Tell me a little about the band and the story behind the name.
Singer Tom Spartinos and Bassist Sam Trestman have played in numerous bands over the course of 15 years. In the summer of 2007, Sam went to college and Costas Themistocleous to over the bass player role. In the winter of 2009, Trestman was tragically hit by a car in Binghamton, NY which almost took his life. “It was such a life-changing experience for us and a slap in the face at the same time” explains Singer Tom Spartinos. But due to the accident, the band started to connect on a deeper level and find a sacred bond. Upon Sam’s departure from college and after a long period of healing, the trio began to jam. Persona was officially born in the summer of 2011. Upon a small period of playing as a 3 piece, bassist Will Suraci joined the band and guitarist Costas Themistocleous took over lead guitar. The now quartet spent the next few years releasing 2 EPs, touring and opening up for acts such as Third Eye Blind and Twenty-One Pilots. In the spring of 2014 after the release of “Mayday, We Crashed”, Persona went stagnant. A number of personal issues resulted in the band laying low. Throughout the time Singer Tom Spartinos and guitarist Costas Themistocleous were writing and demoing new songs and ideas. In the spring of 2017 bassist Will Suraci departed the band and was followed by drummer CJ Kostaras formerly from Giants at Large began to jam and write with the band, resulting in Sam Trestman taking back over on the bass. Persona is now Tom Spartinos (Vocals and Guitar), Costas Themistocleous (Guitar), Sam Trestman (Bass) and CJ Kostaras (Drums).
The name was inspired by the split personality, bipolar, as we like to describe sound to our music. We believe each song is different and relates you to a certain emotion or feeling. The sound is some songs are sometimes edgy and very progressive, and then in others, it’s this bright and happy pop rock feel. The name Persona was absolutely inspired by the sound.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
The band’s sound has a split personality. We don’t necessarily cater to one sound or genre, so to speak. Each song is its own animal with its own feeling. Some songs can be indie and edgy, a little on the harsher side while other songs are bright and poppy. Happy music we like to call feel-good songs.
How long have you known each other and where did you meet?
Tom Spartinos and Sam Trestman have been playing in bands together for the last 15 years or so. They met back in Jr. High School when Tom moved out to Bethpage from Queens. Tom met Costas Themistocleous in the summer of 2006. They didn’t really get along with each other too much but had mutual friends so we’re pretty much around each other a lot. As the time went on their friendship progressed. Costas met Sam through Tom on Halloween of 2007 but did not really get acquainted until later on around 2009. The band met CJ Kostaras in 2010 through mutual friends and they maintained a friendship over the course of the years. It wasn’t until the spring of 2017 that CJ joined the band, after a long run with GIants at Large.
How have you evolved since starting the band?
We have grown a lot over the course of this band. We were in our early 20’s when this band started. Young and itching to play. While we were having a good run and a great time doing it, the weight of our personal lives took over and forced us to take a step back from the band individually. We never broke up or announced anything of a sort. We just catered to our responsibilities. We continued writing, demoing and playing out when we could but it wasn’t anything too serious. Around the winter of 2016, we started recording these songs we kept quiet for 3 years. In the spring of 2017, we came out of hiding and started releasing. Honestly, as much as it hurt to be stagnant and quiet for so long, I think it was for the good of the band and for us. We have grown up so much over the course of the years and we believe growing and maturing as individuals have propelled our music collectively.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band?
I wouldn’t really say there has been a biggest challenge. Some have definitely felt larger than others but it’s more of what we have faced. We got held up in a messy cycle recording our sophomore EP which held up a lot of booking and a steady album release. We have all struggled with personal demons that have held us back and has almost forced key members to walk away. The member changes were a big pain for us as well. Our challenge now is trying to find a steady booking agent, haha. We are looking to reach as many people in as many states and countries as possible. But we like challenges. They help us grow and they make us better.
What’s the ultimate goal for the band?
To leave an impact on somebody’s life. The ultimate goal for this band is to reach and touch as many people as we can. The most beautiful thing about music to us is it can be a relation and an understanding to an individual who just feels no connection or a static connection. We love to hear people’s thoughts and feelings when listening to our music. If we can change one person’s life, we have done our job. But if we can impact a mass, then we have reached our ultimate goal.
“Indie Cowboy” is very powerful and melodic. Is this a preview of what the new album will sound like?
It is definitely a preview of some of what you will hear on the upcoming EP. This definitely will be a side for sure!
