Chad Thomas Carsten: How did being raised in North Carolina influence you as a recording artist today?
Waylon Reavis: How did it influence me? It really didn’t, to be honest with you. North Carolina is very Bible built, very homey. You go to school, go to work. Music is blue grass, but still farming. You know, still working and doing your job. Music is not really a big deal, especially our genre. Country is a different story, but metal, not really. When I was 15/16 years old, I started getting into metal and going to concerts. I realized, “Hey you can do this!”. It was my own drive to get out of North Carolina, that inspired me to do my own music. I’d see all these national bands like Korn, Marilyn Manson, and Tool come through and knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Can you remember what feelings went through your mind, when you first held a microphone?
Waylon Reavis: I was nervous! I didn’t have any singing background. I remember my buddy was laughing, when I was having that nervous hot sweat. It angered me and kinda gave me that “I’ll show you” attitude, that I’ve held on to, to this day. If I can’t do it a now, give me a week and I’ll show you. That was my first impression/first feelings of holding a microphone.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Must have been a pretty powerful feeling!
Waylon Reavis: Oh it was! *Laughs*
Chad Thomas Carsten: When did you figure out being a vocalist was your true destiny?
Waylon Reavis: I never really figured it out, until I got with Mushroomhead. I was ready to be done with it months before Mushroomhead gave me the job. I was going to do the last album with my former band, “Three Quarters Dead”. I was going to hang it up, was just gonna work, go to college. I already had a kid. It wasn’t really going anywhere. I had my fun with it. I started realizing I wasn’t with the right guys and I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go. So, I was ready to be done. All of a sudden, Mushroomhead asked if I wanted a job. Yes! This is for me! It was a happy accident.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Perfect fit! What I really like is the fact you never left when J Mann returned.
Waylon Reavis: Thank you! Well, you know, there were no plans ever for me to go. Skinny has my work cut out for me. He has ideas for me, specifically. He’ll wake me up at 3 a.m.,“Waylon, I got a melody, I need your help!”. What I do in Mushroomhead is not what Jeff or J does. What I do is what’s best for the group. I’m one of those workers. I do what’s best for the song. Whether it’s me leading the song or me backing Jeff or J up, it does’t matter. If it makes the song sound better, that’s what I’m there for.
Chad Thomas Carsten: You do bring those powerful choruses, especially on “Devils Be Damned”!
Waylon Reavis: Well, “Devils Be Damned” was the first song Skinny and I wrote for “The Righteous And The Butterfly”. One night, Skinny said “I got a chorus idea!” and I’m like, “I got these verses!”. I came up with this really extreme hateful verse. It’s a big fuck you to everybody. Skinny had that chorus “Tear my soul out, take anything you please”. I was like, “Are you joking me dude, really?! We just wrote the same shit here.” That’s how Skinny and I work, we’re on the same page without having to speak. It’s one of those deals.
Chad Thomas Carsten: That’s pretty cool you guys can work together like that.
Who are your main influences as far as creating and establishing your own unique sound? Who did you want to emulate the most when you first were developing your very own vocal style?
Waylon Reavis: Jonathan Davis (Of Korn) had a great big influence on me. Korn were like Nirvana or The Beatles. Original. They came into the industry and they had this sound that was all their own. Jonathan had such a different voice. His voice wasn’t the typical singer during the time Korn came out. He wasn’t Hair Metal, Thrash or Death Metal. I like his style a lot! Jonathan had melody, anger, and so much passion. Then at the same time, I listened to Tool. Maynard is probably the best singer I’ve ever heard. I don’t care what he does, it’s good. Maynard’s voice is golden. Also, I was into the heaviness of Pantera and the screams of Max Cavalera of Sepultura. I understood every word Max said! Burton of Fear Factory too! I wasn’t the greatest vocalist when I started out. I learned the hard way, I was booed. People think I just had it. Nope! I had to work my ass off to learn how to do the vocals I currently do. I always have kids come up to me and ask how I do it, and I’m always like “You just gotta learn”.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Wow! You rock it on the vocals tho!
