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|| The Roman Candles ||

Q & A with Matt Hopper / the Roman Candles.

|| The Roman Candles ||

Matt Hopper * vocals, guitar, bass, keys
Brandon Hafer * guitar, vocals
Jon Bowen * drums, vocals
Mark Barnette * vocals, bass
April Cowell * keys, bells, xylophone, vocals

*give me the basics - how and why the roman candles formed

-Basically, the story goes... Matt had a band. It fell apart. Armed with only the remnants of a band (himself and a drummer) he played a show, calling it the Roman Candles cause everyone else was gone and they were the only two left. He then formed another band, with a different name. That band also fell apart, but Matt had already formed a side project that was going well. Some other people joined in on the fun, and the Roman Candles were reborn. That band split up after a year of shows, band lineup changes, frustrations, and normal stuff like that.

Matt moved. When he moved back, armed with all sorts of new songs, he ended up jamming with Brandon Hafer (lead guitar), who drug along his friend, Jon Bowen (drums). Those three hit it off. All it took was a quick phone call to friends Mark Barnette (bass) and April Cowell (keyboards) to put the Roman Candles back on the map.

We are striving to not box ourselves in with our music we let it speak for itself. Some of it is real poppy, some of it is real folky, some of it is really spacey, some of it is really hard rockish. We dont care what it sounds like as long as it has good melodies, lyrics, and we enjoy playing it and singing along with it after its recorded.

*describe each band member in a word

-Matt: masterplan
Jon: heartthrob
Brandon: mellow
Mark: goof-off
April: moody

*what exactly is the music scene in alaska like? and what do people do for fun there, typically?

-The music scene is just like any other scene... We have tons of punk bands mainly who are always complaining about nowhere to play. We have the ever popular hippie jam bands. We have the bands that play for money in bars and only do covers. We have our female singer-songwriters, lots of bluegrass and folk music. We have industrial, techno, electronica, emo, pop, rock, and anything else you can think.

WE DO HAVE A MUSIC SCENE. We just lack a lot of the people who do the behind the scenes work. We don't have a local label that invests time into the bands, we don't have a lot of managers actively promoting bands, we don't have a lot of touring bands coming through to carry on the word that Alaska rocks and its music is thriving. No one really pays attention to us cause we're not all in your face like any
band that gets an album out in music town USA down there in the Lower 48 (that's what we call it). I used to think that maybe I could be that person to bring our music to the world, but then I just decided to do my own band first and see how that goes. It's funner when it's your own projects anyway.

One thing I've noticed from any music scene I've been to is that they're all the same. There are people with negative attitudes who think everything around their center of gravity sucks, and they do nothing or little to change that. And then there are those people who are the movers and shakers, people with vision who build something out of nothing because they love what they do. These people are what make a music scene, and we are getting more and more of those coming up through the ranks. What do people do for fun? Same things you do probably. Go to the movies, ski, skateboard, snowboard, party, dance, hang out at bars, go to
coffeeshops and book stores, shop, travel, camp out, hike, go off roading,play board games, have sex with each other, eat ice cream, play guitar, record music, put on shows, create art, play video games, chat on the phone, write lots of e-mail, make fun of other people, go swimming (indoors, of course), hang out, order Chinese food, go to the circus... The list could go on and onif theres one thing that non-Alaskans should know (and I hate to burst their bubble) Alaska is no different than any other place in the world. It's just a lot prettier here.

*something you dont take seriously enough

-Recording our songs to the best of our abilities. We dont have like, tons of money, so being in a studio is really hard for us. We have to move quickly and therefore dont take it seriously that like, thousands and thousands of people are going to hear this piece of crap that will be on our record for eternity. We need to work on a song until it is perfect and ready to be released and not to rush things. We dont take it seriously that we have the potential to be successful at what we do I think.

*a book worth reading...

-The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Someone suggested it to me and I read it and I like it so much I sent it to a friend in hopes she would send it to another friend and so on and so forth. It had a familiarity to it I could relate to certain aspects of it and it was just a quick, fun read with some parts that really made me break down and think.

focus free...


fire and shadows.

*your major influences are...?

-I've decided that my musical influences are singers who have weird voices... people that dont try to fit neatly into the mainstream of things. I'm talking about people like Elvis Costello, The Cars (Ric Ocasek), The Pretenders, Talking Heads (David Byrne), Lemonheads (Evan Dando),
Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan), good pop songwriters like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Weezerand lots of indie bands like Starflyer 59, Mike Knott, Slowdive, Afghan Whigs (ok, not so indie)... But really, everything I hear that I like influences me. Even this band, 3LW, on the hip hop station had some stuff I thought influenced me.

*future plans...tour plans? is this a longterm thing?

-Our immediate plan is to start recording our debut LP. We only have a 3" 4 song EP out on Absalom Record at this moment. There are talks of a split 7 with Starflyer 59. We hope to tour once we finish up the album and have copies in hand to sell, but realistically I don't think that will happen till next summer. As for me (and I speak for myself here) I hope to make music a long term thing. I think certain members of the band are on that same page with me, while others are a little uncertain as to what it is they
want to do with their lives, let alone the music of the Roman Candles. I just hope everyone finds their place and what it is that makes them happy and then does it. If the band were to go nowhere and we just flat out flopped as far as success goes, I would just probably do solo music on an
acoustic guitar.

*who are some subtle yet powerful influences in the music world these days?

-The Internet is pretty's pretty much brought the world to your backdoor, all you have to do is develop some marketing skills and have a product to sell, and VIOLA, youre in business. If your CD is good, then
your fans will they feature your band on their website, all their friends see it, and it keeps growing (case in point, the band indie band who I wouldnt even know of if it wasnt for the Internet, now
makes thousands of dollars on the net just selling CD...Alaskans go nuts over this band, and most have never even seen them in concert before).

Anyway, I would say that there used to be some major holes, but theyre getting patched up with the net. Fans know when youre touring, where, can listen to your music, buy your merch...and you dont even have to leave your chair at home.

*famous last words

-I always liked this quote by Abraham Lincoln -
"I will prepare, and someday my time will come." I like to think that the Candles are just preparing ourselves at this present time. We are recording songs, practicing, and
gearing up to tour; and soon, our time will come - and you will probably get to see us in concert if you want to!
-melissa marie


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