Tancred Calculator Washed Up Emo Laura Stevenson Tiny Engines Brian Danaher SIXES
Life In Vacuum
“5” - LP/Tape/Digital
Tiny Moving Parts “Old Maid/Coffee With Tom” 7”
Out Now on www.skeletallightning.net
New releases from Grey Zine, Divino Nino, Koji and John Vanderslice, coming soon! thenativesound.com | thenativesound.bandcamp.com
06 SIXES 16 Tancred 24 Laura Stevenson 28 Washed Up Emo 38 Tim Kasher 46 Calculator 53 Brian Danaher 56 Tiny Engines 63 Reviews
Cover: Tim Kasher Photo: John Sturdy // johnsturdy.com Here: Tancred (Jess Abbott) Photo: Hilary J. Corts // hilaryjcorts.com Rabo Karabekian: Adam Sever Correspond: email@example.com P.O. Box 1616 â€˘ Monticello, MN 55362 mandexzine.com // facebook.com/mandexzine // @mandexzine
s PAPERMOONS Daniel Hawkins & Matt Clark
Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? Daniel: Honestly, I have no idea. Music was the first thing I can even remember wanting to do. It’s had a complete and total effect on my life. Even my work as a designer is rooted in my involvement with music, so even that I can’t say I would have pursued without having become involved with music. What album completely changed your life and why? Daniel: The Record Play by Mock Orange. I first heard this album in the spring of 2000, before it was actually released, through some then buddies in the band Whippersnapper. This record then went on to shape the course of the next 5 years of my life, and arguably all of my life since then. Firstly, I taught myself how to play drums by listening and studying that record. Secondly, the bands that I would then go on to meet and the bands that my bands would become friends with and tour with all had one thing in common, Mock Orange. It became a standard and frame of reference for everything, it was the center of my universe. I wouldn’t know Matt if it weren’t for that record and that band. Papermoons and Pswingset wouldn’t have ever existed without it. Completely transformed my life and the lives of many many people I am still close with today, 14 years later. What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? Daniel: Patience, determination, organization, creativity, diligence.
Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? Matt: The first song we wrote together as Papermoons was a song called “Holy Cow” that is on our first LP, New Tales. It came together almost accidentally. We had decided that we wanted to be a two-piece band but still have the low end that is usually provided by a bass player so we bought a vintage Fender Pedal Bass. It’s basically an octave of organ bass pedals. The song sort of took form by just us jamming and trying to figure out how to play the guitar, sing, and bass pedals with the feet. Flash forward 7 years brings us to the last song we wrote; a song called “Lungs” on our new record, No Love. It’s hard to compare the two songs really. “Holy Cow” is a more full volume electric guitar song while “Lungs” is quite the opposite. The writing process for “Lungs” was much different. We built the entire song on top of the main acoustic guitar part, adding drums, bass, vocals slowly over the course of a few weeks. Both were a different process, and represent two totally different outcomes that more or less encapsulate the varying types of songs that we write. It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? Matt: I don’t really have a “go to” formula for songwriting. However, for me, it’s usually the music that comes first. A lot of times it’ll be a riff with a melody with a quick lyrical phrase that starts the whole process. Then we’ll play around with it together and build it around the initial idea. If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. Matt: Is this a trick question? I could never quit music forever! But, if I could write as good a song or album as John Vanderslice, I would feel pretty damn good about myself.
Zach Barocas & Stephen Shodin Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? Stephan: I’d likely be drawing, painting, and writing. Zach: I have no idea, but it wouldn’t be good. Everything I’m involved with is, or is a direct outgrowth of, my involvement with music.
organ and drums, approximately 20-60 minutes in length, recorded once and performed to the enjoyment of neighborhood kids. We were 12 at the time. My recent work in BELLS differs mostly in instrumentation and duration. Otherwise, I still play bluesy instrumental music with my friends.
What album completely changed your life and why? Stephan: 13 Songs by Fugazi. Especially the tune “Suggestion”. That song floored me. It still does. I had never heard a man sing from a woman’s perspective before, and at 17, I hadn’t given any thought to objectification. That song and that album cracked my entire world view open. It’s still one of my all-time favorites. Zach: Peter Gabriel, So, if only because I have listened to it more than any other album. The depth of its construction remains baffling and inspiring. Roughly a third of my playing derives from this album. To be fair, there are dozens of albums that completely changed my life and contribute roughly a third of my playing, but I haven’t listened to them as many times.
It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? Stephan: Well, the lyrics are easy because we don’t have any. We jam things out a lot. And we talk A LOT. Usually tunes begin with a beat and then the rest of us begin throwing ideas at the beat. Sometimes we have a structure in mind ahead of time. Sometimes we have absolutely nothing, or at least we think we have nothing. For my part, I approach every new thing with a completely clean slate and try to figure out what the tune needs and how I can contribute. Zach: What Stephen said sums it up: we have no single writing method except that everything comes to, from, and through the group. I’ll add, however, that if it’s not a fast way of working, it ensures that we’re listening to what we make. This is an important quality, I think, in that it means we’re always tuned in to each other. For example, if my beat for a given part isn’t what I thought I wanted it be at the outset, it doesn’t matter, because what I end up playing is best for whatever my band mates have in mind. This is true for each of us in all events.
What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? Stephan: Dedication, and a love for music. Also, huge doses of humility, courage, and trust. Zach: What Stephen said, plus practice and joy. Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? Stephan: It’s highly likely that it was three chords and had something to do with pining for the affections of someone of the opposite sex. I think I’ve made a lot of progress since then, but I’m still looking to get better and challenge myself. That said, I’m most interested in what will come out of my hands next and I really don’t spend a ton of time comparing old songs to new ones. Zach: My first original work was co-written with my friend, Kevin McKendree, and performed by our (usually) two-piece band, The Trip. As remains our custom, it was a bluesy instrumental number for
Finish this sentence: If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. Stephan: Ha! My fifteen year old self would’ve said Brian Setzer, who is still one of my absolute favorite guitar players. I would have picked Setzer because at that time I couldn’t even imagine writing my own songs let alone soloing like that. My current answer: no one. There is no way I’d quit music forever. That’s not an option. I love music dearly. It’s one of the rare activities one can pursue for a lifetime, and I plan to do just that.
Zach: Somewhere in an interview, our friend and collaborator J. Robbins talks about a certain history of music being composed of bands banging around in basements until they play some shows; and whether or not the resulting music is generally understood as good, it is essential because it inspires listeners to
start their own bands and attract their own listeners who start their own bands. I’ve lived this way since I was 11 and the fundamental lesson, the basic truth of this kind of life, is that the stuff we find great insists by our very exposure to it that we not quit.
s THE GROUND IS LAVA Jordan Valentine, Jon Rogers, & Eric Sandt
Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? Jordan: I’m trying to think what my life was like before I joined the school band in 5th grade. Who were my friends? What were my interests? I was already into Star Wars and video games at that point, so if I hadn’t spent all my birthday money on music gear in high school, I’d probably have still been a big nerd. I’ve always been pretty good with computers and fairly decent at art. I’d probably be among the world’s surplus of 20-something graphic designers right now. Jon: I’d probably be involved with skateboarding. I was really into it even before I started playing music. I probably would be filming and editing together skate movies. Eric: I really don’t know. Probably nothing cool. Maybe something with movies? What album completely changed your life and why? Jordan: I can probably attribute a significant change in my life to my receiving Foo Fighters’ There Is Nothing Left to Lose for my 15th birthday. Until then, I listened solely to boy bands and would just drum along to whatever happened to be on the radio. That was the first album I started to try to figure out note by note. Jon: New Found Glory, Sticks And Stones. It opened me up to everything that I listen to today. It made me want to start playing music.
Eric: I’m gonna cheat a little bit and say The Beatles Anthology TV special. I remember watching it on TV with my parents when I was 6 and The Beatles becoming my favorite band. My tastes have evolved a lot since then, obviously, but they pretty much set the stage for the type of music I’ve been into my whole life and music has been my main obsession ever since. What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? Jordan: There are all kinds of musicians all around the world making all kinds of different music and putting varying degrees of effort into their creations, so it’d be sort of unfair to try to put them all in a nutshell. But I think that, at its most basic level, creating music just takes a little bit of curiosity. What does this sound like? What happens if I do this? Jon: You need to have patience, because every song isn’t going to work out on the first try. You need to have patience with your band mates and always respect their ideas about where they think a song should go. That being said, being open minded is a good quality too. You can’t be shut off from ideas, because that can limit the potential of the song. Eric: Really, I think anyone can be a musician if they wanted to, but I’d say it takes a great deal of patience to be a good one. Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? Jordan: The first song I ever wrote was probably to the tune of a Blink-182 song and it was before I knew how to play any melodic instruments. I only
remember it vaguely, but I’m sure it was about some confusion coming from having a crush on some girl. The only thing that’s changed in, like, 12 years is that I can write my own melodies now. Jon: *I’m assuming this means as a band* The first song we wrote is called “Baby Steps, Baby” It’s a pretty basic song. Musically and lyrically, it reminds me of The Promise Ring with the way the music and lyrics are repeated. There is a little bit of Snowing influence in the song too with the “bop bahs”. It sounds like a younger version of The Ground Is Lava. It’s a good, catchy song, but lacks the energy of anything on Bottle Rockets. The last song we wrote is called “Look, Babe, An Island (We Can Live On It)”. It was the last song written for BR. The bass line rips, the guitar is tingly, and the drums are somewhat laid back, yet powerful and effective. There is still some Promise Ring influence. The song is driving, creative, interesting, and mature while still drawing from influences that we had when we started playing together. We’ve all grown as musicians and it’s good to be able to hear that in this song. It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? Jordan: With The Ground Is Lava, Jon usually comes up with several cool guitar parts first, which we jam on until we have some sort of structure and come up with some other possible chunks of song. Inevitably, we rearrange all the pieces and dump all but the most interesting parts until we have music that we feel is interesting and can stand on its own. Then, if I’m writing lyrics, I spend months and months worrying about lyrics, poring over old lyrics in notebooks and in my phone, never finding anything quite good enough or complete enough, until one day, a complete song just comes bursting out of me from nowhere.
Finish this sentence: If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. Jordan: Man, I’ve been thinking about this and I just don’t have an answer. If I could write an album as good as some of my favorites--Algernon Cadwallader’s Some Kind of Cadwallader or Box Car Racer’s Box Car Racer--why would I just quit?! I would keep going, pushing, improving, trying to make an album better than those. Jon: If I could write as good a song as “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, I could quit music forever. The music is good, but what really gets me are the lyrics. Anyone can play a guitar, but not everyone can write really good lyrics. I’m not saying I’m incredible at it either. I can always appreciate good lyrics. It’s a great love song too. It feels real. Any song that I can connect to or find a piece of myself in, makes that song mean so much more to me. Eric: This is hard, but I’d have to say Weezer’s Blue Album. I remember my dad getting that album maybe about a year after it came out, and I remember hearing it quite a bit as a kid. I kind of rediscovered it in high school and I think my love for it only keeps growing. In a lot of ways, that album has everything that makes me fall in love with music. And I’d have to agree with Jordan; if I could write something as good as that album, it would only make me want to do something better.
s KNOW SECRETS Eric Urbach
Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? I have a passion for astronomy. I’m really into reading all I can about the universe and look at it with amazement. I often venture to telescopes to check out the stars and I’m constantly surprised and excited about how much is out there and how diverse the possibilities are among moons, planets and stars. I could see myself being an astrophysicist. Oh yeah, I love coffee too! What album completely changed your life and why? There have been several that have been crucial to me, but probably the most important one is Where the Sun Never Sets by A Global Threat. At that time I was in a punk band called Static Thought writing a lot of 80’s style UK82 influenced punk songs. I listened to a lot of modern street punk bands and was pretty set in my ways. I was a huge A Global Threat fan and I always thought they were the best of those kinds of bands. I went to pick up that album the day it came out and after listening to it on my Discman a few times, it really sunk in and changed me. This record showed me that you could change the sound of your band and not only make a good record, but make music that was better than anything you had ever made. It turned me on to hardcore, grunge, metal, pop, noise and countless other genres. It also showed me at a crucial age that you can enjoy music for what it is and be stoked that you found something that moved you no matter what the style. I owe it a lot. What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? For me the most important one is drive. I think that with whatever you do musically you have to care and invest something into it to make it real. If you have no drive, your band will never have practice, let alone play a show or tour. If you don’t care about how you sound, your approach to what you do, it shows and
your music will suffer for it. More than likely you will eventually lose interest. If you have that drive, then your music can be unstoppable. Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? The first song I ever wrote was a 4 chord punk song called “Reality”. I was 11 I think, and the initial idea came when I was camping in the mountains. I was thinking about the movie, The Matrix, and wrote a song asking if life was a dream, would it be better, or if life is real, are we just screwed. Deep stuff haha. The last song I wrote is a new Know Secrets song called “Missing Pieces” that hasn’t been released yet. When I compare the songs and everything else I’ve written in between, it’s fun to see my own growth as a person and a songwriter from being a pre-teen to a young adult. It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? For me, a song starts with playing my guitar and usually I’ll stumble on a riff or chord that jumps out at me. Usually some gut feeling will happen, and that’s how I know that my idea might be good. I record it right away on my phone. That initial spark usually propels me into a song. Sometimes I work out the song right there in that moment. Sometimes I’ll come back to it and finish it when I have a different point of view. Lyrically the same thing happens. I’ll free write on an idea or issue that’s on my mind at the time. I’ll try and write a few pages then cut it down to the few lines I think are good. Then I’ll take that and build it back up into the lyrics for the song. I love and respect the journey a song takes from me in my bedroom, to my initial demo, to showing the band and having them add their thing to it, to the final version of the song. It’s amazing to watch an idea grow and I get a lot of fulfilment from it.
Finish this sentence: If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come would be my choice. I think this record is perfect front to back. Everything from the recording technique, the performances by the musicians, how the songs are constructed, and the progressive stance on punk that
the music had at the time. All of it is well thought out and is one of the best modern records in my opinion. Not only that, but I think it has held the test of time and had a huge impact on the musicians that came before and after. It’s an incredible musical achievement from a politically insightful band that changed the direction of music for a lot of people.
s FOXING Conor Murphy
Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? I’m in school for audio engineering, so I guess my other options are still pretty close to music. With that in mind, I really enjoy doing audio work for film. Also, I’m a huge baseball fan and would love to do live audio for a ballpark like Busch Stadium. What album completely changed your life and why? Takk by Sigur Rós really changed everything I knew about music. Before Takk, I had never actively listened to music in a different language or music without lyrics. This was really the most impact I had ever felt from an album based on sheer musicianship. Takk really made me want to make music that meant something--whatever that means. What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? I guess I’m in the most infantile stages of figuring that out. My current recipe consists of being as true to myself as humanly possible. I really feel content with what we’ve created as a band knowing how little we actively draw from other artists and bands. I believe this has been our strongest asset as a band. All of that being said, I reiterate: I am an infant of a musician.
Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? As far as lyrics, the first song I wrote was about global warming and was just dreadful. I was about 13 and had heard about but not yet seen An Inconvenient Truth. The last set of lyrics I wrote were for a new Foxing song about a question of worth in the eyes of a loved one. I guess I’ve really just lost my political edge. It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? We seem to write each song differently with small trends. One constant is that we really incorporate the “jam” mentality. We start ideas with “riffs” quite a bit as well and usually pick members to showcase through “shredding.” In another life, I believe we were Widespread Panic. Finish this sentence: If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. If I could write a song or albums as good as anything by Fleetwood Mac, I would quit music forever. Fleetwood Mac is one of those bands that I feel like aren’t as good as much as they are time travelers. Like they went forward ten years to 1987, picked out eleven incredibly popular and amazing songs, went back to 1977 and wrote Rumours before the poor saps that would have written the songs had a chance. So I mean, I guess what I’m really saying is if I could time travel, I would quit music forever.
s PHANTOM LAKES Tyson Swindell & Joel Ganucheau
Had you not taken the path to be involved in music, what would you be involved in? Tyson: Definitely art of some kind. I loved painting and writing poetry as a young adult. Joel: Making paintings is a big part of my life with or without music. If I weren’t so involved in music, I would be even more involved in making paintings. Playing with paint is very therapeutic for me, but I don’t get the same satisfaction with art that I get when writing and playing loud music in a small room with my friends. What album completely changed your life and why? Tyson: Radiohead’s OK Computer was the first record that I really submerged my entire self into. It reached me at the perfect time in my life. I can’t really explain it, but that record was when I decided to really put everything I could into the music I was making. Joel: Radiohead’s OK Computer is an important album for me, minus “Electioneering”, that song bugs me. This album really inspired me musically and personally. It reminds me of cold weather and a time in my life when things were changing for the better. Kind of a happy sadness.
