PropertyOfZack Interview : : The Morning Of
Justin Wiley of The Morning Of contacted PropertyOfZack not too long ago to do a full interview regarding the status of the band and what their situation has been for the past few months, and we couldn’t have been more happy to accept. Justin and I discussed the band’s last album, Tragic Hero Records, new music, and the future. It’s a truly informative interview for those who have been wondering what’s up with the band, so read up!
For the record, could you state your name and role in The Morning Of?
I am Justin Wiley, and I sing in The Morning Of.
Where do we start? Can you go into detail about what the band has been doing for the past six months and the state that the band is in?
Sure. We did some dates in December actually, that was the last time that we played together. It was really good; all the shows were really awesome. I would say that best one might have been in Poughkeepsie at the Glamour Kills holiday show. Around August of last year we all sat down right before we went on tour with The Dangerous Summer and we decided that we were going to take touring a lot less seriously and we were going to all go finish college. Chris was the one that actually decided he was going to go away. Now Chris is at school at Miami. We decided that we were still going to write whenever we were together, and keep it going, but just take it a lot slower because we had been on tour since before The World As We Know It came out. We were on tour consistently all the way from summer of 2007 till the beginning of 2010. In the past six months, all of us have gotten jobs. Rob and Jessica moved into New York City. Dan moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris moved to Miami. I’m still in New Jersey. All of us have started working and we’re all trying to finish school as well. It’s actually been really nice to get away and to do our own thing for a little while. We all really, really miss touring. That’s why we decided to go to Europe in June and the few US shows.
The Morning Of are of course no longer with Tragic Hero Records. Looking back at it now, do you think signing with the label and Tommy was a mistake?
No, not at all. I don’t think it was a mistake. I think that it might have pigeonholed us by signing with Tragic Hero. They did everything they ever could for us. I have nothing bad to say about Tommy or Tragic. At times when I felt that nobody cared about our band, the only person I absolutely knew did care was Tommy. I look back happily at my time with Tragic. I feel like being on the label where it’s mostly a screamo label definitely did type-cast us and a lot of people wouldn’t give us a chance. There’s only so much that Tommy could do for us before we have to have help from somebody a little bigger. I wouldn’t say that any of it was Tommy’s fault. He did what we could for us. He bent over backwards to accommodate us. Tragic Hero was a blessing. I definitely thank Tommy.
What originally drove you to sign the label?
They actually signed with Tragic Hero before I joined their band. I don’t really know why they chose to sign with Tommy. They just liked the way that he operated and how passionate he was about the band. The Morning Of actually had a different singer and drummer before I joined. Jessica wasn’t in the band either. They were pretty popular. That was back in the day when PureVolume was just starting and they were the biggest unsigned band on PureVolume. AbsolutePunk had them featured and they were just big. I know that they had a lot of attention, but they ultimately chose Tragic Hero. Most labels would have dropped a band when they lost their lead singer, but Tragic Hero stayed with them until I came aboard and then things really took off. So we stayed with Tragic through it all.
Why do you think the record didn’t meet the expectations you guys probably had for it?
I don’t think it reached our expectations. I would say that’s a bad way to put it. We didn’t really have any expectations sales wise. If anything, it exceeded expectations for the first month because we didn’t think it would sell as many copies as it did the first or second week. That was all good. When we went in to record we were happy with the songs, but it exceeded expectations getting to work with Jim and the way that it would sound. We were happy with our songs and came out feeling we had written the best possible songs we could have written. Jim was a blessing. We came out really happy. There are no regrets with the whole record cycle. We’re really happy. We did things our own way. We never sold out or catered to what anybody else wanted us to do. I think that’s what makes us so much happier as a band than most bands.
Technically, The Way I Fell In got off to a great start and landed on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. What happened after that?
Unfortunately our type of music isn’t a popular type of music. Tommy deals with a lot of that screamo stuff and it sells a lot better than a lot of the music we’re doing. Unfortunately the had some records come out around the same time as ours that were better records for him. They were bigger moneymakers. There is only one of Tommy so he can’t put all of his eggs in one basket. He had to pay attention to other people as well. At the time when The Way I Fell In came out, we weren’t represented by any management, we didn’t have a booking agent. It was extremely hard for us to get on support tours and to keep going. Tommy can only do so much and we can only do so much. It was just us and Tommy trying to do everything. It just wasn’t enough at the end of the day.
Many fans were concerned that the band had actually called it a day. Were there times where that seemed like the only option?
Yeah, we were going to call it a day or whatever when Chris originally brought up the idea of going to college in Miami. Then when we toured with The Dangerous Summer we were having such a good time and we thought about it. We realized that we’re such close friends and that none of us are unhappy with each other. We get along; we’ve never had a big fight in our band. Of course we get mad at each other, but we’ve never said crosswords to each other or have never been mad at each other. We thought, why would we ever break up when we could just stop touring and do what we ever wanted to do and put out records when we’re home and have fun. We decided that ultimately that was the better option to do. I think it really worked out because we were all really stressed out about the whole breaking up thing and it really just didn’t make any sense. When we came to the idea of just touring less and playing shows whenever we can and not taking it so serious everybody was much happier.
All of that being said, the band is not breaking up and are going on two tours; one in the UK and Mainland Europe, and the other in the States. Are there nerves about getting back out on the road after it being so long?
