State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

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Q&A: THE ABSOLUTE SKY DISCUSSES THEIR SENTIMENTAL SOUND

Absolute Sky

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This is the first installment of IndieU’s column in State in the Real. IndieU, similar to State in the Real, is a company that is dedicated to connecting college students to their local music scene. With its online music magazine steaming website (www.IndieU.com) and mobile app [download on iTunes & Google Play], IndieU offers a unique and valuable music-sharing platform that connects independent artists to college students. Keep an eye out for more IndieU column posts in the future!

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This article originally appeared on IndieU’s website on October 7th:

http://www.indieu.com/article/entry/q-a-the-absolute-sky-discusses-their-sentimental-sound

 

By: Lauren Duncan and Kelly Xiang

Though founded in 2014, The Absolute Sky is a group years in the making. The friends-turned-bandmates formed from the ashes of a collection of high school projects, learning to make music together amidst weekend sleepovers and adolescent antics. Their brand of indie rock is reflective of their youthful spirit: vibrant, wild, and larger-than-life. The five-piece put out their debut album, Rurala, last March, and released their first single since the project, “August In Orange,” earlier this week. We recently caught up with their Penn State-based branch, drummer Joffrey Hoy and guitarist Jamie Lyons, discussing their mishmashed sound, the meaning behind their name, and what’s in store for the future.

How was the band first formed?

Jamie Lyons: We’ve been together since the summer of 2014, but have been kind of on and off being in bands with each other.

How would you describe your sound? Are there any artists in particular you would cite as an influence?

Lyons: Everyone asks us what our sound is all the time, but I never know the answer. I’ve been told we sound like Cage the Elephant, The Who and The Cavemen. Kind of like a ’90s sound. We try and make big, nostalgic music. We’re inspired by Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and Kurt Vile kind of sounds.

Joffrey Hoy: In the simplest form, it’s rock music. We all like different music, so we try and combine those sounds.

What’s the significance behind your band name?

Lyons: Basically, the whole concept is that our singer [name] wanted to created a collective group where all of his friends could work together. He saw a picture of this guy with Absolut Vodka, and the word Absolut kind of stuck, and then the sky is obviously a huge kind of collective thing so it worked. He’d be able to explain it better, but that’s the main idea. Our original idea was Headshots for Happiness.

Hoy: We’ve had so many band names in the past, The Stowaways turned into Basement Culture and then we’ve had a few other collaborative things like Jesus on Rollerblades.

What were you listening to while making your past release?

Lyons: I was definitely listening to Radiohead at the time we made our new single. We were listening to nostalgic music. Atmospheric, intimate, melancholy music.

Hoy: We recorded this at Temple University’s recording studio, and in my garage I have a little loft area where we can record a lot of this stuff. We have a friend in another band called Reflexes, and he also helps record and produce a lot of our work.

You’re both seniors. Is there anything that you would want your freshman selves to know?

Hoy: I would tell myself to take a year off, save some money and think about a few things before rushing into college and switching my major around. I felt a lot of pressure trying to continue in a straight line.

Lyons: Think about what you want to do more, and try not to worry so much.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Lyons: For our next release, our writing process has been kind of scattered just because of school. We want to add more sound and make it bigger. We’re thinking of maybe brass or strings. We want it to be full.

Hoy: Our lead singer, Branden, has a few notebooks just full of future songs and ideas and lyrics. We’re working on a lot right now.

Lyons: As far as inspiration, our lead singer wrote some of the new stuff while he was going through some intense personal things, so the tone may be a little different than in the past. A lot of the music we’re making for it has been written over the last few years, so it varies.

Hoy: We’re planning on having another album coming out within the next year.

Anything else?

Lyons: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and do what you love. Support indie music.

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State In The Real Interviews Silverstein Guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau

silverstein

silverstein

 

State In The Real got the chance to talk to Paul Marc Rousseau, lead guitarist of the band Silverstein. The band is currently on their Discovering The Waterfront 10 Year Anniversary Tour, which is celebrating the band’s successful album Discovering The Waterfront. The Paul Marc is younger than the rest of the band, and joined the band a number of years after the album was released, he still have a very interesting perspective on it. He came from the band’s hometown, and being a fan since the band started, he attended the CD release show for Discovering The Waterfront. A few years later, he joined the band’s road crew as a guitar tech, and eventually joined the band as their guitar player. We talked with Paul about making his place in the band, his opinion on the album, the band’s legacy, and much more.

