PropertyOfZack had the chance to catch up with our good friend Koji a week or so before he jumped on the 2012 Vans Warped Tour. Koji and I discussed his spring tour with Never Shout Never, branching out into new areas of music, the details for Spring Songs, his choice to join Warped Tour, and much more. Read up on all of it below!
So you just wrapped up the Never Shout Never tour a few weeks ago and house shows for Spring Songs, too. That was a tour that I think your fan base was shocked by. How did the Never Shout Never tour go?
I had the best time. For me, having the opportunity just to play for a totally new audience was really cool. To be able to kind of introduce the Never Shout family to the world that I’m a part of. So bringing the basic DIY punk scene to these kids who I think a lot of them are just missin’ love. Just because they’re different. They have different interests. It’s not that they don’t connect with the punk message, it’s just that in many cases they haven’t heard it yet. So I had an enormously positive response and I felt like I walked away having learned a lot from everybody I toured with and everyone who came to the shows.
I have to assume there were a few Koji fans that were there who were fans of you before that night.
Definitely. On both coasts and some places in the middle of the country, we had a lot of Koji fans and friends who came out.
Do you want to do that more? Obviously, you’ll always play to your fan base. Was this tour a good enough experience where you’ll be more interested in doing stuff like this in the future?
I’m really just interested in playing for anyone. I’m not comfortable grouping people based on how they look or what they listen to. Just like I’m uncomfortable making judgments on people based on religion or race or sexual orientation. So I have equality front of mind and I try to walk with that in my life.
So you also did some house shows and Spring Song tapings. How did that go?
That was really phenomenal. Some of my favorite shows this spring I knew were going to be those Spring Song tapings. A lot of the places I played mean a lot to me. Some of my friends that set up shows and the communities that I play for are really instrumental in helping me and my pursuit of music. I was really surprised that the Never Shout shows had also reached that level of intimacy and positivity that I wanted to see. It’s really good to have that mix and also, it just felt so fresh when I did those house shows; to be able to play them after doing those huge club shows. It was such a treat to be able to do something really intimate.
When should we be seeing that released?
I’m currently working on finishing the edits and getting that off in time to hopefully come out mid-Warped Tour.
So for Spring Song, that was a full album’s worth last time. What should we expect this time?
With Spring Song, we’re looking at a lot of the stuff that came out on the two splits. And I should be releasing some really cool bonus material, like B-side type stuff, that didn’t make the cut for the record but that I still want to share with folks.
This is the second one now. Is this something you want to do on a yearly basis or around that timeframe?
I’d love to. I would really love to be able to continue playing house shows and continue celebrating that tradition through this series. You can definitely expect to see a volume three.
Is that important to you? Let’s say in the future you only do larger tours with different artists. Is it always going to be important to you to come back to your base community and do something intimate like that?
Yeah. 100%. You can’t forget your roots. The DIY scene is what raised me up and I will never turn my back on that community.
The release for that, midway through Warped, will be nice timing in terms of the community. And I think Warped for you itself is interesting. The acoustic stage will be nice. Was that something you jumped into immediately?
Yeah. I think that’s part of the reason we wanted to put it out during Warped Tour; because I’m playing the Acoustic Basement which is meant to have a vibe of a house show. That’s really how they talked me into doing it. In previous years, I wasn’t sure if it would make sense for me, just based on the tour the past few years. I wasn’t sure if there was a place for me; if I was really appropriate. But when they came to me like, “Title Fight is playing, A Loss For Words is playing, Transit, Into It. Over It. We want all your friends to be on the tour.” They had a lot of commitment from them and it made it really easy for me to be like, “Yeah, of course I want to be a part of it.” Warped Tour, I grew up going to; to go see Lagwagons and NOFX, Bouncing Souls, and Alkaline Trio, stuff like that. It’s an honor to come play it.
Like you said, you wanted the tour to make sense for you to do it. I think that was the consensus for a lot of bands. Will it be an interesting feeling in your mind to be on tour with those bands that might be selling questionable t-shirts and things like that?
Yeah, I mean I’m going into the experience with an open mind. Not just about the tour atmosphere itself, but also every band that’s on it. I’ve got a lot of love for anyone who exercises their right to express themselves. But of course, I have zero tolerance for sexism, racism, and homophobia. So if something needs to be said, you can expect that me or Hostage Calm are going to the first people to say something about it; or Anti-Flag.
Just to sum things up, we’ll see you on Warped Tour and we’ll see Spring Song sometime during then. Then later in the year we’ll see an album and hopefully more touring?
Yes. Absolutely. We have a lot this year and we’re off to an amazing start. For all the challenges we’ve had thus far, I couldn’t be happier with 2012. So shout out to all my Kickstarter supporters and people who helped me through the whole theft and everything.
Was that a big moment for you, the Kickstarter thing? I know when you head into those things there’s always the question of if people will actually support and donate.
That was phenomenal. We launched it and it took less than 20 hours to fully fund it. I went to bed and I woke up and all of the sudden it was funded. I couldn’t believe it. That was really emotional for me and my crew. We didn’t have an expectation that anyone would help us or had to help us. We were just kind of putting it out there as a tool to speak to our friends and family. If they wanted to contribute to help keep us on the road. Then all of the sudden, it turned into something that was much bigger. So really shocking and it was incredibly uplifting. It proved to me how tight-knit this community of people is. Musicians, artists, etc. Fans of music. People who are a part of something bigger than themselves. I definitely felt the greatness of that and I will forever be thankful.
Is there anything else that you’ll be doing this year in terms of activist or political work? Anything like that?
Definitely going to be active in the respect that I want to make sure that everyone has the access to be able to vote. There is a lot of voter suppression going on and a lot of misinformation about issues. I think we have a really important election coming up and it’s a time where people are dialoging about really important stuff to this country and to this world and effects us on a local level. I think it’s important that people are really involved with that. So trying to get people to vote and just being involved. Our country is going through a lot right now.
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