Rock trio TAT is no stranger to Warped Tour, they’ve contributed three of the past four years to the traveling musical summer camp, so it was no coincidence that that’s just where we found them this summer.
With a sound influenced by rock and punk in the nineties TAT is aware that they aren’t exactly the normal Warped Tour fare, but that’s part of the fun and the exact reason that they crossed the pond in the first place. Hot on the heels of the release of their album “Soho Lights” they wanted to introduce their music to a wider audience. Warped Tour gives them the perfect opportunity to give a big “Hello, how do you do” to thousands of music fans every day.
Recently chosen as one of Revolver Magazine’s coveted “Hottest Chicks in Metal” lead singer Tatiana DeMaria is more than just a pretty face, the lead singer/songstress/guitar player’s commanding presence leads the way for this band rounded out by Nick Kent on bass and Jake Reed on drums.
The exuberant threesome sat down with TWRY staffer Lexi at the Pittsburgh, PA for some honest talk about life on the road, their eclectic sound, doing things the indie way, and their upcoming tour with Social Distortion.
Interviewed by: Lexi Shapiro | July 2009
*To get the full effect of this interview, check out the accompanying audio here. (We recommend right clicking and saving the audio and then listening to it!)
Can you guys just do the quick run down the line, name and instrument and such?
Tatiana: Hi, I’m Tatiana DeMaria, and I sing and play guitar.
Jake: Goodbye, I’m Jake Reed, and I play drums.
Nick: Hey, I’m Nick Kent, and I play bass and sing a bit.
So, let’s start off with how you guys formed. You’re from all around the globe, so how did life lead you guys together to actually become the band?
Tatiana: Well, TAT started a couple of years ago. It was like a standard band, year one, trying to piece people together and make the band work. And, I was a kid who had written a bunch of songs and wanted to have a band. So, I started it and gradually we solidified into a final lineup, and that took about a year. I was looking for a new bassist in year one of setting this up, and basically someone knew Nick. So, I was introduced to Nick which was awesome. He came in and jammed with us and it was great. It was the drummer and I at the time. And then, the drummer moved on and we were basically looking to replace our drummer, and Nick went to college with Jake. So, he introduced me to Jake, and Jake came in and jammed with us and it worked and we stuck together. And, that’s been five years, now. It’s our fifth year together. We had to get good. We were a bunch of kids trying to play, but we’re better now…somewhat.
Some have described your sound as being a “female-fronted Offspring.” I don’t think that’s necessarily quite dead-on, so how would you guys describe your sound?
Jake: First of all, Tatiana’s not a Republican, so…
Jake: Also, she’s not an idiot.
Tatiana: Ooooooooh! Nice! I love you, Jake.
Jake: I think our sound, I don’t know, I mean it’s…
Tatiana: No, you’re not trying this again!
Jake: I’m not! I’m not!
Tatiana: I know what you’re gonna do. “Sounds like a pack of crying wolves in the night.”
Jake: No. On a serious note, it sounds very melodic. Last year, quite a few people drew a comparison of a cross between Joan Jett, Green Day, and The Clash, which I think is a pretty good representation. Maybe a little bit more eclectic, but I think generally that’s pretty fair.
You guys definitely have a very “old” sound to you. Not necessarily in a bad way, but you sound like classic, punk, which is something you don’t necessarily hear coming from a lot of these bands anymore.
Tatiana: Well, it’s interesting because that was kind of our aim. I mean, there was that whole pop-punk wave and I LOVE the nineties. I love the early nineties and that’s just what we do. And, it’s interesting because the whole pop-punk wave came and went, and we’ve been making this back to nineties roots, whatever you want to call it, punk rock, whatever it is. And, now we find ourselves in quite an interesting place where that pop-punk wave came and went, so instead of being part of that pop-punk wave but representing the nineties, we’re sort of this band who stick out like a sore thumb on Warped Tour with a bunch of screamo bands. It’s like, “Hey, back to the nineties!,” which is weird. It’s interesting. It just took us a long time to record the album. I mean, the album was written when I was, like, sixteen, seventeen, so we’ve been together for like, five years and just jamming it, so it’s great to have it out finally and be able to move on to something more fresh for album two. So, album two is going to be a bit different. But, yeah, it’s interesting to put the record out now sounding nineties, as you say.
