April 13, 2015 Interview – Matt Brandyberry of From Ashes to New
Persistence is the key element for anyone looking to make their dreams become a reality. Out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the band From Ashes to New were born from a group of six musicians coming together after being a part of a variety of other projects. Having gained experience on their respective local scene, From Ashes to New’s goal was to put aside any formula and do what they found the most creative, thus marrying Hip Hop, Metal, and Electronic elements. Now signed to Better Noise Records, a subsidiary of Eleven-Seven Music, the band is making waves on a more grand scale after completing a run across North American with Hollywood Undead and the ample success of their Downfall EP. Recently, we caught up with vocals/songwriter Matt Brandyberry for a closer look at the concept behind the band’s message, their plans for the future, writing lyrics from the heart, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – From Ashes to New is a relatively new band began back in 2013. The band provides a distinctive mix of Hard Rock, Rap, and Electronic elements. What first brought the band together and create this sound?
Matt Brandyberry – We were all in previous bands in the past and played our respective local scene. We never really went any further than that, besides some small touring. I just have this “I cannot quit” mentally and, when my band of ten years broke up, I decided that I was just going to go my own route and do exactly what I wanted to do. I decided to do that instead of trying to join bands. I decided I learned a lot over the years of doing this and I am going to put all toward one last project. I got Chris to come in to sing and it grew from there.
CrypticRock.com – Right, as you stated, you had that experience. It was time for you to go on your own, give it your all, and see where it goes.
Matt Brandyberry – Yes, exactly. I took money out of my 401k (laughs). It was one last go at this. It was not anything anyone had ever done before. I rapped when I was younger, then I started playing guitar, then I started getting into Electronic elements as I started to listen to newer Metalcore music. I just learned over time and applied it. Of course there were a lot of mistakes made along the way, but necessary mistakes to be where we are now.
CrypticRock.com – It seems to have paid off, the band is doing very well right now. The Rap Metal genre rose to popularity some fifteen years ago, but recently has seen a resurgence in a new form with bands like Hollywood Undead and yourselves. When you look back on what is now called Nu-Metal, do you feel like the era does not get the respect it deserves?
Matt Brandyberry – I feel like labeling genres is a little out of whack. I do not necessarily agree with it. Nu-Metal to me is almost like any other genre; there are three or four bands that sit at the top of the genre, then there are all the other bands that are underneath, then history just repeats itself. I do not know if it does not get the respect it deserves, I just think it gets labeled wrong. That is the way I look at it.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, labels can tend to be absurd. Unfortunately, as human beings, we need to put something in a category to understand. Therefore, a lot of people need to put something in a category to understand it.
Matt Brandyberry – Exactly, that is the way it is. It is so hard for me to classify our music, because we have so many different elements in our songs. It is hard to say if the songs are Nu-Metal, Metalcore, or Rap Rock, they are just a conglomeration of everything. I feel like that is what other bands that are big; such as Linkin Park, Hollywood Undead, and Limp Bizkit, what they did so successfully was they did not put the staple on themselves as one certain thing, they just did everything they thought was cool. They did everything they wanted to, and put it in a song. Instead of trying to write or be like another band, they wrote what they wanted to write.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is honestly where the best music is made. What is quite different about From Ashes to New is the clear interjection of the aforementioned Electronic elements complemented by the emotional clean vocals. Was that something you wanted to highlight going into the writing and production of the Downfall EP?
Matt Brandyberry – I have always wanted to highlight electronics ever since I started to get into them. I always wanted them to be forefront in the music we create. As far as the emotional lyrics behind the vocals, honestly, it is whatever we feel, it is a lot of pent up depression and rage from over the years. Especially for me, because this is the first time I have ever been a vocalist. This is the first time I have ever been able to write lyrics. I think I am doing ok at it (laughs). This is definitely a first for me, so there are a lot of different things that I was not able to express when I was in other bands. I was not given the ability to do that, now I am, and now it is all coming out.
CrypticRock.com – That is great, and it is working well. Now, the band just completed a tour with Hollywood Undead. How did the tour and audience receive the band?
Matt Brandyberry – It was sick, we could not have asked for a more cool or perfect tour. We are in the same area of music as Hollywood Undead, the guys are great, they treat us well, and everything was fantastic. As far as the crowd reaction, every night, all we heard was, “It is like watching two headliners,” or, “You are now my new favorite band.” The reaction is fantastic. It is definitely surreal so to say, to be out here doing this on our very first tour. We are getting spoiled (laughs). I am sure the next few tours may not be as great as this one, but we were definitely spoiled right off the bat.
CrypticRock.com – It is a fantastic start for sure. Hollywood Undead has an extremely strong fan base. The New York City show was sold out, that is a great opportunity for From Ashes to New to have in front of them.
Matt Brandyberry – Right, it is great. The crowd energy was fantastic at every show. The more energy they have, the more they are tearing it up, thus, the more energy we have, the more we are tearing it up. That was the great thing about that tour, the energy on both sides of the stage.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, a band absolutely feeds off the crowd. That is what makes a live performance a live performance. If the audience is lackluster in their response to the music, one can imagine the band will have a similar response. As mentioned, the band’s 4-track EP Downfall is out now. What can fans expect from the full-length album set for release later this year?
