S U B S T R E A M # 5 4 ( N O V 1 6 ) T WO D O O R C I N E M A C LU B + L AY N E • S U B U R BA N L I V I N G • K E V I N D E V I N E • S H U R A • BA L A N C E A N D C O M P O S U R E • G L A S S A N I M A L S • J O S H UA R A D I N • P H A N T O G R A M
SUBSTREAM MAGAZINE MUSIC + CULTURE + OBSESSION
VINYL ON TAP: PAIRING PACIFIC NORTHWEST BANDS WITH REGIONAL CRAFT BREWS
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
54 NOV 2016
PHANTOGRAM ARE THICK AS THIEVES KEVIN DEVINE PLAYS THE ADAPTABILITY GAME
NEW AND IMPROVED! W CONFIDENCE, CLARITY A COMPROMISE.
MISS MAY I MERCH CONTEST #54 NOV 2016 US $5.99 CAN $6.99
Rob Zombie dishes on his horrifying new film 31
F O R E V E R LY N
Film interviews with director Ti West and actress Harley Quinn Smith SHURA // GLASS ANIMALS // JOSHUA RADIN BALANCE AND COMPOSURE // COPELAND + MORE
NEW LOOK // NEW BANDS // NEW MUSIC // NEW ERA
STANDBYRECORDS.COM | STANDBYRECORDSMERCH.COM facebook.com/standbyrecords | twitter.com/standbyrecords | instagram.com/standbyrecords | youtube.com/standbytube
DEMON IN ME - “HERES YOUR WAY OUT”
LIGHT THE FIRE - “ASCENSION”
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB Photoâ€…by Edouard Camus
COVER & PROMO PHOTO: ROGER DECKKER
54 NOV 16
O N T H E C O V E R
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
After their last release in 2012, Two Door Cinema Club came dangerously close to calling it quits, but after focusing on communication and the value of their friendship, the trio is back in business and stronger than ever with their brand new album, Gameshow. FEATURES
28.FILM: TI WEST, HARLEY QUINN SMITH, AND ROB ZOMBIE Writer-director Ti West discusses his new, starstudded Western, actress Harley Quinn Smith walks us through her first roles, and the one and only Rob Zombie talks 31 and the film industry.
42.BALANCE AND COMPOSURE
The Doylestown rockers have caused a bit of a stir within their fan base with their divisive new album, Light We Made, but they’ve matured and stand firmly by their evolved sound.
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The newest release from the eclectic experimenters in Glass Animals is a conceptual feat of brilliance, connecting real human narratives and pairing them with some of the year’s best production and songwriting.
Breaking away from the cushy, big label life to set out on your own can be intimidating to say the least, but Joshua Radin has been up to the challenge and his newest release is all the better because of it.
Through thick and thin, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have remained best friends since junior high. This connection makes their creations as Phantogram all the more special, as evident on the duo’s newest album, Three.
10.SUBSTREAM APPROVED: Boston Manor, Safe To Say, Knocked Loose, Suburban Living, LAYNE, and Demon In Me
18.RadioU: A Farewell to For Today 20.INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: The Gunz Show 24.VINYL ON TAP: Pairing Pacific Northwest Bands with Regional Brews
26.NOW SHOWING: In A Valley Of Violence 28.FILM INTERVIEW: Harley Quinn Smith 34.THEN & NOW: Copeland and Mayday Parade 38.INSIDE THE ARTIST: Kevin Devine and Shura 61.REVIEWS: Sum 41, Yellowcard, Two Door Cinema Club + more
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PO Box 1059 Delaware, OH 43015 PRESIDENT/CEO
Jason McMahon email@example.com EDITOR IN CHIEF
firstname.lastname@example.org FILM EDITOR
Dawn Burns & Jessie Kelkenberg
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org LAYOUT & DESIGN
Shannon Sullivan Shannon@clubhousecreative.com
Dylan Hansen Carrie Lenore CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
Gabriel Aikins, John Bazley, Adam Bernard, Dan Bogosian, Geoff Burns, Cameron Carr, Sam Cohen, Ryan De Freitas, Landon Defever, Tim Dodderidge, Dane Erbach, Kyle Florence, Adrian Garza, Maria Gironas, Anthony Glaser, Heather Glock, Robert Ham, Jessica Klinner, Daniella Kohan, Brian Leak, Matthew Leimkuehler, Brendan Manley, Emillie Marvel, Bridjet Mendyuk, Leigh Monson, Brittany
Moseley, Mischa Pearlman, Greg Pratt, Bradley Rouse, Knial Saunders, Jason Schreurs, James Shotwell, Christine Shuster, Brian Shultz, Eric Spitz, Kevin Sterne, Nicole Tiernan, Stephanie Vaughan CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Edouard Camus, Taylor Fickes, Taylor Foiles, Heather Glock, Kelly Hamilton, Eddie Jenkins, Anam Merchant, Bradley Rouse, Kyle Simmons, Jim Trocchio, Claire Tullius, Andrew Wells, Sami Wideberg, Mitchell Wojcik
Fall is finally upon us and Halloween is right around the corner! We’re excited and we hope you are, too. This is my absolute favorite time of the year. As you might have read in Substream 53, I’m not one for summer, so the arrival of cool weather has me feeling good. Moreover, Halloween is my (and many other Substream staffers’) favorite holiday, so to see the spooky decorations, costume ideas, and horror movie mentions making the rounds, I feel all the more comfortable. You’ll find some appropriately festive themes in this issue along with a lot of great content and new ground for Substream—all things we’re thrilled to share with you. So, enjoy the work these talented people have created, and come All Hallows’ Eve, remember: Always check your candy, creeps! Grotesquely yours, Brian Leak
Editor’s Note: On page 12 of Substream 53, we used an uncredited photo of Brian Swindle (Have Mercy). Recognizing our mistake, we would like to credit the photographer, Molly Hudelson.
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BOSTON MANOR Debuting with creative wings outstretched. STORY: Mischa Pearlman // PHOTO: Leigh-Ann Kilner With the release of their debut record, Be Nothing, Boston Manor are coming good on the promise that their previous EP, Saudade, made at the end of 2015. That was a record wrapped around the emotional fatigue of their frontman, and one which served as a noticeable progression from the more straightforward pop-punk of their very first EP, 2014’s Driftwood. It also garnered the Blackpool, UK five-piece—vocalist Henry Cox, guitarists Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson, bassist Dan Cunniff, and drummer Jordan Pugh—much critical attention, marking them out as one of the British rock bands to watch. As much of a blessing as that was (and still is), unsurprisingly, it also increased the amount of pressure the band felt when sitting down to make the album. “I was feeling a lot more nervous when we were writing this record,” remembers Cox. “You only release your first record once, and I’m honestly so proud of it. I’ve not stopped listening to it since we finished it in May. We tried to tune out the context of the music scene at the time and just tried to write what we wanted to listen to. You should always write music for you. That’s what we tried to do on this record. I actually really enjoy listening to it and I think if you don’t enjoy listening to your own stuff, you’re doing something wrong.” A rampaging blast of emotive rock, the 10 tracks on the album are fueled by dark and twisted emotions, but at the same time are propelled by both a musical and thematic defiance. It’s a juxtaposition the band have been honing since forming in March 2013, one which was definitely present on Saudade, and which their continued evolution and desire to push boundaries finds them exploring in even greater depth here.
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“You’re quite confined when writing an EP,” explains Cox, “because there are only a few songs. There’s definitely more freedom writing an album, and we were able to stretch our creative wings a bit more. We’ve really pushed ourselves over the past year and we’ve become a bit [braver]. We always used to doubt ourselves, but we just went with it on this record. 12 months ago, if I’d showed myself some of the songs we wrote for it, I’d have been a bit surprised at what we’ve achieved.” Thematically, too, Be Nothing sees Cox expanding his vision as a songwriter. While previously his songwriting was purely a form of catharsis—a means to an end against his depression—he’s now broadened his approach to his lyrics, moving outside of himself and his own experiences to capture other aspects of life. It means, somewhat ironically
given its title, that Be Nothing has turned Boston Manor into a band about the world at large, not just a vehicle for personal reflection. “There are definitely some songs which are desperate and cut up,” he admits, “but it being an album, I also got to explore more themes, so there’s stuff that’s also about other people and their experiences. It’s not all central to me being, for want of a better word, the ‘protagonist’ in the story of each individual song. There’s a real satisfaction in being pissed off and writing about that, but it’s when you really reflect on an issue or experience that the really interesting songs come out. And that’s what happened here; it wasn’t just me being depressed and writing about that. I want to keep pushing and exploring; I want to go to new places and see how far we can take this, literally and figuratively.” S
11.01 Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
11.03 Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
11.05 Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck Bar
11.02 St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
11.04 London, ON @ Rum Runners
11.06 Hamilton, ON @ Club Absinthe
SAFE TO SAY
Explorative pop-punk with a message. STORY: Bridjet Mendyuk // PHOTO: Wyatt Clough
Almost through the last leg of Warped Tour, Ontario natives Safe To Say weren’t ready to readjust to “normal” life. Anticipating “post-tour depression,” guitarist and producer Cory Bergeron said the guys had the time of their lives rocking the Full Sail stage—even using the stage as a platform to convey a message. “If it’s a small audience or large audience, I think it’s important to use that power for good,” Bergeron says. “We all grew up listening to hardcore and punk music and it’s all about voicing your opinion and doing good [things]. Use your audience to make the world a better place.” The band’s new record, titled Down In The Dark, via SideOneDummy Records and New Damage Records, was released in July and is a must-listen, full of dark undertones and exploration. Safe To Say’s catalog hovers around grunge, emo, punk, and pop-punk— like a smorgasbord of exploratory sound. Down In The Dark navigates the “heavier, emotional, or darker” sides of adolescence, and having formatted the record into a story of perspectives,
Bergeron says the album circles around “getting out the deep, dark secrets we might not talk about from day-to-day life.” “The first and last song on the album are about the same topic, but two different sides of the story,” Bergeron explains. “Brad [Garcia] is the mastermind behind it all. For him, it’s a lot about growing up and the trials of growing up. He made good decisions and bad decisions, but it’s also about how there’s always a consequence— positive or negative. We’re young, we’re figuring stuff out.” Down In The Dark is brooding and displays maturity. Album single “Only Rain” shows the group is ready to let their secrets out to the world. Crooning bridges coupled with harsh riffs bring contrast into most of the tracks. While the record is stormy in all the right ways, Bergeron says the guys are “light-hearted” and bounce ideas off each other for songs. “We love to push boundaries and make creative music,” says Bergeron. “I recorded [2015 EP] Hiding Games, I recorded Down In The Dark. I think a lot of influences come from bands I’ve worked with. We don’t want to limit ourselves to
anything; we want to push ourselves and do something different.” Being on Warped Tour proved to be a huge change of pace for the band. From signing autographs to fraternizing with idol-like bands every day, it’s a big step in the right direction for a smaller group. Bergeron explains that Warped Tour “is a way of life” and the chance to “do what’s right [and] use [your] influence for good” is crucial for “young, impressionable kids.” “I think the weirdest thing about Warped Tour is when kids want you to sign stuff and take pictures with you, which we haven’t really done a lot of, but it’s interesting,” Bergeron admits. “We think it’s important to take out some time because without them we wouldn’t be a band. Some people think it’s the opposite, but it’s not. The bands need the fans.” While the guys “don’t have to wake up at 7:00 a.m. every day and sit in the sun” now, it doesn’t mean they won’t be busy. Having to keep upcoming tour news under wraps for now, Down In The Dark holds as one of the best records of the summer, and more importantly, the entire year. S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
KNOCKED LOOSE If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. STORY: John Bazley // PHOTO: Trevor Sweeney In an admittedly homogeneous hardcore community, Knocked Loose are one of just a handful of bands truly pushing the envelope. Their brand of punk rock on their Pure Noise debut full-length, Laugh Tracks, bleeds horror, passion, and sincerity at every turn; the vocals are diverse and quickly jump between blistering highs and guttural lows, metal-inspired guitar riffs cut through a devastating, pounding rhythm section, and longer track lengths bring a kinetic sense of urgency that allows for diverse and exciting song structures. But despite delivering one of the most solid heavy albums of 2016 with Laugh Tracks, vocalist Bryan Garris is just humble and excited to put out music for his community. “I always tend to set small goals for myself, instead of bigger goals,” he says. “I don’t focus so much on a finish line, but instead what gets me there and the journey it includes. So one of my current smaller goals would be putting out [this] full-length record. My goal now is to see the world. I’d really like to go to Japan.” Unlike many of today’s popular American hardcore bands borne from the East and West coasts, Knocked Loose hails from Louisville, Kentucky in the heart of the Midwest. True to their Midwestern roots, no one in Knocked Loose has much of an ego, and writing music is a collaborative effort. “Writing this record was fun and very frustrating at times,” says Garris. “We wrote the record the good ole fashioned way. We got in a room, threw out ideas, put riffs together, and made songs. There is no song on the record that was solely written by one member.”
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The band worked with Will Putney to record Laugh Tracks, a name that should be familiar to fans of hardcore music. The New Jersey producer has worked on some of the best-sounding heavy records of the past several years, including breakout albums from bands like Counterparts, Four Year Strong, and Stray From The Path. Laugh Tracks is no exception, and Putney’s professional touch brings out the band’s raw talent and young energy, along with a few tricks —like a surprise new wave sample that comes out of nowhere to end the album’s premiere single, “Deadringer.” “We had a blast,” says Garris of the recording process. “We got to work with the very talented Will Putney, and he really helped bring this album to life. We recorded it live, which was
interesting and new, and helped preserve the aggression we convey in our live performance.” With Laugh Tracks available now via Pure Noise Records, the band wrapping up a U.S. tour with Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, and Expire in early October, and no shortage of hype, it’s safe to say that Knocked Loose are bound for bigger and better things. But Garris isn’t concerned with anything other than being a part of something he likes to do. “I think as a whole, the record represents a new chapter for the band. We stepped outside of our box, tried new things, and wrote songs that we thoroughly enjoy. We are comfortable with the direction we are going and can’t wait to see what people think of the new stuff.” S
10/27 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
10/29 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
10/28 Webster, NY @ The Ballroom at Harmony House
10/30 Amityville, NY @ Amityville Music Hall
10/31 Lakewood, OH @ The Foundry Concert Club
SUBURBAN LIVING Songs about life and loss in HD. STORY: Gabriel Aikins // PHOTO: Emily Dubin Back when Wesley Bunch moved from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia in July 2014, it was an uncertain transition for him. “I moved here knowing like five people,” Bunch says. Thankfully for him, shortly after relocating he met Michael Cammarata, Peter Pantina, and Chris Radwanski. Bunch, the primary creative force behind Suburban Living’s output, already had a ton of music written, and he wanted to get going in a new city. “Initially I started playing with them to have a live band. I taught them all the parts to the old songs, but we really started to connect on a songwriting level a few months into knowing each other,” Bunch says of how his band began to form. It all worked out way more smoothly than Bunch initially anticipated. As stressful as any move across the country can be, the stress of having to move and trying to get a band together afterwards is even more pronounced. Bunch recalls, “I didn’t want to move here and not be able to find a band for six months and then have the band stagnate. Luckily, I was able to meet those three guys.” That meeting has produced two full-length albums, the most recent of which, Almost Paradise, was released on October 7 through 6131 Records.
Suburban Living can be generally classified under the tags of dream pop and shoegaze, but giving so much as a casual listen to Almost Paradise—or even just its initial singles like “Come True”— reveals that it’s so much more than that. “I knew I wanted to make something a little more hi-def sounding while maintaining my lo-fi roots,” Bunch says, and the group definitely captured that vision. Bunch’s vocals perfectly match with a mix of dream pop synths and more traditional rock instrumentation, including drums and both electric and acoustic guitars. Bunch makes mention that the band almost exclusively used physical synthesizers for recording. “It’s all legit, old synths. I think we only used one synthesizer made after 1984 on [the album],” he explains, happily geeking out a bit over the use of some classic equipment. The effect is certainly noticeable on the album, as the sound feels just a bit more lived-in and meatier than more modern tech and plugins. A big part of the guidance on that sound was producer Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, the War On Drugs). Zeigler first heard the band play live and was impressed to say the least. Amidst a conversation following that particular
show, Zeigler agreed to lend his considerable knowledge to the band and really helped create what Almost Paradise eventually evolved into. Giving credit, Bunch says, “Jeff really helped to not morph the sound, but take what I wanted to do and push it in the right direction.” Lyrically, Bunch aimed to make sure that the words he sings fit with the old-school approach the band took to recording the music, and the results are far-reaching. “Usually I write the lyrics last, something that will follow the melody,” he explains of his process. “This record is a little all over the place lyrically: there are a couple breakup songs; there’s a song about a friend of mine when I was young who died really young; there’s a song about my dog who died last year… Lyrically I tried to match the vibe of the music, the whole nostalgia vibe.” Both lyrically and sonically, Suburban Living is a band that leaves a lasting impression, and Almost Paradise is a must-listen for fans of dream pop, shoegaze, or simply any well-written music in general. If that’s something you subscribe to, do yourself a favor and give Suburban Living a try. S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
LAYNE From the Black Hills to the in-between.
I haven’t been able to stop listening to LAYNE since I was introduced to the music. [They’re] one of the most original young bands I’ve heard in a long time.”
STORY: Jessica Klinner // PHOTO: Brandon Wolford
—TOMMY COOPERMAN, BREATHE CAROLINA
Layne Putnam draws influence from her surroundings. So much so, in fact, that the frontwoman of indie pop band LAYNE named her first EP after the place where she grew up in South Dakota. Aptly titled The Black Hills, the EP gives a perfect introduction to the band, which also includes drummer Alexander Rosca and their unique synthpop sound. Putnam’s vocal range hits somewhere between the deep tones of Lynn Gunn from PVRIS and the creativity and uniqueness of Halsey. It’s an intriguing mix that fits perfectly with the band’s overall aesthetic. Recorded with producer Devon Corey, The Black Hills is a tantalizing collection of songs, brimming with emotion, honesty, and a homely sense of familiarity. Listeners will get a glimpse of Putnam’s roots through samples directly from the lake near the Black Hills, where she spent a lot of time writing songs. “We ended up going back to my hometown,” Putnam says. “We went there and went to the lake I used to write songs on and got a bunch of samples of the water, and the wind, and the trees. I wanted to incorporate that environment into the EP. A lot of the samples on the record are from spots that I experienced things emotionally growing up, so it’s a cool little tie-in to where I’m from.” Growing up in South Dakota, Putnam was constantly surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature. The only thing lacking from her quaint, small town was a music scene. Even though she had great support from her mother and father (who is a musician and artist), Putnam knew that in order to jumpstart her career, she’d need to get out of South Dakota and head to the city of dreams: Los Angeles.
