Renegade Cartel looks to break the mold of today's music, and the niche sub-genres of rock.
In a world ruled by cover bands, we are still roaring forward with original music to prove to the world that rock and roll is here to stay. With influences across the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond, our hope is to play music that everyone can groove and vibe to.
Ignite chatted with Stephen Damon-Tilley – Vocals and Bass from Renegade Cartel and got a little insight on the band and how hard they have been working to making music.
Tell us a little bit about the band and how long you have been together for some of our readers that may not know about the band?
Renegade Cartel has been around for almost 6 years. Vic and I have been working non stop on tunes since 2013. We went through so many lineup changes but kept powering through and working on our music. Once you make that bond, you know it’s worth enduring anything. We started off working on music that was meant to be loud and to blow the doors down. Over the 6 years of writing, we certainly have tunes that do that, but we also discovered how well our other influences show through. That lead us to write some more bluesy or classic rock sounding stuff. Then when we got Rob on drums, we just started playing as much as possible. Playing all over the Boston area, Western Massachusetts. Most of New England really. I think Vermont has eluded us so far. Haha.
- What got you into music and what keeps you going night after night playing?
Metallica was what really set me off and running. I listened to Prince and Aerosmith growing up, but hearing James Hetfield’s voice on The Unforgiven was what made me want to get out there. But what keeps me going? Thats the people. I’ve met people that were so thankful that we played for them. People who had family who played, or people who used to play that are thankful for others sticking it out and giving them that rock feeling they’ve been missing. I love making people happy with my music. And I’ll do it until the day I die if I can.
- So, what is new with the band?..New Album out? New Videos?
Renegade Cartel just released our new single and video for our tune “Break Your Chains”. It’s up on YouTube and streaming services. Of course, you can get it if you pre-order our very first album! This record is a long time coming. “Dear World” is our jammed packed message that rock is alive and well. With 15 tracks running over 75 minutes, these tunes span our whole timeline, with “Break Your Chains” being one of our oldest songs! Imagine putting a tune on hold for 6 years? It was hard for us, but we had other songs come up that took precedence. “Dear World” is out on October 31st, for the start of the “Dia de Muertos” celebrations.
- If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
This is pretty fitting for today, as we are playing a doubleheader this weekend at the time of writing. But we all still work full time jobs. Hopefully someday, we can retire from the 9 to 5 and get out on the road full time. But today, on a lovely Sunday, I’d probably be out hunting vampires or playing video games. Maybe mountain climbing, or digging a tunnel to the other side of the globe. Haha, sorry. I can’t imagine a life without playing music.
- What is the weirdest or funniest question you have ever been asked?
Me personally? “Do you know who you remind me of? MEATLOAF” Now, I fully respect Mr Loaf and his works, but just because I’m a large, white male, doesn’t mean I’m Meatloaf. I think that Meat and I would get along great, but we don’t even have similar styles. Besides, he’s a much better singer than I’ll ever be. Maybe we should collaborate on an album, and I can be called Meatloaf Jr. or Salisbury Steak.
- If you can have your fans remember you for one thing, what would that be?
I want everyone to remember me and even the band as someone who consistently poured his heart and soul into their performance, night after night, giving every once of what we have. We want to show how much it all means to us. The songs, the passion, the reaction of the crowd. Everything means so much to us, and we want it clear and evident that we love it. We hope everyone else loves it just as much.
- On a scale of one to 2593, How good is your new single compared to your last single? (my attempt at humor, but please still answer)
Luckily for us, the two singles we’ve released are a bit different, stylistically. Our first single “Fire” is a well balanced, hard rock song. The newest single “Break Your Chains” is a bit more towards a groovier almost-metal sound. It’s the different sides of us that we express. We love them both equally and wouldn’t recommend one over the other. Of course, “Break Your Chains”, being the newest, means its getting the push right now, but we hope others still find “Fire” and enjoy it just as much.
- What do you feel is the best song you have release to date and why?
Our song “When” on the upcoming full length album has certainly created a lot of buzz. We’ve been playing it live for quite some time now, and while we wouldn’t say it’s our best song, but we would say it turns the most heads. When we’re coming out the gate blazing with loud, heavy riffs for a few tunes, then we slow it down into a laid back, bluesy shuffle, people are usually stunned that we’d go to that extreme of a difference. This has lead to a lot of people give us great feedback on the song. We’re super excited about releasing the song on October 31st.
