Originally published in ‘zine issue #27, 2003
Majority Rule’s new record is called Emergency Numbers and is out on Magic Bullet. So it’s high time I wrote something about the band, one that is full of great musical talent and a history of playing shows and wowing people with the records they make, driving hometown crowds into a frenzy when they grace a stage. Majority Rule exudes passion and extremity, going full tilt and at the same time showing their audience they are playing their songs the way they are meant to be played. There are large helpings of melody and subdued areas in their songs which break into loud and piercing distortion, screams, and pummeled drums. Matt, the guitar player and one of the singers, kindly answered a few emailed questions.
D.U.: If you met someone at a record store that hypothetically stocked all of your releases, this person being curious about your band, which one would you recommend?
Matt: Right now, I would recommend the [new] full length. Really I think I would just be really excited to be in a record store that had all of our stuff.
There have been some changes in the Majority Rule sound over the years. Were some of these as a direct result of lineup changes?
Other than the vocals sounding different, I don’t know if the lineup changes really changed the sound. We did kind of change our sound when we became a three piece, but I think it was a natural change.
Did Majority Rule change with the times (change happening in any department of the band) or change irrespective of what was going on in your music scene(s)?
I think we have changed irrespectively of our “scene.” The only thing in the scene that could have affected us would be the bands that inspire us, i.e., City Of Caterpillar, pg.99.
Besides those bands, what bands, or musicians, inspire you guys individually or as a group to be good musicians yourselves?
That could be such a long list. Off the top of my head, some bands I really love are His Hero Is Gone, Fugazi, Blond Redhead, Botch, Strike Anywhere, Godspeed, and of course the long-time favorites like Born Against and Megadeth. I can’t really speak for Kevin and Pat, but I think they would agree with some of those.
You string-slingers use multiple effects pedals. Pretend this is a guitar magazine: Please give a rundown of the effects you guys employ, as well as amplification and guitar and bass brands.
I feel funny answering this, but it’s a good kind of funny. I use a Marshall JCM 2000 amp with two 1960 Marshall cabs. My guitar is a Gibson SG standard that has been rewired with an EMG-91 active pickup. As for pedals, I use a Boss DD3 Delay, a volume pedal, a Boss Tremolo, a Boss Tuner, a Line 6 Delay, and a Boss Phrase Sampler. Kevin uses a Fender Jazz Bass with a Ampeg SVT head and 8×10 cab. For pedals he uses a Big Muff, a Boss Bass Overdrive, a Sans Amp, a volume pedal, and the same tuner as me.
“At times like these it’s pretty difficult to separate the political from the personal.”
Some bands talk at length about and put great emphasis on their lyrical content, some even to the point that the music takes a back seat. What’s the balance between lyrics and music with Majority Rule?
Basically, we just try to use lyrics that work with the song. I absolutely disagree with the music taking a back seat. Lately we haven’t been able to find lyrics that work with the music, so we are leaning toward instrumental stuff.
Will the lyrics become sparse on some songs, since, at least for me, it’s easier to write a shorter lyric than a longer one, or are you foreseeing a future where whatever-amount lyrics will appear on some songs and not at all on others?
I don’t really know what will happen in the future, but in the songs we recorded recently there are actually more lyrics. Too many for me to memorize still. But there is also an instrumental, so I guess we are going in both directions.
The bandmembers wear some politics on their sleeve (sporting buttons and stickers). Is showing these colors a band stance?
I think the best way to answer this is by saying that we write about the things that inspire us. Sometimes this comes from our personal lives, sometimes it comes from politics. Lately politics has been what’s moving me, so that’s what I’ve been writing about. It’s impossible to say we are not political, but I wouldn’t call us a political band. I hope that makes sense. I guess what I’m trying to say is, at times like these it’s pretty difficult to separate the political from the personal.
Do you care at all what sort of show you guys play? In other words, is it important to play to a receptive audience, or do you try to seek out shows where the crowd will have to be won over?
That’s a great question. Of course I care about the kind of shows we play, but it’s hard to describe the “perfect show.” I guess it would be one where the person who set it up was just as excited as we are to play it. The things we never care about are the silly things like riders and guarantees. A receptive audience is nice but there is something fun in the challenge of playing to a new crowd. I really enjoyed the shows in Europe this [past] summer when nobody knew who we were.
Photos: Majority Rule performing, circa 2003 (courtesy Gary Fry)