“I think I always knew that I was going to get out of that town,” Putnam recalls. “It was hard to start over [in L.A.] because I only knew one person when I moved out here. It was hard emotionally to be completely alone in a new city having grown up [in a place] where I know almost everybody. It was definitely shocking, but after two years I settled in and had a group of people around me. Being a part of the community out here is very inspiring.” After meeting Rosca in L.A., the two immediately clicked creatively and started to map out what their music career would look and sound like. Having similar tastes, they wanted to create not only great music, but an environment and a feeling to accompany the songs. They wanted to make their shows an experience for their fans that felt like home. That’s where the idea of the inbetween came into play. “I think of music like I do an environment or a house. That’s what the goal of the in-between was—to have somewhere where fans can go when they listen to music and when
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they see the visuals,” Putnam explains. “When they come to the show, we want them to feel like they’re in this space, this environment. That’s what the inbetween is; it’s a space for kids like us. We’re in between two genres, we’re between things in our life, we’re in between emotions and ages. We thought that was a good way to encapsulate the feeling and idea.” Though LAYNE have only just started their musical career, they’ve already generated quite the buzz online. Their song “Good,” which was released this past April, received viral success on Spotify, accumulating over 1 million streams. In August, only a few months after “Good” took off, LAYNE released The Black Hills, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they release more music before the end of the year. “I don’t really like to hold myself to an expectation of it [having] to be better than ‘Good,’” Putnam says of the EP and other songs to come. “I think now we’re just focused on getting material out so that people can get to know us a little more.” S
demon in me
DEMON IN ME Paying respects with patience and persistence. STORY: Adrian Garza // PHOTO: Jared Stossel
First impressions matter most in the eyes of Demon In Me frontman Kylle Reece, who has worked on his band’s full-length, Here’s Your Way Out, for nearly three years. Rather than falling victim to the trappings and self-imposed limitations of a debut release, the group wanted to be more imaginative and create something grander. “We didn’t want to have any songwriting or strength lacking in the record just because it was a debut, [with us] figuring out our sound or who we were,” Reece says. “We really wanted it to feel like a sophomore release. We wanted it to feel complete.” Over the phone from his San Jose, California home in the days leading up to the release of his band’s Standby Records debut, Reece sounds very at ease in spite of his underlying feelings. “I’m feeling a lot of different emotions: Release, excitement, anxiety—a lot of good anxiety. I think it just stems from finally being able to get it out after all of this time.” According to Reece, his concept of demons is symbolic more than anything. “I think we all have these vices that have their say in controlling who we are, and I believe that thematically it fits really well with the lyrical content that this band is going to have through the entirety of its existence.”
Tonalities remain true to the band’s evocative namesake within the record through an output that resonates to the deepest emotional levels, while simultaneously remaining just as melodic as others within the genre. On cuts such as “Enough’s Enough,” “You Wouldn’t Know,” and “What You Are,” this sense of desperation couldn’t be more apparent. After enduring several lineup changes, the group—now completed by the likes of guitarist Chad Stephens, drummer Ciro Abraham, and alternating bassists Julian Grenz and Andrew Tucker—couldn’t be at a more crucial point of their career, where every move needs to be made with careful, deliberate thought. Of course, there will always be matters beyond control. Here’s Your Way Out’s creation dynamic took on a sudden, drastic change when Reece’s best friend (and Demon In Me co-founder), Chad Piper, passed away merely two weeks before the band’s start date for tracking. One of his final contributions as a guitarist came in the form of the record’s lead single, “Make It Hurt,” a song that was written on the day before pre-production in a very uncharacteristically quick and spontaneous manner. “That was the very emotional reason for why we chose to put that song
out,” says Reece. “It was also the main reason why we didn’t rewrite the song before we wrote the others; I wanted to keep it as close to his authenticity as I possibly could.” In typical conformity with the process of assembling a record, nearly all of the recordings that were captured from these early sessions were scratched to make way for more polished and refined ones, save for the guitar tracks crafted by Piper. These were then improved during mixing and doubletracked with guitars that were captured in the following studio sessions. To some, this could be seen as an overexertion, but it’s a matter of paying respects in Reece’s eyes. “We did that by design so we can get as much of him, specifically, on the record as possible,” he explains. The release of Here’s Your Way Out marks the end of one waiting game and the start of another. Having just laid out his pains and sorrows for the world to experience, all that Reece hopes for now is a chance. “I’m not asking for anyone to love it,” he admits. “I don’t want to be anybody’s favorite band; I just want people to give it a shot and hopefully come to their own conclusions, see the passion and work that was put into it, and maybe even like the record after all.” S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
We Live For Live Music.
Vanna, Warped Tour 2016
WISH A FOND FAREWELL TO
FOR TODAY A wise man once said that bands only do three things: make music, tour, and break up. Over the years, we’ve seen For Today make lots of music and tour constantly. Unfortunately, it’s their turn to take the third option. This fall they’ll be finishing an amazing 11year run with a farewell tour. We caught up with For Today’s drummer, David Puckett, to find out what to expect this fall and what’s coming next for the guys in the band.
For Today is enjoying the kinds of successes that lots of bands envy. Why break up now? DAVID PUCKETT: There is no “bad” reason; there was no argument or fight. The band has been together for about 11 years and that is a long time. We’ve accomplished more than we thought we’d be able to. We were kind of looking, and based on life and where we are right now—some of the guys are married and some have businesses—this is the thing that we are the most passionate about, but it would be a huge disservice to our fans to drag this out just so we could have stability or some financial security. We’d be taking advantage of our fans. It feels less than ideal on an emotional level that we’re breaking up now, but we know it’s the right thing. We’re going out leaving as much of an impact on everybody as we can instead of doing that thing where bands keep doing it even though they hate it but they need the money.
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Is anyone open to discussing their postband plans? What are you going to do? I think everyone is pretty open to it! Brandon [Leitru, bass] and Ryan [Leitru, guitar/vocals] will still be writing music together. The new stuff they have been writing is so sick; you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for that. Ryan will be producing bands full time, so that is awesome. Mattie [Montgomery, vocals] just launched his new business, Anchor Print Company, and that keeps him insanely busy; they do so much incredible stuff. I own a music education company called Music Mentors Online, so that will always keep me busy. As far as touring goes, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, so I will still be out and about. Keep an eye out for some fun stuff there. After 11 years, we know you’ve got plenty of stories to tell, but there is one legendary tale that we have heard through the grapevine that we want to hear from the source: What’s the story about someone making it through customs without a passport? [Laughter.] Oh, man, this is a fun one. Well, basically, we were heading out of the country a while ago and Mattie had forgotten his passport at home. He had his wife scan it and email him the picture. He printed it out at a hotel, and took the piece of paper up to the lady at customs when we got to the border with an insane amount of confidence. She looked at it and said, “What is this?” His response was, “They said that would be okay.” So, she looks at it and says, “Okay then, works for me!” and let us in. So, that was pretty cool, because we wouldn’t have been able to play otherwise. [Laughs.] I don’t think she caught the fact that she is “they.” Is there one particular tour stop that you’ll never forget? A fun memory that sticks out above the rest? Oh, man, there are so many. I have had so many defining moments of my life while being on tour and hanging out with the guys. I think one that will
always stick with me was the first time we headlined Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. It probably wasn’t as sentimental to the other guys—seeing as we are all from different states— but I am from Columbus and grew up dreaming about just playing the Newport one day. My old band opened up a few shows there over the years, but after I quit touring with them, I never expected to play that venue again. Now we have headlined it a number of times, and it is always amazing to me to reflect back on being a 13-year-old kid looking up at the stage and dreaming about playing there. Playing on the main stage at Vans Warped Tour was also a huge dream come true. My dad and I actually joked around when I was 15 or 16 that if I ever played main stage on Warped for the full tour, that he would shave his beard (and you have to understand the extremity of that; he is 60 and has had his beard since he was 17. There is no one alive who knows what he looks like without a beard.) [Laughs.] Of course, we both forgot about it until recently, and I didn’t make him do it. But, all that to say, if I was able to knock off a few of my dreams as a 13-year-old, I believe anyone can. Just put in that effort, and make sure you are putting in effort in the right places. Be patient, persistent, and passionate, and you can absolutely get to places you never thought possible. Okay, what about a terrible one? Easy. We woke up in San Antonio to find out that our van and trailer had been stolen. It was the biggest headlining tour we had ever done, and all of the sudden we had no van, no trailer, no gear, no merch to sell, and most of our personal belongings were stolen as well. So, that kind of sucked. However, it does make for a great story. The San Antonio Police Department were super helpful, and we were able to get a few things back (my drum set, and that’s all that really matters anyway, right?!), but they ended up busting up a drug ring through the situation, so that was cool.
What sort of things should we expect on the farewell tour? Lots of fun. Like, a ton of fun. We have an awesome set list lined up, and we are all going into this focusing on giving every show everything that we absolutely have left to give. We aren’t going out because we are burnt out or lost our passion for this, which is what happens with a lot of farewell tours. We are going out full of excitement, gratitude, passion, and energy, so we fully expect the crowd to come do the same. These shows are going to be high-energy from start to finish; you do not want to miss it! You’ve got a big back catalogue. How do you decide what you’re going to play to celebrate an entire career? Will you take requests? I think there’s a lot of give and take, you know? Some of the songs from the earlier albums just aren’t as fun to play, or honestly, some of them we just don’t like musically anymore. However, they still hold a lot of significance to the band, and to a lot of our fans. So, we are playing some songs that are “for us” that the
other guys in the band and I like a lot. We are also playing a lot of songs that are for our fans—songs that we know mean a lot to them—and we want to share that experience with them. We have been very, very intentional about listening to what our fans want to hear on that tour, and we have some fun ideas in the works. What will you miss the most about being in the band? Even though I’ll still be on the road, it won’t be with these guys, and that is the hardest part. We all live in different states, so it’s not like it will be easy for all of us to hang out. Some of the best and worst things in my life have happened to me in the last five years of being in For Today, and I wouldn’t have made it through without the support of these guys; they are my closest friends, and I’m going to miss spending five to six months out of the year with them on the road. We talked about doing a yearly vacation together, so I’m super excited about that, because the chances of all of us being together in one place without doing that is so slim.
If you could reach back in time and give the band a piece of advice at the beginning, what would it be? Well, I haven’t been in the band the whole time, so I wouldn’t want to go back to the beginning and give them any advice. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t give any. If the band would have done anything differently, we wouldn’t be the band that we are now, and I’m really proud of the band that we are now. I guess I would have told us about wowair.us; that would have saved us a ton of money for all of the overseas flights. [Laughs.] When is the reunion tour? [Laughs.] I don’t think there will be one! No bad blood, no issues, no tension, no drama—but nowadays, it’s like when a band breaks up they start planning their reunion tour a few months later. That’s not really breaking up, it’s like taking a nap. If we all feel like the time is up, then we want to commit to that. We have talked about the idea of doing a reunion show at some point, but I think it would just be one show, and it wouldn’t be for a while. S
It would be a huge disservice to our fans to drag this out just so we could have stability or some financial security.”
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Get Your Tickets Talking shop with the host of The Gunz Show INTERVIEW: Heather Glock PHOTO: Audrey Lew
Mike Gunz of Idobi Radio’s The Gunz Show is a radio personality that outshines the sea of other voices on the airwaves. In his early teens, he was exposed to many emo and pop-punk artists that we’ve come to know and love over the years, and from there Gunz had the privilege to grow alongside that genre in the music industry. By interning with both big and small labels, working for Daily Download, and more, Gunz’s insight to the industry flourished, ultimately helping him develop into a great on-air personality; he knows how to connect the bands to the fans, and vice versa. Because of this, we sat down with Mike to discuss his rise and stature within the music scene.
You broadcast from MSG where both music and sports reign supreme. Thinking back to your first-ever sporting or concert event, did you ever think you would be working in such a venue? MIKE GUNZ: Part of me believes yes. I may sound a bit cocky, but I always said in life that I refuse to do something unless I want to put the full effort into it—which is why I always felt closely related to bands and musicians. I like supporting bands that really go out there and really make it happen for themselves, or put all of it on the line. I think that any time you settle for what you have, then it can lead to laziness and going through the motions and I am not the type of person who wants to go through the motions. I want to keep striving. You worked on the Daily Download on Fuse, and at the time it was a very progressive show, where viewers, instead of watching the top 10 music videos, they would see the top 10
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downloaded songs. Did working on this show help inspire your forward thinking initiative when looking at the evolution of the music industry? It probably did. The interaction was there; you had that live dialogue and feedback going on. In the end, that was huge. You had fans sending in their votes and comments on videos. Daily Download was one of the first to do that. I was able to bring that to The Gunz Show at Idobi, because I have live tweets and chat rooms going on during the show. It originally was all through instant messaging, where I ask my listeners to send me their requests via IM and we would have great dialogue going. We would throw questions and topics out with them, like, “If you were stuck in traffic for 20 hours and one truck broke down next to you, what food would it be?” [Laughs.] Things like that, or ongoing controversy like the Kesha lawsuit. I get to speak to thousands of people about these things on my show, who all have different viewpoints. It’s really cool.
In your time at Geffen Records, you spent your tenure working with up-and-coming bands on a label that contained acts that are now well-known. Did working with these young faces inspire you to scout newer acts as you do now for your show? I wouldn’t say that Geffen did. I had to fight for it, because I always hated people saying that I couldn’t do something because of my age. Age is just number, it doesn’t define my abilities. That’s why I like music so much, because you had these young bands who busted their ass to get to where they are. I started with Drive-Thru Records when I was 14 or 15 years old. At that age, my guitar teacher was in this band called Midtown. They got signed to Drive-Thru, and all of a sudden I had cassette tapes of the Starting Line and this little band called Finch that was two years ahead of their time. Getting that ear to the ground, Drive-Thru was the most important part of this screamo genre, and for me as well. How do you go about cataloging what artists to bring onto your show? There is such a vast array of new singles, new EPs, new bands, etc. How do you keep up? What it comes down to is getting out there. I go to shows all the time and I listen to referrals from fans. There is so much out there, with the internet. How I keep up? It’s what I do. I have to do it. If I don’t I’m dead in the water. It’s finding out about bands from younger labels or managers. I do listen to every submission and I try to get back to everyone. It may not be what I am doing right now, but I do try to give constructive criticism. Even if it isn’t my cup of tea, I’ll listen to it. I’ll play anything on The Gunz Show... except country. It’s about being there. It’s about being at Warped Tour, at CMJ, talking to the fans, and branching out. Music is what I live for. S
Why Our Music Community Should Care About LGBT+ Youth Homelessness AUTHOR: Michael McCarron, punkout.org
I hope this shocks you as much as it still shocks me—and I’ve been privy to these statistics for several years now: 40 percent of all homeless kids and teens in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ), while less than three percent of the general population identities under the queer umbrella.
of all homeless kids and teens in the United States identify as LGBTQ Think about that for a second: Forty percent. To put that in perspective, imagine the uproar if you went to a Taking Back Sunday show and 40 percent of their set was New Again tracks. There’d be a mutiny! But meanwhile, on the streets of America, queer kids and teens sleep under blankets on sidewalks, beg for food, sell their bodies, become ensnared in substance abuse, and fall victim to rape and other unspeakable forms of violence. Sure puts the angst of the Story So Far in proper perspective, eh? Now, in fear that this becomes the pop-punk equivalent of a Sarah McLachlan commercial, I’ll get to my point: LGBT+ youth homelessness is at epidemic levels and our scene should care about it.
Here’s why: These queer kids on the streets are us. They are our age. They are our generation. And they often come from similar, fucked-up home lives as we do. That fucked-up home life is why many of us gravitated to some slice of the punk community to begin with—to escape the isolation, the judgment, the anger, and/or the fear of being different. In recent years, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the amount of queer kids and teens becoming homeless. Why? Well, it’s complicated, but the simplest explanation is that increased LGBT+ youth homelessness is a product of a false sense of security. As our society has made progress on queer issues (marriage equality, employment protections, etc.), the media’s coverage of the LGBT+ community has become rosier and rosier. Closeted kids see this positive coverage, assume it’s safe to come out, and then find out ex post facto that their support network is as weak as the ties that bind Tom DeLonge to blink-182. Queer kids get kicked out of their homes abruptly and are forced to live on the streets without any street smarts or knowledge of the resources available to them. And then there’s the whole “most homeless shelters are run by religious organizations” thing, which makes it way more difficult for LGBT+ kids to find the queer-specific resources they need (but that’s a box of shit I do not wish to unpack at this moment). So the cycle devolves into all the terrible symptoms associated with youth homelessness: sexual abuse, rape, substance abuse, criminal activity, stunted educational development, lack of employment opportunities, etc.
