Relient K : 2003-05-11Saturday, May 10, I interviewed Relient K prior to the See Spot Rock concert at the Fillmore in Denver. There were a lot of unexpected complications, but my thanks go to RK road manager Scott Cannon, promoter Rob Marshall, tour manager Denny Keitzman and the Fillmore's Steve Allen for finally working everything out. Due to some of the complications, my photographer (daughter) was unable to attend the interview, so we just got one picture of Dave later.
As one might expect, the interview was a somewhat surreal experience. The band was a day away from finishing a three-month tour, so everyone was tired and a little giddy. Sometimes there were multiple conversations going on simultaneously, but I've tried to capture the essence of it and keep the speakers straight. The guys were great and I appreciate the fact that all four of them hung around to chat with an old guy they had never heard of before.
Relient K is Matt Thiessen, lead vocals/guitar, Matthew Hoopes, lead guitar, Brian Pittman, bass, and Dave Douglas, drums.
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Randy: Matt, I'm wondering with a name like Thiessen, being from Canada, if you've got a Mennonite background?
Matt: Uh huh.
Randy: Do you have relatives that speak Low German?
Matt: Oh yeah, yeah.
Randy: I come from a similar background.
Matt: That's cool. Where are you from?
Randy: I'm from Canada originally.
Matt: What part?
Matt: Okay, cool.
Randy: I lived in Saskatchewan for awhile. I'm actually from a Mennonite community in Manitoba where everybody spoke Low German.
Randy: Have you met Jeremy Thiessen from downhere?
Matt: Yeah, I have a brother named Jeremy so it's kind of weird.
Randy: Maybe you guys are related.
Matt: No, we're not related.
Randy: Although if you go back enough generations, all Mennonites are, right?
Matt: Yeah, that's true.
Randy: So what's with all the Matts on the tour?
Matt: (hushed) I don't know. On the last tour we had with Supertones, I think 20% of the tour was named Matt.
Randy: Favorite color?
Matt: Blue. Light blue's probably my favorite kind of blue.
Randy: Any particular reason?
Dave: Black has always been a staple for me, but that's not really a good favorite color. I've been really into browns lately.
Randy: Maybe my son will start dressing in brown. Brian?
bp: I like gray. I like it when the sky is overcast.
Randy: You from Washington originally?
bp: But I like to be inside. Then it just feels like a nice place to be.
Matt Hoopes: They already took all my favorite colors.
Dave: Take green. Dark green.
Matt Hoopes: I don't really like dark green.
Matt: What about maize?
Matt Hoopes: I kind of like that one.
Matt: Burnt umber?
Randy: Although some people have said a lot of your music's geared towards younger kids, obviously there's a lot of older ones that enjoy it, too. Do you kind of target a teen audience when you writing?
Matt: We don't really target any audience when we're writing, but we relate to our peers.
Randy: You're still young.
Randy: Most of you around what, 22?
Matt: Yeah, so I guess maybe a little younger. But we're still--me personally, I'm a little immature.
Randy: So college age?
Randy: Is it difficult mentally to change gears in a concert when you're doing a goofball song and then you want to get serious?
Matt: It is kind of. But even when you sequence a record it's the same thing. We have probably the most serious song on our new record, Getting Into You and the next song after that is Gibberish. We ended up putting in this little bit of dialogue from these kids in our neighborhood to make it not so...
Brian: Black and white, so to speak.
Randy: I taught high school in California back in the 80s and of course I got introduced to In'N'Out Burger...
Randy: I had a Matt in my geometry class that worked at In'N'Out Burger...
Randy: Would you say that probably the best food in the world is created at In'N'Out Burger?
Matt: Not the best, but...
Brian: It's good.
Matt: It's probably...
Dave: That would be a ridiculous thing to say.
Brian: Top 10 burgers.
Matt: Top three fast food places.
Randy: Do you like to go out for a quality meal once in awhile, or is it a fast food life on the road?
Dave: No, I don't like to eat fast food every day at all.
Matt: This tour's hardly been any fast food at all.
Randy: You get the home-cooked Denny's type, or do you go for a nice restaurant?
Dave: A little variety, like a little bit of everything is kind of nice. If you eat really nice meals all the time they just become normal and they're not really nice anymore.
