Q & A With Minority 905

Q & A With Minority 905

Minority 905 is a pop-punk band founded by then-17-year-old John Aquino and former members of the band in August 2013. The name was inspired by Green Day’s song “Minority” and Aquino’s hometown of Mississauga, ON, Canada (its area code is 905). Aquino identified with the word “Minority” since he believed that the combination of his ethnicity, personality, and interests were rare in the punk rock scene.

Aquino met former member Aidan Collins on YouTube, after Collins saw a few of Aquino’s covers and contacted him. However, he did not join the band until early 2014 when the band needed a bassist. Collins joined and became the new bassist.

Throughout the next few months, Minority 905 played as much as they could, wherever possible–birthday parties, house parties, local bars, and local venues. Eventually, they were noticed by local producer, Mason Dayot at a show they played in Brampton–which was also the last show the former drummer played. Without an official drummer, Minority 905 went on to record their debut EP titled Luck Is For Losers with Dayot, who played the drums for the record.

Soon after the record released, current drummer Spasimir Vasilev joined Minority 905. Vasilev met the members at a previous show where he volunteered to sing “Blitzkrieg Bop” (The Ramones) with Minority 905. Once again, the band played many local shows and even opened for the bands Such Gold and Transit. In December 2014, they went on a weekend mini-tour with local bands Setback and Triumph Over Adversity.

In 2015, the lead guitarist left the band and Collins opted to start playing lead guitar instead of the bass. Current bassist Steven Wolwyn joined soon afterwards. The band closely worked with Dayot throughout the songwriting process during the early months of 2015 in preparation for the next record, which would be their first full-length album.

In July 2015, Collins left the band due to his family moving out of the city, and Dayot then decided he was going to take over guitar duties; as well as continue to be the main man to produce Minority 905’s album Broken, Not Beaten”

In March 2016, Mason left the band to pursue teaching English in Japan, and current guitarist, Chris Goodfellow joined the band in July 2016.

 

 

XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?

Spasimir: We’ve got a new album coming out on August 24th. We will be releasing our second single from it on August 17th. We will also be going on tour of some cities in Ontario plus Montreal to promote the release of our new album.

 

XS ROCK: So how long has the band been together?

John: The band has been technically for around 5 years now but the 4 of us have been together for around 2 and a half years. A lot of our fans mostly know us from our YouTube videos so since we started uploading YouTube videos more frequently (which was around 3 years ago), we’ve only had 1 member change. Before that though, there were a few other member changes. I guess it just took a while for everything to click.

 

XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for originally starting or being in a band?

Spasimir: Watching videos of my favorite bands playing live shows, seeing moments when the crowd sings every word of the song being played, the whole lifestyle of travelling all over the world to play shows in many different cities.

John: I guess I just wanted to write and perform my own songs, but I never really wanted to be a solo artist. Listening to my favourite artists and seeing their impact on other people’s lives also made me want to do the same thing.

Steven: I listened to a lot of Green Day when I was a kid (I still do), watched their Bullet in a Bible live performance and thought it was the coolest thing ever to perform for tens of thousands of people. All I ever wanted was to be able to do the same thing as my heroes, and inspire the next generation of musicians like they have for me.

Chris: I wanted to learn guitar when I was around 10 or so, mainly cuz I wanted to be able to play songs from the video games I’d play.  When I expressed this desire, my parents were ecstatic because “oh thank god he wants to do something that isn’t video game related”, which was only half true, but they took it.  I got a nylon-string acoustic guitar that was the size of me that I couldn’t hold, let alone reach the E and A strings on, and a “teacher”, who didn’t teach me anything for a solid 4 months or so.  He was terrible. He didn’t even know the right chords to Boulevard of Broken Dreams. So I gave that up because nothing was happening and I was literally too small to play the guitar I had. It wasn’t until I was about 13 or so, I randomly entered a singing competition at my school that I somehow ended up placing 2nd in, despite never having sung in front of an audience, or anyone, before.  After that I wanted to learn guitar or piano, and now I could actually fit my hand around that aforementioned acoustic guitar, after a few months of making progress on that, I got my first electric guitar, and from there I learned all the classic Green Day, and wanted to start a band.

 

 

Q & A With Minority 905XS ROCK: What is your music background?

John: I grew up listening to a lot of pop music from the 90s and early 2000s. I used to watch and sing along with Michael Jackson music videos back when I was like 3. My first day of school I actually came dressed up as Michael Jackson, so he started everything for me. I started playing guitar when I was 12, back when everyone at school was playing guitar hero–including me. I eventually decided to play guitar for real. Ace Frehley from KISS was my favourite guitar player so the first electric guitar I got was cherryburst like his.

Steven: My first exposures to music as a kid were whatever music my parents were listening to, which a lot of the time would have been 80s pop music. I thought it was cool but it wasn’t until Green Day’s American Idiot came along before I started really falling in love with a particular band.

