Reviving the Future: An Interview with Ryan Fergus of Lucky Boys Confusion

Last week, Lucky Boys Confusion released their first new single in nearly a decade. “It’s After Midnight” is an aggressive rock song that finds a slick balance of crunching harmonies balanced against a swirling story of a relationship spiraling out of control.

As a long-time fan of Lucky Boys Confusion, the song is a refreshing answer to the curiosity of what a band that hasn’t written a full record for almost 15 years looks to create, and how it balances against the rest of their career. For a smaller band, Lucky Boys Confusion has an exceptionally strong and loyal fan base that follows them from show to show, and “It’s After Midnight” certainly beckons their attention.

With just a month until the release of new album Stormchasers, I spoke with drummer Ryan Fergus about the build up leading to its creation and what it means for the future.

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First off, “It’s After Midnight” is awesome. I’ve been listening to it since it was released and it really feels organic for the band. Do you think it reflects how the album sounds stylistically, or does it branch and venture out more?

Oh thanks! Yeah, we’re really excited about it and it’s been getting a lot of really great feedback. You know, when you go away for as long as we did, and we really created this record in a vacuum, you get a little bit nervous. We really love this, we’re really jacked about this but we don’t know how people are going to receive it. It was such a relief to finally get at least one song out there to kind of show people what we’ve been working on, and the reception has been really positive, which is really encouraging for the rest of the record.

To answer your question, it would definitely be a song that we thought would kind of bridge the gap, so to speak, in terms that it does sound reminiscent of a lot of songs off of Commitment or Throwing the Game. It’s really reminiscent of the How to Get Out Alive EP, but it is a bridge. There are a lot of songs on the record that sound like the older stuff, but there is some modernization and maturity to it and we’re trying different things.

It’s probably our most cohesive record. It’s very fortuitous that we’re talking today, as we just got the final master of the whole record back today. To hear everything together as one rolling, cohesive piece, I’m just on cloud nine right now. We’re really pumped up about it.

That’s fantastic! I was going to say, the single reminds me of How to Get Out Alive. It’s interesting that it’s more cohesive. Closing Arguments, I know it was a mix of demos and B-sides, but it did feel like a patchwork of songs.

Yeah, it wasn’t as coherent. It was basically seeds of what would have been the next record, and obviously that would have changed a lot. And we had a chance to start fresh. We didn’t revisit any of those old pieces so this is all new ideas and arrangements. All new ideas we really cooked up in the last year, year and a half. Once we started working on it and decided that we could do this, it all came together very quickly. It does feel like one piece. There’s no little skips, there’s no 30-second interludes – it’s 12 songs, and it’s a story.

Really, it’s closure in a lot of ways. That’s not to imply that this is the last thing we’re ever going to do, because if anything, we’re more invigorated than ever. What I mean by that is everything that happened to us over the last four of five years, we didn’t really comment publicly on it. Most notably, our guitarist, Joe Sell died suddenly, tragically and very young. I think we left a lot of people in a lurch. We didn’t really have a way of addressing everything we’ve been through in the last few years.

This is kind of our statement to everything that has gone down and what we’ve been through, and there were some pretty dark times, I won’t lie. But I think this has been really therapeutic for us, and we’re all in a really good place. And we’re excited to be working together. We really couldn’t be more pleased with how everything came out.

Everyone has been kind of focused on their side projects for quite some time. Was it natural to be writing together again? Especially since Stubhy (Pandav) and Adam (Krier) went their own way for a while and wrote in their own ways for so long, did things mesh well when everyone came together again?

Yeah, it felt like home, I think, a lot for all of us. Especially for the two of them from a song writing perspective. What happened after Joe passed, it kind of spun us all out in different directions. For Jason (Schultejann) and Adam, they started AM Taxi. Stubhy had multiple projects that he was involved in. My project was kind of having a normal life. Having a job, getting married, having two great kids and living a more normal day-to-day. To do that and then come back into this, and bring a lot of lessons learned with maturity, the things we’ve gone through and bring those together… It was comforting.

