On a steamy mid-July night, From Ashes To New brought their brand of blended rap and rock to Manchester Music Hall in Lexington, Kentucky. While hitting several festivals the quartet from Lancaster, Pennsylvania put together a tour package that included Palisades, Awake I Am, and The Funeral Portrait to jam with in cities across the United States. Even for a sleepy Tuesday night in Kentucky a hundred or so faithfuls came out and all four bands delivered.
From Ashes To New’s set included fifteen songs from across their catalog with a couple of surprise covers. There were plenty of fist bumps and guitar picks to go around as the band interacted with fans the entire set. Vocalist Matt Brandyberry even suffered a small wardrobe malfunction from rocking a little too hard. During their set, the band spoke about their influences and the importance of mental health awareness. Before the show, I spoke with drummer Mat Madiro about the challenges of writing new material on the road, favourite stops on tour, and his favourite shoe to drum in.
Is this the first headline tour for From Ashes To New? Mat Madiro: We’ve done the co-headliner with Bad Wolves and we’ve done the co-headliner with Ice Nine Kills that just recently happened before we hopped into the Falling In Reverse support tour with them as well. We did a very small headliner once before where it was Bad Flower and Dead Girls Academy was on it and then a band I believe brought on called Killakoi. It was put together around some festivals, kind of like this one started off but we have a team behind us now that really know what to do. We turned this from “let’s do a couple of shows around festivals” into “let’s make this a headliner.”
From Ashes To New’s third single off of The Futurist was “My Name.” Check out the music video here:
How do you prepare for a tour like this? Madiro: It’s been good. We haven’t really changed the actual lights. We own all of our production so we haven’t really changed since the last tour. We haven’t had a lot of time in between. We’ve been writing a lot for the new record so that’s kind of been a lot of our focus. We kind of DIY all of our lights ourselves anyway, but we always change them in how they are designed. Or we redo the show itself. We’ve kind of invested a little bit to where we’re like “ok, let’s invest now so we don’t have to change every single tour and rent a bunch of stuff.” We just redesign, but it always looks really cool and it still makes us look fairly big on a cheap budget.
It’s fun though. It’s always fun to dig into it and get involved with that. My OCD comes out and I try to come up with sets that are very symmetrical and look very big at the same time. From the last co-headliner with Ice Nine Kills to now essentially they are all the same lights, but we’ve designed now lights down stage and to the sides with movers coming in to really give a huge depth appeal. And we’ve changed up the pulse that all the lights are on. We’ve kind of downsized the production while keeping the same amount of pieces on the road, to kind of make things easier for the crew but (create) less clutter on stage.
Are the challenges to writing the new record on the road? Madiro: It’s hard sometimes to get inspirations because sometimes you’re just out of it. You’re tired, you didn’t sleep well last night because you’re moving in a vehicle going down the road, or you have a million other things that you’re thinking about. But we do come up with stuff on the road. What we really did was we kind of started the process of getting the idea were we wanted to go while being on the road and while being together and then when we went home we had a quick (about a week) break off tour and met back up and we got together in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the band’s from even though a few of us live in different areas.
We all met up, stayed together for two weeks and just started really digging into it. Took a small break and then kind of got back together before this run so we could finalize some ideas that we had, and then start tour prep and start rehearsals and get the song lists going and stuff like that. It’s been really good. We’re more excited on what we’re coming up with just in these demos so far without even working with a producer than I think we have been with anything else we have come up with before.
From Ashes To New’s sophomore studio album, The Futurist, was released on April 20th, 2018. Check out the artwork:
How would you describe the new music? Madiro: We looked at so many other artists or bands and we loved little pieces of what they did that helped them to their successes. And we were like “oh that would be really cool to do this or would be really cool to do that” and we kind of realized that it didn’t hinder us, it made us who we were but it also at the same time wasn’t where the original sound started from. It’s not that we are going back into a sound, we’re honing in on what we really liked from The Future record and even though only Matt (Brandyberry, vocalist of From Ashes To New) was a part of Day One we are going back and asking “what really captivated the audience off of this record?”
I don’t think we are going more experimental but we are going a little bit more nostalgic with our sound for the next record, if I could put it in one word. And really just trying to understand where we are at in the industry. We are on an active rock label in front of active rock fans so let’s really dive into where we fit rather than try to run away and multiple different directions and try to make a million different things work let really hone in on the core of it and build it from there.
The twentieth anniversary of some big records from the late ‘90s and early 2000s is coming up. Do you remember any big records from that time? Madiro: For me, there was always Korn and Slipknot and Limp Bizkit (who) were ones that I always listened to. And then Linkin Park just took it to a different level. So for me, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, those are the ones that just stick out for me. There’s always been people doing what you would call “nu-metal” sound prior to them. But Mike Shinoda and them really knew how to change the game for sure and they took it to a whole new level.
