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.
Letâs 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 didnât 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. Itâs one of those things you donât really expect. It was funny. Absolutely nothing happening. It couldnât 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 weâre just kind of a simple rock and roll band; thereâs not a whole lot to it. Especially from our perspective we just sort of see it like weâre 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 youâre 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.. itâs funny as a PR line I guess. Itâs funny for us because this is almost supposed to be our bar band - like weâre done with touring, and just kind of hanging out and laying low for a bit. Now it seems like weâre 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 thatâs the approach and if people are interpreting it that way I guess itâs kind of cool. Iâm surprised people heard it all.
Actually, being in Philly - there are a lot of really great active bands coming from there right now. Whatâs it like to be part of that scene/community?
Itâs 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. Phillyâs always been a really great town. The local scene has always been great. Itâs 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; thereâs just so many bands across the board. Everywhere is just kind of flourishing. Itâs a great place to be because thereâs always so much going on all the time and everyone has been really, really supportive. Itâs 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. Itâs 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 wasnât 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 -- theyâve really been the only people who have consistently been pushing us and helping us out over the years. Theyâre 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 itâs been great. The most positive experience Iâve had putting out a record yet.
Thatâs always refreshing to hear.
Totally. Itâs been much more relaxing, I feel a lot less lost in the shuffle.
Good. Iâve 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. Itâs 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 theyâve sold themselves and I think they said something like eleven copies. Weâve gone through, you know, a reasonable amount of records, not anything crazy, there was no real PR push for it and most people donât 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, weâve sold eleven." And weâre just like "Wow, thatâs something else."
If thatâs true, I feel like I personally know all eleven people that bought it.
Yeah, itâs super, super weird. The money thing especially. He told us three times "the check is in the mail." And then it doesnât show up and you call him back like three weeks later and heâs like "Oh yeah, sorry. Iâm sending money tomorrow. Iâll call your engineer and weâll work it out." Because by then we have no money and weâre like borrowing used tapes and old drum heads and guitars that werenât ours because we didnât 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 youâre like "Why would you try so hard to piss off the bands youâre trying to help?" It just doesnât help anyone. And itâs not just us, so many bands on there have had the same problems. Itâs 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. Itâs shitty. No way to help the scene thatâs 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 Iâve ever played. We played terrrrribly but it was a lot of fun. Weâre going to do our first like real tour down to Fest. Weâre going to put those dates up soon. Weâre going to do CMJ and then do like a week tour and go down to Fest and it will be fun.
Itâs exciting you mentioned a tour, because thatâs 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?
Weâve done a couple short jams around the east coast, so this is going to be our last east coast tour for a little while. Weâre going to try to go out west and up in Canada next, hopefully in the New Year. Yeah, Iâm really looking forward to it. Lots of things are really coming together.
What are you guys working on now? Weâre writing a new record. Obviously we donât tour a lot. So weâve 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 weâve been on a really good vibe, so weâre just trying to put together another full length at least. Maybe some splits or something like that.
So something weâve started doing on the podcast, Iâm not sure if you listen to it, itâs okay if you donât.
I actually do.
Oh yay! So at the end of each round table we recommend a something-- it doesnât have to be music related-- just something that youâre excited about - so whatâs your recommendation?
Something that Iâm excited about just in general? Actually going on tour; thatâs something Iâm looking forward to the most.