Where are you and your band from?

I think the easy answer here is New York City. Our cellist is native to these parts and my drummer and I have been in NYC for about a decade each. We haven’t sold our plasma or resorted to contemplating moving to New Jersey, so I suppose that makes us honorary New Yorkers. Plus, once you yell at a cab driver that purposefully takes you the wrong way or you aren’t phased by the masturbating hobo on the train, you get your key to the city. Originally, I’m from Kentucky and my drummer is from Boston. We’ve had abysmal shows at both of those locations so maybe NYC is our home after all. 

What type of music did you hear the most growing up? 

I grew up with some hippie dippy parents who exposed me to lots of jam band music as well as bluegrass and celtic. I’ve always been prone to instrumental music for this reason. My parents were dead-heads and followed around the band for years. Then my dad found Jesus, converted and became a pastor. They still traded tapes with other travelers still on the road. It was an odd upbringing but I’m appreciative they showed me the importance of seeing live music, improvisation and staying creative. I eventually rebelled like most kids do and got into punk rock. I studied Operation Ivy, Rancid and Green Day because it was music I could listen to and figure out by ear. The speed of the music taught me dexterity. I’ll never fit in as a bass player and I can trace it back to these days. I was never formally trained and while teaching myself started playing with a pick (gasp). My metronome was the music I was listening to and when I was unable to find tabs on the archaic internet, I made up the bass lines until they sounded close enough. I strayed back to instrumental music as I grew more serious about it. 

What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?

This never seemed like a cognizant choice to me. It just seemed like a natural direction. I remember when I was 15, a year or so after starting to learn bass, that someone asked me if I got into learning bass to ‘get the girls’. It had actually never occurred to me that this would be a motivating factor. It sounded vapid and transparent to me when I was 15 and it’s even more pathetic to me as a grown ass man. If I wanted to become ‘that guy’ I would have stayed in a college town and just busted out my acoustic guitar at parties when no one asked me to and played bad white blues.  I never wanted a full time job but that’s normal growing up. But I also never wanted to have a family or to live in a small town. I needed to be surrounded by art and music. I wanted to move to NYC in high school and had a friend tell me, someone I still see to this day, that it would eat me alive. I took it as a challenge and decided to move there to either swim upstream or drown trying.  

What sets you apart from other bands/artists today?

I think we are living in a strange time for music. On one hand it’s easy for any kid wanting to learn music to be able to learn how to play, record something and release it in the world. On the other hand, that’s exactly the problem. There’s no quality control. EVERYONE is a musician, composer or (shutter) DJ. Music platforms like Soundcloud make it readily available to assault people with your newest, shittiest-to-date mixtape that no one asked for. You rarely get feedback or criticism so you don’t really improve. It also means that there is some amazing music buried under an avalanche of mediocrity. Our band is existing and trying to survive on an archaic model. We are grinding it out when most other bands, full of young kids used to instant access and short attention spans, want to take shortcuts. Before I continue and sound like the old man yelling at teenagers to get off his damned lawn, I want to mention that I’m constantly in a state of flux about evolving and questioning why we are barren salmon swimming to spawn. I don’t hate millennials. They get shit on for no reason other than it’s easier than accepting the past is gone. Not to get political but kids born after the 90s have never known a time when we as Americans haven’t been at war. They also don’t know a time when things weren’t easily accessed. They are resourceful and don’t blindly follow the orders of middle management and an education system that failed them. The point is that we have the ability to create and to showcase our product on so many platforms. It’s unfortunately over-saturation. And our band, still digging our heels in the sand, choosing to grind it out and perform constantly. Other bands choose to do covers and make YouTube channels and be like DJ Fucking Khaled getting famous off of Snapchat or Vine. I mean, what the hell? Why are we writing epic 6 minute scores when we could do 6 second dick pic videos set to dubstep? It’s insulting to be a band as experienced as us having to open up for YouTubers. But we’ll do it. They have a hook into that demographic. The same group of people that don’t normally go to venue shows and discover new bands. So you have to evolve. Playing in the subway might be archaic to some but it has made us solid performers in a sea of bands not used to actual gigging. 

For those who have never seen or heard your music before, how would you describe your music for the public audience?

I’d say our music is like a movie soundtrack but more energetic. Do you remember buying CDs at a store? If you do, you might have been duped into buying a soundtrack score to a movie you really liked. Some of those songs are awesome. And some are pretty naked without the visual component. Our songs are like scene in a movie that blind people could still get down with. We probably can’t use that as an official tagline because it’s insensitive. That’s also assuming your publication has a braille issue. But seriously, the live show is a theatrical circus. It has elements of crowd participation and breaking the fourth wall. We wear masks so it’s easy to assume we are super serious and pretentious about our live shows. We aren’t. It’s a fun time. If we make mistakes, we acknowledge them. We banter between ourselves. We don’t do setlists and we try to remain incredibly self aware. It’s what music shows SHOULD be about. A good time and not just waiting for the next band to come on. 
If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?
We call it Prehistoric Post Rock. But that’s because we are fucking nerds. Otherwise, it’s experimental instrumental. But I only like that because it rhymes. 

