Considered somewhat ‘fresh’ in the face of multiple, long standing bands and artists, decoded are out to make waves. Singer/guitarist Derek Jordan kindly agreed to this EXCLUSIVE chat with ThisIsTheLatestNews.com so read on to discover his thoughts on favorite artists, the importance of friends and the pride he has regarding his new EP.
Decoded, or DECODED, as it is sometimes known, only formed last year, but have gone through numerous lineup changes. What happened?
Its decoded now! All lowercase. Not only our lineup changed but we changed that about our band name too! I think it all happened because we were trying to find our sound and chemistry. People come in and out, but you only know when something is right when it feels right. Our current lineup, Heather, Ian, Amy and myself, feels right.
Yourself and drummer Heather Miller are the only two remaining original members, so how do you two know each other?
Heather was referred to me by a mutual friend. I was looking for a drummer and was pointed in the right direction. We’ve become great friends since.
How easy or hard was it to recruit guitarist Ian Thomas and bassist Amy Clark considering the previous lineup issues?
Finding band members is probably my least favorite thing in the world. I hate it. It feels like a search of desperation. I’ve hit up hundreds of musicians while trying to fill in the holes of decoded. And its weird. You contact people you’ve never met before just because they play an instrument and you ask them to become this huge part of your life. Its like, “I’ve never met you. Let’s get married.” When it came down to it, it was friends. Ian’s been a friend of mine, Amy a friend of Heather’s. And its a no brainer because they are absolutely brilliant musicians. Everything has worked out perfectly.
Where did the name decoded come from? What’s the story behind it?
I’ve always been someone who looks at life on a deeper level. When kids were busy hooking up and partying in high school, I was pretty introverted, still am, sitting at home, playing guitar and wondering what makes me happy, how can I shape my life, how do I be the best I can be, who am I? In a sense, you could say I’ve always tried to “decode” these things. So decoded means that I have figured these things out. We should always be growing, always pushing ourselves, but its important to know yourself so that you’re not running in a blind direction. I know myself. I put in the work. It’s decoded.
You’ve had support from a number of local US stations including WHSN 83.9 in Maine – how much of a boost has that been?
Anywhere that plays our music is much appreciated. It’s hard to measure its impact in areas that we haven’t played yet. That’s the only way to really tell, if people are coming out to the shows.
Back in June, you played a show organised by High Voltage Magazine. How did that come about?
High Voltage Magazine is an awesome Los Angeles based publication. Their team works their asses off and they are keeping music print tradition alive. I wasn’t old enough to experience the grunge rock zine days of the early 90’s but I feel they are kinda like that. I subscribe to them and receive every issue in the mail. That’s awesome. I’d rather read something in my hands than through a screen. As for the show, High Voltage Magazine puts a lot of them together and I asked founder Chelsea Schwartz if we could do one. I probably hounded her about it, but you know how it is, you have to stay fresh in peoples’ minds. You’re dealing with a lot of competition.
You play quite a number of free shows; far more than many upcoming bands. Why is that, when so many others charge even the smallest entry fee?
As long as it’s a way to play for more people that will enjoy our show, we’ll play anywhere.
How important do you think it is for bands and artists, no matter how small, to do what they can to benefit good causes and get the word out about them? You volunteered with Westside German Shepherd Rescue earlier this year…
I think it’s very important but you should only do causes that you feel strong about. You can’t be everything to everybody because then you aren’t truly making a difference. Find the things you care passionately about and dedicate time to them.
What made you decide to organise last years’ Rock For A Difference Los Angeles?
I wanted to create events rather than just play shows. I wanted them to be special and meaningful. I brought in a lot of great organizations that do some amazing things. Each show raised money for these organizations and we were able to bring people together through music. That’s what it’s all about.
A lot of your previous promotion and publicity opportunities have come in what people might call random places. How was it to find decoded in a Hipsters comic as their band of the week, and did you get much attention off the back of it?
That’s because I’m crazy. Most of these things, I’ve reached out to. I set that one up with the Hipsters comic through cross-promotion, “Hey I’ll share your art if you share mine.” I try to do everything I can. I believe in the power of compounding interest.
