How's the Canadian mid-west?
TK: Cold and stark!
Good choice of words!
What did you guys get up to on your day off?
TK: Oh really exciting things that all rock and roll bands like to do on their day off like laundry... spent some time at the laundry mat. And we watched the World Series and had a nice steak dinner!
Did you guys have any trouble crossing the border?
TK: No, we sailed right through man! We've probably made about you know 2 dozen border crossings in our career, maybe more, and this was one of the easiest ones we've ever done before. It was great!
What show has been the best so far this tour?
TK: Wow, that's hard to pinpoint any one, I'd say the guys in the bands might even have different opinions buuut I'd say our Vancouver show was probably in my top 3, and the show in Calgary!
Any reason in particular?
TK: Just good crowds, really good crowds. The audience has been a lot of fun for the whole tour pretty much and they've been varied from like 700, 800 seaters to like small 150 capacity dive bars but it's been good across all of the different sized venues and stuff, it just changes it up a bit every night you know, keeps you on your toes.
Right on. So the newest record, Protection, has been out for about 8 months now, has it gotten the reception that you were expecting?
TK: Oh yeah, I think it's gotten the reception and some! People really seem to like it, we have a lot of the new songs in our set and we're already seeing people singing the words to those songs and everything so it's been very well received and we're super thrilled with that.
I haven't been able to find anything anywhere about Dennis or about Chad's departure from the band for this last record, is there anything you'd like to say regarding that or shall we just leave it to mystery?
TK: Oh, it's not a mystery it's just not really anything that we felt was necessary to discuss. There's nothing official about it, Dennis' participation in the band has just become more and more involved over time and it's been a slow transition but we never really feel that anything is finite in that regard, I mean Dennis is for all intents and purposes become one of us but you know the door is still open for Chad. I know he'll never become a full time member of the band again but we do like to keep the door open. Dennis has pretty much assumed Chad's role for the most part.
Protection seems to follow the recurring theme that I've found in pretty much all of your records, namely that life can be hard and people can be shitty but you're going to keep your head high and do what makes you happy, and you've been able to convey that message pretty effectively in both the really happy sounding songs and some of the darker sounding songs... what keeps you so positive?
TK: *laughs* Well! Interestingly enough I would not really consider myself a very positive person so maybe my song writing is something that is a little bit of therapy for myself. I might be giving myself my own advice that I should be taking or maybe it's in some small way it's me trying to better myself or touch on the themes that I know are things that not only myself but we should all be striving for in trying to better ourselves and having more self confidence and to be stronger individuals.
A pretty unique thing that I've noticed about you guys is the release of most of your albums in full on your YouTube page. I spent about an hour earlier today looking for other bands who have done the same thing and I found a couple but none with as much commercial success for lack of a better word as you guys. What made you decide to do this?
TK: The only one I'm aware of is the new album and that was something that Fat Wreck Chords did. I don't have a whole lot of involvement with our YouTube channel soo I couldn't even tell you what's on it at the moment to be honest!
Every record except Standards & Practices and Ignorance Is Bliss is on there in full.
TK: Interesting! We should be monetizing that! *laughs*
I'm sure they are monetized in some way but still!
TK: Somebody's getting money!
It is pretty unique though, who do you think made the decision to do that?
TK: Well our friend Jack Cohenour who has led this group called Face to Face: Fans & Collector's Connection on Facebook, he started that some years ago and we've developed a friendship with him over the last couple of years and we just asked him to kind of go ahead and start handling our social media because he's so active in that world so I don't know if Jack would have had something to do with that or if this is just something the band has done but um thank you for pointing that out, that's something I''ll have to look into, you kind of caught me off guard a little bit, I don't really know much about it!
Do you guys own the masters and the rights for all of your songs or should you be coughing up to the record labels to get permission to screen them?
TK: *Laughs* Most of the catalogue is held by my label Antagonist Records but there's a few exceptions, the first album Don't Turn Away is still on Fat, How To Ruin Everything is still Vagrant Records, and then the records that follow are licensed to various record labels. So that kind of middle spot from Big Choice through Reactionary are all Antagonist Records.
Cool! With the big, like, I guess it's old news now, but with the big push of downloading music and streaming music have you guys noticed that affecting your album sales?
