Q&A: Matt Wieder of Frontier(s)

August 13, 2010 by Lucy Albers

Q&A: Matt Wieder of Frontier(s)

 

Although post-hardcore quartet (and former AP&R band) FRONTIER(S) were brought together by frontman Chris Higdon, formerly of influential emo outfit ELLIOTT, that’s about the only thing the two groups have in common. Guitarist MATT WIEDER (formerly of hardcore band MOUTHPIECE) tells us that fact should be apparent to anyone listening to Frontier(s)’ debut full-length, There Will Be No Miracles Here, which dropped Tuesday on Arena Rock/No Sleep Records. In fact, the band have more in common with Washington, D.C., post-hardcore units than they do Midwestern indie groups. But to see them in person, Wieder reveals that you might just have to take a trip to Kentucky.

How’s the reaction been to the album?
It’s been really good. People seem to be pretty pumped about it. There’s the whole element of everyone looking at the album like, “Is this another Elliott record?” because Chris [Higdon, vocals] was in Elliott. But we don’t really sound like Elliott—at least I don’t think we do. There’s a lot more darkness, which you probably wouldn’t expect for guys as old as us. You’re supposed to mellow out as you get older, but we somehow got angrier. [Laughs.] So we’re a lot more aggressive [than Elliott].

Do you ever get sick of that comparison?
I do, but at the same time, the fact that he was in that band has opened a lot of doors for us. I mean, we have a record out, and we haven’t toured at all. So we have a little bit of a built-in fanbase. It’s a little annoying right now because we haven’t really done anything up to this point, so every article about the band is about Elliott. So, I mean, it’s a double-edged sword.

How did Frontier(s) come together?
I’ve known Chris for a really long time, and I actually tried to get into Elliott when they had a guitar spot open awhile back. We’ve talked about playing together over the past couple years, but it just never really happened. After Elliott broke up [in 2003], Chris was still writing music and was looking for the right mix of people to put a band together. I think he hooked up with our bassist, Bryan [Todd], first, and they got together and tried a few different drummers out and nothing really worked. Then I ran into Chris one day and he asked if I wanted to play with this band, and everything just kind of happened from there. Chris and I are the same age and kind of grew up with the same music, so I think we’re on the same wavelength about what we wanted to do. The stuff we listened to years ago wasn’t nearly as over-produced as what it is now. So we’re hearing these bands now, and they’re so slick and everything is so “produced,” and we really wanted to get back to making just raw, aggressive, post-hardcore music. We didn’t think there were really any bands out there really doing that. Turns out there are a few, but we didn’t really know about it then. [Laughs.]

Do you feel like you have a solid lineup?
Well, actually, there’s been a lineup change; our drummer, Eagle [Barber], recently moved to Seattle. He got to the point where the only reason he was still [in Louisville, Kentucky] was for the band. I think he wanted to be in a band where, if he were staying somewhere just to be in that band, they would be touring for six or seven months out of the year. We’re at the point in our lives, though, with families and kids, where we’re not going to do that. There were no hard feelings or anything; he just had a great opportunity out in Seattle and had been putting off his piece of the pie for a long time just to be in a rock band. So he moved out there about a month ago, and our last show with him was in July. We recently got a new drummer named Nick [Stinnett], and it’s been going really well. He has the same style as Eagle, so it hasn’t been a big shock to the sound of the band or anything. But yeah, up until that point, the lineup was really good. Luckily for us, that lineup change isn’t an issue. It really couldn’t have happened at a better time. We’ve never actually told anyone that yet, so there’s a breaking story for you. [Laughs.]

It’s not very often nowadays that you’re able to go a month with a new drummer and nobody notices.
These days, everything is so in-your-face—everybody’s got a Facebook page and a MySpace page, and a band can get big without having to do anything but put a song up online. When I was a kid, there was some mystery involved in punk rock, and I kind of miss that a little. I didn’t even know what bands looked like when I was young. If there wasn’t a picture on the album cover, I would have no idea. I had to wait for them to come through my area and see them play. That’s definitely one of those things that I really miss, that sense of mystery. So I decided not to announce the lineup change. I figured people would figure it out when they didn’t see Eagle behind the drum set.

What was it like writing for this album?
I think Chris and I have similar ideas of how we approach writing music. We just kind of go into a room and somebody will have a riff, and we work off that until we have a song. We’re not the kind of band where one person writes an entire song and tells the others what to play. We usually just have a riff or a bass line or something and work it out. Actually, writing the album was pretty effortless. We didn’t really struggle; it all came together pretty easily.

Are you happy with the final result?
Based on the amount of money we had, I would say yes. It’s funny because everyone wants to compare it to [Elliott’s 2000 full-length] False Cathedrals. A couple reviews compare the two and it’s like, you know, the budget for False Cathedrals was literally 10 times what we spent—so it better be a better record. Times have changed. Back in the late ’90s, there was a lot of money floating around in the music industry. There isn’t anymore. But I’m definitely happy with the album.

Is there anything that you guys did with this record that you weren’t able to do with previous albums with your other bands?
We definitely had a little more time. In the past, I’ve always gone into the studio with, like, one week locked down. For this album, we recorded over a few months here in Louisville in this old building downtown. We really got to experiment more, and I got to do more guitar tracks than I’ve done in the past.

When will we see you on tour?
Everybody in the band is kind of busy and has his own life going on, so we decided that we’d do a little bit of touring when we have a reason to tour. We’d been asked to play numerous different places, but we wanted to wait until our record came out. Right now, we’re just trying to sell these albums so we can make another one. We’re going to play some East Coast shows and possibly go out to the West Coast early next year. Hopefully, we’ll get to Europe sometime; we really got a great response from [Europeans]. I would say a full couple-month tour is extremely unlikely. We’ll have to pick our spots, hopefully play a lot of festivals and get as many people as possible at once. alt

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