 

I’m here with Paul from Silverstein. How’s it going man?

Good man, how are you doing?

 

Pretty good. To start, you guys have a new album coming out called I Am Alive In Everything I Touch. Do you want to explain the title for the new album?

Yeah sure. We’ve got our new album I Am Alive In Everything I Touch coming out May 19th on Rise Records. The title is something we’ve toyed with for a long time because you want to name the record something good. It’s actually a quote from a Timothy Findley book, who’s a Canadian author, and I’m pretty sure a native of Toronto, which is pretty important to us because we’re all Toronto guys. It helps out with the concept, which I don’t want to get too much into, because we want people to explore that and connect with it in their own way. But it’s the idea of having a legacy through everything you’ve influenced and everything that you’ve been a part of, living on past your own human mortality. It’s something that’s a cool version of the afterlife that we think is lesser talked about and more important, even.

 

That’s definitely an interesting concept. So you personally have a very unique perspective on the band because you joined the band, which was already an established, veteran band in the scene. They already had a number of successful albums under their belt. So how have you tried to make your place in Silverstein on the last few albums, coming into a band that was so established?

Yeah it was interesting for me. I had been around Silverstein for a while. As soon as I got out of high school, I didn’t necessarily want to go to college right away, and they gave me a job touring with them. That was in 2008. I’ve been around ever since, so I’ve been a part of the family, I guess you could say. So when they needed a guitar player and they asked me I was like, “Yeah, of course.” They were re already my best friends, and I had already toured with them. It was cool because right away, they gave me the keys to the place and said “If you have any ideas you want to write, go for it. If you don’t feel comfortable, that’s totally cool too.”  I did feel comfortable, and I thought that, because I had seen them for so long and been a fan of the band, because we’re from the same hometown and they’re hometown heroes, moving forward and working for them and hearing all these songs, that by the time it was my turn to step up and write a song, I felt that I had a sort of unique perspective from outside to inside of what I thought was never tried that would do well with their sound, or things that had maybe been hitting too hard. It was really cool that they let me bring things to do the table. This Is How The Wind Shifts was received critically really positively, which was a huge relief because I was terrified for the month before that record came out. I was like, “Fuck, did I just ruin the best band from Burlington? What did I just do?”

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So now you guys are on the Discovering The Waterfront 10 Year Anniversary Tour. I read that you were a fan of the band back in the day and that you saw them perform the album right after it came out when you were 15 or 16. What did that album mean to you back in the day, since that was such a huge album in that scene, and a number of kids that age enjoyed it or were impacted by it?

So I’m 25 now, and that record came out when I was 15. I remember that they did a CD release show, back when a CD release show was a thing that every band did, at the local YCMA in the big gym, 1000 people in our small hometown. I was at that show, I remember. I don’t tell everybody this, but I wasn’t really a fan of that record when it first came out. I just sort of felt like they had just gotten too big, since they started as a local scene band, and this record was enormous and I couldn’t believe how big it was. I was young and I was like, “They sold out. Forget this.” But I quickly came around on it and it’s obviously such an influential record. It carried our local scene, which is a really important thing to me. I think it inspired a lot of people moving forward in different parts of the world. So to be a part of this tour now, as a fan of the record, to play these songs for people who are also fans of the record, I feel like I’ve got an even deeper connection for the fans at this point, because I went through what they’re going through- I get it.

 

First of all, your original feelings about the album are really funny. Second, that’s something I was going to touch on- how is it performing these songs? You were a fan, and now you’re performing the songs to fans that this may have meant a lot to. Or maybe they didn’t like it at first, and then became fans of it. But that’s certainly an interesting role to have.

Yeah, I mean we’ve got meet and greet packages on this tour, which we’re really happy to do. We love talking to and meeting fans, especially in this context, to see just what made them love this record so much. And nobody has ever told me that they hated this record and then loved it, so maybe I’m the only person in the world. It’s possible.

 

The tour is about looking back at the past 10 years and how the album and the band have had an impact on fans and the scene. What is your personal opinion on the band’s impact on the scene, since first you were a fan, then a crew member, and now a band member. It may be a little biased since you’re in the band, but you also have the perspective of watching the band from the outside for years. So what is the impact that you think the band has had, and will continue to have on this music scene?

