It's October 2009 and Madina Lake are on tour in the UK supporting Papa Roach, winning new fans (and delighting old ones) with the music from their latest album 'Attics To Eden', plus their debut album 'From Them, Through Us, To You'. But if you meet Madina Lake you will also be won over by their intelligence, their warm nature and their compassion. Nathan Leone, Matthew Leone, Mateo Camargo and Dan Torelli are four of the nicest guys you could possibly meet who happen to be very talented too. We caught up with drummer Dan Torelli and chatted about positive experiences, inspiration and being up against the likes of Jared Leto in peta2's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities competition.




Shari Black Velvet: Since ‘Attics To Eden’ came out what positive experiences have you had?
Dan Torelli: I think actually finally, and I know it’s been out for a few months now, it came out in May, this is the first time that we’re actually playing a bunch of songs off of it, which is a positive experience for us. We were so excited to make that record. It was so much fun. It felt like a step forward for us musically. I guess musically it feels better, it’s more who we are now than who we used to be, but we weren’t able to play it a lot of times. We wrote the songs last Summer and recorded all Fall, so by the end of November it was done and it didn’t come out until May, so all that other time we’re not playing the songs because they don’t want them to get out. Then even when we started doing Warped Tour and things like that, just like we were lucky enough the first time here, they started getting some radio play and stuff like that. So anyway, nobody knew the songs 
even after May, so all Warped Tour we were playing one new one, maybe two. We got really positive feedback on the songs. But now we’re super-
excited. We just did the last week in Germany and we’ll play, it depends how much time and how quickly we get on stage, but we’ll play 
at least five new ones. So yeah, it’s almost like, here we are a year later, finally being able to play them. The response has been great, the videos we’ve made for this second record have been great so far, ‘Let’s Get Outta Here’ did really great, which was awesome, and we just recorded a video for ‘Welcome To Oblivion’ which is one of all of our favourite songs on the record. We just did that right before we came out here and received the first edit yesterday. We’re really excited because a lot of times a video doesn’t match the song. Does that make any sense? And I think the director really grasped what the song meant; kind of like the loneliness and oblivion, almost like panic attacks when you feel like you’re the only one on the planet or you’re not even there at all - that kind of feeling. And with the effects he really captured it so that’s really exciting to us as well. We finally have a song and a video that match, not just us rocking out. It really makes the sentiment of the song.

SBV: You played the 15 year anniversary of Warped Tour. What will Madina Lake be like when you reach 15?
DT: Oh my gosh, I don’t know! Sometimes I feel like we’ve been doing it forever and sometimes it doesn’t. I think 2005 was when we started, so it hasn’t really been that long. But we had this lofty goal when we started – ‘we’re going to make this three record concept' that we always talk about, and before we had one record, three records seemed like a lifetime/career-worth of music. So we’ve been lucky enough that already now we have a second one out and we’re like ‘oh my God, there’s one more’ – so in 15 years I have no idea. Obviously we’ll of course continue to write music and change things around and do something different with the story but as far as where concepts would be and how much would keep developing, I don’t know. It’s kind of the exciting part. There are a lot of new bands coming out and music is changing and we’re always inspired by new people – always. New records come out and inspire us to want to play different things, so… They say that everything is cyclical.. A lot of electronics coming back, more complex music in a way – people are writing more interesting songs. I think in the 80s and early 90s, especially when grunge came out, everything got really simple. I’m a huge fan of that too, I think it’s great, but now I think a lot of bands, especially the bands we’ve been touring with, are writing more complex songs. Bands like Saosin who we’re going to try to tour with in the future. It seems to be getting pretty popular with a lot of kids and I think that’s great because as a musician it’s more fun to play stuff like that too. We’ve been listening to more stuff – I’ve been listening to Porcupine Tree – more complicated music than we used to. If we can continue to grow as musicians and are around that long, who knows!

