Rich Luzzi and Julien Jorgensen of Rev Theory
The 2008 Jagermeiester Music Tour recently made it’s stop in Worcester, MA. On the bill – Rev Theory, Trapt, and Hinder. Rev Theory (Rich Luzzi on vocals, Matty McCloskey on bass, Julien Jorgensen on guitar, Dave Agoglia on drums and Rikki Lixx on guitar) released their sophomore album “Light it Up’ in June of this year, their first album on a major label. While the band may be new to big time labels, they are no stranger to the struggles of keeping their heads above water. They didn’t get where they are overnight, it’s been an uphill battle all the way and one they wouldn’t trade for the world.
With the two single off of the album (Hell Yeah and Light it Up) being heard all over the place from video games to The National Football League I was looking forward to meeting the band behind the in your face rockers like Favorite Disease and Wanted Man to gut wrenching ballads like Broken Bones.
As I sat down in the back lounge of their tour bus with frontman Rich Luzzi and guitarist Julien Jorgensen I couldn’t help but feel the the calm before the storm. Both guys were incredibly laid back and easy to talk to, but I knew before long, their alter egos would take over the stage and offer up the kind of rock show that some bands can only dream of delivering. In what I thought was the best set of the night Rev Theory ripped the roof off of The Palladium with their energy and left the fans wanting a lot more….and something tells me they’ll be getting just that. This band is just getting started…
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | November 2008
I have to start out with the local roots, I’ve heard that originally Rich and Dave met in college in MA? Are you are actually from MA or were you just going to college there?
Rich: It started here. We went to college together, we went to Merrimack College.
What were you going to college for?
Julien: I was a business major.
Rich: I was a political science major.
I found that really interesting because a lot of people come to that crossroads in their life and decide to either pursue music or go to college, but you went to college and then found music..
Julien: We always wanted to be in a band and pursue a career in music but it took meeting each other to really bring it out of us.
I was pleasantly surprised when I received your bio in the mail a few months back and realized it was penned by the one and only Lonn Friend. Was that something you were involved in orchestrating or was the label responsible?
Rich: We educated ourselves with him when our A&R guy had the idea to have him write our bio. We agreed with him because nine out of ten times it’s just someone working at the label writing your bio but Lonn was a part of rock and roll history. So when they told us we thought it was a cool idea. It was also a little intimidating because he’s been around the best and the greatest. We were a little intimidated to sit with him and find out what he thought about our music and if he liked the record. We did an in-depth interview with him and played for him acoustically before he wrote the bio.
Julien: It wasn’t really even an interview either, it was just a casual conversation. He’s a vibe guy and has that cool spirit about him.
Yeah, he’s that kind of guy! So let’s talk about your new album Light it Up, the album is pretty diverse in the sense that you have songs that sort of hit every niche from ballads to arena ready pump fisting rockers….did you go into writing the album with this sort of formula in mind?
Julien: That’s how things developed. Between writing our first record in 04/05 to writing this new record we had been on the road for a good two and a half years so we saw a lot of things and partied a ton and lived the life but we also sacrificed a lot as well. We were broke and going through financial hardships, we were all struggling, we had lost personal relationships, we had really seen the down and the upside of it all so we had a lot to draw from when we went to write the new record. I think a lot of the songs exemplify a particular experience or they draw from something that we had gone through during that period.
Rich: There’s nothing forced on the record, it’s all real.
Julien: So that’s just what came out. We wrote a bunch of songs that didn’t make the record as well.
So will we ever hear those?
Julien: Totally, there are a few B-sides in the works for sure.
You really wanted to go back to your roots and ended up listening to a lot of old school rock like GnR, Crue, and STP while gearing up to write the album. How much of an influence did this have on the album?
Rich: For sure. Also our producer is a huge fan of those bands and the producers who produced those bands so I think it really drew a lot out of us.
Julien: Before that I think we were drawing on our contemporaries, all the bands we had been playing with, and we were inspired. We wanted to be a little more high energy and a little more aggressive, we basically went back and broke the house of cards down to its foundation and took it from where we started and why we started playing music and we drew from the eighties and the early nineties, those were our real influences.
So how have your fans that followed you from your previous album feel about the new album? Have you heard any feedback?
Rich: It’s a mixed feeling. Some people ask why we wrote such a great first record and why didn’t we write another one like that. But then there are people happy with the growth. You can’t win them all. You can’t please all of the people all of the time only some of them some of the time. From our perspective, we feel like we already did that so why would we want to do it again. Part of life is challenging yourself to be better in all aspects every single day.
The song Broken Bones is one of my favorites on the album, I think that’s the song that hits me the hardest from an emotional perspective, did it come from a personal experience?
Julien: Originally Matty and I were messing around on the RV and the basic melodies were born. But then, about a year and a half ago, my mom was sick, she had cancer, and I was home and that’s where the song actually took shape and that was the actual motivation. That was one of the earliest songs that we wrote for the record and it stayed the course.
Rich: We play it in the set every night and it seems to be resonating.
You have done an outstanding job with cross-pollination getting your songs played in video games and involved with sporting events….how do these collaborations happen? Are you proactive about it consciously seeking them out or do they come to you?
