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Perfect 10: An interview with Jeff Whalen

We spoke to Jeff Whalen about the new album, the difference between writing solo and writing for Tsar, his “perfect 10” records, working with producers like Rob Cavallo and Linus of Hollywood, and how he got into this crazy thing called “rock n’ roll”.



Los Angeles. Home to the Sunset Strip and to America’s rock n’ roll dreams past and present. Los Angeles is also home to Jeff Whalen, lead singer of rock band Tsar and now, solo artist and new power-pop hero. He is no stranger to the great heights of rock n’ roll. With Tsar, he released two albums on Hollywood Records and toured with the likes of Social Distortion, Eve 6, the New York Dolls, and Juliette and the Licks. He’s lived those rock n’ roll dreams.

Whalen recently released his new solo album, Ten More Rock Super Hits; ten fantastic power-pop songs that traverse the rock n’ roll spectrum, demanding repeated listens. On the back of its release, we spoke to him about the new album and how his approach to writing for it. Whalen touches on the difference between writing solo and writing for Tsar, his “perfect 10” records, working with producers like Rob Cavallo and Linus of Hollywood, and how he got into this crazy thing called “rock n’ roll”.

Congrats on the release- how does it feel now that the album is out and available to the public?

Thanks! It’s super-great to get it out there. Releasing a record is definitely an unusual feeling—you have such hopes and dreams put into it, yet so much of what happens to it is out of your control.

Records are like kids or whatever, you know? They are who they are. You try to raise them right, give them the tools they need to give them the best chance to succeed out there in the crazy old world. But you can’t control who they are or what happens to them. And I think, like a lot of parents, especially back in the major label days, I think we put a lot of our own hopes and dreams and sense of identity into what happens to them, kinda living through them. Which isn’t really fair, probably.

Now, with this record, I don’t really have any expectations—I just want the record to be happy. I want it to do whatever it wants to do and feel confident and happy being what it is.

Jeff Whalen

Ten More Rock Super Hits

“a compelling mix of rock n’ roll and power pop coated with the mesmerising appeal of 60’s beat.”

I love the variety of styles you’ve got on Ten More Rock Super Hits, from glam, to pop rock, to power pop, to rock n’ roll. How did you approach the songwriting to the album?

Well, on some level, the record is like a K-Tel record, kinda, so the moving around, style to style, is part of it, maybe? I hope there’s a consistency to the proceedings, so that it all feels of a piece, or whatever, but it definitely moves around.

Some of the songs fall into a “type” kind of thing, which was fun to do. I’d never intentionally done that before. Like “Shanghai Surprise”—it’s one of those old-timey kind of songs from vaudeville times or whenever that bands back in the day used to put on records. The Beatles, Monkees, 1910 Fruitgum Company. As I was getting ready to start recording this record, I happened to have a couple albums in rotation that had that kind of song on it. The Crazy Horses album by the Osmonds was one. Great album, by the way. The old-timey one on that record isn’t super-duper old-timey, but it’s super McCartney-y, and old-timey in that way. Cool song. Anyway, it seemed to me when an album has one of those old-timey songs on it, it kind of subconsciously signals what kind of aspirations the album as a whole has. Kinda classes up the joint.

But mostly, I just wanted to have a good time writing without worrying too much about how it all fit together.

How did it differ to when you were writing songs for Tsar, was there a little more freedom with this being a solo record?

Songwriting is fucking weird. There are times when it seems so easy, that anything could be a song. That’s where you wanna be. Like, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” for example, was on the radio the other day and I was thinking, that guy—whoever wrote that song—that guy was in the fucking zone, you know? The confidence is amazing, effortless. You can feel it. It’s like he’s saying “Watch this! I can do fucking anything right now! Watch! All the cops in the donut shops say way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, walk like an Egyptian. See?” Amazing.

And there are definitely, definitely, definitely other times when it seems impossible. It feels like a weird dream, another life, when you were able to write a song. And you have to work through that. You have to just plow. Take every hard-fought minor victory and keep working.

This not being a Tsar record, I felt I could take some different approaches in order to get where I needed to be. There was a certain part of me that wanted the whole record to be by a character, some kind of alter ego. So I started writing from the point of view of a made-up actor who had, in my fantasy, made a record that had been a surprise commercial and critical hit—kind of a Rick Springfield or David Essex kind of guy—and now he has to make his follow-up record and he’s super-jaded and freaking out. He wants to be arty and a real rocker, but he’s worried he’s a fraud and he’s just oh so tired. “Soylent Blue,” “Ground Game for Worm,” “The Eye of the Spider”—those ones came from that idea.

On some level, I enjoyed not having to worry about the new songs fitting into a Tsar context or whatever. I mean, I think they’re in the same rock and roll multiverse as Tsar, but not precisely Tsar, somehow.

Of all the music I’ve listened to in the past few months, “The Alien Lanes” is the one that sticks in my head more than any other. I just find myself singing that fantastic chorus/hook. What’s the story behind “The Alien Lanes”?

