Music Interview with RA(Z)NER

September 2009 Edition

By: Isaac Davis Jr, BGS, MBA

RA(Z)NER is going to bring something new, fresh, and exciting to Rock music. One of the group's biggest assets is their fusion of Reggae and Ska into their music. What comes out from this fusion is something that breaks away from the traditional ROCK sound to something that many fans are going to find appealing. Recently, our Webzine spoke to the members of the band in this super cool spotlight. Enjoy!

Isaac: What’s the name of your band? What’s the origin of that name? Have you changed the band’s name before?

Ra(Z)neR: The name of our band is Ra(Z)neR. We got the name from our drummer, CoCo's first band director Mr. Rasner. He is the one that put drumsticks in CoCo's hand. Mr. Rasner’s motto was give a GREAT performance - SHOCK and AWE the crowd, as it is all about the fans, we live by this motto. We changed the S to a (Z) and added the parenthesis to give it some branding.

We have not changed our name but have come together from separate bands. In mid-September of 2007, Corey "COCO" Dawson and Justin Alonso were performing together as members of the cover band, Tracer. A few short months before Corey had also been playing with the recently disbanded Speaking in Metaphors with Matt Kizer. Dawson, Alonso and Kizer all wanted to be a part of the creative process and were looking to create more of their own sounds, through Dawson the three joined together to form RA(Z)NER.

Isaac: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

Ra(Z)neR: We don't stick to one type of style… Alternative Rock, Ballad Rock, Reggae, Rap, Pop; whatever we feel. Each of Ra(Z)neR’s members influence and drive the bands sound; combined we create great music. I would have to say our major influences are:

Corey: RHCP, Marley, Carter Bueford and The Dave Matthews Band, 311, Neil Pert and Rush, Korn, STP, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and watching talent grow like Matt.

Matt: AFI, Dave Matthews, Sublime, Primus, Rush, 311, Coheed and Cambria, Pearl Jam, Green Day, and Maroon 5.

Justin: Rhandy Rhoads, Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Sublime.

Isaac: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?

Ra(Z)neR: CoCo and Justin have know each other about 9 years. Justin and Corey played together when Justin was just 16. The first time Corey went to meet Justin, Corey thought, “Wow, he is just a kid” and Justin's family who answered the door said, "There is a black man at the door asking for Justin. Coco and Justin began to play in Justin's first “official” rock band 1Away. Because of his age, Justin would have a large “M” written on his hand and would be forced to stand outside clubs until the band took the stage to play.

Matt and Coco met through a mutual friend when this friend was putting together the band speaking in Metaphors. They instantly connected and have become good friends. They knew no matter what happened to SIM they would be friends and share their love of music. Eventually, we all came together Coco, Justin and Matt, almost 2 years ago to create Ra(Z)neR. (See question above.)

Isaac: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?

Ra(Z)neR: September 2007, we each wanted to have a voice in the music. Create something unique, inspired by our lives, tribulation, loves and loss. Every one of us adds to every song. No one has a bigger say than anyone else, we all contribute. In fact, there are songs where we are all three singing, Coco rapping, Justin verse, Matt back-up; it’s pretty cool.

Isaac: Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations?

Ra(Z)neR: Not yet, not that we wouldn't want one, but it is not stopping us from trying to do it on our own. We pay for our recordings, our CD duplication all of our marketing, branding, websites, booking, promotion, really all of it is done by us. The Indie music scene has changed the rules, we really want to build our fan base so are trying for some of the bigger venues outside of SoCal. We have played all the venues in the Inland Empire, some in Orange County, LA, San Diego and now Vegas. We do not belong to any music organization unless you count the hardworking, everyday, people trying to make it an organization. I know there are a lot of bands like us, but none that sound like us.

Isaac: What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?

Ra(Z)neR: Well, we all have a couple of instrument. Justin has about 20 guitars (there should be a 12 step for his addiction) and yes he does play them all. He has Gibson and Shecter are his favorites, but has Ibenez, fender, MANY!

Coco plays Pearl drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Regal tip Alex Van Halen sticks. He likes the longer sticks it allows him to twirl them during the show.

Matt play's Ernie Ball Musicman and back up is a fender. Amp is Ampeg— it is top of the line with good tone and sound. If it feels good and sounds good, he will play whatever.

Isaac: Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?


Los Angeles/Hollywood:

Rainbow Bar and Grill, Whiskey a-go-go, The Key Club,
Viper Room, The Fashion Show, The Catwalk

Inland Empire:

The Vibe, Tremors, Biacci, Gotham, Angels’ Roadhouse (Apple Valley, Yucaipa and Corona), Stingers, The Hub, The Brandin Iron, Gotham, My Heroes, Characters,, Finalists in Crue Fest 2 Battle of the Bands, Shamrocks, Lake Alice, Java Joes, Boompas, Castle Park, Norco Fair, Yamaha Bike Night, Friar Tucks

Orange County:

SoCal Rock Revolution, Sachi, Bigs Bar and Grill , Gypsy Lounge, Blue Café, Hogue Barmichael

San Diego:

Dream Street, O’Connells



Upcoming shows in Las Vegas late September 09 at the Sand Dollar and Foxfires.See our show calendar on our website for others.

