Interviews | The Audio Perv
Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
25 Oct

Anberlin recently released their sixth album Vital on October 16th (Universal Republic). Our writer Cassandra Paiva had the opportunity to talk to bassist Deon Rexroat on the eve of the release to discuss all the vital information about Vital, connecting with fans, and plans for a very busy upcoming year.

Hey! So, what’s up with you guys?

Just running around today doing all of our press before the album comes out tomorrow, since we played in LA last night and Sunday we didn’t get to do that much press stuff. We stayed there an extra day before travelling on to Denver, so we’re just getting things rolling with the release being tomorrow and all.

Because Vital is about to come out and you guys talked about changing your sound for this album, what was the process like producing this one as opposed to the others.

I think over the last few albums, we’ve really learned more and more about what we want and how we work with each other. I think the biggest difference for this one, even more so than the last one, was our ability to work with each other so much better and kind of just work off each other’s ideas a little more seamlessly than we ever have in the past. We were very much on the same page mentally for what we wanted out of this album, we’ve had a lot of conversations about it. I think that’s basically the start on the progression of the writing of this album and that goes into once we have a group of songs, thinking which songs we actually want to be on the album, and it was actually pretty unanimous. One day we were like, “Ok, everybody send your favorite songs out of all the demos” and I think out of all the songs that were sent in, it was pretty much 12 to 13 of the songs were all the same for all of us. It was pretty great going into an album being of so much of the same mind with what we wanted of this album. From there, when things are working that smooth, all you really have to concentrate on is getting good sounds out of the guitars and drums and everything.

It seems that everything was pretty easy with it, but what was one challenge with making the album?

I think one of the challenges this time around was, maybe trying not to overthink some things. When something is right there and it comes a little easy, you start thinking, “What can I do to make this better” even though you don’t have to. And a lot of times that can cause you to waste a little bit of time trying to change something that doesn’t need to be changed in the first place. That was a pretty minor thing, compared to the way things were rolling actually. We kind of were able to recognize, that if you just let things come naturally it’ll all just work out so much better.

You said that you had more electronic elements, and that M83 was one of your influences, who else were you influenced by this time around?

Well it’s kind of funny, because we used electro on our first album, so we had little bits and pieces of electronic stuff, and I mean we did a Cure cover off of the first album, we covered “Love Song,” so there’s a lot of those bands, like those late 70s and 80s and early 90s sound, like those British bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and Duran Duran and all of those bands that had that.. they still kind of sounded rock even though they were using electronic instruments, you know, as much as there’s creativity with what you can do with a musical instrument. And a lot of that comes out with our influence. We don’t just confine ourselves to “I play bass, you play guitar, so that’s all that should be on the album.” We aren’t afraid to, if we hear something, to just put it in there.

Why did you guys choose the name Vital? A lot of your titles hold deeper meanings, so what is the meaning behind this?

It’s more of a Stephen question, because the way he’ll explain it, he’ll kind of, come up with a short list of names for the album and I think every album we’ve ever had has had at least 2 or 3 different names before we settle on a fixed title. With Vital it was kind of about the feel of the album and an energy that music creates. And we were thinking, specifically, with playing live shows, it’s quote-unquote “Vital” for us to make that connection with fans, and have that give and take between you and the listen and then back. The more excited somebody is about something we’ve created, the more we’re excited to play that, and it’s just kind of a circle of energy that gets passed around within music and performance and everything.

The band collectively made about 60/70 songs, I believe is what the release said, so what are you going to do with the rest that didn’t make the album? A B Side album, or another album?

You know, it’s funny, because every album there’s always a few songs, anywhere from 1 to 5 songs or something that didn’t make the cut of the previous album, but we revisit them and we’re like, “You know, I liked this part about this song, so let’s work around it.” Like, “Resistance” from New Surrender was a song that we never used for Cities, the album that we recorded first. So, we’re really not afraid to, just because we didn’t pick songs for an album we don’t go, “Oh, that song’s trash and it’s never going to go anywhere,” because sometimes it’s just, right place right time. Like I was saying earlier, sometimes you just can’t force something you have to let it happen naturally. A good example of that is “Little Tyrants” on this album, which is the second track, was actually a left over song from our previous album. It was one of the last songs written from the album, and we were days away from going into the studio, and Christian brought it in and he just thought of a simple guitar line and he kind of was just like, “Well, we’ve already got all of these songs, and we’re not really doing this right now,” because we’d have to work on songs, so we just put it on the back burner. He worked on it a little bit more this time, brought it to us, and it made the album, so I’m sure that a few of the songs that didn’t make it this time around will definitely be on the next album.

You picked “Someone/Anyone” for your first single, how do you think this is going to be received compared to “The Feel Good Drag” and “Impossible?” And why did you choose it?

As far as reception goes, we’re just trying to pick, a lot of times what we really try to do is pick songs that are just undeniably us, that they kind of embody the identity of the band. You can look at radio and the first single for a band, and the album sounds nothing like the single. And for us, we always try to. A. we do try to pick a good song and B. we want a song that embodies the sound of this band. For us, just starting with a very energetic song first was important to us. We really liked that one and we were just like you know let’s just go with it. We played potential singles for friends and that was kind of one of the ones that I guess kind of got voted as “this will be a good one to start with.” Although, I did think any of the 3 or 4 that we had kind of chosen, like “Self Starter,” the lead track on the album was one of the songs we were talking about going with for the lead single and I would have felt confident going with that one as well as “Someone/Anyone” because I really do feel like this album is undeniably us, and it’s honest, and who we are without trying to sound like any other band out there, we’re just trying to be us, so, we kind of feel that will come out in these songs.

So you’re thinking maybe “Self Starter” as the second single?

I mean, most likely. It’s kind of one of those things I just think we’ll just go day by day with. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the single that follows “Someone/Anyone.” So far, we’ve been on this tour with the Smashing Pumpkins, we’ve been playing that song as well as “Someone/Anyone” every night and they’re just such great, fun, live songs to play and the crowd just really responds so well to them. So it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the single that follows “Someone/Anyone.”

Talking about your tour with Smashing Pumpkins, you’re a big fan of theirs, so what’s it like to be on the road with them?

It’s pretty awesome (laughs). All of us are around the same age and Siamese Dream was the album that broke them and I think hearing those songs live, has been cool when I’ve seen them in the past, but actually being on tour with them and getting to watch these songs every night is just crazy, it’s really cool. They’re performing their whole album in its entirety as well, that’s a part of their set. It’s so great to see, what I think is a really honest rock band up there on stage playing music because they love music and it’s just what they do. It’s not about ticket sales, it’s not about album sales, it’s about taking this music to people and sharing art with them.

Have you gotten to hang out with them outside of the tour?

Not really, we’re on pretty different schedules, just because with them, with it being the first tour for their new album, Billy Corgan has been doing interview after interview every day. We’ve gotten to meet, I haven’t personally gotten to meet Billy yet, but we’ve been able to meet the other guys. A couple of our guys have been able to meet Billy. Everybody’s just been super nice to us. And it’s great that it’s kind of validating in a way, us playing music for as long as we have, and having a band like that kind of sign off on you, you’re a real band.

How are you going to prepare for the Vital headline tour throughout November?

I think the biggest preparation we’re trying to make right now is just trying to decide what we’re going to present in terms of old and new material. I mean for us, there are even a lot of older songs that are so old to us that we kind of want to maybe not play in favor of new songs at the same time, every time we go on tour, we really want to be able to deliver a great experience for our fans. We don’t people who are just fans of newer material to be happy, and we don’t want just the old school fans to be happy, we try to play a wide spectrum of songs. And really, the way we approach it a lot of times is, we just try to think of our live setlist as if it were an album, you kind of want to have a certain flow to a track listing and that’s the way we kind of put our setlist together as well. We want to have a really good flow and kind of combine that with lights and a visual aspect, and just really make it an experience for anybody that goes to see us.

You’re playing the US first and then you’re playing the UK, do you have any plans for any other countries or maybe any festivals?

Yea, I think next year we’re going to be really busy travelling. We start the year off in the UK and then we’ll be doing the headliner for this album. And I mean, I think there’s talks of Australia, and mainly Europe, and Asia, we’re probably going to be all over the place. We’ve been off for most of this year, so our agent basically told us, “Hope you guys enjoyed your relaxation, because you’re mine next year” (laughs).

What’s your favorite song to play live right now?

You know, it’s slowly becoming, I’m really enjoying playing “Self Starter” off the new album right now. It’s just so fun and refreshing for us to be playing songs that we haven’t played much live. We’re all really enjoying that one because it’s such an upbeat, energetic song, and just so aggressive.

I read that you auditioned fans on Youtube to sing on the song “Orpheum,” how did that idea come about?

I think it was an idea that was thrown out there by our producer, Aaron Sprinkle, and we kind of thought about it and we’re like that’d be really cool. If we had the chance to sing on a band’s album that we really liked, it would be a great experience. And for us it was just really fun listening through all of the submissions and hearing all these different renditions of our own songs by people, mostly just kids with a piano or a guitar or just singing a cappella. It was really interesting to hear these kids interpret our music and the way that they hear it.

Would you ever have any fans sing on stage with you guys?

We actually have had it happen in an impromptu way in the past. I don’t know, here’s the thing, we’re not big on spontaneity when it comes to live shows, because we always try to create this flow in the setlist. I’ve always thought it was a cool idea. I mean, Green Day has done that for years, where they have fans come up and play their cover of “Knowledge” with the band, it’s been kind of one of their things they’ve done it for years. And I’ve actually had a friend who was a massive Green Day fan and he got to go up and play guitar during a set years ago, and he was on Cloud 9 afterward. I can see how it would be really cool for fans, I think it would be fun if we ever decided to do it.