These kids could be in the pits of a Beartooth show—and they might be— but I’m guessing that, for the most part, they are not. So, what can we do? Well, there’s a lot. It starts with building a more inclusive music community for all. It means tackling the rampant homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, and misogyny that wrecks our music community. It demands that musicians speak out about the plight of queer kids and teens. And this isn’t unprecedented; in the 1980s, one of the vogue musical celebrity causes was ending homelessness in the United States. We have precedence. We need to support organizations such as Punk Out, The Ally Coalition, and Happy Hippies who work with local LGBT+ youth homeless recourse centers. It’s why we need to celebrate celebrities such as the late Bea Arthur who bequeathed $300,000 before her passing to end LGBT+ youth homelessness. We need to demand that more centers like the Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Youth Center on Highland in Los Angeles, and the Ali Forney Center in New York City receive adequate funding. And we need to take a fresh look at how we as individuals view kids and teens living on the streets. The punk community, in all its flavors, is about bringing outsiders together. The queer kids who live on the streets could easily be you or I. That’s why the punk community should care. October is National Coming Out Month. Come out for LGBT+ homeless youth. Let’s use our music to bring homeless queer kids and teens under our roof. S
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
Red Rover and Redrum STORY: Lauren Archuletta, idobi.com
My plan was to spend one full night alone in the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining and home to more than a few reported ghosts. I was promised a haunted room, and I wanted to see if I encountered any paranormal activity of my own. Living in Denver, it’s a well-known fact that it’s just a 90-minute drive up an admittedly creepy and winding road to get to the Stanley. The trip to Estes Park would require caffeine, so I pulled off for coffee. While in the Starbucks drive-thru, I sat behind an SUV showing the gory image of a woman’s torso with bloody lettering that read “Vomit God.” Next to it was a Slayer sticker. I started thinking about the song “Raining Blood,” and the image of waves of blood crashing down the hallways of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. I would’ve sat in that coffee line in a trance forever had it not been for the SUV pulling forward, death metal starting up at full blast. As I pulled onto I-25, though, I began to wonder if maybe I was a little over my head. Ghost’s “From The Pinnacle To The Pit” switched on the second I merged onto the interstate. I kept seeing them everywhere— these omens—from the moment I got in the car until the minute I parked at the Stanley Hotel. Fear set in about 40 minutes into the drive; my XM radio started losing signal, and the only signs on the road suggested I switch to AM for emergency updates. Looking down at my phone, my stomach dropped as “No Service” popped up in the top left side of the screen. There went my GPS, and my mind flashed to the few people who even knew about this trip as I continued to follow the signs into Estes Park. The Stanley came into view then, just as my car came around the last bend and over Lake Estes. My engine had barely turned off when I first heard children screaming, a game of Red Rover gone wrong across the street. “We have a few haunted rooms here—room 217 and 418 are the most
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popular ones for our ghosts here, and Mr. King.” The girl behind the counter gestured to a second-floor balcony as I walked through the grand entrance of the Stanley Hotel, and I turned around briefly to see if I could spot where the pet cemetery had once been. “You’re in room 418. Good luck!” When the elevator doors closed behind me I did a quick Google search, learning that ghosts of children reportedly haunted room 418. I thought back to the game of Red Rover, as I settled into the room, taking pictures of what time the clock was set on (for reference) and peeked in the closet and shower just for good measure. The Shining plays 24/7 in the Stanley, and it was only appropriate that I watched it on repeat while reading Stephen King’s It—reading The Shining would’ve been horror overload for me. Around 11:00 p.m. I heard running in the hallway. Glancing out the peephole, I didn’t see anyone in the hallway in either direction. A few minutes later, I heard the same noise: fast footsteps headed toward the staircase. I’ll admit, my stomach dropped a bit as I wondered if something supernatural might be taking place. I managed to fall asleep despite Danny Torrance yelling “Redrum” (“murder,” spelled backwards) over and over to his mother in one of the final scenes of The Shining, but woke up to the shriek of glass scraping glass around 3:00 a.m. Delirious and obviously scared, I turned on the light, got up, and walked to the bathroom. The soap dish was lying in the middle of the dry sink. It had been several hours since I’d washed my hands and there was no water anywhere to cause it to slip. If I didn’t switch from The Shining to Disney after that I never would’ve fallen back to sleep. As I loaded up my car to leave the next morning, I thought of the kids running during the Red Rover game and what I was sure were small footsteps running outside my door. Red Rover, Redrum, I am so done. S
Vinyl On Tap:
Pairing Pacific Northwest Bands With Regional Brews Feature: Kevin Sterne
In our last issue, we looked at America’s heartland and the best beer and music from the land of 10,000 lakes to the Second City and Ohio. But the Midwest was just a warm-up. Set your compass due Northwest and tune your senses for beer, music, and Bigfoot. We’re hitting the birthplace of grunge and the city with more breweries than anywhere on Earth. The roots run deep out here, so we’re digging out some deep cuts from the last 25 years. Whether you’re into listening to Nirvana or Pearl Jam on wax with Sasquatch, or sipping an organic fruit ale, the Pacific Northwest’s claim as the OG of brew and hard rock combinations assures you’re in good hands.
REDHOOK LONG HAMMER IPA REDHOOK ALE BREWERY
What: American IPA Where: Seattle, Washington When: Year-round ABV: 6.2% Enjoy with Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary (1994)
This started it all: Emo’s sparkling arpeggios; post-hardcore’s stop-and-go tempos and X-Acto knife guitar lines; the soft croons and mid-verse, high-registered screams. When you trace back the family tree, Diary was the seed. Your younger cousin might not understand the meaning of this “emo revivalist movement” happening everywhere—he’ll probably mess with the volume every time Jeremy Enigk’s voice changes from whisper to shrill, whilst getting lit off two Blue Moons. But give him time; he’ll learn to appreciate the enigmatic lyrics, the impact “Circles” has even today, and eventually the taste of an excellent IPA. When that time comes, let him share from your sixer. Everyone deserves to taste the pines of Mt. Hood, but only when they’re ready.
BOURBON BARREL AGED DARK STAR: COFFEE EDITION
FREMONT BREWING COMPANY What: Oatmeal Stout Where: Seattle, WA When: Fall ABV: 14.5% Drink with Botch’s We Are The Romans (1999)
To call Botch pioneers might be selling them short. With two Bush terms looming and the face-palm that was Y2K, the word “oracle” comes to mind when Dave Verellen calls out, “It’s your fault, fucking up the kids,” near the end of opener “To Our Friends In The Great White North.” We Are The Romans is a tour de force so ahead of its time it took wannabe bands years to even attempt a rip-off (suspicious brow aimed in the direction of the Chariot and Norma Jean). And Dave Knudson was already playing his pedals with his hands for Minus The Bear by the time scene kids found “crabcore.” Even though Botch was adamantly anti-Seattle, their bull’s-eyed bastard-child plays nicely with Fremont’s boozy, bourbonbarreled baby. Only a 14-plus ABV stout like Dark Star is bold enough to stand 10 rounds with this record.
ALASKAN SMOKED PORTER ALASKAN BREWING CO.
SHAKESPEARE OATMEAL STOUT ROGUE ALES
What: Oatmeal Stout Where: Newport, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.1% Imbibe with the Fall Of Troy’s Ghostship Demos (2004)
Comb the right hipster coffee shop or dive bar and you might find one of them: A tattered, disquieted soul forever scarred by the epic promise these four demos offered. Don’t be fooled by their grizzly beard or slept-in haircut—the potential Thomas Erik and Co. flashed for such a brief moment in 2004 has left even the most hardened emo-turned-indie cruster tormented and tortured. The only way to fight the haunting disappointment of subsequent Fall Of Troy releases is to down sludge-black glasses of oak barrel-aged stout by Rogue. The winter fruits of figs and dates are just enough to offset the smoky aftertaste.
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What: American Porter Where: Juneau, Alaska When: Winter ABV: 6.5% Indulge with Portugal. The Man’s Waiter: “You Vultures!” (2006)
A beer worth storing. Robust enough to be a stout, this smoky ager might be playing above its weight class, but so was Portugal. The Man when they debuted in 2006. In a time when every band was trying to be Underoath or the Mars Volta, these Alaskan natives piloted a flying saucer and dropped this anomaly on the lower 48. Hardened skeptics and ardent believers far and wide still can’t come to reconciliation over this lava lamp and prog rock fuser. When they do, this porter will be ready.
DEAD GUY ALE ROGUE ALES
What: Maibock / Helles Bock Where: Newport, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.5% Quaff with Gatsby’s American Dream’s Ribbons & Sugar (2003)
What: German Pilsner Where: Bellingham, Washington When: Rotating ABV: 5.0% Down with Death Cab For Cutie’s Transatlanticism (2003)
Two Bellingham originals, a pair intertwined by memories diecast in the annals of time—when Ben Gibbard wasn’t the end of a one-liner, but the main reason we downloaded Limewire; when scarves and corduroy shorts and a mug of German Pilsner weren’t favored only for irony. Miller may have ruined our idea of a Pilsner. Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance taught us to regret. Let’s ditch the scoffing and the smugness— let’s embrace starting over.
A bock is a beer for refined, sophisticated men and women who enjoy pontificating on the many allusions to pillars of the literary canon as identified in the works of American pop-punk outfit Gatsby’s American Dream. One could proffer the very title of this album is drawn from Mollie the horse in George Orwell’s allegorical, dystopian novella. Indubitably, Animal Farm serves greater purpose than a mere beermat.
FULL SAIL AMBER
What: American Amber / Red Ale Where: Hood River, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.0% Sip softly with Elliott Smith’s Either/Or (1997)
What: Hefeweizen Where: Portland, Oregon When: Year-round ABV 4.9% Swig with Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie & Lowell (2015)
FULL SAIL BREWERY
WIDMER BROTHERS BREWING COMPANY
The beauty of this record isn’t the lo-fi production, or the Beatles-esque choruses, or the lingering reminder that Good Will Hunting was at one time or another your favorite movie. Either/Or’s haunting allure lies in what is not readily apparent: The ghostly atmosphere in the seconds beginning “Angeles” or the spiderweb-thin acoustic guitar beneath Smith’s ethereal whisper on “2:45 AM.” When the clouds over Mt. Hood are gray brains bulbous with rain, when the album’s tape deck click sounds, Pavlovian conditioning will have you sullen, despondent, and longing for Full Sail’s Amber. It’ll pour as dark as the scene outside your window with a scent to complement Smith’s sweet croon. Most of all, it’s palpable with enough earthy notes to backfill the hole Smith carves inside you.
Like Elliott Smith before him, Stevens hardly registers above a whisper over skeletal instrumentation—often just a lonely acoustic guitar. Stevens spent five years writing this album as an outlet for reconciling with the death of his mother, Carrie, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Summer trips to Eugene where his mother left him and his brother at a video store. Swim lessons with a man who calls him “Subaru.” It almost feels wrong to know a man’s childhood this intimately. No beer can stand up to this album, but this easydrinking Hefe is a suitable sidekick.
FRESH SQUEEZED IPA DESCHUTES
What: American IPA Where: Bend, Oregon When: Year-round ABV: 6.4% Savor with Minus The Bear’s Menos el Oso (2005)
GIGANTIC BREWING COMPANY What: American IPA Where: Portland, Oregon When: Fall ABV: 7.3% Appreciate with Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica (2000)
“Pachuca Sunrise” and Fresh Squeezed are iconic enough to be subjects of deep “Where were you when?” conversations. Late summer nights wouldn’t be the same without the back-half of this album—when we blasted “Michio’s Death Drive” with the windows down; when we surfed concrete on our long boards and sipped beer we thought was as good as this but was actually just shitty Shandy. The enigmatic, watery sounds of Dave Knudson’s guitar and Jake Snider’s cool-without-caringtoo-much lyrics convinced us we actually were into “indie” music. Remember that dude your older sister dated for a few weeks way back in the day? Damn, that guy was cool.
“The universe is shaped exactly like the Earth, if you go straight long enough you’ll end up where you were,” says the mystic Isaac Brock. There’s a quote from the guru, George Clinton, on the bottle of this bomber. It reads: “Free your mind and your ass will follow.” There is no correlation between these two—or maybe there is? The second song on this album was used in a car commercial. What are people made of? Everything that keeps us together is falling apart. Let’s have another Orange Julius.
SU B ST R E A M M AGA Z I N E //
FROM HELLISH HORRORS TO THE WILD WEST Writer-director Ti West is best known for his acclaimed work on horror films such as The House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers, and The Sacrament. However, after years embedded in the horror genre, he has taken a stab at making a Western with his latest film, In A Valley Of Violence, releasing in theaters on October 21. We sat down with Mr. West to discuss the film and the reasons why he decided to make such a large departure from his niche. INTERVIEW: Leigh Monson After years of directing horror movies, why write and direct a Western? TI WEST: Well, because it seemed like a cool idea. I get that question a lot, and basically, the fact that I’ve made a lot of horror movies doesn’t necessarily discount the fact that I like other things. After The Sacrament, I was like, “Let’s take a break.” I wanted to do something that was very traditional, like old-school, American cinema. The Western is the peak of that, so we set out to do that. Given your love of horror and your love of the Western, do you see parallels between the two genres? No, I think I just have a love for cinema in general. So, if you look at my shelf of DVDs, horror will be the least amount that is on that shelf, but there would be a lot of them still. I think it’s almost the most experimental genre, where you can do anything and the audience will just go with you. Because it’s a horror movie, reality can get a little weirder. People are open to that, and the farther you get away from that, the less open people are to stylistic spaces or trying to do new things. So, that’s kind of why I like horror so much, but it’s not in place of anything else. I’ve always liked Westerns because I grew up watching them, so I have a very visceral reaction to them as a filmmaker. I think most filmmakers would tell you that’s the dream: To go out and make a Western.
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Does your experience in horror inform your work in a Western? As far as whether one helps the other, In A Valley Of Violence has some violence in it, so perhaps. I’ve been doing that long enough to make that easier for me than it would have been if I had never done that, but I think you approach it kind of like telling a joke. You can tell a joke and everyone will laugh, but your friend can tell the exact same joke and it just bombs. There’s just something about the way you did it; it’s not the concept but the way it was delivered. I think it’s that way with movies. Like, if it’s a romantic comedy— or a Western in this case—you just figure out how to tell that story, and then you do it and hopefully connect with people. Do you have ideas for other genres you want to explore? Do you think there are other genres that lend themselves well to the weird sensibilities of horror? Yeah, sure. Like if I made a romantic comedy—a weird romantic comedy— it would be a romantic comedy nonetheless. I don’t really have a checklist of wanting to do this, this, and this kind of movie, but when I finish, say, a Western, I could do another one if I’m not quite done—or I could want to do a movie in space. I just go wherever. Making movies is very traumatic. It takes a very long time to come up with them, to write them, to get the money for them; it’s just forever. So it’s something you have to give at least two years. You’ve still got to
be interested—I still have to be interested enough in the Western to talk about it now, even though it was two years ago that we started the process of making our movie. You just have a lot of ideas in your head that won’t click for like a week or two, and then you’re like, “Never mind, I won’t be able to get the money,” but then sooner or later the passion you have for it will just override that. I always have a ton of balls in the air, and you see which one can catch the momentum and then you go with that. So what was your inspiration for In A Valley Of Violence? Did anything from your film shelf play a part? As far as specific movies that influenced it, I don’t think there’s anything direct, but I looked to a lot of films for color palate and things like that. As for the movie itself, that’s just wherever I’m at in my life. The movies I grew up on, like the Dollars Trilogy, Sergio Leone’s films, The Drifters, Wild Bunch—things like that—those are some of my favorite Westerns. You worked with a lot of great actors on this film: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Karen Gillen. What was it like to work with Jumpy the dog? It was amazing; Jumpy is mind-blowing to experience. I keep telling everybody that in a scene, when you’re actually there with Jumpy, it’s on a whole other level. I would encourage anyone to go into a YouTube K-hole of Jumpy videos because it’s just unreal. That’s what I did, essentially, because when I wrote up the script I thought, “Oh no, how am I gonna pull this off?” So I Googled “talented dogs” and that’s how I saw Jumpy. And then I met Jumpy and I was like, “Oh my god!” Jumpy is incredible and so is Omar, his trainer. And I was like, “Oh, this is it. We’re done. We’ve got the dog.” And every day was such a joy. I miss him. You can talk to Jumpy like a person. Jumpy was the easiest thing to direct, ever. You’d just say, “Go to your mark,” and he would go put his paws on the mark and stand there. It’s unbelievable.
There’s a very sly sense of humor throughout the film. Is that some of your personality showing through, or do you reject the idea of making something a bit more self-serious? I think it’s parts of myself, but there are also some really good actors in there. I think I was trying to make a movie in which you have all these sort of serious Western archetypes, and when faced with the revenge plot they act more like real people. I think what that becomes for a lot of people is black comedy, in a way. You see someone not act like the perfect bad guy and you see them act like you might act, but they’re dressed like the perfect bad guy in a construct where you think they’re going to be the perfect bad guy. Because architecture is such a big part of how we relate to them and how we reference them, I’m always interested in what those people would really be like in these situations. Exploring that is what makes it unique for each individual. Ideally it makes the movie a bit more unique to show how I think these people would react, which makes it different than if anybody else had made this movie. For the actors, they’re really just able to be out there with their performances, and what I like about their performances is that it’s not necessarily about realism; it’s about being interesting to watch. Do you find yourself remembering that scene because it was such a memorable moment, like a heightened reality? I think my movies always have that sort of humor. If you enjoy black comedy, you get them.
Were there any unique challenges you ran into making the film? No, we had a really great time making the movie; we were really fortunate. Had it rained two days in a row, I have no idea how we would have pulled it off because we were outside for so much of it. We did this with very little money, so if we had to go down because of rain, I don’t know how we would have done it. There was one day where a storm came in and down-poured, but that was it. Something was just on our side. But everybody got along great; we had such a blast. It’ll be a hard one to top because not only was this cast and crew so amazing, but we get to make a Western together, and it’s this specific movie—and Jumpy. Also, because you’re making a Western, how awesome it is to be sitting on the dolly, out in the middle of the desert as a movie star rides by on a horse with a hat and a gun? You’re just awesome. So what’s next for you? What do you have coming up? It looks like it’s going to be one of three things, but I’m a bit cagey on saying which one it is yet, because if I say which one it is then I’ll want to pick a different one. But there are three things, none of which are a Western, but all of which I think will be very cool. S
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Not a Clerk for Long: A Conversation with Harley Quinn Smith
INTERVIEW: James Shotwell Have you always wanted to be an actress? HARLEY QUINN SMITH: Actually, no. For most of my life I wanted to be a bassist in a rock band—until I was 14 or 15, I believe. Then I filmed my scene in Tusk with Lily Rose [Depp] that inspired the creation of everything that would become Yoga Hosers and I realized I wanted to act. So you were there on set, getting ready to film, and everything just clicked? It just felt so right when I did it, and I knew right away I wanted to keep doing it. It was so much fun. I felt immediately that it was what I should pursue. How did your dad initially pitch the True North trilogy to you? Was it just Tusk initially, or did you know early on that Yoga Hosers, and your lead role in it, was going to happen? It wasn’t planned in any way. My dad just thought it would be cute to have me in the film. He liked the idea of having a girl behind the counter, and my dad—for sentimental reasons— wanted me to play that part. He thought it would be cute to see his daughter working at a convenience store 20 years after the guys in Clerks did it (Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson). Lily Rose wasn’t even in the film at that point; she just happened to be on set the day we shot because she wanted to see me act with her dad (Johnny Depp), but in the moment my dad suggested
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she joined me. We reached out to her parents and asked if they wanted her to participate because at that time they were not looking to have her involved in entertainment, even though it’s what she always wanted to do—which is the opposite of how I felt towards it; I was just having fun—but then her parents agreed and we did the scene. We both had so much fun and we decided we wanted to keep doing it. A few months later, my dad said, “You like acting? Cool. I wrote you this script.” It was a total surprise that I never thought was going to happen, but I guess that scene in Tusk really captured his imagination. So you find out you’re about to star in a film when you had no idea such an opportunity was coming your way. What was your first thought? At first I felt kind of guilty because I knew it was the kind of thing people work their entire lives to earn. People work forever to get a leading role in a film and I did nothing, but I think because I had such an easy introduction into the world of entertainment that it motivates me to work twice as hard. Now I audition all the time, and I constantly work to prove that I am not just here because of nepotism, but because I love what I do and I work really hard at it. I don’t think the guilt was a bad thing, though; it gave me the desire to prove that I deserve to be here.
