Brandon Rike of Dead Poetic
First of all, I was just introduced to a band called Dead Poetic. I put them in the CD player and was blown away! Brandon’s intense lyrics coupled with his amazing voice prove to be the perfect match on their second release, New Medicines. They are much more versatile on this second album proving that they can go from hardcore on songs like Taste the Red Hands and Hostages, to getting deeper and showcasing Brandon’s voice on songs like Glass in the Trees. The only thing better than their CD was their live show. Dead Poetic is definitely not one of these bands who are over-produced and when you get to the show, sound nothing like they do on their album. They bring the intensity like few other bands do and when Brandon gets emotional singing Glass in the Trees you understand that they feel their music.
DAN ENGLISH: So Brandon, you guys just came off a tour with Papa Roach, how was that? Do you like to tour outside the “Christian” circuit?
BRANDON RIKE: We tour with a lot of non-Christian bands, the way I’ve always looked at it is like, the dudes from Papa Roach are way cooler than most Christian bands to be completely honest, you know what I mean? I think a lot of times people hide behind the title of “Christian band” and it kind of allows them to be jerks or whatever. Papa Roach, man, those are the coolest guys I’ve ever met. They’re just the most loving people I’ve ever met. More than anything, they’re an inspiration really. They were just great dudes. We also toured with the band Instruction that was on the tour. Instruction are really anti-God. But what was cool about the tour was I got along with those guys really well. We had spiritual discussions, we disagreed, but we saw from each others point of view.
B: Aw man, this guy’s kicking us out. I hate when they do that. Let’s just stay here.
D: Your name, Dead Poetic, What does it mean? What’s the significance?
B: It has no meaning whatsoever; I just made it up one night. Haha… I wish it had some awesome meaning that would change people’s lives, but it has no meaning whatsoever.
D: Did you come up with it, or the band as a whole?
B: I came up with it. I think it’s a good name, I still like it without any meaning.
D: You have pretty high praise for Project 86, how do they compare with other bands that you’ve toured with like Papa Roach?
B: You know what man, most bands are cool dudes. To be honest, like, everybody’s gone through the same crap. So to be arrogant is just a waste of time. Everybody’s paid their dues, everybody’s slept on people’s floors. Everybody’s lived in a van. You know, everybody’s gone without eating. We all come from the same place, so everybody just respects each other. I think it’s cool, I love it.
D: Obviously, New Medicines, your new album is much different than your first release, Four Wall Blackmail, what caused the change?
B: We wrote the first record while we were in high school and the second record we were all 21 years old. We were a lot more mature. Influences were different, we just went back to our real roots, we just listened to straight rock stuff. We weren’t really into what was going on in the scene. We listened to Helmet and bands like that. That’s the stuff that we love. When that (Four Wall Blackmail) came out, we wanted it to be with completely no agenda. Just going in there and writing a record and it came out as honest as it possibly could. But I think New Medicines was more of what we were trying to do on the first record. We just couldn’t do it yet, we didn’t have the talent to do it yet.
D: What does New Medicines mean?
B: New Medicines is actually whatever it is that gets you through your pain, whatever it is that helps you get through stuff, or something with God. For some people it’s a person they know, for some people it’s a place. You know what I mean? It’s an open statement that means this music is for everybody, not just for Christians. I think a lot of Christian bands get that messed up sometimes. If somebody is not down with God, I don’t want them to be alienated from my music. New Medicines means whatever it is, whatever it is that takes you away from that pain, that eases you through that pain, that’s your new medicine. That’s what helps you out.
D: What do you feel inspired you to write New Medicines?
B: I just wanted to be as honest as I could possibly be. I just wanted to say “I’m a Christian, but I’m not always talking about Christian topics; and most Christian’s aren’t”, know what I mean? Therefore the lyrics to New Medicines, if you didn’t already know we were, maybe you wouldn’t know that we were Christians. But you do know that they’re positive, you do know that they’re honest, you do know that there’s hope involved in that. You do know that they’re real. So if I could be anything to anybody, I just want to be that. That’s who Jesus was to people. That’s who Jesus was in life. Jesus wasn’t all, “OK you can talk to me about this, but I’m going to turn the whole conversation around because I want to get you saved right now.” That’s not real life.
D: Where do you feel you draw your inspiration to write?
B: Things I feel very strongly about. Things that anger me. Things that empower me. Whatever it is that I got zeal about. Whatever it is that I feel powerful about, that’s what I write about. And a lot of those topics are just social issues that bother me. The thing about New Medicines that may be a good or a bad thing, I don’t know, it’s more pointing the finger outwards. As opposed to the first record that was pointing the record inwards. I don’t know what that means, but that’s honestly what it is. So, things I see. Things in my everyday life. That’s my inspiration.