When is the new album coming out?
We will be headed to the studio in November of 2018 to start recording and production. We anticipate a release sometime in 2019.
Describe what “Indie Cowboy” is about?
To us, this song is about being introduced and enveloped around chaos and problems. Being surrounded by a cruel world, cold people and things you just can’t change. It’s about walking away even if that means walking alone. About standing up for your morals, beliefs, and ideas and isolating away from what you can. It’s about creating your road and not walking a broken path. It’s about taking the higher road.
What would be your dream tour?
Wow, this is hard! A dream tour would be touring with Third Eye Blind, Blink-182, Against Me! Green Day, Minus the Bear, The Story So Far, Circa Survive. So many inspiring bands out there, but these would be our top picks!
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration?
Life. The experiences we have been through, the feelings they have made us feel. The blacks and whites of this beautiful life we were given is our main inspiration.
What is your songwriting process?
Each song is different and has its own process. But usually, almost always the music comes first. A riff or a couple chords with a vocal melody start it. And depending on what that riff or melody feels like is where we bring the remainder of the song. There’s no real set process other than the fact that the feeling of the sound inspires the emotion that will be outlined.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Musically: Third Eye Blind and Blink-182 are the most impactful. Without these 2 bands, I’m not too sure that any of us would be playing music. I know, cliché, haha. But these bands have definitely brought us into the pop-punk and alternative world. Throughout the years we have found influences in several artists in and out of the genre. I believe this is why we tend to not stick with one sound.
Non-Musical: Life. Every day we wake up and we are in this beautiful world. We experience different things and they make us all feel different ways. Though there might be people going through similar and feeling similar to you, your experiences and feelings are yours. Music is a great way to express these emotions through.
Who writes the songs?
Tom is definitely a majority of the songwriter. But we have all written songs that have been used in Persona before. There is no one set songwriter. One of us shows a new riff or something they’ve been working on and if we’re all like YES! Then we get to work on it as soon as we can. Lyrically it’s all Costas and Tom.
Describe your show, visual and musically.
We have experimented a lot with our show over the years. But more recently we try to make it as big and raw as possible. We are not opposed to backing tracks and midi, but we always have appreciated going to a show a watching a great rock band absolutely dominate their set and then you find out it was literally 4 dudes, with instruments amps and pedals. No special FX no “Hollywood”. There is something magical about that. We try to get the crowd involved as much as possible. Seeing people go nuts is so motivating. When I see that I want to play harder and tighter and give you everything I got.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I know the impact music has had on my life and well being. 2 inspiration avenues to keep me writing and sharing music are self and others. Writing and playing music is so therapeutic for me. It is something I could never explain, but when I am having a bad day, getting lost in some of my favorite records or even new ones is so relinquishing. On the other avenue are the fans, the people who are impacted by the music. Something so special about getting a tweet or message or letter saying because of you I didn’t give up or I was having such a garbage day and I heard your music and it instantly took me out of my head. Honestly, it is so heart-warming. It’s definitely fuel for this engine.
What advice would you give fellow bands?
The music industry is hard and cutthroat enough. Stop making it harder for yourself and surrounding bands. The best business is a friendly business. There is no need to climb over people and affect others on your path to get where you are going. I am a firm believer in treating people right and doing the right thing. It’s time we open doors, bonds, and relationships with more than just the band that’s semi bigger than you. This is supposed to be a community for everybody, where anybody can hang. Stop cliquing out and making it something it really is not. It’s about all of us. Not just you.
What do you think musicians can do to make the world a better place?
Well for starters, stop assaulting and abusing your fans! Musicians are given a platform that not everybody can say they have. To certain people in the world their favorite band, artist or musician is their biggest role model and that can have an everlasting effect on someone. Use your voice and use your platform to do good, to bring good and to spread love. There is no more room for hate, anger, and abuse of power in this world. Too much of that goes on as it is.
Anything you would like to share, from new merch to upcoming shows/tours or songs/albums?
We will be releasing another 2 singles accompanied by music videos before September. We will also be doing some dates and tours around the North East over the summer and will be taking August off to vacation and spend time with our loved ones. We will be hitting the studio in November to start our 3rd EP and are planning a 2019 release. We will also be releasing new episodes of our web series BONEHEADZ! Keep an eye out on our YouTube channel for that! Thank you for being a part of our family and coming along this journey with us. We love you.