PropertyOfZack is a huge fan of Mansions and everything that Chris Browder stands for, so it is always a pleasure to be able to feature him on the site. Chris and I did a great interview not too long ago at his show with Daybreaker and Aficionado to discuss the tour, Dig Up The Dead, two future splits, and a lot more. Read up and enjoy, it’s a great one!
Before this run of dates, you were out on the Pay What You Want Tour with Ace Enders and Into It. Over It. That was also the first long set of dates you’ve done in a while. How was it being back out?
It went really well. I think the bands were all really well matched. Everyone had a slightly different fan base, but I think they were all really receptive to each other, which made it good. It felt like we were winning people over and the same for the other bands too. It was really good, and Ace is super nice and took good care of us. Evan rules too, we’ve done stuff with him before. It was one of those tours where it was kind of hard to leave at the end because it was kind of long enough where we all became friends.
Was it nice to get back on the east coast too?
Yeah, it was really good to get to play the new songs because it was the first tour since the record came out. That was the biggest difference. Before we’d play the new songs, but nobody knew them. That was really nice. It was the longest tour that we’d done in probably a year too, so it felt good. We’ve been gone from home for about five weeks now and it feels good to be busy.
Were many songs off of Dig The Dead worked into set?
We’re playing only like one old song, which is nice, but we should probably play a little bit more of the old songs, but we’re not playing for that long anyways. It’s not like that many people knew the old record anyway.
POZ: Have fans been receptive live?
Mansions: People respond real well to it, which feels good.
The record was released on April 5th, and was met with exceptional reviews. How has the total reaction been to it so far?
It’s been cool. In terms of sales, it immediately did a lot better than the last one, which is nice to see. We did a lot of touring in between but you never know if it’s working or not. We got a lot more press for this one too and you could kind of feel that the machine was working a little bit better for us this time. Kids have been responding to it a lot too, which is really cool. It also doesn’t feel like we lost fans that were into the old one but not the new one. Most people seem to be into both.
You guys were on Doghouse for the last release, so is it interesting to see that you beat the sales on your own?
I think it shows a lot how things have changed. Now we’re with Burning House, which is really small, but they’re willing to spend money and are smart with their money. It makes it almost frustrating that it’s this easy to get press now. It’s great though.
You’ve said that Mansions sort of fell off the face of the earth in many people’s minds since the release of New Best Friends. Were there even hopes that this would be accepted so well?
When I was making the record I thought about it a lot and if it wasn’t good nobody would are because there was no momentum at all, so there was a lot of pressure from that, but it was nice to work with that too. I kept working on things until they were the best they could be.
How has the reaction been compared to the initial reaction of New Best Friends?
There wasn’t really an initial reaction to New Best Friends. There was some reaction to the EP before that, and then the record came out and it was a slow trickle of reaction to it. This was cool because it was much more of a release week kind of thing. It’s been a lot more positive and a lot less lukewarm.
Why do you think that you had bigger growth during the EPs than you did with the first record?
The self-titled EP was meant to be a teaser for the record, but Doghouse put a bigger push into that. It didn’t do so great, so they didn’t put a large push into the record. I think that was probably the biggest difference, and I think there might have been some stuff with the EP where people listened to it and people got turned off because the song selection was weird and they may not have even checked out the full-length.
Going back to Doghouse Records wasn’t really an option, but why did you sign with Burning House Records?
I knew Casey, who runs it. That was a big thing for me, finding somebody we could trust. We shopped around to different labels, but he was the one from the very beginning that was really excited about it and had a plan. He was really willing to be invested in it financially and emotionally. He wants us to succeed as much as we do. He can’t just cut his losses if it’s not selling well, which is really important to us at this stage. He’s a good guy.
The content of the album itself is highly personal. There seems to be an overarching theme of being lost in the songs throughout nearly every track. Was that planned?
None of that was really planned. I would get a picture of where things were going as the songs came out. They all came out organically and you’d start seeing different themes pop up and the themes made sense with what I had been going through in the past couple years. It was definitely organic, but there was certain stuff I’d do in one song and explore in another.
The album’s closer is the one song that lifts you back up. Did you just want to close it that way?
A little bit. It was one of the earlier songs written, but it was a response to all the other questions and doubts on the record. It made sense as a closer. It was important to me to have a semi-optimistic ending. To me, the record overall feels optimistic compared to other stuff, which is funny to me because people think it’s really dark. To me it feels kind of optimistic. The closer did make sense to have all those themes in one song.
Dig Up The Dead is certainly more personal than New Best Friends. Were you not comfortable to show that side of you on the last record?
A little bit. To me they’re both really personal, but in different ways. New Best Friends might be more personal in terms that it’s a little more autobiographical, where it’s more factual and is based on really specific events. This one was kind of more existentially personal. I think I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with being really personal; that’s the only way I know how to write.
I believe you’ve also said that this record could in a way really decide whether you continue to do this or not, so was putting yourself completely into the lyrics and content something that you had to literally do to make sure you gave it your all?
There’s that sense that if I don’t say it now that I may never say it. There would be lines in songs where I thought it would be too much, but then Robin and other people would tell me that I couldn’t change it and to go for it. There were moments where I was nervous, but it was like, “Why even bother if it’s not going to personable?”
Over the summer there are plans to release a 7” with Fences. When were those tracks recorded?
Those were recorded in mid-March or maybe April. I think in mid-April. We went to this cool studio in Seattle where a bunch of big bands record, but we got in cheap because one of the Fences guys works there. We got together in the studio at the same time and his drummer played drums on my song and we had two days there.
Were the songs written at the same time of Dig Up The Dead?
The song I did was written the week before I went into record. I had a bunch of b-sides lying around but I really wanted to work on a new song.
POZ: How would you compare it musically?
Chris: It’s a little poppier. It’s more straightforward too. There are a lot less layers on the song.
POZ: Do you plan on releasing those b-sides?
Chris: Possibly. There are some that I might release. I’d rather write new songs and put them out. There are a couple b-sides though that I might do something with.
You’ve also confirmed a split with John Nolan later in the year. Does timing for that just depend on when he can record music when having a break from Taking Back Sunday?
Yeah and he’s on a big label, so it’s a little trickier. We’re still figuring everything out, but it should happen. I still have to finish my song. Hopefully it’ll come together soon. We’ve been talking about it for a really long time.
Have you continued to write or think about releasing new material sooner than later as well on releases other than a split?
Yeah, I’m always trying to. On tour I really can’t. I want to, but I’m not good at doing it, which sucks. I’ll definitely do more once we get back. I’d like to start working on a new record as soon as possible by the end of the year if I can get the songs together.
After this run of dates you have a few shows with Hellogoodbye, but nothing else. When should we see some new announcements?
We’re going to do some shows with Fences at the end of July. That’s sort of what the split is for. That’ll be from Seattle to Chicago. Then hopefully we’ll have some stuff after that. We’re trying to stay as busy as we can in the fall.
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