So, how long until album two? Is it going to be another five years?
Tatiana: *laughing* No, no, no, no! The thing is, it took five years because first of all, we were in England and it’s a small market, so to raise money touring is really hard because you do two weeks of touring and that’s it. When we started doing European tours with NOFX, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and the Bouncing Souls in 2007, we raised a bunch of money. We also signed a publishing deal a few years ago, or I did to Perfect Songs, so we got a nice advance. And, we basically managed to raise the money and record the record, but it took time, and it took time to get good, too. Well, good enough… I say “good,” but we wanted to be tight live, so we did a bunch of touring, and then you meet a producer who will do it for a good price, and then he booked us in and kept canceling for eight months. So, we said fuck it and moved on to someone else. We’ve been independent for years and we just got a manager a year ago. It was a lot of time wasted, too, with trying to do things; it’s hard when you’re independent.
This is your second year on the Warped Tour circuit.
It‘s your third?
Tatiana: Second year running.
Jake: Second year running.
Tatiana: We did 2006.
So, what was it that made you guys want to come over here and play the Warped Tour in particular?
Jake: I think people who attend Warped, there’s a broad kind of spectrum of general music fans, people who like some of the screamo stuff, and well, Warped started out as a punk rock festival and punk rock is very much still alive in this country. And you know, as Tatiana was saying, because in the UK there’s such a small market for it. It was nice to come over here and just play to a much wider audience. And, the US is so much bigger than the UK, so we can tour it for like months on end and play to all these different people who have never heard us before, but are still into it and just want to see some good live stuff.
Have you felt a positive reception in the States the same way that you do necessarily back in the UK? Has it been the same kind of reaction?
Tatiana: It depends. When we first started in England, our first single was in the Top 100. And then, our second single was in BBC’s Rock Top 20, and that was live from Reading and Leeds. So, we were playing the bigger festivals and our stuff was getting played on the radio, and it’s interesting because it’s a different scale, you know? Now we’re in the US and I think the bottom line for people who come to a show is if people enjoy the show, they’re human beings, they’re going to enjoy it however a human being enjoys something. You go to a show, you’ll rock out, you know? And, that, we get everywhere. If people hate us, we’ll feel that. I mean so far, touch wood, we’ve had a good enough reaction in places we go to just enjoy it. But, on a scale of what you do publicly in terms of charts and that kind of success, we’re now getting played on commercial radio stations around the US and we were on 180 college stations. We’re in the Top 20 for alternative radio… thing… modern rock (I’m still learning your lingo, here) for six weeks. So, we’re sort of getting there, but it’s such a big country that that’s taking more time, but in terms of the fans themselves, if they dig it, they dig it, and it’s kind of the same worldwide. We love it here, I mean, the reception’s been great. And, we’ve been here actually working for a year and a half in terms of: last year we did Warped Tour, we put out the record, we’ve actually put something out, now. So, it’s been a year and a half and I think we’re really happy so far with what’s been happening, so we’re touching wood *knocks on the door frame*. Sorry, my answers are just like pffffffff.
Haha. It’s fine! Actually, AP Magazine did quote, they said that you guys had a “decent shot at some serious Stateside success.”
Jake: Well, they’re wrong.
Well, I was going to ask: how close you felt necessarily to achieving that and do you feel like you’re on that verge?
Jake: We’re so fucking up our own asses, we feel like we’ve made it every single… no. We’ve got a long way to go. I know me, personally, I feel like we’ve definitely come a long way in the last couple of years, especially being in the States, but it’s nice to see a kind of positive reaction. We’re still very much climbing. We’re still building a fan base and we’re still getting there, but it’s definitely an upward climb rather than a decline.
Nick: We’ve been given the best possible launch pad as well with Kevin Lyman giving us the Hurley stage this year. So, if we fuck this up…
Tatiana: …Then, we really don’t deserve it.
