RPG – Full Time – Interview


Full Time (Arclight)
An Interview with vocalist/guitarist Matt Conner
By Brian Varney

How’s the weather in Richmond? I hope none of you guys got hurt or lost stuff in all the Old Testament-style flooding you guys had a coupla weeks back.
It’s getting cold here about now. The flooding is over with, thank you very much. Crazy shit, that flooding. Tony (Brown, bass) almost got swept away in it, but had the good sense and the balls to climb up a thirty-foot railroad trestle to safety as his van was washed away and destroyed. We found out where the van ended up by seeing it on CNN the morning after the flood.

Tell me about this HBO pilot thing you did. How’d you manage to score that gig and what are the chances it will actually air?
The show is a creation of the production company that did the Real Sex series and the G-String Divas series, and it focuses on bands and how they do their respective things. The producers are quite confident that it’ll air, but I suppose it’s their job to exude overconfidence about their “vehicle.” We’re just waiting to see what happens.

I read a few things about the HBO pilot on your website and all of them mention Nikki Nova and link to her website. Thankfully, I decided to click the link and was treated to a bunch of naked pictures of a woman, presumably Nikki Nova. Who is she and how is she related to the HBO thing? Do you guys know her?
Naked women are good for getting your attention, no? Nikki is a very nice, intelligent woman that happens to take her clothes off for a living. She’s hosted some shows for the Playboy Channel, which I unfortunately don’t have, and done some films that you may have seen on Cinemax late at night. The Chief (aka Mike Marunde, drums) went to high school with her and had the good sense to be romantically involved with her back then. He also had the even better sense to stay in her good graces after it was over. She’s a fan of the band, and when she got the offer to host the show for HBO, she thought of us, which was very nice of her.

I know you guys shopped for a label to release your debut album, Full Time, for quite awhile before finally deciding to release it yourselves last year. Now that you’ve hooked up with Arclight, why did you decide to re-release the album rather than simply make a new one? Did the original pressing sell out very quickly or something?
The self-release thing had its good and bad points, the good points being that we owned everything and got to make the record the way we wanted. However, distribution was rather limited, and as we quickly approached the end of our supply of CDs, we still hadn’t gotten it out to as many people as we wanted. We talked to quite a few labels, but no one was willing or able to do things the way we wanted, that is until we talked to Mauro and David at Arclight. They were very receptive to our proposal to re-release Full Time with a bonus DVD called High Performance that’s got some great live footage, most of which was shot by our good friend Denise Korycki, and some other great stuff that I can’t divulge right now. I will tell you, though, that it’s a documentary done by Richmond wunderkind Matthew Flowers. You’ll just have to get it, watch it, and see for yourself.

I heard you’ve had some problems with the manufacturing of the High Performance DVD, something to do with the use of a song in it. What was the problem?
There’s this rap group from Virginia Beach called Clipse that we all really dig, and there’s a scene in the DVD that has one of their songs playing in the background. The pressing plant said we couldn’t use the song without permission, so there wassome hoop jumping with their management. After they saw the DVD, they claimed to be impressed enough to let us use the song.

So when can we expect a new album from RPG?
If all goes the way we want, we’ll be recording in the beginning of 2005 with a guy that we’ve wanted to work with for a long time. The new songs have us very excited. I think they’ll make for a solid listen.

As anyone who’s seen RPG live knows, you guys are big proponents of high volume at your live shows. Has being an extremely loud band been a conscious part of the band’s identity, or is it something that just sorta happened?
We always wanted to be loud, but the full stacks came about after we did our first tour. Our buddies in ATP (Alabama Thunderpussy) were kind enough to take us out for the first time, and we ended up using their stacks. If you play guitar or bass and ever get to play through a big loud rig that moves your shirt when you play standing near it, it’s hard to settle for anything else after that. We think loud is good because it makes the music inescapable, even if you’re in the parking lot of the club.

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems your hometown of Richmond, Virginia has a pretty fruitful underground music scene. Is it a good town to be a band in?
It’s a good town to be a human in. The standard of living is low, it’s a prime stop for people running drugs from Florida to DC, Baltimore, Philly, and New York, and it’s full of good people. There are tons of bands in Richmond, and more are probably being formed as we speak. The club scene is rather cyclical in that there will be a bunch of cool clubs, then a lot of them will shut down and there won’t be much for a year or so, then it sort of booms again. The one double-edged good/bad part about Richmond is that crowds can be tough on local bands, and non-existent for out-of-towners. If you’re pulling good crowds in Richmond, local band or not, you’re doing something right.

It seems like you guys tour an awful lot. It must be very difficult being a fairly small band going on such long tours. Any survival secrets you’d care to share?
If you have a problem with public restrooms, being unclean, drinking whatever you get for free, bad sleeping conditions, no privacy, and pizza, you’ll never make it.

Between all of your touring dates and the shows you play locally, I’d imagine you go out most nights. What’s your favorite musical accompaniment to the nights when you stay home and just chill out?
I was on a big Ten Years After kick for a while, but if I want to relax with my wife, we end up listening to Donovan or My Morning Jacket or Iron and Wine. My wife just bought the new Mastodon, though, so I don’t know how chill the house will be for a while.

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