The two had a rather pleasant conversation about movies, recording the new record, their European tour that starts tomorrow and Elliot's love of Sandra Bullock. Elliot also went into detail about his side projects and future plans for both Dad Punchers as well as DNF.
Is Survived By came out a couple of weeks ago, it's done pretty well and you've been touring to promote it; how does it feel to have your third record to debut on the Billboard Top 200 and bumping down Demi Lovato one spot while doing so?
It's very surreal coming from a couple of dudes who play mildly abrasive music and I never thought it would be a thing, that our name would be on Billboard or ranked anywhere near a pop star on a chart. It's all very surreal. It's unbelievable.
When you heard the news were you extremely excited? Did you celebrate right after?
When we heard about it we were in an airport coming back from Germany and we all just looked at each other and were like "Huh? I guess we didn't make something that was completely terrible." Because I feel like every time we write something we constantly second-guess ourselves. I mean we love this stuff but who knows if the kids are going to like it. So I mean we second-guess everything we do and I think that's kind of a constructive thing to do but to have any sort of confirmation from Billboard is always a nice thing.
Before I get into my next question I have to ask, what were you guys doing in Germany?
We were playing a show in Hamburg sponsored by Converse. They put on these shows called "Get Loud with blank" and I think Ceremony has done one. I think they did one with multiple bands like Rocket From the Crypt and such. I think that one was in San Francisco. Ours was in Hamburg, we played a 150-cap venue that was actually a boat on water that kids had to take a ferry to get to. It was a very close, intimate event. We flew in, played the show, and flew out. It was very, very brief.
The record has done well sales-wise and critically. Everybody loves it, everyone is giving it the best rating they can and one thing I noticed is that this record is much more melodic than previous records. Going into studio, writing and recording was that the original plan or was that more so something that happened in the studio?
It definitely happened a lot more in the writing process. Nick, Clayton, and TK would come with riffs and be like "you know, I wrote this thing but I'm not sure if it's too poppy." Then they would play it and we would really like it that we didn't care if it could be considered too poppy or too melodic. I think we could have viewed the writing process in some way like this: Jeremy has found his niche, he does the yelling thing. So as long as he is doing that it's ok if we are overcompensating for that melody wise but there were definitely times during the writing process where we questioned ourselves about things being too poppy. Then we realized that was a stupid thing to even think about. If we think it sounds good then we like it.
Do you think the more melodic sound made the new record more accessible to new people who hadn't gotten into you in the past or maybe just brushed you off?
Totally! I think that paired with the fact that this record has the best production of anything we've ever released in terms of recording quality. Brad Wood did an incredible job on it and it's definitely the clearest sounding. I think the fact that it is more melodic and the production is good would make it easy to get into for anyone who may have brushed us off before.
Now another thing I noticed on top of this record being a lot more melodic is the drums are more aggressive than they have been in the past. When you went into the studio was that something you were trying to do? Did you just have all this pent up aggression that you wanted to get out in the studio?
It's funny because I feel like I never put any sort of adjective of intent into the drums. The intent of the drums to me is to bring excitement to the song but also to be a foundation of the song. I'm very careful about trying not to overdo it and make everyone else the focus of attention because I don't think that's the role of drums. I think they're there to be a foundation and if they can provide some sort of feeling or some sort aggressiveness I think that's great too and that's something I strive to do. I'm glad that it came across that way because I enjoy playing the drums in aggressive manner.
No, I mean watching you live is always fun and I'm just in awe. Like how does he stay on time so often going so fast? You wear the tiny shorts all the time; do they help with drumming in the same way that compression shorts and jumpers help weightlifters?
Absolutely, when I play drums I wear really small shorts that have a built in liner and it provides support. A lot of the songs require really fast drum parts and having the minimal amount of stuff to get between myself and playing drums is kind of is kind of how I look at it. I don't want anything to get in the way.
Where do you get these shorts? Where can one acquire them?
Sports Chalet. I think that's where I've gotten them. I usually look for the one or two inch inseam. They can be hard to find because most shorts go to your knees but that's too much.
That's the look for most guys.
Yeah, that's too much. Cut all the crap!
Like in the '70s everyone wore them and now it's like no guy wants that.
Below the knees, can't do it. It's too much. My motto is cut all the excess crap.
I gotcha. So how does your love of tiny shorts inform your love Sandra Bullock and vice versa? For the record, this question was submitted to me by fellow editor Bryne Yancey.
Ooh. I'm going to be completely honest. I saw the film Gravity last week, have you seen it?
No, but I want to.
Ok, well I won't ruin anything for you but Sandra Bullock does spend a solid amount of the film in tiny shorts, which I did find very attractive.
