Typesetter

Interview: Typesetter

Typesetter recently signed to 6131 Records and announced their sophomore record – it’s called Nothing Blues and it’s a masterclass in anthemic punk rock. I spoke to Alex Palermo, bassist/vocalist, and Marc Bannes, guitarist/vocalist, about writing the album and what the band did in the four years since their debut. Nothing Blues is out October 26 and is available for preorder through 6131’s store.

You just got off a tour with Against Me!, right? How was that? Sounds awesome.

Marc: Very, very awesome.

Alex: It was very cool. We actually toured with them last year for a short run too, and they’re just the best. We’re very grateful. Just the fucking best.

Marc: Pretty much any chance we get to play shows with them is some of the most fun shows we get to play.

Your last full-length release was Wild’s End in 2014. What has Typesetter been up to in the four years since?

Marc: Well, that was our last full-length, but we put out a split with a band called Living Room from Brooklyn and we put out an EP. Since that time, we’ve gone through a couple member changes. We have a different drummer than we had on the Wild’s End LP and we had a multi-instrumentalist for a time as well. We’ve gone through a lot of changes and honestly it’s kind of a different band now than the one that put out Wild’s End. The core three of us – me, Alex, and Kyle – have remained the same throughout the whole run of the band.

Why’d you decide to jump from Black Numbers to 6131?

Marc: Black Numbers was super awesome and Dave from Black Numbers remains a good friend of ours, he’s always been super supportive, but it just made sense. They were winding down their operations as far as signing new bands and putting out new releases, stuff like that, and moving towards being a legacy label. We didn’t have any contractual obligations, so we decided to look around for other options and see if there were any other labels that would be a good fit for this record. We reached out to a variety, but 6131 was at the top of our list, and I was pretty excited when they got back to us and we started talking about working together.

I feel like both Black Number and 6131 are two of the most under-appreciated labels around.

Marc: Yeah, Black Numbers had some really awesome bands. There was a while there when they were pretty aggressively signing new bands and doing a really awesome job. Some things happened that were totally out of their control, caused them to slow down a little bit. 6131, too, they’ve just never put out a bad record. Their whole catalog is really cool.

I wanted to ask about the Typesetter #5 EP you put out a few years ago, because “Monogamy II” was on that, and it sounds like you re-recorded it for Nothing Blues.

Alex: Yeah, we did.

I’m curious why you chose to include that on here after you’d already released it.

Marc: It’s one of my favorite songs we’ve written to play live. We’ve played it at probably every show since it was written. It’s usually the first song we play, and it’s super fun. I really like playing it, singing it, and I felt like the song deserved a better recording. I just thought that it deserved more attention, that we could revisit and re-record it to give it the treatment it deserves. That’s the only song we’ve ever re-recorded.

Knowing that song’s been around for two or so years, how long’ve you been writing Nothing Blues for?

Marc: Oh, that song’s gotta be the oldest on the record. Some of the others – “Real Conversations with Imaginary Friends,” for example – some have been kicking around for a couple years. You know, just due to member changes and other life changes we didn’t have a chance to record an LP any sooner than we recorded this one [laughs]. A couple others are a couple years old, I think the song “Viva” we finished a couple weeks before we went to record. We wrote between fifteen and twenty songs over a three-year period and all of those contributed to what ended up being on the record.

Last question about “Monogamy II” – what’s the relationship between that song and “Monogamy I”? And don’t say the relationship is monogamous.

Marc: I would say that I think the two are about very similar things. I enjoy playing both live because they’re positive and hopeful songs. They’re not directly about the same thing or feeling or circumstances or anything, but it goes hand in hand to me. I don’t know. I can’t thematically separate the two. Both sets of lyrics were borne out of the same page of notes at the beginning of the writing process. I think they’ve always been linked.

It seems like “White Noise” is about Don Delillo’s novel White Noise.

Alex: Yeah, Kyle, our other guitarist who isn’t on the phone right now, he wrote that song. I’m pretty sure that yeah the title is lifted from that book.Kyle’s done that in the past, based songs off books. He’s kind of a bookworm.

Marc: I think there’s a lyric in the song that’s a callback to the book, but I don’t wanna say for sure.

Alex: I think I recall him saying that, yeah. I think the bridge of the song.

There’s a line in “Real Conversations with Imaginary Friends” I was curious about, where you say, “I meant to call you Mary Lee.” I was curious who that refers to.

Marc: That’s my mom. Hi mom.

And then the last line of “Viva” – “you can all fuck off in the air” – is either a Violent Femmes or National reference, yeah?

Marc: Yeah, the National, yeah.

Why’d you decide to put that in there?

Alex: ‘Cause the National rules.

Marc: Yeah [laughs] it’s because they’re awesome. Nah, I don’t know. Wasn’t a conscious decision or something I thought about intentionally doing. Not even something I thought about intentionally at all. That lyric just really made sense at the end of that song, in context and with everything else that song is about. The National does rule, though. We listen to them a lot.

You two have any favorite songs on the record, or anything else you’re particularly proud of on here?

Alex: Three tracks, in my personal view, that really stand out are “Technicolor,” which has my friend Lydia Loveless on it, who’s been my friend for a really long time, and it’s one of our most diverse moments as a band – challenging us as more than a punk band – and then I think “Monogamy I” is cool and my favorite song to play live, and then “Viva,” which is cool live because we extend the ending to really go crazy. I song I think is probably going to go under the radar a bit, buried at the back of the record, is “Marigold.” Kinda shows our punk roots but is still cool and refreshing.

Marc: Yeah, for me, “Technicolor” is the one that pops out. I really like everything on the record, but that song from its very beginning, I knew was really different from our other stuff – more poppy, but more brooding. It’s a slow burn. The production is fucking awesome. Our drummer Matt played his drum parts twice and for most of the song there’s a drum kit pan hard left and a drum kit pan hard right so he’ll start a fill on one kit and finish it on the other. It has by far the most tracks of any other song on the record, like double the tracks [laughs].

Alex: Which is funny, ’cause it doesn’t sound like it does, which I love.

Marc: I mixed the record, and me and Matt talked about percussion ideas and I had a clear idea how I wanted that song to turn out and I’m really happy with it.

If there’s anything else you wanna say, go for it.

Marc: This record’s been a long time in the making and I’m stoked for everybody to listen to it. Hope you enjoy.

Alex: Thanks for talking to us, we really appreciate it.

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