Your situation has a lot of parallels witih that of Texas Is The Reason, who were around at the same time and had the same kind of struggle happening with major labels and interpersonal dynamic. But they also had that reconciliation, and they were actually able to record a couple songs they had envisioned for being on their major-label debut and add them to a reissue of their first record. Being that Crank! isn’t that active of a label anymore, do you anticipate doing anything musically to put a cap on this leg? Do you see yourself getting back in the studio to work on any previously unheard old material, or even new material?
There’s no talk of that. We’re really just viewing it as a tour. It’s one day at a time. There’s no unfinished material laying around from when we disbanded. That material was EndSerenading. It was only half-finished when we broke up, and we went back and finished it, put the vocals on and mixed it. So we already finished the unfinished material. If we were to do something, it would have to be something completely new, and that’s definitely not something on our radar. We’re focusing on the task at hand, which is learning to play these songs again, and being able to perform them really well for people at these shows.
There are different motivations for every band’s reunion. You have some bands like Piebald or Christie Front Drive who did a handful of shows, but then you have bands like Refused and At The Drive-In who reportedly earned six-to-seven figures each for their Coachella performances. Did any sort of offer ever come across your desk before now offering you big money for a reunion gig?
No, nothing. I would get occasional random emails from people, but it was just from fans. No actual offers.
So basically the reason this hasn’t happened before now is because booking agents are too lazy.
I guess! [Laughs.] We certainly didn’t think of it.
It’s funny Jim Adkins brought it up, because he also got No Knife back together for Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity X 10 Tour. He’s obviously got quite a bit of pull. What can you tell us about the show he pitched you on?
It keeps getting pushed back; I think it will be sometime this fall now? I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to do it now because we have our own touring booked.
When were you first made aware that the music you played 15 years ago was gaining acceptance and traction with a new generation of listeners and bands?
A few years back, I met Keith from Count Your Lucky Stars Records, and he was a huge fan. I sort of realized through him and his label about the emo revival. I don’t actually mind the term; I always hated being called “emo,” though. I feel like maybe we can just drop the “emo” and call all of this the revival.
I learned about it through Count Your Lucky Stars and Topshelf Records; they’ve just created this new world of DIY. Their bands always play the most random spaces in Austin when they come through town; it’s exactly the same types of shows Mineral would play back in the day. It’s cool to see that DIY network of bands and labels that do stuff the way things were being done in the ’90s. I’m so surprised you can have the internet, with its broad accessibility, and still have this DIY culture. It’s awesome.
Your most recent project, Zookeeper, hasn’t done a lot of touring. The last time you really hit the road hard was with the Gloria Record back in 2001. Are you concerned about getting back on the horse?
I have a fair amount of anxiety about that. My life is completely different now. I have three-year-old twins and another kid who just turned one. In the last few years, I haven’t been away from these people. But as far as performing and playing music live, I don’t think that’s something that ever really goes away. It’s like riding a bike.
Speaking of Zookeeper, you put out your new record, Pink Chalk, earlier this year on Bandcamp but then quickly pulled it offline. What’s going on with that?
I just put it out there for people to see, because I had finished it, and I was excited. I haven’t finished a record of new material in seven years. But I took it down because I’m figuring out how to actually release it. It looks like it will come out in July on Count Your Lucky Stars. So it’s just gonna kinda sneak out there, and we’ll see what happens. I spent two or three years working on that record, and now being thrown into this Mineral realm, it’s such a completely different world. It’s really interesting to me to be doing both of these things at the same time.
On Zookeeper’s previous records, the songs were very elongated, with some neo-folk elements and vocals very different from Mineral or the Gloria Record. How does the new Zookeeper material reflect that?
It sounds pretty different to me. It’s much more spare. I started the record myself, and I only brought other people in when I envisioned something [musically] that was outside my capabilities. Like there are some horn players on one track, and some of the people who played live with Zookeeper over the years played some guitars and keyboards on a few tracks. But for the most part, I built it myself, with the engineer I was working with. It’s definitely much more chill from start to finish. The songs are incredibly short, compared to anything else I’ve ever done. They’re between two and three minutes each. I got more interested recently in writing short, simple songs, so Pink Chalk is sort of the fruits of that.
What’s on your playlist right now? What new music are you into?
I’m a Spotify guy. I like exploring music and building playlists. A lot of the stuff I’m big on right now isn’t current. I’m listening to a lot of Harry Nilsson and a lot of jazz, and this girl Josephine Foster; she’s kind of a chanteuse of sorts. I went through a phase where I was discovering old records from the ’60s and ’70s, like buying records, but I think now I’m more into songs. I think that’s what’s happened in our culture, in general. The record is kind of a lost art form.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen with musicians reuniting old bands and playing old songs is their struggle to physically re-live the emotions of those old songs, especially the lyrics. Something you were known for in Mineral were your lyrics, which were largely spiritual. Is that something you still adhere to? Do you think your beliefs have changed now? Do you have any issues singing some of those songs?
Yeah, there’s definitely an issue, in that I’ve continued to evolve in my life and character. Those songs were written by a 19-year-old who was very naïve. It is a challenge to reconnect with that stuff, for sure. But none of that ever goes away; just a lot more gets added to it. The person I was, I’m still that person—it’s still there to a degree—but it’s got a lot more with it now. It’s definitely gonna be a challenge for me, but it’s kind of cool from a psychological standpoint to be able to reconnect with yourself from the past and bring it all into a more coherent, whole version of yourself.
This is a question I ask every reunited band: For you, who’s next? Who do you wish would come join you on the revival circuit?
I’m really disappointed that Boys Life have never done it. I really liked them, especially at the end. That’s the problem with bands ending; they’re always just on the cusp of something, whatever that something is when they disband, and then you never get to know what that would’ve been. But at the same time, you have to leave things in the past and accept that your experience was what it was, and that you’ll always have that forever.
That being said, if Brandon Butler is reading this interview: Reunite Boys Life.
He shouldn’t do anything because I said so! [Laughs.] But that’s the one from our old group of homies I think would be awesome.
Just ask Jim Adkins to ask him. He obviously has the magic touch right now.
I think he did ask them! ALT