PropertyOfZack had the honor of interviewing the great folks in The Narrative not too long ago. Suzie, Jesse, Charlie, and I discussed the band’s new record and their recent tour with The Secret Handshake, as well as future tours and the early stages of new music! Read up below, it’s a good one!
For the record, could you state your name and role in The Narrative?
Suzie: I’m Suize and I play keys and sing in The Narrative.
Jesse: I’m Jesse; I play guitar and sing.
Charles: I’m Charles; I play drums.
The band is currently out on tour with The Secret Handshake, A Cursive Memory, and Speak. How are the dates going so far?
Suzie: It’s been really, really fun. Everyone’s really fun too play with and are talented musicians.
Jesse: We’re playing with really, really great bands, so we’re excited about that.
Most people wouldn’t picture you guys on that tour. That being said, how has the crowd interaction been?
Suzie: It’s actually been really good. People seem really responsive to our music. I know we’re doing something a little bit different, but I honestly think that all the bands on this package are doing something different from each other, so if you’re accepting to see four bands that all sound pretty similar you’re in for a totally different experience then you are for this tour.
What have you been playing night in and night out?
Suzie: We’ve been playing mostly full stuff off of our full-length and we’ll throw an old song in there now and then if someone’s really excited about it and wants to see it. Then we’ll throw some stuff in off our EP, but generally it’s been a 30-minute set of higher energy newer stuff off our album.
The main reason the band is currently on tour is of course to support your self-titled and debut record, which was released back in late July. Just about four months later, how would you describe the magnitude of positive feedback you’ve received from it?
Suzie: I think we were just lucky [Laughs]. It seems like the people that have heard it seemed to really like it and we couldn’t be more thankful for that having put in about a year’s worth of time into every aspect of this album from the songwriting to the production all the way up to the album artwork and the way that actually came out on the physical CD. So for people that appreciate that and even take the time to say like, “The record flows really well from beginning to end,” knowing that we’ve spent so much time on it sequencing that damn thing, making sure we like how it flows, so that’s really nice.
I often read that a lot of people compare The Narrative to a sort of younger Death Cab For Cutie with a slightly different message. Is that kind of surreal?
Jesse: It’s nice to be compared to bands that you like and respect, so I don’t know if it’s necessarily surreal, but it’s definitely positive and motivating feedback that lets us know we’re maybe on the right track or we’re onto something good that people are going to be able to latch on to.
You certainly had fans from the Just Say Yes EP, but this record has taken countless people by storm and is flying up into many album of the year lists. What changed so much in the period between the releases?
Suzie: Well, when we started recording Just Say Yes, we didn’t actually have a steady rhythm section in the band. A lot of the music and the writing was mainly just Jesse and I working on just piano and guitar. It has a mellower vibe that we were really happy with at the time, but when Charlie came into the band, he actually played on Just Say Yes too, but he came in towards the end of the songwriting process and just kind of recorded as a studio drummer and then became part of the band. One he came into the picture and we started writing with rhythm sections in mind, it really came to the dynamic in all the songs. I think it made everything have higher highs and lower lows as far as the dynamics of the songs are concerned. I’d say that was a pretty pivotal thing in the band. Maybe Jesse doesn’t agree [Laughs].
Jesse: I agree. I think also though that, musicians are always seeking out new music and those things influence us. So our influences from one record to another might change, so the music’s obviously going to change a little from that. I also think it’s a little of a stretch to say that it’s taking people by storm. That’s really nice of you, but there are still the vast majority of people that are potential listeners that have probably never even heard of us. So hopefully things like this and us continuing to make music will change that, but I think it’s always nice to hear someone have that kind of opinion about us, but we’re pretty humble about where we are and we just want to keep working and keep getting people to listen to us and hopefully we’ll, no matter how our music changes or what direction goes in, we’ll keep being able to create room for new listeners to come in.
What were some of your biggest influences for the writing process?
Jesse: It’s tough to actually remember what I was listening to because you go through phases. I think was actually listening to a lot of Brand New and Jimmy Eat World at the time, actually. I know that stuff influences me directly, but I usually don’t set out and say that I want to write a song that sounds like this other artist. Every now and then I’ll hear a part of something and I’ll say that I want to create a piece of music that has something like this part, but for the most part I think I can say for especially Suzie too, that we kind of just write whatever feels natural.
The Narrative are not signed, so the album was obviously self-released. Was that a difficult task at all?
Suzie: It was pretty fun [Laughs]. It definitely was a lot of work. It was something that, I think we just did it. I don’t think we really set out thinking how hard it was going to be, or if it was going to be easy. It was just something that we knew we had to do. It ended up being a really long process as far as getting our mixes the way that we wanted, and just releasing the album digitally, and then the pre-orders through our webstore and stuff like that. It was really time consuming. We spent a lot of time sitting around, packing up merch orders instead of playing music for the first two weeks of July, but we’re happy with it. The obvious benefit is that we get all of the profit, basically, form the album because we didn’t have anybody put it out for us. And I think it gives us a chance to prove ourselves to a label and music industry folks for the future.
And has there been any label chatter at all since the album is doing pretty well?
Suzie: Here and then people sort of poke around, check in, and see what’s going on. We haven’t had anything serious. So far the plan is just to keep supporting the album as best as we can on our own, touring as much as possible, and then hopefully the conversations will happen over time. I think that stuff is tough to rush into anyways because I think it’s weird to decide to work with somebody after you’ve only met them one time or something like that. You kind of want to get to know the people when you’re entering a relationship.
POZ: So you guys are definitely open to it at some point in the future though?
Suzie: Yeah, absolutely. If it’s right, if everything makes sense then we’d be more than down to work with people.
After The Secret Handshake tour ends in early December there’s nothing quite on the books minus a college show next year. When should we be seeing some more dates announced?
Suzie: We’re hoping to have a pretty consistent tour schedule in 2011. We’ve been submitted for some stuff, but nothing has really come through quite yet. As soon as we know, we’ll definitely let you know.
Jesse: We are playing a show right after this tour with Dashboard Confessional in New Jersey, which will be awesome.
Obviously it’s tough with money and the fact that the band isn’t on a label, but do you think out of county touring might be a possibility by the end of 2011?
Jesse: It’s possible. I think if we got like a one-off opportunity like Soundwave Festival, we would do it. Or if we got some kind of really kind of tour that went through Europe we’d obviously do it, but I don’t think that we’re going to go there on our own accord any time within the next year. We still have a lot of work to do within the US alone, but we’re open to any kind of good opportunity.
Suzie: If some band wants to take us to Europe, let us know [Laughs].
POZ: So the plan is to just keep touring as much as you can throughout next year?
Suzie: Yeah, that’s what we’re hoping to do. Keep supporting the record. We spent a lot of time making it and some people have heard it, but definitely way more people have not.
Should we be on the lookout for anything else from The Narrative in the not too distant future?
Suzie: We’ve been talking about a few things, but we have a terrible habit and saying something about something coming out and then not having it come out for way longer than we thought. I think it would be safe to say that we definitely have new music on our minds and we’re always trying to do things that will keep our fans entertained and excited and ultimately continue to reach new listeners. We’re tossing some things around, but to say anything now would be very, very, very premature.
POZ: You guys have kept on writing though?
Suzie: Yeah, we have spent some time writing just during off time.
Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Suzie: We’re excited to be interviewed by you [Laughs]. We’ve had a bunch of songs streaming on TheNarrativeMusic.com, we’ve also got a digital lyric booklet that you can flip through that is pretty cool. It’s on that website, so if people would like to go there and check it out, go there. Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, you know. Whatever. All that good stuff.