You haven’t been on the road for quite some time, right?
Yeah, we started touring just last july. And we have been on two tours through the US.
How does it feel to be back?
Oh, it feels pretty excellent. It feels much different, than it used to, you know. Before July it was a break for two and a half years. So, we were younger when we came of that last set of tours and a lot is going on in our life’s… back home and personal also. And now to be back on the road with maybe a more adult point of view about how we wanna go, about being in a band and what kind of shows we wanna do, its fun. We’re having more fun than I think we ever had. And we’re enjoying our time more than ever. And also we’re seeing a lot more. Surprisingly, I don’t know why, I think I saw more sights in the states on the last couple of tours than I have ever seen. And now being in Paris and Berlin tonight... just running around the cities and see all these wonderful things that I have been wanting to see for quite a while. It makes me happy.
Isn’t it the first time in Germany for you?
Yes, it’s the first time in Europe in general, except the United Kingdom. So, we are all nervous at the same time as being excited. It’s kind of starting over again.
And what do you expect?
I don’t know. We didn’t know what to expect the first night and we were really just kind of hoping for there to be maybe ten or fifteen people, just because that’s more than enough to be excited about playing. Last night it was excellent, it was nearly a full club and… you know, like I said, we are just glad to be out here in a new country. And the band we are with, Mewithoutyou, they are really excellent. And to see them every night is kind of a blessing also. I don’t know, I just hope kids come out here and they have a good time.
"The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me" has just been released in Germany. I think it is a lot darker and more atmospheric than your previous efforts. What have been the major influences for this record?
Like I said before, most of that came from the two and a half years that we had of. Where we were not touring but being at home. We had to deal with a lot of heavier issues on a personal level, than we ever dealt with before. People dying, friends and family… And also trying kind of to recapture what it was like to be normal people. And not being in a band or on tour and partying, but being an adult and being responsible persons. This all was part of how the record ended up sounding, when we got into the studio and put our guitars in, you know. It was definitely a sadness about it, when we went back in. It was a relieve as well, we were glad to be playing with each other again, but we also had some feelings that needed to get out. We did a good job with that. I heard people talk about writing songs beeing therapeutic and I never really felt that untill this record. I understand finally what they ment. There where a lot of questions asked with which I could deal with while writing these songs.
You started producing "The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me" with Dennis Herring, but dropped him in favour of Mike Sapone with whom you had worked on their first album. Why did you choose to change the producer?
Mostly that was an issue with time and money. It had nothing to do with the relationship, because Dennis is acctually really great and he understood what we were trying to do with the album. We were very disapointed when we had to leave. We were in a great studio, like one of the most beautiful stzduios I’ve ever been in. Dennis was a really good friend of ours. But we realised that we were kind of out of time and money and than we had to go home and come up with an alternative sollution. That was upsetting but it also opened up some new doors. There was a wanting from us to kind of produce the record ourselves. Mike Sapone, he is more a part of the band, to be honest, than he is a producer. He is more like a fith or sixth bandmember. We’ve known him for so long and he has helped us basically since the beginning of the band. So, to go into a studio with him… it was basically in his basement and it is only a few blocks away from where we live. That was very comfortable and we still went through a lot of experimenting and ideas that we probably wouldn’t have gone through if we weren’t with him.
But you are not disapointed anymore? But you are not disapointed anymore?
We are upset, we still talk to Dennis and we always remind him how much we wish that we were abletoo finish it, but… circumstances didn’t work out that way. We had to addapt and we are glat about the final product.
So you don’t think it could have been any better.
No, no. This record turned out about as closest as we have ever come to the idea.
You kept a lot of secrecy about the new album. Nevertheless 9 demos leaked pretty early. How did this happen?
I don’t know…. But I then should have said it was my fault [laughs], because usually things like that happen to me… We are not really sure how they got out, but I can say that it was – to me personably… I can’t speak for the other band members – it was definitely upsetting to me. I felt like people were listening to something that I didn’t get to finish. And to me that felt like those songs had been wasted. I feel differently about it now and I wish I didn’t come to that conclusion. But at that time that was all I could think of, that once those leaked, I had to move on to something else.
I understand what you mean, but on the other side you know that people want to listen to your songs…
Yeah, exactly… I mean I didn’t hold it against anyone, that they where listening to it, because I understood. But for me it felt like I had to put my energy into something else. And now, when I look back, I feel like a lot of these songs deserve more attention still and we’ll probably revisit them in the years to come because there are some important thing in there that I think are really part of the band as much as anything else. But to see them being robed didn’t feel very good.
You kind of answered my next question already. There were rumours, that you would re-record these songs.
I don’t know if it will be... well, I can’t imagine we will just record these nine. But here is one or to songs in there that I thought could have fit on this album pretty comfortably. You know, whenever we are writing any kind of alum, I think we will always be looking on these sons, to see if they would fit in any way. We usually look at records as a complete piece… so if any of these songs are a part to the puzzle, we are definitely going to work on them.
