Having recently concluded their tour with the Dismemberment Plan, Engine Down are set to begin work on their follow up to 2002’s Demure. Featuring progressive sounds that compliments indie rock roots with more novel ideas, Demure cemented the guys from Richmond, Virginia (by way of Harrisonburg) into the echelon of charismatic sounds that translates well on record, as well as on stage. Make no bones about it; their impressive resume boasts not only fine records but relentless touring and an ethic equaled by few.
Surprising listeners isn’t their only forte; they’re also in the habit of surprising those who do all the asking. Yes, as you’re about to discover, Engine Down are far from just being another touring entourage, they’re quite the savvy individuals whose tour van is probably more ‘tripped out’ than Nelly’s. And who says you can’t watch DVDs, write music, make movies and drive all at the same time?
[Interview with Jonathan Fuller and Matthew “Cornbread” Compton]
Billy: You guys recently wrapped up a tour with the Dismemberment Plan, who, evidently will ride off into the sunset soon. How was the tour?
Jonathan: The tour was amazing, we became fast friends on a tour of the West Coast with them a few months ago, so it was a lot of fun. It was also great to play the bigger venues on the east coast that we can’t quite fill yet ourselves.
Billy: Was there a slightly different feeling during the tour, maybe knowing that this was one of their last? Did you guys take this as just another tour or something with perhaps, added nostalgic appeal?
Jonathan: We’re all D-Plan fans, so watching the band play every night was definitely nostalgic, but what really affected me was thinking about how I would feel if I were in their shoes. If I knew we were playing the last shows as a band, and that the touring, rock band chapter in my life was coming to a close. I think it was pretty bittersweet for them.
Billy: I can imagine how it must feel knowing that the curtain will close soon. Is touring your favorite part of being Engine Down or do you perhaps prefer another aspect?
Matthew: I think my favorite part of Engine Down is the time that we spend on the road. I think playing live is a truer way to express ones’ music. The audience is there specifically to hear your band and to be attentive to it, unless of course you are playing the Orlando and then everyone’s main goal is to take photos at the Bar-BQ-Bar. Also, I feel like I am finding out more and more about how lots of bands might work well professionally but as friends they totally clash. For us van rides are always a party because Keeley and I usually spend half of it on the computer making funny iMovies of the night before or thinking of little interactive things to do on our website for the next tour.
Jonathan: Reading your question made me nervous that anyone else reading it would think that the curtain was closing on US. Which is actually kind of funny, because we just got a couple calls from our friends in Cursive and Minus the Bear who saw posters for the D-Plan tour that said “Dismemberment Plan and Engine Down – Farewell Tour” and assumed that we were breaking up, but nothing is farther from the truth; it’ll be a while before the sun sets on Engine Down.
Back to the question – touring is pretty amazing because the five of us (including our roadie Travis) are great friends, and we manage to have a pretty good time on the road, as well as the fact that we’re sharing our passion with people every night. That’s not to say that there’s not a downside to touring, because as we reach a more and more “professional level” there’s much more sitting around at a stinky club in the middle of the day while we wait for sound check, wait for doors to open, wait for interviewer to show up…etc. But it’s still very fun and very worth it for those times when we really connect with the crowd, and create those electric moments.
As far as picking an aspect … I don’t think I can pick apart the experience, because there are things to love and hate about every aspect. And writing wouldn’t be as rewarding if you didn’t get to tour and share it with people, and touring would be as rewarding if you hadn’t spent 3 months laboring over the new songs…the short answer to your question is… no, I love all my children just the same.
Billy: For someone living in Indonesia (me), who has not been fortunate enough to catch you live, how would you best describe an Engine Down show to them in a few words/sentences?
Jonathan: I think that we’ve been playing together for so long, that when we play live we have this non-verbal communication between us, almost like a charge of electricity, that reflects how much we love and care about what we’re doing. We definitely strive to make the live performance a notch higher than the records, energy wise. Also, you can download a live video from the front page of our website and see for yourself.
