Bringing clean water to people around the world who don’t have access to it would be a big one for us. This is an issue that affects people in both the developing and developed world. Particularly in Canada, our Indigenous peoples who are living on Government reserves in far too many cases do not have access to clean water and proper housing. Environmentalism is huge for us as well, but is a much more dynamic issue. It’s hard to say what single thing we would want to do to help. Perhaps creating an environmental lobby group and organization, composed of average citizens who can donate anything they want, and of wealthy people who support environmentalism as well. This group can help drive some of the legislative change needed to really make a difference on the environment. As much as the environmental movement will be grass roots, to really make a world difference, government will have to make changes. The polluters and deniers have their own groups. Why shouldn’t we have ours?
By blending their modern feel with classic influences, Drop Top Alibi has created a timeless and compelling rock and roll experience seldom seen in the modern rock landscape. Formed in June of 2016 by Brandon Gregory and Dylan Wykes, DTA have quickly become one of the most high energy and mesmerizing rock and roll acts in Toronto, Ontario. In the same year after recording their debut single “Holding The Gun” at Metalworks Studios with Gilby Clarke (formerly of Guns N’ Roses, Kings of Chaos, Heart, etc.), Gregory and Wykes were able to solidify their line up with the addition of Luc Ricci on bass and Jeff Cox on drums.
Following the release of DTA’s debut EP, the band has supported Gilby Clarke on his Canadian tour during the fall of 2017. Since then, the rockers have been featured on 94.9 The Rock’s “Generation Next,” made appearances on various radio stations in The United States and New Zealand and has been named 97.7 HTZ FM’s 2019 Rock Search champions, earning them their mainstream radio debut in Southern Ontario with the single “Burn”.
Drop Top Alibi is set to release brand new material in 2020. The band’s upcoming singles are produced by five-time Juno Award winning and Grammy Award nominated producer and songwriter Michael Hanson (formerly of Glass Tiger). The 1st single titled “Summer Nights & City Lights” is out now! With Hanson’s direction and the band’s accomplishment of being named HTZ FM’s Rock Search Champions, Drop Top Alibi is poised to have a break out year and upset the playing field for modern rock music.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having us! It’s funny, we figured out during the preparation for this interview that all four of us have very similar stories about how we decided we wanted to be musicians. Things like hearing AC/DC and Led Zeppelin for the first time and helplessly becoming addicted to the raw power and energy of an electric guitar. Or seeing the movie “School of Rock” for the first time and discovering The Doors, Motorhead, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. At some point, all of us heard a record, saw a live clip or a movie, and instantly fell in love with the idea of what rock n roll is. These experiences motivated us enough to learn instruments, and through the years of practice and playing live, we all realized at certain points that this is what we want to live for!
Once we all became active playing live shows, before we met each other, it was easy to realize that the raw energy and experiences shared in a single room between hundreds or even thousands of people was other worldly. We wanted to create our own experiences, and experiences with and for other people. We wanted to have an impact on the lives of ourselves, and of others.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
That’s a tough one. We have been very lucky over the years, and have had a chance to meet so many amazing people. If we had to choose one single story, it would have to be working with Gilby Clarke.
Gilby played rhythm guitar for Guns n’ Roses from 1991–1994 after Izzy Stradlin left the band due to personal reasons. Gilby was a part of the “Use Your Illusion World Tour,” and had the opportunity to record in studio with the band for the final release of “The Spaghetti Incident.” Since then, he has worked with several artists and bands including; Heart, Slash’s Snakepit, Rockstar Supernova, and Kings of Chaos.
