An Interview With The Indie Pop Trio, RAINY DAY CRUSH!
Posted On 24 May 2017
Rainy Day Crush was originally formed in 1994. Matt Specht and some musician friends were fresh out of high school and eager to get something started with just a guitar, a CD collection, and no internet. After a successful stint in the 90s, playing countless Wisconsin shows and even signing to an independent label, the project began to fade.
In 2012, the band was asked to play a reunion show as a fundraiser. The project swung back into life, first with smaller acoustic shows and then growing into a dynamic and bold full band experience. Rainy Day Crush had found its place once more within the Mid-West Indie scene. It was then that the band began to face some serious challenges, losing two lead singers within a year. Matt, Mike and Derek were feeling pretty defeated when they decided to circle back to their roots, back to that acoustic guitar and cd collection that started it all. While writing and recording in the studio one day, it dawned on them to have Matt sing and continue the journey.
Now Rainy Day Crush is poised for a comeback. The band is eager to grow beyond the Wisconsin music scene and into the national Indie Pop spotlight with their inspired and heartfelt upcoming EP, “I’m Still Alive,” out June 9th.
Rainy Day Crush’s newest single, “Heartbreak (And How To Get Over It)”, is the inspiring and catchy post break up song everyone has been waiting for. The band said that this song has become their latest battle cry. “Heartbreak” stands as an anthem to challenge adversity, reminding the trio that it’s up to Matt, Mike, and Derek to keep putting up a fight.
Rainy Day Crush’s upcoming EP, I’m Still Alive makes a promise to their fans that the band is poised and ready for a comeback. The EP captures the essence of Rainy Day Crush, fusing unbelievably catchy hooks with vibrant & honest lyrics to tell the band’s story of tenacity and determination. I’m Still Alive is out June 9th.
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Learn more about Rainy Day Crush in the following All Access interview:
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for this band and your music? What were some of the highlights? What has been the most exciting part about this year?
MATT: Well, I think the best word I can use to describe 2016 (without swearing) is “challenging.” I don’t want to dwell on the past too much, beyond saying that there was more than one point last year where we looked at each other and we asked ourselves if we really want to keep doing this. And the answer was (and always will be) unequivocally YES. Obviously, what we have going is special to us, and we’ve been working at it for a long time. We’re tenacious, and we’re not going to give up.
The highlight for me was going into the studio in December and recording “Bonfires.” That song came together very well. It was like meeting someone you have an instant connection with–that song just felt right from the time we started recording until that last accordion part was added. Having success in the studio like that was intoxicating, and gave us a lot of fuel to record the next three songs.
MIKE: Bittersweet. The bitter part would be that we went through some multiple lineup changes at the most inconvenient of times. The sweet part is that we finally have the lineup that we know is going to be there for the long haul. With all of that being said, we did play some pretty awesome shows. The fire that we have now is brighter and hotter than ever.
DEREK: Rough. Challenging. Crap-tastic. Between line-up changes and health problems and everything else that got thrown at us, the most exciting part about 2016 is probably that the three of us made it through unscathed, and that we’re still rocking away! Also, go-carts.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? How did you all first meet each other?
MATT: You don’t “want” to be a musician–you either are, or you aren’t! I’ve played the piano since I was 5. I started writing music in junior high. Music is something that I have always leaned on to help me work through things, and it has always taken top priority in my life. Being creative is a big big part of who I am.
However, I feel incredibly lucky… The band broke up for a long time. I thought I was becoming one of those guys that “used to be in a band.” I went through a lot of grief over the band breakup, but because that grief was tied up in anger over the breakup, it was hard to see those feelings were grief. So it became difficult to remember how important music is to me. My guitar sat in its case for too long. I met my girlfriend after the band breakup, and it was a couple years before I ever let her see me play the piano.
So we did the reunion show, and we built back up from there. We had the original lineup for that show, but moving forward, we had to make some changes because of location and current obligations. The lineup continued to change over the next couple years, too. But the three of us have been playing, writing, and recording together for over two years now, and we’re not going anywhere. We have some peeps that come play different shows with us, but for now, our core trio is solid, and we’re going to keep moving forward.
I met Derek when we played with his old band, a heavy metal cover band called Ten Ton. We played a benefit show for the local animal shelter, and he messaged us offering his services. At that point, we were an acoustic duo, so we took him up on it. That was about 4 years ago.
I met Mike when I asked a mutual friend from the Racine Theatre Guild if he knew any drummers. Before I was done asking, he gave me Mike’s name. Mike came over, jammed with us, and said, “You’re not going to find a better drummer.” He was right!
MIKE: All I can remember is being a musician from the beginning of time. Being a musician is more of a need than a want to me. Whenever I needed to take out my anger, the drums has been there for me. I met Matt through a mutual friend. From a text message that the friend sent to the both of us, Matt and I link up. I liked the vibe that he had going with the music. I felt that I could make great music with him. Then the first actual practice is when I met Derek. We click right away as Bassist and drummer!
DEREK: No, I initially wanted to be an accountant, but that sounded way too exciting.
I first met Matt in 2013, when the band I was in at the time was playing a show with him. Our two bands ended up sharing the stage for a few Rainy Day Crush songs and I remember telling my guitarist, “This is the kind of music we should be playing!” Later on, when Matt asked me to record some tracks with him, I obviously said yes.
Was it hard to narrow down a band name? How did you finally decide? What other names were you considering?
MATT: Yes, that was hard! Probably the most difficult thing we’ve done. We literally had over 500 ideas. At the time, we were getting signed to a small label out of Minneapolis. We were called The Other Side for most of the first decade, but that name was trademarked. So we were getting ideas from our fans on our message board (remember those?), and coming up with our own. It seemed like every idea would be loved by three of us, but vehemently opposed by the fourth. Rainy Day Crush was literally the first band name idea that none of us hated.
