Acceptance are back and have spent the last year working on a new album. I recently had the chance to talk with lead singer Jason Vena about getting the band back together and what lead to that decision, the differences in the music industry from when the band first broke into the music scene to now, and what the new songs are going to sound like. We also talked about the entire process of recording this album, how the band is taking their time through the process, and why it took ten years for Jason to once again feel like he had something he wanted to say musically. Our full conversation can be found below, only lightly edited, and make sure you pre-order the band’s upcoming album if you haven’t already.
So how are you doing today?
I’m great man. I’m doing perfect. The weather’s perfect right now. You probably know, are you still down in Portland?
I am! And it is way too hot. I am not ok with this heat.
Yeah, that’s the only thing, I mean, it’s hot, but it is gorgeous out here.
Where are you at right now?
I am sitting in my makeshift studio, which I think is two by eight feet. It’s basically like an office that my wife uses, and then I get about the space of a closet to work in.
Haha, that’s awesome.
I have a desk, a computer, a microphone, and a stool. And then I am good to go.
So, are you working on Acceptance stuff there right now?
Yeah. That’s been kind of the constant, at least for the last year now, to just kind of keep writing music.
There’s so many cool things to talk about here. Let’s start there though, is this the first time since Acceptance disbanded all those years ago that you’ve been writing music, or did you do any secret writing during that time that no one’s ever gotten to hear?
Really, we got back together, and I think it would be completely truthful to say that I don’t think I had even picked up a guitar or tried to write an original melody in those 10 years. So, it’s been an interesting process, I mean, it’s been a lot of fun, but it’s definitely been interesting.
Is there any reason for not wanting to write, or choosing not to write? Did you want to do other things, not feeling any inspiration, or what do you think it was?
You know, I think it was about inspiration. But really there’s a combination of things. The disbandment of Acceptance, to start, well, I think that I was a catalyst to that outcome. I was pretty much as jaded as I could be from an industry perspective, and a business perspective, and that had all just crept into my mindset, my motivation, and there was just nothing real happening for me anymore. So, then, when I moved on, it was kind of like a relationship. And I felt like, if I don’t cut ties, how can I really move on? So it was a decision for me to give whatever this next phase of my life was going to be, I felt like I needed to give it a real fair shot, and that I couldn’t do that if I was still trying to figure out what had happend with music, you know?
Yeah. Definitely. That makes sense. So then was it hard to jump back into it? Was there a warming up process? And how did you get back into the mentality of writing music again? Was there stuff stored up inside of you that you needed to get out, because it seems like that would be difficult to just jump right back into after 10 years.
There was a lot of adrenaline. And I know that’s a funny word, because it was just over this period of time of kind of getting back together with the band. But the reformation of the band was such a positive, and again, something I didn’t anticipate, but such a positive event, if you will. And from the first time we got back together, to kind of the reaction of the people, and then playing shows, like Skate and Surf and the concert the night before in New York City. And, the environment was unreal. So I don’t think that easy is the right word, because even if you’re super tuned in, I don’t think it’s easy — but I think I had a lot of stuff to write about that I didn’t realize. Stuff that was just in there. And it just came out.
Now, take a song like “Take You Away,” which is a song that we ended up really quickly writing and recording, and now as we are here working on this new record, there’s a major progression even from that song. And, you know it was kind of already happening, but I think that “Take You Away” was a really comfortable version of “Hey, it’s been 10 years, so let’s write a song and something that isn’t too far away from what people remember Acceptance as.” So, Jason, I can’t even tell you — it’s crazy right? — and now we’re writing 50 or 60 songs and trying to find out if 10 will be good. So, it’s a pretty wild feeling, but if anything I feel more confident, or I don’t know if that’s the right word, but more progressed than I recall. So that’s good.
So where do you feel that you guys are at in the album process now? As you said, you’ve written about 50 or something songs, and I think I’ve heard roughly six of the new ones, and obviously I’m really excited about the direction you guys appear to be going, but where is the album process at right now?
