Despite everyone encouraging him otherwise, Matt Brandyberry couldn’t keep himself away from hip-hop.
As a child, he was allowed to listen only to Christian music. Then, at age 12, he made a discovery — rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.
“That was the first secular style of music I got into,” says Brandyberry, whose rap-rock band — From Ashes to New — will perform with New Years Day, Escape the Fate and Hellyeah at the Chameleon Club on May 4.
By age 15, Brandyberry was recording his own raps on a computer. He struggled to find a supportive audience for those early rhymes.
“Everyone told me to quit,” Brandyberry, an Elizabethtown Area High School alum, says.
Still drawn to music, Brandyberry picked up a guitar. He started playing in local bands, including metal/post-hard-core group Twelve After. When that group split, Brandyberry went to work on music in hopes of convincing his former bandmates to get back together.
What he came up with was “Live Again,” a song of regret, missed opportunities and, eventually, second chances.
He knew Chris Musser, a Penn Manor graduate, from playing shows together in the local music scene. Musser was a vocalist. Brandyberry decided to reach out to him to see if he’d be interested in collaborating on “Live Again.” Brandyberry hoped to rap while Musser would sing, with the music maintaining rock ’n’ roll roots.
“I was never huge into rap rock,” Musser says. “It took me some convincing to get into it.”
Musser was just one of several new members Brandyberry got to form the new band.
Around the same time, Brandyberry was eager to leave his job as a cable company service technician.
“I couldn’t picture myself at 60 years old climbing telephone poles and messing around with cable,” Brandyberry says.
He was determined to give music another try.
“Once I set my sights on something, I can’t stop until I have it,” Brandyberry says.
Musser agreed to work on the song, and the band posted “Live Again” on Facebook. Brandyberry skillfully utilized social media to engage their audience, asking for a certain amount of likes before posting another song.
The band doesn’t need to ask for likes anymore — it has 98,000 of them on its Facebook page.
From Ashes to New has toured with acts such as Papa Roach and All Time Low and sold 10,000 copies of its debut album in its first week.
“Just to have that quick amount of success, for me, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Brandyberry says. “I don’t know if it ever will.”
The group recorded its studio debut “Day One” at Lancaster’s Atrium Audio with Grant McFarland. McFarland and his Atrium partner, Carson Slovak, also have recorded acts such as August Burns Red and Texas in July.
“We think of him as the sixth member,” Musser says of McFarland. “He always comes up with good little tidbits for the songs. It’s always been a good experience. We’ll be back with him again.”
Brandyberry says the band is excited for the Lancaster concert: “We’re all pretty stoked to get back and play the Chameleon Club,” Brandyberry says.