ENGINE DOWN - Interview by Jennifer Long
Keeley Davis [vocals, guitar]
Jonathan Fuller [guitar]
Cornbread Compton [drums]
Jason Wood (present at very end) [bass]
Can I have you guys introduce yourselves?
JF: Uh yeah, this is JonathanÖummm I play guitar.
CC: Hi my name is Cornbread and I play drums in Engine Down.
KD: My nameís Keeley Dixon Davis and I play geetar and vocalize.
CC: My nameís Jason Wood and I play bass in Engine Down.
AATM: Where is Jason?
KD: Heís cominí.
CC: Iím right here.
KD: [shouting] JASON!
All right, what influences your music and lyrics?
KD: [mumbles something and we all laugh] No, on a serious note, influence is very important. I think, itís more like weíre inspired I think our music. For me, I will write music when I have a shift in emotion. If Iím just kinda having a normal day and I watch a really a great movie or I hear a great song and it puts me in a mindset where I wanna create, then thatís...that is what I want to try to create for someone else to inspire them. So, a lot of times Iím inspired by what creates mood changes I guess atmosphereeeee Thank you.
CC: I would say the exact same thing prolly. [mumbles and laughter]
What keeps you going while on the road?
JF: I dunno, I think that touring is enough of a momentum. I mean, I think that definitely when you have a good show where the energy in the room is good and you know like we definitely feed off of the crowd when we play. And so if itís a good vibe then we have an awesome time. And, being able to have the opportunity to have that happen every night is amazing. So I thinkÖand then during the day we hang out with friends and I mean touring itself is amazing. I would say that it doesnít take much on tour to keep us going, because it sort of is its own reason to keep going. I mean, obviously when you have three or four horrible shows back to back and youíre in the middle of nowhere where you donít know anybody, then thatís tough. Luckily that happens less and less, I guess, cause we have more and more friends everywhere and shows are getting better.
CC: Yeah, I agree with that we have friends, seeing friends...
AATM: You agree with everything donít you?
CC: Whatís that?
AATM: You agree with everything donít you?
CC: Yeah, yeah, I agree with everything, yes. I agree! [laughter] We are all, like, really good friends, you know all four of us are really good friends. That itself makes it easier to go out and spend a plot of time with, you know, three other people. And, yes, its just a lot of fun. I think it shows, and being able to present whatís on your album live is just such a fun task.
Are there any interesting stories from the road?
JF: Thereís lots!
AATM: Any that you can tell?
JF: Itís hard to come up with ummmm I dunno.
AATM: I just heard one the other day where a band was driving along and they saw a deer in the road still kicking and stuff so they went and called the cops to have them come kill it or something. And the antlers were shattered everywhere and so they took some of the antlers and made it into necklaces and were wearing it. It was...
JF: Oo! Thatís kind of intense!
AATM: ...kind of a weird road story to hear in the middle of a show.
JF: Umm...weíve been fortunate enough never to get tickets on the road until a couple of days ago. Cornbread get a ticket from the po-lice. Got pulled over.
AATM: Whatíd you do?
JF: He just ran a stop sign. It was totally lame. It was a trap. She pulled us over and she was like "There have already been two accidents there today," and I was like "Well, obviously you need to make the stop sign bigger" [pause] DUMBASS! [laughter]
CC: Well we stayed in a haunted motel once and it was scary. I canít really talk to you much about it cause Iím so freaked. We also...
KD: The haunted motel was great...
CC: umm what else?
KD: Weíre also known to be a bad influence. When we support bands they often tell us we are a bad influence on them. And thatís all I have to say about that. Actually, if you wanna see or more hear more go to and click on ĎTour Diaryí on the front page! Booyah!
What are some of the major differences, good and bad, between touring as an opening band and as a headliner?
JF: Itís good um... Both of them are exciting. When youíre opening for another band, youíre playing for a bunch of people that havenít necessarily heard you before so you get to show them what you do and luckily all the experiences that weíve had opening for other bands itís been positive and the crowd has been receptive. And then headlining, headliningÖ[hands tape recorder to Cornbread]
CC: HeadliningÖOh man I was totally off in another world! I was just thinking about... Yeah headlining um...
JF: itís good because youíre playing for people who are there to see you so, you knowÖ they know your songs and itís not... you sort of... you already know that the energy is gonna be good, you donít have to convince them, I guess?
AATM: But you still put the same effort into it?
JF: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah definitely.
KD: Opening up is a little bit less stressful cause you kinda play, then youíre kinda like for the rest of the show youíre allowed to just kind of relax a little bit.. Youíre allowed to relax a little bit so youíll play, youíll take your stuff off, youíll pack it all up, youíll be able to see the headliner knowing that all your stuffís packed up, and you can just sit around and talk to people and you know where youíre...
JF: When youíre headlining youíre sitting around the whole time like
KD: Waiting, waiting.
JF: Aah! Aah! Iím nervous!
KD: Yeah, yeah.
JF: What if everybody leaves? Ahh ahh!
KD: Yeah, so thatís one reasonÖ oh and I think when youíre opening up for a band, itís more of a trailer of your band. Youíre like ďThis is our band, check it out!Ē This is the first time and so things can... itís fresh automatically. Itís a preview, you know, and when youíre headlining sometimes itís nerve racking to try to keep it fresh for people who have seen you a bunch and trying to keep it [pause] make a good experience for everyone thatís just fans and so yeahÖ Itís a lot less mechanical. Itís like youíre trying to be flowing better and it might actually involve a little more of spontaneity which is always just scary as hell. Itís a bigger gamble on whether youíre gonna have a great show for yourself -- for me it is kind of.
