POZ Interview: Mixtapes
Mixtapes are about to get real busy, and PropertyOfZack has a great new interview with co-frontman Ryan Rockwell to fill you in on all the news. A new record, a tour with Masked Intruder, big summer plans, and a slew of funny commentary on Jason Tate, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, For Today, Pierce The Veil, and blink-182 can be found in the interview below!
Mixtapes have been away from touring for a little while and we’re about six months out after the release Even On The Worst Nights. You guys are back writing again, right?
Yes. Are we really 6 months out?
POZ: I think we are.
Ryan: Oh wow. That’s weird. Yeah we are currently writing again. We’ve been getting together three days a week and practicing like five or six hours at a time.
You guys had released a bunch of EPs or 7”s before the record. Why did you guys want to start writing again so quick?
For a while we just released so much music, from 7”s to splits to EPs to eventually the album. I just think that when we got home… You know we toured all over the place. We did some awesome tours. We got to do some cool stuff. I guess it’s not just about industry things, like the “album cycle,” we just feel like we did a lot of cool things and now we just wanted to start writing more songs. I guess in the same way, there was probably more that we could have done with Even On The Worst Nights, to be honest. It was just our first actual record. It’s weird to think about that. We’ve put out so much and toured so much before that, but it was our first real album. It was a learning experience. We’re proud of it and we’re happy and now we just have to learn from that and make something better.
I think there was a nice build up to the album (the EPs and then signing to No Sleep Records). Are you happy with how much the album stuck with fans? After such a build up?
Oh yeah, I think blew away what I would have ever dreamed of. It still sells at like a steady rate like six months later. In 2013, that’s something. We’re in a generation where if an album sticks it out for a month, I feel like that’s pretty good. And we still have so many new people coming to shows, the albums still selling at a steady rate, and people have been posting videos and commenting on YouTube. It just makes me really happy. Like I said, there is something to be said about doing it better from the beginning, music video wise and promoting, but I think for it being our first real record, it’s incredible. We just never really thought we’d do what we’ve done even before the record came out. So the fact that people are saying it’s helped them get through tough times and life or death issues, which is why the band started, is incredible. Like our booking agent called me the week after it came out and said we were on the Billboard Seekers Chart. I actually thought he was joking, like, “haha.” “Seriously go look.” I was like, “oh that’s cool.” It’s not the biggest deal but it’s something that anybody gets. Like I could show my mom, “look we made Billboard,” she even knows who that is.
A lot of people can’t pin down what Mixtapes is, like whether you guys totally take it seriously or totally don’t or some mix in between. But has it just been a humbling year with things (Billboard list) like that?
Yeah. The thing is that we take our band very seriously, the songs are very serious. We don’t have joke songs or anything. We’re not a joke band and we never have been. It’s just our personality, and maybe mine sometimes is too strong on certain things. It’s like I was telling you before the interview, I don’t want to get on stage and be like, “this song’s about my dad passing away” or this or that because A) I think our lyrics are pretty literal, they’re not metaphorical. If you listen to our record, the song is pretty obvious with what it’s about. A lot of bands have that tone or mood and that’s fine, I don’t think what I’m doing is better or worse and it’s not a right or wrong thing. I just am not the guy to get up on stage and stare at the floor and barely talk to people or the crowd or mope around because they’re sadder songs. If you want to know how I think about things, then listen to the record. If you want to know what I think of things outside of that you can just listen to me bullshit between our songs. To kind of get it, for better or worse. I don’t think there’s anything joke-y about our band. That’s kind of some of the regret we talk about on Even On The Worst Nights. The music videos before that were just kind of goofy. Some of those we didn’t even make. I don’t think people get that. Like the video for “The New Ride The Lightning” off the Hope Is For People EP which is Evan of Into It. Over It. just eating a pizza; we didn’t make that video. He made it and just sent it to AbsolutePunk and it got posted. Which is completely awesome. But some of those joke videos weren’t even us, they were friends of ours just doing things, which I think is awesome. But it doesn’t mean we’re a joke band, it just means that we can have fun sometimes.
