Following my review of Maria Mena’s album, White Turns Blue, I had the opportunity to dissect the brain of the clever songstress and the voice behind the popular single, “You’re the Only One.” She’s been tying up the phone lines of all enthusiastic fans of MTV’s TRL with requests for her single and steadily soaring to the height of modern music culture. She is in the midst of her mall tour around America, and is currently in San Francisco and is soon heading back to her homeland of Norway. About to enter the recording studio once more, Maria was kind enough to ring me up for a little chat despite a sore throat and the dizzying effects of Vicks Dayquil. The ever-honest and wise for her 18 years (kind of makes me wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life) shares her A’s to what I hope are insightful Q’s.
How did it feel doing a mall tour in America as a sort of burgeoning artists after you’ve done so many bigger shows and performances in Europe?
Mena: Well, at first it was pretty weird because, I think as Europeans we don’t have the same mall culture as in America; so when I heard about it I thought it’d be a good chance to do something good over the summer… but I found it really tacky. But then I started to do it and it was really cool, you know, there was no other way for my new fans to see me live so it was cool for me to just up there and perform for 20 minutes every Saturday and then sitting down and signing autographs for an hour to an hour and a half. I was really afraid that no one would show up and it would be a big disaster, but it seemed really really cool. I had no idea what to expect.
About your song writing technique, it’s been said that it’s kind of in your head and spontaneous; do you find it changing now as your music is evolving?
Mena: I don’t know- it actually hasn’t. It’s still the same way. I do have this sort of OCD thing that I can’t write songs unless I’m done promoting the album that’s out right now. So I do allow myself to write some songs now, but I’m trying not to because I’ll just have too much in my head and start concentrating on something completely different. But it’s more mature than it was and I think that’s very natural. I think I have a tendency to write about different subjects now. I used to be very much into discovering who I was with everybody else and I was extremely insecure at one time and I really use to use that a lot in my song writing. But now I think I’ve moved a little bit away from that; I’m still going to be the insecure person that I am because I guess I’ll never get away from that even though I try to- it’s very hard. I’m just insecure in different situations now and I guess I’m just going to have to deal with that, and I write about a lot of different people now and myself.”
Well, some of the best songs come out of insecurity.
Mena: Definitely. It’s funny because that’s when you usually write songs, is when you’re down and insecure. If you’re happy and up, you don’t want to write songs. You want to go out and be happy and up. I tend to only write songs when I’m depressed or just in a weird state of mind.
Do you think record execs or industry people are trying to change you since you’re becoming so popular and in the public eye?
Mena: It has happened. It’s kind of funny because they can change how I look- I won’t allow then to do that- but they’ve tried to do that before; it’s been going on for a long time. I wasn’t the typical, norm- like I wasn’t the teen queen kind of girl. I was always me and I was weird and nobody understood that, so they thought that since they’d never seen anything weird happen before, they thought, “let’s see if we can change her because this is what we know works- the teen queen stuff.” So, yeah, they’ve tried to do that; they’ve tried to sort of, before, market me as teen girl and I think me, my personality, when I talk to journalists or when I get in front of people, I realize that I’m not like that; I’m a bit creative so I get a different fan base.
Yeah, I think that’s a major factor of your success- that you’re not like everybody else.
Mena: Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment.
Oh, it is.
Mena: Thank you.
A lot of people, when they try to get a grasp on what you’re about, compare you to people like Alanis Morisette or Michelle Branch. Do you think it’s a compliment or generalizing of your music?
Mena: It’s a compliment, definitely. I do admire those two, especially the first one. But I’ve always known I’m going to start to stick out after a while so I’m not very worried about that. I think that in general, in life, we have to sort of put people in boxes just to know where we have them because of the unknown- we’re always afraid of the unknown, and when we don’t really know where we have you it gets scary. So I’ll just let people do that now and they’ll just naturally progress into something that’s just- I just think that they’ll understand that I’m different, that I’m me and I don’t need to be like anybody else. It’s sort of funny because I don’t even know who I am. Especially musically, I have no idea where I’m going. It’s scary but it’s extremely fun as well, at the same time because there’s no end to what I can do. Well actually I’m just starting to realize that I can actually do whatever I want to do. And my voice has grown as well; it’s not the same as last year, so I can’t wait to go home and record an album… again.
Mena: Yeah, it really is. It’s kind of funny though because I have to wait a little while because I’m still doing promotion in Europe, but God, I can’t wait until I get home.