You didn’t have any of those bands doing stuff with Jay-Z. It was a total crossover between hip-hop and rock and I’ve loved rock music growing up because of my parents but it wasn’t like the current rock that I am into now. So for me, I grew up listening to a lot of hip-hop and a lot of rap. And when I found Linkin Park that was the band that made rock really cool to me. Even though my older cousins and my brother would listen to more rock. It wasn’t my thing but when I found Linkin Park, that’s when it opened the door.
Still “Crazy” about this one? We are too. Here’s the first single from The Futurist:
Do you have a preferred style of shoe to drum in? Madiro: It’s weird because I started off doing Vans, I would only play in Vans. I really like the way that they feel, the authentics of the Vans and then I could play in like the classics. The high tops I don’t really play in too much; I like that ankle freedom. But then it’s kind of come in to like some athletic shoes like Adidas running shoes or something like real stylish still. They have the grip but they’re lightweight and (the) ankle is right there so it feels like it’s snug on my foot, where I felt like the authentics started to flop around a little too much. I kind of flip flop; it all depends really on how I’m feeling. I’m constantly like “what outfit do I want to wear for tonight?”
I feel like if I’m not in a certain outfit or feeling right for stage then my performance lacks. I need to get into a whole different being before I walk on stage. It could range from one day (to another). I’m gonna go with the Vans or another day I’m gonna throw on some running shoes. Lately, I’ve been playing in, I don’t even know what these Nikes are but I’ve been rocking these Nike (Roshes). They’re super lightweight, I don’t even have them tied but they just seem to grip well on the pedals. It’s just kind of how I’m feeling, it’s a mindset for me. I’ll trick myself into thinking it doesn’t feel right but it feels totally fine.
What outside influences do you have when it comes to writing? Madiro: Realistically, everybody says it, but life. I’ve gone through a lot growing up as a kid and I’ve never really had the outlet to really let a lot of the things that have affected me as a child and the things I’ve had to overcome. I do get to help with some of the lyrics and that’s huge. But it’s just really everything I’ve ever been though I feel like everyone kind of suffers from a place of finding themselves falling into some sort of depression, whether it be a full case of it or just out of nowhere you just feel sad. Even the happiest people with the biggest smiles have to go through stuff.
I try to take that and run back into the depths of those emotions for me when I write whether it be lyrics or just a piece because for me music moves me just as much as the lyrics do. I just really try to dig into that part, so I can release the negative energy and maybe help cope with that. I use just life, anxieties, depressions, whatever. It could be a happy inspiration too. If something really cool happens and I’m just high on life, and I’m inspired by something I could draw something up in my head from that. It really is anything.
Brandon Turner’s live shots of the band at Manchester Music Hall (Lexington, KY) on July 16, 2019:
How has being more vocal about mental health affected your interactions with fans? Madiro: I saw it more with a lot of other bands I was friends with, a lot of bands that would play on Warped Tour and things like that, those people really put it out there. I really liked how honest and I’ve always been an honest person as well. I really like that they put themselves out there. We really didn’t get into it until we got into (From Ashes To New). We realized how similar it was but also what kind of impact we would have on ourselves to be honest and open because it’s very uncomfortable to be open about a lot of serious things with people you don’t really know because you’re afraid to be judged, you’re afraid to be looked at differently. Tha’’s kind of the point. (It) was like “let’s break that barrier down” and it is uncomfortable even for us to do this but we’re standing on the stage doing it in front of all these people whom we don’t necessarily know but they’re already supporting us.
So it’s like we can do it for ourselves so it’s ok for you to do it for you and once we got into this group that when it really started to come out. But I think there is inspiration for all of us. We started seeing a lot of other bands starting to open up about it too and it was something we always believed in but never really had a platform to do it but luckily with this, we do the Love is Louder and other things like that. I think it’s really important for people to talk about it because everybody holds something in. And everybody acts like they got it all together but not everybody always does.
Any stops you’re looking forward to on the tour? Madiro: I’m excited for what is considered the “home show” in Baltimore, August 9th, at Rams Head Live. I’ve done the venue a couple of times but we haven’t ever gone through and headlined that place. And it’s a really nice venue; it’s close to home so it’s gonna be some friends coming out, families coming out, stuff like that so it’s always a good time. But I’m really excited about these festivals.
A lot of people I know say, “I love the festivals because you’re getting to play a bunch” but before, when I was a crew guy, everybody else I was working with would be like “this is terrible” but me, I love them either way, whether I’m working for one or I’m playing one it doesn’t matter. I get to see so many friends, you get to see so many fans come out and just enjoy the same thing. We were just at INKarceration the other day. And I saw people I hadn’t seen the last six years, just working for all these different bands, now playing for other bands so it’s like a high school reunion basically. I love it, I think it’s amazing.
“Lost and Alone” was one of the highlights from the band’s debut, Day One: