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No Flash Flash Flash In The Pan

(Taken from Black Velvet Issue 44 - May 2005)

By Shari Black Velvet

Taking On The World

Forming in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the USA in the late 90s, The Explosion are true punk rock sloggers. Originally signing with the independent Jade Tree record label, the band have released two full length albums and a number of EPs. The latest album, 'Black Tape', is the band's debut on a major label - Virgin. It's no doubt thanks to their new home that they were given the opportunity to support both pop-punkers New Found Glory and Good Charlotte in the UK recently, where they went down a storm with the kids, really grabbing the UK music scene's attention.






Matt Hock AKA Million Dollar Matt, talks about the Good Charlotte boys and how they managed to bag the tour.
"They're fans of punk rock and I think they're fans of our band," he begins. "We did Warped Tour with them a few years back and we became friends with them on that tour, so we've always wanted to tour together. Luckily they asked us to do it and it's happened. I'm assuming it's because they're fans of our band. I hope that's why. I think that's probably the case."
Drummer Andrew Black actually lived in the same area, used to work in a bar that the Good Charlotte boys frequented and has known them for a while, while guitarist Dave Walsh tells us about the invite to a show they had; "They actually played Providence, Rhode Island, where I was living for a little while and Matt was up visiting me and they asked us to come down to a show that they were playing there. That was maybe a year or so ago, something like that. We stay in touch with them."
The UK tours that The Explosion have been doing have been awesome according to the band, with the guys even spotting a long-haired rocker in the front row at one Good Charlotte gig headbanging along to their music.
"The biggest tours we've done have probably been AFI and Social Distortion," says Matt. "AFI's fans were really good to us. Social Distortion's fans were good to us but not amazing because they were really there to see Social Distortion, which is totally understandable. New Found Glory's audience really liked us."
They're all happy that so many fans are getting into the music and despite being heavier than both Good Charlotte and New Found Glory and having a more old skool punk rock following don't care where the fans come from or where their musical tastes lie.
"We were here with Sick Of It All," remembers Andrew, "who blow us away in terms of being heavy. I think it's nice being in a band that's versatile to tour with all these different people. It kinda pays off. We've got fans in all these different places."
"And maybe some will get married to each other, and they can combine their CD collections,' laughs Matt.

One thing the band don't have in terms of fans, is a message board for fans to congregate online. Not on the official site anyway. In fact, they've never ever had a forum. "I'm not a big fan of message boards," reveals Matt. "I'll go on and I'll read it and it'll make me fucking nuts."
"It seems like an open invitation for people to talk a bunch of shit. It's really easy to hide behind a keyboard," adds Dave.

Prior to the release of 'Black Tape', the 12 track Virgin debut album (I guess you could call it the Virgin virgin), a lot of demoing was done to really bring out the best in the boys. "We spent a lot of time demoing, that's for sure," says Dave. "Virgin really wanted us to go for it on this record, to the last point, always writing until we get to the studio.
"Most of the demos were done at my house on my computer. Then we did a few demo sessions; one in Boston at a small studio. We did some in San Francisco at another small studio, a really small practise space kinda studio. By the time we were done doing all that we were ready to do our record."
"But it was a different change from any records we'd ever recorded before. We're used to writing a record and going to record it. We're not used to being told 'write more, write more'," continues Matt.
The sound on this album is more melodic - on the whole - to their first full-length album, 'Flash Flash Flash', released in 2000 and other past discs. In the past the band have had a slightly harder, punkier sound. On 'Black Tape' there's a lot more melody, a lot more to sing along to, although still a lot of energy. Matt says that it wasn't Virgin's influence that changed the sound though.
"All the songs we wrote were songs that we wrote. They came from us just like all the other things we've done in the past. I think if anything's changed it's because we've been a band for seven years. You grow up and change a bit in that amount of time."

One of the key band members, Sam Cave, left the band at the tail end of 2004, around the time of the album release. Sam was pretty much in the band from the beginning, being an integral part for a long while. Chris Gonzalez formerly of the band Let It Burn, has taken his place.
"The thing that was troubling him was being on the road so much," says Dave regarding Sam's departure. "He just couldn't hang with it. It's a really difficult life, especially if you have a lot of stuff going on personally at home, if you have girlfriends, friends or commitments at home it's really difficult to be on tour for 6-9 months out of a year. That was the main problem with him, the tour schedule and stuff like that. "
"It's better that he decided to leave than his heart not being into it at all," adds Matt. "It's better for everyone."
The split was amicable, and the band are adamant that the spirit the band had with Sam in it, will continue.
"He was a really good songwriter as is everyone in the band. There is one fifth of it gone but now we have Chris. He was hired on as the guitar player for the tour but now he's gonna join the band and it's been really good with him, so that brings something new to the next album I think, 'cause he's going to help write it. We've already started doing some of that."
Chris, who's vegetarian, as is Damian Genuardi, bassist (with Dave being a pectarian), is described as being a little nervous but a really good guy.
"He's a great friend," says Dave. "He was a fan of the band before he joined our band."

Going back to the beginning, the band was formed purely for fun. Matt says, "We didn't know what the fuck was going on. We wrote some songs and we played some shows and it was like day to day."
"We were really bad when we first started," admits Dave.
Now the band are touring their asses off and are much improved. Other things have changed slightly since the early days too. Not just musically but for the guys are individuals as well. Dave himself has gotten married while Matt will shortly be also. "I still act like I'm still 16 a lot of the time though," jokes Matt.
"As far as the way we are in the music industry, touring and playing music, those are the coolest things. We've met so many great friends and so many cool people and gotten to so many cool places that that's cool. And also the fact that we're able to live at least somewhat off our music is also cool."
When the deal with Virgin was signed, Matt was overjoyed at the prospect of being able to survive for a year working full time with the band. He says his parents also seem to take things more seriously now that there's a recognisable major label name behind their product.

One thing that usually comes with success though is rumours and untruths. It turns out there's actually an article online that states that Matt didn't write a song before 'Here I Am' off 'Black Tape'.
"I wasn't too fond of that article," says Matt. "There was a lot of misinformation such as that little titbit there."
Proof that you shouldn't always believe everything you read online.

That minor annoyance aside, the band are having a blast doing what they love to do. With an awesome new album under the belt (as well as past work), the boys are city and country hopping in a bid to get their music out to anyone and everyone. They're down to play Warped Tour again in the Summer, which will no doubt be another excellent adventure, and then they hope to start working on the follow-up to 'Black Tape' in the Autumn. Things are looking mighty fine for The Explosion. Mighty fine indeed.
Visit www.theexplosion.net for more info.

Questions Questions Questions

Black Velvet asked The Explosion five quick questions using parts of their songtitles in them…

'Deliver Us' - If you could have anything delivered to you right now what would it be?
Matt: "A burrito from Anna's Taqueria in Boston.

'Filthy Insane' - Who's the most insane member of the band?
Matt: "It used to be me but then Chris joined. He's the most insane. He's the most nervous, paranoid person I've ever met."

'We All Fall Down' - When was the last time you fell down?
Dave: "I fell down onstage at the beginning of the tour.
Matt: "When we went on tour with AFI I fell offstage for the first 3 shows but they were big stages so people thought I was seriously injured.
Dave: "He used to fall off the stage at every show."
Matt: "It was usually my schtick!"

'Signature' - How do you feel signing signatures (autographs) for fans?
Matt: "Oh it makes me feel famous!"

'Dotted Line' - What dotted line would you most like to sign on?
Matt: "One for Playgirl saying that they'd approved my photo session."


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