Interview with the Stereos by Sarah, mindyourmind volunteer
Pat Kordyback - Vocals
Miles Holmwood - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Daniel Johnson - Bass Guitar
Robb Chalifoux - Rhythm guitar
Aaron Verdonk - Drums
Thursday, November 12, 2009, between sound checks for Stereos’ performance at the London Music Hall...
All summer long, I listened to Stereos’ hit songs, “Summer Girl”, and “Throw Ya Hands Up”. So I was stoked about meeting vocalist Pat Kordyback and rhythm guitarist Robb Chalifoux. Going backstage to do the interview I didn’t know what to expect, but I was definitely excited for the experience. As soon as I walked back stage, I saw some of the bands on tour with Stereos, just hanging out and eating some veggies, chips and salsa. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and all the band members I met were very friendly and down to earth. The two Stereos members Pat and Robb, just coming back from a sound check, were ready for their interview. They were very nice, talkative, and humorous. I could tell they were very close friends shortly after meeting them. They gave lots of insight into what being in a band is like by sharing their experiences. The interview was very low key, relaxed and lots of fun.
Sarah: You guys have claimed the biggest 2009 Canadian debut and have climbed to #3 on the Neilson Soundscan Album Chart, as well as having two amazingly successful singles. Do you think your band’s personality or sound originality are some of the biggest contributing factors to your success?
Pat: Yes, I think that we have a lot of influences and stuff like that, I do think we do something original that is not really out there, in the same way, and we put it together in definitely a unique way and I think that’s what makes it appealing, but we also had a lot of help, from a TV show and everything like that, we are realistic, and that was a huge help.
Sarah: You dub your band as a “Crunk rock” genre – music ranging from rock, dance and R&B. Are there any musicians that influenced you to choose/come up with this type of music?
Robb: Most definitely, I grew up listening to punk music and I also loved pop music, I love Euro music, I’m kind of like all over the map, so it’s like it only makes sense, it shows itself in our sound and I mean everyone is exactly the same, we all grew up listening to these punk bands, we all love this like top forty music too, this pop music, so it’s kind of just exactly like who we are. There’s no fakeness.
Sarah: So you have started your nationwide tour, what have been the biggest challenges on tour so far?
Pat: To be completely honest, we haven’t really run into many issues because the first few shows of the tour have been around where we live, so we just go home everyday, so it’s been pretty low key. I assume the biggest issue will be finding a place to play football, and watching football because it will be right towards and in the good part of the season and we won’t be able to watch it as much, so that’s going to be really a big issue for me.
Robb: It’s the thing I’m most scared about.
Pat: We play a lot!
Sarah: I noticed you were playing around with a football in one of your online video blogs, do you guys find time to do fun stuff like that on tour?
Robb: No matter what we are doing we find a way to have fun. Like just now on sound check we definitely got yelled at for having too much fun on stage and not getting down to business. Business comes second I guess, and the fun is first, wouldn’t you agree Pat? Pat: Fun is first forever. Family too. But yeah, we were playing football in the parking lot earlier too. I don’t know, it is hard sometimes, you’re busy, but we always try to have a good time or else there’s no point.
Sarah: You have changed the name of your band a couple times in the beginning, but what made you stick with the awesome name the Stereos?
Pat: We basically stuck with Stereos because it was one that people didn’t hate, unlike any other name we’ve had. And it was one we were told we wouldn’t have to change, unlike any name we ever had. That made it the most appealing for me. We had a name called Stand By Me, which I liked that name.
Robb: I’m still attached to that. Stereos is ok but Stand By Me is cooler, and there is a lot of old school fans that think so too.
Sarah: Is that your first band name?
Pat: Yeah, well technically that’s the first name, first one we will go with. There is a name that never saw the light of day. And then we were Turn It Up, and that was a stupid name, it was just bad, bad, bad! And so we made it a song instead. It’s in a lot of cool songs. Stereos, it’s in every Rancid song pretty much. Ice cubes crew, is the stereo crew, and we combine a lot of hip hop and punk rock too. It just made sense...
Sarah: Do you have any embarrassing moments on stage that you would be willing to share?
Robb: One of my first big shows ever, was the opening for Katy Perry at the Molson Amphitheatre with 8,000 people there. And I bounce around on stage. I jump around and have the time of my life basically. And I was trying a new move out where I was... if you look at it Rob Chalifoux takes a tumble on YouTube. I’m hopping on my back foot, throwing my guitar at the same time, I just fell over so hard, and I was on the giant screen when it happened... and I fell over in front of everyone! It’s a YouTube sensation right now, it’s beating the dentist kid. Pat: It was the best moment of my life.