Going into Yoga Hosers, did you ask anyone for advice on how to handle the responsibility of a leading role? My dad definitely walked Lily and I through the entire process. We would practice once or twice a week, reading the script and discussing what the experience on set would be like. It was pretty much all my dad’s doing. What would you say was the most difficult part of your experience making a film like Yoga Hosers? I don’t really think of acting as a job, I just think of it as something I love to do and want to do more than anything in the world. It really doesn’t ever seem hard. I guess waking up early in the morning is hard [laughs], and I would sometimes be sore from learning the moves needed for fight sequences, but it was just so much fun at the same time. Will we see the Colleens again in the final True North film, Moosejaws? My dad is working on that script right now, and I believe the Colleens will make an appearance. But again, he’s still working on it while juggling a lot of other things. I think it’s happening soon, though. Your upcoming projects—the Mallrats series and another series called Hollyweed—will find you moving from the world of film to television. I know some production on Hollyweed has been completed, so how would you compare the experience of making a show to that of making a movie? We just shot the pilot for Hollyweed, and I don’t think Mallrats goes into production until late this year or early next year. I love both film and TV, but I feel most connected to television and that is where I ultimately want to end up. TV gives you more time to tell your story, whereas film forces you to rush to the point, which can cause a lot of criticism to come your way. I feel like movies are targeted for harsher criticism than TV largely because shows have more time to develop their characters and story. Also, I really grew close to the
Harley Quinn Smith may have been born with cult favorite filmmaker Kevin Smith for a father, but at the age of 17 she is already committed to standing on her own two feet in the world of entertainment. Just two roles into her career, Smith can currently be seen as one of the two teen stars of Yoga Hosers, the second film in a trilogy of Canadathemed tales from her father. It’s the kind of movie that rarely gets made anymore— with cartoonish monsters and fast-talking female leads—but Smith and co-star Lily Rose Depp carry the film with a grace well beyond their years. The story about two convenience store clerks who battle sentient, knee-high Nazis made out of bratwurst is not one everyone will enjoy, but there is no denying Smith’s talent when you see her on screen, and to hear her speak of her work is to understand just how passionate she is about the craft of acting. We spoke with Smith about her experiences on set ahead of Yoga Hosers’ U.S. release, as well as her plans for the future, and the ensuing conversation led us to believe that she just might be the next big name in Hollywood.
F I LM
Yoga Hosers cast and crew. It was really hard to say goodbye to everyone when we were done, so I would love to find myself on a show where I could work with the same people for an extended period. It’s really hard to get so close to people and then have to walk away from that connection once you finish filming. That is one of the strange things about entertainment. I think sometimes when we watch a show or movie with characters we love we tend to assume those people spend all their time off camera together as well, but in reality everyone goes their separate ways and works on different projects. Yeah, it’s really hard to say goodbye. I know you’ve always been a big fan of music, and you even get to perform a couple covers in
Yoga Hosers. Do you have any interest in further pursuing music in the future? I do sing in Yoga Hosers, but I do not consider myself a singer, at all. The only type of music I would want to pursue is playing bass or maybe drums, but my heart is not in music right now. I love music, and I’m always listening to it, but I just don’t think I am a music performer. Obviously a lot of your work up to this point has involved your father, but I’m curious about what you want to do outside of his View Askewniverse of characters. I love working with my dad. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be able to work alongside someone that means so much to you while doing what you both love. I definitely want to continue doing that in the future, but it’s extremely important to me that I create a career outside of that. I don’t
want to have to depend on my dad for the rest of my life. That’s probably my biggest fear right now, even though I will happily do anything we want to moving forward. I do have other projects in the works that I cannot talk about just yet, though, so hopefully those things will come out in the near future. I’m about to start my senior year of high school, so I’m just trying to graduate first, and then it’ll be all work all the time. I love to play characters that are the opposite of me. I’m really drawn to the villains on shows like Supergirl. My dream role would be to play Harley Quinn—not just because of the name association, but because I think the transition she makes from psychiatrist to a psychopath is maybe the most interesting character development ever. I would love that role more than anything, but I am open to anything. I want to be involved with projects that make you feel good when you watch them. S
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New Business, Same Horror: Rob Zombie on 31
It’s year 13 of Rob Zombie’s filmmaking career, and his latest film finds one of horror’s gnarliest creators returning to the hallmarks of his first forays into the medium. In 31, we spend a bloody 1970s Halloween night with five friends and the bloodthirsty clowns who terrorize them. It’s perfect for those whose favorite Zombie films are The Devil’s Rejects and House Of 1000 Corpses, but while the gory content may be familiar, the way Zombie is delivering it has evolved with the times. STORY: Tyler Hanan // PHOTOS: Piggy D “The distribution models these days are changing constantly,” Zombie observes. “Every time I make a movie, it’s totally different. What I’m doing this time, had someone mentioned it even two years ago I would’ve thought they were insane.” Zombie is embracing a more modern distribution model, as have many other genre directors in recent years. 31 hit video on demand (VOD) on September 16 and will see a limited theatrical run starting October 21. Though once leery of a digital release strategy back when he made Lords Of Salem (2012), Zombie has talked himself into it. “It made a lot of sense to me, because I myself don’t go to the movies that much anymore,” Zombie realizes. “I watch everything on VOD.” He checks off a few of the many competitors—Netflix, Amazon, Hulu— to cap off his point. And it isn’t just the advantages of digital that convinced him. The studio system has been doing directors like Zombie no favors. “More and more I notice that this is what people are doing,” Zombie comments. “There are the big superhero movies, which are released very traditionally: 4,000 screens, $50 million in advertising and whatnot. They just go crazy. And they either have a huge hit or they have a disaster that can bankrupt the studio.” Zombie’s conversion was helped along by encouragement from 31’s new distributor, Saban Films (The Last Face, A Hologram For The King, Cell). “It’s just about getting it out there,” Zombie says. “[Saban] were like, ‘We just want to make the movie available in every way possible for whoever wants to see it.’” Saban stepped in after 31 became a casualty of the film distributor Alchemy going under in February of this year, which also impacted Yorgos Lanthimos’ acclaimed film The Lobster and the upcoming Ben
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Wheatley shoot-em-up Free Fire. Like much of the industry, Zombie was blindsided by the news. “The Alchemy thing was very strange, because we were at Sundance with Alchemy, and there was no vibe that they were having any problems that I knew of. Then all the sudden we come home on Monday morning, like, ‘Oh my god, Alchemy’s going bankrupt! What? When did this happen?’” After scrambling to screen the film for other distributors, Zombie felt Saban had the best deal and the most excitement. He has nothing but good things to say about the relationship. “It seemed like the right place,” he says, “and so far they’ve been awesome to work with; it’s been really great.” In addition to VOD, Zombie embraced crowdfunding with his new film. The initial campaign took place in the summer of 2014, and it was relaunched in February 2015 “due to popular demand.” What appealed to Zombie about this method—besides the money—was that it allowed the fans to be involved much earlier in the life of the film. “What the crowdfunding does show is that there’s already a large portion of the audience that knows about the movie. They know about a movie before it even exists,” Zombie says. “It shows that there is a desire for it.” Zombie also had a plan for that money. The crowdfunding amounted to about a third of the final budget, and Zombie had plans for that infusion of cash. “What I really did with the crowdfunding was save it for post-production, because that’s where things usually run thin. You get into editing and music and sound mixing and stuff like that, and that’s where you run out of money,” Zombie explains. “That’s where it became really helpful to finish the film.” All this—the new release models, the crowdfunding—is necessary because many studios
F I LM David Ury as Schizo-Head in 31
aren’t willing to make mid-level movies anymore. Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Magic Mike) has been one of the most vocal critics of studios, even “retiring” from film temporarily to direct television. Zombie has felt this strain as much as anyone. “Once the model for that started working with the cheaper movies being made off the backs of Paranormal Activity, [studios] just don’t want to spend any money on these types of movies. It’s all about the marketing; get everybody in the first weekend and make all your money back—that’s all they care about.” This was before the deluge of recent articles that have served as moratoriums on the “sequelitis” of an uneven summer box office. Following right behind were articles effusively celebrating horror’s success this year, powered by Lights Out, The Conjuring 2, and Don’t Breathe. This could all be hyperbole, though, and there is a decade’s worth of evidence that studios aren’t interested in putting money into horror if they don’t have to. “A film like Halloween (2007) cost $15 million to make,” Zombie says. “31 cost about five times less than that. Now if someone said, ‘Oh, do you want to make Halloween?’ The budget will be $1 million.” This is the environment that has allowed—or necessitated—these new models. Zombie’s previous film, Lords Of Salem, was a Blumhouse Productions film. Blumhouse is notorious for capping budgets at $5 million, and it was Blumhouse that produced Paranormal Activity. Zombie seems more free on this film. 31 wasn’t micromanaged by a studio as his Halloween films were, and he had more of a cushion after the crowdfunding. With his latest, Zombie had a clear priority: “The biggest pressure is just trying to make the film. Get it done and make it great.” It probably helped to return to the oeuvre he loves most. Zombie makes note of how everyone has a time when they fall in love with culture; he is open in his embrace of the ‘70s—the music, the television, the horror films. Especially the horror films. “That’s the era where the [gloves] came off. You got your Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn Of The Dead, Last House On The Left—those were not mainstream movies for mom and dad to take the kids to,” Zombie reminisces. “You’d be lucky if you could find one or two other kids in your school who’d even heard of these films, let alone saw them. Everybody knew about Star Wars, but not everybody knew about Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS when I was a kid. Those type of movies were always special.”
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That love has always been evident in Zombie’s work, and 31 goes even further down that rabbit hole. Evoking The Running Man and A Most Dangerous Game, 31 is a story of five friends kidnapped and subjected to the titular 12-hour game of survival. It just also happens to be a 1970s Halloween night. Their tormentors? Killer clowns for hire, bearing names like Doom-Head and SickHead. For one day, Malcolm McDowell, Judy Geeson, and Jane Carr open up the most terrifying haunted house around to bet on who will survive the longest. “For one night, they transform themselves for this craziness. And then, who knows... Sick-Head goes back to work at the bank. Who knows what these people do in their regular lives? This is the one night a year they go insane and they’re out for blood,” Zombie explains. “It’s their grand performance for one evening.” Zombie often brings back past collaborators in his films. The most notable of these is his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. There are several others here, including McDowell, Meg Foster, and Lew Temple, too. The most striking of these, though, is Richard Brake, who
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also appeared in Halloween II. Brake is the sinister “final boss,” Doom-head, and he plays like Zombie’s most demented spin on Batman’s most infamous, clownfaced villain. It’s so effective that part of the marketing is the clip of Doom-head donning his makeup, getting ready to perform. Zombie comments that he wanted Brake for the role from the start, but nailing Doom-head and his fellow clowns took some work. “The character designs were tricky,” Zombie says. “With Richard, he has such a great face already. With the clown idea, I sort of toned it down as the movie went on because if he was buried under all this clown makeup and all this crazy stuff, you kind of lose him, and he’s scary… regular.” While Zombie’s films gain headlines for their violence—and fights with the MPAA to avoid an NC-17 rating—the moments that are most important to him are those when audiences get to know and feel for the characters. “If you don’t care about who the characters are on some level, what are you watching?” Zombie asks. “Think of a movie like The Exorcist. If that movie
I’m interested in trying to make movies that have a longevity to them; I’m not just worried about trying to make a quick buck.
That’s not why you become a director.” —ROB ZOMBIE
were made today, the first studio note would be, ‘Lose the first 40 minutes. Who cares?’ You wouldn’t care about Regan, you wouldn’t care about anybody in the movie. Or Jack Nicholson would be crazy in the first minute of The Shining. They don’t allow anything to breathe.” Zombie speaks with the frustration of someone who’s had these arguments again and again, and he isn’t shy to share his own experiences. “You get the notes—and I choose to ignore them, but you get the notes—and they’re like, ‘Cut that, cut that, cut that.’ And they always pinpoint anything that would give the movie any humanity,” he says. “If we cut all that, you’re just watching people die.” Zombie wants to create more than that, and that’s why he has battled on every movie—and it is every movie—for those moments. He asserts that he can always win that battle, though, and that is what makes each of his films identifiable as a Rob Zombie creation. “I’m interested in trying to make movies that have a longevity to them, that last; I’m not just worried about trying to make a quick buck. That’s not why you become a director.” S
Photoâ€…by Brian Leak
By Greg Pratt
WHY WE STARTED AARON MARSH: That’s a great question. I had been writing my own music in the form of playing piano by ear and making up songs as young as I can remember—maybe four years old. So that’s always been something I’ve done; I was interested in more symphonic music going through high school. Just through making music with friends I just kept doing music and eventually I started bands in high school. So it’s been a lifelong thing for me. OUR FIRST PRACTICE SPACE My mom worked at a church when I was growing up and there was a room above the rec room in the church—kind of a place where it didn't really matter if we were loud—so the church kind of gave my high school bands permission to make all the noise we wanted in that room. It was really generous of them to give us that space to use. In the South, there's a church on every corner so that's what a lot of bands down here do; it's the easiest place to find space where you can be noisy and not bother anybody. That place was called the Vanguard Room. That's
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ORIGINAL LINEUP Aaron Marsh (vocals/piano/guitar) Bryan Laurenson (guitar) James Likeness (bass) Rusty Fuller (drums)
actually what I named my studio after— it’s called the Vanguard Room. So we named our studio after that space where we were able to be ourselves and be noisy and explore music at a young age. OUR FIRST TOUR VEHICLE Two guys in the band had Volvo station wagons, so instead of one tour van we had two Volvo station wagons. We all had hatchbacks; we were packing all of our equipment into two mid-1970s Volvo station wagons. We had a blue one and a tan one. We made a T-shirt that said “Station wagon rock”; that was our stupid genre we self-deprecatingly made up for ourselves. THE FIRST SONG WE WROTE I think the first one for Copeland was probably a song called “May I Have This Dance” that was on our first three-song EP. It's definitely not my best work, but it's catchy. [Laughs.] OUR FIRST BIG SHOW It was such a steady build. I think the first time I really felt like a rock star was going over when we did Singapore and Japan
CURRENT LINEUP Aaron Marsh (vocals/piano/guitar) Bryan Laurenson (guitar) Stephen Laurenson (guitar)
on a trip. We did a festival in Singapore and it was one of the bigger shows we had ever done, and we were the headliner. It felt unbelievable to be all the way around the world playing for a crowd like that. It was incredible. WHY WE CONTINUE I think that if you're the kind of person who loves it and has that desire to make music and be creative... I like being creative in general so if I wasn't doing music I'd have some other creative career, I'm sure. But I think if that's your personality type, I think it's hard to do anything else and be happy. OUR CURRENT PRACTICE SPACE It's still the Vanguard Room, because now it's my studio. OUR CURRENT TOUR VEHICLE We actually don't own anything at the moment. We only toured 12 weeks last year. We're doing another tour coming up, and we've just been doing the bus thing. Fortunately, the latest thing for bands our size in order to pay for a bus is to do the VIP events. That's extremely helpful because we're taking a string section on
NOW tour; taking that many people on tour, you have to have that bus. So we do the bus thing, which is very comfortable, and very expensive, but the VIP events kind of help us do that. THE NEWEST SONG WE WROTE I have a bunch of works in progress at the moment, but the last song I completed was probably a song called “Like a Lie” that was on Ixora. It's not my best work, but it's catchy. [Laughs.] THE PAST, TODAY Our old records were down offline for a while, and we just put them back up. In Motion [the band's second album, originally released in 2005] actually got remastered; the originally master just got kind of over-compressed, and that was always one that I felt like didn't sound as much like a Copeland record as the other records, so we got the master pulled back a little bit. It breathes a little bit
more like the rest of the records do. I've had two people ask me if it's a different mix or different master or something, so it's actually a notable difference. You know, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. It's just a little less harsh—a little more warmth to it. THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEN AND NOW My attitude went from all the way extremely idealistic to jaded and then back again after learning to not take myself so seriously and to kind of fall in love with doing music again. We took a few years off from Copeland and I produced records and helped other people find their creative voice, and through that— through being able to stand back and seeing people making records for the first time or developing their songwriting—it helped me fall in love with my own creative process, and I think get a greater appreciation for making stuff. S
My attitude went from all the way extremely idealistic to jaded and then back again after learning to not take myself so seriously and
to kind of fall in love with doing music again."
