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Interview: Danny Case of From Ashes to New

Despite modern rock music’s fluctuating presence in the United States, From Ashes to New has broken big. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania quartet fostered their presence very early on, initially through consistent chart topping on Sirius XM’s Octane station, and then maintaining a healthy following on various social media platforms. Now approaching their fifth year, the band persists on strong footing, welcoming new vocalist Danny Case and drummer Mat Madiro into the fold. Their sophomore and latest album, The Future, is the first to utilize this revamped lineup.

I caught up with Danny to discuss the band’s current happenings, their newfound chemistry on The Future, as well as what he has learned through both formative and present experiences.

ME: You’re going on tour in support of Bad Wolves starting in June, with special guest Diamante. Can you tell me a bit about touring in general, and how it’s impacted your musicianship?

Danny: It’s always been great! Luckily, I’ve had experience with the band I was in before, so I kind of already knew the tricks of the trade. Being at this level has actually been a lot easier, having a crew that helps us get everything ready – like a monitor, so I can hear myself, and gel with the other guys, and the crowd, really well.

ME: Many bands have had different experiences with smaller club gigs, like on this tour, versus bigger venues. How would you describe the environments of bigger and smaller venues, from your experience?

Danny: I like both venues for different reasons, for sure. I like bigger venues and feeding off the energy of the large crowds. With smaller venues, we feel a lot closer to the fans, it’s more intimate, and there’s a lot of that high energy still. You can engage and interact with them a lot more easily, and that’s also really cool.

ME: How had you spent your time in preparation for this tour?

Danny: Right now, we’re practicing our set for our festival run, and the surrounding dates in between those shows, and then for our co-headliner with Bad Wolves. So, we’re just getting ready and also pushing [The Future].

ME: I guess as long as there’s music to fill the gap, you can’t go wrong.

Danny: Right! There’s a lot of time we spend on our own. Even when we’re not necessarily touring, there’s always work to be done.

ME: Tell me about your formative experiences in music. What was your environment like as a kid, when it came to that?

Danny: I grew up in a very musical environment. My mom would be playing music in the car while she was driving, and I think that’s where my love of music came from – just being surrounded by classic rock tunes from the 50s to the 80s. She would sing always be singing along, and I guess that’s how I developed my own knack for singing.

ME: Which bands helped solidify your pursuit of music?

Danny: Definitely Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Linkin Park, in the beginning. I moved onto Breaking Benjamin, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Memphis May Fire and Asking Alexandria. Then, I went further into bands on the other side of the spectrum, like Periphery and Terrorist. I also enjoy Bruno Mars a lot; he’s a phenomenal musician.

ME: You mentioned being in another band previously; that was Vanity Strikes. Looking back, what did you learn from being in that band, that you’ve since been able to apply in this one?

Danny: You know, it’s funny. I feel like everything I’ve learned and experienced in that band is what prepared me to be able to be a good fit for this one. I learned the value of hard work, persistence, and never giving up. I’m constantly working to better myself and work with the other band members, whether it’s making t-shirts, recording our own music, or designing the artwork for our CDs.

So, even when it didn’t work out with my other band, all of what I’ve done made it easier for me to transition into this level, because I’d already experienced that type of work ethic.

ME: I understand the transition was a bit rough in the beginning, because From Ashes to New not only needed a fresh set of vocals, but a new drummer as well. Did you guys still manage to hit it off despite that hardship?

Danny: Yeah, our chemistry is a lot better right now. We all voice our opinions and weigh in on what we feel is the best choice, especially musically. It’s a really collective effort. Matt Brandyberry, up to and including Day One, had written most of the stuff. Then on this album, Lance [Dowdle] and I contributed a bunch of ideas, and Madiro as well, which all came together for The Future.

ME: Stylistically, there’s a bit of a contrast – your previous band was straight up metalcore, but this one incorporates more hip hop and alternative influences. Was that one of the factors that initially drew you to audition for them?

Danny: I think what drew me into the band was that they’re the kind of music that I started my journey getting into. I originally went into a metalcore direction with my old band, mainly because it would make us popular within our local scene. I wanted a band that was going to grow and be successful, and we started incorporating mostly metalcore influences. Being in this band, I feel like I’m going back to my roots, and that’s where I’ve wanted to be in the first place.

ME: Let’s talk about your new album, The Future. With you and Mat Madiro in the fold, how did you guys go about the writing process?

Danny: When we started working with the guys, I think they had a whole song done instrumentally, and one or two done vocally. I’d say we probably worked on 75 percent of the album. But I’d started working with Mat right when I got down there. I was used to being on my own when I write, and bringing things to my old band. But with this one, the process is more collaborative. They’re very accepting of my ideas, and would run with them, which is great. I was actually able to write for the album, rather than merely come in with parts, so it was really cool.

ME: Was production handled the same way?

Danny: We actually worked with the same producers as the last album, Grant McFarland and Carson Slovak of Atrium Audio, in Atrium Studios – they’re awesome! They did a great job in contributing their ideas and had a hand in writing Day One.

With this album, we had more control over the total outcome, since we were much more prepared. But they’d still contributed a lot of great ideas and insight. There was another person we worked with, too – Nick Furlong, known as Razz, worked with us on “Nowhere To Run.” Other than that, the production was still the same.

ME: I can definitely relate to the song “Crazy”, in the sense of when you’re in that situation, you feel like there’s just no way to break through to the other person. How did you get out of that?

Danny: You know, it’s funny. A lot of that song has to do with feeling like you can’t get out of it, which is the hardest part. From my experience, I felt like I was with someone who was one way and ended up completely different. I was already emotionally invested and wanted it to work, but I didn’t realize that I was going insane doing so. I started thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me. But it just took the situation blowing up, and my having to part ways, for it to come to an end. I just let it die and moved on, man. I understood that I was much better on my own and finding my own peace.

ME: Which other songs in the album resonate with you in a big way, from a thematic standpoint?

Danny: I think “My Name.” I gel with that song because it’s something I really stood for a lot in my older music. It’s about succeeding in general, feeling like you’re destined to do something amazing, and just not giving up no matter what the world says. It’s working every day and seeing that dream come into fruition.

What happened was Matt had been going through a lot of issues with anxiety, and he’d written the intro and entire first verse to the song. Once he showed them to me, I was like, “Dude, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen you write before. We’ve got to make this a song!” He wasn’t even really sure if he should use it, but he did. Then when we came up with the chords, we were like, “We’ve got to finish this.”

ME: And look where it brought you now!

Danny: Absolutely! There are a lot of messages we like to put in our music. One of those is, it doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. If there’s something you want to achieve in life, there’s not a thing in this world that can stop you. People like Helen Keller learned sign language, and about the world around her, just from striving to achieve that. I even met this guy down in Florida who’s a painter, who lost all movement from the neck down. To this day, he paints using his mouth and does an incredible job.

ME: Do you feel the album best represents what you’d intended?

Danny: Absolutely! This album is about not letting people tell you to be something that you aren’t, following your dreams, keeping people who care about you close, and just doing you.

ME: Lastly. Anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Danny: Thank you for everything you guys do. You guys are a friggin’ army. Never did we expect the amount of response we’ve gotten from our fans. I’m continually surprised at the amount of work they do to push us out there and help us grow. Keep going; you’re the very best fans alive!

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About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it's best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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