The joke of it is, the creative part of this thing has been the easy part. The songs really came together quick, we didn’t have a lot of knock-down, drag-out arguments about arrangements. Even the recording process was a really smooth situation. Honestly, the difficult part for us has been everything else.

We’re doing this completely self-sufficient. There’s no label, there’s no manager, nobody. If anything, the difficult aspect of setting this up and launching it is that we’re doing everything on our own. Every day is a thousand tiny decisions with a constant text thread between the four of us during all hours of the night, starting at 7:30 in the morning. It’s just an ongoing dialogue for a year of, “Hey, did you call that guy?” or “Johnny K (producer) needs an answer today for the mix.” The difficult part has just been the little technical aspects. The creative part was actually quite wonderful and really did feel like coming home again.

Listening to “It’s After Midnight”, the lyrics are about a pained relationship, and they’re fairly vindictive. Lucky Boys have been known for a slight storytelling aspect as much as you are for party songs. With everything that has happened, is Stormchasers more of a serious record, then?

It’s not a kind record, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. If anything, it’s a celebration record. It’s celebrating life, death, love, losing love. All the aspects that kind of make up the human condition. There are darker aspects and you can make the claim that the world is going in a darker direction than it was five or 10 years ago. It’s definitely a reflection, and I think people will see a lot of things they identify with on the record.

There’s a lot of stuff about Stubhy’s marriage, which he’s been very open about and I’m proud of him that it’s out there. But his marriage ended. He’s since fallen in love again, engaged and getting married this summer so it’s been this roller coaster in a lot of ways. He’s been very transparent about that. There are a lot of lines on the record, where you just go, “Wow, he went there.” And I’m so proud of him for not holding that back and not pulling punches.

In that regard, I think people will be surprised at the lengths we’ve gone with some of this stuff and ultimately, it’s a lot of things people will identify with. We got older, but a lot of the folks that are listening to us have been along for the ride and gotten older too. They’ve got responsibilities, they’ve got relationships they’re maintaining and dealing with, someone in their family that have been through some pretty tough times as well. It’s stuff people can relate to, tear apart and identify with.

Speaking of the fan base, I just moved to Chicago a few years ago, and everyone I’ve met who has any kind of interest in rock music knows who Lucky Boys Confusion are. A lot of them seem to have the same type of story, where it’s almost an urban legend where someone finds a copy of Throwing the Game tucked away in a closet somewhere and just falls in love with it after listening to it. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed being at live shows, it’s a lot of the same people coming again and again, talking about past shows. Do you pick up on that from the fan base in general?

It’s stunning to me. It’s stunning to all of us. I’m not sure that you know this, but this year is actually our 20 year anniversary. We started this band when we were 18 years old and just out of high school, and there are a lot of people who have been there since year one or year two. It’s unbelievable. We’re starting to get to the point where some of these folks are starting to bring their kids. Their kids are old enough to go to shows now. It’s definitely a surreal thing.

But you’re right, there are so many stories about, “my older brother left the CD with me before he went to college and then I got into you guys.” It’s really been amazing, and what we’ve kind of said all along is that if they keep coming, then we’re going to keep showing up.

Especially for this long stretch here where we weren’t putting out any new content and you start to think, it’s gotta be here, right? You’re gonna start to see a drop off, kids are going to stop coming and we’re kind of back where we started, playing for 30 people. But so far, that hasn’t happened.

That was definitely in the back of our minds, but these folks have been coming out to hear the same older songs for however long now and we owe them something new. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that we wanted to come out with something new, especially for the folks that have been around for so long and have been patient and just waiting. We thought maybe there never would be a record. We’re excited to make that happen for the diehards throughout the many years and we’re just so appreciative of that.

I know it’s a hack question, but do you have a favorite song off of the new record?

[sigh] No, it’s a great question. [laughs]

No, it’s probably changing by the day. Again, it’s a record that finally feels like a whole thing. But we’ve got a song called “Sun In My Eyes” that’s probably going to be our next single. That’s going to come out this month, actually when the preorder goes up on iTunes and whatnot. But I think it’s going to throw some people for a curve ball. It’s a bit more different than anything we’re really tried. “It’s After Midnight” is a call to arms and the announcement that we’re back and Lucky Boys are grown up. “Sun In My Eyes”, I think is something totally different. It’s poppy, kind of a mystical tune but it really crunches, it really rocks. It still feels like us, and I’m really digging that right now.