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By Landon Defever
COMING TOGETHER ALEX GARCIA: Originally, it was the formation of two different bands, and it happened in late 2005. Jake, Jason, and I were in Kid Named Chicago, that would later be known as the Last Try, and Derek, Brooks, and Jeremy were in a band called Defining Moment. Around November, we decided that we wanted to split up both bands for different reasons, and wanted to form one big “supergroup” to go on to the next phase of writing songs and touring together. INITIAL GOALS We absolutely had a goal of wanting to really make it with this band—it was a big reason for wanting to split up [the original two]. With Defining Moment, Brooks and Derek had released an EP at the time and spent the entire summer on Warped Tour selling it in 2005, and they had been touring for a while, since they all had graduated high school. At that point, they were all on their way to establishing these songs by touring full-time, so Jason, Jake, and I really wanted to do the same thing. When we formed Mayday Parade, it was all a part of the assumption that we’d want to do what the three of them were doing— wanting the reassurance that we were also committed. We were planning on [selling music on] Warped Tour 2006, so we wanted to work and put together six songs, record an EP, and get all of the basic necessities for a band and find a way to tour. From then on out, once we started Warped ’06, we were all fully
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committed. I can’t speak for the other guys, but I quit my job and dropped out of school so we could pursue Mayday Parade full-time. It definitely wasn’t a “Oh, let’s see where this goes…”; it was something [where] we said, “Let’s work at this.” FOLLOWING WARPED TOUR In 2005, when Defining Moment followed Warped Tour, they were able to make a lot of money doing that for their band; that was able to help them buy new equipment and fund what they were doing. So, for Mayday Parade, 2006 was the year we did the same thing. BEGINNING TO WRITE “Three Cheers For Five Years” was the very first song we worked on together. We began by practicing it in a warehouse that both bands had been using, which we were sharing with about 10 bands in that music scene at the time. It was the most we’d seen at that time. We found our own separate bay that we could use before we had broken up the other two bands or had really even officially started Mayday Parade. We had about three or so practices where we worked on new songs, and I think the first song was “Three Cheers.” “When I Get Home, You’re So Dead” and “One Man Drinking Games” also both come to mind. Jason had worked on “Three Cheers” while he was in Kid Named Chicago, and he started putting together “When I Get Home” just so we had a couple of songs that we could start running over—just to see what
the vibe was like—because at the time we still didn’t know; we still needed to see what it would be like before we officially broke up both bands. FIRST SHOWS Derek has always said that Mayday Parade hasn’t always had an official “first show” under the name Mayday Parade. But the first show that we played all together—I’m not 100% on this—but I think it was at The Alamo in Florida. It was a super weird, difficult show to play because we only had three or four songs together at the time, yet we had three guitarists and two vocalists, so it was a little awkward trying to figure that out live, and the stage setup was really weird. Our “first” show, however, was at the Vega Bar in Tallahassee, which is now the Sidebar Theater. At the time, that venue was the venue for the poppunk/pop-rock scene to play. It was a big deal because, at the time, we had broken up two fairly established local bands to form one, and there was a lot of “drama” surrounding it, but it ended up selling out due to there being so much hype [so] it was a big thing. LOOKING BACK AT THE FIRST BIG MOMENT For Mayday Parade, it was kind of a slow accumulation of not huge things, but moderately big things that would make us look at our career and go, “Oh, that’s cool.” For me personally, actually recording our EP was a big thing. With Kid Named Chicago, we had never officially
ORIGINAL LINEUP Jason Lancaster (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) Derek Sanders (lead vocals, piano) Alex Garcia (lead guitar) Brooks Betts (rhythm guitar) Jeremy Lenzo (bass guitar) Jake Bundrick (drums, percussion)
CURRENT LINEUP Derek Sanders (lead vocals, piano) Alex Garcia (lead guitar) Brooks Betts (rhythm guitar) Jeremy Lenzo (bass guitar, backing vocals) Jake Bundrick (drums, percussion, vocals)
MAYDAY PARADE 2016
NOW “Our band has always run under a pretty strict democracy— everybody’s voice matters and counts. —ALEX GARCIA
released anything, so it was a cool thing to actually start releasing songs. Once we actually pressed the EP, too—that was a really cool thing. For the most part, though, it was a natural step because the guys in Defining Moment had done that earlier. It was something that I had tried to push Kid Named Chicago to do for a while when we were a band. A lot of other big ones started coming after that, like talking to Fearless, hearing how adamant they were about signing us, and going through a lot of the recording process to try and get us under their wing, which was really cool. It was a moment where I thought, “Okay, we do have potential and this is the trajectory I had hoped that this band would have, and it’s starting to happen.” 10 YEARS OF TALES TOLD BY DEAD FRIENDS It’s funny, because I haven’t really listened to the album in a long time, or the band itself that much for that matter. It’s just, you work on the album so hard, and put non-stop effort into it that you don’t feel the need to return to it. However, seeing how we’re doing a 10year anniversary tour for it—where we’re
playing the record in its entirety and have to work through it again—it surprised me how much I still really like those songs and how much they still hold up. I think it’s still representative of what the band was and wanted to be with its ballad-like songs and very heartfelt, relatable lyrics. Listening back to it, I kept telling myself that I really, really liked it. SONGWRITING EVOLUTION I think all of us have become so much better at our instruments. Both the songs that we write for the band and the songs we write on our own are a lot better and more interesting. We’ve grown so much as people. I don’t think the writing has changed too much. Back then, someone would present a song and then everybody would work on it. The only thing now that I’d say is different is that we bring to the table is having more complete songs, that are pretty much nearly done and work through them like that, as opposed to somebody bringing a very rough sketch of the song. That, and I think that as the years have passed and the more albums that we’ve done, I think more people who haven’t had songs on the record are coming into play now, which is great. [
KEEPING FRIENDSHIPS I think all of us have been on the same page from the get-go, where we all agreed that this was our only opportunity, coupled with the fact that we had all had previous success with trying to figure something else out. I think the fact that everything has worked out the way that it has all led us to a place where we’re happy with things, which definitely brings a good vibe to work with. Not to mention that the culture of the band is very similar to how things were in the early days. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve realized that a lot of the problems that bands have won’t happen now at this point in our career. We’ve developed a culture where we don’t do certain things. For instance, drugs were something that we all looked down upon. None of us are straight edge or anything, but harder drugs were always something we said “no” to. Not only that, but lying, cheating, and being shitty to each other was always something we never had a problem with. If any of us did something, we’d check each other. Our band has always run under a pretty strict democracy—everybody’s voice matters and counts. S
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INSID E TH E A RTIST
KEVIN DEVINE Being Fluid in a Radically Changing Industry INTERVIEW: John Bazley // PHOTO: Shervin Lainez
When speaking to Kevin Devine, the New York songwriter doesn’t come off as much of an instigator. The 36-year-old Brooklynite is mild mannered and polite, always thoughtful to say exactly what he means, and speaks with a desire of reaching a common understanding. But better knowledge suggests that Devine is willing to stand tall and address the world with resolved confidence. The journalism student-turnedsongwriter has spent the better half of his life releasing music through several projects, including his lengthy solo career, origin band Miracle Of 86, and Bad Books, his collaborative band with Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull. His storyteller style has earned him acclaim in countless circles of indie rock, making him something far more akin to a contemporary Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen than anything the alternative music community is accustomed to. On October 21, Devine will release Instigator, his ninth solo LP. More so than anything Devine has produced in the past, the record is true to his personality in a candid way that illuminates much of his perspective on current events and the true nature of humanity. We spoke with Devine about adapting to the volatile nature of the music industry, the responsibility of artists to address social issues in music, and the distinction between “songwriter” and “musician.”
Instigator is your ninth LP, and you’ve been making music for a while now. Over the past four or five years, you’ve kind of adapted to the changing music industry by releasing music in different and exciting ways, like Kickstarter and last year’s split series. Can you talk a little about those different ideas? KEVIN DEVINE: What’s that quote, “necessity is the mother of invention”? Part of it is exploring alternative ways to stay alive in this thing, and those are kind of two iterations of the same thought. For me, I start with “what is,” and “what is” is that the music industry has changed radically since I started making music; it’s completely unrecognizable from when I really started playing in bands in high school. But it’s changed rapidly since people started becoming aware of me, which was around Make The Clocks Move in 2003. If you still put music out the way you did then, you’re either probably not very visible, or you’re like a megastar. I’m not that, so I’m on the ground trying to figure out the creative and versatile. That’s the industrial truth; the personal truth is that I’m not someone who sells hundreds of thousands of records or tickets—I’m a working musician who’s visible in a certain niche corner of independent music. If you want to continue to
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be a working musician in this radically changed industry, you have to be fluid. Your expectations can’t be that other people are gonna do it for you, or sticking to the traditional notion of what an artist is or isn’t. I love the music I make and I’d put the songs I write up against anybody’s, but I also wanna do it the way I wanna do it and I wanna be able to grow my career and have a life in music without being completely dependent on a commercial infrastructure to do that. You have to be willing to take chances. These projects— they’re all stuff that’s rooted in growing up in hardcore and punk rock. The mentality is “go do it.” If you think about it, go do it. I make whatever I make, but I make it with the vitality of a hardcore kid making fliers in a Kinko’s somewhere in 1995. You have to be the person most excited about what you do to live this way, and to get other people on board and excited too. I feel like after the Capitol thing went away, there was a real fork in the road, where it was either try to get some other major label involved, or put the record on my back, play shows, and build an audience one person at a time. I think the new music industry looks a lot like what people like me have been doing forever. That’s beneficial for me, because I know how to play this game—the agility, adaptability game—because I’ve been doing it a long time. If I was offered another major label deal, I don’t even know if I’d know how to do that anymore or what that would even look like. I like how you mentioned that you’re kind of a punk or hardcore artist in that indie rock vein, because one of those ways you’ve released music was “Freddie Gray Blues,” which you put up on a Facebook video and it ended up making the album. Thematically, it’s indicative of your career-long social issue awareness, and that’s a big thing
on Instigator. Do you feel that it’s your responsibility as an artist to bring those kinds of issues up? I do, but I don’t think everyone has to; I don’t think it’s incumbent upon every artist or songwriter to reckon social justice in their work. And to not lay false claim to too much punk rock credo, I’ll point out that if I’ve released 150 or so songs through nine albums, Bad Books, and Miracle Of 86, maybe 25 of them deal in an explicit way with what I’d call social justice issues, or what some would call political or protest music. But it’s not like I’m in Dead Kennedys and everything I write is explicitly that way—but everything I write is implicitly informed by the same things. The closest thing I can do in terms of a mission statement for what I am as a songwriter, is just trying to present a picture of being a person—humanity boiled down to one person’s experience of humanity, culture, society. A lot of that involves looking in, and looking out then looking in, and figuring out how those two speak to each other. Especially post-9/11, post-Iraq and Afghanistan wars, post-Bush/Gore, the financial collapse, everything that’s happening in this country—these things have been happening forever and as long as there has been people and culture. But I’ve only been alive for the last 36 years, and only conscious of this for the last 15 to 20; I don’t know how you could be a person writing about people and not write about this stuff intermittently, at least. I try to write about those things the same way I wrote about non-social justice things: feelings, thoughts, dreams, love, drugs, sex, family. I try to be less finger pointy and more nuanced, because these things aren’t so black or white—most things are gray. I do personally feel responsible with what I write because I think about it every day, but some days I might think
I wanna be able to grow my career and have a life in music without being completely dependent on a commercial infrastructure to do that.” —KEVIN DEVINE
about the Mets or pizza more than social justice. I would never say, “I’m gonna write a political song now,” because that would come out bad. But being open to it when it comes and acknowledging that for every person who thinks it’s noble or cool that I do that, there are way more that dismiss me immediately when they find out I do that, because they don’t want that in their music. I’m okay with those people not buying my tickets or T-shirts or music. If someone discredits what I do because of the 10 percent of my songs that say something that they disagree with, I’m happy to not have those people at the show. Authenticity’s a tricky word; playing music in public for money, no matter how honest you’re trying to be, is still a performance, and I’m trying to entertain, but still sleep at the end of the night. Having studied journalism in school, with that same idea of where the news is at today, in discussing social issues, has that influenced you in how you’ve gone about writing music in your career? I think all of it informs all of it; the lines are fluid and porous. I didn’t become a journalist, but I did become a
songwriter and I was a songwriter while I was studying to be a journalist. All of it is about probity, detail. The two things are very different in the sense that one is a kind of activism, which speaks to the cultural climate. It’s dangerous, which it shouldn’t be; it should be a pillar of democracy. Theoretically, songwriting is poetry and journalism is like… building a table or something. They both speak to one another because they’re both ultimately about asking questions. Maybe journalism is about asking questions until you get the answer, and songwriting is about asking questions and considering that there is no answer. I definitely learned things from journalism school that I’ve used in my songwriting career. I had a teacher say—I’ll never forget this—“specificity breeds believability.” Detail. When you’re interviewing someone, what’s on their desk, what color are the drapes, what does it say on the coffee mug? That’s the story. Some of my favorite songs aren’t necessarily the most liked, but they’re the ones that are full of the little details, that let me know I got the story right.
Talking about details, that definitely resonates. I think that’s something people look for in “songwriters” opposed to “musicians.” That’s a good distinction; I never thought of that. What’s the difference between a songwriter and a band? No one’s gonna hold most pop singers’ feet to the fire about their lyrical content, but if you go see a “singer-songwriter” and their songs are cheesy lyrically, you dismiss them right away, because that’s what they’re supposed to be good at, I think. There’s a distinction.
Right. You have albums under the name “Kevin Devine” but with someone like John K. Samson from the Weakerthans, I think of him as a great songwriter even though there’s a whole band involved. The one that just jumps to mind is Bright Eyes. When people talk about Bright Eyes, they’re talking about Conor [Oberst]. There have been other members of that band forever, but they’re thinking about his personality in that music. With Pedro The Lion, it’s [David] Bazan. All of that other stuff supports the story, but you’re thinking about the story [itself]. S
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INSID E TH E A RTIST
Getting REAL with
SHURA INTERVIEW: Gabriel Aikins PHOTO: Andrew Whitton
If you haven’t heard of London-based songwriter Shura by now, it’s time to start paying attention. She just released her first studio album, Nothing’s Real, after years of buildup and anticipation. The album has received strong positive reactions from both critics and fans, and we wanted to pick the up-and-comer’s brain about the post-release adjustment to life and what’s on the horizon as expectations grow exponentially larger for her future output.
So the album is out! It exists! SHURA: Yeah! It is real. I wasn’t lying about it; I did finish it. What are your feelings now that it’s a real thing out in the universe? I mean, huge relief is the main one. I think the week before the record came out I felt every single emotion under the sun compressed into one week, essentially. I was excited, I was nervous, I was afraid, and now I’m just like, “Oh, thank God.” I finished the record in January so I’ve lived with it. By the time it’s July, it’s already, for me in my brain, six months old. I know it really well, so it was a huge relief to finally be able to share it with people and not be secretive. What have you thought about the reaction to it? I’ve been really blown away by how well received it’s been. Obviously I like the record. [Laughs.] I did that kind of thing of going, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks because I really like it,” but of course you do care. And it was this interesting thing of “am I going to read any of the reviews?” I remember thinking that question. I was like, “Hang on a second—of course I’m going to read them;
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it’s my first time doing it.” I feel like the kind of people that don’t read reviews are the kind of people who... Have made like 20 albums? Yeah! Or have made a few and maybe they read something that they really didn’t like and then they thought, “You know what? I’m not going to read this anymore.” [But] I’ve been really blown away by them, and just really glad that people seem to have got it. Because that’s the thing: It’s not even that I want people to turn around and say, “This is the best album ever made.” Just the idea that people seem to get what it was I was trying to do—that was a huge thing for me, and to feel validated in that way is amazing. I know it must be so gratifying to have fans tweet at you and just get what you’re saying. Yeah! And of course they’re the people that really, really matter in the end. And they’re the people who have waited the longest. It’s like these poor people who listened to “Touch” and have been like, “Uh, where’s your album?” And you are conscious; you’re like, “Okay, there are some people out there who’ve waited for this record for two years”—almost as long as I’ve been making it, they’ve been waiting—and you don’t want to disappoint them. And we do live in this very weird time where you have to release so much of your record, especially if you have that kind of attention on the internet. It’s just this balancing act of releasing stuff without releasing an entire record. Were there times where you were working on a song and you just had to step back and go, “It’s done now, I’m going to stop messing with it.” Oh, you have to do that. And the thing is that when you make music nothing is ever really finished. As a creative person,
you’re never happy. One of the most important aspects of being a musician is knowing when to say “I’m done.” It doesn’t mean that you’re finished, because you never are—that’s why you make a second record, that’s why you make a third—because you’re constantly trying to improve upon what you’ve done before. But learning when to say “no” and when to say “stop” is really tricky and it’s something I still battle with. I think I got it right on this record, but it was my first-ever album and it was me saying “hello” to the world, musically, and it was very, very important that I got it right. If you keep mixing and keep touching it and keep changing it, you can actually end up making something worse. It’s very important to keep that purity of the original demo version of a song and try to capture that spirit, but record it with nice vocals rather than just me mumbling in a corner of my bedroom. [Laughs.] A lot of pop love songs are either “I love you, you love me back” or “I love you, but you broke up with me,” and there’s so much in between there, which is what you cover—the insecurity and trepidation… What about like, “Shit, am I wearing the right outfit? Because I feel really uncomfortable right now.” [Laughs.] Was that the goal when you started writing the album? Or did that originate from you writing what came to you? It wasn’t necessarily a goal to begin with. I wrote “Touch” and “Indecision” very early on, and then it was “2Shy,” and I remember people commenting on my lyrical style and saying, “Oh, it’s very direct.” So it wasn’t really that I even realized that’s how I was writing or that it was a sort of trademark until after I had already started doing it. And I think it was once that became apparent, one of the things I dealt with in my lyrics was the slightly less glamorous sides of being in a relationship and those insecurities that we have—or anxiety, or awkwardness. It became very important for me then to have that throughout the record and that’s something I just wanted to explore more. I don’t even know if that’s something that I will want to do on the next album—maybe I want to flip how I work lyrically and try something new—I don’t know yet. But once I started getting into the bulk of the record, it was definitely a conscious decision to embrace those elements in the way that John Hughes so wonderfully dealt with the slightly more awkward aspects of being a teenager and being self-conscious. He was a massive inspiration as a filmmaker and on my record. Which naturally brings us into the “What’s It Gonna Be?” video. It’s an amazing one, and I watched the behind-the-scenes. Just how much fun was filming that video? It was amazing! It was literally the most fun I think—it was definitely the most fun I’ve ever had making a music video—and
it was definitely the most fun couple of days I’ve ever had doing this job. It feels weird to be calling it a job, because it’s such a silly job, isn’t it? To be able to work with [my brother] Nick on that level is really great, and it’s really fun to see the fans embrace him and celebrate him after that. It was really nice; it was something that we as twins could share, which is really special. I know Nick is pretty involved in the music video and in the music. Is he pretty much your sounding board for everything? Normally it’s quite late on in the process of writing a song, but he is someone whose opinion I absolutely trust. He comes from somewhere completely different musically. When we grew up, we listened to very, very different stuff, and so he’s kinda like the opposite to me in many ways. But obviously as we’ve both grown older, the kind of stuff he used to listen to I love now and the same is true for him, so it’s nice to play him stuff because I know he doesn’t think in the same way that I do about music. Like he’s not thinking about the production necessarily, he’s just thinking, “Do I love the song? Is it fun? Do I want to dance to it? Do I want to sing along to it? Does it make me emotional?” And when it came to sequencing the record and there were songs that I had to lose, he was a really big part of going like, “What do you think about using this song instead of this song?” He’s definitely one of the very few people who I let listen to the record [early]. For me, that was a very big deal— to play something to him as many times as I did and ask him for his opinion. You kind of touched on it, but are you already thinking ahead to what the sound for the next album is gonna be? I’m definitely thinking about it. There are lots of different directions I could go in and I’ve not committed in my brain to a single one yet. I think what I’ll do is explore a couple of the avenues and see what comes most naturally and what excites me the most. That’s the thing: You want to be making music that excites you because you’re going to be making it for awhile. So for me, I’ll probably be spending a year to two years on this next record, and I want to do something that’s exciting to me. But, yeah, of course I’m already thinking about it. S
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everything is illuminated STORY: Jessica Klinner // PHOTOS: Neil Krug
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Balance And Composure’s third full-length LP, Light We Made, quickly became the Pennsylvania band’s most controversial album to date. Back in July, the release of the record’s lead single, “Postcard,” sparked backlash among fans who weren’t quite sold on the track’s subtle guitar tones and looping electronic drums. Message boards and comment sections quickly warped into warzones, and while many leapt to defend the outfit’s new sound, an equal number braced for the worst. It was a rocky reception to be sure, but according to drummer Bailey Van Ellis, “it’s just part of growing up and maturing as an artist.” “We just wanted to do something different and try to set ourselves apart,” Van Ellis explains. “We could’ve gone into the studio and written an album that sounded similar to what we had done in the past, but we didn’t want to do that.” Mission accomplished. Whereas B&C’s previous undertakings were steeped in angst and aggression, their latest feels far more deliberate, built around the same concrete songwriting that ignited Doylestown, Pennsylvania almost a decade ago. Synth is commonplace, spoken word whispers waft in and out of the ether, and as a whole, the group seems more willing than ever to wander outside of their comfort zone. It’s a logical step forward for a band that has made a career of bashing boundaries. “We knew some people were going to be like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’” Van Ellis laughs. “But we were all kind of just like, ‘Fuck it—let’s get weird.’ Ultimately, art came before public opinion. Music means so much to us, and we’d be fools if we didn’t try to explore different pockets of it—it’s there to be explored, and it’s there do whatever you want to do with it. It’s boring staying stagnant.” To help channel said weirdness, the group called upon longtime friend and producer Will Yip (Title Fight, La Dispute, Circa Survive), whose crisp production has become somewhat of a staple in the modern alternative music scene. Van
Ellis describes Yip as “someone who knows what good songwriting entails,” even going so far as to call him “a sixth member of the band.” “Will’s a complete equal when it comes to opinion and songwriting. We’ve known him for so long. He’s someone who we all trust, and I think he really trusts and respects what we’re trying to create. I think we’re all good at bouncing ideas off one another, but Will is a wizard at getting those ideas out of your head,” Van Ellis says. Though Yip’s keen ear and impressive attention to detail are welldocumented, Van Ellis’ praise is more than appropriate. From the slow climb of “Midnight Zone” to the distant drones of “Loam,” Light We Made is all at once fresh and familiar—an organic progression rooted in personal experience and hardened by the passing of time. “It’s easy to be like, ‘Yeah, we don’t care what the fans think,’ but obviously we do—we wouldn’t be releasing records and doing tours if we didn’t have that in the back of our heads. I think once people hear the full scope of the album they’ll get it and hopefully be as into it as we are. We made a conscious effort to make sure it all felt natural and right, and we’re excited for everyone to hear it,” Van Ellis says.
