By the Barricade: What do you miss the most from Dramarama’s founding year of 1982 and life in the early Eighties?
John Easdale: Having the innocence and naivety of a person turning 21. Especially the sense that anything can happen, that I could make music the way I wanted without being told what to do.
By the Barricade: What would you be doing if you never started singing for Dramarama?
John Easdale: Most likely something like I did while the band was on “hiatus” in the 90s. I produced a syndicated radio rock history review show hosted by John Lydon and written by George Gimarc called “Rotten Day”. It was when the Sex Pistols decided to tour again and I became the editor of “Virtually Alternative” a radio trade magazine. It was an amazing experience, not only did I get to interview David Bowie, he, or most likely a publicist, actually called my house, but, more importantly, it was there I met my bass player for the last 15 years or so, the tremendously gifted Mike Davis.
By the Barricade: “Anything Anything” was the most requested song on 106.7 KROQ FM. What do you think about the stations current more alternative playlist?
John Easdale: Commercial “Alternative Radio” is what it is, and has been since Nirvana and Pearl Jam broke big in the early 90s. It’s pretty much a Top 40 mindset, where they play the hits multiple times a day. I do wish there was more alternative rock, if you will, on KROQ. It’s not that I don’t like anything that’s out there, I just would like to hear more music with an edge and less that relies on computer programming.
By the Barricade: In your opinion who is the most DRAMAtic member of the band, past or present?
John Easdale: Mr. E Boy (Mark Englert) the guitarist. [He] has been my closest friend since I emerged from infancy so I have seen him in all sorts of situations and then some! What most impresses me about Mark is that he is constantly trying to better himself. Mark graduated from college during Dramrama’s hiatus and even now is taking classes to learn some new skills.
By the Barricade: You mentioned Dramarama has played the House of Blues Anaheim several times. Would you rather play the House of Blues three times in a row and not get paid, or go to Disneyland 3 times in a row instead?
John Easdale: 3 times for free, although I love all theme parks and have gone to Disneyland more than 3 times in a row. The last two have been the first in 24 years that I have not had a Disney annual pass.
By the Barricade: I noticed Dramarama skips the formality of set lists despite their long career. Is there any particular reason?
John Easdale: So we don’t get stuck in a rut. We played 3 times this weekend and I’m proud to say I think we only played 1 song all three nights! It keeps us on our toes and better connected to the audience. With a set list it’s too easy to get lax, go through the motions, and become an act. We really do have fun on stage and it helps if we play what we think the audience wants to hear at that moment.
By the Barricade: Dramarama has gained a dedicated following here in California despite its humble beginnings in New Jersey. Which of the two cities do you consider your “Home” city, and why?
John Easdale: I grew up in New Jersey, so that’s where I’m from. California has been my home for going on 28 years. It’s where I live! When I go back to New Jersey, especially Wayne, I get sort of nostalgic, but it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of it as my “home.” My wife and daughters were all born in Whittier, my most precious things are from California; it is my home.
By the Barricade: What has been your favorite city and venue to play in?
John Easdale: My personal motto is “It’s all good!” But shows at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano or The Stone Pony and/or Wonder Bar in Asbury Park New Jersey are among the most memorable.
By the Barricade: With the bankruptcy of labels such as Chamaeleon Records and the disappearance of music videos on MTV what other opportunities do modern bands have to be heard outside their local boundaries?
John Easdale: The internet is an amazing thing. The numbers sold may be smaller, but the number of artists has increased a thousand fold. But with that comes file sharing and all the other “goodies.” Fans choosing not to pay for music can tremendously limit a band’s opportunities. It’s great to have 3 million hits on YouTube, or a quadrillion Facebook likes, but the reality is that touring and recording costs money. Even with all the “likes” and “views,” venues do not pay enough for a new and/or modern band to quit their day jobs and tour. It’s the ol’ double-edged sword.
By the Barricade : Is there anything else you would like to say to the By the Barricade readers?
John Easdale: Thanks for carrying the message. Tell your friends. Dramarama is STILL the next big thing!