Do you feel that the two of you could bond over your mutual appreciation of tiny shorts?
Well in her defense they were like undershorts that you could wear in a space suit but it was definitely very flattering for her and considering she is 49 or 50 I was blown away by how in shape she was.
Well that tends to be how the Hollywood actresses do things. They have the personal trainers and stuff.
Fifty years old, looking like that I was like " Wow, Sandra."
Tell me about it.
When you go see Gravity you may have similar thoughts. I am curious to hear your two cents on it.
How was the movie cinematically and artistically?
It's great. Lots of underlying themes, lots of imagery, very fun to look at. It brought a tear to my eye at one point. There's a couple of laughs. It's good. It's an all-around enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it.
It's on my 'to watch' list. Also on my list is a movie you guys saw on tour that Jeremy tweeted about is Don Jon. Apparently you guys were very split down the middle.
So tell me, who loved it and who hated it and for what reasons?
So me, Tyler, and Clayton all liked Don Jon. I personally liked Don Jon because I thought it covered a cultural stereotype and cultural norm that other film has really touched on. It's kind of a growth tale of this very machismo jock male being exposed to other concepts.
From what I know of it is this big buff jock guy has a pornography addiction and relationship issues. That's all I know.
Yeah. It has an interesting way of tying all that together with the treatment of females and how you view them. How that directly affects your sex life and relationships. I thought it alluded to some interesting concepts. Jeremy, Nick, and Joey did not like it. They thought it was a chick flick.
You know what's interesting is that I've heard from several women who went to go watch it assuming it was a chick flick based off the trailer and were disappointed, even angry that it was nothing like that.
It's got some deeper themes going on.
What I've heard is that it's basically gender studies for bros and dummies.
Absolutely. It definitely touches on that and I feel like there aren't many movies in the mainstream that really touch on that. I thought it was funny. I thought it handled it in a comedic and thoughtful way.
Alright, you've been on tour with AFI and I believe it's wrapping up soon?
It is! In the next ten days I believe.
So how has the experience been as a whole for you? How are those guys?
They're incredible. Davey will come and sit down and just talk to us just about every day. We'll have conversations on everything from relationships to bands. Like sometimes we'll gather round and he'll tell us stories about bands that I never got to see but am a big fan of like The Nerve Agents. Stuff like that. It's been awesome, they're incredible dudes. Some of the shows sold out rather quickly because they have a cult following and they haven't toured in awhile, so unfortunately some of our kids couldn't come out. So it's been playing to a majority of kids who have never heard of us at all, which is a good opportunity. It's been meeting a lot of who haven't been exposed to the kind of stuff we do.
Has the reaction from most kids been positive?
Yeah, I have to say it's been much more positive than not. We've had a lot of kids tell us they haven't really seen anything like us, they bought all our CDs, and next time we come back they'll be there. So I definitely think it's been overwhelmingly positive.
That's good. So I am assuming some if not all of you were fans of AFI before this tour but were they fans of you guys? Had they even heard of you before?
Davey had and Jade had. We have a lot of mutual friends in LA. Nick, our Nick, is a gigantic AFI fan and a member of the Despair Faction. He has photos of him from a meet up with Davey when he was like 12 and he showed Davey the photos. It became this huge funny thing. They were aware of us and complimentary of the new record. It's been good because we are fans too and it's been fun coexisting with them.
Speaking of the Despair Faction, is that still a thing?
I believe it is. At our show in Austin there was a big group of people that came in before the show started and they were doing a meet up with photos and a signing. So it's still going as far as I know.
So 2013 has been a big year for you guys. You did this tour and I believe you did another earlier this year as well as put out the new record, what's next for you guys?
This tour is going to wrap up in ten days and then we are going home for ten days before going to Europe where I will also be doing Dad Punchers stuff. I am going to be doing double duty and that'll be super fun. Then we come back and are taking a couple of months off to regroup. Then we want to do a headliner in February and March. The line up for that is in the stages of being confirmed but I can say that it's very exciting and it's going to be awesome. I'm excited for it because we haven't done a headliner in awhile. The last two US tours have been support tours. So I'm excited.
So you're pulling double duty on the European tour with Dad Punchers, is it going to be a full band set or just you?
It's going to be Dad Punchers as a full band. Clayton and Nick from Touche are actually going to be playing with me and my buddy Calbert -- who has been playing drums for Dad Punchers for a while. He is coming out to play drums with us. So it's going to be the three of us: Clayton, Nick, and I, pulling double duty every night. It'll be fun. A kind of incestual tour.
It reminds me of when The Lawrence Arms did this.
