List your band members and the instruments that they play.
Zach Dietsch – Vocals
Pat McAndrew – Guitar
Tom Mayer – Guitar (interviewee)
Cody K – Bass
Matt Bratcher – Drums
How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?
Lucky for me, for the first time ever, this is pretty self explanatory. We’re used to being on the road where people have no idea what the rust belt is and as a result have no idea what the heck we’re saying when we spit our band name to them with our harsh Buffalonian vowel accents. Back in 2008, we thought it would be really cool to have band name that embraces the tenacity of the region that we come from. To me the lights part was always about bright lights in dark times. It’s that hope and positivity that the people from around here always seem to have that our city is and can be great, even though it’s often a tough sell to outsiders. It’s great because it’s an original name and that makes us easy to find on the internet, but it’s not so great saying it 3 times every time someone asks.
When and why did you start playing?
I took piano lessons at 6, saxophone at 9 and I think I picked up the bass/guitar when I was about 12. I don’t remember my motivation for the first two instruments, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt that my dad was a sax guy in a local jazz group back in his hey day. As for the guitar, I knew for sure that I wanted to be in a punk rock band the first time I ever went to a local show at the conservation club in Dunkirk, NY. All of the bands were probably awful, but at the time I was so impressed that all of these normal guys from around town were writing and performing original music. That year I also attended Fred Fest at SUNY Fredonia, Warped Tour at Lasalle Park and my uncle took me to an awesome show at the Showplace Theater. I was hooked on the energy, speed and emotion of the music. Rust Belt Lights started playing shows in 2009, but we’ve all been playing since we were really terrible and too young to know it. I’m sure all of the guys could tell a similar fun story about how they got into underground music. That’s what it’s all about.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?
I think what I really had a knack for at a young age was getting side tracked while practicing and figuring out the melodies of songs I knew from the radio. It seemed like I naturally had a good ear. Even before hearing any punk bands, I always wished I was playing like 90s alternative rock instead, which wasn’t really working out on the piano. I have broader taste now, but at the time I was like “What’s this piano for? I need a guitar.” One time, my piano teacher and I worked out a rendition of a Bush song for a piano recital while all of the other kids probably played like Beethoven or Mozart. The piano is a great instrument though. I wish I was better at it.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
I went to Fredonia State, about a year and a half for sound recording technology. They mostly talked about music like it was this black and white thing. They talked about the rules of music. I wanted to talk about music as an art form and break the rules. So I dropped out and went on tour. It was a lot more fun!
What’s your day job?
Ah yes, of course…. The dreaded day job. I eventually took classes online while touring and got an IT degree. Gotta have a backup plan, right? I currently apply that knowledge at HEALTHeLINK, the clinical health care information exchange for WNY. Zach is a salesman, Pat is a Micro Biologist, Cody delivers for Edie’s (the best pizza in Hamburg), and Matt cooks chicken. He also brought smoking a turkey in a trash can to the free world. It’s delicious.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
We just signed with Adeline Records last fall. It’s a small indie/punk label in California. The guys over there were nice enough to put out our sophomore full length entitled “Religion & My Ex” on 12″ LP, CD and digital formats. You can stream the record in it’s entirety at adelinerecord.bandcamp.com
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Our record release show for “Religion & My Ex” is this Friday night at The Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave). We are playing with other WNY acts Cedar Kites, Ben Kotin, Dangerfield, and No Prevail. Doors are at 6PM and things will get started shortly after that. Hope to see some new faces out there!
@rustbeltlights on twitter and instagram
Friday, March 14th @ The Waiting Room
$10 Presale / $12 at the door
The Waiting Room
334 Deleware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202
See more Sounds of Buffalo:
If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending buffalo rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. The requirements are: