If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s only a matter of time. We Are The Finale is a local Nashville rock band featuring wildly talented front-man, Daniel John Schafer. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to see them live at various venues like Exit/in or The Rutledge, do yourself a favor and go. Whether you’re a fan of rock music or not, the energy and enthusiasm of this group alone will suffice your musical craving. The raw talent and connection this band has created pulses an electrifying vibe throughout the audience. And if you’re still on the fence about becoming a fan, read what Daniel had to say about his group and try not to fall under the WATF spell, I dare you.
CB: “Where are you and the rest of your band originally from?"
DJS: “I am one of the rare native ‘Nashvillians’. I was born and raised here. The rest of us come from all over. Bradley is originally from Mississippi. Matt spent most of his life in Georgia. J.D. is from West Virginia, Ronnie is from Alabama and Freddy is from outer space ;)”
CB: “How old were you when you started getting involved with music?”
DJS: “Well for me, music is kind of a family curse. Both my parents were professional musicians. My dad had two record deals of his own and he's played for countless country stars for the past 30 years. My Grandfather, Aunts, Uncles. It's in the blood so honestly I can't really remember a time in my life when I wasn't doing music. If I had to guess I'd say 3 or 4 years old?”
CB: “What was the key moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be a singer?”
DJS: “Well I really wanted to just be a guitar player originally. I started off playing Bass guitar when I was about 11. Switched to guitar around 16 and while I was in high school I formed a band called Falling For Yesterday. We started writing songs and I became the singer pretty much because no one else wanted to do it! We were all pretty shy back then. Then, once I got a taste of the spotlight I was hooked. I dropped the guitar and just became a front man. I'm a spotlight junkie."
CB: “You mentioned earlier that you play guitar. Do you play any other instruments?"
DJS: “I'm kind of a Jack of all trades but a King of none (haha). I play a little guitar, bass, drums.”
CB: “Which is your favorite instrument to play?”
DJS: “My favorite instrument is the piano, even though I can't play it at all. To me, if you can't strip a song down to just the voice and the piano… Then it isn't a good song. That's why Bradley is kind of like the ‘secret sauce’ of the band.”
CB: “How long has your band been playing together, and what brought you all together?”
DJS: “We've been together for a little over a year, but it really all started back in early 2012. I used to co-host Writer's Night at McFadden's on 2nd Ave. I was trying to put together a portfolio of songs and get a gig as a staff writer somewhere. Bradley was one of the writers who would show up and play original tunes and he used open tunings (which is kind of our thing) and he had this soulful, bluesy voice. He was amazing and I knew he was killer on piano, so we pretty much clicked instantly. He's my best friend in the world. J.D. was actually the bartender there at the time and I knew him through both of our previous bands. He was in a band called The Compromise for almost 10 years and he was looking to move right into the next musical phase of his life as that was ending. After Daybreak Drive stopped playing, I was involved in nearly a dozen short-lived projects and in one of the pop projects I was doing, I met Freddy. That was probably back in 2009 I think. So I brought him back down from orbit to join We Are The Finale. Matt Furr was a similar situation. We had talked about putting a band together through emails and had met up a few times to hang out or jam, but nothing really came of it. I originally put this band together to simply make recordings of my solo stuff so I could pitch it as a writer. Then, we all saw how well we meshed together and the band took on a life of its own. Our original was Matt Naff. He had been my drummer in Falling for Yesterday and Daybreak Drive. Matt was pretty burnt out on the music scene and was only with the band for a few months before we got Ronnie. That's when everything started to flow naturally. The writing. The shows. The fan response. Ronnie was the missing piece to the puzzle and we've been firing on all cylinders ever since.”
CB: “So what happened with your previous band, Daybreak Drive?”
DJS: “Well, Daybreak Drive was originally Falling For Yesterday. We signed a production deal with Sony/BMG producer Rob Graves as FFY back in 2005. Rob is a great guy and a wonderful producer. At the time, he had just finished the first album from the band RED. When their album debuted, I don't think anyone expected it to big as big as it was. It ended up taking us almost 2 years to record 6 songs because Rob was just so busy. I handled the situation pretty poorly. I was very upset that FFY wasn't getting the attention I thought we deserved and I was pretty vocal about it. So, young and stupid basically. We decided to leave the deal, change our name to Daybreak Drive and write a little bit more mature brand of hard rock. Our fan base took a hug hit when we changed our name. Falling for Yesterday had semi-national recognition and Daybreak Drive just went back to being a ‘local band’. That took its toll on all of us. We never really broke up, we just kind of stopped playing together and all moved on to different projects. I absolutely love each and every one of those dudes. We made a lot of great memories that I will cherish until the day I die. Honestly, I don't think it will ever ‘die’ cause it was such a big part of our lives. There's still some Daybreak Drive left in the future I think.”