We are pretty much done with the writing and tracking of the record. And this is going to be a two part answer. So, part one is: I think the record is, or what I think the record is going to be – the songs on it – are done tracking. We’re in the process of mixing with John O’Mahony, he’s mixed two songs, and I think he has another four of what I think will be 12, and I think the album will end up being 10 to 12 songs, and he’s going to mix all those songs, and then what happens with them next … we’ll see. You know, as far as how many make it on the record and what becomes extra material. I think by the end of this month the record is finished finished. And you know, it’s a pretty crazy thing because it’s been a year now and to think that there’s an actual “finish” date is pretty awesome.
But, you know, the thing for me is that the idea of a “record” is fairly antiquated for me. The ability to write music, and in in our world, where we have a lot of guys that can do a lot of different stuff, and we have a great relationship with Aaron Sprinkle, and so we have the opportunity to almost constantly make music. And we’ll put a record out because that’s traditional to some extent but the goal is — well, if the normal cycle of a record is a year to a year and a half and to put out 10 songs — I want to put out 20 songs in that same period of time. I really want to continue putting music out after this record, be it in an EP form, or single releases, or maybe if it’s us getting together with some other artists and we put out our own split. Haha, do you remember when people used to do splits?
Haha, yeah, that feels so long ago sometimes.
Exactly, right? And I remember when a split was like a mixtape almost, right?
Yeah, definitely. Trying to get people into a band or introduce yourself to new fans and all of that. I’ve always been a big fan of collaboration. We need more of that.
And yeah, over the past year I keep talking to people and meeting with people that listened to Phantoms, and I float the idea of working together, and, I guess just the idea of putting out more music is really appealing to me. And it’ll be interesting to see how that all comes together, and collaborating at times. Sorry for the long-winded answer, but, yeah, the record should be done here pretty soon.
So are you doing some of the recording at home, and then sending files to other guys through email, and then sending some stuff to Aaron Sprinkle to put together, or has there been more recording where you all get together in the same room and record?
Yeah, I think I’d love it to be more of that. And I think through this process we have been together in the same place a total of maybe 10 days. And that was really awesome, a really amazing time, but most of it has been: there’s a musical idea that gets drafted on ProTools, or GarageBand, or even an iPhone voice memo, and that gets floated around, and then usually I’ll sit with it — if it’s not my music already — I’ll sit with with somebody else’s idea and write some melody and lyric ideas to it. And then we get to the point where we’re pretty far down the road and we like what’s happening and we will then send that to Aaron. He’ll usually kind of create a basic track or structure that we can work off of and then guys will kind of go and do what they need to. So then we have guys tracking guitars, and drums, and bass, in all kinds of places. Kaylan has been doing some tracking with Bobby Darling, you know him from Gatsbys [American Dream] and The Money Pit, in an RV of all things.
Haha, yeah that sounds about right.
Yeah, that’s totally Bobby. And then Christian has been tracking a lot of his own stuff because he has own rig in Florida. I have tracked vocals in Nashville with Aaron, and in Seattle at a couple different studios, so we just kind of bounce around. But, the final tracking, most of it gets done in a pretty structured setting. I mean, other than the RV, but yeah.
Hahaha, yeah, that makes sense. So, for a long time I’ve maintained that Aaron Sprinkle might be one of the most underrated producers, and maybe even just musical minds out there. I don’t feel like enough people realize how good he is. What’s it like working with him?
I think that a lot of bands get to work with a lot of different producers. And there are then a lot of bands that work with the same producer. And we’ve had a pretty interesting history because we’ve only really released music while working with Aaron, but in our history, we’ve had this weird opportunity to actually work with other producers but just the music never made the light of day. So, we demoed Phantoms with Lou Giordano, who did Sunny Day Real Estate, and a Taking Back Sunday record, and The Ataris and stuff like that. And then we re-recorded “Different” with Howard Benson who did My Chemical Romance and all sorts of other bands. And Aaron, for us, he’s just super talented, first of all. His ability as a producer to shape a song and connect to a song and really help elevate is very strong. I mean, he’s a song writer as well as a producer, so that works in an artist’s favor. And then with this band it’s beyond that. Because there’s a connection. I mean at this point he’s so connected with the music and with the band that basically on this record he’s a member of the band. He’s part of the entire process with us.
