Identical twins Justin (Bass/Vocals) and Johnny Santoro (Guitar/Vocals), along with Alex Zarzycki (Drums), are Still Standing. After getting their start in Philly in 1998 they’ve recently moved to L.A. and developed a commercial modern rock sound that still stays true to their punk roots.
Their early work attracted the ears of acclaimed songwriter/producer Marti Frederiksen (who has worked with the likes of Aerosmith, Motley Crue, and Buckcherry) and he soon got on board to help the band record their latest album, “Black and White”.
Q: There’s really something for every fan of modern rock on this album – hard rock, punk, plenty of catchy hooks – how has your sound evolved over the years?
A: Well, growing and evolving as a band has a lot to do with maturing as well as new inspiration and everyday life. New problems and new beginnings come and go. It’s been the three of us since we were teenagers and we each have our own lives and opinions on music, style and pretty much everything. All of these things play a huge part in our sound evolving through the years.
Q: The single “I Can’t With You” is a terrific highlight off the record. Can you tell us more about what that song means to you?
A: “I Can’t With You” expresses the struggle of a long distance relationship and how many sacrifices we make in our lives for the things we grow to love. Most of the time you “can’t have your cake and eat it too”.
Q: Another favorite of mine is “Do You Believe” – what is the story behind that song?
A: “Do You Believe” is definitely a story in the video, but this song just asks the simple question: “Why does it take tragedy, pain and regret to realize what’s right in front of you?” We thought that this song, with its meaningful lyrics, would be something everyone can relate to. It sends the message “anything can be taken from you with the blink of an eye”.
Q: It seems you drew a great deal of inspiration from your father, guitarist Tony Santoro. How has he influenced your musical career?
A: Yes, Tony Santoro was a huge influence in our lives. Sadly, he passed away when we were 14 years old. He was an incredible musician as well a great friend and father. Believe it or not, Tony introduced Justin and I to sports and was really supportive in everything we did. He never pushed music on us, but he did give us our first guitars and we grew up in a house full of his instruments. We both have come to realize that he knew how hard it is being a musician and being passionate about your art. He inspired us on so many levels.
A: Throwing things in the studio is never going to change! [laughs] However, being twins is a miracle and the things that happen in our lives separately or together seem to have the same effect on us. When we write songs, Justin is definitely the melody guy, but we all have input as well [and] the lyrics are a collaboration. Sometimes songs are not created equally, but all together the hard work that is put in makes an equal effort.
Q: You have a new cover tune hitting iTunes February 1st – Whose idea was it to cover “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes and why?
A: Yes, “Blister in the Sun” is released nationwide to radio and iTunes Feb 1st. The idea for us to do a cover came from our record label United Media Group. Honestly, I don’t really know where the idea to cover this song came from originally. I know that our producer and partner Marti Frederiksen mentioned the idea to us, but also I heard it came from Kari Smith, another person that is a part of the Still Standing family. At first, the band did not think that this was going to be something we would enjoy, but wow did we change our minds as soon as we got into the studio. The original sound and style for this song is definitely punk. Taking a song that was very live sounding and unproduced, but very catchy, and making it sound like our record was such a great idea and we are so excited for the world to hear it.
Q: Are there any other songs or bands you would like to cover in the future?
A: There were other ideas throughout the years such as “Straight Up” by Paul Abdul and “Invincible” by Pat Benatar. These would have been great up-tempo covers, but at the moment we have no plans. You never know though; the future has a lot of roads, it’s unpredictable!
Q: What more can we expect from Still Standing this year?
A: Still Standing will be touring for the rest of our lives and we cannot wait. Whether it’s a van, mini van, pickup truck, pontoon boat, UFO, train, rickshaw, submarine, airplane or a tour bus, we are so eager to play everywhere and anywhere. To all of our fans, thanks for the support and believing. Thanks Bill Sullivan and Rock and Roll Report for this great interview. Stay tuned at our Official Sites below and keep rockin’!