one on one with david koonce of within reason
SC Magazine Wants to take a moment and thank Within Reason's David Koonce for spending time with us to dig into Within Reason and Koonce himself..
SCM Can you give us a little history on Within Reason and an update on where we are today.
Chris (Dow) and I were college roommates at the University of Alabama and begin playing acoustic shows in the bars every night. After graduation we got together in Birmingham and started putting the pieces together for a full band. We wrote and recorded a demo in 2006 that included a song called “Favorite Sin”. That song was selected to be on the tv show One Tree Hill. In January 2007 we were on set shooting the performance which aired that spring. We had continued to write and went into the studio with Producer Rick Beats (Shinedown) and recorded our first full length album Bloodshot Life in 2008. Since the original version of “Favorite Sin” was a demo, we re-recorded a polished version of it for that record. We toured a lot on that album and didn’t get back into the studio again until the fall of 2011. This time we chose Nick Chahala as a producer. We had met him before and he had worked with some pop acts like Katy Perry so we decided that using a producer the didn’t do rock records as their main projects would be an interesting twist on the outcome of the album. We recorded an EP with Nick that had a little bit of a different sound than our previous projects. The EP After The Crawl was pretty successful. The first radio single “Enemy” charted at #46 in 2012. The second track on the EP “We’ll Have It All” was chosen my Microsoft to be a part of the launch of their Surface tablet in 2013. That commercial aired during the Grammys that year and we were given the opportunity to hit the red carpet and be involved in the Grammy Events that year since we appeared in the commercial.
We toured really heavy on that EP release for the next 18 months. We went out with Pop Evil, Godsmack, Buckcherry, Seether, Shinedown, Nothingmore, and some other great bands. In the summer of 2014 we released “Here Comes The Light” to radio and it broke through the Top 40 on Active Rock radio peaking at #39. At this time we had be putting together ideas for out next record. We had been touring so much that we hadn’t decided on who would produce it. We went on a tour with Hinder early 2016 and had really gotten close with the guys in that band. We had played some demos of new songs to Cody Hanson and Marshal Dutton of Hinder and they were very interested in producing them for us. One of the weeks on that tour we were playing in their hometown of Oklahoma City and Cody asked us to swing by his studio on our day off. The second I walked into the room, it just felt like that was the place to recordthe new album. We took about 9 months off the road and went to OKC. We came back into Alabama with Battlefields Life Love and War.
SCR - Invictus hits the radio today..What do you think the hardest part in getting radio airplay today?
Hmm..this is kind of loaded question. It is nearly impossible these days to work a new rock single to radio by yourself. So, you have to hire a radio team that has reps all of the country that can go to radio stations on your behalf and pitch the single. Since Within Reason is a completely independent band, they have the task of convincing radio station program directors that our song is a much better add than say, Kid Rock or Theory of a Deadman’s new song. But, that is not the hardest part from our perspective. The radio team doesn’t do all of the great work they do for free. So going back to Within Reason being independent, we have to fit the bill for those guys ourselves. There is no label therefore there is no label money. This time around for “Invictus” we have put together our best radio team so far. Tim Binder (New Ocean Media) is heading up this project and he is great. We have known Tim for a while and the timing just wasn’t right with previous singles. My personal outlook on this single cycle feels better than any of the ones in the past. Our goal this time around is to getting Within Reason more radio exposure than we have ever had.
SCR - What are the pros and cons of being an extremely busy independent band in todays world?
One thing about being independent is that their isn’t any financial backing that a label would give you. Now, can be a good thing too. Instead of borrowing money from a label for things like radio, recording, marketing, photo shoots, music videos, etc, we just pay for those things ourself. Things have gotten much easier over the 12 years we have been together. But when you are a new band and you don’t know shit about shit, things are pretty hard. We made it our mission when we started this band to learn every single thing we could about this business. We are not an independent band because we can’t obtain a label deal. We are independent because right now we choose to be.
I’m not saying that there weren’t times when I had some meltdowns and wanted to say “fuck it, lets just sign a label deal”. Those things happened. But at the end of the day, we have control of what the company does. It’s a little harder to get noticed sometimes. But if you get educated on the business and get in with the right people, things get much easier has you grow as a band.
SCR - What do you feel is different about Battlefields Life Love and War than say your last EP?
This album is personal. Chris and I thought really hard about this album before we even started putting the songs together. We never want to make the same record twice. We have always used a lot of symbolism in the songs to tell the story and never really clearly explained what the songs were about. We did that on purpose so the listener could take their our perspective with the music. We hardly ever reveal the truth behind song content. However, with Battlefields, we were in different places as artists and as human beings. 2016 was a rollercoaster for both of us with our partnership in Within Reason and in own our personal lives. It was like being in boxing match and getting knocked down then getting back up only to take another punch in face.
