Rockapalooza is making its annual habitat in Jackson, MI tomorrow, and to get everyone a little more acquainted with some of the lesser known, Michigan-based acts on the bill a list of general questions was sent to a handful of bands performing at tomorrow's festival. This interview is with the band Rotation. All questions answered by Andy Loy, vocalist and keyboard player.
For those who are unfamiliar with your band, could you give a brief history lesson on how your band formed and how you've gotten to this point in your perspective career?
Kevin and Sonic (our two guitar players) and I all went to the same high school in Flat Rock, Michigan, about 15 minutes south of Detroit. We had all played in competing bands for awhile locally. Sonic and I teamed up first and we tricked Kevin into playing 2 shows with us 'temporarily'- and they went so well he never left! Over the years we went through a few drummers and bass players and eventually found Bruce and Spencer, they really meshed well with us. We got to where we are strictly by perseverance, writing what we personally wanted to hear and not trying to follow any trends. A lot of bands live and die trying to do what's hot at that particular moment. Sometimes it works out great, but more often than not they fade as quickly as they appear. Of course doing that has made everything ten times harder to fit in, but we never felt unhappy with the path we're on and we never compromised our vision. Someone once told me, "Do what you do - and do it unapologetically". And I know it sounds simple but it's true, and sticking to that has really helped us grow.
How would you describe your sound for someone who has never heard you before?
That's a tough call. I've sound like a mix of Anberlin, Depeche Mode and old AFI, with some screaming here and there. To me we sound like a mix of Fergie and Jesus.
How would you say your sound has changed/progressed since the band first started?
When we first started we were all over the place musically, it took quite a while to define what our sound actually was. We've worked with a number of producers since then and learned what it really takes to write a good song with emotion, memorable hooks and solid structure. Personally I think the music and lyrics have a lot more depth now than ever. The band has definitely grown a lot, and we're still learning all the time.
Tell us about your latest release, or if you're currently working on something in the studio, your work on that. How did the recording setting influence the record?
Our last record, 'The Curse of 1990', came out about 2 years ago and really set the tone for what we are now. Almost immediately after we released that we began writing for our upcoming release, 'Years of Therapy'.
We were lucky enough to get a production deal and last summer started tracking in Nashville with Grammy-nominated producer Greg Archilla. The setting definitely influenced this record- just being in Nashville makes you step up your game. Literally everyone there is an amazing musician, everyone is doing something. All of our previous recording has been done in either Michigan or Ohio and it was nice to get as far away as possible! But regardless of where we go I can't shake that Detroit out of me, I can't write a happy song to save my life.
Michigan, although not on the tip of everyone's tongue, has certainly produced artistically strong and commercially successful acts. What are some of the artists you particularly admire from the state and what are your thoughts on the scene you feel most attached to?
Michigan is cranking out some amazing artists, no doubt! I definitely admire bands like Chiodos, We Came As Romans, I See Stars, Every Avenue... they all fought very hard to make a name for themselves and it's good to see them be so successful. Rotation has never really been part of a scene here, mainly because there IS no scene. We play shows with all kinds of bands, and never want to limit ourselves to one camp or another. One time you'll see us playing with bands like Falling in Reverse or Every Time I Die, another show we'll be with Sick Puppies or Chevelle. We kind of have a foot in both scenes, and because we're so different we stand out no matter what kind of lineup there is.
What is your familiarity with the Rockapalooza festival? What are some of the bands you've seen or are looking forward to sharing the stage with this year?
This will be our third year doing Rockapalooza - it has really turned into an amazing event. Personally, I'm stoked to play with Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, We Came As Romans, I See Stars, Sore Eyes. They all put on amazing shows. Rockapalooza is one of the few festivals where there's something for everybody, old school mainstream stuff like Puddle of Mudd and Saliva to upcoming bands like Dismember The Fallen. Even that rapper Coolio is doing a set! This is one of the most diverse lineups at a concert I've ever seen.
What drives you to continue to push as musicians, whether it be personal reasons or music that inspires you?
For me, music is like a bad addiction. Once you get it in your veins, it's over. There's no escape, no rationalizing it out of you, no walking away. You eat sleep and dream it, it consumes you unlike anything else. Every time I even considered walking away something would push me right back in. Rotation has always been the underdogs, always had to fight harder than anyone else to get anywhere because we took a difficult path - so we have something to prove. And even more than that, our songs hit home with some people. When kids tell me our music stopped them from killing themselves, or helped them get through a family crisis, or got them inspired to start their own band- I know we're doing the right thing. I've even had troops write me from Iraq and Afghanistan that listen to our album while they're on patrol. It means a lot to us. We don't care if people rip on us or we don't become some huge band, because I know in my heart we made a difference to some people. That's inspiration.
For those unable to attend the festival, what kind of touring plans do you have in the near future?
While we're working on this next album we've been doing one-offs and festivals. We have some cool stuff coming up- August 11 @ Dirt Fest in Birch Run, MI with Chiodos and Clutch, and the Back to College Bash September 8 in Akron, OH @ The Summit County Fairgrounds with Devil Wears Prada, Attack Attack and Machine Gun Kelly. We'll have some other dates confirmed soon outside of the Midwest as well, they'll be posted online.
If there was an overall message or something you hope people take away from your music, what would you hope that is?
I want our music to make people look at the world in a different light. That the ordinary truly is extraordinary, every moment has meaning and every person has purpose. There is beauty in the darkness, you just have to embrace it.
Where can we check out your releases online, whether it be streaming, for download or physical purchase?