Rob Windfelder is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist of Live Not On Evil.
Interview by Julie Johnson (5/26/02) (J.J.)
J.J.. Can you tell us a little bit about the philosophy or idea behind the music of Live Not on Evil?
R.W. Sure. We play music that we like. Philosophy? The perfect song would sound like a train wreck wearing a bikini or a ghost chasing you down the street with a baseball bat. We try to combine the beautiful with the ugly. To mix sentiment with sediment, and have a good time doing it.
J.J.. What makes the music beautiful and ugly?
R.W. We like to play hard, but we try to incorporate lots of different sounds into the music, we believe a song can be haunting and melodic and still kick you right in the pants. You can mix tension and beauty. There are so many things that music can make you feel it is a shame to sacrifice one for the other, or to see these two concepts as opposites.
J.J.. How do you feel your music grabs attention world wide?
R.W. Luck and postage... We have always tried to make music that is honest and not trend hopping or super cheesy. I guess that translates sometimes... I don’t know. There is something for everyone I guess, and the more you get your music around the better your chances are of finding people who like it. It can be very nerve racking to release something that you really like, it is really easy to be over-protective. But it is a very rewarding feeling when it is received well. Just get it out there. The only way to let your music grow is to get it out there, and let it live, and hope it doesn’t embarrass you. You can’t wait for perfection, just do it and see what happens.
J.J.. How did the topics of obsession come into play for the record?
R.W. Obsession is a strong theme on the record, probably second only to paranoia. The song “Sweet” was written right after the Columbine Tragedy and is about folks who are so obsessed with their perfect lifestyles that they can’t see what lies beneath. And they are always caught by surprise. They can’t see that life is not and was never supposed to be “perfect”. Every time something like this happens there is never a shortage of people from beautiful little towns, standing in front of their beautiful little houses, dressed in their cute little outfits, saying something like “I can’t believe this happened here of all places.” It is always the same, it’s like that “he was a quiet man” quote. It is a weakness, it is blind optimism. It is like they believe that if there is a Gap and a Starbucks on the same block there can never be a crime there. On a completely different note, The song “Flowers”, which does not mention the word “flowers” at all which can be confusing, has quite an obsessive theme to it. The song was written as a gift to my wife Stefanie who loves getting flowers and doesn’t get them nearly enough.
J.J.. I heard good old guitar, bass, and drum, and no keyboard use, how has this been a strength for Lucky Stiff?
R.W. Well... it’s less stuff to carry to shows. It’s nothing against keyboards, when they are used properly they can really add to the overall effect and sound of a band. When they are used improperly it can be a total disaster. Keyboards should come with a warning label on the box.
J.J.. How have you given the record as a whole that extra crunch?
R.W. The record was recorded in two days. The mix is another story altogether, but all the recording was done over a 33 hour period. All the instruments were recorded at the same time, basically live, even Eric’s leads and the vocals were recorded the next night. Darren Morze did a great job recording it. We were not looking to polish the life out of it. It was totally not our intention to try to impress someone by redoing every aspect of the recording until it was some sort of safe little package that should rest like dew drops on the ear of the listener. It is what it is, it is what the band sounds like.
J.J.. What do you feel grabs the listener the most on Lucky Stiff?
R.W. With all due respect, you would have to ask the listener that question. We would hope lots of things grab them, I’m sure Begley would tell you it’s the bass lines, but only the listener can truthfully answer that question for you.
J.J.. One of my favorite tracks on Lucky Stiff is “Lullaby for a Lost Soul”, what was the driving force behind the haunting melodies for this song?
R.W. When I first started writing that song it was going to be about an involuntary haunting, about a spirit who could not find it’s way out of this life and into the next. As I was working on the lyrics a very good friend of mine was loosing the battle against a long illness. In her last days she started receiving visits from friends and family members that had passed away years ago. She was sure they were there and spoke about it as though it was nothing out of the ordinary. Within days she had joined them. The song began to include her death and the idea that souls could return to persuade someone who was too strong to just give up and go on their own. “So many souls return tonight to take me away into the light”. She passed away the day before we recorded the vocals for that song, and a lot of her ended up in there. Sorry to be all serious but you asked.
J.J.. How do you feel listeners can relate to the song “Brainwash”, I really found that interesting with truth behind it?
R.W. O.K. ...”Brainwash” is just total frustration with the news media and the way that instead of just telling you what is going on they would rather tell you not only their opinion of things but your opinion as well. An to top it of they will also give their low opinion of you if you do not respond the way they want you to. There, that’s not confusing at all... During the last administration it seemed like the media and the administration joined together to become this two headed monster that was constantly trying to twist reality and if you didn’t go along with it you were labeled as “being filled with hate”, or the old stand by “a conspiracy nut”. It was like the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” except in the end the little boy gets destroyed by the media and audited by the IRS. I’m sorry, I need to mention a running theme that includes two other songs on the record. Smoked, The Machine, and Brainwash are all based on the idea of being stronger and smarter than the box you are being shoved into. Smoked is sort of a rebuttal to John Lennon’s “Imagine”. Imagine how beautiful life would be if we were all the same, now imagine if that was mandatory and enforced by law. The Machine is based on the same idea. Smoked was inspired by the Waco situation , the Machine is about Nazi Germany. They are not songs of impending doom. They are songs about standing up for yourself.
J.J.. What are some things that people get confused with the album that you would like to clear up?
R.W. The record has gotten really good reviews from all different types of publications, punk, gothic, metal (which we are really very happy about), but some of the metal reviews are pretty funny. I guess you write about, and compare things to what you know, which is the only reason I can see us being compared to Anthrax or Bad Company. Yep... Bad Company, that was one of the only bad reviews of the record and of course it’s one of the first things that pops up when you do an Internet search of our name. We liked your review very much. You never even mentioned that our production was far inferior to Bon Jovi’s or Stryper’s.
J.J.. What kind of level do you feel your music is at after the release of “Lucky Stiff”?
R.W. As a band we are pretty happy with the record. When you are really close to something it is really hard to judge it. There are always things that you could hear different, you always want to get better. And there are some things that you have heard so many times during the process that you can’t even begin to hear it as the listener might.
J.J.. How has the music brought each one of you closer as a band?
R.W. We were all friends before we became a band and we will be long after this as well. We are lucky enough to be from a circle of friends that is so incredibly strong that it is the best thing about living in Philadelphia.
J.J.. What are you focusing on currently as a band?
R.W. New material and promoting Lucky Stiff.
J.J.. Do you have any other hobbies besides making music?
R.W. Of course, but then again who doesn’t like making their own oven mitts?
J.J.. Would you like to tell us anything else that people would like to know about the album and the band itself?
R.W. The money for the recording came out of a slot machine which is part of the inspiration for the title “Lucky Stiff”. The band’s name is the same if you read it backwards or forwards “Live Not On Evil”. The CD is enhanced, which means if you stick it in the disk drive of your computer you can watch the video for “The Scary Polka”. W.J.M. Productions did a great job with the video, we had a blast putting it together, and it’s pretty fun to watch. You can also bring the video up on our site @ simplyfiendish.com/livenotonevil The record, the video, and the CD cover would not have been the same without so much help from our friends. Grave Concerns is great, and thank you very much.