D: Glass in the Trees, I know it’s a really personal song. Maybe you could explain it, how it changed your view on spirituality, God, the church, life…
B: Alright, my answer to that won’t make many people very happy. My honest opinion about the church is that the church is completely screwed up right now. I think that we, as Christians do a horrible, horrible, horrible job of showing people who God is, because I think if we did a good job of showing who God is, they’d be a little more interested in it. Unfortunately we’re more obsessed with, “Don’t do this. Don’t do that. If you’re a Christian, you do this. If you’re a Christian, you don’t do this.” That’s what we’re obsessed with, that’s what Christianity is about to us, to the outside appearance. What Christianity is to me is just loving God and loving people like God loves me. Living a life like Jesus lived it. Why do you have to complicate something so simple? All that other stuff, as far as I’m concerned, are just differences for people to argue about. Because you and I can argue about doctrinal differences all day long, but what does it really matter? I think the fact that there’s denominations, divisions in the church, is one of the most horrible things going on in the church. To be honest… This is a little bit blatant… But hopefully you understand it in a figurative way. If all the churches burned down, what would we be left with. Would we be left with people who don’t know where they’re supposed to go on Sundays, or would we be left with people who say “Screw that building, my relationship with God isn’t about that building. The church isn’t about that building.” Are people going to unite as Christians, and completely live on and let the church live on? Who cares about a building? We had a song that didn’t make it to the record, that fell to the cutting room floor, it was called Burning Steeples and it was about that. It was about the hypothetical situation that “What if all the churches burned down?” I think it would be a revolution. If every church could burn down, then our faith would be put to the test. Cause, it’s not about where you meet on Sunday’s anymore. It’s about the love that you have for each other. It’s about real, true fellowship. So that’s the view on the church. As far as what “Glass in the Trees” means… I know I went off… When I was a kid, when I first got saved, man, I had a lot of people (in the church) telling me to separate from my non-Christian friends. “They’re non-Christians. They drink, they smoke, they cuss, don’t hang out with them.” And I think they were so obsessed with that. They weren’t obsessed with how Jesus lived, or even the fact that Jesus didn’t hang out with Christians. They just wanted me to get away from those people, not really knowing why. Not really knowing the long term affects of that. Unfortunately, one of the friends I had separated from so much that I couldn’t be an influence to him anymore because the trust was broken. Like, “Dude, I ditched you, I don’t expect you to trust me anymore.” So anyway, he was at a party and he was drunk and he drove, and he went off the road into these two trees and died. At the crash site, the accident was so bad that these two trees were covered in glass. They were covered. They were sparkling from the glass. (As he illustrates for me running his hands up and down as if trying to make them sparkle) There was just windshield all over them. The term Glass in the Trees meant that. The song is just about the way I felt and the fact that I was just doing things because people told me to, not because that’s what I felt God wanted in my life. That’s what the line means, “I’m not spiritual yet, I’m just reading the lines that they gave me from the pulpit.” It means that it wasn’t from my heart; I was just doing what somebody told me to do. And now in my life, I’ll never do something cause somebody tells me to. Because I’m sick of that mentality, I’m sick of the way the church is “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” I’m sick of that. I don’t want the church, I want God! I don’t want that building, I just want God! I don’t want those rules, I just want God! I just want to be deep with God. And it’s rougher than you think it is, it’s rougher than it sounds. It’s just that you constantly to go through all this crap, you constantly are frustrated with the way things are. But you just have to know that there’s hope at the end of it. That’s what I’m trying to do.
D: I know what you’re saying. It’s about living a spirit led life and not living by a set of rules.
The interview has now moved from the dark couches of Cervantes Ballroom to the alluring lights of the Denver Diner.
D: What sets you apart from every other band? Why should people listen to you?
B: Really, I don’t know. If somebody wants to listen to us, they can listen to us. I’ve just always to tried to put together a really good rock band. I don’t know, I hope we have some hope and some real depth to our music and to our words. I hope what we’re doing means a lot to people. You know, every band, you can’t kid yourself, all bands sound like other bands. We’re not denying that we sound like other bands. I just hope people get something more out of our band. If they don’t, I’m sorry, but I hope they do. But to answer your question, I don’t know, I just hope something does.
D: What are the band’s plans for this next year?
B: Well, we just want to promote the crap out of this record. Anybody who could possibly be a fan of our music, we want them to be able to see us at a show. We want them to be able to buy the record at a show. Buy a shirt at the show, get into the band, you know? So however that goes, we want to keep touring and showing people something cool. In the fall we’re going to be doing a headlining tour which we’re very excited about because it gives us the opportunity to put together a real show. with the lights, the props, whatever. Give somebody a real experience…
…(after an altercation broke out in Denver Diner [a patron did not like the tour van parked in the parking lot] we return to the interview)…
B: … What was I saying?
D: You were talking about touring over the next year.
B: We just want to put together a really cool show. We want to have props, we want to make it an experience, we want to have kids leave the show and just be like, “Wow, that was awesome.” We just want to have stuff going on. We want to work our butts off to make it something cool. The vision is to let everybody who could possibly be into us, hear about us.
D: Is there something that I haven’t asked you, something you want everybody to know about Dead Poetic?
B: That we’re here to make you feel something. That we’re here to convey some emotion to you. That we’re not here to sell our record to you, so to speak, that we’re just here to make you feel. I want people to feel what I was feeling when I wrote this song. I don’t feel like being the cool band. I don’t care about fitting into the scene. I don’t care about any of that stuff, all I care about is I want you to feel the way I felt when I wrote this. I want you to get through your problems because of the words in this song. I want you to see something more in our band.
D: Last question. Now that you guys have “made it”, who would you like to give props to? Who is coming up?
B: There is a band called He is Legend that just signed to Solid State, they’re awesome. We’ve known them forever, they’re a great band. There’s a band called The Pitts, they’re still out there touring they’re awesome.
D: Their guitarist, Jonathan, played with you guys for a bit.
B: Yeah, Jonathan helped us out for a while. And actually just tonight, Shades of Amber (they played a set that night that opening for Dead Poetic). Those guys are great. I think He is Legend is also going to be a really important record on Solid State, it’s going to be a really important release.