Interview by Natalie K.
October 10, 2009
Estrella: Can you please state your names and what you do in the band?
JT: I’m JT and I sing and sample.
Andy: I’m Andy and I sing and play guitar.
Estrella: The tour with Paramore is re-starting today, how does it feel to be out with everyone?
Andy: Oh it’s great, it has been a blast. Unfortunately, it got postponed for a couple of days but they are good friends of ours and it’s like hanging out with family which is great because Nashville is a small town.
Estrella: It’s not that small!
Andy: Yeah you know big city, small town kind of vibe, everybody knows everybody and it just feels really familiar being out here.
Estrella: How did you guys hook up with Paramore again so soon, because I know you toured with them already and not a lot of bands don’t tour with each other right away.
JT: I don’t know we kind of stayed in touch since the last tour a little. We see them when they were in town, and they picked up our new album and were very kind and complimentary towards it. They would come out to some of our shows whenever our tours would cross and it kind of made sense. They were looking for a direct support band and we had a month free so it happened.
Estrella: For your remix contest how did the idea come about, and how did you choose the song “Gutter” to be the song?
Andy: Well it is kind of an experiment to interact with fans and build some sort of a community in taking the idea of creating a song and make it kind of an open forum. We take all of the pieces that we had to make the song, and make it available to anyone else to do whatever with it and I just thought that would be a good idea to expand on interacting with people and building a family a little more.
JT: I have something to add, we have incredible fans but even beyond that I feel something we’ve noticed is we have very creative fans and we have a really talented fan base. These people are making their own shirts, making their own videos, putting our songs to other movie trailers.
Estrella: I saw the New Moon one.
JT: Our fans tend to just up and do this stuff themselves so Andy had the idea of giving them all the tracks and see what else they can do.
Estrella: Have you guys gotten anything in yet?
Andy: It’s really awesome. We had a very specific idea of how we wanted the song to be but when you open it up for anybody to do what they want with it comes back to the same seeds that you planted for the song have grown up to a completely different idea. It always is very surprising but at the same time I like to think that if you want to erase the vocal or just not put the vocal in and just sing over it or get really complex and layer a bunch of new chord progressions into it and we have had all of those options turned in. It is really exciting and “Gutter” seemed like a good option because it was complex but the pieces were pretty clear. Everything kind of focused on that, the steady beat so it seemed like an easy choice for people to get in the head space of, I’m going to re-create this idea, this song.
Estrella: How did you guys end up getting signed to Universal Motown?
JT: We worked really hard (everyone laughs). By default we ended up being our own label, just doing everything ourselves and we engineered our own albums, we write, we produce our own albums, we build our own stage set-ups, we build our own stage set-ups, we do our own album art and videos. I think a major label like Universal Motown it is attractive to them because they see that this band is kind of a label already without us. We don’t have to do as much, it is not as much of a gamble because the industry is just kind of crazy and all over the place right now. I think they were just excited to see that a band had their own heartbeat. We were looking at a lots of different labels, it wasn’t just major labels but at the time they made the most sense.
Estrella: What was the recording process like for your album Absence?
Andy: We had been recording up to that point in Chad and Gavin’s house that they are renting in Nashville. It’s a big place, a lot of other artists are living there and they just recorded. We started recording bits and pieces for these songs and building the record but when Universal got on board we were like, okay let’s get really focused and get to a spot where we are finishing this. We rented a house about fifty miles west of Nashville, big place in the middle of nowhere. It was like somebody won the lottery and spent it all on a mansion and then ran out of money so it’s frozen in 1992 or something and it’s got an eeiry vibe to it, but we ended up feeling emotional in this place. It was out of date carpet and wood paneling that looked a little too old, but it was massive. Recording there was a cool idea and it ended up getting a lot of cool ideas out of us that I don’t know if we could of done it without that place.
Estrella: Did you guys get complete control over your record?
