I recently had the oppurtunity to conduct an email interview with Nate Reuss of The Format, which you can read below.
How has the internet changed the way you make/market music?
Through about a million different ways, the Internet makes music much more accessible, as for helping us make music, well, I guess we have a lot of access to bad music… so we know what we don’t want to do.
Were you surprised at the large number of people who chose to pay to download Dog Problems early, instead of downloading it for free?
I was surprised the album leaked, in general, as early as it did. I didn’t even have a copy of the masters yet for myself, so I bought it online just so I could show my parents the record.
Do you feel that people’s ability to download your music for free has helped or hurt The Format’s success?
It helps us get exposure, so I helps with things like touring. However, with something like Dog Problems that we spent so much time on, it’s be nice to see people paying for it. Wilco did a thing where when their album got leaked, they put up a donation site and all the money went to charity. I donated 20 bucks and have bought the record five times since.
Is is difficult juggling the duel roles of musician and music fan in terms of your beliefs on illegal downloading?
Yes. (see above answer)
Will you be recording a video for “The Compromise?” If so, what is the concept?
Shot is a few weeks ago… origami… need I say more?
What is the next single going to be?
It had better be “Time Bomb.”
What were your biggest musical influences on the new album?
For me it was XTC’s Skylarking. That record made me feel like it was okay to make a pop record that was a little weird at times, but something sunny was tying it all together. For Sam, I think it was Nilsson Sings Newman, because the record has so many great standardish songs. Every morning on the way to the studio we would listen to Chicago’s “The Inspiration”… the key change is bitchin.
What new song are you most looking forward to performing live?
“Matches,” “I’m Actual,” “Dog Problems,” “Time Bomb,” “If Work Permits”… songs that swell.
Why was “Snails” chosen to be redone for the new album over the other tracks recorded for the same EP?
We felt like we could do better. We didn’t have a lot of time on the EP and that song was supposed to be a fully orchestrated kids song. I think the album version is 95% of how we wanted it to be, minus the kid gang choir that we didn’t have time to record.
What comes first when you write songs? Music? Melody? Lyrics?
It depends on the situation… examples:
“Time Bomb” was written when Sam and I were trying to reconstruct an old song and Sam came up with the piano part and wrote the whole song. I ended up writing all the melodies and lyrics the day I had to record the vocals for the demo.
“Dog Problems” and “I’m Actual” were written while I was driving or sitting at home and I just came up with a melody. Then I sing it to Sam and he tabs out the progression and we work from there.
I’ve written a new song that just started as lyrics. After I had gone out to a bar and saw some kids I went to high school with, I wrote about the whole freaky experience in my notebook and since then, I’ve constructed a song.
Would you ever entertain the idea of becoming a full band instead of a duo with back-up musicians?
Yeah. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of the earlier XTC stuff, or The Clash, and you can’t capture those raw moments without a full band. With that being said, I don’t know if everyone wants to take the time to get the references and draw the same inspiration. It’s something you can’t usually force onto people, but it would be nice.
What music first made you want to be in a band?
All of my dad’s old record, I think the same for Sam. After that, it was the early Weezer stuff. After that, it was the whole Fat Wreck Chords thing. After that, it was back to our parents’ music and we’ve just sort of made up our own minds since then.
What is The Format’s goal for the future?
Tour a lot. Keep doing what we want to do. Not get bitter again.
Is there any chance The Format could go back to a major label?
For tons of money and all the artistic freedom our heart’s desire. I don’t see that happening, but you never know.
What are some things that you occupy your time with when not writing, performing or recording?
Sudoku, listening to music, cards, sports, significant others (some of us), drinking and whatnot.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (band related or otherwise)?
The Rx Bandits told us we couldn’t drive the van over 80MPH. They refused to let us and we’re still alive.