Manchester Apollo – 12 November 2006
Backstage at Taste Of Chaos lives up to the name… there are like a million bands to soundcheck, a maze of winding staircases, dressing rooms, interview rooms, shower rooms and of course the main stage. People are everywhere, organising rehearsing or just hanging out and security is tight. There are bands here that aren’t even here to play – they are just here to have fun and support friends! I made my way to the Senses Fail dressing room where Garrett was intently typing away on his laptop, and waited for tour manager Damon to find Dan, who he had temporarily lost!
Minutes later Dan arrived and after a bit of hand shaking and brief introductions we got down to business:
E. So how are you finding the tour so far?
D. So far it’s been great…we are about a month into it now, which feels like two years ‘cos it’s been so long! We went to New Zealand first and then Australia and then Japan and most of Europe. We did Germany last and we just got here a couple of days ago. So it’s been great but it’s very long!
E. Do you think that your under more pressure being part of a big tour like this rather than doing your own tour, or do you think it’s less pressure because obviously you have a shorter time slot to fill onstage?
D. I’d say probably a little less pressure, because, like you said, we’re not headlining, we only have to play for a half hour and we’re the second or third band out of six or something, so we get done early and we can go mess around or whatever afterwards. But I mean there’s also the pressure of keeping up with the other bands, the other bands are really good.
E. A little bit of competition…
D. Yeah and it’s all friendly competition but you’ve gotta be able to put on your own show just as well as everybody else and you need to feel like your up to par with everybody else – that’s the only thing that’s sometimes like ‘oh man!’, you know, ‘is our set as good as their set?’.
E. Still Searching is your second full length album – what has feedback been like so far for that, have you heard much?
D. I think good, I mean I’ve read a couple of magazine reviews that we’ve gotten and people seem to like it, and the kids are into it which is really cool. I met a girl outside just before who had me sign her CD case, and she was like ‘Oh, it’s a great album – much better than the last one’ so I’m like ‘alright, cool, I’ll take that!’
E. I heard that there were some rather critical messages posted on your internet site where you had fans of the first album complaining about a couple of songs they had heard from the second album.
D. I think people were bummed out that from the songs they heard right off the bat there wasn’t enough screaming I guess, and I think people were a little butt-hurt about that! I think that is just a part of the band and the music evolving and getting smarter in a way. Going into it, it wasn’t like a conscious thing where we were like ‘oh, were not gonna scream on this record’, but we just did it. We tried to do it more tastefully, and just where it was needed and where it seemed to suit the songs and not just do it for the sake of doing it which a lot of bands do – it just becomes overused and contrived and, you know, loses integrity I think.
E. So how did you deal with those kind of comments?
D. Well I think anytime that a band comes out with a new record that’s not exactly the same as their last record, there’s always gonna be people that are really psyched, and get it, and are like ‘oh this is a lot better’ and ‘these parts make more sense now’. But there will be those people that always want you to keep releasing the same record that they fell in love with the first time, and that’s just one of things you’ve gotta deal with.
E. If you did release pretty much the same songs I guess you would never grow as a band
D. Yeah, exactly!
E. Calling All Cars is going to be the first single released from the album, which is due out soon (November 20th), what are your hopes and expectations for that single?
D. I don’t know, I try not to expect too much, you know, and I just hope people like it
E. You have a video out for that already don’t you?
D. Yeah, yeah…so we’ll see. We’ll see what happens!
E. I think that the new album, lyrically, seems to be a lot more personal and more up close than previous material…do you (all) feel a little bit conscious that because the lyrics are so personal they are kinda laid bare for everyone to speculate upon?
D. Well I think the lyrics are definitely more sincere, but it’s hard for me to say because I’m not the one who writes all the lyrics, but I’m proud of the lyrics that Buddy wrote and he’s really come a long way with his writing over the past however many years we have been doing this. I mean, it’s very honest, there’s a lot less use of metaphors and big words and stuff and it’s very straight up and you know that that’s him right there. He’s talking about his life and the shit that he’s gone through over the past couple of years or whatever.
E. I think that people really appreciate that honesty too
D. I think that people can see through and know that they’re real lyrics and that it’s real shit that he’s talking about.
E. So, if I can go back to the beginning…how did the band form? It was in 2002, right?
D. Yeah coming up on five years, so that’s pretty good.
E. Did you all know each other before?
D. Garrett and Buddy had known each other briefly from playing in bands beforehand, and Dave (our old guitarist) as well. It’s really weird how I came into the mix – I was in a band with two kids then we broke up and they started playing in a band with Dave. Then they broke up, and I just randomly got talking to Garrett online, and like, I was looking for people to play with, he was looking for people to play with and so we met up with each other. We started playing, and then Dave and our very, very original bass player Mark came into the mix like a week later. We all started playing and then Buddy came, and it was just really weird how it happened but it really just kind of snowballed.
E. How do you think that you have grown together both musically and personally since that time, so over the last five years?
D. A lot, I mean like when we first started playing, well for me at least, we didn’t really even know each other and we were just doing it because we wanted to play music and that was pretty cool and pretty sincere. But now we’ve been touring for fucking ever, and have had to live with each other all the time, you know, so it’s like you have to either become really close or you end up hating each other and it doesn’t work out. So as you can see, things are okay and especially ever since Heath joined the band we’ve all been a lot tighter and we’ve had a good time in the last year, so it’s all cool.