We close the record with a tune called “Candle in the Window” and it’s the same thing, it’s really different. It sound kind of like an old Elvis Costello B-side or something. It’s really powerful and kind of punctuates the record. And there are a lot of different fields and different directions. Listening to it today as a cohesive piece, it really feels like one statement. I’m really excited to get it out there.

Lastly, what do you think Stormchasers means for the future of Lucky Boys Confusion, especially after you said everyone seems more invigorated now than they have been for a while?

You know, its funny. I like serial dramas on Hulu, like “The Americans” and shows like that, and a lot of these shows are in a bubble. They don’t always know if they’re going to be renewed, so what they do is have this year end finale that wraps up the current storyline and resolves those problems, but it leaves the door open for more story. I think it’s an analog to Stormchasers in that, if it ends up being the last record, I think it’s turning the last pages of the book.

But it’s not a full resolve. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of time, a lot of hard work, a lot of intense moments here and there, but overall this was a really pleasant, really great experience. A lot of that was based on working with our producer, Johnny K, who is just amazing. He produced it, engineered it, mixed it so that this became one single vision.

I would feel very open, and I think the way the guys are feeling right now, that they would probably agree that there’s no reason that this couldn’t be the beginning of a really nice creative era for us. This year is really about the new record, and celebrating the 20 year anniversary. We really want to mark that and will probably be doing some stuff later in the year to mark that. It’s kind of a big deal – not many bands get to 20 years.

But there’s nothing saying that there couldn’t be more in the future, especially with as excited as everybody is right now. It’s definitely viable.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has been to a Lucky Boys Confusion show at least once every year for a decade. Their shows have never once gotten stale in that time. It really was an honor to talk to someone who has kept the attention of myself and my nonsense friends for that long. My apartment suddenly smells like spray paint, and that can’t be great.

Rewriting History: An Interview with Robert Ortiz of Escape the Fate

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I believe [our new album] will transcend everything that Escape the Fate has ever been and everything that you’ve ever known Escape the Fate to be. Whatever old shit that fans want to always rehash, it will all go away. It will all be history. This will define Escape the Fate. – Robert Ortiz

A lot has changed since Escape the Fate’s first run on Warped Tour in 2006. Since their explosion on the scene, the band attained a major label record deal, underwent a few sonic reformations and weathered multiple major lineup changes, including the transition from one rock star vocalist to another. It’s been a long, fascinating road.

Whether the band was on the brink of rock radio stardom or reigning as kings in the post-hardcore scene, one thing Escape the Fate never could seem to shake was their bad boy image – one that was bolstered by inner-band strife and a constant stream of unsavory press. Now over a decade into their career and on the brink of what the band is calling their defining release, the focus appears much less blurry-eyed and hazy. Escape the Fate are ready to get serious.

When we caught up with Robert Ortiz at the Noblesville, Indiana, date of this year’s Warped Tour, the drummer had just finished a workout and excitedly spoke of the band’s forthcoming album and the chance for a new start. According to Ortiz, Escape the Fate is more determined than ever, and with the help of a certain star producer, has captured the true essence of the band for the very first time.

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You’re on the last leg of Warped Tour – how has this summer been for you?

Warped’s been great, man. Every day has been interesting. We’re veterans now at this point – we’re one of the older bands, which is kind of weird. I don’t like that because I’m so fucking young. Some of the younger bands are older than us – it’s weird. But, you know, it’s been great. It’s been really cool to see how our band has stayed relevant over the years.

You can buy the band's 2013 album Ungrateful on iTunes.

You can buy the band’s 2013 album Ungrateful on iTunes.

Through all of the ups and downs that my band has had, a lot of people still love it. They’re very passionate about us and what we do, and they get that we’re very important to the entire scene and the entire movement and everything that Warped Tour stands for. We were a little worried when we first thought about doing Warped Tour again, because we haven’t done it in six years. We were a little worried that maybe we don’t fit in anymore – and fuck that. We hella do and we’re grabbing new fans; young fans that have never heard us. We’re also keeping our older fans that have been with us for a long time and the shows have been outstanding.