That’s a good question. To me, the impact, without making too grand of a statement, the impact is almost immeasurable. I know that Silverstein wasn’t necessarily the first band to do this type of music, but they certainly were the “crest of the wave” with a couple other bands. Victory had a lot to do with that style coming up over a decade ago. But, we’ve definitely toured with so many bands, even in my short time touring with them since 2008. I mean that’s not that long, but I remember we had tours where A Day to Remember opened the tour, and then one where The Devil Wears Prada opened the tour, and Pierce the Veil opened a tour. These bands are enormous bands now, and I feel like we helped give them one of their first tours. Even that right there is kind of a crazy thing. I don’t know, it’s neat.

 Silverstein DTWF

And especially since you were saying that you guys may have not been the first to do this, but the band itself has been one of the longest lasting bands in the scene. A number of bands that were doing this back in the day have broken up, or took some time off and are now back together. But Silverstein has been pretty consistent over the years, which is pretty crazy.

Yeah, like clockwork Silverstein puts out a new record every two years. We basically do 6 months off to record, then tour for 18 months. I’ve only been doing that for 3 years now with being a part of the whole process. It’s exhausting. I’m just really proud of my friends. It’s an incredible thing to be doing this for so long because it’s not an easy life and you’ve got to work so hard at every turn just to keep yourself relevant in the scene, and just to keep yourself on tour. It’s an expensive and exhausting life.

 

Something else that you mentioned I wanted to touch on. A number of the bands that you’re bringing on this tour are younger, or at least not as well known. Is that something that the band likes to do? Do you like to bring younger bands on the tour and either help get them more well known, see what they’ve got, or try and teach them anything, or does it just happen that way?

We definitely hand pick all of our support on every headlining tour. That’s something we care a lot about. So it’s a lot of things- you hear good things about the people. You’re going to spend 40 days or 45 days with them. You want to spend those 45 days with people that you get along with, and you want to believe in the band. Especially on this tour, as it’s so heavily rooted in nostalgia, but we’re also looking ahead to the future because we’ve got this new record coming out. So we don’t want to just pick a bunch of bands for the tour that were popular 10 years ago and that’s it. We’re moving forward so we’ll give you a taste of the old stuff through the whole record, but let’s not forget about the future, you know?

 

Is there anything else you want to say?

Nope. It’s been a pleasure, thanks.

 

Catch Silverstein on their Discovering The Waterfront 10 Year Anniversary Tour, pick up their album I Am Alive in Everything I Touch, out May 19th on Rise Records, and check out their new single below! 

Kid Ink Interview

Kid+Ink

Kid+Ink

 

Los Angeles rapper, Kid Ink dropped by Penn State a few weeks ago, and State In the Real got to take a few moments and pick the brain of raps hottest stars at the moment. I got to sit down with Kid Ink and talk about his musical influences, being named XXL’s freshman class of 2012, being put in the same category as Iggy Azalea and Macklemore. Check out the interview below, and also pick up your copy of Kid Ink’s new album Full Speed, in store and online today, February 2.

 

 

LIGHTS talks about her new album, Little Machines, and rediscovering her passion for life

Earlier this week, we got the chance to talk with Canadian musician Lights. The electro-pop artist just released her third album, Little Machines, on September 23rd in the US on Warner Bros. Records. A lot has changed in the last three years since she released her synthpop meets dubstep sophomore effort Siberia, which includes struggling with writer’s block, getting married, and having a daughter. We talked with Lights about some of these changes, the themes and inspiration behind the new album, her new life as a mother, and rediscovering her passion for music and life.

The new album is called Little Machines, and this album title is obviously a reference to the line in your song “Running With The Boys,” where you refer to you and your friends in your childhood as “wicked little machines.” Some of the songs on your album are about your youth, so was the title of the album meant to be nostalgic and looking back at your childhood?
Yeah, it totally was, and it’s cool that you picked up on that. I think one of the things that really inspired the creation of the album was looking back to that era of life when things were easy and things were fun and you had so much imagination and energy and we were like endless sources of fun, endless sources of energy. “Running With The Boys” is kind of a perfect example of that. It’s one of the songs that I wrote specifically about that kind of inspiration for the record. A couple of other songs were “Child,” which is one of the bonus tracks on the record, and “Slow Down.” There’s a few that are just kind of about that feeling. I think I was very frustrated with how much I knew about the industry, and you know you get bogged down by numbers and expectations and pressures that you kind of apply to yourself, and I just had to go back to the days when I was just starting to do music and I really enjoyed it and I was wasting nights with friends. Sometimes you just forget about that as time goes on, and it just happened to be a really nice place to be when I was writing, and “Running With The Boys” is about that. And Little Machines is my reference to being a little kid again, and also a reference to all the little synths we used on the record. We used so many cool little synths and it created this really cool vibe. So yeah, there’s a couple of layers to the name.

