Call them whatever next/post/pre-genre you want, Philadelphia's Restorations are certainly striking a chord in the inner pop-punk/hardcore/metal/folk/indie kid inside of all us. Whereas their sound might legitimately be hard to classify, their brand of "punk for grown-ups" has helped them grow a large following of fans and supporters. News editor Kira Wisniewski chatted with vocalist and guitarist Jon Loudon by phone following the East Coast Earthquake 2k11. They discussed the genre-game, earthquakes and Restorations falling out with Paper + Plastick Records.
Let's start with a timely and important question, where were you and what were you doing during the East Coast Earthquake 2k11?
Oh man, I was at home working. I actually thought it was my neighbors. I live next to an underwater excavation depot thing, where they have a bunch of pipes and robot looking things. When my house started shaking I thought they were just moving stuff around next door. So for the duration of the earthquake all I could think of was what an asshole I thought my neighbors were. I didn't even really have time to register what was actually happening until I heard my whole neighborhood out in the streets being like "What the fuck was that?" It was a total delayed reaction. It's one of those things you don't really expect. It was funny. Absolutely nothing happening. It couldn't have been more uneventful.
In preparation for this interview, I did a lot of googling, and the thing that seems to be extremely inconsistent is how Restorations is classified. How would you classify yourself?
To us we're just kind of a simple rock and roll band; there's not a whole lot to it. Especially from our perspective we just sort of see it like we're ripping off a bunch of bands we like. [Laughs] I was talking to a friend of mine today actually and we were just sort of laughing at how people keep putting us with a bunch of weird bands. It just seems strange to me that pop punk kids, hardcore kids, metal kids and weirdo stoner metal kids can get into us and seem to find something they can enjoy. It seems like everyone has a different idea of what our band is which is sort of entertaining to us.
So what are some of those bands you're trying to rip off?
[Laughs] Well like the Constantines, Fugazi, Torche and that sort of thing. Heavier indie - well not really heavy bands- but like indie bands with a little bit of a thump.
I think the term that I did see the most in reference to Restorations is "music for grown-up punks." How do you feel about that classification?
[Laughs] Uh.. it's funny as a PR line I guess. It's funny for us because this is almost supposed to be our bar band - like we're done with touring, and just kind of hanging out and laying low for a bit. Now it seems like we're returning to playing out and recording more records. For a lot of us, this is supposed to be our "once-a-month/easy-band" kind of deal. I guess that's the approach and if people are interpreting it that way I guess it's kind of cool. I'm surprised people heard it all.
Actually, being in Philly - there are a lot of really great active bands coming from there right now. What's it like to be part of that scene/community?
It's really great, it seems like everyone has been paying more attention to Philly recently than they have been in the past couple of years. It seems like there was a little bit of a lull as far as national coverage goes. Philly's always been a really great town. The local scene has always been great. It's kinda cool to see so many bands doing really great right now. The War on Drugs, Paint It Black, The Holy Mess, and The Menzingers; there's just so many bands across the board. Everywhere is just kind of flourishing. It's a great place to be because there's always so much going on all the time and everyone has been really, really supportive. It's a really unique place to be and I like it a lot.
Can you talk a little bit about the jump from Paper + Plastick to Tiny Engines?
[Laughs] Yeah, sure. It's kind of complicated I guess. We put out the EP with Paper + Plastick and then Vinnie [Fiorello] was going to take care of paying for our full-length and then just decided he wasn't going to do it anymore. So we were in the studio for a couple weeks recording and had no money. And dude was flaking out on us so we just cut all ties and paid for it ourselves. Tiny Engines was sort of an easy step for us. For anyone who knows about our old band anyway it is from Beartrap, the PR company, and once those guys put a label together -- they've really been the only people who have consistently been pushing us and helping us out over the years. They're sort of like our older brothers - giving us guidance and helping us through the various difficulties over the years. So when we got to this point, we were like "Who do we know that is not going to jerk us around?" And rather than spend more money trying to shop it around, we just went with friends. And it's been great. The most positive experience I've had putting out a record yet.
That's always refreshing to hear.
Totally. It's been much more relaxing, I feel a lot less lost in the shuffle.
Good. I've heard some of the most un-positive things about Paper + Plastick not only from a band perspective, but also from fans ordering stuff and just not getting it.
It's just terrible. We bought all these records from them just because we wanted to be able to sell them on our own and I asked Paper + Plastick how many they've sold themselves and I think they said something like eleven copies. We've gone through, you know, a reasonable amount of records, not anything crazy, there was no real PR push for it and most people don't even know that EP came out on Paper + Plastick, let alone thought about buying it. So when we went to ask about it and they were like "Oh, we've sold eleven." And we're just like "Wow, that's something else."
If that's true, I feel like I personally know all eleven people that bought it.
Yeah, it's super, super weird. The money thing especially. He told us three times "the check is in the mail." And then it doesn't show up and you call him back like three weeks later and he's like "Oh yeah, sorry. I'm sending money tomorrow. I'll call your engineer and we'll work it out." Because by then we have no money and we're like borrowing used tapes and old drum heads and guitars that weren't ours because we didn't have shit. And it just kept being one thing after another. By the third time this happened, we had been planning to record a record for like six months. Everything was signed off on, I have like all the emails to prove it. It just gets to a point, where you're like "Why would you try so hard to piss off the bands you're trying to help?" It just doesn't help anyone. And it's not just us, so many bands on there have had the same problems. It's just awful. I really feel bad, because we keep running into all these other bands that are just frustrated and pissed and missed all these other opportunities because of it. It's shitty. No way to help the scene that's for sure.
So shifting gears a little bit, you guys are playing Fest 10! Have you played before?
No, well sort of. Our old band played three times. And then Restorations did a house show with Look Mexico! at Fest 7, I think. It was probably like our fourth show or something silly like that. It was great. It was outside under palm trees and stuff. It was one of the best shows I've ever played. We played terrrrribly but it was a lot of fun. We're going to do our first like real tour down to Fest. We're going to put those dates up soon. We're going to do CMJ and then do like a week tour and go down to Fest and it will be fun.
It's exciting you mentioned a tour, because that's actually what my next question was about. Right now you guys only have a couple local-ish shows listed, so this is going to be all along the east coast?
We've done a couple short jams around the east coast, so this is going to be our last east coast tour for a little while. We're going to try to go out west and up in Canada next, hopefully in the New Year. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. Lots of things are really coming together.
What are you guys working on now?
We're writing a new record. Obviously we don't tour a lot. So we've just been writing and practicing and getting new material together. We just moved into a new practice space which is right across the street from the studio we record at. We just sort of re-centralized everything and we've been on a really good vibe, so we're just trying to put together another full length at least. Maybe some splits or something like that.
So something we've started doing on the podcast, I'm not sure if you listen to it, it's okay if you don't.
I actually do.
Oh yay! So at the end of each round table we recommend a something-- it doesn't have to be music related-- just something that you're excited about - so what's your recommendation?
Something that I'm excited about just in general? Actually going on tour; that's something I'm looking forward to the most.
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Managing EditorAdam White
Contributing EditorsKira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile
Copy EditorAdam Eisenberg Britt Reiser
Podcast ProducerNariman Shariat
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