First Round Failure is an Alternative band out of Illinois, which is nowhere near San Diego, California…as the band so kindly informs us. Hattie was a great help in coming up with these questions about musical influences, lyrics, playing live, and more!
Interview by: Hattie
Intro by: Lauren
1. Please state your name(s) and what you do in theband?
Phil Kondos- I play guitar and do an occasional background vocal live.
Shaun Malott- Bass
Tim Mackin- Drums, Make-up, brownies, and hair removal.
Matt McGrath- Vocals, Guitar, Dancing
2. Will you give us a brief history of the band? What made you guys get together and say, “Hey! Let’s start a BAND!?”
Shaun: I had just got out of a stereotypical bad band breakup and decided to keep something creatively going so I contacted Tim and we started to put a band together. Tim knew Matt and Phil so it all fell together easily actually.
Tim: I knew Shaun from a previous band, and he asked me to lay down phat beatz for his new punk/rock project. I brought Phil and Matt aboard, and this FRF ship set sail for the seas of awesomeness!
Matt: I knew Tim from college and he invited me to play with this band. I almost didn’t even do it because I hadn’t been in a band for almost a year and was considering musical retirement, but I’m quite thankful I did! Since then we’ve been playing shows all over Chicago and the suburbs and have recorded an album that is available on iTunes and our MySpace page.
3. What are your future plans for the band (tours,albums, etc.)
Phil: Have fun with it and see where it goes. Playing in a band is not worth it unless you enjoy it. If something big becomes of it, all the better!
Shaun: We’ve been talking about a midwest tour and we’re working on a 2nd album.
Tim: I have, for my whole life, dreamed of touring with a band. This group of guys are some of my best friends, and I can’t think of a better idea than taking our gorgeous asses out on the road. Also, I’d like to perform on whatever show Rosie O’Donnell hosts next. I don’t care what it is.
Matt: I definitely want to get out and tour. Right now we’re focusing on writing/recording our 2nd album, which we’re all really excited for. Ultimately I would just like to make music that people can relate to and enjoy.
4. For most of the people reading this, who don’t know, where are you from?
We’re from Chicago, Illinois. You know where San Diego, California is? Chicago is nowhere near there. Deal with THAT.
5. Which club/area is your favorite to play?
Phil: Any stage is a good stage, as long as it’s not in Oak Lawn!
Tim: Gotta give it up for the Rockford all-ages venues, like the ELB. We get a great reception there, and people haven’t yet discovered that we’re not actually playing our instruments. They are robots we put on the stage.
Matt: Rockford is my hometown, so it’s nice playing for friends and family. Any place that allows me to get sweaty while singing and playing is a fantastic place!
6. Do you have any songs that are more expressive thananother, at least from your perspective?
Shaun: Musically I think songs like Typical Symptoms, Pretty Girl, and It’ll Be Alright show that we can be pretty stylistically diverse. Lyrically they’re all expresive. Matt’s lyrics especially.
Tim: I think the great thing about First Round Failure is that in every song, you can truly feel the emotion put into the writing. Matt writes from a very personal place, and he lets the listener in. That connection is something very unique.
Matt: All of them are expressive…especially if we’re playing a new song for the crowd. That’s when I get the most excited and into the song. I love seeing/hearing people’s reactions.
7. What inspires your lyrics? (love, hate, your job,your dog, your crazy neighbor?)
Shaun: For me, mood swings and bad memories
Tim: This is easy: waffles. They’re delicious, their shape is beautiful, and they can have FRUIT on them!
Matt: Writing lyrics is a great outlet for expressing my feelings and experiences as well as venting frustrations. Love, hate, and jobs have all come up in songs of ours. Not to mention hecklers at shows, presumptuous waiters at TGI Fridays, and people who are obsessed with Harry Potter. In addition, we have some crazy, unruly neighbors that will no doubt be finding their way into our lyrics soon.
8. I know you have a lot of cultural influences, but do you have any specific bands/people who influence you? (more than just being a band whose music you like.)
Phil: Anything genuine influences me.
Shaun: Bass – Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Cure
Tim: I’m driven to be a better musician by observing those around me and putting my own personal spin on different styles. I’m heavily influenced by a lot of drummers in the punk/alternative/hard rock/metal scene. Band-wise, I draw influence from everyone from Hot Water Music, Earth Crisis, Blink 182, and Ten Foot Pole to bands like Warrant, Guns N’ Roses, and Twisted Sister. I know, it’s ridiculous. I’m sweet, though.
Matt: Anyone that has the courage to chase their dream or do something they love is very influential to me.
9. What are some of each members favorite artists?(Maybe list top 3)
Phil: Rush, The Cure, The Jam
Shaun: Muse, The Cure, PulpTim: The Misfits, Poison, and Avenged Sevenfold. (Special mention goes to Savage Garden.)
Matt: Sondre Lerche, Muse, Keane
10. What’s your favorite part about performing?
Phil: Seeing other people genuinely enjoying what we are genuinely doing.
Shaun: That feeling of performing something you created.
Tim: Deli sandwiches. Particularly ham/cheese.
Matt: Raising my body temperature to over 200 degrees, sweating profusely, seeing people singing along to our songs, jumping around during intros so much that I don’t have any breath left to sing with, and occasionally spoon feeding my bandmates during songs.
11. Did any of you get nervous/stagefright?
Phil: I did, but not anymore!
Shaun: Not Really.
Tim: Only AFTER I realize that I have ONCE AGAIN forgotten to wear pants.
Matt: When we first started I would get really nervous…to the point where I would have trouble singing because I was out of breath. I’m fine now though!
12. Has music ever helped you thru a particularlydifficult time?
Phil: Music has helped me through every difficult time!
Shaun: Very much so.
Tim: Absolutely. Every situation I find myself in, I try to compare to a song. Knowing someone has felt the things I feel and gone through the things I’ve experienced helps to normalize me and allows me to heal.
Matt: It’s the one thing I can always count on to make me feel better…particularly “Mmm Bop” by Hanson.