So talking about inspiration, and looking back to your childhood and before where you’re at now, with Little Machines I think you had a little bit of trouble writing the album. I read there was some writer’s block and some frustration. What was going on, and what did you do to combat it?
Well I knew that I needed to free myself up creatively because I was just at the point where I didn’t know what to write about and I didn’t know how to “one up” myself. You want to “one up” yourself on every record, but the question is how? Where do you start? And I think that as I thought about that more and more, and as the fans were asking more and more for new music, this and that started to pile and it just “WOAH”- I couldn’t do it anymore. I had no idea where to start and everything sounded bad. I listened to the radio and everything sounded bad. I listened to songs I had on my iPod and I just wasn’t inspired by anything, so I just took a step back from listening to music, and just focused on creativity in different ways. Creativity is such a human outlet. It’s so important for everybody. Everybody’s got something creative that they do, and it’s healthy because if you don’t creatively vent and you just build up and that is how I believe writer’s block happens.

So I was doing poetry and I was painting, and listening to music in interesting ways- going for a walk and listening to an entire Neil Young record front to back. Then I started really zeroing in on not just the discography, but the lives of some of the revered songwriters that I really respect- especially women. Patti Smith’s life and Kate Bush and Bjork and how their trajectories went with their lives and where they ended up, what made them tick and what moved them through the tough spots. I started reading Just Kids and Woolgathering, the Patti Smith poetry, and then diving into their bodies of work and seeing it from a new angle. I think that’s just what it really took- understanding music in a new way, because what I had known about it up until that point was old. It just got old. It proved to be really fun and exciting and it was a bit of an adventure. I ended up discovering a new passion for music and now that the record is said and done, I feel like I’m a new artist again, but with the experience of having three records out. It’s pretty nice.

And it comes back full circle. It goes back to the idea of being a child and rediscovering things and everything’s new.
Totally! It’s all new. I remember when I was a kid I had this little studio set up in our attic. I lived in the attic of our house, and I had a Van Gogh painting hanging up over it. It was called Starry Night Studios, obviously named after the painting, and I would just spend countless hours in there. I had this little 8-track, a little piano, and a guitar, and a drum machine, and I had so much fun. From age 13, every night was an experience and I was like a wizard and I was making magical music and I had to go back to that feeling, because that’s when you know you’re making something good.

Again going back to inspiration, when you were writing for Siberia, I saw that you travelled to an isolated, frozen location in Ontario for a few days. Then, when you were writing for Little Machines, you travelled to an Earthship, which was also isolated, except for the small community that was there. What is it about being in these isolated, extreme locations that helps you with your writing?
I think it’s the fact that you are somewhere and time is ticking and you have to focus. It’s the same reason you go to the gym. You can do your work out at home, but you’re more focused if you’re in a place, doing it specifically for that reason. So that’s one of the reasons I like to take a getaway like that. In the same breadth, it’s so important to get a change of scenery. Creatively, to be inspired by what’s around you is so important. With this record I went out to the Earthship community in New Mexico, and it was awesome. I was experiencing things I had never experienced before. You kind of sit in a new place and you’re inspired by new things. It was such a nice contrast from sitting in my little dark studio room in the back of my apartment, trying to be creative and write something you think is going to change the world, but you’re sitting in your room at home. Whereas if you’re taking a big adventure, everything seems so much more grandiose. So that’s a part of it for sure- just getting the change of vibe.

It sounds like it’s all about the adventures with you.
For sure! It’s all about adventure. Even when I’m gaming, I’m into the questing games and role playing games. That’s what it’s all about.

