August 2004 - THROTTLEROD
THORTTLEORD gets my first attention, when they released the debut "Eastbound And Down" on Underdogma Records in 2000. It was a fine aggressive collection of tracks which draw influnces from Heavy Rock, Rock 'n' Roll and Southern Rock. But with the second album "Hell And High Water" THROTTLEROD have simply knocked out the debut. There are still the trademarks to find from their debut, but they have stretched their style and progressed the songwriting for a more unique sound. Of course, Rock 'n' Roll is still the name of the game and it's presented in one of the heaviest forms, but a lot of compelling ideas have found its way into the songs what makes the result more diverse and outstanding. This isnt anymore the typical southern-drenched riff-rock, although enough elements of this genre are intwerwoven here. I talked with guitarist/vocalist Matt Whitehead about the last album, road stories, the civil war and more just to find out something about the magic of THROTTLEROD......
Let's start with that usual first question. When was the band founded, and is it still the first line-up?
Throttlerod was founded in July of 1999. Actually, I am the only original member. Our original bassist was replaced in the fall of 2001, our original drummer was replaced in the summer of 2002, and our other guitarist is no longer with us as of February of 2004. I feel like I have the best lineup of the band's history right now.
Matt, have you played in any other bands before?
Yes, I have. Believe it or not, I was in a death metal band in high school. I guess you could call it a phase. After that, I was in a band with Bo, Chris, Jon, and this other guy playing bass. That ended in February of 1996.
When did you record the first four-song demo and have you received good responses for it?
We did that in the late summer/early fall of 1999. We used to burn copies ourselves, print out the covers ourselves, get free jewel cases from people that worked at record stores, and then sit around, drink beer and put everything together. For several months, we gave the demos out at our shows.
An old label info described you sound as the missing link between C.O.C., Clutch and Zakk Wylde, but I can't totally agree with this staement. If someone's not familiar to your music, how would you describe Throttlerod to this person?
I wouldn't necessarily agree with that either. It's always difficult for bands to describe themselves. I think that it becomes more of a question of what do our fans listen to the most. I usually just say that Throttlerod is heavy rock.
Your first official life-sign was the "Eastbound And Down" album, released on Underdogma Records in 2000. To be honest, it sounds more like a collection of songs than a cohesive album. What is your personal point of view about the debut?
Yeah, it's definitely a collection of songs that may have been written for a long time. It was sort of a situation of, 'let's record everything we have to make an album'. It was fun to record though.
What happened between the debut and your second album "Hell And High Water". Have you played a lot of shows in the USA, and are there any gigs you have in good or bad rememberance?
We've played hundreds of shows in the USA and Canada. There have been countless good shows that are stuck in my memory and very few bad ones. Even sleeping in parking lots during a snow storm or in the mountains of Idaho while it was sleeting outside...they were all good experiences. Also, we've met an unbelievable number of cool people and bands over the years that have made both the good and the bad shows better. I could give some more specific highlights, but I don't want to get anyone in trouble.
Hahaha.....I guess, that you love to play live!? What can people expect from a Throttlerod live show?
Every show is either our best or worst show. There's very little "in-between." Regardless of how it turns out, we put it all on the line every time we hit the stage. I can't take credit for that comment...a friend of the band said that once.
I love the "Black Betty" cover-version you have done for the "Sucking the 70's" compilation. Why have you chosen the Ram Jam classic and do you love to play cover-songs?
First of all, we had talked about doing that song for a long time. Second of all, we constantly like to challenge ourselves. The drums and guitars in that song are especially difficult to pull off. Thirdly, we knew that nobody would expect us to do it, much less pull it off. Aside from that, we play covers from time to time but don't do too many. Currently, we're doing a version of U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky."
What are your personal faves from this compilation?
You mean besides "Black Betty"?...haha. I'd have to say The Roadsaw, Raging Slab, Lamont, Suplecs and Nova Driver covers.
Last year the follow-up "Hell And High Water" has been released by Small Stone Records. For my taste, the group has done a huge step forward in comparison with the debut. High quality songs and more convincing ideas....Throttlerod has definitely grown-up. What can you say about the band's development?
We definitely grew up. I personally had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do. With the addition of our new drummer and bass player, things just fell in place so easily. Something else that was different about this album was the fact that there was little to no "jamming". Pretty much every song was completed before rehearsal. I think that went a long way as far as keeping the focus goes. I don't know what else to say, it's just what we felt like playing at the time.
How did you come together with Scott of Small Stone and will you record more albums for SS in the future?
It all started with an off-hand comment by Scott a while back. When we realized that we needed to step it up a little, as far as record labels go, I gave him a call to see if he was still interested. Apparently, Erik from Alabama Thunderpussy pushed for us as well. We will denitely be record more material for SS in the near future. Small Stone is one of the best indie-labels around.
I've asked myself over and over again what's the meaning behind the album title...please help me out!?
Basically, the time during which we were writing the album was pretty much a low point in my life. There was a time when it felt like everyone and everything was against us, and the title was our way of saying nothing's going to get in the way of us making this band happen.
You are living in South Carolina. Please, give us a description of this place. What kind of lifestyle do you live: doing any daily fucked-up jobs or something cool?
Actually, we're living in Richmond, Virginia right now. I miss South Carolina a lot though and will undoubtedly be back there one day. I'm liking Richmond a lot more than I used to, but it has definitely been an uphill battle in more than one way. Two good things about this area are: the history around here is very interesting and there are a lot of working bands here like Lamb of God, ATP, GWAR, RPG, etc.
Please, tell us more about the history of Richmond! Are there battlefields of the civil war and which period of history is the most interesting for you?
There's a lot of history here that's pretty amazing. Civil War battlefields, graves, etc, are all around. It was the capital of the South, so there's Civil War history everywhere. I'm probably not the most qualified person to go into all that, since I've only been here for almost 3 years. What kind of history do I find most interesting...As far as US history goes, it's all pretty facinating. I'd have to say the American Revolution or the Civil War eras. With the Civil War period, I can't imagine feeling so strongly about something that you're willing to fight your own country.
For me, the name Throttlerod is connected with V8 engines, big blocks, hemis and all about muscle cars. Does anyone of the band own one of this legendary street machines or maybe a fat and loud bike?
Haha. We wish. Unfortunately not.
Apart of all that's heavy, where do you draw your influences from - 50's Rock 'n' Roll, old Delta Blues or Country music?
It's hard to say. Musical genres that I find inspiring are everything from delta blues and outlaw country to bands like Morphine, Mogwai (however you'd classify either of those groups) to classical music. Pretty much anything but rap... or polka.
The latest news about the band are your plans in releasing a MCD. Please, tell us more about it!
Yes, earlier in the year we did a 5 song EP called Starve the Dead, once again with engineer and producer, Andrew Schneider. These 5 songs are like nothing we've done before but have always wanted to try. I guess I'd say they're all fairly mellow, but not necessarily all acoustic. It's not a new direction or anything, just a momentary departure and exploration. The EP will be available through our website in late September/early October.
You won't release it on Small Stone?
No, we're not releasing it on Small Stone, but I think they will be selling it on their website. We pretty much just wanted to keep this EP for ourselves. That's why it's taken so long to come out. Since we pretty much made it for us, we weren't really overly concerned or motivated to get it out quickly. Or maybe we were just slack... I don't know.
Thanks a lot for your time! Any final words or comments?
Thanks for the interview. Everyone please visit www.throttlerod.com and pick up a copy of Hell and High Water. Tell your friends too!!