When crafting 2013’s The Things We Think We’re Missing, the five-piece retreated to a secluded cabin in the Pocono Mountains. This time around, they set up shop 45 minutes north of Philly, in Tullytown, Pennsylvania—a bleak borough that heavily influenced both Van Ellis and his bandmates during the writing process. “I don’t want to knock the town, but it’s kind of a miserable place to be. It’s run down, and there’s an oil plant nearby so the whole town smells like burning oil. The inside of the practice space was covered in graffiti. It was just a super different surrounding than being in the woods and being locked away for two weeks,” Van Ellis recalls. The band also found themselves battling an onslaught of opposing schedules, which often made it difficult to get everyone in the same room and on the same page. Still, Van Ellis contends that the group’s unpredictable practice schedule was a blessing in disguise, allowing more room for refinement in the long run. “There’s definitely a separation in vibe between each song—because we’d spend like three days a week writing, then someone would go away or have something going on, and we wouldn’t
Ultimately, art came before public opinion.
Music means so much to us,
and we’d be fools if we didn’t try to explore different pockets of it.” —BAILEY VAN ELLIS
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write again for two weeks,” Van Ellis explains. “It gave each of us time to regroup at home or come up with ideas by ourselves and then come back and kind of bounce them off of each other. At the end of the day, it’s still the five of us in a room jamming together—I don’t think that’s really changed since we started writing together.” But even before writing began, Light We Made was destined to be an outlier. In the fall of 2013, while on tour with Title Fight, Cruel Hand, and Slingshot Dakota, Van Ellis and his cohorts were in a serious car accident that would turn their world upside down. In fact, the wreck was so severe that, until recently, the band made a point to avoid the topic altogether. “No one should’ve lived,” Van Ellis admits. “We drove off the highway, fell like 50 feet, and ended up like 100some feet from the road. It was a very surreal, eye-opening thing. I think it was the first time a lot of us were literally like, ‘Okay, this is it. This is where we stop as human beings.’” While no one was seriously injured, this harrowing experience—which
Van Ellis believes “put a lot of things in perspective for everyone”— would weigh heavily on the group as they began crafting what would go on to become their third full-length album. “When you sit down after not writing for a couple years, those two years have already impacted what you’re going to do, but you don’t know how until you start playing,” Van Ellis explains earnestly. “It was a very strange thing that happened, and it’s something we all have to deal with, but at the same time, I think it had a big impact on the direction of the album.” In Balance And Composure’s case, however, it seems that the age-old mantra is indeed true: what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Light We Made is a welcome addition to the group’s already outstanding catalogue, and without a doubt one of the most compelling releases of 2016. It’s intricate in its introspection, wonderfully self-aware, and a surefire favorite for fans new and old. “We didn’t want to rush and put something out just to be relevant,” Van Ellis says. “You can write a record, record
it, be the flavor of the month, and have people be hyped about it for a little bit, but that shit doesn’t last. We didn’t want to fall into that category. Four years ago, if you would’ve told me that we were going to be writing a song that had a lead synth part, I would’ve said, ‘You’re fucking crazy’—but it’s all about pushing yourself creatively as an artist and going to those places that you wouldn’t normally go,” he adds. So what’s next for Balance And Composure? Why, world domination, of course! Or, at the very least, a healthy dose of touring. In September, the band kicked off a two-month run alongside Foxing and Mercury Girls—the first of what Van Ellis hopes will be many future outings. “It’s definitely kind of an anxious feeling with every record that any band or artist puts out, because once they record it, there’s always this weird waiting period where it’s finished and it kind of sits for six months until release day,” explains Van Ellis. “But I’m excited. It’s a good feeling, and it’s cool being back in the swing of things and doing what we love to do.” S
10.30 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
11.02 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
11.05 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
11.10 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
11.12 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
11.15 Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall
11.01 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
11.04 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
11.06 Lawrence, KS @ The Granada
11.11 Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
11.14 Boston, MA @ Royale
11.16 New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
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ART IMITATES LIFE Creating Narratives From Human Connection STORY: Jessica Klinner // PHOTOS: Neil Krug
Just hours before Glass Animals is set to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, lead singer Dave Bayley stows away to take a phone call and discuss the band’s newest release, How To Be A Human Being. The sophomore album from the Oxford natives—also including guitarist Drew MacFarlane, bassist Edmund Irwin-Singer, and drummer Joe Seaward—is far from a slump, featuring the most creative and adventurous songwriting in the band’s career, and possibly from any band in the last decade. Each song focuses on a different character with lyrics and sounds that pertain to that character’s personality and situation. While traveling over the years, Bayley noticed that strangers—taxi drivers, fans, random wanderers on the street—would entrust him with stories about their lives. He took the inspiration from these people and their stories and transformed them into the characters depicted on the album. It’s a concept album that goes above and beyond the record itself, reaching audiences through the music and lyrics, websites based on the characters, photographs, and more. Intrigued by the creative process of the album, we picked Bayley’s brain to find out all there is to know about How To Be A Human Being.
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Everyone in the band is from Oxford. How did you guys find each other and start playing music together? DAVE BAYLEY: We all went to school together when we were quite young— when were about 12 or 13. Drew, our guitarist, was one of the first people I met. Through him, I met the other guys. We were the kids at school who were really into music. We’d sneak out of school to go to an in-store [performance] and go to shows every night. We always shared music with each other and that’s how we got close, but we never thought about making music until much later. What was the catalyst that brought you together to start making music? Probably alcohol. [Laughs.] I was at university and I was DJing to make some money. When you get back from a DJ set, you’ve always got a bit of adrenaline and can’t sleep so I started tinkering around with making music and so did the guys. They said, “It’s good! You should put it online.” So I said, “I’ll put it online, but you’ve got to be in the band with me,” and they [agreed]. I had a couple of beers, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the courage to play it for them in the first place. The songs on the album are inspired by stories that you were told while traveling. What do you think it is that makes people want to share intimate stories with strangers? Part of it is probably that they’ll never see me again. The other thing is that to their friends I think people can’t exaggerate the truth, which is possibly another thing that happened a lot. I don’t even know if all of these stories are totally true. They might have been made up by people. Their friends know what’s happening in their lives, and with me, they have no reason to tell me the truth. It could have been embellished; they could have left certain things out and made the story entirely different. Ultimately, I think they didn’t really care what I thought. I don’t know, it’s very strange. I need to think about it a bit more. When gathering the stories, was there a certain thing that drew you to people? These were just things that happened. I wasn’t following people around like hunting down stories or anything. It was just stuff that was happening and I kept
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finding myself in these situations where someone was telling me something amazing and I really wanted to remember it. It wasn’t an active hunt. So you obviously didn’t set out for the album to turn out this way—it just kind of happened. I guess. I did all the recordings and listened back to the recordings and started to notice all the weird quirks about the way that people tell stories— what they might have left out, what they might have exaggerated, what that means about them as a storyteller, and what it says about their lives and their personality. I thought that was really interesting. Only then did it occur to me to start writing something. I didn’t know if it was going to be a record. I didn’t know if it was going to be a bunch of short stories, but I wanted to invent all of these characters and make up some new stories to go with them. I eventually thought maybe this would be cool to make an album out of, instead of just a bunch of short stories, and gave it a shot. How long was the writing process for How To Be A Human Being? The actual writing of the music and the album came super quickly. We finished tour in the middle of December, and I went straight to the studio. Because I knew what I wanted to write about, I knew the theme that I wanted to write about, and I knew I wanted each song to be a different character—that helped me write really quick. The bulk of all the songs were written in about a week and a half. A lot of the production was done in that week and a half, too. We spent the next two or three months picking it apart, trying to find ways to make the [songs] stronger. Overall, it was about a sixmonth process, but the writing process was very quick. Each song focuses on a different character, but do their stories intertwine at all? Not really. The characters don’t really cross paths. I know they do in the videos, but on the record, they don’t. There are things that bring them together like certain themes and little quirks in some of the lyrics that I think hold a few of them together and show similarities between them, but they’re not friends or anything.
There were definitely moments when I started to get a bit dizzy and realized
I hadn’t seen friends in a very long time.” —DAVE BAYLEY
You guys created websites for some of these characters. Are there any plans to tell their stories further through other mediums? There’s more stuff coming. The main idea behind [the website] is that people used to buy a lot of vinyl and CDs, and with that you get a lot of artwork and a lot of insight into the music and the context for the music. People consume music digitally for the most part now so it’s often missing that context. That’s what these websites are for, and we’re working on a brand new website to bring it all together. We’ve tried to give people context through those mediums. There’s our Tumblr as well that gives a lot of context; you can click on a song title and it shows you a bunch of images that inspired the song and the character. There’s loads more coming—all sorts of stuff. We’re doing this show tomorrow actually where you can meet the characters. The characters are all going to be there all dressed up. Some of them will read your fortune, some you can sit down and play video games with, and some of them will take your photo. You used actors to pose for the album cover instead of models. Did you give
them a script at all to help them get into character for the shoot? Yeah, I think that was really important in the photo shoot. There’s the album cover, which is the family portrait, and there are individual portraits, which are inside the record and will be on the single covers. [The script] added a lot of detail in the photographs because the people embodied these characters and they were all acting. We ended up with all the different photos, and they showed a different side of each character’s personality. We actually went with a different version of the cover photograph on each different version of the record. There’s a different one for the standard vinyl, a different one for the deluxe vinyl, a different one for the American vinyl, a different one for the American CD, a different one for the British CD, and a different one digitally. All these different photographs with slightly different views into who these people are. Was there any artist who inspired you to create so many different ways to consume the album? Do you know of any band who has done something this extensive before? No, I haven’t myself. There might be something out there. It’s all just trying to
give people another way into the music. I think the last album that we did was very abstract and quite strange and quite hard to get your head into, and we wanted it to be the opposite this time around. I wanted people to be able to think that these characters are real and get into their heads if they wanted to—make them as real as possible so people could understand the music and why certain sounds are chosen and why certain words were chosen, why certain arrangements and structures were chosen and things like that. You really mapped out these characters’ stories—from their clothes to even what the furniture in their house would look like. Did you ever feel like you were getting in too deep? [Laughs.] There were definitely moments when I started to get a bit dizzy and realized I hadn’t seen friends in a very long time—just locked in a room writing about these weird people, amazing people. Maybe I did get a bit deep. At the same time, I wanted the music and lyrics to be just vague enough that people could find a way into it and relate to it themselves, find a little bit of themselves in it—like they know someone a bit like these characters. S
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A Leap Of Faith And The Fall STORY: Heather Glock // PHOTOS: Matt Wignall
If you’re under the impression that you don’t know who Joshua Radin is, that is most likely false. Radin has an impressive résumé, with over 100 songs used for soundtracks in both film and television alone. There is something soulful about Joshua’s voice and delicate guitar work that serenades your senses in a lull of thoughts of love and longing. Breaking away from the major label, Columbia Records, Radin began to focus on what meant the most to him: Composing his own music the way it was meant to be heard, which is untouched by the outside influences that do not share the vision that inspires him to create. After buying himself out of his five-album contract with Columbia, Radin sat down and worked on his second album, Simple Times. Here, his songs began to resemble that of journal entries parallel to his lyrics, but he tells these tales with such simplicity and charm that it is easy to see why he has such a large following and why his music is in such high demand to soundtrack the right moment in a movie or television scene. Radin’s work has been featured in both recognized cinema and television shows such as Dear John, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, and more. So, what is it about Radin that keeps him on the short list for filling in already emotional scenes? “Well,” he says, “my music is very emotional. So when a director is looking for a piece of music to complement a certain scene, they might think of me and one of my songs. Other than that, I’m not really sure. But I love that it’s happened so often in my young career.” Building on top of an already affecting scene is hard for a producer to pull off without a hitch, but it’s Radin that completes the outpouring of emotion reaching through the screen. One example would be in a 2004 episode of Scrubs, when [spoiler alert] Doctor Cox’s brotherin-law Ben passes away from leukemia, and Cox thinks he is having a conversation with the deceased at his funeral. Radin’s song “Winter” is used here, where his soft tone meshes well with the raw emotion of Doctor Perry Cox’s already complicated struggle, adding depth to the scene’s emotional presence. The singer-songwriter has been active in this creative work for 12 years, and for the first time, he’s now composed an album that he himself produced—a task that is no easy conquest. When asked about the catalyst for making such a bold shift, Radin responds humbly: “I’ve worked with some incredibly talented producers in the past, and I’ve learned a lot from them, so I figured, ‘Let’s see how much I’ve learned.’” Taking such a leap forward is bound to intimidate anyone charting new territory. Radin may have been familiar with the
lay of the land that is the music studio, but he traversed into an undiscovered area of the map. While he is a 12-year veteran in the music industry, there comes a newfound set of responsibilities when taking on the role of a producer. Not only was he writing lyrics and melodies, composing, and directing the instrumentals, he would also be the caretaker in making the songs come together as a whole. When writing a song, the originator bares the skeleton and gradually adds, where then a producer helps flesh out the components into a single entity. These added duties didn’t frighten Radin too much. “I was very intimidated to try this, and I worried about it for months before hitting the studio, but the moment we had gotten sounds in the room and the band knew the first song, every bit of anxiety lifted and I knew right then we were going to get something special without having to stress about it because I chose the right band to go down this road with me.” With this in mind, it’s interesting to consider the title for Radin’s seventh studio album: The Fall. By definition, a fall can be translated as a physical descension by gravity, a lapse of humanity into the state of immorality, or even a loss of emotion. So, what does it mean in this context? Radin simply states, “I fall in and out of love—with people, with ideas, with places, with art.” This migration to and withdrawal from the previously mentioned is represented very clearly within this album. With a lovely balance of emotion between the start and finish of The Fall, Radin diversifies the yin and yang of tone between each song seamlessly. “I still love the dying art of the LP and I love when I can listen to
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an album in its entirety and not become bored. So that’s what I’m striving for when I make a record; I want the ebb and flow, the ups and downs. It should be a journey you’re taking the listener on. I just hope this record achieves that purpose.” That intent paid off, clearly noticeable as the record opens with the buoyant and optimistic “Diamonds” before slowly descending into a more delicate and tender tone. Listening to The Fall becomes far more than listening to a singer-songwriter taking on the role of producing their own record; it becomes an experience within itself. The immediate opening texture of “Diamonds” sucks you in what its warm, yet haunting experience through combining optimistic and bright instrumental layers with darker lyrics that leave a sense of wonder as you find yourself diving deeper and deeper into The Fall. Radin’s years of experience especially shine on songs such as “High And Low” and “Keep The Darkness Away,” as they both find their own ways to build into powerful lyrical moments. These moments are bound to leave you feeling torn as a listener— unsure if you’d rather go back to revisit the song or continue forward like a fan binge-watching their new favorite show. Here, you sit impatient and eager to take in the next experience. As you near the end of the journey, The Fall ends just as impressively with the compassionate and temperate “Still Spinning,” a piece that has an impeccably smooth coexistence between its verse and chorus. The verse has a pulled-back feel instrumentally, while the lyrics come out strong and inspiring. When the chorus comes in, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the layers of instruments and vocals combining into the peak of the crescendo that is The Fall. The song finds a way to end on what feels like a musical version of a cliffhanger, leaving you wanting more, but also providing an inexplicable satisfaction. To help achieve that fuller sound in a live setting, Radin is bringing a band along on his upcoming intimate tour with Good Old War, touring a handful of major markets such as New York City and Boston. He will also be performing in cities such as Madison, Wisconsin and Alexandria, Virginia which are urban areas loved by performers and known for passionate fans of art. The
well-respected culture founded within these cities thrives with a small town feel and an overwhelming sense of pride towards DIY material. Radin is preparing to bring his fans closer to experiencing this ambience by making sure that he stays within minimalistic venues to keep the feeling organic and true, rather than risking himself and his audience to an ungratifying sense of overexposure, too often found in today’s live music experience. “It’s really just that I love touring and playing music for people. And I don’t really care anymore whether I have a new album to promote or not; I just want to play shows—solo shows or band shows. I love ‘em all.” Once he wraps up his concise American tour, Radin plans on taking this experience overseas to Europe toward the end of November. Here, he will tackle rustic cities such as Milan, Madrid, and Budapest in a more solo capacity. When taking on a newfound role, there is always room for self-discovery. In his years of writing, Radin is most noted for his honest compositions and lyricism. Upon composing his seventh studio album, one might wonder if he faced the challenges and trials in finding ways to upkeep the music both honest and feeling new. This isn’t much of a road block for Radin, though. “Not really,” he says, “because if you are just putting music to your diary entries, the only way for the music to get old and in the way is if you yourself get old and in the way.” It is this youthful and sometimes brash mentality that keeps Radin not only honest with his audience, but also with himself. Being honest to one’s self is the only thing that can make a songwriter worth listening to over a 12-year career. In an era where songwriters come and go and true lyricists are far too sparse, Radin, through his honesty, has found a way to stay genuine and inspired. Conjuring up the fortitude to write, compose, direct, and produce your own album is alone a feat worth celebrating, tour or not—but as he said, it isn’t about promoting the new album necessarily, but wanting to play shows. Do not forget that Radin initially started out as a performer from behind the scenes; he never intended to put his face out there with his creations, but fate works in mysterious ways. A once shy songwriter, Radin now lives for the touring life and writing albums out of the shadow of big name
The only way for the music to get old and in the way is if you yourself
get old and in the way.” —JOSHUA RADIN
labels. This also includes his producing role, but for Radin that role isn’t about peeling away layers. “I wouldn’t describe it that way—peeling the layers of a songwriter. For me, this was just about trying to get the players to play the sound in my head. And they did it almost every time without direction because they all know me and my songwriting so well.” When stepping into the studio, Radin took a leap of faith in both himself and within the other musicians he trusted to bring his vision to life in a soulful manner. The instrumental work is clean, delicate, and a refreshing backdrop to the tender and sometimes playful vocals that lead these songs of yin and yang to a symmetrical state of zen—one that leave his listeners thirsting for more. This album acts as a hammock that rocks you gently back and forth—calming and therapeutic—while giving you the opportunity to self-reflect. Radin adds to the lush complexity of the album with standout songs that help further the narrative of his conception that is The Fall. S
11/01 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Ballroom
11/03 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of the Living Arts
11/06 Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere
11/09 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre
11/13 San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
11/02 Boston, MA @ The Wilbur Theatre
11/05 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
11/08 Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
11/11 Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
11/16 Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre
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an unbreakable bond The inextricable duo that is Phantogram STORY: Geoff Burns // PHOTOS: Timothy Saccenti
It’s about 3 p.m. on the West Coast of the United States in mid-August. Ironically, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel are calling out of two different locations somewhere in Los Angeles. It’s ironic because the two seem to be inseparable. For one reason, they’ve been best friends since their junior high school days. “We fight here and there just like normal people, but most of the time we’re just laughing and having a good time,” says Carter. The other obvious reason is because of their career creating music as the electric pop band Phantogram. During our interview, Carter and Barthel are preparing for the release of their third full-length album, Three. Earlier in the day, the two friends had a meeting in Santa Monica regarding the album, and are currently preparing to hit the studio to rehearse stripped-down versions of their songs for a few shows they have lined up the for the weekend. Even if they were separated during the interview, it was only for a short amount of time. If you read through Phantogram’s history, you’ll see their sound described as trip-hop or dream pop, but if you really sit down and listen to the duo’s songs, it just sounds like two friends creating whatever the hell they
want—and it works. On Three, there are 10 songs filled with electronic tunnels that transfuse into slow piano ballads. And that’s not to mention moments of an electric guitar that disintegrate into even more electronic drum beats. Three was written over a span of about a year in between other obligations and collaborations with other artists. One such time constraint during the making of the album happened when Barthel’s sister passed away unexpectedly, which forced the duo to put things on hold for a brief amount of time. “To be honest, it was pretty tough from the beginning after she had passed, but there was a lot of determination I think, and anger. [The] frustration of the situation that happened—that was motivating,” Barthel says. “It just kind of pushed me to get out there. My sister was Josh’s sister, too. He was impacted very heavily as well. We were in it together, so we kind of just held each other’s hands and went in it together and helped one another out and were able to put our tragedy and the experience and sadness into the record. I think that’s why it’s so powerful in general, because it’s about something so heavy and something so real and you can hear it.”
