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Reach NYC. Left to right: Dante Renzi, Dan Martinez, Rene Mata, Nick Cavagnaro, Richie Cipriano
Formed on Long Island, New York in 1996 by ex-Sick of It All bassist Richie Cipriano, who switched to guitar for the new project, Reach was originally fronted by ex-Bad Brains singer Israel Joseph I and later Jason MacDonald. The band also included bassist Juan Azize and drummer Mike Marquez. Rene Mata soon took over vocal duties and the band had two songs with his voice featured in the 1997 compilation "New York Underground! Hardcore And Beyond! Volume One!". The band was active on the New York hardcore and alt. metal scene, sharing the stage with future giants such as Papa Roach and System of a Down and playing festivals like the Warped Tour. They recorded a self-titled demo album in 2000 with Dante Renzi replacing Marquez on drums.
Reach was signed by Lava/Atlantic president Jason Flom after a strong performance at a label showcase and entered the studio in 2002 with producer Jay Baumgardner to record their self-titled debut under the name Reach 454 which came out in summer 2003 following their debut single 'Wake Up.' The album marked the first release with a new line-up that included bassist Dan Martinez and ex-Day in the Life drummer John Kamoosi. Dante Renzi had left the band just a month before they got signed but came back in 2004, replacing Kamoosi, after they were dropped from the label. He is their drummer since then.
In 2006 the band changed its name to Fight Of Your Life with the addition of second guitarist Nick Cavagnaro and signed with Gig Records. Through the independent label, they released an EP titled "The Phoenix" later that year with production by duo Scrap 60 with co-production by Paul Logus on two tracks ('Chasing Yesterday' and 'Heartbreak In Threes') and mixed by Jay Baumgardner. The EP included a second collaboration with Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach (the first one being 'Come Apart'). The band toured under this name until 2009, sharing the stage with Papa Roach, Helmet, Blindside, Ill Niño, The Exies, 10 Years and Seemless. Watch below videos of their performances of 'The Phoenix And The Fall' and 'Highway To Hell' (originally by AC/DC) at the Retox rock bar in New York City on November 9, 2006.
The group released the compilation album "Demo Dayz" in 2008 under the name Reach 454. The collection consists of several tracks from the "Reach" album (excluding 'Four Years,' 'Last Time' and 'Tripp'), a cover of Quicksand's 'Worlds Fastest Car,' a radio edit of 'Come Apart,' a demo their single 'Growl (Wake Up),' a previously unreleased song titled 'Fully Loaded (With The Safety Off),' and new versions of '6 Years' and 'In Your Arms' done with Scrap 60. This version of '6 Years' also featured guitars by Page Hamilton from Helmet.
They changed names once more to Static Summer and self-released the "This Is Who We Are" EP in 2009, followed by a self-titled promo sold on tour. Both featured a mix of select tracks from "The Phoenix" and brand new songs. 2010 saw the release of their debut single under the new name: 'She's Not A Lover.' They continued working on new material and launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 to help fund their record with producer John Bender and mixer Jay Baumgardner. The "Heartback, No. 1" EP came out in the following year and the band ceased activities.
In the meantime, having orchestrated Kara's Flowers (now Maroon 5) signing to Octone Records back in 2001, Rene Mata got his first A&R job at Columbia Records, kicking off a successful behind-the-scenes career. He went on to work at various record companies with bands like lovelytheband, Dreamers, Albert Hammond, Jr., P.O.D., Bass Drum of Death, Nevrlands, Ocean Park Standoff and Des Rocs. He now manages producers at AAM.
Rene Mata and Chester Bennington in New York City, 2017
Throughout the years, Chester Bennington, a close friend, encouraged Rene Mata to keep playing music. He had sent two songs to Chester under the band name Berlin After Midnight (named after the Berlin night club in NYC) and they came up with a plan: they'd post the first song, 'All Night Long,' online without any promotion, accompanied only by quotes from Mark Ronson, Matthew Pinfield, Jacoby Shaddix and Chester. This was done in early 2016 and the song quickly gathered up to 510k streams on Spotify.
Chester had presented the idea of a tour with Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Deftones, System of a Down, and Papa Roach, with Rene's band serving as the opener. Sadly, Bennington passed away and these plans did not materialize. In honor of Chester and Rene's close childhood friend Chris Logan, who also died by suicide, the second Berlin After Midnight track, 'We Carry On,' was released in August 2017 with proceeds going to the National Suicide Prevention.
