PropertyOfZack Interview : : Mansions

by Zack Zarrillo - Aug 11, 2010

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Chris from Mansions had some time for a quick interview with PropertyOfZack after his set at the famous Maxwell’s in Hoboken. Chris and I discussed the band’s new label, their departure from Doghouse, and the band’s future in regards to touring. Chris was an absolute pleasure to interview and to just talk to for a short period of time, so make sure to read up and buy New Best Friends if you already haven’t!

Last week you posted a major update on Mansions. Can you go into any deeper explanation on the split with Doghouse?
It was something that we knew was coming for a long time. It was no surprise where like it was kind of a contractual thing where we knew if we did the next record with them it would be a thing where they would have to drop us and then resign us. We weren’t really doing a lot for them and they weren’t really doing a lot for us, but they made an offer for the last record, but I was kind of interested in seeing what else was out there. It’s not like hard feelings. I don’t think they have any, or I hope they don’t [Laughs]. I don’t have any hard feelings with them. It was like “This isn’t benefiting wither of us, so lets just see what else is going on.” It wasn’t like a big dramatic thing, but it’s a bummer.

Was it a shock getting signed to such an important label in the first place?
Yeah, the whole last couple years of my life have been a kind of bizarre experience because you have things in your head a certain way. Doghouse when I was growing up was one of my dream labels, so I was like really stoked to be on it. But it’s like having a crush on the hot girl in high school and then, you know, I don’t want to like shit talk about Doghouse at all because they were great to me and believed in me when no one was interested at all, but nothing is ever perfect. So it’s always weird, like you’re always wanting to do a national tour and then you get on it and there’s great things, but there are always bad things too. It was an honor to be a part of Doghouse at all and they’ve put out a lot of records that I like.

You also mentioned that you recorded a new album that you weren’t 100% pleased with. What are the issues with it?
I think we’re figuring them out. It’s weird cause were doing it for no money so were doing it ourselves, which is cool, I enjoy and always like when bands do that, but it’s easy to get lost in trying to get stuff to sound good and get lost of if it’s feeling good. It was kind of the first draft of it…We spent a lot of time on it, but the guy who played drums on it was only able to come into town for a day or two so he just learned the songs and played on it. So we didn’t really get to work them out in the way that I would’ve liked. A lot of it sounds cool, but they’re not really like hitting emotionally the way I want them too. We had gotten some good responses from people and some people wanting to hear more and I was interested in writing some more songs too, so we’re gonna work on some new stuff and kind of redo some of the stuff that I don’t like and see how it comes out. There’s no loss. The timing of things…We wouldn’t want to be starting to release it now because by the time it’d come out it’d be the holiday season, which is a bad time for a band like us, so we’d be waiting a couple months anyways, so it’s like why not try to make the best record possible.
POZ: So you’ll just be reworking some of those songs and adding new ones?
Chris: Right. Some of the songs I played tonight were from the last month in July and a lot of them I’m really happy with. I feel like I’ve gotten in a new groove with writing. It’s always a good problem to have if I can go “Well, there’s 14 songs I really like” and I have to pick the best ones for the album instead of with the first draft, “Well, I have 10 songs that I like,” but after having a month or two away from them it’s like, “There’s a few I’m not really into.”

Can you describe the differences between the writing process for that and New Best Friends?
It’s hard to tell because I wrote the New Best Friends’ songs such a long time ago that it’s hard to even remember, but I think it’s pretty much the same. It always starts with me and an acoustic guitar, just working a song out like that. Some of the more recent ones I’ve been developing the music first before totally putting words to it. Especially lately it’s been really hard doing a first draft of a song, but then going through every line and making sure every line is the best it could be.

Are you drawing a lot more from the experiences of the past year of being a touring band?
Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of experiences. Kind of what I was talking about with like things are never really what you expect them to be. I think that’s kind of a theme that I’ve noticed has popped up a lot with it. When I wrote the songs for New Best Friends I was like 20 and now I’m 25, so things have changed since then.

When did you start recording the record?
I started demoing pretty hardcore in the winter and then spent a bunch of time in April recording, that’s when our drummer came down, then I probably had May and most of June off from that, and then in July I spent a lot of time on it.

You said you didn’t want to put anything out around the holidays, so would you like to release the record early next year?
Yeah, I’m hoping early spring, maybe around February/March. We’ll see what happens.

New Best Friends was produced by Mike Sapone, who needs no introduction, but how was it working in the studio with him?
It was incredible. That was a dream come true. He was our top choice, the only real choice. I wish we could have worked with him on this, but just the fact that we’re doing it ourselves…But it was incredible having his ear and he has a really great music sensibility, but also he’s really great at just getting you excited about things. Sometimes when you’re recording and we’re doing 11/12 hour days and it’s just me and him and there were times where I was just sick of playing and nothing sounded good, but he’s good at keeping you going and getting the most out of you. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t think I was capable of doing until he pushed me to do it.

Would you say you learned a lot from him in terms of producing this album yourself?
Yeah, totally, a lot of the sounds and tricks. I had sent it to him and he liked it and had spotted some of the tricks I had done and I was like, “I learned those from you.” I owe a lot to him. He’s been like our biggest advocate.

Now you’re doing three or four dates with Jonah [Of Far]. How did that come together?
We have the same booking agent and we were looking to do more east coast, acoustic stuff. He had some openings and was nice enough to let us on so it’s cool. He’s a really nice guy.

Would you like to start touring by the end of the year?
Yeah, I would love to get stuff gearing up. It’s hard getting tours when you don’t have a new thing to promote, so once we figure out what’s going on with the album we’ll start getting in the cycle. If we’re getting offers from awesome tours we’d do them, it’s just hard to get stuff.

Is going back on a label an option for you?
Yeah, definitely. I think I’ve learned a lot from the Doghouse experience where I’d be better at it. I take a lot of responsibility for anything that happens with us. I’m not against labels. I’d love to do it totally myself, but I don’t really have the money to do it is the thing. I’m not against labels at all.

Last time we spoke you mentioned your love for recording and producing and that you did half of Backseat Goodbye’s EP. Would you want to do anymore producing and recording?
I would love to. I really like it because I love recording a lot, but it can be hard when it’s myself because there’s a lot of things that go into it, but yeah, that’s something that I really love to do and making any extra money on the side is totally great. So I would love to do more and if there are any bands that want to record I would love to do it.

In the last year you’ve toured with The Get Up Kids, you’ve been on Doghouse, you’ve left Doghouse, but what’s been the biggest thing that you’ve learned through all of it?
Anything that’s good that’s happened for us has totally been through the music. It’s easy with all of the stuff to get into the bullshit that it’s about, like who you know. And we’ve had good stuff happen from knowing the right person, or the right person likes our stuff and things like on The Get Up Kids tour. We talked to them and they listened to the bands that submitted and they liked us. If you just work on writing good music then good things will happen. Even Kevin Devine was on that Get Up Kids tour and he’s been such an example of that where he stuck around. He stuck through all the stupid stuff. He did the whole major label thing, but he’s just kept working on writing songs and if you do that long enough people notice. That’s always the most encouraging thing.

Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, just buy CDs and merch online and any bands that want to record, I’d love to do it.

  1. mansions reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    i had a good time doing this interview with Zack, but upon reading i have discovered that i dont speak very linearly. if...
  2. propertyofzack posted this
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