Awhile back I was asked if I wanted to interview a band called Down With Webster. Not going to lie, I really didn’t know much about them aside from the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of their “Rich Girl$” track (yes, there is a money sign in place of an ‘s’). To be fair, I did some research to see what they’re about. Timbaland is quoted as saying “They are the illest group I’ve ever seen live in person, and you know I’m hard to please. That group is the most amazing and creative, innovative group that’s going to come out in 2010.” Needless to say, I decided to conduct the interview and I had the pleasure of chatting with Tyler, bassist and one of the band’s many vocals (there’s 7 of ’em in the band). Check out some of their other tracks on myspace: I recommend “Your Man” and “Whoa Is Me”. You can also read more about them at their website.
So how did DWW get started?
We met in grade eight music class. There was a year end assignment where you had to write a song, form a band, etc. A few of the guys in the class, we were friends and we all played instruments, thought, why not start a band? And we did.
Is everyone in the band today from the original high school band or have there been some changes?
We’ve added a few in the last five years. Everyone who’s joined the band has been in our circle of friends; we have a lot of musical friends.
Is “Down With Webster” a highschool name or is that post-highschool? And what does it mean?
It originated from the TV show Webster and the character Emmanuel Lewis. The name doesn’t mean anything. We had 15 minutes at the end of class to come up with a name and that was it.
How has the band evolved from grade eight to know? And if you don’t mind me asking, how long has it been since then?
It’s been night and day! And ten years! It’s been a pretty wild ride and even recently it’s been crazier. This isn’t something we’ve stumbled upon, we’ve been working really hard. It’s starting to pay off a little bit. We had big ideas at a young age! We’re relentless!
That’s good! That’s what sets you apart from that bands that didn’t make it!
Absolutely! Being from Canada even more so, to have your music heard internationally you really have to kick down every door, even if they don’t fall down very quickly.
Does that mean you guys had a tough time breaking onto the scene?
Yeah, more than ever, it’s very hard to get anyone’s attention these days. Records aren’t selling anymore. I think the reason we got so much attention was because we were able to create a live following that was unique and special. For a band to be able to have 1000 to 1500 kids in a room without having an album just doesn’t happen anymore.
Yeah I read something about Timbaland saying how you guys put on wicked shows.
Yeah it’s a very cool thing to have that said about you!
So what’s it like working in a seven piece band, isn’t it a bit chaotic?
The fact that it’s been an evolution has helped. Everyone knows their responsibilities within the band and as we get older and work together we figure out each other’s strong and weak points, who’s more managerial, who’s more of the song writer, etc, everyone’s does what they’re good at and tries not to have an ego. No ego, that’s the rule!
With so many of you, all having different tastes, what do you guys listen to when you guys are together and where do you guys find inspiration?
There’s stuff we all agree on. We’re always looking into new stuff and bands and seeing concerts together. We draw from everywhere; our influences are all over the place. It’s not just one guy’s point of view, it’s a major collaboration.
You guys have been relentless tour wise. Any favourite cities you’ve played in?
Playing home shows in Toronto are always fun for us. We’re looking forward to playing Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, and Edmonton. We did Warp Tour last summer and went down to the States. It was cool just to get to play music for people who hadn’t heard us and then getting to play in some city’s which had picked up on us. Playing Atlanta for example, even though it was only about 100 hundred kids in the front row, it was super cool seeing that our music has reached them.
Any country you guys are super stoked to play in?
I think we’d love to go to Japan. We’re talking about February, March, April of 2010 heading over to Europe, Japan, and Australia. It’s just really cool that music is giving us a vehicle to travel the world with.
Given the way things have gone, you must have rock star-like experiences you can tell me about?
We had bacon and eggs with Gene Simmons!
That’s pretty sweet. Wasn’t he was interested in signing you guys on his label?
Yeah it just wasn’t where we were headed in terms of the direction we were going at the time.
Timbaland wanted to sign you guys too right?
We recorded with him in Miami for a week and he wanted to sign us but we had already decided to go with Motown. There were no hard feelings because the door’s still open to write and record with him.
In your opinion, can you recommend a song, artist, band, etc. that I should check out?
I like a song called “Genesis” by Justice. If no one’s heard it, they have to check it out. It’s been out for awhile but a lot of my friends haven’t heard it and whenever I put it on in my car everyone goes nuts.
Anyone you guys would like to collaborate with, realistically or not?
I’ve found that a lot of stuff is very realistic, even things you’d often think wouldn’t be. The world gets very small very quickly. I think everything is realistic at this point. I never would’ve thought I’d be having bacon and eggs with Gene Simmons or recording with Timbaland a few years ago. We love Kings of Leon and it’d be cool to do something with them. We’re big fans of Drake. There’s a few right there.
Only problem with collaborating with a big band is that you guys won’t all fit on stage!
It’s doable! We had 24 people on stage at our cd release party in Toronto! We had the whole band, then a ten piece drum-line and an 8 piece horn line.
That must have been crazy!
There’s some videos on Youtube. Look up “Down With Webster Phoenix Release Show”. It was wild! You had to be more concerned with not knocking someone over than the music you were playing!
So on to the DWW albums….why two mini albums instead of just one big one?
Our point of view is that we’re always writing and recording and we didn’t want to be limited to putting out 10 or 11 songs once every year and a half or two like most bands. We wanted to be able to give our fans new music more often.
DWW has had a crazy ride. Any advice you can offer up and coming bands?
Get really good at your instruments because that will always take you the farthest. Whatever your particular craft is, you have to strive to be the best at it. Also, play live shows all the time and get better at being up on stage. It’s becoming uncommon for labels to sign a band just from listening to a demo. At some point they go to see the band live so being on stage for that moment is key. When it’s time to be seen, the band needs to be ready.
Anything you know now that you wish you knew before?
Back when we first started, we always wanted things to happen immediately and we thought we were ready at that moment to have a record out and be on the radio, but we’ve learnt that having patience is key. In hindsight we wouldn’t have been happy with the record we wrote a few years ago. It takes a few years to get your sound together and figure out who your character is. Just keep at it and you’ll know when your band is ready!
Well thanks for the chat! Good luck on your tour…looking forward to your show!
We’ll be in Vancouver in January! Thanks!