INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
Forged through a love and passion for “do it yourself” ethics, as well as musical influences such as punk, emo, post-hardcore, progressive rock, blues and hip hop, guitarist Robert “Bobby” Ball, drummer/vocalist Dave Gilmore, and bassist Jacob W.A. Lawrence formed DECIDE BY FRIDAY based in the capital of the Commonwealth, Richmond, Va. Though they cannot be pigeonholed into one particular genre, their stage performance brings heaps of rock ‘n’ roll to the forefront with the aforementioned variations. Though they have not yet released their debut album, they have been selected from thousands of bands to play this year’s Pouzza Fest in Montreal, Canada, which will feature bands from all over the world, including a couple others from Virginia.
Recently, your band performed at the Wonderland Ballroom in Washington, D.C. for Capital City Showcase’s “The Wonderland Circus.” Can you tell me about that show and how it went?
Dave: That show was actually a lot of fun. Even though it was in D.C., Richmond has a lot of burlesque activity going on, so it was nice to be in a familiar environment, even though it was out of town. So that was pretty great, and the crowd was there having fun. It made for a fun time.
Jacob: Christian Hunt, who runs Capital City Comedy, does a great job putting on the shows. He does The Wonderland Circus, as well as a various other comedy and art [shows] around D.C. It was awesome working with [him].
Bobby: He likes to put on variety shows with burlesque, comedy, bands, and different sorts of art [mediums].
Has your band played any burlesque shows before?
Dave: No we haven’t. I’ve gone to burlesque shows for fun, but it’s fun to be a part of a show that has a burlesque act. Like I said, it was just a good time to be had.
Jacob: I also run a promotion company called William Albert Promotions, and I was going to work with Daniel Hill from Alchemical Records in Richmond, Va. to put on a variety show similar to Capital City, and DECIDE BY FRIDAY was going to perform [at] it. But there are liquor laws with the [Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control] where you can’t have stripping at a venue with certain kind of liquors, so it is tougher to get burlesque shows around similar venues with bands, but there are burlesque shows at bars and various other venues with the right license and whatnot.
This year, your band will be playing the fifth annual Pouzza Fest in Montreal, Canada along with MUNICIPAL WASTE, who are also from Richmond, BAD KOREA, who are from Virginia Beach, as well as more than 200 other bands from around the world. How was your band selected?
Dave: We are super excited about that. … BAD KOREA is great, and MUNICIPAL WASTE is headlining the festival. But the rest of the bill is kind of like a “who’s who” [of the music scene]. I’m astonished that we are even going to be there. They have an application process, but it just so happens that we also helped out bands from Quebec last August. So I guess they heard of us when our application came in, and they actually listened to it and invited us back. We are working at trying to put on [better] shows and being better musicians.
Bobby: Part of what we have always tried to do is work with local bands, but also help out with shows for bands from out of town and doing favors for people. It’s an independent music scene, so a lot depends on favors. A lot of it is about networking and meeting people, trying to help each other out to find shows, and sometimes you meet people with connections or meet people who will remember you if you play well or if you help them out.
I saw on the festival’s website that there will be some secret shows during the festival. Do you know if you will be playing one of them?
Dave: We’re not really sure of how that festival lineup is going to look yet. It’s such a big festival, it takes planning ’til the last second. But that’s also kind of the fun of the festival. When they have a mystery show and you find out that it is a band that you really like and it’s a band that people want to hear, it’s usually pretty exciting because you never know who is going to show up at the last second.
What are you most looking forward to about playing this festival?
Jacob: I think we are most looking forward to the experience of not just going to Pouzza Fest but being a part of the musical lineup for Pouzza Fest. What Pouzza Fest has done for the last five years is just phenomenal, and to be in such a culturally rich city like Montreal, there are just no words we can use to express how excited we are to have this opportunity to go up to Canada and even more excited to perform at Pouzza Fest.
Dave: I started trying to play music again a few years ago, and it didn’t go great at first. But I kept at it, and this is one of those moments where I get to travel the world doing something that I love with friends everywhere that I’ll go. So it’s one of those moments I can check off a life goal, and that is pretty great.
Bobby: Going to Montreal will be my first time out of the country, and I get to do it by being a performer, being something that people are there to see, which is exciting, especially since we’re old.
How old are you guys?
Dave: I’ll be 32 in April.
Bobby: I turned 30 this [February].
Jacob: I just turned 22 in December.
So this will be your first time playing in a foreign country?
Jacob: I’m with Bobby. I’ve never been out of the country either, so to just physically be out of the country is amazing and even more exciting to be performing outside of the [U.S.].
Which do you enjoy playing more, house shows or venue shows?
Jacob: I personally have a [more fun] experience playing house shows. I think the atmosphere is phenomenal. Obviously venue shows are cool, and the venues in Richmond are awesome. We love playing at Strange Matter, and we love playing at The Camel. There are bigger venues that we haven’t performed at yet, but we plan to in the near future. But the atmosphere that house shows bring, very few things get better than that.
Do you have any memorable stories — good or bad — from a past house show that your band played?
Bobby: Pretty much every house show we have played has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had a good time and met a lot of different people. Since it is a party, basically, each one has its own “thing.” Sometimes things get crazy; sometimes things are more sedate and intimate. For a bad one, which was my fault (Jacob and Dave laugh in the background), we discovered we were going to play last, and I was there from before the house show started. I got too tired and had too much to drink before we started playing. The equipment fell apart and all this stuff. The show overall was actually really great.
Dave: It didn’t even matter (laughs). We played this house show in Chester, and it was in a backyard. By 4 p.m., the host was so drunk that he was naked. It turns out he just does this at every house show. He throws these great house parties, and he’ll have all kinds of bands — punk bands, metal bands, and a bunch of people will show up and drink. There was backyard wrestling; it had all the things. … He also works with some hip hop acts.
Jacob: I’m pretty sure that show that we played was the [most fun] time at a house show that the three of us have had as DECIDE BY FRIDAY. Basically we loaded in at 1 p.m., and it was raining, so the show delayed a little bit. But since it rained, there was mud, and it just added to the fun. I think we finished our set by 3:30 p.m., and the whole thing felt like a one-stage festival, except for it was is somebody’s backyard in a neighborhood in Chester. It went one from everybody drinking from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m., and it was phenomenal.
What are your thoughts on DIY in the Richmond music scene specifically, and the Virginia scene in general?
Jacob: The Richmond DIY scene is rich and thriving, and the way that we do that is coming together as a community and showing our artistic talents. Virginia Commonwealth University is the fourth ranked public arts school in the world by USA Today, and that draws artists from all [across] the Commonwealth into one particular area, which is VCU’s campus. Not only do they bring in arts students, but they bring students that are trying to get into the arts programs and that want to hang out with the artists and enjoy VCU because of the art reputation that it has. Not just that, but the locals around [the campus] are really into art. A lot of people around the Commonwealth migrate to Richmond for the scene that has been put together. So as far as the quality of bands and shows, there are a bunch of tiny moving parts moving all at the same time that are always moving in the right direction, which makes it always a good time.
Dave: As far as Richmond DIY, there is so much going on and so many people working on things. I think a lot of people have a lot of frustration in DIY because they think “do it yourself” means “do it alone,” and the more people in DIY start to work collectively, people are seeing the power that comes from putting work together and how much you can raise up a creative community that you call home and have friends. But also keep working hard and moving forward so you have that life experience as a community, and [throughout] time, you start to realize how much it can grow.
Jacob: We have traveled outside of Richmond a few times, including in Winchester , Va. to play at a Coffee Roasters there, and we traveled to Virginia Beach once. There are little spots in Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach where the DIY scene is similar to Richmond as far as everyone working together as a community to make the most enjoyable event. I think the next move for the people in and outside of Richmond is to build more community within the Commonwealth and the District of Columbia, and the southern part of Maryland, so we can expand our ideas and have a bigger, better community so everyone can enjoy our particular art, whether it be with music, visual arts, booking shows, or journalism. We just know that the more people that are involved, the more musicians are working together to create better ideas and a better community.
I know that you guys are currently working on your debut album. How much progress has been made on it?
Dave: That depends on the day (laughs). A lot of this DIY for us has been learning from scratch. Until recently, we were under the impression that we would record and produce it ourselves, which we still may do. Now that there are more people involved, we are looking at some other options. We put a lot of hours into having the chance to even have anyone care. It’s a work in progress, but at some point we will give it to everyone.
Jacob: I think the most important thing about this record is we were able to come together and really show our true colors as far as what our potential is right now with the help of our community in the City of Richmond and outside it. Fans that have been following DECIDE BY FRIDAY deserve the best quality of recording and content that they can have access to. So I think ultimately that is the goal at the end of the day — to give them what they deserve.
For more updates on DECIDE BY FRIDAY, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, and listen to The Warehouse Demos on Bandcamp.