What qualities or traits do you think it takes to be a musician? Tyson: Stubbornness, will power, stamina, endurance, adaptability and creativity. Joel: I think it’s important to be creative, open minded, positive, focused and driven. You can’t get anything done unless you want to. I like the idea of putting in hard work without expecting too much in return. Making music is supposed to be fun. If good things come from it, then that’s a fuzzy bonus. Describe the first song you ever wrote and how does it compare to the last song you wrote? Tyson: Yikes! The first song I wrote was terribly silly as far as the lyrics go, but somehow I really nailed it on the music. It was terribly simple, but very effective. Since then, I don’t write many lyrics, but just focus on melody/harmony. Joel: First song I ever wrote?.. hmmm.. Oh yes.. It was in the fall of 1963.. I was sitting in front of a campfire naked with my first wife. Jokes!.. Honestly, I can’t remember the first song I ever wrote, but it probably sucked. I feel like the songs and song segments that I have written keep getting better and better with age. It’s weird how your music progresses as you personally grow.
It seems everyone has a different way of writing a song, how does a typical song come together lyrically and musically for you? Tyson: This really just depends. Sometimes the music and lyrics fall into my lap, and sometimes I really have to work at a song to make it feel complete. Typically, though, I would say that I discover a combination of chords that I like or that I find an interesting way to pluck, and then I just build on it. Adding the lyrical content at the very end. Joel: For this band and every band I have been in, it always starts with a fun guitar riff that I probably wrote at home on my acoustic guitar, but sometimes riffs come out of nowhere at practice. We jam the riff in our practice space for a while and play around with layers and just have fun with it. Other parts sort of develop naturally and then we sprinkle a teaspoon of crack on top... and poof! Vocal melodies usually come later and then I make words fit those melodies, although I am getting in the habit of writing vocal melodies earlier on in the process to make things come together more organically. I have found that it can be a burden if I wait too long to write the vocal melodies.
Finish this sentence: If I could write as good a song or album as ______________, I could quit music forever. Explain you choice. Tyson: Gizmodgery by Self. This record is everything I love about music all wrapped up in a cheeky little idea. Toy instruments sampled and played to form catchy-ass-pop-songs. Genius!!! Joel: If I could write as good a song as “Let Down” on OK Computer, I could quit music forever. This song is too perfect, yet has some looseness to it. The tempo of the intro kind of drags just a hair, which I really like. The chiming guitars blend right in with the keys (Rhodes?). The vocals are so warm and the lyrics are beautiful, hopeful and sad. The drums are super simple, but they’re not boring. The gaps and breaks in the song really give it life. There’s something about this moody song that I can’t quite pinpoint, which is why I love it. The best songs are the ones that make you feel like they were written just for you.
Interview with: Jess Abbott Photos: Hilary J. Corts
You started playing guitar at a young age and your mom was the one who taught you to play Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”. At such a young age, what was it about playing guitar that kept you interested in it to keep playing? I guess since I was really little, when you are in the phase in your life when you start picking out “When I grow up I want to be this” and for some reason I, I would always be doing watercolor paintings in my kitchen of Frogger or something that really sucked, but I’d be like, “I want to be an artist”, and then I realized that whenever I tried to create something, it looked stupid as fuck. My mom had a guitar and let me play it and I had way more fun doing it. It sounded a lot prettier when I played that, than what my pictures looked like that I would draw or paint. I felt better doing that and it kind of just stuck with me when I got older. At the time, were you just playing along to songs on the radio or were you writing your own original songs? When I first started, my mom put me in lessons when I was 8 and at that point, it was just your average basic beginner guitar lessons. By the time I was 9, I started writing my own songs, but they were really dumb. I think I wrote one about dinner, like the food I was eating for dinner and my mom was like “Oh my God, it’s so wonderful!”. Obviously she was just encouraging me to continue playing. I got back in lessons again around the age of 9 or 10 and I had been moving a lot at this point, so I was in and out of lessons a lot, but I would say I started playing along to things between the ages of 10 and 13.
I would just take all of my favorite records to my guitar teacher and have him show me the basics and then I’d go home and just play along to every single song on all my favorite records. That helped me really have an ear for playing. Then when I was 13, I started writing more serious songs and those weren’t very good either obviously. It’s continued since then, just developing songwriting from 13 on I would say. It’s pretty much a right of passage for any musician to have embarrassing high school bands to look back on and laugh at. You were at one point in a metalcore band and also the 2-piece punk band called Kid’s Fiction. Looking back at those first bands you were in, what important lessons did you learn from them and how did they help shape you into the musician you are today? The first band that I was in that made a Myspace page, which really decides if you are a real band or not, was when I was 14 and I started to take that really seriously. It was kind of like a rock band and in that band I think I learned the lesson, you can’t have your friends in your band. You have to have people that actually want to do something with it, because they won’t take it as seriously as you. That band kind of disintegrated pretty quickly. After that was when heavier music was starting to become really trendy in the area I lived in and I just started joining bands like that, like metalcore bands and stuff, because it was what was cool at the time. So then I learned the lesson, don’t make music just based on what the majority thinks is cool because sometimes it will just sound like crap. Those bands weren’t anything notable, and I would never reveal the names of those bands, because they are so embarrassing in that I don’t want anyone to hear them. I had a couple more bands in high school that were more true to the things I wanted to write and Kid’s Fiction was one of the bands that I think I started to really start to learn about why I was a songwriter. I think I definitely developed a lot during that band and it was the last band I was in right before Now, Now. It was a good segue. At the time, I had been really into 90’s emo music and that was definitely really apparent in Kid’s Fiction. I think Kid’s Fiction was good for me to get that out of my system, because I don’t really listen to much emo music anymore. It definitely was really heavily influencing my guitar playing and I like to think that it doesn’t so much now.
You mentioned that you were in Kid’s fiction before joining Now, Now, what happened with Kid’s Fiction and what interested you in joining Now, Now? Kid’s Fiction happened at the end of my senior year of high school and I had the option of going to college or trying to do something with music while I had a chance to, so I decided to the latter. My band mate and I were going to Minnesota together because I had become friends with Now, Now at that point and it kind of had seemed like their label, at the time, had taken an interest in Kid’s Fiction. Plus, the midwest seemed like an ideal place to tour from because it’s in the center of the country. Also, I think the both of us just wanted to get out of New England for a while. But then, with some bands, things just get sour and it just didn’t work out. We don’t really talk or anything anymore, which is a bummer. We had a really fun time in that band while it lasted. In the long run, I guess it was fated that way because right after that band broke up, I had told Cacie from Now, Now, that my band broke up and she was like “Well, why don’t you come tour with us, playing second guitar in Now, Now?” So I just went ahead with my moving plans and moved out to Minnesota and kept touring with them. Then it turned into writing and now here we are. During the first day of recording the Kid’s Fiction EP, you said you received a text that would completely change the direction of your life. How did that text change your life and did you know immediately after you read it, things would be changing? That was a text from Cacie that I had received. I guess you could say it was the beginning of a friendship with Now, Now and what would lead me to be being in the band. You came into the band when Now, Now was going through some changes with labels and the shortening of the name. How did it feel to come into the situation they were in at the time, and how does it feel to have been a part of a new chapter for the band? I came into Now, Now at a crazy time, because they had already been a band for a while, but they were still kind of building themselves up I guess. I joined in August of 2009, and we had a couple of tours that I was on, and they both got cancelled at the start due to van issues and tonsil issues. So then, after a couple months went by, in about October I want to say, we got offered the Paramore tour in Europe. That
was technically my first full tour and it was to 1518,000 people a night and it was the first real tour I’d done. I was 18 and I was just wide-eyed everyday. It was crazy coming into that right at that time because I didn’t have that real experience, I was just thrown into this crazy touring routine and crazy crowds and stuff. It was right after that, that we switched labels and then there was a dry spell for about a year where Brad and I were working at places like Jimmy John’s and Subway and hating life, trying to figure out what we were going to do. We finally got in with No Sleep Records and put out an EP and that really got things moving again and then went to Trans with Threads. I think the intensity level kind of quadrupled after Threads came out and it’s been pretty crazy since then. I think we are all glad that we had a few years to really get a handle on our band, musically and as a business, before the release of Threads. We’ve got a pretty good grip on our band and what we want to do with it and how we want it to be presented. We’ve been doing this long enough now that we understand how everything is working. You see a lot of bands these days that put out a record and then overnight, everything goes crazy and they’re this buzz band that is selling out shows and everyone is talking about them everywhere. Sometimes you can’t really handle that if it’s your first band or something. We’ve gotten to know each other super well and got used to what being in a band is. I would say we are at a point now where we want to be and have fun with it. With all the touring that you’ve done with Now, Now, and that you grew up on the coasts, but now live in Minnesota, are there any locations that feel most like home? Let me think about that....I guess if I had to pick where I feel most at home, I would say that I feel most at home in New England. It has been weird going back there every now and again because as I get older, my friends and family get older and everyone just moves around a lot. I haven’t lived there for 4 years now, so things change a lot and it has a different vibe sometimes, but overall I’m most familiar with it and I love the sea coast so much more than anywhere else in the world. I guess, when it comes down to it, my bed and computer with Netflix is in Minneapolis and so I feel just fine there. Having lived in Minnesota for a few years now, have you warmed up to it yet, and do you still feel the urge to live on the coasts? I moved to Minnesota like 3 weeks after I graduated
high school and it was the first time I had been away from all my friends and family. It was a pretty big move for my age and life experiences. Also, when I had lived in New England, I was out doing things with my friends every night. Then when I moved to Minnesota, Brad and Cacie are just really introverted and really enjoy staying around their families and stuff, and I hadn’t really been used to that kind of deal. I just felt really stir crazy sometimes and so that definitely contributed to it and I just missed my friends and family. I got over it and I’ve learned that you gotta just make the best of where you are and I think I really like Minneapolis at this point. I really like the neighborhood I live in and have gotten to know it pretty well. I’ve got friends and stuff and I keep pretty busy and when I’m not, I just lay in bed and I love that just as much. You started Tancred in 2011 while you were in Now, Now. What made you want to start your own personal project apart from Now, Now? Now, Now, it very much has what I call the Cacie vibe. Like, she contributes something that is really unique and special that doesn’t come from Brad or I. That is definitely something that we have to preserve when we are writing, which is great and awesome and that is exactly how we want it. Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily give leeway for me to contribute other things that I come up with on my own that I like to write. I kind of wanted a place to put those things that I could, when I had an idea, that wouldn’t work for Now, Now, but I still want to make it something. That’s how that happened. Originally, it was supposed to be for myself, like I wasn’t really going to anything with it. I didn’t want any kind of publicity with it, but then I was offered it and I was just like “OK, why not”. Previous to you joining Now, Now, Cacie would write all the lyrics, is that still the case or do you help with the lyrics as well? When I joined it was right before we put out the Neighbors EP. Cacie did all of the lyrics on the Neighbors EP and I contributed some lyrics on the song “Giants”. Then Threads happened and originally we were going to split up the lyrics where I was going to do a lot of them, but towards the end of the writing process, I just didn’t feel right doing that. I felt like when I did a lot of the lyrics, it took away from what Now, Now was and so I kind of backed down. I did some of the lyrics. I wrote all of the lyrics for one of the songs on Threads and I wrote a verse in another song and a couple random sentences here
and there. It was mainly Cacie, like 80% Cacie. Then for the new stuff, I don’t know. I think the thing about Now, Now is I feel like we don’t ever repeat things...I don’t know what I’m trying to say...We develop a lot as each release goes by. Each release sounds pretty different from the last and so when we really start getting into the new record right after this tour, I don’t know, I might not write any of the lyrics, so we’ll see. The name Tancred comes from a character in the Charlie Bones series of books and you’ve said
you consider him be your literary twin. What similarities do you see between the character and yourself? Ah well, not all of them are good similarities. The main connection I had was with this character who is a Weather Monger, I think is what they refer to him as, and without trying to affects the weather based on his mental state. So if he gets really pissed off, there will be a crazy thunderstorm that breaks trees in half and stuff and I guess I could relate to that because I feel like I can be a pretty emotional person and when it happens, I break shit. Not physically, but
just metaphysically I can be pretty destructive when I am emotional and that was how I related to that character. You’re the second member of Now, Now to venture out on their own with a solo release this year and some people may think that solo projects are a signal that the main band they are playing in will soon end. How is the relationship between the three of you? That’s definitely not the case with Now, Now. I know some people have kind of mentioned that to us and people online are getting freaked out that Brad and
I have solo stuff, but I can assure you it’s definitely not the case with Now, Now. Now, Now is super important and special to Brad and I and there is no end in sight for Now, Now that I think any of us can see. We’re nearing the end of the record cycle for Threads and Brad does a lot of things, he writes a lot things and it’s the same deal with me. I think he had a lot of ideas that wouldn’t necessarily link in with Now, Now, so he wanted to release his stuff and that’s what I did too. If the opportunity was there, which it was, we took the opportunity. It’s no reflection of Now, Now, or anything bad with Now, Now at all.
Since Now, Now is on Trans Records and Brad did his Sombear release through them as well, why did you choose to release your album through Topshelf Records? I think that Brad and I have two very different solo projects and Trans and Topshelf are two very different record labels. I think my release just fit in more with Topshelf and Brad’s release fit more with Trans. Coming from a successful band, was there any pressure on you to write better songs because of Now, Now’s success, since people will probably make comparisons between the two? Yeah, I knew that this Tancred release would have more people listening to it than the past Tancred releases because of that. Also, I just really hate the other Tancred releases and I wanted to put out something that felt a lot better and so I put a lot more time and effort and money into this one to make sure it sounded like something I could be proud of this time. I think that yes, the attention that Now, Now had did put some pressure on it, but I think that there is more pressure on this release from myself and wanting to make something that I liked and that sounded decent and that other people would like too. You said that you were unhappy with how your first two releases came out. Why were you unhappy about them? Everyone always comments on how Capes was super lo-fi and that’s what they liked about it, which is great that people like that about it better than them not liking it, but that was never supposed to be a lofi record. It just kind of came out like that. Also, as far as writing goes, I was very confused about how I wanted that record to sound. I originally wrote all of the demos on an acoustic guitar, it was right as I was kind of getting sick of being an acoustic artist on my own and so I was like “How can I make these songs not acoustic songs” and Capes is my horrible failed attempt. The next release, String and Twine was pretty much just an acoustic release to get out songs that people had asked me to make recorded versions from videos I posted on Youtube. That was the only reason I made that release. I normally would not have put that out, I don’t think. By the time I was ready for this release, I didn’t want it to come out at all like that, I wanted it to be a full band and true to what I actually want to do.
Comparing your past releases to your latest, there is quite an overall difference in tone and production and the songs sound more confident, what did you do differently on the self-titled that you hadn’t done on Capes and String and Twine? Like I was just saying, I didn’t want this to be an acoustic record. There is one acoustic song on the new record, but it’s because I like how it sounded that way in the demo and I felt like if I made it full band, it would have not been the same song. That was the biggest change. I really wanted it to have a full drum kit and bass and stuff going on in it. I have way more fun singing when I push my voice rather than when I’m singing really softly and Capes is me singing pretty softly. That’s not what I tend to do with my voice, and so with this new release I was just able to push my voice harder and that made it better for myself. I also had a couple other people work on the song structure with me. I had Brad, who did the drums and bass on it, help with some structuring and also I had a producer, so that made a big difference. I think that would be the big things. Do you have any plans revisit those songs on the first two releases and rework them with a full band? I’ll have to see what happens if I get any tours with this project. Right now, I’m just doing 5 shows with my friends in the Northeast, before Christmas, but I’m just going to do those by myself with an electric guitar, and I will probably just do songs from the new record. If I was offered a tour, and I had a full band with me, then maybe I would try. I appreciate my old songs for what they were at the time, but I don’t think I would have very much fun playing them live now. The songs on the self-titled album came together over a 15 month period, did you write them with the idea that they’d be recorded with a full band? Yeah, all of the demos, even before I knew I was going to be putting out a new Tancred record were intended to be full band demos. A lot of them started out as Now, Now demos, but I just realized the more I listened to them, that they probably wouldn’t work out for that project. I didn’t want to throw them away and I didn’t want to make an acoustic record again. It had always been in mind that if those songs ever come to fruition, that they would be full band.
If you had to sell the album to someone based off of one song from the new album, which song would you use and why? I would say, “The Ring”. It’s just my favorite song on it and it came out exactly how I wanted it too. The guitar work is really specific to what I wanted it to be. I like how it was layered and how it flows. That is just probably my favorite song on it. I put that song first on the record, because I felt like it encompassed the whole thing. I’m not sure of Now, Now’s future touring schedule, but will you be doing any shows as Tancred in support of the new album? I’ve told my manager that I want to tour with it, but everything is going to be based around Now, Now’s writing schedule. Like how you asked earlier about how the solo projects were affecting Now, Now, not really because for Brad and I both; Now, Now is just the number one priority. We are going to see what our writing schedule pans out like and if there happens to be free time for touring, I would love to do it, but I’m definitely not expecting it and I’m not going to push for it if the timing isn’t right. If it works out, it’d be fun.
