If you listen to Octane on Sirius/XM or pretty much any modern rock station across the country, you have probably heard the song, "Look in my Eyes" by the band - Rains. Not much has been revealed about the band, but here at RockMusicStar, we are about to change that. Rains is a an overnight sensation, twelve years in the making. The northern Indiana, modern-rock band is led by singer/songwriter Jeff Rains, and includes Joe Schultz on drums, Matt Hopkins on bass, and Jason Anderson on guitar. They released their first 'real' CD entitled, "Stories," in 2009. Their sound and style is similar to 3 Doors Down, but with deeper, darker and much more profound lyrics.
Rains recently toured with the likes of Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed, Cavo and Black Stone Cherry. In a few weeks, Rains will head out on their first headlining tour across the USA.
What follows is an exclusive interview with Jeff Rains. During this interview, Jeff discusses the hardships that he endured trying to make it as a musician and much more.
RockMusicStar: I’ve checked out you recently released CD, “Stories,“ and it’s pretty powerful, both musically and lyrically. You’re promoting it with a ton of touring. Currently you are on the road with Black Stone Cherry and Cavo. How have the shows been going thus far?
Jeff Rains: Well, thank you. The tours have been great, but a bit weird, because the last tour we did was three months long, and this one is only two and a half weeks long, so it seems really short to us. After this tour, we go straight to our headlining tour, which will be a couple months long.
RMS: Rains has played in front of some pretty intimidating crowds for an opening band. Recently, you opened for Five Finger Death Punch and Hatebreed. How did their audience react to your band?
JR: We did 66 shows with Five Finger Death Punch, Hate Breed and All That Remains. The All That Remains and Five Finger Death Punch fans were excellent to us. But, the Hatebreed crowd was a little….different. (laughs) We would go on first, and then Hatebreed would go on, so we were basically opening for Hatebreed. It was a bit of a learning curve for us. So we went from being a smaller club band, to opening arena shows every night, playing right before a band that is much heavier than us. We had to get really good, really quick, at handling playing that size of crowd and that ….angry of a crowd.
RMS: When you were offered that tour, was there ever any hesitation, because of the fact that those bands are heavier and have a very loyal following?
JR: The only reason we took it was because Rev Theory was on the tour, and we were suppose to play before them. We thought that it would be a good buffer between us and Hatebreed. After we signed the contacts and took the tour, Rev Theory dropped off the whole tour. And we were like, “Are you kidding me?” But taking that tour, ending up being the best thing that we’ve could have done. We received so much exposure and it was a great experience for us.
RMS: Yeah, I can imagine, Five Finger Death Punch is one of the most popular bands in rock. Now, you guys are doing things in a bit of an unorthodox fashion. You do not have any record label to support you: however, you are getting your songs played on Sirius/XM, and major radio stations. And you’re also playing on some of the best tours of the year. It seems like you are doing great without a label.
JR: Yeah, back when I started this band, about twelve years ago, I got the idea that I never wanted to be on a record label. I guess that it was the whole screw the music industry type thing. And through the course of the action that we’ve taken, my never being on a label stance has come true. (Laughs) But, it’s a cool position to be in. But it definitely takes more work, not being on a label, but we get to make our own decisions on the things that we want to do, so I have no regrets at all.
RMS: I think that you’re a bit of a pioneer in that, I think that we be the future business model for artist/bands as the music industry continues to crumble.
JR: I agree. When I started the band, twelve years ago, the internet was not what it is today. I didn’t know what the hell that I was doing.I was just a stupid kid thinking, “Screw everybody, I can do this all by myself.” But, I'm glad I didn’t sign with a label and sign my life away, because soon after, it became much easier to get your music out with the advances of the internet. I think that the way that we are doing it, is a real good way for bands to do it now nowadays. If they want to be their own band, and not be controlled by an industry that is completely failing apart. But we will be seeing more bands doing it this way.
RMS: So many artists were ripped off blind when they signed their first contact. Many were young and had no idea of what they were signing.
JR: Yeah, you are right. It’s terrible. Realistically, the only chance you have of getting a good record deal now is, taking all the steps that we have taken, building your fan base up, and basically being a major label artists, but being independent. Then all of the sudden, you have major labels calling, and they see that you are making some money, so they want that money. For me, it’s like, why do we need major label help, because we already have the benefits of a major label team working for us? We have major label radio and publicity, but at an independent rate. So, I really don’t see what a label can provide us with, that we don’t already have. It’s an interesting position to be in, but I think that it’s really cool.
