Late Bloomer

Interview: Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer is about to release their third-full length album, Waiting. I caught up with the band — bassist Josh Robbins, guitarist Neil Mauney, and drummer Scott Wishart – to talk about how things changed writing this album, which is out June 29th via 6131 Records, and available for purchase through their webstore.

How was the recording of Waiting different from Things Change? I know it’s been a while since you put out that record.

Josh: We went further away from our home state to record, so that was a big thing. We went up to Massachusetts to record with Justin Pizzoferrato. I guess just that; usually we stayed pretty close to home when recording.

Since you all contributed lyrics to the album, did you ever sit down and discuss a theme for Waiting or say, like, “this album’s going to be about this?” Or did it just happen that way? It seems like – and the little bio I got with the album implied it too – there’s a consistent theme.

Josh: No, not really. I guess maybe we were all just collectively thinking a certain way and it all just came out that way.

Scott: Yeah, there wasn’t any big idea to have a theme of the record beforehand. I think we were just all on the same wavelength.

That’s pretty good then, everyone being able to come together like that. Hopefully that means you aren’t all butting heads all the time.

Scott: No, we definitely butt heads, just about different things. [Laughs] I think for different bands, when they butt heads, it feels like the end of their relationships, but for us – since we’ve known each other so long – we get over it decently. I think we vibe off each other well.

I wanted to talk about “Life Is Weird,” which is probably my favorite on the album and has a totally different vibe from the rest of the songs. I was wondering how that came to be.

Neil: I wrote that song a long time ago in my room. I didn’t have a bass, so I detuned a guitar and plugged it straight into a recording thing and it sounded terrible, but that’s how I wrote it. Eventually we decided to try it out as a Late Bloomer song.

Josh: Yeah, Neil’s done that a couple of times where we’ll hear a recording he did and we don’t know what he’s intending to do with it, but I’ll hear it and be like, “Yeah, this is a Late Bloomer song.”

Scott: I had keyboard drums, I remember that.

Josh: But I don’t think we really approached it any differently than the rest of the record. It’s definitely a little more chill than some of the songs.

Neil: I guess we chose “Life Is Weird” to be the closer because it does sound like a happier, higher note to end on.

Josh: But I don’t know, when I think about it, the album kind of ends on “Make It Go Away,” then you get this bonus song that sums up everything. It’s the “in summation,” like if you were writing a paper in college, and it wraps it up.

Do you have favorites on the album?

Neil: I think I like “Make It Go Away” and “Life Is Weird,” actually. I was really happy with that one. It’s hard to choose, though.

Josh: “Sleeve,” for me, has more of a direct message than some of the other stuff I’ve written. So I’m proud of that. The thing that’s different with this record, as opposed to the others, is I feel like it’s hard to pick one out. Like we sequenced it well and I’m not particularly tired of any of the songs. It feels like one complete document.

Scott: I would say “Heaven” or “Life Is Weird.” Or the song that I sang that got cut. [laughs]

Josh: Yeah, Scott always has a song he sings lead on and this time it got cut. More of my songs got cut too. It just happens, you know. His song was good, though. None of the songs we cut were bad. You just can’t have a thirteen-song record, you know. You want to just get in and get out.

You said “Sleeve” had a more direct message. Could you talk about that?

Josh: It’s funny, because we have a song called “Listen” on the record, but it’s about listening to people rather than talking. The more direct thing it’s about is a lot of emo songs or rock songs are about a woman – or a succubus, that’s usually how they put it – that does them wrong. And you never hear the other side of it, so you’re always left with – like, that Buckcherry song. It’s about that, how there’s always a male perspective and you’re like, “Yeah, she did that to you,” so it’s like, hopefully you can listen to the other side and understand that there’s different perspectives.

I got a similar vibe from “January.” I remember there’s a line in there about the world being a boy’s world, or something along those lines. It feels very timely right now.

Josh: Yeah, what’s funny is we really wrote a lot of this before the MeToo movement. It’s not like it wasn’t obvious something like this was going to happen. The writing was on the wall, you know.

Neil: Yeah, we just those songs as ourselves, from our pissed-off perspectives.

Josh: It’s funny with Neil’s lyrics for “January” and mine for “Sleeve,” because we didn’t really discuss it, but I feel like they really complement each other.

Scott: 7 Seconds has a song called “Opinion of Feelings,” so it’s like, this stuff’s been going down in punk and hardcore scenes for decades.

Josh: Yeah, there’s even Fugazi songs where they do that – I can’t remember the name – but where they write from a female perspective.

That’s “Suggestion.”

Josh: Yeah. I was looking at that and trying to make sure I wasn’t doing that – like, think of a male writer writing a female character in a book, and you feel like they don’t flesh them out. I didn’t want to do that, so I didn’t want to forsake the male perspective in that way. I feel like the Fugazi song is alright, great for its time, but I feel like there’s a mansplaininess to it. Like, a man taking on the voice of a woman is still writing from a male perspective. You do what you can do.

Neil: I think we wrote those songs, since we do come from a male perspective, to yell at other men, I guess. We’re pissed off about that. But we don’t want to mansplain.

Josh: Yeah, you don’t have to be like, “I think what she meant was….” Fuck that shit. It’s stupid.

It’s a good foil to the “I hate my ex-girlfriend” style of pop-punk.

Josh: Yeah but honestly I feel like there’s still third wave emo bands who do that shit. Like, “Do whatever you want but I thought we were past this.” Even, like, listen to a blues song. Some of the stuff they said in blues songs didn’t really age all that well, and they already said all the shit you’re trying to say, so don’t beat a dead horse.

I really love the cover for Waiting and I think it captures a lot of the album’s energy. How’d you decide on that picture?

Josh: That was all Sean [Rhorer], our label guy. We basically had a vibe in mind, and sent him a bunch of pictures or album covers like that and said, “Let’s find a guy who can do that.” He was like, “Yeah, I can do that.” [laughs] Also, we’re big fans of Dischord and Jade Tree, so there was a lot of “How do we make it look like this, but not look like it’s from 1989?” We wanted to update that style and Sean was like, “I can do that.” I’m not ashamed to say there’s Promise Ring records, Texas Is the Reason, Fugazi, Hoover, Dischord stuff that we all loved and wanted to draw on.

If you had a time machine, and you went to visit Late Bloomer circa self-titled era and you brought Waiting with you and played it, how do you think you’d all feel about it?

Neil: Like, if 2018 us played the record for 2013 us?

Yeah.

Neil: I would be stoked on it.

Josh: I would feel like this is where I wanted to go anyway, so I would kill 2018 us and put out Waiting in 2013. [laughs]

Neil: Yeah we’d throw away that other record we wrote.

Josh: We’d do like a Back to the Future thing where the record disappears as we’re holding it in our hands. This is where we had wanted to go anyway, but we didn’t have the funds or the insight.

Neil: We hadn’t been a band long enough.

Alright, last one. You mentioned them a lot, so I’ve got to ask: what’s your favorite Fugazi record?

Josh: In on the Kill Taker.

Neil: I’d say The Argument.

Zac Djamoos
Zac Djamoos Zac Djamoos is a contributor at chorus.fm. He can also be found at @zacdjamoos on Twitter.
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