Would you and Brad ever consider being the opening band for a Now, Now headlining show? You know we talked about that and how funny it be even if it was just in Minneapolis, but I think that we also realized that if it was a Tancred/Sombear/Now, Now show, it would just be really like...We would feel so self-centered having a whole show that was just based around us. It feels silly. We laugh about it, but I don’t think it would ever happen, but it could. What are your and Now, Now’s plans for the rest of the year and will you be doing any writing and recording in 2014? We are finishing up this tour right before Thanksgiving and we’re going to take off some time off for Thanksgiving to be with our families and hopefully get some demos going between Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Then take some time off for Christmas again and then hopefully in January and early winter of next year, just get really into the writing process. The plan is to have the record out next year, but we are still writing, so it is preemptive to say that’s a fact. In our minds, ideally we would like to have the new record out next year. As for Tancred, I’m just gonna see how this record pans out. I know I am going to be releasing Capes on vinyl with No Sleep sometime next year. Other than that, just seeing where it goes with this record.
Laura Stevenson // Fall 2013 Tour with Tim Kasher // 10/5-11/16 Words: Laura Stevenson Live Photo: Steven Matview at PunksInVegas.com
How did this tour with Tim Kasher come together? Well, we had played together about 2 years ago in Philadelphia and that night I gave him our record and afterwards I listened to Game of Monogamy pretty religiously. He apparently liked our record because we kind of kept in touch. Then he asked me to sing on a track on Adult Film and I bugged him until he agreed to take us with him for the tour around that album’s release. And it worked! How did you prepare for this month long tour and what were some necessities you brought along? For this tour we brought a new drummer, so there was some extensive practicing before we left just to get the songs for the set ready. Mentally, I guess I had to prepare for an 8 week stint... I did a lot of yoga, haha. As for tour necessities- I brought a yoga mat, which I stopped using like 2 weeks in, and let’s see what else... A lot of personal grooming items just in case I want to feel like a presentable human, but yeah, those have gotten a little dusty over the last few weeks. Do you follow any particular regimen to keep from losing your voice and to keep your body healthy? I try to get as much sleep as possible, because that’s THE most important thing. But I can’t sleep in the van because I have too much anxiety, soooo it’s touch and go right now. Currently my voice is pretty hurt, my high register is totally blown out so I’m barely talking during the day and drinking a lot of tea. Today being the 33rd day of the tour, how has it gone up until this point? It’s been great! Tim and his band are perfect to be on tour with. I don’t think anyone has frowned this entire time.
What are some of the more memorable things you experienced on this tour and what are some things about this tour you would just soon forget? I’d like to remember it all. We saw a humongous snake at a gas station in Colorado. Biggest snake I’ve ever seen. That was crazy, and it was slithering toward one of the pumps so we decided we should get out and tell the people that owned the gas station. I figured they would’ve called Animal Control or something, but they all ran out and beat it to death with a stick and it was terrible. So, I’d like to remember the first part, but I would like to forget the second. Poor guy. Since you sang on the song “Where’s Your Heart Lie” on Tim Kasher’s new album, did you ever get a chance to sing this with Tim on this tour? Every night. It was pretty surreal. This tour has pretty much taken you around a big circle of the US, do any of the drives between cities stick out as being more arduous than others? Arduous... I’d say the drive from Seattle to Portland is pretty windy, but it’s so beautiful. The drive from western Texas to Dallas was a doozy... and there are barely any towns to stop in, so that’s rough. Were there any cities on this tour that you hadn’t played before, and if so, how were you received at those shows? We had never played Detroit before and there were a bunch of people that seemed to have been waiting patiently for us to finally come play there. That was cool. It’s an awesome feeling to show up in a place you’ve never been and people know the words to the songs.
One of the stops on this tour was in Brooklyn, which is in the vicinity of where you live when not touring. What does it feel like touring though a city that is so close to home, but not being able to stay for more than a day? That usually never happens to us because Brooklyn is either the start or the finish of the tour. So, stopping through was weird, it was like, “Hey family, hey friends, seeeeee you in a month?”
You had a few random days off on this tour, did you do or see anything fun on those days? We went on a tour of the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky and we got to hand dip our own bottles in the wax. That was pretty sweet. We don’t usually get to do any activities on days off. It’s usually just sleep, driving, laundry and maybe sitting down to eat.
In the middle of this tour, you played at The FEST on Halloween, was the show done in costume and how was your overall brief FEST Experience? It was amazing to get to see all of my Festy band buddies even if it was just for one day. Some familiar faces from bands you’ve toured with or are good friends with will definitely lift your spirits. We didn’t dress up because we are unfun jerks, but Tim’s band all had incredible costumes, they made us proud. Tim as Carrie was especially beautiful.
This Saturday in Minneapolis is your last day of tour with Tim Kasher; do bands that are parting ways at the end of the tour do anything special to commemorate the end of the tour or is it just, “See ya later”? Does your band and Tim’s band have anything special planned for Saturday? We have some funny gifts and pranks planned for sure. I live my life like a 12 year old, so yeah, it’s never just “see ya later”. There’s some talk of a super-group performance, but we shall see what happens! Alls I know is, I will miss those guys so much, they are truly the best people around.
Interview with: Tom Mullen
I found out about your podcast after hearing about The Promise Ring episode and listened to that one, then came back a while later and went through and listened to all the ones with bands I was most familiar with. It is interesting, your journey to it, because that is what’s happened for most people. They find one and then they are like “OK, I’m a huge fan of Promise Ring, what a minute you interviewed Braid, wait, you interviewed the Jealous Sound, wait, you have Jim Adkins” and then it sort of snowballs that way. Even like in this recent Saves The Day one, all of these new people are finding out about it. Recently there was an iTunes feature for the podcast, so that even exploded it even more. There is more people that I am noticing finding out about it. This is all word of mouth; I’m not really doing anything. I have a full time job and this is sort of my 10pm to 2am fun that I have. I don’t know if iTunes tells you this, but do you know how many downloads you’re getting of each episode? I have stats, but I don’t know if I want to tell everybody. Based on when I started, I can say they have tripled in two years. Some episodes, like Chris Simpson’s episode is one of the biggest, Jim Adkins is one of the biggest. It’s in the thousands. It’s interesting to watch which ones do well. Let’s say Saves The Day goes up. Well, a lot of those fans are also Braid fans, so I’ll notice the Braid ones going up. But if it’s an older band, then older fans will find out, maybe they’ll go listen to the Christie Front Drive one. So that’s been really interesting to see too. What are you first memories of music and what interested you about it? I remember my dad playing Willie Nelson records and having records and vinyl. I had a record player really early on and I just always gravitated to it. I was always interested in music. I grew up in a small town, so I wasn’t exposed to a lot of... I didn’t know about pop music, I didn’t have MTV for a really long time. I was sort of into the local scene or got into local
bands or regional indie bands. I wasn’t a pop kid, and so, it was interesting to think back and really enjoy those times listening to those records or hearing that music. One of the biggest moments for me was in middle school, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video came on and that was it. I went upstairs and I was like “Let’s go to the store, I want to get a guitar!” We ended up not getting one that day, but I remember playing a bunch and trying it and then ending up getting a friend’s guitar and learning. It was THAT instant, like I was just like “Let’s go to the store, this is it, this is what I want to do!” It was in me, I just needed that spark. Like a lot of people our age, our introduction to music was by what we heard on the radio or saw on MTV and some of the first bands you were influenced by were Nirvana and Helmet. At what point did you start seeking out non-mainstream music that wasn’t played on the radio or shown on tv? It was almost instantaneous I think. I was into the Nirvanas and the grunge stuff. But then Helmet, they were such a different kind of metal band, and I really got into metal. I knew Century Media Records, Relapse Records, I knew all of those things really, really well. I liked it, I loved metal and then I sort of got into hardcore. Bands like Sick of It All, Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, all those kind of things, because those bands, regionally New York and Boston, were coming up to Vermont and so I would get to see those bands and it was making this connection. And even there are some regional bands, that no one will know if I reference them, that would come up from Boston and play. Those things where you bought the CD, you looked in the liner notes and who did they thank. I know I’ve mentioned that a bunch of times, and a lot of people and bands that I’ve had on mention that, but that was really their “Facebook Likes”. Like Cro-Mags thanked Agnostic Front, let me go find Agnostic Front stuff, or you see someone wearing a t-shirt and you talk to them and they tell you about another band. It was really that hand to hand and going to those shows and going to those hardcore punk shows, turned into post hardcore. Those bands got older, the Quicksands of the world, that thing started happening and then it turned into emo. A lot of those bands got even quieter. ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, that’s when it hit. That phase that I was into. There was another DC one that was happening previously, but that was really angular like Rites of Spring, the whole Fugazi chain that people go on. Mine was definitely ‘96-’97 Crank records, Mineral, Christie Front Drive,
Jimmy E a t World, all of that world. The Midwest scene. That was sort of the progression and I don’t think that would have happened if I was anywhere else. I think I was so isolated that I went the indie path, because that’s what was easier for me to ingest. You’ve mentioned elsewhere before, that in college when you worked for the college radio station, the radio station manager gave you a box of records and it had a bunch of stuff and the Jimmy Eat World 7” in there, did you know the importance of those records then when you got them from him? That’s a really good question. I knew the bands, but at that point, I had some...like I had a Jimmy Eat World record, I had some stuff, but I didn’t have it on vinyl. I didn’t have that specific 7”. I didn’t realize how much stuff was in there until later. There was an unopened Mineral Power of Failing in there, there was that Jimmy Eat World 7” in there, that they duct taped, that they did a limited servicing and it was stuff that the guy was going to throw out and these things are gold. I recognized the bands. At that point I didn’t realize that these were going to be important for me and what I was going to be involved in and invested in. At the radio station, I started as a Metal Director, and I think I probably told that story when I went to my first CMJ event at the station and everyone was looking for me, and this is before Facebook, Friendster, and Myspace...I’m dating myself horribly, but no one could find me because they thought I was going to have long black hair and a trench coat because I played black metal and that’s what I was super into. I was a hardcore kid with an Earth Crisis hoodie on and tennis shoes. It was just metal, hardcore, post-hardcore, emo, that sort of progression. And same thing at the station, I did the metal show, I did that for 3 and a half years and then I also did a hardcore show, which sort of turned into a hardcore/emo show. That box in particular, I think I recognized, but I didn’t know there were going to be that many fruits in there.
You played in the band Halifax Code, was that prior to college or after? That was after. That was pretty much as soon as I graduated. I lived in another place for a minute and then I was in New York and had an apartment with some roommates. A friend of a friend kind of thing “Hey, they need a guitar player”, I’m like, “Alright, I’ll play”. I had some connections at Deep Elm from college and that’s sort of how the Emo Diaries Vol. 7 happened and we were on another compilation from DC that we put out a song. It ended up, three of the members ended up forming another indie band that is technically still around and awesome. That was a fun time. I was wondering how you got on the Deep Elm series. The Deep Elm thing was, Chuck at Deep Elm, who is now Beartrap PR, he is one of the first people that I ever spoke to at labels that I had liked and was talking to him on a regular basis. Chuck would send me Camber records and we got to be really good friends. I remember emailing him “Hey I’m in this band, in New York, check it out” and then two days later he was like “Alright, we want to release one of these songs on our next compilation.” It was literally that fast. It is interesting too. That there was some other label interest to sign us outright, and at the time, I had just gotten my really first music industry job. I kind of had a decision to make and I said “Do I want to go the band path and be in bands or do I want to have sort of a stable career?”. That was the point where I said “Let’s keep it part-time for now and we’ll do the comps” and if it gets bigger then... But I didn’t want to go full on, so we went that route. I know Chuck fairly well as we have worked with a lot of Beartrap bands in the past. He was my first guest on the podcast. I wanted him to be first because he was sort of like how I navigated this early on. Deep Elm had quite an impact early on in the scene and now it’s mostly a digital label. At what point did it start to wane and change it’s model from physical releases to digital only? I think what definitely happened with them is, they were there with the Emo Diaries Comps and there are 13 and some people like to rib me and say “Well the Emo Diaries are good up till #6”. I sometimes agree too. Those first 5 are solid, solid stuff. I think for them, it ended up the name of emo got sort of wrecked and it got pulled through the gutter and associations
that people still associate with eye liner or clothes or anything. Pop punk and goth sort of intersected in it all around the same name. That’s what’s been so amazing about that happening to Deep Elm and going under again, but to have it come back out again with Topshelf, Count Your Lucky Stars. Having that name and these stories come out and be like “Wow, there’s this revival” and yes, it’s been around the whole time, but it’s been so bastardized that it is finally that some of these bands know the references and some of them don’t, but they are doing it from the heart. They are doing it from what they do or what they feel inside and that to me feels like such a redemption of their remembering Mineral and American Football. They’re not remembering some of the bands from the MTV era. Which is fine and all, people can copy that stuff, but if you are really looking at how things are connected, those bands weren’t about clothes and weren’t about tour buses. It was the music and it was such a smaller community and that’s what this is now. A small community niche that is really about the music. In the music industry, is there a time line or a moment in time where you have to do your thing and keep people connected or are people going to forget about your band and move onto the new bands in that genre? Just because I am in the music industry itself and been able to watch it from the personal side and also the work side, there are these sort of waves and I think that sometimes bands try and do those waves each time. They feel, “Ok, we gotta put keyboards in” or “We need to have a dance hit” or” We need a drum machine or girl vocals or EDM, we need to have something that is super dancey” Whatever that is, some bands do that and you can tell from their records. And then there are some that have just been doing the same thing and yes, maybe they are influenced by it. Maybe those bands feel that they are just really into keyboards and they just happen to line up that way, but sometimes that is not the case and you can see them sort of trying. Like Appleseed Cast has been doing what they want to do and the same thing and they write and have this system down. You see this consistency and you can ride their wave as a band. I don’t want to ride a trend. Like Jimmy Eat World can do whatever the fuck they want. They can put out a record because they’ve got that thought that you’re following them. They don’t care, they’re writing what they want to write. Yes, they may be saying “God, this will be a really hooky song” I do the
same thing when I write, but it’s not around that sort of wave that is happening at the moment. They’ve been doing their thing. I hope that answers it. That’s sort of how I feel, that some bands are trying really hard to do that and some bands just want to do their own thing. What made you want to start the Washed Up Emo site and up until that point, had emo music been a constant in your life, or was it something that you had just come back to? It was constant. There’s a joke that when the A&R guy at TVT handed me Bleed American and said “You like these guys, check this out” and I heard it, I was like “Holy Shit, this is amazing!” and that was in 2001. I was really angry. There was all these bands taking part in the time frame, so at that time it was awesome to be able to have this record and be like “Wow, this is going to be really good, this is one of my favorite bands, they are gonna break big” and I had a friendly bet with a co-worker, which I won. He had said it was going to sell 60,000 right away and it didn’t happen that way. A world tour later, they were on the map. I think for me, it definitely started in college with that box and it continued. I collected and I always went to record stores and was always asking people about what stuff or what records. It was definitely a task to hear these bands and find out about them and find out about things. College was great because I did get free records from the radio station and that just sort of continued and when I started working at record labels. I never left it, I just didn’t know how to channel what I wanted people to remember. I wanted people to remember the bands and that meant something and not the sort of hair and the face and eye liner. All those bands, hats off and congrats to all the success and all those things, but the name got tied to something that was more pop to me and not as commercial. Some of these songs I thought these bands back in the day had was just as commercial, just as catchy, they just didn’t have the gloss and the expensive video to go along with it.
Right. If you look at the videos The Promise Ring did, they were well done, but they weren’t super high gloss or flashy or anything. Yeah, they had some great videos and they had a sense of humor too. That’s the thing that a lot of people forget. These bands, they do smile, they are happy people, the music is just very melancholy sometimes. The early posts on the Washed Up Emo blog we’re pretty angry as to what the term emo had become. What was it about emo that you were angry about and at what point did goth and emo cultures collide to create this emo monster where bands like My Chemical Romance and the like were considered emo? It was definitely ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, that’s when I was like.. I hadn’t started it yet, but I was just like this is ridiculous. I was working at Equal Vision at the time and I was working a bunch of bands that were all rock bands. They were getting roped in with all these things and I was so confused like, this isn’t emo, what are you talking about. Steven’s Untitled Rock Show, I had a lot of success with that show and I had a lot of bands on there, but they would just play My Chemical Romance, The Used and all these bands all day. The Warped Tour kind of poached all these guys. And then Europe and the UK...I always like to poke my UK friends about their media and how they are horrible with understanding emo or even describing it. Those things started happening around the world and that’s when kids were being blamed for having eyeliner. Like don’t search emo on Instagram...I get depressed, so I don’t even look at it because it’s so off base. No one is posting Mineral records on there. That’s when I was like I need to get this outlet. I’m washed up, I’m a little older, let me explain emo before all the swoop haircuts and the tour buses. This is what this word meant or at least was associated with prior to all that. So, in 2007, I think in October might have been my first post, that is when I sort of started. Then an interesting thing, it was really angry.
