Interview by Natalie Kuchik
October 10, 2009
Estrella: Can you please state your name and what you do in the band?
Anto: I’m Anto and I play bass.
Jonathan: I’m Jonathan and I play drums.
Ryan: Ryan and I play guitar.
Nick: I’m Nick and I’m the best. I sing and play guitar.
Estrella: Garrett and Lance departed the band in 2008, what were the reasons behind that?
Nick: Who? No, they decided it for many reasons from “having to go back to school, working more, I have a girlfriend, I don’t feel like I have enough creative control in the band, I think we tour too much, we are gone from home too much, and I cannot afford to do this.” Take that as you will, all the answers scramble them up and disperse them however you see fit.
Estrella: Did they leave at the same time?
Nick: Pretty much. Lance left with no warning and said, “See ya” and it really messed things up.
Jonathan: Then we got Ryan within a day, within 8 minutes actually.
Nick: Then Garrett stayed in the band for 2 more months while we found somebody else.
Jonathan: Yeah, he gave us a two month notice.
Nick: Yeah, that was really nice of Garrett.
Estrella: How did you end up finding Anto and Ryan?
Jonathan: We toured with Ryan’s band Alucard, I think we did over ten weeks of touring with you guys.
Ryan: We did a lot, it was just one of those things.
Nick: I think it was actually Garrett because we were all looking through our phones to find people and then I think you (Ryan) were the first person we called.
Ryan: Garrett actually called me and he said he was leaving. I was playing bass at the time just filling in for Lance and I would rather play guitar because I am a guitar player. He told me he was stepping down and if I wanted too, just talk to Nick.
Nick: Right, so it worked out perfectly, he played for 2 months on bass and then switched to guitar so it worked out really well. Anto was in a band called Sydney, that we toured with in Ontario, Canada and this was pretty recent like 4 months ago. Our current bass player dropped out and said, “I don’t think I can be doing this.” We kind of got used to people leaving the band because we tour so much. So then we were just kind of like, well we have Ryan because Ryan has been doing this for a long time. He is great, he is focused so we need a person to plays bass who has done this before and not just a friend of ours. Then we were like, “Well, Anto has been doing this for a long time and he is not in his band anymore, let’s make it happen” and it did.
Jonathan: In a day, as well.
Nick: Yeah, in a day. I said, “When can you be here?” and Anto said, “Next weekend” and I said, “Well, how about tomorrow?” and then it happened.
Jonathan: So, Brad left with 6 days notice and Anto filled in immediately.
Nick: That is one word of advice if you are going to leave a band at least say like, “Hey, so it is going to be in a month or so and then I am going to quit.” Don’t be like, “I’m freaking out, I have to leave.” People will leave a band and screw things up but say, “I feel so bad that I let down my friends.” Don’t feel so bad, stick it out for another week or two. Make it easier and luckily, we have so many good friends and know so many good bands, that we were able to make this happen and now things are just awesome plus they both wear matching jackets (black leather), so that’s awesome.
Ryan: We did not plan this!
Estrella: You guys are signed to Fueled By Ramen, were you already done with your contract at Search and Rescue and how did it come about to get signed to FBR?
Nick: Pretty much, we did a couple of records with Search and Rescue; we signed a three album deal with Search and Rescue and their whole thing was they wanted us to sign to a bigger label. In the meantime, we recorded some demos on our own and sent them out to labels and Fueled By Ramen was one of the first labels to get back to us and one of the most stoked labels. Some of the others were like, “Yeah, like your tunes, keep it fresh” but theirs were like, “Cool, when are you doing this?”
Jonathan: They wanted to hang out.
Nick: So, they came to the studio with us, came out to eat a couple of times, so by the end when we finally wanted to sign with somebody there were a couple of other labels we were talking too and they were the one that just stood out. We needed to work with this label, so Search and Rescue were really cool about us moving on and they just wanted to best for us. It made things really smooth.
Estrella: Once you guys signed, did you start working on your album Ups and Downsizing or was it already done?
Jonathan: When we tentatively signed, we already had it done for a few months. When we first started talking to Fueled By Ramen, less than a few weeks later, we already had planned on recording, so we had all the songs written already.
