After interviewing The Hush Sound last month, I got to met Alex DeLeon (vocals) and Ian Crawford (guitar) from The Cab. For those of you unaware, The Cab is the lastest band signed to the hugely successful indie label, Fueled By Ramen. They recently released their debut album, Whisper War, this past spring. The band is also managed by the super successful management company, Crush Management. Almost every Fueled By Ramen and Decaydance band is managed by Crush. The Cab was first signed to Decaydance, an imprint indie label under FBR founded by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. The Cab already had something going for them since most fans of one FBR band are fans of all the rest of them. Whereas most people like artists from a wide variety of labels, Fueled By Ramen bands all share the same fans. It is seriously like a huge family. Being signed to Decaydance/FBR is like having a pre-generated fanbase handed to you upon having your first record released. Kids will be at your shows in a heartbeat. Read on to hear what Alex and Ian from The Cab had to say about the controversial Live Journal community, FBR Trash!
1) What have you noticed about crowds at recent The Cab shows?
Alex: Well, it’s been a huge difference because we toured a little bit before our record came out and shortly after. Then we had a month off. And then ever since we’ve come back from that month break, it’s been insane. Everyone knows the words now.
Ian: It’s completely different.
Alex: It’s not like they only know one or two songs. They know every word to every song. It’s just completely night and day. The first few shows we were just blown away – so excited. It’s a huge, crazy difference.
Ian: Their generosity has been incredible, too. They’re bringing us gifts. They’re making us signs and shirts.
Alex: It’s awesome.
Ian: Really appreciating what we do, and we really appreciate that.
2) How much do you rehearse for a tour?
Alex: We – as a band we rehearsed –
Ian: As a full band…
Alex: Like half a practice. We practiced half the set and then –
Ian: Somebody had to go somewhere. For some reason, it got cut short.
Alex: We didn’t really practice much for this tour.
Ian: We don’t really practice much for any tour.
Alex: Our first few shows are our practice, and then we kinda kick into gear; kinda wing it –
Ian: That was definitely the case on this tour.
Alex: We just ad lib a lot. We go with it, and figure out what songs kids are responding best to on the road. Then we kinda change our set from there. After the first week or two, we kinda know pretty much what it’s going to be for the rest of the tour.
3) What’s on The Cab’s rider?
Ian: We got a couple lactose guys, so pretty much anything dairy-free.
Alex: I enjoy Sunkist – orange soda. We’re all pretty different, so our rider goes from like he said, everything from lactose-free stuff to me, who, I love anything with fat and sugar; there’s lots of candy and soda.
Ian: I’m stoked for sushi in the future. Sushi on the rider.
Alex: Hopefully we get to the point where we can have nicer stuff like that.
4) When you’re in the studio, do you think about how the songs will sound live? Does that affect the decision as to which songs will make the record?
Alex: I don’t think we ever think about…I think when we record and write and album, or thinking about recording and writing an album…I mean, as we’re recording, a lot of times, we’re like, “This song’s going to be fun to play live.” But we definitely don’t let the live show affect the writing process, I don’t think.
Ian: It puts a safety net on everything – not thinking about how it’s going to be performed live. I know that’s something that I, when we first went into the studio, I was really concerned – “How is this going to sound live?” Then you kinda got to look past that.
Alex: The best song is the best song, you know what I mean? You can’t sacrifice good songs for a live performance.
Ian: Learning how to do it and pull it off is another half of the battle.
5) How do you decide which songs to play each night? Or do you play the same set for every show on the whole tour?
Alex: I think there’s so many factors. Some factors are what we want to play and what we enjoy playing. Then there’s what we think the crowd wants to hear – the response – what fans tell us what they like. What songs more kids know the words to. Then there’s also the factor…For example, the first week of this tour, I was extremely sick and I had no falsetto and no upper [range]. My upper range was completely torn up. We had to tweak the set. We couldn’t play certain songs, and then we played other songs instead. We tried a few different ones out. It literally just depends on everything. If we play Vegas, if we play our local shows or towns that we’ve played for a long time, we can play older songs maybe that aren’t even on our record because kids will know that and appreciate us going back to where we started. It totally depends on everything. There’s so many different things that go into what songs we’re going to play.
6) Do you ever change your set midshow, depending on your mood?
Alex: Hell, yeah. I look back at them and I’m just like, “You know, no ‘Sing Myself to Sleep’,” or “No…”
Ian: We say, “Can’t do that,” or “Hey, let’s play this song.” That’s happened.
Alex: Our most upbeat song is “Can You Keep A Secret?” and one show we thought was going to be kind of dead, so we weren’t going to play it. We were just going to play a more relaxed, chill song. The crowd, out of nowhere just went nuts! So we looked around and I was just like, “Play the song.” I looked at all of them and went up to them and told them all and then we just played it. It doesn’t happen every night, but if it needs to happen we make it happen.
7) How do you change things with every tour or show to make them different from your past tours and shows?
Ian: Just kind of what’s going on with us at the time. For example, at the first show of this tour, a fan brought this cape – a big, green cape that had dollar signs on it – for our bass player named Cash. So we took the cape and we’re all notorious for being goofballs and forgetting things –
Alex: It’s called the Cape of Shame. If you do something stupid, you have to wear it every night. A different person wears it every night, whether it be us or our techs, or whatever.
Ian: Anybody in the whole crew is involved with it.
Alex: But then also, I think our next few tours that are upcoming, we’re going to try and plan some of the styles and some of the ideas from our music videos – maybe incorporate that in the show. Obviously, the bigger a band gets, the more resources and opportunities they have to have better light shows and stuff like that. We have a lot of cool ideas if it ever gets to that point. Right now we’re just making do with what we have. Just trying to give the best show possible with our resources that we have right now.
8 – What do you do on the road to relax?
Alex: We don’t have any time to relax.
Ian: Write music a lot.
Alex: We write music to relax. Any free time I have, I try to keep in contact with people back home and friends and family and all that. On off days, I like to have fun. Some of the guys in the band like to relax and just stay in the hotel and relax and rest on the off days. [For example] An off day we had a few days ago, I went to a zoo and a waterpark. Kinda get out there; have a little adventure. I’m into that kind of stuff.
Ian: Malls, movies.
Alex: I like getting out and I like seeing the places that we play. I don’t like staying in a hotel room or staying at the venue. I like to get out. I’m getting paid to see the world; I might as well see it instead of locking myself in a room.
9) What challenges, if any, did you face putting the album together?
Alex: Tons! The whole making an album is just a big challenge. Putting all your ideas together and sorting out the parts of the songs and coming to agreements. You want to challenge yourself in the studio to write the best parts possible, or to play it or sing it the best you can. Being in a band, there’s challenges every day – playing the best show you can. If you’re sick, you can’t just not play. You kinda have to fight through it. Driving can be a challenge – we wrecked our van. Everything is just a big challenge.
Ian: Yup, it’s all a big test.
Alex: You have to stay focused at all times. There are obstacles around every corner.
Ian: Especially making the album. We were just out of high school and adapting to being – living in this new place for two months. Recording in the studio and being away from everybody. We’d done a small tour before that, but besides that it was completely different than anything we’ve been involved with.
10) How would you categorize your music?
Alex: Soulful rock – soulful pop rock. We take all of our influences and put them together. Take my R&B soul influences and Ian’s classic rock influences to straight piano pop. I think that’s what cool about our music – is it’s not one genre. I don’t think it can be categorized in one word. It’s a few different things combined. I think that’s part of the thing that makes us, as a band, different than a lot of the other stuff that’s being done right now.
11) Who are some of your favorite bands?
Alex: Me and Ian are polar opposites. I don’t even listen to bands. I like Jason Mraz, Justin Timberlake. Then I like Maroon 5 and bands that we’ve toured with. I really enjoy Sing It Loud, We The Kings – our friends. I listen to everything. I listen to Lil’ Wayne, I listen to Justin Timberlake, and I listen to –
Ian: Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones.
