The Boston-based metalcore band Diecast was formed in 1997 by vocalist Colin Schleifer, bassist Jeremy Wooden and drummer Jason Costa. Guitarist Nassim Rizvi was added and, in 1998, Dave McGuire came on board with his axe. This is fairly unremarkable, but the continuing history of the group is not, as Diecast is famous for not featuring a single member from this original lineup.
In 2001, Jon Kita and Kirk Kolaitis took over on guitars and in 2003, Paul Stoddard stepped in on vocals. In November 2005 Costa took off in the middle of the night during a tour due to an argument and in May 2006 it was announced that he was no longer in the band. At this point Wooden also decided to leave, so bassist Brad Horion and drummer Dennis Pavia were recruited. What makes Diecast even more intriguing, is that they recently released "Internal Revolution" (Century Media Records) and have been on the road, which is daunting even for bands that have had solid lineups for years.
I caught up with Stoddard while he was out on the road to learn why Diecast keeps going. We began by discussing how the member changes have affected the group.
"I think that the two final original members decided to call it a day and the two new guys who came in were so energetic and excited to be a part of it and they really did immediately give us this drive and this real completion of what we wanted to do," says Stoddard. "And we tried with our producer, Paul Trust, to work a lot more and putting in some input and ideas, really accepting his opinion on anything whatever it may be, not necessarily as much writing, but what direction. I think this time around it's a little more open-minded and everybody is just so gung ho and ready to go.
"The two new guys in the rhythm section, they have a good solid drive and basically that's the backbone of any band." Stoddard goes on, "When that happens, that's important and it shows in the new record without a doubt."
This prompts me to learn more about Stoddard's life.
"I first started out drumming," Stoddard tells me. "In grade school my brother got his first guitar and I was so jealous, I really really wanted a flute. It didn't work out, we couldn't afford it, so my consolation prize was a drum pad. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I ended up doing that for years. I was in fourth grade.
"We jammed," Stoddard shared about himself and his brother. "But at first all I had was the drum pad and he had a guitar with a little amp and then down the road as I got into drums, my brother and would form bands. We never really did anything major, we did a lot of local stuff. I used to do a lot of singing in theater, I did a lot of theater when I was younger. A bunch of different plays, not through high school, but through a community theater group. I got sick and tired of dealing with singers in bands."
His favorite production was "Wizard of Oz," in which he played the Cowardly Lion.
"I loved that one," Stoddard grins. "I've also done Daddy Warbucks in 'Annie' and Injun Joe in 'Tom Sawyer.' Those were the big plays, we did some small plays too that I don't even remember the names."
But why did he really drop drumming to front a band?
"A lot of singers have what they call in the industry 'LSD,' lead singer's disease and they just think they're God's given to earth in music, so I just got tired of dealing with them," replies Stoddard. "They never wanted to show up, they never wanted to put any work into it. I was like, 'I can probably do this thing' and here I am today."
I ask Stoddard about his education and work experience, as well as his hobbies.
"I came out of school and worked." Stoddard says, "I did construction for a little while. I was working at an independent lighting company in Massachusetts called Light Control. I did everything there, I would assemble lines, ship parts, sometimes fly out to jobs and put lights in or take lights out. We did stuff like Jacksonville Stadium and San Francisco Airport. We did some big jobs. It's all from the factory, they're not huge, but they're one of the largest independent lighting companies in the country.
"I love to spend time with my friends and family. I just try to see everybody, but there's only so much time. Hobbies, I work out with my friend Rob (Robert Belley) who is also my trainer. He owns a training company called Purely Physique (in Boston). He's written Men's Fitness magazine and a lot of newspapers around here too. One of the key things of having him as a free is he trains me for free," Stoddard laughs. "It works out good. Other stuff, I like catching up with the neighborhood kids and playing some tag football. I'm a little big to do any more tackle."
We move on to how Diecast creates their material.
"We definitely have a very group vibe." Stoddard explains, "Our guitarist John brings a lot of riffs in and sometimes he'll organize them in songs and he'll come in like, 'I've got these new songs.' You know 100 percent of the time they never leave the same way. We'll take a riff from this, take a riff from that. I would say he's the primary riff writer, but we really all have a hand in it. We're all there, we're all cutting, splicing and dicing just trying to make the best possible.
"I write all the lyrics, but I do bring them into the guys and make sure they're cool with them, make sure that everything's good. If they ever asked me, they wanted to write something, I'd by all means let them go for it, but nobody's really interested though," Stoddard continues. "It's a very family-oriented vibe when it comes to writing and everybody wants to get their hands in."
I'm always curious where people find inspiration for their lyrics, so of course I have to prod Stoddard's mind.
"This new record, ('Internal Revolution') I just got out of a four and a half year relationship and nothing heals music like a broken heart," Stoddard shares. "Three songs on this record are definitely dedicated toward that. But then there's different things, I usually like to do a song dedicated to the troops, not necessarily a pro-war song, more like a pro get the troops home safe kind of deal, support our brothers and sisters.