Somewhere in the past month or this month you guys lost your bassist. Did that shake up things in the band at all? What’s going on there?
Not really at all, actually. Mike is still a really good friend of mine. We play Minecraft. I don’t want to speak for him, but basically he just didn’t want to do it anymore. Which is fine. It wasn’t an argument, there wasn’t a fight. He just really didn’t want to do it anymore. You know what I mean? I don’t know how to put it past that. It sounds weird like that, but not really much else to that. There’s no bad blood, there’s nothing weird about it. He just sat me down, talked to me and talked to everybody else. He’s playing a few shows with us next week with Broadway Calls and Red City Radio. I’m excited about it.
Do you guys have a replacement yet for after he goes?
We’ve been working on things. We do have somebody that’s going to be playing our March and April shows. I guess I can announce that. Then we’ll see how that goes. So we do have somebody to cover. And I will say that he’s a handsome gentleman.
POZ: More handsome than you?
Ryan: I mean, I don’t really necessarily have the conventional ‘good guy’ look. So yeah, I guess he’s probably more handsome than me.
POZ: But that’s what makes any handsome man special.
Ryan: True. I guess I do have my own ‘swag.’ I think that everyone in our band is more attractive than me, but that’s alright. But I play video games best.
POZ: I’d hope so.
Ryan: I do. I practice and practice makes perfect.
POZ: More than guitar. Much more than you practice the guitar. Jason Tate would agree too.
Ryan: Does Jason Tate even know how to play guitar? Can I tell you something funny? I was talking to a blogger such as yourself about five or six months ago. When they talked about our album they said they really like the album. They talked about how musically simple it was though, how there’s just not much going on. I was just like… I don’t think we’re a musically complicated band by any means but I was like, “Do you really think our music is that much more simple than…” and then I named a few bands that person happened to like a lot, that are also in the scene. And they said, “I don’t really know. I don’t play an instrument I just hear what I hear.” And I laughed and said, “Ok that’s fine.” That basically means that you have no idea what ‘complicated’ means. At the end that was kind of a pointless argument. I could not win the argument because we’re actually not musically complicated.
Does that mean there are going to be lots of crazy solos on the new album?
What new album?
POZ: Your new album.
Ryan: I actually think… I don’t want to be that guy… I was talking to a booking agent friend of mine the other day about how whenever you’re in a band, you think that your new stuff sounds way more different than it really does. You know what I mean? Everyone I talk to, including me, is like “our new stuff’s a lot different than that.” And usually it’s not really that different. The people that hear it outside of the band are just going to think it’s your new record, just that there are little things that changed. I think the new songs we’re writing do show more of arrangements we wanted to incorporate. There’s definitely more dynamics in it. But it sounds like a better, newer Mixtapes record with more going on, better lyrics. There is more riffage and just more thought-out ideas. Also on Even On The Worst Nights. We recorded 21 songs and it was awesome. This time, we’re focusing more on the songs we have and just trying to make them perfect.
You guys have six or more demos at this point, right?
We actually have about 12 songs almost done and I’m actually really, really excited about them. They sound really good.
Is there a certain time that you guys want to hit the studio?
We actually will be hitting the studio on March 4th. Officially. You’re the first person to get to know. Yeah March 4th - 20th we will be recording our new record.
Did you guys do the last record on your own?
