Rockin’ Out with PepperDome and Chatting About What Works For Them


PepperDome interview – with John, Eric and Vattel

What is the name of your band and how many members do you have?

John: The name of the band is PepperDome and currently there are three members of the band, a drummer that does vocals, a bassist that does vocals and a guitarist that does vocals.

Where are you from?

We are based out of Mebane, NC.

In what genre would you classify yourselves?

Basically we’re a hard rock band, but we’ve got versions of progressive, punk, indie, and alternative influences that come through.

Has it evolved over time or was there a certain sound that you liked and had initially when you started?

It evolved, I guess, because Vattel has a jazz background, Eric is little bit more of a heavy metal guy. I’m a little all over the map, I listen to everything and anything, but I think that’s what makes the music what it is.

What is the collaboration process?

Eric: We kind of tried a couple of different writing styles but right now seems like the one we’re most comfortable with is we’re working on a batch of 3 songs, that is Vattelbrings in something that he’s written and we’ll basically explore that and then I’ll bring in something, we’ll explore that and John will also bring in something.  We’re definitely all involved in writing, but it usually starts with one of us having a core idea, whether it be a riff, a drum beat,  or a metal beat, and we work off that.

Do you ever find it difficult having equal collaboration and contribution?

Vattel, bass player: This situation is one of the most open ones I’ve been in.  Each of us have an idea and if we all band our heads together and make it grow. We all invest in each other’s ideas.  It’s not like I’m more protective of my idea than I would be of John’s idea, or Eric’s idea or PepperDome’s idea. It doesn’t matter who brought in the idea, we’re all more concerned about the end result of what a song is going to be and wanting it to reach its full potential.

John: Basically we have a high level of respect for each other so we understand that as we’re working, if a song or something is not working correctly that we can step up and say wait a minute, something’s wrong here, we have to do something and we will sit down and reevaluate what we’re doing.   Moreso than just saying it’s wrong and there’d be a big battle.  It’s all about the music and what we want to do and again, the end result is the most important part.

Have you toured outside of your area?

For the past year we have been playing shows and touring around probably within an hour and a half radius of where we are based.  Just a few weeks ago we did have the opportunity to head to Tennessee and play in Knoxville and Nashville, but after this album is finished we plan on broadening our horizons and moving out much further–maybe making short weekend tours and try to get out further than the radius we’ve done so far.

How do go about organizing your tours?

Eric: John did most of the legwork regarding the electronic press kits that we send the venues. We’ll e-mail them, send them a press kit.  We’ll have a song and then a lot of press on websites, Facebook, Myspace, Reverbnation. They can review from there and decide if we fit their club or venue or not.  And we’ve also had other bands ask us to play with them.  A lot of networking seems to be very important around this area so that helps a lot too.

You mentioned sending EPKs. What do you include in your press kit?

We have the typical one sheet with the history of the band, we have a couple of pictures, some song samples, a video sample, and there’s actually some interviews and a couple of reviews.

How do you develop your songs?

Vattel: We’ve tried a few different approaches.  We’ve tried starting with a riff or some sort of message idea or scheme or Lego, to put blocks together to create a structure.  Normally we go with what works and get a feel for the lyric and sort of slap that together and bang our heads together to come to some accord regarding what the lyrics are trying to express with our instruments.

What’s the best piece of advice your band has been giving since you started playing together?

We’ve been told to keep writing music, keep experiencing playing together and keep moving forward and really try to meet.  Of course practice makes perfect so the more experience you have with each other, the more you feel how each other plays, the more it makes for better conditions and a better band overall.

What inspires your music?

There’s basically two main themes that are in there–a social awareness of the world around you that could be anywhere from just experiencing life all the way up to some song with a political intent to it or a political message and there’s also other songs that are about self-exploration and how to live to be yourself and don’t worry what other people think of you and to have the strength and power to go beyond whatever restrictions are put on you by society.

If you had a megaphone that you could let everyone listen to one message, what would it be for Pepperdome?

I would say just for people to wake up, understand the world they live in and to be themselves.

Do you have any new releases coming up?

Yes, we are currently working on an album as we speak, almost literally.  We are almost done with what we’re calling the first draft of music.  We’re going to have a full length record by the first of next year, so we’re in the process of putting it together.

