Senior Discount Band Interview

If you listen to only one band from Rhode Island, let Senior Discount be that band! Seriously, these guys made such an impression with us through their music and their hilarious (often ridiculous and even more often disturbing) DVD, we just had to ask them for an interview!
What is the music scene in Rhode Island like?
The music scene is RI is really varied. We (me and the band) were in high school when Monty's Fan Club (now Monty Are I) and Bad Larry were first starting out, and we loved them. They were two awesome ska bands and that was the local music we focused on. But we also liked M80, which was a punk band that was around at the time, as well as Slik Willy (now Arcadia Landing), which was more of like the newer stuff that could be considered pop-rock as much as it could be considered pop-punk. We also had Zox, which is like a jammy band, as well as tons of others. So we always had this really varied scene here. It's not like you have a big punk scene, or a big ska scene or anything like that, there's just a lot of different bands. We have specific friends in the scene now - Monty Are I, Someday Providence, Lemon Lime Tennis Shoes, Arcadia Landing, Mustache Ride, Penrose (and others who will be upset that I didn't name them) - and none of them really play music like ours, or like each others' (for the most part). We play shows that have all different types of acts all the time. It's more about enjoying the music in general, rather then going to a show and seeing two crappy punk bands, then two okay punk bands, then one good punk band. I'd rather see five good ANYTHING bands. Every time we organize a big home show we definitely reach into all the different types of music from the scene and just try to expose kids to more different types of music.

