How are you today?
I'm fine. Just a rainy Saturday here in the suburbs of Philly hanging with my wife and Dave from The Loved Ones - we're working on some new Loved Ones demos and stuff.
Awesome. That answers one of my questions that I had prepared, but we'll get more into that later. Let's start off by talking about Resolutions - sorry if I come off as a fan boy, because I totally am -
That's cool. I'm glad you like it.
One of the things I found most refreshing about this album is that it doesn't follow the trend - although I mostly like the trend - of "front-of-a-punk-band-does-an-acoustic-side-project" - can you talk about how this project came to be and why you're doing it.
Yeah, to be honest with you, the punk band with the singer guy and guitar has had varying degrees of success in my opinion. You listen to Chuck Ragan do it and he's not just stripping down Hot Water Music songs and playing them on an acoustic guitar, he's doing something that's unique and it works for him. There are certainly people that are attempting it and I don't really feel like it's doing… musically it's not always necessarily compelling. One of the main reasons I ended up making this record is we began writing for the new Loved Ones record and I was rattling off all these songs that felt like further extensions of the last Loved Ones record -Build and Burn and I started to feel like we were really changing what the Loved Ones were doing if we kept going down that path. I think when we made Build & Burn we wanted to do something different from Keep Your Heart and firmly let the world know that we were capable of making rock and roll music and adding all these instruments and stuff.
I'm proud of that record, but I think if we kept going in that vein we were really going to change what we initially set out to do. So, ultimately as we put the songs together I realized that, "This isn't the next Loved Ones record" and I want to make my own record and see these songs through, arrangement wise, the way that they sound in my head. I put together a bunch of musicians that I thought could get the job done-- good friends and family-- and ended up making this record. Most of the things I listen to aren't necessarily in the punk genre. I listen to a lot of stuff on this station in Philly called WXPN and they're playing like Jenny Lewis and Patty Griffin and that's mostly to what I listen to when I'm home. I think a lot of those influences came through in these songs. I think it's nice to create these songs without any preconceived idea of how I'm supposed to sound. That's what becomes difficult when you're playing in a band and when you want to be creative when working that framework.
Building on that - I think that one of the most, I guess surprising, track on Resolutions is "Prague" which to me feels very World/Inferno Friendship Society-esque, I think I'm wearing the hat of, "I'm an old fan and I don't like change!" So I'm unsure if I actually like that song yet; but can you tell me more about that song in particular - it is certainly unique on the album.
Yeah that's the oddball song and I think that inherit structure of the song the lyrics and the melody are a strong but the why that we arranged it is wacky and not in keeping with anything I've ever attempted. So it is weird. But I just felt that the song was strong enough to be on the album and it may just be the oddball on it. That song came about when I was on vacation with my wife and two friends of ours and we had been in and out of Amsterdam and we were actually vacationing in Prague and I had been reading that book The Road, that Cormac McCarthy book that they made into a movie. So I was reading that book, we were on vacation and you can fill in the blanks what we were up to, if we were in and out Amsterdam and I got a call from Chuck Ragan that he wanted me to put a song on the compilation he was putting together for the Revival Tour. In some weird, swirling compilation of all those ideas - Chuck calling about the tour, a few days in Amsterdam, being in Prague and reading that book I ended up with that song. It's a wacky mix of all those ideas.
In particular with that song I just said, "Fuck it. This is the way I heard it in my head and we're going to record it this way." You know, there were a couple times when Pete and I were playing that song back and just laughing saying, "What the hell did we do?" But I just feel that it's true to the original vision and it's a perfect example of a song I could put together and record and not worry if it's supposed to sound like the Loved Ones or what people would think, because this I my record - this is what I sound like.
For sure, so some bands are known for great storytelling in their lyrics and others are known from wearing their heart on their sleeve lyrical, which camp does Resolutions fall in - storytelling or is it autobiographical?
I would say it's both. I try to write from all kinds of different angles and perspectives. I think there's a little bit of autobiographical content in a lot of the songs but some of the songs are about other people. I try to keep creativity at its height when I'm writing. So you might get a bit of everything.
You have a little bit of a spring tour coming up - are you going to be by yourself or will you be bringing a band with you?
I'm doing a March tour with this guy who goes by the name Grey Kingdom - it's just one guy, the guy from Attack in Black. And we're going to a tour of eastern Canada and then down to SXSW. About a month later I'm doing a tour with Mikey Erg and Ian from Cheap Girls and we're going to do the entire east coast together. And we're going to treat it like a night of music. We're going to go on stage together and play each other's songs and volley back and forth. It's going to be a really neat experience. I love the way both of those guys write. We're just going to ride around in a car and play all over the east coast. So far I don't have any plans to play with a band, but in different cities I'll probably pull different people that played on the record. Like my sister will play the keys in Philly. We'll probably do full band shows later in the year with everyone who played on the record to just sort of round out the year which will probably be November or December. I'll get everyone together and we'll do a bunch of shows.
I know the Loved Ones are playing the Souls rescheduled show next weekend and I guess you're demoing some new stuff which is awesome - but how does the Loved Ones play into this solo record and touring.
I'm not sure yet. We need to get an album done and out and once the Loved Ones record is out I'll be focused on touring that album all over the world. But, until the record comes out I'm not sure what the schedule is going to look at. I am pretty much booked into October with solo stuff. There will be some Loved Ones stuff that goes on in between now and then, but most of that activity will be recording between now and the fall.
Do you have an ETA for a release on that?