Tell me a little bit about the “Pretend to Be Friends” score that you guys did.

It came about originally because we had done documentaries of the recording of our third album Cities back in 2006, and we kind of thought that it would be really cool to do a similar idea again, but we didn’t just want to make an album documentary, we wanted to do something a little bit different. So, we had our drummer Nathan contact this guy Dustin, who’s actually a surf cinematographer, he shoots a lot of things for surfers and surf companies. But the way he shoots it is really cool, he does it all himself and then adds in music later. There’s not really a lot of dialogue to it, it’s more about the shot, and the interactions between the music and the shots on the screen. We were talking about it and thought it would be really cool to have a short film, not so much just about recording, but us being in that atmosphere of recording, and we’re really happy with the way it came out.

When do you expect that to be released?

It’s actually, I believe it’s going to be released at first on the Best Buy edition. It’s kind of like, this time around, our deluxe packaging. And then, later on, it’ll be released in probably a digital package on iTunes or something like that. But I think just for now, it’ll be, as of tomorrow, the Best Buy release.

For newer music, what songs are on your current playlist?

I’m kind of in the phase right now of revisiting a lot of older stuff that I have listened to over the years. I’m the guy in the band who’s really into punk rock and stuff. I’ve kind of been going back and visiting bands like Bad Religion, Rancid, and things like that, you know, older albums. One of the guys said to me the other day, “I just love how much you loved 90s punk rock.” It’s definitely my roots, for sure. When I first started playing in a band when I was 14, we were covering bands like 7 Seconds and Minor Threat, so I still love so much of the work from those bands to this day. As far as newer stuff, you mentioned M83, I’m a big fan of the new M83 album. I’m pretty eclectic with my taste. I just started listening to, one of my friends showed me this, hip hop artist called Macklemore, he just released his album a week ago. I’m not really a hip hop guy at all, but I really like the album, so I’ve been listening to that quite a bit.

One of my friends wanted me to ask this, you guys have been involved with To Write Love on Her Arms since its beginning, how important is this organization to you, and has it affected anyone in the band personally?

It’s still an important thing, because if you read a lot of Stephen’s lyrics, there’s so much in there about self-worth and self-love in a very honest way. There are lyrics about battling depression and losing a loved one and things like that. For me, personally, when I first started wearing the shirt, Jamie sent us a few shirts one day, I was like this is an awesome thing to support. I had amended previously to that, and I just started wearing it one day and I thought it was great. One of my really good friends that I grew up with, he had a lifelong battle with depression, and I really appreciated that someone like Jamie was stepping up and kind of fighting on the behalf of people like that, who feel like so out of this world that they’re to the point they might harm themselves or have thoughts of suicide. It’s a very important organization to me, for sure.

Would you guys consider playing the university chapter benefit shows, giving back to colleges and connecting with them?

We’ve actually just played a university show a couple weeks ago. We play schools a lot actually, and it’s really fun playing at colleges and kind of doing a school than just doing regular club shows.

Vital is out now on iTunes and in stores. Catch the band on their headlining tour this fall (dates below)

Nov 06 The Music Farm Charleston, SC
Nov 07 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
Nov 09 Newport Music Hall Columbus, OH
Nov 10 Club Infinity Clarence, NY
Nov 11 Crocodile Rock Allentown, PA
Nov 13 The Studio at Webster Hall New York, NY Sold Out
Nov 14 The Omni Toledo, OH
Nov 15 The Intersection Grand Rapids, MI
Nov 16 Mr. Smalls Theatre Millvale, PA
Nov 17 Upstate Concert Hall Clifton Park, NY
Nov 18 The Webster Hartford, CT
Nov 20 Valarium Knoxville, TN

24 Oct

Southern California duo Pacific Air is still kind of a new band, but they’re already making great strides. Our writer Cassandra Paiva talked to older brother, Ryan Lawhon on the night of their first CMJ/New York show about their start, touring, and two of the best things on the planet; music and food.

How are you?

I’m doing pretty well.
Where are you right now?

I am in the 7th floor lobby at the Holiday Inn in Soho.

You guys are kind of a newer band, so give me a little background about yourself. How did you guys start and what’s it like working with your brother?

I started the band with my brother, we’ve been writing music for a very long time and we decided that a couple groups of songs that we really, really enjoyed all worked together and we wanted to start an actual, official band. So we just started out. We’ve been writing music for a bunch of different commercial reasons in the past couple years, and we’ve been in previous bands. We’ve been kind of in a lull with all that, and we felt like it was a good time for us, and the songs really connected with us, and so we started the band. Nothing too crazy.

What did you guys listen to growing up and what made you decide you wanted to be a musician?

We listened to a lot of very ambient, New Age music actually. My mom was kind of a pseudo hippie, so we always were very indulgent with lots of melody, not too much rhythms, lot of synth pads, a lot of just ambient noise. We really became accustomed to that. We really grew up on artists like Enigma, Ray Lynch, Enya, a lot of just almost tribal voices with nothing but synth pads and lots of space. And the fact that we still talk to people, and not many people appreciate that like we do, so we really wanted to make pop music that kind of has a similar space, where it’s not so crowded with too many rhythms and too many instruments and so it’s just kind of spaces for maintaining a pop sensibility.

Your lyrics are sort of dark, but your music and melody is upbeat and happy, do you feel that writing music is kind of a therapy for you?

Yea, it can be. It’s not all the time. I tend to be more focused on conversation, not focused around myself in person and so it’s nice to be able to write music that focuses inward and is able to kind of express emotions. Most of the time, the music that we write kind of turns around depression for the most part. No we’re not depressed people, per say, but that’s something we never get out when we’re interacting socially. So it’s nice to have an album that’s like a little therapy for you.

You’ve only been a band since March, do you feel like it’s been a whirlwind for you, and how are you adjusting?

The whole process so far has just kind of come real quick, it doesn’t really feel real yet. We haven’t really had time to catch a breath. We released our first song in March and since then we’ve just been doing non-stop work. We’re from Southern California and we’ve actually been living in New York since June just recording, and we’ve finally finished our album. And so it’s a great feeling to release your song and within two months be able fly out and record a full length with a producer that you love. So it’s been pretty crazy so far. We’re kind of getting into touring now, so that’s something we’ve really been looking forward to. Despite touring being hectic, it actually feels like we’re calming down, because now at least we know what we’re doing, as opposed to recording, we don’t know if we’re going to be shooting a video tomorrow or recording tomorrow, it’s just a lot of things so quickly.

How did you get the opportunity to tour with Passion Pit?

We actually are good friends with them. And Chris Zane, who produced their record, also produced their record, so we were connected through that. And they liked our music and asked us to come out with them and so it was a great opportunity and a really great tour.

What are some pieces of advice you’d give other bands?

Just write great music, and don’t really try too hard. I know that a lot of artists right now are really trying to look a certain way and do a certain thing. We haven’t really tried to do that so far, we’ve actually waited a long time to put out photos or anything, not because we try to play a mystery game or even try to do anything, just, try to make music that you can stand behind and that you feel connected to. People are smart, people will be able to pick that up, people can tell when someone’s making music for money or when they’re making music because they can feel it. Not only is it a connection with the artist and the music, but there’s a lyrical connection that you can tell is being sung by that person, for that person. So, I just think do your best and that’s something that we, I feel we’ve done a really good job of so far, maintaining our credibility and what we want to do through this whole process and it’s not difficult to do but it is something that a lot of artists and a lot of people lose sight of because we have so many people telling us different things and different opinions. Just be strong with what your original vision was and keep with that, and I think that will get you further than most things out there.

Ok. I read that you guys moved a lot when you were younger, how does that help with touring?

I never thought that it would be a positive thing growing up, because, by the tie I was 16 we moved over 25 times, and most of those were full relocations to new areas. I never stayed anywhere for longer than 6 months and since I’m an adult, I thought that would change, but it really hasn’t since then, and it’s really prepared me well for touring, just constantly being on the road. When you don’t really have a place to call home for than 6/7 months at a time, you learn to not really make close relationships with anybody, but you’re really good at starting relationships and so that’s one thing that’s really important with touring, just to make sure that, when you’re on the road or the same bus, talking to all these other bands for 2 months at a time, it’s nice to see that you’re all cordial. So it’s been very helpful in relating to people on a short term basis.

Describe the whole process of making the Long Live KOKO EP.

We don’t really have an artistic process where we sit down. For each song, it’s completely written by me and my brother and it really just depends on who starts the song and who has the strong artistic vision for the song. With most of the songs, I usually start them and write. I write all the lyrics and melodies and my brother and supplement that with the production aspects and mostly rhythms, so it’s been a nice collaborative effort up to this point. But there are some songs that are fully his, some that are fully mine. There’s no real process. And we’re definitely not a lyrics first band, I don’t start with an acoustic guitar and figure out what lyrics I want to write. I usually tend to write the music and melody first and then I relate it to my life and see what lyrics fit what I want to display the most.

You’re playing CMJ later this week, how are you feeling about that?

I’m really excited about it, I try to play cool about it most of the time, but CMJ is something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. Being completely west coast raised my whole life, New York’s kind of a symbol of east coast power and awesome art and everything that revolves around New York. And so, this week, well tonight actually, is our first show we’ve ever played in New York, so I’m really excited about it, it’s definitely achieving a personal goal of mine, I’ve been looking forward to for years. CMJ, I’ve been told is like SXSW’s little brother in a bigger city, so if it’s anything like SX it’ll be a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to it either way.

What are you looking forward to going on tour with Walk the Moon?

I’m looking forward to experiencing some cold weather, because I think the coldest weather I’ve ever been in is like, 40 degrees. I never really experienced anything super cold and I’m a serious pussy when it comes to weather, so I have massive jackets because I like the way they look, but I’ve never actually had to use them. I think we’re playing Minneapolis on January 18, so I think shit will get real, quick.
I’m also looking forward to, my brother and I and the whole band, are really big foodies, so we really like to experience different food from around the country. We’re really big on asking and talking to locals and seeing what is the good stuff to go to. And sometimes we’ll go to their references.

What are your favorite dishes, Italian or Mexican or Chinese, what do you prefer?

I’m a Southern California kid, so Mexican is my go to standard. I don’t eat any Mexican food, because I’ve had it my whole life, and we have some of the best. I’m most interested in trying new foods. I’ve been really into Thai food this past year, all different types of Thai dishes I’ve been really intrigued by. We found some great places here in New York.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve eaten on tour?

We haven’t eaten any really crazy foods. I’ve been kind of disappointed, everywhere we’ve gone had really basic things. We had a really great oyster filled steak here in Tribeca that was great. But no like, crazy combinations or anything. I think we need to leave the country or go to New Orleans for that. Once we get there, we’ll try some crazy stuff. The best dish I’ve had was actually a Ramen dish I had here in New York which was just phenomenal.

On that line, what countries would you like to visit/tour?

The country that I feel a strong desire to go to is Germany. Not for food purposes, but for castle purposes. My brother is very, very into European castles and structures, he’s been very intrigued for years about that. So we’re really looking forward to going Germany. If we’re talking about food, probably to Spain.

Last question, anything we can expect from Pacific Air within the next year?

You can definitely expect a full length album and just a lot of touring, and hopefully a lot of good shows.

Pick up Pacific Air’s Long Live Koko EP now on iTunes

10/27 – Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room (supporting White Arrows)
11/01- San Diego, CA @ Casbah (supporting Lord Huron)
11/02- San Francisco, CA @ Bimbos (supporting Woodkid)
11/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ Luckman Theatre (supporting Woodkid)
11/27 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court (supporting Walk the Moon)
11/28 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater (supporting Walk the Moon)

January and February Performances:
*Supporting Walk The Moon
Jan. 18 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Jan. 21 – Indianapolis, IN @ Deluxe
Jan. 23 – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
Jan. 24 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Jan. 25 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg SOLD OUT
Jan. 26 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom SOLD OUT
Jan. 27 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom SOLD OUT
Jan. 29 – The Southern – Charlottesville, VA
Jan. 30 – Boone, NC @ Legends @ Appalachian State U.
Jan. 31 – Washington DC @ 9:30 Club
Feb. 01 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA
Feb. 02 – Providence, RI @ The Met
Feb. 04 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Lounge
Feb. 06 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
Feb. 07 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Feb. 08 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
Feb. 09 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom

15 Oct

Five piece, California, indie-rock band, The Drowning Men are setting out on a US headline tour during the months of October and November. Our writer Cassandra Paiva caught up with guitarist James Smith right at the beginning of the tour. Read as they talk about touring, technique, and transvestites.
Fun fact: James and Cassandra unknowingly grew up literally a few miles away from each other. He recognized her area code and asked about it, to find out she lives in the next town over from where he grew up in Massachusetts.

So, how are you?

Good. I just woke up, yea, it was a late night. It was good, so it’s ok. There’s actually not a whole lot of service here, so I’m calling you from a landline. I think the squirrels have something to do with it. (laughs)

Have you guys left for the tour yet?

Yea, we just left for a month tour. We played in Pomona last night, it was pretty fun, a little warm up show. And then we meet up with Bad Books in Seattle in a couple days. Yea we’ve started off with a bang. We stayed at our friend Mark’s house in Riverside, California last night, and at one point I was like, “Wow, there’s no girls here..” and immediately a bunch of transvestites walked into the house, and it was perfect. I was like, “Wow.. I asked for it.”

…Not the kind of girls I asked for but… That’s really funny.

Yea, it was, trust me, you should have been here. It was hilarious.

(laughs) Alright, so you guys have been a band since 2006, but you’re just starting to gain exposure now, give me a little bit of background about yourselves.

Todd, Rory, and Nato all grew up in Oceanside, California, just playing in punk bands mostly together and in the same circle of bands since they were kids really. Right around that time, right around 2006 we had just started playing music, kind of casually but often and didn’t really set out to do anything in particular, and we never really stopped. And then we picked up Gabe at the beginning of 2011 and he came in right when we were really going for it, when we were touring all the time, trying to treat this like our jobs. There were a few years in there when we were kind of just a local band, we were playing music often but we weren’t setting up to tour all the time and get it out there on a national level. And for the past couple years we have been and it’s been a wild ride.

What made you guys decide that you wanted to be a national band? What set that spark?

We had the opportunities. Our friends Flogging Molly asked us to go on their Green 17 Tour and it’s like their biggest national tour of the year. We had played one show before that of that size and then we played 30 in a row on a big tour across the states, and that kind of set it off, and then everything kind of snowballed from there, with getting other tours with Alkaline Trio and Airborne Toxic Event, and doing our own headlining tours after that.

Since you’ve toured with Flogging Molly, and Airborne Toxic Event, and Alkaline Trio, and River City Extension, what are some pieces of advice that each band’s given you?

Flogging Molly did a lot. The band mates helped us out a lot, they kind of, they knew our situation, and they believed in what we did pretty quickly. They just wanted to help us. We weren’t used to, it’s kind of a different show when you play in front of 3,000 people instead of 100, and we didn’t have a whole lot of experience with that, so the band kind of took us under their wing. And also their stage manager Badger, everybody calls him, really, really took us under his wing and he likes telling people what to do, so it was a natural fit, because we kind of needed to be told what to do I guess. They probably more than any other band, gave us a ton of advice, and I don’t even know where to begin with all of it. Just more of how to play in front of that size of a crowd and how to command that room when you’re opening up, when 3,000 people aren’t there to see you, you’ve got to try to figure out a way to win them over, you know?

Yea.. What are some crazy, fun tour memories?

Remember when I told you about the transvestites last night..? That’s a pretty good start! I know you’re taping this so “refer to 5 minutes ago.” (laughs). Umm, well we all like to drink, so when you like to drink, you make really bad decisions sometimes, and sometimes it’s hilarious.

It’s just like, really more than the craziness and any of that, it’s great to just get out there with your best friends and do what you love to do most. That sounds cliché and everything, but that’s what we’re out here to do. We’re not out here to meet chicks or party. Partying happens, but we’re on the road to do our job and do what we love, and hang out with the people we love. Creating that bond and being able to solidify that bond with your band of brothers. I’m sure when I look back when I’m old and gray, if I make it that old, that’ll be the best memories to have. I sound like a god damn Hallmark card, but that’s just how I feel right now.

Where’s one place where you’d like to tour to?

We actually haven’t been to Europe yet, and I’ve never even personally been to Europe yet, so that’s an easy one. Hopefully the end of winter, we’ll be out there. We’ve had opportunities but it’s always conflicted with other things. And we still haven’t gotten out there and it’s definitely an easy one, that’s where I, and really collectively we’d all like to go next. We’ve really beat the shit out of the states. We’ve done, I don’t even know, in the past few years, we’ve probably done the states almost 10 times or something. It’s time to make the trip over the pond.

What state was your favorite to spend some time in?

That’s a loaded question. I love it up in Portland, Oregon. We’ve had some good shows there. I’m really looking forward to going to Boston, I grew up in the area, but also, I feel like it’s going to be a fun show when we’re there. Pittsburgh was a surprise, I didn’t know it was such a fun place to be and play music. A lot of those smaller market, little towns are not surprises anymore, because you kind of know, those are the places people are like, “Thank you for coming to our little town.” I mean, like the Boises and the Flagstaffs, those kind of places where people really appreciate the fact that you came and drove through and played some music for them. We’ve been all over the place, and we’ve been all over the place for a reason. There is no town that it’s like, “Oh my God, I can’t wait” it’s really anywhere. You go to places like Detroit that are just having a rough time right now, and you drive through and you’re like, “Oh man, this place, it’s pretty rough here” and then you just meet the best people you’ve met in your life. You never know, you just show up and you play, and you can’t have a bad attitude because your expectations will always be wrong.

What are you thinking of before you go on stage, like along that line of showing up ready to play?

Yea, I definitely don’t get there ready to play. We’re an extremely punctual band. I know it’s not like rock and roll or anything, but we’re always on time and I kind of like to be able to get there, and get my bearings, and get my wits about me. Before we go on stage we usually warm up a little bit, and try to yell a little bit so you don’t go on stage with your voice all cold. So warm up and have a couple drinks to loosen up and try not to get too sloppy. There’s definitely a routine and there’s definitely that moment right before where we just kind of freak out a little bit sometimes. Yea, you just get up there with all the adrenaline and try to put on a good show and keep it together.

Now, I know Nato can play somewhere around 14 different instruments, do you play different instruments or do you just stick to the one?

I really just play guitar. I mean I’ll play other things. Gabe our keyboardist is actually a really good guitar player. Nato is really the multi-instrumentalist in the band. He’s one of those assholes who’ll just pick up anything in a week. I pretty much play guitar, I’ve been playing it most of my life and I still suck (laughs).. no.

