Today Is The Day Drummer Curran Reynolds Talks About The Upcoming Album
Today Is The Day is in the process of finishing up a ninth studio album, “Pain Is A Warning,” the band's first since 2007’s “Axis Of Eden.” With another record comes a whole new line-up. In addition to the ever-present Steve Austin, the new members include Wetnurse bassist Ryan Jones and drummer Curran Reynolds. While the band’s line-up has been shaky since the early days, the music has been far from inconsistent.
Their weird noise rock/metal has captivated a loyal following since debut album “Supernova.” This new album promises to do the same, though with a different approach than previous records. I had the chance to speak to Reynolds a few days ago about this approach, as well as a status update on Wetnurse and why this line-up may be here to stay for the long run.
Heavytothebone2: Before we get into your involvement with Today Is The Day, can we talk about your background as a drummer? What got you into drumming? How did you start?
I started when I was 10 years old, back in 1988. I was living in rural Maine, out in the woods, with my mom and my sister. I got to be that age, around age 10, where I was getting really excited about music. At that time, I was into bands like Pink Floyd and Motley Crue, and I think I just really wanted to rock out. My mom recognized it and she bought me my first drum set when I was 10. It just went from there.
I played in bands all through high school. I played in hardcore bands. The hardcore scene was big, even up in Maine, around 1992, ’93, imitating stuff that was going on in Boston at that time and New York at that time. We were only 14, 15 years old, but a lot of young kids were setting up shows and doing stuff up there. So that was going on and I was part of that. At age 17, I moved to New York. I started this band called Wetnurse in 2001. That’s been the band that’s done the most stuff. That’s been the most serious band that I’ve been in. We put out two records and toured around.
So doing Wetnurse over the last ten years and then just last year, (vocalist/guitarist) Steve (Austin) reached out to me and asked me if I would join Today Is The Day. I’ve been a fan of Today Is The Day since 1995 when I first heard “Willpower.” I saw the band live shortly after that; I think it was 1997 when I first saw them live. I’ve just been a major fan for many years, so it was totally a dream come true when he asked me to play drums.
Heavytothebone2: The band is working on their next album, “Pain Is A Warning.” What is the status of the new album?
I finished tracking drums over the weekend. The drums are finished. I checked in with those guys; they told me that guitars and bass are done and Steve is recording vocals right now as we speak.
Heavytothebone2: Tell me how the new material sounds. Is it similar to the earlier stuff? Is it a separate entity from the rest of the catalog?
I would describe it as the most accessible stuff the band has ever done, but it’s still unmistakably Today Is The Day. It’s definitely still driven by Steve. For anyone who knows the band, Steve is a very powerful, charismatic kind of person. The band has always been a place for him to put out all his honest thoughts and honest emotions. That’s always been one really strong part about the band. It is not a one-dimensional thing. It’s always been a place where Steve could express the full spectrum of emotions. You have Today Is The Day songs that are really aggressive and you also have Today Is The Day songs that show a vulnerable side of him. He’s always been willing to put it all out there, I think more than most people. He’s always done that and that continues on the new record, where you have really aggressive stuff and you also have more vulnerable types of stuff.
In terms of music, he’s expressing himself through a more timeless, rock 'n’ roll-based style than ever before. If you go back, all the albums that he’s done have had hooks and rocking parts, but there’s always been a lot of weirdness in there or a lot of grindcore. I think on this new record, he’s embracing rock music more than he’s done on any other Today Is The Day record. I could throw some names out there that are reference points for different songs; there’s some Motorhead, Jesus Lizard, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Ministry, maybe even Nirvana. All big rock stuff, but it’s still unmistakably still Steve doing his thing.
In terms of drums, I have so respect for Today Is The Day, and all the drummers who have ever played in the band. I’m trying to pay tribute to those guys. The stuff on there I was tracking...there were certain parts on there that I was consciously thinking, ‘Okay, this is like a tribute to Brad Elrod,’ the original drummer who played on the first three records. Or there’s another part when I’m like, ‘Okay, this is a nod to Brann Dailor,’ who played on “In The Eyes Of God.” There’s definitely nods to those other guys. There’s been a lot of drummers in the band and they’ve all been phenomenal.
I am the seventh drummer to record with Today Is The Day. In addition to those seven guys, there’s even been more guys who have done tours and filled in with Today Is The Day. I’m trying to do the legacy justice and pay tribute to all those guys, but at the same time, it’s definitely my thing. I’m just trying to bring my own energy to it and make the songs rock as hard as possible.
Heavytothebone2: How do you think fans will react to the more accessible side that is shown on the upcoming album?
