Interview: The Downcast
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Answered by Matt Rennie, guitar/vocals in The Downcast
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My mom and my best friend both started playing guitar when I was 13. Being surrounded by that process made me want to be a part of it, so I decided to take it up! My mom taught me my first chords and my friend taught me some riffs. It worked out to be a great combo!
If I hadn’t gotten into music, I’d likely be an auto mechanic.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I’m a huge car enthusiast. Outside of music, I love to drive and work on cars. I don’t think this really influences my creativity directly, but I can say that I’ve come up with some of my best song ideas while I’ve been driving.
How long has your band been around?
Our debut record came out in the summer of 2018, so about 2.5 years as of today.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based out of Toronto, Canada. The local scene has embraced our band with open arms, and we’re super grateful for that.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
We came up with our name in a brainstorming session. We tried to come up with names that had a greater meaning to us, but nothing was working. I wish I had a better answer for this!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Best show - Our CD release party! What a blast. Shout out to Bracebridge!
Worst show - We were booked for what we thought was a frosh week event for a local university. We all took cabs to the venue in preparation to party with the freshman, only to find out that it was held in a tiny bar that had absolutely zero advertisement behind it. We played to about 10 people. We still had fun...
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Our favourite venue is a local punk rock institution called Sneaky Dees. We love small clubs and would love to play some more of them in other cities we haven’t visited. Halifax would be a fun one. Maybe on our next tour.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Every Time I Die
Four Year Strong
That’s the dream tour right there. Both bands have been favourites of mine since early highschool. ETID puts on the best live show I’ve ever seen. They also seem like hilarious dudes. Alan from FYS produced our first record and we’re currently working with him on our next, so it would be great to spend more time with him and the other dudes. They also have a great live show and have been a huge influence on us.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Make sure you’re always having fun. If you want to take it further than that, you have to put some serious work into it, but if you’re not enjoying yourself, what’s the point?
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Don’t delay, just put the song out! I personally waited a long time to release any music I had written. Mostly out of fear. But being a band takes practice and the longer you wait, the more you’re delaying your growth.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Our newest song called Rough Love. As I’m writing this, it has yet to be released, but it captures the sound of our band more than any other song we’ve put out.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Our heaviest songs are the most fun to play and are typically the ones people are most excited to hear. A song from our first record called OSO has always been our encore, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I will typically come up with a lyrical or musical idea and present that to the guys to be brought to life. Every song has had a different process to get to the end result.
Lately, I’ve been writing on acoustic guitar, then fleshing the song out with the rest of the instruments. I feel like this ensures that the skeleton of the song is solid and anything that gets added only enhances it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Most of our lyrical content is fairly negative being anchored in heartbreak, struggle, and anxiety. I like being able to relate to people since we all have times in our lives (or days) that we feel these emotions. The message is to just be able to lean on your favourite bands when you need to feel like there’s someone else out there who has gone through something similar, and survived to tell the tale.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
We do, but we’re a pretty open group of guys. If we do have a disagreement we try to communicate what we need and compromise to get it done.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
Our sophomore EP is taking up all of our efforts at the moment, and that’s exactly how we want it! It’s being produced by Alan from Four Year Strong and it’s hands-down our best work to date. Our first single will be released in February of this year.