Every day is fun. We’re making a lot of friends, we’re hanging out. Yesterday, I hung out with Ashley [Purdy] from Black Veil Brides, and that night I hung out with New Years Day, who I hang out with every day anyway. It’s just a fun time out here and I’m really enjoying it, even though sometimes you’ve gotta deal with the weather, but it’s all good.

You mentioned new fans, and Escape the Fate is a band that has kind of evolved their sound. For a lot of bands to do some of the things that you guys have done, there’s a risk of losing that core fan base. But it seems like you’ve not only kept that, but have grown your fan base. Has it been intentional to bring new people in?

I mean, in terms of the music itself, no. The music itself really just comes down to whatever we’re into – whatever we’re feeling. If one of us had a friend who just passed away, we write a song about it. If one of us, you know, is into something really heavy and weird with bouncy rhythms, we write that type of sound. If one of us is love, we write a love song. We don’t think about it too much. The sounds evolve, new things happen, new things catch your ear.

For us it’s never about that. The way we go about promoting our band after we finish the music, that’s where the challenge is. We’ve taken many risks: we’ve done the rock radio tours, we’ve dealt with Godsmacks and the Seethers of the world, and it doesn’t always work. A lot of those fans aren’t receptive. Once you have a hit, they know who are, but unless you have a true hit, a lot of times they just don’t really care because they don’t have that kind of time. They just want something that they know is good and solid, they can believe in and they’ll go watch you and support you.

Whereas out here on Warped Tour, you have a lot of young fans who are taking chances. They want to hear something new. They’re going, “What do you got? Show me.” So you’ve got a completely different mentality. They’re both awesome and they both suck for different reasons, you know? As far as the music itself, though? We write it for us.

This spring, before Warped Tour, the word was that you guys were starting to work on a new album. Can you give any updates about where you’re at with that?

Yeah, absolutely! We’re so fucking excited about it, man. We truly poured our hearts into this. We have every single emotion that has ever been trapped inside of us. We basically spent our whole lives building up to this album. Every experience we’ve ever had, personally – with our hearts, with our minds and as musicians in our career – it’s all led up to this album.

We put it all together and I believe it will transcend everything that Escape the Fate has ever been and everything that you’ve ever known Escape the Fate to be. Whatever old shit that fans want to always rehash, it will all go away. It will all be history. This will define Escape the Fate. We worked on it for, like, seven months straight, just writing and writing and writing. We only recorded it in about three weeks, because it wasn’t about the production. It was about the songs.

At this point, we’re just about done. We’ve got the track listing, we’ve got all of this stuff, now we’re just working on how are we going to release it, how are we going to have the most impact. So we’re looking at probably an October release date. We just got the very first edit of our first music video that will be released, and I can tell you that it’s going to be a song that we’ve been playing on Warped Tour. So, you know, if you stick around for our late set tonight, you’ll hear it. It’s called “Just the Memory” and it’s a brutal song. We’re very excited about it – it should be out around October.

Did you guys work with a producer on this album?

Yes, we worked with Howard Benson – the great Howard Benson. It was amazing because when we started, we had some names, but we weren’t sure where our band would be. There were so many ups and downs that people don’t really want to take chances: “That band’s done. Who cares?” Then we slowly worked our way up to different producers that wanted to work with us and believed in what we want to do.

Howard Benson was one of my dream producers. I told our manger, “Dude, do you think we could ever work with this guy? I’ve always wanted to and he worked with My Chem.” That was a band, to me, that represented what we do, which is something that’s unique – a little raw, a little dirty. To make a great song, with their unique style, that’s what I want, because we’re unique, but we haven’t captured that song and those groups of songs in an album that really defines us.

He gave us a chance. Luckily, his daughter was fan and the planets aligned. He’s given us a chance and he taught us not how to write a song, but to just keep writing until you know in your heart you have the right songs. He lent us his ear and said, “This is a good one.” We may not have heard it at the time, so he would just teach us. He was like, “Who cares about this drum roll? Who cares if it’s not that fancy? The fucking song is there – the main part. What do people listen to? They listen to vocals and lyrics and melodies. That’s what your focus is, so work on that.”