Why, thank you! The song’s about a girl who kind of goes crazy listening to music in her room. There’s a madness there, for sure, but a freedom, too, in rock and roll obsession.

And that awesome video, how did that come about?

Thanks again! Yeah, I dunno! Who knows these things? I was at the library and I was flipping through a book and a piece of paper fell out and it said, “The action of God is now flowing through you in a pattern of success.” And I thought, well of course it is! Who can argue with that?

I met with Thad Bridwell and Dan Cleary, these video director friends of mine, and we talked about The Secret and positive thinking and affirmations and slogans and creativity and fear and whatnot and it kind of went from there.

It was really fun to make, at least from my perspective. I mean, the band and I just danced around in front of a green screen for a while. I put on a fake mustache and typed on a typewriter. The directors, especially Thad, put in who knows how many hours creating everything you see. Of the handful of videos I’ve been in, it’s definitely my favorite.

Watch the video for “The Alien Lanes”:

It’s my favorite song on the record. Do you have a favorite?

Ah, I dunno if I can say! I don’t want to make any of the other songs jealous! It’s a bit weird, but the songs on the record that I find myself listening to the most often are ones that came out different than I had expected them to, like “10 More Rock Super Hits.” I had crazy, crazy demo-itis with that one. I felt so connected to the demo, but felt almost like the album version was by someone else somehow? Totally weird. So I find myself listening to that one a lot. It remains a mystery to me, almost like I’m listening to a cover of the song.

You’ve worked with big name producers like Rob Cavallo, and now with Linus of Hollywood. What was it like working with them and what were some of the things that differed between the two?

Those two guys are very different from each other. Though one characteristic they share is a near-virtuoso level of musicianship.

Rob told me about being a teenager and recording demos where he played all the instruments—drums, everything—at 15 or something. He said he had been playing a cassette demo for his dad, who at the time was Prince’s manager, and had left the tape in the car stereo. Later, Prince got in the car and turned on the stereo, and there was Rob’s demo. And Prince turned it up and was digging it, saying something like, man, your kid’s got chops, or something. That’s gonna be something you remember, you know, Prince digging your demo when you’re 15. As a point of comparison, that never happened to me.

Linus told me about learning to play guitar in his room, copying guitar parts from records. He learned the guitar intro part to “Welcome to the Jungle” so that he could play it and make it sound perfect without using a delay pedal, which is of course insane, since the delay pedal is how the riff works. As a point of comparison, I danced around with a tennis racket, lip synching Shaun Cassidy’s version of “Do You Believe in Magic?” well into my 20s. Actually did that a couple weeks ago, in real life, by the way.

So they both bring a humbling, and freeing, command of the music-making process. They both always have ideas for what notes to hit for harmonies, what the piano should be doing, a million other things. They both say things like “OK, good, this time, though, on that G, add the 9th diminished with the minor augmented” or whatever. And then I stare blankly. And then they sigh and say, “put your pinky on the third fret,” or whatever.

They both—and I mean this in a good way—strived to focus me toward the middle. I tend to want to subvert expectations maybe too much, and I kind of rely on a relationship with the producer where I’m free to try to do the weirdest stuff possible and their job is to keep me focused on the strongest elements of the song. This only works with someone I respect a great deal, and I do respect those guys a great, great deal.

So, all that said, Rob and Linus are very different people. Rob is coming from a record executive point of view and regardless of how much you connect, you will not be his friend. He is other. He is business. Not that that is totally a bad thing all the way through, but it’s a particular kind of relationship. It’s built on a distance between the roles. I don’t know if this is the experience every band has with him, but I bet it’s the default.

With Linus, on the other hand, we became friends through the recording experience. Lots of running jokes, lots of drinking coffee and eating candy and talking about the Zombies and rock and life. I only knew him a little before we started the record and by the end I felt I had made friends with a truly good, truly funny, truly interesting person. I’m very much looking forward to making another record with him.

In a previous interview, you talked about the strict upbringing you had with your family. How did you get into rock n’ roll?

Yeah, we had a born-again Christian thing going on. That shit’s brutal. As I got into my teens, I definitely traded religion for rock. I’m sure that’s not uncommon—a young person, pummeled with religion from an early age, losing their faith and putting their focus in art instead. For as often as I think I think it happens, you really don’t see the concept tackled too much in books and movies and whatever. The best thing I’ve seen on it is this autobiographical graphic novel called Blankets by a guy named Craig Thompson. When I read it, I recognized so much of what the author went through as a kid and young person—family, church, youth groups, rock and roll, art—that it kinda whomped me emotionally.

So yeah, I traded the one for the other, though I probably didn’t see it that way at the time. I probably didn’t think at the time that I was into Motley Crue because of the satanism and pentagrams and whatever. I probably thought it was because of their songs, their look. OK, and their codpieces, maybe. Codpieces, you know, can be very persuasive to a 13-year-old boy.

