… And ‘Justice’ for all
Rev Theory has seen its stock rise steadily throughout its eight-plus years of existence, through tours with the likes of Mötley Crüe, Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Seether and Evanescence, and having songs heavily featured on World Wrestling Entertainment programming. The band’s third album, Justice (in stores Feb. 15, 2011), should have no trouble continuing the upward trend, as it is its heaviest, angriest—and best—effort to date. What is sure to be a rigorous touring schedule also kicks off in February with the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, also featuring Pop Evil, Hail the Villain and The Black Cloud Collective. Rev Theory’s drummer, Dave Agoglia, called in to Live Metal’s Greg Maki to talk about the new album and more.
LIVE METAL: As I was listening to this album and getting ready for the interview, I was thinking about how, if I were in a band, this period you’re in right now—the album’s finished, but you’ve still got another three or four weeks before it comes out—it seems like it would be kind of weird. What is it like? Are you getting tired of talking about yourself in interviews?
DAVE AGOGLIA: It’s kind of an exciting time. We’re really pumped for it to come out. We just want people to have the music, so that when they’re at shows they know most of the songs; as of now, they’ve only head “Justice,” our single. It’s exciting to hear fans say, “We want to hear more stuff,” or “We can’t wait for the record to come out.” So right now is actually one of the best times ‘cause we spent the last year working on it—writing, recording. We’ve been doing the artwork and all that stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that actually goes into making a record. It’s a fun time right now.
The new album, Justice, comes out next month. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I listened to it for the first time, but I was surprised by how heavy it is and how angry it sounds. Was it a conscious effort to head that way with it?
DAVE AGOGLIA:Yeah, definitely. I think we definitely wanted to make a more aggressive record for a couple reasons. One is a lot of times, people come up to us and say, “Your live show sounds better than your record.” Not that it’s negative towards us, but we really wanted to capture that high-energy, live sound because we feel like we’re a live a band and we always try to put on the best show possible. At the same time, we were going through some personal stuff. In the music industry in general, it’s kind of what the focus of Justice is. It’s like we feel like we’ve been served some injustices in our lives, personally, professionally, and then of course, the world around us, the economy, people losing their jobs and people we know going through some stuff. We’re definitely a little bit more pissed off, and it definitely came out through the music.
Tell me a little bit about the writing and recording of the album. You said you spent a long time working on it. How long did you spend and how did that writing process go?
DAVE AGOGLIA:Every song is actually different. It might come from an idea from one guy. It might come from a riff from Matt (McCloskey), our bass player, it might come from (guitarist) Julien (Jorgenson), it might come from me. Usually, every song is different. A couple songs we’ve actually had for a while, a couple years; we’ve worked on ‘em on the road, and they kind of came to fruition while we were off. We also spent a lot of time in L.A. We worked with a lot of different writers; we worked with, obviously, ourselves. It was a fun process. We had a lot of good, quality stuff, and we had to narrow it down to the 11 tracks we ended up putting on the record. But every song kind of comes from a different place. It could come from a lyric, it could come from a riff, it could come from a melody. We’re proud of every song, and hopefully everyone likes it.
You got to work with (producer) Terry Date. His name is on so many classic albums. What was it like to work with him?
DAVE AGOGLIA:At first, it was intimidating. The first time we met him, he just came down to our practice studio, and he just watched us play a couple songs. We’re all huge fans of Soundgarden, Pantera and Deftones. Those are three of our favorite bands. We were like, “Wow, this guy’s worked with legends.” He is literally the coolest guy. Very, very laid back. We told him what we wanted. We said, “We want to go back and have a raw record. We want to have a live-sounding, just a big, hard-rock-sounding record.” He definitely got that. With the songs that we had, he loved the songs. We obviously made changes in the studio on certain things, but he knew what we needed. If we were like, “We want to make this part heavier,” obviously he knew exactly what to do. And on the plus side, he would always tell us stories about Dimebag or the guys in the Deftones. We would just sit there for hours. Once he started talking, we just didn’t want him to stop. Really cool. A lot of cool history. He’s been through that whole scene, and it’s really cool to be able to work with a guy like that.
Even though the album is very aggressive and heavy, it ends on a completely opposite note with “Hollow Man.” How did that song end up on there?
DAVE AGOGLIA:That song, it features Matty, who’s our bass player. He actually does a lot of backing vocals. Some songs, he actually does leads along with Rich (Luzzi). We just kind of wanted to showcase him a little bit. We feel like, with Rich and him, we have two amazing singers, and a lot of bands don’t have that. We just kind of wanted to give him a little bit of the spotlight, let him do his thing. It is a pretty aggressive record, and it kind of eases the listener out. We’re also big on doing acoustic stuff. We like to strip it down and really show off Matty and Rich’s vocals. We wanted just to show that side of our band.