And, you’re right, he’s underrated, and he’s super, super talented.
I definitely agree. Ok, so I have a few questions about the new songs themselves. The ones I’ve heard so far, I wouldn’t say they are “slow” per se, but they are more mid-tempo and they have this atmospheric vibe to them. But they also feel like a continuation of where Phantoms left off. How would you describe what the music is going to sound like on this album? Is what I’ve heard a good indication of where you’re going?
I think that atmospheric is a good word. It’s definitely, well, there’s a couple things: the music is very intentional. And what I mean by that is that everything that’s happening within the song, there was a strong desire to write guitar parts that had a purpose within the song. So, sometimes when you listen to Phantoms you’ll notice there’s a lot of layering, a lot of palm muted guitar, a lot of rhythm guitar, and sometimes there’s almost a “wall of sound” – if you will – obviously Christian then moved on to Anberlin and there’s some similarities there with Anberlin as far as the way their music is presented. And we kind of came into this record and we said we wanted to force ourselves to be very purposeful with everything we do and I think the outcome of that is a very emotional, or I guess a very moody sound, there’s a lot of connection to the music at that point because a lot of it is guitar lines, or bass lines, or drums that have a very singular purpose at that time. So, I would say atmospheric just means it’s moody, and mid-tempo for sure, but what I like about these songs is the feeling of driving, late at night, in the city, outside of the city, down the highway, and that feeling of just being out and seeing the beautiful scenery. Just like I’m doing right now as I see the beautiful scenes of Washington, and I’m looking at a lake, and the mountains, and these trees, and you just get this feeling that goes through you when you observe all this stuff. And I really do think this record is a really good backdrop for these moments in your life, and I want this to be a soundtrack to these moments. So, definitely, as you listen to the record I think it’s going to be able to take you through all these different phases of what you’re doing. And, from a perspective of is there going to be as much of an ode to Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American? Probably not as much. But, I mean, I can’t get Jimmy Eat World out of my DNA, so well, it’s going to be there anyway.
I mean, can anybody? Once you hear them, it’s kind of just there forever.
And I think there’s some stuff where you’ll hear some Clarity, which I would say is a much more mid-tempo record, and I think you’ll see that. And like those guys, I think there’s also a huge Tears for Fears vibe, maybe not new-wave, but more of that brooding feel. And I think you’re going to pick that up in this record as well. You know, we all have our own tastes, and I think Kaylan and Christian drive a lot of the music, and I drive a lot of the melodies. And I think that even 10 years later we all have a unique style to us so that when you hear our record you hear Jason Vena singing and you’re going to feel Acceptance and you’re going hear what Kaylan does with guitar and you’re going to remember that. So, I do think it will be interesting to see how people react to the music. I’m really excited about it. I think our fans are going to be really excited about it.
I think back to songs like “So Contagious,” and that’s a song that’s mid-tempo, but also a song that I think a lot of our fans really love, and that they relate to, and I think that song has lasted a long time because it was real, and it had a lot of feel to it. And I really do feel like this record harnesses a lot of that throughout.
Absolutely. I want to build off that a little bit and look at the differences in recording Phantoms and the new album. When you were recording Phantoms, you walked into that knowing that you were recording an album for a major label, and I’m assuming there was some pressure there to write a “single” and, well, obviously over the last 10 years we’ve constantly been debating if the right single was released – but still – was there any pressure when you walked into this record this album to live up to what Phantoms has become?
