The Halo Effect (Feb 2010)
Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
Matt Mocharnuk: I’m the vocalist
Greg Torsone: Guitars. Keyboards. Producer
Chuck Cox: I play bass
How long has the current band line up been together?
(Chuck) The three of us started a band back in college called grey. We’ve been together as Spaceship Days since June 2009.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
(Matt) Big melodies!!! We try to write songs that are immediately captivating but continue to reward the listener with each spin. The pop of Duran Duran, the teeth of Catherine Wheel, and the melancholy of Pink Floyd.
(Chuck) I would ask them to listen to it and then describe it to us
What have you been up to recently?
(Matt) Putting the finishing touches on our next full-length album, which should be available for consumption by August or September.
What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
(Matt) Obviously we are looking to complete the new album within the next few months and a handful of songs will be accompanied by video concepts developed and directed by our very own bass player extraordinaire.
How did you meet each other?
(Chuck) Matt and I have known each other since before we liked girls—second or third grade. We were on the same swim team, went off to swim at the same college, lived in the same dorm room and on and on. There were a lot of years where we either lived together, or a mile or two apart. I met Greg on a recruiting trip to North Carolina State University senior year in high school, ran into him again when we both got there as freshmen, and Matt joined us the following year. We’ve all go back quite a long way.
How did you come up with your name for the band?
(Matt) “Spaceship Days” comes from a lyric in a Catherine Wheel song. They are the one band that all three of us could really agree write music the right way. I also like the name because on one hand it’s an obtuse reference but on the other hand it does seem to reflect the atmosphere and themes of many of our songs.
Did you always want to be in a band?
(Chuck) Pretty much. I had my first concert experience—which was Rick James—at a very young age. I think I was eight. That night I decided I was going to be in a band called The Excites. I drew a logo and everything.
What music did you listen to while growing up?
(Greg) Duran Duran, Zeppelin, Rush, Boston, Pink Floyd, etc
(Matt) Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, U2, The Cure
(Chuck) My parent’s music which was more or less all things Motown, until my sister introduced me to Prince. Then I discovered Queen and that road took me everywhere else
How long have you played your instruments?
(Greg) I guess I started learning with Chuck around second year of college... playing “What’s the frequency Kenneth”.
(Chuck) I bought a pawnshop bass a couple hours after we decided to start a band.
(Matt) I was born with my instrument
What were your first music making experiences?
(Greg) First music I ever wrote was “Denial”, a song on the first grey album. Matt turned one of his poems into lyrics, and together we worked out the only Vocal line we could come up with. Voila, our first song. Arguably the best song from the early grey days. Then we proceeded into such international smash hits as “Skeleton Moon”, “Tin Gods”, and “Charlotte in the Rain”. But you probably won’t find them on any Pop charts...
(Chuck) …or anywhere outside the bookcase at Greg’s house. The first song I came up with was called “Scab”. I remember feeling particularly clever about it because I used a borrowed wah wah pedal on the bass, but it still wasn’t very good.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
(Greg) We are all self taught musicians and singers.
What is your current equipment?
(Greg) Gibson Les Paul, Martin Acoustic guitars. Fender amp. Rode mics.
(Matt) Throat! Brains! Lungs!
(Chuck) Fender P-Bass, Fender Amp
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
(Greg) Replace that Marshall PreAmp I had to sell after the demise of “grey”.
(Chuck) One of every single gadget that had ever piqued my interest in all the music stores I’ve ever been too.
Photograph are by Allen Martin
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
(Greg) We use some of the same equipment, and some studio effects.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
(Greg) We approach each song differently when developing what it should sound like. Each song has it’s own feel; it’s own life.
(Matt) Interesting question. I very rarely “approach” song writing because every time I try to write a song, I come up with something stale, uninspired, and contrived. The best songs we write seem to be plucked from the air and developed. If a chord progression and vocal line don’t hit me immediately, I usually back away and get ready for another day. I’m not a very spiritual person but it’s weird, songs just kind of arrive and as a song writer you just have to be open enough to accept them, understand what they are and then not screw it up once you’ve got your hands on it.
Which software/recording process do you use?
(Greg) Cakewalk Sonar Producer addition
Would you sign with a major record company?
(Greg) In a heartbeat. Isn’t the goal to share your music on a wide scale?
(Matt) Would be a great problem to have...I’ll let you know if it ever comes up.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
(Greg) We are currently finishing final stages of a follow up to The Halo Effect, with brand new songs destined to change the music world.
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
(Greg) Spaceship Days has complete control over our songs, creatively, arrangements, and in production. It’s how we are able to treat each song like it’s own entity.
(Matt) If I’m considered the song writer of the band then this is where Greg really shines. I will write a song and in my head it should be a pure “grab you by the throat” rocker and once it swirls around in Greg’s head for a few days it comes back as a sweeping orchestral soundscape...and you know what... he’s usually right.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
(Greg) Personally that would be a dream come true for me. Developing musical arrangements and Production has become what I love most about music. I truly believe that each song that Matt presents to the band is a sacred gift. Each one is unique and special, and I feel a great deal of pressure, in a positive energy sort of way, to give each song the treatment it deserves. I want to give each song as much as I was given.
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
(Greg) YES in all ways.
(Matt) Absolutely! My favourite thing to do in the world... because I certainly don’t like spending time with Greg and Chuck otherwise.
Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
(Greg) I think great bands develop a “recorded” song as it’s artwork, and then develops a “live” sound as a different rendition of each song. The most boring concerts I don’t remember are where the band sounds exactly like their CD. I’d rather stay home, avoid the beer spilling and the ear ringing, and hear that on my Ipod.
Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
(Greg) “Stick on Stars”
(Matt) Changes every week...currently I would go with “Pain in Pretty Things”.
(Chuck) Today I’ll say “Something Perfect”
Who are the main songwriters for the band?
(Matt) Nearly 100% of songs start with me but the final versions that you hear recorded are the product of three guys that feel very passionately about creating the best songs that we possibly can. When the songs leave me, they are basically chord progressions, vocal lines and lyrics, and some degree of structure but all the interesting bits come later once the three of us get involved.
Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
(Matt) Usually when I write a song I will start by singing nonsensical words and phrasings. Sometimes that vocal blathering actually yields a line and then I sit back and reflect on what that lyric could mean. Once I’ve figured that out, then I can build the rest of the lyric. Very rarely do I sit down and say, “OK I’m gonna write a love song now.” Although “My Life with You” is the one exception.
Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
(Matt) Yeah, probably. I’m not a very tortured person or anything, so I don’t feel compelled to exercise any demons but all of the songs do have elements of my personality in them. I wish I could remove myself from them sometimes; they might be a lot more interesting songs if I could.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
(Matt) Yes and No. I tend to write in waves. I’ll write five songs in a week and then I can’t write anything for a month. I think over time I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when I’ve got something special and when I’m just spinning my wheels. When it’s not happening, I don’t force it.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
(Greg) Right now I’m loving the company I’m in. I feel like Matt is the type of song writer that could write 5 songs every day, only time gets in the way.
(Matt) No. There’s a lot of history with Greg, Chuck, and I...like any family, we’re better together than we are apart.
(Chuck) Writing wise not particularly. There is a very talented lady in Oregon whose voice would be a welcome addition on the performing side though.
Who are your favourite songwriters?
(Greg) Roger Waters and Rob Dickinson for me. Both have written unbelievably unique songs, having passion and emotion and unabashed energy.
(Matt) Rob Dickinson and U2. Both have the unbelievable ability to tap into that vast reservoir and creative catchy, important songs that stand the test of time. And somehow, after two very long and successful careers, they can change (staying relevant) but still retain that signature sound.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
(Chuck) The UK & then Australia. Not only do the majority of our favourite bands hail from those places, it seems that quite a lot of our fans do as well.
Photograph are by Allen Martin
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
(Chuck). We use social media to the absolute fullest extent that we can on all the major sites (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace) and several others as well. A very large portion of our fan base has come from people who have liked our music and passed the word on to their own social media networks about it. Watching how quickly things progressed that way really made us rethink how we had been promoting up to that point. We’re thankful for Limey59, Girlierox, and HaychStorm not just for getting our promotional ball rolling with a good solid push, but also for teaching us how to get creative with all the tools at our disposal.
Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
(Chuck) Yes. We use Reverbnation (www.reverbnation.com/spaceshipdays) as our main internet launching pad.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
(Chuck) Completely. They aren’t just good tools, but vital ones for indie artists without massive promotional budgets, which is more or less all of us. People sort of look through flyers on the coffee shop wall, but might check their Twitter or Facebook page 38 times a day. Making connections, finding venues to play, and getting your music out to people who want to hear it are very important for indie and unsigned artists. The internet helps us do that efficiently, and effectively. That leaves more time for the most important stuff, which is writing songs.
With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
(Chuck) Many sites have fantastic resources, but the biggest thing that’s missing is people who aren’t in bands. Artists, by and large are on those pages to promote themselves, which is essential obviously, but it’s uncommon to find the ones who use sites pages to indulge their own inner music fan. Networking is cool in its own way, and it’s also great to discover those really good artists that you might not have heard otherwise but as far as finding new fans to engage with, its something that sill needs to get done one person at a time. Muso-friendly websites have helped to increase an artist’s reach, but building up a real following is still something you have to work at.
How do you relax?
(Greg) lay on the bed, turn off the lights, shut my eyes, and listen to my Ipod.
(Matt) I lay under Greg’s bed when he’s listening to his Ipod with his eyes shut and lights off...oh yeah, and jogging.
(Chuck) I read as many books as I can find, after checking to make sure Matt isn’t under my bed. I also try and go to the movies at least once a week.
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
(Greg) Paying the bouncer at the end of the night, since we didn’t make enough at the door to cover the Sound Man’s cost at the Blind Tiger, in Greensboro, NC
(Matt) We played a pizzeria at a military airport.
(Chuck) Worst: We were playing a house party once, and this random girl walked up to Matt (who was literally in the middle of singing his heart out) and said: “Are you guys almost done?”
Best: Its sort of messed up how hard the good ones are to remember—they go by so quickly. I’m going to have to go with the shows we did in Austin TX. Cool city, great crowds—all the stuff you think being in a band is about when you’re nine and watching videos late at night.
What are your day jobs if you have them?
(Greg) Program Manager for Software Company.
(Matt) Student and sexy bastard.
(Chuck) Daddy, but I do that a night too.
Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
(Greg) That’s my dream
(Matt) Gee, let me think...
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
(Chuck) Not yet
Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
(Chuck) Totally! For a card-carrying Motion Picture Enthusiast such as myself, having a Spaceship Days song on a soundtrack would be 27 different kinds of awesome.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
(Matt) Yes. Oprah’s net worth to my savings account.
(Chuck) Thanks for talking to us, and we hope that people remember to support independent art in all its forms, everywhere.