Nick: We had to tell Fueled By Ramen, “Listen, is it going to be a problem if we record our record right now? We know you have not made up your mind about our band yet, or talked to everyone involved but we are just going to do this. We got some great songs, studio, and a great guy”.
Jonathan: Mark Michalik, he’s recorded all of our records so far. He did our EP and now the full length. That is kind of the thing when you go to a bigger label, they normally want you to go with someone who has name recognition so we had to prove to them that these were the people who had something to prove so they do better quality work. Not only that but for a better price. He gave us an awesome price, like he always does, and helped us out.
Nick: No, he charged us the normal amount….
Jonathan: Well, his normal amount is actually a good price, you could spend eighty thousand dollars going someplace else or around ten thousand and under with him.
Estrella: Ups and Downsizing is your album title and the title of a song, why did you choose that one?
Jonathan: There is a quote in the movie The Big Lebowski, “Strikes and gutters, ups and down” and I had it written in my notes for a really long time and that is how I do lyrics. I had about forty pages of notes just for that record and I was looking at that and I really wanted to make it do something with a song. The only problem was I don’t like doing things that other people have done before, so I was trying to make sure it was slightly different. I tried to give it a Michigan twist with the current economy so I had Sit-Down Strikes and Gutters, because Sit-Down Strike in Flint was the first one to ever happen and then Ups and Downsizing referenced all the stuff going on right now, so I re-designed them because it was too long. Sit down strikes and Gutters became lyrics in “Welcome Back Riders” and “Ups and Downsizing” became a song name. We thought that just gave the album it’s whole theme, so we decided to put that as the album name.
Estrella: I was reading through Jonathan’s Tumblr and you guys have done some pretty insane stuff this year, like swimming at P Diddy’s.
Jonathan: We played with Haley Joel Osment’s little sister, she is on Hannah Montana. She just got added to one of our shows randomly and it was one of the weirdest things ever.
Ryan: But I did get to say, “Oops, sorry” to her.
Estrella: What is one of the most stand out experiences you have had in 2009?
Anto: Joining this tour, well for me anyway.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think this tour in general is the coolest thing because all these other opportunities are coming from this.
Nick: Our music was played on Last Call with Carson Daly last night. We did not know that but I just got some calls and texts but I was so tired and thought, “That’s cool.” The next morning I thought, “Did that really happen?” I want to find out how it happened, I am not so much excited that it happened, I just want to know how it happened. I want to know who the guy was that said, “Hey, let’s put that on,” unless it was Carson Daly himself, because in that case I am going to tweet him, “we should start TRL again circa 1998.”
Ryan: We are 89X radio in Detroit now, Carson last night, all of these things are starting to line up and it’s all new stuff but amazing because people out there somewhere are working to get our name out there.
Estrella: What were you excited for the most about the Paramore tour?
Anto: Are you kidding? We get to hang out and play these shows everyday. Paper Route and Paramore are both super good to us, everyone has been super rad.
Jonathan: This is the smallest venue this tour and it is thirteen hundred capacity, that is just ridiculous. We get this whole new demographic of people, this whole new fan base. Whether or not they like our music, we are playing in front of them and even if there is thirty kids out of the whole crowd that likes us, that is still thirty extra kids. The numbers of everything are so much bigger than they used to be.
Estrella: You guys are pretty much playing to a sold out crowd every night.
Jonathan: Yeah, so that is awesome.
Estrella: What are your tour plans for 2010?
Nick: We have a tour right after this one, then another tour right after the holidays, and then hopefully going to Europe. All the other stuff is going to be announced shortly, but yeah a lot of big tours.
Estrella: Do you already know who you’re touring with?
Nick: Oh yes we do! We cannot announce it, cannot even talk about it. Our booking agent is in the house right now, so if he heard me say this he would kill me.
Ryan: I heard they might announce it on Monday, so we cannot risk it.
Estrella: Are you going to end up headlining next year?
Nick: Not right away, but the fall is the most likely spot to do something like that. For right now, we are getting the opportunity to play for tons of kids with all these great bands. It’s what our label wants us to do, and what we want to do.
