You guys are one man down right now aren’t you? William just quit?
Well not really though, you know what I mean it was one of those things that when it happened… It wasn’t like we could predict it happening but when he called and was like ‘hey guys…’ I think we all knew he was going to leave…
Did you know this before the record was released?
Oh no, this was like a month and a half ago. So it wasn’t one of those things like you know ‘I hate you guys’ (laughs) and we’d planned to have about a month and a half off and if he was going to leave that that was the best time. And he also said to us ‘if you can’t find a replacement for the next tour, don’t worry I’ll tour and we can go and do this next tour, it’s not a problem with that. It’s just that I kind of want to move on and I wanted to start moving towards that’. We’re all still really good friends, we’ve all seen him since and hung out, I think we even just saw him a week ago. But yeah it was one of those things. But we were actually really lucky; Bob the guy who is replacing him is just awesome, he was in a band called River City High that was actually one of the first bands we ever toured with and I remember we all kind of looked up to Bob, he was a great player, a really good singer… Bob’s really good you know! (laughs) and it’s really a hard thing to do cause you don’t want to be a jerk talking about Bill kind of, do you know what I mean? But you know too… Bob’s really good and we also knew that with Bill leaving the band a lot of people would look and be like ‘oh is the band still good?’ or ‘I don’t know about this new guy?’ I know a lot of people did that with Taking Back Sunday. But I think we we’re lucky, I think we went out and found a replacement that is really good and we’re all really confident to get back out there and tour. After rehearsals it’s been like ‘wow’ this is good, if not better.
Have you guys been working on ‘North’ for a long time now, would you say you basically had it all written by the time you were in the studio or studio time together gave it’s real birth?
Um, I think most of the writing was done before we went into the studio. Andrew and I both write separately, I think I had about six songs and then we actually ended a tour early right when America went to war in Iraq and so that wasn’t… I mean Europe was not happy with America and we just thought you know maybe we shouldn’t be out here and what were doing right now. There’s things changing in the world and so we actually went home with a couple weeks off we didn’t expect and a lot of writing went on then between the two of us. When it ended up all coming together I think we were all really happy with the songs we had.
You guys decided to record ‘North’ away from home for certain reason…
Yeah we decided to go to Seattle to record the album because we thought it was the best choice for us. We’d been on the road for something like a little over a year or more and we knew we needed to be focused. We live in Southern California which is where we would normally do the album and it was one of those things where we knew we have to give this our all. Still be focused when you’re away for a year touring straight, whenever you’re home whether you’re working or not your mind is like ‘yes I’m at home’. It’s really easy to lose focus so that’s why we were all like let’s go away, let’s get away to do this album. Let’s go up to Seattle we really thought I’d be the best things and we’re really, I am really happy with the way it turned out.
You guys also don’t have so much of the sophomoric toned songs to this record either like ‘If You C Jordan’ or ‘Punkrock Princess’
All of those songs even all of ‘Leaving Through The Window’ was kind of a conglomeration of songs that were anywhere from three months to three years old. Songs like ‘Drunk Girl’ we played at the first show we ever played so to us it’s a really old songs and it’s like a lot happened in that year before we got signed. ‘Leaving Through The Window’ was a lot about a band… It’s almost, like a greatest hits of our early stuff you know (laughs) and then ‘North’ is just where we are now and where our song writing is. I think you’re right, there are none of those songs and I think we wanted it that way.
Anything new you guys wanted to try with this record compared to past chords, hymns or sounds?
Early on Andrew and I talked about what we wanted the album to sound like and we really wanted it to sound like a winter album. We really wanted it to feel, not sad and somber really but just kind of have a broody feeling. I think part of that came from recording it in Seattle where it was raining so much it kind of gave this darker quality to it, I don’t think we necessarily wanted to make a sad album. But just something that wasn’t so upbeat all the time…
A summer album…
Yeah and I think ‘Leaving Through The Window’ was a summer album and I like the fact that this album comes from a different direction than that.
In your songs you see relationships have suffered and stuff, regardless you guys are always on the road and playing, what’s kept you in this?
Our fans! I think it’s our fans. You come to a point where you feel so lucky to have the people believe in you that do. We’re really blessed we have such an awesome fan-base, I think almost after every single show we go out sign autographs whatever but we talk to kids, we’ve always tried to never be above that and I don’t think we ever will be. Because we respect so much that they are the ones that are keeping us here and keeping us doing what we’re doing. It’s one of those things that it’s definitely them we’re doing it for, it’s the greatest job don’t get me wrong but it would be a lot harder to do this if we didn’t have such an awesome fan-base.
Can you remember something a fan said to you before that really sticks out?
You know, you try to not take that stuff so seriously, you gotta understand you know… I got a good piece of advice a long time ago from our A&R at MCA he said ‘always take your bad press as good as your good press’ like all of it is just one persons opinion. You know lots of people have said stuff like ‘you’ve gotten me through this and that…’ and you try to not take it so seriously cause I don’t know it’s really easy to become very egotistical from all of that and you know I am so happy we’ve helped people from the things we’ve done but I don’t think I’m some god (laughs) and honestly that’s probably my biggest fear of all.
Favorite new songs off record?
My two favorite songs are ‘Only Ashes’ and ‘Me and The Moon’ probably, I think that those are the two best songs on the album by far.
And to play live the same?