Randy: You've gotta compare them to something.
Randy: You guys do a lot of Chinese take-out?
Dave: We are today.
Brian: We're excited for it.
Matt: I don't like Chinese food.
Randy: What countries have you played?
Brian: We've played in Germany, Holland, and Australia, Canada...
Randy: Try any of that native Canadian food?
Matt: Cadbury bars.
Dave: Aero bars.
Randy: Matt, you're a big baseball fan, or at least a fan of the Blue Jays when you are watching.
Matt: Yeah, I'm a fan of the Jays. It's hard. My sports interest has definitely decreased since we've been on the road. It's really hard to follow.
Brian: We watched them get RULED at the Yankees game.
Randy: The rest of you sports fans at all?
Dave: Yeah, but again, it's really hard to follow it on the road.
Randy: Do you have a dish on the bus?
Dave: Yeah, but it's not working right now.
Matt: We should get a discount on the bus.
Dave: We should get a discount on the bus.
Matt Hoopes: Our entertainment center doesn't work either.
Dave: Not at all.
Randy: What about reading?
Matt Hoopes: I try. We're all kind of reading Wild at Heart, I think.
Randy: I just read that. Actually I did a review.
Dave: Half the Matts are.
Brian: You have to, Dave.
Dave: I'm the left out person.
Brian: I lie on tape.
Randy: It's the Stryper thing, too. You're not afraid to stand alone?
Dave: No, I have no problem with that.
Brian: He's not standing alone. I lied to you.
(Laughter all around)
Dave: You've got to watch him like a rattlesnake.
Randy: You guys get a chance to get some exercise, or do you get enough jumping around on stage?
Matt: We definitely don't get enough jumping around on stage.
Matt Hoopes: I played in a golf tournament.
Brian: Yeah, Blanche went golfing.
Matt Hoopes: I was on a cart.
Dave: (Laugh) Lot of exercise there.
Matt Hoopes: You had to be in a cart. Those were the rules of the course.
Matt: Nice course.
Matt Hoopes: Actually I did walk a lot because I hit my ball a way...farther than you could drive the carts.
Matt: Did you do good or bad?
Matt Hoopes: Not very good. I hit a couple of great shots, though.
Matt: Did you do better than a lot of people?
Matt Hoopes: I beat everybody.
Matt Hoopes: Yeah. And I cheated a lot less than everybody.
Randy: So you do have a super athlete in the group.
Matt: Matt, you played varsity golf in high school.
Brian: Blanche was varsity in golf.
Matt: At a really big school.
Matt Hoopes: I hit a drive over 360 yards. I mean, I don't like to brag.
(Laughter all around)
Randy: But you want to make sure that appears somewhere in print.
Matt Hoopes: Yeah, if that could get in print that would be awesome.
Randy: Do you have any documentation to back this up?
Matt Hoopes: Steve and Tony were with us. They have GPS on the carts. They can show you where you are and how far the tee is.
Randy: On a tour like this with a lot of other bands, do you kind of do your own thing, or do you hang out with the other guys a lot?
Brian: We like to hang out with them.
Matt: Very well integrated.
Randy: Get to know everybody?
Matt: The other day we all went to a movie and it went Supertone, Relient K, Supertone, Relient K, Supertone. It was weird because we didn't even notice until someone mentioned it.
Randy: When does this tour end?
Randy: So how long of a break do you guys get?
Brian: A month and a half.
Dave: Six weeks.
Randy: Do you take a total break, or do you go back in the studio and start working on new material?
Dave: I think we have a little bit of studio stuff to do over the six weeks.
Brian: And two of the guys are getting married.
Dave: And two of us are getting married.
Brian: Blanche and Dave are getting married.
Randy: So that changes the logistics a little.
Dave: Yeah. We'll have wives.
Brian: Blanche is marrying Danielle. Dave is marrying Rachel.
Randy: It might make touring a little tougher then. Are they going to travel?
Brian: It all depends on Blanche's attitude, really.
Dave: There's many factors.
Randy: Do you have another tour pending?
Matt: Festivals this summer. That's it.
Randy: You doing Cornerstone?
Matt: Yeah. Two of them.