What Mushroomhead song do you look forward to performing every night and why?
Waylon Reavis: I apperciate it. We brought back “Son of Seven”. That is the song I look forward to performing every night. That song is the one touches me and makes me want to do what I do. It has a special place in my heart.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Great answer!
How does the band decide on Mushroomhead’s setlist?
Waylon Reavis: We don’t. That’s all Skinny. He’s the boss man. We change it up when we can, but we have to implement the water drums. Skinny was the one who hired me. I don’t argue about it. This is his vision, I’ll see it out. If I’m stuck singing the same song for two years, then I’m stuck singing the same song for two years. It’s none of my business, I deal with it. I can throw in my suggestion, but I don’t sign the pay check.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Interesting. What’s the most personal song to date you’ve recorded with Mushroomhead?
Waylon Reavis: “Save Us”. Save Us is one of those songs that’s a staple in the set. It’s held the test of time. People are always sing it at every show. They are wrapped into the same parts of the song that I am. It’s a very sad song for me, even when I wrote it.
Chad Thomas Carsten: What are the next videos to be released for “The Righteous and The Butterfly”? I’m hoping one of them is “Portraits of The Poor”.
Waylon Reavis: You’ll find out. Can’t give any of them away yet.
Chad Thomas Carsten: A Michigan friend of mine I went to high school with wanted to know, what are your thoughts of The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan? What is your opinion on the venues in Michigan? Overall favorite venue nationwide?
Waylon Reavis: I love The Machine Shop. It’s my favorite in Michigan. I always look forward to coming to the Machine Shop. The fans are great there! I have no problems with Flint as a city, even with its bad rep. I live in Cleveland, can’t say too much. The Rave in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would have to be my overall favorite.
Chad Thomas Carsten: If I’m ever in Wisconsin, I’ll have to check that out!
Waylon Reavis: Jackie LaPonza from “Unsaid Fate”. Same girl featured on “We Are The Truth”.
Chad Thomas Carsten: I thought that was the same girl. On the back of the soundtrack, it just says Mushroomhead and doesn’t say who’s featured. And yea Among The Crows, I thought, was a great closer for the soundtrack.
Waylon Reavis: Yep that’s her! That is Skinny’s better half. Jackie pops up every once in a while to go on tour with us, to do the songs. I think we shocked people on what we did on the soundtrack. People didn’t expect us to be that brutal and have that type of chorus. Really good experience. It was cool doing it. I’m a huge fan of Game Of Thrones. Some see it as a bad thing to be the last track, but we didn’t see it like that. We wanted to go out with a bang!
Chad Thomas Carsten: What’s it feel like to have Mushroomhead, invited to play the world’s biggest metal fest, “Wacken Open Air”, for the very first time?
Waylon Reavis: It’s freakin’ awesome to play any festival, but I’ve never been to Germany before. Really looking forward to it.
Chad Thomas Carsten: I would be too. Always wanted to visit Germany myself.
The best memory from Insane Clown Posse’s Shockfest Tour?
Waylon Reavis: That tour went by so fast, but meeting Jelly Roll would be the best. I love that dude to death. Being with DA Mafia 6 was cool, but Jelly Roll is my dude. I love the clowns too. I remembering picking up “The Great Milenko” and being like, “This is hilarious!” Fun record. I participated in the Faygo Armageddon a few times and learned I didn’t like it from all the pop being shoved up my nose. *Laughs* I wear colored contacts with my stage gear and it was a like having bear mace in the eyes. It was a great experience, but terrible for the eyes. I don’t want the regular if that’s what diet feels like.
When not going all out in the studio and giving it your all on stage, what’s your personal life like when taking time off from the music world?
Waylon Reavis: Raising my son, working out, playing video games, participate in some wrestling on the side. I’m just an ordinary person. I have dinner at 6 p.m. and I watch TV sometimes. I don’t take the stage persona home or have an ego. I’m not special, I’m a regular guy, just like you. I enjoy what I do and I’m lucky to have what I have. But I leave the stage guy hung up, right when I get home and I’ll only bring him out when he’s needed for the music.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Hell yea! I respect that.
