South Brooklyn punks, Up for Nothing is back and have announced they will be releasing a new album this year. The 4 piece punk band have found their stride with their 2016 release Swindled and abruptly called it quits. Fast forward to 2022, a pandemic happened and a hard reset was conducted and they have found their way back to each other. Today, we have an all new Punknews exclusive double feature, Contributing Punknewsers Samantha and Christopher Barrett met with the guys one October afternoon at Little Eden in Asbury Park, NJ to discuss the new album, working with their idols and turning 20 and today we have an exclusive premiere for "Sick Of The World, see below.
Escape Route will be out on June 10th, 2022 through It's Alive Records and the band will be celebrating the release on July 15th at Lucky 13 Saloon in Brooklyn, NY. Tickets for the record release show can be purchased here. The band will also be releasing a cover of Higher Giant for a compilation with Swamp Cabbage Records later this year.
"Sick of the World" is an ode to the built-up frustrations caused by the daily nuances of navigating life. These daily routines and shortcomings can slowly chip away at the people we wanted to become and in some cases the people we thought we were. This song is the experience of a person who is starting to wholeheartedly accepted the fact that their daily surroundings have quietly altered their existence in the worst kind of way, and they are starting to truly dislike who and where they are because of it.
Interview starts here
You guys called it quits in 2016. What made you decide to bring Up For Nothing back?
Justin Conigliaro: Since we left… Friends kept on asking us when we were going to do a reunion. It was very personal because I have dedicated so much time and energy to Up For Nothing for so many years and I did not dedicate the time and energy to so many other things because of that. I felt so behind in life. At the time, I just needed to refocus and I did that, I really did that. I went full time back to school, full time work, got my bachelors and went right into my masters, completed that. I felt like I had to do that quickly because of how behind I was. But once I caught up, the idea of me playing again really replanted itself in me. Tom always says “When's the next show? When's the next practice?” and I was like let’s just practice and see what happens. Then that just turned into just song ideas and we all got together. That is the thing, song ideas will just start with one of us and when we all get together then it becomes a thing. Once we started to make songs again, it was cool. Let’s just make a record with no expectations and let’s see what happens you know.
Did the pandemic play any part in that decision?
Conigliaro: Yes! Just because it gave me a little more time than I normally wouldn't have, to focus on writing. Not to say that it wouldn't have happened without the pandemic but it kinda speed the process along.
You announced that a new record is coming, not much information is out about the record. Who is putting out the record and when?
Josh Gaon: Adam from It's Alive Records is awesome enough to put our record out again, he put out our last album Swindled. It is going to come out as soon as we are done recording and as soon as the pressing plants are not backed up, the whole process is really crazy, hopefully by a summer timeframe to work with, hopefully sooner but definitely summer just in time for fun stuff.
Steven Calco: Hopefully for our 20th anniversary next year. Perfect timing for that.
Where did you do most of your writing and when were you able to get the band together to actually put everything together?
Conigliaro: I got an interface in September and that was a game changer. We would not be here today without my interface. I wrote stuff at home and recorded it in my car. True story! Every instrument, I brought my bass, my guitar, into my car, and I screamed my face off in my car. Mostly between 10 PM and midnight with my laptop illuminating my face, you know what I'm saying. It was really ridiculous. But it was really awesome at the same time, our demos came out cool because I dedicated a lot of time to them. I kinda wrote with the interface, you can create a full drum track and I was like what can I do with this part and I would just write. If it worked it worked and then I would send it to these guys (pointing at the other guys) and they would be like this is cool, change that and I would change it then we would get to practice and would work out all of the kinks.
Was it a group thread, zoom call, l google meet that tied this in?
Conigliaro: For Steven, yes! We did a bunch of FaceTime practices with Steven. But these guys (points at Tom and Josh) and I, we just practiced when we could. Sometimes it’s just me and Tom, sometimes it is me and Josh. Sometimes it was just me and Steven on zoom. We piecemeal practice together the best we could.
About the interface and the car. Is there a paid sponsorship you are looking for?
Conigliaro: No, No! It was the Scarlett Solo. Total game changer!
How does this album differ from the last? We just heard one track so, tell us? Does this album build off of the last album?
Gaon: I think there are a lot more vocal harmonies than before. I think there are a lot more.
Gaon: Way more Woahs, and Heys!
