This past September TouchÃ© AmorÃ© released their third record, Is Survived By via Deathwish Inc. That same month the band also embarked on a tour supporting AFI that ended at the beginning of this month. With a new record and a major tour on their plate the band has been busier than ever the past two months.However, drummer Elliot Babin was still able to find some time to sit and chat with contributing editor Armando Olivas before their LA show a few weeks ago.
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, itâs done pretty well and youâve 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?
Itâs 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. Itâs all very surreal. Itâs 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 didnât 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 thatâs 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 Iâm not sure if itâs too poppy." Then they would play it and we would really like it that we didnât 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 itâs 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 hadnât 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 weâve ever released in terms of recording quality. Brad Wood did an incredible job on it and itâs 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?
Itâs 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. Iâm very careful about trying not to overdo it and make everyone else the focus of attention because I donât think thatâs the role of drums. I think theyâre there to be a foundation and if they can provide some sort of feeling or some sort aggressiveness I think thatâs great too and thatâs something I strive to do. Iâm 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 Iâm 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 donât want anything to get in the way.
Where do you get these shorts? Where can one acquire them?
Sports Chalet. I think thatâs where Iâve 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 thatâs too much.
Thatâs the look for most guys.
Yeah, thatâs too much. Cut all the crap!
Like in the '70s everyone wore them and now itâs like no guy wants that.
Below the knees, canât do it. Itâs 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. Iâm going to be completely honest. I saw the film Gravity last week, have you seen it?
No, but I want to.
Ok, well I wonât 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?
Itâs great. Lots of underlying themes, lots of imagery, very fun to look at. It brought a tear to my eye at one point. Thereâs a couple of laughs. Itâs good. Itâs an all-around enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it.
Itâs on my âto watchâ 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. Itâs 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. Thatâs 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 whatâs interesting is that Iâve 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.
Itâs got some deeper themes going on.
What Iâve heard is that itâs basically gender studies for bros and dummies.
Absolutely. It definitely touches on that and I feel like there arenât 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, youâve been on tour with AFI and I believe itâs 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?
Theyâre incredible. Davey will come and sit down and just talk to us just about every day. Weâll have conversations on everything from relationships to bands. Like sometimes weâll gather round and heâll tell us stories about bands that I never got to see but am a big fan of like The Nerve Agents. Stuff like that. Itâs been awesome, theyâre incredible dudes. Some of the shows sold out rather quickly because they have a cult following and they havenât toured in awhile, so unfortunately some of our kids couldnât come out. So itâs been playing to a majority of kids who have never heard of us at all, which is a good opportunity. Itâs been meeting a lot of who havenât been exposed to the kind of stuff we do.
Has the reaction from most kids been positive?
Yeah, I have to say itâs been much more positive than not. Weâve had a lot of kids tell us they havenât really seen anything like us, they bought all our CDs, and next time we come back theyâll be there. So I definitely think itâs been overwhelmingly positive.
Thatâs 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. Itâs been good because we are fans too and itâs 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 itâs 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, whatâs 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 thatâll 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 itâs very exciting and itâs going to be awesome. Iâm excited for it because we havenât done a headliner in awhile. The last two US tours have been support tours. So Iâm excited.
So youâre pulling double duty on the European tour with Dad Punchers, is it going to be a full band set or just you?
Itâs 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 itâs going to be the three of us: Clayton, Nick, and I, pulling double duty every night. Itâll be fun. A kind of incestual tour.
It reminds me of when The Lawrence Arms did this.
Yeah Sundowner opened upâ¦ did The Falcon play too?
Thatâs 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 donât think Itâs 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 itâs a chance to do other shit over there. Iâm a little intimidated to do two sets a night for a month but itâll 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 itâll be fun.
So itâs 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. Theyâre an incredible band. I just got to hear their two songs and theyâre super good.
Who is putting it out?
Lauren Records which is run by Aaron from Summer Vacation. So thatâs coming out. Iâm super excited about that. I think itâs the two best songs theyâve ever done and the two I did are my favorite so far. Itâll be out in the wintertime and itâs 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. Iâm trying to continually do that gig when TouchÃ© stuff isnât happening.
Weâve talked about TouchÃ© and we have talked about Dad Punchers, whatâs going on with DNF?
DNF, weâre kind of inactive at the moment. Whatâs going on is Sam and Chad are in a band called Condition.
Theyâve been touring a fair amount.
They have been touring a fair amount. Theyâre 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 Chadâ¦ Itâs just been a matter of two of us down here and two of us up there and trying to write and do stuff while Iâm gone all the time and theyâre gone all the time. Iâm sure weâll regroup, weâre really good friends. Itâs 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. Itâs 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 weâre glad he was interested. Heâs been a pleasure to work with and hopefully we will put out more stuff in the future.
Busy, busy guy.
Yes, busy, busy guy. Doesnât leave me much time for anything else but thatâs ok. Now is the time to be doing it.
Because you canât be doing it 20-30 years from now.
I feel like Iâve touched upon every aspect of your musical career that youâve got going on unless there is something secret or in the works you havenât talked about yet?
Uh, nothing secret that I can think of. Iâve started working on a Dad Punchers record. I have about four songs but thatâs not going to happen for a long time, Iâm going to really flesh that out. Iâm also looking into maybe recording bands next year. Thatâs something I want to do because I have always wanted to record music and Iâve 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 didnât really know what I was doing at the time. I put a mic here and vaguely mixed the levels but since then Iâve been going and learning EQâing and compression.
Youâve been learning the rudiments.
Yeah, Iâve been going back and really learning the rudiments. Iâm hoping to approach it a bit more seriously because I think itâs 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 itâs a one off song in Dad Punchers or something?
You know, Iâm a gigantic fan of trad ska. I love The Slackers. I love the first wave stuff. Desmond Dekker. All that stuff. Iâve 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 groovinâ!
Well unless youâve got anything else I think thatâs it.
Thank you, Punknews.