Alex: John Mayer. We listen to everything. That’s part of what makes us unique – our influences and just the different music that we put together.
12) How has your life changed since your success?
Alex: What hasn’t changed? We went from being – I mean, I played sports in high school. I got really good grades in school. I went from being just a regular high school kid that kind of had a band on the side, to being thrown into having the band be the only aspect of my life. To being stuck in a van for eight months in a row, and just touring – writing music all the time. It was a complete 180. I went from being a normal high school kid to being in a signed band with all these expectations and pressures. It is a huge difference. Ian lived in Seattle. Ian had to pack his bags, and move in one day’s notice.
Ian: I got a phone call and I was on a plane three hours later.
Alex: It was super hectic and it still is. We’re still adjusting to all the changes that we had to make.
13) What advice would you give those interested in playing in a band as a career?
Alex: Work hard.
Ian: Make music you love and work hard at it. Give it everything you have.
Alex: I think people underestimate songs. I think people focus on playing shows or how they look on stage. Those are obviously very important, but I think if you focus – if your songs are good enough, everything else kinda doesn’t matter. If you write good songs, people will definitely follow you and follow those songs. I think just focus on writing that song. If you write that song, then you should be pretty set.
14) How did you start playing your instruments?
Ian: I started when I was about 11. My dad – both my parents were very into music. They kind of inspired me to pick up an instrument and start playing it. As soon as I did, they were the ones that were always snagging at me to keep doing it. “You said you wanted a guitar for Christmas, now you better play at least a half an hour a day and live up to it.” They kinda influenced me to keep going at it.
Alex: I got my first guitar when I was 14. I’m still not a very good guitar player. My dad and my grandma were singers growing up, so I was always around a big family of music. I was always going to my dad’s shows and he got me into guitar. I never knew I could sing until Cash, our bass player, forced me to. So I just kinda came into that. I’ve been into music my whole life, but like I said, I started playing instruments when I was 14.
15) What were the first songs you learned to play?
Alex: My first two songs I learned how to play on the guitar were “Radio” by Alkaline Trio and “God Called In Sick Today” by AFI.
Ian: First song I ever learned was “Down By The River” by Neil Young – bunch of Neil Young. My dad was a huge Neil Young fan, so I just had a songbook and I just learned all that.
16) Who were some of the bands you first saw live at shows you went to growing up?
Alex: My first few concerts that I remember… I think my first concert ever was Garth Brooks and then I saw… The first concert that I wanted to go to was ‘N Sync. I was the only boy – little boy – there. But it definitely got me to where I am, so I’m stoked. I think my first big rock concert – I went to a lot of local shows and smaller shows – but my first arena rock concert was Incubus. That was insane. That really got me into wanting to be in a band – seeing Incubus and Brandon Boyd, for sure.
Ian: My first one that I really remember was REM. I saw them quite a few times growing up, so they were a really big influence.
17) How do you improve your skills on your instruments while out on the road and holed up in the recording studio? Do you have a practice regimen?
Ian: We all have different things. I like to just sit in a room and play the same thing over at least 200 times before I get it right and then just keep working at it. I don’t know; everyone has their own ways…
Alex: As a singer, you kinda get better every day, just singing along to songs. I think what makes me a better singer is, the more music I listen to – the more different varieties of music I listen to – the different vocalists that I can be inspired by… Whether it be like soulful R&B people or super old school blues. It really makes your mind think differently when you’re writing melodies and when you’re singing. So I think just the more music I listen to, the better of a vocalist I become. And the more diverse of a voice I get.
18) How do you feel about the whole Guitar Hero and Rock Band game phenomenon?
Ian: I think it’s awesome. I suck at it, but I think it’s awesome. I think it’s kind of given an opportunity for kids younger than us, or just really anybody that isn’t as familiar with that kind of music. The music that inspired even yesterday’s music really and then today’s music. It digs deep into what people listen to now and shows how people really were influenced by that and made today’s music.
