Reggie and the Full Effect isn't your typical rock band. Yet with its peculiar brand of synth-driven power pop combined with '80s hardcore and death metal, Reggie and the Full Effect has garnered a huge cult following over the years.
Though legend has it that Reggie is a middle-aged bluesman and ex-convict, he is actually sometimes Coalesce drummer and present Get Up Kids keyboardist James DeWees. With his most recent album, Under the Tray, laden with his usual infectious melodies, chunky riffs and wacky sense of humor, Reggie continues to amuse and befuddle minions of hardcore, metal and emo fans alike. Reggie's "friends" -- or, rather, his alter egos -- new wave artist Fluxuation and Finnish dark metal band Common Denominator, also make appearances on the album to mix things up a bit.
When DeWees isn't posing as Reggie, Fluxuation, or Common Denominator singer Klaus, he's just a regular guy who loves to go costume-shopping and dine out at Red Lobster. While on break from tour, Reggie -- er, I mean James -- took a moment to talk to Prefix Magazine...
Prefix Magazine: How have your few days off been?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: It's been awesome. Just hanging out with my puppy and my wife. And I've got all new wigs. Everything was starting to smell really bad so I got some time to do some dry cleaning and get some new shit for the stage. Tonight I'm going out with my wife and we're going to go eat at Red Lobster. It's all-you-can-eat crab month!
PM: You sure like the lobster.
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, whenever I can afford it. But when it's all-you-can-eat crab month you can't pass it up, because it's like $20 for two people and it's all-you-can-eat crab! PM: Do you get recognized when you're out? Is it kind of like the Hootie and the Blowfish thing, like you'll always be known as Reggie?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Well, it's weird; people call me all kinds of things. They call me Klaus and they call me Reggie and they call me James. My mom calls me Reggie now. [Laughs.] PM: I read somewhere that 12,000 copies of Promotional Copy [Reggie's second album] were returned...
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, when it first came out. We sent it to people at stores and they didn't know anything about it, so they opened up the box and saw nothing but "promotional copy." Because we made it look like a promotional copy, it totally tricked everybody that worked at music stores. The people at distros were returning it, so that was the joke of it. PM: Did you have any problems like that with Under the Tray [in which the CD is hidden under the tray]?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Oh yeah! On tour, kids would come up to the merch table after they bought the CD and they'd want a new one because the one they bought didn't have a CD in it. And our merch guy was just going, "Um, well you have to flip it. Read the CD, it tells you what to do." [Laughs.] And then kids would walk away feeling really stupid. They're just like "Oh. Ha, ha." It's fun when people can laugh at themselves and when they realize, "Oh crap, you got me." I mean, it's written right there on the record that the CD is under the tray. It just makes it more interesting than just opening up a record, because nowadays all the layouts of an album just kind of look the same. PM: You've got to make the kids work for the record.
