An Interview with The Drowning Season by DJ Jason
Photo of The Drowning Season performing at Absolution
(Matt on Vocals, leftside. Chewka on Guitar, rightside.)
- What made you choose your band name? Does it have any particular meaning for you or a story behind it?
Matt: Back in the late ’80s, I was in a death metal band called “Wreckage.” We constantly listened to The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and Fields of the Nephilim, but we played thrash metal. When we finally decided to play the type of music we loved, we knew we needed to change our name as well. At first we were “Garden of Faith,” but that name only lasted for one show. Our keyboard player, Kevin, suggested “The Drowning Season,” the title of a book by Alice Hoffman. I’ve always liked the name because it evokes dark imagery and themes of sadness, perfect for gloomy goth music.
Chewka: I am the new guy. Kind of. I joined the band right after “Hollow” was released. Maybe 10 years ago? So I had nothing to do with the name.
- How did you get interested in music?
Matt: I’ve always loved music, and I was a huge KISS fan when I was young. I started taking guitar lessons at age 5 and quit at 5 and a half when my guitar teacher moved. Since then I’ve tried to learn how to play guitar and bass, but I was always terrible at it and gave up trying. At some point, I decided that since I wanted to be in a band and I couldn’t play an instrument, I’d better learn how to scream like Rob Halford. Later I learned how to sing like Wayne Hussey. My current style of singing is somewhere between Halford and Hussey.
Chewka: As a kid my parents always had the radio on. My father listened to a lot of radio and got me into bands like Led Zeppelin, etc… I grew up liking Zeppelin, Sabbath, AC/DC. Than there was MTV. I remember the first week it was on cable TV. They played a Motorhead Video. I was like “Fuck”. Who are they? I need to get some of that. And I progressed into more heavier music. More obscure. Punk, Goth, etc.. So yea. Blame it on MTV.
- Who or are your main musical influences?
Matt: That’s easy: The Sisters, The Mission and The Nephilim. Of course I’ve loved many of the “Second Wave of Gothic Rock” bands too, like Rosetta Stone, Children on Stun and such, and I continue to listen to the current wave of goth bands like NFD, Merciful Nuns and Angels of Liberty.
Chewka: Not trying to kump on Matt’s train. But Sisters have a huge influence on me. But I don’t think you would hear it in my writing or playing. That’s where my Jimmy Page influences come in. I think it was Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple who really made me want to play guitar. Ritchie dressed in all black was too damn cool. I wanted to be just like him. Now I’m more of a study of Jimmy Page. I would do anything to hang with him.
- Do you have a favorite band or singer? Who is it?
Matt: My all time favorite goth band is The Sisters of Mercy. I believe that they laid the blueprint for many of the guitar goth bands that followed. As for singers, that’s a tough one, because Andrew Eldritch, Wayne Hussey and Carl McCoy have all been major influences on me and my style of vocals at different times. I really can’t pick just one.
Chewka: That’s a hard question to answer. As you can see I like lots of music. Right now I have been listening to lot’s of Cheap Trick. When that’s over I’ll listen to The Wake. Then maybe some death metal. And back to The Sisters. It all comes full circle. One thing is for sure. I admire bands with talent and can actually play their instruments… and teach me something at the same time. Not too many new bands can do that for me nowadays.
- Outside of music what are your interests?
Matt: Both Michael and I are family guys, so our families come first in everything. Personally I love playing video games on the PS3, especially Call of Duty: MW3 and House of the Dead: Overkill.
Chewka: My beautiful wife Alisha and our awesome son Ashton are number one in my life. After that I like to study recording technology. I have a pretty bad ass studio in my house so that takes a lot of time. I’m also hard core into mountain biking. And when there’s time I play in my gardens.
- Is there a message or ideology behind your songs? If so, what is it?
Matt: I’ve always tried to make our lyrics meaningful, and often times songs will tie together from various albums. Here’s an example: on our first CD, “Hollow,” the last song is entitled “Grace.” It’s about a man asking his love for forgiveness after he’s cheated on her. On our second EP, “New Disease,” she responds in the song “Believe,” in which she tells him she can never trust him again. We’re currently working on a new song, entitled “Turn to Grey,” in which he returns to lament his lost love. This series of songs has spanned over 12 years. It was never intended to be this way, it just happened. As for subject matter, most songs tend to be about drugs, or religion, or lost love, or lost drugs. Those are the saddest songs of all.
Chewka: Not for me. I just want to make music and hope I can inspire someone. No messages. Except maybe to be yourself and don’t rip off your favorite bands. (did I just stick my foot in my mouth)?
- How would you describe your music?
Matt: “Old school influenced, guitar-oriented goth rock.”
Chewka: What he said. But with more emphasis on the “rock” for me.
- What does it feel like to be onstage performing?
Matt: It’s amazing. I truly love goth rock. It moves me in ways that other music can not. When we’re on stage, with the fog and lights, with the drums pounding and guitar slashing and slithering to the beat, it’s just fucking awesome. Each performance is unique, each one has special moments that set it apart from the others. Performing live is like a high that you never want to end, and when it does, you immediately look forward to your next fix.
Chewka: It’s a drug. I can never get enough of it. Being up there with all eyes on you. When your onstage it’s like your the king of the world. Sounds corny but it’s true.
It’s also very hot.
- What are you most proud of as a band member?
Matt: Honestly, it’s that this band is still alive and very active. It’s a testament to Michael’s and my stubbornness that we refuse to quit until we’re rock stars. Our abilities to write and perform music have only increased over the years. We’re a million times better at writing songs and playing live than we were when we started out. We’re just waiting for our shot at the spotlight on American Bandstand or Solid Gold and that’s it baby. We’re going to Hollywood!
Chewka: Still making music and still selling cd’s. The both of us have been doing this a very long time. It’s amazing we still get along. We watch so many bands come and go. And we’re still going at it 100 percent. Every once in awhile I’ll have to tell Matt I need a few months to clear my head. I usually go bike riding non stop during those times. But we are always still talking and shooting ideas back and forth. I’m also extremely proud to have recorded all of the last cd at my Studio. That was quite the accomplishment. A huge learning experience. Can’t wait for the next cd. I know your going to love it.
- What are you looking forward to?
Matt: We are currently working on our next EP, “Tomorrow’s Gone.” We plan on working with a new label as well, and there will be more on that after the disc is finished. We have several live shows planned that we’re also looking forward to as well. We’ll be in Chicago on May 19th, Milwaukee on May 20th, New York City on June 2nd (performing with Lestat at Incantation) and in Jacksonville, FL, at the Age of Decay Festival this fall. We’re always looking for new cities to visit, so if you would like to see us perform at your local goth club (wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.), please contact us.
Chewka: Recording our new cd. Getting it out to the masses. PLaying live. Meeting new friends. And hanging out with my favorite DJ in New York June 2nd! Thank you Jason!