By paul

Please introduce yourself and your role in the band.
Hello! My name is Chris Fafalios and I play bass for the band Punchline. I love playing bass.

If there’s ever a way to make a statement of intent on an album, you certainly do that on the new record right from the first song.  Is it fair to say that as a band you’re ‘delightfully pleased’ right now?
We are absolutely psyched to be a band right now. Recording this new album was such a fun experience, and having the album out there and in people’s ears is a total thrill. We have been a band for over a decade now, and to still be going and releasing what we believe is our best record, we are absolutely pleased in every way.

On your Tumblr account you’ve stated you feel this record is your best yet.  Bands always say that but I actually agree – what makes this album so special compared to your previous albums?
We really poured our heart and soul into these songs in every aspect. Many people who have liked us for a long time were very excited about Paul rejoining the band, and we were excited about it as well. Steve and Paul have always had such great vocal chemistry, and we really played that up on this album. We also feel like these songs show what we’re all about more than any of our other records have. This album is lyrically stronger than any of our other albums, and also has the most solid songwriting. Adding Cory on the drums also allowed us to be more creative when writing drums, which adds a whole new dimension to our band. He really tore it up on this album.

Did you approach working on this album any differently to any of the others?  How did you find working with Jamie Woolford?
We worked with Jamie on our last album “Just Say Yes”, and we have never had a more enjoyable and relaxed experience. With this album, we flew Jamie up from Arizona to a studio called Innovation Studios in Steubenville, Ohio, which is a studio we have been recording demos at for years. We have always wanted to do an entire album there because its such a great environment and a place where we feel super comfortable. I think our level of enjoyment really comes through on the album as well.

One of the main themes on the album is positivity – was there any specific event that inspired your outlook on life as a band?  the opening track is especially positive…
Life is too short to spend it whining about the bad aspects. We prefer to focus on the good things. A big theme on this album was the idea of “creating your own world”. For us, that way of life came about when we stopped worrying about what other bands are doing, and just focused on ourselves and how we could reach more people with our music. We started our own record label called Modern Short Stories, and we have released two Punchline albums, as well as great albums from artists like Justin Oliver and Spontaneo. We really felt like the idea of “creating your own world” could be applied to anyone…if you have a vision, follow it and work your ass off to create something special, and good things will come…its inevitable!

What inspired ‘Into The Mouth’?  I hear some Queen/ELO in there…
“Into The Mouth” originated as an intro for a song called “Whatever I Want, Whenever I Want”. We thought it would be fun to make a fast and hard hitting intro that lead into what may be the most straight up pop song that we’ve ever written. After recording it, however, we felt that it should stand alone because we were so happy with how it turned out. Its kind of a salute to the bravado of Queen, leading into double-time punk rock reminiscent of a lot of our favorite bands like Lagwagon and NOFX. I am very excited to start playing this song live.

Did you ever come close to splitting up and finishing the band?  You’ve certainly been through a few ups and downs over the years…
We have had some member changes, but now we are back to 3 of 4 original members. Things come around full circle, and we feel like everything has happened to bring us to this point, so we could in turn make this album. It might sound a little cliche, but everything that happened was supposed to happen. No matter what has happened in the many years of our band, Steve and I have never come close to quitting. This band is such a big part of our lives that we don’t know what we would do without it.

Come on, spill – which bands were friends, got famous, but aren’t friends anymore?  Is it something you’ve noticed which is endemic within a ‘punk’ scene that now crosses over into the mainstream?
Ha! Honestly, we didn’t completely mean that line from “Seventy” (“I’ve seen friends become successful and then be a friend no more”) to be meaningful only in the sense of our band. I think anyone can relate to having a close friend who may forget about you once they reach a level of success. Maybe that just means you weren’t that great of friends in the first place? Of course it has happened with our band several times over many years of touring, but that is what I remind myself when it does: we probably weren’t real friends anyway. I know who my friends are!

Do you feel you’ve missed your ‘chance’ to break the mainstream?  There are themes within the record that suggest you’re happy with what you’ve got – do you still harbour dreams of millions of sales or are you happy to play your music to fans and let whatever happens, happens?
Our only real dream is to make sure that anyone who would like our music HEARS our music! We also strive to get to the point where we can put out an album every year. Being able to wake up every day and write songs for a living is the ultimate dream…anything else would just be a bonus.

Just to rewind slightly, you set up your own label after leaving Fueled By Ramen. What lessons did you learn from the FBR experience and how did they help you form your own label?  How have you find making your own decisions? Is it an experience you’d recommend to other bands?
FBR is a very well-run label. We learned a lot during our time on the label, and many things we apply to our own label. We watched FBR go from a small label to a gigantic one over the course of our contract, and it was very interesting. We are still very good friends with many people at FBR, and we hope to reach even a fraction of the success they have had with their label.

When you started out in 1998 did you really think that 12 years on, despite a few line-up changes along the way, that you’d still be going?  What was the band’s plan back then? Have you achieved everything you wanted?
Even in our very early years, we had an idea of where we’d like to be. We wanted to make records, tour, and grow musically along the way. I think we have achieved that, but with each achievement comes a desire for more. Punchline has been a driving force in our lives for a long time, and we would be lost without it. We have watched so many bands come and go. I have seen bands reach a high level of success and then break up….why would you ever do that? We are determined dudes. Our plan is to keep doing what we’re doing, and I’m pretty sure that we’ll still be doing this 12 years from now as well.

In the last year or so you’ve had a fair few changes to the band’s line-up. What happened and are you a settled line-up now?
After our old guitarist Jon left the band last year, we had the crazy idea of asking Paul to play with us again. I personally had maybe seen him once since he left the band in 2005, so it was definitely an exciting and crazy idea at the time. Once I saw him though, I think I kind of felt the friendship just flow back into my body. He’s such a great dude and an awesome musician. Paul and Cory had been playing (and still are playing) together in The Composure, and after parting with our last drummer Pat, Paul suggested Cory, and boy am I glad he did. Cory is the best drummer that I have ever had the pleasure of playing with, not to mention also a great dude. Paul and Cory both officially joined the band after we recorded the album, and there really seems to be no reason why this shouldn’t be our final lineup change. We are four laid back people who enjoy making music together.

The new record is released on CD and limited edition vinyl. Do you think there’s still a role for physical product to play or are you anticipating downloads, both legal and illegal, to be the biggest ‘seller’ this time round?
There will always be people like me who like to “own” something physical if they really like a band. Putting an album out on vinyl is always a great idea for people like me, because when I see an album I love on that gorgeous looking colored vinyl, I can’t resist. Of course downloads are such an important way to get your music out. Its instant gratification…if you’re driving down the road and think of a song you like, you can download it on your phone and be listening to it within a minute. This is a great thing for bands such as ourselves.

Any plans to return to the UK/Europe?
We don’t have a European tour planned yet, but we’d for sure like to make that happen in the new year. We are heading to Japan in November and doing many U.S. dates before we leave for that.

What’s the plan for Punchline for the rest of the year?
We will be playing many shows, making music videos, and trying to get the word out about the new album as much as possible. We might hopefully even be recording some more new songs before the end of the year.

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]