Interview – Rainy Day Crush


Pop-rock is still alive and well this summer. Who better to lead the charge than the motley crew of Rainy Day Crush? With the release of their ambitious EP, ‘I’m Still Alive’, the men are keeping those good vibes rolling. Not only is their music and catchy and ripe for the listening, the musicians are real all the way through. Just take the conversation Derek and Matt as an example of their solid nature.

Musically, they were drawn to the craft easily. As Derek proudly stated, “our lives were in dire need of a better soundtrack.” Could not have said it better. However, Matt was keen to point out his connection. “I’ve been writing songs since I was 14. It just seems like a natural progression: you write songs, then you record them and play them for other people.” Simple and sweet to the end.

Matt has quite a few favorites in their discography: “My Own has always been one of my favorites. At our last show, I had a woman come up to me and tell me how much that song has meant to her, and helped her through some rough times. Every song means something different to everyone, and there are some days where songs mean more than other days, but that one always seems to resonate both with me and with our fans. Off this last record, my favorite is Bonfires. It took some time and effort, but the way it turned out just blew my mind. The best way I can describe it is this: my piano teacher told me that when playing for judges, the idea is to get the judge to forget they’re judging you, get them to just enjoy your performance. When we got the mix back for Bonfires, it was so good, I forgot to listen to the mix, and I just got caught up in the song. Our mix engineer Steven Servi just killed it.” Derek’s choice was more personal. “The most rewarding was probably the time I got 99% on Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce on Guitar Hero. Other than that, our EP ‘I’m Still Alive’ is pretty cool.”

Musical performances for Matt are plentiful to choose from. “I always love the big festival gigs, like Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which we are honored to play again this year. We’ve played a lot of other great festivals, too, like Bastille Days, Taste of Wisconsin, and others. There’s always a great energy and atmosphere with a summer festival. Everyone is always professional, sound guys are always great, and the audience is always receptive, [I] love it. I would love to play on Stephen Colbert’s show some day. I think he’s a brilliant guy.” Then again, Derek may have gone for the win with his aspirations. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we would like to book some more nudist festivals. We think that most bands don’t fully appreciate the phrase, ‘rock out with your cock out!’”

Performing out in the midst of the dangerous musical jungle is no picnic. Matt shared his rough patches on the road, “wow, you guys are really looking for us to dish the dirt! We’ve definitely had some challenging moments during our career. We’ve had members just skip shows, we’ve had sound guys too drunk to stand up, we’ve left instruments behind on tour, we’ve crashed the tour bus in an Iowa ice storm… The most difficult one was probably the drunk sound guy. [There was] feedback the whole night, he lost the piano channel in the middle of the set and nobody in the audience or on stage could hear anything. On top of it, the dude tried to get free merch out of us at the end of the night. It’s hard to get out there and have a good time when you’re struggling like that. You leave a guitar in Detroit or crash the van in Iowa, those are problems you can work through, drunk sound guy is harder to get around.” In true comedic flair, Derek won again. “We did play one nudist festival, and the attractive audience made it quite hard.”

Within the wild world of the medium, Matt shared his thoughts on the music today. “I worked a retail job a couple years ago where the Top 40 station was on all day. I would regularly hear the same song song six or eight times in one shift. First off, didn’t they do that kind of thing to torture terrorists? I can see why it would work. Play something over and over and over again, and I’ll tell you anything you want to hear just to make it stop! Second, what a missed opportunity. You play one song six times in a day, and that’s five other songs that COULD HAVE been played. Third, you start to see what a business it is. It’s less about art and more about product. We show up at band practice, and we ask ourselves how to make this work, and how we fit in, and how we can stay honest in our music. We figure the Top 40 station is McDonald’s, and we’re the tiny local diner with limited hours. McDonald’s technically qualifies as food, and they make a bajillion dollars, so you have to have a kind of grudging respect for them, but it’s not a MEAL. The Top 40 station is technically music, but it’s not what feeds us. We want to be that diner that gives you a MEAL; we don’t want to be fast food.” Derek maintained that optimism, “Music is so ridiculously accessible today, thanks to the Internet. The Internet tore down borders between countries and made literally anybody able to record and share songs with each other. We’re no longer dependent on the promoted acts of record labels when it comes to finding a sound we like.” Let the music play.

Matt is no stranger to other mediums in the arts. “… I am a poet, painter, and actor, among other things. I’ve had my poetry published in a variety of online and print collections. I’ve had a couple solo art shows, and even paid the rent with my paintings for a while there, and I love acting. We have a world class theater in Racine called the Racine Theatre Guild, and I audition there when I can. I was Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and even played the Ugly Duckling in HONK! I love taking lessons I’ve learned from one medium and applying it to other mediums. You’d be surprised at how much I use my theater training and experience when playing in the band, or how much my music training informs my painting process. Derek, however, seems to be unleashing a specific brand of creativity to follow. “Like Matt, I also explore other mediums for my creative endeavors. I enjoy drawing and painting, and lately I’ve been designing my own LEGO models for exhibition. As for the band, I’m sure we’d be open to a movie deal, or TV, or comic books… Whatever works.” A comic book needs to happen down the line.

Both men shared how grateful they were for their musical collaborations among the team and where they would love to go next. “… We would like to thank Erin and Jacob, two of our local musician buddies, for jamming with us. They both add something new to our sound when we play together, and if you come see our live show, you will probably see one of them up on stage with us. Other than that, we’d like someone to do a club remix of our songs. One thing we’ve talked about is a horn section. I would love to have a big, badass brass band on stage with us, they’re so powerful!”

Entertainers making that magic happen are a piece of cake for Matt to pick out. “[I love] Tom Waits. His songs are an endless supply of variety. He changes up the instruments he uses, and changes his voice, and it always fits the song perfectly, and he never ceases to amaze me. Also, I’ve really been getting into Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World lately. Jimmy Eat World has always been a favorite of mine. What those bands do with a couple chords and honest lyrics is just awesome.”

They do not slow down as they progress forward. Matt gave the layout of their daily work and next steps. “Practice, practice, practice [and working on the] next album. We’re playing shows and selling the EP so we can afford to head back into the studio and do it all over again.” Derek elaborated his thoughts and doings, “[I will be] watching Matt practice. We have put out a couple EPs in the last few years, but our next endeavor will hopefully be a full-length album.”

Jam on.