Tatiana: But, at the same time our album just came out. It’s our debut album, which means that every year before that we’ve done a tour, we’ve had nothing to really back and for the first time, now we have this album to push, and our first single “I Don’t Want to Love You” has just gone to radio nationwide. So, we’ll see what happens there, but we’ve had some interesting ads play us here and there which is great, and its set to impact August 11th. So, we’ll see how we go on Warped Tour just building. At the same time, we have a brand new video that we’ve just made for “Road to Paradise,” one of our songs.
Right, I saw that the other day.
Tatiana: So, yeah! That hasn’t gone to TV yet. We’ve basically got those two things in promo going. We’ve hired a promo team. And, we’ll be touring with Social Distortion in the Fall.
In the States?
Tatiana: In the States for a month and a half, so that’ll be fun, and we’re working on a bunch of tours. But, we basically built our team now, and in terms of a climb, we’ve basically now got something to push and we’re actually actively going, “Okay, cool!” Our single’s coming out, as we’ve never done before, but being able to do that thanks to Warped Tour, thanks to being on a bigger stage, thanks to selling merch – it’s great for us, so I think we definitely feel like we’ve come a long way.
You guys keep touring over in the States. How often do you actually get to go back home? How often do you get a break?
Jake: We actually toured the US a couple of times this year already before we came out on Warped Tour, so we got to come out and go home again. But, we got to play a London show in January, which was awesome.
Tatiana: That was awesome. That was a lot of fun.
Jake: We have a lot of friends and fans down there and it was fantastic. So, that was the last time. Hopefully, maybe at the end of this year or beginning of next, we’ll get to do another kind of one-off show or a little mini-tour or something like that’d be quite nice.
Tatiana: I say blame the Americans. You guys have such a big country.
Jake: You’re keeping us here, you bastards!
Tatiana: But you have to go the whole nine yards. I think the mistake a lot of bands do from Europe or England is play like five US shows and then come back a year later and expect everybody to remember them. I think you really have to tour, tour, tour and what we committed to.
Jake: *singing to the tune of “More, More, More”* Tour, tour, tour.
Tatiana: Yeah, go write it. What we committed to when we first started pushing stuff in the States or touring the States was basically, “Okay, if we’re going to do the States, we have to do it right,” which means we have to do all the tours, we have to put the record out; it just takes a lot of time. So, we did well in the UK and we were really happy, but we did to a degree put the album, more merch, and the full-on European touring on a back burner for the time being while we actually go, “Okay, let’s just see the US through, do all of this, and then take it home.” It’s hard to spread yourself too thin, and being independent, it’s hard for us to financially spread ourselves too thin, too. So, we’re focusing on different territories, and right now it’s the US.
Do have any idea what’s next? Where would you like to take your music next?
Tatiana: Yeah! Fuck yeah! People are hot in Bosnia! We’re just signing a deal with a label in Japan, actually, so we’re really looking forward to going out there, hopefully in February and doing Australia and that kind of stuff. And then, we’re probably going to pass by the UK again. I imagine we’ll release this record either at the end of this year or the start of next year in the UK when we can have a bit of time to actually promote it, and then we’ll probably be back in the US next year. I imagine album two will probably be the focus of next year, so we’re looking to really just get the second album out and enjoy it. So, yeah, I think territories, but also back in the US, album two, and the UK we’ll have album one and album two right close together.
So, you said in a previous interview that Warped Tour is like a big Summer camp, so what bands have you bonded with during Warped Tour that you’ve come to become friends with?
Jake: Well, NOFX we bonded pretty tightly with. We kind of bonded with them in 2006, and they’re buddies of ours now. Loads of others this year….
Tatiana: Yeah, Antiflag, Bad Religion, who we toured with actually in the US. And then, I saw Bayside today, which was cool. There’s a bunch of bands. There are so many bands… TV/TV…
Jake: Yeah, they’re cool.
Tatiana: Yeah, they’re cool, really cool guys.
Jake: Gallows are good boys.
Tatiana: Gallows, yeah.
Jake: Good British boys.
Tatiana: Yeah, it is like a Summer camp. I think this year we probably hit the ground running, because we had so much more to take care of that we’re still wrapping our heads around the socializing aspect of it, which is fun. There are barbecues all the time. But, there have been a lot of long drives, so Warped Tour hasn’t really kicked in terms of Summer camp yet. It’s been a lot of work so far.
