Just over a year ago a countdown on this very blog declared ‘Safety’ by Football, etc. to be the 79th best emo song of all, this is something that I now regret… Because it should be much higher!!! Football, etc. are one of my favourite bands from the last few years, these indiemo heroes have a new album recorded and a UK tour booked so I thought this would be a great time to catch up with Lindsay, Mercy and Ed and fire some questions in their general direction.
Is This Thing On? - Hey!! You’ve just recorded a brand new full length, how did it go? What stage of the process are you at now?
Lindsay – We recorded it 2 weeks ago, we tracked everything in 4 and a half days and it went really well, we had a great time. Currently it’s being mixed, we’re reviewing some mixes right now and it should be mastered and sent off probably in the next month or so.
ITTO? – So, you recorded it with Ed Rose who has recorded some legendary emo bands, how did that come about? Did you seek him out? And did he have much influence on how the record sounds?
Lindsay – Some time last year our friend, his name is Andrew Mcshan and he plays in an acoustic act called Emo Side Project, he tracked a song at his studio. He lives in Kansas, quite near it and so he posted about it. I looked up Ed Rose, I actually didn’t know who he was immediately, saw what he had done, was blown away then went to his blog page and saw that 2013 is the last year that he’ll be doing records so when it came around time for us to find a studio, when we were ready to record he immediately came to mind. We contacted him, he had the time available and we went for it.
ITTO? – Is there a reason he’s stopping recording bands?
Mercy – He seemed to be just looking for a more 9 to 5 type of a job; he really wants to sell the studio that he’s at currently. I think that he just wants to move on to a job that’s a little bit more stable, I suppose, then trying to record bands all the time.
ITTO? – Empire! Empire! Are recording now with him
Mercy – Yeah in a couple of weeks
Ed – Recording with Ed Rose was my first time in an actual, professional recording studio, so I was undoubtedly nervous. He was so easy to work with and everything went so smoothly, and that made the process enjoyable for all of us. At least personally, I never felt stressed or pushing too hard to get a certain sound or certain parts absolutely perfect, so that definitely left so much room to actually enjoy the recording. The enjoyment of making a record and just having fun with all aspects of the process is probably his biggest influence.
ITTO? – Cool. Did he have any stories about when he recorded bands like Appleseed Cast/The get up kids that were pretty funny?
Lindsay – I asked him about Appleseed Cast a little bit because, you know, one day we were in the mixing room I just for some reason said “Appleseed Cast Low Level Owl Volume 1 & 2, that’s like my favourite record ever!” and he kind of chuckled. I asked, you know, how did that go? What was the deal? The only thing I remember is that he said it was recorded in 18 days which I thought was pretty cool, it was a long album
ITTO? – What both volumes recorded in 18 days?
Lindsay – Yeah
ITTO? – Wow
Lindsay – Yeah, so, that was neat. And he had good things to say about projects that he’s done and he seemed to have fun.
Mercy – Yeah, but he had some crazy stories too one was of this band that I don’t remember the name of. But it was one of those bands that were on a more major label that was kind of put together, sort of not organically. None of them really knew how to play their instruments or anything but they go in and they sign up to record with him and it’s just a total mess, the label ends up dropping the project and in exchange the band they were so angry that they stole the whole of his dvd collection that was at the studio.
ITTO? – (laughing) you didn’t do that?
Mercy – No, there was nothing left!
ITTO? – It’s been nearly 3 years since you recorded your last full length. Did you approach this record differently? Do you write songs differently now?
Lindsay – Well as far as the studio goes we wanted it to be similar as in tracking everything live other than doing vocals and a couple of extra little guitar and bass things here and there, so that process was similar. And working with Ed Rose was great. As far as writing I guess the biggest difference now is that we have a new drummer. I guess the approach hasn’t necessarily changed.
Mercy – Yeah maybe not the approach to writing songs but I think that we’ve been writing songs a lot more quickly since we started up with Ed.
ITTO? – Do you write songs as a band? Do you come to practice with an idea for a song and then flesh it out or are they pretty much written by one person and everyone just adds their own parts?
Lindsay – All of the above, some of them start with something I have written, some of them start with something Mercy has and then there’s the songs that just happen on the spot.
