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      Articles Home » Music Talk » Year Of The Locust Interview With Scotty Mac By Nina McCarthy
      Year Of The Locust Interview With Scotty Mac By Nina McCarthy

      Year Of The Locust

      Interview With Scotty Mac

      By Nina McCarthy, Sr. Music Journalist

      Boston Rock Radio

       

      New York’s Year of the Locust is doing things the old fashioned way. Rather than relying on false accolades and manufactured hype, the band has taken their furious live show and stellar songwriting to the masses directly. Extensive touring throughout the country has endeared the band to fans and peers alike. (Quoted from their bio)

      YOTL has toured all 48 continental states and Canada with the following bands: Jake E. Lee and the Red Dragon Cartel, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, Tantric, Saving Abel, Devour the Day, Sons of Texas, Starset, Palisades, and Tesla. They have shared the stage with Trapt, Hoobastank, Candlebox and countless others.

      Frontman, Scotty Mac was kind enough to talk to me for a second time, since our first interview had technical difficulties. We chatted for an hour, but I cut a lot out for the sake of the readers.  If you haven’t heard of YOTL, it’s time to get familiar with them.

       

      BRR: To start, can you introduce the band and tell us how you met?

      SM: The band started in New York. You obviously know my name. Gabriel Flores is the drummer. Fred Serrel is the bass player and I went to high school with him. Cody Hyde is the guitar player. He's from Alabama and I met him on a previous tour in 2018.

       

      BRR: You guys live all over the place? How do you make that work?

      SM: You get together for rehearsals before tour then you tour together. You write remotely. The internet is a beautiful thing these days for that.

       

      BRR: A lot of bands are doing it that way now. What is your personal musical background? I read another interview that said something about drunk karaoke?

      SM: They put that out? Oh, my God, I guess they did. You're talking about way back in the day for me. I guess they're talking about that high school party that I was at where I couldn't help grabbing the mic and pushing Jay out of the way. That's not one of my better moments.

       

      BRR: I thought it was a great story!

      SM: It’s the truth. I just couldn't, you know. He was a great guy, but I was just dying. I was like, “Come on man, you can do better than that.”  I just shimmied on stage and I kind of nudged him out of the way and grabbed the mic like an asshole, and yeah, that was it. The band kind of hit me up and said, “You have to do a show with us.” I was totally nervous and took a bunch of liquor out of the parent’s liquor cabinet and promptly downed a concoction of like gin and tequila. You know, you take one shot out of every bottle and no one knows anything. For no reason, of course, because my mic didn't work. It was a Kozar, when that was a thing, but don't date me. I never really considered myself a musician but I just loved music so much. I just lived and died by my Walkman. As far as my musical background, I guess I taught myself how to play guitar and make a lot of noise. I spent quite a few years playing drums too. A lot of “by yourself” time, probably two years in a room with no one, no more friends and no more social life.

       

      BRR: So you had no intentions of becoming a frontman until that just kind of happened?

      SM: Yeah, exactly. That kind of happened and I had a tribute act and we played parties and bars and I did that for quite a while. Then you kind of have to find your own voice, which took me quite a few years because that's the only bad thing about doing cover stuff is that you don't know which voice is yours. You can imitate a bunch of different singers, but as a singer that's not so good. You don't know which direction to go. Firstly, you finally have to write enough songs and melodies, and eventually you start touching on what you really sound like. And then hopefully, if you have some good musicians and producers around you, they say, “No, let's go this way. This is you. That's the real you.”

       

      BRR: That's interesting, because I've never really thought about that when you're doing covers.

      SM: Well, yeah. If your running through different singers, you can do all their voices, but which one is yours so to speak, so that you end up the most honest thing you can find.  But also with so many music genres out there, that's not really a goal for a lot of singers, I don't think, because if you're immediately typecasting whatever music you do as said sub genre, then you just adhere to those rules.

       

      BRR: Right. That's why I like something a little different. That's usually what catches my attention.

      SM: Well, if you're calling me different than I'm flattered. I appreciate that. I  just consider what I do to be honest. I don't know if it's good or bad, I just try and do that because there are so many different directions you can go with your voice, if that makes sense.

