A Breath Of Fresh Air…
…an interview with John LaRussa of Inhale Exhale
Interviewed By: JoshIndieVision
Emerging from Canton, Ohio comes Inhale Exhale, fully equipped to blast their way onto the metal scene. This brutal quartet, featuring ex-members of Narcissus and Relient K, recently signed with hard music giant, Solid State Records. They recently wrapped up recording of their debut full length of which two tracks are available to listen (links follow interview). I was able to connect with John LaRussa and here’s what he had to say:
JoshIVM: What’s your name and what position do you hold in Inhale Exhale?
John LaRussa: John LaRussa, I’m Inhale Exhale’s axe grinder and I do back up vocals once and a while.
JoshIVM: Since you are a fairly new group, would you please give us a brief history of the band and how it came into existence?
John LaRussa: I quit my other band Narcissus and Brian Pittman quit his other band Relient K. Brian contacted me and said lets do a band. So we hooked up, hit it off well and eventually found Andy Levy and Bobby Poole. We all did a group high five and formed Inhale Exhale. Kind of like Captain Planet, only cooler.
JoshIVM: Any significance to the name Inhale Exhale?
John LaRussa: Well picking a name for a band is a hard thing to do, I think it should be though if its going to mean something. This is a simple meaning. It means life, breathing, its something we need. I think of it like that. That its something important. That and we didn’t think it was distinct to a specific genre.
JoshIVM: You were able to avoid releasing on a smaller label and working your way up from there. How did things get hooked up with Solid State so quickly?
John LaRussa: Really that has to do with me and Brian’s history. Narcissus did a lot of work with Chad Johnson (A&R) when he was running TakeHold Records. After that we kept in contact here and there, I called him up and said me and Brian had this new project we were doing. At the same time we were working with Jeff Jackson at Covert Management, quite possible one of the coolest dudes I’ve met in a long time, he really believed in what we were doing and pushed us and is pushing us to the industry. We had a lot of options because of are [sic] history but we felt that SolidState had some cool people there, and decided to sign, they really believe in us there and things have been great.
JoshIVM: What is your stance on Christians in a band or Christian bands? Which of these do you feel Inhale Exhale most closely associates with and why.
John LaRussa: This has actually become a touchy subject in the music industry, I think its very over thought because the industry has become so demanding. Fashion, faith, and “rock and roll”. To us its a matter of our faith. We all believe in Jesus Christ, thats what we believe, but I don’t believe that are [sic] careers define us. I think our whole life should be faith driven, some musicians let their bands or music define their entire life. I know this is because music is such a powerful thing. I would be in music either way, I was doing music when I was an agnostic/athiest. But I believe in God now, no matter where I’m at, if I’m having fun, or if I’m working, thats what I have chose to believe. I think thats where we stand.
JoshIVM: Is there a message that Inhale Exhale, as a whole, would like to convey? If so, how do you go about conveying that message?
John LaRussa: Acceptance, being all things to all people. I’m reminded of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. We need to convey love to one another. We need to stop building walls up between each other. It doesn’t matter if your Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, or if you don’t know what you believe. We need to realize that we are all part of the world. We are all human. Our beliefs lay with Christ, as I said before, if someone wants to talk about that we are totally open because that’s where we have found our peace, its what we believe to be true. But its about a relationship, not a building. And we encourage that.
JoshIVM: “The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred” is due out October 3rd correct? Can you give us some info on the title and concept of the album? How many tracks have you written and how many can we expect to show up on the release? Can you describe some of the topics covered lyrically?
John LaRussa: Yes, Oct 3rd. I’ve recorded in all probably 15 or so songs at my house for the record, but there will be 11 tracks on the album and I think 13 that we have worked on as a band. Its actually kind of funny, we don’t really write together. I record, Bobby records, and Brian works on the songs after that, we don’t tell each other what to play, we just get to practice, count off and see what comes out in the tempo. Honestly it most of the time ends up exactly what we want, I’m in a band with amazing musicians. I never really worry. We do try to sit down when it comes to the vocals and lyrics, Andy is very deep with what he’s wrote about on this record, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, I wrote lyrics for two songs. Andy is a very honest man, we admire that in him, when you read his lyrics, that’s what he feels, that’s him, he’s not writing something for the sake of the scene or his own agenda. The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred is about the corruption of the mind in the world, the vanity in all its form, racism, and the natural way humans try to destroy themselves. The title tracks lyrics some [sic] it up. The media has ripped people a part as far as us looking in the mirror and not seeing the positive, but the negative.
JoshIVM: Who will be/did record/produce/mix the new album?
John LaRussa: The album was produced by Travis Wyrick, and mixed by J.R. McNeely.
***(Travis Wyrick has produced albums from artists including: P.O.D., Disciple, Spoken, & Pillar)
***(J.R. McNeely has mixed albums from artists including: Underoath, Acceptance, Demon Hunter, & Thousand Foot Krutch)
JoshIVM: What goals do you have currently, as well as for the future, with Inhale Exhale?