Yeah, that is interesting. I don’t think we have had that pressure though. I mean, maybe when we wrote “Take You Away” we did a little bit, but when we started writing this music the belief has just been so strong that it’s really overcome any type of insecurity or hypersensitivity to living up to our fans — who have been so supportive of us even when maybe they didn’t have any reason to be — and worrying if they’re going to be happy that they waited this long for this. And, you know, it’s hard to tell. But I think at the end of the day, and Jason, like you’ve listened to so much music over your time, and I’ve listened to so much music, and the reality is Phantoms isn’t that special in and of itself. Like if you listen to one song off Phantoms you can’t say, “oh, that’s the greatest song I’ve ever heard.” And I just read this article recently, and this band was talking about “Take Cover,” and they said it was the greatest song that they know of — and this is a band that if I said their name I think like nine out of ten kids knows this band. And I was like, “oh no,” — I mean, I think “Take Cover” is a great song, I love the song, and I think it’s one of the best songs off Phantoms, but, man. And you know what? Do you know the story behind writing that song?
I don’t think I do.
So, we went to the studio, we had the song written, and we went in to record, and I recorded all the vocals, and then I told Aaron [Sprinkle], that this song just was not any good. And we had to re-do the whole thing. So then one night we sat down, and I re-recorded the whole thing, and he wrote that little piano part at the beginning of the song, we added that, and so there’s weird stuff like that throughout that record. And really I think that record had more to do with the fact that I have this really naive, almost Goonies like belief, that everything that went into that album, all the love, that’s what made it something that lasted. And I think that we really have replicated that as far as how we felt about this record and what we’ve put into it. So, hopefully it maybe transcends in some similar ways that songs like “Take Cover” or “So Contagious” did.
What would you say you want out of this album then, how would you consider this album a success?
I would like to have every single human being on the planet listen to this record, love it, and have it impact their lives in a positive manner. And I want people to have songs that help them get through tough parts of their lives, or be able to say “this song is the song I had my first kid to,” or this song over here did this for me. So I don’t think it’s pressure, as much as I am excited to share it with everybody. I just want as many people to listen to it as possible. And I think, or hope, that we’ve done something to better people. And I mean, the record’s not really about us. I think the record’s really about us making music that I hope can maybe make the world just a little bit of a better place. And maybe that’s just that you get to go hang out with your buddy and listen to the album together, or maybe it’s because it truly impacts you when you listen to it, but, I guess, if that doesn’t work we did a bad job and we’ll try again.
Do you think that helped bring the band back together, that you once again wanted to say something to the world, or had something to say? And as you just said, something that drives to impact it and try and make it a better place, did that play a role in your decision?
I think so. I think that the place I’m at in my life is, well, I’m not in a spot where I have to make music to feed my family at this point, and I think that there are always challenges. Sometimes you get to the point where you either want to, or have to, find commercial success then it becomes a real challenge. You’re trying to create something, but you’re also trying to balance that creation with an outcome that is either product driven or commodity driven, right? And you’re trying to connect with all these people, basically, to ensure a financial success outcome, and that ends up being fairly paradoxical at times, right? And so, I think for me, that once we kinda started going, it was that I had all this stuff, I’d experienced some things in the last 10 years in my life that have been pretty impactful to me, and I want to speak to them. And even the fact of Acceptance, like, if you look at the band itself — the inner workings of the people in Acceptance is probably as unique as you’d find. And my point is that when you have a unique group of people coming together to make music, that in and of itself is a story to tell. And I think it’s a pretty positive story.
Along with that, after 10 years, I mean, it’s been written about quite a bit: there were some of you that talked, and some of you that did not, so what was it like trying to recapture that “band” feeling of connection?