The vibe I get from Siberia is that it’s a colder album. Not unfriendly, but it feels colder. The album title is Siberia, the album cover is gray and black, a lot of the songs are really gritty. Then, with Little Machines, the songs are a little bit poppier, some of the songs are about happier childhood memories, the album cover is bright colors. Do you think writing in these remote locations- a frozen place for Siberia and the desert for Little Machines- had an impact on that? Was this intentional?
That’s a good question. I hadn’t really looked back on it as a whole like that but I think you’re right. I think what you’re feeling emotionally when you’re writing something, and your intentions creatively when you’re putting energy into an album, maybe is the reason that you choose the locations that you choose. I think for me with Siberia it was…the important aspect of that record for me was pushing the boundaries sonicly and making something that was gritty and dangerous, that felt risky. That’s what it’s all about. So of course you’re going to put that in a little bit when you find that special location to record. I remember driving five hours out of Toronto in a blizzard. Maybe that’s sort of just an echo of what you’re putting into the record.

With this one, the three years leading up to the creation of this record were basically just me rediscovering my passion for life and my purpose and rediscovering a mantra for life, which ultimately ended up being that you’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve gotta love the moment you’re in. You have to take time every few hours and just level because life is going by so fast and it was scaring me. A song like “Slow Down” is about that. It was like “Woah, where is this all going? How can I just sit down and just enjoy this?”

So I wanted to create this really “feel good” record, and in the same breadth I was discovering how to preserve the environment and really cool green solutions, and one of them was the Earthship. My dad is an architect and my mom is sort-of a hippie. You put both of those together and you get an Earthship, which is an off the grid, carbon zero home, but apparently with all the comforts of any other home, so I wanted to go experience that. And it was very comfortable. It was super comfortable! But you know at the same time that you’re not leaving any kind of carbon footprint, and it’s this really cool feeling, and it’s all about that. So I feel like as a whole, where you are in your life, if you’re doing the right things it’s all going to line up and make sense. It’s less intentional and it’s more like the stars are aligning, and you’re doing the right thing. So it’s pretty cool that when you look back it all makes sense.

When I listen to this album, I hear elements of The Listening a little bit, and of Siberia a little bit. But, you’re also building on that and pushing the boundaries, and it’s not boring- it’s still exciting, and you keep going further with it. Do you think that you’ve kind of found your sound and you want to keep building off of that, or do you have no idea what the future is going to hold?
I think I have no idea what the future’s going to hold, but it’s really cool that you did notice that there’s bits and pieces of both albums in this, because that’s ultimately what each record is. I think it’s a culmination of what you know from the past experiences that you know. I took what I knew from The Listening and what I think was best about The Listening and took the best of Siberia and made it Little Machines, and the next record will probably be the best of all these three. I think that’s how you know you’re garnering the best things out of your work- it’s that you made an even better project based on the last two. [I took] the focus on songwriting and the lyrics, and the energy and live dynamic, and the synth heavy bass and drums, and applied both of those things to Little Machines and then some. I don’t think it was super intentional, but it just happened naturally. You know what you know and you try to make it better and build on it.

What’s your favorite lyric from the album and why?
Hmmmmmm…I think my favorite lyric is from the song “How We Do It” at the end of the record, second to last song. “I want to be happy, I want to die in love,” and it’s the truth. That kind of culminates what I was saying- it’s all about who you’re with and enjoying the moment and being happy and dying knowing that you lived the way that you wanted to, y’know? That’s what that lines about. It’s a little sad.

No it’s positive! It’s very positive.
*laughs*

You did a collaboration with Hard Rock for Pinktober, their breast cancer awareness campaign. How did that come about?
They pretty much approached me to be the 2014 ambassador for breast cancer awareness for Pinktober, and of course it was a no brainer. Hard Rock is a super recognizable brand. It’s very well known. And when I think that a brand like that has a powerful platform and uses it for good, I think it’s like a superhero that’s using their powers for good, and I’m a strong believer in that. When you have any kind of platform, use it for good. So it was kind of a no brainer. They’re such fans of music, and such fans of working for good causes, so I really wanted to do this with them. So we got together and there’s a couple shirts that you can buy and the proceeds go to breast cancer.

We shot this campaign and I couldn’t believe the reach of the campaign. They started putting it up around the end of September all over the world and I’m getting tweets from people in Japan and Turkey and Dubai seeing this campaign and it’s so powerful and it makes me happy because I’ve seen so many, so many fans come to my shows that I’ve met with backstage before my shows or after the shows that are dealing with breast cancer in their family or in their personal lives. It’s devastating. And to see them go through that is the worst. It’s the worst thing ever. Anything any of us can do to end anyone ever having to go through that is important. It’s very important.

