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6 Degrees Entertainment

Relient K. Relient K.

'Exploring The Musical Values of The K!'

Mmhmm, the current hit album from Gotee/Capitol recording artists Relient K, has been certified gold by the RIAA for U.S. sales in excess of 500,000 units. The certification marks the band's second gold album, following this spring's RIAA sales award presentation for 2003's Two Lefts Don't Make a Right ... But Three Do.

The announcement comes as the Canton, Ohio-based band continues to thrill sun-baked North American audiences as a main stage act on this year's installment of the celebrated Vans Warped Tour.

Released last November, the Top 15 Mmhmm has proven to be Relient K's most successful outing to date, reaping unanimous critical commendations and the fastest sales of the band's career. Fuelled by non-stop road work - including last spring's arena/amphitheater tour alongside Good Charlotte and Simple Plan - the band's fourth album recently jumped 38 places to re-enter the top half of the Billboard 200 (spurred by a one-week 27 per cent sales increase).

In other Relient K news, the video for the album's first single, "Be My Escape," has been added into rotation on MTV this week - where it already in the Total Request Live (TRL) countdown. Small screen viewers may also take in the quartet's scheduled August 22nd appearance on ABC-TV's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, during which they will perform "Be My Escape" outdoors.

Relient K - Matthew Thiessen: vocals; Matthew Hoopes: guitar; Dave Douglas; drums; John Schnek; bass; John Warne - jumped onto the scene in 1998, quickly drawing praise for their idiosyncratic brand of melodic, optimistic, pop-injected punk. The quartet developed a reputation as one of the hardest working bands on the circuit, playing an average of 200 gigs a year. The constant touring paid off: Relient K's three Gotee-released albums - including 2001's The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek - each achieved stand out sales figures while expanding the band's loyal fanbase across the country.

By 2003, Relient K had become one of modern punk's biggest underground acts. Their third album, the gold-certified Two Lefts Don't Make a Right ... But Three Do was a Top 40 smash on the Billboard 200. The album garnered Relient K their first Grammy Award nomination.

Chatting recently with lead singer Matthew Thiessen, I first wondered - having played over 200 gigs a year back in the early days - what their traveling arrangements had consisted of? "We traveled in a 15 passenger van with a trailer. There are some things about traveling like that that are better than running around in a bus."

Please tell us one funny story about one such road trip from those days! "Oh wow. Our trailer would always be so weighed down that our brakes would go out sometimes. We had to go through a couple of red lights because we couldn't stop. That's funny, right?!"

Sure! ... and so that we're all on the same page, why were both Warne and Schneck brought in? "Well, Warne was our #1 choice for replacing our good friend (and ex-bass player) Brian Pittman. He had to basically adapt from playing guitar to playing bass, and its proven to be an excellent decision. Schneck was brought in to fill out our live sound with a 3rd guitar (and in instances where I'm playing piano - a 2nd guitar). He also plays bells, tambourine, banjo etc... We'll be giving him more duties in the future (more vocal parts and piano/organ/moog parts). He's a great musician and we're honored to have him with us."

Why is it that one minute I read that you are 'modern punks,' then that you're a 'Christian band' the next?! "Ahh ... Labels. Gotta love 'em. We're a rock and roll band. We are Christians. A lot of our songs include lyrical content about our faith. So, we don't get our boxer briefs in a bunch over what people call us. We're a lot of things, and we're cool with people acknowledging whatever they want."

If there was any song that you have recorded that really epitomized the band and what you stand for, what song would it be ... and why? "It would be 'I So Hate Consequences'. It's all about our life stories ... making mistakes, running from the consequences, and then realizing that life is about forgiveness and grace."

Is it true that you got your name from the car that Matt Hoopes used to drive around in back in the day ... and if so, why change the spelling in the manner that you did? "Hah ... We were 16 years old. Thought we might get sued by Plymouth for using the name of the car. Our ignorant minds thought a simple letter change would keep us in the clear. We actually registered our band name as Relient Kids and then spelled it 'Relient K.' like an abbreviation. Plymouth had stopped making the car by the time the band started, so I guess there was never a copyright threat!"

I have a warm, fuzzy devotion for penguins ... do any of you guys?! "I wanted to get a bunch of live penguins for a photo shoot one time. Just so we could play with them all day. We ended up just getting taxidermied ones!"

Away from music, what do you do given a free weekend? "Personally, I go running, see movies, go out for a game of darts or pool. During the NBA season I'll go to a couple of Cavs games. Hoopes loves golfing. Jon Schneck is a registered rodeo clown. Pretty darn good at it, too!"

Tell me more about your first paycheck ... what did you spend it all on and for what job did you get it? "3rd grade newspaper delivery. $7. It was only once a week, and I had to split the $21 with my two sisters. I saved it. Kept saving until I had a couple hundred bucks in the bank. I was one of the richest 4th graders in school!"

What cheesy '80s song would you love to cover if asked ... and why?! "Wow. So many good choices. We've covered 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,' 'Manic Monday,' 'We Built This City,' 'Straight Up,' 'You're The Inspiration,' and more. I'd like to do 'Come On Eileen'."

If there were just 3 words that described Relient K, what would they be? "Pun, Two, Three!"

Finally, if you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other musicians to aid you in the project (using no one from your band!), who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the song be?! "Brian Wilson (vocals), Jon Brion (vocals, drums, guitar, bass, and all those crazy instruments he has sitting around), Rufus Wainwright (vocals, guitar, piano) ... 'Anticipation.'"

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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