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And you can emotionally hear those feelings throughout Three. On their song “Barking Dog,” Carter sings, “head on the bathroom floor, talking in my demon voice, millions of years go by, memories of peace and love, killing to reconstruct,” and later in the song, “never mind the barking dog.” “The song is kind of a metaphor for never mind the outside noise that’s going on or just, like, ignoring any kind of people who are trying to help when you’re in a desperate situation,” Carter says. “Just kind of blocking out the rest of the world, really.” Songs like “Same Old Blues” include Barthel singing lyrics like “I keep on having this dream where I’m stuck in a hole and I can’t get out,” and on “Destroyer,” she sings, “was there something that you wanted to say? Goodbye.” She continues to draw more emotion on the album’s single, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” as she sings, “Do you feel like letting go? I wonder how far down it is. Nothing is fun, not like before.” “Josh kind of taught me how to write lyrics, so a lot of the influence is from him and his lyrics since the beginning,” Barthel says. “We do a lot of back and forth. We’re always going through the same thing because we’re so goddamn close and we’ve known each other for so long. Every song is just as meaningful to his perspective and my perspective.” The duo’s previous album, Voices, was written in a barn in upstate New York, but for Three they made the decision to travel to producer Ricky Reed’s (twenty one pilots, Meghan Trainor) studio in Los Angeles. Some of the tracks were written while on the road, but for the most part, Carter and Barthel went in the studio and started from scratch. “We went in the direction that was really natural for us,” Carter says. “It still feels like Phantogram but we wanted to just make it a natural progression and I think working with other people, it helped us learn about structure and kind of cutting the fat off of things and getting to the point quicker.”
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When it came time to make Voices, Carter produced the album in New York and then sent it over to Los Angeles to have it polished off by John Hill (Eminem, Florence + The Machine). This time, it was Reed doing most of the producing in his studio across the country from their home state. “At first I was a little bit nervous about the way we were [making the album],” Carter says. “I’m usually in the driver’s seat and, not that we weren’t, but it was a little more like I was able to give directions and Ricky did a lot more of the work in Pro Tools and stuff like that. It was kind of more like contextualizing ideas we already had and it turned out to be a really good working relationship. We got all of the sounds we wanted and he came up with good suggestions to make a good album together.” “[Reed] would come up with cool beats and Josh would lay down some of his beats and we would play kind of like what we normally do, but it was easier to do than doing it in our barn in upstate New York,” Barthel adds. “We realized it was fun to work with other people and to just make everything more structured and sound better—just to be more bombastic, more bumpin’.” As far as collaborating with other artists between albums, Phantogram doesn’t seem to sit down and take a break. They’ve worked with the Flaming Lips, Miley Cyrus, Charli XCX, as well as working on a project known as Big Grams for the past couple of years, which includes Carter, Barthel, and OutKast’s Big Boi. They released their self-titled EP in September of 2015, which features seven songs with a hip-hop mentality.
While Barthel says collaborating with other artists helped them realize that “it’s a lot of fun and it broadens your horizons and you just learn from other people and their experiences,” they also had a few artist collaborations on their album, Three. Darby Cicci of New York indie rock band the Antlers plays horns on their track “Run Run Blood.” “He recorded those when we were making Voices,” Carter says. “We didn’t really know what to do with it and Sarah really wanted to do something with it. Eventually that pieced together [for this album].” The two also collaborated with musician Dan Wilson who played guitar on a few songs, as well as Matt Chamberlain who contributed drumming on the album’s opening song, “Funeral Pyre.” Reed also contributed synthesizers throughout the album.
“We’re always going through the same thing because
we’re so goddamn close
and we’ve known each other for so long.” —SARAH BARTHEL
It’s almost been a decade since the two friends started Phantogram, but the momentum seems to snowball more and more each year. “It’s crazy to think that next year we’ve been a band for about 10 years. It just seems like it’s gone by really fast and I still feel like we’re a pretty young band, to be honest,” Carter says. But more importantly, it’s the strong, established friendship that makes it easy to go on year after year, through thick and thin, even having each other’s back after a family death. “I just believe in our friendship and love for each other and loyalty,” Carter continues. “I believe in Phantogram and what we’re doing. I want to keep it going because I think we have an endless, deep well of ideas that we haven’t tapped into, and hopefully it will be overflowing. I feel like a lot of bands break up
really quick or feel like they did what they wanted to do and move on to something else. I think we have a lot more to say and will continue to do so for as long as we can.” Towards the end of the phone call, Carter apologizes to Barthel after both begin at the same time to answer a question. It’s a minor moment that really emphasizes the amount of respect Carter and Barthel have toward each other, even after so many years of friendship and a near decade of creating together as Phantogram. “In general we’re influenced by a lot of different kinds of music so I see us coming out with different sounding records and to grow and evolve like a band should. And what we did from the beginning was start really small and play shows and then moved up to the next venue,” Barthel says. “We can’t stop now.” S
10/24 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
10/28 Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
10/30 Knoxville, TN @ The Mill and the Mine
11/02 Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre
11/04 Austin, TX @ Sound On Sound Festival
10/25 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
10/29 Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
10/31 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
11/03 New Orleans, LA @ Joy Theater
11/05 Dallas, TX @ Bomb Factory
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A NEW LEASE ON LIFE After burning out in 2013, no one knew where Two Door Cinema Club was headed, but it definitely wasnâ€™t toward another album. So when the trio decided to make their outer space dance record, Gameshow, the Irish trio welcomed the madness by just keeping their cool. This is redemption.
STORY: Bridjet Mendyuk PHOTOS: Edouard Camus
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In 2010, three teenage best friends fell into a four-year-long cycle of touring, homesickness, recording, appearances, festivals, and hating the living hell out of each other. It wasn’t until late 2013 when Alex Trimble, Kevin Baird, and Sam Halliday of Two Door Cinema Club decided that maybe it was time for a break—a really long break. From mental and physical breakdowns to hospital stays, to identity crises and kicking addictions, it seemed like the band were well on their way to breaking up for good. In the music biz, any hiatus seems detrimental, so a two-year silence is basically a death sentence. Luckily for Two Door Cinema Club these years turned into a rebirth. Their new album, Gameshow, released via Glassnote Records, is a testament to the band’s new lease on life and a chance for personal redemption, growth, and discovery. “Back when we were 18, we were all best friends and spent every day with each other,” Halliday says. “We went to school with each other and on weekends we were in a band. Every day on tour after that, it became too much. There are the years after school, where people go to
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[college] or start work, and they change quite a lot, meet new people. We just kept being the same people.” Let’s backtrack for a minute: The Two Door Cinema Club you know is so two years ago. The current Club is, well, a completely new band. Starting off in their hometown in Northern Ireland nine years ago, the band took each show and song in stride. From their first EP to their best-selling records, Tourist History (2010) and Beacon (2012), the three friends were together non-stop. Traveling, practicing, and playing small pubs with friends and family to selling out O2 in London, the guys in Two Door have been through it all. Piece by piece, the Two Door you know was starting to become something bigger “month by month, year by year.” But, eventually “everybody annoys everybody” and tensions become so thick that you could cut it with a knife—maybe even an axe. Halliday notes that the longer you’re stuck speaking to only three people day in and day out, the more you tend to bottle things up. Day after day, the problems kept piling high and the guys could feel it. As time dragged on, energy
was focused into each individual’s part in a song with their problems on the back burner. Halliday says the band’s early 20s we’re stagnant as their respective roles in the band became all they had; growing up into a normal adult life wasn’t an option. When you’re young and hungry, it’s hard to say “no.” Something as simple as taking care of your health became “hard because you’re constantly relying on other people.” Sympathetically, Halliday explains, “We wanted to do it obviously, [the stress] was put on by ourselves.” From Tourist History to Beacon, there wasn’t any time off for Two Door. The guys were at the end of their ropes. “We didn’t know what was going to happen. The only thing that could happen [at that moment] was time.” There’s a sense of remorse and recollection in Halliday’s voice when he mentions how the hiatus was on the cusp of becoming a full-blown breakup. “Our first and second records ran into each other and all of our other relationships suffered because of it,” Halliday recalls. “I don’t think it was stressful, but there wasn’t anything else [left]. We’re quite different people, but
the band was what we were doing all the time. We were trying to make it our own and have it fulfill us in every way, but that obviously can’t happen when there’s just three people; it wasn’t healthy. Small, everyday decisions [caused] drama because you would end up in conflict. We’re not the best at communicating through that conflict. It became an awkward environment.” After the breakdowns, the addictions, the bitterness, and everything in between, the band took some time off to focus on building their own lives in 2013. Halliday moved into a new flat in London and became a “house husband” with a love for cooking and his newly wedded wife. Trimble moved to the U.S. and worked on photography and yoga before debuting his exhibition, “Mustang Margaritas,” after a cross-country road trip. Baird moved to Los Angeles and quit using drugs. Shortly thereafter he settled down and got married. It almost seems as though life outside Two Door Cinema Club became the main focus of the band’s material for Gameshow, even though they were thousands of miles away from each other.
“If we had tried to do an album after being off for two months it would’ve been awful; we would’ve fallen out and broken up for sure,” Halliday says. “Time and distance from it, being able to return [home] for 10 months and realize that all of that [conflict] doesn’t matter. It’s expected from a band in terms of how it can fulfill all your needs. Having time off at home makes you realize there are other things you need in life.” 18 months later, the trio’s matured, grown up, fresh, and ready to get back to the music. Instead of being at each other’s throats, Halliday says, “We just talk to each other now as opposed to just sweeping things under the rug. Sometimes it can be really difficult and really awkward, but I think that’s part of growing up.” Enter Gameshow, the junior record for Two Door and a powerhouse of intergalactic, space-driven themes inspired by David Bowie and Prince. Full of wailing guitar notes, keyboards, and layers upon layers of dreamy bass coupled with Trimble’s high-pitched vocals. Their single “Are We Ready?” tells the story we all know too well: Commercialism and the corporate world. Halliday makes note
of other themes “like how people are addicted to social media and live their lives through Twitter and Instagram.” There’s a side to making music that listeners don’t hear a lot about; having to “jump through hoops,” thinking if you bend over backwards for music executives you’ll be famous. Halliday admits that this discovery phase has been awkward and distant, but having finished Gameshow proves that the band can do anything. “It’s great to have [Gameshow] to talk about, it’s been a really awkward couple of years,” Halliday says. “Having this album is a testament to us defying the odds, growing up, and being able to deal with relationships. It’s the product of all that. It’s great to see the reaction from the fans because you tend to forget the people out there actually care. During my time off, I haven’t met anybody—just random [people] on the street.” Reminiscent of 1980s video games and all things neon, Gameshow is electric and bright. Packed with crooning vocals hitting highs and lows, Trimble’s voice pulls through the ears and creates a canvas full of omniscient grooves. Lyrics headed towards the wash of livelihood
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Having this album is
a testament to us defying the odds, growing up, and being able to deal with relationships.”