Billy: Would a trip all the way over to Indonesia seem something Engine Down would look forward to? (We just got Starbucks this year and our McDonald’s serves porridge)
Jonathan: I’d be totally stoked to come over (and I’d probably be even more stoked if you hadn’t gotten Starbucks and McDonald’s)…we’re always up for traveling to interesting places, but I guess we would have to be able to break even. Since this is our job, we can’t really afford to lose money.
Billy: What is the band currently up to now that the most recent tour is over?
Jonathan: The long answer is: When ‘Demure’ first came out, it really missed the publicity boat, so we made a conscious decision to tour the record for a long time and get people to hear the songs that way. So, after more than a year of constant touring, we are starting to write songs for our next record. We’re all very very excited about this next record, we have always tried to push our limits on each record, and this one will be no different.
Billy: Speaking of ‘Demure’, how was recording and writing that record different to the previous records you’ve written and released?
Matthew: The new approach when writing ‘Demure’ was Keeley and I going in and forming some ideas with a couple of different parts and then having Jason come in and work close with the drums and Jonathan arranging and telling us what was too loopy and what we should keep.
Jonathan: We were actually jokingly talking about this the other day, because we’ve written every record in a different space. ‘Pretense’ was written in my basement in Harrisonburg, ‘To Bury…’ was written in a band mall in Charlottesville, ‘Demure’ was written in a refinished garage in west-end Richmond, and we’ve just started writing songs for our next record in a huge, sweltering, old car-detailing shop with big, industrial looking tools around us — if we follow the analogy: ‘Pretense’ was our angry, loud, basement show-type record, ‘To Bury…’ was the record where we figured out where we fit as a band, ‘Demure’ was a bit more polished and neat, so…our next record should be huge, scary and hot.
Billy: And are you approaching the new album from perhaps, a different perspective?
Matthew: One thing that is weird about al of our albums, which I am not sure what this affects, is that they have all been written in different practice spaces. Which in my opinion seems to add to the change of the music. I don’t know there is something that no one knows. Anyway, we are going to work with the same formula but definitely have a different plan as to what sound we want to generally produce on this record.
Billy: You all have been Engine Down since 1996 – it’s been 7 years – does that ever sink in, that you’ve been able to do this for so long? Most bands today don’t last a few months; is there a secret ingredient to your longevity?
Matthew: Holy crap, 7 years!! I guess it does sort of seem like a slow build. You have to understand that our band has never been given anything and we are still working hard to get the distribution and attention that we feel we need. So I guess the secret ingredient is hard work.
Jonathan: We’re really great friends, and we really love making music. If we were doing this for any other reason, we definitely would have broken up by now, because it’s hard work. We still consider ourselves lucky that we have this opportunity. Whenever I complain to my fiancé about not having enough time at home with her, not having enough money … she humbles me really quickly by reminding me how lucky I am to be doing what I love all the time.
Billy: I think a lot of fans really appreciate the hard work; does it ever get to the point of near exhaustion? Times where you just want to go home?
Jonathan: We’ve definitely had near exhaustion, like when Cornbread got whooping cough in Japan and we thought he was going to die, and he had to take some pills that he couldn’t read or understand, or when I got the stomach flu in California and threw up ‘Stand By Me’ style in front of the line of kids waiting to get in to see us and Q And Not U, or when Keeley racked his shin so hard while playing in Salt Lake City that his whole leg was swollen for weeks afterward, or when Jason got appendicitis on the first day of a short tour and had to go to the ER for emergency surgery. But we’re figuring out how to stay healthy on tour. Mentally, there is usually a point on tour about 3/4 of the way through when I hit a wall, and just want to go home (this usually coincides with the point on tour when we’re on our way back east from the West Coast: the drives are long, and the shows are mediocre) but I always know it’s coming, and recognize it when it does, so it’s really not that bad. So for the few people that happen to have caught us on one of those nights (you know who you are, Lubbock TX, Boise ID, San Antonio TX) I apologize.
