Interview with Ryan Kienle of Matchbook Romance
Cotton Club -- Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2003
Leah Weinberg: Could you introduce yourself, please?
Ryan Kienle: Hi, I'm Ryan from Matchbook Romance.
L.W.: And how old are all of you guys?
R.K.: I'm the oldest, I'm 23. Andy is about to be 23, coming up in a couple of weeks. Judas turns 20 this week and Aaron is 19.
L.W.: What's the story of how the band formed?
R.K.: Well, me and Andy have been playing music together since high school and bounced around from different bands and different drummers. We met Judas, Andy actually met him at college, and they just started hanging out, joking around. Then I met Judas, and I just started playing music with him all the time. We became best friends instantly. Like a month after that, he started making his way into the band, showing up for practices and we toyed with the idea of having a third guitar player. And then Aaron kind of fell into our lap. Our drummer decided he didn't want to tour and go see the world and whatnot and all that. We were just a local band and he was like, 'I can't afford to do this.' And then Aaron was in the band a week later and that was August 2001.
L.W.: And when did you guys sign with Epitaph?
R.K.: We signed June 28th of 2002.
L.W.: How did you guys know that Epitaph was the right label for you?
R.K.: Just from Mr. Brett [Gurewitz, owner] and his personality. Even without knowing him, you just think Epitaph and like, we always thought it was untouchable, like the biggest punk record label. So we knew right there, they had the power. They had everything we were looking for. And then Mr. Brett's personality and the way he goes about business--'I really want to put the record out, please don't say no'--it's kind of hard to say no.
L.W.: Were there any major labels after the
R.K.: No. At the time we didn't really have much label interest. We were talking to a couple of our friends' labels and some smaller labels, but no one was really biting on it until Epitaph came along.
L.W.: Do you have any interest in going bigger than Epitaph now?
R.K.: Right now we're so happy with where we are. We've got a record label where the owner calls us to congratulate us on our first CD sale week. He was like, 'Oh my god, you got 3800,' like flipping out. I don't want to lose touch with that kind of relationship.
L.W.: So, you guys are all computer geeks,
R.K.: Somewhat. [Laughs.]
L.W.: Do you go through withdrawal on the
road being without a computer?
R.K.: I used to until Warped Tour and now when I get on the computer, I just don't even know what to do. Seven weeks of not going online and not checking my e-mail to come home to like, 'You have 5000 new messages,' I was like, 'No, I don't have time for this!' So now, the Internet's more of a hassle, just because I'm not on it enough so when I do get on it, it's e-mail after e-mail.
L.W.: Well, how was the Warped Tour?
R.K.: Warped Tour had its highs and lows. It started out really pumped up, 'Oh my god, this is amazing!' and like the second day, we were like 'Fuck this! These drives suck. We're driving 12 hours through the night, not staying at hotels.' But then you get to the next place and you'd be like, 'Oh, this is fun again.' By the end, the last couple of weeks when we were in the south, we were all exhausted. We were driving six, seven hours through the night, and hotter and hotter temperatures as we were getting closer to Florida. It was just hell.
L.W.: So, you guys did it in the van and didn't share a bus?
R.K.: We did it right in this thing, this van. We drove ourselves, which was five of us driving 200-mile shifts in the night. I mean, we loved it and can't wait to do it again, but we don't want to do it in this thing.
L.W.: Why do you think Warped Tour is such a good way for new bands to get so much exposure?
R.K.: It's weird. It's like punk rock circus. It's like all these stages and there's so many bands and there's so many kids you'll get to play in front of. There's a 24,000-person audience. You might get to play in front of 24,000 people if you're lucky. So, you're always guaranteed people are going to hear you and see you. And if you do it right on Warped Tour, you can promote the hell out of yourself with 24,000 kids there everyday.
L.W.: When are you guys going to Europe with the Ataris?
R.K.: We already did. We just got back right before this tour. It was crazy. Just the scenery and all of that, we were just glued to the window in the van just driving. Wow, it's a castle. Wow, it's a big forest. Just staring at everything. It was such a good time. We became really good friends with all of them. It was perfect. They're one of our favorite bands. It's a very nice privilege to get to tour with one of your favorite punk bands.
L.W.: Matchbook Romance's sound encompasses a lot of different subgenres all within punk. Was that intentional or did it just happen?
R.K.: It kind of just happens at first. We'll start off with some little guitar riff and then it just kind of turns into whatever and we don't really try to fight it. A lot of bands are like, 'No, that's not us, that's not our style, that's too slow, it's acoustic.' But we don't care. We like the song we play no matter how it comes out. So, we listen to poppy music, we listen to MxPx and Saves the Day and all this other different stuff, Thrice, so every song's got a little bit different feel to it.
L.W.: Since you guys credit the Internet for helping the band get this great buzz, I assume you're not opposed to downloading and file-sharing.
R.K.: I'm not opposed to it, but it's hard to, you know what I mean, it's a sticky subject. Because I don't agree with anybody who downloads music only on the Internet and only gets albums off the Internet. If you go out, I mean, I downloaded the Thrice album, yeah, I'm guilty. But I bought it the day it came out. Because I'm a true fan, I had to have it before it came out. But then the day it came out, I bought it. If that's kids' mentality, that's fine. If they're gonna be like, 'Wow, I really like this, I'm gonna go buy the record,' that's fine.
L.W.: Do you think a lot of kids do that?
R.K.: [Laughs.] No, not at all. There's a lot of kids with a burned Matchbook Romance CD right now, and I'm going, damn! But at the same time, all of those kids have our CD. So, they're gonna come see us live and they're gonna buy shirts or they're gonna tell their friends. That's all that really matters.
L.W.: 3 words that describe Matchbook Romance
R.K.: Powerful. Humorous, because none of us are serious. And hard-working.