So being able to be on this campaign and spreading awareness to women who should really educate themselves, I mean…625 women a day are diagnosed in the US. 28,000 per year, just in the US alone, are under 25, and I think that’s something that’s overlooked a little when you’re young. You’re 20. You feel a bit immortal. I feel that sometimes. It’s very much a real danger and I think that it’s important that people know. It’s a great cause and a great thing to be a part of and I’m very fortunate.

You and your husband Beau had your daughter Rocket earlier this year. How has being a mother changed your outlook on life and do you think it has had or will have an impact on your music?
Well definitely it’s made me more chill. I think looking at what I have infront of me and every few hours just having to level and feed her or watch her- even if my day’s crazy I HAVE to level every few hours, and it reminds you that that’s so important in terms of living and enjoying life. You have to slow down. You have to chill out a little bit. I don’t know what I worried about before. There’s so many little things that I worried about that I don’t need to worry about. Now I’m realizing that because I’m only concentrating on the things that really matter. You kind of cut the crap. You don’t have time for that and the stupid stuff you used to get worried about. It’s a great feeling and it’s really chilled me out a lot. I feel less stressed, which is kind of ironic. You know, bringing a baby on tour, and it feels like it’s going to be crazy, but it’s actually been the opposite. It’s a little bit extra work but emotionally it’s the best. I’m just in a really good place, and I think that that outlook itself has influenced the music. I mean even with this new mantra I have and what this record’s about, and how I’m preaching about living in the moment and just enjoying life- I think that in part stems from that new understanding and that new passion for the people around you and dying in love, that whole idea. That’s the point of life. That has leaked its way into the music too.

I’m glad it’s all worked out for you. It sounds like an adventure and it sounds like that’s what you’re looking for.
Totally. Adventure is the best.

Thank you very much to Lights and Warner Bros. for the interview. Check out Lights on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Buy her new album Little Machines here!
Lights is currently on tour, and will be playing the following dates in our area:
10/29/2014: Irving Plaza- New York, NY
10/31/2014: The Stone Pony- Asbury Park, NJ
11/02/2014: Theatre of the Living Arts- Philadelphia, PA
For more tour dates click here.

State In The Real Interviews A Lot Like Birds

We got the chance to sit down and talk with Cory Lockwood and Kurt Travis, the two vocalists from A Lot Like Birds. Late last year, the band released their groundbreaking third album No Place, which further cemented the band’s sound and creativity. The album is a concept album where the narrator visits his abandoned childhood house. Each song takes place in a different room of the house, and explores different emotions, memories, and associations the narrator (and listeners) have with these places. It’s a dark and twisted album, and we talked with Cory and Kurt about it.

Please introduce yourselves.
Cory: I’m Cory,
Kurt: and Kurt, from A Lot Like Birds.

How’s the tour so far?
Cory: Awesome. This is our first time on Warped so it’s just an incredible experience for a band. We get to play music to a lot of people who might not have heard us otherwise.
Kurt: Yeah I agree. It’s a great opportunity for us. The crowds have been awesome. We couldn’t be happier.

How are you beating the heat?
Cory: Fortunately not the whole tour has been very hot. It’s been alternating days.
Kurt: Some days will be deceivingly hot. It’ll look like it’s not that bad. “Oh I don’t need to put sunscreen on,” but really at the end of the day you’re like “Oh my gosh.” But Texas was pretty humid. Arizona, New Mexico. I love the people, I love the people. But I don’t know how they deal with it.

