The Used opener Dragged Under on having music that fans respond to
After a sharp conclusion to Rest, Repose, the remaining members carried forward together, resulting in a much heavier sound with their new band Dragged Under. The band bring together gargantuan riffs with catchy choruses that will hook themselves in your brain right from the first note.
Their sound straddles the lines of punk rock and modern metalcore with songs such as “Hypochondria” or “Chelsea” sounding equal parts Sum 41 and Rise Against as they do Beartooth or the Word Alive. Through infectious choruses and standout riffs and breakdowns, they capture a sound that’s modern while paying homage to the bands they pull influence from.
Dragged Under just dropped their debut record, The World Is In Your Way, Jan. 17, but looking to the near future, they’re set to open a month-long tour with the Used kicking off Jan. 21. Vocalist Tony Cappocchi discusses the new album, moving past Rest, Repose and their next step as they continue climbing the ranks of the heavy music world early in their career.
You started after Rest, Repose dissolved. Why did you want to make a new project instead of continuing under the same name?
TONY CAPPOCCHI: Essentially when we started writing new stuff, it was so different from the old stuff, so we wanted to do our due diligence and gave it the proper treatment. It just didn’t feel fair to give our fans this project that was such a departure from what we were doing before.
On top of that, I think for myself it was not wanting to be the third singer of a band that I didn’t see going much of anywhere. I wanted to start fresh, especially as a vocalist because it’s hard to be the third or fourth singer. It loses its luster after some time.
What do you feel sets Dragged Under apart from Rest, Repose?
Everything. They’re so not the same in the best way. Musically, it’s a lot more up our alley and more youthful and more fun to play. The lyrics come from a lot more of a genuine place. They’re a lot less vague and honest and upfront. I try to think that they would speak to a lot of people’s emotions and how a lot of people feel, so it’s a lot more relatable.
Also, from a member perspective, everyone’s bought in. I suppose before we had some people that were one foot in and the other on a banana peel, so to speak. They never felt committed to the project, whereas with this one, it’s five guys that are fully committed to the project.
What lessons did you learn from being in Rest, Repose that you’ll carry over into this new project?
One is that you can’t make people want it if they don’t want it. You can’t make them want it for themselves. They have to want to do a band. They have to want to tour and make no money and leave their family for six months out of the year and just be gone. Unfortunately, that’s just the life you have to live.
The second lesson was just writing good songs. There’s zero replacement for writing music that people like and relate to. With Rest, Repose, we tried to take the approach of writing those songs for the radio, so to speak. [We were] trying to write stuff that we [could] sell, and it was a ridiculous approach because I think we thought that the YouTube presence of some of our members would make the band its own. We quickly realized that it didn’t really matter who was in the band because the sum wasn’t greater than its parts.
You have racked up a lot of streams on your songs so far. How did you feel watching the singles’ stream counts come in?
I think the only way to feel about it is grateful. It was a bit overwhelming. For so long, we had been used to a so-so response to all of our songs. It was a feeling of, “Wow, this is really going to be a thing and something we can make people care about.” It was just gratitude and feeling so excited that people cared about the music and that it was reaching people. It’s also a bit of validation. It makes things a lot easier when you release a song and people actually respond to it.
So the new album’s title is The World Is In Your Way. Where did you come up with that?
The World Is In Your Way is actually an homage to one of my favorite bands, Cave In. [With] me and Ryan [Bruce, guitar], that was one of the first things we bonded over. They always felt like an obscure band. I know they’re obviously big, but they were never huge. It was like walking down the street and seeing someone in an Integrity shirt because you’re like, “There’s a prequalification of this person knows cool music.”
It’s just something that feels so important to me because there’s so much noise in the world between social media, people’s opinions, Facebook and the news. There’s so much stuff you can latch onto or [stuff that can] bring you down, but it’s just in the way. It’s just noise. Most of your problems are just shit that you can walk over or go right through. You don’t have to choose to be bogged down by these little things in your life that are just annoyances. They don’t have to be the end of the world if you walk right over them.
You’re going the independent route instead of attaching yourselves to a record label. What made you want to do that?
It’s not necessarily by choice. We’ve had a couple of offers, but we just didn’t like them. We weren’t willing to budge on what we wanted, which was a fair deal. The numbers are justifying us staying as an independent band as long as we want to.
We thought, “What does it really mean to sign to a label?” It’s just a clout thing unless the label is really going to push you, like Warner Records. If they don’t have all of the ability in the world to make you the next big thing, then what’s the point? Like, we’re going to give the record away and give the masters away so that somebody else can profit off the work we did, and in exchange, they’re going to maybe pay us back some of the costs it took to make the record? For us, it makes more sense [to be independent].
I don’t want their money. We can self-fund this as long as we want. Luckily, some of us do pretty well and can take care of ourselves. What we’re really looking for is the stuff we can’t get for ourselves, like touring offers, good booking appearances [and] stuff like that. We didn’t want enough budget to get a bus. We aren’t interested in six-figure deals from some company just to say we did. What we really want is a record label that feels like a family. We understand how bands make money these days is touring, and that’s what we want to do. What breathes life back into us is being back on the road and playing to people who care. There’s no substitute to growing your fanbase than being on the road and showing people that you’re the real deal.
You’re set to open this tour with the Used as well as taking on some headlining shows. How does it feel to land a big opportunity like this?
It’s crazy. The jury is still out on what our headlining shows will look like. Hopefully it’s great, but we’ve only headlined a few times, so we aren’t even sure [what] that fully looks like. Some of them have been insane shows, and some of them have been not so great. I think it’s the same with any band. When we were doing Rest, Repose, there would be some shows with three or four hundred kids, and then we go to some markets and 30 people showed up.
The Used thing is insane, though. I remember literally listening to that band since I was in elementary school. It was just insane getting an offer like this. It’s almost enough to bring you to tears a little bit. Especially to be the only other band. They’re the Used, and they could pick any band. Anyone they wanted and 90% of the bands would say yes, but they picked us. It’s cliche, but I don’t have words for it and don’t know how to quantify how much it means to us and me, especially to tour with the Used. They’ve been one of the bands that has inspired me more than anything. It all comes back to being grateful and feeling a little bit of validation where it’s like, “Cool, all of the money and time we’ve spent on this is becoming worth it.”
Dragged Under’s debut The World Is In Your Way, is available now here. The band will join the Used for the first night of their intimate club tour beginning tonight in Solana Beach, California. Tickets and dates are available here.