As far as the fans, RI seems to have a pretty good layout of venues for bands to come through, so that helps. But since we got into local music when we were 15 or 16, the same amount of kids just do not come to shows. We promote really really hard and have a big reputation for doing so, so we always get a large amount at our shows, but you can tell in general throughout the local scene, less kids are going to shows then they used. It might even be BECAUSE there are such varied shows. We had a recent fan tell us he's not going to our local home show coming up because he doesn't like the type of music of the other bands on it. He told us he would come if we played with Catch 22 and the Brunt Of It. But the thing is, we played shows with both those bands in the past two months! We want to play shows with EVERYONE regardless if they're not the same type of music. It's hard because, the age of people who go to shows is pretty young, and that's also the age when people aren't really open to all types of music. A 16 year old punk rock kid is not going to be interested in a band that's been compared to Maroon 5, even if he's never heard them. And in my opinion, that's a shame.
Promotion-wise, we do a ton of street promo, we do a ton of personal promo (talking to kids directly), and we also do a lot of video promotion, which appeals to people who aren't even necessarily music fans, and that gets a lot of different people into us, and interested in going to see us, but you can't expect every band to be able to do all those things, so it's hard to just get kids to come out to a show, unless you're a national act.
Have you ever played in PA? If so, what are your thoughts?
We played at the Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh last summer. Our experience was not noteworthy and we would never judge PA in general on it. This is because we had this booker, who totally screwed us on this tour we were going on and sort of booked us anywhere (if at all, during our proposed 23-day tour), regardless of money, location, other acts, etc.
We got to the Smiling Moose, and the bartender (who was an incredibly nice guy) didn't even know we were playing. I guess there wasn't much communication between the bartender and the promoter there. No one even knew about the show, so no one was there.
Not that there would be people there, as no one knows about Senior Discount in PA yet, and we were booked as the ONLY band on the bill. We played our music, sang into one microphone (for three guys) and some of us slept in a room above the bar that had buckets of vomit in it. I guess they were already provided for us so we didn't even have to throw up. That was convenient.
Other than that isolated experience, we have yet to really get to play there.
Tell us about your recently released DVD? How do you come up with ideas for the skits/dares?
Basically, a few years ago we got this opportunity to be on this huge show in Providence when we were first starting out, and we didn't know how to promote, because no one knew who we were. So me and my friend, Alan Sousa, wrote a five minute promo video advertising the show, and just promoted it online. The video got a huge response, we sold tons of tickets, and we just kept doing the videos.
It got to the point where people kept telling us to release a DVD. We would always do two types of videos:
1. Real, documentary stuff with pranks or crazy things (putting 300 pumpkins in our guitarist's room for Halloween, the Ipecac skit)
2. Scripted comedy, like a very physical sitcom
We decided to release a documentary of the band that was based in that first type of comedy, where it explained the band and who we are, and was also highly entertaining. We just felt that type of humor went well with our energetic music. So we got our best stuff together (almost completely unreleased) and created this movie. We sold out the premiere, 350 people, in Providence, and it got this huge response and now a lot of people are checking it out and loving it. It's called "VBW Attack: The Senior Discount Movie" and it really just introduces people to us. We do a thing every year called the VBW Olympics and it has a Scavenger Hunt where, instead of having to find things, you have to do things and film them. Get a bar dart in the spine, get hit by a car, things like that. That's all in there. There's just a lot of crazy stuff- I get arrested for a public enema, there's a skit with Ipecac that is the best vomit-based segment I have ever seen, the aforementioned "Pumpkin Caper" - it's just a lot of fun, high-impact entertainment that is totally about creating entertainment and music and fusing the two together. We've got a ton of positive responses on this.
Basically, like with the Pumpkin Caper and other "pranks" we sort of just come up with them coincidentally. We plan them out ahead of the point of execution, but it's never like "We need to do a prank at this point in time" or "What can we do for a prank?" - it's like our drummer will say "Hey, let's fill Tom's room with pumpkins" and we think about whether or not we can do it, and if we can, we do it.
As for the stuff in the Scavenger Hunt, we kind of sit around for a month or so before the actual Hunt and think of what would be difficult, but also possible, to do. My favorite things to think of are things that sound easy and then are completely awful. Like "Swallow A Tablespoon Of Cinnamon". Sounds easy. Go try it. Or go watch the movie and see what happens.
How long has the band been together? Did you know each other before the band got together?
Basically, my cousin Christian (drummer) and I (rhythm guitarist/singer) had never played instruments (besides my very short-lived piano lessons). Kevin (our bassist/singer) had wanted a band for a while. We were all best friends who hung out constantly. So the summer we graduated, we decided to start a band and that forced Christian and I to learn how to play. For a year we just practiced, maybe played out twice towards the end of the year, and wrote some simple songs. After that we added Tom Wells (lead guitarist) and wrote more serious songs and started focusing on writing good songs and playing out. So we've really been together as a full band for about 5 years. Tom was like our "new" friend when he joined the band, but we were definitely all friends first. We are in the process of adding another member to the band right now, Alan Sousa, who has always been insanely close to Senior Discount (we write and film ALL the video stuff together). Kevin and I (who write the music) are going in more layered directions musically, so we wanted to add another instrument. Sousa is going to take over bass while Kevin will join me on rhythm guitar.
Who are your heroes/role models, musically and otherwise?
Personally, the people I look up to are Kevin Smith, Larry David, Mark Hoppus, Mick Foley, Tom Gabel, and Chuck Palahniuk. These all just tend to be people who really create their own form of art and do it in a unique way, which is what I'm always trying to do. As a band we've always been heavily influenced by Blink 182, because they were about writing good songs and having fun. I feel like a lot of bands (now more than ever) are about business and image and things that are more about exposure or money or being "cool", when we've always believed in the people who just want to share ideas and touch other people.
Musically, we all come from different places. I'm into a lot of punk stuff that's not new but definitely can't be classified as old. I like a lot of acoustic stuff and in general a lot of very random music. Tom is more into metal, Kevin is into very poppy punk, Sousa is into a lot of reggae and ska stuff, and Christian is really interested in music that's experimental. I think at the end of the day we're all just really focused on creating good music that people can relate to and can have fun listening to.
Tom wanted me to add that his personal role model is Liberachi.
What is the most important thing people need to know about Senior Discount?
The most important things people need to know about Senior Discount is that we're not just a band. We don't want fans, we want friends. We want to create as many different types of art as we can, we want to blend them together as much as we can, and we sort of just want to make people happy in as many different ways as we can.

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