Revel 9

From the Long Island area? Then you’d remember our latest PEV feature as Gee Davey, a musical staple that brought you some amazing indie rock – just check out the record “She Sells Smiles”. But one year ago… the band re-launched and remerged stronger than ever as the new 4-piece act, Revel 9. Lead vocalist DJ Pearlman, Mike Bontempi, Ray Kuhner, Matt Dower have come together to bring to you their latest release, “The Razorblade Diaries”.

DJ says “This record is definitely our “defining” record. We had laid out the whole concept for the record, and had done all the pre-production on the songs almost 18 months ago.  It took our producer to make us take a good hard look at what we had, and where we wanted to go with it, and more importantly, it took our willingness to see what he was saying and do the work that needed to be done.  I’ve never worked a record like this before.”

Revel 9 doesn’t take your average approach to crafting a tune – they take it to a whole new level: “We spend so much time writing, playing, changing, correcting, fixing and adjusting every single song we do until it’s as perfect as it is going to get.  By the time we’re done with it, there’s not a single part of any R9 song that’s bland or weak or boring or wrong… at least not to us.” The band will be pushing hard to promote “The Razorblade Diaries” on this side of the country, so check their schedule. There’s a whole lot more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Revel 9
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

DJ: The songs. We spend so much time writing, playing, changing, correcting, fixing and adjusting every single song we do until it’s as perfect as it is going to get.  By the time we’re done with it, there’s not a single part of any R9 song that’s bland or weak or boring or wrong… at least not to us.
PEV: Calling the Northeast part of the US home, what kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
DJ: I was a kid listening to Zeppelin and Sabbath, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden and then moved onto Soundgarden, AIC & STP.  I’m not 100% sure what my first concert was, but it might have been Judas Priest, either that or Metallica.
Mike: I had older brothers so I was turned on to classic rock and metal at an early age, but I’m really just a fan of all styles of music -1st concert: Black Sabbath (reunion) tour
Ray: I was into Classic Rock, Grunge, Punk Rock, Jam Band music.  My first concert was the Guns N Roses, Use Your Illusions tour, (I believe it was 1992, Izzy was out of the group by then) .
Matt: My musical tastes have evolved along with the music itself. I remember listening to Michael Jackson's thriller over and over, then the Footloose soundtrack, and Pat Benetar. Later, I fell in love with hair metal, then the heavier stuff then Grunge, and techno. Then came country music. I never pigeonholed myself to one particular genre of music, and I still discover new music to follow. The first live performance I remember was a family trip to the beach to see Roy Orbison when I was 8 or 9. The first concert I took myself to was Metallica.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started out as a band? What was your first show like together as a band?
DJ: It’s terrible trying to break into any music scene.  You start out on the backs of your friends and your biggest fans, asking them to come to every show because you’ve got to bring X number of people before some clubs will even let you play.  It’s really only after you’ve won enough new people over that you can start play in that sandbox, but even then, there are always bigger places to play with bigger draw requirements, so you’re constantly trying to make that new connection and make that new fan... just like every other band out there.  Our first show as REVEL 9 was really great.  We hadn’t played a show in forever, and every Gee Davey fan really came out just to see what was up. Plus, we were on a good bill with friends of ours, so it was a packed house and a good show.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Revel 9 show?
DJ: Energy.  The songs are hard and loud and the sets are quick and fast-paced and we throw everything into every show, every time, always.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?
DJ: Oh God, are the monitors working?
Mike: Did I leave the iron on? Actually the only thing I think is "Let’s get it on".  I really try to clear my mind of all things except for the performance
Ray: Playing the best I possibly can, and as a group being able to impress and win over everyone in the audience including the people who work at the venue.  
Matt: Am I in tune? Is my volume ok? I am always a bit nervous every time I go on stage. Having the whole band really tight coming out of the gate helps me loosen up. Usually by the first chorus of the first song my brain switches into rockstar mode and I’m committed to giving 100% to the audience.
PEV: Tell us the story behind the name of the band, Revel 9.
Ray: I Don't know, I was on my honeymoon when that happened, I know we went on for months about changing the name and we all shot down each others ideas, it got rather intense I remember LOL...I just know I got an expensive text in Mexico from DJ or Mike with the name REVEL 9 and I agreed to it because it reminded me of Revolution 9 by the Beatles.  
DJ: Ugh. We needed a new name.  We had been Gee Davey for years, and we were worried about losing any sort of buzz or reputation with a name change, but it just had to be done.  We just didn’t sound like a “Gee Davey” any more, and so began the quest for the perfect name. But the freaking Hobbits in Lord of the Rings went on an easier quest than we did.  We fought for months on the name, but eventually we figured that we wanted a name with a number. We toyed around with “15” for a bit but “9” really stuck.  There’s a lot about the number 9 in mythology, symbolism and the occult, but in numerology, the number 9 is the “number of the harmony, it represents the inspiration and the perfection of the ideas” and sounded just like where we wanted to be.  The “REVEL” came a few days later.  Originally the idea for “reveal” was floated –alluding to all the “secret” work we were doing with the band and the new record, but it sounded too much like a cheap magicians catch phrase for us, but then shortly after that “revel” was suggested mainly because it just sounded cooler, but once you think about it, it  conjures up images of people in true revelation, reveling in the moment; ancient peoples in frenzy,  dancing ecstatically and praising in fever pitch to their gods by firelight… that’s what we wanted, and with that, the name was set.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?