Alex: See I’m kind of on the other end. There’s two sides to it. I think there’s that side, and I think there’s also the side… It’s kind of allowing kids to cheat the whole picking up an instrument and working hard to become good at it. Kids don’t have to pick up a guitar anymore to play it, they kinda just press buttons on plastic in front of a TV. It’s just making our generation lazier. I think it’s cutting into the whole point of working hard to become a musician. Kids feel that they can become a musician like I said, by sitting on the couch and picking up a controller. There’s both ways to look at it.
19) What are your thoughts on FBR Trash?
Alex: It’s one of those things where people are going to say what they want. That website specifically, it’s always back and forth. They either love you and almost worship you, or they hate you and there’s like, death threats. There’s some great fans on there. It’s really supportive and it gets our faces and our name out there more. It’s cool that people even care enough to talk about us. That’s how I look at it. The fact that they care enough to talk good or bad – it’s awesome. But then there’s times where…[For example] One fan got mad because she asked me sign something and I signed it and I was like, “Thank you, sweetheart.” I went on the website later and she was mad because she goes, “He just took my maraca,” which I signed, “and just scribbled on it.” So she was literally – she literally called me a bad person because my signature was not the way I guess she wanted it to look –
Ian: Not up to par for her.
Alex: It wasn’t good enough for her, so somehow it made me some arrogant jerk that my signature didn’t look pretty enough. Stuff like that – I laugh at stuff like that. If that’s literally what you’re going to be mad at me and my band about, then it’s like, whatever. It’s funny. A lot of times we go and we crack up at how immature it is, and how funny it is. It’s pretty funny.
Ian: They obviously gotta care about you somewhat if they’re gonna…It’s like in high school, or even in school growing up, where there’s that girl that’s really mean to you, but you later find out that she really likes you.
Alex: If that’s what they wanna do in their spare time and that’s what they choose to do with their lives, so be it. I’m following my dream, I’m making music and seeing the world. There’s really nothing they can say to make me feel bad about what I’m doing.
Ian: If there’s money to be made on the website, somebody else’s dream is being accomplished.
Alex: If they want to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel bad, then so be it. It doesn’t affect us, we just laugh at it. It’s pretty funny, it’s really funny.
20) Why and how did you choose ‘The Cab’ as the name for your band? Does it mean anything to you?
Alex: There’s not really a meaning. It was just the most simple thing me and Cash [Colligan – bass] could come up with. We didn’t want to be categorized. We didn’t want our name – people to see our name – and categorize or put us in a group. If your name is ‘Last Thursday’s Bloody Romance,’ people are going to put a label on you – by your name. I think ‘The Cab’ is so simple. I think it’s catchy and simple to where people have to dig a little deeper and listen to our music before they know who we are as a band.
21) What are some of the important lessons you have learned from music professionals with more experience in the biz?
Alex: For me, I’ve learned a lot about – first off, physically, my voice. I have to drink a lot of water and I have to get more rest. I can’t yell as much. This is my job and my throat’s my instrument, so I have to really take care of it. You always have to stay true to yourself and no matter how much success you see… I was the kid at the shows that would wait after shows and try to meet the people that I looked up to. Try to meet the bands; get them to sign my shirt, or get a picture with them. I remember the people that were super rude to me, and that were too good for me. I vowed never to be that guy. So it’s like I’ve learned a lot from the people that made me feel really bad as a kid. I learned a lot from the people that treated me bad. It just showed me what not to do. Also, the people that were great to me and nice to me showed me who I want to be like. I’ve learned a lot, not even from reading or anything, just from leading by example.
Ian: Absolutely – their attitudes and their playing. The good ones will definitely gravitate toward you. You’ll learn a lot from them – shun the other ones out.
22) What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from mistakes you have made during your career so far?
