INTERVIEW :DOWNSTAIT

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Young, powerful, and entertaining, Downstait is a band that holds nothing back, either in the studio or on the stage. Their songwriting reflects talent and ability beyond their years and is a unique blend of the best of modern hard rock… the thunder of Godsmack and Sevendust… the melodies of Linkin Park and Breaking Benjamin… all tied together by Daren Call and Sean Arata on vocals. With an average age of barely 20 yrs old, Downstait has been rumbling under the surface of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s music scene since 2002. Always ahead of their age, it wasn’t until 2006 when WBYR program director, Stiller, heard something special in lead singer, Daren Call’s voice and reached out to producer/singer/composer, Sahaj from the Universal/Republic band Ra, to see if the band had potential.  
 
Sahaj agreed and took the band under his wing to help develop the sound that we know as Downstait today. He was surprised to find that lead guitarist and songwriter, Justin Call, shared a love for the progressive 80’s band Queensrÿche and was quick to include a dramatic element to Downstait’s signature sound. As writing continued, Downstait had more surprises up their sleeves. Bass player, Sean Arata, proved himself to be quite the vocalist, adding rich harmonies or deep screams to an already rich vocal landscape. Jethro McConnell on drums reveals his secret in his ink. A tattoo of Miles Davis coats his skin but this young powerhouse’s love for jazz is heard in the unique phrasing he uses in this hard rock context. Rhythm guitarist, Isaiah Zwick is the soul of the band onstage, raining energy from beginning to end. Smiles and ferocious intensity flow throughout the set. Their live show is explosive.  
 
The band has become the opener of choice for national acts playing Fort Wayne’s premier venue, Piere’s. They have shared the stage and toured with- Ra, Rev Theory, Drowning Pool, Pop Evil, Queensrÿche, Saliva, Skid Row, 10 Years and others. They are the hometown favorite and rightfully so. Selling over 5000 CD’s by themselves they are a band with real viability. WBYR even had the band play their “Bear On the Square” event as an unsigned act, normally reserved for national acts. The fan base continues to grow. It was only a matter of time before they got signed.  
 

The music is powerful and even thoughtful at times. “Take It To the Line”, “No One” and “Senseless” scream radio. “End of the Story”, “This Is My Life” and “Best Day” show the bands diversity while “Walk Away” calls out with passion and beauty not normally found in bands so young. The songwriting and musicianship is top notch.  
 
In 2009, Downstait signed to Sahaj’s label SMR and with 6 songs featured on ESPN’s high school football season, they were poised to launch the record when Sahaj was approached by MTV to have the band re-record the theme song, “Beat You Down”, for the hit show “Bully Beatdown”. With this in place the band is now poised for a far more powerful launch. You can expect to hear quite a lot from this young group. They are great live, magnetic, hungry and just getting started… 

TWD: Downstait’s anticipated debut album ‘With You In Mind’ is scheduled for release on April 23rd. What can fans expect differently from your brand new material? 

DS: Our first album was mostly written in the studio in a very short amount of time with our producer, Sahaj Ticotin guiding us through every step. After touring and supporting those songs for a few years, we knew we needed to get started on some new music. So Sean and I took everything we’d learned with the first album and started writing.

Sean had gone away to college so we weren’t able to just sit together in a room and hammer out songs. Instead we would email each other back and forth with song ideas, adding bits and pieces along the way until we had something that felt complete.  After a couple months, we’d written nearly 30 songs and through the process, defined exactly what we thought Downstait should sound like.

What sets this album apart is time. We had a lot of time to really get everything just the way we wanted it before even heading into the studio to lay it down.  Lyrically, Sean was able to take what was a very dark time for him and turn it into some of the most personal lyrical content we’d ever written.

TWD: WWE has ushered you to a global universe; in part to the phenomenally dynamic entrance themes Downstait has recorded for WWE superstars (Dolph Ziggler – ‘Here to Show the World’, The Miz – ‘I Came to Play’, Alex Riley – ‘Say It to My Face’). How did this golden opportunity initially materialize? 

DS: Honestly, we’re still not sure. We can only assume they’d heard our rendition of the theme song for MTV’s “Bully Beatdown” and picked up the phone. We’re very glad they did.

TWD: Does Downstait have any plans on recording material for more television shows in the near future?

DS: If the opportunity presents itself, absolutely.

TWD: On March 23 you rock live at ‘Heroes & Legends’ inside the Lutheran Health Center in your hometown of Fort Wayne, IN. Can you explain to the audience about this un-missable forthcoming show?

DS: All we know is that some legendary wrestlers will be in the building and we get to perform as well, haha.  We plan on having a good time and hope to see a lot of people taking advantage of this opportunity to see some of the greats from wrestling’s past in person. Oh, and rock out with Downstait as well.

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TWD: You hail from Fort Wayne, IN. Which destination – either domestically or around the world – has provided Downstait with the most vividly rich experience thus far? 

DS: In 2011, we played The DeKalb County Fair, an outdoor festival in Indiana.  Anyone that lives in Indiana can tell you that the weather doesn’t care what the forecast calls for; it will do as it pleases. It had been beautiful and sunny all day. Just as we’re about to go on, a freezing rain begins pouring and the wind blew so hard the rain was coming in sideways at us on stage. The crazy part of all this was that nobody left! These guys weren’t going to let a little rain stop them.  It was amazing to see so many people willing to stand in the cold rain to see us play.  One of the coolest experiences of my life.

TWD: Who originally conceived of the band’s name? 

DS: A dictionary.  We needed a new name and decided to flip through a dictionary and randomly point at a word to find one. We landed on ‘downstate’ and thought it sounded pretty cool. We then checked MySpace to find that the name had been taken. So we just changed the spelling a bit, and there you have it.  Not the coolest story ever, but we were teenagers…

TWD:  ‘We’re all gonna die one way or another, so while I’m alive I’ll be a bad motherfucker”. Can you personally decode the lyrical story behind ‘Bad’? 

DS: Sahaj had been playing around with this chorus idea for a while by the time we entered the studio, but he didn’t have a full song. So we took that one part and built a song around it. When it came time to write the rest of the lyrics, Sahaj called us in and asked if we were familiar with the TV show, “The Walking Dead”. As we all jumped for joy at the thought of a zombie apocalypse song, Zack announced that he’d never seen the show, but thought that Ghost Rider-based content may fit as well. It’s all about impending doom, knowing that death is imminent and using what time you have left to be a bad motherfucker.

TWD:  Who would you declare as the most famous Downstait fan? 

DS: The Miz.

TWD: When interacting on social media, what is the unquestionably the most frequent question you’re asked? 

DS: “When are you coming to the UK?”  I try to let people know that we’re still trying to “make it” and that we’ll venture across the pond as soon as we can afford it.  It’s gonna take some time and we’ll need all the support we can get to make that happen when the new album comes out on April 23rd

  

Downstait iTunes Page: https://itunes.apple.com/artist/downstait/id329538478 
 

Downstait Twitter: @DownstaitBand 

Downstait Official Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/downstait  

Downstait Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/downstait?sk=app_2405167945 

Downstait Official YouTube Page: http://www.youtube.com/downstait

WRITTEN BY :  Dean Perretta [ @Dean2185 ]

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