I don't. It could be out in the fall. It could also be out in the beginning of next year. It just depends on how much solo touring I do and when we can all commit to giving the record its proper touring cycle. The record could be done in a couple of weeks, but we also might sit on it until we can really give it a proper tour.
Shifting gears a little bit, you're a pretty frequent tweeter…
I've become one, yeah. I'm sorta just trying it out. With the release of the record I've tried to make use of it.
How do you think it's working out? You having direct access to your fans through the vehicle of Twitter - how has that changed the game?
I think it's cool. I've been a little of one of those crotchety old men about Facebook and Twitter for at least the last couple of years. It kind of got described to me by some people right out high school about how valuable it is to them that artists do that. I figure if that's the way people are receiving their information then I guess I'm game to join. I really don't have any reason to not do it other than just uncertainty and not knowing what it's all about. But I kind of like it. I will say this - the comedian Whitney Cummings says it best, she says, "I'm not sure if being on Twitter makes me feel more or less lonely." It's sort of a weird thing to be involved in; especially in light of the fact that when I got into music, I was a little kid looking at vinyl records and cassettes and things in the early eighties. It's a strange thing how fast the world is accelerating and how it affects the things that you love.
Has there been anything particularly surprising since you started tweeting?
Just the outpouring of positivity has been surprising. It's been pretty great. To be honest, I think the writers and editors of Punknews have been really good to the Loved Ones, but a lot of people who post on that site are quite willing to take snipes and quick to talk about things that they don't know anything about and I've sort of experienced that from over the years with publicists sending us reviews and things like that. So the internet can be a little bit of a bummer because people can be a little bit ugly and use it in that way, but I've been really excited about how positive people have been about this record and what I'm doing here. I haven't seen a lot of that ugliness you see on message boards. It's really great. It's been really positive. I can't really say any negative things about it. In keeping with that I'll probably keep doing it.
Nice. There's the endorsement right there for Twitter. So speaking of Twitter, I recall a little bit ago seeing some tweets from you about it taking a zillion hours to get back from Australia - can you tell us about that tale?
Yeah that was crazy. I did a tour opening for the Bouncing Souls and Hot Water Music in New Zealand and Australia. Which was just an amazing experience to be hanging out with all those guys again and playing music together; it was just great. But the trip back was just wrought with delays and all kinds of travel miseries. It was insane. Every airport we attempted to fly out of had delays for whatever reason and I had this weird situation on a plane with a woman who I think was a mail order bride of an older gentleman. It was the three of us in a section and midway through the night, she began to actually masturbate to whatever movie she was watching right next to me. I didn't know what to do. Finally the stewardess came over and saw what was going on and the woman stopped. Needless to say, the rest of the plane ride was pretty uncomfortable. It became this crazy tale of all these delays like in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. It was definitely the penance for all the good times we had in Australia. We were suffering for all the good times; we definitely had a rough time getting home.
It all balanced out…
Yeah, I think so. But I think we still came out on the winning end.
So speaking about touring with the Bouncing Souls and Hot Water Music, can we talk about KrazyFest? Tell us more about it.
Are you familiar with it at all? It was a festival that happened in the late 90s and early 2000s. I was there with a couple bands I was roading for and I think Initial Records put it on and it was their annual showcase for the various bands they had and they were able to bringing some heavy hitters at the time like AFI. I was there with either the Bouncing Souls or Sick of It All. It was a big deal; it was kind of a Midwestern punk rock fest sort of like Warped Tour but a lot cooler. It wasn't as gross as the Warped Tour can be. I guess it shut down for a while and my buddy Andy Tinsley wanted to resurrect the idea of KrazyFest, so great bands could come to sort of the middle of nowhere and play this cool fest. I think it's going to be good. It looks like it's going to be fun. I don't know a whole lot of details yet, except that I gotta be there to play it, but it should be fun.
Yeah, I've never been to Louisville, but I might have to go.
There's a cool skate park there that was in a Tony Hawk game a couple years ago. I guess it was a gift from the city for the kids to have something positive to do. It's a really good skate park; I hope it's still there and not in disrepair.
So the obligatory question - what are you listening to right now?
Well I got a hold of the new Bright Eyes record and I think that's really great. The songs are all really awesome and the production is great. I'm a huge fan of his work across the board. It's definitely gotten a lot of plays. I got the new Social Distortion record a couple weeks ago and that's great. The production is awesome on that too. It's a cool record.
I just did a tour with Franz Nicolay in England and he turned me onto this singer/songwriter Andy Prieboy who wrote songs for Concrete Blonde and now has written his own stuff and he's terrific. Other finds through Franz is this guy called Todd Snider and he's just unbelievable. He's originally from Portland and moved to Nashville to become a country singer and he's really, really funny. His banter in between songs is just unstoppable. He has these heart wrenching - like John Prine or Randy Newman- songs that are just totally fucking rad. So I guess it is Andy Prieboy, Todd Snider, Social Distortion and the new Bright Eyes that are taking up my listening time when I'm not listening to Howard Stern.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Punknews community?
I'd like to say again I do appreciate all the support from the Punknews editors and writers have given me and the Loved Ones and all the people that go on there and spend their time positively. I got some insight of what it's like to be in more of the indie rock community via Franz. We had a lot of discussions about what that's like and it made me feel really grateful for the punk rock community, that I've grown up in and put records out in and to have Punknews as a resource that supports all those things is fantastic. Just hopefully people will continue to use it as a positive resource and not grind all their axes over there. At some points it gets to be a bit of drag, but I guess you should always just count your blessings when you have people working towards a common goal of getting good music and good information out there.