Band: Madison Rising

Members: Dave Bray, lead vocals; Alex Bodnar, guitar; Sam Fishman, drums; Steve Padelski, bass

Who we talked to: Bray

Are you guys on tour? We opened up for Toby Keith (last month) in the Dallas stadium right underneath the largest Jumbotron on the planet. It was amazing. I've never seen indoor fireworks before, but there were actually fireworks going off in the stadium. It's a very once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

How did you get involved with Madison Rising? I've been working pretty hard for 15-plus years. I started out as soon as I got out of the military with the (York County) band Soveren. We worked and worked ... and just couldn't break through. I was with another band called 1 Echo 1 for a while. The business is the toughest part of this thing.

Madison Rising
Madison Rising (Submitted)
It's not all about how great your music is. You have to have the right people and the right places to create the organization that gets you going. Finding Madison Rising, was what basically opened that door. It was also sort of a call back to the service for me. We're playing for a lot of USO events. We're playing for a lot of military people. It's one of those projects I can feel good about and feel like I'm doing something positive.

Did the group set out with a pro-military message, or did that come later? The premise was to just make positive music with a pro-American, patriotic message. In the first album, we sort of touched on the hot-topic subjects. With the second album, we're definitely moving towards patriotism in general - it doesn't matter what side of the political aisle you're on. It's just more about standing up for what's right for your country and your family and things like that. I would say that in the beginning it started out (with) an idea of what we wanted to do. But it's just sort of evolved. We're definitely appealing to a broader mass of people.

Do you think that sets you apart? The country music platform has been ... basically the only home for that flag-waving, patriotic movement. (We're rare) as far as somebody actually coming out and saying, "this is what we're doing. We going to focus on this." With rock music (it's) something that's really different. We wanted to keep it PG the whole way (and) make it fun (and) make it a message that can be understood by everyone.

Where is home base for you now? We started out in New York City. The band still rehearses up there. Since the album release, we've pretty much been (on) what I call a satellite tour. Every weekend, we go to a different ... part of the country. Home base has sort of been the road for about a year.

Are you a producer on the project as well? Yes. With the first album, I was a little more in the wings as far as production was concerned. The concept of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was mine, and I pretty much brought it to fruition. I started taking on this producer role. It really opened up an avenue for the band. It has really given us a sound that I think you're going to hear on the second album that's going to come out this spring. (It includes) my writing and my production as well as the band collaborating more. This has been a project of a continual learning cycle that never ceases. It helps me to advance musically and advance on the business side as well.

I saw that your "Star-Spangled Banner" video has a goal to reach 5 million hits. We're hoping. We had a goal for one million hits ... when we started "The Star-Spangled Banner" Challenge. We set it for Election Day (2012). It turned out that we crossed the million mark on the exact day it was written by Francis Scott Key. We hit it in September. As we sort of progressed here, we realized that the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is coming up in 2014. We also realized that in 1814, when it was being written, James Madison - who is the namesake of the band - was in office. All these things are just lining up.

Why James Madison? It was one of those deals where the guys were sitting ... in the studio. We were finishing up the last couple songs, and we still didn't have a band name. We were recording in Hoboken, N.J. We wanted something to do with the Constitution. We got into ... all the guys involved in writing (it). They have these rows of streets called the dead presidents in Hoboken. Where we were recording was actually on Madison Street.

Talk about your take on "The Star-Spangled Banner." I stripped it down to its root and rebuilt it back up. I wanted it to sound like a rock song. It basically started with the little addendum we put on the end. And we worked it sort of backward from there. It was maybe a week and a half (in which) it was born, put in the studio, recorded and mixed and mastered before it was done. I had to manipulate it so I could sing it in my range. The coolest part about this thing is that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is reaching the youth.

What else is on the horizon for 2013 and beyond? (Last month, we played) with The Lt. Dan Band. They do a lot of the same things we do. Gary Sinise, the guy from "Forrest Gump," started the band. We do a lot of private events. We got to open up for Weezer during the Charm City (Music) Festival. And I think we're slated to do Charm City again next September. We hope the (2014) Super Bowl committee can find it in their hearts to have Madison Rising play "The Star-Spangled Banner."

- ERIN McCRACKEN,
FlipSide staff

Upcoming

April 6 - Dayspring Christian Academy in Lancaster

April 13 - Army-Navy Rugby Match in Philadelphia

May 4 - Capitol in Harrisburg

Online

Madison Rising: www.madisonrising.com

Listen to the interview: flipsidepa.com

Read more meet-the-artist interviews: flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory

Madison Rising gets support from The National Anthem Celebration Foundation: www.osaycanyousee.org