Friday, October 17, 2014

Tough Age

Tough Age play honest and melodic pop songs, I would like to elaborate on the “honest” part for just a moment. Theatrics in music are great and fun, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you want to listen to something that you can emotionally connect with. Jarrett and his band seem like they’re in the same station in life as a lot of us are. They’re not singing about sipping Dom Perignon and dancing with strippers on a private yacht. That kind of silly garbage I can’t and most importantly don’t want to relate to. What I find refreshing is a man with real song writing talents picking up a guitar, turning it up loud, and singing about what he knows best: his own life and what he feels and thinks as he stumbles through it. That is honesty, charm and charisma and it spills out onto Tough Age records and on to the interview below.   

Interview by J Castro

I first want to start off by saying thank you so much for your time and now if you would please introduce yourself and state your duties in Tough Age.
Jarrett: No problem. My time takes time sometimes, as you’ve seen, but it does exist. My name is Jarrett Evan Samson, or Jarrett K., or things like that, and I sing and play and do some other stuff for Tough Age.

What is the Tough Age origin story? How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
Jarrett: It’s about the dullest origin story you could have: I had another band, Korean Gut, and we broke up sort of right as things were starting to actually happen, so I started a new band! I had known everyone in Tough Age for a long time, and everyone was sort of between things at the moment. I’ve never auditioned a band member in my life and I never would, I just picked the person I wanted to hang out with and that’s the band. That’s an important step of band formation.

At an early age, whom or what influenced you to want to learn an instrument or write music?
Jarrett: It’s weird, I was talking the other day about how I owe all my life to Internet message boards, and it’s true. When I was 11, I got America Online and I used to hang out writing interactive stories about Zelda on the Nintendo of America forums. One of my friends on there lived in Seattle, and he mailed me a tape when I was about 13 of music he liked that all just happened to be mostly female-fronted punk music. My parents were pretty lenient but I remember being scared of them hearing what I was listening to, so I put it in my Walkman. The first song on the first side was “Dig Me Out” by Sleater-Kinney, and I listened to it probably 20 times in a row, jumping around my room. That quickly turned into soliciting other tapes from people, so I ended up being 13 and listening to stuff like Pussy Galore, Tiger Trap, cub, Bratmobile and Suburban Lawns (I wouldn’t actually put together that I knew Suburban Lawns until I heard Janitor again like 5 years ago). This is my ‘cool’ answer. My other answer is ‘Matthew Sweet and R.E.M’.
The thing is, while I played in some shitty bands in high school, but I didn’t actually really start writing music myself until I was about... 26? I just played in other people’s bands until then. I liked playing, but I didn’t have any confidence in myself due to a long childhood having it beaten out of me.

Can you recall the most bizarre or unexpected person or event that inspired a song out of you?
Jarrett: For the most part I write songs about two things: being upset with people and comic books. I guess the weirdest, or the one that changed the most, was “We’re Both To Blame.” When I started writing that song, it was a really angry ‘fuck you’ song directed at a friend. As I wrote the song the lyrics just kept changing until it ended up being about how I felt responsible for what had happened between us, that we both contributed to it and that I looked forward to being friends again. It’s really weird to listen to that song with that knowledge because the delivery and music is still pretty angry but yeah, the lyrics are just this cathartic realization of not painting anyone as a villain. That person remains one of my dear friends, maybe because of the song??

One of my favorite songs on your S/T LP is the song “Open It Up.” Tell me, is there a story behind it or what inspired the lyrics to it?
Jarrett: Hah, I could tell you exactly what that song is about but be warned it might ruin it! I wrote that song during the Korean Gut days when I was at a pretty dark point of my life. The first verse is about getting over yourself, being open and making a change, but in a way that carries an ‘everyone is sick of your shit you know’ mentality with it. The second verse is about trying to get over yourself by being a shitty dude and just fucking girls, being really bad at it and realizing you need to turn yourself into a human being who treats people with respect if you want them to even consider sleeping with you. The last verse is open to interpretation: I find it usually reveals who is a pessimist and who is an optimist. You can decide personally whether it’s about talking to someone, getting help, before you kill yourself, or just killing yourself. Okay, let’s talk about the sock-hop one now!