And like you’ve said before, you’ve grown through adolescence working on your music and finding out who you are; do you think school got in the way or that you missed out of anything?
Mena: About high school, I really don’t feel I missed out on anything. It just seems like a big drag. Really, it was hell. It was just full of people judging and me feeling like I didn’t fit in at all. And so I never felt a part of the whole pop culture, the whole teen thing, the girly thing. That was just me. A lot of people think that those were just coolest years of their life, and that’s cool for them. I just always felt that there was something else out there. And even though I didn’t really have friends at that time because I didn’t know anybody who I could respect and I thought was weird as well- so I just waited. And I think right now is when I’m actually discovering these people who I’m really starting to admire and respect and really want to know more about, so I’m getting a lot of new friends right now. But I don’t think I missed out on anything. My best friend just started school again, he had a year off- he started high school again- and putting myself in his situation, thinking about going back to school, I was thinking “Oh God, no.” it’s not because I don’t want to learn, that’s one thing- I definitely want to finish high school- I just could never see myself in that whole situation again, with all the drama. It’s just not worth it. So definitely this seems better than that.
So about performing and songwriting, do you think you prefer songwriting as to performing?
Mena: They’re very different things. But when I perform I sort of get to package and deliver my own music and I get to pull back into the feelings I had when I was writing the songs that I’m performing, and I get to share them with people- I actually get to see their faces; I get to see them sing back to me and get an idea of how they would listen to my music at home. It’s a gift in itself, just to actually see people connect with you, that I don’t even know them and that’s just scary for me because when you’re in your privacy writing this album, you’re sort of thinking “this is only for me,” but then you see all these people and all these faces singing back and you realize that they have actually probably gone through the same exact emotion or they’ve heard your deepest darkest little secret. Although they don’t know the details, it’s still my secret and it’s weird. But that’s the reason why I’m doing as well.
I do believe that I have the ability, and it’s only getting stronger, to put words to my emotions. And I remember as a teenager I really wished there were songs out there I could listen to to just make me feel less alone. So I’m not going to stop doing that, but in the studio you get this whole privacy thing where I get to tap into a lot of emotions. The reason why I write is it’s therapy. I get to know myself better and I get to analyze myself and I love analyzing. But it’s really bad for you though. I just got a boyfriend and there is no end to how much I’m analyzing him and thinking every single thing he does, I’m looking at him thinking he doesn’t love me or… it’s just bad, very bad for you. But that’s me.
Do you remember your first time performing, how you felt?
Mena: [big sigh] I was probably very very nervous. I didn’t really like it at first. I thought it was stupid. I really did. I didn’t understand why people would force me to do that. I just felt like I didn’t know what to do, I thought the songs spoke for themselves, I didn’t know where to put my hands. I didn’t want to be a distraction. I felt like I was standing between them and the music- that I was just this clumsy idiot standing there that was trying to play a song. But then I got more confidence; I started brainwashing myself thinking, I enjoy watching people live, why wouldn’t anyone want to watch me live? It’s just all about how I think. And I went up on that stage and I no longer felt that they can see through me. It was all up to me. I could actually stand there on stage and decide how they would actually see the song. And that’s actually- it’s pretty cool because, you know, I went up on that stage and I would only think about how nervous I was and how people could see that I’m nervous and how stupid it was to be there and how ugly I was and everything, but when I could go up there and just decide and be in charge- it was all about how I decided the music.
Do you think you’d ever want to perform with any particular artists?
Mena: I don’t know. I did once, on the Mellow album, which was this original album that we took away three songs but we added three songs from the first record. But the original second album, I had a song which another guy wrote, he’s a pretty big singer/songwriter in Norway, but it was really cool for me to see if I could interpret a song that wasn’t my own and it turned out really really good. Our voices really clicked together and it was just a really cool thing to do. But it was never performed live. And I don’t know who I would choose to perform with, or who would want to choose me. I have no idea.
Do you have a favorite song to perform?
Mena: Yeah, I usually sing Christmas songs. But I think “Sorry” is my favorite song to perform. Yeah, I just think that it’s one of those songs- it’s probably the most honest song I’ve ever written. Very emotional, and I still get very emotional when I sing it. And at a time I actually sort of decided never to sing it again live because it was just too emotional for me, because it’s not only talking about once specific incident, which it was- basically it was just me realizing or admitting to myself how extremely insecure I am when I let someone in. and I didn’t like performing it in front of people because I actually sort of started crying but then I realized that it was the one song people most wanted to hear. So I had to sort of force myself to sing it.