So what do you like better then, being live on stage or being in the studio recording?

I think neither. I probably like getting together with the group and experimenting and writing or just jamming out more than anything. Being in the studio and being on the stage are two totally different things. Probably what I like most is just getting together with the boys and just jamming.

Do you write any lyrics, or is that just up to Nato?

It’s Nato, yea. I might give him a little input and he’ll be like, “That’s a horrible idea,” you know. But, Nato writes all the lyrics. And all the songs start with Nato, and then we’ll fuck them up a little bit. Oh that’s a pretty song, we’ll just make a big mess out of that for you. So we all have our input after the skeleton of the song is started. But the last record, from what he started with and what the finished product was, was really a big difference than how it started as opposed to the last record. They really went through some comprehensive changes and some songs completely took on like 3 different forms before they became.. like the song “Smile” on our new record, we didn’t exactly know how to play that song, and we played it a few different ways, it was a few different songs before it became that song. This last record we really, we tried to take whatever idea we had and make it the best song we could. Not that we never did that before, but we really kind of worked it out more.

Was that a result of working with a producer for the first time?

Yea, a little bit. And being signed for the first time, and knowing that we had the means to spend a little more time on the stuff. But yea, working with a producer was definitely a big factor in that. Billy [Mohler] was great, he’s such a great guy to work with, just positive, thinks really quick musically, and communicates so well musically and otherwise. Working with him was just a pure pleasure, and working with other musicians sometimes isn’t. Sometimes you’re like, “play that part,” you don’t know how to really communicate sometimes, and he was just really good at it. He kind of brought us together, does what a good producer does, and comes up with good, quick ideas. A lot of the ideas he had were just really simple, just like “don’t play on this part” or “back off a little bit,” because a lot of our music is just really, everybody all at once is in, and it’s really just like this wall of melody and sound and noise. On this record we backed off a little bit at parts, kind of like the song “Breathe.”

Now that you have the two albums out, looking back, what would you have done differently on the first?

You know what, I like the way Beheading of the Songbird came out, and actually I think it was my idea to record it [that way]. We played those songs going into the studio so much, that I felt like, the way we performed them was the way to capture them. So we recorded most of those songs where we’re clicking on pedals on the fly, we’re not doing a lot in post, and we’re basically tracking the songs like we’d play them live and we wouldn’t section them off and take them piece by piece. And it was my idea to do them that way, and I think that’s why it kind of comes out stunning live and raw. And there was one song that we didn’t do that with, and I actually really like the way it came out, we tracked “More Than This” on Beheading not doing it like we would live, and I really like the way that song came out on the last record. But I mean, once a record’s done, it’s done and I actually really like how that record came out. Paul Jenkins did a great job recording, he didn’t do comprehensive produced production on that record, but he definitely had a hand in it and a lot of great ideas. I really love that record, I still love listening to it, you know, whatever I would change about it, or we would change, we kind of just put that to the next record, we put those thoughts into All of the Unknown and that’s just how you do it, and you don’t really look back.
I’m pleased with both of the records, how they came out, and they were done really very differently.

Ok, going along that line, what’s in store for future albums?

Well now we’re really just touring on All of the Unknown, it’s only been out a couple months and Nato’s writing all the time. We’ve already heard some of the new things he’s been working on, and messed around with them a little bit. We’re not focusing on new stuff right now, but I can tell you the stuff that he’s been coming up with, I’m really excited about already, but we’re really not focusing on recording just yet. We’re trying to just tour for this record and probably come winter we’ll be working on some new stuff and start thinking about a new record.

Pick up The Drowning Men’s All of the Unknown on iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD

Catch The Drowning Men on tour this fall


10/16 New Orleans, LA – The Parish @ HOB

10/17 Birmingham, AL – Zydeco

10/18 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge

10/19 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade


10/20 Wilmington, NC – The Soapbox

10/21 Norfolk, VA – Jewish Mother Backstage

10/23 Asbury Park, NJ – The Wonder Bar FREE

10/24 Philadelphia, PA – Milkboy (w/ Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s + Gentleman Caller)

10/25 Hamden, CT – The Outer Space

10/26 Cambridge, MA – TT The Bears

10/27 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge (w/ Bronze Radio Return)

10/28 Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe

10/30 Chicago, IL – Schubas

11/1 Denver, CO – Lion’s Lair

11/2 Salt Lake City – Kilby Court

11/3 Las Vegas, NV – The Lounge at The Palms FREE

04 Oct

It’s been a fun ride for AWOLNATION. The band has been touring incessantly since the release of their debut LP Megalithic Symphony released in the Spring of 2011. You may have heard the hit single “Sail” everywhere (on TV, movie trailers, ESPN highlights) but Megalithic Symphony is filled with great songs that show that AWOLNATION is not just another screaming rock band. We recently had a chance to check in with the band’s frontman Aaron Bruno before a show. Check it out below:

By Matt Arena

How’s the tour going so far?

It’s going very good, we’re like six shows in. We’re in Detroit right now, having a great time and all the shows so far have been very energetic and great.

You played a show in Hartford, CT the other day, in the middle of a train station, what was that like?

Yeah, it actually was in the middle of the train station, literally. It was a really cool experience; the previous time we played there it was only in front of maybe 20 people. So it’s great to see progress. You always want to play to more people each time, so it’s a good sign that word’s spreading and all the hard work pays off. It’s always the more the merrier at a show.

The shows have been selling out pretty consistently so far this tour, even in place like Hartford, how’s it feel to see that people are digging your music nationwide?

It feels really, really good, man. It wasn’t something that I ever expected to happen. I’ve been in a lot different bands and put a lot into the record and didn’t expect much in return. I just tried to put my head down and do as best as I possibly could. There have been a couple people out there who dig what’s going on. The expectation never was to have some crazy success. I never even thought any of these songs would be on the radio, really ever. But you always hope for those things and a lot of it is out of your control. The mentality is I guess expecting the worst and hoping for the best, ya know? I continue to feel like the underdog in a lot of ways, because I put out a couple records with bands I made before, neither of which saw the light of day. They had a chance but definitely didn’t get near where we would have liked. Even more devastating were the records that my last band made that didn’t even get to come out. Any time you put it on the line on creating something and putting it out there, and you can’t even release it because of legal problems or label stuff it’s pretty devastating because you put a lot into it. When you create this thing and no one gets to see it or even decide for themselves whether they like it or not. Not that I’m saying it was the best record or not but it would have been cool to let it have a chance. So my goal with this thing was to release it. I didn’t want it to sit on a hard drive somewhere. I didn’t expect anything really, so maybe that’s why it’s gone so good because expectations are so low.

I’ve noticed you’ve always had really good support acts, last year with Twin Atlantic and this year with Imagine Dragons, what goes into making that decision?

It’s actually not as complicated as it sounds. It’s usually whatever packaging makes the most sense at the time. You want to be able to tolerate the music for however many shows you’re on the road for, so you try to have bands whose music you’ll enjoy. Sometimes it’s just whatever makes the most sense and creates the best atmosphere for the show. That’s what it’s about at the end of the day; trying to give the fans the best show possible.

The video for ‘Kill Your Heroes’ was just released, and it’s a pretty wild one, where did you get the concept for that?

I think my buddy Cameron who directed this and a couple other videos as well, and we always wanted to do this Mr. Rogers parody thing. Or something along those lines of the children’s television we were forced to watch growing up. He had the idea and I kinda just took it to another place. There was a lot of back and forth before it got to where it’s at now. We wanted to do something a little light hearted, but it ended up being taken a little more seriously than I though at first. Clearly ‘Not Your Fault’ was a good time and it followed that direction. So I think next doing something really, really serious it the way we’d want to go (laughs).

It was also released in 3D. Did that influence the concept or production at all?

No it didn’t. It just seemed very possible and so we did it. I don’t think that every concept is right for 3D, but that one was at the time.

There was also a song you recorded for the Frankenweenie soundtrack, what was it like being part of that? Especially a kid’s movie, not something you’d expect an AWOLNATION song to appear on.

I got asked to go see the movie, saw it, and was asked to write a song that was inspired by the movie. I was very flattered that I was asked by that camp, to be associated with Tim Burton or Danny Elfman at all was such a huge moment for me. I had an idea that seemed like it would make sense for what I saw and put some lyrics together. It was cool because it was somewhat of a challenge for me to take myself out of the movie to write a song. I’d never been asked to write specifically for the film. It was really cool to think outside of the norms of myself in order to come up with the song. Then when I wrote the song, I was really happy, thinking, “well ok, if they don’t like it like it, I can use it on the next record.” But it turned out they really liked it and I’m excited to hear how the other songs came out too and see where my weird song fits in.

Do you have solid plans for a second album?

The only solid plans I have is just to continue writing and make sure that the record is better than this one. I push myself to become a better songwriter and sound better. I would hate to take a step backwards so hopefully they’re satisfied as the needs and expectations of the fan base grows with us as we push the boundaries of where we were at before. But I don’t know when that’s going to come out, with this record everything felt so good. As soon as we can record we will, but we’re kind of in the middle of it right now.

Being that you’re much more popular now, is that something in your head when writing? The expectations that come with an established fan base?

I write no matter what. It’s probably in the back of my head, the pressures and expectations. To follow up something with this much success is not something that I ever thought would happen, that sophomore record. I guess the advantage I have is that I made a bunch of records that people didn’t hear. It doesn’t feel so much like a sophomore album, more of an extension of this weird journey I’ve been on. When I wrote Megalithic Symphony I tried to make something that I’d personally love and hope that people feel the same way. What I love now may be different from what I loved when I made that record, so it may be a little different but hopefully it’ll grow in an area that people will enjoy.