Chris: Well, I played video games basically throughout my entire time being 6 through 13, and didn’t really do anything else that kids do, like go outside or make friends or generally be social.  So yeah, video games were my introduction to music outside of whatever my mom listened to (Counting Crows, and other 90s stuff that I can’t remember), or whatever was on Top 40 radio, which was all we had in Barbados outside of crappy local soca music radio.  I remember one of the first games I had that had a “sound test” mode where you could listen to all the music from the game was Sonic Adventure 2, and I’d always put on those songs while I did, iunno, kid stuff, whenever I didn’t feel like playing video games. I’d still sit in front of the TV, but I’d leave the songs running.  As I found more games with “sound test” modes, like Super Smash Bros Melee for example, the more music I picked up from those games. Like Steve though, it wasn’t until American Idiot that I started to really take interest in music that wasn’t for video games.

 

XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?

John: It’s hard to say, I guess it depends on interpretation. For me, the older material is a little bit more sad, while the new material is more hopeful and looking forward to the future. I think the artwork for the “Dangerous Ambitions” single conveyed this idea really well. It kind of reminds me a little bit of the binary sunset scene from Star Wars.

Chris: New stuff is definitely hopeful. I like that a lot. I don’t think many people write about hope in most kinds of music, I find it really refreshing. Also I love the imagery connection John brought up because that kinda sums up the new album perfectly.  Too bad Disney would sue us if we tried to use that shot from the movie as our album cover.

 

XS ROCK: What are your current music career goals?

John: Take this as far as possible. I also hope to be signed to a record label that’s a good fit for us in the near future.

Spasimir: For now I want to find a management that can help us get more shows easily. That can unlock other things for us such as getting noticed by some labels. I also just want to grow our YouTube following as much as possible, maybe to 100,000 subscribers.

Chris: All of those things and more. I wanna be big enough that Taylor Swift and Green Day are opening for us!

 

XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

John: I personally like writing new songs. I just enjoy the process of it and even though it gets very frustrating sometimes, I also think it’s the most rewarding at the end. It’s definitely a little bit scary though when the cycle to write a new record starts again. So in a sense it never really gets easier, but I like the challenge that comes with that.

Steven: Playing live is fun. Writing/recording music can be tough, but it pays off in the end.

Chris: I mean that’s kinda hard to say as they’re both very different beasts.  I like writing songs in a band setting where we’re all jamming stuff. There’s certain things I do prefer to write in front of a DAW to just take different shots at getting something good.  I think the new record was half us jamming and making the song “traditionally”, and the other half sitting in front of the computer recording whatever sounded good. I like playing live in a lot of ways, but also sort of hate it.  It’s stressful yet rewarding, like recording songs. So… Yeah, recording/writing is more fun to me.

 

XS ROCK: What are your songs lyrics about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

John: I think the last record “Broken, Not Beaten” was mostly about having a low spirit and facing different challenges that continued to break that spirit; like being a hopeless romantic for example. At the same time, it’s also about trying to push through the challenges and focusing on the things most important to me, in order to help my spirit get back up.

With the new record “Dangerous Ambitions”, I think that it continues the story in a sense. Now that I got my spirit back, I want to pursue all my ambitions. In my case, my ambition is to play music for a living. I’ve always been the type of person that didn’t really like taking risks–I’m normally very calculating when it comes to my actions. Because of this, I considered my ambitions to be dangerous since there are lots of risks involved with trying to be an artist that maybe others won’t understand, or they’ll think you might be wasting your life. And of course the outcome is very uncertain, which can be scary. So a lot of the album deals with facing this fear of taking risks, and facing fears of the unknown.

 

XS ROCK: What is the single most important thing to you as a musician?

John: I want to make a positive impact on as many lives as possible and hopefully inspire others the same way other people I look up to have inspired me. It doesn’t have to even necessarily be that I inspire others to become musicians themselves, I honestly believe I’ve gotten so much inspiration just seeing my favourite people’s passion, drive, and love for what they do whether they are a basketball player, a wrestler, or a musician.

 

XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?

Spasimir: We almost got in a fight not too long ago with another band that we were supposed to go on tour with. We were having fun with them and thought everything was cool between us. At one point we made a joke that they took too seriously. After that the singer of the band got really upset and kept trying to push us while we were still playing our set, which resulted in things getting pretty weird after we stopped playing. He was calling us sellouts and “not true punk” and basically wanted to fight us. Luckily no fights happened, but we didn’t finish the tour with them or talk to them ever since.

 

 

XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

Spasimir: One guy kept asking us to send him pictures of ourselves with our instruments multiple times. His reason was that he wanted to see if they’re real. We didn’t send him any pictures.

 

Q & A With Minority 905XS ROCK: Are your friends and family supportive of your choice to play in a rock band?

John: I believe so, though I think in the end it’s most important to just believe in yourself even if no one else will. Two people I look up to the most are Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. What I admire so much about them is their mentality. They never forget anything. They take all the negative things and doubts others have about them and it drives them even more. I’m the same way. But yeah it’s definitely a good thing to have people who are close to you believe in you too. Makes it a little bit easier to brush off the people who don’t.

Spasimir: I don’t think my mom really thought I was serious about this until she started seeing our YouTube videos and hearing the songs we make. After that her and the rest of my family have been very supportive of what I want to do.

Chris: With the Youtube success so far, my family sees this whole thing as having a chance.  However, I also feel like they’re kinda waiting for this to blow over so I can “go get a real job” or something.