It was a slow process, Christianity to rock. Getting heavy into the Beatles in high school was helpful in enabling the process, since being a Beatles fan is a bit of a religion itself.

If you had to list 4 records you can say are perfect 10s, what would they be?

Great question! OK, I’m gonna skip all the Beatles and Bowie and all that, because, you know, there’s probably not a lot of surprises there, and who wants to hear somebody talk about Hunky Dory? I’m also gonna skip one of my favorites, Million Seller by the Pooh Sticks, which was a heavy inspiration for this album, but I feel like I’ve been talking about it in every interview. So, OK, in no particular order:

Olivia Tremor Control – Dusk at Cubist Castle

I had a fairly hipster roommate back in the day who had this record and I liked it a lot. Over time, it has quietly hung in there for me. I almost never go through a period where I’m down on it. It’s a ‘90s lo-fi record of super-melodic ‘60s-ish psychedelic pop, but even as I say that, I feel like that really doesn’t give it enough credit. It was supposedly recorded, at least in part, on a cassette 4-track recorder, though it sounds full and complete to me. It’s a triumph of style and hipness and coolness, but it totally delivers the goods on the pop side, too. And it has this really enduring charm of a band trying to do all the Beatles or whoever harmonies on a cassette 4-track. Great record.

1910 Fruitgum Company – Goody Goody Gumdrops

This is probably my favorite bubblegum record, though the record by The Fun and Games is amazing, too, kind of like if the Zombies or the Association were a bubblegum band. But, yeah, Goody Goody Gumdrops. Great fucking record. Most bubblegum records only have the one or two or three good songs—and then the rest is some terrible blues or something they threw on there as filler, clearly played by some different band, different singer, totally different sound. But this record is solid bubblegum all the way through. Super chewy. In the getting-signed days, Tsar used to cover the title track—it’d been covered by both the Pooh Sticks and Teenage Fanclub, so that seemed like a good idea.

Ugly Kid Joe – America’s Least Wanted

This album never got its due. You know how when some military pilot guy is talking about seeing a UFO and he says that the thing moved this way and that way and changed directions and had incredible bursts of acceleration and then stopped impossibly fast? And its purpose and nature cannot be determined? That’s what this record is like. I mean, it’s an insane record. It’s all pretty catchy, some of it really catchy, but mostly what sticks with me is the attitude. In some moments, it’s clear that this is satire, joyful and funny, almost Spinal Tap-y in its take down of heavy metal. Other times, it seems just as clear that they mean the banality of it all completely sincerely. He’s so nihilistic—that’s probably the clearest thing you get from the singer, that he hates everything and everybody—but then he starts talking about how we’re all the same deep down in this bizarre, trying-to-be-funky fake singalong. Bizarre. It’s kind of a snapshot of the exact moment when hair metal sincerity was wrapping up and being replaced by grunge-y irony, a kind of Gen-X distance in which nothing can be understood. It’s got that cover of “Cats in the Cradle” which defies understanding. Songs like “Busy Bee” are mysteries that cannot be solved, and then it kicks back in with this Slash-y guitar and Axl-y singing, so strange. I don’t often have this album on heavy rotation, but whenever I put it on, it’s always an interesting, enjoyable experience. There’s something to this record that literally nobody is asking, but I think it deserves some thinking about.

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

This record fills me with a kind of rock desire that few records can. Is there a better let’s-start-a-band manifesto than “Time to Pretend”? Embracing the realness of the fakeness as a glorious inevitability. I got heavy into the record and was listening to it pretty constantly for a few weeks and then one night for the first time I watched the videos for “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” and “Electric Feel” and I was gut-punched. I could barely speak the next day. When you see the dude for the first time like a minute or two into the “Kids” video—which starts by the way with that Nietzsche abyss quote misattributed to Mark Twain, brilliant somehow—and you see him standing in the bushes and he’s wearing this silver suit with silver gloves and he’s got silver paint on his eyes and he looks totally drugged up and out of it as he’s singing and the whole band is dressed like that and you go, “AHHHH! Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck!” and start laughing. Incredible. The whole record is like that for me. It’s like they started the group as a joke about rock and rock stars and rockness and then were overtaken by it and embraced it for realsies in all its radness and glory and ridiculousness.

What are your music plans for 2019?

Well, I have a couple band projects that are in the mixing stages. Hopefully they’ll be coming out later this year. And I want to start a new solo record, too. I’m kind of jazzed right now to try to get as much stuff out there as possible—it’s more fun to put stuff out. I’m also hoping to discover some new bands to like. Any ideas?

Jeff Whalen’s Ten More Rock Super Hits is out now via Supermegabot Music Concern. Pick up your copy from their website. We recommend it.


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. 

“Seconds Before they Collided” by Jason Cruz

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.

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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. 

The Drowns

The Sound 7″

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.

The Drowns’ new 7″ record The Sound is out now via Pirates Press Records. For tour dates and more information, hit up The Drowns on Facebook.

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