From First to LastGetting friendly with
From First to Last

By Naughty Mickie  

Rockers From First to Last were in the middle of their "Dead by Dawn Tour II" when I caught up with them. They were crossing the country hitting a bevy of venues with He Is Legend, At All Costs and Dead Reckless, while pushing their effort, "Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount (Epitaph). Despite a few setbacks, such as a lineup change, Florida guitarist/vocalist Matt Good was chipper as we spoke.

From First to Last features California boys, lead vocalist Sonny Moore and drummer Derek Bloom, plus Georgia native guitarist/throat Travis Richter. Album bassist Jon Weisberg has been replaced by Alicia Simmons on the road.

Good explains that FFTL is based in Albany, Georgia, although Moore still calls Los Angeles home.

"Me and the guitar player, Travis, were in old bands and we were friends and we wanted to start something new," Good says about forming FFTL. "Then over time, we found the right members and we're out. We're happy with the lineup and we're doing great."

Richter and Bloom knew each other from school and Moore was garnered from the Internet.

As usual, I like to start at the beginning.

"I started playing guitar when I was in tenth grade," Good tells me. "I wanted to play guitar from the time I was 10 or 11, but my parents couldn't afford to buy me one and they didn't think it was worth it, so they never got me one. Then my friend let me play his and I started learning."

Good is mostly self-taught, although he took lessons for about six months. From there, he had a typical upbringing, even working at the Journeys shoe store in his local mall, but any thought of college were easily brushed aside for the band and their almost non-stop tour schedule.

From First to Last"On the tour, we have a full crew and we're on a bus, so we wake up around 12 or 1 and we end up going to the mall for a while and then there's sound check and then we go watch movies and we play. That's it. That's pretty much our day." Good laughs. "At home, my favorite thing to do is play Halo 2 online."

With FFTL smack dab in the middle of things, I would be remiss if I didn't get Good's take on the music scene.

"Today's music scene is pretty terrible," Good moans. "I feel like no one plays music because they love music any more. That's my biggest turnoff to music right now. I can speak for the whole band when I say that none of us have liked anything that's come out in quite a long time. They're pretty much into rock music from the '90s to the very early 2000s.

"Rock's kind of plummeted in the last few years," Good goes on. "Alternative radio stations all over the country are getting shut down and replaced by R&B and stuff like that. The CDs sales in rock music have gone down to like 10 percent. It's pretty sad."

'Nuff said, so how do you feel about the Web?

"The Internet's an amazing tool," Good responds. "It's pretty crazy how much of a difference it can make. There's a lot of people who like us because of the Internet. They just found us. It's funny because CDs sales don't reflect the size of your band any more, it's how many friends you have on MySpace."

From the press materials, I recall that "Dear Diary, My Teen Angst Has a Bodycount" was conceived and completed very quickly.

"That CD was written extremely fast and our singer, Sonny, joined the band in the middle of the recording process, so we wrote all of the vocals in the studio," Good affirms. "Everything was done really rushed. But we had the attitude that we don't care, we're just going to do what we want and you can tell because all of the songs are different from each other.

"It was a really naive writing process and we knew what we were doing at the time, but I think it came out pretty cool." Good adds, "It isn't an accurate measure of our ability because we've grown so much."

FFTL is already looking ahead to their next release due out in March.

"It's a big growing process." Good explains, "The difference between the last record and this record is apparent as far as ability goes. The music is still somewhat similar, but you can tell that we've grown a lot. I don't know how to put it into words, it's such a gigantic difference.

"All of the lyrics on the last record were written on a whim in the studio and they reflected how we felt at that point in our lives and the things we were into," Good states comparing the two efforts. "The lyrics on the next record were all written by Sonny and they reflect all the things in his life that he faced.

From First to Last"One of the biggest things about our music today is that when you're in a band you're given the power to have a voice and no one takes advantage of that in a positive way," continues Good. "Everyone's songs are `Oh, this girl broke my heart, what do I do about it?' Blah, blah, blah. Instead we decided to address problems that kids can relate to like Sonny being adopted by his parents, eating disorders, feeling unsure, things that kids will understand.

"Don't get me wrong, it hurts when a girl breaks your heart, but you don't need an entire 12-song album about a girl breaking your heart," Good goes on. "There's so many other things in life that actually mean so much more, things that really really hurt and ruin your perspective on things. Kids are shooting people in their schools, killing themselves, doing drugs, running away from home. Those things are such a higher issue of priority in my mind than girlfriends."

I prod Good for a few more words about the next album.

"The title is `Heroine,' not the drug, but the female hero. It's like a double reference," Good says. "There's a song on the album called `Heroine' that's about somebody's mother. It's the word we chose because it has so much impact. When you here it you think of the most negative thing possible, but the actual word that we chose is the most positive. It's a really bold word. We like to do plays on words and steer people in a direction where they have to sit down and think about it."

The thoughts and lyrics have evolved, so what about the band's sound?

"It's a little heavier, but not in a childish way. It's heavier in a more mature way," Good responds. "The songs are a lot more thought out, we spent a lot of time thinking about the song arrangements and how certain parts affect the song and how they flow and evolve into something that's great instead of something that sounds like it's thrown together pretty quick.

"There's a lot of meticulous song writing going on between me and Travis," Good continues. "We spent a really long time working on it and we almost killed ourselves working so hard on it. We would be sitting around in the middle of the night trying to be at ease after a long day of recording, but you couldn't because you end up brainstorming. You're going crazy, but it totally paid off."

OK, I get the vowel, but what I'm going after is for Good to describe FFTL's sound as well.

"Honestly it's not really punk or hard-core, to me, it's just rock," Good remains enigmatic. "Not rock like AC/DC, but rock like when you were a kid growing up you thought bands like Green Day, the Offspring and Nirvana were all in the same category, back when there wasn't 18 thousand sub-genres. It's out there, hard-hitting, heavy and it's real."

"How are your fans?" I wonder.

From First to Last"Our fans are the most important thing about our band," Good states. "They've always helped us since the beginning. Our fans are insane in a good way because we've gotten opportunities that bands double our size haven't gotten and it's a really amazing thing. They're always supportive and we explain that to them every night. Honestly, we wouldn't be around without them and they're great."

Before I say good-bye, I ask Good if he would like to share any other thoughts.

"We have all kinds of pets on tour" Good laughs. "We have a puppy that's a husky and he has black circles around his eyes and he looks really evil. And we have a baby pit bull and they came out together and they run around the bus chasing each other and then they cuddle up when they're sleeping. The husky's name is Lars and the pit bull's name is Elrich. Elrich is Travis' dog and Derek owns Lars. I have a pet snake, it's a boa constrictor, I carry him around the shows sometimes. His name is Slytherin, like in `Harry Potter.'"

Sounds like fun, huh?

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