E. How do you feel about being compared to other bands that are from New Jersey, bands like Saves The Day or Thursday – do you mind that or would you rather step away from the comparisons?
D. Well obviously we’d always like to be thought of as our own band and not as something that’s a knock-off of something else, but also being compared to those bands is cool because they are really awesome bands and they are all really awesome guys too, so…yeah it’s fine with me!
E. I think that the new album allows you to break away from that a bit more, as like you say, it does have a different sound
D. Yeah, I think so.
E. Okay, so from what I have read, you seem to have done pretty well in the States, Australia and Japan…do you see this as your big chance to really break the UK?
D. Yeah I’m hoping so, we’ve gotten pretty positive feedback from the record so far. Kerrang has been really cool to us and Rock Sound, and we’ve been getting a decent amount of press. The shows we’ve played so far – Birmingham and Glasgow last night – they were both incredible, really great and it’s like a breath of fresh air coming out of Germany. Germany’s great, but it’s just very different, and so it’s cool to get into the UK.
E. You apparently recorded the album in a haunted house…did you see any evidence of the supernatural?!
D. There were a couple of weird things that happened, I mean it was weird at the time but thinking back…I don’t know, it’s hard to say if anything was really going on. There was just weird shit like the frickin garbage can lid flew off in the middle of the night across the room! Brian McTernan (the producer) has got three dogs, and he had done records there before we made our record. He had brought two of his dogs to the studio before and both of them wouldn’t go upstairs in the house – they would just sit at the bottom of the stairs and look up! So then when we went to the studio he brought his other dog who had never been there before and we tried to see if he would go upstairs – he wouldn’t go up there either so that was kinda weird! Eventually though I think someone picked him up and carried him upstairs and once he got there he was okay. You know, it’s just like little weird stuff like that which kinda plays with your head more than anything else, and I think that’s how people get scared.
E. That place was out in the middle of a small town wasn’t it – do you feel that it was better to get away and be somewhere that is quite isolated so that you can focus on producing your album?
D. I don’t think it could have been any more perfect, honestly, I mean other than the weather – it rained a lot, but big deal, we were inside you know. We were in a small town, there’s like nobody there during the week and it’s like a ghost town, and then on the weekends it’s Woodstock, so it’s a big touristy place on the weekends. But yeah, we lived in this house that was as close to the studio as this venue is from the tour buses outside, so it was right there for us and we were just there doing what we needed to do.
E. I guess it saves you from being distracted as well?
D. Yeah, I mean originally we had thought about going out to LA to record but there’s just like, there’s just too much going on there and too much chance of ‘oh well, let me finish my stuff early so I can go out tonight’ and we didn’t wanna do that, we wanted to stay very focused.
E. Well it worked, you have produced a really good album.
D. Thank you.
E. As for the recording, there are quite a few effects that were used to produce the album and a lot of layering of your recordings – do you find it hard to recreate that sound when you’re playing live at shows like this?
D. Well there’s a lot of stuff, like on The Priest and The Matador for instance or on the first song The Rapture, we’re gonna bring pro tools with us, like we’re not gonna be running vocals or anything or cheating, it’s just there’s certain instruments that we can’t play so we’ll have it run for that so that you can get the full experience of a few of the songs the way they were meant to be heard live. So that should be cool. I’m excited about that but also a little nervous cos we’ve never done anything like that before, but it should be okay.
E. I’m sure it will sound really good.
E. I was watching the ‘Making of…’DVD, and midway through it almost turns into a cookery programme!
D. What can I say, I like good food…
E. Do you think you might do that again and make another documentary style DVD alongside your recording, as it came across really well.
D. Oh yeah, I thought it was really cool and I’m way into any kind of behind the scenes, like on DVDs I watch all the special features and stuff like that. I love when bands come out with behind the scenes DVDs and live DVDs – I just like seeing everything that goes into either a record or a movie or putting on a show.
E. You seemed to be having a really good time doing it as well…
D. Yeah it was fun, I mean we had these two girls that came and filmed us (well they are actually women I should say, not girls), and they came in a couple of times a week and filmed and then the rest of it was us doing it. It was cool because, you know, we just tried to have fun with it and also it’s cool to watch back. Like when we got our copies of the CD I watched it, and a couple of months from now or something I’ll watch it again and be like ‘oh yeah, I remember that, that was really fun’.
E. For all of the people who are here tonight, maybe more so for the people that haven’t heard your music before, what would you like them to take from it and get out of your music?
D. Well, I would like people to be like ‘wow, they were really good, that was cool, I’m gonna go check them out’. You know, I don’t know what more there is to ask, if people haven’t heard the band hopefully we won’t suck tonight and we’ll be good and they will buy the record and come see us when we come back.
E. So is the plan now just to continue touring?
D. Yeah we’ve pretty much got from now until the beginning of April planned out, and then after that we’ll see. We’re gonna come back for just five or six shows I think at the beginning of February and then we’re gonna do this, the Taste Of Chaos, in the US for two months, and then I’m sure that we’ll be back over here at least another two or three times on this record. Hopefully things will go well!
E. Well best of luck, and I really did enjoy your album.
D. Thank you, that’s awesome, I appreciate it.