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Dragged Under’s Tony Cappocchi & Ryan Bruce On Passion, Perseverance & Pushing Your Own Boundaries

Jack Rogers
Jack Rogers 11 November 2020 at 15.34

"We want to show off the full spectrum of what we want Dragged Under to be as long as we’re allowed to do it" - Tony Cappocchi

Dragged Under are gearing up to release a deluxe version of their debut album 'The World Is In Your Way' on November 13 via Mascot Records. 

The release serves as middle point between the formation of the band and where they are heading now, with two additional new tracks added to the end that serve as pointer for where they are heading next. Though with as many punishing riffs as lofty choruses mashed into their music, there really is no limit to what they can do and where they could possibly go. 

We jumped on a call with vocalist Tony Cappocchi and guitarist Ryan Bruce to talk about the band's formation, the developing of their no-holds-barred ethos and why the future is limitless...

So where do the roots of Dragged Under lie? How did all of this start and what were your original intentions?
Ryan: “Honestly, we had always wanted our old band to be something else and when that fell apart it felt like a clean opportunity to do what we wanted and write songs that were more live show orientated. That was something we were really missing with a lot of our previous bands. We wanted something that was geared for the live show first and for the studio second.

“We just took full advantage of that opportunity. We had some studio time booked anyway so I wouldn’t say that this band happened by total accident but we were writing the record for us and for us only. We were doing whatever we thought was cool and those demos turned into this record. We just wanted to have a really great and really powerful live show. That’s why we do it.”

Tony: “Yeah, we had just come off the last tour we did with Rest Repose with Eyes Set To Kill. We were watching other bands every night that were a little more bombastic than us and they were killing it. Bouncing off the walls and playing this fast heavy aggressive sounding music. They had something that we didn’t have. Maybe we had more polished songs and maybe they were more radio friendly and commercial, but those bands were getting the reactions from the audiences that we wanted. To watch them rip the audience a new one and then have no energy left for us with our polished arena rock songs. That’s what I wanted to be doing. So we thought that if we were going to keep grinding on these kinds of tours, then let’s play the music that those kinds of tours call for.

“So that’s where we landed. We wanted to make something that was more genuine to us but also something that crowds would respond to in a more visceral way.”

So once that first part of the foundation was in, you almost couldn’t stop yourself from building on it. Before you know it, you’ve created something completely new…
Tony: "I think it all came down to us not being true to ourselves and not being authentic. Maybe the audience picked up on that and called our bluff and said, ‘Maybe these guys don’t want to be doing this’. To a certain degree that was true. Ryan and I both grew up playing in hardcore and punk bands, so it was a case of us going back to our roots."

How did that develop in how you wanted the band to actually feel like and represent? What did you want the ethos of Dragged Under to be?
Ryan: "Musically we wanted to combine our love for a lot of different bands. When I first met Tony, we got along so well because he liked Cave In. Cave In are one of my all time favourite bands. But then we also loved bands like Beartooth and Rise Against and Sum 41. They were all these bands that we grew up listening to. So we wanted to combine all of our favourite elements of these different genres as seamlessly as possible. We like Comeback Kid but we also like singing along to a fat Green Day chorus. We like finding that balance of aggressiveness and catchiness. Everyone deserves to have music that they can listen to, and we are trying to cater for everyone in our own way."

Tony: “At its roots, we call it punk-pop. It’s not pop-punk and it’s not quite punk-rock, but we’re writing punk music from a pop perspective. As far as the vocals are concerned, the most important band for me growing up was Green Day. No matter how aggressive or weird they seem, at the end of the day they are just writing pop songs. So what’s the catchiest thing I can write dressed up in different clothing. We just wanted to be able to hit all of the senses.

“Lyrically though, ‘The World Is In Your Way’ was very much a diary for me. I was looking at my life and the way I carry myself and things that are going on in my head, both good and bad. Our message is very much about responsibility and accountability and being self-contained and self-sustained. We’re really big on creating your own success, and we all fucking hate excuses. That’s one thing that I feel was wrong with our last band and that’s there was a lot of people who could find a lot of reasons not to do something. I think for us, and with this music especially, there’s not a lot of room for excuses. Everyone in the band is all in. Whatever we have to do, we will do it. It feels like a lot of people these days are pointing the finger when it comes to explaining why their life sucks. I refuse to feel like a victim and I refuse to let other people around me feel like that.