As far as fans interpreting your songs: MTV Hive thought the song, also from your S/T LP “The Heart of Juliet Jones” was such an outlandish concept. I kind of related it to any girl one is obsessed over and completely unable to ever be with. Does it bug you if people misinterpret your song lyrics or do you have the outlook that your music should mean whatever one wants it to mean for them?
Jarrett: Hah, no, it’s totally fine! I hope people interpret them in their own ways that maybe hopefully ascribe some meaning to themselves. I believe my lyrics straddle a line between being clever and really fucking stupid so I think people can take them either way. “Heart of Juliet Jones” those lyrics are incredibly dumb. I mean there are literally three lines in the song. That’s the whole thing! It’s DUMB. I think your interpretation is closer to the meaning of what I was going for though: it’s essentially just a big chorus stylistically. It’s the one thing over and over that you can’t dislodge, like when you’re obsessing over someone in your head. The comic book angle is something that’s easy for lazy journalists to inflate and I’m to blame as well for a bit of mythmaking to give them something to say about us. When I’m asked to sell myself or give myself an image, I can’t. I’m not anybody special, being in a band doesn’t make you worth more than anyone else, but the whole industry is built on that idea and it leads to me sometimes having difficulty figuring out what to say. It’s funny, we tried to pull a quote from that write up for our bio and, as you said, they don’t actually say ANYTHING about the song, they’re so focused on the idea of “I’m in love with a comic book” like it’s that fucking A-HA video or some shit. I just really love Stan Drake’s The Heart of Juliet Jones and I liked it as the name of a song in the sort of throwback style of that one. The worst was when I found out there was that other song of the same name but luckily it sucks. I was happy that MTV posted the 2-minute MS Paint job I did of its cover for our cover though.

(photo by Noah Adams)

This is usually the part when I ask people about their hobbies outside of music but I happen to know you’re a HUGE comic book fan, as both of us are here at Audio Ammunition! Guys that used to throw garbage at me for wearing Batman T-shirts in high school are now themselves wearing them smugly. How do you feel about the mainstreaming of the so-called “geek” culture?
Jarrett: I work in a comic shop, so I see these new comic bros every day, but the interesting reaction is that comic fans are going so far the other way to compensate and becoming infinitely unbearable as well. For every dude in a Heath Ledger Joker t-shirt there’s the guy who wants to explain to me why John Pertwee is the best Doctor and I’ve never even watched that show. I try to focus on the positive of it becoming more acceptable. I saw a normal, run of the mill teenage girl on the street yesterday just casually wearing a full comic-style Hawkeye mask on her head. That is insane! We live in a world where I am so spoiled there is a S.H.I.E.L.D TV show created by Joss Whedon on the air and I don’t even watch it because I think it’s terrible! That’s almost like a gift.
I grew up reading comics as a real solitary passion, because I didn’t have friends who dug them. I still have very few friends who are into comics, actually. I just got back from San Diego, and I always go with my friend Alex who’s pretty much the only person I ever talk to about comics recreationally. Because of all this, it’s pretty easy for me to just turn off and ignore comic bros, especially given my day job. The one thing that really bums me out is that all these ‘normal’ people digging comics doesn’t help the creators. Guardians of the Galaxy is going to make a billion dollars and Bill Mantlo, who requires round the clock help, won’t see a penny. That stuff sucks the most.
I’m going to digress and pick on comic people instead-- there’s this really prevalent thing I see comic fans do, where they see something they’re excited about and kind of fake-hyperventilate over it. It’s the worst. Stop that. 