John LaRussa: Every bands goal is to sell records and push it as far as it can go, thats what we plan on doing. We really love and believe in this band. Touring and writing at the same time.
JoshIVM: Will IE be doing any extensive touring before or after the release? Anyone specific that you would like to tour with?
John LaRussa: We are touring in July, then shooting a video then going back out mid August to late September with some big acts, which will be promoted soon. Then will take a month off then with some spot dates around the album released, then be back out till around Christmas. We are just going to try to hit the road hard this next year.
JoshIVM: Are there any groups that you grew up listening to or listen to currently that have influenced your playing style individually? Collectively?
John LaRussa: I grew up listening to all types of music, as far as guitar influence there are a few. I mean I think every guitar player that likes to play heavier music has had their head turned hearing or seeing Dime Bag from Pantera. I listened to Testament a lot. I think they are under rated. Tony and Black Sabbath did something different. Jimmy Page, Slash. Some stuff was before my time, I’m going to be 27 in Dec. so some stuff when I started playing guitar I had to find. Inhale Exhale as a band though have a broad influence, but we all enjoy heavy music, thats why we play it, we try to step away from what we listen to at times though, we don’t try to sound like anyone, we try to be original, I try to approach are [sic] music that way, but everyone sounds like someone I guess.
JoshIVM: What can we, as Inhale Exhale fans, do for you guys beyond the typical come to shows and buy our music? (pray for you, bring you snacks to shows, etc?)
John LaRussa: I would say tell your friends, spread the word, myspace is great, purevolume is great, it just takes a listen for some one to say I don’t like that, or wow, I’m a fan now. This music is for are [sic] fans, we aren’t anything without the fans. Don’t download, haha, buy the record, thats a big support for the bands you love, especially underground, you buy the record, it makes the corporate stores have to stock more underground music. I used to hate when I would see all this no talent music up front at a store, and I couldn’t even find the a cd I wanted or heard. Best Buy recently did over 5,000 send backs at each location. That makes it hard to find good bands that don’t get pushed from these stores, so support your bands you like by buying their record.
JoshIVM: Is there anything that God has taught you recently that you’d like to share with our readers?
John LaRussa: Grace, being patient. Grace represents so much in life, I’m talking about grace with people, God’s taught me that lately, sometimes having grace and peace with some one that you felt did you wrong or hurt you will actually heal your self, I know it did for me. Having grace and making peace with someone will ultimately heal the scars that that person made. It saves you from being bitter with the people and the world around you, don’t ever fear change in your life.
JoshIVM: What has been spinning in your stereo as of late?
John LaRussa: I have a kid, so Disney’s greatest hits volume 1 has been rockin, and the sound track that came with the Lady and the Tramp DVD. I think the last record I bought was the new Hank Williams III though.
JoshIVM: IndieVisionMusic does a lot of promotion and searching for underground groups who may not get the attention of most kids because they don’t have label support. Are there any underground bands that you want us specifically to check out?
John LaRussa: House of Heroes, good guys, give em some love.
JoshIVM: What keeps you occupied on your off time while on the road? Music, books, planning to take over the world, etc.
John LaRussa: I like books, I’m reading Shogun again, I haven’t read it in a long time, I have a bad memory. recording, and I’m into comic books. I game a little. My main thing is being a husband and a Father.
JoshIVM: If books, have you read anything that you would recommend?
John LaRussa: Wild at Heart if your a guy. Its geared towards guys, .The Truce at Bakura is a good Star Wars novel, it takes place right after the Return of the Jedi. Ummm…Shogun? If you want to get into comics I would start with some graphic novels first. The Long Halloween is a great Batman story.
JoshIVM: How about movies? Any good ones lately or looking forward to any?
John LaRussa: I was skeptical at first about the new Superman movie, but the more previews I see of it the more I think its going to rock. Me, Brian and Andy just saw The Omen recently, it was funny. Oh and I think everyone should see The Shining, if you haven’t.
JoshIVM: Since you’re fairly new this may not apply but are there certain questions you hate to answer over and over?
John LaRussa: Where were you Oct. 5th at 1:00 am 12 years ago?
JoshIVM: One final question and it’s always a source for controversy. Pretty much every album from any decent sized group will leak before release. What is your opinion on the downloading of music in general and your music specifically? How do you feel about people downloading to checking it out before buying?
John LaRussa: Well I honestly think its stealing. I think there are enough ways for people to listen to music before buying now a days. I mean in some ways we can say that its good if you want a record that is really hard to find, I understand that, but ultimately its so abused now that its hard to except it as a musician. For instance the last Underoath I think did around 350,000 records, honestly, I think in all reality it is probably Gold right now (500,000), I don’t know where they stand on this, but I mention them because of the leak recently and that they are an up and coming underground band that is doing well. I think it hurts the industry, same go’s for movie downloading, There are other people beside the Producers, Actors, and Directors that lose. Ultimately I don’t push this agenda or anything, but you asked.
JoshIVM: Any thoughts or statements that you’d like to leave us with?
John LaRussa: Not really. Thanks for the interview. And thanks for the support for people that dig what we are doing, you guys rock. God bless.