RSJ Interview – Vocalist Dan Cook & Guitarist Gareth Vaughn Thomas by Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs

Brutal live shows and heavy riffing aside, the RSJ experience will ever be coloured by the awesome, and delightfully non-cliched, music video to ‘Collectively We Are Tall’. You’ll know if you’ve seen it. Amid the hype though, it’s important not to lose sight of other events on the band’s horizon, including recently storming the stage at Hammerfest. Likely to still be feeling the Lycra pinch, vocalist Dan Cook and guitarist Gareth Vaughn Thomas talk up RSJ’s new mini album and the little matter of packing socks….Hi guys,

Gareth Vaughn Thomas (Gaz): Hi!

Dan Cook: Yo!

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me!

Gaz: No worries

So you’re fresh off the Hammerfest stage – how did you find it?

Dan: Fucking awesome, our stage time clashed with a couple of big bands on the main stage so we didn’t expect so many people to turn up and go crazy

What was the crowd reaction like? Does it get better every time?

Dan: We’re all about getting the crowd moving and we achieved that. We had a lot of new faces watching us and by half way through the set they we all getting involved. It’s the first time I’ve been carried on someone’s shoulders in the middle of a wall of death! Think I might have left a brown stain down his shirt!

Did you enjoy the rest of the weekend? Get up to anything particularly exciting or messy?

Dan: Hammerfest is always an amazing weekend, the people are awesome and know how to party hard. We had to peel our shoes off the chalet floor the next morning from all the beer spillages. Other than that we had a mountain of interviews to do and had a great laugh doing them.

For those who had their first introduction to RSJ at that time do you think you gave them a good idea of who you are, and more importantly, what you can do?

Dan: Yeah definitely, but this is only the beginning. We had an awesome response, better than we could’ve hoped for. We love it when a crowd goes crazy and once the album is released we want people to come prepared and bust out their best moves.

I believe though that this year is your 10th as band – has this milestone sneaked up on you in some ways? Are you looking to mark this in at all?

Gaz: We don’t even think about it. I’d say 10 years is going right back to the very first time we got together in a rehearsal room, with only 2 of the people you see in the line up today. We prefer to look forward to what we’re doing next rather than looking back. Life’s for living, not reminiscing. We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on this year and we’ve finally got a really good team working with us. The outlook for 2012 is promising.

On that note what are some of the most out there or ridiculous things that people have thought RSJ stands for over the years?

Gaz: You’d be surprised the amount of people that get the name straight away, but we’ve had some really random suggestions like Rabbit Show Jumping, which is actually a sport that exists! Really Shit Jacket and my personal favourite Raped by the School Janitor….

I have to say I’m loving the video to ‘Collectively We Are Tall’ – why did you decide upon this concept?

Dan: It’s just a small insight into how our minds work. Greg (our drummer) came up with the initial idea and it just grew from there. We’re just bored of doing the stereotypical metal video.

Gaz: We just thought it would be funny and different. It was really nerve racking at first to be honest because you never know how people are gonna react to something like that. We hadn’t told or shown anything about the video to anyone. When we sent it to the ScuzzTV guys, luckily they loved it and told us when it was gonna be aired. Our local said they wanted to have it up on the big screen so we decided to all pop down at watch it there. Word got round, and we ended up packing the pub out. Seeing everyone’s reactions first hand was one of the best experiences ever. Probably the scariest and funniest 5 minutes of my life!

Was this your response to the overly clichéd music videos that are present in every genre?

Dan: Partly because of that but also because we believe videos should be more creative. If you wanna watch a band play, go see them live. We’re not big and we’re not hard so we’re not gonna pretend to be.

Did you love the Lycra/Spandex? Has it found its way into your permanent wardrobe?

Gaz: Yeah, Dan often wears his leggings under his jeans. Say’s he finds it liberating.

Dan: They do feel nice and keep you warm in winter. Glad we did the video, I would never have known otherwise.

Did you have to learn the routine specifically for the video – or is this a usual band bonding
activity?

Gaz: I’d love to say it’s just a normal day for us, but unfortunately, yes we had a couple of rehearsals. The choreographer really put us through some intensive workouts because we’re basically the most un-coordinated bunch of idiots. While I’ve got the opportunity, I’d just like to point out that there’s only 3 guys in that video that aren’t ‘packing’ socks!

Has this set a precedent for your following videos?

Dan: We’ve had stupid and crazy ideas for years. We’ll probably start unleashing a few more now following the success of the Collectively video. Watch this space!

Is this one of the tracks from your upcoming mini album Higgs Boson? Is there anything you can share with us regarding the album, in terms of style or concept?

Dan: Yeah it’s actually the second track from the album. We’re so happy with how it’s turned out and we’re really excited for people to hear it. Like the Higgs Boson, its yet undiscovered but hopefully it’ll create a big bang when it’s released.

Looking through your Facebook pictures there’s some interesting images there as well – including an RSJ pie and a similarly branded baby – what’s that about?

Gaz: I think a lot of the fans have a similar sense of humour to us and they’ll know we find stuff like that funny. Oh and the baby isn’t ours, the pie was good though. More pie’s, less babies!

It certainly feels like you have a good sense of humour – do you think this is an important aspect of the dynamic of the band?

Dan: Absolutely, it’s something we’ve learnt over the year is to be yourself. It’s the best and only way to do it. There’s no point in pretending you’re something you’re not.

Going forward then, what are the rest of your plans for 2012?

Gaz: Finally unleashing ‘Higgs Boson’ to the public and touring the arse off it. We’re also really excited to be playing the Hard Rock Hell Road Trip in Ibiza, it’s my birthday that weekend so it’s gonna be a blast

Dan: Yeah, just playing to as many crazy people as we can and spreading the RSJ mentality

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