- Do you think you can get any better as a musician/singer? And if so, How would you achieve that?
There is always room for improvement. I don’t jive well with people who say they’re the best they’ll ever be. They might be adequate enough for their interests, but they can always improve. There is an endless amount to learn, including other instruments. You can study other styles and other countries styles. Not just learning the scales and things like that, but also how to perform with people. It’s an everlong process that you can only gain by having more experience.
- If you could give your fans one random fact about you that you think they should (or should “not” know) about you what would that be?
For me, a lot of fans didn’t know that I sing in Japanese. I have a J-Rock band, and have performed on national television in Japan twice in my life. It always turns a few heads when I do a few lines of a song in Japanese. I love seeing their reactions.
- You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
I would be close to a royal purple. Purple always gets flak for being a more feminine color. Which in 2019, I don’t have to stand alone against that. But I’ve always idolized the way Prince was able to pull it off. It stands out enough to show the flash, but it is a color of royalty. Now, I don’t have an ego big enough to say that I’m royal, but it does feel good to be confident in your capabilities. People think that’s big-headed but there is no shame in having confidence in yourself.
- Who are you inspired by?
So many inspirations. I started playing music because of James Hetfield, expanded my range because of Myles Kennedy, Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, Koshi Inaba, ToshI, and continue playing because of the drive of my band members. I play bass because of dUg Pinnick and Billy Sheehan. I want to be a better guitar player because of Paul Gilbert and Slash. I wanna play every instrument because of Prince. I want to tour because of relentless guys like Metallica, and Myles Kennedy for having 3 projects at once. But there’s nothing like seeing the guys in Renegade Cartel giving it their all. It just fuels my fire for music and keeps me going.
- What’s an average day like for you?
I get up, usually late, stumble to work with one eye open, give it my hardest 8 hours to get out of there, then either go to rehearsal, or home to practice. Recently, our lives have been working on the release of this album. That means mixing, editing footage, working on artwork and photos, interviews, etc. It’s jmostly working on music. Sometimes I’ll catch up on a TV series or play some video games. The usual pick up around the house. We are just average people. I wish we had wild stories, maybe wake up to a stampede, run through the jungle and try to escape Jumanji. But sadly, it’s just work and music.
- Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans
We don’t have fans. We have family and friends. We run a group called the Renegade Cartel Family, and they only requirement to join is to have a shot of the official drink of Renegade Cartel, Fireball Whiskey. We love doing social media for everyone, and hanging out before and after sets. We become friends with a lot of people who like us. Were super easy going to just approach us and hang with us. Don’t get upset if I’m not talking much. I get into the zone way to heavily and I like to conserve my voice. Haha.
- Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?
Yeah, in the beginning, starting off a new project. It’s always a bit hard putting your heart on your sleeve and showing it to everyone. But eventually all that’s left is adrenaline before playing. We just know our stuff so well that we give it our all, pretend everyone is in their underwear, and kick it. If we’ve got a big show coming up, there’s always a chance that we might have a bit of extra excitement. But we just try to own it.
- Tell me about your favorite performance venues
We’ve played some cool places, like House of Blues Boston’s Foundation Room. We get to play in Western MA at a cool place called Poor Richards. They really did the upstairs stage well. The sound is awesome too. But our favorite place to play is a place called Live@212 in Westbrook Maine. The owner opens it up for local bands from all over, he’s an awesome guy and welcomes everyone. He’s really overhauled the stage there and it’s an awesome place for an intimate, high energy show. We have gained a lot of friends there, and we try to play it every few months. It’s our second home.
- What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Just do it. Don’t listen to anyone’s bullshit. Play your heart out. Don’t do it for the money, don’t do it for the fame. Do it because your heart doesn’t belong anywhere else. So many people just want to shoot right to the top and it’s such a difficult journey. But if you don’t grit and bear through the hard parts, you’ll never get further. You definitely have to put in the legwork to get anywhere. But it’s so worth it.
The band has released the official live video for “Break Your Chains.” Shot by Michael Cox, “Break Your Chains” is the debut single off of the trio’s upcoming LP, Dear World, due out 10/31/2019.