New Jersey-based, dynamic alternative rock band Reverse Order – John Russo (lead vocals / guitar / songwriter), Cruise Russo (drums / vocals), Drew Katsock (guitar) – is currently on a 25 week U.S. tour in support of ‘Reverse The Trend’ anti-bullying initiative. FM chats with drummer Cruise Russo, about their new album ‘Nothing to Hide’ (a collection of smart and catchy guitar driven tunes), the band’s DIY ethos, the current state of the music industry and dreaming about Madison Square Garden…
Is there a story behind the name?
When we were younger John was homeschooled. We were signed up to play for a local battle of the bands and we were all set to go, but didn’t have a name that we all agreed on. After fighting back and forth for days my dad looked over at the board where John’s school work was written down and just read off of it “Reverse Order…That’s your name, now stop arguing!” When you’re doing certain types of equations you multiply fractions in the “Reverse Order” so that’s how we got our name and people really liked it so it stuck.
Who kicked off the idea for the band?
John and I are brothers and started the band when I was in high school and he was still in middle school. We had always taken music lessons when were younger and after awhile we got tired of playing the same old boring songs and started asking our teachers to show us songs like Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar and Strutter by Kiss. Pretty soon we could play any classic rock song you could throw at us, and we started playing shows wherever we could. At a certain point we knew we didn’t want to just keep playing other people’s songs, so the only logical choice was to start writing our own!
Do you all specialize in different areas?
I think what has made our band so successful to this point is the way we can all handle different areas at the same time. John is our main songwriter, and while we all have a say in the recording process, John really excels at that, and is at the heart of the music. We are really fortunate to have him.
Drew has been researching a lot of new ways to engage fans, and build our audience via social media interaction. There are so many websites and apps that come out, and it’s important to be aware of what’s popular, and where your fans are interacting.
I myself have a background in design and I handle everything that is art related. I make all of the shirts we sell at concerts, the flyers we hand out, and I even designed our website. If you see some funny picture on our page, I was the one who photoshopped it!
Of your songs, which song do you think best represents Reverse Order?
Our song ‘Erase You’ definitely describes where we are at musically as a band. We are an alternative rock band at our core, but we love writing music that is catchy with a distinct pop sensibility. ‘Erase You’ is a passionate song that combines a powerhouse of driving instruments with deep, heartfelt lyrics that leave everything on the table. We crafted a balance between alternative rock and pop influences by blending driving guitars and pounding drums with ambient synths and clean acoustics. We are all extremely proud of the song, and what we have achieved with it.
As an indie band, is it hard to break through in this day and age when so many others are trying to book gigs, release records and make an impact?
The current state of the music industry is good and bad for different reasons. With the popularity of social media you really need to be constantly posting new, relevant content to your fans. It can be really easy for bands to find themselves slipping out of the spotlight when they can’t continually find some way to engage their audience every day. Like I said before, I think a lot of the strength of our band comes from our ability to work together and fill in the gaps for each other.
The good part about being in music right now is that there are so many different ways to present yourself to your audience. From streaming music on Spotify, to posting videos on Youtube, to booking a tour and playing live. If you’re hitting those key points on some level you can reach out to a much bigger audience than was possible even just a few years ago.
Are your families all encouraging?
Our families are very supportive of what we do. When we started touring the US heavily John and Drew were both still in college. They both made the decision to transfer to taking their classes online and it was never even an issue. When we realized that music wasn’t just a hobby anymore, and that we wanted to do this for the rest of our lives, our mom even put her own career on hold to help manage us and put us in the right direction. To this day we know we can count on our families to help us in anyway imaginable.
Where has the band taken you all? All across the US?
The band has performed in every state except Hawaii, Alaska, and for some odd reason North Dakota. We love travelling for music. We get to meet amazing people, experience all different cultures, and get to have many once in a lifetime experiences. Reverse Order has even been able to perform in Mexico and Russia as well. We can’t wait to keep performing here in the US, and are looking forward to our next international opportunities as well.
What would be your ideal location to play? Is there a dream?
Can I be corny and say Madison Square Garden? I mean everytime I’m there to see a show I can’t help but picture myself up on that stage in front of a full house. If there’s any indication that we made it, that would be it. It would be a dream come true.
When will your next release be?
We just released our new EP “Nothing to Hide” which you can stream on Spotify now! We are very excited about this EP because we got to work with Matt Squire who produced Panic! At The Disco, and worked with so many artists we admire. We worked extremely hard on these songs, and we are so thrilled for everyone to finally hear them!