One of our favorites is Whiskey a go-go in Hollywood the sound in there is awesome and the sound-guy is one of the best. There is nothing worse than playing a venue that doesn't do your music justice. That part of Hollywierd is pretty wild too; we always have interesting stories after we play there. At home, we like Lake Alice in downtown Riverside. We do all the sound ourselves (our PA etc..) Our least favorite, some place that doesn't have people due to a bad schedule or neighborhood problem.

We had one show we played early-on where they pushed us to a 1:30 AM start time the last band of 7 or 8 that night there was just our few fans back then, or a venue that cuts your set short due to time. It is not worth it for any band to drive to, set-up etc... for 20 minutes especially fans that have come out to see you and paid the door. What the H_ _ _ are they thinking? We usually don't book with those promoters again and they usually disappear. We will play any place where there are people wanting to have a good time. Indoor, outdoor, coffee shops, subs shops, bars/grills, clubs, fairs, you name it.

Isaac: Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?

Ra(Z)neR: Promise and In too Deep are in our usual set. We have 10 originals and a few covers. The play list depends on the time. We almost always open with Inside (we have an intro musical track we created digitally on our MAC that we come-in on) and end with Promise. Our fans and bands we play with know all the lyrics to that one. Here is our set list:

Inside, Ur' Way, Waterfall (Cover), In too Deep, Str8t-up (cover),Fade, Carry On, Think Twice, Killing Me, Lo (Cover),Wasted, Reality and Promise.

Isaac: Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?

Ra(Z)neR: All three of us write some, Justin quite a bit of the lyrics with Matt, the raps Coco. The music is all of us. We always joke that if Justin ever gets a steady girlfriend with no drama attached our lyrics would probably take a different direction. We write about life, love, loss the 3 "L's".

Isaac: Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

Ra(Z)neR: One of the members writes a piece and brings it to the table. Then we collaborate. This is one of the biggest reasons we formed Ra(Z)neR is to create sound together and each of have a voice, a say into the music. Over time our songs can change; we may add something or one of us have an idea about a song. It may sound different by adding something improving it. We are willing to try it. It is definitely an evolving process.

Isaac: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?

Ra(Z)neR: We practice in Corey's living room at his house. The day of the week depends on our schedules, but we try and get together at least two times per week; three times prior to bigger events. We do what we call a radio practice on the third night, Justin and Matt play on small amps, and Corey uses his drum pad on top of his snare. We sit, low-key just going through the set and timing. We play until 10PM. We used to play later but Corey has a new baby so we changed our schedule a bit.

Isaac: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?

Ra(Z)neR: Our music is like life, as we mature our music gets better and better. We learn from experience, it improves and changes as we improve and change. We all continue to learn and share both our music with our fans but our lives with each other too. We become better people from our experiences together.

Isaac: What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

Ra(Z)neR: We still struggle with one challenge, working our day jobs, supporting ourselves, balancing families and relationships with our music. Music is who we are; to take that away or change that would change us. But we have to survive and live too. Plus, equipment/instruments travel and all that goes along with being a band costs money.

We are still building our fan base so we can play some of the shows that require 60+ pre-ticket sales and we would really like a trailer to reduce the time we spend loading and unloading in the wee hours of the night.

Isaac: What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?

Ra(Z)neR: Play and create great music, while having fun with people. We would love to share our music worldwide. I think (maybe we are naive) that the fame and fortune would follow that and if not and if we are having the time of our lives does it really matter?

Isaac: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

Ra(Z)neR: It’s all about the people in the band. We have no pre-Madonnas, we respect one another, support each other, stand-up for each other, and have a blast with one another. Each of us has been in other bands and that is definitely what helps in creating our great sound. We are open and never shoot down as idea. Who would have though a bunch of guys would want to sing a Paula Abdul song, we made it our own and our fans love it! Find some core people to support you at shows, in helping to get the word out to others. If you love it, you will keep at it and be patient.

Isaac: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?

Ra(Z)neR: Bandizmo, www.razner.com, www.myspace.com/raznermusic. CD Baby, iTunes, etc...We sell our CD online at our website through PayPal.

Isaac: Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?

Ra(Z)neR: I think every band needs a firm base of support, like our families and Matt's Mom. She is our manager, funding the recordings, CD duplication, merchandise, creating promotions, website, banners, etc... Corey's wife, Sonja, where we practice and take him away him away from his family. All of our core fans (Grisel, Mandy, Cindy, Rodney, J-rock, Robert, Alex, Jeremy, the list is long, you know who you are) that come to weekday shows, and out of town shows, and help with our street team. Fritz our roady for helping with all of our equipment.

Isaac: Any last words?

Ra(Z)neR: We love music. It is who we are and we want to share our sound and have people enjoy it as much as we do. It is that simple but it is that hard as well. You have to love this stuff to stick with it and work this hard at it. We hope this article helps to get our sound out to others, and they love it as much as we do, "cuz that's the way life is supposed to be!" (from Promise- Ra(Z)neR- album (Z) 2009)


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