Following their set today at INKcarceration, we had a chance to sit down with Michael Orlando and Ben Bryan of Dead Girls Academy. Just outside of The Ohio State Reformatory we found a spot in the media tent backstage for a quick chat. Fresh off their set on the main stage, just about an hour prior, we were all set to talk a little about what makes up Dead Girls Academy.
Michael’s new project follows his popular previous band Vampires Everywhere. Starting fresh can be a challenge, but the path that he had carved out prior to Dead Girls Academy gave him a head start. With a fresh new single hitting the airwaves, and a slew of tour dates big and small, they are prepared for a full takeover.
Let’s get to know Michael and Ben a little better.
Ben: So far it’s been great! The album just came out a few of weeks ago. It dropped right when we started the Vans Warped Tour, every show since, more and more people know the words, more and more people know the album, people are stoked about it. It’s been really great reception so far.
Splice: You mentioned on stage earlier you are now getting some good radio play for your single.
Ben: It’s been very popular on the radio. As a band you can’t really ask for more than that.
Michael: We’re close to 40. Yesterday we were at 42. Pretty stoked on that, we’re rolling 36. I’ll take it. Obviously the goal is to be top ten… I’m very competitive. Radio right now has some great bands on it, and we’re very fortunate to be a part of it.
Splice: You mentioned The Warped Tour, how’s the elbow?
Michael: Oh sh**t, Well…
Ben: He actually kind of stretched it out on stage today, I was surprised.
Michael: You know, I called my “mommy”, who’s the rehab nurse. She said “You better stretch that s**t”. I started stretching it… it’s still s**t. So I’m kinda like a Raptor now. (talking to Ben) You thought today… I got it up to an obtuse angle.
Ben: He actually got it up in the air today, which is progress.
Michael: I felt pretty happy about it. On Warped Tour itself I was wearing a brace, not a good look. I did the best I could. Our tour manager took me to the hospital and sent me to immediate surgery, and that’s not in the cards for me. I asked them what was the worse scenario. He’s like “It’ll heal on it’s own”. So now it’s healing on its own.
Ben: To Michael’s credit, when it happened, I had no idea that it had happened when I was on stage. I thought he was just being Michael, crawling on the floor, doing something funny. Then after the set he was like “I completely destroyed my elbow”. I said “What do you mean?” I thought we were just having fun up there. I didn’t even realize. He definatley soldiered through it, I gotta give him credit for that.
Michael: Does it look bad to you? (Holding it up and showing it to us, and it did look a tad swollen)
Ben: It did not look like a normal elbow for a few days.
Splice: You’ve got some tour dates continuing through July.
Ben: Yes, we’re gonna be on tour with Adelita’s Way, who’s actually playing here tomorrow. We’re very excited about that. Between Warped Tour and radio festivals, just a lot of festivals. so we’re ready to be back in clubs, have some fun, get intimate. It’s gonna be a fun tour.
Splice: Which ones do you prefer?
Ben: It’s tough, they’re so different. It’s apples and oranges. There’s something that’s so fun about doing festivals, kinda like one big day. Then there’s something so great about being in clubs, an intimate environment. It’s a different energy.
Splice: That is the word, intimate. I see you carried that over today when you went out to your merch table and asked the crowd to come check you out after your set. I think that’s what’s cool about rock ’n roll nowadays versus back in the arena days. Back with Van Halen and such, no one was approachable back then, and now that connection with your fans is great.
Michael: The connection online is amazing. The interaction online is amazing. Our goal is to bring back that Van Halen feel, where it gets larger than life. You’ve got Drake and other people that are untouchable right now. You see them, you wanna be them. Kanye and all that… I have so much respect for those people because they have revolutionized music. So for us we’re coming back as young new artists and we want that too in our genre of music. We’re taking what they did in the new school era, and we’re trying to bring it back to the eighties. We live in Hollywood on Sunset and we want that feeling.
Ben: Yeah, pretty much exactly what he said. That’s the goal. It’s great to make it more tangible. That’s what makes it rock ’n roll. It’s the fact that you can almost reach out and touch it, you know what I mean, It’s like this close. That kind of connection that we can create with our fans is amazing. That’s what we grew up on, you had bands larger than life, but you could do it. You could pick up your guitar and play it. That’s what you lose with some of the music that’s out right now. It’s like, where’s the rock ’n roll?
