Dominick Cuce, Rob Chiarappa, Kevin Smart, and Mike Chiarappa are the Jersey boys that make up The Stolen, a pop-punk band signed with Revival Recordings whose sound is familiar yet new all at the same time. Their eclectic sound is influenced by the 80s pop artists they grew up on and can be heard in their newest single, “Rooftop.” I got the chance to talk with Dominick Cuce and Rob Chiarappa about how the band formed, who some of their musical influences are, the powerful message behind their new single and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say.
For those who may not know y’all, give us a brief history of the band and how you guys came together.
Dominick Cuce (DC): We started as a cover band over a decade ago when we were 9-12 years old. We were all neighborhood friends just playing our favorite covers at the local block parties and carnivals etc. When we all got to high school, we started writing our own music and towards the end of our high school years, we started touring.
I’m totally intrigued by the band’s name, The Stolen. Where did it come from?
DC: The band name actually comes from that era as a cover band. We were so young and it was a stupid name we came up with as kids (we always mess up the clarity of this story but one of our friends we believe got his bike stolen hence where the name came from). We decided to never change it when we started writing our music. It just became a part of us.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you make?
DC: As a band, first and foremost we try to convey our lyrics where the verses are our personal story and the chorus becomes the “preach to the choir.” The music really is portrayed by the message of the song. We adhere our palette to the emotion or sometimes in a way that can seem ironic due to it playing a deeper-rooted feeling into the song. We really don’t discriminate our pallet of tools in our songwriting. We’ll use retro synths, modern production techniques, as well as a lot of electric guitars, things that are sometimes true to a click or not, and even just various soundscapes and world instruments that adhere to it sonically. We’ll even grab things we record out in the world from our iPhones.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences as a band?
DC: We’re pretty eclectic as a unit. We’ll listen to anything from Bruce Springsteen to Drake to The Cure to The Promise Ring or Peter Gabriel. We even love listening to a lot more ethereal stuff on late night drives in the van like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens.
Let’s talk about your new single, “Rooftop.” What’s the story behind the song?
Rob Chiarappa (RC): This song concept and lyrics came to me the day that Anthony Bourdain died. Three notable people died of suicide that week and it really bothered me that every single one of them seemed like you almost would never expect it, especially in the media and online. I called Dom up that night, and he came over, and we worked on it on my back deck. The song sounded completely different at the time. We revisited it a few months later and took a new approach on it sonically and just kinda went with it from there.
What was your writing process like? Did you write it by yourself or did you collaborate with others?
DC: We wrote the song ourselves. Writing is one thing we haven’t really collaborated with others on. It’s not something we wouldn’t ever shut out, but we feel the most strong songs just come from our gut as a unit. The song was written originally on just an acoustic and vocal and didn’t dig too much into the production until we re-worked the song at band practice one night. That night we went back and really built up the whole synth and production end of it before recording the band elements.
Were there any major changes made once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
DC: Prior to cutting everything, the vocal melody of the chorus was pretty different. That was something that was worked on that day I went in and did the rest of the production. Lyrics all stayed the same.
This track features Jake Miller on the second verse. How did that collaboration come about?
DC: Jake has been a friend of ours for years and Kevin, our bassist, also plays drums for Jake. We knew the context and message of the song is something that Jake believes in (he wrote a song years ago called “Steven” with a similar message). I shot Jake a text with the song and felt like his voice would be the perfect addition. He sent me his vocal track back in 20 minutes. He’s a work horse.
You guys are still new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks you aim to reach in the next couple of years?
DC: I think some goals for this year is to see where this LP takes us. It’s our first time putting out a real, full-length [LP] and I think any “industry” goals are all pertained to that.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd so what is something you nerd out about?
DC: We are huge production nerds. We love talking in the van about gear or signal flow or a new plugin or synth or production technique we’re doing. I’m also a huge 90’s indie film nerd. I love a lot of Kevin Smith stuff.