“The hard part about writing the second album is that I don’t want to say all the clichéd bullshit that I’m seeing every other band sing about. I’m struggling because I said a lot on the first album and discussed the deep shit that people would typically hold on to. Here’s everything, what else do you need? I just tried to be an open book the first time round.”

When you talk about trying to find what you want to say with the new record, where do the two songs you have added to the end of ‘The World Is In Your Way’ come into that? Are they from the first load of sessions or are they serving as palette cleansers between the two?
Tony: “That’s exactly it. They were not part of the older sessions. They are songs that we wrote from scratch during the COVID thing. ‘Just Like Me’ was the song that we wrote first and sounded a lot more like the record, and then ‘Feel It’ is a bit softer. We came out pretty angry first time around. Those two songs and some more stuff that will be coming out later are more of what you will be able to expect from the second album. We will still have heavy elements and there will still be some big groovy guitar bits, but all in all it’s meant to be a transitional piece. It’s showing what we might do next. We’re not hung up on the genre. We want to show off the full spectrum of what we want Dragged Under to be as long as we’re allowed to do it. It’s a musical journey and we’re not going to just stick ourselves in a box.”

"So the intent now was to show that we can write a compelling song or piece of music without having to scream and throw in the nastiest breakdown in the world. We want to be that diverse band that has the ability to catch attention without doing something niche.”

Knowing what you want from the next step of this journey is something that trips up many a band. But you having it all planned out and ready to go puts you at such an advantage…
Tony: “I think a lot of that comes from a lack of fear. I think a lot of bands are afraid, and rightfully so. How many bands have truly tried something different or even tried to change their style just a little bit and most of their fan base has alienated them? So we’ve tried to set our expectations early and often, because our primary goal is to write songs that people like to listen to. The common denominator of our songs is that we all like them, and that’s what it will always be.”

“I do have those thoughts in my head sometimes that something we do could alienate someone, but I feel like we have the potential for what we can write is bigger than the audience we currently have. That’s been our formula. Does this song have the potential to reach more people than who currently call themselves Dragged Under fans? How do we get the widest spectrum of people in? The best way to do that is to write about people want to listen to.”

What effect has having Dragged Under in your lives had on the people you are away from the band?
Ryan: “With every band I have been in before Dragged Under, it was very DIY. We would have to do everything ourselves. In Rest Repose, Tony and me would do everything. We had no help and we were really proud of what we did, but when we signed with Mascot with Dragged Under it went from one situation to a completely different one. Suddenly going to practice was treated very differently with someone like my girlfriend, because that’s now a job. We now have people and all of these resources around us. The band is now very much its own hallway in the building that is my life. Before it was just a closet.”

When you’ve done things DIY for so long, when it comes to the time when you have those resources you’re already so hardened to that side of things that you’re ready for whatever is thrown at you…
Ryan: “Very much so. I think that was a huge selling point when it came down to working with Mascot. Tony is just as well versed in the social media world as I am; maybe even more so, because that’s what his life is at home. His business is working with creators on all social media platforms after all. I feel as though we had a lot to offer as an entity as much as a band.”

Tony: “We live in a world where there is unlimited potential for every single person. I truly believe that. Anybody who has a computer and access to the Internet can learn to do anything. There are so many tools to become excellent at whatever you want. I think the biggest thing there from that for me when it came to Dragged Under was having to shift the gear and say, ‘This could really be something now’.”

As we look forwards into the future, what are the things that you will actually look back about this period of the band in years to come? What elements of this chapter are going to stick with you?
Tony: “It’s a tough question to answer right now, just because this whole year has been nothing for us. It’s been about focusing on the content creation and getting music out, but that’s not why we did this band. Ryan and me have always shared a similar passion in that we want to be touring musicians. I want to play live. It’s like being a stand up comedian. The jokes are fun, but what if there’s nobody to tell them to?

“It’s been a tough year, but this is where Dragged Under shines. It’s why the album is called ‘The World Is In Your Way’. It’s the real that I feel and the way that I try and re-evaluate everything again and again. The world is just a thing that’s in your way. What I will remember about this period is perseverance within the group to keep moving forward and keep on writing and creating. It’s a good thing that we have always wanted to do this.”

Ryan: “The first album and formation of the band will always be a happy accident to me. We started writing songs for us and no one else. We had an open field and we had some riffs. We went in the studio and came out with something that we were proud of. I will always associate Bang energy drinks and Thai food with this first album and this whole period will always represent us walking the walk instead of just talking.”

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