Steven: I’ve wanted a serious career in music since I was 15 years old and my parents have supported that decision and have always been by my side supporting everything I do. I wouldn’t be able to make it as far as I have without their support.

 

XS ROCK: What advice do you have for new bands trying to get started?

John: I think you should find people that share your attitude. I don’t think it’s ever gonna work if some members are driven to be the best they can possibly be and some members just want to play for fun. So if you want to be in a band just for fun, there’s nothing wrong with that but just make sure the other members in your band are in it for the same reason.

Steven: Chances are, your first band is going to suck and not make it anywhere (I’ve been in 2 bands before Minority 905). However, you take the lessons you learned from your first band, learn from your mistakes, and make sure your second band is better.

 

XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?

John: I don’t really have one. But my favourite song is “Don’t Panic”, which is gonna be the opening song for “Dangerous Ambitions”.

Spasimir: Currently my favorite song to play live is an unreleased song from our upcoming album “Dangerous Ambitions” called “What If”.

Chris: ^ What those guys said, but also another new song, “Soundtrack”.

Steven: A bunch of our new songs are fun to play. Particularly Future, 27 Club, What If and Picture Perfect.

 

XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

John: Green Day and Taylor Swift are the two biggest ones for me. Very different genres but I love their style of songwriting and I guess just connected with it. I like that their songs are very simple and yet so powerful in making connections with listeners. The first stadium concert I got to go to was Taylor Swift’s RED tour, and this was when I just started writing songs. Seeing so many people singing along with her was an amazing feeling and very inspiring. I recently saw her live again and it was even better! A lot of people in my row were sitting down but I ended up standing for the entire concert haha.

Spasimir: Pretty much the bands that I love to listen to and their drummers. Green Day (Tre Cool), Blink-182 (Travis Barker), Metallica (Lars Ulrich), Avenged Sevenfold (The Rev), Dream Theater (Mike Portnoy), Rush (Neil Peart). Also some YouTuber drummers like Cobus and Cooperdrummer.

Chris: Green Day for sure, watching Bullet In A Bible was amazing, that concert showed me the potential of performing and putting on a show.  Before that I just sort of thought of live music as Britney Spears or Rihanna or someone like that dancing and singing (or lip syncing) to backing tracks with backup dancers or whatever.  So to see three guys actually -playing- their songs, and having a crowd go nuts, that showed me what it meant to be a rockstar really.

 

XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

John: I think a present day dream tour for me will always change every once in a while. Right now I think All Time Low, Against The Current, and Minority 905 on one bill could be cool though.

Chris: If we could suddenly become more famous than Taylor Swift and Green Day combined so they could both open for us that’d be pretty cool.

Steven: I think Miles Davis, Nirvana and The Wiggles should get together and play a concert. That’s possible, right???

 

XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

John: Writing and finishing the new album “Dangerous Ambitions”, in my opinion anyway.

Steven: Our YouTube channel. Without that, we simply wouldn’t be known to anybody.

 

XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

John: I honestly don’t really know, even with my degree I’m having a pretty hard time finding a job. I’d probably end up at some office job related to communications if I didn’t pursue music. My other dream jobs though would have been race-car driver or professional wrestler.

Chris: I’d probably have done what our previous lead guitarist did, which was go teach English in Japan, if I didn’t find these guys.

Steven: I’d be homeless, or I’d be dead probably. Imaging life without music is too painful.

 

XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

John: Right now I mostly use my Les Paul juniors, one of them is a Gibson Billie Joe Armstrong signature model, and the other is a TV Yellow Dillion double cut junior. The amp I use is a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier.

Chris: Fender FSR Deluxe Telecaster, and an Orange Micro Terror for the head.  My cab is some next cab from the 60s when they still made big speakers with beryllium instead of non-toxic substances that won’t harm the environment once this one irreparably breaks.

Steven: Fender US Precision Bass, and whatever bass amp/rig I can get my hands on.

 

XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?

John: I feel like I’m really out of touch so I don’t really know. Most of my favourite bands seem to be thriving right now though so I guess the current music scene must be in a good state. Good music always finds a way to inspire future artists so I think the music scene will always be–for the most part–in good hands.

Chris: For someone who’s in a pop punk band, I know virtually nothing about the pop punk scene, and also don’t like pop punk for the most part.  Keep in mind this is also coming from the member of the band who got all of their music tastes from video games, so, what do I know?

Steven: It’s tough to say because music scenes differ between cities. Toronto’s is very diverse with a lot of scenes such as Jazz, Indie Rock and Pop punk are prominent and have been on the rise the last couple years. So yeah it’s good I guess.

 

XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?

John: I’m a big Formula 1 fan. I don’t think many people from this part of the world really watch it.

Steven: I refuse to eat cereal with milk.

Chris: I refuse to let Steven eat cereal without milk.

 

XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

Steven: Watch out for us in the 2020’s!!! Gonna take over the world baby!!!

John: Thank you for all the support. I hope you like the new music we’re releasing and I hope to see most of you one day.

 

XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XSROCK

https://www.facebook.com/Minority905

 

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