Josh Marunde, who also goes by the name Chachi Riot, and the rest of his Pop Evil bandmates have reached the pinnacle of their careers. “Trenches,” the lead single from their recently released third studio album Onyx, hit number one on both the Billboard Active Rock and Mainstream Rock charts. It’s the first chart-topping record in the Michigan group’s 12-year history.
“Trenches” is a motivational hard rock banger with a determined lyrical emphasis on breaking out of life’s dark trenches and making the most of the opportunities that arise. For Marunde, the track symbolizes Pop Evil’s roller coaster ride in the music industry.
“The original concept was kind of like our own personal growth as a band,” he says. “It feels like we have been waiting forever for this one chance—this album—and we’re kind of putting all our eggs in one basket. So many of us have come from little or nothing, and we’ve been fighting forever to scratch and dig and get out.”
Marunde certainly knows a thing or two about fighting. The musician began training in freestyle wrestling when he was 6-years-old, switched over to folkstyle wrestling when he was in the seventh grade, and competed in the state tournament in high school. After graduating in 2005, the drummer attended Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, MI, and joined the school’s boxing club. In 2007, during his sophomore year, he expanded his skill set as he checked into the school’s burgeoning MMA club with Steve Wagner, his bandmate from local group Saraph.
The percussionist extraordinaire was familiar with the sport. He saw a few UFC cards in the mid-90s and came back around during the TUF era. Even though he had a background for a newbie, the former high school wrestler was still a fish out of water.
“A lot of things were so much different,” he says. “I had watched the sport, and I was already a fan, but there were so many habits to break as a wrestler, like wrestling BJJ guys, who are basically pulling guard. I had no problem pushing the tempo, I had great cardio, takedown defense, all of that. My top position was fantastic. But if I was on bottom, I knew that if I bellied down, I was going to get choked out. As a wrestler, I was petrified to be on my back. That was a really hard habit to learn to break.”
Marunde eventually broke the habit, but he left the MMA club the following year to focus on music. The decision paid off, as he became Pop Evil’s official drummer in 2011. Now, they are on top of the rock music world, and bringing their sound to the UFC.
His cousin, Bristol Marunde, is a TUF 16 alum who repped Team Carwin and is slated to fight Viscardi Andrade on the Facebook preliminary card of UFC 163 on August 3. Whenever Bristol has a fight, the entire Pop Evil crew gathers around the television to watch him throw down. Bristol repays the loyalty by walking out to the Octagon to one of Pop Evil’s hit songs.
“It’s just great to be able to see somebody you care about chasing their dreams,” says Marunde. “Obviously, I want to see him win, but it’s not about winning or losing. He’s given up so much to do what he loves, and I have an immeasurable amount of respect for someone who I can say that about. I know how it feels when you have to give up everything to chase your dream.”
Keep Olympic Wrestling
Add Joshua Marunde’s name to the petition to get wrestling back in the Olympics.
The 25-year-old is a passionate wrestling fan. When he heard the ancient sport was being removed from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, he was heartbroken.
“I wanted to cry,” he says. I hate that there’s nowhere for people who are phenomenal college wrestlers to go after college. There’s no pro division for folkstyle or freestyle wrestlers, and I really wish that would change. It’s a really old and traditional sport. It can’t be forgotten.”
From the sounds of it, it might not be. The sport is currently under consideration to be reinstated in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Show your support by visiting LetsKeepWrestling.com and signing the online petition.