Any yeah, yeah, yeahs?
Gaon: Oh no. We're going to save that for the next one. I felt like I did not write as much. I had a couple of songs with the last one. I have one song on this one, I feel like I added more guitar work here than with Swindled. I definitely think we have a bunch of faster songs on this one too. Maybe a little higher energy.
Conigliaro: That is a very good point. When writing the songs I felt like I did not have a lot of fast songs on it. When I sent (the demos) them to Pete, he said it was a fast record. I was like “is it though?” and it is. It just didn't feel that way for whatever reason when we were playing them and writing them but I would have to say that there are a lot more melodies with this record. I don't know if you guys feel something different there?
Tom Sobolow: I agree.
Since there was an opinion of whether it was fast or not. Did everyone else feel the same? Was there any boundary pushing with this record?
Sobolow: I think what's really great is that Justin writes these songs and you have 3 different perspectives weighing in. I think because of that the four of us collaborate very well. Compared to Swindled to now. I think we are a lot more opinionated which in the long run makes everything sound better.
Calco: Thinking about us coming out of Swindled to now. I think we got a lot tighter as a band, so many less practices since I am not here and we were finishing some songs down to the last few weeks before we head into the studio. I was very worried and all of a sudden we got every song down pat and we got very comfortable with it.
Conigliaro: I was writing lyrics just last weekend.
Calco: And we had another drive to Asbury Park today.
Conigliaro: Things changed when we started recording so there were parts that didn't work anymore and now we needed to change the melodies and the lyrics gotta fit the new melodies. Then you changed a few words and phrasing, we were working till today. I sent Steven a text last night “lyrics are done” and the lyrics were really finished today.
Is there a common theme to this album? What is special or important to know about this collection of songs?
Conigliaro: Absolutely. Almost every song is with the theme of escape in some way. There might be two songs that don't talk about that but that is being generous. It is interesting what you mention about quarantine, this is a true story, I was on jury duty right before the pandemic went crazy. It was like March 7th or 8th and I was in the courthouse and I texted these guys, said what about Escape Route as a record title, everyone was like cool and alright, DONE! Then quarantine happened and then that kind of followed me into being home all the time and wanting to leave. I really wanted to get out and that really helped the writing process, it was cool that it worked out that way that we agreed on the record title and here I was trapped at home for however many months. It helped that theme come to be an actual thing. I didn't really go into it saying this record was going to be all about this but it definitely lend a helping hand to it being an actual theme. I never wrote like that before, I won't say it is a concept record because it isn't but all of the songs have that vibe or theme of escaping something. The record cover was done by Ernie Prada. Ernie is very opinionated and he is not afraid to tell you what he thinks about things. When I told him the title of the album and what I wanted with the artwork. He hated it. He was like no, no, don't do that, make it like this or make it that. For the cover we finally came to an agreement on a rat inside of a brain maze, I told him I did not want it to be like you escaping a place, I want it to be like escaping your own thoughts. That is where we found middle ground for the cover art.
If the pandemic didn't happen, would you focus on writing on songs about escape or would you have kept the title and wrote about a different concept or have it not connected?
Conigliaro: I feel like it would be less connected. I don't know if that is true but I feel like it is probably true. It just all came together. The timing was weird and perfect in that way. I think it would definitely be less connected and if we were kind of been in person more. I think josh would have had another couple of songs that probably won't have been connected to that. I do think that maybe a little bit but probably way less focused.
Gaon: I probably started escaping too early than I should have but it was pent up and it definitely helped with wanting to play. Right before the pandemic I was kind of over shows and playing. I was like, I need to take a break. And literally the next week everything shut down and I was like “No, no, no, no, this isn't what I meant.”
Gaon: It just felt really weird. It made me want to escape that mind set of I need a break from this and I got it in the worst way, then I needed to escape being trapped in my home. Even the song that I contributed is about escaping toxic people and I think the theme is definitely there even if it was not intended in the first place.
You're in the studio at the present moment. Literally right now. Second time here at the famous Little Eden with the one and only Pete Steinkopf. How has the experience been this time around?
Calco: It was really great for us. We did our first 2 days at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ which is the same as what we did in 2015 (for Swindled). Did we have less days this time?
Conigliaro: We did. We had a total of less days but the same Lakehouse days.
Calco: Pete records some bands there and splits his time between there and Little Eden, here in Asbury Park. The whole process from the other time we recorded at Lakehouse to now has been amazing. We kinda did a live track where we played together to get a solid drum track for each song so we were able to keep most of the bass and guitar. We had to add some guitar leads at the end and we were doing so great on time we were able to start vocals there so we were able to pop out 3 tracks there on vocals. It just shows how we have tightened as a band all of these years. Tom and Josh was new to the last record and from then to now has been great. It has been a lot of fun working with Pete. He just has a lot of great ideas.
Tell me more about Pete time?
Sobolow: He is the most awesome dude to work with. I love him very much. He’s very easy to work with and at the same time in a good way and very opinionated to make us sound better and I appreciate that very much.
Conigliaro: Pete and Tom established a strong bond this time around that I don't think was there last time.
Sobolow: I agree
Sobolow: One of the major topics Pete and I had in common was about babies. My wife and I had a baby this year. Pete and his wife has a 3 year old, I believe, so we were on the same subjects talking about sesame street and all of the wonderful songs that came out of the show. We can relate to each other so that just brought our discussion to a new intimate and personal level, which I really appreciated and loved.
Conigliaro: It is kind of always surreal to look across a recording and see Pete do his thing. He makes you feel so comfortable working with him. You kind of forget, kind of like hanging out with any one of us. But looking back it is so surreal, I grew up on that band. It is an understatement to say how much The Bouncing Souls means to me personally.
Calco: Justin and I grew up, in High School, listening to them, going to their shows…
Gaon: I was going to see them at Irving Plaza. I remember my friend and I went there one time and it was sold out and we couldn't get tickets. No one had tickets to sell and we went up to someone by the tour bus and kinda fibbed a little bit and said we came all the way from Jersey and the girl we talked to called the van and Bryan came out and just gave us two free tickets. I grew up on the Punk O Rama albums, Warped Tour comps. It is super surreal to be working with Pete, but like Justin said you don't even realize it. You are just working with someone that is trying to help make a great record and has really the best input, super patient. It has been really awesome and he showed us a really good sandwich spot.
Being huge Bouncing Souls fans, does recording at Little Eden help make recording special? Does it take the edge off recording or give an edge?
Conigliaro: It does. I want to say it would give an edge but to my point Pete eliminates edges and so does the space. It is so comfortable here and at the Lakehouse too. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, you can't have an edge. You can't be nervous, it is not possible. Recording here is special. This is their practice space. Kate’s home. She is not here but we are. Typical excellent human being doing great things for people, when she doesn’t have to. I am super appreciative of Kate, Pete and everybody that is involved in this scene. It is special, I will say.
I would like to call this the Bouncing Souls Museum.
Sobolow: It feels like that.
Gaon: I remember when we played here last time. We had the drums set up differently and I don't remember if they had the Souls logo on the drums. But it was like “Shit…” It didn't give us an edge to anything but I was like this is awesome. We are in the next room recording and they just practice here all the time. There were probably tons of great things and cool people that stayed here.
Conigliaro: The first time I was here, they used to have The Bouncing Souls tour bus, right here. This is fucking cool man. It is awesome to see that.
I am pretty sure the “Gone” video was recorded downstairs.
Conigliaro: Great question. I am pretty sure you are probably right.
What are future plans for Up For Nothing?
Conigliaro: What a question… we talked about this recently.
Gaon: We are just going to take this as it comes. We still have a way away from the record actually coming out so it gives us plenty of time to answer that question for ourselves. I think it will definitely be… with scheduling, it will be hard for us to jump out and tour like we used to. I think we will see what we can get.
Conigliaro: Steven lives upstate so…
Calco: The hardest hurdle is me living four hours away. We definitely want to play some shows and be selective about what we can do. The pandemic has kept us away from shows for so long. I hadn't gone to shows and kind of missed going to shows. During the pandemic I missed playing shows and making music. I think we all kind of need this.
Conigliaro: It is really hard. It is hard for us to do anything. It is hard for us to hang out. It's gonna get a little harder for this guy for a while (pats Tom) and that is cool. We went into this without expectations and honestly we don't have any if we get offered some shows that are cool then we will play them if we want to do our own show which we will at some point, then we will. Aside from that, whatever happens, we wanted to be creative, we wanted to make a record, we did it and that is as far as we thought to be completely honest. Whatever happens here will happen.