Right. Well, it was, first of all, most of it was my fault. I came into this, I guess, as humble as I can be, with the perspective of realizing that I hadn’t talked to anybody in the band in 10 years. And that was on me. Not because people hadn’t reached out, not because of any of that stuff, so I came into it with the mindset of really wanting to reconnect and reconcile with these guys. And the word “reconcile” doesn’t really mean that there were these wrongs or anything, but more of a feeling of that we were a band, that was our full-time job, and maybe some of us were happy with breaking up and maybe some of us weren’t. And regardless, maybe some people didn’t have a decision. And that’s a tough thing. And then you also put into it whatever things we fought about as a band some three hundred days out of the year, and all those unresolved issues that really never got addressed because you all went your own ways, and I pretty much came into it with the mindset of, hey, I am going to own up to anything that was on me, and I’m coming into this with the perspective of being super positive. And it started with saying, look, we’re going to be a band and everything we do we’re going to do equally, and some bands don’t, and how songs are written or split up is different, and that can create a different kind of culture within your band. And so I wanted to be really upfront from the start about my intentions of really just wanting to make music and the other guys were great. Every since the first time we got together everyone has just had a huge smile on their face. And really, for the most part, it was a really great experience. And I was kind of expecting, blowback, or something, I don’t know what you’d wanna call it …
Awkwardness after all that time?
Yeah, yeah, and it’s funny.
Yeah, I get that. Sometimes I run into friends from high school or whatever and maybe it’s someone you liked or didn’t like, but that experience is always weird, always a little strange at least. And sometimes you go: “oh, I don’t know why I haven’t talked to you in so long,” but then other times it’s like, “oh, now I remember exactly why I haven’t talked to you in so long,” and it sounds like this was the former. Do you think that having had some time off, almost a decade, to kind of think things over and maybe get a little more perspective, that that made things easier to get back together and come back into this?
I think for everybody there were different reasons. And I think that for everyone in the band there is a sincere love for what we do. And when we get together you see it. Kaylan, Christian, Ryan, Garrett, you can tell there was so many different things they were so happy for. And, I mean, I’m the guy. I’m the guy that you meet years after high-school and go, “that’s the dick.” I mean, from the band perspective, I mean, that was me. I was the controlling member of the band and I had a strong vision for what I wanted it to be and what I wanted to do, and I acted like if you didn’t agree with me, you were wrong.
So, yeah, that was the atmosphere.
And we would write a song, and we could be thirty seconds into the song, and I’d be like, “no that’s not going to work.” It was that kind of thing. And so when we got back together, I can remember Kaylan sending me a bunch of songs, and I was like, “oh wow, these all sound great,” and he looked at me and was like, “wait, what are you talking about?” And he was like, “you never say anything sounds great.” And I was like, “no no, these sound great.” And he was like, “what’s happening right now?” So, you know, it’s definitely changed, and become a much more collaborative atmosphere. And there are still moments where we disagree. And we have those moments where we fight over parts, but it’s definitely a different level at this point.
Can you think of a specific reason why you think that’s changed for you? Was it just a complete personality change? Or getting older and wiser?
Well, it’s a couple things. For one, at the time, I didn’t just want to be a musician. I wanted to be the greatest musician. I didn’t want to just make a record, I wanted to make the greatest record. And if I felt like anybody wasn’t to that level, or had the same goal, and I had that personal opinion … that bothered me. So, my expectation was that everyone around me, whether that be musically or not, was on that same page. And it was basically a non-starter for me if you weren’t writing music and trying to push yourself to another level, and it didn’t matter what it was, it could have been a t-shirt design. So, now, a lot of stuff has changed. First, all of the guys in the band have grown, and have become more talented, especially more talented than me. They’ve far surpassed me. And now a lot of time I’m thinking, “oh, man, I gotta catch up.” So that’s number one. I mean, Christian had spent a lot of time in Anberlin, and right away I was like, “wow, he’s grown so much as an artist.” And Garrett had played in a bunch of bands and, well, he was already extremely talented. And he continued to grow. Ryan had played music, Kaylan maybe hadn’t been playing much but he had been writing music the whole time. So, I think I was the one that had been the furthest from music, and I do think that was good for me. I think it was good for me to kind of come into that environment with that. And, yeah, I do think maturity comes into play. And you realize that everyone was so passionate to make this record, and in this environment it was really easy to see that. Maybe in a different environment if you’ve been on the road for months and then you start thinking, “maybe this guy isn’t pulling his weight,” but in this environment, that never comes up. Instead we’re able to take this step to make this record that we totally love and totally believe in. And so maybe another part is that I just haven’t had to be in any position to even worry about it. And, well, hopefully I won’t be a jerk again. I’m trying. And in normal life I think I’m an ok guy, it’s just, around music.