Splice: Now, you talked about what you grew up on. What are some of your influences.
Ben: Michael and I grew up on slightly different generations of music.
Michael: You generational piece of s**t. *laughter* Nah, tell him straight up what you like.
Ben: It’s OK… When I was a kid early 2000’s late 90’s, I loved bands like Green Day, Blink 182. Those are the bands that made me really wanna get involved in music from a young age. Now getting older and going back… my dad raised me on classic rock. I was raised on The Beatles, Rolling Stones, anything that was British Invasion…
Michael: Name a Rolling Stones’ song…
Michael: Oh man, see, I go put on the spot at Rocklahoma and I was like… uhhhhh…
Ben: Paint it Black, I’m still naming songs man.
Michael: Yeah, I know.
Ben: So that’s what I was raised on. My own was the late 90’s with the Punk, Pop-Punk kinda thing. Then when I got a little bit older I went back and rediscovered, Motley Crue, Poison, Nirvana, bands like that, they kinda helped me become a little more well rounded in rock ’n roll and really gained some appreciation for it.
Michael: S**t! At the same time I grew up on Genesis, Phil Collins… love Phil Collins man, absolutely a f**king idol. Poison, Motley Crue, Twister Sister, Skid Row. We submitted for Skid Row, you know what they said to us? This is f**kin’ wonderful. They straight said, “The crowd will eat you alive.” I’m like, “really?” You know what I’m saying. I though we were right in that genre man, but I guess not. It’s like this whole new regime of rock bands is bringing back a new fresh vibe, I just don’t think it meshes with the old vibe as much as people might want it to. I think that eventually it will. People are waiting for the next thing. The next thing to spark that rock thing. I don’t think we need nostalgia. I think we need fresh new music. When Nirvana came out, they changed rock ’n roll. Hopefully that’s what we could do, that would be rad.
Splice: Say you could collaborate with someone outside of your genre, who would be a good fit, or who would you just love to work with?
Ben: Ohhh… Post Malone. If I had to pick someone outside of my genre right now, it’d be Post Malone.
Michael: Ah, man… Chris Cornell. Can’t do it anymore. I’ll be honest, when he was trying out for Audioslave I was at the rehearsal studios in Hollywood. I heard him singing and I was like… (dropped jaw) …man! If I could just be half that. It’s like amazing f**king icons that can sing like that. I respect Post Malone, I respect the whole culture, G-Eazy and all the people that are making a big f**king splash right now, I respect all of ‘em. ‘Cause you know what? At the end of the day they got themselves from A to Z very quickly. For me though being a singer, I idolize different singers. Kurt Cobain, I mean like… also we just played with Stone Temple Pilots at Spring Fling, but it wasn’t him (Scott Weiland). It’s just like those people have revolutionized music and I hope to God one day , gimme a couple of years and I can do that as well.
Splice: I notice one thing about the style you guys have, it’s still very straight-forward rock. It does remind me of the skeleton of what the 80’s rock was.
Michael: I love you more now!
Splice: What has happened with rock, and how far can you take it without going super heavy?
Michael: Singers and people that want to take it to the next level. Bands like Nothing More, they’re so good. Like Rise Against, we just saw Rise Against like two days ago at the last festival, and we’re just like, wow. We everyday learn what it’s like to be a rockstar. I’m not sitting here and gonna tell you I’m a rockstar. I’m gonna tell you I’m learning how to be one from some amazing f**kin’ bands and I’m so grateful to be around them and learn what their doing.
Splice: Well it definitely showed during your set earlier.
Michael: You saw our set? Did you like it?
Splice: Yeah, absolutely!
Michael: Awe man, thank you!
Ben: Here’s the key. Like you said, it’s straightforward.
Ben: You think about every great band that ever blew up, it’s straightforward. You’ve got to understand that it’s aesthetic, and it’s something that’s gotta be easy to swallow. So it’s like how do you get your point across in the simplest way that everyone can understand and everyone can enjoy. So we can go up there and we can channel those people that we look up to, and look like rock stars up there, but we’re feeding you something that’s amazingly easy to swallow. It’s catchy, it’s poppy, but it’s out in a package that is not pop. It gives it that raw value that a lot stuff doesn’t have, which is pretty f**kin’ cool if you ask me. That’s what we’re kinda trying to do.
