BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
According to the late and great Tommy Ramone, sometimes music needs to be brought back to pure, stripped down, no bullshit Rock ‘n Roll.
The members of D20 – Lead Vocalist Adrian Phoenix; Lead Guitarist Duane Hoskie; Rhythm Guitarist Zak Aragon; Bassist Jim Cheshire; and Drummer Victor Maese – have made it their own personal mission to target the masses with its own raging and unadulterated Pop Punk.
Influenced by traditional styles of Pop Punk, Metalcore, and Classic Rock, this eclectic group of musicians based out of Albuquerque, NM offers a wide range of talent and influences to the band’s music.
“We all come from so many different backgrounds and we all grew up on different styles of music,” Cheshire noted, “so when it comes together in our songwriting, it’s a perfect mix of all those styles. It’s interesting though, that we all kind of found Pop Punk and liked it enough to have that genre as our core while still bringing all of our styles into every aspect of each song.”
While D20 labels itself as Pop Punk, the band isn’t necessarily tied to that particular genre. Aragon shared his favorite misconception people have about the band.
“We tell people our name is D20 and people ask if that’s like Eminem’s band D12,” he said. “Honestly though, I think some people might put us in a box and think that we might just play Pop Punk stuff, but we really try to push ourselves to be as creative as possible and try to play around with different genres and sounds. I think we might get bored or repetitious otherwise.”
Punk music is ascribed for its short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, but Hoskie said that there are no official genre guidelines when it comes to creating a D20 song.
“Sometimes we work things out by ourselves and bring something to practice that has a clear direction, and other times we bring something that we all work on together,” stated Hoskie. “Then there are times when we just jam and have fun getting ideas from just messing around. I think that what makes D20 work is that we all bring something different to the table. Everyone has their own background in music spanning many different genres. We all put our influences into our music and that’s what makes D20, D20.”
While Maese joked that his input as a drummer was sitting back and watching everyone bicker about the tone of the guitar, he said the songwriting in a band is a unique experience.
“There are a lot of situations where you can spend hours on one little detail,” Maese said. “I say, leave it alone and run with it! We did have a challenge we set for ourselves once where our only goal was to write a song in one hour. We did that, and it turned out great! The most important things are really to have fun and don’t be too harsh on yourself. You are always going to be your worst critic.”
D20 formed in December 2017 and have been working steadily to grow a fan base throughout the US. The members recently released their first music video, “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” off of the Time To Relax EP and have the desire to tour extensively, bringing the music to the people so to speak, playing the songs they love to play.
“Every fan that I’ve met so far has been so supportive of our music,” Phoenix enthused. “It’s shocking sometimes. Like, holy sh*t, these people actually listen to us! There are the exceptional few that make me think better of ourselves as a band. A fan named Adrian drives about 45 minutes from a different city to see our shows and knows most of the lyrics. Watching him have an amazing time in the crowd makes us have an amazing time on stage. He’s just one of the many fans that meet that same criteria – if you’re reading this you know who you are and I love you all for being so awesome!”
Cheshire stated that D20 doesn’t take anything for granted.
“Today’s music market is so different than it used to be,” he noted. “It’s a blood bath now, constantly fighting and posting for attention on the Internet. The best thing we could possibly do is just be ourselves and offer that to the world. It is hard to stay motivated, but once we all meet up it becomes a lot easier. These guys are real down-to-earth and have always had my back. Having these guys as my friends is sustaining enough, I think.”
Success for D20, according to Maese, is more about accomplishing the simpler things that endear a band to its fans and contribute to its growth.
“Success for me can be defined by two things,” he said. “The first is how many people we can reach with our music and what we do as a band. To me, it’s not about making millions from what we do. But man, even if we get a song stuck in your head at work the day after a show, that’s a win right there! The second is personal success for us as a band. Completing something like our first music video was a small sort of victory for us and for me personally, because I had never done anything like that before. It was pretty unique.”
D20 wants to convey its love for music to the fans and anyone who chooses to listen to the band.
“Mostly, I want our music to convey all of our different styles and influences,” Aragon stated. “I would love for someone to be able to listen to one of our songs and be able to hear where all these different parts came from. Also, I want it to show what good friends we are. I love these guys and hope that sort of fun and love comes through in the music.”