On this record now, there are no lyrics included. Why did you choose not to have them in the booklet?
Initially it wasn’t a very conscious decision. I just wasn’t thinking about it. we were just working o the artwork and when we kind of gotten a layout of what we wanted, the lyrics just didn’t really have a spot anymore. So we decided to leave them out. And we are still pretty comfortable with this, because there is a million records that I was listening to when I was a kid, that didn’t have a lyric sheet inside. And I never minded that NIRVANA has no lyrics in it. [laughs]. That record did just fine, so… There wasn’t much thought about it, but later on I was actually glad about the kids being able to hear the record without reading along because I feel like sometimes our fans put a little to much meaning in the words that I write. They are only a part of the entire song. They should experience the album as a whole first without reading along.
But you did put them on your website afterwards.
Yeah, we released them a few weeks later anyways so… But what was funny I thought, was the reaction to the lyrics being released on the website, because apparently what happened was that they formed kind of their own truth about what the lyrics are about. And when we released the real lyrics, a lot of them didn’t believe that they were the actual lyrics. They had already become so comfortable with what they thought the lyrics were. A lot of them where so resistance to the point that they were saying that I was playing a joke or that I was lying, which is really quite funny to me. You know, what would the motivation behind that be… [laughs].
Yeah, it’s kind of like a movie to your favourite book…
You already cited a Bible verse with "Seventy Times 7" on “Your Favorite Weapon” and now you have the track "Jesus Christ" and other references on the new record. How much influence does your education (Jesse Lacey went to a Christian school) and your believes have on your lyrics?
Apparently more than I thought they did, because I find, when I write lyrics a lot of that stuff comes out without me realizing it. then I o back and read it over and usually one of my first thoughts is ‘Wow, there is a lot about god, or a lot about heaven, or a lot about afterlife’… And I think it surprises me as much as it surprises some other people but actually I can understand where it comes from. I was raised in a religious house. My family went to church and was a real christian family. My parents never forced anything on us, they just taught us what they believed in and let us decide kind of for ourselves afterwards. And I realized when I got older, that I have lass answers than I thought I would and many more questions. And I guess my way of dealing wit it is writing about it. I didn’t know, that I was dealing with it, but like I said, after I wrote lyrics, there is a lot of questions in it that I didn’t have words for before and then suddenly I do. God is a part of who I am and it’s just as much important as the way I feel about my family or my friend or any other experience that I have. And I think that all finds its way on the album.
Alternative Press magazine gave you the title of "America's Radiohead". What do you think about that?
I don’t know why they felt the need to compare us to a band like that or compare us to any band really, you know? Where were always under the impression that we wanted what we do to stand on its own. It’s a flattering comparison to be sure. I think there aren’t many bands that have maintained there integrity in the mainstream as much as Radiohead has. As far as the comparison of sound or talent or anything like that I would doubt that. I don’t know if that is very accurate. We are not trying to be the second anybody, we are not trying to be the Americas Radiohead or Americas Beatles or whatever band. We are just trying to be what we do.
You posted interesting news on you website in December and I would really like to elaborate on this: “The only "official" part of the band is what you hear on our records or at a show, the sounds we make”. Furthermore you almost suggest not to buy your merchandize with the Interscope label but create you own unique one. What intention did you have doing this?
I don’t know. I think people, especially our audience took that a lot more seriously than I mend it. there is sometimes in a life of a band, especially in moments when we aren’t active, when we aren’t updating our website or when we are in the studio and don’t have much contact to our fans, cause we are not on tour, what attempts to happen is, in an attempt to kind of keep that connection going, the label and the management will create ways for it to seem like the band is still in touch with the fans. And a lot of that usually includes contest or new merchandize and that never feels ok to us. We are not trying to sell our band to anyone, put a label on it and put it in the stores. And you just buy a t-shirt and that’s it. That’s how you connect with the band. All those things, you know, that’s not where we come from. We came from a very kind of Do It Yourself scene. You know, it was punk rock, it was hardcore, it was all those things. It was kids doing it on there own and we were suddenly kind of moving to a mass marked. It just doesn’t seem to fit in with us very well. All I really meant was, that kids don’t need to buy things from us to be included. And just because they purchase a t-shirt doesn’t mean they are any more of a fan, than anyone who doesn’t have the money to buy a t-shirt. They can just as easily write our name on their t-shirt with a marker or anything. And I actually kind of like that better. Creating to me is always a better idea than purchasing something as far as I’m concerned. If you can make something rather tan buy it, why wouldn’t you do that, you know? A homemade BRAND NEW shirt is still a BRAND NEW shirt.
You also said the label spent all of the fans money on recording the new record. Are you unhappy with the way the label treats you or your fans?
