Interview: Ropetree

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Ever hear a local and feel they were ready made for radio?

Ropetree, the Toms River, New Jersey-based hard rock outfit, is one of those bands.

The band describes themselves as “made up of four army ants plotting a way to take down a praying mantis…selling candy-coded poison, collecting addicts and killing the non-believers with unexpected purity.”

Translation — Ropetree is a band that delivers melodic yet intense hard rock songs that grab you by the throat and take you on a rock ‘n’ roll adventure. Any of one of their songs, included cuts off their new record Bacon, could be heard in a rotation feature Godsmack, Alter Bridge or Shinedown. This band has come a long way from the days cutting their teeth in the bars of the Seaside Heights boardwalk when we first discovered them. Now, they’re ready made for mainstream success and their journey is slowly (and hopefully) getting them there.

Pop-Break recently spoke with Vin and Bill of Ropetree to discuss their love of bacon, competing in the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Rising competition and straight up rock ‘n’ roll.

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Pop-Break: Ropetree has made it to the final round of the Hard Rock Cafe’s Hard Rock Rising. Can you tell us a little more about the contest and what winning it would mean to the band?

Vin Schmidt: This contest was offered through Reverbnation. It gives local bands the opportunity to play at an area Hard Rock. We played Atlantic City and were lucky enough to win Round One! The final round is April 4th. The winner of the local Hard Rock Rising goes into the Global Battle for a chance to play the Hard Rock Live festival at Piazza del Popolo Square in Rome, Italy and $10,000. Two runner ups also get $10,000 cash/prizes. I think there is only about 80 Hard Rock Cafes participating, so winning the local event would hopefully give us some great exposure outside of our area. But for us it’s always been about the opportunity to play a new venue and meet some new people from a different scene.

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PB: You just dropped your new EP entitled ‘Bacon.’ First, the most obvious question — why name your record after the most delicious thing on the face of the planet? Second, where does this EP find the band musically — how have you evolved sonically on this record from your last?

Billy Harrison Mielnik: Exactly what you said. Bacon is fucking awesome.

VS: Bacon…because its’ sizzlin’.

BHM: I was actually shocked that no other band had done it before.

VS: Yes, shocking. As far as the EP, sonically we continue to grow. I am the new guy but I am seeing a stronger desire to work on the arrangements and quality production. Not just verse, chorus, verse, chorus

PB: Say someone is just discovering Ropetree for the first time — what songs would you recommend they check out to and why?

BHM: Our music is very diverse. There is something in our sound for everybody.

VS: Oh man….there are five albums of stuff that is worth checking out. If we had to pick one, I think it would be “Finally” off Bacon. It embodies a lot of what we have to offer. But be sure to check out the other albums… Thanks For Nothing, Pathetic Beauty (don’t miss the hidden track!), Selling off the Children and Full of Curses. It’s all on itunes!

PB: What has been some of the proudest moments in the band’s history?

BHM: I am proud of how long we’ve done this and the rebirth of new members reminding us how much we love writing music. I’m looking forward to the future sound of us!

Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi
Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

VS: For me it would be the P.O.D show at The Strand (in 2013). That was a huge opportunity and an awesome show with a killer band (and super cool guys). A lot of really great things came out of that show. Shout out to Motor Media, Helping Hands of New Jersey, Vextion and Static Summer for an incredible night.

PB: Describe Ropetree — the live experience. What separates you guys from the vast amount of bands that are performing in the Jersey area?

VS: Powerful…no glitz, no glam, no bullshit.

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PB: Same question, but let’s apply it to your sound. What is it about your sound that makes you so different from all the other bands out there?

BHM: The sound overall is emotional and real. Manic depressive, bi-polar, sarcastic…with a condescending “fuck you” smile!

VS: Powerful. (laughts) I have only been with the band for a little bit, but I have followed them from the beginning. For me, what drew me to the band was the songwriting. Great lyrics with powerful music and a huge hook. Did I mention powerful yet?

PB: What are your plans for the rest of 2014?

VS: To continue where we left off in 2013 — growing as a live band and playing some killer shows! We also have a bunch of new material that we hope to get recorded. But how do you top an album named Bacon!

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites