Spraynard announced their reunion this past spring, pleasantly surprising their entire fan base. When they mysteriously broke up a few years ago, fans were saddened and shocked. They were on track to become a very popular band. Their releases Funtitled and Exton Square were gaining momentum. Luckily, they've come back in full force, releasing a compilation album with a brand new track that sounds like classic Spraynard. They announced a tour and said they were back in a permanent way, not just for a few one-off shows.
Lots of people are still wondering exactly what happened, so Punknews interviewer Xan Mandell caught up with the spoke with the band to extensively dive into the breakup, the relationships between them and the future.
The break was was spurred in the middle of a tour where, Pat (Graham), you said you couldn't tour anymore. What did the rest of tour look like?
Pat Graham (Vocals/Guitar): The tour that broke us up? It was the tour from hell. It was a three-month tour. We've all played music together since we were 15, and it was always a dream to go on tour forever, so it was like, "How far can we take touring? Can we go for six weeks? What about eight?" I think eight weeks was the most, we did eight for the most part before that tour.
Pat Ware [Dos] (Drums/Vocals): I think it was like five weeks for the most.
Graham: We purposefully were like, "Lets take off school, lets not work, lets just go on tour and do it." I think that was a mistake from the get go, because the pressure that is put on you as soon as you start the tour is absurd. You're immediately thinking, "What would my life look like on the outside of this tour?" right away. You're immediately thinking, "Maybe this isn't what I want" because you're in it. On day one, you think, "Oh no, what have I done." It was a time full of doubt for me, because I had been in and out of school for six years. I'm finally finishing school now. The middle of tour was crappy.
Dos: It was brought to our attention that you didn't really want to do it probably a week into the three-month tour. It was very early on, because the rest of that summer was weird.
Graham: It wasn't like, "Spraynard needs to stop," it was more, "I don't know how much I can tour." It was just a weird time, and we were on tour with a bunch of other people, so the three of us didn't really get a chance to talk about it in a healthy way, so we were all just festering on this thing, and three months is a long time. My mind was changing. Their minds were changing. It was a weird time where there wasnât open communication when there really needed to be open communication. It was a weird time where there was really terrible shit going on and the people around us had live changing as well. On that Delay tour, Mark got gall stones, and had to fly home. Delay was robbed on that tour. A lot of weird shit happened, and it was a gnarly tour. If you ever meet Delay, just ask them and they'll have plenty to say. Still great. The funny thing about it is we reflect on that, and those shows are probably the best shows we've ever played, but just the personal shit was crazy at that point.
Why at the end of it did you have to break up versus "Let's just not tour that much anymore?"
Dos: That was my fault… I can't really describe it. Pat and I are very similar in that we're all or nothing kind of people. I feel like whenever I put my mind on something, I focus on it to a fault, and it's what I have to do.
Graham: There is no doing it half way.
Dos: Pat's my best friend and it was the first time in eight years that he said, "I don't want to do this," so for me it was kind of confusing why. Even when he explained it, I never understood it, so all that on top of not talking to each other about it, it was almost like treating it like a break up. For me, it was unfair to feel half way in it. In hindsight, I definitely should've just been like, "Yeah, we'll just take a break, and just chill out for a year and not do anything about it." But thatâs hindsight, and I'm two years older. When I was a very emotional 21-22 year old, and not understanding why my friend was changing something.
Graham: We're also definitely friends before a band. We've known each other since we were real young, and any change in your friends, like, you're going to react very passionately to. It got mixed up with having to unfortunately run your band in these guidelines, it would be like, "Oh, I need to go away for a couple of months," but instead it was a weird thing that was like, "I need to put an end to this."
I imagine it put a tension on your friendships too, right?
Graham: Oh, absolutely.
Mark Dickinson (Bass): Without a doubt
Dos: Mark and I pretty much remained friends.
Graham: And Mark and I also pretty much remained friends.
Dos: Pat and I didn't talk for about two years.
Dickinson: Not that long
Graham: A year.
Because of this?
Dos: Yeah, totally.
Graham: This was everything to us two years ago. This was amidst "Let's quit our jobs, let's quit our lives," and then to have one of us be like, "Uh, I don't know about this."
Dos: There was a lot of animosity over being like, "Yo, I stopped doing school for this…"
Mark, what was it like being the middle-man… Was there a lot of, "He said, she said" bullshit?
Dickinson: There wasn't a lot being said. It felt much the same for me, except for the fact that it was never the three of us. We all worked together, so there'd be a shift where it was just Pat and I, it still felt normal, and Dos isn't here I'm not thinking about it, and vice-versa. When Dos moved to the city (Philly), it felt even more normal, because there was an actual physical space, instead of the emotional one that felt present for so long.
Dos: Honestly too, a lot of the issue spanning from Spraynard is one of the reasons I moved out of West Chester. It's not the sole reason, but it was a lot of the reason for me moving to Philadelphia. I feel like it was one of those things where I'd see Mark and it'd be like, "Hello, Mark, how is he?"
Graham: For me too, it'd be like, "Dos said that?" Mark is, for me and him, frustratingly level-headed. He knows what he's doing. Dos and I get really passionate about everything.
Dickinson: I'm very even-keel.
Graham: Mark is always able to see both sides. We weren't talking, but all of us knew it wasn't actually over. There's no way the three of us can't be friends our whole lives.
Was there a point for all of you individually wanted to get together or practice again?
Dickinson: Yeah, there was. The secret art space, which is this really important space for us in Lehigh Valley, was going out of business and was doing one more final show. And Chris Reject called me up and asked if we would do a show for them. Two or three weeks prior they had started talking again, and it was never a thing of us being like, "Let's play," when the talking was happening, the talking was more settling everything. When that happened, we were like, "Why not just play one show and do like five songs."
Graham: We couldn't say no to the show. The place was shutting down. Even if we weren't talking, we probably would've started.
Dos: Chris Reject runs Square Of Opposition Records and puts out Snowing and bands like that. If there is anyone who can make me make sense of any situation, it's him. He's such a dick (laughs). He's the first to tell us we're being idiots, and he's definitely an important person to all of us.
Did he initiate the rekindling between you and Graham?
Dickinson: That was happening naturally. The wounds had started to heal between them, if you want to put it poetically.
Dos: There's a funny story… There was a time where Pat and I were like, "Let's get together, hang out and talk," and it happened because I was living in Philly, and Pat was out eating with his friend…
Graham: This is what you mark it at?
Dos: Pat was in Philly, and he was eating lunch, and he called me in a moment of desperation, and was like, "I was just eating lunch, and I realized I don't have any money, I'm two blocks from your house… Can you bring me $20?" And I'm thinking, "You came a block from house, you didn't fucking call me to hang out." So the next week we hung out.
Did you bring in the $20?
Dos: Oh yeah. He still owes me $20.
Graham: That's debatable.
Dos: The real story is that Pat and I owe each other $5,000, because we always pay for each other.
Graham: To backtrack, we played the Lehigh Valley show, and it felt great. We practiced at one of our parentâs house, which is great, because that's what we used to do, and it's really fun. Then nothing really happened, we didn't talk about being a band again, but then Mike Park had the plan to release this rarities record. When I told him we were breaking up, he brought it up right away and said that he wanted to put out one last release on Asian Man, and we're so tense and weird that I just told him we'd figure it out, so he, in a loving and caring way, would start bugging me about it, because I think he knew it would cause us to talk about it. We decided amongst ourselves that we were going to record a new song for it, and after we played that show, we slowly started thinking about putting it out. Once we recorded that song we thought, "We should play a show." We were planning on doing it at the arcade we worked at, so once of us talked to a friend of ours who puts on shows at the First Unitarian Church, and he said, "Do it at First Unitarian Church," but we were all nervous about it, and then that show sold out in ten hours, so we couldn't not have a conversation that was like, "Should we be a band again?" We all love doing this, and as I'm getting closer to finishing school, I'm ready to just do a band again. Iâm feeling settled.
Dickinson: Between the three of us, it felt right practicing and writing the song that there is no reason to say no to begin with.
How long did it take to write that song?
Dos: Like four hours?
Graham: We're not good at planning. We live by the seat of our pants. We always set recording time before the songs are written, because it makes us rush. We got to the studio. We started writing the song at midnight, and finished at 4 a.m., then woke up at ten, and started recording. It was cool. We had a few practices and tried writing, but it didn't work. We're not good at talking. We've been playing together for so long that we're not very good at communicating what we want. We just play it and we know. It's much easier for us to just play and figure it out.
Is that why some of your songs are so short?
Dos: We're very, like, insecure honestly. It comes from some part of, "People are going to think this song is boring now, let's end it. We've tried to break out of it, but it's hard. We all grew up liking short songs.
Graham: Short songs have always appealed to us. In high school it was the boom of Taking Back Sunday bands and four-minute epic songs, and for some reasons we got so mad at those bands and going to thrash shows. The three us of enjoy watching fast fucking thrash bands much more than Queen.
What does it mean to be a band for you guys now? it seemed like you became more popular after you broke up.
Dos: The show before we broke up was in a basement in Philly to 30 people, and the next show we played was to a sold out crowd of 600 people in Philly two years later.
Dickinson: But, it was special…
Graham: We're not really sure if that was a fluke because kids thought it was going to be our last show. We played Cleveland last night to 140 kids, which is just not what would've happened.
Dos: Last time we played Cleveland it was like 30. I notice that a lot of things have changed in the music scene in the two years that we haven't been a band.
What is the vision for the band now?
Dickinson: We've been kind of writing a little bit. We're doing this, and figuring out what lies ahead.
Dos: We really have this tour, which is like 12 days, we're doing a few days in California, and then go to the UK for ten days with Modern Baseball.
The UK is a big thing to do for a band that is just coming back.
Dos: Right. We have a ton of friends over there. That was actually one of the first things we thought when we got back together was, "We should go over there again." We went over there twice before when we were a band, and it's something that was really important to us.
Graham: Like I said before, we're all or nothing, and we just had to go over there. It sucks, and I imagine it conflicts with Mark's attitude sometimes. But, it's like, if Dos and I are in a band together, we're going to do whatever the hell we can do. If there is a free moment, we're going to use it, because otherwise we're at work…
Dos: Mark is a full-time teacher.
Wow, doing what?
Dickinson: 7th and 8th grade social studies.
Dos: He's a full-time teacher, and we said, "Ok, you're a full-time teacher, but we're going to do this UK tour… How many sick days do you get?" You get ten? We're doing a tour for ten days.
Graham: We're doing our best not to be terrible friends, but still satisfy our insatiable thirst for rock. Mark has a full-time job, and he's not looking to quit anytime soon, and I'm finishing school. Spraynard is the best way for the three of us to hang out. Above all, we can travel…
Mark: See friends and hang out with each other.
Dos: This is the great thing about Asian Man. Mike Park, he's such a saint, he doesn't put any unfair pressure on your band, and he's just such a nice dude. We don't have a contract. We're still signed to him.
Dickinson: He's very honest.
Graham: He just wants to put out our record when it's time
Are you guys writing or thinking about writing?
Graham: We're planning on writing, and we want to put out a full length, it's just a question of finding the time and knowing what we want…
Dickinson: Finding our rhythm again.
Graham: We've tried to write a bunch of times. The next record is going to be really important to the three of us, so we're trying to figure out what we want to do. We're trying out new things. When we were younger we had a lot more time and didn't worry about the future or rent, and it was just like, "fuck it, we're leaving," but now I think we're trying to do it in a more sensible way. But, we're also trying to write a record that makes Mark quit his job because it's so fucking good (laughs).
Dickinson: And I'm playing a direct role in that…
When can we expect a new Spraynard anything…
Dos: Ummmm, we have the comp record out now, we have three songs written. This album is funny, because our first full length we wrote in a week, and our second one took a month. That's how we would normally do it. For this one we're trying to take our time, we're trying to do something different and take out time.
Graham: In our van we talked about recording in the winter.
Dos: You're always sadder in the winter, and records are always better when you're sadder.
Graham: So I would say like next spring?
Dickinson: Tentatively… In ten months.
Dos: March 31st (laughs).