JF: Thereís a lot more at stake.
KD: Yeah, thereís more at stake totally, cause youíre watching everyone. Theyíre there to see you. They all leave, itís over, youíre done for. Three strikes. [mumbles something that sounds like ďIt suuuucks. It suuuucks.Ē into the mic]
AATM: What is that all about?
KD: Nothing!! [laughter]
What is it that you want someone to walk away from your show with and what kind of impression do you want to leave?
KD: To be inspired, I guess. To take them to a different place, kind of.
JF: Yeah, to be able to remove them from whateverís going on outside of... to be able to fully, you know, like, immerse them in the music.
AATM: That only slightly helped when I was freezing to death at the last sow. Do you remember that?
JF: Wait, where was it?
AATM: The Beaumont Club... with Thursday
JF: Was it cold in there?
AATM: It was freezing cold where my friend and I were sitting. I went and complained to Keeley about it.
JF: Itís pretty cold in here, too.
AATM: It was a lot colder than this. We had the air conditioning vent on top of us.
JF: Yeah, well... hopefully... Right. Bring a sweater.
AATM: Thanks, thanks.
Have you had any fans do any crazy things for you?
JF: Bands do crazyÖ
AATM: Fans.
JF: We got a couple of cases of very expensive wine from a fan a couple nights ago, which was awesome. Totally awesome.
CC: Yeah... mentions about flying to come see us play.
JF: Weíve had people fly to come see us play before, which is kind of crazy.
AATM: That is crazy.
KD: Tell about thatÖ girl in Japan. American food? The one that brought us the French fries.
CC: That wasnít in Japan though, was it? That was in Europe.
KD: No, it was in Japan.
CC: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. The really quiet girlÖ she play drums?
KD: Yes, yes.
CC: We had a girlÖ
JF: We toured Japan.
CC: Yeah, when we were in Japan touring, there was a girl... Actually was she putting on the show and playing in one of the bands? I canít remember, but she went out and bought all this food from like McDonaldís like eight things of French fries like [fakes an accent] ďHere. American food! Yaa!Ē [laughter]
JF: That was awesome. We also have a couple of nutty fans in Philadelphia who always bring us, like, gag gifts and they are awesome. Itís these two young women who play in a band and they, like, I dunno how many times... one time it was a hand buzzer thing. Yeah, yeah. So thatís exciting.
OK. Has any of you ever played in a cover band?
CC: [thinks for a moment] Well, not really, prolly not in a cover band.
JF: Right.
CC: Iíve covered songs on stage with people before.
JF: But not as strictly a cover band...
CC: Yeah, not strictly a cover band. Actually, all of us probably have in high school, like in our high school bands we half covers, half Dinosaur, Jr. and other crap, you know. But, I mean, like...
JF: Cornbread played in a band called Union of the Snake that was basically a Dream Theater slash
CC: Guns n Roses
JF: Slash
CC: Queensryche, Def Leppardy kind of thing.
JF: Yeah, which was exciting. And they wrote their own songs, but their influencesÖ
CC: They were basically covers.
JF: Öwere quite obvious, even in the way that they dressed. And for Halloween one year, I did... I played in a metal band that did a Merciful Fate cover, which was kind of fun.
CC: So, thatís it.
JF: Thatís basically it. The first song Keeley and I ever played in front of people was... a Cure song called...
KD: ďJust Like HeavenĒ
JF: ďJust Like Heaven,Ē yeah.
CC: Oh, once I was in a bar for Christmas with some friends, and these people wanted us to play a song, so we played ďBrick HouseĒ and then the people started freaking out dancing and then they wouldnít let us get off stage until we played it again. [laughter] And we had this huge, huge football player singing the song cause he knew the lyrics and none of us knew it.
On that note, do you guys play any covers in your shows?
JF: No, we never have. Weíve talked about how it would be fun to learn one and make it our own.
AATM: Thatís what I was going to ask: if you would do one, what would you do?
JF: Oh, wow. I donít knowÖ I mean, thereís so many good songs.
CC: Duran Duran.
JF: umm Maybe a Duran Duran song [laughter] I donít know.
CC: Yeah, no clue.
KD: Christina Aguilera?
JF: baaah
CC: Avril Lavigne!! Avril Lavigne.
KD: How the hell would you cover that song?
JF: [mimicking] ďHe was a skater boy. She said see you later boy.Ē
AATM: Sing about how you guys are in love with another guy?
JF: Yeah! Yeah, yeah.
KD: Hey, thatís what all my lyrics are about anyway! [laughter]
This one might be hard for you guys since you guys are all sitting together, but describe each member,including yourself, in three words.
JF: So each individually describe everybody?
AATM: Each individually describe everybody.
CC: Pony! [laughter]
JF: OK, for me, Jonathan, Boom Box. Pony. CornbreadÖ three wordsÖ[sings into the mic]
KD: Short attention span.
JF: Yeah, three words for Cornbread: short attention span.
KD: Canít back up van? [laughter]
JF: You can use the hyphen.
CC: And raisin fingers.
AATM: What?
CC: Raisin fingers.
JF: Umm... now Jason.
CC: Mayonnaise.
JF: Hunchback, mayonnaise [laughter]
CC: xtoothbrushx [laughter]
JF: Umm, letís see, letís see, letís see.
CC: Keeley would be cereal.
JF: Diet Mountain Dew
CC: and spaz or something like that.
JF: What is it, Screech? Is that that guyís name from Saved by the Bell?
CC: Yeah
AATM: Right
CC: Diet Screech
JF: Yeah, Diet Screech Cola
AATM: Keeley didnít have any input in that.
KD: Oh, cause we all [stumbles on words]... share the same brain.
At the end of a tour do you guys pull pranks on other bands, or have them pulled on you?
KD: I think we do it during tours. We just like to.. Cause you have to amuse yourself while youíre out. I donít think w play pranks, I think we just straight up mess with them sometimes.
JF: The entire time

