Interview with Steven Juliano of REQUIEM FOR THE DEAD September 6, 2011

September 10, 2011 by: admin

September 6, 2011


Steven Juliano (Vocalist)

Santa Cruz, California

By: Shauna O’Donnell

Hi Steven, Thanks for talking with me. What do you have going on today?

I’m working on a website right now. There are other projects that I work on.

Oh, is that what you do for a “day job”?

Yes, web design and stuff like that.

That’s really cool. Let’s start with a history lesson on the band. How did Requiem For The Dead come to be? I know you were originally in I Am Ghost that was signed to Epitaph Records. Is I Am Ghost still happening?

The history of I Am Ghost is we started in 2004. We were on Myspace at the time, started practicing and recorded a demo ourselves. We burned over 4,000 copies ourselves of the EP that we made and started handing them out at all the punk rock and hardcore shows. We started creating this crazy local fan base in Southern California. Our first local show that we ever played at Chain Reaction in Anaheim completed sold out two weeks in advance. That place holds over 600 kids. After that happened labels started talking to each other. When you are in a band and you start packing places with kids, people start coming out of the woodworks. That is how it usually is. We had a label war going on. We had seven labels trying to sign us. We decided to go with Epitaph. We did all of this in three months too, which is really weird. It never happens. Most bands have to pay their dues for a few years. We started pretty quickly before we even knew each other honestly. As soon as we were signed, we were on the road. We went into the studio and recorded in Virginia for a month and then we were straight on to Warped Tour 2006 for three weeks. It was our first tour ever. Warped Tour in general is one of the hardest tours ever to be on even for bands who have been touring for years, so for that one to be our first it was really rough. We went to Europe, it was awesome and it was great times, but I started realizing that these people weren’t the people that I would normally hang out with or go to a bar and have a drink with. Towards the end of the career we went through tons of member changes. Our violinist and bass player got married while they were in the band, which is awesome, but they decided that they wanted to have kids and settle down. We totally understood that. They left and we got another bass player and another guitarist and by the time 2010 rolled around, on my last European tour, I just knew that this wasn’t the band I wanted to be in anymore. Everything changed after we started losing members. The music changed, as well as the look and style changed. In July of 2010 I called all the members and I quit officially. I left Southern California and came to Santa Cruz where I live currently. That is where I found Ty, Fin and Requiem For The Dead. I left actually not wanting to do music anymore. Before I Am Ghost, I was doing animation in L.A. for quite a few years making good money. Once we got signed, I had to quit. My dream since high school was to go to L.A., become an animator and work on films. That is all I wanted to do. I never thought I’d be in a band, but of course I had to try it. Once I realized that the whole lifestyle wasn’t for me, I kind of left and came back to Santa Cruz where I grew up actually. I was going to get back into animation, web design or something to do with art. One day I met Ty, I called him up, we met at a bar and had some drinks. He started talking about how he was trying to start a band for him for years and how he couldn’t find members. I sat him down and told him what the real industry was like because he has never been signed before and his band never toured or anything. He started naming bands that he was into and it was exactly what I was into. I told him that maybe one day we should meet up “for fun” and write some music. It was nothing serious, not like we had to play a show or start a band. We started writing and on the first day we wrote “The Terrible Tale of Two.” We just write really quickly and it’s fun. It is a completely different attitude compared to the three albums I wrote for I Am Ghost.

Are you going to shop the new album to any labels or are you going to be a do it yourself band?

The first album is definitely going to be do it yourself, so that the band can get to know who we are. We have never played a show. We are going to be playing shows in the next few months. Right now we have just been practicing and getting the live show aspect set up. We want it to be pretty epic with lights and the stage show. There is a lot going on in the songs and we want to make sure that is all in the live aspect. We don’t know exactly how we are going to pull this all off, but we are not going to do it until we are at 100%. If this thing gets bigger than it is now, it seems like people are really interested and they are coming to our shows then we will do another album and maybe shop it around. Right now we have been giving it away for free on our official site, so we don’t really think any labels are going to be interested in releasing it after we already gave it away.