Do you think that’s the scariest thing you do, having to be so vulnerable in public?
Mena: Yeah, very much. One of the scariest things now actually is that I realize now that people are watching me. And I don’t like it. I’m a very private person- I’m very honest and I’m very open when there’s someone, you know, but I like to turn that off as well. But I’ve realized that people are really watching and analyzing, and I see it on my message boards- people really wanting to know every little stupid detail about me and it freaks me out.
Just wait until the paparazzi come.
Mena: Heh, it’s kind of a fun culture that I’m addicted to, this whole paparazzi gossip magazine culture, which is very a fascinating life of course because you want to know how they live, but you never picture yourself in there, like, grocery shopping.
Yeah, that must be weird… Er, a bit off-topic, but you know those one-hit wonder pop stars that just rocket to fame on other people’s songs- does that frustrate you, knowing that you’ve worked so hard to be where you are and they just sort of float by?
Mena: It’s definitely annoying sometimes, but you know what? I just think to never underestimate your fans. That’s one of my mottos basically, because they’ll seek you out, and I think it’s cool to people to cover songs and make great hits with them because then I guess people will see the fact that I’m different, you know; there’s room for me as well. If everyone was real and honest and intense, then I guess it would be boring. I’m pretty happy that they’re different. I just thought that I could sort of do my thing and have it be different.
Did you ever think that with your popularity, I mean, you’re pretty big in Europe- it’s pretty inevitable that you’re going to become a role model for young girls. Is that something you would want to take responsibility for?
Mena: It seems to me, especially in America, that you’re not supposed to be yourself; you’re supposed to be this very cookie-cutter perfect girl. I hope to be a role model for young girls and I hope to be the exact opposite of that. I hope to be the human role model. I hope to be the girl who makes mistakes and who sins, but who admits to herself that she’s not perfect and no one is. I wish I had a role model like that when I was young because I was striving to be perfect because that’s what all the people in the magazine were, and I realized after a while that you don’t have to be. And I wish to be a role model like that; if anyone wants me as a role model, I hope that they see that I’m human and that’s still ok and we all make mistakes. As long as we’re open with ourselves and as long as we try to be open with other people and we’re not ashamed of who we are and we try to be happy- I think that’s the most important thing.
So remembering when you were just getting into the music industry, what was your main concern about the endeavor, I mean, that’s a pretty big step?
Mena: Oh I think the first thing we were really scared about, me and my dad- he had to sign the record deal with me- was I think that we didn’t want them to market me as this pop idiot. I think that was the first thing we really discussed. I wanted freedom to, pardon my language, fuck up before they treat me like a fuck-up. I wanted to be able to create music and have them leave me alone, especially because the record company always wants to stick there noses in where they aren’t supposed to be, and I just wanted time to create and be creative and make a record, and then see if they would at least be happy with it then before actually just deciding that we’ll just send her in to the studio with producers that already have songs made for her. So I started writing songs, and I had a lot of songs ready and it took about a year and we just recorded and recorded and recorded and the record company was extremely happy. So the next time around when I recorded the second album they just didn’t even care, they just said “Ok, Maria’s going into the studio- it might take two years, who cares.”
And now in America, where everyone’s just starting to get to know you- you’ve just been on Letterman recently- and you have albums going platinum and all that in Europe, do you have plans now that you have the opportunity to do them with your fame and all?
Mena: I do, I think. Especially because I’m flying to Norway, that’s where my record deal is and that’s where the record company knows me best, so I definitely do I think. But it’s going to take a little bit longer than I thought. I thought I was going to promote for like six months or a year but it’s going to take longer than that because you sort of have to start in a new area where- I really need time off when I record. I don’t know why. I do know there are people out there who able to record and promote at the same time. I can’t see myself doing that; I’d just be too distracted. So I just wait until everything just quiets down and then I can go back to the studio and be creative.
Yeah, I’d think that’s a very personal time. So one last question- what’s currently in your CD player or mp3 player?
Mena: Um, I have a thing about listening to music- I don’t really listen to music a lot when I’m working because it’s too much sometimes. You just get fed up. It’s like if you work in a chocolate factory, you wouldn’t eat chocolate for a couple years after that. It’s really the same thing for me with music. But I do still listen- I just don’t have my favorite albums which I listen to when I really feel creative or need something to distract me. It’s just basically Jeff Buckley with Grace– that album is amazing- and this new artist called Joe Firstman. He has a record out now and it’s called The War of Women. It’s very very good.