due to a digital age, the olden days of The Twilight Zone and roller skates are alive and well inside of Gameshow. Being able to have extra time in the studio to deliver the dance record of the year has been good to Two Door; the record is stacked with earworms comprised of smooth notes on top of jagged guitars. Halliday mentions the lack of guitar-centric bands in the last couple of years; Gameshow will fill the void and then some. “We’ve always just tried to enjoy what we’re doing at the minute,” Halliday says. “We always try to make music that [you can dance to] in some way. This time around it was about making it different. There are a lot more groove-based songs, slower songs. That’s something we’ve never done before—experimenting more with rhythms and ways of making dance music without going 100 miles an hour. Whether that’s mature, I don’t know, but that was at the heart of it—experimenting with new rhythms.” With the outro, “Je Viens De La,” inspired by a French sci-fi film from the ‘60s, the team collaborated via email. Halliday says that Trimble spontaneously “came up with the chorus, and for it to come out of nowhere and to be so good, it was one of those moments where a little bit of magic happens.” These days Two Door’s focus is fun; they’re “not trying to take it too seriously.” If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. Halliday says being in the studio this time around and being able to play with crazy sounds has created a healthy environment for the group, explaining, “There’s no second guessing. I would do a guitar part [once] and be done with it; it’s more fun that way.” “When we made [Beacon] we didn’t talk about how we were feeling,” Halliday says. “A lot of the time [back then] when we made music it was about avoiding conflict. We stuck to the formula because
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it was the easiest way to avoid an argument, but this time around we were able to deconstruct. We thought about songs in a different way, we treated each other differently. It’s a lot less formulaic this time around.” Time spent living and creating Gameshow also meant more time away from fans and vice versa. In a world full of likes, retweets, and mentions, it’s hard to imagine a hiatus when your fans are patiently awaiting your return via the internet. Jumping right back in has proved to be a challenge for the band. “I think that’s the thing people have realized: It’s weird for us if people jump in and take a selfie. I’m just making music and you like it, but it doesn’t give you the right to not treat us like real people.” The guys are still getting used to the feeling, even though Halliday says that it feels like they never left once they’re on stage. He also mentions that Gameshow has changed the mentality a little, bringing their fans a little closer to them— especially in the U.S. since “it’s very connected in [America].” With Gameshow, the hiatus and tension has eased and Halliday says he’s glad he can discuss the issues because now they can provide fans with positive news and a resolution. “It’s nice to have a new album to show how tough times have been,” he says. “It’s been great to have something to show how we’ve overcome our past and it makes it a lot more of a special album because of that.” Preparing for their comeback, Two Door masked themselves as Tudor Cinema Club after snagging some festival spots this year at Glastonbury, Austin City Limits, Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, and Reading and Leeds to name a few. Practicing and covering their own songs in almost secret, the guys had to relearn their instruments and get used to the
mega-crowds awaiting their return. Halliday says he wasn’t nervous at all to get back into the festival circuit. Recalling their last Coachella spot, one of the first times TDCC played in the evening during a festival, Halliday says it was “very surreal and very strange.” “The last time we played Coachella it was one of those, ‘Whoa, we made it over here’ moments,” Halliday says. “We played one of the sunset slots, so we got to have lights and that always seems to make a big difference at festivals. It’s the weirdest place to go—just a beautiful desert with palm trees in the background. It was packed, loads of celebrities all over the place.” Tudor Cinema Club started from square one. They practiced by going back to their roots and revisiting the pubs they had once played when they were young and eager. The comfort of Tudor Cinema Club brought the guys back to the shows they used to “fill into Kevin’s mom’s van with [their] amps and laptops” and play to a crowd consisting of mostly just their own mothers. Laughing, Halliday says that for their first tour they had bought a dog grooming van. “It had paw prints on the front so it was pretty legit.” “We had a little bit of a chance to figure out how to play live again,” Halliday remembers. “It was fun playing little rock shows in pubs, seeing familiar faces. I feel like that [experience] got us excited again. It was nice not being thrown into the deep end and struggle our way through a summer of festivals. It’s been really fun playing the shows again, having that performance aspect back, and connecting with people in real time. It fills you with adrenaline. It was cool to get back and chat about all of the stuff we did there, get some nice pints of Guinness, and create some new memories.” Getting to play in the studio brought the band together as friends, and playing their run of festivals this year has seemed to bring the three closer together as teammates. Looking back on everything they’ve been through, Halliday was skeptical on the future of Two Door and was unsure of what would happen next during the hiatus. “To break up or not to break up?” That’s the million-dollar question that loomed over the band’s head for a year and a half. Who knows what would’ve happened if the group hadn’t reconciled; Gameshow would just remain as a programming genre instead of an album breaking down feelings through dance. The environment in the studio, the making of Gameshow, and relearning how to be a band again has given Two Door Cinema Club a new future. “It was difficult initially because we
11/17 Washington, DC @ Echostage
11/19 Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
11/22 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
11/25 Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
11/28 Denver, CO @ The Fillmore Auditorium
11/18 Boston, MA @ Agganis Arena
11/21 Montreal, QC @ Métropolis
11/23 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
11/26 Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
11/30 Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Auditorium
hadn’t played our instruments as much as we had in the past couple of years,” Halliday says. “I feel like I struggled a little bit the first couple of weeks. There’s always that excitement of getting back into the studio, which helps. In terms of playing, it was more difficult to get comfortable. That might be because of nervousness, not being super familiar with each other [anymore]. There’s always that vulnerability with recording and making music. It took us a week or two to get into that space again, but I think it was a nice place to do it.” Halliday says the band never thought about the hypotheticals or making it big when they were just wee lads in Ireland. The shows were always exciting—even to an empty room. The guys are still young— in their mid 20s—and enjoyed their time out of the limelight of the industry, but in the end Hallidays says, “It’s all we’ve ever wanted to do since we were 15.” The little strides towards Gameshow have been tough and exciting. The process might
even bring the guys back to when they were younger. Being able to connect with each other on a larger scale is the most important thing. “You don’t want your friends in a bad [place] and that seemed more important than doing shows or music,” Halliday says. Gameshow has brought Two Door Cinema Club oneness and clarity, notable in the record’s fun personality, which comes through track by track. The group communicates as a unit now and while it’s harder to come out with it than bottle it up, the guys being able to accept that they’re each different people with different opinions has been a relief. “For us, we never sat around imagining the big picture in a couple years’ time,” Halliday says. “When we were in Belfast, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could play this local pub?’ After that it was, ‘What if we could do the bigger venue? What if we could record an EP and sell it ourselves? Wouldn’t that be amazing?’ We did everything a little step at a time. You’re
constantly chasing things.” This is the new Two Door Cinema Club—the band you know and love—but with more confidence and clarity. The Two Door you’ll know from now on is fresh and versatile with spunk and finesse. Through the mud and rain the guys have weathered the storm and come out as new men, as a new band creating with a shared vision and understanding. Gameshow holds a special place in their hearts as the building record, the one they worked hard to mend relationships for. More than having a hit record or chart topping singles, the guys in Two Door Cinema Club are just in it for the fun and friendship of it all. “Looking back on a couple years ago, I didn’t think we’d ever make another album,” Halliday says. “To have gone through that and talk about things in a mature way... the album is a testament to the hard work we’ve put in. Hopefully that will be continued moving forward with more albums to come.” S
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LEAD REVIEW 13 Voices HOPELESS (hopelessrecords.com)
In our time, many a band are given a particular set of circumstances that, despite their best efforts, forbids them from continuing to pursue music professionally. Given the hand that Sum 41 was dealt recently, it seemed as if they were destined to become one of those bands. Just three or four years ago, seeing the way that Sum 41 was functioning, it was difficult to believe that an album like 13 Voices would ever come to fruition. After the disappointing release of 2012’s Screaming Bloody Murder, the departure of founding drummer Steve Jocz, and the devastating news of vocalist Deryck Whibley experiencing liver and kidney failure due to alcoholism, it seemed as if the bricks holding Sum 41’s foundation together were starting to crumble. However, as months passed, time began to heal the band’s wounds; the band found a new drummer, in the form of Street Drum Corps’ Frank Zummo; the band
welcomed back longtime member Dave “Brownsound” Baksh; and, most importantly, Whibley’s conditions began to improve. Just as quickly as the industry began to write Sum 41 off as finished, the band came roaring back, signing with indie darlings Hopeless Records, playing a nearfull summer on the Vans Warped Tour, and finally, their new record, 13 Voices, being released. The result is an album that’s a welcome return to form, which fans of the band’s more triumphant, metalbased tendencies will undoubtedly love. With the narrative laid on so thick for the band’s sixth studio album, the material pretty much writes itself on 13 Voices. Setting the mood with a gargantuan, electro-orchestral opening, Whibley begins by refusing to shy away from his doubters, spitting venom in every direction. A similar combination of vitriol and victory flows into many of the other tracks, such as the endlessly catchy single “Fake My Own Death,” the fist-pumping anthem
“Breaking The Chain,” and the mid-tempo call to arms, “War.” However, one of the most notable cuts on 13 Voices shows up at the close: “Twisted By Design,” a five-and-a-half-minute summation of the record’s mission statement. Leaving listeners on a satisfying note of closure, “Twisted” ends up among the best of the band’s closing tracks across any album. On the whole, Sum 41’s latest emerges as the comeback record that fans not only wanted, but the one the band needed to make as well. Though fans who casually dabble in the band’s more commercial-friendly material may be disappointed with the dramatic turn on 13 Voices—there isn’t a “Fat Lip” anywhere to be found—and some tracks drift into melodramatic territory, fans who are looking for a victorious return to form will unquestionably be satisfied. For a band celebrating their 20th year together, Sum 41 certainly shows no signs of slowing down now. —Landon Defever
TOP TRACK: “Breaking The Chain” [
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A bittersweet ending to one of the bands that changed pop-punk forever, Yellowcard have made 10 swan songs to remind us of their legacy. The intro track, “Rest In Peace,” emits a warm, melodic undertone of longing from singer Ryan Key’s lyrics: “If you could go back now, would you say it differently?” “Got Yours” is fierce with a punchy chorus and a melodic bridge, one of the best on the record. Like a storybook, the first half of the record holds fast breaks and chuggy guitars while the second half is somber with acoustic, ballad-like choruses. “I’m A Wrecking Ball,” “The Hurt Is Gone,” “Empty Street,” and “Fields & Fences” are the farewell tracks the band seem reluctant to leave behind. While the latter doesn’t break through to the band’s punk roots, it’s a fresh change from a band that's lived in a pop-punk-defining circle for many years. Yellowcard ends on a melancholy note, but the whole stands alone in a catalog of empowering, emotional, and symphonic music we will cherish forever. —Bridjet Mendyuk
TOP TRACK: “Got Yours”
RR7349 RELAPSE (relapse.com)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you would have heard of S U R V I V E one way or another. From their critically acclaimed work in indie-horror The Guest, to their recent collab with Netflix on the soundtrack for this summer’s TV blockbuster Stranger Things, there’s no chance you’ll be leaving the season behind not knowing their name. Now the Texas natives are ready to blow your minds with their long-awaited second album RR7349. Fans of Tron and Stranger Things will eat this up like instrumental candy; from album highlight “Dirt,” a synth-driven build which leaves you wanting more and more, to the moving and galactic “Other” and the hauntingly eerie “Low Fog,” it’s no surprise these guys are making huge waves in the score scene. If you want to step away from your comfort zone, this is the album you need this fall. —Nicole Tiernan TOP TRACK: “Dirt”
First Ditch Effort FAT WRECK (fatwreck.com)
THE RADIO DEPT.
Running Out Of Love LABRADOR (labrador.se)
Long dabbling in a dream pop world between guitar-driven indie rock and hazy electronica, the Radio Dept. march firmly in the direction of the latter on its fourth album. The Swedish group’s move toward electronic and dance-inspired arrangements comes off a bit lackluster, neither matching the lush, dreamy quality of previous releases nor rivaling the more upbeat styles it occasionally borrows from. While many albums come front-loaded, Running Out Of Love saves most of its finest moments for the second half. “This Thing Was Bound To Happen” delivers one of the strongest melodies, “Committed To The Cause” bounces along with a vaguely funk fervor, and “Teach Me To Forget” captures melancholy alongside the new electronic stylings. At other moments, thumping kick drum and dance pop synths flop out of place marking Running Out Of Love as a fairly rudimentary attempt at a new direction. —Cameron Carr TOP TRACK: "This Thing Was Bound To Happen”
FOSSIL YOUTH A Glimpse Of Self Joy
DANCE GAVIN DANCE Mothership RISE (riserecords.com)
Seven studio albums into a career spanning over a decade, Dance Gavin Dance have aged like fine wine. Mothership is the best produced album of their career—thanks in no small part to Kris Crummett—and it features numerous songs that are among their catchiest to date. Tilian Pearson and Jon Mess have found a way to interlace their shared vocal duties in a way so exciting it just might spawn the second coming of emo-core (though to classify the band as such would be to overlook their prolific songwriting and technical prowess). In a time where it seems every artist is trying their hardest to sway listeners by leveraging music trends or easily digestible structures, Dance Gavin Dance continue to blaze a path entirely their own. This is the best album Dance Gavin Dance has made, and it sets the bar incredibly high for whatever they do next. —James Shotwell TOP TRACK: “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise”
Three REPUBLIC (republicrecords.com)
TAKE THIS TO HEART (takethistoheartrecords.com)
NOFX are at their best when they're being honest, and First Ditch Effort is a very honest record. Musically, the band is playing to their melodic punk strengths, but it's not without some variance. The first track starts off with vocals from guitarist Eric Melvin, and that's always a treat (seriously, get this guy behind a mic more). “Generation Z” is a cynical but honest look at the world today, set to a raging, melodic hardcore tune. “I Don't Like Me Anymore” is a mixture of Ribbed-era melodies and simple punk rock. “Bye Bye Biopsy Girl” is everything that makes NOFX great: Hilarious lyrics, sharp melodies, and a knack for writing memorable punk rock; the same goes for “Oxy Moronic,” while “I’m So Sorry Tony” is a heartfelt ode to the late Tony Sly. The ending sample of Sly saying, “Thank you, we’re No Use For A Name. Bye-bye,” will give every punk rocker goosebumps. —Greg Pratt TOP TRACK: “I’m So Sorry Tony”
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Even good pop-punk sometimes feels stale—trite and contrived, merely copying what the best bands did decades before. There are those rare few, though, that honor the genre even as they stretch it in new, unique directions. On A Glimpse Of Self Joy, for example, Fossil Youth trade the gallivanting so common in pop-punk for more focused punch and power. It pays off on “Feel The Same” and “Forest Eyes,” whose guitars twist vine-like around the thumping drumbeat. These leads wind through the entire record—from opener “Watercolor Daydream” to delicate climax “Linger In My Head”—giving A Glimpse Of Self Joy an unmistakable voice. Singer Scottie Noonan contributes to this with just the right amount of mettle and whine, though sounds best when he pushes his voice to its breaking point. These elements set Fossil Youth apart from their peers and on a promising trajectory toward those game-changers that good pop-punk can only copy. —Dane Erbach TOP TRACK: “Feel The Same”
From the first seconds of the opening song, “Funeral Pyre,” on Phantogram’s latest record, Three, you are instantly transported to a dreamlike space featuring soaring, reverb-drenched vocals from Sarah Barthel. By the second song, she confirms that “I keep having this dream where I’m stuck in this hole and I can’t get out,” as if inviting you into her dream as well. The other equally talented half of Phantogram, Joshua Carter, sings on a few of the songs as well, creating a perfect contrast to Barthel’s ethereal vocals. The first single from the album, “You Don't Get Me High Anymore,” is everything you could want from an electro-pop summer hit and more. The album closes with “Calling All,” a high-energy tune transforming the dream into a party. If this album in its entirety isn’t your go-to party playlist this fall, then you should seriously reconsider your DJ skills. —Stephanie Vaughan TOP TRACK: “You Don't Get Me High Anymore”
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB Gameshow
Gameshow is an appropriate name for Two Door Cinema Club’s new album. Once you hit play, it takes the band’s catchy beats and atmospheric vibes mere seconds to pull you into a super-cool, super-colorful, and super-intense video game life. Gone is your common route to the office, replaced by a trek across the most scenic areas of Japan, seeking out the evil villain who spilled your cappuccino on the bus. Okay, okay—you might need to provide some of your own imagination to get there, but the energetic indie tunes give you the fuel to do so. Halfway through the album, soulful singing and funky beats transform your video game experience into a ‘70s game show, so stray away from any stores unless you’re ready to blow some money on bell-bottoms and lava lamps. It’s been four years since the Irish trio’s last release, but Gameshow lets us know that they can still crank out mature indie pop hits that are more fun than any amusement park. —Emillie Marvel
TOP TRACK: “Gameshow"
JOYCE MANOR Cody EPITAPH (epitaph.com)
With each album they release, Joyce Manor become more like a real band. In other words, the 10 songs on Cody, their fourth full-length, actually last more than 20 minutes. They’re still delightfully scrappy, ramshackle affairs, but the likes of “Angel In The Snow” and the fuzzy, feedbackladled melancholy of “Last You Heard Of Me” are anthems in disguise that, in other, more commercially-oriented hands, would be filling out arenas. Yet that disregard for convention is precisely what defines the California band; “Do You Really Want To Get Better” is a haunting, acoustic ballad that refuses the temptation to be saccharine, while “Make Me Dumb” and “Stairs” are perfect examples of why their Weezer-whimsymeets-the Replacements-punk works so well. It all ends with “This Song Is A Mess,” a song as happy as it is sad, as excited as it is nostalgic, and which demands repeat playing the moment it’s over. —Mischa Pearlman TOP TRACK: “This Song Is A Mess”
BALANCE AND COMPOSURE
Light We Made VAGRANT (vagrant.com)
Balance And Composure already mastered emotional alt-rock revival, so it’s only logical they’d explore more progressive and esoteric sounds. Their third LP is a marked change: ‘90s trip hop-influenced electronics, processed drums, and occasionally a beautiful falsetto from frontman Jon Simmons. Hell, closer “Loam” is a dark, auto-tuned slow jam possibly inspired by Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. The album seems like a total sonic watershedding upon initial listen, but there is a strong The Rising Tide-era Sunny Day Real Estate vibe at times (“Spinning,” “Call It Losing Touch”) that the band’s alluded to prior, their bare-bones sincerity intact (“Fame”) and plenty of aching melodies still in tow. Regardless, it’s great; the anguish is simply more subdued now, with subtle energy emanating through cuts like the aforementioned SDRE-esque tracks and the Smithstinged “Afterparty.” Balance And Composure may sound more physically restrained than usual, but also fully creatively liberated. —Brian Shultz TOP TRACK: "Call It Losing Touch”
Much Love SIDEONEDUMMY (sideonedummy.com))
Blending the thrashy melodies of Weezer’s Pinkerton with the delicate songwriting of All Get Out, it’s a wonder why Microwave isn’t huge. If there’s any good in the world, their sophomore album, Much Love, should change that. The band proves more than capable of writing a great pop hook on “Lighterless” and deep cut “Homebody,” while digging more into the ethereal tones and atmospheric songwriting on the meandering “Whimper” and experimental closer, “Wrong,” which features unusual tones and electronic drums. The show stops entirely, however, for standout track “Neighbors,” which floats along a vintage vocal melody toward a massive crescendo with crunchy guitars and a soaring chorus of group vocals. Moments like this demonstrate that Much Love is perhaps the most successful sophomore record since the Wonder Years’ Suburbia, delivering on every promise of their debut and upping the stakes at every turn. —John Bazley TOP TRACK: “Neighbors”
If you’re in the market for some relaxed, acoustic guitar-fueled goodness, you could do a lot worse than Joshua Radin’s latest effort, The Fall. Across 10 tracks, Radin showcases his skill with six strings and little else apart from his captivating and incredibly soothing voice. It’s tender, touching, and has a sizable heart behind it. Whether it’s the up-tempo “Song For You,” or the slow, soft “When I’m With You,” Radin makes it clear that the subject of the album is dearly beloved. None of it is particularly ground-breaking per se, but it doesn’t really have to be; sometimes you just need to listen to an album that doesn’t make you think too hard, and instead float away on a fluffy pillow of mellow tunes. The Fall isn’t a musical revelation, but it’s very good at what it sets out to be. —Gabriel Aikins TOP TRACK: “Falling”
ALL GET OUT
BAD TIMING (badtimingrecords.limitedrun.com)
PROCRASTINATE MUSIC TRAITORS (procrastinatemusictraitors.com)
Nobody Likes A Quitter
With this being the first full-length release from indie-punk quartet All Get Out since their debut five years ago, the group does a lot of growing up and reflecting in their sophomore effort, Nobody Likes A Quitter. The crisp production and creative collaboration of Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull and Robert McDowell can be felt in all 10 tracks, with each possessing its own story and experience. Whether it’s an introspective glance at past relationships (“Get My Cut”), tackling universal themes of the self (“Home”), or filling the voids in life (“Empty Nest”), the group wears their hearts on their sleeves and produce both melodically inspiring and lyrically insightful content. Tremendous poise and brilliant layering can be felt in the catchy “Chasing Skirt,” making the track repeat-worthy. Nobody Likes A Quitter was certainly no rush job, with every word and note serving a purpose, which is how an album should be constructed. —Eric Spitz TOP TRACK: “Chasing Skirt”
With time, Kevin Devine has become more of himself: More puns, more harmonies, friendly songs that get to the point faster. Instigator features some of his most polished songs without ever sounding like anyone else. This is both the (mostly) good and the (slightly) bad: Devine is experimenting less and less, which can make things sound repetitive at times, but he's also always firing on all cylinders. "Daydrunk" shows that age and maturity doesn't stop him from feeling the pain he's always sang about, shouting about drinking as a kid in his hometown—and his new sobriety shows. "I Was Alive Back Then" cuts himself bare in a way few artists ever reach, peeling layers off like an onion until it sounds like he's ready to cry—or maybe that's the listener. Like the person behind the songs, Instigator may not be perfect, but it is great. —Dan Bogosian TOP TRACK: “I Was Alive Back Then” [
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Photoâ€…by Brian Leak
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After their last release in 2012, Two Door Cinema Club came dangerously close to calling it quits, but after focusing on communication and t...
Published on Dec 22, 2016
After their last release in 2012, Two Door Cinema Club came dangerously close to calling it quits, but after focusing on communication and t...