So this album, I didn’t even give a fuck about drums and I’m the drummer! This time, we focused on vocals, melodies and lyrics – myself included. Everything else came out secondary to benefit that.

You guys have had a lot of different member transitions through the years. Is it different now when it comes to writing? What was it like this time around?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; it was very different this time around. It’s the best experience of my life. I never wanted to leave the studio. I think I lost my mind while I was in there. I mean that sincerely – I genuinely lost my mind. I went fucking crazy, for one, because I was living in a hotel for months. When we weren’t completely dedicated and busy, you kind of sit around like, “What do I fucking do with my life?”

I didn’t want to leave, though. I was afraid to go home. I didn’t want to play this tour. I was in a writing zone – just so focused. You asked about differences – before, it was like a factory, like, “Here’s this riff, here’s this vocal, let’s record it and go back on tour and make some money.” That got so lame to me. It felt like we lost our heart. Now, we always worked very hard on it, but we truly lost what it meant to dig into a song and make it mean something. Like, what’s the point? Why are we making songs if we don’t need to make them?

These songs now, we’re desperately pouring our hearts and our souls out. It’s not like, “We need an album, guys.” It’s like, “No, our band is broken up – we’re done. So what are we going to do? I need to write a song, because that’s what I do. I’m a fucking artist.” This time around, there was so much creativity. We were throwing ideas back and forth and we all helped each other. We all let our guard down, which is hard for any artist to do because you’re so controlling of your own thing and you’re a little embarrassed to show people some of your ideas. You don’t always show them the good shit because you think it’s going to be lame or something.

This time, it’s just, “Every idea you’ve got – put it out there.” We didn’t take any offense if somebody didn’t like it, we just wanted each other to be the best we could be and it was a true bonding experience. I love my band mates more that ever. We’re brothers. We grew together because we actually opened our hearts to each other with this record and we got closer because of it.

You talked about being veterans in this scene. What do you feel has changed the most for you and the band during this time? Has it been maturity as songwriters and as people?

I think, I mean, you just said it – it’s maturity. Maturity on every single level. I used to walk around this tour just pissed off because of my band members always fucking up and people being stupid. I was always mad. I didn’t want to deal with people. I didn’t care. I assumed that everyone who was in rock and roll was a drug addict like my band mates. I was just an asshole.

As an artist, we thought we were the shit, but we were also very, very insecure at the same time. We thought everyone fucking hated us. Now, when you have a little bit of, not hindsight, but where you can take a step back and take a look at everything as a big picture, we’ve fucking been able to do something that most people dream of doing – and that’s to make money doing something that you love doing. And so, we’re just fucking content. We’re happy. We chill. We make friends with other bands and it’s a fucking good time.

One last question: You talked about a lot of younger bands being out here now – is there anyone that’s caught your eye this summer?

It’s Warped Tour – there’s a lot to like. What sucks is that most of the time when I’m hearing these bands, because we’re busy and there’s always something to do, I’ll just be walking around and be like, “What’s this sound? It’s fucking amazing. I love it!” So I’ll sit and watch the whole song but they don’t say their band name, but I’ve gotta leave, so…fuck. But one of the bands that I have recognized is a band called Palisades, who I love. There’s just so much energy. They’re just fucking unrelenting. They have some big choruses, too. Them and Our Last Night – I fucking love that band.

Writing our new album really made me fall in love with music again. I became so jaded and it became a job to me. Writing the record made me realize why I love music and why I’m so enthralled by it. Listening to all of the new bands and new sounds…I’m not that fucking jaded dude anymore. It used to be like, “Fuck all these kids. This music is fucking garbage! The old shit is better.” I grew up like that because I’m a metal head, so anything from the 80s was my shit, even though that was before my time. Now I’m just open to it. There are a lot of great artists out here. I can’t name them all – just look at the poster.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Playing With Fire: An Interview with Brooks Paschal of Sullivan

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Even after their untimely disbandment in 2007, it never felt like Sullivan were totally gone. After the Greensboro, North Carolina, rockers had officially parted ways, various members soldiered on with new bands and side projects that all carried a hint of Sullivan’s appeal. When three of the members formed secret band The Afterlife Kids a few years ago, you could feel something brewing.

