John: It feels like forever. We’ve had this record ready since March 2012. It’s kinda been a challenge getting this record out, but it’s been worth it and I think that the timing is right now to release it. Steve is badass, he picked the record up in late May/June of this year and he’s loving it and getting it out there. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a good journey.
Orchid: What do you feel, if anything, sets your upcoming album apart from your previous releases?
John: There’s a lot of things that set it apart. This new record was done in Seattle, which to me is the mecca of all the bands I grew up with and it was on an analog tape, it wasn’t done digitally. It was just a raw, honest record that we put together. I think the sound on this record represents the band perfectly. We solidified our sound in Seattle. I think the albums leading up to this one were prepping us to get us to where we want to be.
Orchid: Are there any songs you are more excited about than others?
John: I think everybody has their favorites. For me, Hard Line, Get A Life and Albatross are my favorites. The music itself is pure rock, in your face and straightforward. Lyrically, the songs can be aggressive, but they’re also vulnerable and honest about where I was in my life and where we were at as a band. They’re songs people will be able to relate to.
Orchid: Were there any specific inspirations that helped foster this album?
John: Getting the green light to go to Seattle was the main inspiration, it was the driving element that made these songs sound better. We were able to explore and get creative with certain things. And there was a lot aggravation, we were really angry. There’s a lot of aggression in this record. All of these things were a perfect mix to create the album. Without going through all those experiences it wouldn’t be the same. We were going through a lot with our former label, going through a lot in our personal lives and so on. When you listen to the record it’s just four musicians letting it all go and leaving everything on the table. It was very therapeutic for us after the record was done, we let go of all our baggage and washed all of that [anger and aggression] away.
Orchid: I noticed in reading your interview with Blast Online Magazine that the album will be independently released. What led to that decision?
John: We had a rough time with our former label and saw a lot of corruption and dishonesty. We went through a lot of what you hear about with vulnerable musicians getting signed. And you can hear a lot of that aggression in our songs.
Orchid: So it must feel really good to be independent!
John: Absolutely, [we have] the freedom to do what we want to do. Not to say we’re against looking at other labels, we’re still interested in signing with someone again, it’s just really good to be independent right now. It feels really good to be able to make your own decisions instead of trying to make an album having one arm tied behind your back. When you get tied in with the wrong people it really shakes you as a performer. We learned our lesson about working with someone who didn’t care about the band or our music.
Orchid: What and/or who inspires you/the band in general, musically and otherwise?
John: I have a great relationship with my dad, he’s my hero. For me, to have a connection with my parents who believe in what I’m doing is really inspiring. When we’re on the road and things aren’t going well, I’ve always been able to call him and really get it out and vent, he’s supportive. As far as artists that inspire me, I’ve always been a big fan of Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains and Sound Garden. Not only did they create a new scene, but they’re still out there doing what they love and killin’ it. They created great music and they were able to stay true to themselves. And we all inspire each other as a band, especially being in a bus for weeks on end. You’re going to have disagreements, but this band communicates very well and we have the same goals and passions for music and that’s important. To follow what you love to do and be dedicated to something bigger than yourself is so important. We’re a compatible mix of musicians. Our new drummer just lays it out. He’s an animal behind the kit, hopefully you can see it live one day and see what I’m talking about. His playing gets me playing hard and just gets the whole band in that zone, it’s like a drug.
Orchid: What made you want to play music for a living?
John: I was in bands in high school and played guitar. I learned Beatles’ covers and things like that. Around 2005 there was just some kind of spark that hit me. Music is something so incredibly intriguing and was something I really couldn’t get away from. Once you find something you’re so passionate about that you’ll do anything to make it happen, it becomes a part of who you are. I wouldn’t be happy not playing, writing and recording music. The beautiful thing about music and the lifestyle that comes with it is that you can always reinvent yourself. If your music is the story book of your life, and I believe in that, the more experiences you have and the better you become, the more self-aware you become.
Orchid: If you could change anything about your experiences and career path, what would it be?
John: I actually asked myself this the other night, it was 3 am, and I was thinking “Well, you know, I wish we were here four years ago.” But then I realized the dynamics of the band wouldn’t be what they are today if we hadn’t gone through all the challenges and hadn’t been down in the trenches. If you had asked me this question a year ago, I could’ve talked to you all day about this. It’s frustrating to want something so bad. We had to go through those challenges to realize what we have now. So I don’t think I would change anything.
Orchid: What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career as a musician or as an artist in general?
John: Get ready to be broke for your passion until you actually make it or until you find out what your passion is. The things you’re doing might not be popular and they might not be something everyone else agrees with, but have perseverance and be open, honest and true to yourself. That’s a big thing for me. You’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of what you care about for the benefit of your passion and creativity and dream, whatever it is. And there’s going to be a lot of struggle. I have a quote from David who worked with us on one of our records. We were young and writing music and he said “You know, you don’t just play music, you have to live music” and that really stuck with me. You can’t second guess yourself.
Orchid: What is your craziest or most memorable road story?
John: We’re in BFE South Carolina going through these back roads and we were incredibly hungover. We pulled into this Mom & Pop one pump gas station in the backwoods. We look over and there’s this little shack and it says “Free Games”. I go inside [the gas station], we pick up some smokes and food and our former drummer comes back and says “Alright guys, they have prison yard dice and stuff in there, it’s like a carnival.” So we get in and spend five bucks and play this game. Before you know it, each member of the band has spent so much money on this stupid game and the only thing we got out of it was a key chain that had a naked girl on it that said Lady Luck. On the rest of the drive, we all talked about how conned we got. I don’t know how we got to put gas in the tank after that. We would start talking about it and then there’d be silence, we were so pissed.
I’ve got one more story. This was before we got picked up by management. We saved up money and did an East Coast run. We booked all these shows, we just booked whatever was available and played places I would never step foot in in a million years. We pulled into a gourmet pizza place called Joe Squared in Baltimore. There were 50-60 people in there with candles and flowers on the table and these old ladies and families in there eating their gourmet pizza and this old jazz band in there was playing some music. We set up and then we unload our first song. I have never seen that many people bolt for the door, we saw 50 hands go up in the air for their checks, little kids are covering their ears, we ran every single person out of that restaurant within the first two songs. It was so funny watching these old people with their walkers trying to get out as fast as they could. So for the rest of the tour, our goal was to run everyone out of the building and we did it. It was hilarious.
Orchid: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the masses?
John: The new record drops September 17th, and the video for Albatross is out in a few weeks. We have accounts on Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and iTunes so people can keep on the lookout for our updates and interviews. We’ve got some really cool streaming “stuff” online. I don’t know how else to say it without giving anything away.
Orchid: It was great talking to you! Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do so.
John: Thank you very much, I really appreciate it! We’ll be making a West Coast run either late this year or early next year, so hopefully we’ll see you out there!