[the guys mumble things and Cornbread excuses himself to grab another beer]

JF: Jason has a lot of characters that he will become, so, itís usually fun. He does that throughout the entire tour. I guess other bands sort of, like, they always, like, when Cursive left the Thursday tour, apparently the last show was a huge fiasco because they were putting ketchup and mustard all over each other while they were playing, and, like, throwing bread at each other.
KD: I donít think I would like that.
JF: I guess we take when weíre on stage weíre a little too in our own world to, like, sort of, like, dork out with other people. Itís... itís very much a little microcosm of us four when we play. Kind of like our thang.
This kind of goes back to your lovely scab [Keeley had fallen over something on stage a few days previous to the interview and had a long scab on his shin that he was showing to us earlier]. What is the most embarrassing thing thatís ever happened while on stage?
CC: I guess mine would be... I... I had... we played a show onceÖ I think it was in Tennessee actually... but I had, there was an air conditioner above me and the front of the grill of the air conditioner fell on my head while we were playing [laughter]
AATM: Did it start leaking stuff on you?
CC: No, I didnít leak, I donít think.
AATM: Well, thatís good.
CC: That was on the [? I canít understand him] tour.
JF: umm. Hmm. Hmm hmm
KD: Thatís tough cause everything we do is planned out. You may think weíre being embarrassed, itís all part of the act.
AATM: Even your scab?
KD: Oh, yeah.
JF: Like when you fall off the stage...
KD: I fall!
CC: Jasonís is he ate a bunch of those Wow chips and he had anal leakage while we were playing on stage.
AATM: Wow, thatís really embarrassing.
CC: Iím just joking [laughter] Thatís not really true; you canít print that. You canít upload that, you canít upload that.
JF: No uploading please! Yeah, I dunno. Nothin, nothing too crazy for me I donít think.

Please note that I talked to Jonathan after the show and he told me it was OK to put the part that Cornbread said in the interview, complete with him saying to leave it out.