No, to be honest, we are not at all. I mean we are kind of a fish out of water in that label, because there are different minds there. But we understood very clearly, when we signed to a major label, that their goal is to sell as many records as possible. And if you are not selling records on a label, you are getting less attention. We still get a lot of intention. For the amount of records we sell, we are kind of unique, we are still on the top of their priority list. And that’s very important to us. We are grateful for it, but at the same time there is a lot of pushing pole. We are trying hard to get them to see things our way and to do things our way. It can get a little bit feisty at some times but for the most part, they have been really gracious to us and always friendly. We are glad to be there. But it does get a little bit… well, how should I say… like the whole recording thing for example. We spent all our money for the record, before we actually started recording. It doesn’t really make any sense. And once we started recording, we were kind of at the end of our budget already and we had to spent some of our own. That was a mistake that we made and just as much as them. But its not a mistake, that we would make again. We understand how that works now and that’s actually a very huge theme in our ban: making mistakes and learning from them.
I’d say, that’s a very huge theme in general….
Finally you also suggest you fans to share you music. So you are not against file sharing?
I don’t know. I think it’s a very touchy subject, because I mean, I believe in the law. File sharing is technically illegal. But I think it would be hypocritical for us to speak out against it, because when our band was first beginning that was really the only way that anyone heard us by kids file sharing our music via the internet. We are not going to ignore that just because we are successful in any way. You know, like I said before, the goal for us is people to hear it, not people to buy it. The more people there are that are enjoying our music, the better it is for us and basically for everyone. The thing that really gets us excited is playing shows. And no matter if you bought the record or burned it, you are still going to go and see the show. It’s a hard thing to say. I can sympathize with people who stand up against it, but I would never judge anyone for giving our music to a friend. How could I, you know… I would thank them, because what’s better than to bring music to somebody else.
I also would like to come up with an old story. Jesse Lacey and John Nolan have been friends for a long time. There has been those two songs "Seventy Times 7" (BRAND NEW) and "There Is No I in Team" (TAKING BACK SUNDAY) where you refer to each other and a disagreement you had. I don’t want to talk about your disagreement but why did you take this into you music?
I don’t know. We defiantly wrote these songs a log time ago, when we were young. If something like that happens with someone you care about that much, its hard to really focus on anything else. My first instinct was to write about it. That situation cleaned itself up a lot sooner, than most people thought it did. We both realized, even though we were angry at each other, we will always remain friends, so… more than anything, me writing that and for him, kind of returning it, was us sending a signal to each other, having to talk. It was just me saying, you know, I’m thinking about this and he kind of felt the same way. But when we finally got to tour together, after that, we were still playing those songs and he would come out and play our song with us and I would go out and play his song with him and that caused a lot of starring controversy, which turned out to be kind of humours to us. It was funny to see how long the fans kind of clung on to that. They made such a big deal out of it even if we had buried it for quite a while. It was a lesson to be learned for sure, about how much you let people enter your personal life. Afterwards we kind of knew, that we would never do anything like that again.
How do you feel these days if you play that song at a show? Do you still think about it, or do you just play the song, just like any other of your songs?
I think about it in the way you think about everything that happened to you when you were younger, when you were a child or a teenager. Its interesting to see what I was thinking about, you know, the feelings I had, and how immature or how the wrong ways I dealt with it. But I can’t remain to it very much anymore. That happens with a lot of the songs that we write. There is a bunch that always kind of hit me still, but this one is not really one of them [laughs].
After John Nolan leaving TAKING BACK SUNDAY you are a lot on tour with his new band STRAYLIGHT RUN. How is your current relationship to TAKING BACK SUNDAY?
Good, you know, its kind of sad, because a lot of these bands from around used to spent a lot of time together. But we don’t get the opportunity anymore, because everyone is on their own kick. Everyone is doing their own thing and its hard for everyone to see each other and talk about what’s going on or even play shows together anymore. Six years ago, us and Taking Back Sunday and Glasjaw and all those bands, we would play in Long Island every weekend. And now it has become totally different. I check their progress best I can and always read their interviews and watch when they are on TV and make sure to congratulate them, when I see them, because it’s a raw thing to pull of that kind of thing that they have done… that any of us has really and so, you know, I hope they are doing good.
Top 5 Releases:
MEWITHOUTYOU – Brothers And Sisters
COLOUR REVOLT – S/T EP
MANCHESTER ORCHESTER – Like A Virgin Loosing A Child
EXPLOSION IN THE SKY – The Rescue
MEW – Frengers
What are your plans in 2007? How long will you be touring before the next album?
It looks like we are going to be touring straight through the summer almost non stop. We really want to get back in the studio, because we are kind of itching to keep riding on this.. whatever we discovered last time in the studio. There were a lot of new techniques for us and we found new ways of writing songs. Hopefully by the end of this year we will be back in the studio, but defiantly not before June.