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More Than Ready

Buffalo's More Than Me hits the big time

Every legendary band starts somewhere. Sometimes there’s that one event that changes everything.

It can be difficult for some bands to recognize that moment, but for Buffalo-based rock band More Than Me, this is their moment. After 10 years of touring the country in a van, playing acoustic gigs in coffee shops for extra gas money, More Than Me have earned their chance to shine by beating out hundreds of acts nationwide to win the Hard Rock Ambassadors of Rock Battle of the Bands. Their prize: a chance to play the main stage at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London, opening for legendary acts Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and Pearl Jam.

But their fun doesn’t stop there. They travel straight from London to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to play at the epic 11-day festival known as Summerfest, where they will share the stage with acts like Santana, O.A.R, and the Roots, only to return back to Buffalo, where they’ll prepare to release their debut full-length album.

AV caught up with the guys, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ryan Jacob Doyle, his brother and drummer Todd Doyle, guitarist Joe Nicastro, and bassist Justin Rizzo, as they packed their bags.

AV: How many bands were involved in the Ambassadors of Rock contest?

Justin: There were 150 bands from 26 Hard Rock Café locations. From there the judging panel whittled it down to 10.

Ryan: They videotaped two songs from each band to send to the national judges. The judges chose us and our song “Momma Said.”

Todd: We’re glad they picked that song because it has a really unique stage setup. We’re going to close with it at Hard Rock Calling in London.

AV: Before this, what is the furthest away from Buffalo you’ve ever toured?

Justin: We’ve been touring for five or six years. The last tour we went on we got down to the Mexican boarder.

Ryan: We’ve done some West Coast dates where we’ve flown over, but it’s mostly just been us driving our van. We’ve been fortunate to get some local sponsors, so for the last few years we’ve been driving around in a Mighty Taco van.

Joe: We’ve run into some sketchy places. We drove into the wrong part of town in Philly once and this weird lady walked up to our van and she was just like “Oh Mighty Taco? I have a mighty taco!” We tried to get the hell out of there and I think we caused an accident or something.

Todd: We usually like to send out good karma, but in that situation it was just like “See ya!”

AV: What kind of buzz do you think this contest has created for you?

Todd: Hopefully this will jump us up to the next level. It’s like we’ve got our masters degree, it’s time to get our doctorate, and that means opening up for these huge acts.

AV: What was it like when you found out you won?

Joe: They drew it out until the last minute.

Todd: I rolled up on my bike and Ryan was like “Hey, does your luggage fit on that motorcycle? Because we’re goin’ to fuckin’ London!”

Ryan: We all ran into each other by accident the day we found out. We were with some friends but we couldn’t tell anybody because it hadn’t been officially announced and if someone posts it on Facebook, it goes out to the world. There was definitely a lot of weird eye contact going on between the four of us.

Justin: The next day we were waiting for them to actually announce it. The four of us got together at Joe’s house. I brought two bottles of champagne and classy Todd over here brought four 40s.

Ryan: We just wanted to go through our phones and tell everybody. They finally called us and told us it had been officially posted. We toasted our 40s and popped open our champagne. Rizzo took his shirt off and ran out onto Sheridan Drive.

AV: Who are you most excited to share the stage with?

Justin: There’s not a bigger name in music than Paul McCartney. To me it’s three different crowns of music royalty. You’ve got Sir Paul McCartney, but just as important to music is Pearl Jam and Stevie Wonder.

Joe: Sir Stevie Wonder! They should all be Sir.

Justin: Sir Pearl Jam.

Ryan: There is not a better blue print for a band to operate on than Pearl Jam. They did it all DIY. They have a cult following and they’re mainstream at the same time. I’d love to sit down and talk to those guys. The three headlining artists really cover the whole spectrum of our band too. Todd’s my older brother and he brought me up on rock music, and Stevie Wonder is one of my biggest influences when it comes to singing.

AV: If you run into Sir Paul backstage, do you have anything prepared to say to him?

Justin: I’m afraid I might just barf. Someone asked me the other day if I would be too nervous to speak, but I’m not worried about nothing coming out, I’m worried about everything coming out.

AV: What were some of the ways you generated votes?

Joe: We went to the Dave [Matthews Band] show and brought a couple hundred Jell-O shots with us. If you voted for More Than Me you got a Jell-O shot, if you wrote “go to” on your car, you got another shot.

Ryan: Shouldn’t this be off the record? Let’s just say we brought a couple hundred root beers…

Justin: The truth is we drank the majority of the root beers.

Joe: The best part was that when people were leaving the show all of the cars had our website written on them, so imagine that buzz.

AV: It’s crazy because it’s a national event and you’re competing to win a chance to play with Paul McCartney, but it really comes down to the grassroots effort.

Todd: Damn right.

Justin: Being from such a small market like Buffalo helped us so much. We had not just one newspaper writing us up but all of them. Not just one radio station, all of them. Buffalo was the David to everyone else’s Goliath.

Ryan: We really worked hard to put ourselves on the map here in Buffalo, but it really put our touring into perspective too. When this contest happened we got on the horn with all of the bands we’ve met along the way. We had people in Tallahassee, Florida writing us up on the Internet, people in Findlay, Ohio not letting people into a bar unless they voted for us.

Joe: It felt like we were running a political campaign.

AV: Where do you go from here?

Todd: Our album is going to be the staple. It’s the cap to this whole experience.

Justin: It’s our introduction, 10 years in the making.

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