SBV: You’ve said that in your live show you let your inhibitions go. What are some of your inhibitions?
DT: For me personally, and I think it’s the same for some of the other guys too, we still get kinda nervous and it still takes a couple of songs for us to relax. I would like to get to the point where I could loosen up and kind of play, I would say almost more in the moment. Do you know what I mean? Not so much physically because we get pretty reckless and feed off the energy in the crowd and everything like that, but just on my instrument, particularly on the drums. I think just to become a better drummer so I can also maybe improvise instead of just physically running into each other and shit like that. Kind of just playing freer. I think that just comes with being in a band so long too. It used to be more of a scared nervous, because you don’t know if anything’s going to go right or wrong and there are a lot of people looking at you, but now it’s if the gear is going to work. We still don’t have a big crew. We’re not a big enough band yet to have techs on everything. We usually have one guy on stage, so… It’s less nervous to be in front of people, we’re more comfortable with that, which is a little bit nice, but there are still a lot of things that go wrong in a lot of Madina Lake shows, pretty often. Some of them are pretty obvious and some of them it’s one of those things that only the band can tell which is good, you try to cover it, but yeah, mostly it’s just technical things that I’d love to just get over and be able to walk on with a clear head and not worry about stuff like that.

SBV: What sort of things have you learned from Nathan, Matthew and Mateo?
DT: The most important thing I learned from them was to just not give a shit about all the small day-to-day things. I don’t know how they developed it first but I would always get worked up over the slightest little thing – like what we were just talking about, gear-wise, something broke or something wasn’t going to work right or a particular interview didn’t go right. In my previous band with Mateo there was a lot of bickering, a lot of quarrelling, a lot of fighting. We weren’t as good friends as we are now too, but it was like, you know how some bands are or boyfriend and girlfriend where they fight all the time, it was that kinda thing. Matthew and Nathan, those guys are just super-lighthearted guys as everybody pretty much knows. The day isn’t going to get wrecked if something goes wrong. Once I started to let go trying to control everything so tightly and I think Mateo did the same thing, now this band operates a million times smoother than any other that we’ve been in before. You never are in control of everything ever, I don’t think, really, no matter what your career is. It’s important to you so you do what you can, but the little shit, day-to-day, once you let go of that and focus on the picture it’s much less stressful and much easier to deal with I think.

SBV: Who’s inspired you lately?
DT: Tom Waits. He’s been around forever of course. I’ve heard of the guy. Actually Matthew and I together have been into him a lot lately because we saw an interview that he did and then we started youtubing press conferences. His music is pretty strange and I was aware of it, but I was never a big fan, but once you see this guy talk, he interviews himself and stages these press conferences that are really strange, about himself, we started watching that and then listening to the music, knowing how, I think, much of a sincere, kind of twisted artist he is, his music had a new appeal to us. Even though it’s the furthest thing from Madina Lake that you could probably listen to it’s really been inspiring us to do something new. Also, there’s a band called MuteMath from the States. I’ve been a fan of them since their first record but they had another one come out, and we’ve been really into that too. So much so, talk about inspired, we have a week off after this tour and we haven’t written any new songs in six or nine months because we’ve been touring, we haven’t had the time, but we have a week off so we’re going to go back into our rehearsal studio and are going to set up and play and just see what comes out. I think all of us are getting that itch from listening to stuff like that.

SBV: Have you learned anything new drumming wise lately?
DT: I watch a lot of youtube, so yeah, that’s another reason I can’t wait to go and do this. When you play the same songs every night you get better at playing those songs, but you don’t have a lot of time as a musician to work on a lot of other stuff, especially when you’re doing a lot of tours like this and not headlining. We don’t get soundchecks even. Sometimes you get an hour onstage where you can work on… we hear bands doing it all the time, working on a new song or a new idea they have, so we don’t have that. You can’t make a noise while they’re doing it, there’s going to be doors open, so there’s really no time to play your instrument aside from when you’re onstage. I’m a super-big drum nerd, I read a couple of different drum magazines, when I can get them every month, and just youtubing guys. I’m ready to burst at the seams! So whenever we get back, I’m gonna try and work on everything I can for a week as quickly as I can and try and incorporate stuff like that.

