It’s MUSIC MONDAY, to steal a Twitter hashtag! It’s also the beginning of a week leading up to the one year anniversary of when I started running interviews here on my site. One interview every day, leading up to Saturday’s return interview with Evelyn LaFont.
Today’s guests are REVERSE ORDER, a local NJ band poised for great things. The band is composed of brothers John and Cruise Russo, Drew Katsock and Frank Spangler.
ANTHONY: Hello, Reverse Order! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me. I’ve had the opportunity to see you guys perform live twice now: opening for Action Item at Starland Ballroom, and opening for Allstar Weekend at NJPAC. And I have to say: you guys have fantastic energy on-stage. So, how did the band form, and how long have you been performing together?
CRUISE: The band was formed by John and I (Cruise) we are brothers. We had been child actors (I was on the Soap, As The World Turns as Casey Hughes) then when we got to middle school we got interested in music. At the same time the movie School of Rock came out, and my mom found out there was one opening in NJ so we were the first students (Mike the drummer from Hollywood Ending was also a student there, we are good friends). Then we decided to start writing our own music and Reverse Order was born. I’d say we seriously formed in 2008. We had some band members change due to school, work, girlfriends but Drew has been with us a year and a half and Frank is going on one year. We really like this line up.
ANTHONY: Where did the band name come from?
CRUISE: John and I were trying to come up with a name for the band for a school talent show and at the time he was being homeschooled and there was an Algebra problem and the words Reverse Order were on the white board in our house, after much brotherly arguing my dad said “Reverse Order” that’s your name.
ANTHONY: You describe yourselves as “pop punk / pop rock.” Who are some of your biggest influences, and what inspiration do you draw from them?
JOHN: As we’ve matured our inspirations have changed. When I first got into writing I would re-write lyrics to Linkin Park songs along with some friends. As I started writing and building full songs with my own music, lyrics, and melodies, I started drawing inspiration from a wide range of both Pop Punk and Rock artists including the teen anthems of Blink 182, the wittiness and catchiness of Fall Out Boy, and the powerful honesty of Alice In Chains.
ANTHONY: I’m always interested in the creative process. So: who are the song-writers in the group? What’s your song-writing process like? Do the lyrics come first, then melody and instruments, or the reverse?
CRUISE: Up until 2012 it was totally John. Now, I’m writing too and we’ll have sessions with Frank and Drew to try to come up with their parts. John is still the main guy. John will have some ideas and he’ll play them over and over and I’ll keep trying different drum beats sometimes we hit on something and it falls in place and sometimes we have some really good parts that never get finished because we’re missing something.
JOHN: Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the music. I start with whatever comes to me first and then work from there. Sometimes I just sit there for hours until something comes to me. Sometimes I have a whole song and it is just missing one part and I can’t finish it so I put it aside. Sometimes months later Cruise will say remember that song you were fooling around with let’s try to do something with it. So there are so many different ways we approach songwriting.
ANTHONY: You’re from Hackettstown, NJ, firmly up in the northwest corner of the state. Has living in the more “rural” part of New Jersey had any impact on the type of song you write, or the way your sound has developed?
CRUISE: For John and I our parents always took us to new places and even to concerts and plays to introduce us to new things. Some of our first concerts were Kiss, Billy Idol and Bruce Springsteen. We were born in Lincoln Park, NJ and then moved to the rural area in middle school. We live in a rural area but we’re more beach, or suburb type guys.
ANTHONY: I have to ask: you list “dancing in public places” as a band interest. Does this mean we can expect Reverse Order “flash mobs” around northwest NJ? And is it really the whole band that loves breaking into dance, or one of you in particular?
JOHN: We all love breaking into dance, but I’d have to say Frank and I are the worst offenders. We realized this at an H&M clothing store when we were on tour in Michigan. Frank and I started to dance in the middle of the store while waiting in line. There is also a video on YouTube of myself dressed in an afro and pleather pants ‘dancing in the 80s’ haha.
ANTHONY: In terms of the band’s sound and energy: what does each member of the group bring to the stage that is uniquely “them?”
REVERSE ORDER: John is the front man of the group and has the ability to captivate an audience of any size. You can feel the power in every note he sings and plays. Cruise is the drummer but one of his greatest assets is that he is able to take over lead vocals as well. His drumming style is powerful and energetic and he draws from Pop/Punk greats like Travis Barker and Jason Lancaster. Audiences go wild for Drew as he struts the stage giving a dynamic and high energy performance, Drew and John really work well together getting right into the audience and grabbing their attention, they’re not afraid to do whatever it takes to make sure everyone is having fun and lost in the moment and Frank’s driving bass holds down the low end as he delivers a powerful performance. Frank and Cruise hold everything together while Drew and John get the audience involved and pumped up. Sometimes they just go right into the crowd. One time recently the whole crowd just rushed the stage to jump and sing with them.
ANTHONY: You’ve got an album on itunes. How have sales been on that?
JOHN: Sales have been really good! It’s always exciting to get a new trend report every week, which shows where and when your music is being purchased or streamed. Sometimes we get really cool results and it says someone in Germany or Canada is listening to our music. It’s a great feeling to know you’re really getting out there!
ANTHONY: Is there another album or EP in the near future?
JOHN: There is another EP in the near future! We have been working very hard writing songs our fans will love. We have some really great ideas that we can’t wait to record and show the world! We were actually in the studio the first week of April to record. It should come out sometime in May J
ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: for each member of the band, what is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?
JOHN: I’m more of a wait till it gets to theaters kind of guy haha, but I do enjoy reading Graphic Novels and Stephen King books from time to time. My song, Wake Me Up will actually be in this horror film “You Can’t Kill Stephen King.” I love horror films so I can’t wait to see it.
CRUISE: Well I read a ton so it’s really hard to pick just one… But I’d say there are a lot of really good autobiographies from musicians. Both Clapton by Eric Clapton and The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Six from Motley Crue were hard to put down. The obstacles they overcame within the music industry, and just in life in general, are astounding and reading them was very insightful, I tell everyone to read them whether you’re a fan of their music or not.
DREW: Harry Potter, I grew up with it so it is a very much a part of my childhood.
FRANK: Don’t really have one.
ANTHONY: Okay, thanks again guys! Looking forward to catching up with you in person soon!
REVERSE ORDER will be playing this Friday, April 27th, as the headline act at The Croc Rock in Allentown PA and at The Canvas Clash in Boonton NJ on May 11th. You can buy tickets HERE. Tell them Anthony sent you!
You can find Reverse Order online on Facebook and Twitter. Cruise and John have their own clothing line, Just Dance Apparel. And of course they’re on Youtube. In fact, here’s their video for THESE SUMMER NIGHTS: