By paul

Spud: You’re a good way through the mammoth tour at the moment. What are you thinking to the tour and the UK? You’re going to Germany soon, right?
Matt: Yeah, we’re going to Germany, even though out first show was there. Everything in the UK has been great and the shows have been awesome. Being able to see the world has been great. Getting to see punk in a totally different way is cool, although the UK is reasonably close to the US. Even though people call them ‘gigs’ instead of ‘shows’.

Spud: Bands always comment on the fact it seems weird getting across the country in a short period of time
Pat: A funny thing is that whenever we stay at someone’s house in the UK or Ireland and we ask when the next show is, the people who are having us don’t believe that we’re driving 2-3 hours to a show, they get totally bugged out on that.

Spud: Have you got any interesting tour stories yet? Anyone got drunk and left behind yet?
Phil: Someone got engaged at our show yesterday!

Spud: That must have been weird…
Mike: Flattering in a way!
Phil: It was really weird. The guy came up to us, his name was Barry, and asked if we were going to play ‘This Project is Stagnant’. He asked us beforehand and we thought it was kind of intense. He said that we have to be his wedding band now! She said yes, which was great and way less awkward than it could have been…

Spud: You’ve got a new record coming out in May called We Are Still Alive… is there anything you’re trying to do different with that record or does it instantly follow on from Turn Up The Punk… and No Matter Where We Go…? Does it carry on the same kind of ethos and retain similar themes of positive ‘fingers-in-the-air’ type punk rock?
Phil: There are definitely tinges of that but I would say generally each record is very reflective of a certain time period in our lives. I know a lot of people can say subject wise they might be similar, but at least for me Turn Up The Punk… was very reflective of the excitement of the time. ‘We can change the world’, ‘we can do this’, et cetera. It was very wide-eyed and enthusiastic. And then a few years later with No Matter… it carried some similar themes but it marked a lot of changes and growth for us. A lot of things had changed, but we wanted to keep our ideals intact. This one is probably an extension of that, but a lot of the record has to deal with the struggle with home and the struggle with realising that a lot of things you held dear have fallen apart. And it’s a case of “How do you react to that?”. The record carries that theme and the theme of how you grow and move on and change and how you don’t become alone, isolated and alienated. Each song has a little different thing going on with it, but it’s often linked to home and a feeling of being desperate.

Spud: Moving on a little, you broke up for a while, is that right?
Matt: We didn’t break up as such, we just weren’t a band really. I moved away and moved to Denver from New York and we thought that during this time we won’t be a band but we knew we’d be a band again some day. Sort of a hiatus.

Spud: What do you think to the sort of cult underground status you seem to have achieved. Is that kind of weird that people have put you alongside the seminal bands that have come and gone over the years?
Phil: Yeah, we talk about this a lot, and we talk about how the internet has changed punk rock in the last few years. You see band names a lot more and see the hype a lot more and bands get this seminal status. And we go from show to show, tour to tour, and we realise that what people think is happening on the internet is totally different to what is actually happening. I mean, of course there’ll be more people at the shows and more people buying our records, but I don’t think it’s to the extreme that most people think it’s happening. It’s been a slow growth and a progression for us as musicans and as a band. What people see on the internet is not reflective of the real world at all, and it’s not as big as what people expect. For example, if people from home think we’ve sold out, it’s not like that. We’re still playing the same shows we’ve been playing for years.

Matt: Really things don’t feel that different to me than they always have. We’re playing similar shows and hanging out with the same people. The people who book us in the states have often booked us for years. We’re still just a band, just playing music and doing the same thing we always did

Spud: Are you playing the same size venues here as what you are in America?
Matt: It’s pretty much the same. In Germany we’re playing squats and stuff, but here in the UK we’re playing pubs and stuff like this [Joseph’s Well]. Sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger, but there’s no radical difference.

Spud: Your naming tactics. I had to come onto this because people really associate this with you guys. This tour’s called the We’ll Probably Lose Our Passports And Probably Not Be Allowed Back Into America tour
Matt: *laughs* Mine’s in my pocket! I keep it in my pocket and every day I check for it.

Spud: The name ‘Too Many Emo Days’, ‘There’s No Way Punk Was Meant To Be Done (You Clown Doctor)’ and ‘The Biggest Sausage Party Ever’ are some awesome names. Is it your way of saying ‘get a grip’ to everyone, or is it just a joke?
Matt: It’s our personality, really.
Phil: A lot of our sense of humour is really stupid jokes or things that evolve. People keep saying them and they become in-jokes or they have a little bit to do with a song, and we base it around that.
Matt: Whenever I write lyrics to a song I never write a title, I just write lyrics and do it after. If it’s a joke then it’s a joke, but I just do whatever.
Mike: We don’t want to be taken too seriously or seen as these serious people in a serious band who take everything too SERIOUSLY!

Spud: Would you say that the hardcore, hardcore punk and emo genres have been bastardised too much by mainstream media in the last few years. Would you like to think of yourselves as the antithesis to that kind of movement?
Pat: I don’t think as a group we feel comfortable as being an ‘antithesis’, but we’re totally not about people using underground settings as underground settings despite being a mainstream rock band. That’s not what we’re about. I’m not bothered by it, but it stinks to see that people are so comfortable to kick punk in the knees, but that’s been going on since day one. We’re not a part of it, but I guess we are the antithesis in the sense that we don’t give a fuck about any of that.
Matt: There’s much more important things to focus on. At the end of the day if people want to start a band to make a bucket load of cash then they’re going to do that.

Spud: Onto Deep Elm then. Do you see it as your duty to carry on their ‘respectable’ mantle, or do you just do your thing?
Mike: We don’t really have any relationships with any of those bands besides Small Arms Dealer, but they’re out friends from Long Island.
Pat: We’re doing the same things now as what we were doing before we were on Deep Elm
Phil: Overall Deep Elm’s fine, but stylistically people are sometimes taken aback by us being on the label in context of what other bands they have. Deep Elm put out bands they like, whether I personally like them or not. It’s sort of irrelevant to us, so we appreciate them for doing what a label should be doing.

Spud: They’ve been in the news lately over here for putting out the Fightstar record, which is a question I know you’re probably bored of that question, but…
Mike: We don’t like dissing bands on the label because we’re not down with that, but I think it’s safe to say that as a band they do ‘bite it’. The only reason I really say that is because there’s been times on this tour we’ve had problems getting shows because of that band. Some places didn’t want us to play just because we were on the same label as them, despite us being nothing to do with them and nothing like them.

Spud: Are you guys bothered about having to play short sets on this tour? Because obviously you’re not headlining every show. Is it correct you don’t know all the songs yet?
Mike: It’s unfortunately resting on my shoulders, because I only just joined before The Lawrence Arms tour.
Phil: It’s actually the opposite, as we are headlining most the shows and we have to play longer sets, whereas in the states we have to play 5/6 songs and that’s it.
Matt: I never want to see a band play longer than 30 minutes. What we’re used to doing is what I like doing, but it’s different here.
Mike: After our first show in Germany the sound guy came up to us and said “Guys, you gotta play for longer than that! You can’t get away with that here”

Spud: Is that kind of a disparity between the UK and the US between what bands are expected to play on support slots?
Matt: I think it’s the fact we’re playing last on a lot of shows here. People here want to see us play longer because we came so far, that’s the message I’m sort of getting.

Spud: So that leads onto the question are you coming back at some point?
Matt: I hope so!
Mike: You got to take it one day at a time. We have a summer tour and the Plan-it-X festival, but after that we don’t really know what’s going on. After that it’d be great to come back because I’m having an incredible time. If Jan wants to book it again that it’d be awesome

Spud: OK, a few people want to know about the punk rock handclap. Do you think that’s something that has a very insular and popular value like a cowbell, or something? Do you think those kind of things add to the positive air to get people involved and things like that?
Mike: One of the things that drew me to punk was the fact there’s not a lot between people playing and people watching. We usually play on the floor and so this tour is weird because we’re on stages and I prefer to be on the floor. Monitors confuse me
Pat: I just don’t need to hear you guys singing!
*all laugh*
Matt: If I’m going to a punk show I want to be sweaty and tired at the end of it. You get a real connection going and if everyone’s clapping and going for it then it’s cool. I like clapping to bands.

Spud: Is there anyone you want to support in the future or anyone you had a great time supporting?
Mike: I would love to play with everyone in my entire record collection, but I guess that’s unrealistic. We met The Lawrence Arms when we played our first show and became friends after this. It was after we got an email from their booking agent who asked if we were up for it. Apparently Leatherface are doing a US tour soon and I definitely want to be on that!

Spud: What’s being played in the van then?
Mike: Well I’m like the only one who brought CDs so we have 10 CDs for a 7 week tour! We got Poison Idea, Lightning Bolt, Discount, Superchunk, Modern Machines, Hot Water Music, Weakerthans, Leatherface
Matt: Lots of Leatherface!
Phil: We’re gonna get a lot of points for that list of CDs. *laughs*
Mike: Joe from Ruin You gave us some CDs from his old band and some other stuff so that was cool.

Spud: Anything else you want to say?
Mike: Big thanks to Jan for driving us, booking this tour, wiping our asses and generally being totally punk and brilliant.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]