Interview with All Systems Go
Since their inception in 2016, All Systems Go have become a mainstay of the South Jersey music scene. A classic pop punk four piece sound drenched in nostalgia and a fun, energetic live show are what you can expect from the Delran natives. Shortly after the release of their EP The Waiting Room, I had a chance to sit down with Matt, Dean and Joe and discuss where they’ve been, and what they’re planning for the future. Unfortunately, Devin was unable to be at the face to face interview, but I was able to catch up with him later on.
So how did you guys get the name and how did the forming members meet?
Matt: Our previous bass player, August, he came up with the name All Systems Go. But, that name came from a list of maybe like thirty. We were a band in high school. So, it was me, Devin, August and our friend Kyle who used to play the drums. We called ourselves But We Aren’t Canadian- which is ironic because there’s an All Systems Go that was famous from back in the nineties and they were from Canada. Going into my senior year of college I was getting into playing guitar a little bit and I had written our song London Lights for another project I was doing with Joe. That project fell through and I asked the original members if they’d want to play original music again, and they were like “Yeah.” Eventually, after about four shows, we found out that Kyle would no longer be able to play with us. Joe was the best drummer we knew, so we asked him, he jumped on it and that’s how we got together. It helped that we’ve all kind of known each other since high school. Except Dean.
Except Dean. (chuckles). Alright, so what are your goals for the future of the band and considering it’s almost 2020, what are you guys most proud of that you’ve done since becoming a band? What’s your greatest milestone going into the new year?
Matt (to Dean, the newest member of ASG): What’s your greatest milestone? You’ve been with us for… (chuckles).
Dean: Honestly, joining the band, I had to learn a whole new style of playing. I started playing bass with a pick for my All Systems Go audition, so I’m just glad that I was able to get the hang of that and really get comfortable playing that way.
Joe: I think in 2019, we were able to pull off the most stuff in a calendar year to date. We released our first LP at the beginning of the year which was about a year of work itself-
Matt: It was very overdue, too.
Joe: Yeah, and to finally just get it out there was like “Great! We did it! Woo!”. We managed to stack up a pretty decent summer line up of shows even with our crazy conflicting schedules. This was all while we were also recording the EP. We did a lot of work over the summer to get that out and basically released two – I don’t know, one and a half albums – in a year. We’re already pl- Well, Matt’s the planner. So, he’s already planned ahead for some shows in the summer while we write LP #2 and look into recording that over the course of next summer and the winter.
Matt: Essentially the game plan for 2020 is to be the same as 2019 as far as shows: we want it to be the same thing mostly, but play to bigger crowds and do more [shows]. I think the best part of 2019 was that we were able to play something like thirty shows and didn’t burn out because they were spread out. We played a lot in June, a lot in August, a lot in January and a little bit in the fall. Having that spread really helped considering he’s [Joe] not here most of the time.
To Joe: Do you still go to school?
Joe: Yeah, I’m getting my Master’s degree five hours away.
Oh wow. Okay.
Matt: So we basically just play shows when he’s home.
Joe: It makes it a little more complicated, but helps us keep it spread out enough.
Alright, so-and this can be a different answer for all of you if it has to be, what has been your best show, worst show, and dream show?
Devin: Best show for me was at the Union Firehouse. It was a great time with all our friends and every set was better than the one before it. Worst show would probably be a pair of shows we played in Lancaster. The shows seemed thrown together last minute. Dream show would be MMRBQ.
Matt: Oh, I might need a second for that one… Best show, maybe the one at Harper’s that we just played? That was a lot of fun. Although when we played at Brickwall, that was pretty fun too.
I saw the video for that. It looked pretty sick.
Matt: It was a cover band show.
Joe:I’d probably have to agree on those past two for best show. We’ve had a couple cool like “Ah, this cool venue we got to play”. Like, we got to play the Trocadero two summers ago or something like that. The show wasn’t particularly that memorable, but it was a cool experience.
Matt: It was good for us because we sold a lot of tickets, but we were on the bill with nine other bands and nobody else really brought anybody, so…
Dean: I’ll agree with you guys for that Harper’s Pub show. That was really awesome. My aunt just sent me a couple videos of us playing. I’ve got to watch them. But anyway, as far as worst show, any show where I’ve gotten mad and argued with my band mates, because I always feel terrible.
Does that happen a lot?
Dean: No, I’m a really taciturn dude. I don’t really get angry that often.
Matt: Worst show, worst show… I’ve got to dig for that one.
That’s probably a good thing.
Matt: True. (Chuckles) I guess any show where it feels like it was a waste of time or we’re playing to an empty room, that type of thing. That would have been more towards the beginning. Maybe not the beginning, but maybe about a year in. There was one show. Okay, so we thought we were going to have a lot of people coming and then we ended up not having that many people able to come out. Our set time got pushed back and the first band played late, so we didn’t end up playing until midnight and there was nobody there. There were a few like that, but that was probably the worst of them.
Joe: This might be a little selfish on my part, but sometimes whether or not it’s my best or worst show is based on how my drum solo portion goes. The guys are like, “Okay Joe, go ahead”, and I just have to not mess this up in front of everyone. As long as I feel like I was able to get out the ideas in my head, I feel like, “Okay, that was a solid show.”