“Fight For You” was the first song we wrote and recorded for the record. Right after that we took some time off to deal with some things happening on the home front. It was like a storm came through for both of us. He was dealing with some personal things on his side of town and I was weathering my own storms on my side. Since we started the band, we have always referred to the challenges we faced as “battles” that we had to win. I had been working on a project in Birmingham that had literally been wearing my soul down. I hate quitting anything but this particular day it was time for me to walk away from that project. It felt like a the weight of the world was lifted off me. I called Chris on my way home an told him that I think I have the concept for the album….Battlefields. We took just about every song we had written for the record and threw them away. We decided that we need to write about all of the shit that we have been crawling through and make it personal. We put together some demos and the just the two of us went back to Oklahoma City with Cody and Marshal and started putting the pieces back together. It was pretty emotional. While recorded vocals on “The Roses”, Chris was getting overwhelmed emotionally having to revisit that story in his head to so he could sing the track. We decided to take a break for a few minutes and the BOOM…an earthquake hits OKC and the building shook while the floor rippled. It only lasted for about 5 seconds but in the state we were all in, it felt like 15 minutes. It took me several months to go back and listen to that song without have anxiety about it.
We have the first two lines of Invictus down for months and felt like we just couldn’t bring it home. I’m not sure how many times we changed the lyrics to that song. Invictus is the few exceptions on this record that has an underlying meaning. We have always wanted to touch on this concept but weren’t real sure how to do it without revealing too much. We have a friend from Birmingham that we co-write with sometimes and we sent him the demo and said we were burnt on the chorus. We just couldn’t find a way to start it. Fresh ears is always a valuable item to keep in your back pocket. A few hours went by and he came back with “hundred miles….thousand lives”. Just like that we were back up and running. We knocked it out right there in the studio and recorded it that night.
All the songs were fresh on our minds and we wanted to record them while we were still in the moment. I created all of the album artwork right there on my laptop sitting at the mixing console. It was all organic and we wanted every aspect of the project to the feel the same. Cody Hanson played drums and Marshal Dutton played guitar and still backing vocals. So if you really think about it, this record is a Within Reason/Hinder collaboration. We looked at the finished songs collectively and decided to call it Battlefields Life Love and War.
SCR - Any plans for a fall tour?
I would like to tour for the rest of the year. a lot of that comes from our radio campaign. Now that we have impacted at radio, our agent can start submitting for touring opportunities. We will be on the road, we just don’t know the when, where, and with who yet.
SCR - You guys are running a contest with a pretty awesome grand Prize, can ya give us the low down?
To celebrate the release of “Invictus” Chris and I have signed 100 special edition posters. We are running the contest through August 30. For every item you purchase through out Online Store, you will receive an entry into he drawing. You will getting 2 entries for every posters your purchase. The prize is my personal leather bound songbook. It has every Withn Reason lyric handwritten it in. The only one on the planet.
SCR - Now it is time for this is your life David Koonce..aka The Lightning Round a little more personal.. Ready?
When was the first time you ever played live??
August 24, 1997. I played drums in a band called The Woodruff Mill Project. We were a 3 piece blues/rock band similar to Gov’t Mule. We played this place in Birmingham called the High Note. It was rock club that would open for all ages on Sundays. So we would play there ever couple of weeks on Sunday Nights with one of the the other 2 bands at my high school
Star Wars/Star Trek?
"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering"
Favorite Music Venue?
There are couple of places that I get excited about when they should up on our tour itinerary.
Machine Shop - Flint, MI
Aztec Theatre - San Antonio, TX
Eagles Ballroom - Milwaukee, WI
Club LA - Destin, FL
One piece of advice you were given that you use.
Take the time to get an education on the music business. One thing we used to do when we started; if we got on the bill with a national artist, we would always ask them what the biggest mistake their band ever made was. Now you will have a lesson that you don’t have to learn the hard way. We would call that “collecting pearls”.
One thing you MUST have on tour.
patience……. and the Jimmy Johns App on your phone.
I have read that you have, what should we call it, Chef tendencies..what is your favorite thing to cook?
Actually, I was working to be a Executive Chef the day I decided to be in the band. I had auditioned for a Sous Chef job at high end restaurant in Tuscaloosa, AL. I hadn’t heard back from them in like 2 weeks so I had decided to move to Birmingham and start the band. I had the truck packed and stopped to eat lunch on my way out of town when the phone rang. I had gotten the Sous Chef Job. I sat there for a few seconds then turned it down and never looked back. My love for the culinary arts is still there, I just my own kitchen now.
So I know most people hate brussels sprouts, but I bet I can make you like them when pan roasted with garlic butter, onions and capers. If you want the recipe look me up on Instagram @davidkoonce
Tattoos or no tattoo?
I have 3 tattoos. one on each ankle and one across my back
A Huge Thanks To David For Catching Us Up On Everything "Within Reason". Make Sure To grab Your Copy Of Battlefields Life, Love and War . You Won't Be Disappointed
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