Ryan: It is always best to do support tours when you have a new record, if not you are getting to more people but overall it is just a better feeling. When you are doing headlining, you have to work twice as hard to make sure people are actually there. With supporting, you get to align yourself with all these bands. I remember, when I used to go to shows and see the opening band I would think, “Wow, they are opening for this band, they must be awesome.” There has to be tons of those kids doing that to us which is a crazy feeling. I remember my experiences when I went to big shows and going to see The Loved Ones open for Rise Against and down the road they blew up in their own sense. I’m hoping that kind of stuff opens for us.
Estrella: What is something you have always wanted to do but have not done yet?
Anto: Swim with dolphins.
Ryan: Oh yeah! I want to swim with dolphins too!
Anto: I’m dying to swim with dolphins.
Nick: I want to bungee jump and I also want to kiss a girl.
Ryan: Oh, we should bungee jump into a dolphin tank.
Anto: That would take a lot of work.
Jonathan: Yeah, but it would kill two birds with one stone or one dolphin.
Ryan: I want to go to Australia.
Jonathan: We are hoping to go to Europe in the next two years or so.
Estrella: Have any of you been overseas before?
Anto: I have just for family stuff.
Estrella: Nothing special? Just family stuff…
Anto: Yeah, nothing special (laughs).
Jonathan: Nick and I played in Japan in 2006 with our old line-up which was insane and we have been trying to go back there for years but things have just been so hectic with the tour schedule.
Estrella: What’s a song that you never get sick of hearing?
Nick: “Roll to Me” by Del Amitri.
Jonathan: Yeah, that song is awesome.
Nick: “Look around your world pretty baby..”
Ryan: “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears, It’s my ringtone.
Anto: I am going to say the theme song from America’s funniest home videos.
Nick: Which one?
Anto: The old one with Bob Saget, it is actually really good.
Jonathan: Which one?
ALL: “America, America, this is youuuu de de de”.
Jonathan: Can you transcribe those notes too?
Estrella: I don’t know, it might be tricky…
Nick: Oh, the soundtrack to Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze.
Ryan: A lot of people don’t know that, but it’s really good when they are eating their pizza and stuff.
Jonathan: You know that part in Ninja Turtles when they have pizza, I love that part.
Nick: In real life though, “No Cigar” by Millencolin, that’s a huge one for me. That was by Punk-o-rama and I remember listening to that which kind of got me into the band. Later, they used it in Tony Hawke and I remember going, “Oh, I knew that before hundreds of stupid video kids played it”, but yeah that has always been my song.
Estrella: What’s one of your favorite lines in one of your songs?
Ryan: That last one (makes the drum joke noise).
Nick: There are two lines I like and one was, “We are just killing time and no one seemed to mind” which is in the song ‘Watch You Go’. It’s about when you are younger, getting to do all this fun stuff and not care about the world but when you get older, all the blissful ignorance of being young disappears. That’s one good line and then, “All you did was break another tie and all of this can break another time” and that’s from ‘Far Away’. It’s about a bunch of our friends who turned their backs on us.
Estrella: If you could see any band or artist perform any song live what would it be and why?
Anto: Original line-up of Guns N’ Roses performing “Night Train”
Jonathan: I want to see Nada Surf play “Happy Kid” and then “Blizzerd of ’77” and then all of the Let Go record. So yeah… I want to see Nada Surf.
Nick: I want to see The Descendents who I haven’t yet.
Ryan: I think seeing Nirvana play “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be kind of sweet. I’ve never seen them and…. you know.
Estrella: Never will.
Ryan: Yeah, never will.
Nick: You never know.
Estrella: Yeah, we do.
Ryan: Cryogenically frozen.
Estrella: Any final comments?
Jonathan: Go buy our record, Ups and Downsizing.
Nick: 9/11 was an inside job.
Ryan: Twix is the only one with the cookie crunch.
Nick: Not Skittles!
Ryan: Turkey contains an amino acid which makes you tired, so the more you eat, the more tired you get.
Jonathan: Also known as tryptophan.
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