In my opinion, this record is so solid. There’s nine songs; every single one is awesome. I think there’s no filler on this record. It’s just one timeless rock song after the next. I think it’s really powerful stuff. I think people will dig it. I think fans of the band will appreciate it because it’s still 100 percent Steve. His energy and his personality is 100 percent there. I think anybody who likes the band will still enjoy it for that reason. I think people who have never even heard this band will dig this stuff as well because it’s just such timeless, powerful music.
Heavytothebone2: When you were recording the drum tracks, did you feel any pressure within to live up to the past drummers?
Like I’ve said, I have so much respect for those guys. Like Brad Elrod, the original drummer, was such a creative, amazing player. Of course, Brann Dailor was in the band, Derek Roddy was in the band. These are all world-class drummers.
Now, I’ve already done a tour with Today Is The Day. I think honestly any sort of pressure that I would have felt to live up to anything in the past, I think that sort of pressure was pretty much squashed after doing that tour that I did. It was last fall, we toured with Unsane and Keelhaul. It was a two-week thing around the U.S. Any sort of pressure to be something or live up to something else pretty much got squashed.
We were up there every night doing it and we rock and people were telling us they really liked it. Long-time Today Is The Day fans were saying it was the best they’ve seen the band in a long time. I realize at that point, ‘Okay, this is my band now.’ I will always try and pay tribute to those other drummers, but I just have to do my own thing. That’s what I doing. I’m doing my thing and I think it’s going really well.
Heavytothebone2: What would you rate your performance on this album compared to previous drumming you’ve done?
This is definitely my best work. The last time I recorded a record was the last Wetnurse album, “Invisible City,” and that was tracked in 2007. So it’s been four years since I’ve recorded drums. I’ve gotten a lot better as a drummer in the last four years. I would say that, combined with Kurt Ballou producing this record...he had a lot of great ideas. He’s got a good ear for drums and he gave a lot of input on what he thought sounded good.
There are a couple instances where I would track the song a few times and he just would listen back and pick out his favorite parts. He definitely helped craft this thing. I’m so proud of the playing that I did on this record. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve always finished a recording and I’ve never been content with my performance. I always felt like I could do better. This is the first time that I can look back at what I did and say, ‘Yeah, I did it. That was it.’
Heavytothebone2: You said Kurt Ballou was producing. I know Steve Austin has done producing in the past for the band. Was there a reason why he decided not to produce it himself?
I think it has to do with this being an entirely new chapter for Today Is The Day. The last record was “Axis Of Eden,” and that came out in late 2007. A lot of time has passed since then. Steve’s gone through all types of stuff in his own life. There was a year where the band was on hiatus and no one knew if there would even be another Today Is The Day record. Having gone through all that, Steve is 100 percent focused on doing Today Is The Day. He’s got a whole new energy for the band and what we’re doing right now is an entirely new chapter for the band and a fresh start; new line-up, the music is different, new label (Black Market Activities).
The timing of all that, he wanted to have someone else step in and give their ideas and bring their energy to it. I think this is the first time that Steve did not record a Today Is The Day album since “Willpower.” It just speaks to Steve wanting to bring in someone else and to separate this from past Today Is The Day records. Steve has actually produced a Converge record. He produced “When Forever Comes Crashing,” and toured with Converge back in the mid-to-late ‘90s. So it’s a cool thing in that respect, kind of coming full circle with now Kurt producing our record.
Heavytothebone2: When the songwriting was going on for the album, how much involvement did you personally have in the creation of the songs?
Quite a bit. We got together, Steve, the bassist Ryan Jones, and myself, in New York to play a one-off show opening for Corrosion Of Conformity in the fall. Steve stayed for the weekend and the three of us just jammed out all weekend. We wrote a couple of songs and demoed a couple of songs during that time and then about a month later, Ryan and I went up to Maine where Steve lives and spent a week up there writing and demoing more songs.
Between those two sessions, we wrote the whole album. Some of it was riffs that Steve had in mind from before and some of it was stuff we came up with on the spot all together. Those are the demos that we sent over to Guy (Kozowyk) from BMA and to Kurt. Those are the songs we wound up recording. It definitely felt like a group effort. It’s always going to be Steve’s vision ultimately because Steve is Today Is The Day. I have the highest respect for that. He’s this crazy, powerful, charismatic kind of dude and I think the band should be always driven by his energy first and foremost.
Nowadays, he speaks a lot about wanting this to be an equal partnership of three people. He has gone through a lot of bassists and drummers in the past and I know that he is tired of that. He wants this to be the real line-up and he wants us to be a lasting thing. Me and Ryan are totally on board for it, whatever we can do to make it happen.