Now with that being said what has been your favorite cinematic adaptation of a comic book character or storyline and who in your opinion is the most underrated character or characters in comics that deserve a shot on the silver screen? 
Jarrett: I’m going to be a loser and say Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because I watched that shit twice in a week and I loved it so much. It felt like the first movie was to really occupy the universe in the right way, it had a ‘single issue’ arc at the beginning of the film before the bigger one, Arnim Zola was cool, and I loved it. As for underrated-- oh man, so many. Part of me dreads if they ever try to make a Concrete movie, but I’d love to see it. I think Fox has the rights to Namor, so my expectations are low, but fuck I want to see a Namor movie. Black Panther, for sure, and I’m excited he’s rumored for the next wave. T’Challa is the best.

Ok, so now back to the music universe. What band or musician do you feel is grossly underrated and deserves more adoration and respect? 
Jarrett: Needles//Pins should be the most popular band in the world. Those guys. I’ve been pushing Toy Love, and Chris Knox in general, on people pretty hard. Toy Love is starting to get some attention with the recent reissues, but Chris Knox is just the most inspiring musician in the world to me, and Toy Love just never stops surprising me, no matter how familiar I am with the songs. Same goes for a lot of the New Zealand scene, and people should move past The Clean, Bats, Chills and Verlaines and explore the rest of what the Flying Nun scene has to offer. Also, Dad Jokes they’re new, but they’re also from New Zealand and they rule.
The Mice are another band I love that never seem to get mentioned, Dream Date has a straight Mice tribute vocal hook in it, and I love that band so much. Scat reissued all of their stuff on CD probably ten years ago, but I don’t think anything else has been reissued.
I’m also going to mention Matthew Sweet again, because he wrote so many amazing, amazing songs, and if he had recorded them onto a fucking boom box they would still be revered but he remains pretty ignored. Some of the best pop songs of all time out of that guy, and a band consisting of guys like Robert Quine, Richard Lloyd, and Ric Menck, that shit is insane. So: MATTHEW SWEET.

(photo by Noah Adams)

I was reading a post on your Facebook page where you commented about how much Jay Reatard influenced you. In his documentary Better Than Something he mentioned only having a small window in life when inspiration will come through and this being the reason he was such a prolific songwriter. Do you agree with that philosophy?
Jarrett: I think there’s a lot of truth to it, but maybe there are a few windows to push different kinds of inspiration out into the world. Like, you may not have anything more to say musically, but then you might find another venture that inspires you, and something else to create. Jodorowsky was like that-- he was done cinematically so he moved to comics and produced some amazing work there. I think for most people, it’s the routine and the complacency that kills their creativity, so by moving around, trying different things, you can find it again. But sometimes you’re just creating for the sake of it, and I think for many people that moment arrives sooner than they ever would have anticipated, and then you get a band like U2 where, like, why the fuck do you exist? Why have you even played music since 1989? Why can I go and see Black Flag on tour in 2014? It’s not because of the desire to create anything but profit. Jay was and is certainly an inspiring figure to me in both his music and his approach to making music and I feel very lucky I got to see him play a few times and see that dedication in person.

If Tough Age could be remembered throughout the ages for only one song which song would you like it to be and why?
Jarrett: I’d like other people to pick, both for whether they remember it at all and whatever it is. But I’m okay with being forgotten.

Where can people go to listen to or buy your music?
Jarrett: Our LP came out on Mint Records, and you can get a physical copy over there:  We have the album up on our Bandcamp if you want to listen to it or buy it digitally here: We also have a 7” I keep calling the “Bubblegum Subversion” coming out this year on the Mammoth Cave Recording Company and then our next LP should be out early 2015.

What else does Tough Age have going on for the rest of the year?
Jarrett: Recording more, writing more, and buckling down. We’re just finishing up some recordings with our friend Felix Fung, who played in Chains of Love and has recorded more amazing records than I could list here, at his studio Little Red Sounds. We’re recording a couple of records with Jay Arner again at the end of the month that will come out next year including a Record Store Day thing and I’m excited for those. The new record should be finished up with Felix by the end of October, and we’re already planning some big touring news around the release of the next one. Making the most of what little we have. That’s our way of life.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Shanghais

Oakland’s The Shanghai’s are audio Fun Dip for your soul. Imagine yourself as that stiff, flavorless dipstick that comes separated from the rest of the party in a standard Fun Dip packet. You put on some Shanghai’s records, bounce around the room for a while and suddenly you’re covered with that sweet, colorful sugary goodness for the entire neighborhood to enjoy. You’re a changed human being after hearing The Shanghais music whether you know it or not. They play fast, loud, catchy, beautifully simplistic Ramones-y punk songs. Yes, indeed the skies are a little brighter, those kids playing outside the bedroom window aren’t so loud, and the world just may be okay for a little while longer. 

