Photo by Haley Hagle.
Kennesaw, Ga. is known for a lot of things, but fire-breathing reptiles aren’t usually on that list. But when vocalist Dami Umling, bassist Bryce Sailors, drummer Phil Wirsig and guitarists Stuart Lyle and Ryan McKay decided to form their own Kennesaw-based band, Crash Dragon was born. With regular performances at Atlanta venues such as The Loft, Vinyl and the Masquerade, Crash Dragon’s brand of pop rock has garnered the band a strong following in it’s relatively short existence. Having recently competed in the Masquerade’s Musician’s Showcase, the band returns to the Masquerade for a very different type of event on Sept. 12. In between Monstrosity Championship Wrestling matches, the band will perform catchy songs such as “Poison” and “Where We Belong”. As the band prepares for perhaps its strangest show to date, Wrestling with Pop Culture chats with its members about video games, monster movies and more.
I’ve only recently seen Crash Dragon perform. How long have you been a band and how did you come together?
Umling: We’ve been a band for a little over a year now. We all met because most of us go to [Kennesaw State University]. We were actually playing Rock Band one day and we were like, “We should just start a regular band.” Then we did and it was awesome!
What were some of your favorite things to play on Rock Band?
Umling: Pearl Jam!
Sailors: Some of us liked to play Pearl Jam.
Umling: Bryce loves Pearl Jam.
How did you come up with the name Crash Dragon? Is that a reference to a video game or something?
Lyle: That’s actually a funny story.
Umling: No. It’s really not that funny of a story. We wrote a bunch of words down on a piece of paper and picked out two of them. They sounded cool, but there’s no meaning behind it, really.
Sailors: It’s just a cool name.
Umling: I mean, it works out because my two favorite video games are Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon, but that’s not the premise behind it at all.
Maybe on a subconscious level it had something to do with it.
Umling: Yeah, maybe. If we’re reaching for something, then, yeah.
You’ve performed at the Masquerade and other Atlanta venues numerous times. Last month you competed in Musician’s Showcase competition. How did you end up doing in that?
Photo by Haley Hagle.
Umling: That was our first battle of the bands-type thing. Usually we just play regular shows.
Lyle: We made it to the finals of the Masquerade Musician’s Showcase, which was really exciting.
This will be your first time performing at an MCW event. How much do you know about what you’re getting yourselves into and what are you anticipating this Friday?
Umling: We really don’t know a lot about what it is. They asked us to play it and we were intrigued.
Sailors: We’re excited to play it.
Umling: Yeah, we are. In my mind I just see a bunch of monsters wrestling. And I really hope that’s what it is.
That’s exactly what it is. There are wolfmen, vampires, zombies and even a few human wrestlers.
Umling: Awesome! Sweet! I’m so excited.
Umling: I totally want to zombify myself on stage.
Professor Morté is the one who performs all the monster magic, so he will be happy to perform some magic on you as well. He can bring out your inner dragons or whatever else might be hiding inside you.
Umling: I want to be a mummy dragon.
Wirsig: I want to be a zombie dragon.
Are you particularly interested in wrestling, horror movies or anything like that?
Lyle: I get scared easily. But Dami is a big horror movie fan.
Umling: I love scary movies. It’s one of favorite genres of movies. I force everyone else to watch them and Stuart gets scared. Stuart will probably be scared this Friday. If anyone’s wearing a mask, Stuart’s going to be scared.
Lyle: Yeah, that’s probably how it’s going to go.
Chambers of Horror will be involved with this event. Some of those guys wear some weird masks.
Umling: Don’t worry, Stuart. We’ll protect you.
Lyle: Oh, thank you!
You mentioned one of your influences when we were talking about Rock Band, but tell me more about the bands that inspired you to start Crash Dragon.
Lyle: I’d say we’re inspired by a mix of alternative rock with some classic rock influence in there. We have a female vocalist, so that gives us a really unique sound.
Umling: We all listen to different stuff, really. There are certain bands we all like, but we all listen to different stuff across the spectrum. We pull influence from a lot of different things. We’ve heard people say we’re a mashup of Paramore, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer, but we also do have a lot of classic rock influences. We play whatever we think sounds good.
Wirsig: I don’t think we’ve ever sat down and been like, “We’re influenced or inspired by this artist” or whatever. We just kind of go with it and see what happens.
Sailors: Usually it’s just like, “Hey. Check out this funky bass line” or “Hey. I wrote a song on guitar” and we just kind of work from there.
What I’ve noticed most about your sound is that almost anyone will enjoy some aspect about it, or at least not completely dislike it.
Umling: We have a lot of different-sounding songs. I wouldn’t say we have one cohesive sound. We have a song that has kind of a reggae feel to it, we have songs that are more classic rock, songs that are more pop. We definitely have something for everyone.
Do you have an other shows coming up after the MCW event on Friday?
Lyle: Currently, no. After this show we’re going to focus on recording a few more songs. We put out an EP recently and we’d like to build our way up to a full album.
Umling: The three songs from our EP are available for free download on SoundCloud and ReverbNation, as well as free physical copies at the show.