Diecast Interview with Guitarist Jon Kita
By Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
Paul Stoddard – Vocals
Dennis Pavia – Drums
Jon Kita – Lead Guitar
Eddie Barton – Bass
A perhaps under-cited influence in the metalcore movement, Diecast had the misfortune of being ahead of the genre’s commercial explosion in the 2000’s, placing them in the paradoxical position of being one step in front and playing catch up at the same time. With the music industry at large, let alone the metal scene, somewhat different now to the context of the band’s last album in 2006, Diecast has however benefited from being outside of these concerns in order to concentrate on writing several shed-loads of the heavy stuff. On such a note, guitarist Jon Kita opens up about the last few years, but more importantly how Diecast are going on from here…
Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Jon Kita – Anytime! Thank you for having us!
How did you find the recent festive period? Did you do much to celebrate?
Jon – It was a nice break. We all got the opportunity to spend some time with family which is always nice. I am back at college now so the only time I can get off between school and work are holidays, so the two days seemed like a well welcomed eternity.
Diecast is considered to be one of the early bearers of the metalcore torch – what do you think about the genre today? How much has it changed in your eyes?
Jon – Oh wow, thanks for saying that! Most people look at our role in the scene a little differently in retrospect. At the time we kind of got lost in the shuffle with others from the area that were on larger labels and had a bigger booking agent, management, etc. We never really had the same visibility as the rest of the bands out there. I think the “metalcore” scene has evolved into much different things over the years. The elements that made them stand out originally are still there but a lot of bands have chosen to try different things throughout the years. As a whole, most of the “torchbearers” have either broken up, tried new things with their sound or are still out there doing something to or some variation to it.
One great thing about most bands from any genre is that typically they play old songs along with their new material so if you are a fan of one specific time period, you hopefully won’t be disappointed. There are still a ton of bands coming out today which are rehashing the “formula” that could be considered “metalcore.” They just have added a few different elements that allow them to call it something else. “Metalcore” also started to have a negative connotation to it when people started to use it as a term to label bands that were more generic than others. Which is too bad when you consider that it “metalcore” is a part of the history of heavy music whether you like it or not.
It’s been a while since your last release (Internal Revolution 2006) – what’s been going on in this time?
Jon – A lot actually. We parted ways with Century Media in 2007. They told us they didn’t know what to do with us. It wasn’t until they put us out on tour with Sevendust that they started to see that touring with a band that draws a lot of people in a related genre would have helped a lot. By that point it was too late, which is too bad as it was probably our most successful tour to date. It turned out to be the worst time in recent history to try and get signed. The industry virtually froze and that whole recession thing kinda happened. We have never really had the best luck when it comes to timing. We just concentrated on writing new material, continued to tour on our own as much as we
could and trying to find a new label. Personally, I play in another band out in Western Massachusetts called “Once Beloved” and we wrote and recorded an album and toured with “Killswitch Engage” and a few others in 2008. Some of the guys in the band have had babies and been doing a little more of the domestic thing since then, but above all we have had the time to write a ton of material for the next record. This is one thing that a lot of bands don’t have the luxury of in the writing process.
Why at this point did you choose to start looking at working on new material?
Jon – Because we had the time to do so and no other options on the horizon. We just concentrated on the getting signed again at the worst possible time to find a new home. So many bands nowadays are expected to churn out records at a ridiculous pace. I wish we had a label that needed a record from us in the same fashion. We have never had the ability to be on a “cycle” with the exception of the release of “Tearing Down Your Blue Skies” and “Internal Revolution.” And it felt great. We have never had a long term home and we have been shuffled around from label to label our entire career. In this way, it has been helpful to have a significant amount of time to concentrate on writing, however. We have more material than we could hope to fix onto a single record.
What stage is the album currently at? I believe it is as yet untitled, but can you let me in on anything about it in terms of identity?
Jon – We have a ton of music. At least two and a half albums worth. If we were to go into the studio tomorrow we have at least an album and half worth or songs that are ready to record. We don’t even have any working title for the album right now, we just keep referring to it as the “next record” really. As far as the identity goes it is far heavier than “Internal Revolution” was. It wasn’t even a conscious effort on our part, the music just came out sounding a lot heavier. It’s funny, when I listen back to certain riffs and songs on “Internal” I think that some of that stuff on there is heavier than previous material that we had recorded. Tracks like “Weakness,” “Song of The Sirens,” “Out of Reach,” and “Definition of a Hero” hit me harder than even some of the songs on “Tearing Down” or “Day of Reckoning.” It might have to do with tracks like “Fade Away,” “Nothing I Could Say,” and “The Coldest Rain” on “Internal Revolution” that made people think that the album was a departure of sorts when I feel that it actually was heavier and more technical than previous material.
Is there anything new or unusual that you’re experimenting with?
Jon – There is a post hardcore Zydeco flute solo in one of the songs, and although that is complete bullshit it sounds interesting enough. There is the typical stuff that you would expect from the sequencing and programming realm for a heavy release, a sample here, a bass drop there, but nothing too extravagant. There is an explosion in one song and some cool slicing of a few guitar parts but for the most part it is standard fare. There is a bit more going on with the guitars and some more complex parts in the overdubs that we have set priority on replicating live. On other albums, we didn’t really have the ability to reproduce some of the harmonized guitar parts live for a few reasons, so it sounded a little bare doing them myself. Now we have made a conscious effort to have everything that is being tracked able to be harmonized live.