After opening for P.O.D. at the Highline Ballroom in New York City on December 6, 2018 in what would be a one-off reunion show, Reach started orchestrating their comeback. Now called Reach NYC, the group reemerged in November last year with a new version of their second collaboration with Jacoby Shaddix, now cleverly titled 'Back From The Dead.' Rene told Boy Epic, the music video director, that the song is “about depression feeling lost, and fighting to take your life back. It was an affirmation to myself after losing my close friend Chester Bennington to suicide and thus found myself suffering from a deep depression afterwards myself.”
The second single, 'Automatic,' came in February and features additional guitars by Mark Morton. Rene explained in the press release: “It’s all about Nick Cavagnaro’s angular guitar attack and Dante Renzi’s machine-gunned, syncopated grooves. Melodically, I went for a ‘driving fast in your car’ melody attack on the verses, a climb on the pre-chorus, and a sledgehammer on the choruses. We also have a tasty ripper guest solo from my buddy Mark Morton from Lamb of God. It definitely gives you GN’R-Slash-circa-Appetite-for-Destruction feels. Jay Baumgardner topped it off with a bombastic mix!”
The band's latest offering came out this Friday, 25th, under the title 'Last Surrender.' The song originated from an old demo posted on Static Summer's social media in 2010 and details Rene Mata's battle with depression, addiction, alcoholism, and the loss of loved ones. Following Chester's death in 2017, Rene went through depression and relapsed after 25 years of being clean and sober. “In recovery, they have a saying that it’s the only war you’re going to win by surrendering. This song is about reclaiming your life through surrender.”
All three tracks are part of the "Back From The Dead" EP coming out on April 16, 2021 through The Orchard. See the tracklist below:
- Back from the Dead (feat. Jacoby Shaddix)
- Automatic (feat. Mark Morton)
- “If You Got Something To Say” (You POS Bonet)
- In Your Arms
- Heartbreak in Three's
- 6 Years (feat. Page Hamilton)
- Last Surrender
We've reached out to Rene Mata and he agreed to tell us a little about the upcoming EP and about his friendship with Chester Bennington and his recent involvement with Grey Daze.
Q: We have information you weren't the original vocalist for Reach, you took over once Jason MacDonald (Clock of the Long Now) left. How did you join the band?
Hi Gabriel yes that’s information we never tried hiding I’m actually the 3rd singer for Reach . Israel from the Bad Brains was the original and Jason came right after. I came in 1996 and have been the singer since..
Q: The band went through several names over the years: Reach, Reach 454, Fight Of Your Life, Static Summer and now Reach NYC. What caused these changes?
After the band was dropped from Lava. It’s definitely a traumatic time for us. We were trying to find ourselves and separate ourselves from Reach. Trying to get a new start. I think when we got back together it was really about embracing who we are and celebrating our past. Getting back to the basics. The love for each other and the music we make together....
Q: The original versions of "6 Years" and "In Your Arms" were featured in the Reach 454 album (Lava Records) from 2003 while "Heartbreak In Three's" and "Back From The Dead" (originally "The Phoenix And The Fall") were part of The Phoenix EP (Gig Records) from 2007. "Last Surrender" (2010) is also a song some fans knew from the Static Summer days. What made you come back and rework those songs after all this time?
Actually these are the original versions of both 6years & In your arms both songs produced by Rob Caggiano ( Volbeat guitarist) & Eddie Wohl. Howie Weinberg remastered them. Heartbreak in 3’s was all re-recorded produced by Rob Caggiano. Back from the dead is Recut with extra production from Chris Traynor & Esjay Jones . We changed that song by starting it with a chorus & extending the bridge.
Q: Some of the original demos featured contributions by Page Hamilton, Scrap 60 and Jacoby Shaddix. Did they re-record their parts for the Back From The Dead EP?
Those 2 were remastered..
Q: How was the recording process of the EP?
It was really about picking the songs we wanted to release. We felt like the original versions of 6 years & in your arms needed a proper release. We had so many songs written it was easy picking our favorites.
Q: One title that caught my attention was “If You Got Something To Say” (You POS Bonet). What's the story behind that?