Interview by J Castro

Let’s begin with introductions. Who’s all in this outfit and what do you all do to keep the Shanghais rolling?
NATALIE: We have Dani on guitar, Laura on drums, Trevor on bass, and me (Natalie) on lead vocals.  Well, we have been playing pretty consistently since we started out two years ago. We just practice when we can, hang out when we can, and go to as many shows as we can.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
NATALIE: Dani and I were friends years ago when we both lived in Philadelphia. When I relocated to the Bay a couple years after she did, we reconnected. She’d always played in such rad bands so I was really hoping she’d want to do a girl group with me, and she did! Laura was the drummer of one of the coolest girl bands in the Bay, Dirty Cupcakes. When they broke up we knew we had to get her. We are all Pookie & the Poodlez fans so we were super excited when Trevor joined us on bass after our (totally awesome) first bass player, Devin, moved to Minnesota. He’s just one of the girls.

Your music has been compared to bands like The Ramones and Nikki and The Corvettes. Music that has been scrutinized for its simplicity yet remains highly influential. If music like that is so simple, why do you think it’s so hard to do well? 
NATALIE: Hmm, I mean, to me, a great pop song is a great pop song, regardless of the complexity of the arrangement or the guitar solo. I think its truly understanding that it’s pop aesthetic that makes a difference. And don’t try too hard, which is, I guess, easier said than done.

You guys just released a new EP on the Italian label Surfin Ki Records. How did you hook up with those fine folks?
NATALIE: Our friend Dan Shaw made a funny music video for our song “Too Cool to Cry” when it came out last summer on the No Rules! No Fun compilation. My friend Morten Henricksen really dug it and passed it on to Carlo at Surfin’ Ki. We lucked out and Carlo emailed us saying he loved the song and wanted to release a 7” with 4 new songs. It was a good surprise for sure. 

And speaking of your new EP, you did a video for the first song “Sick of You”. Can you tell us a bit about it and did you enjoy the process of making it?
NATALIE: Videos are ridiculously fun to make. We had such a good time with the first one that we couldn’t wait to make another with Dan Shaw. As a director, he definitely makes the process incredibly low on the pressure and high on the fun. This time around we decided to go on a picnic, get bullied by some jerks, and then explode them with Rock N’ Roll. It took us only a few hours to shoot it at Mosswood Park in Oakland and we were so stoked when that dog ended up in the final video.

In the video a bunch of evildoers come and ruin your picnic. In the scuffle, you find your instruments. It reminds me of this quote I read about how elitist Prom Queens and bully Quarterbacks rarely end up doing anything cool. They function only to fire up and drive the geeky kids to creative or scientific greatness. Do you agree with that philosophy?
NATALIE: Of course I want to say yes! Weirdoes rule, because they do! And though I’ve seen a lot of elitist prom queens achieve some creative and scientific greatness and some weirdoes do nothing, I do think the idea of the late bloomer blowing everyone away is very romantic.

I noticed on both of your EP’s that the subject of your songs tends to revolve around relationships.  Is it a conscious choice not to write about social or political issues?  Even The Ramones finally broke down and did “Bonzo Goes To Bitburg” after all. 
NATALIE: Ha ha, hey man, we write what we know! And the news is a huge bummer. I guess we do try to keep it light and a little laughable. It’s just a coincidence that everything we think is light and laughable seems to revolve around boys. And you’re right about the Ramones. They did get mildly political on their like 11th album J since we are only on our second EP I think we still have some good “pop for pop’s sake” years left, haha!