Dean: Alright, so here’s the dream show for you. We’re headlining and the other bands are friends of ours, right? And we’ve sold out the Wells Fargo Center. That’s it.
Matt: I would agree. (Chuckles)
Joe: I think our “now” dream show would be opening for somebody. Opening for someone big I think is our “now” dream show.
Who is somebody you guys would want to open for, if that were a possibility?
Matt: If it were a possibility or…
Okay, so dream show. Sky’s the limit.
Matt: Alright. Dream show, one hundred percent: A Day To Remember. I saw them recently and Can’t Swim opened for them.
Cool, so favorite non musical pass-time?
Devin: I think saying drinking might be inappropriate. I used to play a lot of baseball, but haven’t picked up a bat in years.
Joe: Well, that’s a tough one for me being a music major. In my free time, I still mess around with music and music technology stuff for fun.
Okay then, how about favorite thing to do not directly tied to the band?
Dean: I’m gonna say video games. I’m the admin of a Facebook group for a game called Dwarf Fortress. It’s got like thirty-five-hundred people in it. I spent like five-hundred hours playing Starbound. Yeah, video games.
Matt: Before I had a bunch of injuries, I used to be really into running. I did cross country and track all through high school and college. I haven’t ran nearly as much recently, but I’ve been going to the gym a little bit, so I guess fitness stuff is what I like to do in my spare time other than play music.
Joe: So, I guess what I could say is that I try to follow sports when I can and I used to play basketball; so if I’ve been really stressed, I like to go shoot some hoops. If, and when, I get time.
Nice! So, what is the riff or melody that got you all into playing?
Devin: One of the first riffs I ever learned was the outro to Knights of Cydonia.
Dean: I’m gonna say the opening riff to Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold. If we’re talking bass specifically, I would say YYZ by Rush.
Matt: In grade school, I didn’t play guitar, but I played saxophone. So, when I was a kid, the solo in Jungleland by Bruce Springsteen. As for guitar, it was probably Guitar Hero 3. I thought, “You know what? Playing actual guitar would be fun.” I feel like Guitar Hero is harder now because of it.
So, follow up question, how long have you all been playing?
Joe: I’ve been playing drums since fourth grade, and to be honest, I have no idea why I picked drums. But, I was kinda good at it, and I got thrown into jazz band in sixth grade.
Matt: I started playing guitar in eighth grade, so eleven years?
Dean: I wanna say, like, seven years.
Favorite part about being a musician, and what makes a good musician?
Devin: In my opinion, a great musician isn’t swayed by the views of others. Musicianship comes from one’s ability to express their emotions and connect with the audience.
Dean: My favorite part would probably be having the privilege to express myself through music: to perform, and create music I like listening to. I think what makes a good band, I’ll say two things: if they create good music, and if they’re not jerks. Then they’re a good band.
Joe: My favorite part about being a musician is performing in a way that connects to the audience. I’ve been lucky enough to do that in a rock contemporary perspective and also in a solo classical, percussion perspective, and it’s interesting being able to bridge the gap between those styles and seeing the similarities, but also be different in certain ways. I think, in any genre, to be a good musician, you have to be aware of those who came before you, and well-versed in the genre you’re performing in, your instrument, etc. Also, not being jerks.
Matt: I will agree with everything they said. My favorite part about being a musician is the expressive part of it. One reason I do like playing guitar over playing saxophone is that I feel with sax, there was a bigger focus on being a virtuoso, whereas I feel like there’s more of a focus for me on songwriting for guitar and I like that aspect of music better.
Do you feel that you’re the musician you hoped you’d be when you started? Do you feel there’s still room to grow? Where do you think you are on your journey?
Dean: When I first started playing, I started on guitar. Being a rock musician was the thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to play on stage in front of people. That was my goal and now that’s exactly what I’m doing, so I feel great about that.
Joe: I would say I’m happy with where I am on my journey. I like to learn a little bit of everything and I’ve had trouble focusing on things. A lot of times in the education realm, you’re expected to focus on one thing like, “Are you a drum set guy, are you the orchestral percussion guy?” I kinda just like all of it. I’ll echo what Dean said. As far as growing up playing drums, I definitely wanted to play rock music and that aspect of being in this group has been really fun and really cool. It’s the same feeling as going back to high school, and trying to play along to songs on the radio, and now I’m playing contemporary stuff that’s original in the band. I was gonna say something else, but I lost my train of thought.
Matt: I think so far, for us, things have been going really well, and obviously in a rock band, you want some degree of success. Something that speaks to me a lot is that when we put out the EP, some people that we didn’t really talk to in high school noticed it on Instagram, listened to it, and reached out to say, “Hey, I’ve never listened to you before, but this is really good.” Even if it’s small, it’s like, you know that it’s working. Going off of what they were saying, just being in a rock band and being able to do this for fun. That’s super rewarding.
All Systems Go can be found on Facebook and Instagram at allsystemsgoNJ. Their new EP The Waiting Room is streaming on all platforms.