When I first heard I was getting the opportunity to interview Reliant K I had no idea who they were. So I started researching all I could about them to prepare for the interview. The first thing I discovered is that the band Reliant K was formed in Canton Ohio. Canton is about 3 hours away from where I live in Ohio. So of course that sparked my interest even more to learn that their success story started right in my home state.
Reliant K is considered to be among the Alternative, Christian rock and punk rock genres. The band has received numerous awards including a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best Gospel Modern Rock Album and two Dove Awards. Reliant K broke into mainstream music in 2004 when they signed with Capitol and they released their fourth record, Mmhmm, which has produced three top five hits on Christian radio and two top 20 hits on mainstream radio. Their fifth full length record, Five Score and Seven Years Ago, was debuted number six on the U.S. Billboard 200. It sold approximately 64,000 copies in just its first week. Five Score and Seven Years Ago” debuted at number 2 on the iTunes best selling albums chart.
I have listened to the album at myspace and I like “Pleading the Fifth” and “Must Have Done Something Right” the most. I am a huge “Beach Boys” fan as is Reliant K and I can hear the “Beach Boys” tone in these songs. Check out Reliant K you may just be surprised and enjoy what you hear. In Reliant K are Matthew Thiessen, Matthew Hoopes, John Warne, Jonathan Schneck and David Douglas. I spoke with Matthew Thiessen via phone.
Where did you come up with the name “Five Score and Seven Years Ago?”
MT – Well it’s our fifth album and it’s the first time we are five guys. The last album we were only four. So there was all this stuff concerning five coming up and I wanted to do something with the number five. I didn’t want to just call it five. So I was just kind of thinking about stuff and “Five Score and Seven Years Ago” came up and I just went with it.
How is the album doing?
MT – It’s doing alright.
Did you write the songs on the album?
MT – Yes
What inspires you in the songs that you write?
MT – I just kind of keep my schedule clear and sit around and think a lot. Especially with this record, I was under a little bit under pressure because of time constraints. It is almost becomes like homework you just sit and you just write. It’s fun though.
What can those that haven’t heard the album yet expect, is it different from your previous albums?
MT – Yea it is a little bit different. If you have heard a few of our previous albums it is like a continuation of the direction we have been heading. But it is more of a rock record than a like a pop punk rock record. There’s not a whole lot of that stuff going on. I think it is a pretty diverse record as well. Not every song sounds the same so that is good.
Some tracks on your album were produced by Howard Benson right?
MT – Yes
How was it to work with him?
MT – It was great He is the kind of person that is very straight forward. If he doesn’t like something he is going to tell you. He is not going to beat around the bush about it. I went into working with him a workable attitude, an unattached attitude which is hard to do when you have worked for hours and hours on a song. It is hard to kind of detach yourself from that and let someone say “Oh you know what there is few minute part on this song that just doesn’t stick you have to get rid of it.” So that is kind of what happened a little bit but not too much. He didn’t just rip the songs apart. It was really fun working with him.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
MT – Yes. I would say that would be the “Deathbed” song. It is a little bit different for us. It was probably the most fun I have ever had writing and recording a song.
Do you still feel the excitement that you did when you released your first album?
MT – Well I feel different types of excitement. Things obviously change, the novelty is gone. It is not the first album any more. It is not a brand new experience anymore. There is no more mystery anymore. I kind of know how things work now. It is different but I think the beauty of this thing is that none of us take it ridiculously too seriously. We are all just having a good time with it. It is basically just hanging out with our friends and playing music. That is our job. But yea excitement definitely describes it.
I have read your favorite Band is the Beach Boys. Do you think you may ever get to perform with them?
MT – I would want to perform with them if Brian Wilson was still there. But the Beach Boys aren’t actually the Beach Boys anymore. There is only like one original guy left there. But Brian Wilson is my favorite of the Beach Boys if I could perform with Brian that would be a completely different story.
When you first put the band together in 1998 did you think that almost 10 years later you would still be here with five full length albums released?
MT – Absolutely not. We thought we would put out one record and tour a little bit and then it would be over. Anything that has happened beyond the very minimum is a surprise and a blessing. Every year for the last 6 years I’ve looked back and thought I can’t believe this happening. This is awesome.
What do you think it is that keeps you out there and still recording albums?
MT – We have really great fans. We have a core base that is not fickle they have not become sick of our music. We are trying to put out music as frequently as we can and maintain that momentum.
What has been the most exciting thing to happen to Reliant K in the music business?
MT – For me was to meet Brian Wilson. For me personally that was the coolest thing because I am such a huge fan. He is probably the only person in the world that I care about meeting.
Do you have any advice for musicians looking to start in the music business?
MT – There are steps that are pretty simple. Make sure when you are starting out you are having fun with doing what you do. Don’t get too wrapped up in the business side of the whole thing before you have to. That tends to take a lot out of it. A lot of bands think we have to get signed, we have to put out an album, and we have to get out on a tour. The answer is No you don’t. You can just play shows and have fun and let things pan out how they do. Also make sure you are not repeating things that bands have done a thousands times before. Try and come up with something original.
What do you want fans to know about Reliant K?
MT – Just that we have the website and myspace and we put up a lot of information there.