Please state your name and what you do in the band.
My name is Jordan and I am one of two singers.
How's the current tour with Against Me and True North been?
Fantastic. We're very happy to be on tour with both bands we're out with right now. We have just the utmost respect for both True North and Against Me, and it's the first time we've been able to spend an extended period of time with them so we're happy about that.
What was the writing process for Crimes like? Lyrically it seemed to take a more "obvious" approach than usual, with the themes well-expressed but maybe a bit easier to decipher than past albums. Was this more or less a conscious effort?
Well, one thing that we decided on before writing is that we didn't want to repeat some mistakes we felt we made with writing Burn. Mainly we did not play any of the songs live before we went into the studio to record them with our last record, so you can imagine spending five/six months writing a record spent in a practice space, not playing them in another setting. We didn't anticipate how they would come across. Afterwards we found that all the songs...they required a certain level of concentration that cut into the fun we were having playing them. So first and foremost we just wanted to get back to songs that were enjoyable [for us]. You know...we're gonna have to play them nine months straight. Writing with the last record, we sort of overintellectualized things. We tended to get quite bogged down, with where parts [end up taking] us a week to write one song. Once we took out a lot of the technical elements we were writing with the last record, it just opened us all up to more possibilities and the writing flowed a lot easier.
What made you settle on V2 Records?
There wasn't really a settling on our part; we didn't have too many choices. We were presented with one as a viable option and that's what we went with. We were in a situation where right after Burn came out our record label pretty much bought it out and were kinda left hung out to dry. We spent...a year, almost a year and a half uncertain about what was gonna happen with our future. We really had no idea what was gonna happen. We were contracutally bound to a label...we wanted to keep the momenutum we had going before writing, so we [just] went in and recorded. While we were recording, Artistdirect put together their split joint venture with V2 and they were going over things for us. It [was] that or look for someone else and we had gotten to a point where we were sick of waiting around for people to get their shit together. [And] here we are.
Do you think maybe [the band'll be moving on] after the contract's up...?
It's like...we still have this record; at least one more. We could just basically pick up the tail end of the contract. At least for the time being this is where we're gonna be. We're a lot happier now with V2 than our prior label. Things seem to be going a lot smoother. There's people who I feel understand us a lot more than people at our old label. We're in a position that we can record the kind of record that we want to. [It's] so far so good; we'll see what happens.
Johnny is definitely ... "exploring his range" a little more than ever in the band's history. What prompted him to let his vocals try such pitches?
Heh...I don't know...just probably wanting to push himself to do different things vocally. Just - his voice has been something he's been working on very seroiusly for, you know, the past couple years and I think it's gotten to a point where he's very confident and sure of things he wants to be doing with it. He wanted the new stuff to reflect that.
Where do you get your inspriation for the sketch-type artwork you do for the records?
With this new one, the layout was done...like Johnny pretty much did all the design work and the actual grunt work and putting it out and laying it together. The doodles were mine. We wanted to do something verrry different than we what we'd done before. We'd never really done...pencil drawn-type stuff on our last few records. I think we approached everything on this record with a general sense of...this is really bad grammar, but..."newness." We thought it was just a good time to try out different things, [and it] sort of extended to the artwork. With just the sketches I had in mind...[I] wanted it to look like broken-looking figures. I thought that it really fit what we were talking about..and fit the tone...
Yeah, like how the abstract collages on Burn Piano Island really fit the album.
A lot of stuff we were talking about lyrically was in direct response to American imperialism and policy, both the past few years and current policy. The movitvation behind it...the devastating effects of a system based on money and greed. So with the artwork you can see all these sort of pathetic little drawings of people with diamonds in their eyes...it seemed fitting
On that note, will you be heading to the ballot booth this coming Tuesday?
Yes. Not physically, but we all got our absentee ballots. We were really stressed out about it; maybe because i was having a lot of anxiety about mine being lost in the mail, but we've got all them. We're sorting them out and getting them in.
It seems like you guys avoid Clear Channel venues altogether when touring...would I be right in guessing that's your intention?