I mean, I get it. It’s your passion, your art, and you’re putting it out into the world. You want it to be as good as it can possibly be, I get that. I think if there’s one thing I’ve learned about talking with bands for all these years it’s that sometimes you really don’t want to see how the sausage gets made.
Yeah. Yeah. True.
Do you think that the way you guys have been recording has helped with this too? Given that you don’t have to go into a studio and work for only a few weeks or so to get an album out, but instead have been able to take your time and work, what, 6 months to a year on this now?
Oh yeah. We started this album almost 10 months ago. And I think that being apart from each other actually maybe has been the toughest part. Because when you make a record and you’re in the same room, and people have ideas, you can riff those ideas right away, record them, listen to them, and say “yeah that doesn’t work” or “try this one extra note here, or change this here.” And we’ve actually had to really work hard at communicating because it’s more that someone writes a part, we get it, Aaron will put it into the song, send it to everybody, and then someone is like, “well that’s not really what I was thinking,” or “I don’t like that.” And the other guy is like, “well I just spent a week writing and recording that part and what to you got?” And it’s like, if we were just all in the same room together, we could have done all this in an hour. And instead it takes a week to determine what the chorus is going to sound like on this one song. So I think it’s been really good for the band because it’s forced us to communicate these different ideas and really be thoughtful with how we’re writing for each song. And you know, Jason, I don’t know if I’d really recommend that for anybody else. It’s been really interesting.
Hahah, yeah, but at the end of all this we’re getting a new Acceptance album, so I think that everyone is gonna be kinda ok with it, no matter how long it takes, I think they’ll just be excited it’s finally coming. So, I’ve only got a couple more questions for you, but the first is about how you feel about the music industry as a whole, right now, versus when you guys were doing the whole major label thing. I’d love to hear about the thought process on doing a PledgeMusic pre-order set up, and having a little more control over your destiny with all that.
Yeah, you know it’s interesting. So, we made Black Lines to Battlefields on our own, and we ended up having that put out on The Militia Group, which was really at the time just an imprint deal off of Columbia, because we had signed to Columbia Records off that EP. And then we made Phantoms, and, well, the budget for Phantoms was multiple times what we ended up spending on it to do it with Aaron. And, of course, they really didn’t want us to do it with him. So then when it came to do this deal, we definitely could have reached out to a record label and said we want to make a record, give us a budget and we can do a deal, and that could have probably happened. But we’ve always kind of been into the idea of doing things our way. And even if our music doesn’t really sound like a band that really breaks the mold, right? Like, we’re a pop band. So it’s kind of funny to think about things that way, but the idea of making the record on our own and then figuring out after that, what that looks like, was kind of an exciting proposition for all of us. So, from that perspective it has been really fun to do it, and do it on our own, and now we’re kind of in that position of trying to determine what sort of sense it may or may not have to have some kind of label partner with the actual release. And really all I care about is finding a group of people that really love this music and say, “we want the music, we want the band, and we want a relationship with the band long term.” And I think that’s going to be a fun part of this to see where that goes.
Now, the music industry. Hm. You know, I haven’t had as much a chance to get as deep into it as I was when we were more active. Like, when we made Phantoms, at one point I was meeting with the President of Columbia Records. I mean, at that time, Phantoms went from being a small album that was done with Aaron Sprinkle and was probably going to be put out on a small indie label again as an imprint deal, to them saying “Oh my God this is going to be the biggest record Columbia does this year.” And so we had access, if you will, to a lot of the people that were part of that. And, also, at the time the industry was just crazy. This was like the period of time where AbsolutePunk was just starting to come into form, and Alternative Press was becoming a real voice within our music scene. And we were talking with them like, “hey we need to market on the internet” and about marketing to these areas and they were like, “we don’t do any of that.” And we kept thinking how crazy that was, how do you get in contact with young people that listen to music otherwise? And how do you connect to people that are downloading music illegally, and how are we going to connect to these people? And instead they were basically like, “oh we’re going to copyright your CD.” And um, yeah, that’s not going to work. It’s just not.