       

      BRR: It does. I've heard a lot of artists say to just be yourself, that's the best you can do.

      SM: Yeah, like the classic quote,  “All you can do is do what you can.” I think those lyrics have been in my head for decades. Every time life gets tough, that's usually what I recite to myself.

       

      BRR: Now you guys seem to gain your fans a good old fashioned way, with touring? Do you feel that's the best method to spread the word and gain these long term fans?

      SM: Well, drawing from my experience over these past couple of years, I do think so. I think that online fame is overrated a bit, as far as whether people are going to be interested in coming to see you. If you put on a great live show and you're a consummate performer and you work on making it as entertaining as you can, and you're also an accessible person, I think that those types of fans are different, a less fleeting, more permanent, kind. That's the great thing about touring because you meet a lot of people, and if you're a good person, you really get to know a lot of people and that's how your fan base kind of grows from there because you have people that actually do know who you are and they follow you and they want to know what you're up to. They live vicariously through your touring and your music and everything. So yeah, you gain fans online but touring is great for that if you're a performer.  A lot of today's world is very full of bands that use a lot of backing tracks for vocals and stuff. If I had to say there's one thing that kind of separates us a little bit is that I can sing, so I don't necessarily need a lot of that. So it kind of comes across a lot live that we're a good act for that reason. We change things on the fly, changing the song to go along with the crowd, and we've definitely done that. There's definitely been times where I've been a diva for a moment and ran with the vocal and then the band kind of waits for me to do what I'm doing.

       

      BRR: I can picture them stopping and be like, “What?”

      SM: Oh, yeah, like “Are we supposed to come back in yet?” It's funny because a lot of the Year Of The Locust music is kind of written that way, where the vocals will cue a lot of the portions of the music. I get the ball at that moment so when they're waiting for a cue now, they're great performers too so they're cool and they can just do that as well and think, “Okay, I guess he's taken a moment to draw out a note or put a little bit of extra bells and whistles in.” I think that's the cool thing that kind of separates us a little bit.

       

      BRR: They must have to really pay attention then.

      SM: That's definitely a thing. You’d be surprised though, two things...if you put a lot of trust in your band and know that they're good performers and they can handle that kind of stuff; and secondly, as a vocalist, you have to really telegraph when you're going to do that stuff. So you have to have a really strong projection, so I'm pretty loud. I kind of have a big voice.

       

      BRR: You look like you'd be loud. Ha!

      SM: Yeah, God graced me with a large set of pipes. It's like a muscle car with a big engine. It's just what it is, so I'm happy to have it. I know how to use it, so I do. So I've actually never really caught them with their pants down. They’ve never screwed that up because they're great players and I keep them on their toes. But most of all, they know when I'm going to go and do stuff. It's weird. It's like a radio station where everybody's tuned into the same frequency in a way. If you're a good band, you can pull off things like that live and it's fun and mixes it up nice to show it's a little different.

       

      BRR: Exactly. Now you released a four song self-titled EP. It just came out, I think, last time we talked when I didn't record us. Well, I actually did record it, but for some reason it didn't come out. But anyway, so you have the four song self titled EP, which I absolutely love. Now, the single “Stay Alive” has the guest appearances by some cool musicians. Tell me about that.

      SM: Guest drummer on “Stay Alive” is Troy Luccketta from Tesla. Brian Bonds, ex-Florida Georgia Line, played some slide guitar on it and some other little funky electric thing that makes the strings vibrate. I forget what that was called. He just wanted to have fun, so he came in and he did that. He's a great player. He could do anything. He said, "You know what, I'm going to put some funky sounds on this,” and he did that throughout the track, so that was very cool.

       

      BRR: How did you end up collaborating with those two? I know you toured with Tesla so you knew Troy from that, I gather.

      SM: Our label rep is Troy's half brother. He invited Troy into the studio and didn't tell us who it was. He said his brother was going to stop by and then it was just like, “Whoa, what's up?” He said, “I like the stuff man. I hear some stuff on this track. Do you mind if I go and play?” I was like, “Oh, yeah, absolutely. Go ahead. Be Awesome.”

