Thursday, April 23, 2009

Interview with Drop Dead Julio

Who: Drop Dead Julio
What: CD Release and Upcoming Concert
Where: The 840, Idaho Falls - map
When: Friday, May 1, 2009 8:00 pm

I've known Drop Dead Julio (or DDJ, as they are known) for a couple years. In fact, I met up with a band member totally spontaneously at a restaurant in Sugarhouse, in Salt Lake some years ago. Since that time, they've blown up in the Salt Lake live music scene, playing all the right clubs, scoring some sweet opening spots for national bands and building an ever-growing fan base in N. Utah. Now it's time for DDJ to hit Idaho.

I caught up with DDJ vocalist, Gene Kennedy, to find out more about what's been going on with the band lately.

SLG: Describe your genre of music in as much detail as you like. Maybe list your three best crowd-pleasing songs? Can you explain in what way do you most appeal to your fans?

GK: A reviewer recently said that Drop Dead Julio is pop-punk-rock-alternative in a 12 layer cake! I got a kick out of that but that’s only 4 layers! I'll try to simplify it to two layers. DDJ is a fusion of rock and punk. We like that people can’t quite peg us into a genre. We are who we are, and we’re proud of that. I guess the best way to know what we sound like is to press play on the Ipod.

Let me tell you a little story. Drop Dead Julio originally formed as a trio in 2005 and our first EP CD “Lack of Direction” (2007) had a party-like pop-punk vibe. In 2006 we became a 4-piece band with guitarist Brian Jensen playing lead guitar and singing harmony. Our sound continues to form in the 4-man chemistry, and in the last couple of years we’ve emerged with several “modern rock” style songs that are featured on our latest album, “The Stories We Could Tell.” There’s clearly a difference between the two albums. “Stories” really focuses on the groove and shows a real musical maturity in the band.

You asked about songs that appeal to our fans. “Breaking News” is at the top of the list. When the crowd hears that distinctive intro riff, they never fail to scream their heads off! “The Youth are Disillusioned” and “The Break Up” are also getting a really good response. They are strong “sing alongs” and that’s what people really like. I think our catchy music is part of what appeals to fans. Also, we have a crowd-involved live show that incorporates humor, a lot of smiles and visual energy.

Let’s put it this way. The crowd knows we’re having fun and they are too. We have a real kinship with our fans, a real one-on-one connection. We often hear on Myspace that really matters to them.

Gene Kennedy- Vocals / Guitar

James Julio—Drums

Brian Jensen—Guitar/Vocals

James Checrallah—Bass

SLG: How long has this line-up been together?

GK: We’ve been a band for 3 years. We are all from different parts of the country. I, Gene, am from Riverside, California. Bassist James Checrallah hails from Boston, MA. Brian Jensen and James Julio are both from the Salt Lake City area. We are a Salt Lake City band.

SLG: Are there past shows or venues you'd like to brag about? Past or future shows in the Pocatello area?

GK: A major highlight for Drop Dead Julio was opening for Unwritten Law in 2007 in Park City. We have also played with local favorites Royal Bliss (Capitol) several times. In fact, one of our best shows this year was with Royal Bliss at Club Vegas in SLC. [Yup! I was there for that show. -SLG]

DDJ has been a 21+ band for a while but we’re now branching out to all-ages and are gradually becoming a regular at Avalon Theater, a hot spot for national acts in Salt Lake City.

When we play all-ages we usually hit the stage early, by 8 pm. 21+ shows typically start at 10 pm, and we play late into the night. Those are always fun. You never know what’s going to happen!

When people come to our show they can expect a good time. We play fun, energetic rock/punk and we’re happy to play off the crowd. Who knows, you might find a crowd surfing blow up doll at the next gig! Either way, you’re not going to break your wallet seeing us. Most of the time our shows cost $5, sometimes $10 if they’re at venues that don’t sell alcohol.

We have never played Pocatello but are playing Idaho Falls May 1 and are actually looking for a Pocatello show Sat. May 2nd. So hit us up!

SLG: Any comments about the local live music scene, the music industry in general? What do you think is the best way to get your music out there?

GK: We feel lucky to be a part of it. Salt Lake City is a solid music scene for several reasons. It’s not hard to get a gig, most musicians and bands are really down-to-earth and there are several venues that will really take care of you. Liquid Joe’s is a perfect example. That bar has become a real home for us and they’ve always treated our band really well.

I grew in Riverside, CA during the West Coast punk explosion, and while I enjoyed the scene I knew many musicians who had to “pay to play.” It’s still that way for many L.A. bands. You don’t get that in Salt Lake City for the most part. There are a lot of choices when it comes to venues you can play.

In terms of getting your music out there, I think doing it yourself is the best way. Some people ask us, “who does your promotions?” or “who manages you guys.” The truth is WE are the manager. WE do the promotions. It’s amazing what you can do when you pick up the phone, text someone or just get on the street with posters and flyers.

Nothing is going to replace hard work. If you want something, you got to go for it. That’s our attitude. Networking with bands, DJs, radio stations, publications and just the public in general is the best way to get your music heard.

SLG: Do you have any videos on YouTube?

GK: We have several videos, including one where our guitarist Brian Jensen is playing with Unwritten Law lead singer Scott Russo backstage! [HERE -SLG] You’ll also find clips of us playing live and a professional promo video we did for the album release of “The Stories We Could Tell.” [Click HERE for more DDJ videos. -SLG]

SLG: Recordings? Will you have CD's or more for sale at the show?

GK: Yes. We have both our albums for sale along with large car stickers and bumper stickers.

SLG: How can fans contact you? Myspace? or another website?

GK: They can write to us at, but honestly Myspace, Facebook and Twitter are probably the best ways to reach us. We write to EVERY person we come into contact with, so hit us up on We’ll talk about music, what you like to drink, your favorite foods, ice skating nude in the dark, even problems with your boyfriend or girlfriend! Believe it or not, that’s come up. It’s all good! Julio Counseling at your service!

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