Seven years? Damn...what was the holdup with that one?
You ever try to tell someone why you love them without sounding like John Mayer?
Point taken. I noticed, by the way, that a few of the songs on the new album, including "Aliens," have shown up previously as products of your Les Veines "side project" -- does Les Veines act as somewhat of a feeder to Something Fierce proper, or is it separate?
It's all connected. There are times when I need to write without the constraints of time and band members. Not that any of them hinder me from writing, but sometimes I can't focus all of my energy on a song when we're standing around, sweating in a practice space.
It started when I hit that desperate, once-a-year, writer's block that can bring even the most prolific songwriter to their knees, and I needed a separate entity to demo my ideas and solidify a song before I took it to practice. Les Veines is the separate entity, but I always intended the songs for Something Fierce. I was so surprised that the keyboard and guitar recordings turned out well, though. I guess it has become a feeder to my "real" band.
How did the recording process go this time around? Where did you do the recording?
Four of the songs will be from sessions at the beloved Dead City Sound, and nine will be from the hard-working, and bearded, Pigeon Eater Studios. To be fair...Jeoaf only grows the beard while on tour.
Recording is almost always the same for us. We lay down the initial tracking, eat a lot of junk food, get retarded in front of the studio people, and make comments about Andrew smelling like either lavender, coffee beans, or ball funk. Sometimes it can be all three in one day! The most noticeable difference would be that the first album was recorded in two days. We've been working on this album for two or three months, and I think it will show in the final product.
How do you handle the songwriting? Is one person the primary songwriter? And were you guys listening to anything in particular as inspiration for the new songs?
I wrote the songs for this album. At times, I may have a focused, definite song that we all learn, and at others it can be a very fluid process that cannot be achieved without everyone in the room. Really, there were moments where I was stuck, absolutely annoyed that I couldn't finish a song, but all it took was getting Niki or Andrew in the room with me to get to the heart of what I was trying to accomplish.
I've basically been listening to a lot of punk/powerpop bands like The Marked Men and The Buzzocks, with darker stylings from Roky Erickson and The Wipers. Life has been good.
If you can talk about it at all, what's the deal with the Modern Girl 7"? I'm glad to see that it's finally coming out, albeit delayed quite a while...
We finished the album immediately after returning from the Teenage Mustache tour, but the label had financial troubles. For a while, we didn't think it would be released at all, so we decided to offer free downloads to promote the launch of HoustonPunk.com. Recently, the label head contacted us with good news that the record is on the way, and he's being very generous to make amends. He's a good guy and a good friend.
(l to r) Niki Sevven, Andrew Keith, & Steven Garcia.
Photo by Valerie Tamburri; art by Steven Garcia.
You guys toured not too long ago; what was the reception like outside of Houston? Planning on hitting the road again for the new album, I'm guessing?
It depends on the city; every scene is different. We were well received in Chicago, though. The kids always loved us, but it wasn't always easy. We had to work for the crowd, and we've been repaid with good friends almost everywhere we go. We're heading west in January, and there is talk about an extensive East Coast tour in the summer.
I know you're very involved in the scene here -- what do you think of H-town music in general right now? Any bands/trends/clubs/etc. you think need to die a slow, lingering death?
I think this question needs to die a slow, lingering death. I'm sick of it. We need to stop talking about the "problems," as if we're the only city dealing with low turnout and bad promotion, and just be more productive in general. Do what makes you happy, whatever that may be, as long as you put your heart in there.
On the more positive side of that, are there any bands in town you particularly like? If you could drag somebody local out on the road with you, who would it be? How about from the out-of-town crowd?
Teenage Kicks! We already broke The Monocles. If I could choose, I would tour with Be My Doppelganger from Indiana or Statues from Canada.
Got a pick for the best album of the year?
We'll hold out for Young Mammals and Born Liars unreleased albums.
We talked a bit at the BandCamp thing; what did you think of that, in the end?
I thought it was good for some and bad for others. A lot of what was said during the lectures was common knowledge, and if there were musicians there that did not feel the same, they should probably work harder at making it their "craft." It isn't easy, but it also doesn't have to feel like a job. The open discussions were my favorite part, and I think it was the most effective way of pulling together the giant sprawl of scenes that we deal with.
I thought pretty much the same thing, although I'd figured some of that was due to me not being in a band but just Press Guy watching the proceedings. It's funny, but listening to "Hey Houston," off the new album, it feels like you guys are addressing some of the same complaints that got aired that afternoon. What did you get out of the open discussion part, out of curiousity?
I definitely was addressing those complaints, and I was basically saying "Get off your ass, stop talking down on your own city, and start this shit up." What I got out of the open discussions is mutual respect.
I could finally see where different people were coming from, and I think, thanks to attendees like John Sears [man behind the Grey Ghost micro-label] and Ramon Medina [Linus Pauling Quartet band member/Free Press Houston writer], they got a glimpse of our world, as well. It was all right.
You guys seem to be just relentless in terms of playing shows and recording and touring -- how in the hell do you do all of it? Do you just not sleep?
Sleep is for the weak! But seriously, I think a lot more could be done. A lot of bands manage to stay on the road six months out of the year, so I won't put what we've done on a pedestal.
Any quasi-political expounding you want to do regarding the state of America, the election, or whatnot?
Let's just be glad Bush is leaving office. That is a big first step to a new America.
Paper or plastic?
Plastic, but we reuse it for monster cat poop. We'd prefer a polyster blend. END