” services and “playlist pushers” but that stuff is just so disingenuous to me. So we’re doing it the old school organic way, reaching out to zines, publishers, word of mouth, and learning the necessary of all evils in this age… social media.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
CB: As a studio project band we never really thought we’d be playing live shows. Covid however, transformed the music scene in yet another way and we saw the emergence of live streaming shows. I think the first I noticed was when Mastodon streamed a show from one of their houses where it was just the band (and a stripper or two) in one of their rooms. And they did it in such an artistic way. It blew my mind. It was totally incredible and it made me think “Hey, that’s something we can do”. It’s a little tougher for us given that the members of Stay Dead! are all spread out around Florida and Kenny, our drummer, is in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area it’ll definitely require some planning but Kenny does come down several times a year. We’ve talked about setting up a livestream show from the studio during one of his stays down here. Stay tuned for that!
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
CB: I mean it’s totally a double edged sword. I’m a vinyl collector and lover so nothing beats a record to me but the convenience of streaming sites these days is hard to deny. Man… the amount of money I used to spend on cd’s, cassette tapes, and records over the years was astronomical. Now I pay my $10 a month or whatever it is and I have access to an unlimited amount of music. But then there’s the other side of that coin. The artists aren’t seeing money from record sales anymore. We get paid $0.003 per play on streaming platforms. That’s a fraction of a penny! It takes 10,000 plays to earn $30. Before then, you could sell 3 cd’s, tapes, or records, and make $30. So there’s the double edged sword. While we don’t get paid much for our work, our music is wayyyyy more accessible to wayyyyy more people. I could care less about the money but there are some artists that do depend on that to continue doing what they love to do. It’s definitely made it harder to play full time. So when you find a band you like or respect, buy a t-shirt, or a hat, or some merch. That’s what many of them are relying on these days to get a hot meal in the van between shows and cities.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
CB: Anything by Danny Elfman. That guy is an absolute genius.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
CB: To be completely honest, I really pay zero attention to the mainstream music industry. It’s all so corrupt and fake. I stick to the indie scene where musicians are people and not trying to lead a double-life as some celebrity.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
CB: Well we just released our first single “Blackened Skies” and we should be wrapping up another within the next few weeks. We’ve got a ton of material written that just needs to be arranged. We’re still tossing around the idea of just continuously releasing singles or putting together an EP. I guess all I can say is keep an eye out. We plan on keeping up a good momentum though and want to release one or two more by years end, then steady releases throughout 2023.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
CB: Right now we’re most active on Instagram stay_dead_band and starting to work more on Facebook. Social media is such a weird thing to me but I’m slowly learning. Please give us a follow on any of those. We’re designing merchandise right now so we’ll be announcing releases of those on our social platforms along with some giveaways. Until then, give us a follow and check out our first single “Blackened Skies”!
Stay Dead! links:
Band/Artist location – Tampa, Fl
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