And that’s your debut album?

It’s actually the fourth CD in the mix.

How do the songs differ from other CDs?

Vattel: The previous three CDs were written by John himself but he played all the instruments.  This will be the first CD that Eric and I will be participating in the writing of the music so it will be more of a band record than a solo project, I guess you would say.

John: Which is bringing the music to a whole new level.  It’s allowed the music to expand to areas where it hasn’t gone before and hopefully that will grab some people’s attention.

What would you like to say to your fans?

John: Thank you. Keep coming out. We love the support.  We love to see you constantly and hope you bring all your friends.

Vattel: Like us on Facebook!

Anything else you’d like to share?

John: The only other thing we can say that hasn’t been covered already is we are actually looking for a fourth member.  We are currently looking to broaden our horizons and we are looking for a lead vocalist.

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Interview With Jay Thomas from Bluejay


What type of music does your band do?

Tallahassee has dubbed us soul pop. Sooouuuul pop, they added the soul part. It’s lovely for them to say. It’s a lot of everything. It’s been important to me that my songs can be sung aloud, and sung back to me. At this point, it’s been important to truly emote, and I think the soul comes from the emotion behind the songs, which I want people to remember. So, the pop comes from remembering the song, or the catchiness, and the soul comes from the performance.


Where is your band from?

We are originally from Miami but we work out of Tallahassee and I owe my music to Tallahassee. I will always represent Tallahassee.


What are 3 artists that you admire or aspire to be like? How is your music similar and different from those artists?

HR Giger. I love HR Giger. He is an artist of landscapes and I’m very into creating landscapes with music and sound. I would say that Ani Difranco’s urgency has inspired me to deliver my message potently. Im just trying not to say Tori Amos (chuckles). I got to say Tori Amos. The way she connects at the source and plays music from the source, is what I take from Tori Amos. It’s not staged. Tori Amos’s music live is not staged. It is purely there in that moment and I like that. I really aspire to that.


What is the best piece of advice you could give to aspiring artists?

I don’t feel qualified to give advice at this point. But I would say if I were to give advice I would say in creation make sure that it connects with something deep and real within you. If you want to write a song and sing it for years, make sure that it’s connecting with something that your life keeps experiencing. Not particularly one experience but something that you can always go to that song and feel it and it becomes a vehicle for something that you feel often or something that is deeply felt within you.


What do you think the best way to find venues are? What about recording studios?

Other bands. Other bands that sound like you. With recording studios, it’s good to work with someone you know. It’s good to know someone who’s going to commit to recording what you want to portray. If you meet someone who is the ink and you want to write something down, they will do it for you, and they will benefit and you will benefit.


What are ways you promote on and offline?

I tell this to bands that I know. When we came out with Goblins, the debut album from 2010, we posted posters all over our hometown, Tallahassee. Out of online, it’s putting posters everywhere, it’s pretty general. Online, I would say that I just try to deliver content. Content always. Not thoughts, not Demos, content. I like to finish something and then present it.


What makes music special to you?

Music is the most important thing in my life. What makes it special is that … oh, its almost impossible to say really. What makes it special to me is that it’s irreplaceable. I defend it. I defend it strongly. It’s the one thing that’s not a human that I defend like a family member and it can get me into debates.


What do you mean debates?

For example, my father is a Ron Stewart impersonator and often he suggests artificial ways of going about things. I asked him to play flute on Mercury, the new album, and he suggested the keyboard and I yelled at him. I’ve told him time and time again that I’m not going to use artificial things. If I use artificial things it better be artificially real like an electronic beat that cannot be done otherwise. I defend it. I defend music harshly. It’s special. I’m not into artificiality unless were going to go all the way with that. If we’re going to go all the way with that I’ll match it with lyrics. I’m not going to match my lyrics so far particularly with an artificial beat. It wasn’t created that way. I would like to create dance music in the future or something like that, but I’m not about to add an artificial beat to my live show.


Where do you get your inspirations for your songs?

