When Andrew Seward left Against Me in May, he didn't immediately jump into a new band. In fact, the first thing he did was get a job washing dishes at a Gainesville pizza joint. He also turned his attention toward being a husband and father to his wife and three-year-old daughter. But creativity runs through Seward's veins, and eventually the desire to express himself became too strong to resist. This is where the story of Human Parts begins. Fast forward a few months and Seward, along with wife Verite and friends Andy "Pants" Schwich, Kim Helm, and Dave Kotinsley are on the verge of releasing a self-titled record and prepping for their first show, scheduled for Fest 12. Punknews interviewer Adam Eisenberg caught up with Andrew Seward on his day off to discuss life after Against Me!, the enduring influence of "The Hank Williams Story," and how Human Parts has already conquered the toddler demographic.
When you left Against Me, you tweeted "No drama here." Was that really the case? No drama?
No. I just had to do something else, and itâs very selfish on my part. There are a couple of things. I wanted to be home more. I wanted to do something else, and if thatâs being selfish, then Iâm guilty of that. But I just kind of wanted to be in Gainesville more, be with my family more, and work. That sounds bad. Being in a band is work, and its hard work, but I just needed to do something. I started working right away at Satchelâs Pizza washing dishes for two months. Then I got a job running a corner store in downtown Gainesville, on the corner of Main and University. Iâm not totally answering your question, am I? No, no drama. I think all parties respected the decision. It was time for me to do something else. I had to do it for myself. If that can be painted selfish, fine, I own that.
So what are your days like now?
The days are long. Iâve never been busier than I have in the last, I donât know how long itâs been, six months, seven months? Just trying to be a good parent, a good father to my three-year-old and trying to be a good partner to my wife. I think itâs the easiest thing in the world, but you put a job on top of that, and Iâve basically been doing this Human Parts record as a hobby. Itâs not some serious thing that people probably make it out to be. Itâs just something I wanted to do and I wanted to do quickly and it kind of just fell in line quickly. Iâm putting this out myself and my friend, Andrew in Australia, is putting it out. I kind of feel like I did when I was 17-years-old and growing up in north Alabama and taking my DAT tape to United Record Pressing in Nashville and didnât know what mastering was or anything, just dropping it off and saying "we need 200 7-inches." I feel like that. I feel like a young man, and Iâm not.
So how did this hobby that is Human Parts come about?
It became a project when I was washing dishes and, Iâm 35-year-old now, Iâm by no means long in the tooth, but Iâm by no means young, either. I was just washing dishes, and Satchelâs is, I swear to god, the fucking most hellish, amazing dish pit in Gainesville. You dishwashers will know what I mean. The volume of business is crazy. I was just washing away, bent over the sink, and I was like, I really want to be creative and focus on music. I can do it, I can play most instruments and I have a decent setup at my house, so thereâs no excuse to not do something. Just be creative and have it come out for what it is. So thatâs how it came about. Itâs just get off your ass and do something. Donât come home and drink a bunch of beer and play Playstation. Actually go play bass and figure something out and make something. I needed to fulfill my creative side, so I focused.
The band seems more like a gathering of friends. How did the rest of the group come together?
Everything was done in parts. It was all done over the course of five, six months. I was trying to do vocals. I will admit it, singing and trying to train my voice to sing is the hardest thing Iâve ever done musically. Iâve always played bass and drums and stuff like that, but singing, Iâm trying. So be patient with me. My wife, sheâs always singing around the house and I always wanted her to sing. She can be painfully shy sometimes, but sheâs a completely awesome, amazing woman who will do anything. I finally got her to sing into a microphone, which she could, and I just loved it. I loved the sound of her voice. So I got her to do more and more. The other two voices in there are Kim Helm and Andy "Pants." His last name is Schwich, but everybody just calls him Andy "Pants." No one really knows his last name. Andy and I were at the playground – he has a kid the same age as my kid – and he was just humming something. You know how you can just tell when someoneâs a good singer? I pretty much had him come right over after our little play date at the playground and do some backing vocals and he just killed it right away. So that was by chance. And also by chance, his partner is Kim Helm, who sings in Whiskey & Co., so I knew Kim could sing, so I got her in it too, by default I guess, because I got her partner in. Maybe the actual name of the band should be The Seward Family Jamboree or some kind of horrible shit like that, but thatâs kind of what it is. So I got them all to sing, and I played every instrument on the record. Our friend and tattoo artist Dave Kotinsley played some guitar on it as well.