The tricky part about these sorts of reunions is capturing the spark that made a band so appealing in the first place. In the case of Sullivan, could the band rekindle the unique brand of black magic that set them apart from the rest of the emo pack? With the release of new album Heavy is the Head, the answer is clear: Sullivan is back and better than ever.

Lead singer Brooks Paschal recently took some time to talk to It’s All Dead about the Sullivan renaissance – how their time away served the band well and why their previous albums were just a primer for what was to come.

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It seems like the response to Heavy is the Head has been extremely positive thus far. How does it feel to have such support from your fan base after seven years of inactivity?

It’s unreal, actually. We were lucky in the sense that, from the very beginning, we had a really dedicated base. We did our first real tour in 2004 and I still have a ton of friends from that tour. Connection was a big part of what we did and I think people gravitated toward our sound because it wasn’t in the box.

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You can purchase Heavy is the Head in the Spartan Records webstore.

What was the driving force behind this reunion? Were there ever plans of coming back sooner?

Really, it was just the songs started coming. I wrote a couple of songs, sent it to the guys, and it was just very clear that they were Sullivan tunes. As a songwriter, you have this fairy tale romance with the power of songs. If anything can make something happen, they can.

Projects like The Afterlife Kids and Surprises acted as a holdover for some fans that were anxious for new music. How did those projects help prepare you for Heavy is the Head?

We realized what we were good at. We refined our writing and we explored everything – made a ton of mistakes and hit a couple of home runs. Those projects are just as much alive as Sullivan. We are kind of a clan. We just keep doing it, and sometimes it takes on different shapes and sizes.

You had a fairly high-profile producer in James Paul Wisner produce Cover Your Eyes. What was it like handling the production on your own this time around?

I hated it! Wisner is the best. He isn’t kinda great or really good; he’s the best, period. He understands what we do better than we do. We made the record ourselves, because we could on our own terms. Timing, logistics, and all the other nuances just made it so we could do it ourselves. I want nothing more than to work with James again.

Being so far removed from your past albums, did you feel more freedom to explore new sounds this time around?

I have always felt free; I think it was more about the songs feeling right. It’s hard to explain, but when you don’t force something and it happens in a certain way, it’s just very transparent. You know that it’s right and that there is a reason it happened. The exploration happens in making the song go in a certain direction, but the core of it has to be a natural thing.

Was there a moment during the writing or recording process that things really clicked or you thought, “This is it.”

Once we realized we were making a new record, it was all systems go. It was kinda like the first two songs were validation that we could still make music as Sullivan. There are always checkpoints in a record where you hit a head wind and gain some momentum. Those are the moments that make it all worth it, because you can’t predict them or fabricate them.

Sullivan’s music has always been a bit dark, especially in the lyric department. After so many years and life experiences have passed, was it hard to recapture that? Were the songs driven in any certain direction during the writing process?

It was challenging. When I’m writing, there has to be a backdrop. I have to go “somewhere,” or the song isn’t gonna happen. It really all hinges on that. I hadn’t “gone there” in a very long time, so it was definitely a process. We just like dark, and we are good at it. I think the tension between sweet music and evil ass lyrics is what its all about.

A lot of reunions result in music that fails to meet fan expectations. Heavy is the Head may very well be the band’s best work to date. How does it feel knowing you were able to come back so strong?

It’s really a testament to where we were when we broke up before. Cover Your Eyes was our first real collection of songs. To a lot of people it felt like we quit while we were on top, but really, we had just gotten started as writers. It was the other parts of it that made us hang it up. I don’t think we are anywhere close to done with what we can accomplish.

What do you feel has changed the most in the music scene during Sullivan’s time away? I would imagine promotion of Heavy is the Head required a different approach than Cover Your Eyes.