RMS: Has the band member line-up for Rains been the same from the start?
JR: No, I started the band twelve years ago. It’s the only band that I’ve ever been in. I used to hire different musicians every show, which was a complete pain in the ass. But, five years ago, I got the current version of the band that I have now. There have been a few replacements here and there, but basically the same band for the last five years.
RMS: Was there any time during that twelve year period, in which you maybe regretted trying to make a living as a musician?
JR: (Laughs) ….I’ve questioned this decision so many times. If I would have known at 16 years old what this was really going to be like, I’d would have taken a factory job instead. It took twelve long, hard years to where we are, and it was a long hard road.And now, during the past two months, something just clicked, like I always hoped that it would. And we are on the radio everywhere, and we are on the biggest tour in the country and everything is going right. It was just a matter of pushing and pushing and not giving up, which sounds very cliché, but it is what it is. That’s just what bands have to do nowadays to stay in the game.
RMS: Many of fans think that “Stories,” which was released in 2010, is your first release. But, you also had a release before that, correct?
JR: Yes, in 2005, I recorded a really, really crappy CD that I had new clue of what I was doing. I had it on MySpace when it first started.I ended up selling 12,000 copies of that CD out of my house. That CD happened to be called ”Stories” as well, but with completely different songs on it. So, then in 2009, we started writing the new record. At the end of it, everyone was saying, it was kind of like another collection of stories. So we just used, “Stories” for the title of that one as well. But now, it’s a bit confusing, because fans are going back and finding the 2005 one.
RMS:Do you plan on recording another CD soon, or are you just going to concentrate on touring for the foreseeable future? What’s the game plan?
JR: I want to get back to the studio so bad. But, we have to wait to see what happens. We would like to get something out this year, but everything is just moving so fast with touring and radio, so we want to support this CD as well. But, I’m hoping that we can be in the studio by fall. But, I have been writing for a new record, so that should make the whole process a little faster.
RMS: I would like to discuss the inspiration behind your big single, “Look in My Eyes.” What was the writing process like, and was it written to anyone in particular?
JR: Well, the way I write is kind of weird. Some people write music first, or lyrics first, but I do it all at the same time. The song is actually about an old band member of mine, and he just wasn’t living his life right, and doing the right things. So, I was getting ready to fire him, and I wrote the song about him, and recorded it. He wasn’t part of the recording process yet, so we were at my house and I said I had a new song, and played it for him. He listened to the whole thing, and when it was over, he looked at me and said, “That song is about me, isn’t it.” And I said, "…Yeah…" He then turned around and walked out. And I haven’t talked to him since.
RMS: Many of your lyrics are very profound.It’s obvious that many of them are autobiographic. Do you find that songwriting is very cathartic for you?
JR: Yes, it really is. A lot of really good records come out, when whoever is writing, it is in a real dark place. And that is how the “Stories” record was for me. I just got really sick form hearing all of the crap that was on the radio that everyone else was doing about drinking and doing drugs, and all of that other crap. I just wanted to put out some real music and see if people could connect to it. And it seems like it has worked.I just wanted to be honest with people and get my stories out there. It seems to be helping a lot of people out.
RMS: The first time that I listen to “Stories” the power of your lyrics really impressed me. Even with the mix, the vocals are right up front in your face.
JR: Thank you. Yeah, there is a lot of attention directed to the lyrics. Now, in writing for the new record, expectations are high in regards to my lyrics. It’s a good place to be in, because I’m not worried about writing them. I know that I can deliver, but I never pictured that so many people would focus in on that. So, I don’t want to let them down.
As far as the mix, it was a weird thing. It was the first real CD that I’ve done and I wasn’t real sure of my voice. I was nervous about the whole thing, with it being my first time in a real studio. When the first mixes were coming back, I was telling them (the record producer) to take the vocals down. But they refused.(laughs) But, now, I feel like I can actually sing, so I’m ok with it. When I did the record, I didn’t think that I was a good singer at all. But, I was influenced by the whole Seattle scene and Country music as well, so that mix is kind of in line with that.
For more on Rains, please visit www.rainsmusic.com
Thank you to Carise Yatter for setting up this interview.