Borrowing talent from New Hampshire and Texas before calling Florida home, Madeira is a young alternative-rock band hiding the experience of prior bands and a love for music under their hood. Tyler Duncan, Andrew Mack, Cameron Rhome and Skylar Martin have been honing their skills crafting infectious pop-rock, but also experimenting with elements of heavy metal and reggae. I got the guys together after band practice to talk about approaching this industry, what being musicians mean to them, and the challenge of playing too many genres.
Kristina Villarini: First things first, how did you come up with the name for the band?
Tyler Duncan: We juggled a bunch of names around for a long time. We wanted something cool, but we wanted it to have a storyline. It is the road that we live on.
Andrew Mack: Coincidentally, it’s also the first place that we all got together and played.
KV: How do you guys create music?
AM: With each song, it kind of happens differently. “Stay With Me” was the first song where we all shared an equal amount of the input, and our newer song “Good Evening, London” was equal. Going forward, we’re going to use that process: Everyone sitting in a room contributing, rather than anyone writing a song or having something already done in their head.
KV: You’re playing in a band with your friends, and you were all in bands before this. How do you find equal footing?
TD: When it came to “Stay With Me,” that song went through about seventeen metamorphosis. We had a new arrangement every week for it. When the song feels right for everybody, that is the song that we’re going to put out. When everyone feels comfortable enough, that’s when it works. Sometimes it can be completely off the wall, but we work with it.
Cameron Rhome: The entire band is composed of guys from different bands, and different genres of music. We are able to draw on those past experiences from our other bands to build on what we think this should be. So, when it comes to the writing process, we’re able to say, “Alright, that’s it. That’s the Madeira sound.”
TD: And that means developing, too. Right now, the Madeira you’re hearing doesn’t necessarily sound like we did one year ago, and it won’t be what it sounds like a year from now.
KV: As far as having different sounds, I admit I thought I had Madeira pegged. I listened to The 2010 Demos (which you can listen to HERE via PureVolume.com) and thought, “Alright, this is The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus meets Simple Plan.” But then I heard some Chiodos. How did it come to be this combination of sounds?
AM: You make a good point, about borrowing from all of these genres. It can also be difficult for a band. Some people may love “Stay With Me”, but may not not be as open to a song like “The Hangover” which has a reggae feel. You never want to end up playing a show where people stop identifying with what you’re doing and, like, leave.
CR: With the first demos, it wasn’t planned, but we ended up centered in alternative rock. We tried all of these different sounds more recently, and it’s cool to know we can do it.
KV: Would you say the Internet has hurt or helped your band?
TD: The Internet, with illegal downloading and sharing music and things like that, hurt the artists who owe the label money for all the costs from making a record. But unsigned artists like us, we need the promotion. It’s kind of made the musical world smaller because we’re using the Internet to introduce ourselves directly to people, instead of having a label do that for us. We have 50,000 plays on PureVolume.com, which is an unheard amount of promotion without a label twenty years ago.
AM: I think it’s up to unsigned bands and artists to try and find new business models to get exposure. We can control that stuff now, so we should be innovative with the tools we have. The record sale numbers are the bottom line because the labels are trying to make money, but those numbers are the only thing that is looked at.
KV: As an unsigned band, what is your touring schedule like?
CR: We’re really focused on Central Florida. It’s a really good scene. We’re trying to build up a fan base in one place first. From a marketing standpoint, you have more power if you have fans that can spread your music and talk about you. We have plans for a new demo in the summer, so we’ll be pounding Florida.
KV: Do you see any bands that you think are doing it the right way?
TD: There are a lot of bands that are doing things differently. They’re coming out with their own ideas and getting attention. You have to set yourself apart from a band who is just putting their stuff out there and waiting for it to happen.
Skylar Martin: Mumford & Sons.
TD: Those guys are really cool.
SM: Or D.R.U.G.S.