Sounds interesting, I’ll have to check that out.
Mena: Yeah, it’s really good.
So that’s all the questions I have.
Mena: Thank you so much.
No, thank you. I hope your voice feels better.
Mena: Oh, me too. I’m going to have to perform two times today so I’ll just have to drink my throat coat and see if I feel better. That Vicks thing has really gotten me high.
You should probably lay off of that.
Mena: Heh, well good luck with college and everything.
Oh Thanks, and best of luck with everything.
Mena: Thank you.
Dreams and Devotion: An interview with Strung Out’s Jason Cruz
For Strung Out’s Jason Cruz, art is more than just the music he’s known for. It’s the dreams and emotions he writes and paints as well.
For almost 30 years, Jason Cruz has been synonymous with the art he’s been crafting. That art of course, is his work as songwriter and vocalist for Simi Valley melodic punk rock outfit Strung Out, who since 1990, have been writing hard-hitting, emotionally-charged music that became part of the wave that brought punk’s into the mainstream consciousness in the mid-1990s. Strung Out’s three albums of that decade, 1994’s Another Day in Paradise, 1996’s Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, and 1998’s Twisted By Design, proved to be the perfect answer to those who sought out the deeper underground of punk that bellowed below the surface of Green Day’s Dookie and Offspring’s Smash.
For many listeners like myself, Strung Out and many of their Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph brethren meant a world of new music wrapped in the subcultures of skateboarding, surfing, punk attitudes, and a vibrant urgency that echoed sounds of rebellion and independence. While pop culture acceptance for just about any form of art and music seems fleeting, Strung Out have never wavered from what they do; now three decades into their history and nine albums deep into an ever-impressive catalog. Songs of Armor and Devotion is perhaps the band’s finest work since they first burst onto the scene. Composed, yet still breathing fire, its tracks still exhibits that “debut album energy” but comes with the benefit of the wisdom of touring, writing, and experiencing the world three decades over.
However, for Jason Cruz, art is more than just Strung Out. He has quietly and not so quietly been honing his craft as an artist and a painter, coming to light on a musical front by painting the cover art to his band’s 2011 “Best Of” album Top Contenders: The Best of Strung Out, and NOFX’s 2013 EP Stoke Extinguisher. But one look at the wide spectrum of art he’s painted and you can see that it’s more than just album covers. His painted work, like his music, seems to come from the same passion and emotion that drives his lyrics and songwriting. Now he embarks on a new chapter as a children’s book writer, taking inspiration from his daughter to write There Are Such Things As In Your Dreams, a bedtime story born in dreams.
We spoke to Cruz not long after the release of the band’s new album to talk about the long-lasting influence of Strung Out and to discuss his art and how they share the same creative head space. We also spoke about his upcoming art exhibit and his new book and the toll and triumphs of the tour cycle.
Congrats on Songs of Armor and Devotion. It’s stellar work; how do you all feel about the release and response to the record?
Cruz: I’m glad people are digging the tunes. I’m anxious to get em out on the road and see what they turn into. See if I can keep up with RJ. It feels like another new level to explore.
But you’ve been busy with a lot of projects- tell us a little bit about the children’s book you have written? It was inspired by your daughter?
Cruz: The book is called There Are Such Things As In Your Dreams and it’s basically a bedtime story. My daughter just spoke the title one day as we hangin’ out having one of our talks and it stuck. I thought it was the most beautiful thing she ever said.
What’s the story of the book?
Cruz: It is basically a bedtime story trying to explain to a kid what the hell dreams are and how cool they can be. How the adventures you dream at night can only pale to the ones that await you when you wake kinda thing.
How long did it take to write and create the book?
Cruz: I worked on the story, which is more like a poem, and all the illustrations for just over two years. Anywhere I could set up and draw. In between shows, on planes, at the desk at home, wherever. Once I told the kid I was gonna do this book she made sure to ride me pretty hard about getting it done so she could take it to school and read it to the class.
What’s the approach like writing the book in comparison to writing songs for a new Strung Out record?
Cruz: Pretty similar process I guess since they both involve rhythm, flow and the use of imagery and imagination. With a song, it’s a collaborative process. Each member adds an element to construct this thing. With the book, it was all me. Inventing as I went along until I had enough elements to unify the idea as a whole. It’s a lot harder flying blind like that. I guess I kept this first attempt as simple as possible for that reason.