When starting out, is this the sound you all had imagined in your heads for The Shanghais or once you got going did it take on a life of its own?
NATALIE: We knew we wanted a girl group sound with lots of harmonies, lots of hooks. Our original motto was “everybody sings!” The first song we learned together was a cover of the Fabulettes “Try the Worryin’ Way.” But once we started playing it took on a life of it’s own. We wanted to keep the girl group aesthetic but play faster, faster, faster! So we did.

Where can people go to hear Shanghai’s music?

What looms on the horizon for The Shanghai’s, any tours or LP’s in the works?
NATALIE: We are just riding the wave, waiting to see what opportunities come our way and hoping to sell some 7”s. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Swears

     To bill New Swears as just simply as a party band would be to miss a lot of what this band is about. Sure, they present themselves as such in videos and used to run a house party concert hall that they were politely asked to vacate from (i.e., evicted). Underneath this all, New Swears are punk-garage-power-pop band that plays effortlessly catchy tunes that deal more with lost nights than lost love.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
New Swears

Where is the New Swears from?
Bells Corners, Canada

Who is in the band and what do they do?
Nick farms the land.
BJ tends the chickens.
Scru Bar stokes the fire.
Sammy churns the butter.

How did the New Swears start?
All went to sam skool, lol.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
Sly and the Family Stone.

You guys live in a house called Fun Boy Clubhouse which doubles as some of the member’s house and also as basement party show central headquarters not to mention has a downstairs bar and indoor skate ramp. Who came up with the idea of having shows at the house?
We all individually claim that we were the one to originally come up with the idea for shows. Thanks for re-opening Pandora’s box.

To piggyback off this question, I read the interview New Swears did with Standard Issue Punk Rock Zine and the tales of reckless partying that has happened there. Do you guys still live in the house? If so, does the landlord not care about this house?
We got evicted. The landlord was very upset. He is coming after us for large sums of money. Police are involved. For legal reasons – no comment.

What is Ottawa like?  How is the music scene in Ottawa? Is Ottawa harboring a bunch of rad bands that it seems like many other cities in Canada are?
Ottawa is a peaceful village. Good scene, even greater bands but even better friends.
Check out Tropical Dripps, Slippies, and Glorious Moon Rockets.

In one review, I read the band being described as “Mean Jeans meets Black Lips,” but in many ways New Swears is like this garage-power-pop band that instead of signing about broken hearts sings about what they have broke literally.  What are some of the band’s favorite bands and main songwriting influences?
BJ, “Who the fuck are the Mean Jeans?”
Nick, “They played at your house dingbat!”
BJ, “Fuck you coward, I know.”

Right at this moment we are listening to R. Kelly “I Believe I can Fly.” Honorable mentions to Urethra Franklin.

Originally, Bachelor released the European version of Funny Isn’t Real and now they are releasing the band’s new LP, Junkfood Forever, Bedtime Whatever. Did Bachelor immediately offer to release the new LP?
Bachelor has been Mr. fantastic! They offered immediately and we said “Hey what the hell not boys! Get some Combos Snacks and call it a release!”

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Yes, I believe music can be such an extreme force. I like it but I also know that illuminati are behind all music. Therefore one cannot be forced to answer such a “see-saw” of a question.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. You can put headphones on that same horse and he just might end up going to your band camp and tossing you a Facebook like. And that same horse might have to be put down because of gang green on his hind legs. Lucky was the best racehorse the world had ever seen. RIP.

Other than host shows and play in New Swears, what else do you guys do to fill your free time?
We skinny-dip with celebs, a lot.

Where can people hear New Swears and what’s next?

We tour Europe in Fall 2014 check here for dates:

Unwelcome Guests

In the heavily wintered cities like Buffalo, is melody a way to keep warm through the harshly cold winters? Well, maybe not, but Unwelcome Guests have taken the pages of later Husker Du and Replacements and created their latest LP, Wavering, built on the belief of melody first and the rest will follow. It had been four years since their first LP, Don’t Go Swimming, but now the band are back and one review has already billed Waveringas one of the best of 2014.”

