The Gauntlet: Scars on Broadway
The Gauntlet: How’s Europe?
John: Today is the one sunny day in London for the year. I don’t know how we found it.
The Gauntlet: How’s the tour?
John: It’s ok. How hard can it be though, we play rock songs for a living.
The Gauntlet: Every band ends up with a handful of horror stories from the road, surely Scars on Broadway can’t be immune.
John: It is only what you make it for yourself. That’s the reality. People are digging our music and coming to our shows. A lot worse things we can be doing in life. Right now we are doing just a short promo run of four shows. We will be back in Europe for a full 3 week tour in August and I believe in October we will hit the US. We are still mapping out everything.
The Gauntlet: Will Scars [on Broadway] be headlining in the US?
John: We aren’t actually sure of that yet. That’s something we are still trying to figure out. That’s part of the reason the venues and some dates aren’t locked in yet. We are just mulling over all that right now. We will have a better indication in about 2 weeks.
The Gauntlet: How was it playing at the Whisky a couple months back? Hometown crowd, haven’t played on a small stage in over 10 years.
John: That was our first performance. It was amazing. There is a lot of history for us at the Whisky and Roxy. The Roxy was the first club I played on the Sunset Strip, and the Whisky was the first club I played with System [of a Down]. There is a lot of history there. The vibe in the clubs is just amazing in general. It is great playing in big amphitheaters as the energy is so big. It is hard to explain, but if I had any say, I’d book a couple small club shows on each tour. You know what I mean, just to break it up.
The Gauntlet: It must be nice being a few feet from the crowd as at most places the drummer is way off in the back.
John: Definitely. At some of the smaller clubs you can smell the people in the crowd, that’s how close they are to you. I like being in the back though. I can watch everything and I have a show of my own.
The Gauntlet: Obviously you aren’t a stranger to the large festival crowds, but how was the transition from a 400 person club to playing Coachella a couple weeks later?
John: We only played at Coachella in front of 7,000 as we were in a side tent. It doesn’t matter though as with that many people, there is a lot of energy. It’s not something we aren’t used to though, not that we are jaded, but I still get excited. If we were playing Rock n Rio in front of 250,000, then I would really trip out. At the smaller venues though, the people who get in are generally the most hardcore fans. They are going to be pretty rabid and going nuts.
The Gauntlet: Why did it take so long for you guys to play your first show? It has been a couple years since the band was formed.
John: We wanted to make sure we had the right lineup. We waited specifically for that reason. As soon as we felt we had it, we played. We didn’t want to confuse people. We wanted a solid lineup to start building the bands history. Interchanging band members gets kind of cheap.
The Gauntlet: Is the band mainly Daron writing?
John: Yes. He brings in the songs about 95% finished. I write my drums though but the rest of the music is done. Every so often I might make a suggestion like make the chorus longer, but it is really minor stuff.
The Gauntlet: Is this yours and Daron’s band?
John: It kind of is right now. But as time goes on and these guys pay their dues, the dynamic will change and they will have more responsibilities and be full members of the band like with System [of a Down].
The Gauntlet: I remember seeing System [of a Down] play shows to 20 people when you hit the LA scene.
John: Before that, I played a show and it was just my girlfriend and a bartender in the audience. It was great.
The Gauntlet: Do you think the other members of the band should experience that? They have it easy.
John: I for sure don’t miss it. I don’t miss struggling. I worked hard to get here and went through a lot of bullshit to get where I am. Before I even joined System, I had 12 years of drumming behind me and I went through hell with bands, working two jobs and fucking up relationships as I’d rather be drumming. I put in my time. I feel like I earned the place I am in. None of the other guys in the band are 15 year old kids that are just picking up the guitar. They have paid their dues too. Everyone has paid their dues to a certain extent. Because of the reputations that Daron and I have built up, we feel like for right now it is our band and these guys are a part of it. With time they will grow to be as important as we are or atleast very close.
The Gauntlet: Do you have fewer boundaries with Scars on Broadway?
John: I don’t ever feel like we have boundaries when it comes to music. This is a little more rock based and straightforward. Towards the end of System of a Down, we had some more diverse songs like “Revenga.”
The Gauntlet: Do you feel under more pressure?
John: In some ways yes. We are under more pressure to succeed as we have already been there. If we don’t it will be a side project that failed. But we don’t have anything to prove. How many bands get to be as big as System got? We are proud of the album.
The Gauntlet: Do you have any favorite songs yet?
John: “Babylon” is my favorite mainly because that was the first song that I learned. It also has some of the most complex structures that I have seen. Nothing repeats no chorus. I like that.
The Gauntlet: Was that song all Daron?
John: We tried a couple different things, but in the end it was perfect the way it was. That’s how most of the songs were. We would make small changes. Rick [Rubin] came in for a couple days and made a few suggestions which helped a lot too.