Rich: We always have the opportunity to say no and your first kneejerk reaction as an artist is to say no. But nine out of ten times when it’s presented to you from a business standpoint and you really get to stand back and look at it you realize that this is the best for the band. A lot of people want to hold on to their credibility and say that they don’t want to sell out but the fact of the matter is that in today’s times records aren’t selling the way they use to sell and if you want to make a living doing this you have to explore other options to get your music out there. Otherwise, we’re not going to be able to do this, we’d have to go home and get jobs because you can’t just make a living on record sales and touring anymore. It doesn’t work.
So how often are you meeting people at shows who have heard your music through one of these alternative options?
Rich: All the time.
Julien: I think ultimately it’s about awareness. We’re trying to get the name of the band out there and the more of those things that come up, the more it benefits us. We’re fans of those things too.
With your first album, Truth in Currency, you were on an indie label and things were all sort of done in a grassroots kind of way, do you think starting out in that organic way helped strengthen the band as a whole?
Rich: Totally. It’s given us so much more of an awareness of what it takes to be successful. A lot of bands that don’t do that and get the silver spoon put in their mouth expect things and you can never expect things in this business or just in life in general. If you want something you have to make it happen yourself and you have to really work for it. Even with our label, our label told us that they’ve never seen a band that has the work ethic that we do so it makes them more inclined to want to work for us because they see us putting so much into it. So yes, it’s definitely helped us, we’ve always had to rely on ourselves to do things.
Rich, you once said that “the key to this record was “perseverance” can you elaborate on what you meant by that?
Rich: From day one, it’s always been us against everyone else, we’ve always been the underdog. We just felt like we’d gone through so many different things throughout our career and we kept getting small victories and then our perseverance is what got us to the major label; but, that’s not the be all end all. That’s where the work really begins, now we actually have the opportunity to have a strong company backing us and it’s the culmination of everything we’ve ever done. Before we were under the radar so it was much easier to be successful at a moderate level and still reap the benefits from it, now being moderately successful in the bigger world, it’s not as easy to do that because people have higher standards so that’s really what I meant by that.
I think the true definition of a band is how much ass they kick on stage, do you feel that your live performance is your strongest asset?
Rich: I will put us up against any band in the world, I really would.
Julien: That’s the one thing that we’ve been cutting our teeth for so long that we just know that our live performance is our true weapon, that’s what’s carried us this far, and helped us win over new fans each night. The best compliment we’ve ever received is that our live set blows away our cd.
What are your favorite songs to play live?
Rich: I think it changes. The record is still so new that every song is fun to play.
Julien: Hell Yeah has been fun because of the crowd interaction, Light it up and Favorite Disease is fun, and Broken Bones obviously because it’s an emotional song.
What kind of liquid perks are involved on a tour being sponsored by Jagermeister? I’m pretty sure when I interviewed Mark from Hinder last week he told me that they had a dispenser on their bus.
Rich: We just got our dispenser on the bus. Up until now we’ve had all the Jager we wanted but now we have the machine.
That’s got to be dangerous.
Rich: It was absolutely retarded the first night it was on the bus. It was really ridiculous, I was sitting back here wondering if I should take it out the next day.
Julien: Yes, it got a little ugly.
As part of this tour you are also offering fans a VIP experience which includes an acoustic set with the band on the tour bus….I wish more bands would think of these kind of things…how have these been going and who’s idea was it?
Julien: It was our tour manager’s idea. He came up with the idea and we threw it out there to see what kind of response we’d get and it was overwhelming. It was a great way for us to be accessible and meet people on more of an intimate level.
Rich: We’ve always been a band that wants to interact with fans so this is a great chance for us to do that.
What do you miss the most when you’re on tour?
Rich: Just peace and quiet and being able to veg out.
Julien: I guess I miss my own bed.
Rich: Normalcy, there’s nothing normal about what we do.
Sometimes the personalities of the band members get hidden behind the identity of the band so in an effort to introduce everyone in the band to the world describe each of your band mates in one word…
Julien: Rikki Lixx – Mangler.
Rich: He’s kind of an introvert actually. He keeps to himself and he’s very quiet, unless he’s wasted, but not on stage.
Julien: Matty’s a Wildman.
Rich: Yeah, he’s crazy.
Julien: Dave is Switzerland, just the middle of the road, sweet guy.
Rich: He’s the nicest guy in the world, that’s how I gauge how bad a situation is. I just look at Dave and I know if he’s reacting to it then I know I’m not overacting but if he’s not than I probably am.
Julien: Richie is the strength, he’s our rock. I don’t know what I am.
Rich: Yeah what are you?
Julien: I’m the wise old man.
You’re the wisdom?
Rich: Yes, he’s the wisdom.
I find that pre-show rituals can offer up a lot about a band’s psyche, do you have any?
Rich: Yes, every night we do the same thing. I’m usually back here doing my warm ups, Jules and Dave are usually in front of me stretching and then up in front Matt and Rikki just going off to their favorite playlist on the ipod, same playlist ever night – Avenged Sevenfold, Jane’s Addiction, GnR.
Julien: And then right before we go on we huddle up and do a band cheer.
I’m sure there’s nothing I can ask you that you haven’t already been asked ten million times already but is there anything in particular about the band that you feel gets overlooked in interviews that you’d like to share?
Rich: I think that some people don’t realize how long we’ve been around, they think we’re new kids on the block but we’ve been doing this for seven years and we haven’t always had a tour bus and the greatest tours, it didn’t happen overnight for us.
Julien: And we’re proud of that too. Our mantra is it takes ten years to have an overnight success.