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions? 
Micah Winship and Stephen Schmitt 

Where is the band from? 
Buffalo, NY
Who is in the band and what instrument do they play? 
Micah Winship: Guitar, Vocals
Stephen Schmitt: Lead Guitar
Stephen Floyd: Bass
Jason Bauers: Drums  

Micah: Chris Oakes was the bass player and he’s on Wavering.  Stephen Floyd started playing with us after he helped put the record out (he runs One Percent Press); probably to make sure we actually did stuff to promote it, ha. Chris got married, had a baby and is settling down in the small-town-apple-farming-life he was destined for. His wife is awesome and the baby is super cute so I guess it’s alright.

How did Unwelcome Guests start? I had read that initially the band was a two-piece folk band then became a full band. Can you give some background on this? 
Micah: Yeah, that's how it began. The first year consisted of me playing acoustic guitar and Colin Scharf playing electric guitar. We got some people to play bass and guitar because full band is a million times more fun. A year later Colin moved away and Steve started playing guitar. It's funny how different things sound, I have a hard time hearing the super early stuff now.  
Steve: I think Micah actually went on a search-and-destroy mission to eradicate all the physical copies of the early stuff. I’ve never even heard it.

What is the scene like in Buffalo?  
Micah: The scene in Buffalo is constantly changing. There has always been a strong hardcore music following though. Bands that play music on the fringes of the definition of punk come along and mix in with everything else. For example, Failures' Union is a rock band but some members have a strong hardcore music background and the singer, Tony, plays Saxophone in a funky, dance, soul band called Mallwalkers - with everyone else in the scene (there are 9 people in that band, including Steve). They're weird and good. I know that some cities have multiple punk scenes and they don't crossover. Buffalo has one music scene and we all know each other.

Due to Buffalo’s location right by the Canadian border, does the city have a lot more Canadian bands come through town than US bands? 
Micah: Not so much on a DIY level because the border is super annoying. If a band is going to deal with that they often times do a larger tour. We do have a lot of Canadian beer though such as Molson and Labatt. Steve and I go to Wellington pub every Monday for what were once $1 Molson pints; they’re $1.50 now but we still go. Big radio bands like Tragically Hip are household names here and people in the South have usually never heard of them.   

Steve: I haven’t read too much about it yet, but I believe Canada has removed work permit restrictions for bands so hopefully there will be an influx of Canadian DIY bands now able to play here and vice versa. I also want to go to Newfoundland badly so maybe we can plan a hassle-free Canadian tour now?

How did you get connected to Dirt Cult Records? Did Dirt Cult seek you out or did you send them a demo of the tracks for Wavering? 
Micah: Dirt Cult put out our Painter EP 7” and Chris Mason helped us book a West Coast tour back in 2007. I thought that Wavering sounded more like a Dirt Cult release than Don’t Go Swimming so I asked him if he’d be interested. One Percent Press, which is run by Stephen Floyd, split released it with Dirt Cult. Then Stephen joined our band.

Steve: Chris hasn’t asked to join the band yet, but we hope he does.

I had read in an interview in Rock Star Journalist, Micah, referring to the split record with Saint Sweetheart, said, “I really don’t like that record. I’m fairly proud of all of our material that has made its way to vinyl but if I could pluck that out of existence, I would.” Did this bit of disappointment regarding a prior release have anything to do with Wavering taking about two years to record? 
Micah: I do hate that record. Not to downplay the fact that we put a lot of time and effort into Wavering but what took the most time had nothing to do with us perfecting every detail – we’re not that complicated, ha. After Don’t Go Swimming our drummer quit and we went on a tour with a different guy which didn’t work out and then our previous drummer came back and then we went on tour in England with a different bass player and drummer. You get the point; we had a lot of changes in the band and life stuff just kind of got in the way. It made it really hard to get the songs tight and record them. I’m really enjoying our current lineup and we all seem to be on the same page.