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, yeah. You have to want this record. PM: Do you think only hardcore Reggie fans understand your sense of humor, or do you think more and more kids are starting to get Reggie now?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: All kids have to do is give it a chance and they'll realize that there's something funny in it for everybody. It's not just like this one-sided inside humor or whatever. There are so many different styles of music on it, that it's really for a person that's eclectic and with as short an attention span as myself, which I've noticed a lot of people are like me in that sense. And I like to go watch bands play, but for me, I like to put on three different shows at once and just make it an experience, so it's something you could walk away remembering. Like, "Oh God, and then they did this and they did this" instead of just like, "Oh, they just stood up and played." PM: What exactly are your influences for Reggie songs?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Well, not all the songs are as funny as the other ones. There are ones that are a little more serious. I think the inspiration comes from trying to entertain people and just doing it to the best of my ability and whether it's making people laugh or feel good, cheering somebody up or whatever, anything along those lines. Just having fun basically is the whole inspiration of it. PM: Like you mentioned, you have so different styles on the Reggie albums, such as the dark metal band Common Denominator. Do you have any tendencies to go toward the heavier stuff again, like when you were in Coalesce?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: I still kind of do. Coalesce was really, really heavy and I still have it in me. I still love playing Coalesce stuff and I love going to hardcore shows and there are so many hardcore bands that I love. That part of me will probably never die. I still like to play drums and scream and jump around and all that. PM: Would you consider doing another side project that was like Coalesce, or would you guys ever get back together again?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: [Laughs.] Yeah, we've already been talking about it actually. PM: What hardcore bands do you like? What have you been listening to?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: One of the bands I got to watch, and I was so stoked we got to actually play the same day in Austin as they did, was Every Time I Die. Coalesce played a birthday present show for the drummer in his basement in Buffalo like a year and a half ago. We just showed up in his basement at like 3 in the morning and played a show for him because we were one of his favorite bands. When I got their CD, I was just blown away by it, and live they're just sick and they're such nice guys. I also like Poison the Well, From Autumn to Ashes...there's a lot of new-style hardcore I like, but there's a lot of old-style hardcore that I like. I still love Dead Guy and um...God, just so many from touring. This band Turmoil from Philly from a long time ago, I still love them. This band Disembodied from Minneapolis, they're awesome. Actually, a lot of the bands that I love are bands that I've gotten to know personally and know the people that are involved in it, and that really helps. When you get to know the people that are around the music, and you know they're not assholes or anything, it makes you like them even more. Because a lot of times you'll run into people that are really pretentious about their stuff or someone who thinks their band is the best band in the world. Like "if you don't like our band, there's something wrong with you" or whatever. Like Darryl [Tabreski] from Snapcase is one of the nicest guys around. He can tell stories forever. He sat on our bus in Europe when Get Up Kids were over there and told us funny stories about some tours they did with Refused. He wasn't talking shit, they were just funny stories. Because you know, they're from Sweden and everything. [Laughs.] PM: Speaking of the Swedes, do you like any Swedish death metal?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Well, from being in Coalesce, I've listened to some black metal stuff like Sword Master, bands like that. And they're good bands. They're just good, solid musicians. I think death metal drummers are some of the best drummers around. I like that band Nile that's on Relapse. PM: Relapse has a lot of good stuff.
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, there's a lot of Relapse stuff I like. I love Mastadon. And Burnt By the Sun's an awesome band. But as far as the Swedish stuff, I read this book called The Lords of Chaos that's about all the black metal singers who were committing murder, like they were killing each other off. They took it so seriously, and it was like whoa. I don't understand how you could hate the rival band in your small village enough to go murder him. [Laughs]. PM: Do you have any band members lined up for your new Coalesce project or are you just talking about it?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, well it's me and Corey [White] from Coalesce. Corey's playing with me in the Full Effect and there's Sean [Ingram] from Coalesce. He does the Bear. PM: Hungary Bear.
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, and Sean's always down to do stuff. And Josh [Newton], who plays in the Full Effect, he was in a band called Shiner, but then they broke up. So he's doing this for the summer, but he's still looking for another thing to do. We're either going to start up Coalesce again or we're going to start another project. But whatever we do is going to sound like Coalesce with Sean singing, Corey playing guitar and me playing drums. [Laughs.] PM: Well, that's good for Coalesce fans.
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Yeah, we're an on-again, off-again band. We've broken up like eight times. But we don't break up on bad terms. It's just that Sean's got two little girls and I've got the Get Up Kids, and Corey's got another band called Esoteric, so we've all got other stuff to do. PM: So who's in your whole touring band for the Effect?
Reggie and the Full Effect: Part 1: Well, it's Ryan Pope from the Get Up Kids, Andy Jackson from Hot Rod Circuit, me, Josh Newton. Corey White, he played in Coalesce, Josh played in Shiner. Um, this girl Amanda, who was a bartender at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, she's the keyboard player. This is her first band.