We didn’t do it on our own; we just didn’t work with a big name producer as all of our friend’s bands would say. We just did it where we recorded our other stuff; we just took more time and made it sound better because we took the time. Honestly on everything before Even On The Worst Nights we were so down to the wire that it was insane. Maps was literally recorded in five days. And all the EPs we recorded in like two or three days. With that being said, I think they all turned out awesome. Even with Worst Nights, we took so much time. We got a like a month in the studio, which was insane for us. What we are doing this time around is to try to go between the two. Having a lot of time was awesome and made us sound great and we’re still going to make it sound great, but I think some of the pressure and a little more stress just makes you work harder and it’s more fun in its own really weird way. We want it to just sound… I don’t know what the word is. A lot of bands use words that I don’t want to use because it’s not true. I don’t want to say “raw” or anything. The record’s going to sound awesome; that feeling of getting in there and knowing you’ve got to get it done. On EOTWN we even recorded that 40 minute joke album as well, which I know our record label completely loved that they were spending their money on. I think we’re trying to have a mix of the two, put it all together, and make the best thing we can.
Is there a “big shot” producer? As your friends would say?
I don’t want to say anything yet.
POZ: Thought this was a “tell all” interview?
Ryan: But the answer’s no. There’s not a big shot producer. Wait a minute? What if I told you it was Mark Hoppus?
POZ: I would be there the whole time. I would play bass.
Ryan: You know how to play bass?
POZ: Yeah I know how to play bass.
Ryan: Oh okay, well you can. That’s ok. Did you like the new blink-182 EP?
POZ: Yeah I did like it. I liked it a lot, actually.
Ryan: I liked some of it. I’ll be honest. I liked it more than I thought I would like it. I didn’t like it a lot. Some of the songs were alright but he does this thing where he sings “everything like this” (Tom Delonge voice). Like they’ll hold out notes like he doesn’t know how to sing anymore. I wish he didn’t do that. But songwriting-wise, I think they’re some of the best songs they’ve made in a while.
POZ: Do you like that last one? The Yellawolf one?
Ryan: That part is so bad.
POZ: That’s a good song though, that’s the best song on the EP.
Ryan: The song is good. When he comes in it’s so awkward. It’s like they wanted Yellawolf in a song, but they didn’t really think of it until the album was done.
POZ: That was all Travis.
Ryan: I’m sure it was.
So when are we looking for a release? End of summer?
I can’t really say in exactness, but I think before that. We should be done recording around March 20th. That’s all I have right now. Because we’re still writing.
Will this be with No Sleep Records?
Yes it will. Not necessarily because we like it, but because we’re contracted.
POZ: Because you’re contracted. You’re stuck there forever.
Ryan: Yes. I’m just kidding actually. Working with Chris has been awesome actually. Chris is a good guy. He gets everything done and I can’t really complain. It’s always funny to me, a lot of bands will be like, “How’s No Sleep treating you?” and I don’t know what they expect or understand. It’s not like 1995. We always get asked by bands like, “What does a label do for you?” I’m just like, “It put out our record? They helped us record it and promote it.” I don’t know what bands really expect nowadays but, Chris is awesome and does everything he’s supposed to do.
POZ: That’s a good thing.
Ryan: It is a good thing. And although his taste in music might be questionable, he really does truly believe in all of the bands that he signs. He doesn’t just sign things because it’s cool or try to make money off of it, he legitimately likes everything that is on his label a lot. Which I think is awesome.
So what is touring going to look like after you guys are done recording? Will you guys be touring before the summer?
Yeah in March we’re going to record. And then in April, we’re playin Stay Sweet! Fest in Richmond, Virginia. And then in May, and I can announce this. You get two exclusive announcements; I hope you feel super cool.
POZ: I feel a little cool.
Ryan: In May, we will be doing a two and a half week tour with Masked Intruder that will also be hitting Pouzza Fest in Canada; in mid-western Canada with them. And a few other fests that I don’t think I can announce yet. But that’s ok you can put that and try to figure them out. But we’re excited to tour with Masked Intruder, because that band is awesome. They’ve been getting a lot of hype because they’re good and they deserve it. And then in June we’ll be doing some other touring.
What’s your favorite funny thing that has occurred in our music scene lately?
That’s hard. How about this? You go through the last few weeks of your biggest stories and then ask me what I think about them?
