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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Grad Coming Up from Under

UMB Grad Coming Up from Under

This week, The Mass Media sat down with UMass Boston graduate Daniel Costa and his band, The Under, for a conversation about Metal, making a band, recording an EP, and booking shows in Boston.

The Mass Media: So, where’s the name The Under come from?

Daniel Costa: Band names are the hardest thing to come up with. I wanted a name that would reflect our lyrics… but something that would be broad enough not to pigeonhole us. The Under is, you know, dark and loose, reflects a melancholy mood. It has more meanings than one…it’s another way to refer to the downtrodden, the underside of things. Actually, I came up with fifteen names, and my girlfriend liked this one the best. It’s definitely the most memorable one from the list.

TMM: How long has The Under been around?

Since May of 2006. We had a previous incarnation, but I put a little distance between that.

TMM: And The Under is made up of?

DC: Two pinches of garlic, and a hint of rosemary. {Laughs.] No seriously, it’s me, Daniel Costa on guitar and vocal, Jason Walker on bass, and Randy Odeirno on drums.

TMM: What are your musical influences?

DC: Probably the most immediate influences in the band are Rush, Black Sabbath, Slayer…

TMM: So, you do speed Metal?

DC: Well, the aggression and attack is there, but I’d say our music is more melodic. We’re a melodic Metal band.. not like one of those precision bands, we’re more punkish in our approach to metal. The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, etc.

We’re addicted to all types of music, not just metal and rock. We like jazz and other stuff; we’re all music-philes. From a songwiriting point-of-view, I draw on stuff like The Police, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed. Those influences are more subtle, but they’re definitely there. But bands like Rush are the ones that made us want to pick up instruments and start to play.

TMM: If you could choose one word to describe your music, what would it be?

DC: Explosive.

TMM: Explosive. I like that. What’s explosive about it?

DC: It’s very loud, pretty extreme, can be very busy… there’s quite a bit of instrumentation. It tends to get a little crazy. There’s a lot of structure, but it seems unstructured at the same time. We have a lot of free-form elements.

TMM: What’s the difference between the live sound vs. studio?

With live you’re not as concerned with how things sound. We’re a three-piece band, you know, so live all I can do is solo and play chords. But I can paint a broader picture, layering guitar on guitar in the studio. But then you sacrifice energy of playing live when you record. Live is cruder, more basic, gives people an idea of what goes on when you get together to play and figure stuff out. It’s like two messages from the same source. If you’re a serious band, you owe it to yourself to try both.

TMM: So, you’re working on an EP right now…

Yes sir.

TMM: And you’re producing it yourself.. how is that?

DC: Long and tedious. [Laughs.] It’s hard to make time around work and stuff, but it’s great to crystallize the music. I get to put the songs the way they’re meant to be in my head. It goes back to the live vs. recording question. I love recording, if I didn’t have to work, I’d do it all day long. The EP should see the light of day by April. The recording is just about done, then there’s the art, getting the CDs made, etc.

TMM: How many copies will you make?

We’ll probably make between 300 and 500 copies. We’re not going to sell them, just give them away at shows and send them out to get reviews, etc. They’re older songs, now, we’ve written a ton since we starting recording, so we want to get this done, put it out there and see how it’s received. We just got a new drummer, Randy Odierno, in May. We had to get him up to speed on these old tunes for shows, but now we’re solidifying our sound with him aboard.

TMM: So, you’ve got a show coming up…

DC: Yup, Tuesday, March 6 at Great Scott on Commonwealth Ave in Allston at 9PM. We’re playing with Buried in Leather, The Suburban Sky, and Baby Boy H. You can find all those bands in our Top 8 on MySpace.

TMM: How’s booking shows now vs. when the band started?

DC: Booking shows is never easy in Boston due to the amount of bands in the city. It’s like trying to fit New York City on a pinhead. But we knew a lot of bookers from people we’ve played out with, so we had an in. At The Middle East we’ve been very successful… the former booker there knew my last band. The first couple of shows there we drew a lot of people, then we got a Saturday night there, which was huge. Then we’ve played a couple of nights at TT’s [in Central Square] and now Great Scott. You have to keep playing out, you can’t become irrelevant. The more you play, the more people know you. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s gotten a lot easier. Now that we have a track record, we’re starting to get paired with bigger local bands. The Middle East and TT’s count for a lot. When national acts come to town, they’re playing there and you want to get an opportunity to play with those kind of bands.

TMM: You graduated UMB in 2002; what did you study?

DC: Philosophy. The only major that matters. [Laughs.]

TMM: So, you going to use that degree?

DC: I already have. [Laughs.] It broadened my mind, made me think about things in a different way. Sometimes it goes into the lyrics, too. There’s a philosophical slant to my songs, I think. It got me my daytime gig at Harvard too. Outside of that, not so much.

TMM: Did you think that you’d be making music with your philosophy degree?

DC: I knew I wanted to, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. It was tough to find a good enough drummer to pull off our kind of songs, I think that was the key that unlocked everything.

TMM: How’s life with a new drummer?

Randy used to play in a couple of bands, Grief and Disrupt. They had a following. I was waiting for some of the attention to rub off, and it finally is… our band recently got some major blogging action from Blabbermouth.net because of Randy.

Randy’s stuff before was really heavy and growling; we’re not as heavy. Most people who came to our site from the Blabbermouth thing dug our recordings, but some people thought we were a little light in comparison.

TMM: So, you’re doing a lot of internet marketing?

DC: Not particularly, we haven’t got a Web-site yet. We are on Myspace (www.myspace.com/underband) and we have an electronic press kit. What happened with the Blabbermouth.net site was just word of mouth. We’re still working on word of mouth. A lot of people get their Metal news from that site, so it was a big deal. A good break. For a band like us to get that kinds of press is pretty cool. But doing shows, that’s where it’s at.

TMM: So, if someone wants to get to know your stuff, what’s the best way to do that?

DC: Well, for people who like live, loud rock should definitely come to one of our shows. Plus, the more people at shows, the better. MySpace gives a snapshot too, but live is the way to get our sound, definitely.

TMM: What’s next up after the March 6 show?

DC: I want to have something to give away next time we play out, so we’re going to focus on finishing the EP and then hopefully have a CD release party at The Middle East.

The Under is playing Tuesday, March 6 at Great Scott in Allston at 9PM. For more information, check them out on MySpace at www.myspace.com/underband.