So your latest album No Place came out at the end of last year. It’s a concept album and each song is essentially a different room in a house with the connotations, the emotions and the memories that are associated with those places. Who came up with that idea?
Cory: Well, we knew that we wanted to do a concept record, and I think we sat on the idea of doing it for a while, and we’d throw out ideas, like, “Let’s do space,” or “Let’s do this, or that.” And I think it just sort of came naturally to all of us that a home would be a perfect way to explore different segments of emotion. For me personally, concept records are scary, because if the concept itself doesn’t resonate with one person, then you’ve alienated an entire group of people, whereas a house, allowed us to explore a bunch of different things. Even if you don’t resonate with this song, you might with this one.
Kurt: Also, since we were constantly on the road, and very much winging it, just hoping we’d get through shit…and loved ones at home…for me at least, we were very, very not around our home base. So the concept of home was…we’re promoting this thing, we love this thing, we love this music, we love this art, but there’s a whole nother thing at home waiting. If you’re in a different city every single day, there’s not very much interaction. I’ve even heard [Cory] say because we were not at home…
Cory: No place WAS home.
Kurt: No place was home. Exactly. I couldn’t wait to get home. I love what I’m doing, but it has it’s [downsides]. It’s not candy and roses. It’s been a gruesome, life changing, mind-altering experience. Shit that I would never do, I have done because of it.

You touched upon the idea of a concept record appealing or resonating with one person. I personally, right when the first song “In Trances” started…I love that song because my grandparents used to babysit me while my parents worked, and I heard that melody every day, every hour because they had a grandfather clock. So right when I heard that song, it brought me back to my childhood, and I kind of associate the house in the album with my grandparent’s house because of that. With that song specifically, for example, were you trying to get that kind of connection, or did you really just like the melody? (note: this melody is called the Westminster Chime).
Cory: It was intentional. We didn’t write that song until we were in studio and decided that we wanted to have an entrance-
Kurt: And welcome you into the house. And once you’re in the house, you’re in the fucking [house]. And that’s why it goes *recites Westminster Chime melody*. Then in the basement, on “No Nature,” it’s diminished. *recites guitar riff from song, which is a distorted version of the melody*. It’s pretty thought out.

With the songs, a lot of them are very personal. There’s a narrator, but a lot of them are personal. Was there one person writing the lyrics to these songs, or did you guys come together and say, “This is how we feel about this room.” Or did you have conflicting views about certain rooms and how they should feel?
Cory: There are some rooms where the theme is constant throughout. Then there’s other rooms where it is sort of black and white, which I think felt extremely natural because we explored it through various situations. “Hand Over Mouth, Over and Over” it is, from his perspective, a very heartfelt, loving song, and darker on my perspective. Each room is represented in a different way. Sometimes there’s two different opinions, sometimes it’s the same one.
Kurt: “Connector” was one of those songs where we took it and was like, “Okay, this is the hallway of the house.” We’re going to start and finish in the same way, kind of like a mirror image. We definitely collaborated and came together on that song.

And what is each of your favorite song on the album?
Cory: I personally like “Recluse” a lot. We got to step out of our comfort zone a lot with it and I’m always partial to that song. I love that song so much I can’t even describe it.
Kurt: I think I know why. We got that song last, when it was mastered and mixed. I wore the fuck out of every other song, and then “Recluse” was one of those that Kris (Crummett) was holding onto, and didn’t give it to us yet. At least in my opinion, that song is amazing to me because it’s the newest. It’s refreshing, and we never play it either. It was mixed last, and it keeps its freshness.

Is that your favorite song too?
Kurt: I have a soft spot for every single song I’ve recorded in my whole life, so it’s kind of all relative. But that’s one of the favorites.

And what are your plans for after the tour?
Cory: Our guitarist is going off to write a side project (note: Michael Franzino and his project alone.), so we’re going to write on our end while he does that, and then come together and try to record the next album.

Is that going to be a different dynamic? Because Michael writes a lot of music right?
Cory: It may or may not be. Although Mikey does write a lot of the music, Joe our drummer writes as well, and he wrote some of the songs that are…I don’t want to preview or spoil anything because this may not necessarily be that accurate, but Joe wrote “Next to Ungodliness” and “Think Dirty Out Loud,” and that’s a direction we want to explore further. So I’m not saying the next thing that we write is going to sound like those two songs, but we do have that in our pocket to write with while Mikey is away.

That’s interesting because those songs were also some of the singles that you guys have had [from the past two albums]. Those were not written, or were only partially written, by Mikey?
Cory: I mean he wrote guitars for them, but the structures of the songs themselves was our drummer.
Kurt: Our drummer was like, start to finish, “Here’s a song. Guitar players: put them on.”