You’re on the forefront of Red Bull Records, what’s it like being on that record label? Is there ever any pressure that you feel?

No pressure at all. They definitely don’t need my help. The coolest thing about it is that they don’t really want you being in the mix too much. If they can have their opinions, they try to do in really hands off. They want it to be very successful, but also are equally proud that they can back, which I know sounds too good to be true, maybe it is, but for me it’s worked out. It’s been very hands-off and supportive when we need it.

You guys played a lot of festivals this past summer, what about that environment appeals to you?

Um, what appeals to me is just getting able to see a variety of different bands. Like now we’re playing with the same two bands for a month or so. When you drop into a festival one of your favorite bands may be playing that night. We’ve been lucky enough to see some great, great bands over the summer festivals. Collectively we’ve been able to see some of our all-time favorite bands. It’s been very special. It was a summer I’ll never forget, I don’t know how it’ll be topped. I got to see Refused on their reunion, Metallica, who I’ve never seen before, Slayer, and Radiohead. It was great.

AWOLNATION is on a national headline tour now. Check out dates at and buy the album Megalithic Symphony on iTunes, Amazon MP3 or CD

02 Oct

We recently told you about the indie band Bad Weather California. Tonight, they play their second sold out show at the Henry Fonda Theatre with The Lumineers. Our writer Ace Ubas recently had a chance to check in with the band’s frontman Chris Adolf. Check it out below and catch the band live this fall.

What was the band listening to during the recording of Sunkissed?

Oh man. Probably the same kind of stuff we listen to now. I’m not the kind of person who is always seeking out new stuff. I mean… I love when my friends turn me on to new stuff. But when I choose something to listen to I am usually looking for familiarity. Beatles, Stones, Marley, Paul Simon, velvet underground etc… classic rock greats like that are always in heavy rotation in my realm. As are great 80s-90s punk groups like black flag, dino jr. etc. I like the outsiders too. Roky Ericson, Recless Eric etc. But I can’t really give you a sexy list of super ‘cool’ obscure and aesoteric groups.

Were there any differences in the writing or recording process between Young Punks and Sunkissed?

Sure. I’m sure there were. My mind was in a different place. I can’t pinpoint exactly WHAT was different but I mean, my life has to move forward or it gets boring. So I’m sure I was in a different place for those two records.

Could you describe the ‘sunshine’ aesthetic or aspect in your music?

Well. I saw a trend in music through the early 2000s that still has some hang over now. Very serious music. Very somber music. Very chin rugby stuff. I just wanted to take rock and roll back to where it was from. Before it was over intellectualized and taken so seriously. Sunshine was just my way of saying, “lighten up dudes! It’s just life. Lets LIVE!”

By having a DIY work ethic, do you feel that at one point or another, you’ll be stretched thin and you’ll have to hire a manager, publicist, etc.?

I feel that way right now. I am spread VERY thin. But that’s just how life is. What ever you do you have to work hard at it. Single moms who work two jobs are spread thin. Underpaid school teachers who have to work all day and then make lesson plans at home at night are spread thin. I’m just a dude who plays rock and roll. It’s gonna be work. But we all gotta work. I’m not special. You can’t be a baby about work.

What is it about the DIY approach that you prefer? Does it have an effect on how you write music?

It’s not a preference. It’s just what most people have to do. No it doesn’t effect how I make music. The art and the logistics of making art should be separate.

Having worked with Akron/Family rather closely in terms of the release/production of your music, what are some things that you have learned from a band like that?

WORK! Those guys work their asses off. It’s inspiring.

Has growing up on an urban ‘island’ (as you have described Denver) impacted on how your write songs?

Well I didn’t grow up in denver. A few of the members were based out of there. But I grew up out in the desert near the Colorado and Utah border and still call it home. The desert is amazing and beautiful and at the same time very unforgiving and extreme. I’m sure it has effected the way I do things. I couldn’t tell you how but you know, everybody is effected by their environment.

After reading that a song typically just ‘comes to you,’ has there ever been a ‘weird’ or unconventional setting where a song just popped into your head?

This is a question I CAN answer. You know that window when you first wake up and you can still remember you dreams? Just before you forget what you were dreaming about? I write all of my lyrics in that window and then run to my computer to get them down before I forget. I e-mail them to myself. They just all come together and my mind doesn’t get in the way.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you like ‘old’ things, specifically architecture. What is it about the past that appeals to you as opposed to the ‘new’?

I think Jonathan Richman put it best. Just check out this song!

27 Sep

Punk/folk singer-songwriter Frank Turner is wrapping up his US fall tour this weekend with back to back shows (Saturday 9/29 and Sunday 9/30) at Webster Hall in New York City. Our writer Matt Arena had the chance to speak with Frank recently about the new album, his side project Mongol Horde, headlining Wembley Arena and why he loves America. Read on more below:

How’s the tour going so far?

It’s great, at the moment it’s just a short run, about three and a half weeks, which isn’t very much. And we started in Boston, but I’m speaking to you now from Denver. We’ve had great shows and a great time at Riotfest as well.

You’re recording the new album, right? What was the process like this time around?

The longest amount of time I’ve ever spent working on a record before was 12 days, and this time around we have four weeks. Not to put down any records I’ve made so far but they’ve always been made to accompany the live thing in a way. Not that that’s gonna change completely, but I kinda feel this time around I’ve got the opportunity and resources to spend a bit more time on the album as an album. It’s an interesting process. I’m gonna say, but everybody says this, I’m excited about some of the things, it’s gonna be a good record. I’m really chomping at the bit to get into the studio this time.

Recently you’ve started work on a side project, Mongol Horde, which has a pretty heavy sound. Any chance that will bleed over into your album?

No to any real degree. If anything it makes it less likely in a way because I’m getting that aggression out of my system. The two are pretty separate in my mind, I don’t feel like one effects the other particularly. The album I’m making at the moment, as it is with all the records I’ve made, is just me putting together the best set of songs that I can. I think I’m getting better at songwriting with practice and age. I feel like these songs are better than before.

I’ve noticed you’ve debuted a couple new songs on the tour so far, what goes into the decision making process of which new ones you want to try out?

One of the things over the course of this whole tour that we’re trying to do is cycle through so that everything gets at least one play out. We’re switching it up with that in mind. The art of writing a song is a fine one and playing a new song is always fun for us, it’s always about finding the right song to put in the right place. I always feel like playing a song live tightens it up in a way that a million studio sessions will never succeed in doing. Something about having to present there in front of a live audience makes it pull together. Or fall apart, then we’ve gotta figure out what’s wrong with it.

Does playing them live help you discover any changes in the songs?

Sometimes yeah, there’s little stuff when you play it with that much more adrenaline and you’re trying to forcefully present it to people that suggests new ideas to you. I’m weary of trying to decide which ones try to make the album because I’ve got too many to choose from. I don’t want to edit the album based around the reaction of one audience. I’m not gonna be fussed I play a song one time and it doesn’t go over that well and go “right, fuck that song then.”

Are there any new songs in particular that you’re really excited about?

At one point we had 25 songs on the list and at this point in their careers a lot of bands get tempted by the double album, which I think is pretty much resolutely a bad idea, so I’m not gonna do that. So I’m trying to whittle down. There are definitely more than 12 songs that I really, really love at the moment. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

What was it like playing the opening ceremony of the Olympics?

It was cool, it was very surreal, not just days, but for a couple of months. We got a call from Danny Boyle asking us to be involved. It was weird, because he’s a culturally impressive figure and he’s something of a diehard fan of what I do. Which is great, it’s fantastic. The weirdest wasn’t that we were hanging out in a stadium with giant Voldemorts and Rowan Atkinson, but that we got used to that, it wasn’t even a thing anymore and we were just hanging out. It was kind off but in a good way.

You playing on an interesting background, the giant hill with people farming. It looked like a Shire scene out of Lord of the Rings.

It was supposed to be kind of old England. It was kind of odd, we were on a fake hill with a bunch of sheep and horses and stuff. We knew we were playing to tons of people but none of them were directly in front of us. There were either across the stadium or on the other side of the camera. So it’s a weird mixture of being nervous, because you’re playing to millions of people, but then you can’t really see any of them.

Let’s talk about your side project for a moment, Mongol Horde. It’s much heavier and radically different from anything you’ve done; I really dig it.

Thanks. I’ve been wanting to do something like it for a long time, I spent many, many years playing that kind of music and I still listen to it. The drummer I’m playing with in Mongol Horde is one of my oldest friends and we’ve been playing together for many, many years and I kind of just wanted to play with him again. It’s definitely a side project. We did a couple shows in the UK and put out a couple rehearsal demos but I have no idea when we’ll do an album. We will do an album, but it might not be till the end of next year.

Just in looking at a couple videos from those shows, it looks really freeing for you to be playing with that kind of intensity live.

It’s kind of like scratching an itch for me. It’s a side of my personality that’s reflected in what I make. It’s not a major part, but that little, slightly crazy part of me. It is very, very tiring though. After about 30 minutes in those shows I’m completely fucked. I guess I’m not 23 anymore.

What’s your favorite thing about touring the US that’s unique to this country?

I’m just a really big fan of America generally. It’s an endlessly fascinating country. I just really, really love American people, they have the best manners in the world. They tend to be very welcoming and interesting. There tends to be a boring, ill-informed anti-Americanism that pervades Europe, which, I’ll say when I was younger before I got to get around this country I probably indulged in as well, but since coming here I’ve gotten a real taste for what a fantastic place it is to be. I always feel happy when I’m heading back out to the US.

You always make it a point to hang around after shows and meet everyone, which obviously takes a lot of time and effort on your part, and not a lot of bands do it. What makes that so important to you?

I feel like it would be disingenuous not to do that if that’s what people want to do. I get to travel around the world and play music, it’s not a bad place to be. And the reason I get to do that is because come out to shows and buy tickets, shirts, and the rest of it. If people want to spend a minute of their time saying hi, it would be kind of really shitty of me not to do that. Philosophy aside, I’m a gregarious person and I like meeting new people and having a good time hanging out with people.

Do you have trouble doing that in the UK, where you’re a lot bigger? I would imagine it would be rough to stick around the merch table at Wembley Arena after a show.

Yeah, it’s a little more hectic. One of the things about it is that when things are a bit more of a manageable, I guess underground, level generally speaking the people are more connected to it and more respectful. I think one of the things in the UK is that people kind of go crazy in a slightly rehearsed way if you know what I mean. I kinda just wanna grab them and go, “chill out, I’m just another human.” Things have to be a little bit more controlled in the UK or else I’d spend my entire life talking to people after shows.

I think a lot of that comes from the fact that most bands don’t do it, so it’s really cool that you do.
Yeah, I think it demonstrates a point. That’s the main reason I do it really, to show people that I don’t hold myself above them.

How old were you when you played your first show?

Well, it depends how you categorize it. I played at my older sister’s birthday party when I was 13, I’m not sure that counts.

What do you think that 13 year old you would say if he were told that he’d be headlining Wembley Arena and playing opening ceremony for the Olympics?

Well I’m sure I’d be stoked but I’d be worried about saying that. Without sound too much like a Hallmark card, the whole journey is an important thing to me. One of the things I’m proudest about in my career, and if I can be forthright for a minute, is that none of it is handed to me. I’ve worked really hard to get everything and I’m really glad that I did. I wouldn’t have wanted a shortcut through all the shitty years because they were important to me.

(photo credit: Erik Weiss)

To see when Frank’s coming to a city near you, head over to You can buy his music on iTunes or

28 Aug

Hot on the heels of the release of their second album Holy Weather and just before the start of their two and a month long tour, drummer Richard Wouters of Civil Twilight spoke with our writer Cassandra Paiva about the band’s writing and studio process, the addition of a new member, favorite tour memories, and plans for the coming year.

Your second album, Holy Weather has been out for almost six months now. Compared to the debut, how does this one feel in terms of promotion and reception?

Well the debut we recorded a long time ago, we recorded it before we got signed and it was a very gradual release process and we were a very new band. It was hard to kind of gauge the reception when it came out because there wasn’t really any reception when it first came out because we were so new. We put it out independently first and then we got signed with Wind-Up and it started, after a while it started gaining traction and certain songs got picked up and put in films and on TV and those songs got a really good reception. But the second record is the first one we’re putting out that we actually have a fan base already established and waiting in a sense to hear the new record. So that was like a new experience for us, which was really cool. It’s kind of interesting writing with that in mind as well. You sort of feel people’s expectations a little bit. And the fact that people are now comparing you to something you’ve done before. But it seems to be really well received. We went to try to make something that was a little different from what we’ve done before and focused a little bit more on elements of groove, and melody, and song structure a little more than the first record. And also sonics to kind of make it sound interesting and experimented quite a bit with the sound. But, for the most part, it’s been a good reception from our fans. It seems like, almost like people really like it. And most people seem to think it’s a good progression from the last record. So, we’re really happy with it and happy that people seem to like it.

What made you choose “Fire Escape” as the single?

You said what made us choose that?

Yea, or was it record label dominated?

(laughs) That song was actually written before all of the other songs and certain people in our team heard it and really liked it and thought it to be a single. And the version that ended up being put out was actually the demo that we recorded in New York. We tried to record it in the studio again, but we weren’t able to capture the same energy, so we ended up using the demo version on the record and that was put out as a single. The choice of it as the first single was a joint decision; it was definitely a song that everybody kind of fancied from the beginning, even before the record was entirely finished. But all of our artistic decisions are collaborative with the label. We have joint creative control, so no one makes executive decisions; we kind of talk about things and work it out. And they gave of a lot of freedom, the record company, gave us a lot of freedom on this record. We were kind of free with what we wanted to do, experiment a little bit. So that was cool.

Do you have plans for a second single?

We do actually. I think “River” is going to be the second single. That’s the first song on the record. We all like that song. That one we sort of, told our label that that’s what we wanted and they were like, ‘ok.’ I don’t know if that was their pick, but they liked the song too. (laughs)

So, you wrote most of Holy Weather on the road when you went into the studio, what was going through your minds?

It happened pretty quickly, during kind of breaks in the middle of touring, when we were stopped and we spent some time in New York and we spent some time in Nashville. We just wrote a bunch of songs. And we ended up recording the record in London and New York.

We were pretty excited about the songs that we had. I think before we were writing it was kind of “What do you want this to sound like?” You sort of feel a little bit of pressure and expectation because now you have to follow up and do something better than the last thing you’ve done. But all of those kinds of thoughts are just confusing, so we just tried to block that stuff out when we were writing. And we always try and just make music or art in any form that we’re excited about and that we enjoy making, and make something that we all want to hear. So when we picked producers, we worked with two different producers; Dan Carey, who’s an English producer, that’s why we recorded some of the record in London; and then John Congleton, who’s an American producer from Texas. He’s worked with some cool interesting bands like St. Vincent and Explosions in the Sky. He’s doing a lot of cool stuff, actually more recently. We were fans of his work and fans of Dan’s work, so that’s why we picked those producers. When we went into the studio, we were really excited because firstly we liked the songs we’d written and we were excited about producing them and then we were excited about working with the people that we were working with. So there’s actually a really cool process. It came together pretty quickly and pretty easily. It was a lot of fun, especially being in the UK. It was a blast working in London with Dan and we spent days experimenting with sounds and he’s got a great studio there with a bunch of old, analog synthesizers and drum machines, all of this gear that we’d never really tried before, which we really excited about trying. It was a great time. And he really brought a cool element to the record, a little bit more of an electronic edge to the songs, which we liked as well.

Civil Twilight started as a three piece and you just recently added Kevin [Dailey]. How and what has he contributed to the band?

We added Kevin after this record because we couldn’t play any of the songs live with just the three of us that we’d recorded because we put so many things on them. So it was an interesting process discovering how to perform each of the songs. Kevin’s brought, he’s a really great musician and he’s got a lot of production and recording experience as well, so he’s just really good with sounds and different instruments and arrangements. It’s fun playing with him. And I think he’s added a different perspective that we haven’t had because he’s American and has grown up in America where as we grew up in South Africa, so he’s had a different musical heritage. He’s just a really good musician, so we enjoy playing with him and I feel like he’s added a cool element, a little more but more sensitive approach to playing, like a little more strategy as opposed to energy. And those are things that we were wanting to develop a little bit more. We’ve always had a lot of energy live. And we were wanting to focus a little more on strategy and dynamics, and sensitivity I suppose, which we tried to do on the record and we tried to do in our live show, not exactly sure on how well that’s going. (laughs)

You said that he has production background, and I noticed that he co-produced Harrison Hudson’s album. Are there any plans for him to produce any Civil Twilight works in the future?

Yea, I think so, I think we’d all like to produce some of our own stuff in the future and definitely have Kevin involved in a major way. We’ve already worked on stuff together, it’s been pretty collaborative. I mean, all of us have pretty good instinct; we have produced stuff in the past. Not major artists, but we’ve produced some of our own stuff, some of our friends’ stuff. When we all get together, we all kind of collaborate on a production level as well. Kevin brings a lot of the engineering knowledge, which is pretty helpful because we don’t really have that. And we really respect Kevin as a producer. It’s really cool to have him, and we definitely would really like him to be involved in production in the future. We’re not exactly sure yet, how, or if we will continue to use outside producers, or try to produce our own stuff, so we certainly we’d like to produce some of our own stuff.

So it’s basically, what happens in the future happens?

Yea, we’ll definitely be experimenting with producing ourselves. We can’t say for sure like if we’ll start producing the next record or not, but we’ll certainly be trying.

It could happen.

It could happen, you never know, yea.

You’re doing a remix contest for three songs on the album, how did that come about?

The contest is actually an idea from our record company, and we like remixes, and we like electronic music to a certain extent, certain electronic music and we’ve been listening to. We’ve been getting into artists like James Blake and Flying Lotus, and Andrew, our guitar player, is really into electronics. We thought it would be a cool thing, people’s remixes. We’ve been remixing ourselves; we’ve all been trying our hand at making remixes of our own songs. It’s a kind of cool project, excited about that one.

Moving to your live aspect, you’re about to head out on about two and a half months of touring. How are you preparing for that?

We’re actually putting together some stage production stuff. We’ve been working on getting our set, like our live set up, so we’ll have some stage stuff and working on lights. That sort of thing. So we have a little bit of production items that we’re bringing to our headlining shows. So there’s that element. And then we’ve been rehearsing a lot as well. We usually mix up the setlist a bit, we don’t do the same songs every night. We try to mix in some old songs, some new songs, and see which songs work the best. We continue to refine our live sets and incorporate some new sounds and instruments, buying some new keyboards and stuff.