Fall Out Boy getting back together?
As much as I’d like to have a good answer for you, I don’t really like Fall Out Boy. But I don’t dislike Fall Out Boy. A lot of my friends like them. Even though it’s rare, I’m really so indifferent to FOB. I just don’t really care. I actually do like one FOB record, I guess it’s the weird one, but I like Infinity On High. I like a decent amount of songs on there. They’re just like poppy rock songs. I thought it was fine. Most people either loved them or were like “Fuck that band,” I just didn’t really care about FOB.
For Today Guitarist?
That one was just funny. Here’s the thing about that to me: Obviously that guy is kind of an idiot, but I feel like he had to know what he was doing. He couldn’t have been that surprised people got that pissed off. But I also think that in that day, For Today were bigger than they ever have been or ever will be ever again.
All Time Low/Pierce The Veil Tour? What do you think about the kids that will be attending that?
I once bought one of my guitar amps off of Dan from Four Year Strong, Dan O’Conner. We were going to meet, but the tour they were on was not coming to Cincinnati. The closest it was coming was to Chicago. He was like, “I could ship it to you, but it would be expensive for me or you. Do you just want to come pick it up?” I was like, “Yeah, we’ll hang out,” or whatever. So we got there and they were on tour with From First To Last and Pierce The Veil. And I made it through half of a Peirce The Veil song. They were terrible. All Time Low seem like cool dudes. I’ve never honestly listened to them that much, but I was on a fantasy football league with Jack from that band. He said some really funny things in the email thread, so they seem like cool dudes.
blink-182 starting a label called Viking Wizard Eyes?
Is that even real? My answer to that is that if blink is collectively starting that label, as in Travis, Mark, and Tom all have equal say, I am honestly extremely curious as to the bands that those three would find.
POZ: What if they don’t sign anyone? What if it’s just for themselves?
Ryan: If it’s just blink, I think they’re smart. Because at this point, they’re still one of the biggest punk or rock bands in the world probably. At this point they don’t need a label. That EP by itself probably sold a crazy amount on iTunes and they got all of it. It’s smart.
Paramore’s new song? Last one.
Do I have to answer this?
POZ: You have to answer it, it’s the last one. Most important question.
Ryan: I listened to it once and I thought it sounded like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
POZ: Do you like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
You didn’t tell me about the time you drove Tom Delonge around…
I have no idea how you’re going to segway this into the interview. I used to work for some venues around here: a small one and then a bigger one that were owned by the same people. Most of the time I worked the door, but sometimes I would be the runner and I’d drive people around. The two most notable ones were Ani DiFranco, which was just funny because she makes more money than I’ll ever make. But I literally got a grocery list to buy for her, and no joke, it was color coded. “The green ones, you need to go to whole foods, the red ones you can go wherever, the yellow ones need to be from here,” I was like, “This is insane.” There was no way they ate half of the food, it just seemed like such a waste of money. But the other one was Tom Delonge, when Angels and Airwaves came to town. He was literally insane. I guess later it made sense, because he came out and said he was on drugs, you know? But when I say he was insane (people always ask me about it) he was a really nice guy. He wasn’t shitty, he didn’t have an ego or an attitude. He was just actually kind of crazy. But he was very friendly and very nice. We took him to the Apple store and he bought twelve or thirteen iPods.
POZ: For who?
Ryan: I don’t know. This is no joke. I will swear this on my mother’s grave. He was really nice, and was really friendly and talking. Then my friend Billy was actually working with me, at the show, and he [Tom] started talking to us about this website that he found. He wrote it down and I lost it, and to this day I regret that, but it was like something about opening up your mind. He said this sentence, which we can end this entire interview on: “I’ve just been studying this stuff and your mind doesn’t use all the power that it can. You could be across the street standing on the rooftop of that building and standing where we are right now, and you wouldn’t know it because your mind wouldn’t allow you to.”
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