PropertyOfZack Interview : : States
PropertyOfZack is stoked to be posting a new interview with States that reviewer Jesse Richman conducted at this year’s SXSW Festival. In the interview, Jesse and the band discuss their debut release, coming together from multiple bands, their plan for touring, new material, and much more. Check out the great interview below!
Can you give me a quick rundown of your names and what you do in the band?
Bryan: Sure, I’m Bryan and I play guitar.
Stephen: I’m Stephen and I play guitar.
Mindy: I’m Mindy and I sing.
John: I’m John and I play guitar.
Dean: Or drums… I’m Dean and I play bass.
John: Oh, I thought we were all going to say guitar. That would have been funny. Nah, I’m John and I play drums.
So how’s the reception been to the album so far so far?
Mindy: It’s been great. We didn’t know what to expect. It’s been amazing and it’s great to see our older fans kind of carry over and support us.
POZ: Have your old respective fan bases kind of come together on this?
Stephen: That’s one of the most nerve-wracking things about it. It’s very, very different from our previous work. I think we all were expecting the hate a little bit. And there has been. Whatever you do, you’re going to get both sides. But I think we’ve all been really pleasantly surprised with how positive the feedback has been.
How did you guys figure out what this thing was going to sound like when you brought it together?
Mindy: It was kind of an experiment.
John: I think it just sounded the way that it did when it came together with everyone playing what they would play.
POZ: Was it that you came into it knowing you wanted to work with each other, but not what it was going to sound like? Did you have something in mind?
John: I think it was something like that. I think that the theme of the record, or at least the title, Room To Run, meant that we all had room to do what we wanted to do. Everyone contributed what they wanted to contribute. It’s kind of the product of that. I think that’s how it came out. I don’t think anyone really had any expectations, so it was just like “Oh, well this is what it sounds like.” So it was kind of cool.
Dean: I think we’re still all learning and growing and figuring out what our total sound is. I think we have a piece of it, but I think we’re still going to grow and fine tune it.
Mindy: I think that there is fun with making different songs sound different ways too. I think that’s another thing about the album is that we didn’t want it to sound just like one type of genre.
Was that a conscious decision or was it that you started writing a song and it goes this way and the next one goes that way?
Mindy: It kind of happened that way, yeah.
Bryan: I think all of our favorite records are ones that are really diverse song to song, where you can find a song that fits any mood. So, subconsciously at least in my mind, was that you don’t want to make the same record twice.
So you guys both came from bands where you had the traditional label thing going on with all that support structure. Now, you’re kind of doing it on your own. How has that been so far? Is it tough finding your footing?
John: I think it’s a little tricky. There is a lot of things where you think “Well we really need to cover this. We really need to cover that. We really need to work on getting a publicist. We really need to do a lot of the things that you have built in with the label.” But it’s been fun. It’s been exciting.
And to that end, there haven’t been a lot of tour dates yet. Is that because you are trying to navigate all yourself?
John: I think it’s because we’re being a little selective, to be honest. I think that we are trying to find the right fit for us.
POZ: You’re not going to go out there if it’s not worth your time to do it?
Mindy: Yeah, tour to tour, it’s got to make sense.
Dean: We’re trying to do it strategically. We’ve all done a lot of touring. We’re certainly not afraid of it. But we don’t want to tour just to tour. We want to make it make sense.
Yeah, you’re kind of past that point in your careers. So speaking of tours, you did a little run with Circa [Survive] and one with Anberlin. How did those go?
Mindy: Amazing. Big fans of both of those bands.
POZ: Are those guys all old fans of yours at this point?
John: Yeah, pretty much. Copeland did a tour with Circa Survive in the UK back in 2005. So, we hadn’t played with them since then, but we’d seen them here and there and so it was a lot of fun. And we didn’t know how the response was going to be from those fans, but it was awesome.
POZ: So were the fans into it? Because, especially with Circa Survive, you guys are doing something a little bit different from what those fans are used to.
Bryan: I was pretty damn nervous. Because they’ve got such a crazy cult following and we’re definitely a little bit more pop. I was nervous, but honestly, that was probably one of the most fun tours I’ve ever been on . They were very welcoming. They seemed to love it.
Mindy: Yeah, I feel like with merch, I’ve sold more CD’s with people coming up like “We accidentally saw you, and you were awesome.” So we’re like “Really? Wow, thank you.”
John: With Amberlin, at least me personally, I’ve grown up with those guys so I’ve known them for fifteen or twenty years. It was a lot of fun to play with old friends.
POZ: So it’s hangin’ out with friends too?
Along those lines, do you have more touring plans coming up? Are you working on everything?
Stephen: We have spot dates here and there. We’re trying not to do much headlining right now, we just want to be out supporting. As Bryan said, “Fan Thieving.” So we’re just kind of on lookout right now. Summer is pretty open right now. Fall will be busy but we’re hoping for maybe something in the next couple of months.
I know there has been some talk that you guys are doing a little writing in the meantime?
POZ: What’s the status?
Mindy: I would say ideas. I don’t think we have full songs. I feel like there were a lot of songs that didn’t make the record that we’re still kind of working on. Stephen and them are always sending out ideas like “Hey, I just did this” and we’re just kind of working with that.
What is the songwriting process for you guys? Where do the ideas start?
Bryan: It’s usually Stephen and I have an idea, like a 30 second “nugget” as we call it. Then we send them, kind of by the truckload, to Mindy. Then she finds one she’s inspired with and works on vocals. Then, we’ll have a large pot of ideas to work with and the ones that we think are best…All of us get together to hash it out and arrange it and flush it out.
Bringing any of those ideas to a recording studio any time soon? Or to your own recording studio?
