I grew up on bands that I hear influences in your music like Millencolin and Strike Anywhere. Who helped sharpen your musical tastes growing up?
Those are definitely two very big influences on our band. The 90s and early 2000s Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords were HUGE influences on us as a band. Most bands in our genre these days were influenced from hardcore, but we were always the punk guys. Millencolin's "Pennybridge Pioneers" is probably my favorite record and the one I share most memories with. Other bands like Nada Surf, Get Up Kids, Saves The Day, Weezer, Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World helped changed my life for the better as well. I think Nada Surf was the first band Nick and I really got into that wasn't a punk rock band.
You have a very keen sense of melody and focused, story based lyric in your songwriting, which I love. From one lyricist to another, what comes first for you: the lyric or the melody?
Originally we used to always do melody first. We think it's important to have a song that can emotionally move someone before they even hear what we're saying, then when we throw fitting lyrics on subjects that mean a lot to us (based on the vibe of the song) it becomes more of an experience. That's how we've always liked music. Lately the more I've been writing and contributing full songs ("Parkview", "Prime Meridian", etc.) I've been adding lyrics as I create the melody so it's all at once kind of thing. More bands need to focus on melody because that's what gets stuck in our heads.
One of the first things that caught my attention on your new record, secondary to the black dog about to devour the helpless little kid, was how awesome the record SOUNDS. What was it like working with the legendary Bill Stevenson, and did you fanboy much?
Haha! We have always been huge fans of Bill's bands like Descendents, Black Flag, Only Crime and even The Lemonheads record he played on and produced. He has this magical touch he puts on all of his records. Most of my favorite records were recorded at his studio The Blasting Room and it was a dream come true being able to not only record there, but sleep there and even experience half of the Descendents having band practice for their upcoming shows. That's something you don't see everyday. Bill was very cool with us picking his brain and I think he knows how awesome he is.
In 2011, you've toured with such bands as Bayside, Polar Bear Club, Fake Problems and Four Year Strong. What bands would be a part of your dream tour?
We've done a LOT of touring, not only in the states but in Asia, Europe, UK, Australia and some Canada... and we still have a few months til the end of the year. It's crazy. I think my dream tour would be something like Foo Fighters, Millencolin, Nada Surf and A Wilhelm Scream. I love each band's full discography, would sing every word and probably get weirdly emotional while watching them each night. I still haven't seen Nada Surf live so even though we probably wouldn't fit in too well with them, it's a selfish move on my part just to see them 30 or so nights in a row.
Your video for "Best I Ever Had" chronicles the transformation of youth into young adulthood, paying homage to the times that helped shape you into who you are today. But let's cut to the chase... Who or what IS the best you ever had?
You are really good at asking questions, I'm jealous. Now people are gonna judge me even more. So... I think a few "Best I Ever Hads" relate to food because when you're on tour, that's usually a highlight. I eat mainly vegan food and the BBQ Mock Duck Po'Boy at The Triple Rock in Minneapolis is my favorite sandwich. Red Bamboo in NYC has my favorite vegan buffalo wings of all time, which may be my absolute favorite food as well. As regarding to "WHO" was the best I ever had, I'd probably say my Boston Terrier puppy, Delilah. She's the best.
You guys work hard. You tour constantly and have put out 5 records since you began. How do you think the expansion of technology and the internet will effect work ethic of bands forming in the 2010's, if at all?
Right now everything in the music industry is completely chaotic. There used to be a semi-formula that skeptics and suits could put together and guess the next big thing. Right now, CD sales are plummeting but downloading is making MORE people like music... but then fewer people are going to shows because of competition and the "recession". I think people just expect more bang for their buck and its up to bands like us to pave the way to new creative, cost-effective ideas that will change things. If you live on the model of albums selling from 10 years ago... even 5 years ago... it's totally bogus. Adapt or die. Give the people what they want.
2012 is around the corner. Mayan calendar ends... Does the world end with it? And if so, what will you be doing on the eve of December 21st?
I don't think the world will end. Maybe there will be some screwed up global things going on if whatever they predicted happening would happen, but if you look in the past these things are usually B.S. I do admire the Mayan culture and the fact that their jobs were staring at the stars, studying them their whole lives. I think they knew more than we know today due to all of our distractions. I'm sure there will be an "end of the world party" somewhere I'll be attending.. or I'll hopefully be laying on a couch with my girlfriend watching Netflix. That sounds like a better plan.
If the 4 Swellers boys all individually entered Royal Rumble, who'd be first in the ring, who'd illegally interfere, who would last longest and who'd hide under the ring until the end to claim victory?
This is an amazing question, yet again. Anto is probably the cockiest of us all when it comes to claiming his wrestling ability. I think Ryan would jump in first to start things off, and probably last the longest. Nick would illegally interfere with a steel chair or do a cheap shot after distracting the referee. Anto would be the most charismatic and run around like a crazy guy because that's what he is. I think I'd be the guy under the ring who would toss the last guy over and win. It's all about strategy, and that's one thing I'm good at. Strength? Not so much.
Marry/Kiss/Kill? Scarlett Johansen, Kim Karashian, and Condeleeza Rice. Keep in mind, ScarJo can not be tamed...
Oh man. Probably kill Mrs. Rice, just because she's affiliated with things I don't dig. She's also a subject of a cool Against Me! song. I think marrying Scarlett would work out, she seems like the type that would actually settle down later in life. Kim Kardashian would probably want me to go to annoying dance clubs and meet terrible people. But I'd be ok with playing 7 minutes in heaven with her and keeping it to that haha!