Steve: I’m still pretty charmed by the cover of that release: a crayon (I think) drawing of a lounging beaver and a wily-looking alligator. I like absurd stuff.  But, yeah, it was a weird, tumultuous time when we recorded the Saint Sweetheart 7” and the recordings kind of reflect that in a bad way.

One review of Wavering stated, “Despite the fact that we are only three full months into this year, I am confident in labeling this album as one of the best of 2014.” I’m guessing when reading a review like that made it worth it to put so much time into Wavering and not rush a follow up release after Don’t Go Swimming? 
Micah: I’m glad that people are enjoying the record. The big differences between Don’t Go Swimming and Wavering are the production and the drumming. Zac was great and we definitely came into our sound with him, but Jason is insanely good and there’s a lot more variety and clever little percussive things going on with Wavering. The production also captured what we do live a lot better because we’re a loud band and John Angelo (guy who recorded Wavering) did a great job of capturing a sound that conveys that. We also wanted a record that was really concise and went with 10 songs that go well together. We were tinkering with a full band version of “Resolutions” from the demo we did beforehand, but it didn’t fit with the rest of the songs so we ditched it. 

Steve: It was definitely a protracted process, so it’s great to see positive reviews.  It’s great to see any kind of attention at all after so long between releases!

There have been a few reviews that I have read that compare Unwelcome Guests to Husker Du, Replacements and Bruce Springsteen. Are any if these bands influences on the band’s sound and songwriting? 
Micah: Of course, they’re all wonderful. I’m surprised no one has commented on how similar the beginning of New Day Rising is to Aerostatic, which wasn’t intentional but I felt no need to change. 

Steve: There must be some connection between Buffalo and Minneapolis, maybe the winters or the regional accents? Micah introduced me to the Replacements, and they’re great, so definitely an influence. I know almost nothing about Bruce Springsteen though. Except when he did that Super Bowl halftime show and slid on his knees and his crotch collided with the camera. That’s an influence, for sure.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age? 
Steve: Definitely, people are always going to connect with music, despite the way the majority of the world consumes it now; and nothing beats a live show. We recently saw Cher perform and it was mind-blowing. She emerged from a full-size Trojan horse. Full-size. Fucking. Trojan. Horse.  I guess that made the music kind of secondary. I don’t remember what my point was.

Micah: Yeah, I don’t know. Music and art have always been important but our interaction with each just changes with each generation. 

In an interview with Eighty-sixed Fanzine, there is a quote from Micah that reads “I can’t imagine where I’d be if it weren’t for going to Cobra La when I was a teenager and for that reason I feel like every town and city should have a common space for kids to get together and work on creative projects.”  Does Buffalo have these types of places?  
Micah: Yeah, we have Sugar City, which is an all-ages art space. They’ve actually been without a space for the last couple of years and would hold events at other venues to fundraise. They used that money and some weird grant that landed in their lap to open a new space. Should be open soon from what I understand. 

Steve: I got into playing music and going to shows pretty late; I wish there was a space like Sugar City when/where I grew up. 
50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way? 
Steve: That’s a pretty striking analogy. I’m guilty of subscribing to the digital age myself. Of course, I love how easy it is to just search and listen to any song on Spotify or Google Play and get instant gratification. So I think it makes it even more necessary for bands to put on a great live show, have interesting artwork on releases and cool merch. For example, I recently saw Psychic Teens (from Philly). I had enjoyed listening to them on the internet and whatnot before, but when I saw them live, they were amazing - their LP artwork is fantastic and they have a T-shirt with Winona Ryder (as Lydia from “Beetlejuice”) on it which I bought instantly.

Where can people hear Unwelcome Guests and what’s next for the band?
Micah: We’re working on a new record and hope it won’t take so long to get it finished and out there. It’s about half way put together and less concise than Wavering and bounces around to a lot of different sounds and styles, so far anyway.  Our “to do” list has return trips to Puerto Rico, England, and the West Coast on it. We’d really love to do a full European trip but aren’t really sure how to make that happen at this point.

Steve: Also, Newfoundland.