Rock Search 2019 winners Drop Top Alibi talk recent releases, future plans, and how to support artists during quarantine.
Brandon (Brando) Gregory is the vocalist and front-man of Toronto hard-rock group Drop Top Alibi.
"All of us got involved with music from a pretty young age, and truthfully the movie School of Rock had a huge impact," said Gregory. "I'll forever aspire to have Jack Black’s stank face and snarl!"
The members; Gregory on vocals, Dylan Wykes on lead guitar, Luc Ricci on bass, and Jeff Cox on drums, shared the same heavy metal and rock influences.
"Bands like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, RHCP, The Beatles, and Incubus played a huge roll in each of our upbringings," said Gregory. "All of us also had much heavier streaks as well- bands like Meshuggah, Lamb of God, Megadeth, Disturbed, and Anthrax all impacted us a lot. Especially once we were teenagers and wanted to peacock how fast and how hard we can play! That, "Hey look what I can do," sort of thing. Jeff was forced to put his double bass pedal away by an old blues rock band he was in, and I don’t think he’s ever recovered spiritually from that. He’s welcome to bring it back anytime, but I think the damage is done."
The boys started playing together at an early age.
"When Dylan and I first started playing music together and writing together, the band basically sounded like a mix of Iron Maiden and Metallica," said Gregory. "We were 18 at the time, so the pea-cocking was still in full swing. Especially once I realized I could hit those screaming high notes. Everything fucking turned into a Rob Halford melody, glad I'm over that now. As we solidified this line up with the four of us, and everyone's mosaic of influences and styles really took their form, we ultimately got back to our roots and are settled nicely in this groove based, heavier Alternative Rock sound."
DTA's current line-up took a few years to put together.
"Dylan and I met in 2010, and started playing and writing together towards the end of that year," said Gregory. "When I moved back to Brampton in 2012, things started to pick up for us in terms of getting some recordings done, playing shows often, and solidifying a line-up. That line-up was a perpetual revolving door until 2016. Luc came into the picture in the fall of 2016, and Jeff had been recording and playing live with the band on and off throughout that year."
"At the the very basic core of who we are and what we want to be known as, we all have the same vision. We want to be a great live band, who earns their place the old fashioned way," said Gregory. "Of course at times we get miffed and put off by other each others ideas, but the core group goal is the same among the four of us, so finding compromises and solutions is usually pretty painless. It’s like a big happy marriage between three grumpy dudes and an eternal optimist. Can you guess who is who?"
Wykes suggested the name after having it shouted at him, daily, from a co-worker.
"We had the name 'Drop Top Alibi' firing by about June of 2016. Dylan came up with it after this Irish guy he worked with kept shouting, “Drop your top and panties boys!” all day at him for an unusually long period of days," said Gregory. "The word “Alibi” was always intriguing to us so Dylan threw the idea out there, and hey, we didn’t hate it. Coming up with a band name is hard as fuck, thank god for that Irish dude!"
DTA's first release was their self-titled EP.
"Our first release as Drop Top Alibi was in the fall of 2017. Jeff played drums on the EP, but Luc wasn’t around during the recording process just yet," said Gregory. "That EP had our single “Burn” on it, which got a lot of love from 97.7 HTZ FM after we won Rock Search in 2019. The debut single off that EP, “Holding The Gun,” was produced by Gilby Clarke, formerly of Guns N' Roses, Heart, and Rockstar Supernova, at Metal Works in Toronto. It was during that session that we met the dude who connected Dylan and I to Luc. A bit confusing, I know. Luc was in the band for the release of the EP in 2017, but was not yet in the band when it was recorded in 2016."
Gregory and the band recorded their single, "Heavy Metal Baby", also in Toronto.
"The first recording process we did with all four of us involved, was in 2018 when we did "Heavy Metal Baby" with our good friend Kevin Dietz at Loudmouse Studio in Toronto. Dietz has been working with The Glorious Sons over the past couple of years, we’re fucking really happy for him! Great dude to work with, hell of an engineer," said Gregory. "Once the four of us spent some time in the studio together, it didn’t take long for us to be on the same page- DTA would be the top priority in terms of musical projects between us. We were all well rehearsed, and got along really well. For Dylan and I, it felt good to have a solid unit dialed in that genuinely enjoyed working together."
Gregory started noticing that people were paying attention to Drop Top Alibi during the summer of 2018.
"Heavy Metal Baby had been released and we were full steam ahead playing shows around Ontario," said Gregory. "In Toronto, we took on a residency at Cherry Cola’s as an Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin tribute band with our good friend Jules Cardoso of Sweet and The Big Bad on lead vocals. It was a three set night, and for the middle set Jules would take a break and we’d rip a 45-minute DTA set. By then the club was full, and people were going to stay for the Zeppelin set afterwards so it worked out beautifully. The response was always great, and we did well with merch as well. Definitely started noticing familiar faces at all our Toronto shows after that summer."
"Outside of the city- once we won Rock Search in 2019, Played Canal Days with I Mother Earth and Finger Eleven, and had our single “Burn” in permanent rotation for a while at HTZ FM, shows in Hamilton and the Niagara region started showing familiar faces as well," said Gregory. "We’re very fortunate to have people want to make the effort to come see us and share our music."
Gregory has a list of favourite performances, but if he had to choose, he would pick DTA's show at Mavrick's Music Hall.
"It's really tough to choose, but for now, let's settle on the most recent show we played," said Gregory. "DTA opened up for Theory of A Deadman to a sold out Mavrick's Music Hall in Barrie, Ontario. That crowd was incredible. The room was packed in for our set, the vibe was excellent and people were not afraid to show the love and make some noise! Especially with everything going on in the world now with COVID-19, holding on to that shows memory has been helpful."
Drop Top Alibi dropped their recent single earlier this year, "Take It All In Stride", which was co-produced by five-time Juno Award winning song-writer Michael Hanson.
"The feedback so far has been really good! We got some great reviews coming out of LA and Europe, and the song has continued to go over well in our live set," said Gregory. "The recording process was a great experience. The song was co-produced by Michael Hanson, who was the original drummer for Glass Tiger back in the 80s. He had a lot of really good veteran tricks up his sleeve for mic placement, which combined with our approach to the tonality of the song, turned some great results! This was one of the most thorough recording experiences we’ve had."
The band hopes to eventually support themselves on music alone.
"Long term- we would love to be able to tour, see new places, meet new people and have our music be the main thing that supports our livelihood," said Gregory. "The underlying goal, is the four of us would love to continue to write, record, and play music together. We’re a band of brothers, and have shared some great life experiences together. Seeing this thing last as long as it can is ultimately what we want out of this."
DTA has another single ready to be released, but had to put their plans on hold due to COVID-19.
"It was co-produced by Michael Hanson as well, however given the current state of things our timelines have been shuffled around," said Gregory. "We will definitely have it out before the end of the year, but we will see how things unfold in the near future. Once things normalize again, we’re looking to get back on the road and back in the studio. We’ve started pre-production on our next project, and are really excited about the new material that’s been coming through!"
In quarantine himself, Gregory urges the public to listen to our government officials and take the necessary precautions during these uncertain times.
"Please, please, please everyone, stay inside and keep everyone safe," said Gregory. "Life will be normal again, and the more we do now, the faster it will be. Show some love to your favourite local and independent musicians during all of this. Like, share, comment and repost social media content, and if you’re able to do so, buy some merch! These are trying times for everyone and we understand that. Social media and streaming are the only platforms artists have right now, regardless of status. Show your support, and from our camp and everyone else in the same situation as us, we can’t wait to see you at a show again soon!"
(Postponed due to COVID-19.)