Artist Spotlight: Josh Marunde (Pop Evil)

Hello and welcome to the first-ever Artist Spotlight on the Haulix Blog. We know we usually focus on musicians in our ‘Advice’ series, but in an attempt to further investigate just how big the impact of leaks are on the industry we thought it would be best to speak directly to artists and learn about their experiences. If you know an artist that would be a great fit for this column, or if you have any questions related to the services offered by Haulix, please do not hesitate to email james@haulix.com and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

You never know where you’re going to end up in life, and you certainly have no idea where the people you went to high school will find themselves five or ten years down the line. I know I never pictured myself working full time in the industry, even though it’s what I wanted more than anything, and I certainly never thought I would find myself interacting with anyone from my rural midwestern town in a professional setting if I did. Life has a funny way of catching you off guard though, and in today’s post I’m going to introduce you to someone I have personally known for almost half my life.

Josh Marunde, otherwise known as ‘Chachi,’ is the drummer for Michigan based rock outfit Pop Evil. He hails from a small town surrounded by cornfields with little-to-no outlets for creative young people outside the classroom, but thanks to a relentless drive to succeed and unmatched passion for music he has built a career for himself that currently finds his talents topping the active rock charts nationwide. It’s a position any aspiring musician hopes to one day find themselves in, and lucky for us Josh was kind enough to share some insight on how he traversed the often turbulent terrain of the music industry to reach his dreams.

If it was not clear from the paragraphs above I grew up in the same town as Josh, and to be completely honest we also attended the same college. Our professional paths never really crossed until after graduation, but we have been friends for years. When we thought about launching a series highlighting the artists who have used Haulix in the past I knew Josh had to be included, and I am honored he’s allowed us to share his story on this blog.

If you want to stay connected to Josh and learn more about life in the world of rock and roll, make sure you follow him (and the band) on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: Hey there, thanks again for doing this. Before we begin, please tell everyone your name, position, and the band you’re currently involved with:

J: thanks so much for your time and this opportunity. My name is Joshua “Chachi” Marunde, or Chachi Riot. I’m the drummer of Michigan-based rock band Pop Evil.

H: Welcome! You’re helping us usher in a new twist to our industry spotlight series with this interview, but we still need to cover the basics. When you think of your earliest memories with music, what comes to mind?

J: Some of earliest memories of music are riding around in the car with my mom and brother and playing “who sings it” as we seeked through stations of all genres. I love that game. It was always a race to see who the the artist first. I also remember starting band back in 6th grade, where I picked up the alto saxophone. Good times, haha.

H: Was music always a passion, or was it something you came into a bit later in life?

J: Growing up, sports were my true focus. I was always a very big fan of music and an avid listener, but, I always saw myself more on the business-side of the industry, less of a performer.

H: Do you remember the first album you purchased with your own money? Do you still own it today?

J: Most of my early CD purchases were through my mom’s “club” where you could get deals like “Buy 5, get 10 free” I don’t remember my FIRST. Fuel’s “something like human” was an early buy, and the first record I ever REALLY got into was probably Boyz II Men or Slaughter. My mom and I are eclectic listers, haha.

H: Like many musicians, the band you’re currently touring the world with is not the same group that gave you a start in music. What can you tell us about your first band and how it came together?

J: The first band I was ever in was called Vetis, and later Saraph. We were 4 best friends just making noise and having fun. I “managed”, booked, and promotes us shamelessly. It was an amazing experience and is a big reason I am where I am today. Without that band and those friends, I would have never started drumming back in ’05, or re-started in ’08.

H: Everyone’s first band eventually fizzles, but if my research is correct Pop Evil was not exactly your second outing either. When did you first meet the band, and how long was it before you became a member?

J: I met Pop Evil through my networking and booking of my original* band, Saraph. I knew they were the biggest band out of Grand Rapids area (where we were based) so, whatever they were doing, we needed to learn. I began making calls, sending emails, opening for the band, and soon became friends with a few members. I worked hard and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Network. Network. Network.

H: Speaking of when you found your current gig, what can you tell us about the auditioning process? Pop Evil was already an established band by the time you joined the group.

J: Pop Evil signed to Universal/Republic in ’09. So when they called me to “try out” I was already pretty excited and nervous. But, the anxiety didn’t end there. The story goes like this: Dave called me around 1am on a Sunday night, asking if I was interested in playing for PE. The obvious answer being yes, we moved on. “Have you ever played live to a click and tracks?” “Yes” I lied. “Do you know many of our songs?” “Yeah, they’re all over the radio” – I had HEARD 3-4 and didn’t know any of them. “Ok, get on the train, 7am Tuesday morning to Chicago.” That was it. I had about 30hrs notice. Haha. Terrified. But I made it work.

