Rising up

Lancaster-based From Ashes To New has garnered nearly 10 million streams off its debut album, “Day One,” and sold 150,000 CDs.

From their first tour supporting Five Finger Death Punch to their latest co-headline with Ice Nine Kills, they have been making fans all over the world.

But the success comes from humble beginnings. From Ashes to New founder and frontman Matt Brandyberry’s lifelong interest in music progressed along a wide-ranging path: He was an ardent hip-hop fan who wrote rhymes while in junior high, then learned piano and guitar. He pursued music with a passion, ignoring warnings from naysayers around him who shook their fingers in disapproval, asserting that he was doomed to fail and would never amount to anything.

His early musical efforts were straight-up rap, and he couldn’t get anything happening with it. “People would say, ‘You aren’t a rapper. You are white. Just quit. Just get a real job.’ And I eventually thought I would be that regular 9 to 5 guy.”

To make matters worse, he was making bad choices. “Most of what I have done has been a failure,” he admits with an unsettling candor. “Things I fell into. Things I believed. I was pretty damn good at baseball, but I made bad choices. I ruined it. I fell into a bad crowd, getting in trouble, and partying too much. I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing instead of following what could have been a career choice.”

“Itʼs important for people to inspire each other and encourage success. We’ve spent too much time as humans hating each other and trying to tear each other down. We just want to reintroduce a little positivity to what seems like a pandemic of pessimism.”

From Ashes to New frontman Matt Brandyberry

Brandyberry found a steady job as a cable TV installer and had to relegate writing and performing to his off-hours and weekends. Rap gave way to joining local rock bands, but his creative contributions ended up being frustratingly limited.

He was making good money doing the 9 to 5, but he didn’t have an outlet for the music he was starting to hear in his head, and the voices of people who discouraged him grew louder and almost caused him to lose his focus.

By pushing past the negativity with From Ashes to New, a rock band with a point of view, he found his voice, performing powerful songs that speak of redemption, liberation, and personal salvation.

Brandyberry used money from a workers’ compensation settlement to begin the FATN journey. At the time, it seemed like yet another questionable choice. Investing his life savings into what amounted to an underground studio-only project, Brandyberry did so in order to generate the quality recordings which eventually got the band some attention. Formed barely two years ago, the band consists of the cream of Lancaster’s underground scene. “We have all played with each other in old bands and other projects,” explains Brandyberry. “And when those things stalled or fell apart, the guys who wanted to take things a little more seriously began to gravitate toward FATN. It all came together incredibly organically and we clicked almost instantaneously. It was a real ‘Aha!’ moment, like this was the band we should have been in all along.”

PW recently caught up with Brandyberry to talk all things FATN and the impact the Philly music scene had on him and the group.

The band comes from humble beginnings, and, like many groups, members have come and gone over the years. What sets this version of FATN apart from the rest? Why is it working so well now?

The chemistry is just right now. We all know what we want to do and how to achieve it. The quality of our new music and esthetic shows it, but sometimes you just know when itʼs right.

Your bio says your message is true to life, raw and genuine, and your music is a testament to positive inspiration for the people of the world that they, too, can take risks and not settle into an expected life of mediocrity. Why is it important for your music to inspire people and be more than just a catchy tune?

Itʼs important for people to inspire each other and encourage success. We’ve spent too much time as humans hating each other and trying to tear each other down. We just want to reintroduce a little positivity to what seems like a pandemic of pessimism.

Talk a little about the creative process. How does the writing process work? How do your songs come together?

In the past, we would all sit together in a room and write for days on end. We approached it a bit differently with this record and wrote the majority remotely while on our own. Sending ideas back and forth and FaceTime chats is what consumed many summer nights.

Everything we write is based on feel. The best songs come together organically and you get that “I know it” feeling. If it takes too much time itʼs usually a classic case of overthinking and that idea often gets abandoned.

FATN is based close to Philly, and you have said that, as a young kid, you were obsessed with the cityʼs hip-hop scene. Has the music scene in Philly influenced the band at all? Do you still find inspiration from some of the hip-hop artists of days gone by?

A lot of hip hop from the late ‘90s all the way up until recently has influenced FATN. As for Philly rappers, Beanie Sigel, Vinnie Paz, and even Fresh Prince were some I listened to all the way back as far as I can remember. Meek Mill is doing a damn good job at carrying the torch for the cityʼs hip hop movement these days. I take a lot of different approaches to my flows and lyrics, but I can definitely say Iʼm still heavily influenced by my roots…no pun intended to, well, you know who, haha.

How has the virus outbreak affected your touring plans? Do you still have shows scheduled in the coming months? How are you spending any downtime from canceled shows?

The virus has truly affected our world pretty drastically. Being entertainers puts us in large crowds on a daily basis, so we were the first to shut down. We unfortunately had to cancel a few shows at the end of a tour in March and are uncertain what the near future holds for another tour planned in May. 

Iʼm spending the downtime as I would if we were in between tours. Spending as much time with the family, coming up with fresh ideas for the image of the band, and writing music. Staying home is something I enjoy while not touring.

In the “old days,” musicians were largely dependent on radio to get their music to the masses. Now we have streaming sites, social media, etc. Talk a little about how you utilize technology to not only get your music to your fans, but also interact with them? Do you enjoy the online interaction, or is it more of a burden?

We love our fans and our fans know it. We interact as much as humanly possible. We try to do live feeds, Q&Aʼs, contests, and tons of other stuff to keep in touch with our fanbase. Some of our fans have asked the same question about being a burden. …That could literally never happen. We will always be here for those who have been there for us.

Whatʼs ahead for FATN – post virus? Back on the road? New music? Where do you want to be five years from now?

We are going about this as if the virus is going to go away and our touring plans for May will continue. We are planning some dope touring ideas for summer too. The best music we’ve ever created is coming very soon. 

Five years from now we plan to be doing our own arena headlining tours and inspiring kids all over the world to go out and achieve their dreams the same way we did.

  • Eugene Zenyatta was raised on old-time Memphis 'rasslin' and strongly prefers the company of dogs to people. His greatest heartbreak came in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic.

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