Mindy: Maybe, oh my terrible in my car studios?
Stephen: Logic on a little laptop?
POZ: That’s how people are doing their albums now you know?
Mindy: We actually did our first EP in Bryan’s apartment.
Stephen: Yeah, we did everything with him. Once we get home, it’s the first thing we’re going to do. We have a handful of songs I think we want to get put out.
How’s that whole change been? Because both your bands were kind of known for really detailed sound quality and focusing on getting the exact right sound. Now everything’s a little more…you don’t have the big studios or recording budget. How do you get it to sound like what you want it to sound like?
Stephen: You definitely have to fight with it more. You have some more time. Thankfully, even with the EP, I was really proud of what we could get out of five hundred dollars worth of gear. To me, kids come up and are like “Where’d you track that one? What studio?” We didn’t. We had to preamp one mic in my brother’s computer.
John: I think too, it’s somewhat about being flexible with how things are coming out and just rolling with what you’re able to get. Making the best of the sound. For instance, with drums, does it sound “bad” or does it sound “cool and unique”? There’s a tough line there, you know? I think it’s kind of just rolling with what you find and being open to the sounds that you’re finding. You know?
Okay, so that said, do you see any new releases coming soon?
Dean: I don’t think we have a set date or idea.
POZ: Are you conscious about over-releasing music? A lot of bands put a ton of stuff out and I guess it’s great for their fans, but everybody else kind of gets overwhelmed and chews it out entirely.
Mindy: I don’t know that we’re in the place where a lot of people even know about our album yet.
POZ: You still showing that off?
Mindy: Yeah. Because we had the holiday too. Even though it was October. So everything was gone.
POZ: Yeah things had shut down for a couple of months.
Stephen: I think when it makes sense, we will be ready. We have songs and once this cycle of this record has come to an end, we’ll quickly jump into the studio and do something new.
How long have you guys been down here at SXSW?
POZ: And when are you here until?
Mindy: Saturday night.
Stephen: We leave tomorrow morning. We’re leaving tomorrow night.
POZ: I know you guys have done a lot of showcases. Have you had a chance to see anything since you’ve been down here?
Mindy: No, sadly.
POZ: All work, no play?
Stephen: Yeah so far.
Mindy: We saw the showcases we’re playing and so far that’s about it.
POZ: Anyone you’re going to try and catch before you leave?
Mindy: Well, I wanted to see fun yesterday. And Phoenix and Two Door?
Stephen: Yeah apparently there were rumors of a secret Phoenix and Two Door show. I don’t know if it’s real, that’s what I heard.
POZ: That’s cool if it is.
Mindy: We’ll see The Used Saturday.
Stephen: I’m pretty sure that I heard Fiona Apple sound checking. And I lost my mind.
POZ: I was in New York, and when they announced a show it sold out in ten seconds. Nobody got tickets.
Stephen: I would pay a lot.
Mindy: I saw her, actually, with Coldplay. Years ago.
POZ: Yeah, I was going to say, that must have been a long time ago.
Mindy: But it was kind of weird.
Stephen: Yeah. She’s crazy.
Mindy: But it was kind of not good.
POZ: Was she opening for them?
POZ: That’s kind of tough. Because she has her own audience.
Mindy: I thought that it was somebody covering her songs. It was weird. So I’d like to see her in her element. Yeah.
One other thing I’ve got to ask. I’ve seen you guys three times now. You’ve worn shiny red pants all three times. Is that the go-to stage getup?
Mindy: Well, it started from when I’ve looked back in pictures of Lydia days and I’m like, “What the hell was I wearing?” It looks like someone was kind of like, “Hey can you come sing this part?” So I thought, “I need to wear something better. Something intentional.” This designer in LA does all these crazy pants and I was like, “I want all of them, please.” She’s awesome. Michelle Siwey. So, I bought a butt-load of pants. They all have them.
Dean: Yeah, no one’s looking at us, but we’re all wearing them.
John: When I wear them, it’s hard to see because I sit down. Sometimes they get stuck to my drum stool.
POZ: Since you mentioned the designer, I know you guys are up to stuff outside of music as well. Tell me what you’ve got going on.
Mindy: What we do outside of music?
Mindy: Oh, John.
POZ: John knows everything.
John: What do you need? I started making furniture kind of recently and a new venture for me is to actually sell that online and start a shop.
POZ: Was that something you’ve done for a while?
John: Yeah, I’ve always worked with metal and wood and remodeling houses. My wife and I both like modern and industrial design. So we just figured, “What the heck? I’ve got some spare time” And I started selling some pieces that I make. So, it’s kind of new. I have a link to it on my twitter.
Mindy: I Have an ant farm. It’s called “I got worms.”
Stephen: You should have ended [John] because all of ours… I like puzzles.
Bryan: I produce and mix when I can, but I haven’t in a while because I have an eight month old daughter. I’m pretty much a stay-at-home dad.
So, for the fans you guys have brought in. What should they look for from States for the rest of the year?
Mindy: Definitely just tours that we’re going to be announcing and maybe some songs.
Stephen: I think that even though we might not do a record for a little longer, I think we’d like to release a song here and there.
Mindy: Actually, we’re going to put a cover out.
POZ: Yeah, a lot of bands have moved to that drop a single here and there.
Stephen: It’s become a different world.
Anything else you want to say? Anything you want to plug?
Mindy: No, just want to thank the fans for being there. The old and the new. It’s been amazing and without their support, we wouldn’t be here right now.
John: Yeah. I think we’re all still really grateful to be able to make music and have that be a large part of our lives.
Mindy: And thanks to you guys because you guys cover us a lot and do a lot of stuff for us. It means a lot to us.
by Jesse Richman