I would find posts online or find things in mags and I would call out bands. I sort of stopped that a couple years ago. The anger of it was to a point, I didn’t know what else to do. And then, I started getting some positive things back from people saying, “Oh man, I checked out this band and they sound like this” and I go “What?! There is a band that sounds like American Football, no.” And that’s when I started seeing “Oh my god, there’s this scene!” I literally felt it. I have an interview with Kevin from Topshelf Records, that I have in the can, and we talk a lot about that and just how when I found out about his label and I went “Are you kidding me?!” There is someone out there, that’s from the same kind of soil working with bands, doing it the same...This label would’ve existed in ‘95-’96. It would’ve been the same thing. Yes, there are different ways of promotion. Yes, there are different online things, but it would’ve existed and been the same thing. That’s what’s so exciting and that’s when I sort of turned and been like, let me talk about the old bands, but then bring in the new and make that bridge. How did you feel when you first heard bands like Algernon Cadwallader and Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate), who were bringing back music that was closer to the roots of emo? I was blown away. I didn’t believe that this was happening. I remember asking a bunch of friends like, have you heard this band and how did they find out about them. That was my first thing. How did you get there? How did you get through the muck of the pop and the MTVs and all those worlds and Alt Press. No offense, again I don’t want to make it seem like it’s their fault, it was what was happening at the time, it’s just, the word got through it, so how did they jump back. Obviously the internet is great to be able to do that. Some of them have and some of them haven’t. Some of the bands that are around today, like talking to Keith from Empire! Empire! and chatting with him and finding out like “Oh I love this band and this band”. That was so great for me to feel that true music came through. Yes, it might of been below the fold and no one is really talking about it, but there was a certain part of groups of bands that were looking back further. When I heard Algernon or Snowing or any of these bands, I was so excited. It was one of those this is awesome moments. There are bands that will write me from Russia and say “Hey, I wrote this song, my favorite band is Mineral” and it sounds like Mineral. (Laughs) And hats off to them!
One of the things I love about the podcast you do, is that it’s less interview format and more two guys just shooting the shit, having a conversation about music. Why did you decide on doing a podcast with face to face or over the phone interviews, instead of just emailing questions to your favorite artists and posting them on your site? I felt like Alt Press did a great job. There are a few editors there that I know as well that have done a lot of oral histories of a lot of the bands, if it’s Cap’n Jazz or The Promise Ring. No one in history, no one had Jim talking for an hour. No one had Eric from Christie Front Drive get to chat for an hour and a half about stuff or Chris Simpson from Mineral. There is no outlet out there for them to be able to chat. I remember when I interviewed Blair form The Jealous Sound, I think my first question threw him for a loop, because he was expecting “What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite band?” and I asked him “What’s the first record you ever owned?” I think it got them to be like “Wow, this is a trip down memory lane.” This is me enjoying music and that’s what I love about it. I have a bunch of questions and I do a little time line and I like to start from when they were born up till now and what’s next because that’s what’s exciting too. Like, what are you still doing? That whole story it does, it turns into where I’m asking a question and they end up answering something that I was going to ask them later or turns into this whole topic about just in general of what’s happening or why something was. I love to hear why from their perspective. I had a different perspective because I was on the outside and sort of in the industry, but not really, and I just love hearing from the bands. That’s what I think people are really liking about it. It isn’t that interview format, it’s this conversation. AV Club had one of the nicest things to say, just saying that we have reverence for them and it’s a conversation. That’s exactly what I wanted people to get out of it. Is there any correlation/connection between you making mixtapes off the radio as a kid, working at your college radio station, and doing a podcast now? Yes. I think making those little mixtapes and doing my own breaks...I mean, my first day of college, I went to the radio station and was like “I want to have a show”. That was partly why I picked the school, partly why I went there. I was going to have an opportunity to do that. In myself, I knew that was how I was going to get a career or get a job. I love connecting with people and I think the radio, the podcast or these things
connect. A lot of people sometimes aren’t as social. I’m a very social person, so being before the internet age, being able to have these things where if it’s Twitter...We had Emo Night last night, I was tweeting at bands that we were playing and they were favorting or tweeting and it’s just like those kind of connections wouldn’t happen. I love that. I think it steps back to if it was my pirate radio station, or the radio show where high school kids will listen or the podcast where thousands of people are hearing it and sharing it and connecting. About the Emo Night, do you make up set lists beforehand or do you take requests throughout the night? What I like to have is, Brian and I figure out who’s guesting with us, so we’ll figure out “OK, it’s this band, so they can show up then” and we’ll split up the times and since I don’t drink, I DJ late so everyone can have a good time. For the most part, we don’t really have a set list. I must of had 45-50 requests last night from people. I have a general idea of how, and I gauge the room too. Brian does the same thing. We kind of gauge the room and find what’s working and what’s not and then sort of cater to that time frame. My favorite thing is when people come up and they’re like “I just had a great time!” I can tell I played the right tunes around the same time, they made the same correlation, they toured together around the same time, area. Long Island and New Jersey bands do well. It’s knowing the audience and it’s really fun to play something and there is a great reaction. I know enough, hopefully, or Brian can remind me, “Hey, remember this song?” “Oh yeah, let’s play that!” It really turns into a fun night, just because we’re playing to everybody that’s there. I try to stress too when we have people guest, yes, play what you want, but if someone comes up and wants to hear something, say “I’ll get to it” or “Hey, what about this band?” because that’s why they’re coming. I need to be careful about that.
Are there any songs that you will refuse to play because they are not what you’d consider to be emo? Look, I have a certain perspective, Brian has a certain perspective, the guests have a certain perspective. Some people think Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and all those bands are emo, which is fine. I think of it another way. What I try and do is steer away from things that are more punk or more indie. Jawbreaker, Fugazi, those things make sense because of the touring. I also try to think of who they toured with. Those bands, if they toured together or if they were label mates, you sort of start to make those family tree connections and that’s how I try and help if someone’s coming up and asking. I’ve had some off the wall things, like someone was like “Hey, can you play Tool?’ and I’ll say “I can’t play that because of this, but what if I play this, or what if I played you Hum?” You know something like Quicksand. Some people have it in their head that this is emo because it’s from MTV and it’s 2005 and it’s My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy and no offense to them. There is one band I will never play, but I will play as much stuff as I can depending on the room. Like if it’s all people that want to hear that stuff, done, I’ll do it, but for the most part, I try and do it like a radio station would. They play you a song you know, like ‘Living On A Prayer”, and then the next song will be something that’s newer that you might not know, but you’ve been there and stayed to hear the old song, so you’re maybe going to stay for the next old one. I try and do that with everybody. I play a super sing-a-long, but then maybe get really old school or deep cause there are older people out there and then come back up. It’s sort of a little bit of a roller coaster. You can tell I’ve thought about it.
How much time and preparation does it take for each podcast and how much editing is done per episode? Basically, the prep is a lot of back and forth with the manager or sometimes it’s direct with the artist. They’ll find out about it or they will @ reply me. A friend of past bands will connect me with them. For the most part, most of the bands I know front to back, so I could just sort of do my usual thing and interject what I’ve always wanted to know and what I would think that people would want to know. I’ll post questions like “Hey, does anyone have any questions for Chris Conely from Saves the Day?” and I’ll get a bunch and be able to insert those in. And then an hour to do the podcast, and then usually editing...I don’t really have the best audio. That’s probably the one complaint that people have with it is the audio of it isn’t as well. I just don’t have the time or money to invest in that and I think it’s good for what it is. It’s an audio interview, it’s not going to change the face of audiophiles, but it takes about two and a half, about double the time I interview. So if it’s two hours I interviewed them, it’s going to take 4 hours to edit. It is a lot. I was on a good clip for a while and there are ups and downs, but I think everyone’s pretty understanding about it. I don’t just want to do everyone every week, if it’s not someone significant. I’m working on really big artists. I want...this is what this thing is about...I want you to listen to it and be like “OK, I’m going to get the full story from these guys and not just anybody” and be able to tell the story from everyone’s perspective. I want this to be this oral history. I want this to live and have people come. Whatever, there’s a band starting up tomorrow and they heard about one band and they can hear Matt Pryor talk or they can hear Jim Adkins talk and maybe some of that can continue on to those next set of bands. The podcasts vary in length, do you edit a lot out or are you pretty much releasing the whole interview? I have a hard time editing a lot of stuff because I love the stories and I feel like that’s the form of that and I can do however long I want. Like Eric from Christie Front Drive’s; I just loved what he was talking about, I didn’t want to edit. Jim Adkins; I’m not going to cut stuff. I feel like whatever he’s giving time about, it should be out there. Some of them are long and I try to keep it to an hour. I feel like that’s the limit. Then again, sometimes they run over a little bit. I’ve had ones where I’ve stopped interviewing, like you can’t tell in the edits, but there’s ones where I’m like “Well,
that’s all the questions I have” and then we start bullshitting. We start telling stories and blah blah blah and this this and this and then I got to put those back in because we ended up just talking for another hour. That’s what happened with Jim, we ended up just bullshitting for another 45 minutes. Is that where the music breaks are on the podcasts? Sometimes, yes. That’s the secret. Sometimes it’s either I ask a stupid question or the answer wasn’t concise and they need to answer it again. Or their phone goes out and I have to call them back, then I’ll sort of do an interlude with a song. Having an interest in many genres of music, do you think the podcast will ever branch out into non emo genres and artists? I haven’t thought about that. I think there are so many bands to hit. I think the newer bands are what would be a great next step. Interviewing Empire! Empire! or interviewing Kevin from Topshelf, being able to get that out, that’s something that I’m excited about. Obviously with my background, I am able to connect with these bands really quickly, either it’s publicists or already having a relationship with them, so I just tell them “Hey, I have this podcast”. “OK, great this is why and we’ll do it.” A lot of times the band already knows about it and listens to it. Like Jim had already known about it and listened to a bunch, which blew my mind. It’s sort of this understanding of, you get what I’m trying to do, this is pretty simple. I don’t think I’m going to branch out and do punk or ska bands. I don’t think I’ll ever do that. A lot of bands in the emo and indie scene have had a short shelf life or career, do you worry about not being able to interview these bands while they are still around? I haven’t done that many new new bands and the funny part is that a lot of these bands, like The Jazz June, I interviewed them and they weren’t a band at that time, they were broken up. I interviewed them and they ended up getting inspired from that and finding out that people were super into them and then they ended up reforming, playing shows, and they’re going to do a split 7”. I think that there is that whole time period of where time passes, like maybe a band that’s broken up is around now, I’ll interview them in 5 years or 6 years or something. I don’t know. I haven’t really gone that far with the newer bands.
I also wanted to ask you about what you do, you currently work in digital marketing at Sony, working with the Legacy artists like The Clash and Tony Bennett. Do you get more nervous meeting celebrities through work or interviewing people on your podcast? I’ve done it long enough where I can be comfortable in front of them and I think the difference is when I’m talking to them, I have a purpose, I have a “Hey, I’m doing this for you or working with you” kind of relationship. The podcast, I think is that same way. I want to help you, like tell me what’s coming up for you guys. Tell me what’s next or what you want to talk about. I don’t really have an agenda, I’m not going to open up the podcast and listen to it and be like “Oh my god, I look like a ass.” I want them to come, great, and I feel like I approach the artists I work with at Sony, the Legacy artists, obviously are such a different level than bands that I’m dealing with. They are just legendary and millions and millions of people around the world are loving them. I have to uphold that thing as well. I have to be really careful to make sure that I am very very understanding of them and their place in history. I feel that same way when I’m talking to the bands on the podcast or dealing with them for the DJ nights or interviewing them for other stuff. I want to make sure that they come out looking awesome. There is sort of a correlation in both my jobs; I’m dealing with bands that have been around for a while and some of them are shaking the cobwebs off and doing things and some of them are dormant. Working with the Legacy artists, have you worked with any that your parents were or are really into? Definitely Tony Bennett, but then also Willie Nelson. I’ve gotten to work with him at the prior label, EMI, and also worked with him here. That was the first music that I’ve remember listening to was him. So to be able to work with him and work with records and meet him and traveled to shows and traveled to far away places for shows to hang. That was one of those full circle
moments where that was some of my earliest memories of music and it’s one of my dad’s favorite artists and I get to send him records early. It’s his birthday today, so I have records going out to him of stuff that is new music from Willie. It’s fun to be able to do that. You’ve worked at a number of labels and you now work at Sony, is this the direction you wanted to take, is this where you wanted to be in music? I was always against major labels and I was an indie kid for life and wanted to work at indies and work bands and break records and work with bands that no one has heard of and laugh in everyone’s face when they were trying to sign them. That was my early feelings and then I had the opportunity to switch and do more digital marketing and that was involving some other labels and went in that realm. I think the past, especially in music, it changes every six months. There is always something new, there is always something changing and especially in digital marketing, which is what I do, there is always something different that I can be working on and doing and it doesn’t feel like the same job everyday. So that’s what’s really exciting about it. You asked like a path, I’d always sort of been into digital and tech and things, so being able to do it with music and having that background, seemed like a perfect fit. I’ve been doing it this long and I hope I can do it just as long as I’ve been doing it. Going back to the podcast, I know you’ve said before that you want to interview Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate; are there any other artists that you especially want to interview for the podcast and are there any artists that people would be surprised you’d want to interview? There are probably some obscure bands that I would want on that maybe some would know and some wouldn’t. Maybe it would be regional. Someone from the West Coast wouldn’t know about the Virginia band that I was super into that I’d want on.
Sometimes that would happen. For the most part, the big guns, which I’m hopefully figuring out a lot of these things that are through connections, but definitely Enigk, Chris Carrabba, he’s got a lot of things to mention and is still making music, and Blake Schwarzenbach from Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil would be great. Those would probably be the few at this moment that would be the ones that I would love to have on. I think I’ve gotten a lot of heavy hitters and Jeremy, Chris and Blake would round those out. Where do you see the podcast heading in the future. Do you think it is something you will continue doing or is it something you see ending in a few years? I joke with friends that if I get Enigk, I could stop. So that’s sort of a joke with friends, but I think as long as people are understanding of the time it takes and it’s just not pushing out an episode to push out an episode, but one that makes sense, I will continue in doing it as long as I can. If three months go by, but then the following episode is Blake Schwarzenbach, then great, or it’s a new band from Count Your Lucky Stars or Topshelf or another new band that we both haven’t even heard of yet. I don’t see it stopping. I’ve never made a cent on it, I don’t care, I’m more of a “Sure” if someone wants to run ads on it, that’s fantastic. I’m more about, I want someone to go to this in 5 or 6 years and look at this and be like “Wait a minute, I didn’t know about this band” or “Oh, that connects with this.” That’s great because yes there’s Wikipedia, yes there is your friend, but to be able to hear it from their voice and hear the Braid guys talk or Eric from Christie Front Drive talk about ‘96/’97. I think it’s eye-opening for a lot of people that have always been in the digital world and to be able to hear that pay phones and writing someone and waiting and doing 7”s and touring together, that sort of works and you’re connecting on such a different level. Yes a Facebook message is great, you and I emailed back and forth to set up this interview, but before email it would’ve been a letter, it would’ve been a phone call, but it also would’ve been something like seeing each other on tour. Is one better than the other, no. I just think it’s interesting to show how it developed and I hope people get that out of the podcast. I know I’ve brought this up a bunch, but it was really one of those last few times that before the internet broke, this scene was there and it was a lot of work.
One of the great things about music is it’s ability to connect you to a certain important points in your past where that song or album had been playing. What song or album, when heard, instantly brings you back to an important part of your life? There’s a bunch. You want something emo or something different? Either works. Two examples; one when I got to see Refused in 1998, before they broke up and subsequently someone had this video tape of it, which I didn’t know was happening, but it was a show with Frodus on a college campus and it was two days before they broke up. So I saw one of the second to last full shows they did in that time frame. A friend had this video, he was like “Hey, I have this show and it was in North Carolina in 1998” and I was like “What, I was at that show!” So I watched it and literally that was the show I was at. I was able to upload it to youtube and had a lot of people reach out and be really stoked on it. Now, them being able to, recently this year, tour and make money and get that recognition that had always been there. I will always think about that show in ‘98, where I had the labels that I was talking to, I was a college radio station, say goodbye to them. Like “Hey, tell them goodbye from Victory or Equal Vison or Epitaph”, or whoever it was. I was talking to all those guys because they sort of had an inkling that they were done. That record, obviously, changed a lot of people. The Shape of Punk to Come is a classic record. To see it in its infancy and see one of those first shows and feel that and be able to experience it again online and be able to find it, then also have that satisfaction of seeing a sold out venue of 4,000 people two nights in a row lose their minds. They played a secret after show after one of the gigs in New York and I got to go to that and it brought it back to its roots again. It was such a full circle of seeing those two sold out shows, but then also them playing this limited show in Brooklyn for 150 people and bringing it back to when I remember hardcore shows. That to me was just the most full circle thing that whenever I hear Refused, I have such great memories about not only when I saw them before, but when everyone else got to experience it and understand what I had gotten to be apart of.