Matt Brandyberry – The cool thing is people are getting to hear the Downfall EP now, and it is a piece of the new record coming out. For me, as a writer, my favorite songs have not even been released yet. They are going to hear things that are off our self-titled EP, and they are going to hear stuff that we have evolved from the style of what people are hearing on the Downfall EP. It is a big mixture of what we have already done and what we are evolving to. They are going to hear Rap, new melodies, and some crazy heavy stuff. We pretty much covered all bases, everyone had an idea, we covered all those bases.
CrypticRock.com – When you hear the songwriter tell you their favorite tracks have not even been released yet, that is something absolutely to look forward to.
Matt Brandyberry – Yes, I am stoked. I cannot wait to get this record out there. There are about three or four songs on this record that were not released. I write music that means a lot to me, so I am a huge fan of my music as well. I think in the music industry, if you are not a fan of your music, you are probably not doing the right thing. Some of the songs that really hit home for me, are on this record that comes out.
CrypticRock.com – Again, that passion is something fans will love. Being a relatively young band, what are some of the more important things you have learned in your time on the road and to take with you moving forward?
Matt Brandberry – One of the most important things I learned about being on the road is make sure you have a Planet Fitness membership. You can take showers there, you can do everything there. That is probably the most important thing I have learned on the road (laughs). The other thing, you have to try and keep schedules. It can be tough, you are traveling through the night and you may not have a driver. We are fortunate to have a nice rig, and we are not touring in a van anymore. We did that last year, and with eight guys, that was kind of a nightmare. We are fortunate in that sense, but we are still driving, and we are still doing everything ourselves. Therefore, you have to keep a schedule, you have to keep a schedule for driving, eating, sleeping, everything has to come together perfectly, otherwise, it is a nightmare. You have to keep the partying on the DL until you actually make it.
CrypticRock.com – Organization is essential when you are on the road. It seems you have the right mindset; a lot of young bands will go really hard at it partying, and in those cases, many times, it will be over very quickly.
Matt Brandberry – It can, it is really easy to get caught up in that quickly. I am not going to say none of us got caught up in that, because it is incredibly easy to get caught up in that lifestyle. I am not saying we do not get down, we do, we just are trying to keep focused on exactly what we are doing. As long as we focus on where we want to be, then down the road we will have a chance to party more.
CrypticRock.com – That sounds like a good plan for the success of the band. It seems everyone in the band has a broad range of music. What are some of your musical influences?
Matt Brandyberry – Growing up, all I was allow to listen to was Christian music until I was an early teenager. It did not matter what it was in the Christian genre, it was just all in that genre. I grew up listening to dc Talk, then I got into Bone Thugs-n-Harmony when I was around thirteen. I did not listen to Rock music at all, I never really liked it. Then my buddy brought over Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory (2000) album one day, and I said dude do not put that on, then “Papercut” came on and I thought, “Wow, you can mix this stuff together?” From that point on, I actually stopped listening to Rap all together. Then I started buying albums like Sevendust’s Animosity (2001). It progressed from there with more Metal. Then the Metalcore stuff started to come out and I started getting into bands like Of Mice & Men, Bring Me the Horizon, and Asking Alexandria. I go to bed listen to Jazz though, so I really do not have a particular influence. I am influenced by what sounds good and lyrics that mean something.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds as if you have an extremely open musical taste. Seeing you came from that Hip Hop background, do you feel that is what makes you place strong emphasis on lyrics?
Matt Brandberry – Yes, it gave me an idea of how to understand lyrics. A lot of Rock music is lyrics that is meant to be based over a melody more than over a lyric. That is why you listen to a Rap song, the beat can be the same thing the whole way through, but you listen to the lyrics. I think it gave me the ability to enunciate better too in particular areas you need to. It gave me the ability to put punctuation. It was actually like a grammar exercise listening to Rap all those years and writing it. My lyrics are based on life experiences that mean something.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear that all your lyrics come from the heart.
Matt Brandberry – That is where it has to come from, that is all I believe in. I believe in music, do not get me wrong, but I believe there is a purpose for it. I feel that sometimes we lose our way when it comes to purpose. I want to bring back emotion to the music industry. I feel there is emotion there, but it may not be applied in the right direction. I want to give people hope and let them know they are not alone in the mess that we are in. We all know this world is a mess and I want to let everyone know they are not alone. Everyone has been there, or we are all going to be there, and we all just need to stay together to be strong.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great message to put forth. No matter where you are from or what you believe in, that is a universal positive idea.
Matt Brandberry – Yes, we are all human. Let us stop worrying about all the other nonsense, and let us just be human. We all have our preference, just because someone’s preference is not mine, does not mean we need to tear each other down about it.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed 100%. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Matt Brandberry – I will be 100% honest, I do not get into Horror movies too much. I am in the area of hope, I do not like watching people get slaughtered, it is not my thing. I do have a favorite though, because of course I have watched them. My favorite is Scream (1996). The original is my favorite.
CrypticRock.com – That is definitely one that stands out. It is understandable that gory Horror is not for everyone. Horror does not necessarily always have to be blood and guts. There are some great psychological films that are equally as terrifying.
Matt Brandberry – Yes, if you get into Paranormal type stuff, I love that stuff; it is probably one of my favorite genre of films. Movies like The Conjuring (2013) are some of my favorite types of films. I just do not like films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) honestly. I love stuff like The Exorcist (1973). I just watch Ouja (2014). I have not seen Annabelle (2014) yet, but I really want to. I also liked The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005). I like anything with Paranormal and Demon themes.