Through a former manager, we were able to send some demo’s to Gilby for consideration. He was planning to tour Canada in 2016, so the thought was perhaps he would fly in early to work with us on a new single in Toronto. Luckily for us, he really liked our sound, and agreed to work with us before hitting the road. Those three days in the studio were amazing. We all learned so much about the nuances of producing a world class song, and the attention to detail that is required to knock the production aspect of the song out of the park. Gilby is also one of coolest, and most laid back dudes in the business. We spoke of Harley’s, the Cleveland Browns, and of course a few Rock n’ Roll stories. He became a great mentor for us, and the relationship grew into us touring together in 2017, and also being able to visit him at his home in LA. He’s a great mentor and friend. We are a better band with him in our corner. A true rock n’ roll legend.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now we are in the process of rolling out some brand new music for 2020. The singles were produced by five time Juno Award Winning song writer, and original “Glass Tiger,” drummer Michael Hanson. Like we said earlier, we’ve been very lucky to have been able to work with some great people in this business. Hanson’s insight and experience with song writing really helped create some amazing results.
In addition to the new music roll out, we are in the midst of pre producing a back catalogue of new material, and are looking to have even more new music ready for later on in 2020!
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Well we’ve already mentioned Gilby and Michael Hanson. There are some hilarious stories from our tour run with Gilby’s band but perhaps we’ll save those for another day!
Another amazing ally for Drop Top Alibi has been Norwood FIsher, the legendary bassist and co — founder of underground LA legends “Fishbone.” Norwood is a family friend to us, and has always been willing to hear our music and offer his opinion on things. Meeting Norwood in person for the first time was an experience. We met in a small diner in Santa Monica, and learned a lot that day about what the music business is like nowadays. He told us an old story about Scott Weiland, he told us that he thought we had the potential to really make waves in the rock n roll world, and then of course we spoke of life and family. Before we had to fly back to Toronto, Norwood invited us to his place for a seafood cook out, right behind the Santa Monica Pier. An unforgettable day, from an unforgettable dude.
Being from the city of Toronto, we also are lucky enough to know the lovely Cherish Stevenson. She is the owner of one of the last great rock n’ roll venues in the city, called “Cherry Cola’s.” That venue has been our base camp, our main stomping ground for cutting our teeth. Aside from Cherish being one of the nicest people we’ve ever met, she also grew up in California, and is very good friends with people like Josh Homme (Queens of The Stone Age) and Jack White. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of these people personally through her! She lets us hang out with her and her friends whenever we’re around, and even gave us the opportunity to meet with and hang out with “Rival Sons,” this past summer. She is an amazing person, and has been an amazing mentor and friend. Her spectrum of world experience is vast, and she’s always up for helping the people she cares about. We love her.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
This is another tough one, and it can encompass a wide variety of people. We’ll keep our answers limited to musical people!
Aside from individuals like John Frusciante, John Paul Jones, Chris Cornell, and Angus Young, who’s commitment to being artists and the very best at their crafts speak for themselves. We’ve also been inspired by the stories of underdog bands, who had to fight tooth and nail to achieve what they wanted. A Canadian band who comes to mind is “Rush.” The music industry did not like Rush at all. They thought Geddy lee’s voice was abrasive, and that their songs were too long and complex. Rather then submit to the labels demands, they stayed true to themselves and released one of the greatest albums of all time, “2112.” Growing up around Toronto ourselves, the story of Rush will always hit home.
Aerosmith is another band who had to fight for their place in history. They were thought of being too much of a “Rolling Stones,” rip off act, and their first album was a massive flop initially. It should be mentioned that the lead off single on this album that was flopping was “Dream On.” The band and their management convinced the label to put them on the road, 200+ dates a yea, earning their fans from the ground up. They did just that, and two years later “Toys in the Attic,” came out and they were the biggest band in America. Hard work pays off, and these bands have really inspired us to stay true to who we are, and to not be afraid of having to outwork everyone else.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
At this point, we aren’t really sure to be honest. We have been a part of events that raise money for various causes such as food banks, mental health initiatives like “Smash The Stigma Canada,” and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. We’re hopeful that when people come to see us, it’s because something we say has connected with them in a way that helps them with something they are dealing with. Whether it be a song about addiction, missing someone, or having a good time. We hope that when people listen to our music, and come to see us, that everything feels alright for a little while. It’s human nature to want to escape to better places, and enjoy the little moments. Hopefully we’ve been a positive escape for people who have discovered us over the years.