"I also had a song at the time talking basically about our battle within which is there isn't a ton of money involved in the metal music industry and just struggling with how long can you go when you're watching your friends, your family and everybody around you starting to make real livings and hop into a 9 to 5?" Stoddard goes on, "How long do you follow your dream until you finally say this isn't going to work well into retirement for me? So there's a funking internal revolution in this style of the record, that's what it's all about."
I wonder if Stoddard brings any of his drumming experience to Diecast.
"I keep bringing it up, but it hasn't happened," replies Stoddard. "I'll show them things, like 'What do you think of this idea?' but I don't really do anything live. I'd like to do some stuff. I used to do marching band in high school too, I'd play the quads, the four drums. I always thought it would be awesome to pull those out live and do a dual drum solo and lean over Dennis' drum kit and let him work off the quads. But then Slipknot came out a couple years back where they did a whole marching band thing. I don't think anyone did quads though, I'll have to check that out. But it took away the originality of it.
"I'll eventually do something, I still dabble in the drums," Stoddard goes on. "I don't have a drum kit right now, but I still dabble in it. That's one thing we're all about, any talent we can use to bring to the table to make the record better, we're willing to use it. In this case, it would be more of a live show, but it's definitely something that we're very interested in doing."
We then talk about today's music scene.
"It's different. It's great in a lot of ways and it's scary in a lot of ways," says Stoddard. "The great ways are kids are excited to play heavy music again, not even just heavy music, kids are excited to pick up guitars. It seemed like the whole musical instrument thing was abating for a while and now kids are into playing. I'm excited because kids are going to shows and they want to do music and it's something that's enriched my life so much. I'm psyched to see that people are getting into it again.
"The scary thing is there's so many bands now." Stoddard continues, "There's so many bands out there that it's ridiculous. Ridiculous not like I can't believe they do it, but it's really hard to separate yourself and I think that for any band that's going to be their goal now, to find their own skin. And it's so hard, but I do think that a lot of bands coming up today, they're really copycatting, they're not really finding that. Maybe by their second record, it's their record to really find themselves, but I'm psyched about it in a lot of ways. I'm psyched that there's a lot of good bands and I can't wait to hear what the next big thing's going to be. Who's going to be the next Tool, the next Lamb of God, the next Metallica? I think when you have millions of people working on music and doing the band thing it's bound to pop up something that's great, new and fresh and I can't wait to hear it."
And his thoughts on the Internet?
"I think the biggest thing for bands right now is the Internet, it's MySpace," Stoddard states. "It was originally created for bands and now it's turned into its own, it's almost as popular as the cell phone. There's so many people online and people can immediately go to your site and check out a song and you can really communicate with your fans. And in a sense you get to see your fan, you get to see what he's about, they almost become your friend, you start talking, it's not almost, you really do, you end up making a lot of friends on this. It can also absorb your entire life. I have friends who ask to use my laptop just so they can keep in touch while on the road.
"I think the biggest thing for a lot of bands, not only exposure to music, is letting people know about shows" Stoddard goes on, "Promotion is a tough thing. There's some places we play on tour that will be packed full of people that are into us and then we'll go to the same place with a different promoter that didn't let people know about the show and nobody shows up. You get an e-mail, 'I didn't realize you guys played, I had no idea.' It's going to make the promoters' jobs a lot easier because people are going to find you on MySpace and as long as the bands keep up blogs of when their shows are, people that want to see them are going to be there."
We talk about the cost, time and work in putting out flyers.
"I remember one time my last band before Diecast, Breeding Ground, we paid like five grand to do this local show, called 'Local Bazooka,' in Boston, which they had Disturbed on, it was a big show," Stoddard recalls. "But I went and took out a loan and bought a CD burner and bought and burnt so many CDs. I think of all the money I spent on that project. It's a dream, you do it because you love it and you dream that some day you're going to end up playing music for a living. Do what you love."
Diecast is hoping to land a spot touring with Sevendust for two to three months next and then over the summer a high profile tour such as "Ozzfest" or "Vans Warped Tour."
"The thing is when it's finally decided, we'll be excited to do it and we'll make the best of every show," Stoddard said.
Diecast has a video out for their single, "Fade Away," which can be seen on Diecast's main site, their MySpace site and You Tube, as well as on television.
"I want to thank everybody who's always been good to us and has followed us since day one and stuck by the band. We met a lot of cool people and I look forward to meeting a lot more. We're one of the approachable bands, don't look for Diecast behind the stage, we're going to come out and we're going to hang. I look forward to having a drink and chilling with everybody," Stoddard laughs.
I caught Diecast when they stopped at the Whisky-a-Go-Go in Hollywood and they rocked! I can't wait to catch them in action again. Find out when they'll be in your town at www.diescast1.net
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