Are there any stories surrounding your songs that you’d care to share?

I can tell you a story why I usually don’t divulge meanings of the songs. I have mentioned before that I don’t like to tell people what the songs about. Not because I’m a whiney, emo douche but because they are open for interpretation. What is written for me becomes about whatever the audience hears. It’s not mine anymore after I write it and it can represent ANYTHING to someone else. So, to say this song is about my dog that had to be put down after 17 years could be about your wedding day. Whatever. 
Anyway, I’m a juggler (not a juggalo) and I had known a girl through my circus friends. We were only acquaintances at best but somehow became Facebook friends. She posted a eulogy for her father in a very heartfelt note. The post was poignant, concise and had such a touch of finality to it. It really stuck with me. I had barely ever talked to her and I felt like I knew her. That’s also the danger of social media. She’s an incredibly shy person. In the post she mentioned that her dad dad had a specific nickname for her and that subsequently became the name of one of our songs. So, I wrote the song and it came together super nicely. It had a flair of calliope music to it and played out like a story arc. I knew that I wanted to tell her when we had a recording of it. I waited patiently and when we had a rough mix, I sent it to her with the preface that I didn’t want to cross any boundaries or be weird. I just wanted to say that what she wrote inspired me. Well, she got pretty standoffish about it. And that’s probably my fault. I had completely misread how this was going to play out. I had imagined for months that it would bring her joy. It’s such a private part of me that rarely lets people in to this process so to be that wrong about a situation was humbling. So, just to be safe, every song from now on will be about me getting dumped by my high school girlfriend and seeing her at the mall with another guy. Everyone can relate to that, right?
What do you do with your time away from music?
Well, as I mentioned, I’m an avid juggler and do quite a bit of teaching and coaching. I sometimes perform as well. But it’s not my forte. I can tell you that I’ve done over 1,000 music shows in my life and I was more nervous to juggle for children than at any of my other shows. I also am really into skateboarding. But I’m more of a voyeur these days. I used to skate quite extensively. I sorta stopped out of worry for fucking up my wrists and hands. Can’t take that chance in my line of work. I should mention for the sake of transparency that when I was skating I was more of an inline skater. I know… shower me with hate and boos. A fruitbooter. But our crew rolled alongside skateboarders at skate parks, town squares, pavilions and eventually police stations when we got arrested for it. I spent the better part of the late 90s and early 2000’s skating. I was around for the first X Games and for when Woodward was being built. These days, I’m much more into watching skate videos and keeping up with the world. It’s so different now. I used to read Thrasher every month and just marvel at the pictures. These days, it’s straight on Instagram and forgotten. I love seeing the evolution of a trick and the inevitable failing and falling. I’m really digging Thrasher’s “Rough Cut” video series. It’s every attempt and no flashy editing or music. That’s literally grinding it out. I’m seeing the muscle memory forming and brain formulating a battle plan to accomplish something. Something, I should mention that most other people see as pointless. On the other hand, I love big productions like “We are Blood” even though it represents the privileged elite of skateboarding. But goddamn, that filming and editing was beautiful. Any movie that starts off with Battery by Metallica gets a pass in my book. 
I also see a lot of parallels with the trajectory of making this a career. I see why Street League Skateboarding is not always respected at the actual street level. It has the most money behind it and the most predictable tricks. I’ve gathered that it’s the American Idol of skating, full of lame endorsements and commercialization. And that there is a reason why Nyjah Huston always wins. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a fucking beast at it. But it’s sanitized and the runs are executed for points and not creativity. Even guys with sick style like Cody McEntire or Dylan Rieder (RIP) that will never have the consistency of someone like Shane O’Neil fall into the same tropes and runs because their paycheck literally depends on it. It’s like me as a musician always showing up to a venue of the same size to a huge crowd each night. I know where everything is going to be and there’s little chance for variables changing. A part of me desires that but knows that we as a band, and that good skateboarders, thrive in elements that we have to adapt to. It’s not fun if it’s not challenging. That’s also why I love discovering skateboarders like Ben Raybourn who are not only doing it the old school way but are completely nonchalant about it. He isn’t trying to be a gimmick. He’s just doing it because it’s fun. He doesn’t give a shit about Instagram likes or waiting till the camera has the best lighting. I’m so glad that spirit is still alive.

Any upcoming shows/tours/news?

Fuck yes. We have a 22 city U.S. tour in May for the release of our new album “International Genetics” as well as some filming for Adult Swim down in Atlanta. I was recently endorsed by MojoHand FX and Cusack Music (pedals) and Temple Audio (pedalboard) so I’ll be retooling my sound and giving some demo videos on that and pretending to know what I’m talking about. We were recently featured in Bass Player Magazine and got close to losing our virginity on the last tour. That’s a lie. No one wants to have sex with us unless we keep the masks on. – BS