The other o n e w a s Saves the Day. I booked a show right before I graduated college at a pizza place I worked at. I flyerd one show, a Boy Sets Fire show, 250 kids came out and the funny thing about it was that the next day, I had two finals for my major that I had to pass to graduate. I was obviously doing the show and being really busy with it. The show was awesome, all these people showed up. It was just as Through Being Cool was breaking and I stayed up all night and studied for the two tests. I fly home that next day and I was like I don’t know how I did and so I get the grades in the mail and I aced both exams and I was like “OK I can do the music industry”. I can stay out all night and do a show and then take a test in the morning. So that to me was “I think I can do this”. Whenever I think of Saves the Day, I think of it was sort of my pass to being in the music industry. If I could close or to just say another thing, this is something that I love doing and I try and think about everybody. I don’t try to think about just my experience or just what I’ve been doing, I really want people to listen to this stuff or be exposed to the bands and feel connected to it. I don’t want it to seem like I’m telling someone and that is sort of what I’m trying to do with these podcasts, is letting the artist tell the story and you understanding their situation and why they wrote what they did. It’s working, there seems to be a lot of people that are really connecting with these and it’s super fun to hear from people from all over the world and having people wanting to ask me about these things, it’s great. It’s obviously my labor of love. I don’t get paid for it, it’s just one of those ones that feels like a need, like there are people that agreed. It’s not happening in a vacuum.
The cover art for Adult Film is probably one of the only times an album’s art has made me feel uneasy. You kind of look like a piece of gum that has fallen out of someone’s mouth and rolled in a pile of dirt. Can you explain the idea behind it? After upon coming up with the title, Adult Film, that was the picture I thought in my head, so I talked to the photographer, John Sturdy, about how to go about doing that and we decided to give it a shot. It was pretty fun. I’m glad with the way it turned out. A lot of your albums before this one had themes running through them; what would you say is the theme of Adult Film ? On some records I do...it’s kind of an umbrella, an umbrella in terms of covering it one way or another, like all the songs. I made a point to try to have something less thematic and more of a collection of songs. They all fit under that title in a sense that it’s about aging and so this “film” being kind of a filminess that collects on us as we get older. The closest I think that it is about is mortality, mortality specifically in some songs and mortality in relation to the work that we do in our lives, the output we have. Having worked for a number of years in a full band setting, what was the most difficult aspect of writing music on your own? The most dangerous thing about it is that I don’t really have a ton of input throughout. Even though I work with musicians, like Patrick Newbury, I worked with on the last two records with him, there is still this detachment. With the bands that I do, there is more opinion brought in the songwriting process. So I don’t have anyone’s opinions. I have to use random judgement calls, for better or worse. I wouldn’t encourage people to work in that fashion. I don’t even encourage myself to work that way, but it’s just what I’ve been doing. I try to be really hard and I try to be a tough editor. It’s unusual compared to working with the bands that I do, because I sit with the songs by myself and there is no guiding hand or force behind it. Nobody else knows the songs. I can throw them all away if I want to and nobody is there to catch
Interview with: Tim Kasher Photos: John Sturdy
them, which is kind of strange. I’ve never decided to scrap a whole batch. Well, that’s not true. I do sometimes scrap entire batches of songs, but with the band, it’s a bit more difficult because then you have these other people who have become attached to them, so I’ll have a tendency to save some of them. I don’t know if this is making sense, but it’s a bit different to have the songs all kind of live in my head and solely in my head.
Early albums in your discography dealt with relationships and divorce, what, if anything do you consider your muse nowadays? I like to think that changes a little bit from year to year. I don’t think it changes a ton. I think as the writer, I like to try to hone in on, my favorite topics, ones I like to explore the most, which is still the dynamics of those very close sexual relationships that many of us have. I think that I also like to explore
Do you take negative reviews of your solo albums harder than you would of negative reviews for Cursive or The Good Life albums? No, but I see your point. I think that negative reviews are just a little bit annoying regardless. So, no I don’t, but I don’t necessarily separate...Maybe that’s what you were suggesting that with the band we share the burden or something like that. I think that for me, every album I do, every album I put out is just a batch of songs I wrote and that really doesn’t change despite who I may be working with. I think it’s always going to be equally personal.
the approach of writing. It’s just something that I just think about. Songwriting is a weird thing, because it’s just these little of tidbits of stories or these little tidbits of expressions. I think it’s totally strange. I don’t know if I’ve ever completely gotten sort of comfortable with that. Without musicality behind it and melody, it’s just these kind of goofy poems and I don’t really read poetry. So, that said, it becomes kind of weird, like what kind of expression I use just trying to let out. I try to let it come across naturally and it’s just whatever happens to be on my mind at the time, which for the last few years, it’s been a lot about mortality, I guess. Just turning 40 this year, and I think it’s just a weird milestone.
I’ve always found how geographic locations influence an album fascinating, and you said in another interview that it’s inevitable that it’ll happen. Having lived in different major cities, can you spot the different geographical influences in your albums? Here and there I kind of can, but not a ton. I attribute certain albums to certain areas I’ve lived in and I can recognize some of that. Like Mama, I’m Swollen is a Cursive record that I wrote a handful of stuff when I was out in LA, but that album in particular reminds me specifically of that time period. I think that the relationship and influence of a location to one’s writing, at least for my writing, I’m sure that it affects it greatly, I’m just not the person to recognize it. I think it’s obscure and I don’t see it myself. At the end of the day, I’m almost just kind of by myself writing and still kind of just in my head. I’m sure I’m being influenced by everything around me, because all of it is all real and whatever it is we’re reading and watching. I just don’t personally see those influences. I’m sure they exist. You’re currently living in Chicago and the city has always had a solid music scene. Is there anyone related to the Chicago scene that you’d be interested in collaborating with? There is a lot of great music here. I am old friends with the Joan of Arc crew. I’ve done a lot of touring with them. There is an old friend of mine who lives here in town, Matt Focht, who did Head of Femur for a while, he’s from Nebraska. Angel Olson lives here, I think she is fantastic. I’m a big fan of hers and I’m looking forward to her next record that comes out in a month or two, I think. Collaborating, I don’t know. I really actually should just throw a band together while I’m here, because I miss just getting together with people. It’s a good excuse to get together and have a few drinks. I know you two are friends, but I see a lot of similarities between your music career and Tim Kinsella’s music career in that you both have wildly various forms of output and both have interests in writing screenplays and short stories. Have the two of you ever talked about releasing something together with music or writing? I think that, sure, we’ve talked and joked around about it, but we really haven’t laid out any plans in such. I think we’ve talked a lot about doing a split 7”, that we need to do one of these days because we’ve had that idea for a long time.
You worked with Laura Stevenson and Nate Kinsella on Adult Film, how did their involvement come about? Laura I hardly knew at the time. I had just played one show with her in Philadelphia. I liked the show and I picked up the record at the time that was Sit Resist, that was what she was promoting at the time, and I liked the record and it stayed with me. So, I was looking for the right kind of voice for that song and her voice popped into my head and fortunately she was able to do it. So that was great, and then we toured together too last season. And you asked about Nate Kinsella, getting back to the Joan of Arc crew and Make Believe. I’ve known Nate for a long time and getting to do some of the songs with Nate was really part of my personal wish fulfilment of the benefit of doing stuff under my own name. I’ve been playing with this great band; they’re a great band and great friends that we tour around together and they worked on about half the record. I wanted to do that just because they are great musicians and they’ve always been pretty cool about working on stuff. I made a point to also do a collection of songs with Nate Kinsella too, just merely because I think he is, I mean not to be so flattering, but because I think he is just outstanding, a totally outstanding musician and how cool that I have the opportunity to do that. For me, it’s kind of just that simple. I gave him all the songs that I thought were weirder and that I had a harder time imagining the percussion for. I figured that was perfect for Nate. That sounds just like what Nate would be into. It was really that last Birthmark record, other than that, I had always daydreamed playing with him just solely because of watching Make Believe night after night. That last Birthmark record is one of my favorite records. Whether it’s music, short stories or screen plays, you are always writing. How do you maintain the creativity to write so much and how do you deal with writer’s block? I guess writer’s block doesn’t bother me much. I just write through. I write through writer’s block for the most part. Sometimes I have enough sense to set something aside. For music especially, I can tell when it’s not a good time to write. Mostly I’ll just write and mostly I’ll just play guitar for hours that day anyway. I guess that’s just my point of playing through it. It doesn’t really bother me. You can still
collect plenty of stuff, set it aside, and it might be something you want to use for something else later. Or probably not, because you didn’t really think it was very good to begin with, you know. I figure it’s practice, it’s just practice to get all those bad ideas out. Sometimes I recognize it’s such a bad idea that I’ll just put the guitar down and that’s fine and I’ll go do something else. I have the benefit of I can always just switch over to writing something else. I don’t really experience writer’s block too much as far as screenwriting and story writing goes. It seems like once you have a lot of story ideas and so you just lay one out and kind of just whatever, like cheesy trite statement, “Well then it just writes itself”, but it kind of does. It’s true, you just make an outline and all you have to do is follow it. So I don’t tend to get writer’s block much.
Being so heavily involved with writing, is the writing aspect about music or performing the music more fulfilling for you? I’m so much more interested in writing. Absolutely, 100%. I’m performing to this day and I’m singing to this day and I’m not a very good singer and I’m not a great musician and I’m doing it out of necessity.
Do you think you’ll ever release all of the short stories you’ve written into book form? As far as short stories go, I don’t really have a ton. I’ve been writing screenplays a lot more. And those, I don’t think I would. No, I don’t have a thought of publishing them. Some of them read a little bit better because they are set out to be plays as well. There could be some interest reading something like that. I like reading plays myself. But screenplays, they’re a little bit ugly, I think. They’re just these kind of skeletal frames for something. That’s why I think I should not write them anymore, really is they’re just kind of collecting dust. Having the luxury of just tossing out stories and screenplays away if you are not happy with them, does it make it easier to write certain things knowing that you can just scrap it at any moment? That’s a great question and I think it’s a really harrowing, depressing question that a writer can ask themselves. I think that for a lot of people there is too much truth about that, but it can be easier to write if you know that it’s really not going to go anywhere. You get that buzz of self-worth of just being a hard working person and feeling a sense of accomplishment, but if it’s not really going to go anywhere, you also don’t have to put any type of failure or anything like that. That’s probably why I’m writing screenplays and nothing else.
That’s kind of why a lot of people do it. Well, it’s like this is what I wrote, this is how you get it out. It’s not a bad life. I wouldn’t be opposed to just write for somebody else and let them perform it, but it’s just not really the way it works in this scene. Like who would I meet, who would I run into who would want to do that, really? The motives aren’t right. In this
small corner of indie rock, which is essentially the big umbrella you can label it as, the ones who go out there and perform to 50 people a night and say “Well it’s just somebody else’s song, I’m a good performer. I’m great at performing, but Tim writes the songs and he sits at home”, just seems weird right? That said, I’m happy that I’m here.
Everything I do is luxury really so, I just try to work all the time. I think what I meant about free time is that I had time open, like my schedule was free to do some shows. I guess it’s obnoxious to call touring work, but technically that is a job.
In another interview, the interviewer asked you about a small summer tour you had done and you replied that you did it because you had the free time to do it. If touring is what you do during your free time, what would you consider to be your work?
Having been involved in the music scene for over 15 years, and been through the stages of the digital age of music, is it easier or harder now to be a musician? Easier...right? It’s easier for a lot more of us to call ourselves musicians. Not specifically speaking, I
read something on the internet vast numbers, but it’s something insane like, something crazy like...and you can look it up for yourself and see how far off I am, but in something like 2001, there was 8,000 releases and in 2011 it was like 35,000 releases. Who knows how far off I got. The digital age and the internet, people say it’s for worse, I think it’s for better actually. If more people are feeling comfort and confidence to write their own stuff and there is an outlet for it, that’s great. All we have to do is not listen to it if we don’t want to, that’s all you have to do. And we don’t. Most of it we don’t hear. At least it’s there and people are taking a stab at it. That’s me too. For as small as my career is, if I was born at a slightly different time in 1954 instead of 1974, I’d be doing something else now probably, right? I probably wouldn’t be able to get my music out and around as well if I was doing the same stuff, but it was in the 80’s. I think whatever label I would be on would be forced to drop me, you know. I’m becoming a relic songwriter where I actually used to get royalties for album sales and so it can irk the older people some. The next generation of songwriters, they’ll achieve great success without ever getting a royalty and that’s fine. You know the whole song and dance, if you can go out and perform, that’s how you can make a living at it. One figure I had read, said something about I Am Gemini having over 430,000 track streams on Spotify, do those types of figures mean anything to you? I suppose so. I’m lagging behind a little bit as far as what the relevance of that is. But yeah, I should say it’s important to me. I just don’t know what a good number is yet. I don’t know what that means yet, I guess is what I’m saying. It sounds good! I know that wouldn’t equal that many sales, but if it equaled a tenth, that would be huge. How have you maintained relevant throughout all these years when other bands can barely make it half as long? I feel pretty lucky. I know that seems like dull to say, but it’s true. I think I don’t know how. I think it’s really cool that people still are willing to hear me out. I’m
just going to keep doing what I’m doing anyway. I think I’ve gotten pretty zen about it over the years. I think there was a time maybe 10 years ago where I thought a lot about what success is and needing it and stuff like that, but I don’t care a ton about it anymore. And if I have to start working a day job that...like I’m a big boy, you know. I’ll definitely be depressed about it, because we are all depressed about day jobs. But it’s fine, whatever, you know. I guess I work a lot at it and I put out a lot of stuff. Do you think there will ever come a day where music will no longer be of any interest to you? Yeah, I worry about that. I never thought that would be the case most of my life. I guess I’m just having fun with the question. I guess I know it will always be relevant to me. Like, I really know that. I know that. It’s way to big of a part, it’s way too important. Whoever it is that I am, like whatever weird, creepy question that we all have to ask of ourselves. It‘s like well, I know that’s what I am. Music is totally immeshed in my being. I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been doing it since I’ve been wanting to do it. Since I was 7 and then started I doing it when I was 13. Being older, I do...That’s what I’m playing around with, is like, I do start wondering if when I am 60 I’ll be like “We’ll I think I’ll retire in 10 years or something like that, I suppose.” I worry, just because you get so dull, you get old and so dull and I worry that that would happen, but I really don’t think it would. Looking back on your entire discography, is there any release you can listen to and be like “Yep, totally nailed it”? For one, I pay almost no attention to my discography anyway, because it’s just boring. It truly is just kind of that, whatever that kind of narcissism is doesn’t appeal to me that much. It all just seems like old shit. Old stuff that’s already behind me. That said, I’ve noticed that I definitely pick favorites and pick others to really shit on in my head and that rotates over the years. So, that’s probably healthy, I think. I give them some time to shit on them in my memories and then I’ll come back to them later and I’ll think that was a really inspired time in my life.
Having done so much with music already, is there any goal or achievement that you haven’t reached yet that you’d like to? (Long pause) I don’t know. I mean, I guess the continuing unanswered question for me is just getting to continue to do it. That was the same unanswered question 10 or 20 years ago. To be able to maintain a career as a songwriter with some level of relevance, not just burning songs to a CD to give to your loved ones or something, which is not unimportant. I think you know what I mean. Some semblance of a career, you know. That’s just something you never can know. I suppose I can answer that on my deathbed. I can make that decision and be like “ Oh cool, it worked” or it worked to whatever point.
Looking ahead to the rest of 2014, will you be doing any more touring for Adult Film or writing for any other projects? I’m doing a lot of writing. I’m just always doing that and I’m a bit unsure what I’m writing for, so I’m just kind of filling in space with writing, with songs and stories. I’m not totally sure what it will become, I think it’s because I’m just being really indecisive. I hope to do more touring for Adult Film, but I haven’t scheduled anything yet.
Interview with: Ramez Silyan Photos: Nicole Kibert
The roots of Calculator start when you were all in middle school. How have you maintained to stay friends and a band throughout this time while still going to college as well? That’s a really good question. Started with a smoking gun, eh. Well, I want to say we stayed friends because we were just that good of friends, but I know that we stayed so close because we had this constant thread tying us together. Every chance we had, we conspired about the band and the things we wanted to do together. If we didn’t have this band, we would not have created such a strong bond despite being so far away from each other. Was it difficult balance the band and college at the same time? Extremely so, but only because we did not have the convenience of living near each other. Once we all went to college, we were so entrenched in just figuring out our new lives that the band became secondary in a way. We were hoping to reverse that with the writing and recording of This Will Come To Pass. Had you put off college for a few years and instead focused on Calculator after high school, do you think the band would be in a different place than it is now? Yes and no. Yes, because if we had stayed closer together we could have just done more, but at the same time no, because I have done everything I’ve always wanted to do with music regardless of the difficulties ahead. The place I’m in now would be the same place I would be in if we had put out more material and played more shows. I would still be here, so to speak. Early in the band’s formation, how was the decision made that this style, of screamo or post-hardcore or whatever you want to call it, was the style of music you wanted to play? When Calculator started in late 2009, we didn’t know what “screamo” was. We were listening to mostly Texas is the Reason and Cap’n Jazz, along with local bands Werewolf with Robot Hands and Seasons. We just got together and played music we wanted to hear. The label of “screamo” came after we released Arguments. I guess we were just playing emo with screamed vocals?
Were there any bands or albums that were really integral in opening your eyes or changing your outlook to different types of music? The easiest answer to that question would be Comadre. I remember the day Jeff, our vocalist, sent me Burn Your Bones and told me that I had to listen to it as soon as possible. He had gone and seen Horse the Band and Comadre opened. Without that silly show, we would not have found DIY punk at such a young age. I mean yeah, I listened to Minor Threat and Black Flag, but I never went beyond my own angst and really understood any of it as a middle schooler.
Earlier this year you did a Kickstarter to fund the These Roots Grow Deep repress and the new album, This Will Come To Pass. Was there any hesitancy to go the Kickstarter route and were you surprised by the amount of support you received? There was tons of hesitancy, because kickstarter gets a really bad rep and I’m personally still on the fence about it. We needed a way to jumpstart costs for the record, tour, and the repress when we were already in debt from recording. If I were to do it today, I would use a different site or a simple paypal donation button. We were definitely surprised by the response, because we thought we would barely get it funded. When it went through, it was nice to know that enough people out there care about having a physical copy of our records.
How much time and effort was put into This Will Come To Pass and how difficult was it with everyone living in 5 different cities? For This Will Come To Pass, we actually had not written much after New Forms and we were becoming restless. We decided that following summer, we would get a space for ourselves and practice three times a week for three months. By the end of that time, most of the record was written and ready to be prepped for recording. It was an amazing experience to just take a bite out and write something we could call an album. After putting all that time and effort into it, how did it finally feel to have the album done and out? It feels great. It is our first album and we think it represents us as individuals, but also as a band. This is our sound. We’re actually gearing up for a repress and I couldn’t ask for more.
How has the band’s sound evolved from the early days with Arguments to now with This Will Come To Pass? We, as people, have changed tremendously, from our music tastes to our daily lives. I think that is reflected within the music, because we generally write and play music that interests us at the moment. We’d rather not worry about prescribing to a genre. In fact, I hate when I’m asked what we sound like. Just listen. I don’t want to put our sound into a nice neat little box you can judge. In many ways, after we were being drawn up as this “revival skramz band”, we wanted to shake that skin off and confuse the shit out of people because we knew that isn’t what we were. What weaknesses have you approved on in the band over time that would now be considered a strength? Our band is a difficult one to get moving and together, but when we are, it just becomes explosive. I say that in the way that it could go either way. The hard part is getting all of us in the room with the time to make it happen. Our dynamic is somewhat of our weakness and our strength. Not all explosions are good ones, haha.
On your earlier material, the lyrics we’re mainly written by Jeff and yourself, but everyone was able to contribute to them. Was the same kind of collaboration used for the lyrics on This Will Come To Pass? Lyrically, we usually try to open up the floor to everybody just as we are musically. I always like the idea of anyone being able to present anything they have in their head to the band whether it is a bass line, vocals, or a drum fill. Anyone as part of the band can just throw it. Most of the vocals have always been written by Jeff and I, but Chris A and Nik (our guitar players) have always contributed here and there in the best of ways. For example, “Daylight” was written by them two and “Come Closer” was written by Chris A. You mentioned in another interview about Memorial Collective, which is an outlet for your own releases. Is that something you are working on and are there any releases coming out from it in the future? We basically just used that imprint to release New Forms with Melotov, because we wanted to start owning our own releases as we could afford them. Thus, This Will Come To Pass was basically put on
Memorial Collective because we put it out. It was just a name we came up with for the stuff we release. There’s never been more than whispers about taking to any other level than that. You said before that your personal main goal with the band and music was fulfilment. What is it about this band and music in general that is so fulfilling? Do you think you will ever get to a point where the fulfilment starts to wane? Creating art is fulfilling. Putting something together that in some way can outlast myself and reach others that may never know me is something that cannot be explained with words. If I did not create in some shape or form I would not feel that I was spending my time wisely. There will never be a time when that is untrue. Will I always play music with Calculator, no. Things end. We will end. I may put down music to focus on other things I’m drawn to like film, but I am very much so a creative person and I always will be.
You tore your trachea a while back, how did you do that and did it have any affect on additional vocals you do? It was one of the most frightening health issues I’ve had and after a few sleepless nights and a trip to the ER where over six doctors basically studied me because they had no idea what was wrong, it magically healed itself. The accident has definitely informed my role as a vocalist. I tend to take on less and strain myself less live. I only have a handful of parts on the new record as to not further break my voice. The options for releasing music for independent bands these days are limited to putting out albums on CD, vinyl, and then on outlets like Bandcamp. Looking at the choices you’ve made with putting out your releases, which formats worked best for Calculator and is there any route you would encourage young bands to take when releasing their music? Doing everything yourself is where I would start. Write music, record a demo on a shitty mic in your friends garage and put it online. You don’t need anything fancy until you feel you’re ready. As far as what worked best, I think everything played its part.
We don’t release things in terms of sales or what others want. It’s more or less, what do we want and what can we afford. Obviously, when it comes to vinyl there’s always a larger risk, because if nobody wants it then you’ve thrown a lot of money away. In that respect we just try to gauge how many records to make based off of the way our last record did. As far as the first record, we were lucky enough to have Mel from Melotov Records put up the money and it steadily sold until it was gone. From releasing your own music to making your own videos, Calculator has a strong DIY work ethic. In your experience in the music scene, do bands have a strong DIY ethic get farther then the bands who don’t? No, I think it is actually the contrary. Bands who are just waiting to “sign” papers at the drop of a hat are the ones who seem to get further these days as they always have. They get on the big tours with terrible radio quality bands, they get asked to play the “official” showcases at SXSW, they get reviewed on Pitchfork and Spin. We just do our thing autonomously and with the help of like-minded friends as a means of alternative existence. There is no dream of selling out or “making it big” for me. In fact, I feel that many bands use the DIY platform as a jumping off point in local scenes and hop the train to the next level once the label man comes knocking. It’s funny because I actually just submitted my senior thesis on DIY called “DIY or CRY” and I basically asked a form of this question to many of the people I interviewed. Here is the rough cut I told myself I wouldn’t show anyone, oh well….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCXg9D3lNkQ
Calculator played two shows at FEST this year, one as Calculator and one as Rites of Spring on Halloween. How did the Rites of Spring cover show come about and how was your overall experience at FEST? The Fest is great. It is a weird experience to go to a small college town that has basically been taken over by punk music. Besides the alcoholic sponsor, I love it. Rites of Spring was just a band we all like and adore. They were also one of those bands we felt we could cover and not butcher. It was extremely fun to perform and we’ve even talked about possibly playing them again. A while back I had read somewhere that you were also working on some splits as well. Are those splits still happening and are you working on any new material? We have a split called Sound of Young America with Innards, Capacities, and Itto coming out February with Flannel Gurl Records. It is something that has been in the works for a long time. We actually recorded the songs at the same time as our fulllength. Other than that, we are currently writing for something, but we don’t know what yet. 2013 was a big year for Calculator with the month long summer tour and releasing the full-length. What items are you looking to cross off you your band’s bucket list for 2014? We are chalking up something abroad, another release, and constantly just looking forward and embracing what comes our way.
Brian Danaher (Minneapolis, MN)
Brian Danaher is a Minnesota based art director, designer, illustrator, chronic doodler, coffee drinker and music addict. In addition to poster design, he has also created illustrations for brands like Cherrios, The Wall Street Journal and PCWorld. To view more of Brian’s work, check out: briandanaher.com
Many of the songs on Junip’s new record deal with recognizing things in your life that need changing and having the courage to shift perspective and forge a new path. I came across an interview with José Gonzalez in which he described the new album as, “…ultimately about how the grass will grow after snow melts away: finding that hopeful feeling between the lines, that’s what the whole record is about.” I wanted the design to speak to that - one little tweak or flip and the scene completely changes. One of my kids has a nightlight that projects stars on the ceiling and as I was laying on the floor reading a bedtime story one night, I had the idea of using the moon, stars and window blinds as a metaphor for changing darkness into light. The plane in the last window pane adds further dimension to the idea that change is happening - that a new day brings new possibilities.
This poster was heavily influenced by Jeremy’s album, The Reluctant Graveyard, where themes of death, love and loss run throughout. I took cues from the song titles and cover artwork, but the biggest inspiration were the lyrics, in particular the songs, “ A Girl, A Boy, and A Graveyard” and “Deathbed Salesmen”, the latter has a line that really stuck with me: “This is how it has to end/ so love somebody while you can” All of this lead to the idea of using a wedding cake topper as a head stone. The posture of the couple adds some tenderness to the subject matter, preventing the design from becoming too somber while still speaking to the overall themes of the album.
I originally had this idea for another band’s poster but never made it past sketch stage, mainly because that band’s name was too long to pull it off. With Nada Surf’s new album, The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy, this idea seemed like a perfect fit, not to mention that the band’s name is only 8 characters. It was also an opportunity to try working with hand drawn letterforms, which was something I hadn’t really done before. I toyed around with having the guy with the telescope in a field, but the band’s songs seem more at home in an urban setting, so I opted for a cityscape. The type treatment on the buildings were influenced by the signage for a coffee shop and tattoo parlor in South Minneapolis, across the street from where I work.
The Walkmen’s album, Heaven, is a positive, confident record heavily influenced by the lessons and experiences of the band’s 10 years together. I wanted this feeling to be reflected in the design; an upbeat/positive nod to the past. Old keepsakes and mementos: photo albums, yearbooks, ticket stubs, and other personal souvenirs that one might keep to remember past accomplishments and important personal experiences seemed to be an interesting area to explore. After tons of dead-end sketching, the deadline was approaching and I was nervously racking my brain for a solution. I found myself at my in-laws house one afternoon. Their basement is full of old things books, photo albums, taxidermy, guns, old appliances, computers, etc. As I was looking through it all I came to the idea that old trophies and medals could be the thing that tied the idea together. It didn’t strike me until I was halfway done with the design that the image also had a nice conceptual tie-in to the title of the first song on the record, “We Can’t Be Beat”.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
When concepting this poster I came across a video interview where Ruban Nielson talked at length about how his marital trouble, infidelity, a brutal touring schedule and doing too many drugs influenced the band’s new record. In another interview, he described the album as “…mainly about love affairs and how impossible it is to connect with people sometimes, and losing people.” These interviews coupled with the line, “so good at being in trouble/ so bad at being in love” from the song “So Good at Being in Trouble” were the main inspiration for the design. The cracked diamond speaks to relationship troubles while the ring/handcuff suggests being stuck in difficult circumstances from which both are difficult to break free.
Interview with Chuck Daley
Tiny Engines is one of a few indie labels that are doing interesting printing treatments on the LP jackets, was this something that you set out to do from the first release? Definitely. For me, the appeal of vinyl was not only the sound of an expertly cut slab of wax, but also the potential for going the extra mile with packaging and artwork. There’s some creativity involved with CD packaging, but less so because of size constraints ... and a digital release is completely lacking in that regard. An LP simply has the ability to draw you in on so many levels and I always figured that if we were going to be releasing amazing music from amazing bands that the packaging should reflect that. Beside, I’ve always appreciated other labels who devote a hefty chunk of their resources into artwork and design. Give me an exquisite gatefold jacket and a simple black LP over colored vinyl any day.
I know that kids love to collect the different color variants, but I could care less about that. I just want the record to sound great, and if a label has put a lot of effort into the packaging, it’s a big plus. Who comes up with the ideas for how each LP jacket is going to be finished? Do the bands ever come to you with ideas? Sometimes bands have a concept of what they’re going for, but normally I’m the one who is suggesting different packaging ideas to them. Hopefully they don’t mind me butting in, but I think everyone has been really happy with how their records have turned out. And I would never push a band to do something that they didn’t want to do. Sometimes it’s just a case of, “Hey, the art looks great ... but I think if we did this it could look even better.”
For each release, do you have an idea in mind before the artwork is submitted or are the printing treatments discussed and added in afterwards? If a band has a solid concept of what they’re trying to do with the artwork and packaging, then usually it’s before. More times than not it’s a matter of me seeing the finished (or nearly finished) art and making suggestions. How much preparation goes into the artwork and printing for each release? Depends on who you ask. Quite frankly, we’re usually hands-off when it comes to artwork, so if you ask the bands, they’d probably say “a lot!” Once they submit something to us, that’s when our work begins ... but it’s more about discussing ideas, keeping everything organized and making sure everyone follows through so we’re not running behind. Obviously there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a finished product look the way it does, but it’s all part of the job.
Is the artwork taken into consideration when choosing which colors to press the vinyl on? Some bands really want the vinyl to reflect the colors in the artwork; other bands don’t care. Personal preference, I suppose. Is there a lot of extra cost involved when doing things like the foil stamping, UV coatings, and printing on sleeves? Dear god, yes. All that fun stuff costs money! This is probably the biggest reason why more labels don’t do it, and it might be the trickiest part of my job when it comes to packaging ideas. How do we make this record look as good as we possibly can for xxx amount of money? We have a set budget for every release, so if a band really wants to do foil stamping, a die-cut jacket or something like that, we may have to cut back in other areas. Maybe we’ll print the inserts in black and white, or we’ll skip the expensive “starburst” variant for the vinyl. It’s all about compromise when you run a small indie label.
Does it add on to the production time of the jackets having the extra stuff done to them? Maybe a little. Not much though. Vinyl takes a longass time to press. We can have jackets and inserts back within 3-4 weeks of submitting the artwork. Sometimes even sooner. Here’s where I give a shout out to Imprint Printing for being so awesome!
nice as I thought it would. Maybe that’s not the best way to put it. I’m really happy with the jackets, but they don’t “pop” as much as I thought they would. Because the jacket is mostly white, there just wasn’t enough contrast with the photos to make it that noticeable. It doesn’t look bad by any means - the art itself is terrific - but it wasn’t the success I thought
What have you learned from working with printers on the artwork and has there been any mistakes you’ve made in the process? The biggest thing I’ve learned is to ask a lot of questions and explore all your options. It definitely helps to have a printer who is patient and willing to hold your hand throughout the process. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I’m usually well-prepared, detail oriented and meticulous when it comes to this stuff. I’m trying to think of an example of a big screw up with artwork, but nothing is coming to mind. The CSTVT jackets weren’t screwed up, but the spot gloss / matte coating didn’t come out as
it would be. On the other hand, we tried the same thing later on with Dikembe’s Broad Shoulders and Run Forever’s Settling and it turned out much better.
It seems a lot of times, people will buy a release because of the color of vinyl it’s pressed on and not what the artwork looks like, why do you think artwork takes a back seat to the color of the vinyl when ordering? I have no idea. As I mentioned before, I’m much more likely to shell over extra cash for deluxe packaging then I am for a rare color variant. Maybe it’s because there’s a collectibility / limited-edition
aspect to colored vinyl. I would love to do limitededition packaging for some of our releases, but that would definitely be an added cost. Maybe someday. This may seem like a lame question to people who don’t know a lot about paper, but how do you choose which type of cover stock you’re going to use, uncoated or coated finish, and do you have a personal preference? Again, this is one of those “depends” responses. It’s really based on the artwork. Personally, I think that matte coating works really well with photos. With illustrations, I tend to prefer uncoated stock. I’ve never been that into glossy, but if the artwork called for it, that’s what we’d use.
We’ve also used some rougher, cardboard-like stock for a few releases: the Restorations, Tigers Jaw and Dikembe 7-inches, to name a few. Again, we just felt like the artwork lent to that particular stock. For the test presses of each release, you sell the test press vinyl with a limited custom print by different artists. What inspired you to offer these custom prints with the test presses? It was just an opportunity to do something creative and a little different. I also liked the idea of working with awesome artists that I had always respected. Plus, I always kinda hated when a test pressing ended up on eBay for a ridiculous price, especially since it’s simply a record pressed on black vinyl that costs the label a dollar to make. Why not put a little extra effort into making the test pressings really unique and much more fun? On top of that, we could sell a bunch on our website for a very reasonable price
and our fans could get something truly collectable. Do some of those test pressings / prints eventually end up on eBay? Of course, but at least we give all the hardcore fans an opportunity to buy one directly from the label for no more than $25 or $30.
I’d switch the gloss / matte? I don’t know ... make the photos matte and the white parts gloss? Or embossing the photos might be cool too.
Maybe a better way to look at it is this: if someone is going to spend a big chunk of cash on a test pressing, I want them to get their money’s worth. Doing limited-edition prints helps to justify the higher cost.
For the first pressing of the Annabel 7” we did printed polybags. It was an great idea, but really expensive and the printing had a tendency to scratch off if it was handled too roughly. For the 2nd pressing, we did a clear sticker and just slapped them on the bags. I think it looks just as cool - maybe a little more so and it was much cheaper too.
Knowing what you know now about the printing processes, are there any past releases you’ve done, where you’d go back to now and update the artwork? I mentioned CSTVT before. I don’t know if I’d change it because again, it still looks pretty cool, but maybe
The Dikembe Chicago Bowls 7” is another that I’d rethink. Again, I love the concept and the end result is very cool, but the silver metallic printing doesn’t show up as well on the brown cardstock. I think that a metallic red or something darker would have come out better.
Is there any printing treatment that you want to do, but is too expensive? Ugh...there’s something I inquired about in the past year and I was shocked at the price, but now I can’t remember what it was. Most of the stuff we’ve done, embossing, spot gloss, die-cutting, foil stamping, is about the same cost, give or take a few bucks. It would be nice to do some special printing treatment on a gatefold jacket, but the gatefold by itself is very expensive. If ever given the opportunity to put out a release where money wasn’t a factor and you could do whatever you wanted, what would the artwork include and how would the vinyl look? Gawd, that’s almost impossible to answer, but I promise you that I would go absolutely nuts. Have you ever seen the original packaging for Torche’s Meanderthal? Something like that. Something that is completely unique and makes people stop and say “holy fuckballs.” And I don’t really care about vinyl colors, but I do like the starburst effect we’ve been using for some of our new releases. I’d love to try a B-side etching as well. Basically, if I had the resources to blow my wad on packaging, I totally would.
This icon denotes an album that has been made available by the band free of charge or for a donation. Links are on page 74.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves You’re Always On My Mind Kind of like a mixture of Minus the Bear and early Maps and Atlases, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves’ music is relaxing and just super easy to listen to. The only thing that I didn’t like about this album was that there was no distinguishable ender to the album. A lot of albums have a closing song that ends with a bang and some fanfare, like “A Few Screws Loose” from their previous album, but You’re Always On My Mind just ends as softly as it started. Looking past that minor flaw, You’re Always On My Mind is a nearly perfect album. (Topshelf Records) Acid Fast Rabid Moon Begging to be listened to, Rabid Moon, by East Bay punk rockers Acid Fast, is very persuasive. Just minutes into the album and you’ll be hooked. Rabid Moon has a East Bay influenced sound with alternating male and female vocals with fuzzed out guitars and catchy melodies. (Protagonist Music) Aidan Knight Small Reveal If you are looking for quiet, lush arrangements similar to Birthmark, look no further than Victoria, BC quintet Aidan Knight. The music on Small Reveal is sometimes slow, but has continual shifts throughout that keep it interesting. Like I mentioned before, the quieter moments are reminiscent of Birthmark’s tone, but less technical. I feel Small Reveal isn’t for everyday listening, but it is definitely something to put on during the relaxing parts of the day. (Outside Music)
Allison Weiss Say What You Mean (Sideways Sessions) I had nothing but praise for the original version of this album released earlier this year and was excited to hear the reworked versions of these songs. The Sideways Sessions of these songs give the album a whole new life. Besides the melodies and lyrics, everything has pretty much changed. All new instruments and background vocals and a more exciting tone. After hearing both versions, it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Reworking old albums or songs is usually hit or miss, I’m looking at you Alkaline Trio’s Damnesia, but Allison Weiss struck gold twice with this album. (No Sleep Records) Arliss Nancy Wild American Runners While I have a lot of respect for the musicians in the Americana Roots Rock genre, it was always one genre that I could never get into. Fort Collins’s Arliss Nancy aren’t to blame. Their Wild American Runners album is damn catchy and well played. So well played in fact that they almost made me a fan of the genre. Almost. (Black Numbers) Balance and Composure The Things We Think We’re Missing I was a huge fan of Balance and Composure early on with their EPs and split’s they released, but something along the way changed. I’m not sure if the change was in me or in the band, but their music doesn’t have the same kind of pull as it used too. They are still an incredible band and The Things We Think We’re Missing is a pretty good album that current fans will surely adore. They have definitely reached that point where new bands coming out now are listing them as influences, but none of them have yet to come close to Balance and Composure’s style of post-hardcore. While it’s a good thing for B&C, the genre in general is getting quite stale. (No Sleep Records)
Blake Hazard The Eleanor Islands Blake Hazard, previously one half of the indie rock duo The Submarines, steps out on her own solo effort with The Eleanor Islands after a split with husband and Submarines band mate John Dragonetti. The Eleanor Islands isn’t a rehash of Submarines tunes. It has no feeling of Hazard’s old band, besides her vocals, though I think fans of her old band would enjoy this as well. The songs on this album are more introspective and reflective and show a lot of diverse sounds. (Self-Released) Born Without Bones Baby Like their previous album, Say Hello, Born Without Bone’s Baby is another under the radar gem by this Massachusetts band. I’m sure they’ve garnered some label attention and it’s hard to believe they haven’t been picked up by someone yet, unless they prefer the DIY approach, which is fine too. Either way, people are missing out on this band and more people should be listening to them. (Self-Released) Braided Veins Future/Forever Formed from members of The Swellers, Empty Orchestra, Kid Brother Collective, and The Conqueror Worm, this Flint, Michigan band brings the rock n’ roll via large satchels flung over their backs. What I’m saying is there is a lot of rock to be heard on Future/Forever and it’s in the style of your favorite classic angular DC bands. (Save Your Generation Records) Broadway Calls Comfort/Distraction Broadway Calls have a similar style to early Green Day, but with less juvenile lyrics. It’s hard to believe Broadway Calls isn’t much bigger than they currently
are. They had the pop punk style nailed down way before the current crop of pop punksters took hold of the genre. Comfort/Distraction is the pop punk album you should’ve been listening to all along. (No Sleep Records) Brothers or Not Pioneer Brothers or Not, from Austin, TX, play a raucous style of southern tinged rock n’ roll. Pioneer may only be six songs, but there is more than enough music here to make Brothers or Not your new favorite band. (Better Days Will Haunt You) Calculator This Will Come To Pass I kept seeing posts about this band before and much more after the release of This Will Come To Pass and finally decided to check them out. The screamo/skramz genre is a tricky one where there are many different ways to approach the music. California’s Calculator perfectly blend screamo/ hardcore elements while still keeping the music incredibly melodic. This album also shows so much growth from their previous releases that you’d think this band were decade old veterans and not just releasing their debut full-length. Fans of bands like Caravels, The Saddest Landscape, and Touché Amoré will surely love this album. (Self-Released) Captives Afteriamge As I mentioned in the Balance and Composure review, Captives in one of those new bands that have been influenced by B&C and kind of ape their style of music. Putting the comparisons aside, Afteriamge is a so-so release. They have a lot going for them, but they wear their influences too heavily on their sleeves. (Reveille Records)
Cayetana Hot Dad Calendar A recent addition to the Tiny Engines Roster, Cayetana are a 3-piece female punk band from Philadelphia. There is something about how the singer sings that I find enticing. There is a lot of heart in her voice and it shines through the speakers. This 7” is only two songs, which is a drag, because I could listen to them all day. Hopefully they have a full-length in the works. (Tiny Engines)
one word, that word would be, epic. Everything on Knots is outstanding, from the vocals to the intricate guitar work. (Topshelf Records) The Crookes Hold Fast Sounding like a British version of Voxtrot and Spoon, Sheffield’s The Crookes music draws on decades of UK music influences. Hold Fast is an incredibly fun album that feels like an impromptu party happening in the middle of your pub. (Modern Outsider)
Charlie Clark Feel Something Scotsman Charlie Clark, former member of Astrid and Scottish “supergroup”, The Reindeer Section, returns to music with his debut solo EP, Feel Something. Even at only five songs, Feel Something features a number of collaborators contributing their voices to the songs. The music is mostly quiet, with flourishes of loud moments and is altogether beautiful. (AED Records)
Decades Decades While channeling Joy Division’s moody feel, Toronto’s Decades self-titled album is also spacious and atmospheric. Upon first listen, you may not think much of it, but as opener “Tonight Alive” rolls on, you almost have the need to hear the next song and this need continues throughout the album. (White Girl Records)
The Crash Bandits Better Off Taking cues from Minneapolis bands that have come before them, The Crash Bandits have a sound that rivals Banner Pilot, Off With Their Heads and Dillinger Four. Their style of pop punk, that has some garage rock influences, hasn’t been played this well around these parts in a long time. Better Off is a surprisingly good debut album. (Self-Released)
Deer Widow Deer Widow My first impression of this was that the singer sounded like Maritime’s Davey Von Bohlen, and the music has a definitive Midwest vibe to it. Deer Widow features members from nearly a half dozen Michigan bands and their experience definitely shows. While not as upbeat or poppy as I would have liked, Deer Widow’s self-titled album is still a great listen. (Save Your Generation Records)
Crash of Rhinos Knots In 2011, Crash of Rhinos wowed everyone with Distal, and pretty much blew everyone away with their music. 2013 brings their highly anticipated follow up, Knots. If I could only describe Knots with
Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)/Malegoat Split 7” What can I say about Empire! Empire! that I haven’t already said before. Nothing really. They are just a consistently interesting band that have a pretty standard formula that always works. So in short,
their two songs are great, but you knew that already. This is my first time hearing Japan’s Malegoat and I was pleased with their two songs as well. Their songs have an angular D.C. vibe to them mixed with some 90’s midwest emo. Perfect combo! (Count Your Lucky Stars) Enemies Embark, Embrace Right off the bat, Ireland’s Enemies reminds me a lot of early Pele albums mixed with some heavier guitar sounds and their style of math-rock would make an abacus confused. Embark, Embrace is just one of the many awesome releases on Topshelf Records in 2013 and I’m happy the label is bringing this album to the masses. (Topshelf Records) Eric & Magill Night Singers Eric & Magill is one of the more exiting bands around today, just because of the way they make music while being continents apart. One half of the duo, Ryan Weber, teaches in Kenya, while the other half, Eric Osterman lives in Brooklyn. The music they create is inventive and fun and always interesting. Night Singers is definitely one of my more diverse and favorite albums released this year. (Self-Released) Eros and the Eschaton Home Address For Civil War The story of Eros and the Eschaton is summed up like this: real life couple, Kate Perdoni and Adam Hawkins, fall in love, have kid, tour the US in a motorhome, land in North Carolina, then make beautiful music together. The music they create is incredibly hard to pigeon hole. It’s part folksy indie rock, part orchestral synth. It’s epic, but still inspirational. It’s a lot of things and all of them original. Home Address For Civil War is quite an astonishing piece of work. (Bar/None)
First Rate People Everest First Rate People is kind of like a Canadian version of The Polyphonic Spree, where they’ve employed between 4 and 40 people over the last few years and have a sort of collective of music makers anchored by two main songwriters Jon Lawless and Liam Sanagan. The music they create borders on club dance hits at times, but in a good way. The music is big without feeling commercialized, and more inventive than most anything played on popular radio. (Self-Released) Foxing An Albatross St. Louis, Missouri’s Foxing have been around for a few years and have garnered some attention, but it wasn’t until their release of An Albatross that people started paying attention. Simply put, An Albatross is amazing. It’s more than just your standard emo album. It’s epically heartbreaking. The vocals are pained, there is real feeling behind them. The music reminds me of what The World Is... does, but with a lot less layers and outer space qualities. An Albatross may have a rural feel, but it’s themes are universal. (Count Your Lucky Stars) From A Fountain Milky Mile & Milky Mile II Milky Mile & Milky Mile II is the story of former National Eye member, Douglas Kirby, who headed back to his hometown of Sioux Falls, SD and over time, a massive warehouse became the home of a collective of musicians and the foundation was laid for Milky Mile & Milky Mile II. Both albums have a Bon Iver meets Birthmark sound to it and the songs are of the lighter tone. At 18 songs in all, Milky Mile & Milky Mile II is a very impressive collection of songs. (Self-Released)
Game Night Pets Pets Similar in sound to A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Knoxville’s Game Night sound lighter and more hook laden on this album, compared to their earlier releases, but the musicianship is still top notch. (Better Days Will Haunt You) Great Apes Thread Seems like every few years, Brian Moss, formally of The Ghost and Olehole, returns with a new punk band that knocks your socks off. Great Apes has been a band for a little while now and after a few EPs, Thread is their debut full-length. It’s no secret that Brian Moss can write a good tune. His work with Hanalei was always good and his previous project Olehole was excellent. Great Apes is no exception. Thread is a fantastic punk album that falls somewhere between Off With Their Heads and New Mexican Disaster Squad. (Asian Man Records) The Ground Is Lava Bottle Rockets Landing somewhere in between Algernon Cadwallader and Dads, Bottle Rockets by Ohio’s The Ground Is Lava is chock full of posi-vibes and youthful exuberance. Bottle Rockets is an extremely fun album. Its bouncy bass lines and solid drumming are the foundation for Jon Rogers energetic guitar work and vocals. The best examples of this are on the songs “Look, Babe, An Island (We Can Live On It)” and “Nobody Likes You, Booster”. Bottle Rockets is the best under-the-radar album to come out this year and you are missing out if you aren’t listening to it. (Self-Released)
The Hand In The Ocean Tree/Forts Tree/Forts, the latest from Detroit’s The Hand In The Ocean, is some banjo driven folk songs full of earnest and integrity. Not usually something that I get into, but the banjo noodling keeps everything interesting and moving. Tree/Forts is an unexpected surprise that will find itself hanging around my iTunes library a little big longer. (Save Your Generation Records) Headroom Headroom Headroom, a new band from Ben of UK’s Nai Harvest, takes a different approach with this project and sounds reminiscent of bands like Basement and Daylight. At only four songs, this EP is only a bite of what’s to come from this band and leaves the listener wanting much more. (Self-Released) The Hidden Cameras AGE Once described by frontman Joel Gibb as “gay church folk music”, AGE, the latest from The Hidden Cameras, is an interesting experiment in music. The opener “Skin & Leather” has an epic sound similar to The Polyphonic Spree mixed with The Faint, but a lot darker sounding. All of the songs have a pretty similar sound to them and one of the songs has a slight two tone ska sound, slowed way down, with its guitar up-picking. While I’m not familiar with this Canadian indie pop band’s previous work, AGE, definitely warrants a listen or two. (Evil Evil/Motor) The Hotelier Home, Like No Place Is There Switching up names, from The Hotel Year to The Hotelier, the band remains the same, but the music has gotten better. It took me a few listens just to grasp how good this album was. I knew it was good
from the get go, it’s just it is somewhat of a departure from their last album, It Never Goes Out. The change isn’t that drastic, it’s just a natural change that occurs as a band grows and their experiences and abilities grow. I feel like the transition between albums had the band go from being young punks to seasoned veteran punks, like the way Saves the Day sounded between Through Being Cool to Stay What You Are. It’s subtle, but noticeable. (Tiny Engines) Human Parts Human Parts This album has been getting a lot of heat just because the one guy used to be in Against Me! and the album isn’t spectacular. I can see where other people don’t like this album because it does have an amateur quality to it, but this album is pretty harmless and sometimes fun. I feel like as their debut album, they just recorded every idea they had, good or bad, and hopefully on future releases their music will have better direction and a more cohesive sound. (Thick Air) Hung Up A Mind’s Way Away Hung Up’s A Mind’s Way Away sounds like a perfect combo of early New Found Glory era pop punk mixed with present day pop punk attitude. Overall, A Mind’s Way Away has some gems and shows a lot of promise for this young band. (Save Your Generation Records) Kittyhawk/Cherry Cola Champions Split This split between these two bands is pretty much a dream come true. Kittyhawk starts out the split with 3 new songs and they’re ok. I was a huge fan of their self-titled EP, but these 3 songs feel like they are lacking what that EP had. Whatever it was, I hope it returns for their full-length. Cherry Cola
Champions finish out the split on a high note, even though the first song almost seems like a long intro into the second song. I kind of love what Cherry Cola Champions have been doing of late and these two songs are nearly perfect. (Flannel Gurl Records) Know Secrets S/T Eric Urbach and Meghan O’Neil, best known from their other bands, Static Thought and Punch, started Know Secrets to push past their comfort zones and create music that sounds nothing like either has played before and they certainly succeeded. The music on this self-titled release has a fast driven guitar rock sound that is easy to get into and a neat dynamic with Urbach’s and O’Neil’s mixed vocals. (Better Days Will Haunt You) Lake Effect Genuine Bonds Three songs of lo-fi 90’s styled indie rock that are easy on the ears. Lake Effect keep things simple and it works well on this EP. (Self-Released) Les Jupes Negative Space The first thing you’ll notice about Winnipeg’s Les Jupes is their deep golden voiced lead singer, Michael Petkau Falk. Falk’s baritone pipes bellow above all the anthemic music which gives a feeling of a call to action. Like if Falk barked orders at you, you wouldn’t question him at all. Negative Space has a mysterious feel to it, but overall very interesting. (Noise Trade) Living In Error Bath Bath, from Philadelphia’s Living In Error, fulfills that need for snotty 90’s inspired grunge/alternative rock. There a lot of bands rehashing that 90s alt/
rock sound right now and Living In Error brings some much needed attitude to an almost stale genre. (Self-Released)
thought out and they have perfected the balance between Ryan Rockwell’s and Maura Weaver’s vocals. (No Sleep Records)
Long Lost Save Yourself, Start Again Long Lost, the side-project of Joe B from New England’s Transit, sounds like a lighter version of Transit, but is altogether it’s own animal. It’s hard not to draw comparisons to his other band because his voice is such a large part of each band. Save Yourself, Start Again is an extremely well-written, heart felt, and sincere album. (No Sleep Records)
Mustard Plug Can’t Contain It An all around great ska album, Can’t Contain It is the latest and newest album from ska legends Mustard Plug. The one thing I love about this band, is even though they’ve been playing for nearly 20+ years, their sound has remained intact and they’ve only gotten better with age. Can’t Contain It retains all the energy from Evildoers Beware! while still pushing and expanding their ska sound. No pun intended, but you should definitely pick this up. (No Idea)
Magenta Lane WitchRock WitchRock is the newest album from Toronto’s Magenta Lane and their first since 2009’s Gambling With God. Formed in 2003 by sisters Lexi Valentine and Nadia King, and their friend French, the band signed to a label as teens and struggled to be taken seriously. After taking a break after the release of Gambling With God, they began work on their WitchRock EP. Bouncing between sounding like the band Garbage and more recent indie pop bands, Magenta Lane still sounds amazing and should have no problem being taken seriously now. Coming back with such a strong release that WitchRock is, this release could be considered a middle finger to anyone who doubted them in the past. (eOne Music) Mixtapes Ordinary Silence After hearing so much Mixtapes in a short amount of time, I took a little break from the band and came back with the release of Ordinary Silence. Their latest album still retains that signature Mixtapes sound, but definitely shows them growing and expanding their sound beyond typical pop punk. The songs this time around sound better written, more
Native Orthodox While I somewhat enjoyed Native’s previous fulllength Wrestling Moves, I wasn’t totally sold on it. After listening to their latest album, Orthodox, I finally understand what everybody else had already known, Native is fucking awesome. To sum it up briefly, Orthodox sounds like These Arms Are Snakes and Russian Circles had a fling and birthed this beautiful baby named Native. (Sargent House) Papermoons No Love Austin’s Papermoons are back with a stellar follow-up to their 2009 debut, New Tales. No Love shows Papermoons at their best. The songs have a quiet beauty that are on par with Maritime’s best songs, if not better. A lot of growth and change has occurred in this duo’s lives outside of the band between New Tales and No Love and No Love perfectly encapsulates that period of adventure between albums. (Deep Elm)
Pity Sex Feast Of Love While Pity Sex’s previous EP Dark World, was pretty ok and had some good ideas, Feast Of Love is a much more well-rounded and fully realized release. From the opening track “Wind Up” to the closer “Fold” every track sounds the way it was intended to sound; perfectly fuzzed out with a bit of shoe gaze influence. (Run For Cover Records) Placeholder I Don’t Need Forgiveness It’s a good sign for a band when they can continuously top their previous releases and this is the case with the latest release from Pennsylvania’s Placeholder. Maybe it’s just because a lot of other bands are showing their 90’s influences more, but I Don’t Need Forgiveness feels like it conveys some of that 90’s college rock sound as well. (Black Numbers) Polar Bear Club Death Chorus The first thing long time fans of Polar Bear Club will notice on their latest release, Death Chorus, is the change in lead singer Jimmy Stadt’s vocals. While the new cleaner sounding vocals took a few listens to get used to, they are ultimately for the better. I feel like this is the first release by them that I can 100% get behind since their The Redder, The Better EP forever ago. Overall, the whole album has a different feeling then the rest of their discography and the songs are more straightforward than some past songs. (Rise Records) The Polyphonic Spree Yes, It’s True I was looking forward to this album much more than a lot of albums this year and it doesn’t disappoint. Their previous album, The Fragile Army, and this one shows a great shift in tone from their
two earlier albums. They’ve gone from a choral orchestral group and morphed into a theatre act. The music and arrangements are bigger and the tone is more pop orientated and fun. The only thing that put me a bit off on this album was the feeling that instead of it being a group working as one, it felt like frontman Tim Delaughter and his backing band. Tim’s vocals are more prominent on this album then I remember them being on their past and almost felt it was too much. A small fault that can be dismissed easily, especially when they have probably the best song of the year near the end of the album. Originally released as a single in 2012, “What Would You Do” makes an appearance on this album and it is still as stunning as ever and remains the best example of this band’s power. (Good Records Recordings) Rathborne Soft Rathborne sounds like an indie band from Brooklyn, because they are a band from Brooklyn. Had you told me they were from Brooklyn before listening, my guess of what they sounded like would’ve been pretty close to what Soft sounds like. Clean vocals, bouncy rhythms, jangly guitars and quirky attitude. That being said, Soft is still pretty good, just a little predictable. (Dilettante/True Believer) Russian Circles Memorial It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Russian Circles and I missed their last couple of albums, but Memorial is just like I remember them being. They are still one of the best instrumental rock/ metal bands around. Singer Chelsea Wolfe makes an appearance on the album’s closing title track. The song is something you’d never expect from Russian Circles and is just simply a very beautiful song. (Sargent House)
The Saddest Landscape & My Fictions When You Are Close, I Am Alone Ever since the These Arms Are Snakes/Harkonen Like A Virgin split in 2004, I’ve been a fan of releases like this where both bands collaborate on one song together. Each band contributes a new song to this split, which are both great, then they join forces for the epic 13 minute closer “When You Are Close, I Am Gone”. It’s a great example of two bands, veterans of the genre and a relatively newer band, pushing the envelope of what their genre has become and doing something totally awesome. (Topshelf Records)
Signals Midwest Light On The Lake Light On The Lake picks up where Signals Midwest’s previous album, Latitudes and Longitudes, left off. The thing that I really love about Signals Midwest is that their song lyrics are so deep and involved. Each song is a story or a string of stories of past experiences and instead of the typical verse/ chorus/verse, the songs just tell the whole story. Singer and songwriter Maxwell Stern definitely knows how to pen a tune and Light On The Lake features some of the best songwriting released this year. (Tiny Engines)
Save Ends Warm Hearts, Cold Hands With alternating male and female vocals and a heavy dose of power pop punk, Save Ends’ Warm Hearts, Cold Hands, is an exhilarating debut album. Warm Hearts, Cold Hands has a lot more heart and feeling than most punk albums. Instead of blasting through songs with a quick delivery, the songs and vocals on this album are a little slower and have more of an impact. If you enjoyed their previous, Strength vs. Will, this album is definitely a must. (Tiny Engines)
The Slow Death No Heaven Featuring members from other bands like The Ergs, Dillinger Four and Pretty Boy Thorson, The Slow Death are a band you probably already know about. This Minneapolis band had garnered plenty of attention already and were featured in Turnstile Comix #1. No Heaven sounds pretty much like their previous releases, but the vocals on this album sound a bit more coarse. (A.D.D. Records)
Scott & Rivers Album Chalk this up as a guilty pleasure, or a yearning for something from Rivers Cuomo that doesn’t suck. This album is a collaboration between Scott Murphy from Allister and Rivers Cuomo from Weezer that is mostly sung in Japanese and some English. Even though I don’t know what they are saying, I still get the Japanese language choruses stuck in my head, and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed this more than any Weezer album in the last decade. (Universal Japan) Secret Smoker Terminal Architecture Baton Rouge’s Secret Smoker play music in the vein of Four Hundred Years and other Lovitt Bands of that era. There is also a slight Ten Grand influence in there as well. Terminal Architecture is great if you are looking for some mid nineties inspired emo/ math rock. (Protagonist Music)
Sombear Love You In The Dark Sombear, the side project from Now, Now’s Bradley Hale, is a surprisingly good electro-pop album that I thought would never find it’s way into my music collection. After hearing the initial singles, I wasn’t sold on the project, but listening to the whole album made me a fan. Love You In The Dark is quite a departure from anything Now, Now has done, but it’s refreshing to hear an artist distance themselves from their main band. (Trans Records) South Bay Bessie Too Late Their first release in 9 years, Flint, Michigan’s South Bay Bessie are back with their 2006 recorded, but never released, Too Late EP. Overflowing at the edges with pop punk smarts, Too Late sounds like it was written and recorded within the last year. (Save Your Generation Records)
Speedwell Start to Finish One of emo’s lesser known, but still important bands, Speedwell existed between 1996-1998 and again between 2000-2003 and released a 7”, an EP and had a song on Emo Diaries #3. Start to Finish is a complete collection of everything Speedwell did during its existence, remastered beautifully. If you are unfamiliar with their music, they sound like a cross of early Promise Ring, The Anniversary and even a little bit of Texas Is The Reason. If 90’s emo is your thing, then Speedwell’s Start to Finish is a must. (Coolidge Records) Springtime South Hill Springtime reminds me of the punk music I used to hear in skate videos in the 90s, and I love them for that. (Tiny Engines) Tancred Tancred Tancred is the solo project from Now, Now’s Jess Abbott and is similar to what Now, Now does, but definitely has its own sound apart from Now, Now. Jess Abbott does an awesome job on this self-titled album. The songwriting is more confident and more complete than her past releases and the songs really show off her great voice. (Topshelf Records) Teen Agers I Hate It I found out about this album late and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. I Hate It is definitely one of the sleeper albums of 2013. Other people have compared them to bands like Hot Water Music and The Menzingers, but I get a big Millencolin vibe from them. Either way, this album rules. (Anchorless Records)
Tennis System Part Time Punk Sessions Recorded in a single take, Tennis System’s songs on their Part Time Punk Sessions EP are blazing fast and have a unhinged energy to them. This EP is a follow-up to the well received 2011 release, Teenagers. Combining one part punk, one part lo-fi noise, and a small part psychedelia, Tennis System has embarked on something exciting for this release. (PaperCup Music) Their/They’re/There Analog Weekend After releasing an excellent EP earlier this year, Their/They’re/There is back with 3 more guitar melting songs. Even though Evan Weiss has been busy with his new full-length for Into It. Over It., I think some of the best music he has released this year was with T/T/T and Pet Symmetry. Matthew Frank’s guitar work on these 3 songs is unbelievably technical and mind-blowing and Mike Kinsella’s drumming is always on point. The highpoint of this EP is the last half of “Travelers Insurance”. The song slows down in the middle like it’s ending, then erupts into some crazy guitar noodling courtesy Frank and Weiss’s lyrics and vocals are at the top of their game. (Polyvinyl/Topshelf) Tim Kasher Adult Film Whether he’s doing Cursive, The Good Life, or his solo work like Adult Film, Tim Kasher is always a great lyricist and showman. Adult Film’s music sounds unlike anything Kasher has released before and is quite surprising, while the lyrics sound similar to Lovers Need Lawyers era The Good Life. Adult Film features a cameo by Laura Stevenson, she sings on “Where’s Your Heart Lie”, and a number of musicians, including Nate Kinsella, helped out with the music. (Saddle Creek)
The Torches The Authority of Described on their label’s website as a “folk stomp” band, The Torches are pretty much a punk band with banjos and harmonicas. At first listen, I hated it, even more than I hate Americana Rock, but as I got through the songs, I hated it less and less. While I respect The Torches and their musical abilities, it’s unlikely that this album will find it’s way into my permanent music collection. (Lujo Records) Tyler Daniel Bean Everything You Do Scares Me This new 7” from Tyler Daniel Bean contains two new songs that are pretty sweet. If I remember correctly, I enjoyed his last album a bit and these songs seem a step up from those previous ones. (Tor Johnson / Kat Kat) Weekender Spanish Peaks Weekender is a quartet of shoegazers from Philadelphia and they must’ve know that I’m a sucker for fuzzed out bass and guitars. A couple of the songs are heavy in the distortion and some of them remind me of Oasis’s early tunes. (PaperCup Music) White Wives S/T Featuring members of other Pittsburgh bands like Anti-Flag, The Code and Dandelion Snow. The music is incredibly anthemic and kind of explodes halfway through the first song, “Yours”, with intense, fiery vocals. These 2 songs are a great introduction for listeners who may want to get into the band but don’t want to dive into their Happeners full-length first. (A-F Records)
World’s Scariest Police Chases NOFX and Out Come The Wolves Dookie If you have the balls to call out NOFX, Rancid and Green Day in your album title, you better have the musical chops to back it up. Luckily, These Pittsburgh punk rockers do posses a Direct Hit! like ability to churn out loud and fast punk songs. (A-F Records) You’ll Live Lost. Forgotten. Abandoned. Buried Four new songs from Florida’s You’ll Live that are also the named in the album title. The songs on this EP are pretty similar to the ones on their Above The Weather full-length. I really like how the music is usually upbeat, but the vocals are often screamed with great emotion. It’s a really cool contrast that makes You’ll Live interesting. (Dog Knights) You Blew It! Keep Doing What You’re Doing It took me until this new album from You Blew It!, to really get into this band. I remember checking out The Past In Present when everyone was talking about it forever ago and thinking it was kind of “meh” sounding. I enjoyed their Grow Up, Dude album somewhat, but none of it really stuck with me. On Keep Doing What You’re Doing, the band has reached new levels with the help of Evan Weiss as producer, who pushed the band to go bigger. Keep Doing What You’re Doing sounds a lot fuller and is one of those albums people will be talking about for years to come. (Topshelf Records) Yourself and The Air Spirit Mixers Mixing emo roots with shoe gaze and psychedelic soundscapes, Chicago’s Yourself and The Air creates an album full of beautiful songs full of energy and life. (Lujo Records)
Downloads Born Without Bones // Baby // bornwithoutbones.bandcamp.com Calculator // This Will Come To Pass // calc.bandcamp.com Captives // Afterimage // weareallcaptives.bandcamp.com/album/afterimage The Crash Bandits // Better Off // thecrashbandits.bandcamp.com Crash of Rhinos // Knots // crashofrhinos.bandcamp.com/album/knots The Ground Is Lava // Bottle Rockets // thegroundislava.bandcamp.com Headroom // Headroom // headroomuk.bandcamp.com Tyler Daniel Bean // Everything You Do Scares Me // tylerdanielbean.bandcamp.com
Photo Credits COVER: John Sturdy // johnsturdy.com Pg 04-05: Hilary J. Corts // hilaryjcorts.com Pg 16-23: Hilary J. Corts // hilaryjcorts.com Pg 24-27: Steven Matview // punksinvegas.com Pg 38-45: John Sturdy // johnsturdy.com Pg 46-52: Nicole Kibert // elawgrrl.com
SUPPORT Bands: Tim Kasher // timkasher.com Tancred // tancredmusic.tumblr.com Calculator // clcltr.com Papermoons // papermoonsband.com Bellsâ‰Ľ // bellstheband.com The Ground Is Lava // thegroundislava.bandcamp.com Know Secrets // knowsecrets.net Foxing // foxingtheband.tumblr.com Phantom Lakes // phantomlakes.com Laura Stevenson // laurastevenson.net
People: Brian Danaher // briandanaher.com
Ads: Better Days Will Haunt You // betterdayswillhauntyou.com Skeletal Lightning // skeletallightning.net The Native Sound // thenativesound.limitedrun.com Speedwell // speedwell.bandcamp.com
Labels: A.D.D. Records // addrecs.com A-F Records // a-frecords.com AED Records // aedrecords.com Anchorless Records // anchorlessrecords.com Asian Man Records // asianmanrecords.com Bar/None // bar-none.com Better Days Will Haunt You // betterdayswillhauntyou.com Black Numbers // theblacknumbers.com Coolidge Records // coolidgerecords.com Count Your Lucky Stars // cylsrecords.com Deep Elm // deepelm.com Dog Knights // dogknightsproductions.com Flannel Gurl Records // flannelgurl.com Kat Kat Records // katkatrecords.com Kirtland Records // kirtlandrecords.com Lujo Records // lujorecords.com Modern Outsider // modernoutsider.com No Sleep Records // nosleeprecs.com Noise Trade // noisetrade.com PaperCup Music // papercupmusic.com Polyvinyl Records // polyvinylrecords.com Protagonist Music // protagonistmusic.tumblr.com Outside Music // outside-music.com Reveille Records // reveillerecords.com Rise Records // riserecords.com Run For Cover // runforcoverrecords.com Saddle Creek // saddle-creek.com Sargent House // sargenthouse.com Save Your Generation // saveyourgenerationrecords.bandcamp.com Storm Chasers // facebook.com/StormChasersLtd Tiny Engines // tinyengines.net Topshelf Records // topshelfrecords.org Tor Johnson // torjohnsonrecords.com Trans Records // trans-records.com
Joie De Vivre/Prawn Split
The Great Albatross “The Roots” 7”
Hightide Hotel “Naturally”