In any case, the band recently issued Young Machetes, their second for V2 Records and an indelible example of the band's chaotic brand of hardcore. I had a chance to speak to guitarist Cody Votolato who talked about everything from the awesomeness of Guy Picciotto to the final farewell of Waxwing.
What were you guys going for with this new record?
It didnít really have a particular vision, it was more just going into it we just wanted to explore every option we were individually influenced by, and the different things we wanted to write, and we werenít really totally sure where we were going to end up direction-wise.
So we really just started practicing one day to start writing for the record and what came out is what you got. Some of it came easy; some of it came hard, but in the end I think weíre all super happy with what we got.
Iím hearing a bit of the side projects in the record, both the Headwound City and the Neon Blonde stuff seemed to be bleeding in a little. Do you think thatís the case, or do you think itís the other way around?
I feel like itís probably more of the other way around. I think just because of the nature in which we write. You know, as individuals it kind of comes through a bit, and any sort of band that is remotely similar that we do. With Headwound City it was essentially just a thrash band, and by nature Blood Brothers have always had thrashiness to it.
So I think that anything that Jordan and I would have done in Headwound City, some of it could have been done in Blood Brothers maybe. Vice versa for Neon Blonde because thereís a lot more piano-driven stuff coming into play in our writing and a lot of that was what Neon Blonde was doing so, I feel like, because of the way we write, it kind of could translate.
Yeah. And your guitar style has changed pretty dramatically since Piano Island. At least it seems that way to me. Iím just wondering, is this a conscious thing or are you just moving in a different direction?
I mean, I feel like itís been pretty natural. I sort of feel like Iíve tended to simplify it a little bit more, than say like on Burn. I donít feel like thereís as much complicated technicality to it. But I donít really know, itís never a contrived thing for me when it comes the guitar, I just kind of play what feels right and what sounds right at the time. So I feel that any progression Iíve had has been a natural one rather than a really well thought out one.
I donít know its exciting too, I always feel like thereís lots of ground that I havenít covered, that Iím not capable yet to play, so itís always exciting going into a new record and feeling like I have a fresh plate on my hands to sort of work with as far as the guitar goes on the record.
What was it like working with Guy Picciotto (Fugazi)?
Guy was totally rad. He Ė it was definitely a bit intimidating at first Ė even the idea was a bit intimidating. But when you meet him heís totally humble and kind of what you would want someone that was in Fugazi to be like.
Like if you think about it in your head, someone from this band that you looked up to and respected, and you meet them and theyíre even cooler than what you had imagined.
So, it was really cool in that respect. He just always had a good attitude and a strong presence; his ideas obviously were always really good. He didnít do any of the engineering, John did all the engineering and mixing, but he definitely was there discussing the tones of everything we were getting, and I feel it was very important to have him there.
As far as like a vibe and an energy thing goes. He was just totally rad.
How has it been being on V2, cause you havenít stuck with the same label for quite a while. This is the first youíve done two in a row.
Well, with the label prior to these two, it was a weird situation because they kind of stopped being a label and then it was hard to find another label, and V2 was definitely the best one to go with.
I feel like they did a pretty good job with Crimes and they seemed to be excited about this record too, so, I donít know, itís hard to say.
For the last one you did a pretty cool single with the Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck EP. Iím just wondering if youíre going to do anything like that again?
I know that we were doing a single for our UK single, a little EP thing. I donít know if there are any plans for a US EP single or anything like that, but I guess weíll see. We have a video for the song ďLaser Life.Ē
How did that video come about? For some reason makes me think of Superman 3, but that might be just weird.
(laughs) I donít know, you know, it was Patrick Daughters who submitted his treatment and it was essentially that. We got a few treatments in and that was our favorite one. We had seen some videos he had done that were cool and we had a conference call and talked to him about it. We just sort of worked together on the different ideas that we had for it. It was totally rad because it was the first time someone had come to us with a treatment for one of our songs that wasnít sort of completely literal but was also just artistically cool and congruent with the things that we like to do and, I donít know it was really cool.
And the whole process was totally awesome and easy-going and I think that heís a really great director.
How did the tour with Trail of Dead come together?
