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Interview with Reveille

Harvard, Massachusetts-based Reveille radiates intensity combined with an angst-ridden “edgy” darkness, smooth transitions among complicated guitar riffs, powerful vocals ranging from rap-oriented material to the guttural growls of metal, a drum/ bass foundation that’s super-tight… and energy galore onstage.

“I get tired just watching those guys!” – Robbie Merrill (bassist for Godsmack)

Rising quickly in popularity, this is an act comprised of talented individuals (Drew Simollardes; vocals, Greg Sullivan; guitars and backing vocals, Steve Milowszewski; guitars, Carl Randolph; bass, and Justin Wilson; drums) who are not at all shy when it comes to expressing their opinions; be it through their musical style, or in conversation.

They have a disdain for bands who use gimmicks but are unable to back it up with the quality of their playing, or the commercially successful/ label contrived ones who lack depth and definition in their sound:

Justin : “I think it gives music a bad name when a band doesn’t play their own instruments or write their own material, but can go up there, dance around a lot, and make millions of dollars doing it.”

Drew : “That’s not music. It’s commercialism… at best. Call it what it is, but don’t call it music.”

Ranging from chronological standpoints of 17 to 20, Reveille’s members have a few thoughts on the subject of the phrase “for their age”…

Drew : “I don’t mind people knowing our ages at all, but I get real tired of hearing stuff like, ‘They’re a good band… for their age,’ as if it should make a difference.”

He challenges, “Let’s say, hypothetically, you have a guitarist in a band that’s 26, and he’s been playing for about five years… that’s pretty common… and he’s good at what he does… but Greg’s this phenomenon; he’s been playing guitar since he was six years old. He’s only 17, but he’s actually got several years up on the other guy.”

With aspirations of working with Tool, System of a Down or Deftones, Reveille boasts the completion of their first national tour as a supporting act for Godsmack, Powerman 5000 and Machinehead. Having been together for only two years and playing their first “real show” on May 1st of last year, it’s remarkable how far they’ve come.

There are exceptions, however…

The band was stopped in their tracks at the door of a southern CA venue the night we met – relegated to spend the majority of the evening outside of the 21+ club, due to the zoning laws of the city. They were allowed to play as scheduled. But “Get on, get off, and get out again” was the gist of what they were told. This was a highly disturbing predicament for all the members – as they are extremely fan-oriented.

When asked what pisses him off, Drew replied without hesitation:

“Not being allowed into the venue where we’re playing ‘because of our ages.’ We like to interact with the fans as much as possible – both before and after the show – to get to know them as they get to know us. When that element’s taken away, the whole experience just isn’t the same. It really sucks.”

(With all due respect to the band’s feelings and the situation at hand, it did afford me the luxury to speak with them at length and on a variety of subjects, so I took full advantage of our time together.)

Speaking of the fans…wasn’t it Godsmack who initially helped you guys out as far as recognition?

Drew : “Godsmack helped boost our credibility. I mean, we’d already been signed, but we hadn’t been around long, so no one really knew who we were. They asked us to open a bunch of shows with them and that helped us get the name out there through their fan base.”

Greg : “Which was like everyone in Massachusetts!”

Considering the public’s general fascination surrounding Sully Erna’s spiritual beliefs, the fact you’ve toured with them [Godsmack] , and the cover artwork of your CD [“Laced” – 1999, Elektra Entertainment], are you ever dubbed as being ‘Satanic’?

Drew : “I don’t buy into any pre-conceived idea of religion or what other people think it should be. I kinda have my own thing going, but there’s no name or label for it, really.”

Justin : “I don’t like organized religion. I mean, I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘The only thing it’s good for is causing wars and death,’ but that fuckin’ happens all the time. A lot of people get killed because of religion, and I just don’t want to deal with it. But they think Carl’s the leader of the Satanic party…” (laughs)

Carl : “Yeah, they tell me I look like Anton La Vey, [he does] but we mainly get it because of our album cover; people think it’s the Devil or something; you know, horns and all… but it’s actually a pseudo skeleton illustration of a guy with his fingers going from his eyes through the top of his head.”

Reveille is a tight-knit bunch of guys. The band loves traveling, playing live and receiving the immediate feedback from the fans. They’ve definitely had their share of ups and downs in the industry’s “school hard knocks” this first year touring as a signed act.

Carl : “Reveille is famous for technical problems on the road. We’ve had sound guys who just can’t get it right to save their lives, to bass cabs blowing up, to… well… you name it, we’ve had it happen.”

On the subject of bad shows, the band recalls one event in particular Carl was unable to play, due to illness:

Greg : “We were headlining in New York. It was sold out; 3000 people… and a bunch of label execs were coming to see us. He [Carl] was sick as a dog; throwing up – the whole thing. We went on for the first time, ever, without him.”

Drew : “I think it came across okay, but it just didn’t feel right. We hated it. We’ll never do that again.”

Carl : “The funny thing was, as soon as they were done playing, I felt fine.”

Greg : (throws his hands up while the other guys laugh hysterically) “He went to the after party! I still can’t believe he did that. Everyone was like, ‘hey, I thought you were supposed to be sick or something.’ It didn’t look good.”

Carl : “I was hungry.”

Drew : “There have definitely been more good shows than bad, though.”

Justin : “I liked this one gig we did with Fear Factory. We didn’t really know what to expect. We were on the Powerman 5000 tour at the time. That one and the Fear Factory tour just kind of hooked up together for a radio show. It turned out to be so rushed, it was nuts. We were running around like crazy, basically just throwing our equipment onto the stage… and then it was like, ‘GO!’ When we started playing, the whole crowd just erupted!”

Maintaining a sense of integrity in your music is very important to the band, isn’t it?

Carl : “When we first recorded the six-song demo, the one that Elektra originally heard, it was done really quick; it wasn’t that heavy, and it sounded like crap. Then, when we got signed and had the time to go back into the studio to do what we wanted to do, we did it the way we wanted to. When the label heard it, they asked us, ‘don’t you think it’s a little too heavy?’…and we were like, ‘fuck you… this is who we are.'”

Justin : “So many bands out there sell out after they’re signed. Or, they totally change their style. That idea’s always seemed so weird to me. We just want to write the kind of music we are now, which is much better for us in the end.”

Any plans for a second recording?

Drew : “Reveille’s plans at this point are to do more of the same, only on a larger scale and to continue growing…”

What kind of advice would you give to other bands just coming up in the scene?

Drew : “Well, I’ll say to them what’s always been said to me… it sounds so simple – and you hear it all the time, but it’s so true; don’t trust anyone, and don’t sign anything unless you know what it is you’re signing. You’ve got to be confident the people you’re working with are the right ones and the deal you’re getting is a good one. You can never be sure enough, but you do the best you can as you go and hope everyone around you is doing the same.”

Justin : “It’s not always so black or white, ya know? There’s an awful lot of gray matter in there… I mean, it’s not that someone’s necessarily a bad person… but they don’t always have your best interests at heart.”

Carl : “Be true to yourself. That’s the bottom line. Then, whatever happens, at least you’ve got that.”

Sounds like some pretty solid advice… and not just “for their age.”

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