Human Parts has not played live yet, is that right?
No, not publicly. Weâve been practicing and itâs been going really great. I got a friend of ours in town named Matt Walker to play guitar. Heâs a great guitar player. I play bass and sing, Kim sings, Andy sings and plays guitar and our friend Sal plays drums. Heâs in that band The Future Now from Gainesville as well. So its total incestuous Gainesville, as it always is, but Iâm embracing it.
Youâre on the schedule for Fest 12. Is that the first show?
Fest is the first show planned. But thereâs no way Iâm going to hit that cold. Hopefully Iâve learned something in my years of doing this. Weâll probably play a secret house show or a bar show somewhere around town. Maybe weâll go to the redneck bar and play a show. Whoever will have us; we need a warm up. Also, Andy and my wife, Verite, theyâve never been in a band, so it does feel like people in their 30s being teenagers, because theyâve never gone through this. Itâs really refreshing and amazing to see them giddy about it.
Whatâs it like for someone whoâs played a lot of shows in a lot of places to play with people who have never been in a band?
Itâs been great. I want it to be loose and be fun. Itâs not like I quit Against Me! and Iâve got to start another band, this is my career and I have to do this and make money. This is strictly for fun, with the option if it did become something, sure, that would be great, of course, Iâd love to tour around and play music, but for now itâs just fun. Itâs people playing together and having a good time.
You mentioned that this record was recorded in parts. What was that process like?
Basically, I would do it in the instruments I feel most comfortable with. Thatâs how I would build the songs. So Iâd basically come in after work or when I had a day off and my family was running errands or something – basically I had an empty house. Iâd throw on the headphones, grab my bass, plug it up. I have a bunch of song ideas always in my head. Iâd basically crank out the bass to a click-track by myself. Then I would go back whenever I could, like I said, whenever the house was empty, and just go through and build. So Iâd go bass, drums, then guitar, and then finally put the vocals down. I would just do it in my spare time, when I could, in the room Iâm sitting in now, the music room, which my wife was so nice to let me have.
Thereâs a really consistent focus on the idea of family and kids on this record.
Oh, definitely. Absolutely, Iâd say thatâs the main focus of the record.
Was that a conscious decision or did things just naturally move in that direction?
Thereâs something that always stuck with me. When I was, I donât even know, 17 or 18, my friendâs parents took him and me to see "The Hank Williams Story" at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Itâs a play about Hank Williamsâ life and then they do songs. In the play – I was already a punk rock kid, putting out 7-inches and all that with all my old bands – but thereâs a line in the play where Hank Williams learned to play the guitar or sing or something like that, and one of the other characters says "sing about what you know, always." And thatâs just what I took. All the lyrics I wrote, theyâre just real. Iâm not writing a fantasy metal record or something like that. Everything is completely honest and what Iâm going through right now. It should also be noted that none of these songs, I donât think any of them, could be taken as any kind of finger-pointing or attacks or anything like that. All these songs are straight up about me and whatâs going on right now.
How "full-time" of a project do you see Human Parts being in the future?
I donât know, I canât make any commitments. Like I said before, if this grew into a full-time thing, that would be great. But Iâm not going to be vain or think I deserve for it to be. Iâd like to work at this as hard as I can. Weâve already written some more songs. The whole point for me is just to do something and not be a lazy piece of shit. Just record, have fun. Thatâs how I want it to be. I donât want to say never, but I want the people involved with the band now – I want Sal to be playing the drums, I want Matt to be playing guitar – I donât want this to be the Andrew Seward vanity project. That was never my intention. My intention was to do it and be creative. I even hesitated to tell you I played everything because that sometimes comes across as a little vain.
So what does your three-year-old think of Human Parts?
Unfortunately I think Iâve force-fed it down her throat, listening to it in the car when it was just bass and drums, and trying to write lyrics while weâre driving somewhere, just to try to get a pattern or a melody or something like that. Iâll put it this way – my kid and Andy and Kimâs kid, they sing the songs all the time. So if weâre shooting for the two- and three-year-old demographic like the Rock-a-Baby series or whatever it is where the guy covers Coldplay and Guns ânâ Roses and all that, I think weâve made it in that department.