By John Parks
A hard-rock band worth hearing and seeing live, Rockford’s own Mind Drop have steadily built themselves to the moment they are currently experiencing. The band has shared stages with massive acts like Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat and others, and will be playing Sept. 12 at The District (205 W. State St.), opening for Nonpoint, Surrender The Fall and Red Line Chemistry.
Two days before the show, the band is releasing their new EP, The Awakening (recorded at legendary producer Johnny K’s Groovemaster Studios in Chicago), and I sat down to talk with them briefly about everything going on.
Q: Hi, guys. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. There is a lot going on with the band right now, but can you start by telling us a little about what led Mind Drop to this point?
Chris Ruzic (bassist): Adam, Robert and I were in a band called Mr. Pill. When that band folded, we started writing new music together, and Mind Drop was launched. It has been an evolution, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come with the current lineup.
Q: Your vocalist, Shauna, is obviously a focal point, as is any singer, and she also has a lot of charisma. What led you to discovering her, and how has the band’s approach or art changed as a result?
Adam DeAses (guitars): Before Shauna, I personally had never really worked with another musician with her kind of vocal knowledge, creativity and ability. So it was pretty effortless to communicate our ideas with one another … it was a breath of fresh air. I know the whole band was intrigued by what she was bringing to the table, and we all were eager to see what we were capable of now with her on board. It definitely made us take a closer look at what we were writing. The fact that she came into our lives hungry to write, practice, record, perform and tour was just icing on the cake.
Q: How much did you learn from being creative in a place with the reputation of Groovemaster studio (Disturbed, Megadeth) and working with producer Matt Dougherty? How much did you all enjoy the process?
Robert Bull (drums): Matt made us feel like we were “at home” the entire time we were in the studio. From loading in, to working the grind into the late hours, even referring us where to go to eat! Matt not only proved himself to us with his skill and talent, but made his way into becoming a member of this band … the “sixth” member of Mind Drop. It would take all day to speak of all the things I’ve learned at Groovemaster. It is always an amazing experience, and we hope to continue working with Matt in the future!
Q: Shauna, you had the opportunity to step into a band that already had a lot of amazing parts. Chris and Robert have worked together for years and form a seamless rhythm section, and Adam and Jason are creative guitarists who also add important elements vocally. Has that extra element or signature part of working with the guys become something of an identity for Mind Drop?
Shauna Lisse (vocals): Definitely! Chris and Robert lay the foundation for everything the band does, and Adam and Jason are key to delivering the heavy guitar/vocal sound that Mind Drop has. The guys are ALL unique in their own ways. I couldn’t be more proud/happy to have them as band members. Adam brings more of the growls and lower voice, whereas Jason will sometimes harmonize with me. They help me out a lot! I do believe the guys helping me with background vocals has helped the overall image of Mind Drop. We are always looking to add more, though!
Q: The band has done its own touring runs and individual shows out of your home radius, but still is able to play quite a bit in the area. Are you hoping to be doing a few more jaunts out of the area when the new EP is available, despite the difficulty of doing it on an indie level?
Jason Beck (guitars): Yes. The goal is to get our music out to as many people as possible. Rockford is our home, but we are trying to build other home bases where we have been successful, like Shauna’s hometown of Madison, or mine in the Champaign-Bloomington areas. This would allow us to spread our wings a little farther, because we can start or end in different areas, and make our runs more cost-effective. The indie level is difficult, not impossible, but difficult to be profitable. These runs out of our area are paramount to the long-term success of Mind Drop, and we all realize that. So, yes, we are planning on more runs outside our area, we just have to be smart about it at this level.
Q: You have seen the stateline music scene go through peaks and valleys and also have seen many loyal supporters of live music who you’ve grown to love. In your own personal opinion, what could change to reignite the area music scene and how difficult would it be?
Jason Beck (guitars): I believe we are witnessing a change as we speak. I am seeing so many bands supporting each other and creating a sense of community. That is what it takes to build a strong music scene, not just here in Rockford, but in many different locations. I am seeing fans become more active in the success of the bands. I think that social media has really helped that fact. The fans know the artists and interact with them through social media. This makes them feel like they are not only making a difference for their favorite band, but helping their friends out, too.
Adam DeAses (guitars): It’s a group effort, in my opinion. The larger the group involved, and the larger the effort given, the better the outcome will be. We are definitely seeing a big movement within the Rockford scene right now. Several people, organizations, venue owners, etc., are stepping it up, bringing music to the masses, making it readily available to anyone willing to listen, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s a great way to generate fans of live music and music in general. Too many people rely on YouTube, Spotify or Soundcloud these days for their main source of music, which is fine, I guess, but then they have very little to no interest in actually going out and seeing these bands perform. If those that are involved in the music scene can slowly pull fans back into the venues, more and more people will follow, hopefully creating new crops of fans and musicians to support local music — or to support all music, for that matter. Not that long ago, everyone I knew used to either want to be on stage or watch someone perform on stage. I miss that … we really need that back!
Learn more about the band at www.minddropband.com.
From the Sept. 11-17, 2013, issue