Matthew: There was a time like that, when I had a girlfriend, but now I would rather be playing out as much as possible. I love playing in front of people that have never heard us before.
Billy: That’s quite the list of tour related ailments. Do you find that after being on tour many times you develop some sort of immunity to such things?
Matthew: YES, I think I know exactly when I’m about to be sick and which OdWalla drink will help it. Really that stuff works, it says so on the label. Sleeping on any floor use to wreck me and my allergies but now I can fall asleep anywhere.
Billy: Having a wealth of tour experience, do you come to accept that often little mishaps [getting sick in Japan, throwing up in California] like these are just part of the touring?
Matthew: Of course, as dumb as it sounds usually you only get sick when you’ve been having lots of fun, like traveling non-stop, sleeping less, drinking.
Billy: Do you guys have a favorite part of America? A section of tour locations that you always say “we have to play there”. If I were ever to “tour” somewhere, I’d want to go through as many Southern and Midwestern states as I could. I’m not sure why.
Matthew: Yes, we love Gainesville because we have lots of close friends that live there. Also I think I’d add San Francisco and NYC because of the weight that those shows carry.
Jonathan: The West Coast is phenomenal … it’s like the promised land.
Billy: Are there any significant differences in regards to touring and/or releasing and writing since those earlier days?
Matthew: It was a different world. I guess some differences can be broken down to the fact that Jason used to book us, now Flower [Booking] does. If we were lost on tour, WE WERE LOST. Now we can afford cell phones and check MapQuest on a laptop in the van. A 15-passenger van with a trailer versus a piece of crap Dodge Van, which in the back seat had an uncomfortable couch and no windows or AC. Plus cell phones, we like to talk to our girlfriends and family. For recording we are able to work with a bigger budget than before which makes time in the studio a little less stressful.
Jonathan: Oh, definitely. At the beginning, it was about playing shows in whoever’s basement would have you, showing up in our old converted cargo van with a loft and no windows at 8 or 9 at night, loading down some sketchy wooden stairs after the band before you finished, and singing through one mice plugged into a combo amp. (Hopefully getting enough money to cover your gas) then staying at the house that you just played, which is trashed from the show. Now, we have a fantastic booking agent who helps us with that side of things. We are traveling more comfortably in a newer van with a trailer, playing venues with good PAs (most nights) where you can actually hear the vocals, doing a proper sound check, even staying in hotels about half of the time, and making enough money to cover expenses, and live off of (meagerly).
The way we release records has also changed in a similar way. In the beginning, it was kind of like, wow, Brian at Lovitt Records wants to put out a record for us, cool, I think we have enough songs. Record it in a couple of days, master it, release it, and see what happens. Now we write songs specifically for the next record, get more time in the studio to actually make sure the songs are represented the way we want, and actually time the release with press and publicity and touring. So sure, the way that we operate has changed a great deal, but we’re still just doing what we love.
Billy: Would you consider Engine Down to be a “tech savvy” band (or at least the members of)? I mean, when not working, on the road or performing, do you spend time with gadgets, computers and such?
Jonathan: Even on the road, we are pretty techy. In that van we have 3 laptops (one capable of wireless web in conjunction with a cell phone, so we can use the internet on the highway) 5 cell phones, 2 i-pods that we hook into the van stereo, 1 Game Boy Advanced, and an AC power adapter to plug all this crap in. Cornbread makes movies and music on his laptop in the van, Keeley works on album and website design for the band in the van, I keep track of money/business stuff on my laptop. At one point we even had a TV and an Xbox in the van, but we decided that was a little excessive (but there is something to be said for playing racing games while actually feeling the effects of the van moving and turning)
Matthew: You have no idea. There is so much I could say about his question that it’s hard to get out. Both Keeley and I graduated college with degrees in Graphic Design so we learned to get around very well on a MAC. It seems like most of my day is spent on the computer either working on design or sketching out songs with various programs. It’s pretty amazing how much more people can do now with computers than two years ago. I own both an i-pod and a digital camcorder so between the two I can always find something to do. If you want to see what I do in my free time go [here] or [here] and [here]. That should explain it.