TK: Oh sure, it affected everyone's album sales, but we could see the writing on the wall and I've never considered it necessarily bad or good I've just considered it a reality and when you work at something like music as a career of course you want to be successful and some measure of success is how much money you earn, certainly can make life easier paying the bills and what not, but we just took the attitude of this is the reality of what's going on with music and fans and we've never railed against that idea, so I still kind of keep the same thinking about it. I mean, if there's lots of money to be made in a band it doesn't necessarily have to come from album sales, there's a lot of different streets of income and I think it's equaled itself out in some ways that fans are able to directly access this music and they're not paying what they used to pay. We've been doing this for 25 years so I remember when CD's were like $18.99 in a store and that to me was ridiculous so I think it's leveled itself back out in some regards and I guess it's just caused bands to have to produce a more exciting product. You can't just throw a record out there or a CD you need to do things that make them collectable or have great packaging or whatever and that's really caused us to have to up our game, and you're still going to sell less but at the end of the day you're making a better product so I don't see that as a bad thing.
Your albums have really developed some kind of almost folklore amongst the punk rock scene, at least here in Canada, have you ever heard of something like this?
TK: No, I don't know what you mean.. what do you mean!?
OK so the way you guys have named your records seems sorta tongue-in-cheek almost like they're each statements regarding your varied success and navigation in the music scene.
TK: *Laughs* That may be reading a little bit too much into it but do tell!
So the folklore of course makes a lot of grandiose assumptions,but I'd love to hear your opinion on it when I'm done with it and if you could offer any rebuttal or clarification for us punk rock nerds up North... anyway, here it is:
Big Choice is referring to the decision of staying with a more underground label or joining a more bigwig label over at A&M.
Ignorance Is Bliss refers to ignoring what the music scene wanted you to do ie. release like a cookie cutter follow up to your self titled that was so critically acclaimed and taking it in an entirely different direction sonically.
Reactionary is how you felt releasing this record as a reaction to the judgemental punk rock scene's amazement and disdain from the departure of the skate punk sound you had made your own in the first three records, and that kind of culminated to
How To Ruin Everything which is a statement on what happened with the choices of music you released, how sticking to your guns and doing what you want effectively ruined what could have been, at least in the eyes of industry people.
And that's kind of where that story ends!
TK: Well, okay, there is some truth to that! The Big Choice thing not really, we weren't thinking any of that, that was sort of an inside joke with the band and it really came from Chad, he used to make these drawings of this guy who was like a creepy pedophile dude and he would have these thought bubbles coming off his head and one would be like a banana and one would be a pair of wide-band underwear and he would write 'make a big choice' or whatever so that was sorta a joke about like maybe responsibility and maybe choosing something that's more serious and more fun I suppose but it really had nothing to do with our career. By the time we made Ignorance Is Bliss though yeah the title there for sure was us making a statement.. I think it was more about the statement of freedom that we were ignorant to what people really wanted from us but we wanted to just make a record that we had complete creative freedom and control in making it so our own ignorance about what the public's expectations were, well not the public just our fanbase, what they might have been expecting from us was our own bliss in making the record. And then Reactionary yeah sure that was definitely meant as a reactionary move against the negative feedback we got for Ignorance. Um, How To Ruin Everything at the time we thought was going to be our last record and the title was just kind of a summation of our entire career at that moment so it wasn't necessarily tied directly to the previous records but there is a little bit of truth in that and I think we spent too much time during those years being concerned about our career and writing songs about the frustration of it and kind of being mired in some of that negativity.
Awesome! Another thing that I've noticed about your albums is that you're very selective about using background vocals. Is that intentional or is that just 'oh cool this part should use it this part shouldn't'?
TK: Nah it's not intentional I think we just put them where we feel they are needed, I don't know that there's any real intent there behind it.
The song "What You Came For" from Laugh Now Laugh Later really stuck out on that record because I think it's the only one that has absolutely zero backup vocals and it's just you singing and it seems really powerful and anthemic and really personal for you..
TK: Yeah, that song is about the vulnerability that you feel after having been in a relationship for a long time and the idea basically behind the song is that you're telling the person that "I'm not sure that the thing that brought us together still exists inside of me anymore but I still need you" is kind of the sentiment.
Go see Face to Face on tour.
11-04 Thunder Bay, ON @ Crock's and Rolls
11-06 London, ON @ London Music Hall
11.09 Toronto, ON @ Opera House
11.10 Ottawa, ON @ Bronson Centre
11.11 Lansing, MI @ The Loft
11.12 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
11.13 Detroit, MI @ The Magic Stick
Thanks Julian, Trever and Melanie!