       

      BRR: I just saw Tesla. They’re actually the first big band I interviewed like 20 years ago and one of my favorites.

      SM: You do a lot with the scene and go to a lot of shows. I know I wish could you do that.

       

      BRR: I love it.

      SM: I know you do, and I love that. I live vicariously through your show going. I have to be honest with you. I almost forgot about this interview and I was just thinking about you and that we had to re-do it and I was just opening up your Facebook page to message you to see if you were available and you literally sent me a message saying you were ready.


      BRR: Wow. Well, I’m glad you thought of me. That’s funny though. When I talked to you last time, we had a really good conversation too. I was so upset that the recording didn’t come out.

      SM: I know. I think I got really deep on you. I got a little bit emotional. I think I was having a moment. You want me to try and relive that moment? I can give you kind of a synopsis. I sort of remember.

       

      BRR: That brings me to the next topic where I brought that emotion out in you...I was going to ask you about “Stay Alive” being a great anthem. So many people struggle to get through the day, whether it be from anxiety, depression, or whatever.

      SM: Yeah, absolutely, and where I'm from, heroin is just really impactful in this area. So many people…

       

      BRR: It seems like I'm seeing somebody on Facebook post weekly about someone they know dying in the local music scene. It's horrible.

      SM: Yeah, it's so terrible. I think all that kind of impacts you as a writer to lose people left and right, and “Stay Alive” is just an anthem for trying to be positive and remember your worth, I guess. So no matter how bad things get, there's always a reason to keep pushing forward. I think you just have to keep that reason in your mind and in your heart.

       

      BRR: Yeah, I can really relate to that because in 2006, I almost died from a blood clot but my son was was 10 at the time and I was in a wheelchair and bedridden for a year. My son was my whole reason to keep going. So, yeah, sometimes you just need that one thing to keep in mind.

      SM: Absolutely. In the past (2017), the band put out a song called “22.” and it was dedicated to the 22 military personnel who are committing suicide daily on average. We did the ‘22 Challenge' which is a push up challenge and it was kinda of inspiring. It was a cool thing. We got a lot of us on video doing push ups. I forget the name of the military base in DC, but we just happened to run into the Marines at the gas station on tour, so we all did it together. It was awesome. It's been sort of a theme of mine. You try and use the bully pulpit the best you can, I guess, for the best reasons that you can. If you're gonna sing in a band, you might as well talk about something impactful. I mean, that doesn't mean that every song or every bunch of lyrics we create has to be deep because if you listen to “Line Em Up” that’s definitely not deep. Every song can’t be deep because that's exhausting.

       

      BRR: I was just thinking of that song!  I love that song. That’s the song I said could be in Sons of Anarchy in my review, remember?

      SM: Yep. Absolutely.

       

      BRR: Like you said, it's something everybody can relate to because everybody has problems with anxiety or depression, or somebody close to them does at least.

      SM: Yeah and I’d like to comment that we're living in really great times where people can talk about things of that nature. We can talk about, as a society, of rights for homosexuals and transsexuals, and anxiety and depression and suicide. I think we live in a great times where you can openly speak about this stuff, and it has its bad points because you're attracting a lot of light as a society and putting a focus on some negative things, but at the same time, everyone's being able to express themselves. It's better times for people where they don't have to hide and I think that's a really great time to be alive for that reason.

       

      BRR: In that sense, I think it would lessen the suicide rate because these people feel like they don't have to hide it and feel so alone.

      SM: Absolutely, and I think that celebrating our differences as a society is not a bad thing.

       

      BRR: Right, I have an interview coming up with Johnny Z. He's the guy that discovered Metallica and then formed a label. So he wrote a book and I'm interviewing him about that. He was severely bipolar. He said that he never mentioned it until now, but that's why he had that energy and such a drive to live his dream and push through. It was actually his mental illness, or basically his mania. It’s something he never talked about back then, but like you said, that has changed a lot in the last 20 years.

      SM: Exactly. It's a good thing that we can talk about this stuff openly and it's becoming more and more accepted, that people don't have to live quietly with things that are on their hearts, I think it's not a bad thing at all.