And then for the fall, we’re out with MuteMath and we’re supporting them, so there won’t be as much production. That will be a little bit of a shorter set, probably 40 or 45 minutes. So I’m not sure which songs we’ll play, we’ll play mostly new songs and a few old favorites. We’re just kind of working on production and rehearsing in Nashville before we head out.

What’s your favorite tour memory?

Man, I have to think about that. I think some cool festivals that we’ve done. Playing Bonnaroo was really fun, just being a part of that whole festival. We played there last year. That was definitely a highlight. And Bumbershoot, that was really cool playing there. Let me think. It’s kind of like, certain shows stand out of the shows we’ve played. Last year when we headline the Highline Ballroom in New York, that was a very special show for us, because it’s New York City and we always enjoy playing in New York City, and it was a sold out show, a kind of big sold out show in New York City, that was really special. So that’s some of our favorite memories.

I know back at home in South Africa, you didn’t really get to see a lot of live performances, so when you came to America, who were you excited to see?

I was really excited to see Radiohead because I’ve been a fan of them my whole life, and I’ve only got see them once. I saw them on their last tour, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and that was really amazing. And, trying to think of what other bands I was excited to see. We’ve played with some bands that I was a fan of, Arcade Fire, I’m a huge fan of theirs, and the year we played Bonnaroo, they were playing. Jack White, I’m a big fan of. I got to watch him play with The Raconteurs from backstage at Voodoo Fest; that was really cool. I got to see The Pixies at Voodoo Fest; that was really amazing. Band of Horses also at Voodoo Fest in New Orleans. I’m sure there’s a ton of others that I just can’t think of right now, but it’s been a really amazing thing. Opening for Florence and the Machine was really cool. We played with them in New York at one show. I really like their music. That was just a fun show to be a part of. So, yea, it’s a totally different world where we’re from with live music. More bands are trying to come to Africa now, but when we were younger, before we moved here, because Africa’s so far away, it’s a little bit off the map for most bands. We didn’t really get to see too many live shows.

Moving on from your idols, you mentioned a lot of bands you were excited to see, you’ve covered Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and you’ve sort of made Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” your own, what made you choose those covers?

Massive Attack, we were all just big fans of that song for a long time. When we first heard that song back in South Africa and discovered Massive Attack, we were like, “Oh that song’s so amazing!” One day we were just jamming, and kind of playing it in rehearsal and we thought it sounded cool, so we tried it out live and everybody liked it. And we just kind of kept doing it live, and then we decided to record it and put it out as a single at some point, and that’s done pretty well too. That’s become like a fan favorite I suppose, and we usually do that song live, like most nights.

And “Come As You Are” we actually recorded, we’re also Nirvana fans when we were starting out. We recorded “Come As You Are” for a Nevermind tribute album. We were actually asked to pick a song from Nevermind that we wanted to cover and “Come As You Are” was one of our favorites, so we picked that one. And that’s how we ended up doing that song. We haven’t actually played that live too much. Then we also cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” live. Then the last cover we did was a song off Beck’s Sea Change album called “Golden Age” and we did that a covers feature that Billboard was putting online, this thing that we did with Billboard and they recorded us playing a song, and that was actually a lot of fun. So, kind of done a few cool covers, I suppose. It’s fun to mix it up, occasionally.

What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?

Hmm, I’d probably be a teacher. My dad is a university professor, my mom’s an elementary school teacher, and my brother’s a high school English teacher. So it’s kind of in the family, so that’s probably what I’d do. Not sure which subject, maybe English?

What age, high school, or middle school, or Kindergarten?

Probably high school, not younger than that I’d say. High school or college, if I could manage it.

Maybe a music teacher?

Maybe, yea. I have taught in the past. But I had some good teachers too, some good music teachers. So that would be really cool being able to share what you’ve learned and help someone else, very rewarding.

Civil Twilight is currently on a west coast headlining tour. Next month, they’ll support MuteMath on a national tour. The band’s second album Holy Weather (iTunes) is out now on Wind-Up Records. Civil Twilight will be playing a special fashion show after-party next Friday September 7th for designer Yuna Yang. Yang’s new Spring/Summer13 collection was inspired by the band’s music.

Check out and tomorrow for Ra Ra Riot’s remix of “River.”

08/28 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s w/Morning Parade, Vanaprasta
08/29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent w/Morning Parade, Vanaprasta
08/31 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge w/Morning Parade, Vanaprasta
09/02 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot Festival w/Mac Miller, Big Sean, Blizten Trapper
09/03 – Vancouver, BC @ Centre for the Performing Arts w/Keane
09/08 – Orlando, FL @ Soaked Festival w/Travie McCoy, more.
09/13 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre w/Mutemath
09/14 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theatre w/Mutemath
09/15 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep w/Mutemath
09/16 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre w/Mutemath
09/18 – Des Moines, IA @ Woolys w/Mutemath
09/20 – Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre w/Mutemath
09/21 – Bloomington, IL @ The Castle Theater w/Mutemath
09/22 – Atlanta, GA @ Piedmont Park, Music Midtown Festival w/Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, more.
09/25 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre w/Mutemath
09/27 – Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre w/Mutemath
09/28 – Montreal, QC @ Cabaret La Tulipe w/Mutemath
09/29 – Pawtucket, RI @ The Met w/Mutemath
09/30 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground w/Mutemath
10/02 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place w/Mutemath
10/04 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom w/Mutemath
10/05 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar w/Mutemath
10/06 – Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head Live w/Mutemath
10/08 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater w/Mutemath
10/09 – Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre w/Mutemath
10/10 – Chattanooga, TN @ Track 29 w/Mutemath
10/11 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club w/Mutemath
10/13 – Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival w/Red Hot Chili Peppers, more.
10/14 – San Antonio TX @ Back Stage Live w/Mutemath
10/16 – Waco, TX @ Common Grounds w/Mutemath
10/18 – Springfield, MO @ Gillioz Theatre w/Mutemath
10/19 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall w/Mutemath
10/20 – Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre w/ Mutemath
10/21 – Knoxville, TN @ Bijou Theatre w/Mutemath
10/23 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theatre w/Mutemath

06 Aug

By Matt Arena

Earlier in the day before their headlining set at the secondary stage at Firefly Festival, we got the chance to sit down with Nikki Monninger (bass) and Joe Lester (keys) of Silversun Pickups to talk about their new album, their live aesthetic, and their love for vinyl records.

Congrats on the new album, it sounds fantastic.

Joe: Thanks, we’re really excited to start playing it live.

Nikki: We haven’t been able to play these songs at all really, so we’re eager to see how they come out on stage.

It might be a bit cliché to say this, but it really sounds like you evolved your sound for this album. Was that your intent going in or an organic development during the recording process?

Nikki: It was definitely something we wanted to do. Going in with a new producer, he helped us come out with a more refined sound than we had on Carnavas and Swoon.

Joe: Yeah Jacknife Lee really helped us cut away a lot of the fat and extra stuff we just didn’t need on these songs; I think that’s something we definitely needed.

I noticed with the tour for Neck of the Woods, you guys waited a bit. Most bands launch right into a tour, what influenced this decision?

Nikki: Nothing in particular really, it’s just how we scheduled it. With the last album we were touring before, during, and after the album release. This time it’s just different.

There’s a huge leap in the heaviness and intensity of your songs from studio recordings to when they’re played live, do you approach them differently or is it just a natural progression?

Nikki: It tends to happen naturally. The loud drums help a lot.

Joe: It kinda depends on the space. Big rooms generate big sounds. We’ve played anywhere from small clubs to even arenas before, and with bigger spaces the sound just naturally comes out bigger.

Your music goes against the modern trend of shot, to-the-point, radio edit type songs. I really appreciate the build-up that they have.

Nikki: We usually don’t try to edit our songs to fit a mold; we just let them be what they are.

Joe: Yeah if someone creates a radio edit of one of our songs that’s fine, but we don’t go in with the intention of creating them a certain way.

For Record Store Day this year you had an exclusive release, is it safe to say you guys are big support of vinyl and physical releases?

Nikki: Definitely. It’s really important to us to support that since its how indie bands get found. It’s how we kinda got our break. Our tour manager used to own this a record store and had our record. At the time it was really the only way people could buy our album. If they aren’t there to carry a band’s album, who will be?

Do you think it’s a never ending battle between digital and physical releases or is there a way for them to co-exist?

Joe: I think they already have found a way to co-exist. With us we have digital download cards inside our vinyl. It rides that line between being able to get it now and also having something tangible with it. CD’s are just a thing you put in your car but a vinyl record is a big deal.

One last question, you’ve toured with some pretty big bands, has there been a musical icon you’ve met that’s left you star struck?

Nikki: Hmm. Probably Dave Grohl. That was a big deal.

Joe: Definitely Dave Grohl. We were just standing there talking with him about touring with Nirvana and the 14 year old inside me is just geeking out.

02 Aug

By Matt Arena

After their early set at Firefly Festival, we got the chance to sit down with Dan Reynolds (lead singer) and D. Wayne Sermon (guitarist) of Imagine Dragons, to talk about their debut album, what it’s like being a band in Las Vegas, and their first ever TV appearance.

You guys have really taken off lately, and though I hate the term “buzz band” but if it applied to anybody it would be you, what’s it like being a buzz band?

D. Wayne: It’s rewarding. We’re glad it seems that way to the public, from our perspective we’re just trying to build something organically. For us it’s been a steady, slow incline as far as fans and popularity goes.

Dan: A three year build.