CB: “What message does your band want to convey to its audiences?”
DJS: “We Are The Finale literally means: This is the end all be project for us. We give everything we have to this band. Blood, sweat, tears, money, time, everything. It's not just 6 rock dudes playing songs together. We put all of who we are into this art. It's one collective mind. The message behind all the guitar riffs, harmonies and screams is this - Do what makes you happy and put everything you have into your dreams. No matter what anyone says. When you die, you leave this world with memories… Not money. You only get one shot at it, so make it your best.”
CB: “What band or artist inspires you the most?”
DJS: “Well for me, my dad (Dan Schafer) is my biggest influence as a musician and as a man. He is my absolute hero and if I am considered to be half of the musician/man that he is, I will be lucky. As far as bands that influenced my sound and how I am as a singer, I would have to say Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw is my biggest influence by far. Brandon Boyd of Incubus was also crucial in my development. Chino Moreno from Deftones, and Bert McCracken from The Used are in there too. Not to sound cliché, but Michael Jackson was pretty much the only thing I listened to until I discovered Nirvana in the 8th grade. The other 5 guys in this band are also a constant inspiration. I just love music, and all of it inspires me.”
CB: “Did you have a lot of support from family and friends when you became a musician?”
DJS: “Yes - Constant support. I am very, very lucky to have the family and friends that I have. Plus, there are 6 of us (lol). So we have a pretty strong internal support system and I honestly consider Bradley, J.D., Freddy, Matt and Ronnie to be my brothers. All of our families are so incredibly supportive of our dreams and aspirations. Now that I'm doing this interview, I can take a step back and it's pretty emotional to think of how many people are close to us and believe in us as much as they do. We are very blessed. Very lucky.”
CB: “How have you dealt with rejection thus far in your career?”
DJS: “I think in any walk of life, no matter what your dreams are, rejection is a natural and healthy thing. If everyone always loved everything you did, how would you ever grow or learn? That being said, it sucks (haha). It totally sucks! But I have been lucky to be given a second chance. I had a deal with FFY. We were selling out places like Opry Mills mall, playing Warped Tour, playing the Journey's Backyard BBQ. I was greedy and mouthy, and I pretty much let my ego throw that away. Now, I'm lucky enough to get a second shot. If I hadn't had that rejection and made those mistakes, who knows if I would even be here right now? So I guess the answer is, rejection sucks but it is a must to develop and grow.”
CB: “What has been your most memorable performance thus far?”
DJS: “At the risk of sounding completely cliché (again), every time we play together. It’s a new experience every time. It's a new emotion every time. I think some of my personal favorite moments are just us jamming out in Matt and J.D.'s living room. It really is magic to me every time the 6 of us get together and make noise.”
CB: “So where is your favorite place in Nashville to perform, and what makes it great to you?”
DJS: “Exit/in. It sounds great there, and people like going there. It has this awesome Rock & Roll nostalgia feel to it. Like Nashville's CBGB's, but with a much better smell (haha). Second place has to go to The Rutledge. Andy, Frank and I go way back and it's always a pleasure working with those guys. Honorable mention: The End (AKA: Exit/in Junior).”
CB: “What can the fans expect from the new album to be released later this year, The Magic Show?”
DJS: “I am SO excited about this. We decided to take a different approach to marketing our music, other than the normal tired rock band way. For fans of rock music, there are generally 3 different types of ‘fans’ out there. First, there are people who hear a song on the radio, Pandora shuffle, Sirius XM, etc. They like the song, they buy it online and listen to it in a shuffle with a bunch of other artists. Then, there are the local junkies (who most of the time are musicians themselves), who go to a lot of shows and actually buy CDs to support the scene; But they don't want to pay more than $5 for a CD. So, EPs are the way to go. Lastly, there are the die hard, tried and true band fans that are super loyal and buy full length albums and listen to them straight through alone in their room. They buy every shirt, every sticker, everything. The Magic Show will be the best of all 3 worlds. We are releasing the full length album in 3 movements. So essentially, three 5-song EPs. Each EP will have a radio single and music video. Once all three movements have been released, we will re-package the whole thing as a full length album with extra tracks, stripped versions of songs, dance remixes of the songs, as well as a full length DVD. The DVD will show our story of how we made the album, how much it means to us, and it gives fans and audiences a chance to really see who we are as people. So really, no matter how you personally like to find and listen to new music, we will have all 3 options available. 2014 is going to be an awesome year for WATF, and we are super stoked to share it with you!”