It’s really just more of a matter of assigning parts and creating a better interplay between the guitarists. Eddie, our Bassist, can play a number of instruments and is also a world class singer. He has been adamant that we do all of the harmonies on the past releases live, and is playing a major role in the development of the melodies and the harmonies this time around for the new record. There have been specific practices dedicated to the vocal harmonies and each night before we play, we take a half hour to go over the songs a cappella to rehearse before we go on. His role in the band as a vocal powerhouse is pushing everybody to deliver on the vocal side and has given us all of the three and four part harmonies from the albums, live. It’s impressive and something I never knew we would be capable of. We are keeping that in mind as well during the writing process vocally, catering the parts to maximize their effectiveness live.
Have you had anything particular in mind whilst writing the new material?
Jon – We have been aware of and listening to all of the fans we have out there. That is one thing that Social Media outlets like Facebook and MySpace have been amazing for, keeping in constant contact with the listeners. We continually ask them what they want to hear. We always keep that in mind with the scope of what we are writing. Your fanbase is a great barometer for what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. People have been requesting the heavier material when we have been playing out and telling us that they are hoping the newer stuff is along those lines. It just so happens that the majority of it is. The newer material has been coming out much heavier than one might expect from us. Parts of it hearken back to “Day of Reckoning” era breakdowns and a lot more riffing like “Tearing Down Your Blue Skies.” I don’t know if it was a conscious decision but I can honestly say that those people who feed of off the heavier music that we have done are going to be stuffed by the new songs we have written. I don’t think we ever plan to back off from doing the melody in our music but three of the most recent songs have very little to no singing in them. For those who are more partial to vocal hooks, fear not. There will never be a time where we forego them.
On your Facebook page you say that you are going to be touring the whole of the USA this year – how true is this likely to be?
Jon – Very likely. When you have been relying on your own contacts to book tours it is sometimes next to impossible to book a full U.S. Tour any longer. Last summer we were supposed to have gotten all the way to the West Coast to play a hand full of showcases. That obviously didn’t happen. Booking a tour on your own presents all sorts of problems. All of our friends came through everywhere else, but with the exception of a few people that busted their asses to try and work something out for us at the last minute, it just fell flat for the West Coast dates. We were unable to play for some interested parties and we were all pretty disappointed. But we ran into some guys that have been helping us out ever since with really impressive results. 3Thirteen Entertainment and Matt McGoldrick stepped in and have been amazing to us since the Fall of last year. They are in charge of booking us at the moment and have us out for a week at the end of April for an East
Coast run and they have been keeping us busy with 4-5 shows a month while we concentrate on the writing process.
Do you already have a lot of tour dates lined up?
Jon – This is a list of dates that we have lined up from now until May with more to be added soon.
3/15 – Brooklyn, NY @ The Morgan
3/16 – Trenton, NJ @ Championship
3/17 – Baltimore, MD @ Recher Theater
4/27 – Southbridge, MA @ Mill Street Brews
4/28 – Albany, NY @ Bogies w/ Brick By Brick
4/29 – Long Island, NY @ Broadway Bar
4/30 – Springfield, VA @ Empire (formerly Jaxx)
5/1 – Fayetteville, NC @ Rock Shop
5/2 – Savannah, GA @ The Wormhole
5/3 – Jacksonville, FL @ Brewsters Pit
5/4 – Cocoa Beach, FL @ 321 Local
5/5 – St. Petersburg, FL @ The Local
5/6 – Lake Worth, FL @ Speakeasy Lounge
What about further afield? Will you be considering playing internationally at all?
Jon – In a heartbeat! Some of our favorite memories as a band are playing abroad. We were lucky enough to go on tour in Europe and be included in some of the Summer Festivals over there when we toured with Napalm Death in the summer of 2006. That was one of the best times of my life and hands down one of the single greatest experiences we had as a band. We have all been looking forward to the opportunity to do that again since we stepped off the plane and back onto to American soil.
What sort of reaction have you had from fans to the news that you’re working on new material? Is there a buzz about the upcoming release?
Jon – The reaction has been overwhelming. In fact, I am continually impressed by the overwhelming support our fans give us despite the time that has lapsed since we released a record. It is invigorating and highly motivating. There have been plenty of times when we have thought to ourselves whether there is even anybody else out there that wants us to continue to create music. And luckily there has always been enough people supporting us to help keep us going. The response to the new material live has been amazing. We were always afraid to play new music out in the past before the album was released because kids at shows didn’t always respond very well to new material, for any band. Nobody knows the lyrics or when the breakdowns are coming etc, and this time around it has been quite the opposite. Hopefully there will be a little bit of a buzz about the album as it has been a minute since the last record dropped. We will see, it is a different world now. Most bands that we were releasing albums in 2006 aren’t even together anymore. It should be interesting.
Combined with the lengthy gap between albums, has this upped the pressure on you to deliver?
Jon – Oh of course! That is half the fun and motivation behind it all! I wish we had been signed to a label that had wanted us to provide them with an album every three years, in fact I would have killed for it. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than waiting years between releases when all you want to do is write, create and play. It is torture. I think everybody will be pleasantly surprised with what we have to offer this time around.
You’ve also had various line up changes over the lifetime of the band – looking at your current set-up do you think this is one of your strongest?
Jon – Without a doubt. Over the years we have had lineups that were better at different things. The current lineup that we have now is a much more musically confident lineup than in previous years. Not better, just different. I think live, this lineup delivers on and is closer to how the albums sound than we ever have been in the past. We are able to recreate all the nuances that we had always hoped to.
Finally, if you were to cast some dice for the year ahead what numbers do you think would come up? – Lucky seven or snake eyes?
Jon – Oh god, we are not known for our luck. I think as long as we aim to keep the dice from falling off of the table after we roll them we will be happy. We are the kind of band that rolls 3’s and 4’s. But if you bet enough on the hand at the right time, luck doesn’t have much to do with it. I figure we just hand off our winnings to our drummer Dennis…the guy is a natural on the roulette table. Just give all of it to him and pray for the best!
Jon -Thank you!