You’ve just released your second EP, Topanga; can you tell me a bit about it?
I’ve never been so proud of a body of work before. The songs in the Topanga EP are the most honest, genuine songs I’ve ever written, not only lyrically but stylistically as well. It really is my true style. It’s what resonates with me. Producer Davey Rieley captured exactly what I was looking for. It’s completely organic. Nothing is fake in the EP. It’s music, real music, something that’s so rare nowadays. We recorded it at a time when Heather and I didn’t know what was going on with the band. It was just the two of us on the record. We stuck it out. We were optimistic about it. We stayed focused, committed, and came away completely jubilated with the outcome.
Out of all the material you’ve created in the past year or so, do you have a favourite track?
Red Handed, hands down. It turned out to be the perfect mixture of a lot of things. It’s catchy yet meaningful, brutally honest and so beefy yet distant on the record.
You posted on your website earlier this year that your Muse were your favourite band. Is that still so?
Oh yeah. Led Zeppelin was always my favorite. I practically learned guitar from studying Jimmy Page work on Led Zeppelin I. I always used to tell people, no one will ever be better than them in my eyes. Muse swept me off my feet! I didn’t get in to them until they were on their fourth or so album, but once I started watching their videos and really listening to their whole albums, it was over. Sometimes I can’t listen to them because they are too good. The songs hit me that hard.
Who are your musical interests and influences? Is there any artist or band that you grew up listening to that made you think “I want to do that when I’m older”?
That would totally go back on Led Zeppelin. I was obsessed. I’d say I still am with them. I grew up listening to lots of classic rock. I didn’t really care for the modern stuff on the radio at the time. I do love 90’s rock too. Nirvana and the Foo Fighters have always been big influences too.
Social media is of huge benefit to almost every band today. decoded’s FB has over 4000 likes, your personal twitter has over 5000 followers, while @decoded_music has just shy of 250. Why do you think that is and how much of an impact has the internet and instant communication had?
Well Twitter just notified me the other day that I’ve been on it for over 5 years…. I owe that follower count up to being an early adopter. I have no clue what’s going on there anymore. It became too hard to keep track of people so I just go on tweeting. The decoded Twitter is still young. I performed as a solo artist before decoded so my personal Twitter gained followers that way.
You have the support of many members of a particular fan-base; 30 Seconds To Mars’ Echelon, and tweet-chat with a number of them regularly. Would you agree that having such a bands’ fans interact with you while enjoying your music is a big help?
Definitely. I’m a big fan of 30 Seconds to Mars. Jared Leto is brilliant. They do something that not many bands do in that they create a universal language, understanding and meaning with their music. Everything in their music and shows centers around belief and dreams. It’s a fantasy. Their fans, the Echelon, are some of the most devoted, loyal fans anywhere. They are an army. Through similar interests, I introduced my music to members of the Echelon and thanks again to being an early Twitter adopter, I was able to create relationships with them.
If you could tour with any band, current or otherwise, who would it be, why, and where would you most like to play?
We are going to tour with Dead Sara. They don’t know that yet but we’re going to make that happen! They rock so hard and I love how honest their sound is. I’ll continue to send decoded’s music to them and Facebook and tweet them until we become the best of friends and decoded and Dead Sara play Wembley Stadium together.
With decoded playing just a few shows around the states, what are your hopes for more international attention? Can you see yourself London bound in the near future for example?
We have far too much work to do in the states right now before we can cross the pond. We’re looking to put together a string of mini-tours covering the Northwestern and Southwestern areas of the states. We’d absolutely love to play in Europe, and maybe it will come sooner than expected, but first things first.
What’s next for you?
We’re focusing on playing lots of shows and spreading our reach. We have a dream of a lineup and music we’re very proud of. We just have to get it out there. And music’s real. I don’t care what people say about social media and online entertainment, music is still real. You play in front of people. You meet people. You cross each others’ paths.
Finally then: you have ten words to sum up why people might want to/should check you guys out – what do you say?
decoded’s the honest organic rock the world has forgot about.