Heavytothebone2: You mentioned a little bit ago that the band signed with Black Market Activities. How did the band land a deal with them?
Guy has been a Today Is The Day fan for a long time. I work with Guy as a publicist. I represent the band on Black Market Activities, so Guy and I have a good relationship and we work together all the time. I helped make that connection happen, but Guy was totally excited about this. A band, on a personal level, he’s been a fan of for quite a long time.
Heavytothebone2: Is there one Today Is The Day album that left an impression on you more so than others?
The first one I ever heard was “Willpower.” That will always be the number one record for me. I just heard that record out of the blue, no idea what to expect. I was 18 years old and it totally blew my mind. This was back in ’95, and there was a lot more mystery about bands, about the Internet being what it is. It was pretty cool. I heard about them from a friend, and I picked up the record and just thought it was the most amazing, crazy thing ever. Didn’t really know much about who they were or anything. The only thing I had to go on was this one photo inside “Willpower” and there really wasn’t much info in there talking about who they were. To me, they were just this crazy, mysterious band playing the craziest, coolest music I’d ever heard.
“Willpower” is always going to be the one, just because it was the first one. Everything they’ve ever done, in my opinion, is phenomenal. They definitely evolve from one record to the next and I respect that very much. This new album, “Pain Is A Warning,” is one more step in the evolution. It’s definitely something different than any of the other records and I think that is what a band should do. As a band gets older, a band should just keep making music that is honest. If that means the style changes, then that’s what happens and that’s a good thing, in my opinion.
Heavytothebone2: What does the band’s touring schedule look like for 2011?
First off, we’re doing a five week tour of Europe that starts off on April 1. We start in Iceland and the U.K. A band called Retox is opening for us and that is Justin Pearson and Gabe Serbian from The Locust. After the U.K dates, we hit up mainland Europe and the rest of Scandinavia. For that part of the tour, it’s a co-headlining thing with Soilent Green. We will be touring in the U.S. for sure, but I can’t say yet exactly when or with whom. I think the band will be staying really busy all year.
Heavytothebone2: How much of the new album are you guys going to be playing when you go over to Europe and eventually the U.S.?
For starters, I think we’ll be doing two or three songs on the European tour. As we get closer to the release date - the release date is going to be early summer at some point - by that time, when people start owning the music, we’ll start working more and more of those songs into the set. I can’t wait to play some of the songs live. They’re definitely some powerful jams that will be a lot of fun to play live.
Heavytothebone2: You’re also a drummer for Wetnurse. What is the status on the follow-up to “Invisible City”?
We’ve been writing new music this whole time since that last record came out. There’s a ton of new music on the table and we’re just working through it, deciding exactly which of that stuff we’re going to put on this new album. We hope to record this year, so people can definitely expect a new Wetnurse album in the pretty near future.
Heavytothebone2: What does the new material sound like?
Oh, that’s a tough one. (Pauses). Wetnurse is a band that’s always been really hard for me to say what we sound like. I don’t know (laughs).
Heavytothebone2: Is it loud?
Is it loud? Yeah (laughs). It’s in line with “Invisible City.” It’s a continuation of that basic approach to music, which is touch to assign because it’s a pretty open-ended style. We sort of do what we want. It might be tough to say it’s this genre or that genre. It’s the similar approach of trying to make very honest, aggressive music that hits a lot of emotional territory.
Heavytothebone2: With you being involved with Today Is The Day, do you think there is going to be any trouble with balancing between that and Wetnurse?
It’ll work out. It’s possible that Today Is The Day will be very busy with touring, but the guys of Wetnurse are super supportive. We will definitely make time for Wetnurse stuff as well. We’re all busy. (Guitarist) Garett (Bussanick) has his own band called Flourishing, which is more of a death/grind thing. He’s the singer and the guitarist in that band. Those guys just recorded a record as well. Ryan Jones, who is the bassist for Today Is The Day, is also my bassist in Wetnurse, so the two of us are in both bands. The other Wetnurse guys have their own projects as well. Everyone’s busy, but Wetnurse is still a priority to me. I’ve been doing that band for ten years and I think the new material is really awesome stuff. I’m definitely committed to getting that stuff recorded. We’ll just try to make it all work.
Heavytothebone2: If you could tour with one band, past or present, that you’ve never toured with, who would it be and why?
Jane’s Addiction because they are my number one, all-time favorite band, if I had to choose one. “Nothing’s Shocking” totally blew my mind when I was a little kid and will forever be my favorite album. Today Is The Day’s “Willpower” is probably a close second, but Jane’s Addiction I discovered first. So they win.
Heavytothebone2: Any final thoughts?
Just can’t wait for people to hear this new music. I hope everyone comes out and sees us on tour.
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