You are people of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Bringing clean water to people around the world who don’t have access to it would be a big one for us. This is an issue that affects people in both the developing and developed world. Particularly in Canada, our Indigenous peoples who are living on Government reserves in far too many cases do not have access to clean water and proper housing.
Environmentalism is huge for us as well, but is a much more dynamic issue. It’s hard to say what single thing we would want to do to help. Perhaps creating an environmental lobby group and organization, composed of average citizens who can donate anything they want, and of wealthy people who support environmentalism as well. This group can help drive some of the legislative change needed to really make a difference on the environment. As much as the environmental movement will be grass roots, to really make a world difference, government will have to make changes. The polluters and deniers have their own groups. Why shouldn’t we have ours?
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The biggest thing is to remember why you wanted to be involved with music in the first place. There are so many politics, and unfair circumstances in this industry. The business side of things can really bare a huge weight on the mind of an artist. Remember why you love this, and remember that there are successful people at all levels who are incredible and inspiring to others.
Taking a step back at times to reset, and rethink your actions and strategies is also hugely important. Being in an original band is a business start up. All entrepreneurs have made mistakes, lost money, and had to reevaluate actions and progress in order to succeed. Musicians are no different, yet sometimes the artist in us doesn’t want to see things that way. It’s a major catch 22.
And lastly of course, know your limits and stay within them. Drugs and alcohol are really quick and easy solutions to dealing with the stress, loneliness, and struggles of living on the road. Eating well, staying hydrated and having party limits are extremely important for longevity. For every Keith Richards, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of young adults who are dead or have lost their way and never found it again.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
When Drop Top Alibi started up, like every other young band we were always warned about the leeches and vultures that are present in the entertainment industry. However, we started cutting our teeth during a time where no one really had a hold of what the music industry was. Spotify, youtube, and instagram were not the by far and away top players for music access and social media experiences. There was a five year period where the popular platforms changed multiple times and almost overnight as well. This made it difficult to navigate next moves, and also what the vultures in these new arena’s sounded like. The five things we wish we were told are as follows:
- People who are great at selling themselves, and who are constantly talking about all the things they’ve done and the people they’ve worked with are probably embellishing. The real ones let the music do the talking. Be weary of any sales pitch, and always do your diligence. Just because someone says “hey I’ve worked with Prince,” doesn’t mean they did anything beyond getting his coffee. Don’t let the stars blind your eyes.
- Marketing is key. In today’s music industry, it’s not about who has the best song. It comes down to your marketing, and if people want to live vicariously through you. It’s so important to invest time and money into your growth. Social media has taken over, and is here to stay
- There are a lot of tasks that you can do yourself, and often times for cheaper. Connect with a great engineer, find a cheap studio or home studio with good inputs and mics, produce your own records early on while your song writing develops. Having someone who can help you go from good to great becomes much more organic and true, once you know who you really are.
- There are no short cuts, don’t listen to anyone who tells you that there can be if you pay for it. Even with funding from a label or a private investor, all great artists and bands put in their time on the road.
- The music business has changed so much, there is no cookie cutter process anymore. Gilby and Norwood both said to us, look if this was 1988 you boys would have been picked up by a label on a developmental deal, done a record, and gone on tour with a similar band on the label you’re with. That doesn’t happen anymore. Artists are left to do all of the development on their own, and to come up with all of the funding on their own. If we knew this when we started, we definitely would have focussed spending on a wider variety of things, and looked to save money in others. That was the day we learned, that labels are truly dead when it comes to breaking brand new talent.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
This one is easy for us, without a doubt it would be Allison Hagendorf from Spotify. She is in charge of the entire Rock division, and has helped break so many amazing independent artists. She is the gatekeeper for major rock playlists, and has helped some of our closest friends gain traction online such as “Cleopatrick,” “Ready The Prince,” and “Crownlands.”
All of these guys have said she is an amazing person. Hard working, nice, and honest. Spending some time with her, absorbing all she would want to say would be incredible.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
All of our socials and streaming links are on our website:
Here are the Individual links:
Thank you for these great insights. This was very inspiring!
Our pleasure, thank you for having us! We would love to be back someday.