I’ve noticed that you guys seem to keep a really close, intimate relationship with your fans in a way that a lot of bands don’t. I mean you did the sit-down things on YouTube where you actually answered all the letters, even if they were just, “Hi, I want to get my letter read.” You actually respond to things on your website and your MySpace. Is that something that you want to keep maintaining and doing no matter how big you get or do you feel like at some point you’re going to have to… there’s going to be some kind of disconnect, whether you like that or not?
Jake: Well, we’ll always do that as long as we possibly can, which I hope is forever, but you never know how much things will escalate and how much time you’ll kind of have on your hands to do that, but hopefully it will be for a very, very long time, because we love staying in touch with our fans. We love speaking to the people who actually give a fuck about us and buy our records and stuff, and if you don’t, you’re a bit of an asshole, really. It’s just, you need to keep in touch with the people who get you to where you are.
How do you guys actually have time?
Tatiana: Well, we work long days, but I think it’s an interesting balance, because I think as a band you do have to keep a balance between maintaining your own time and staying in touch with the fans, and I like a bit of mystery too. You know Michael Jackson was in touch with his fans in a certain way, but at the same time he didn’t overdo it. There’s a lot of reality stuff that I think destroys bands.
Jake: He touched his fans.
Tatiana: Yeah, he did, man. He got THAT fucking close to his fans.
Jake: He was a good host, by the way. You go around to Michael Jackson’s house… you get pills, alcohol, and a blow job. That’s a fucking good host.
Tatiana: That’s a fucking good deal if you ask me. Sucked off by the King of Pop. Damn, I wish I was a little boy. So, yeah, I think it’s an interesting balance and I think that a lot of reality stuff destroys bands. We do like keeping in touch, as Jake said answering stuff, but I don’t see us ever being a reality band, wanting to be THAT in touch with people that we want them to see EVERYTHING we do. So, we do, we have time dedicated to it daily, MySpace will be taken care of, the Facebook, the Twitter, and stuff like that… blogs, whatever.
Tell me about your involvement with the Keep A Breast Foundation. I’ve seen that you’ve done a couple of things with them recently.
Tatiana: Yeah, I did another breast mold actually, recently. That was about ten days ago, which was fun. And, they were sweet.
Nick: They’ve gotten bigger since last year.
Tatiana: Did they?
Jake: Can we compare them?
Tatiana: I think I was bleeding that day.
Nick: Oh, there you go.
Tatiana: They were massive. They were more pert, too. I was actually quite proud. They did a feature on me and the band a couple of weeks ago, and just anything I can do. I think they’re really cool. They go around, they spread awareness. I didn’t know how to check my boobies. I had to get shown how to check my boobies, and I’ve been doing stuff with Keep A Breast for ages so, I support them. I support raising awareness.
So, I mean, you’re a badass chick. You’re a tougher chick. You’re not…
Tatiana: *In a Valley Girl voice* I’m ready to deck and I’m loving it.
Tatiana: Okay, wait, wait, wait. There’s this song… I’m sorry, I have to do this. There’s this song of this artist who’s actually got a big hit out right now. *Sings* “I’m blue, da ba dee, da ba di..”
Tatiana: Okay, no, no, no, no, no, no. It was a cover of that with Flo Rida and Wynter Gordon. And, I went to visit Wynter Gordon’s MySpace, and there’s a song that was fucking hysterical and basically the chorus was, “I’m a hard-ass bitch and I’m ready to deck, so fuck yeah. And, you want to touch me. I’ve got a bodyguard, so fuck you!” And I was just like, “This is really shit.” And then the verse comes in, and it was like, “So, you want proof. I already did my internship at Universal. And, that was high school, so I’ll let you do the math.” And I was like, “Are you fucking serious?” …signed to a major label. And now, there’s this hit out. So, yeah, I’m a badass bitch. I did a fucking internship at Universal. Damn straight I’m bad.
Well, with your internship at Universal and your being a badass bitch, have you ever felt any pressure, being that you’re in the music industry, to behave like some sort of sex symbol and not necessarily act rougher around the edges. Have you ever felt the pressure to act “girlier” or “sexier?”
Tatiana: No, I think I’m quite lucky in that I’ve actually found this a lot in terms of just music. I didn’t know this until just recently, but I started being told this, that people tend to just leave me as I am for fear of, I don’t know what it is, but just understanding that this is the way I am. And, I’ve never really felt pressured. No one’s ever asked me to do anything different. Plus, I’m always throwing my pelvis around, you know, thrusting, doing pelvic thrusts. I don’t think people really need to ask for more, more vulgarity, but in terms of just being sexy and ladylike, I don’t know. I mean, the truth is I am a woman at the end of the day, so I’m quite calm today, as you’ve probably noticed, probably compared to last year, but you know it’s just the day, the time. Whatever it is, I think I’m pretty me, and I don’t really know how to answer that. That’s quite a good question.
Jake: She wore a dress the other day for the first time…
Tatiana: I do wear dresses!
Jake: We’ve known her for six years and…
Nick: She was wearing a dress at the barbecue.
Tatiana: *yelling over them* No, no, no! You’ve seen me wear dresses! You’ve seen me wear dresses!
Jake: That’s the only clean thing you had.
Tatiana: No, but I’m still a woman. There are still times when I’m still quite ladylike. I’m a flower, don’t you know?
Jake: I think I’ve seen Nick in more dresses than you.
Tatiana: That’s because Nick’s a fucking sex symbol.
So, aside from the pressure to conform in that sense, have you guys ever felt any pressure to change your music in some way, to conform to anything?
Jake: I think there’s always pressure, but we do whatever we want, really. I think we just make the kind of music that we feel is appropriate for the kind of time and place.
Tatiana: He says as we play nineties rock in 2009!
Jake: No, but for us, the nineties is still probably more alive now for me than it ever has been, because we grew up with that and we fucking love that music, so that’s what we play. We play that kind of influenced music. And, we’ll just do whatever we want. If we all suddenly wanted to make a disco record, we’d have a lengthy meeting about it with our manager and he’d go, “Well, guys, I don’t think this is a very good idea. Well, here’s the thing… this isn’t a very good idea.” And, we’d go, “Fuck you! Disco record!”
Tatiana: Dude, so far, you should hear album two. It’s COMPLETELY different to album one. It’s not disco fuck music. It’s different, but we’re not signed to a label, which is great. I mean, we have major distribution, we’ve got teams around us. It’s taken us a long time to build what we have, but the up-side is that we’re signing a deal with a major in Japan, and reading that contract is very interesting, because we’ve been offered deals before, but we’re not one of those bands who are like, “Offer me seven figures or eat my cum. We’re not like that. It’s more, people will say, *in valley girl voice again* “Okay, like, I want, like, you to write with this great pop artist writer and then, like, you’re going to make this album,” and it’s like, no, go fuck yourself, I’m sorry. I think where we’ve been really lucky, but also very, very stern with ourselves is we get to play whatever the fuck we want to play, because we have no one breathing down our necks and no one telling us, “You have to play this. You have to play that.” The only pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves when we hear music that we like, when we want to keep things fresh, when we want to write something new, when we’re bored with the same melodies, when we feel that WE’RE sick of playing this style of music. And, I think we’re really lucky in that sense and I’m quite enjoying it. So, like I said, record two will come out whatever way we want it to come out, and hopefully fans will be fans and they’ll like it anyway, and if they don’t like it, maybe record THREE will be more to their liking. We appreciate anyone with us, but it’s still going to be us. It’s just whatever we want to play.
So then, do you plan on staying independent for as long as possible? No matter how much success you might see, do you always want to stay an independent band?