Is there anything else you guys want to say?
Cory: Thanks to everybody who’s come out to see us on Warped Tour so far, and who have supported us through touring out No Place. We’re excited to slowly but surely get to work on the next [album].
Kurt: Shout out to our SoCo friends: Dance Gavin Dance, Hail the Sun, Stolas, I the Mighty, My Iron Lung, Night Verses, HRVRD, all those bands. We love them to death. And we would not be where we are if it was not for those bands.

State In The Real Interviews Dan from Four Year Strong

At the Holmdel, NJ date of the Vans Warped Tour 2014, we got the chance to talk to Dan O’Connor, co-lead singer and guitarist of Four Year Strong. The band recently returned from a short hiatus. They’re back after a much needed break, with a new EP coming out on a new label. Dan talks about the time off, the new EP, and how he feels about coming back to touring after two years.

Please introduce yourself.
I’m Dan from the band Four Year Strong.

How’s the tour going so far?
The tour’s been great. All the shows have been awesome. The weather has been really good, especially for Warped Tour. It’s usually super hot. Today’s probably one of the hotter days, but it’s only like 85 so that’s okay.

The band took a little of time off. Not to get too personal, but what were you guys doing? Was it planned, or did it just happen?
It kind of just happened. We did Warped Tour 2012, and after our last record we finished our contract with our label, because we owed them two records: Enemy of the World and In Some Way, Shape or Form, and that was basically it. So we were free, and instead of signing to a new label, we were like, “Why don’t we take some time off?” We’d been touring forever. I had just gotten married recently to that, and a couple of us had bought houses, stuff like that. We kind of just wanted to take some time and kind of enjoy it for a little while. We all got dogs. We all wanted dogs but we couldn’t do that because we were touring too much. So we all got dogs. I had a kid right before this tour. You know, real life stuff. We kind of just wanted to go home and relax for a little while and get back to normal and hang out with girlfriends, wives, family and all that kind of stuff. We hadn’t seen them in forever. We just wanted to do that. There wasn’t any kind of break up or “beef in the band” or anything like that. We were just like, “You guys wanna go home?” and “Yeah sure, let’s go home.” Then pretty much around last summer, Alan and I just kind of started talking about getting together and doing some writing, and that’s basically it.

Some much needed time off. So the new EP Go Down In History is coming out in roughly two weeks. What can we expect from it?
It’s five songs- the first five songs we’ve written since our last record. It’s really cool. I think that it’s a lot more high energy than our last record. I think, especially when we were writing this, we knew we were coming on Warped Tour, and we were going to do the tour with Bayside before it. So we really wanted to write songs that were a little more-
*someone walked through the hallway and tried to get through a locked door next to us and left*
We were just looking forward to writing some live songs, and songs that kids could jump all over each other to. So that’s what it is: five fast, super riff-y songs. They’re probably the riffiest songs we’ve ever written. I don’t know why, but for some reason after taking this break- I don’t know what Alan and I were listening to- but when we got back together, everything we were writing on guitar was bonkers. We were like “How are we going to do this?”
*plays an air guitar with a lot of finger movement*
But we figured it out.

Yeah I was going to ask, was there anything you were listening to that was making the songs riff-y?
I don’t really know. I don’t think we listened to anything new during our time off. I actually listened to a lot of-
*someone else walks through the hallway and tries to get through a locked door*
Where was I?

Music you were listening to.
Oh yeah. We were kind of listening to softer stuff, and really just not intense stuff. Maybe that’s why we wrote such intense music- because we didn’t listen to any. So I came back and I was like, “Let’s write riffs!”
*another air guitar motion, this time with shredding sound effects*

Is there a little bit of anxiety about releasing the new EP, since it’s been a little while since the last album?
Not really, because the thing with our band now especially is that there really isn’t anxiety over anything, because we really don’t have any expectations over anything, because we’re-
*another person tries to get through the locked door*
We don’t really have much anxiety in the band because we’re adults now and we have things going on at home. We have to keep a balance between the band and home as it is. We’re here doing this because it’s what we love to do. We’re not treating this like, “Oh we have to do this we need money,” or “I need money,” or whatever. It’s really just down to the fact that we tour and we make music because that’s what we love to do. So there really isn’t a lot of anxiety over it right now. If kids like it, awesome. If they don’t…awesome. I don’t know what to say. *laughs*

Is there anything else you want to say?
Not too much. Just come hang out on the Warped Tour or any tours we do after that, and go pick up our new EP.

Cool, thanks Dan.
No worries, thanks.