We havenít ever played shows together before or anything. I think weíve met some of the guys when we played in Texas once or twice before, but I donít really quite remember how the idea came up. Weíre all really excited; Iíve never seen them play but I they put on a pretty kickass live show.
Iím looking forward to it. Also, thereís another band called Brothers and Sisters that I believe is people that play with them, like on the stage, so theyíre coming on the tour. I havenít heard them yet but this band Celebration is also doing the tour thatís totally amazing, so Iím really excited about them as well.
One other thing that was quite interesting is that your former band Waxwing officially broke up last year, even though youíd been on hiatus for a long time. Iím just wondering why you decided to put that to bed for good the way you did?
It was just kind of like, my brother Rocky, it was his and my band, and it was just like he has his solo thing going, and Iím doing this, the trying to do a show once a year thing and maybe write a record, which is kind of like, it seemed to a little bit mundane.
We just sort of felt like we wanted to have the closure with the band rather than have it just be like this thing hanging over us all the time Ė whether or not weíre going to do it or not. So we talked about it for a long time and just sort of decided that it was time to finish the book on that one.
We had these two really amazing last shows and it was really cool. Itís totally a bummer that we had to stop it because I really enjoyed playing music with everyone in that band, and I really enjoyed the songs. But I think that for my and Rockyís peace of mind, it was best to have the closure with the band and call it a day. Rather than waiting two or three years to play a show or write a song.
Punknews.org did an interview with Jordan in 2003 and he talked about the kind of crap you were getting when you were playing with more conventional bands like Glassjaw; homophobia and stuff like that. Iím just wondering if that kind of stuff is still kind of affecting you?
Not at our own shows of course, theyíre not Ė It kind of depends on who youíre playing with but I think that sort of stuff comes with the bigger audience that you play to that havenít heard you, I think thereís more chance for that just because of the way our culture is, in mainstream culture.
I donít know, we havenít been on tour in a while, our last tour was a year ago and it was Coheed and Cambria and we definitely got a lot of shit on that tour.
I just figured that a band like Coheed would have more kind of arty open-minded kids?
No, I feel like those exist or whatever, but for the most part I felt like their audience was pretty mainstream, and you know ďbro-eyĒ
Any other plans you have coming up? Obviously youíve got the tour to round out the year, but next year?
I think weíre planning on going to Europe sometime early January.
And I imagine weíll be out there for a couple months, and then I think weíll come home and probably do another US tour but as far as who with, that kind of has yet to be determined.
You know Iím excited to come back and hopefully do our own headlining tour in the States that will be cool.
One thing that I was actually thinking about this year is that the Warped Tour is kind of broadened a lot, where you could probably play there as opposed to a couple years ago. Would you be into it?
No itís not really something that weíre interested in. I mean, sitting in a parking lot all day, every day, like I donít know. It doesnít really sound that fun, and too, I donít really know if we feel like we totally Ė I feel that we could fit in, but I donít know, itís hard. I feel like we would get a lot of shit on that tour.
But yeah, itís just never been something Ė there was one year where they had advertised us as playing but weíd never been asked. I think that somewhere down the line someone had told them that we would do it and we never would have. Iíll never say never but I think we probably might not ever play Warped tour. Iím not opposed to festivals, but it just sounds like itís pretty typical on the whole not to do something like that.
You are about to hit your tenth year together. I remember hearing that you were being billed as a Waxwing side project and stuff like that, and Iím just wondering, how does it feel to be hitting ten years as a band and kind of proving that wrong?
Itís pretty crazy man, I have to say, because Iím only 24 now, and when we started I was 15 so about a third of my life has been in this band. Itís also really crazy to think about too, the fact that we Ė I donít know Ė when we started the band it wasnít really that serious of a thing. It was a bunch of teenagers who wanted to make some racket.
We never had any ambition to turn our band into a career, and from year to year different things started, it just became like, the flow of the way things were and I just kind of happened. So itís always kind of crazy to me that weíre still a band and its totally awesome as well because I love being in this band and I love everyone in the band, so itís really exciting to say and Iím really proud to say that weíve been a band for ten years and we started when we were 15.