Restorations [Sept 2015]

By Jeff Takacs

With the punk rock party/family reunion known Fest just weeks away, the anticipation to building to insanity-like levels and we here at Punktastic simply cannot wait for Fest 14 to get underway in Gainesville, FL on October 30, 31 and November 1. Among those bands coming back to play the Fest is the genre-defying Philadelphia band, Restorations. Roughly a year after the release of their brilliant third record LP3, the quintet will return to Gainesville for what is bound to be an dynamic, emotional show. These boys didn’t know the nickname Festorations for nothing! Recently, we had the chance to exchange emails with the band’s vocalist/guitarist Jon Loudon about what Fest means to them and what he’s looking forward to about his time in Gainesville.

Hey, Jon! How have you been and what have you been up to lately?

Jeff! Hi! I’m good. I just moved to South Philly with what seems to be everyone else from the Philly music bubble. 4/5ths of our band now basically lives along the same street.
Man, I know that moving can be tough, so thank you for spending the time to talk with me. That’s really cool that most of the band is living near each other. I bet that makes getting together for practice that much easier.

So I wanted to take a walk down memory lane with you to when Restorations first played Fest, which was Fest 10 in 2011. I had the pleasure of watching that set, and frankly, it was one of the most memorable Fest sets that I have ever seen! Can you tell me what was going through your mind leading up to playing Fest for the first time and how it felt playing at Loosey’s that night? I have a feeling that it was just as unforgettable for you as it was for me.

Yeah, it’s been really helpful.

That Fest 10 set was one of the wilder things that’s happened to us. That was really our first “tour”. We did a week (5 days?) with Look Mexico and Red Collar on the way down. Hadn’t really released much or played out of town so it was crazy that we got a reaction like that. The staff at Loosey’s were wonderful and we’ve been close friends with that whole crew since. I can’t believe it’s been that long ago already. We owe so much to just that one show, I think. Unreal.

I can still remember how you guys made the floor shake that night. Seriously, the atmosphere in Loosey’s that night was electric. What do you mean being owing so much to that one show? Was that the first time you guys realized that your music had the ability to impact people beyond your hometown of Philadelphia?

We really didn’t expect much heading down. Certainly not on a closing spot at one of the smaller bars. It really blew me away to see so many people that knew the words. I blame maybe Punknews? The Menzingers? I’m not really sure how it all came about.

That is kind of the beauty of Fest. I have seen it happen to other bands where they are just completely overwhelmed by the response they get at Fest, having no idea what to expect when they get to Gainesville. Now let’s fast forward to Fest 14. Again you guys are closing down one of the venues, but this time, you are playing the last set at a much larger venue The Wooly on Friday night. It’s pretty amazing to see how far you guys have come over the years, not just in terms of Fest venues and time slots, but how you have progressed as a band. Does having a closing time slot at a big venue like The Wooly put any added pressure on you?

I guess that was the strangest part about it. I’d seen that set for so many bands over the years it was disorienting being on the other end of it.

This year though, it still feels kinda crazy to be playing to so many people. We really enjoyed the Wooly at Fest 12. Glad to be coming back there for another set. A closing set is tough just because you hope that everyone at the Fest is still awake by then and not passed out back at the hotel. We always have that “WHAT IF NOBODY SHOWS UP?” first day of school anxiety. Also, this will have been a full year since LP3 came out. Excited to come back to Fest and play a set when everyone’s more familiar with the material.

Thinking about last year, I remember that you had a huge turnout for your set at 8 Seconds (now Cowboys) and I bet you will see a similar response this year. I know that Restorations has played other music festivals over the years and I was curious. What sets Fest apart from other music festivals both positively and negatively (if there is a negative)?

Fest is special because it always happens in the same place. It’s not some temporary tent city built in the middle of nowhere. You get to come check in on a place you’re familiar with. It’s a great way of getting to see where the scene is at year after year. You get to see the past present and future of punk/diy/indie/whatever. Most festivals are so focused on landing what’s happening NOW that it’s nice to play something that feels a bit bigger-picture. It’s a bit more like real life than most festivals.

It’s definitely fun to get to go to the same venues and restaurants year after year and Gainesville has tons of great places to see shows and to stuff your face. In your eyes, how has the scene changed from when you first went to Fest to now?

I think I see it with rose-colored glasses, but I kinda miss when you could just walk around and get in to any venue and see random bands. I felt like I did a bit more wandering when the Fest was smaller. Now I’m camping out at venues to see groups of bands I like. Not a bad trade since the bands have grown bigger over time while Fest is attracting larger bands, but I sort of miss the adventure of it when it was a little less organized.

I can understand that. I feel like the Fest’s growth has come very naturally and organically, but it is certainly a larger event than it was five and certainly 14 years ago. Now that the schedule is out, this is the time of year when Fest-goers start plotting their course and choosing which bands they want to see. Who are the bands that you are most excited to see?

I’m actually super bummed I’m missing the Saturday run at the Wooly. Drug Church, Young Widows, Goverment Issue, and MLIW is a hell of a show. Of the things I can catch, I’m most excited to see The Progress on Friday. Otherwise, I’m gonna do some wandering and see if I can find something new this year.

That’s a bummer that you won’t be there on Saturday. But I’m sure you will do some good wandering around on Friday. There are always so many rad bands playing that you are bound to discover a great band that you had never heard before while in Gainesville. People who attend Fest always talk about the excellent food choices in Gainesville while they are there. Is there a particular food spot that you or the rest of the guys in the band always look forward to hitting up while at Fest?

Yeah that’s the deal you’ve gotta make with the devil when you accept a tour. You’re guaranteed to miss a bunch of good things while you’re out.

For food, we just head straight to Loosey’s. We try to get up early and hit El Indio for breakfast burritos, too. Coffee at Volta every few hours, haha.

I feel like I always end up hanging out with you, Dave and Ben on Loosey’s front porch every year. That really is a cool place and yes, coffee is a MUST. I’ve got one more Fest-related question for you and one more Restorations question for you before I go. Have you ever tinkered with the idea of reforming your old band, Jena Berlin, to do a Fest show?

There’s not a chance in hell of it ever happening. And look, there was more people at the first Restos Fest show than there were at all the other Fest shows JB had played combined. The people have spoken.

A boy can dream, can’t he?!? Those JB records are awesome.

Alright, Jon, last question. So what is on the horizon for Restorations? I know you guys have some shows in September and October, but what else is cooking as we close 2015 and move into 2016?

Just don’t want to do it unless its original lineup, and those guys are pretty far away from this whole thing now. I don’t even know if I have the energy for it anymore either. That was a pretty taxing experience all the way around.

But looking forward, we’re doing this unbelievably cool tour with Pianos Become The Teeth, mewithoutYou, and The Menzingers, and then we’re gonna chill out for a little bit and start thinking about LP4. We did so much work this year, we’re really looking forward to spacing out a bit at home around the holidays. All good things ahead!

That is awesome to hear. Thanks for your time and I can’t wait to see you at Fest!

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]