Randy: How many times have you done Cornerstone?
Matt: This will be our third.
Brian: No, we only played there twice.
Matt: This will be our third.
Randy: I imagine it's a little better for the bands. My brother was there last summer and he said that the housing and getting around was kind of a nightmare. It was really hot...
Matt: Yeah, but...
Brian: Camping is great there.
Matt: ...if you play your cards right. Me and Matt have probably been seven or eight times...
Matt Hoopes: No, not seven or eight.
Matt: Six or seven.
Dave: Times what?
Matt: To Cornerstone.
Dave: You've been to Cornerstone six or seven times?
Matt: Okay, so this is going to be our third year playing and then the one year that we went as a band and we didn't get to play and then we probably went at least three times more so that's seven...
Randy: My brother--the problem he had was at 3 in the morning, people were screaming and yelling...
Matt: Oh really? But see me and Matt would work merch for other bands and then we would just stay at the hotel.
Randy: That works better. He was trying to camp and 3 in the morning, people screaming at each other...
Matt Hoopes: I've never camped at a festival.
Dave: I love camping at Cornerstone. Just awesome.
Brian: We call him (Matt Hoopes) Blanche.
Matt: Me and Brian camped out one time.
Randy: To distinguish between the two Matts.
Dave: It's fun at Cornerstone if you're not playing.
Randy: My brother...didn't really get a whole lot of rest.
Brian: He didn't have good neighbors.
Randy: Anyone have iPods? Lots of mp3's?
Matt: I have an iPod for Windows.
Randy: Have you seen the new iPods?
Matt: Yes, and don't talk about it.
Brian: They make us furious.
Matt: Because alright, I bought my iPod like a month ago.
Randy: Now they come out with a new one.
Matt: The same price that I just paid. I paid $500.
Matt Hoopes: I was going to buy one but I was kind of holding out.
Matt: You had no idea, though.
Randy: Maybe you could give it to him for a wedding present and buy yourself a new one.
Brian: Blanche tries to take a lot of credit where credit isn't due.
Matt Hoopes: I didn't know. I'm just saying it kind of paid off.
Matt: Blanche doesn't deserve a $500 wedding present.
Brian: Let's get that on tape!
Randy: If I recall correctly the drummer in Bleach--did he used to be with you guys?
Matt: Oh yeah, Jerry.
Brian: Ah, Jerry.
Matt: Those were the good days.
Randy: I think they're hassling Dave. Do you still have contact with them?
Matt: We toured with them last fall.
Brian: I got invited to his 25th birthday.
Matt: Really? I didn't get invited.
Randy: Sam's really the only guy in Bleach I've talked to, but he seems like a pretty cool guy.
Dave: Oh, he's awesome.
Matt: I hate Jerry now.
Brian: He didn't send out the invitations. It was a surprise. You couldn't hate him for not inviting you to his surprise party.
Randy: Plans for another album, Matt? You been writing a bunch of new material?
Matt: Ah, no.
Randy: Taking a break?
Matt: I guess. I don't know. I've been writing a lot of other stuff, but we'll start soon.
Randy: Do you tend to write for a project, or just accumulate songs and then it becomes a project?
Matt: Just accumulate songs, I guess.
Randy: Time's flying by. I don't want to take any more of you guys' time.
Brian: Thanks for being patient with getting in.
Matt: Awesome, man!
Randy: Always nice to run into someone of Mennonite heritage.
Matt: Yeah, totally. That's crazy!
Thanks, Relient K. Never a dull moment with that bunch. When we ran into Dave later, he mentioned that the drums weren't really his instrument--the guitar is. He's working on songs for a project he'll be fronting, although it's still in the very early stages. Then we found out we'd be getting a taste of what to expect: "I'm singing with Sanctus Real on Inspiration tonight. I was just messing around during rehearsal, grabbed a mike and joined them on the bridge. I made up most of the words because I didn't really know them. They liked it, so I grabbed the CD and learned the words."
Dave did a great job, prompting Matt Theissen to comment during the Relient K set: "Did you see Dave singing with Sanctus Real? That was awesome. Maybe it's too early to say, but I think that's the coolest thing I've seen on this tour. It was so cool...so 80's."