SBV: If you could affect Papa Roach in any way, what effect would you like to leave on them?
DT: I would say that we’ve already both had a really positive effect on each other. This is our first date in the UK but we’ve already done a week in Germany. We always thought that they were one of the best live bands that we’d seen. And they’re really cool, they’re really into what they do, they're not one of those bands that just rolls into the gig and leaves, you can tell that they want to put on the best show that they possibly can. So I think that for a support act they were a little bit surprised with how much we’ve really tried to steal the show from them! Being that we only get 40 minutes before their hour and a half. But that’s how competitive we seem to be too – when it comes to putting on a show we want to do the best we can. After the first couple of dates we were joking with those guys. They were like ‘ah man, now we’ve gotta go to work for real!’ and they’d tried to outdo us and we’ve watched them four out of the last five nights because they’re so entertaining. They’re supercool and we’ve become really good friends and it’s pretty much the friendliest competition to kind of push each other every night to get better and better that we’ve ever experienced on a tour, so it’s good, it’s healthy, y’know.

SBV: You’re doing a big headline tour next year. How do your families feel with your progress?
DT: They love it. It’s so exciting to them too, you know what I mean? I think we’re all fortunate. We, all four of us, have really supportive families. Mom’s taking magazine things to my grandmother who’s older and living alone now and she thinks it’s cool and hanging stuff up and telling her friends who obviously don’t know who we are, but I think they’re proud which is cool. I think it makes it more worth it. It’s more fulfilling that way when the people that are close to you and you love are proud of you. It really means a lot. I think we’re all lucky that all of us have that.

SBV: You were nominated in peta2’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities this year.
DT: Yeah, what an honour, I love that. It’s cool, I’d hear it from someone, they’d message me or something like that, so I get around to looking at it and Jared Leto’s on there and all these huge sexy celeb dudes, and I’m like ‘this is great but obviously there’s no way! Thank you for voting, whoever did, but…’

SBV: Do you think it’s good that there’s a competition that draws attention to the vegetarians?
DT: I do, I think it’s awesome. For a little while there, maybe it’s just where I was from, but I almost felt like there was a negative stigma to it, maybe because of the way it started to be advertised or people started to get the word out about it, it was almost like, and I may be wrong, but more of an aggressive way. I always remember people trying to take the negative spin on it, tell people why eating meat was wrong, how awful it was. Even though those things are true, sometimes it’s not the best way to get a message out so going about it this way where it’s more fun and exciting I think for the people who maybe wouldn’t be ready to listen to it the other way, this is something to get into and then of course find out more about it – more of a positive way to spread the word. Peta2 have DVDs that they give out with tons of different bands that are all over Warped Tour and all 
these huge Summer tours that kids are fans of. So yeah, it’s spreading quickly. I hung out at the peta2 tent a bunch at Warped Tour, said 'what’s up?' to those guys, they always have a small crowd around them. I think it’s awesome.

SBV: Tell us how you became vegetarian, for people who don’t know.
DT: It was three years ago last May. I don’t remember what the date was, I just remember it was May. So it’s been about three and a half years for me. It was a few different things that all happened in succession of one another. A friend of mine who was in another band lent me a vegan book, he was vegan – a kid named Adam Wilde, he’s from Cleveland and was in a bunch of different hardcore bands. We actually went to recording school together. He lent me this book and again I  didn’t read it for a long time and I finally ended up opening it and that’s where my initial introduction into the craziness that has evolved – it talked about slaughterhouses and all those kind of things which I never knew. Right away I didn’t become a vegetarian but it was one of those things that from that point on, you know when something gets stuck in the back of your head? For months this is in the back of my head. Shortly after that we started getting in this band and started touring. I ate a really big meal one time. I don’t remember 
what it was but it was meaty for sure and it was way too close to when we went on stage. And you know how if you eat too close before doing 
something physical how crappy you feel? I ate something and went on stage and I felt like I was going to puke the whole time and all I could taste was… whatever meat it was, it just made me feel sick. I  really didn’t want to eat meat anymore and was like ‘this is the perfect opportunity to try this not eating meat thing' and I did and after a few weeks I lost weight, I had more energy, I felt more flexible, I felt better in the morning when I woke up. I had energy in the middle of the night sometimes, like when I normally wouldn’t. It was easier to get through a set. So it was really, really obvious. At that point I was still eating seafood, I just stopped eating chicken and beef and things like that. For some reason some people just eat 
seafood. That was ok to me for a short amount of time. And then something completely unrelated, I saw some National Geographic thing  or something like that about the oceans, the way they fish them and how catastrophic it is for the ocean and the eco-systems and all that. Even crustaceans and shrimp and stuff like that, when they shred the bottom of the ocean to get these things out. I forget what the statistic was but they equated it to like clear-cutting a forest to hunt deer, that is basically how much it devastates reefs in the bottom of the ocean. It was right after I’d done everything else so that was specifically about the global standpoint more than an animal standpoint or even a health standpoint. There are a million different reasons to do it. So I kind of got hit by all angles within a very short amount of time and I’m really glad I did because I feel a lot 
better about it now.