Where can we buy the new book?
Cruz: All the usual modern day outlets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Baby. It will also be available on my site as well.
I’m looking at some of your art and I like how different the pieces are. For instance, the difference in emotion, style with pieces like “Choke”, “Rise & Fall”, and “Church Fix”. What are some of the things that inspire your art and what were some of the inspirations behind these pieces?
Cruz: Oh I guess just the love of doing is what really inspires me. To be an artist. To challenge myself. To learn my craft and grow. I could never stick to a certain style or look very long because I’m just too moody I guess. I need the freedom to move around and explore. Always trying ‘get it right’ whatever that means.
Is creating art a completely private and solo process for you?
Cruz: Completely. I guess that’s why it can be so maddening at times and so fulfilling at the same time. Like what nerve do I have to even attempt this?!?! What is this whole art thing?!?! Is this good?!?! And somewhere in between all that doubt, there is joy and fun. Problem solving and improvisation.
What are some of the things when looking back at this 20+ year career with Strung Out do you hold as the most important to you? Is it the records? The consistency with the work or the influence you’ve had for listeners around the globe?
Cruz: To be able to keep living my life in a such a way is all I can ever hope for. Making true connections. As long as I am a good person, as long as I am good to my muse and never take anything for granted and always be awake and alive I am grateful.
Is there one album you look back as particularly important to the band and yourself? Say one that you felt like thing were heading in the right direction?
Cruz: For me, I’d have to say it was the pseudo acoustic record we did called Black Out the Sky. That record was super important in our development as a band and as human beings. It kinda loosened any restraints we thought we had and really showed our fans and ourselves the possibilities of our union as a whole.
I’ve always loved Suburban Teenage and Twisted By Design because I think both records hit at the right time for me (I grew up in Indonesia and discovering your music was a big part in who I was and am); plus I learned that bands could hit hard just as much as they sang with emotion- but I think Songs of Armor and Devotion is very much in the same vein. What was the songwriting process like for Songs of Armor… and when did you guys start writing the record?
Cruz: It all happened really quick. Once we set aside the time to write and record we wasted no time and the ideas all came very fast and effortlessly – for the most part. We had a lot of ‘pent up‘ energy and angst I guess you say.
I love the song “Crows”- did you feel like it was a great stand-alone song- were there reasons why you didn’t want to put it on a record?
Cruz: Who knows? Looking back I don’t even remember. It seemed like it didn’t really fit anywhere but it was too good to just let go, so yeah, that song is kinda like a sad pretty little island.
You’ve got an exhibit coming up in October that will showcase your art and your new children’s book. Is the process of creating a new exhibit the same for you as say, planning an upcoming tour? What can we look forward to at the exhibit?
Cruz: Luckily I have help from some really great people. I’ll be painting up until the last minute so any and all help is greatly needed and appreciated. Along with the illustrations from the book I will also have on display a series of new oil paintings.
Steve Caballero is also part of the exhibit, was it a natural process working together with Steve on this? How did this come together?
Cruz: Steve is a blossoming artist and a great human being. I guess I just got extremely lucky on this one.
Strung Out have a North American tour coming up with The Casualties. How’s life on the road these days, are you guys all still enjoying being on the road?
Cruz: Ask me that on the last week of the tour and you’ll get a different answer than now.
I got to see you guys twice the last couple of times you were down in Australia; will we see you here sometime next year?
Cruz: Yes, I believe something big is in the works for Spring.
Do you have a road map for the next few years or are you happy with playing things as they come?
Cruz: It’s more a map of the ocean and I am chained to the wheel.
Jason Cruz’s Fine Art Exhibition and children’s book launch takes place Friday, October 25th, 2019 at the Copro Nason Gallery in Los Angeles. Tickets can be booked here. More information can be found on Jason Cruz’s official website. Strung Out’s new album, Songs of Armor and Devotion, is out now on Fat Wreck Chords.
All Work and All Play: An interview with The Drowns
The Drowns prove that having the right work ethic goes a long way
It’s been a busy year for Seattle punks The Drowns. The band, whose individual histories stretch back some 20 years, are a rough and tumble blend of street punk bravado and positive attitude that found its footing with their 2018 debut album View From the Bottom. With tours, festivals, and new music already checked off in 2019, The Drowns put the “work” in working class rock n’ roll with no rest in sight. Fresh off the release of a new 7″ titled The Sound, the band are prepping for their first ever Japanese tour in October and are working on their new full-length album due in the near future.