Life, life, life. Ya know, life, that’s it. “Lucy”-Lucid dreams, “Tallahassee”- living in Tallahassee, “Boogeyman”-being cheated on, “Bruisey Brookie”-a theme song for my friend, “Fluorescent Green”- relying on a partner, “Black Cherry Blood”-not trusting that partner. Yeah, anything that pisses me off (chuckles) or makes me feel amazing. Tallahassee makes me feel amazing, it’s a beautiful place. My music would not exist without Tallahassee so I wrote Tallahassee song. When anything boils over it needs to be written down. And now I’m going into a state where I’m going to start writing about stuff that I’m not going to be able to tell people exactly what it’s about because I feel like I’ve been very explicit so far and stuff has happened recently that I think I’m going to choose to be a little poetic or a little grounded about it. What inspires me to write music is anything that I feel so harshly that I have to sing about it for years. Ya know, being cheated on at the same party that I was at will always make me want to sing the song “Boogeyman”. I was there. I was in a different room and that man was getting someone else’s number. I always want to sing that. That will be the song that represents that feeling. And I think even songs like “Bruisey Brookie” that are really specific about one person, Bruisey Brookie represents pop art, at its most specific it represents my friend Brooke, and at its most large it represents pop art.


You mentioned being more poetic and less literal. Are the subjects you choose difficult to talk about to the public?

I feel like, on Goblins, I’ve written about topics that are easier to talk about. It really takes an audience sometimes to be able to go into the deeper subjects and the songs on Goblins were written in real life. I was hanging out with my family the other day and I can play Tallahassee song in the middle of the night and it gets them going, I can play Bruisey Brookie and it gets them going, I can play Boogeyman and it gets them going. The songs on Mercury that are coming, I don’t play “Downloading You” all the time. I do play “Burnin’ Soul” a lot, that’s the song about my mother. And that’s definitely a hard subject I’m going to explore more or explain more. My mom died when I was 12 and it wasn’t just that. It was a pretty shite situation. So I’m sure I’ll be dealing with that in music a lot more. But music is a conversation. So, you don’t go to a party and go “my mom died”. So, now that they’ve been introduced to me, now that people have been listening to Goblins, I feel like I can tell them more. It’s a conversation.


It’s interesting you say it’s a conversation, how do you get feedback?

Fan feedback has only really started since Goblins and the live shows. I think feedback is something that multiple opinions come in and you just interpret them. Here’s a good one, my dad said for example, “Your catchiest song is about marijuana” (Scottish accent)(chuckles), with “Garden Girl” on Goblins, and it is one of only two songs with a repeating chorus on Goblins. So, I definitely thought I could repeat something if I really mean it. And the songs on Mercury, I mean what I’m saying and it’s important for people to hear it. So, I think the feedback from Mercury will be more politically exciting than Goblins. Goblins is more personally exciting but I’m starting to write about stuff that I think people will feel in their political/personal lives.


In your time as an artist, what is one thing that you’ve learned that could help other artists out there?

When I was learning poetry at FSU, they didn’t necessarily judge if a poem was good or bad. In order to be a poem, it had to be true. I would say if you take the time to write a song that is true it will always be true to you and others will understand that truth.


If there was one thing that you could tell your fans, what would it be?

Support my bloddy kickstarter when it comes out because I don’t want to play shite bars forever. Mercury. It drops this year 2012.


So you’re using kickstarter to fund the album?

I don’t know if were using Kickstarter yet, or another fund raising site. We’re doing something where we can raise some money and release it. We got the music done, but there’s always that last push. There’s a few out there, there’s Indiegogo, there’s Kickstarter, there’s other ones I’ve seen.


Tell us about your upcoming album, when is it coming out?

Ya know, when you’re indie, it never comes out (chuckles). Mercury will be out some time this year. We are dealing with mixing and videos. Stuff so that people can understand the statement I am trying to make. And I’m not just about releasing 10 songs that I’ve written. I’m about making a statement and creating an aesthetic that is gorgeous and beautiful. I love that so much in other artists that I aspire to create an aesthetic with Mercury. I think that I’ve created an aesthetic and a feel and I want to make sure that’s delivered correctly. And it’s coming out this year but it’s hard to determine the month because everyone’s got day jobs (chuckles).


Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Love everyone that’s listening. I love all of you. Thanks for listening.


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