ITTO? – And what bands have you been listening to a lot lately and did they have any influence on how the record sounds?
(Lindsay & Mercy both laugh)
Mercy – I think we’re both laughing here because we continue to just listen to like all of our same favourites, you know, from like the past 10 years or whatever. I think I’m still spending a lot of time listening to Fugazi and stuff like that, I don’t know.
Lindsay – (laughs) I got a new car so I’ve been listening to satellite radio so I will say my favourite station is ‘90s on 9’ hits from the 90s, gosh, especially in the past couple of months writing the record, finishing that I kind of go on like a music hibernation sometimes. So I haven’t been listening to much, I know that’s a terribly boring answer.
ITTO? – No, that’s cool. How long have you had the songs for this record? Have they been written over the last few years since the first record or have they been written pretty much in the months leading up to recording?
Lindsay – All in the last year, one of them we wrote sort of in the in-between time before we found Ed and the rest of them we wrote, a couple of them we had before, but most of them we wrote with him and we even finished one at the studio so they’re all in various levels of completion leading up to recording. But, for example, there are 2 songs we wrote like a week or 2 before we went into the studio and one that Mercy and Ed wrote 2 days before we went into the studio and I wrote my part there.
ITTO? – Do you write the lyrics in advance, do you have an idea of what you’re going to sing about or are they more last minute?
Lindsay – I have a couple of journals that have stuff on the ready and once we have a song written I’ll kind of flip through and say hey, this might fit and kinda tweak it from there. Most of it I have written already.
ITTO? – Will it be coming out on both Count Your Lucky Stars and Strictly No Capital Letters again?
Lindsay – Yes.
ITTO? – Ed is the newest member of the band, how did him joining come about? Had you know him long? Has he had any influence on the sound of the band or what direction you’re going in?
Mercy – We came in to contact with him, just like our last 2 drummers by putting up an ad on Craigslist and I think that is again a testament to like where Houston is like maybe not so heavily concentrated with people who like this type of music where we’re unable to find a drummer. I think he has changed the dynamic, he comes from more of a punk rock background than the last 2 drummers and he also likes all this kind of emo revival stuff. So I think overall he puts a lot more energy in to a lot of the songs.
Lindsay – And writing with him has been a lot of fun. It’s interesting, when we found him on Craigslist he had seen us before. We had never met him per se but he had seen us and liked our band, I thought that was really cool and we ended up having some mutual friends in Houston. He lives about an hour away right now, but it’s neat how we had kind of crossed paths.
ITTO? – You guys played the Topshelf/CYLS records showcase at SXSW, how was that? It looked like a pretty awesome line up?
Mercy – That was a fun time, it was really great to be able to see a lot of the, you know, a lot of the bands on CYLS really are our friends and we see them every time we go on tour and we see them we then come through so it was a great chance for all of us to be in one spot, we had a really good time.
ITTO? – Rumour has it that Chris Simpson of Mineral was there, did you see him at all?
Lindsay – Yeah, he was there. He did a surprise acoustic set, we played with him last year, he played with Zookeeper. And actually our band Tin Kitchen, our band before this, booked a show for Zookeeper in New Brunswick in like 2006 maybe or 2007. So we’ve crossed paths with him a few times which is pretty cool.
ITTO? – Awesome. You are coming back to the UK this summer to tour again and that will be your 3rd time in 2 years, what is it you like about the UK and what keeps bringing you back to come and play for us?
Lindsay – I don’t know, I really like it over there. The shows, I don’t wanna say they’re more fun, but in a way it’s like, I don’t know, people seem really in to us and in to the shows that we play and it’s a different vibe. And after the first time, of course being in a new place and being just in awe of everything, everything’s a little more fun and a little more interesting and making those friendships and wanting to do it all again, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to just do it.
Mercy – I would just add that a lot of the bands over there are bands that I really like and so that’s really fun and exciting to play. You know, it’s different from the US because we’re covering a smaller territory, you can have dates with a band like Human Hands like a couple of days in a row even though you’re not officially touring together and that’s fun too.