On top of the globe trotting, the band will take part in this year’s Rock The Ship Festival, their label’s annual punk rock escapade on the high seas, anchoring a lineup that includes noted bands like Cock Sparrer, CJ Ramone, and Subhumans. We spoke to vocalist Aaron Rev about the new 7″, the terrific street punk anthem “The Bricks of Ol’ Rainier”, and what they’re looking forward to next to cap off an already packed 2019.
I really enjoyed the new 7”- how has the reception been, and how are you guys feeling about these new songs?
Rev: Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. So far, so good. The reception has been incredible. And we love the new songs. We just got back from a month and a half tour, and the new jams went over great.
It sounds like the band is very in tune right now and that things have continued to go strong since the debut album?
Rev: Totally. We also have a pretty intense work ethic, so right when we are finished with something we are already working on what’s next. Just keeping the ball rolling.
The songs on the new 7” SOUND amazing- where did you guys record and produce the record?
Rev: We working with our brother Jesse O’Donnell from the band Noi!se at his studio the Autopsy Room in beautiful Tacoma WA. Working with Jesse was great. He’s a great guy, and a great engineer. He’s really got an ear for this type of music, and he pours his heart in to it.
What’s the story behind “The Bricks of Ol’ Rainier”?
Rev: I live in the south end of Seattle. Years ago I moved to a neighborhood called Georgetown. It was incredible. Tons of artists living in a kind of shitty area, just for cheap rent so they could keep creating. When I’d first moved there, it really was one of the greatest points in my life. I was surrounded by incredible people who inspired me to create. But, we all started to see the gentrification coming, because nothing that great could last forever. The Georgetown neighborhood has a huge building in the middle of it called Rainier Cold Storage, where they used to make and store Rainier Beer. They ended up tearing part of the building down, and for me that symbolized the beginning of the end of what we had. When they were tearing it down, I broke in at night and stole some bricks for the old building, and when I have them around, they serve as reminders to carry the spirit of what we once had along with me wherever I go.
You’ve been playing a bunch of shows over the last few months- how have they been? How are these new songs translating to the live setting?
Rev: The shows have been CRAZY! We’ve gotten tons of support and a great reception to all of the new material. It was a killer tour.
For those who may not be familiar yet, share with us a little history of the Drowns.
Rev: We were all friends in different bands, and we’ve all been in the game for 15-20 years a piece. Our respective bands started to slow down, so we all decided to start a project together. Also, not many bands we knew of were playing the style we wanted to play. So we got together, started writing, and just haven’t stopped.
Are you guys splitting time between Seattle and LA?
Rev: Our drummer Jake lives in LA so we just fly him back and fourth to accommodate, and we head down there. With the internet, it’s surprisingly easy to keep a long distance band going these days.
Speaking of Seattle, I saw on your Twitter that some of you were at a Sounders game- is soccer the sport of choice for The Drowns?
Rev: Totally. Huge soccer fans. MLS and Premier League. Some of us are big hockey fans too.
It’s funny because I felt that “The Bricks of Ol’ Rainier” has that stadium anthem feel to it (at least in my head), that its a great song for thousands of people to sing together.
Rev: Hell ya. I’ve worked with the Sounders in the past with my old band. I’d live to have The Downs work with them. It’d be a perfect fit.
Pirates Press has been releasing some great music this year; you guys are in great company. What were some of the reasons for choosing Pirates Press as the new home for your music?
Rev: First and foremost, they are incredible people over there. You be hard pressed to find any other label active right now that gives a shit as much as they do. They are hands on, they are passionate, and they care about the bands, and the music, and the fans. They are truly a great example of how a label should be run.
You were at Punk Rock Bowling this year- how was it? It’s such a massive looking festival from the outside- Did you guys have fun?
Rev: It was KILLER! The lineup this year was insane. The setup of the festival this year was perfect. And, we were crazy surprised when we started playing at 3:30pm and right after we hit that opening chord and turned around, there was a sea of people! We felt so humbled by how many people cane to see us. It was insane.
Are there already plans for a new full-length to follow View From the Bottom? What are the plans for the rest of the year?
Rev: We are definitely always working. So you can bet that you’ll hear about new material soon. But for now, we are going to hit Europe and Japan later this year. And keep on moving.