SBV: What do you think about how some guys go out fishing?
DT: It seems like a strange way to pass the time to me – hooking an animal. It’s kinda like hunting to me, I guess in a way. For a sport I don’t understand it at all. I guess if you’re starving in the middle of somewhere and have to eat ‘else you’ll die… No-one I know has ever been in that sort of situation. But yeah, it’s kind of gross to me. I don’t understand it at all. Luckily no-one I know or am close to fishes so that’s good, that’s nice.

SBV: Matthew stopped eating meat last year… Is he still vegetarian?
DT: Most of the time. He’s not as strict as me. It bums me out a little bit. He does the seafood thing. I haven’t seen him eat a burger or a steak or anything. What do they call those people who just eat fish? A pescatarian? I would say that’s what he is, but only seafood once in a while. But I have him pretty much closely sold on stuff, so every time I come across a new bit of information or even just a quote by someone who was a vegetarian that I didn’t know and respect, I’ll forward it to him. I’m on him! He’s almost there.

SBV: Would you say it was your influence that got him to give up meat originally?
DT: I’d like to think that – but I don’t think it was just me convincing him. I think again it’s a positive influence thing because he was around me the whole time when I started too. It wasn’t talking to him, but I think he saw what it did to me. Seriously, I changed – physically I felt like a different person. In a short amount of time. So I think him being around me 24 hours a day and seeing what it did for me made him want to check it out. I think he likes it too, for sure, ‘cause he’s stuck with it for a long time too.

SBV: Are there any particular celebrities or musicians who you think are inspiring for what they’ve done in a vegetarian/kindness to animals point of view?
DT: I’m constantly amazed at how many keep coming out that I’m not aware of. And even people like Albert Einstein who I didn’t even know – people like that. There are artists but there are also really intelligent scientists. He was the latest one. I’m like ‘My God, if Albert Einstein says ‘become a vegetarian’ I’m in’. I mean, I was already sold but he’s my latest inspiration. I’m trying to collect quotes from him.

SBV: And Mahatma Gandhi.
DT: Yeah, a lot of the Eastern belief and stuff like that, true. Another thing... Shortly after I’d started – I love reading about religion and philosophy and stuff like that, Bhagavad-Gita, the Hindu book, is super-infused with no eating meat. The theory behind religion is very peaceful, harmonious and I thought that was awesome too. Once you start doing something or focusing on something and something’s on your mind, seeing it in a million places that you would have been blind to previously. If anyone does try it or starts, I think you’ll be surprised. And especially over here, I think the UK is the best place to be one. You guys have every menu in restaurants and the universal ‘V’ that you guys have, we don’t have in the States, it’s 
super-easy to find. And I think it’s more here than it is in the United States. I hope we catch up. I think it’s easier here than at home.

SBV: So you recommend people give vegetarianism a go?
DT: Yeah, that’s what I always say to people – I know everyone’s different and everyone has different bodies and stuff like that, but for me it was really evident in a few weeks. If it’s crossing your mind – it doesn’t hurt to try anything ever. So yeah, try it for a few weeks. See how you feel and I think that most people who do that will not believe the difference in a bunch of different areas of their life. It’s impressive. So yeah, why not try?

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