Tatiana: That depends. I’ve always believed that it depends on the team, it depends on the label, it depends on the set-up, and it depends on the enthusiasm. You can have a major label, for example, who come along and the guy, the one guy who’s really excited and he pushes for you and he signs you and its great… he loses his job, you’re fucked. So, in that kind of scenario, it’s interesting to do a joint venture with a major label, so if he gets fired you’re not dependent on some other A&R. You’re in a joint venture where you can take care of business yourself. Unfortunately, you kind of need leverage for that kind of situation, so you need to grow independently and establish yourself first. That kind of thing is a dream, I think, for most bands: to do a joint venture with a bigger label that has a big structure and a big team. At the same time, if we can be independent and be successful and spread our music around and do what we want to do with it, there’s no harm in being independent. I love it. But, the day a good team comes along with a decent offer, decent get-out clauses that don’t leave us bound and fucked if one dude gets fired, then why not? I’m not against labels at all. I just don’t think that we’ve been in the position to get something that’s been standard for us, really. We recorded the album. We got Warped Tour. We had everything lined up. And then someone comes and goes, “Hi. I’ll pay you a third of what you paid for the record, I will take 50% of everything, and I’ll be your label.” And we’re like, “What’s the point? We own it already.”
Jake: And we’ll say, “Fuck yes. That sounds awesome.”
Tatiana: “That sounds great. Pay me a third of what I paid and own it forever, and give me 50% when I could have had 100%.” So, yeah.
Jake: Thanks, Sony! You guys are the best!
Are you guys still going through what you did the past couple years with making your own posters, going out and putting them up every morning? Is that something is still on your shoulders?
Jake: Yep, still doing that.
Is it still a financial struggle when you’re out on Warped Tour or have things leveled off in a way that you can be more comfortable?
Tatiana: We’re DEFINITELY more comfortable. We’re on a bus this year for the first time.
Jake: Nick’s a financial struggle.
Nick: No, it is, it’s cool this year. We have a good deal with the bus and we’re very much more comfortable. It’s kind of weird though. I don’t want to lose track. I used to drive. We’ve been in an RV for the last two years and I used to plan the routes and where we’re going. This year, I have no idea where we are tomorrow. I don’t want to lose that and the way we’re going, we’re kind of…
So, no more waking up at 7 AM…
Nick: Oh, yeah!
All: Half six!
Nick: Half six. We have to go unload our gear truck, you know, for an early stage.
Tatiana: Except for when my phone falls into a bed… did you hear my alarm this morning?
Jake: Yeah, I went in there and it was going off for about an hour and I….
Tatiana: What the fuck?! Well, you could have told me!
Jake: You were still asleep!
Tatiana: It was ringing for a reason! It was ringing to wake me up!
Tatiana: Yeah, I’m sorry Nick. So, my phone keeps falling into his bunk…
Nick: But, we’re still up at half six, seven in the morning to go do all that kind of stuff, hand out the fliers, meet the kids in the line….
Jake: Do the posters…
Tatiana: We only do it because we’re control freaks. Actually, we’re fucking loaded. We’re just control freaks. No, but Kevin Lyman’s really… I mean, we’re on the Hurley stage. We’re playing to more people.. We’re selling more merch. We’re getting paid a bit more. And, I think all of that helps. I mean, we’re thrilled. We’re definitely able to afford more, but what we’ve done is instead of spending money on having people do our work for us, what we’re doing is we’re putting it into having a promo campaign. We’re putting it into radio. We’re putting it into TV. We’re putting it into whatever. Not that we’re pouring money into radio but, my point is: you hire a publicist, you know, you hire a specialty radio dude, you hire a radio team, whatever, so that you can tour and do your thing and keep growing at the same time. It doesn’t make sense to spend our money on things we could do. That’s sort of the way we see it.
So, is there anything else you guys would like to say? Any last words or things you’d like to plug?
Jake: You can find our music everywhere. Search for us online: iTunes, Amazon, Rapster… Rapster?
Tatiana: Rapster… Napster… you did it!
Jake: And you can find us in stores, as well. That’s the most important thing. Go out and buy a fucking physical copy of our record before the internet takes over music and destroys it. Go and get our vinyl, as well, because we’ve got an LP out as well as a CD.
Tatiana: Yeah, and we have a bonus track on that, too, which was recorded in my bedroom.
Nick: Tour with Social Distortion, which I think we said.
Tatiana: Oh yeah, we’re touring with Social Distortion.
Jake: After Warped Tour.
So, that’s this Fall with Social Distortion in the States.