Umm, yeah probably definitely I think so too just even from a song writing standpoint I think those are Andrew and I best songs on the album and I think from a guitar standpoint, which is the other role I played I am really proud of those songs. If anybody was like ‘show me a really good song that you play guitar in’. I would totally show those songs just cause I really like the direction we took with those songs, those are great songs and they just ended up coming out exactly like… They sounded better then we ever thought they could’ve ever sounded so…
Mentioning ‘Me And The Moon’, that was definitely a song lyrically I hadn’t expected to hear on this record
Yeah absolutely and that song took a little bit of time to kind of get and I always really liked that song but it only took form once we got in the studio. We took like two days and I just sat in, not in the control room which is where you usually track but I was in the room with all my amp’s and stuff and we did one-take through each song where I just had all these effects and stuff on headphones. Like two days where I did the whole album and I just sat and fucked around and did all this rad stuff and you hear it a lot. Like all the first stuff in the verses that I play live and that you hear predominantly is stuff that I just did and improvised. It was an approach that we took that ended up really yielding lots of results, you hear a lot of it in ‘Only Ashes’ as well…
Were you guys at all nervous when the Geffen merge happened or didn’t even cross your minds?
I guess you know you just can’t worry about things that are out of your control. You wonder more than you worry cause it’s like well I can’t do anything about it so you just keep doing what you’re doing. And honestly do fans really care if you’re on Geffen or MCA (laughs). So yeah it didn’t really matter, we also had really good management at the time and they were saying you know listen just keep doing what you’re doing and if something goes wrong or something, we’ve always had that saying in our band that if we keep doing what we’re doing then you’ll keep getting the same results. If we keep touring and caring about our fans, playing shows and writing good music then good things will keep coming. You can’t do anymore than that, as long as you give it your best…
Are you guys still entertaining the idea of re-releasing ‘Ready Break’ your first release?
No! (laughs) I mean yeah we talk about it every now and then but it’s one of those things it will never get released like publicly, I doubt I don’t want to say never. But I doubt it would ever hit stores. It’s kind of like a Playboy model showing her baby pictures you know, it just kind of doesn’t make sense it doesn’t do anything for you. Then again we’re not Playboy models but it’s one of those things where those songs are old baby photos. You listen to the version of ‘Straw Dog’ on ‘Ready Break’ and then you listen to the version of it on ‘Leaving Through The Window’ and it’s just embarrassing to me like ‘what!?’ but yeah that’s funny…
Andrew recently turned 21 years old did that making all ages venues easier for you guys to play?
It’s doesn’t really matter, it never really mattered for us. Even since we’ve been touring when none of us we’re 21 years old and he was 17 years old. Yeah that was a little weird but every place they’d just put big X’s on his hands so no it was never harder they always gave us beer it was like whatever they knew.
How many times have you dropped the piano on tour, lost a pedal? You must dread stairs for load-in’s?
You know seriously that piano has been through a lot.
Even Warped Tour with a piano must have been interesting…
Yeah the piano dropped once off a forklift at Warped Tour which was really funny. But it really takes a beating, definitely a lot more of a sturdy instrument than you’d think. Oh yeah and we’ve definitely take in up some flights of stairs in our day and that sucks you know, takes like eight or nine guys. Luckily now we’re playing places that even rarely we have flights of stairs that we have to deal with.
So you just toured with 311, Special Sauce & G Love, did they ever get you guys bad on stage?
Oh man did they ever! You know when you go on tour with a larger act like 311 a theatre tour, it was a four month tour and I think we only did two and a half months of it. We we’re definitely the freshman band kind of on that tour and well they definitely… Well they put homosexual porn on the stage, there was plastic ummm… well dildos and tape on our pedals and we had to take shots after every song, it was definitely though, it was like wow, a hard show to play though (laughs). Definitely them doing it, it was kind of like a rite of passage and we took it like champs and it was out last day on tour. You’d rather they do it then not because it kind of shows they cared enough and I mean they did a lot of work to do this, they had lubricant everywhere on the drums sticks, on our picks but it was really funny and embarrassing. All the crews, this huge crowd, 311, G Love everyone we’re just watching us laughing. We even saw some of the guys from the 311 crew the other day and they were like ‘you know something you guys were the funnest band to tour with, you were the greatest’ and at the end of that he said ‘nobody else has ever taken it the way you guys took it, you guys were such good sports’. It was so funny too cause then we did a month of support on the Good Charlotte dates right after that and saying nothing of Good Charlotte, they are our very dear friends but they didn’t even hold the candle to hazing us the way 311 did. We were all like ‘yeah whatever been there done that’. They came out and threw cereal on us and stuff and we were all like ‘nice try! What? Piece of cake’
On tour when, if you have time would you choose bingo or bowling?
I am a horrible bowler, I am really bad bowler, I think I’ve broken one hundred maybe once, it’s really bad I just don’t have it. Clutch is a really good bowler; actually I do like going bowling because I love bowling alley bars. I think that bowling alley bars are so much fun. Like in the movie ‘The Big Lebowski’ it’s probably one of my top three favorite movies of all times. That movie I just loved so much because all of the scenes of bowling alley bars.
Pants or shorts to play?
Umm, shorts well no, pants. Yeah jeans…
Movies or a real theatre?
Well, I guess I’d go with movies, sure movies.
Magazines or books?
Showering at venues or showering at truck stops?
Ouch, probably venues. I just never do it at truck stops, don’t know truck stop bathrooms are usually just too sketchy.