H: It must have been difficult for you to choose between sticking the bands you helped build and taking the opportunity to join a group more established. What ultimately made up your mind?

J: Saraph was doing really well and had exciting things on the horizon, however, after a year of serious touring, our singer decided that the tour life wasn’t for him. He needed a little normalcy and we cooled it. We cooled it WAY down. I openly expressed that I would pursue looking for another band so I could pursue my dream of drumming, PE called about 3months later.

H: Okay, I think we have a good grip on your history. Let’s talk about life as an artist. You released your first album with the group, ‘Onyx,’ in the first half of 2013. What was it like to work on such a big release, and how difficult was it adjusting to the promotional schedule of a signed band versus what you’d experienced with previous groups?

J: Although I was with the band, performing, during the release of WoA (war of angels), I didn’t write or track the record. Onyx was my first go. The process was intimidating and fast paced. The band had just had the success of 4 charted singles and now had to do better. Take the next step. I needed to make myself and the band better, and quickly. The process involved a lot of support, learning, growth and seems to be paying off. This job comes with some responsibilities you look forward to less than others, but ultimately, it’s pretty awesome. We’re very lucky and very thankful.

H: If I recall correctly, your album beat the odds and made it to release day without any major leaks. To whom or what do you attribute this success?

J: Leaks of singles and records are a major fear and factor in today’s industry. Thanks to amazing businesses like Haulix, our album was kept safe and sound. Well played by eOne for choosing Haulix and much thanks to both parties for protecting our art.

H: The argument about the impact leaks have on artists has waged for years. As someone in a band whose only beginning to find national success, what can you tell us about the impact of piracy on your efforts?

J: piracy and leaks are a major game changer today. As a new artist, we need every download/purchase we can get. If someone steals a song or album and that bring them to a show, that’s great. But, multiply that by the thousands. The lost sales translate to the label as a poor selling artist, risking the band’s support and career. Traceable sales are very important. Plus, if you’re willing to spend $5 on a latte, why can’t you buy a song or a whole album for <$10?? BUY MUSIC. SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS/BANDS.

H: What would you say is the biggest misconception people have about life as a chart-topping, constantly touring artist?

J: A huge misconception today is that if you have a #1 song, you’re rich. I assure you, that is NOT the case. Money is being spent and earned and lots of investing happens, and very little trickles into the hands of the artists. It’s like a baby business. You have to spend money to make money. We have to work hard to keep our heads above water.

H: Speaking of your time on the road, Pop Evil has a long history of packing as many tour dates as possible into each year. Do you happen to know the final count for shows played in 2013? Any specific dates stand out in your mind?

J: Pop Evil is definitely known for our tour schedule. We pack in a serious amount of your dates. I don’t know the EXACT number but I know we’ve stayed above 250 for the past few years. 2011 was like 265 shows. Combine that with drive days and we were home** about 50 days that year. I think 2013 was about 200-220 show dates. Grinding.

H: You’re wrapping up your 2013 touring efforts later this month. What is the first thing you plan to do when you get home, and just how long do you off?

J: we finished up 2013 tour in the next 10 days, giving me about 16 consecutive days off. When I’m home, I’ll be smooching on my better half, cuddling my puppy, cooking a lot, hitting up crossfit boxes, and visiting family. Maybe find time to get tattooed, go out for NYE and write for my side-project.

H: Looking forward to the new year, what can you tell us about Pop Evil’s plans for 2014?

J: for 2014, I feel some big things coming. We kick the year off with Stone Sour and hopefully our 2nd, consecutive #1 single. Additionally, I’d like to tour Europe, stay hungry, and keep working hard to get better.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

J: if I could change one thing about the music industry, I think it would be to make everyone more open to diversity. Radio station programming, tour packages, etc. I’d love to see more diverse landscapes and mix it up! Spread the love.

H: In addition to playing drums for PE, you’ve also been known to dabble in other areas of the entertainment business. What is your current career goal?

J: I’m very active in the industry in various ways and facets. Eventually, post-crazy touring, I’d love to become a professor. To give back and teach some of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained. Here’s hoping!

H: I think that just about covers everything. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

J: I’d like to thank everyone at Haulix for this opportunity. I truly appreciate your support and everything the company does for the industry. With that said, to all the readers out there, DREAM IMPOSSIBLE. Work hard and anything is possible.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.