No, definitely not. I was talking to Jessica right before you called and everybody is extremely excited. We’ve never been a super band that practices every day. We always have lived so far away. Dan has lived in North Carolina and I’ve always lived in New Jersey. Rob, Chris, and Jessica have all lived in New York the whole job. It’s always hard to get together and play. I don’t think we’ll feel any lag or feel less prepared than we usually do. We’re going to get together a week before and practice every day for that week. Everybody seems really, really excited. None of us have been to Europe except for Rob, so.
Do you guys have any fears of the turnout not being what you want overseas?
Not at all. We’re going over there with no expectations. I’m not expecting every show to sell out and I’m not expecting every show to have 400 or 300 kids. If anybody shows up to the shows we’ll be completely happy. Like I said, we’re not the type of band who gets all pissy and are irritable. We get along really, really well, and the company of just having each other and being over there and doing what we love and playing shows will be enough to keep us completely satisfied. As long as we have enough money to get around, which is a big part of the reason we started the Kickstarter.
Some fans were slightly put off that you guys announced a Kickstarter to fund your European tour. Can you comment on that?
We were going to put the Europe EP on sale on iTunes and just take all the money we made off of that EP and use it to tour over in Europe. It seemed like a much, much better idea to do sort of a pay as you go type thing like most bands have done, like Radiohead and such. So we let fans pay what they wanted and offered them other things. Another thing with iTunes is that they take a cut. It’s just better to do it on Kickstarter and we came up with a bunch of different prizes. It made more sense to just do it that way. If nobody had donated any money at all, we still would’ve gone over there to tour. It’s just a huge help. We are completely solo. We’re not signed to Tragic Hero anymore. What we have is what we have in our bank accounts. We have no help or support. We don’t have a booking agent or a manager. All we have is our fans. I think they definitely came through big time. We reached our goal. A lot of people don’t even care about the prizes; they just wanted to help the band.
In early-January you tweeted that you were demoing. Was that in regards to new Morning Of songs?
Yeah, I’ve been demoing some new stuff. I’ve also been doing solo stuff and stuff with a new band at home. I think we’re going to be called The Chemist Tree. We’ve been jamming a lot. I’ve only gotten a couple TMO songs down. I’ve talked to Rob and Chris and they’ve been writing a lot as well. I would expect us to write ten songs from May to June when we’re done. Hopefully we’ll be able to write ten songs then and then get together at the end of summer to write maybe ten more. We’ll record somewhere in December and hopefully have a record out next spring. That would be ideal. We’ll see if that can happen.
How far along is the writing process for the next record?
How would you compare it to The Way I Fell In?
I would say it’s pretty similar. I’m not super talented like Rob and Chris are. I’m excited to hear what they’re writing because they’re always progressing as musicians. I kind of stay the same. I haven’t gotten any better. What they’re writing is much much more interesting than what I’m writing. I’ve been pretty selfish with my writing lately. I’ve been writing a lot more catered for what I’m into with my stuff with Chemist Tree. It’s a lot more like Death Cab or Copeland. I’m assuming that what Rob and Chris are writing is a hundred times better and definitely more catered to The Morning Of. I don’t know. I’ll be really excited to hear it. They had a huge huge progression with the last record. I’ll be excited.
Has the situation with Tragic Hero scared you off from possibly signing with a label for this release?
No, not at all. Like I said, we don’t harbor any ill feelings toward Tragic Hero. It’s weird with labels, man. As time goes on labels become so obsolete. It just doesn’t make any sense. The way it goes now with Kickstarter and iTunes and Soundcloud. All those places where you can go and just promote yourself and just do it yourself. If you don’t care about physical distribution, and you can still get physical distribution as an artist without a label. I’m pretty sure Arcade Fire isn’t signed; I’m pretty sure they have their own label and they distribute their own records. I guess for us, it would just be a matter of do we want to sign to a label? They have to have something to offer us that we can’t do by ourselves. I’m pretty sure that we could fund a recording ourselves and just keep all the money. It would have to be something as far as promotion or helping us get a manager or helping us get a better agent. That would be the only thing that would force us to sign. Regardless of labels, it’s still something we’re going to do. We’re not the type of band that feels like we can’t do it on our own. We’ve done it on our own for four years. It’s nothing new to us.
In what capacity should we expect The Morning Of to move forward in the future?
I would say that we probably won’t be doing any serious touring again until probably December because everybody has school and work. I would say that after the tour in June we’ll probably take all of July off. We might play some spread out shows in August hopefully before school starts. People will start to hear from us again in December.
When should we expect to hear songs from your other project?
I’m not sure. I feel like really free with it, which is a good feeling. There’s no need to rush anything. I have probably fifteen songs written. I’m about happy with eight of them. We’ve been demoing around here for a while. I’m really happy with the way everything sounds. I don’t know man. I’m not going to force anything. We’ll probably start playing shows around the Philly area relatively soon. That’ll be the only way to really check us out. We won’t put music online until we’re super happy. I’m pretty excited about it. Like I said, it’s a lot more catered to what I want to be playing. I think people will really, really enjoy it.
Thank you so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add or that we should be on the lookout for?
I think we’re going to do an exclusive song stream with AP, so keep an eye out for that. Thank you to all of our fans for sticking with us and helping us to get to Europe.