KD: Iíve never been embarrassed really. I mean, Iíve done a lot of things I was like ďThat sucked!Ē but I havenít been embarrassed. Iíve definitely almost cut my head offÖpunctured my brainÖ
JF: Right, right, right.
KD: You know, butÖ
JF: When I watched the video of when we played Columbus Fest and all that friggin [laughter] This huge thing of spit goes flying out of my mouth . I got embarrassed watching that; I wasnít embarrassed when it happened cause I didnít know that it had happened, but watching it is disgusting.
CC: Thereís, like, a two foot long strand of...
JF: blaughah! Yeah
What are your best and worst characteristics?
KD: Are we each describing our own? Or the band? Wait, what?!
AATM: Either way.
JF: Iím too anal.
CC: I get messy sometimes.
JF: We call him Matt when he gets messy.
KD: I have really bad memory. I canít remember anybodyís name.
AATM: But you remember faces. You remembered me.
KD: But thatís worse still. Iíd rather be, like, ďHuh?!?Ē than go ďHowís it goiní maaaan?!Ē [laughter]
AATM: I didnít even expect you to remember me at all.
KD: I can remember faces. I canít remember if I see you in a different city I saw you last time... I canít... then itís... I remember your face and Iím like ďWhat, did I just see you on the street? Cause now Iím really screwed up!Ē
AATM: Do you remember that I had the cousin engaged to the guy named Keeley?
KD: Definitely no [laughter]
AATM: You donít remember that? Cause you thought it was so cool thereís another guy named Keeley. [pause, Keeley looks blank] Wow!
JF: and itís cool again!! Thatís the beauty of [laughter] the short of no long term memory is itís fun to find things out all over again!
KD: Thatís how touring doesnít get boring! [loves that he made a connection to an earlier question]
JF: Hey, whatís this place? This place is new and fun! What is this magical land? Omaha?
KD: Exactly.
What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?
JF: I was a devil for, like, three years running and it was amazing!
AATM: Does that say anything about you?
JF: Not really.
CC: I was Indiana Jones two years in a row, and I had, like, fake stubble. I had my own whip and I had a hat like Indiana Jones and tan pants and a tan shirt like he did. Thank you.
KD: I was Spiderman one year, but then when my friend came over with her dragon costume I was so jealous that I took my Spiderman mask off and made a dragon out of long paper [continues over laughter] and so I had this Spiderman suit with a dragon head. I stapled the two together...
CC: [in a high voice] oh we can go out now! You look great!! [laughter]
One last question. Whatís in your pockets right now?
CC: [doesnít look] Keys and change.
JF: [feels his pockets] I have a Canadian nickel, my keys, some dirty, dirty ear plugs, and my wallet.
KD: [stood up and dug in his pockets] I have bloody picks and coins and ear plugs.
JF: [in a weird voice] Wear your earplugs kids and if youíre going skateboardin, wear your helmet! And if youíre walking out on the street, wear your helmet and elbow pads, wrist guards, kids! Cup! Wear a cup kids! Donít know when somebodyís gonna do Bangkok trick on you!
AATM: Even girls?
JF: [continues voice] Everybody now, címon!

[Jason enters the backstage area, and comments on how he wasn't invited to join us]

KD: Jason, what do you have in your pockets right now?
JF: Hey, Jason, what areÖ yeah, whatís in your pockets?
JW: [walks to stand where we are sitting] umm I have a lighter...
KD: Kids, donít smoke, smokings bad for you and it only makes you look stupid.
JW: It does, it does. [takes things out of pockets, including two dollars the he neglects to mention] Forty one cents... [pats his jacket pockets] my cell phone, cigarettes...
JF: Three words to describe you.
JW: umm Confident, ambitious [laughter] lackadaisical. Whatíd be a good word to describe me? Iím very, sometimes I get really.. Sometimes the very smallest things make me really, really upset, like if, yeah, like if I go...
JF: Over acting
JW: Yeah
JF: Over reacting
JW: yeah, thatís one. I overreact a lot about small things. Thatís not really one word...
JF: Dr. Woo Grooves
JW: Triumphant
JF: Moveable
JW: Totally moveable. Someone wanted to move me, they could move me.
JF: Heís pose-able
JW: Moveable, triumphant, and grandpa.
AATM: Grandpa?
JW: yeah, cause I get senile... I get mad about little things [laughter]... totally chill about the big things...
JF: [grandpa voice] Somebody moved my teef! [back to normal voice] Cool, thanks, Jennifer!
Thanks to Engine Down for the interview. Please check out their site.

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