So, you played a major role in the horror film “13th Sign”, alongside Jeffrey Nothing. Will there be any more roles for you in the future?
Waylon Reavis: I did another movie. It’s called, “Tonight Goes As Follows”. It was filmed in 2012, but it’s never been released yet. I played a mentally handicap guy. I can’t watch it, because I’m just so handicap, it looks so believable. Everyone who has seen the cuts from it really like it. It was filmed by the same guys who do our music videos, Monobloc Studios. I liked the role because I wanted to show I’m not just the evil guy. I can’t be the evil guy every time.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Wow! Major props!!
When can fans expect an official Waylon Reavis solo album?
Waylon Reavis: Thank you. I’m doing another Tenafly Viper album this year. As for a solo, solo. It will happen. It’s not if, but when.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Can’t wait! Are there any world problems you want to see solved?
Waylon Reavis: I wish every country would mind their own fucking business. If people can’t change themselves for the better, nothing will change. It starts with one person changing for the better. That will affect another person to change. If you can’t change yourself for the better, you’ve got issues.
Chad Thomas Carsten: Can’t argue with that.
When fans come up to you and tell you their life was saved by listening to the music of Mushroomhead, how do you approach that type of conversation?
Waylon Reavis: It’s hard man. When you have someone that comes from the brink of suicide tell you your words saved them, all you can do is hold their neck and thank them. It just blows my mind, I’m just a nerd, but it does make me feel good to have that type of impact.
*Shows his Zelda tattoo*
Chad Thomas Carsten: It is pretty crazy!
So what’s your favorite Zelda game?
Waylon Reavis: Majora’s Mask!
Chad Thomas Carsten: Nice choice.
Any advice to musicians just starting out?
Waylon Reavis: Don’t do it. Most kids do it for the wrong reasons like, just to get laid or to be cool. But if you do want to, do it because you love it, not anything else. Trust me, there’s no money in it anymore. People don’t buy your music. The internet has ruined that completely. You’re not going to make your fair shake ever in this business. A Grammy artist recently showed his royalty check and it was only 20 bucks. Can anyone survive off 20 bucks every 3-to 4 months?! No! I have to constantly tour to make a living. I tell kids all the time you better be in it because you love it. You’re either a lifer or a hobbyist. You need to know which one you are. It saddens me that a great song writer will suffer because of downloading. They enjoy his music enough to listen to it all the time, but they don’t want to simply buy the song so the artist can buy groceries. I’m not trying to sound greedy, but I deserve to send my kids to college and live in my own home and not on the streets just like everyone else. It’s not just the artist you’re supporting, it’s also supporting the truck drivers that deliver the album, the pressing company, the stores that stock the music, etc. I prefer physical copies because it makes more jobs. A lot of jobs are at risk if music strictly becomes just digital. Nobody seems to look at it like that. What happened to buying something with hard earned money? I’m not greedy, I own a home and a car that’s good enough for me. I catch my niece illegally downloading all the time and I’ve even deleted all the music from her computer. One day, I finally decided to show her my royalty check and she is starting to slowly understand.
Chad Thomas Carsten: HAHA! I bet that pissed her off. But yea I agree, piracy is getting out of hand for anything media related. Just floods of blogs and off the grid websites hosting so much free illegal downloads, even of artists who are not signed. It’s disgusting. I always support hard copies.
*Holds up two Mushroomhead albums*
Waylon Reavis: Thank you for that!
Chad Thomas Carsten: If you could form your own supergroup with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
Waylon Reavis: Max Cavalera and his sons with Igor Cavalera of Sepultura. Head, Munky, and Fieldy of Korn to play the other side. Me on vocals!
Chad Thomas Carsten: What is the future of Waylon
Waylon Reavis: Unknown man. Hopefully I’m still here.
Tiffany Edwards of Tiffany Raylene Photography – http://www.tiffanyraylenephotography.com/
Anthony Harbolt of We Are Rebellion Portraits – https://www.facebook.com/WeAreRebellionPhotos
Interviewer: Chad Thomas Carsten