Jeremiah Duncan (The Redemption Song / Drag The Stick) - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremiah Duncan from The Redemption Song and Drag The Stick. We discussed his early influences, writing, recording and performing with the bands, and more.

Can you tell me how you got into music and what made you want to start a band and more specifically what got you into the Christian hardcore scene?

What's interesting was through elementary I was more into hip hop artists and not really into rock, punk, or hardcore music. My parents grew up on rock/metal and loved bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, and Alice Cooper. They actually met at an Alice Cooper concert! Maybe it was some sort of rebellion against what my parents were into. Haha. However, through middle school I started getting more into punk bands like Green Day, MxPx, Screeching Weasels, Descendents, etc. I guess I identified with the lyrics and the struggles of being young and understood. My mom took me to a guitar store my freshman year of high school and bought me a guitar and set me up with some lessons. I started playing in a Christian punk band called Taunt and was having a blast. Of course as you know, punk is where hardcore comes from so it was a natural segue into hardcore. I was truly drawn to hardcore because of the passion and agressiveness. Not only was the music meaningful, but the scene was the best. You'd walk into a show and everyone wanted to meet everyone. There was so much unity in the hardcore scene. Getting to go to Cornerstone Music Festival and seeing most of these up and coming Christian hardcore and punk bands at that time, I knew I had to be a part of that scene.

 You were in the band, Drag The Stick. How did you form that band and who were some of your biggest influences at the time?

I was playing in a band in Ohio called Taunt my senior year of high school. I came to visit my grandparents in Evansville, Indiana and went to the mall to kill time. I went into Hot Topic and I was wearing a SolidState Records hoodie. This guy walked up to me and says, "Hey! I'm going to beat you up and take that hoodie!" Turned out to be the bass player Nathan from Drag the Stick. They were a fairly new band and actually had a show that weekend. I went and saw them play and became friends with them. Talked to them about trying to book Drag the Stick, but shortly after that show their guitar player quit. For a while they were traveling 6 hours to Ohio for us to have band practice. Nathan was the primary songwriter for Drag the Stick, but when it came to that band anything we could experiment with was the way to go. Different sounds on the bass, percussive beats on the guitar, off rhythm drums. During that time period we were really influenced by Roadside Monument, Frodus, and a slew of other experimental bands.

What was the writing and recording process like for the debut album? Do you have a favorite memory from recording that album?

Typically when we would write songs for Drag the Stick, Nathan would come with a riff or two to practice and we would start piecing it together. The way his mind worked musically was so amazing. He was one of the biggest influences on me personally. Continually pushing me musically. We had a blast recording that album. We went up to Indianapolis and recorded with Paul Mahern (Sloppy Seconds, Iggy Pop). We even experimented with different sounds and tones and really pushed the envelope for the time.

The band branched out and experimented with your sound on the follow-up EP. What caused you to move in that direction?

Nathan ended up quitting the band for personal reasons and we added Kevin on vocals and Landon on bass. Where Nathan was the primary music writer it was inevitable that our sound would change somewhat. Kevin's vocal styling was really influenced by Incubus and Blindside. Landon is hands down the best bass player I ever got to play music with. We wanted to keep the experimental aspect, but with my hardcore influences they tended to really seep through when we are started writing.

 After Drag The Stick, you joined The Redemption Song and you were also in Morning By Mourning. Can you tell me about joining those bands and what those experiences were like for you? 

After Drag the Stick ended, I joined up with some guys and we started a band called By The Sword which morphed into Morning by Mourning. I absolutely loved everyone in that band and playing shows in that band. At that time, it was the first time I had done just vocals in a band. No equipment to haul! Just show up and scream. It was amazing. Nathan and Jeremy from the original Drag the Stick started The Redemption Song with Kevin from the revamped Drag the Stick. They played a few shows then Kevin left the band. They ended up adding me on bass. The Redemption Song was more group driven when it came to the writing process so it was a blast to help write more punk hardcore music. Getting to play in both of those bands at that time was amazing!

The debut album ‘Plays Dead In Stereo’ is great. It captures such a cool energy. What was it like recording that album? Did you know it would be something special for the scene at the time? 

That album was a blast to record! We recorded that in Louisville, Kentucky with Kevin Ratterman from Elliot. I really feel like some of the experimenting we did in Drag the Stick while recording influenced this album as well. We used so many different instruments and samples recording that album. During the writing process for that album we were so influenced by Refused, Selfmindead, American Nightmare, and anything aggressive. We felt like we were writing something that was special and unique but had no idea the path we were headed down.

The Redemption Song’s final album release, ‘Confession’ featured some changes in your style. What influenced those changes? 

After Plays Dead we released the EP Victims. That EP started getting more influences of metal and more straight-foward hardcore punk. We started having more groove oriented rhythms and bigger sing alongs. By the time we started writing for Confession we had gotten away from any sort of experimental writing and just really focused on straight forward hardcore punk anthems.

What was it like recording that album?

That album was great. It was insane that we got offered an album deal with StrikeFirst Records (imprint of FaceDown Records) when we did. During that time, Nathan had been diagnosed with leukemia and I was living in Haiti working with a mission. Doors were opening up and we were truly caught off guard at the time. We ended up recording with Brett Siler in Evansville, Indiana. By choosing a local place we were able to take our time. We set the drums up inside a church to get the ambient sounds and recorded the guitars and vocals at his place. As a band we loved how this album turned out. It was fun the entire time.

 You played at The Rev many times. Can you tell me what that venue meant to you as both an artist and as a fan of music during that era? 

Oh man, that venue was always the best to play and I would say it's probably in the top 3 venues I've ever played at in my life. Being able to play shows there and book shows, was the greatest. It was more of a family atmosphere every time those doors were open to that venue. Everyone was there to have a good time. No drama. Some of my fondest memories of shows there is how diverse the bills were. You'd go to a show and there'd be a hardcore band with a punk band that had an emo band open up. And everyone enjoyed all the bands. The Evansville scene during that time was very unified no matter the genre.

Do you have a favorite time that you played at The Rev? Do you have a favorite show that you saw there?

It's a toss up. I would say there would have to be two. First, was when The Redemption Song got to play with Black Cross. They were loud as ever and in that venue was quite the experience. Second would have to be the reunion show for The Redemption Song. At that time it was called The Hatch. However, the energy in that place was unreal. As far as a favorite show I personally got to see there would have to be some of the Mock Orange shows I caught there.

The Redemption Song released two songs titled “I Am Alive” a few years ago. Recording and putting those songs together seemed like it was a real special process. Can you tell me how it came together and what it meant to finish that music?

Nathan battled leukemia for most of the time The Redemption Song was a band. When it started getting bad we really wanted to raise some funds for him and his family. Writing those songs were very emotional and helped us express what we were all going through.

 Do you still listen to any music from that era? If so, what who some of your favorites from the genre?

I still love late 90s and early 2000s music. It's always on rotation on my Spotify for sure. I would say some of the bands that I still listen to a MxPx, Buried Alive, Hatebreed, Mock Orange, Descendents, Rancid, and so many more.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

Thanks for allowing me to answer all these questions! It was fun to reminisce!

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1 comment:

  1. Can you get drag the stick's music anywhere? I would love to get it again! Had it back the day living in Southern IL