TD: D.R.U.G.S. have those crazy videos with explicit content you can see only on the Internet. So you have to like, look for them. Or Kanye West’s film or what 30 Seconds to Mars did with “Hurricane.” MTV doesn’t even play music videos anymore, but artists are still making them. There is a power in the Internet that everyone realizes, with the means available to you and how affordable equipment and video editing software is.
KV: Are there any secrets to Madeira?
TD: We love that song, Cry Me A River.
TD: I think we’re regular guys like everyone else. We just play music, and we hang out with our friends.
AM: And we like guys named Justin. [Laughs]
KV: Do you think that getting signed inhibits your ability to be creative or take risks as a band?
AM: That’s a double-edged sword. The labels have a long reach, and they can put your name in so many places that you can’t even get to, as an unsigned artist… At the same time, you never want to stop growing or making the music you want to, because you’re scared of not making it. You have to find that balance, and if you find a label that is willing to negotiate certain points, than you’re lucky.
KV: As an artist in that situation, what are you willing to compromise?
TD: I think you have to compromise some points. If the band ever stopped looking at the creative side of the project, and only looked at the financial side… That’s when I wouldn’t want to do this anymore. When someone tells me it’s a job and not really more than a product, that’s when it’s downhill.
AM: Music is looked as a product today; it’s not respected in the same way it was twenty years ago, but it’s still your dream. So, if you’re willing to put a dollar sign on it, it’s not worth it. You’re not taking it seriously.
CR: You have to give a little, to get a little. You should always create the art that you want to make, but you should shape it into something that the audience can relate to.
KV: Tell me about the video for “Stay With Me.”
TD: We were planning it for 3 months. We planned to be on the roof of a building in Florida, and it was going to be so epic and cool. The day of the shoot, the president of this building flew in to shut us down. So we scrambled for about four hours to find a new location. We rented all of the equipment for the day, so we had to make something happen. Luckily, someone let us play in their backyard which happened to have a lake behind it. It ended up being more of a Plan B.
CR: I mean, we’re playing in a pasture and it is 10 or 11PM. We’re just about to start playing the song and one of the neighbors comes out to complain and scream. Meanwhile, some of the other neighbors came out with beers and just sat and watched. It was funny, and cool.
AM: I think it’s a great music video, but it’s our first music video. Every band has to start somewhere. I really want to make a short film out of it.
KV: What do you hope to accomplish as a band?
AM: I want to be The Beatles and Zeppelin and I want to have a Lamborghini. And I want people to buy our records. [Laughs]
KV: Where do you stand in “single vs. album” debate?
CR: I think it goes back to marketing. You don’t want to be dependent on writing one good song everyone can buy versus nine crappy ones. We want to shoot for having twenty great songs and narrow it down to ten singles for the record.
TD: A lot of that part is uncontrollable. Music lovers just want a library of good songs all of the time. There has been plenty of singles I’ve bought in anticipation of a record, then bought the record, and thought it sucked. It really depends on the artist and the music. Some people don’t respect music as much as a musician. Some people just want the song because it’s fun to listen to, and don’t have any ties to the artist.
AM: I want the whole record. I want the maturation of a band, the story. It’s not that hard to put out an album, really. If there’s a band who put out a song a month, by the end of the month, they would have a record.
KV: What inspired you to pursue music?
TD: It wasn’t a record or an artist. It was spending time in my uncle’s garage, watching him playing guitar. It looked so cool. It was a private concert every time, and after that a guitar was on the top of my Christmas list every year.
CR: It’s kinda cliché, but I grew up in Church. I always watched these old guys playing, and they were awesome, but I grew up playing in church. So I think that was my first on-stage fantasy.
SM: Mine is a collaboration of all of those stories, really. I grew up listening to my father playing records and my mother was a worship leader at Church, so my dad would play southern rock and my mom would play Christian music. Besides all of that, it was Travis Barker. [Laughs]
“We would not be here, without the people who have helped us. Madeira is not a band, it’s a family. We can’t express how lucky and grateful we are to have the support and love of so many. Thank you!”