       

      BRR: So true. Now back to the album. It’s one that you really have to listen to from beginning to end because well, it only has the four songs and it's only like 14 minutes long.

      SM: Is it that short? Wow! I need to write longer songs.

       

      BRR: But on a positive note, people can easily listen to the whole thing at once.

      SM: I've been listening to a lot of Tool, so I'm going to try and create 20 minute long epics.

       

      BRR: Did you see my Facebook post about Tool? We won’t go there.

      SM: Okay, moving on.

       

      BRR: Each song on the album is something completely different and now that it's been out a little bit, what has been the response? I know when I first talked to you, you were close to billboard charting and then you finally did. Is that correct?

      SM: Yes, we hit 29 on Billboard.

       

      BRR: Nice, congrats. You were on our Top 25, too, but I think you just recently fell off.

      SM: Yeah. You gotta make room for new bands. That's what it is.

       

      BRR: I don’t even know how that works. Wayne does all that so I don't even have any idea how the numbers come up.

      SM: Well, the music doesn't stop coming in. It's just gonna keep going. So, we had a great run at radio. We were happy with the response. We found some really organic support in certain places where it kind of grew some legs of its own. We peaked at 17 on Foundations, which is secondary, and then we hit 29 on Billboard. So that was very cool. “Stay Alive” was well received. I'm not sure what we're going to roll with next. I think we have some lyric videos that we are going to work on to come out soon. We have a November tour also. I don’t think I’ll be anywhere near you. I think I’m going to be in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.

       

      BRR: Darn, you are going to be way up there?

      SM: Yeah, I mean, unless you have somebody who wants to have us, it's being booked right now by Nick Bell (Ellefson’s agency/One 9 Booking)

       

      BRR: Is it your tour?

      SM: It’s us with a band called The Zealots, so it's going to be like a medium five club tour. Nothing crazy.

       

      BRR: Well, I was gonna say, Nick should look into The Vault at The Greasy Luck in New Bedford, MA. I go there all the time. It’s a brew pub and restaurant and then the other side is called The Vault because it used to be a bank, and that's the concert side. There's an actual vault in the room that they put the liquor in behind the bar. It’s about an hour from me and I frequent there often.

       SM: We played there once before with Saliva, now that I think of it. (Apparently it was when I was in the hospital last year with meningitis, so I missed it.) I would play there in a second. I’ll have to see if the dates work and if you want to put in a word for us, that would be great too.

       

      (We go off on a discussion about supporting the other bands on the bill at clubs when you play leading to Scot saying…)

      SM: I put up a post last year on Facebook or Instagram, you know the on going debate about pineapple on pizza...

       

      BRR: That’s definitely a YES from me!

      SM: There was a meme going around saying, “If you like pineapple on pizza, your weak and you’re genes are weak, and your children won’t survive the winter.” I just changed that a little and put “If you play a show and you don’t stay until the end of the show, you’re weak, your genes are weak, and your children won’t survive the winter.”  That is just so lame. What do you have to do that is so important? I hate that. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Especially if I played earlier in the lineup, why am I going to leave?

       

      BRR: Oh, I agree. At least one band member should stay if others had to leave for some reason. Don't get me started on that! The only other question I had was, what advice can you offer to these up and coming bands looking to take it to the next level?

      SM: Now, what I would have said to you, even a year ago, would have been different from what I'm going to say right now. So what I will say is, I think there's two pieces of advice I would give. One is to fill up your hometown venue, fill it up with people, sell your tickets if you have to, if that's the kind of market you're in. Get your family and friends in the venue in support of touring bands and dedicate a lot of time to that hometown venue, because that's the place where you're going to develop relationships that are going to help you if you want to start branching out and playing other places. I mean, let's face it, somebody in that hometown club is bringing in the acts that are on tour and you want to get your band out of the area. Work on that venue and satisfy that relationship with your promoter, whoever's bringing the band's to your club. The other thing I would say is, create as much music as you can and take chances because a lot of bands don't develop a style. You gotta take chances and get out of your comfort zone with your music and create a lot of music and take a lot of chances to sort of develop your style as a group and as writers, and that's what's going to sort of begin to separate you from the pack because it's an integral part of developing the sound of a group. I would also team up with a good producer, somebody that you feel you can trust with your sound so they can help develop it. And, don't ignore your fans. Develop relationships with fans everywhere. Don't think that you're already a rock star. A lot of musicians make that mistake. Fans are people. You're a person. We're all in this together.

