Talks with Donice Cully of Fall Back Plan
CEV: You have a pretty powerful voice when it comes to the music I have heard you singing with Fall Back Plan. When was it that you first became interested in singing?
Donice: I actually wasn’t interested in singing until my early teens and even then I wasn’t sure if I was truly “interested”. I was into drama as a child and along with theater came musical theater. Singing was required in many of the plays I did. People thought I was good at it, so I joined the church choir and just went with it.
CEV: Were there any particular groups or vocalists that when you heard them you just said wow, I want to be able to do that with my voice and music?
Donice: Haa… yes! I grew up on gospel and R&B but there was always something very intriguing about rock vocalists. I really liked the energy and often admired vocalists like Axle Rose and other popular leads from the 90’s era. From that point, I knew I wanted to do something different with my voice, something not typical for an African American female. I wanted to combine the two and create a style unique for me.
CEV: Did you have any encouragement from family or friends in regards to your singing and if so how important is that for someone just starting out in a musical career?
Donice: Tons! My family and friends have always been supportive, sometimes too supportive. In this industry, you need that though. It’s so cut throat, that without support, it’s easy to become discouraged.
CEV: When was it that you decided that you were going to pursue a career as a singer and what were the first steps that you took to make this happen?
Donice: I went to college for theater and wanted to pursue acting, but opportunities in singing came far more frequently. Everyone wanted a female solo artist or “hook” girl for their tracks. At 17 I started jumping on opportunities to perform solos around town and linked up with a hip hop group, called Track Starz, and became a “hook” girl…. you know…. the sexy female voice you hear in the background or singing the choruses.
CEV: Tell me about some of your first performances in front of an audience. Was it what you thought it was going to be like?
Donice: Haa, no! You always imagine performing in front of a large group of people who are all interested in hearing you. The truth is, sometimes there’s only a handful of people there and most times they are NOT there to see you. Until you build a fan base, performances are nerve wrecking. I consider myself experienced and I still get butterflies.
CEV: Is there a particular style of music that you feel more comfortable with in regards to your vocal work? Why ?
Donice: I’m pretty much all over the place. I believe that if you have a defined vocal
styling, you can pretty much sing whatever you want. A vocalist shouldn’t have
to change their style to accompany the music.
In the end,
CEV: What was the first band that you worked with and how did that get started?
Donice: My first band was a hip hop, rock, reggae band called Power Movement Project. The lead singer and I grew up together and were members of the same youth choir. We ran into each other at a party and to make a long story short… I told him I was a singer and he said his band was looking for a female back up vocalist. I auditioned and toured with them for about 2 years.
CEV: What was it that you learned musically in regards to furthering your career from each experience with a band or with each collaboration that you did?
Donice: Chemistry, commitment, talent, and determination!
CEV: So how did you come to be involved with your current project Fall Back Plan?
Donice: Let’s see, Ken, our drummer has years of training in different styles of music. He offers variation and diversity. Geoff and Brian have been working together for years and have a very strong writing chemistry.
Writing with them comes naturally, there may be some disagreements now and them, but in the end we are all happy with the results.
CEV: Is everyone in the group involved in writing the material that you perform as a band? How is it that during the writing process that everyone gets to have some input into the songs?
Donice: I’d say that we all are involved equally. An idea is normally generated by one member and the other members add to or take away making the song universally accepted.. Normally, the guys work together to create the music and I create the melodies and lyrics.
CEV: Where does the subject matter come from for the songs that you are writing and performing as FBP?
Donice: Life, mine and others.
CEV: How important is it for a band to establish themselves on a local level in their hometowns before venturing out onto the national stage?
Donice: Very! I believe it helps you to grow as an artist, discover yourself, and gain stage experience. It also creates a small buzz and helps you to build relationships.
CEV: What is it that you learn from your live performances about your music and what you might want to do with it?
Donice: Whenever we perform, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We normally feel the crowd out. If they are “feeling” the music, we know it works. If we don’t get good feedback, we rethink.
CEV: Being on the road and working so closely together does FBP feel like a family at times and how does this help or hinder your performances?
Donice: Haaa…. We ARE family! I believe this is why we perform well together. We love and fight like siblings and like siblings we forget and move on like nothing happened.
CEV: I¹m curious about the name Fall Back Plan. Tell me how the group came up with that name?
Donice: Yes, Fall Back Plan! Well, when Brian (guitarist) called me to collaborate, we named the music files we worked on (the fall back plan). We recorded and saved songs under that name. I was in a band at the time, so the idea was that IF our current bands didn’t work out, we would have a “fall back plan”.
CEV: Your EP called Starting Over is out now along with a new video. Why name it Starting Over? What is it that you are starting over from and what kind of new beginning is it for you and the band?
Donice: We have all been in bands before where we felt like there was something missing. Now, we feel like we have all the right elements and we are starting over, the way that it should be.
CEV: Have you been encouraged by fan reaction to Fall Back Plans EP so far and when can we expect the full length CD from you and the band?
Donice: Fans are great! They have really encouraged us in so many ways, and just like we have fans we also have people that don’t like our music. We have been called that “chick” band often, and while we are able to win some people over, some still don’t like the idea of a female rock vocalist. Our full length is to be expected by first of the year and we are so stoked.
CEV: Will you be out on the road touring in the next few months spreading the word about Fall Back Plan and the EP Starting Over? Are you looking forward to getting out there and introducing your music to new fans?
Donice: Yes, we are confident that the EP along with the new material is going to be a success. We are gaining a lot of local press and positive feedback. I can’t wait to take this to a bigger level.
CEV: With the web sometimes we forget that local radio still helps artists introduce their music to new listeners. How has FBPs music done with radio stations in your area and how much has this exposure helped to create a buzz about your sound?
Donice: 98rock Baltimore is our local rock station and not only have they supported our band, but DJ Matt Davis is personally responsible for many of the opportunities we’ve had to open up for national acts and be heard by people on a national level.
CEV: Any final thoughts about FBP's music or what ahead for the band during the rest of 2008 and into 2009?
Donice: Get ready! I have a good feeling we’re gonna hit the ground running. =)
CEV: Well I'm sure the CD will do great if it is more of what we see on the EP. Good luck and I wish you and the band all the best for 2009.