On September 2, 2011 you released your debut album titled Always and Forever for free download world wide. Does that mean it will always be free or is it just for a limited time?

It will always be free on our website for download. We recorded this from the start knowing that it was going to be given away for free. We wanted to gain fans because no one really knows still who we are. We have a pretty decent underground buzz right now from fans that knew me from I Am Ghost that come over to Requiem. There are also fans from Ty’s old band. We are really excited, I didn’t think there would be this big of a love for Requiem. I made a lot of bad business mistakes in I Am Ghost, like doing things that our management told us to do that in the back of my head I’m thinking we shouldn’t be doing this, but I did it anyways. Everything that I have learned accumulated with I Am Ghost. Everything we did wrong, I do not want to do wrong in Requiem. We are taking it slower, releasing things for free, having kids tell their friends about us and kind of create this underground buzz. Once we do play a show, it’s completely packed. A lot of bands do it the opposite. They record a crappy demo, then they try and sell it on some site like ITunes. They do not make any money off it. In retrospect if you try and sell your music, you are not going to make anything so you might as well give it away for free. You have to sell 10-15 thousand CD’s to make a dent in any money making. A lot of bands don’t get that and then they start playing shows right away when they are not ready. They play as many shows as they can which is like back in the day way to go. With the internet now, Facebook and Twitter you don’t have to tour your butt off for two years and play in front of five people. It is a waste of money and time.

When I first heard the name Requiem For The Dead, I was like “I have heard that name somewhere.” Wasn’t there a movie with a similar name?

Yes, it was Requiem For A Dream. There are people asking me if it was based off the movie. I’ve actually only seen the first fifteen minutes of the movie at a friends house and really never finished it. I heard it was really good. Grammatically Requiem For The Dead doesn’t make any sense. Requiem means a song for the dead, so requiem for the dead is kind of like a song for the dead for the dead, but I like things that sound cool. I Am Ghost made no sense and I got shit for that too. For us, the whole aspect of the band is created to remember the people who are no longer here. Not just people, but visions and memories that were once here, but no longer here. It’s not necessarily a person’s life, it could have been a toy you had or a song that you once heard. We want this band to be classy and elegant in a certain way. We don’t want to be this angry, pissed off hardcore band. We hope that we are a new, kind of different band out there.

Lyrically, this album is more personal. What are some of the things you talk about?

The ideal of the entire album is remembrance of people that are no longer here. It is a story that is taking place. Lover’s Requiem, the first album with I Am Ghost, was this epic love story. It was kind of like a punk rock/hardcore musical that took place and every song went into the next song. It kind of continues with this, it is like a prequel almost. Lover’s Requiem is about this couple that passes away and one goes to hell and one goes to heaven. There is this epic battle between heaven and hell and them trying to get together. Always and Forever is a prequel to that. It’s about that couple before they passed away and went to heaven and hell. It’s them as kids and teenagers going through their life. “Those Lovely Shark People” is about them meeting for the first time. Everything is so much more intense in relationships when you are a kid. I kind of wanted to show that because most of our fans are young. I’d say 90% of our fans are under the age of twenty-five. I’d say 60% are under the age of twenty-one and half of them are in high school. I’m not a young kid anymore, but when I wrote this I wanted to make it so kids could understand.

Did you produce the album?

Yeah, Ty Oliver wrote all the music and I wrote all of the lyrics and melodies. I sing everything; I did all of the screams. When we do the live show, we are actually getting a second guitarist. Right now we are doing a try-out with some people that will help me sing melodies and stuff. We have this friend named JD who is an amazing engineer. He engineered us and mixed everything, but we recorded it ourselves.

Do you play any instruments?

I don’t play any instruments, but I have been in musicals since I was five years old, so I have been singing for a long time. My background is pretty much everything. I’m not just this guy who listens to punk rock or hardcore. I listen to everything. My favorite bands are ones that actually sing, although occasionally I like a pop or hardcore album. I’m actually really into the Beatles and bands that are positive with their lyrics. That’s what I tried to do with this album.

I thought I read that you were involved with movies somehow.

I worked in a lot of films doing animation, story boards and stuff.

You worked for Disney right?