DJ: Sorrow. Angst. Misery.  Nothing helps pen a good song like some misery.  The ideas just come.  If you’re connected to your own thoughts enough, or empathetic enough to feel what someone else feels, like, really feel it, it’s not such a stretch to be able to express that feeling.  And when you do that, don’t be surprised at how many people just get what you are writing about, because they’ve been there, or felt that.  It’s truly a wonderful connection when you make it.  Take “San Jose”. Guy meets girl Guy loses girl.  Guy does everything to get her back.  Sure it’s a little metaphorical in places, but his is not a new concept in human emotions here.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Revel 9?
DJ: I don’t know, maybe that we’re all (fairly) normal guys during the day.  We blend in like Clark Kent at the Tribune …until the world needs saving, that is.
Matt: i think people would be surprised at how willing we are to collaborate to better our music. By the time you hear a song from us, it has been reworked sometimes a dozen times over. Some fans can even recognize that the song has changed between performances. Each member has input in the development of our music, and we work it until we are satisfied we are giving our listeners the best possible experience.
PEV: You said of your latest release, “The Razorblade Diaries”, that “Making it was a blast from start to finish for us and every step of the way, we pushed ourselves to make it better.” Tell us more about this album.
DJ: This record is definitely our “defining” record. We had laid out the whole concept for the record, and had done all the pre-production on the songs almost 18 months ago.  It took our producer to make us take a good hard look at what we had, and where we wanted to go with it, and more importantly, it took our willingness to see what he was saying and do the work that needed to be done.  I’ve never worked a record like this before.  I was always happy to write a song and then have the band work out the kinks and then be done.  I’d never scrutinized every riff and every sound and every lyric before; it just didn’t occur to me.  And now that it has, every thing has changed.  Every thing is better.  The “…diaries” is just the beginning.
PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
DJ: There’s definitely not much spare time but you’d probably find me playing or watching soccer or frisbee.
Mike: Fielding calls and emails from DJ about playing / writing music :)
Ray: Well, I like to ski, go camping, kayaking, bike riding, a little bit of gaming on PS3, watching movies, grillin' and chillin'. (Wow I'm more active than I thought LOL).
Matt: The only thing I am more passionate about aside from my music is my family. If I’m not talking about Revel 9, I am usually talking about my wife and daughter. Without them, music would not be possible. As a father and husband, I am loving watching my daughter grow. Offstage, I am a regular guy - NASCAR loving, video game playing practical joker. Whether I am on or off stage, my life's mission is to bring a smile to the face of every person I meet.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
DJ: I would really love to work with Chris Cornell. I just think he is so freaking talented. Yeah he’s a legendary singer, but he’s written some of my favorite songs ever, and I’d love to be in on that.  I can’t really think of a past artist –sure obvious ones come to mind like Hendrix, Cobain and Lennon, but I’m not sure I’d want to collaborate with them as much as I just wish we could have gotten a few more tunes out of them before they had to leave.
PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
DJ: Yeah, there’s a bunch of them.  All you really need to do is go out and find them.  On any given show we play, there’s usually at lest one other really good band to watch, but as long as we’re here, let me plug a few of them:  Our friends in Ghosts of Eden, Deezle Church and Resident Stone all have records about to come out, and these bands are fantastic and people are literally counting the days until these releases.  Then there are some of our other favorite bands like Finespun, Midnight Mob and The Vinyl Plane (who are every bit as good as The Black Crowes ever were).  There are just so many good bands if you just take the time to look.  The last great band I stumbled on is called King Hell, and I’m not even sure how I’d describe them, but they are funny AND they rock. I had their song “Mr. Fancypants” stuck in my head for a week.  Do yourself a favor and check out all of these bands… there’s some really great music out there, and I’ve done all the leg work for you so JUST GO GET IT!
PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?
DJ: I’m not sure, but it would probably have to be something creative, maybe writing or some sort of graphic design.  As long as I’m underpaid and under appreciated, that’s the field for me.
Mike: That’s a good question...maybe a beachcomber
Ray: I don’t know.  I guess I would have taken up gambling or maybe join a slow pitch softball league.  I've always wanted to get into the martial arts as well.  
Matt: That's a scary thought. I have been playing in bands for two thirds of my life. I have no plans to ever stop. I don't think I could if I tried. Music is who I am. Nietzsche said it best: Without music, life would be a mistake.
DJ: I want to change my answer to beachcomber.
PEV: So, what is next for Revel 9?
DJ: Pushing on.  We’ve got this record to promote wherever and to whomever we can, so I’d expect a lot more shows.  Hopefully we can hook up with some talented management team that is a really good fit for us, and we can get down to the business of taking on the world, but for now it’s just one day and one fan at a time.
 

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