       

      BRR: That last piece of advice could not be reiterated enough! I know when you first started the band you were kind of in charge of doing everything, but I’ve heard many times how important the team who's behind you is as far as moving forward.

      SM: Yeah, it takes a village to raise a band. So you're gonna have to develop a team behind the band to help you do the things you want to do and move forward. You have to be careful who you work with, as always, because there's a lot of middle men trying to take your money. The best gauge is to find people who are excited about your music who want to work with you. So anybody who just wants to take your money in the music industry, that isn’t someone you want to work with. You want to work with people who are excited for the music that you're putting out and actually genuinely like you.

       

      BRR: I've seen that even with on the other side, like with publicists. They used to take just the good bands. Now I see a few that are taking on any band they can get just for the money because they send me some really horrible stuff. It's quantity as opposed to quality at this point.

      SM: If you want to get right down to the brass tacks, the truth of it is...what all of this for higher promotion is doing, where just anyone can be worked with, it's kind of inflating a false bubble because there's no integrity left in the game anymore. Any band, can get anything they want a la carte. Whether they're ready for it or whether they're any good, and that isn't a good thing because it's clogging up the channels that used to be reserved for bands that were more developed that were ready and had a good sound. Now that’s a thing of the past. It’s not helping anything.

       

      BRR: That's my point exactly. Now it's who has money and you can hire anything you want, like a manager and PR, but like you said, it doesn't necessarily mean they're good. I understand everyone has different tastes, but I’m pretty open minded and some stuff is just horrible.

      SM: Yeah and that's terrible and that's why I say develop your sound because any band can be good, you just have to find your particular sound. There are singers out there that we love that can't sing a lick, but it's their own unique personal sound. I think it's true for all bands and all musicians. You don't have to be incredibly technical or incredibly advanced. You just have to know what your sound is and find it, and that takes time and trust and leaps of faith.

       

      BRR: You probably saw that in yourself from the first recording you did to now with your last album.

      SM: Oh my god. Yes, absolutely. I started playing with different guitar tunings and really started shaking up my Guitar World approach, so I could try and find a more unique sound that I enjoyed. I play in A sharp suspended open tuning...I think that's what it's called. I don't even know. Brett Hestla, who did the album, explained to us what it was in geek speak and he called it “the devil's tuning.” He explained it to us and was like, “I hate this tuning.”  “All right, well, sorry.” I’m just trying to freshen up our sound a little bit. I need to take my own approaches, I need to take even more chances, and greater chances, to be even more different. It's good to have your roots in good old fashioned rock and roll composition, but I intend to take more chances going forward and reinvent myself again.

       

      BRR: And that will be easier when you have the cordless mic?

      SM: Oh, yeah, that's gonna be a blast. I can't wait. There's so many things I liked to do live for the few times I had a cordless mic, but they're really expensive. So I'm lucky to be a Westone artists and they're working with me to get me something that I really want.

       

      BRR: Cool. Well, that's pretty much it. I’ve taken a lot of your time. Do you have anything else you want to add?

      SM: Not really. Just look out for some new lyric videos coming up from us and the November tour.

       

      BRR: I look at those dates. I'm always up for a road trip. You never know where you’ll find me.

      SM: Okay, sweet. We’re going to be in upstate New York and then heading either out west where we have some pull too and then go down south. I know we're starting in upstate New York and finishing in Jackson, Mississippi, That’s a really strong market for us.

       

      BRR: Yeah, you should definitely look into the Greasy Luck, then because you guys would be kind of going past it.

      SM: Nov 7, 8, or 10 are the dates we are shooting for somewhere in that area because it would make for good routing.

       

      BRR: Ok, well then, I'll talk to you soon.

      SM: Absolutely. Thanks again for your time. I always enjoy talking to you.

       

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