Band pursues success for richer or poorer

Members of the band The Rich Kids are anything but rich. They each work at area fast food restaurants five and six days per week to pay their bills and afford musical equipment. Financial stability is important to the members, but they are committed to not cheating themselves out of their musical dream.

Members of the band The Rich Kids are anything but rich. They each work at area fast food restaurants five and six days per week to pay their bills and afford musical equipment. Financial stability is important to the members, but they are committed to not “cheating” themselves out of their musical dream.

Sweat and blood flying, false humility is nowhere to be found.

“We rock our asses off,” said Matt Long, 20, Carthage, lead guitarist and vocalist for local band The Rich Kids.

Passion and intensity aren’t distant ideals but an ear shattering reality at The Rich Kids’ concerts.

The members of the three-piece punk-emo rock band are not only talented musicians, but dedicated performers as well.

Brothers Matt and Luke Long, 21, Carthage, bassist and backup vocalist, started playing music when their father, a folk songwriter, “shoved” a guitar in their faces.

Cody Ward, 20, Carthage, drummer, discovered his love for music during his tumultuous high school years. After struggling academically, Ward threatened to drop out of school if he was dropped from band.

“It (music class) was the only thing I looked forward to at school,” Ward said.

The words the members use to describe their passion for music are the same ones a person might use when talking about love.

“It’s the only thing I want to do ever,” Matt said. “People ask me why I’m not in college, but something would have to happen to me for me to go. I would have to lose my hand or something. If not playing music is growing up, I don’t ever want to grow up.”

The members’ passion isn’t always the stereotypical rock-star lifestyle portrayed in popular movies. The members work long hours five and six days every week at fast food restaurants to support their musical habit.

“I work at Sonic six days a week so I can: A, make my car payment; and B, buy band equipment,” Matt said.

The majority of the time not spent at work is dedicated to practicing and performing. Because of this, the members admit they sometimes struggle to have a social life.

“I don’t have any time,” Matt said. “There’s not enough days in the week. All of a sudden it’s Friday, and I realize I haven’t done anything except practice or perform.”

Despite the pressures and sacrifices, the members are convinced they are fulfilling their destinies.

“I could be a business man or an engineer,” Matt said. “But I’d never feel like I was doing what I was meant to do, and that’s cheating yourself.”

Unlike many small bands, The Rich Kids aren’t afraid to dream big, and the members admit they want a successful career in the music business.

“Since this is the only thing I want to do with my life, I might as well be successful at it,” Matt said.

The members said they would like to have their songs played on the radio and tour Europe, but were careful to draw a distinction between money and success.

“If you’re trying to base your success on money, there are a lot of millionaires out there like the Backstreet Boys. The Backstreet Boys are millionaires and are considered to be successful, but I don’t want to be the Backstreet Boys,” Matt said.

The band and its music are so precious to the members they are ready to stand up for its honor like a friend’s little sister when threatened.

“If you don’t like it (our music) that’s cool,” Matt said. “But don’t question my motives, and don’t talk sh*t about my band.”

Some people have labeled The Rich Kids’ drive for success as “selling out,” but the members said they are simply doing the one thing they want to do.

“If you want to call it selling out, call it that,” Matt said. “But what’s more selling out? Doing what you want to do, wearing the clothes you want to wear and playing the music you want to play; or wearing their uniform and saying, ‘Welcome to Sonic, may I take your order?'”

While not necessarily expecting to become rock and roll legends, the band aspires to inspire its listeners and future generations.

“I aspire to be the best that I can be,” Matt said. “I would like nothing better than in 20 years to have some guy with a guitar say I was his inspiration.”

The journey of the late nights and small crowds is rewarded occasionally in little ways.

“The best thing was when we were selling this really sh*tty EP,” Matt said. “We did a show, and there were these girls standing in the front singing along with the songs, and I thought, ‘that’s cool.'”

The Rich Kids may look the typical rock band part, with torn jeans and old T-shirts, but the members said that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Maybe people think we’re trying to look like rock stars,” Matt said. “We just have cheap old clothes that we bought like six years ago, and we don’t have the money to buy new ones,” Luke said.

The band members compare their sound to the Foo Fighters and said although they come from very different musical backgrounds, the sound “meshes” well.

The songwriting is honest and from the heart. Matt said he isn’t good at writing abstractly or thematically, but he writes from his life experiences.

“I don’t think there are any songs we play that we don’t feel,” Matt said.

Whatever the future may hold, success or the dreaded “growing up,” the band members said they will never regret the experience they have been privileged to share.

“I’m probably further along than I thought I would be,” Matt said. “But if I had to stop I’d never regret it. Playing music just to play music is cool, but if you have ambition and aspiration, go for it.”

The Rich Kids have one album available, Out Breaking Windows, recorded July 2003 and plan to record a new album in Nashville sometime in May. A tour is scheduled for later this summer.

The band’s next performance is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. during the Finals Madness Picnic Friday at the oval.