Yeah, I worked for Disney. It was my first real job and I used to work for HBO on Tales from the Crypt. After that show was cancelled I started working in a movie studio for a good six years then I Am Ghost got signed. I quit my studio job and have been doing music ever since. Now I am more like a freelancer working on CD artwork for bands and  web designs.

So obviously you designed your own cover.

Yeah, I designed everything you see for Requiem For The Dead art wise.

I love how the cover uses the black with the purple. It is beautiful, but I also like on the website how on the same cover you used red and the butterflies are moving.

Yeah, originally when I did the first mock-up of the cover it was exactly the same except the colors were blood red and her hands are completely covered in blood. When I first saw it I thought it was cool, but the more I looked at it I thought it was just a little too gory and not Requiem For The Dead. Once I changed the hues and made it more  purplish, it makes it look more like paint coming from her hands. I thought it looked more elegant instead of bloody horror film-ish.

That is one of the reasons why I have always been a fan of The Birthday Massacre. I love the colors that they use, that black and purple.

Yeah, they are good friends of mine actually. I Am Ghost did a two and a half month tour with them back in 2009. That was probably one of the funnest tours that I have ever been on because of how well all the bands got along. We were literally hanging out every day. It was really cool. Most tours we end up going out with three or four different bands. You become pals with a few members of each band, but you always have bands that are kind of reclusive. After that tour it was like a big family hanging out. I was a little intimidated on the first show because we had never met them. We started the tour more towards where they live in Canada in Buffalo, New York. We were coming from another tour and linked into their tour, so I had never met or talked to them. On the first show, I’m at the merch table and the show was just starting. I remember Sara came up to me and just started talking to me about random stuff. She was just so nice. She had no rock star attitude. That is how I see myself too, I always try to be humble and I talk to everybody. I think people can sense that just by going to Facebook and seeing that the actual band replies to their questions. We reply to everybody. We all have access to the Facebook, so it kind of helps to triple team it.

The video for “The Death Note of Shipwrecks” came out really cool. It was directed by Tommy Merry. Is he a friend?

Thank You! He is a friend of Ty Oliver’s. They used to play shows together. He was in a metal band that played shows all the time with Ty. Now he has kind of quit the band scene and he is a full time movie editor. When we were looking for directors Ty said “Dude! Check out this guys YouTube site where he has a series of short movies.” I checked them out and his cinematography was amazing. He helped us out, obviously he charged us, but it was definitely a great deal for what he could have charged us for that type of video. We hope to do another one soon, since things are coming pretty fast now. We are trying to figure out what the next step is for this project. We are just trying to do things the right way. The next step for us is the live show that is not going to come out anytime this month, but I hope soon. Kids are really nice, since we are giving the album away for free, they will at least buy something, so we will get a few shirts out so they can feel like they are helping us out.

You also have another website called “Lovers and Kings.” Is that your personal website?

Yes, that is the one I created and I do all the artwork. It is actually based off of a graphic novel that I’m working on currently as well. It was kind of hot and heavy at first when I first moved here and then the Requiem For The Dead kind of took over and I put it on the back burner a little bit. I still work on it a lot. It was supposed to come out at the end of this year, Book One, which is done, but then the publishers that I have been working with want to make sure that Book Two and Three is finished before they can release the first one. That way it is concise and everything comes out at a certain time. That kind of pushed things back too because I have to finish the other two books which is going to take a little bit. My artwork is so detailed and whatnot, so it takes a little while and plus I write it. I’m a writer as well.

Everything you do is beautiful. I love the songs you chose for the website also. It gives you goosebumps.

That’s what I wanted to do. Seeing as how I worked in films too, I have seen so many films or scenes of a film with no music in the background. Just to see how empty and dead it is and then to see the final product with the soundtrack in the background, it uplifts it and makes it a billion times better. I learned a lot. Music is a very important part of my art. When you click on each chapter of the website, I wanted something to tell what it was about. The story is definitely in the realm of like a Pan’s Labyrinth /Tim Burton type film. I used music that can convey that.

You are one talented guy.

Thank you, I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for the interview.

Anytime! Thank you so much!

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