Everything has changed, it always does. As a producer, I have to constantly keep my eyes open for what the possibilities are. I don’t think we approached it much differently. I think we just want everyone to know that we made another album. It’s a big world out there, and we are just waving our hands.

Your return resulted in a new partnership with Spartan Records. What made this a good home for Sullivan?

John Frazier. We had a relationship with him when we were at Tooth & Nail, and it was just an obvious move. He gets our style, and he has a great understanding of what we want to achieve. We didn’t make the record with intention of having a label, so when we talked to him it was an easy sell both ways. It just made sense.

Are there any current plans to tour behind the album or play any one-off shows or festivals?

Lots of plans, cool things in the works. I don’t kiss and tell.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Christian McAlhaney talks about a possible Acceptance reunion

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Christian McAlhaney of Anberlin, formerly of Acceptance, was recently asked by The Garden Statement about the possibility of an Acceptance reunion tour after Anberlin calls it quits at the end of 2014:

“I don’t think the band would ever get back together, but I definitely feel like some reunion shows would be appropriate for sure. I’ve been trying to organize it for years.”

You can read the full interview here.

Acceptance’s only full length album, Phantoms, turns 10 next year. Would you be excited for an Acceptance reunion once Anberlin is finished? Let us know your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Take heart: An interview with Merriment

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The word merriment is synonymous with fun and joy, and the Tyler, Texas, indie folk duo of the same moniker is currently experiencing plenty of both, having just released their debut album, Sway.

Sure, there’s been lots of hard work and struggle along the way, whether it be defining the band’s sound, distinguishing themselves from their elder siblings in Eisley or learning the touring ropes while on the road. However, all of that hard work has paid off in a big way in the form of one of the year’s most delightful debuts.

Merriment, comprised of Christie and Collin DuPree, are currently touring with Eisley in support of Sway, but that didn’t stop Christie from taking time to chat with It’s All Dead about the band’s origins, growing up in a musical family, and what the future holds for the duo.

How does it feel to finally have the new album out?

It feels awesome. We’re super excited to finally have it out. We finished it over a year ago now, so we were anxious to have it out, and people have been saying some nice things about it, so that’s good! We’re pretty relieved.

It’s been pretty common knowledge that you and your brother Collin make up Merriment, but on the cover of Sway, there’s a third person. Who is it?

Everyone keeps asking me that, it’s so funny! He’s actually our drummer and our cousin. His name is Remington, but so far we have only done a few tours playing full band with him, so not everyone has seen him play with us.

So you have been doing this for awhile, but is there an exact point where Merriment became a real band, or was it more of a process or growth into what it is now?

It’s a little of both. I mean, we kind of started out just playing music for fun, writing and playing shows and stuff. At one point we realized that we were getting more opportunities handed to us and more tours and things like that.

That was around the same time that we had decided to come up with the band name Merriment and use that instead of just going by my solo thing. It kind of just evolved naturally, but at the same time it’s something that we definitely always wanted to do.

You obviously grew up in a music family – your older siblings are in Eisley – and I wonder what that was like for you growing up. Did they influence you in your musical tastes or push you in creating your own art in any way?

I would say, they definitely have influenced us, but we all grew up in the same house, listening to the same music together. We all started playing music for the same reasons – because we love it. Their sound specifically, I wouldn’t say that we’re trying to do the same thing that they are, but any similarity is purely coincidence because we’re brothers and sisters and our voices sound similar.

What was the writing process like for you and Collin? Did it change for you at all as you put together Sway?

Yeah, we had a lot more time to focus on this record. The EP that we did was recorded in [about] a week and the songs had already been written for a while. We were about to be out on the road at that point, so we just kind of tracked them and put it out.

But with the record, we had more time to focus on it. Collin and I wrote a lot of the songs together, whereas before it was just me writing the songs and then sending them to him to write his guitar parts and stuff. So he contributed just as much as I did during the writing process of this record.

I think because of that, the sound is a little more developed as opposed to our EP, which was just me. There’s a different voice on the record, which is Collin’s voice, and I think it brings a cooler element, just because I’m a fan of Collin.

You recorded the album in your hometown of Tyler, Texas. What was your favorite part of the recording process?

