When you go to concerts waiting in line can either be boring or interesting. It’s what you make of it, and who you talk to. Earlier this month, I went to a Good Charlotte concert in Stroudsburg, PA. It was there in line where I befriended two awesome people who ended up being 18th and Addison, Check out our interview with Tom Kunzman and Kait DiBenedetto below:
[Samantha Warren/AltWire]: For our fans who haven’t heard of you guys yet, can you please tell us your names and anything you’d like us to know about you?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: My name is Tom Kunzman and I play guitar, bass and sing for 18th & Addison. I like movies and almond butter on everything I eat. Maybe not everything. But mostly everything.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: I’m Kait, I play guitar, keys, and sing in 18th & Addison and I love to sleep through all the movies we watch that Tom likes. I like ketchup on everything. Maybe not everything. But mostly everything.
[AW]: Your current album is called, “Makeshift Monster.” Can you tell us what the song writing process and inspiration was for the album?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Writing this album was, for lack of a less overused term, really organic. We had so many songs written during & after we recorded our first EP (Little Parasites) that it really just came down to narrowing down the best 10-11 songs. Nothing was over thought musically and lyrically, we just write what we feel or think and it’s a pretty good balancing act of brutal honesty and poetic writing. We love all kinds of music so we listen to literally everything and I think that really shows on this record.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: Yeah, it all happened very naturally for both of us. For me, I was coming to terms with a lot of personal issues I was going through or went through in the past. Things I hadn’t necessarily ever really wanted to talk about. There was a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders and getting rid of that is what inspired a lot of what I wrote on this record. Not to mention some of the societal issues that have always gotten under our skin, we were able to get some of that off our chests as well.
[AW]: What are your plans for future tours? Do you have anything in the works?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: We’ll be playing a few shows in June and back on tour in July. Mostly south east coast route. We’ve been doing that pretty consistently. The shows keep getting better and better so we keep going back.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: Yeah we’re really excited for the shows we have coming up. I think the goal for the next few months is to just keep playing and reaching more people.
[AW]: Do you guys have any other side projects going on at the moment?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Not really. I was playing guitar as a live guy for a few bands in our hometown for a while but since the release of ‘Makeshift Monster’ and this year’s tour schedule; I haven’t really been able to commit to anyone else’s band. If I can’t give it all my attention, I don’t say yes.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: We both fully commit ourselves to the band and being in any working band is a full time job itself but every now and then I play guitar and sing backup for Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory’s side project What’s Eating Gilbert.
[AW]: You guys are one dynamic duo. You’re both in charge of writing, producing, performing, and doing all of the other band details like bookings, and merchandise yourselves. How do you balance it all out?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Thanks! The musical side of everything is as common as breathing to us. We’ve been doing this since we were little kids so it’s really just apart of us at this point to where we don’t think about it as “part of the job”. As for booking our own tours, printing our own merch etc., it’s a lot of focused scheduling and discipline but we love doing it all because we do it right.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: We stay focused and try to never get too ahead of ourselves with everything. Before this band we were both in separate projects where we made a lot of mistakes so we use those mistakes now to grow and we apply what we learned from them to this band.
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Exactly. Where a lot of our friends hit road blocks and gave up, we kept going till we found our way around the issues and avoided them this time around. We’re still learning of course, but it’s definitely better than it used to be with the knowledge we’ve gained over time.
[AW]: What advice would you give to other musicians just starting out? If you had to do it all over again, what would you have done differently and why?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: I would say to just play because you love it first and for no other reason at all. Take on any and all opportunities that come your way and align with you as a person and musician. Don’t be close minded when it comes to what you play and listen to. So many people want to be a part of a scene to be seen and not to play music and that’s completely missing the point. We see right through those people every time. This sounds cliché, I know, but I honestly wouldn’t change anything about my past except maybe I would end my previous band sooner, because that was a nightmare.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: I’d tell them to stay focused on their goals and what THEY want for themselves. In the midst of all the chaos and judgement in this industry, it’s easy to lose sight of what you stand for or what got you where you are in the first place but if you surround yourself with positive people and keep a clear mind, you’ll be alright.
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: That too. A positive team is massively important. Everything from your bandmates to your producer to your engineer to yourself. Try your best to stay optimistic in the face of adversity and write songs when the hard times come. That’s why we do this to begin with. So we can move on and live. If you have negative people in your circle who don’t believe in you or your goals, get rid of them.
“I wish labels were more open minded to new and exciting music. It seems like everything that comes out right now is something that has already been done…”
[AW]: Who are some of your musical influences?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Like I said, we love all styles of music so it’s hard to site specific influences. We take inspiration from everything from punk to old school country to pop to pop punk to indie rock, synth pop and 50’s-60’s rock n roll music. The list is never ending for us. We just like good music.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: Like Tom said it’s pretty difficult to pinpoint all of the influences but just to name a few for me it’d be Green Day, Good Charlotte, Elvis Presley, and the Everly Brothers.
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: I’ll agree with all of that.
[AW]: What do you guys to prepare for a show? Any pre show rituals?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: I like to do vocal warm ups but I do those every day. Even when we don’t have a show. I used to drink 5-6 cups of coffee a day but I had to stop doing that.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: I don’t really do anything specific besides stretching a little bit. I should do vocal warmups but I never do. Oops.
[AW]: How do you handle mistakes during a performance if they should happen?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: We just laugh it off depending on how bad of a mistake it is. We’ve had some train wreck shows and those are never fun haha but it’s a bummer for the crowd when a musicians take themselves too seriously. Things happen & we don’t play to tracks, so what you see is what you get with us.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: You try to never make them look too obvious. Kind of just keep up the energy and move forward. Sometimes it’s inevitable and you have to laugh though.
[AW]: If you could change anything about the music industry now what would it be and why? How do you feel about all of the social media aspects? How has it affected you?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: I would change exactly that. As much as I love being able to connect so easily with people who support our music all over the world, I wish the numbers didn’t matter so much in terms of what takes a band to the next level. All that should matter is great songs and genuine interaction between bands and fans but it’s the world we live in and we’re definitely not hard pressed to put the time in & talk to more people haha.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: I totally agree with Tom. I also wish labels were more open minded to new and exciting music. It seems like everything that comes out right now is something that has already been done, just a newer “tweaked” version of it to keep people’s interest. Nothing all that original aside from a handful. I guess I just miss when people genuinely cared about the music and much less about the gimmick or social media following.
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Especially when most bands we know are buying their followers and youtube views and playing shows to 20 people with a 20,000 follower count on Twitter. I wish I could remember who said this once, but I saw an interview and this really stood out.. “You can fake numbers but you can’t fake fans.” It stood out to me because of the truth in it.
[AW]: Any last words?
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: To anyone reading, we appreciate you for taking the time & I hope you get the chance to check out the music if you haven’t already. If you already own our records and have seen us live or plan to see us this summer, thank you so much & we can’t wait to see you.
Kait DiBenedetto / 18th & Addison: What Tom said!
Tom Kunzman / 18th & Addison: Smiley face!