And I think it’s a very interesting industry because basically we just saw something like half of the industry go away. And the result was they couldn’t react fast enough and it was an unfortunate situation for a lot of the music industry. And I think that social media has done a lot for bands. And maybe this will be the only real flashy thing I say in this interview, but I think that the industry is still missing a major opportunity within social media. I think that the industry, the artists, we’re using social media as a status update and that can be great, but there’s probably something more, more connection to be had, and more connection with artistry and music, and what we want to do to change the world around us. And there’s not really as much of that happening to the level I would want. And then within the industry, from a business perspective, socially and digitally there’s still more to be had. They’re still grasping at how to make money, they’re still talking about records, and singles, and talking about radio, and I think that as long as you’re talking about that as a real talking point … look, Acceptance is even a good example here. Acceptance is a band that is probably going to play between thirty and forty concerts a year, and I don’t know if that matters, from a music perspective, or how music gets distributed perspective, and how you get people involved. Now, for us as a band it’s important, touring is important, and building your fanbase, and a lot of bands make their living touring. But, some of the people in the industry that we talk to, they ask us, “how are you going to do this with only thirty dates in a year?” And I’m like, well, there’s probably tons of bands that if I named right now you would die to have on your label, but they don’t tour that much anymore. Maybe they did a few years ago. So, I ask ourselves what are we doing right now to create an impact through the social avenues that we have.
I think that I thought, ten years later, I would start talking to people in this industry and I would hear new ideas. Mostly new ideas about how we were building bands, and how bands are connecting with people, and I’m not really hearing that. I’m hearing basically the same stuff I’ve heard forever. I’ve got this thought that at the end of the day, if I write 50 songs, and we put out 20 or 30 songs, over a short-ish period of time, it’s going to have its own identity. It’s own unique place. So we’ll see. You know Bobby [Darling], from The Money Pit, he writes a song basically every hour. That guy’s crazy. He’s way over my level.
On a side note, I’d be curious what your thoughts are on the music industry. Because you’ve been connected to it for quite a long time, and you just made a pretty major shift in your world, and your job.
Yeah, I dunno. In a lot of ways maybe there is some connection between the two. I found that the best way for me to do what I want to do, and by that, I mean wake up each day and feel good doing what I’m doing each day — it came down to the amount of autonomy I had. I had things I wanted to do, things I wanted to try, and didn’t want people over the top of me dictating every little detail. Maybe there’s a relation to that and the music industry, I don’t know for sure. But, for me, it really did come down to the idea that I’d take a big risk, and probably take a pretty decent financial hit, to try and regain some of that autonomy and control, but the trade off was: I’ll be happier every single day. Maybe that’s the major label band going on to self-release an album and it being the album they always wanted to write, I dunno, maybe I’m stretching for a connection there. But, for me, so much came down to wanting to feel good, and feel happy with what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis.
I do think that a lot of bands have walked in a similar direction though, and realized that they have enough diehard fans to self-sustain a career, buy their music, buy some merch, and come out when they tour, and they end up realizing they don’t really need a whole lot of other things to make music for a living, again, depending on what kind of living they want to have. I think that’s where the internet has played a big part in allowing those kinds of bands to find a foothold and maintain a fanbase.
Yeah. I, agree, we’ll have to talk a little bit more later about our thoughts on putting out this record, off the record.
Haha, sounds good. Do you have any idea on when you’d like to see the album released? Would you like to get it out by the end of this year?
Yeah, I think so. I think if you got passed this year it would just seem pretty long. And for the band itself. I mean, we’re not in a hurry, and there’s not really any timeline, but I think the goal would be to see it by the end of the year.