Michael: (to Ben) I appreciate you saying that Ben. From the day I met you… you came from a pop-punk background, you know. (to Splice) When I met him he was in a pop-punk band, so having him come over and saying this kind of s**t makes me happy!
Ben: ‘Cause it’s true. It doesn’t matter the genre. That’s something I learned from years of doing this. It transcends that into whole another level. And that’s the thing. For me, I grew up on Blink 182, I listen to our record and I love it, I’d buy it if I wasn’t in the band. It’s just good f**kin’ music.
Splice: Do you often jam out to your own music?
Ben: Of course.
Michael: Gypsy, you don’t listen to our music do you?
Gypsy: I was one of the first people to buy your album, and I actually have a physical copy of your album.
Michael: We’re not sure about that yet, I would look at her iTunes. *laughter*
Splice: Let’s talk about iTunes. Back in the 80’s vinyl was fading out, being replaced by cassettes and then CDs later on. Now everything is going streaming. What’s your feeling on that?
Ben: I love it. I don’t know about you.
Michael: I don’t mind it.
Ben: I love it now. It was kinda s**t five years ago.
Michael: Best Buy fading out CDs, all the people fading out s**t. At the end of the day if kids can hear it, that’s all we care about. We obviously want to make money. We obviously need to survive. But at the end of the day these streaming services are helping us do that.
Ben: You see big artists giving out music for free now. The thing is the money is in shows for us. But it’s also the connection that I was talking about before, it’s like here, take the music, enjoy it, and come see us live. It channels that energy into the live show and I think it’s great. I think that the industry over the past few years has been changing so much to adapt to the streaming platform that now it’s alot easier now for bands to take that kinda hit. It’s the same thing as he was saying before we’ve had such a great online response, that we wouldn’t neccesarily have as a younger band that hasn’t had the chance to tour in every city yet. Every city can look it up online and listen to it.
Michael: When we were on Warped Tour and we would go and post something on our IG it would get 300 likes. We got off Warped Tour and it was over 1000 likes. It’s because people get what we’re doing, they get it. You know I wanted to put together a group of people that were musicians that “got it” that were real people, and that’s important. Just like the 80’s man, you can’t track the 80’s. You can’t sing into a microphone and have tracks playing for you in the 80’s, you actually had to sing that s**t. We actually sing our music and we’re really stoked about that.
Splice: We talked a little about you tour through July. Do you have anything in the works for after that?
Ben: Yeah, we’re pushin’ hard. More festivals, it’s that time of year. Trying to get back over to the other side of the pond as well. We toured Europe in January, and we’re trying to get back there.
Splice: How was that?
Ben: It was amazing.
Splice: That’s what I hear, over there it’s just crazy.
Michael: Amsterdam was f**king bananas.
Ben: Yes it was!
Michael: Absolute bananas!
Ben: It was alot of fun. I can safely say I’ve been to Finland now, which I couldn’t say before. Very cold. Finland in January I would not recommend for a vacation.
Michael: I had the flu in Helsinki.
Ben: Michael did have the flu. There was a rampant flu. But it was amazing. We went out with our good friends in Falling in Reverse and that tour was alot of fun. Had a really good time. The fans over there are just something else.
Splice: Do you have anything else you might like to share before we wrap this up?
Ben: Yeah, buy Alchemy, come to a show. Come have fun.
Michael: To all the fans that have stuck with me from Vampires Everywhere to this new band, I see you. I see you online, I try to like everything. I run everything, don’t think that the label does that. I like everybody and I retweet everbody. It’s very important to me, and without you I wouldn’t be here. I never thought I would be on the radio. I never thought I’d be at a radio fest. So thank you INKcarceration, thank you to everyone. You as well, thank you for having us.
Splice: Yes, and thank you!
So there you have it. Maybe not your tyical interview subject matter, more like a bunch of music geeks talking shop, but the passion for music that comes from these two is unparalleled.
Their live set was great, and would be one I would love to catch in a club sometime. Striving for the larger than life personas on stage is what rock ‘n roll is all about. Heck, it started in the 50’s and continued through every decade until today. Rock stars seem equal to superheroes in my book. It’s nice to see a band like the Dead Girls Academy pushing to bring that back.
Check out their social media links below to see what they’re up to and give their pages a like or follow.
Check out our coverage and photo gallery of Dead Girls Academy set at INKcarceration HERE.
Check out their video for I’ll Find A Way