And there’s a reason we’ve held on to that name. We really feel like we crush rainy days for ourselves, and we hope we can do the same for others. We are all struggling with something, but we can all use music to help us get through the struggle.
You would be shocked at some of the other names we considered! I remember ideas like Butterface, The Graces, and things like that. After the reunion, we called ourselves Candy Apple Crush, but that ended up sounding too much like a certain video game. So we just went back to Rainy Day Crush. And we’re glad we did.
Let’s talk about your debut single, “Heartbreak.” Where did the inspiration for it come from? How do you think it prepares listeners for the rest of your “I’m Still Alive” EP?
MATT: I’ve had the music for this one hanging around for a while, but it never came to fruition. I’ve always loved that riff. Mike really loved it, too. Last year, I was moping in a hotel room in Memphis, and the lyrics just came pouring out of me.
Right before recording, Mike and Derek came over to hammer out the last details like background vocals and a couple trouble spots. I told Mike I was hearing a second voice singing, kind of like an old church “call and response.” We worked on it, and Mike’s backing vocals are one of my favorite things about this song! That high note he hits towards the end give me the chills every time I hear it!
For us, the lyrics are personal. They mean a little something different to all three of us, I think, but that’s what makes it special: it’s true, whether we’re talking about romance, or work, or politics, or whatever is weighing on you. This song (and music in general) is a way of finding common ground with our audience; it’s a way of commiserating. We found some strength in writing and recording in this song, and hopefully listeners can find some solace in that.
MIKE: We needed to make a statement song that would tell our story. It’s a song that talks about being defeated but getting back up from it. I think the listeners get to feel the new vibe and direction that we are going!
Since you formed a whopping 23 years ago in 1994, I am curious to know how you think this band has grown over the years? What has stayed the same and what continues year after year about your sound?
MATT: That’s a tough question. It feels like there hasn’t been much that’s changed… We write and record and play music. What changes is that we’re always looking for something new and interesting to do, so I think our sound is always changing to a degree. But that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting for us. There are bands that can get away with releasing album after album of the same sounding stuff, but that would be boring to us. We’re just always looking for ways to keep things exciting.
That being said, I think we get better at recording every time we hit the studio. Recording is like anything else: you have to practice at it to be good. We may not be great at recording yet, but I get a little more confident every time we go in.
In 2012, you played a reunion show as a fundraiser. What was it like playing together after the absence?
Like being denied pizza for years and years, and then eating a pizza. It was f**king delicious!
Do you have plans to play out a lot this summer? Where are you excited to play at? Do you find that’s where you guys are happiest- playing live for fans?
MATT: We’re working on booking. We’re in the market for a booking agent. Right now, we’re booking our own shows, but we’d like to step up our game.
We are excited every time we play! It’s such a privilege to be able to play.
Personally, I think playing live is where I am the most “me” so to speak. When you’re playing, everything else kind of fades away, and it’s just you and the music. It’s very personal, and freeing.
MIKE: Absolutely! I think it’s great to show people we are excited about musically! I feel most comfortable on stage as well. I have no worries when I play.
DEREK: I think overall the whole band has a lot of fun performing. Also, to use a psychological term, it’s easy to enter a state of “flow,” which is when you become completely absorbed in what you’re doing and filter out everything else around you. Basically, up on a stage is one of the few places where we are no longer playing music – we ARE the music!
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for each of you and Rainy Day Crush?
MATT: I’ll answer with the first albums I owned: Michael Jackson Thriller, Billy Joel Piano Man/Streetlife Serenader, Pet Shop Boys Introspective, Foreigner Agent Provocateur, INXS Kick, Mike + the Mechanics Living Years, Skid Row Skid Row, Bon Jovi New Jersey, Def Leppard Hysteria, Chicago 17, Prince Purple Rain, Aerosmith Pump, Billy Joel Storm Front, and Rod Stewart Out of Order. Those were all on tape. The one I loved the most was New Jersey. I played that one so much, the tape fell apart. Three times.
I would tear out my eyeballs to play some piano with Jimmy Eat World. And Tom Waits–wouldn’t that be amazing? I could just sit off to the side and bang on some pots and pans and it would be great to watch him work. And Harry Connick, Jr. He would be fun to jam with. As a band, I would love to see what Butch Walker would do to one of ours songs. And Bob Rock. Would love to get into the studio with that dude for a couple days. And Dave Grohl. It would be so much fun to get in a room or on a stage with that guy and just make a bunch of noise!
MIKE: There are a lot of artists and genres of music that influence me. Some of my favorites are Fred Hammond, Stevie Wonder, Usher, Ne-Yo & John Legend just to name a few. To share the stage with any of them would be an honor!
DEREK: One of the most fun aspects of the band is that we each have a very distinct taste in music. I like to listen to all kinds of music from all around the world. I recently saw one of my favorite musicians, a Japanese guitarist called Miyavi, play a concert in Chicago and it was amazing! He would be a lot of fun to work with.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
MATT: You’re not alone. We feel all the feels, too.
MIKE: When you get knocked down, you can get back up again. I believe we have a positive message and good vibes with our music. If someone is going through a rough time in their life, hopefully the music can encourage them and let them know that it will be ok.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this band or your music?
DEREK: One of the most important things we hope people pick up on is the generally positive and energetic message we spread buy our music. Also, we hope the subliminal messages work.
MIKE: We are a fun, loving, awesome group of people. We love music and hopefully you can tell thru our music!
MATT: I sometimes compare Rainy Day Crush to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, or Big Kahuna Burger. We’re not McDonald’s. We’re not mass-produced. You might not have heard of us yet, but we do have some TASTY songs, and a $5 shake that’s to die for.