ITTO? – Like you say it’s a smaller territory but do you still find a difference between playing a show down south as opposed to playing in Scotland or the Midlands etc..?
Lindsay – That I did not really think about although I will say different places have their different personalities.
Mercy – Yeah, for sure.
Lindsay – Brighton was fun, like really energetic fun. Swansea…
Mercy – Is amazing!
Lindsay – Surprisingly amazing. It really seems that they have a really cool thing developing right now and there’s this venue that looks like it used to be a restaurant and we’ve played there twice and we’re playing there again. It’s just a really cool spot; I’m excited about what’s going on there
ITTO? – Excellent. When you play ‘Safety’ and everyone sings along with the guitar melody at the beginning, is that something that only happens here or does that happen every time you play?
Mercy – I don’t think that’s ever happened when we play in the US.
Lindsay – Maybe after people saw the videos from ‘About Time’. That was a UK thing, it started in Manchester.
Mercy – Yeah, we were totally caught off guard by it but it definitely caught on.
ITTO? – The so called ‘emo’ scene is really vibrant and exciting at the moment, is that true of where you are in Texas or do you have to tour to feel a part of it.
Lindsay – I think right now there are some bands in Houston that are…
Mercy – Going for that sound or whatever…
Lindsay – yeah, that are in a nutshell a part of it but not necessarily leaving town and connecting but they’re definitely a product of it, newer bands. But it takes travelling to somewhere like Chicago or a lot of different places where like you’re ‘in’ it. I wouldn’t say in Houston it’s a cohesive scene but its happening.
Mercy – I think it’s in the early stages right now, whereas like in other places like where we moved from, New Brunswick in New Jersey, it was already going by 2007/2008. I think here it’s just sort of beginning to develop and I’m not really sure exactly why that is but…
ITTO? – Yeah, where I live, in Margate, we had a massive scene at the end of the 90’s that my band was a part of but we don’t seem to have that now but there’s so much in other areas of the UK. It’s weird that in some places it’s really caught on and come back but now I feel I have to go online/write my blog to feel a part of it, rather than just having it locally like we used to.
Lindsay – I really think it pops up in bubbles, I mean if you think of it that somebody starts a band, they play with their friends bands and then it creates this thing. I feel like these bubbles pop up and they move and then they settle down again, you know, there are towns like you said in Margate that used to have something but just right now nothing is really happening. Yeah, I definitely think in the US it’s like that.
ITTO? – Yeah. And with ‘emo’, historically bands hate being labelled as ‘emo’ bands but that doesn’t seem to be such a problem anymore, bands seem to accept it. Do you have any objections to being called an emo band? Or does it not bother you at all?
Lindsay – It doesn’t bother me, I still feel like we are slightly, I don’t know, different.
Mercy – Yeah, I see what you mean. So, like, I don’t mind our band being called that but sometimes I don’t want anybody to be misled in to thinking it’s going to sound more like something else or whatever and I’m not talking about the Hot Topic thing, I’m talking about feeling like we’re exactly like the poster child of this whole emo revival thing. I mean, we don’t always adhere to the model.
Lindsay – And certainly if some layperson asks me what kind of music my band plays I would not say emo first because then I’d have to like give some sort of history behind that, I usually just say ‘Indie rock’. But I also feel like we’re a punk rock band at the core through just the way we do things.
ITTO? – And finally. If you could’ve been in any band from the 90’s who would it be and why?
Lindsay – Well I would say Rainer Maria is the obvious answer as it’s my favourite band. I think through playing music I’ve really come to appreciate how much they do as a 3 piece band. It’s just cool to think about the things that they do and how that might influence me or inspire me. Also another would be Sonic Youth because it’d be really fun to, first of all, play loud in humongous places but also to do all that crazy shit with the guitars all day would be…
Mercy – Really fun!
Ed – My love for Metallica makes me want to say them, but I think I’d love to have been in No Use for A Name. I remember listening to them in ’97 in junior high and, although not really realizing what “punk rock” was, completely loving them. Melodic punk rock has always been one of my favourites. It broke my heart to hear of Tony Sly’s death this past year – we were actually on tour when it happened, and I made it a point to dedicate our set to him that night
ITTO – Football, etc. Thank you so much!!
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