The Draft

By Spud

Spud: What’s it like to be back in the UK again, but obviously in a new form, and with Samiam?

Chris: I’ve been waiting my whole fucking life to tour with Samiam! I love the guys and I love the band. I’ve been listening to them since they started putting out records. It’s been a while since we’ve been over and we’ve just been itching to get back. Touring back home was great, but we couldn’t wait for this.

Spud: How was the first show in London?

Chris: Yeah, it was sold out so it was great. The kids were going fucking nuts. The kids knew some of the songs too. The ones that were kind of singalongy you could hear people singing along. You can’t ask for more on a first tour here.

Spud: Did you guys make it to the signing at Out Of Step today? I would have gone, but I was busy finishing these questions!

Chris: Some of the guys did, I was busy looking for shit when I was lost in the mall. As I was walking up to the store a couple of the guys walked out and I was like “Fuck!”. I like that store, though. I remember it when it used to be in a different place. I actually woke up outside this morning so it was kinda weird. I went looking for coffee.

Spud: Someone wanted to know if there’s any plans to expand the use of brass in future songs?

Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I grew up playing trumpet for six years before I started getting more serious on guitar. I love horns. I think a lot of people do it in a really bad way. Just because you have a horn section doesn’t mean it has to be a ska-sounding part. A lot of really killer rock & roll songs have horns and it’s really textual. The sounds just mix really well with guitars. I want to do some things that we’d always talked about in Hot Water and do something different. We’ve got a chance to do some different instrumentation and I’m looking forward to it.

Spud: You mentioned HWM there. How do you think people are responding to The Draft on its own and respecting you as a separate entity?

Chris: When we first started there were a few people that would scream out Hot Water songs and I think they probably expected us to play a couple, especially with the short sets. But as soon as we told people there was no chance that we were gonna do that then it stopped. I don’t think people really want that, because it wouldn’t be that band. I thought it was gonna be a little tough, people thinking of it as a side project or something. But most people have responded really well. But even when Hot Water were playing, there were people saying “Fuel for the hate game is my favourite record and you never play it anymore” and those people are still not gonna be happy! I’m not 19 anymore, man!

Spud: How did you settle on the name The Draft? Were you just sat around watching the NFL?

Chris: (laughs) I’m glad you think it’s the NFL. I’m a huge Bucks fan but that’s not where it came from. We really hate coming up for names for bands. It’s the biggest nightmare in the world. Rumbleseat was the only one that was named instantly and it comes from a John Cougar song. We were just sat around throwing around names and we were shooting each other’s ideas down. When we went to record our first set of demos in DC and finally George came up with ‘The Draft‘ and everyone thought it sounded fine. But even if you have the best band name in the world, if you suck then you suck! We didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about it.

Spud: Someone else wanted to know if we can expect prolific EP releases like you did with HWM?

Chris: Have you seen this? (Chris gets out a 7″ from inside the album’s sleeve) This is our first 7″. It only comes with the vinyl first press. But yeah, we’re thinking about doing another 7″ this winter because we still have some more songs. For me, now I get an opportunity to just write and write and write. With most of the bands I’ve been in I’ve always collaborated with ideas and now we just want to allow ourselves to write as much as possible. If you wait to put it out on an album you’ll only release 12 songs every 18 months or 2 years and that’s not enough. There’s some stuff we’re working on right now, we’re always working on something. My favourite part of being in a band is making records and crafting something. We’re gonna be doing EPS for sure.

Spud: Was Brian from Bad Religion nearly in the band?

Chris: He recorded our first demos, in that same trip where we decided the name. We were still just a three piece at that point and we kinda figured that we would be a four piece but we were writing as a three piece. Hot Water had just ended and we didn’t want to bring anyone in straight away. He came over for like a week and we just jammed and jammed. He ended up co-writing one of the songs on the album. It was a fucking blast. He’s one of the best guitar players you’ll ever see – he can play anything. Obviously he’s got a full-time band so it was never really an option. We’d talked about it, but there was no way it could happen as we wanted a full-time band with everyone dedicated to it. I’m sure me & him will jam more together, we talk about it all the time. The more you play with other people the better you get at your instrument and songwriting. Everyone has different ideas about structures and it’s always great to play with new people.

Spud: Obviously The Draft is still very young, but can you see yourselves making a mould for yourselves and lasting?

Chris: We’re all having a fucking blast. As long as it stays good. I mean, why would we stop? Obviously we’re all getting a little older and Tod’s married and I’m engaged with a 10-year-old son, Jason’s engaged. We all have full home lives so you never know how much you’ll be able to keep touring but I’m sure this band will be sticking together for a while. The writing has gone so smooth, and we’re all such good friends. Todd – we’ve known him for years. The energy in this band is so nice and refreshing, whereas the last few years of Hot Water were getting hard. I’m sure it’ll be a long term thing.

Spud: With the album itself you’re obviously looking to appeal to people who like your previous styles, but what do you think makes it accessible?

Chris: That’s hard for me to say. But from my end in hot a lot of the time in Hot Water I was just coming up with the weirdest shit I could. I’d have a verse I could sing to but then the chorus part I couldn’t sing and play at the same time, and the song would be all over the place. 2 singers, different words, crazy rhythms. When we started this band, I told the guys that I wanted to write my vocals better and think about harmonies. Bringing in new textures, pianos, and not some cheesey ska part but the horns are in there. I’m thinking about if the songs make sense. It seems like it’s more accessible I think because it’s ‘a thought’. And whether the song makes sense.

Spud: Are any of the actual lyrics on the record getting people to recognise The Draft in their own right? “‘Cause there’s no burning bridges blinding me”; “That’s what I like about it, it’s not so complicated”

Chris: There are, but you got ’em wrong! (laughs) It’s not like how you say, but there are generally songs where the lyrics are about those things that go on in your head as you’re starting something new. The burning bridges thing is kind of right, but on ‘Let it Go’ I was really, really pissed off. It’s probably the only song on the record. I was really pissed talking to record labels and all these businessmen in suits trying to… whatever. We’re doing what we want to do. That song is like “I hate businessmen who run record labels and I hate credit card companies” (laughs). ‘New Eyes‘ is how I relate to Darth Vader. Straight up! The whole song is about Star Wars, the six movies, and how I relate to him! I was writing so many fucking songs for this and I wanted to keep myself feeling light-hearted about it. Hot Water always had an agenda with a point in every song. I sweated over them, not always angry, but there was always a specific point. I wanted to loosen up a bit and write thoughts in my head without everything being serious and heavy-handed. You should write about whatever you’re feeling and thinking. The guys thought I was nuts for wanting to write about it, but I thought ‘fuck it’.

Spud: My favourite song is ‘Lo Zee Rose’. Now is that about one person’s experience with weed or is it more general?

Chris: How did you know it was about weed?!

Spud: (laughs) I heard from your interview last night.

Chris: I mean, weed is in it. I smoke a lot. The rest of the band doesn’t but I do. I’d never really sung about drugs. The song is more about how fucking broke I was at the time. As I was thinking about it I was like “Well, I probably shouldn’t spend all my fucking money on grass!”. The song’s not all that about weed, it’s about me. But yeah, I got the name from Chuck (Hot Water)’s wife. It’s from a really cool book about the history of weed in the world. In it there’s a letter from Louis Armstrong to his pot dealer in New York and that was his code word. Which I thought was really cool. It’s kinda like ‘New Eyes Open’ where it’s just me and a light-hearted song about my life.

Spud: What’s next for you guys after you’ve finished touring with Samiam?

Chris: Well, we’ve got some shows down south, just ourselves. And then we have a really short East Coast tour with Planes Mistaken For Stars and Fifth Hour Hero. Then we always take the holidays off and hang out with family and stuff. And then at the end of January we’re doing another tour with Avail on the West Coast. And then we’re looking at going back down to Brazil, and maybe to Australia. Maybe another tour here with the Bouncing Souls tour in February [now confirmed]. That’s when we’ll get back here. Then it’ll just be whatever gets offered to us. Before too long I want to get writing again, though. I don’t want it to be too long before we have a new record. If we’re gonna keep touring I at least wanna have some new songs to play. I don’t wanna do a hundred tours on the same twelve songs. I’m trying to find a bit more of a balance between the time spent writing and the time spent playing. We spent 9 or 10 months we’re on this, but you usually spent 4 or 5 months recording and a year and a half on the road. And that doesn’t seem like you’re giving yourself enough time to write, and that’s what it’s all about, sharing your thoughts and ideas. I’m sure the record label wants us to keep touring and selling the record, but Epitaph’s fucking great. I’m gonna do another record myself, probably on Epitaph, and I’ve told them I just wanna keep writing. Keep touring as well, but at a certain point you gotta get back in the studio or you freak the fuck out!

Try these three interviews

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