It’s a personal story of a person that I let back into my life one to many times. A complete POS . Lying backstabbing narcissistic a hole . Every time I keep getting the same results . Every time I’m like why did I just do that...
Q: You became known in the Linkin Park community for the memories of Chester Bennington you've been sharing on Instagram since his passing in 2017. How did you two first meet?
We met at a concert by my house in Long Island . It was June 2001 Krock dysfunctional family picnic. Awesome show at my favorite outdoor summer time venue Jones Beach. STP, Blink 182, Staind, Papa Roach, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Crazytown, and Jane’s Addiction. We met watching there set we were both singing every word . He was coming back in a few weeks because he was on ozzfest . So we made plans to hang back in Long Island a few weeks later and we’re homies ever since.
Q: One of the stories you've shared was about recording the Reach 454 album at NRG Recording Studios when Linkin Park was there working on Meteora. There were reports at that time that Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn would be contributing to your album with production and programming respectively. Did the collaboration ever take place?
You know what I don’t know why it didn’t happen. Probably bc the timing wasn’t right . They were deep into there record . Chester and I totally planned on recording all summer at NRG so we could hang in LA . Chester pretty much coached me and helped me through all my recording of the vocals on the Reach 454 record. He stayed in the studio with me the whole time.
NRG circa 2002. Left: Rene and Chester. Right: Reach 454, Jacoby Shaddix and Chester
Q: You were involved with Grey Daze's recent album, Amends. Can you explain to fans what was your role in the album?
I a&rd the project . I picked the producers mixer set up the guest obviously all with Sean. I shopped the songs to labels & got them there record deal with Loma Vista Concord.
Q: How was it being part of this project? I imagine it must have been a very emotional experience.
It was very heavy on my soul.. I also felt like I knew what he would be into because we talked about all the music we loved over the years so much..
Q: What do you think of the final product? Do you see it as an improvement over their original albums Wake Me and ...No Sun Today?
The recordings were straight up from the 90’s . I think they made it at a time they were very young and the technology wasn’t so great . They didn’t have a producer. It was rough around the edges. We set out to restructure remake remix anything we had to do to make Chester the best he can sound. It was made with the goal to make all the songs we had sonically sound like it could compete today and most importantly about making Chester’s Vocals soar..... Yes we definitely accomplished that...
Q: To finish, can you tell us what is your favorite story (or stories) with Chester?
That’s a hard one I have so many! Lol I had Chester speak at my friends Music festival in Mesa Az . The Mesa Music Fest . I was speaking and my buddy Jay Baumgardner was speaking. I also had Richard Patrick from Filter Djing the after party. I wasn’t getting paid but they paid for my hotel flights and flights so I can bring my wife. So we were using it as a romantic weekend getaway Lol. Chester was the keynote speaker at the festival.. I also found out when I got there the mayor was giving him the key to the city. Since he’s the hometown boy. He missed his flight so I basically had to pick his ass up and drive straight to the keynote and he literally had to speak right away. Now this whole time they were offering him a hotel room but his plan was to speak and drive home because it was the twins birthday party. So I picked him up I’m not very good at keeping a secret. He’s like what’s up that weird smile on your face . I’m like what?? He’s like come on tell me. I was like your getting the key to the city LOL. So Chester speaks kills it. We go to the after party. There’s a line of 200 plus people waiting to take pictures and autographs. We’re hanging with Richard. He was the most grumpy Dj. I think Chester and my wife named him DJ grumpy cat... By the time we got out of the party we were hangry dying to eat. Everything must close early we couldn’t find anything open. We found a BBQ place . I’m like bring your damn key in the city in and tell them your hangry!! They flipped when they saw Chester and stayed open for us. Now it’s coming on midnight. He still has to go to the airport rent a car and drive back to LA. I’m like your insane. We are in our 40’s there’s no way you’re staying awake. His wife called him and said your nuts I got you a flight in the am. Now this whole time I was like just take the damn hotel room so you can unwind take a nap whatever. Of course he didn’t. We get to the hotel. Surprise it’s sold out. Guess who’s sleeping in my room on my romantic weekend getaway. Anyway we ended up laughing telling stupid stories so long my wife was like that’s it both you guys shut up and go to sleep lol... I miss him dearly