D. Wayne: We’re so grateful, how many bands get to have that said about them?

Dan: It’s a really incredible thing to come to a place you’ve never been before and see tons of people singing the songs. It’s pretty surreal. We’re both just a little bit in shock, it’s like “wow, people know the music out there and we haven’t even been here yet.” It’s very cool, we feel very humble and grateful.

D. Wayne: There’s a lot of bands that work just as hard and they don’t have their songs on the radio so we always try to keep that in mind. Every show we play we try to have our expectations a little bit low, we think “oh maybe no one will come,” that way we’re surprised when people actually do and know the words. It’s a shock every time.

I saw you guys on Leno, how was that?

Dan: Yeah we played Leno on Monday, that was unreal. We all grew up watching late night television and Leno is one of the legends. Being able to meet him and hear him say he’d been listening to the song was just like wow. He’s so nice.

How was the actual performance, it must have been a lot different.

Dan: When we came in everyone warned us that it’s a really stiff audience and I think we just got lucky. The audience was really reactive and you can actually hear them in the recording. There was a lot of energy in the room. So we fed off that energy and hopefully it translated through.

D. Wayne: We kinda have this singular experience as a band, since we grew up in Vegas playing casinos so people don’t really come in listening to you. We have the whole ‘non receptive’ thing down because we’re so used to it. People were pulling slot machines or trying to count cards so we always had to fight for their attention. I think that ended up being a plus for us because we learned how to keep the energy on stage no matter what was going on out there.

(photo credit: Ken Grand-Pierre)

You’re currently recording a new album, correct?

Dan: Our debut album, Night Visions, comes out September 4th and we couldn’t be more excited with how it turned out. It’s being mixed right now, it’s all finished. We just feel like it’s a good reflection of what the band is, it’s our first statement as to who Imagine Dragons is so the audience can wrap their heads around it and understand what our sound is. I think the EP is a good reflection of what the album is, just on a broader scale.

There’s been 4 EP’s released before you started work on the album, was that a timing thing or do you just prefer EP’s to albums?

Dan: We just wanted to be ready before we did our album, to feel like we understood who we were as a band before we tried to tell other people who were are. You only get to do your first album once and it’s a pretty big step for a band so we wanted to make sure we were ready. For us that took three years, for other bands maybe not but it’s worked well for us.

In looking at some past interviews, you’re almost always asked about the band name. What do you think the fixation with everyone needing to know the meaning behind the band name?

D. Wayne: There’s a certain mystic quality to our name I guess.

Dan: I think it’s such a unique name that people just wanna understand how it’s involved with the art. The great thing about being an artist is that there’s so many different avenues to be able to express yourself, whether it’s music or the visual on your artwork or the name of the band, I think people just like the understand all the different parts of an art project. It’s cool that people ask and we tell that about how it’s an anagram, we don’t tell them what the anagram was, but it’s a nice thing for us. As an artist you expose yourself so much in your lyrics or your music that it’s nice to have something that we keep private as a band that has special meaning to us.

What was it like trying to build a fanbase in a place like Vegas where there’s so much other stuff going on?

D. Wayne: I moved to Vegas to start a band with Dan. I had never been there before so I didn’t know what to expect. There’s an underground movement, an art scene, that I had no idea about. In that scene there’s painters, musicians and bands that are up and coming that I had no idea about. There’s a festival the first Friday of every month downtown that I didn’t know about. The environment, there’s nothing like it in the world, no other place like Las Vegas.

Dan: It was good for us because we got to play a lot of cover gigs in the very beginning to make ends meet. So we’d do sets that were 50% covers and 50% originals. I think that was good in developing the band because we were able to study how a lot of our favorite bands wrote music, like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin, a lot of the legends. It was very important for us to analyze them and grow as artists. You can always grow and learn from others so I think that helped develop our sound a lot.

What kind of bands did you cover?

Dan: Rolling Stones, The Cure; we did newer stuff too like MGMT…

D. Wayne: Franz Ferdinand. Basically stuff that we loved but would get a crowd going as well so we tried to ride that line.

Dan: We had to pick more popular music, we listen to a lot of bands that are a little less well known as well. But you can’t really play those to a Vegas crowd so we find the median. Songs that we felt were eclectic that we grew up listening to and loved.

Are there any other bands you’re looking forward to seeing today?

D. Wayne: Tons. This might have the most impressive resume of artists we’ve seen so far.

Dan: Girl Talk, Cold War Kids, Grouplove, Jack White, Young the Giant, The Black Keys, The Killers; basically all the bands that are playing. We really wanted to see Passion Pit but they dropped out I guess.

Pick up Imagine Dragons’s EP on iTunes or Amazon MP3

01 Aug

By Matt Arena

Just prior to their set at the main stage at Firefly Festival, we were able to sit down with bassist Payam Doostzadeh from Young the Giant to talk about touring, plans for the second album, and how their experience changes with growing popularity.

You guys have had a really big year, is there one point in specific that you think was a really big jumping off point?

Yeah, everyone points to the VMAs as our big break and in a way it is because that brought us into the mainstream and an audience we would never really appeal to otherwise. So that definitely jump-started everything. But had it not been for the relentless touring and playing to no one for years we wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity. There were other bands bigger than us they were considering for that show and they went with us, I don’t know why, but we kept going and kept playing more shows so it was definitely more gradual.

Right around then you had the tour with Incubus too, do you think that helped?

Yeah, I don’t know if that expanded our fan base as much as the VMAs did or radio support we’ve had, but definitely opened us to a different crowd as people who listen to Incubus might not have heard of us, most of them never heard of us. It was cool, those guys are so great and for the last month we’ve been living at the guitarist’s place in Malibu while he’s on tour in Europe. He’s got a home studio and we’ve been writing a bunch of new songs. We’re not there anymore but he was nice enough to have us there.

You guys are really close with a bunch of other bands, Grouplove, Cage the Elephant, Walk the Moon, Sleeper Agent, how’d that come about?

Just from playing shows I guess. We played a couple festivals with Cage and Grouplove and just ended up becoming really good friends. We brought Grouplove on tour with us and we actually just saw them on the other stage, we were all having lunch and caught up again. Festivals are so much fun because it’s like summer camp but a one-day thing so everyone gets to be reunited and there’s food; it’s fun.

Have there been any plans for album 2?

Yeah it’s probably half done right now, we have maybe another two months of writing and recording at the end of the year. We’re gonna try to get it out by next Spring/Summer.

Now that you’re a lot bigger than when you put out the first album, have the expectations or experiences of being a bigger band influenced the writing?

I don’t think the fact that we’re a bigger band has influenced it, I think our travels have. It’s very cliché that people say the sophomore albums influenced by travels but it’s true. If your first album does well and you have a chance to do your second album, you’re going to be writing about the road because that’s what inspires you. The fact that we have a larger audience now is an important factor and we’re trying to expand our musical palette. We’re trying to bring it out and have different types of tracks, like seven-minute tracks, two and a half minute tracks, and just different styles. That’s really important to us, showing people that we’re not just a radio band that has ‘Cough Syrup’ and ‘My Body’ on the radio. We have other songs and that’s not just what we’re about so it’s gonna be our chance to prove to the world that this is what we’re about.

What’s it like going from playing tiny rooms to now huge clubs?

It’s incredible, man. To sell out these theaters, do two nights at large venues is a dream come true. We’ve so fortunate and appreciative of the opportunity. And glad that we’ve all been able to stick through it and stay together, they’re like my brothers. We all get along and we’re all at the same stage in our life, we all have long-time girlfriends and a lot of things are very similar so it helps.

Has there been any adaptation of your playing style now that you’re in such bigger venues?

As far as where the amps and everything are dialed in, like how hard I’m hitting the strings, it’s all the same. It just comes down to your front-of-house sound guy to amplify everything and make it fill that room. Whether you’re playing an amphitheater or you’re playing a hundred person club, you just do whatever you do and then they make it loud.

Which do you prefer, bigger or smaller shows?

Both sizes have their perks, playing in a small, two hundred person, sweaty club is intimate and hot. It’s uncomfortable but it’s awesome to feel that energy. As opposed to when you’re playing in front of ten thousand people, especially if it’s not your own crowd like when we were opening for Incubus, people are walking around like they don’t really care so you have to play even harder to win their attention. Whereas like in a club that’s sold out, they can’t not notice the band playing. It’s a little different, but we still go at it one hundred and ten percent no matter where we’re playing.

This summer you’ve hit up almost all the major festival stops, what about the environment of a festival appeals to you?

Festival environment is definitely the most fun. It’s a break from the normal routine of playing a headlining or support tour where you see the same people everyday and play the same songs everyday, everything is more or less the same. But when you go to a festival different bands are playing and you get to see and meet other bands, you can go into the crowd and just wander. It’s more of a real musical experience because you never know what’s gonna happen, who’s gonna stop by. It’s not as planned as a normal show.

You plan on hanging around to catch any other bands?

Definitely. Gonna try to catch Lupe, and we’ve seen Grouplove a million times but I want to catch their set. I’ve never seen The Killers live and I listened to them a lot in high school so I’m definitely going to watch them and maybe catch Modest Mouse.

One last question, what’s the best and worst thing about being on tour?

Best thing about being on tour is meeting people and seeing the world. I’ve been to every state in the country except for Alaska so it’s good to have that experience. No matter what I had done in my previous life, I would never have been able to travel and understand people from different cultures. That’s definitely a huge highlight. The worst thing about being on tour is being away from home; I miss my girlfriend, I miss my dog, I miss my family, I miss the beach, and that’s really hard but it’s part of the job.

Pick up Young the Giant’s self-titled album on on iTunes, Amazon MP3, CD, Vinyl