Yeah Sundowner opened up… did The Falcon play too?
That's one of the things I thought about. Like is this a weird thing to do? And then I thought about that tour. They did that and I bet it was super fun.
New Found Glory did the same thing with International Superheroes of Hardcore.
So I don't think It's unusual. I feel like bands do it so the side project has a guaranteed successful show and on top of that, two guarantees.
Yeah, and it's a chance to do other shit over there. I'm a little intimidated to do two sets a night for a month but it'll be fine as long as I can stay healthy and not get sick.
You might lose a couple of pounds.
Might lose a couple of pounds but hey it'll be fun.
So it's been a big year for Dad Punchers as well. You did your first US tour, some of the dates supporting Pianos Become the Teeth and Tigers Jaw while others were headlining. Aside from the European tour anything else going on with Dad Punchers?
We have a split with a band called The Exquisites from Washington coming out. They're an incredible band. I just got to hear their two songs and they're super good.
Who is putting it out?
Lauren Records which is run by Aaron from Summer Vacation. So that's coming out. I'm super excited about that. I think it's the two best songs they've ever done and the two I did are my favorite so far. It'll be out in the wintertime and it's up for preorder now. Then I want to do a west coast tour in winter or spring but I am also hoping to do another US tour within the next year. It just all depends on scheduling and how worn out I am. I'm trying to continually do that gig when Touché stuff isn't happening.
We've talked about Touché and we have talked about Dad Punchers, what's going on with DNF?
DNF, we're kind of inactive at the moment. What's going on is Sam and Chad are in a band called Condition.
They've been touring a fair amount.
They have been touring a fair amount. They're about to do a full US tour in November. Kyle lives in the Bay area and I think is going to be moving back into the Los Angeles area within the next few months. So for the first time three of us will be in the same city and if we can get Chad… It's just been a matter of two of us down here and two of us up there and trying to write and do stuff while I'm gone all the time and they're gone all the time. I'm sure we'll regroup, we're really good friends. It's just a matter of getting it together and do it when we can. Hopefully we can play some shows this year.
Hopefully some new music because the last thing you put out was that 7-inch on No Idea.
Yeah the 7-inch on High Anxiety and No Idea, that was super fun. I would love to do more. It's just a matter of getting together.
Speaking of No Idea, how did you get up with them? Did you approach Tony or did Tony approach you guys?
Well it was through an imprint of No Idea called High Anxiety that Chris Callahan from Cursed runs and I had met him in Toronto. Every time we would play in Toronto he would usually be working at the club and we sat down and talked. He is an incredible person and I felt like we hit off. Then a friend of mine actually sent him that 7-inch. He loved it and wanted to put it out on High Anxiety. We thought it was cool, we wanted him to do it and that was through No Idea and then it was. It was super fun and we're glad he was interested. He's been a pleasure to work with and hopefully we will put out more stuff in the future.
Busy, busy guy.
Yes, busy, busy guy. Doesn't leave me much time for anything else but that's ok. Now is the time to be doing it.
Because you can't be doing it 20-30 years from now.
I feel like I've touched upon every aspect of your musical career that you've got going on unless there is something secret or in the works you haven't talked about yet?
Uh, nothing secret that I can think of. I've started working on a Dad Punchers record. I have about four songs but that's not going to happen for a long time, I'm going to really flesh that out. I'm also looking into maybe recording bands next year. That's something I want to do because I have always wanted to record music and I've been honing my craft. So that might start happening next year.
Other than recording the early Dad Punchers stuff do you have any experiences recording?
Yeah. So I did the early Dad Punchers stuff, I did the most recent Dad Punchers 7-inch, I did a lot of demos for my old bands like Koalacaust and I didn't really know what I was doing at the time. I put a mic here and vaguely mixed the levels but since then I've been going and learning EQ'ing and compression.
You've been learning the rudiments.
Yeah, I've been going back and really learning the rudiments. I'm hoping to approach it a bit more seriously because I think it's a fun thing to do.
You spoke of previous projects earlier and most people who know you for your current projects might not know that at one point you were in a ska band, is there any possibility of you playing ska again even if it's a one off song in Dad Punchers or something?
You know, I'm a gigantic fan of trad ska. I love The Slackers. I love the first wave stuff. Desmond Dekker. All that stuff. I've always thought it would be fun to put together some trad, rocksteady-ish songs. And who knows, maybe there will be some on the next Dad Punchers record. I would actually really like to do that.
Yeah. You should!
Mix it up! Maybe do a side project. I would love to play drums in a trad ska project. That would be very fun. Very soulful, very groovin'!
Well unless you've got anything else I think that's it.
Thank you, Punknews.