Alex: We’re still pretty young. I think we’re still young and learn every day. We make mistakes all the time. Whether it be little mistakes like me and my microphone used to always fall out – the cable used to always fall out of the microphone – so I’ve learned to tape it. You learn little things like that, but you also learn bigger things like relationship things with other bands or with fans. You learn a lot. I don’t know if I can pinpoint it. I don’t even think we realize what we’re learning. We just kinda learn and every day we grow as people, and as musicians and as a band. I think you just learn together and build together.
Ian: It’s very subliminal. You’ll look at it – even go back a few weeks – and you’ll be like, “Oh, that was a lot different.” Then you’ll see how you’re doing something now and you don’t even realize it’s happening. Just being on the road will eventually build up your level of a musician without even realizing it.
23) What are your thoughts on having your recorded live performances downloaded for free by your fans (no revenue stream coming in from online performance rights royalties)?
Alex: It’s whatever. It doesn’t really bother me. I like playing music. My favorite part of all of this is writing music, so that petty stuff doesn’t really bother me. As long as I’m touring and writing and making music I love and seeing the fans…It doesn’t really bother me.
Ian: It’s gonna happen anyways.
Alex: Yeah! If we don’t want it to happen, it’s gonna happen, so you kind of just have to deal with it. It’s just not really a big deal. It’s just where we’re at in the world. At this day in age, that’s what’s going on. The more you fight it, the more it’s going to happen.
24) Who influenced and/or helped you with the business side of your career and how much did you know about the inside of the music industry before making deals and signing contracts? Basically, what did you understand about publishing, licensing, touring, merchandise, major vs. indie labels, marketing, production, radio, etc.?
Alex: Not really. We found a management company. Our management company is the best and the most trustworthy group of people. I think when we went with our manager and that company, I think we put a lot of faith and trust in their hands. Any question we have, they talked us through it, or they sat us down and they’d say, “Ok, this is what’s going to happen, and this is what it means.” There’s not very many people you can trust in this industry, or in this world. But we definitely have a lot of trust and faith in Crush Management and just the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with. I think we’re surrounded by a good group of people who genuinely care about each other. Who care about the music and no so much the numbers and dollar signs. We like to ask questions – I ask a lot of questions. It’s good to know. It makes you feel more safe and comfortable if you know exactly why things are happening and not just what’s happening and where things come from.
Ian: It’s better to ask what you think is a stupid question than to just sit back and let somebody take care of something and you don’t know what’s going on, because you don’t know what could happen.
25) As far as commercial music licensing goes, what television shows would you enjoy having your music placed and featured in?
Alex: My favorite TV show is Nip/Tuck, so I’d be stoked if our song was on Nip/Tuck.
Alex: Any TV show would be awesome.
26) Who would you love to tour with or open for? Write songs with?
Alex: I would like to write with Ne-Yo. I would like to tour with Maroon 5 or Justin Timberlake.
Ian: I would like to collab and tour with John Mayer – definitely would be cool. Eric Clapton. I’d be stoked on that.
27) What was it like having Patrick Stump help produce and sing on your record? What did you learn from your experience with him?
Alex: I learned more from Patrick in three days than I did from everyone else combined musically in my life. He just teaches you so much about how to carry yourself and how to perform to the best of your abilities. His thoughts and ideals on the music business – in the industry – is just amazing. He’s just such a smart guy and he’s so underrated. Don’t get me wrong – love Pete – Pete’s our boss. Pete is the forefront of that band and I think so many people overlook how amazing and smart Patrick is. He’s the man. I don’t even know what to say about him, but I learned so much from him. He nails everything in his first take.
Ian: Literally. He walked into that vocal booth for “One of THOSE Nights” –
Alex: He walked in the vocal booth for his part on “One of THOSE Nights,” and first try, laid it down, walked out and he goes, “What that good?”
Ian: Yup, it was all right.
Alex: It’s on the CD – first try. He’s amazing.
28) Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?
Ian: We love you.
Alex: Just thank you for everything. We hope to see you guys on tour. We’ll probably be touring for the rest of our lives. It seems to be the pattern. See you soon.