Sarah: Being on tour I imagine can be stressful. How do you cope with stress on tour?
Pat: iPods, yeah. I understand why people would have a lot of stress on tour, but we are so lucky that we all live together and we have lived together for the past three years in the same house. We are one of the only bands I know which goes on tour and lives in the same van or bus for months at a time and then comes home and is sitting in the same house with each other the same night. We get along so well, we’re like family now. We don’t have a lot of issues. I guess the most stress is finding food...but like really, we could suck it up. We could be back at our day jobs and this is better than that.
Sarah: I heard you have a Dog Named Elvis back in Edmonton, is this the band’s dog? And what’s the history behind his name?
Pat: Rob, Dan and I bought Elvis. He’s about three and a half years old. Wow...they grow up so quickly. He’s a little miniature...the cutest thing in the world. We are huge actually like 50’s and 60’s music fans...it’s weird. I don’t know, Elvis is the King right? I wanted to give the little guy a great name. I think we accomplished that.
Sarah: What would you say is one of the hardest challenges of being a musician? Any advice for aspiring musicians out there?
Pat: I think the hardest challenge would be those grass roots stages where you are trying so hard to just get people to listen to your music, putting on your own shows and trying to get people out to them, without any success. Once you get to the stage where you just want to work and you’re hungry and keep going, then the biggest struggle and the only piece of advice I’d give is to keep going even when you feel like you shouldn’t. When your parents tell you you shouldn’t, and your sister is like: “What are you doing? You should go back to school”. Cause I’ve been there and just kept going... I knew that we had something different that was worth listening too. So I would say, just stick with it...and it’s RADICAL.
Sarah: You will be returning to your home-province to perform LIVE at The 97th Grey Cup on Sunday, November 29th in Calgary, Alberta. How do you feel about that?
Pat: It’s alright. Cause Calgary is the worst place in the world, cause we are from Edmonton. (Lol) I’m kidding I like Calgary. That’s honestly like a huge thing. Like you said we are so obsessed with football and our two favourite things in the world are football and music. Being able to take this band which is our life, and combine it with the Grey cup it’s insane. Honestly, I was surprised. Again, it’s like combining our two favourite things in the world. I think I like football more than music to be honest. Robb: It changes day to day, what I like more. Today, because Thursday night football started, I’m leaning more towards football, but this show looks really cool too. It’s just the best, like we really have nothing to complain about and we are very happy.
Sarah: What is your best piece of advice for someone who is stuck and having a hard time?
Pat: Yeah, that’s a good question, any time I was ever having a hard time as a teenager, I would...it is funny how it all ties back to this... but I would either go play football or listen to music. I know that everyone has a different situation, but you have to find the things that make you happy and focus on that.
Pat: Get pets.
Robb: I’ve had every pet under the sun, and I love them. Chinchilla, badger, adopted an elephant, cat.
Robb: he stole a cat actually. A lizard...but anyway, to be serious you have to just focus on what makes you happy, because if you focus on what gets you down, then you’re going to be sad all the time right, it’s kind of self-explanatory. You have to think positive...keep it real, and stay fresh.
Sarah: People say that you learn through experience, would you say that your music has changed you personally in any way?
Pat: Yeah, being part of a band absolutely. What do you think bro?
Robb: I feel like I’m the exact same kid I was when I was getting beat up for my lunch money in school. I don’t know, I mean growing up with the same people, my job – having to hang out with my friends. I like them a lot more than I used to.
Pat: The only way it’s changed me is that like it takes a certain type of personality to do this, because you hear no so many times, there’s so many people who hate your band even though you are doing well. It takes a very... well I’ve had to build a tough skin and just focus on what makes this band happy and what makes me happy. And to make music for ourselves, and not for anyone else, because you know you’re never going to make everybody happy. I’ve definitely been able to be stronger and not care about what other people think, which I think is really important. Cause if you care about what other people think you are just going to be miserable, especially if you’re in this band...(laughing) Yeah...no, so like I’m a lot happier in this band, and a lot more resilient too, you know...metalhead666 on YouTube who hates our band.
Sarah: it sounds like your band is a bit of a support network for you guys. Cause you guys said you are like a family, so that must help.
Pat: Yeah, definitely.
Final words of Pat and Robb: Go Bengals! Go Oilers!!