Have you been working on acoustic arrangements of the new songs, songs like “Justice” and the other heavier songs?
DAVE AGOGLIA:Yeah. We weren’t sure how that would sound. We were a little bit nervous about “Justice.” It’s pretty aggressive and pretty loud, but we actually did a little different melody. It’s a little more funkier, but it still has that aggression. And so far, the people we’ve played it for, they really seem to enjoy it. We’re excited about that.
At this point, it’s all so new, I’m sure you love all the songs on the album. But are there one or two that really stand out for you?
DAVE AGOGLIA:“Hangman,” which is third track on the record, that seems to be one that people really, really are taking a liking to. It’s pretty much, from first note to last note, in your face. The WWE actually picked it up for a two-year contract where they’re using it for their Friday Night Smackdown, which is really cool. We’re hoping it gets to be a single in the future. The first song, “Dead in a Grave,” that was actually a song that we wrote on the road, probably a couple years ago. That was one of the most organic songs, like we were in soundcheck and we just kind of started playing around with it, and it developed over time. That’s one of those songs where you can definitely tell it’s a little more aggressive and how we were feeling at the time.
That WWE relationship goes back to the last album. How big has that been for you?
DAVE AGOGLIA:It’s been great. They’ve been really nice to us. Any time we get a chance to work with them, we always do. It’s just another audience that we get to show off our music at, whether it’s Friday Night Smackdown, or we had the theme song for Wrestlemania in “Light It Up.” You’d be surprised how many people watch that stuff and how many fans come to shows saying, “I heard you guys’ song on wrestling or Wrestlemania.” It’s incredible the wide range of audience that they have. It’s been great. The day before our record comes out, we’re actually gonna be on Monday Night Raw. We’re gonna be in the audience, and they’re gonna show us in the front row hanging out. So it’s gonna be fun
I really like the cover of the new album. It’s a really cool image. How much input do you in the band have on things like that?
DAVE AGOGLIA:we really wanted to make sure we got right. The five band members, we need to all believe in it 100 percent. We’re just trying to figure out what’s a strong image, what’s impactful. Trust me, the cover’s seen 20 different makeovers with the coloring, how big the ax is, where the guys are. Even though we have a great label and art department, we want to see every move every step of the way to make sure it was what we wanted. With that picture, it’s almost like we’re kind of pissed off, we’re standing for something that is a movement we can feel with our band internally and also people around the country. We felt like it was a strong image. For the ax, anti justice is an upside-down ax, so we felt like that was pretty powerful to have.
How important do you see those things that are outside the actual music, like artwork and the image of the band and the band members?
DAVE AGOGLIA:We think it’s pretty important. Unfortunately, with the artwork, CD sales have slipped so down that most people will either burn the CD or get it off iTunes, so they maybe won’t get a chance to see it. When I grew up, I remember buying the record, looking at the cover, opening it, taking the wrapping off, reading the lyrics or whatever was inside, and kind of getting a feel for what type of record it is. I think that’s an experience people are missing now. You want that full walking or driving to the store, buying it, coming home, putting it in the CD player and listening to the whole thing front to back. So we want to make sure that for the people who do still do that, we want to make sure they get that full experience.
I’m one of those people, so I appreciate it when bands put some effort into it. Also, next month, right around the time the album comes out, you’re heading out to headline the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, which has a pretty cool lineup of bands. What can the fans expect out there on that?
DAVE AGOGLIA:I think it’s gonna be a fun tour. We’ve had this idea. We want to go out and try to headline ‘cause usually we’re the opening band. But we wanted to do a headlining show and bring younger bands kind of at our level and give five bands for a super-cheap ticket. Most tickets, I think, are gonna be around 10 bucks. We want kids to see a good show, and we want it to be affordable so you’re not breaking the bank to come out and see some bands. It’s rock on the rise, bands who are not at the top yet, but we think we’re slowly getting there. It’s gonna be a fun tour. We’re excited.
You did at least two years of touring on each of the first two albums, so I’m sure this is just the beginning. How long do you think you’re gonna be out on this one?
DAVE AGOGLIA:I don’t know. I would say, if all goes well, a year and a half to two years. If you’re on the road, that means things are going well. We want to be prepared to be on the road as long as possible. So we’ll do this tour—I think it’s like three weeks—and then we’ll have a little time off for a couple weeks, and right now we’re working on some tours for the spring and the summer. It’s been a while, and we’ve played maybe six or seven shows for this past year here and there, but we’re really, really excited just to get back in the rhythm and that groove, and have the fans hear all the new stuff that we’ve been working on.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
DAVE AGOGLIA:Thank you to all the fans for continued support. Make sure you get the record Feb. 15, and come check us out when we’re playing in the area.
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