Andy: Yeah we pretty much made the record, we tried mixing it with a guy but it was all hitting heads, and Chad pretty much took the reigns on mixing stuff and we produced it, recorded everything ourselves. We made the record then delivered it to Universal and then they put it out.
Estrella: That is pretty lucky.
Andy: It is extremely lucky, there is a lot of other labels that would of put a stop to it real quick and Universal didn’t.
Estrella: So why is Absence the title of your album?
Andy: It is kind of consistent across the board you will see. The whole record is about missing something and yearning for something that was there but isn’t there anymore. The first song “Enemy Among Us” is where the lyric comes from and it is just across the board. JT?
JT: Sounds good Andy.
Estrella: I noticed Are We All Forgotten was the title of your last EP, and a song on it, as well as the only song from that EP put on your full length album Absence, why only that one?
JT: That song lyrically again fell under the umbrella of Absence and it made sense. It tied in a lot of the other songs lyrically and sonically and was just a piece to the puzzle so we put it on.
Estrella: Did you consider any other songs from the EP?
Andy: Not really, it seemed like that was the strongest contender so it just seemed obvious. There are a lot of decisions we make and look back saying; oh we could have done that differently. Surprisingly, that was not one of them, it really works both ways. That doesn’t always happen with bands that put out EP’s than put out records that have the homogenous song I guess but it worked from my perspective.
Estrella: After this you guys are going overseas with Paramore, so what is going to happen in 2010 with you guys?
Andy: Besides counting our billions of dollars….I have no idea. No, but we will probably keep touring and record a bunch and put out another multi-platinum record.
Estrella: Buy some mansions?
Andy: Totally, yeah.
(A girl walks in through the dressing room dividing doors and asks if the washroom is this way)
Andy: Can you put that in? Because apparently we are in England…Where’s the washroom, we all use the bathroom.
Estrella: Do you guys think you might do a headlining tour?
JT: For sure, the first of next year is the time that would make the most sense.
Andy: It is all about strategy and it is naive in thinking that doesn’t play a big part in it. You don’t just go into something thinking if you feel like doing something you just do it. When the time is right, the time is right.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Andy: (long and drawn out) skydive…..
Estrella: That doesn’t sound like it was going to be your answer!
JT: Box, I want to box. Kick boxing would actually be fun. I want to box JT actually, but in a completely friendly way with headgear where you just really beat each other up then laugh and hug at the end.
Estrella: What is one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Andy: In that song “Good Intentions” when I’m singing a chorus pretty stable on a lower note and then the whole chorus picks up and I sing, “I want to be your stitching thread, I want to be your fountainhead” which is kind of a little vague but as a writer it made sense in the moment and I still feel like it makes sense now and that is awesome. We don’t play that song live but it just feels great, I want to be your stitching thread, I want to be your fountainhead; the meaning is just really rich and deep.
JT: Andy wrote this line in “Are We All Forgotten” and it’s, “I still believe that change can happen.” That’s it.
Estrella: What is a song you never get sick of hearing and it does not have to be your own?
JT: Well, it is obviously ours (everyone laughs). “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead O’Connor.
Andy: That’s a tough one too top but I would do, “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf off of the Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell. I listened to the twelve minute version yesterday in the van and there wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t completely engaged, it was like thirty seconds have passed. There are not a lot of twelve minute songs out there that I can say the same thing for.
Estrella: I like Something Corporate’s “Konstantine”.
Andy: “Konstantine” I will have to listen to “Konstantine”.
JT: I’m going to buy it right now.
Andy: Bought it, we have the new psychic tunes which is the next revolution of iTunes we are beta testing it. You just say I am going to buy it and you buy it.
Estrella: Any final comments?
Andy: Our record Absence is in stores right now, go find it and if you cannot find it you can buy it on iTunes which we all know is just as good as buying it anywhere else.
JT: We are on tour right now with Paramore which is an unbelievable show. Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/paperroute, http://twitter.com/jtdalyart, http://twitter.com/andysmithsmith.
Andy: Andy Smith Smith that is my legal name because one Smith isn’t enough.