Billy: That’s one high tech tour van. I’m afraid to ask; do all the gadgets and gizmos detract from the driving? Who drives?
Matthew: I do most of the night drives and I love to watch DVDs and make music; lots of fun when you’re trying to stay awake.
Billy: For the new record, do you guys have a producer/engineer lined up yet, maybe a location for recording?
Jonathan: We’ve been talking to Brian McTernan who did the last record, he’s a great guy, did a phenomenal job with the last record, and has lots of good insight.
Matthew: At his studio, Salad Days.
Billy: Do you have a favorite in-studio moment?
Jonathan: Generally I’m pretty stressed out in the studio, because there’s never enough time, and I’m the type of person who likes to have everything lined up perfectly before I start … so I kind of wig out. But, there’s some great footage of us cutting up in the studio at Inner Ear on the Lovitt DVD that’s coming out soon.
Matthew: I think when the phrase “Jaah” got introduced into my life. When recording with Brian McTernan he would answer us with “Jaah” and we took to it so fast. It was all we said for the next year.
Billy: Are the majority of the songs formed before entering the studio or does plenty of writing and rewriting occur during the recording process?
Jonathan: Oh yeah, typically everything is totally written and just goes to tape the way we wrote it. We usually try and play the new songs live before we record them, so they develop a little of that live energy. Sometimes we put additional stuff on songs, and that is written in the studio, but we never have the luxury of enough time in the studio to rewrite anything.
Matthew: Thinking about writing in the studio totally stresses me out. We really haven’t ever had the time to do that in the past. ‘Demure’ was done in two weeks and that is the longest we have ever had in the studio, and we were still worried about having enough time to finish it. Hopefully this time we will have more time in the studio and this will allow us to have more time to be experimental. We’ll see.
Billy: How does the design process work (whether it is album artwork, websites, promotional material) and how involved is the band with it all (seeing as Cornbread and Keeley are graphic design alums)?
Matthew: KEELEY DOES IT ALL. He does the website, artwork, merch. It’s all his. We kind of have a strict identity that we like maintain when representing our band.
Jonathan: We all have input, but it’s kind of his baby. Cornbread has designed a couple of things for Engine Down and lots of stuff for other people and bands, and his stuff is totally amazing.
Billy: Is there a tentative date for your new album and once it is released, what will you guys be up to?
Jonathan: We’re looking at recording this winter, then releasing late spring or summer 2004, once it is released we are going to tour like MAD.
Matthew: We have been working with some big rock ideas for the new album. I’m nervous with excitement to talk about it.
Billy: Finally, hypothetical situation: Engine Down adopts a little Asian kid for an entire tour and grows extremely attached. Time is now up, the tour is finished and the little kid has to go home – what piece of advice/thought/opinion do you leave him/her with?
Jonathan: I’d think I’d give him a totally lame fortune cookie tidbit like: “From listening comes wisdom and from speaking comes repentance.”
Matthew: Damn Asian kids are cute. I actually feel like I have already been in this situation. In Japan we met this kid Taka who we took with us just because we loved him SO SO much. I really want to adopt him even if he is a few years younger than me. When we left Japan it was like leaving one of your own. But I guess the advice I would leave for any other Asian baby that might adopt would be, “Don’t let the good ones go. If you’re in a relationship (as friends or whatever) with someone then don’t take it for granted. It’s hard to find other people you work well with. And, take care of your fingers. I have hit mine about 1 million times and scarred them from playing so much that I dread opening a jar of peanut butter in 10 years.
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.