The whole process was lots of fun. We actually re-tracked everything in a couple of weeks with Charlie Brand of Miniature Tigers – he produced it. He was just so much fun to work with and he’s such a funny guy.

We all worked together really well and there were no major hang-ups or anything, so the whole process was really easygoing and fun. I don’t know if there’s anything that sticks out to me as my favorite part, but it was a fun process.

There’s an obvious growth in sound on Sway. In seems like you dabble a bit in folk, Americana and even a bit of alt-country. What influenced you as you moved towards a new sound?

Honestly, I don’t know. Influences and stuff – that’s a hard question for me because I listen to a lot of different stuff from any range of the spectrum. I listen to a little bit of Taylor Swift, a little bit of John Mayer, and then there’s Radiohead, Civil Wars – I feel like there’s not one specific genre that I listen to.

If things have influenced my writing, it’s not a conscious thing. It kind of just happens without me knowing it. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint what things influence what. The lyrics are one thing, but the music style is just kind of what comes to me naturally. I guess I wouldn’t really know what inspires it specifically.

It seems like a lot of lyrics on the album almost transition back and forth between very honest and reality-based to more to detached or dream-like, on a song like “Backwards”. What is the ratio for you between songs that tell of your own experience and songs that tell stories that you come up with?

I would say that most of them are personal stories, whether or not they’re something that I was going through at that moment or stuff that happened in the past. There were maybe only a couple songs that were lyrically random, I guess. A song like “Two Worlds” was just something that I wrote and thought it sounded cool and wasn’t about anything very specific. So there’s a little bit of both, but probably more on the side of personal experience.

There’s really a whole family atmosphere around all of you – you’re touring with Eisley right now, you’re signed to your brother-in-law Max’s record label. How important is that togetherness been for you as Merriment develops?

Our family is all super closer and they’re all super supportive of us and what we do. I feel lucky, honestly, to get to travel with my family, at least for now. It’s so much fun. We’re all best friends and we all get along.

It would definitely be a different experience if I were just in a band with a bunch of random friends. I’m sure that would be good too, but my family is very important to me. I would definitely say that it helps inspire me because I grew up in a house full of music and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Is there any particular band making music right now that you would enjoy touring with or working with?

Yes! I always answer this question the same way, but Good Old War is kind of my favorite band right now and I think their fans and our fans would appreciate both of our music. I guess that would be a good tour for us just because – I don’t know if our music style is very similar, but I think our fans would like them and vice versa.

Have you noticed a change in audience reaction now that you’ve been out on tour and the new album is out?

Oh yeah, definitely. It’s just crazy because the album has only been out for a few days, but already there’s been kids singing along to the new songs. It almost makes me get teary-eyed when I see somebody singing our new songs because it means that they really like it, which is awesome for me. I’m just really glad that there are people that are responding so well to the record. It’s been awesome.

Right now you’re on tour with Eisley – what other plans do you have for the support of Sway during the remainder of 2014?

We’re probably going to be back out on the road in June or July. I’m not exactly sure who we’ll be touring with yet, but our booking agent is talking to a few people and we’re trying to work out all of the details and stuff. But we’re definitely going to be touring a lot, which I’m excited about.

So far, we’ve only really toured with Eisley because it made sense financially for us and them, because we would travel with them and they needed an opener that their fans would like. It’s just worked out that way so far and we’ve been so lucky to have so much touring experience while being able to do it with family to where it wasn’t this big, daunting, scary thing.

It was just natural for us because we grew up doing it this way. I’m definitely excited to be touring with some other bands in the near future – that will be really fun.

You can buy Sway on iTunes and catch the band on their current tour.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

It’s All Dead Podcast Episode: 005 – Interview with Pigeon John

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On the latest installment of the official It’s All Dead Podcast, Los Angeles rapper Pigeon John drops by to talk to Kiel about his new album Encino Man, how being a father has impacted his music, what he envisions for the future of hip hop, and how persistence and hard work have payed big dividends in his journey through the underground hip hop scene. Take a listen!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

Also, be sure to pre-order Encino Man before it drops on April 29!

Posted by Kiel Hauck