Yeah, very much so. It's...I just..it presents a very glaring conflict of interest. We sing songs on our record against war, and, you know, I read that Clear Channel is a company that organizes rallies to support our troops in Iraq. It seems quite hypocritical to then go and play in front of those people. And plus, who wants to play for a major media congolmerate? It's tricky though. They own so many clubs. It's presented as a challenge as how you move into bigger room and avoid that level of horseshit, and so far we've been able to, and I think that just in the future we're just kinda have to gonna get creative.
What band do you think is biting your style hardest currently...? Both musically and merch-wise?
[laughs] Oh man...I feel too bad naming names...
So you do know specifics, you just...
I notice it when I go to a show, and I see the art of T-shirts...I notice that some look alarmingly similar.to ours. But you know...I try to just take it with a grain of salt. I feel too bad calling any band personally out because, you know...
When we interviewed you last year, you mentioned how on the Glassjaw tour, you guys encountered a bit of homophobia...
...and now, Daryl from Glassjaw sings for Head Automatica, and you basically know their deal, right?
I am not...familiar. We have our friend who plays guitar in the band, but...
Well, it's pretty much...downright dance/disco-styled pop-
-which doesn't exactly fit ANY type of hardcore persona Glassjaw fans might look for. Do you think flipping the switch on the whole "tough guy" persona like that could have a big effect on those discriminatory Glassjaw fans, the ones who catcall? Do you think that could be the first step in opening their minds to accept not only a different style of music, but hopefully accept people more, maybe start to develop a newfound level of respect...?
I'd hope so. It'd be great if it did. The cynic in me wants to say that the people who...that really loved Glassjaw on that sort of base, aggressive level will probably dismiss that band, if it's what you're saying. I can't see them going and being like "oh, wow," going "how wrong I was..." I would hope that people would keep an open mind, and I give applause to anyone who is willing to go out on a limb and do something entirely different from what they were doing before.
What do you think is the worst recent problem with underground music?
I think musical stagnation. Just...a general inability or unwillingness to push boundaries. At the same time, there are very amazing bands that are doing some pretty whacked out stuff that is very exciting. There are some just some I don't think get the attention/recognition they deserve, but hopefully that'll change
What would you be doing with your life if not music?
I could see myself going back to school and getting my masters in history and then teaching high school history.
So apparently, on the Crimes demos that leaked before the record came out, there was a track listed as a radio edit for "Crimes"...I know you just recently released the video for "Love Rhymes With...", but is there plans on releasing "Crimes" as a single, or being shot for a video...? And how did you feel about the entire album being leaked so early, not to mention what seems like the entire sessions...?
You know, I...the only thing that irritated me about the record being leaked is that it was an incomplete version of the record. That was...that got under my skin a bit; not really enough to enrage me. I think it's a reality that your music is gonna end up on the internet, in people's homes, and [enforce the choice of] whether or not to buy it. I don't spend much time looking for music online, but I understand its worth. I understand it's a valuable resource. It doesn't make me mad. As far as videos go, I don't know if we have any plans to do a video for the song "Crimes" itself. Yaeger Rosenberg, who did the Burn layout is working on a video for "Trash..." right now for us. So it's gonna be that sort of cut and paste, just disjointed style. [I'm] looking forward to that. As far as like our videos go, I believe we're still losing profits from them. In our past experience we've learned a lot on musical videos, as far as knowing what we want and what we don't want.
What's been in your listening rotation lately?
X - Under The Big Black Sun...Ghostface Killa. Supreme Clientele....and let's see...King Adora...[Jordan names some band that sounds like "King A Cheerleader," but I can't be sure]. Those have been in the big three recently.
What are the plans for the coming winter?
Winter is our hibernation time. We're not gonna do any touring. I think we're gonna try to write more...do some stuff in the studio...I think Johnny's planning on doing some solo stuff. I'm really excited to see how that turns out. [And] I wanna finally teach myself Photoshop.
Anything else you'd like to add?
No, I don't think so.
[awkward goodbye here]
Photo credit: Photo section of The Blood Brothers site