That’s definitely good news. Ok, so the last question I have for you is kind of related to the whole social media thing we’ve been talking about. For a long time you were kind of known, infamously, as having disappeared from the music scene. You weren’t really on social media, you went from fronting a pretty popular band, to kind of just disappearing. And now I see you on Twitter all the time, making posts on Facebook, all that sort of stuff — has this been a good or bad development to jump back into the social media world and I guess be more out there with the public again?
I’m still trying to figure out it. I definitely don’t put myself out there to the level that some do, but, I’m trying to understand personally where the social media persona and what I want to accomplish as an artist, and how those can work together. Just like me wanting to go to a record label and say, “hey you guys need to advertise in Alternative Press magazine,” and them look at me like I’m an idiot, I’m probably an idiot if I think that social media isn’t part of the culture of music at this point. From the perspective that you’re in a band and you should communicate with your fans, or they’re looking to communicate with you. So, I’m trying to understand how to do it. And like Radiohead did that whole “shut it all down” deal, and so all artists have different versions for how they’re going to do it. And how they approach it. Because there’s a fine line between staying true to yourself, and the art you’re trying to make, and if you’re tweeting 100 times a day, how can you stay on point with the message you’re trying to make. I mean, at some point you have to say, “hey I’m making waffles this morning.”
At some level you start diluting the message that you’re trying to do, and send. And if the message is just “more fans,” then yes, the more you talk about what you’re doing in the day, the better. But, I dunno, and if I’m honest that’s one of the things I really struggle with. I try and think about, when I’m posting something, what is it that I’m really trying to do, what’s the point here? So a lot of the times I’m just trying to interact with people that I either already have a relationship with. And then I feel silly because why don’t I just text that person? And now I’m mostly just reacting with other people’s tweets. Or if I’m posting on Instagram it’s going to be something where I’m trying to have a message, or at least a picture that has some level of emotion to it, and it’s just, I’m a little old school at this point, and I didn’t ever think I’d say that about myself.
Haha, yeah I totally get it.
And like I was saying, it’s just different for everybody. And so, it’s just one of those things where I’m trying to navigate what that means for me. And how it can be something that positive for everyone. And I don’t wanna overanalyze it, and I definitely can. But for those that are tweeting and instagramming and doing their thing, I’m all for it. They gotta do their thing. I just don’t know where I’m at. So, we’ll see.
Oh, by the way, what songs have you heard?
I’ve heard [a list of song names]. But I think “Roll Tide” might be my favorite of the ones I’ve heard.
Oh, ok, ok, that’s a good mix. Yeah, I think “Roll Tide” might remind me the most of a Phantoms melody. And it’s obviously got that kind of 80’s music happening as well there, but melodically, I think people that liked “Take Cover,” for instance, and the complexity in the melody of that song, will find something to like with that one. And then “Goodbye” has a really tough chorus, I think it’s a great chorus, but it’s really tough for me to sing. I sang it all in one take, and of course we’d do multiple takes, but on a lot of songs we’ll break it up, and I’ll want to really get into certain parts, but with this one it just felt better to do the whole thing at once, it’s got way more vibe to it. And I think that one, vocally, is where I’m doing the most things, like with vibrato, and a few different things. I think that’s the song where I probably pushed myself a little more, even though it’s not like a huge range, but I tried to do a little more. I really like that song, actually, all the songs you got are great.
Hahaha. Yeah, I’d agree. Do you think these are a good indication of where you’re taking the record as a whole?
Yeah, yeah. They’re all very guitar driven, and some synth, there’s real drums on everything but there’s some patterns happening, and I really think it’s got that Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins thing going on. You know, like that first lead vocal part in “Come Closer” obviously has a real 80’s feel to it. And I think those songs you’ve heard do touch on just about every point of the record.
Awesome. Well, I can’t wait to hear everything you guys end up coming up with. Thanks a lot for taking some time to talk with me today. I really appreciate it, and we’ll have to do it again before too long.