At least they’re paying attention. I really want to ask you about some of the other songs on the record, as it’s obviously intentionally different from what you did on the self-titled record. There’s flares of far, far poppier material than you had on the self-titled. “Bride of Usher,” for example, has a real indie-pop tinge to it, but it still sounds like a Joyce Manor song. Was that intentional or did it just sort of happen once you hit record?
We’re way too self-aware for any of that. We fully knew what we were doing. With the first record, we didn’t really know anything about recording. Any band we’ve been in prior—and we’re not that young; I’m 25 now, so when the first record came out, I was 24 but at that time most people that have been in bands for as long as Matt and myself have recorded in a real studio. We’d never recorded in a studio [before the first album]. Before that it was always like, “Oh, we’ll record at a friend’s brother’s house. He has a computer and a mic.” We just didn’t think, “Oh, we’re going to go record in a studio.” No one is going to give a shit and honestly, in all fairness, all our bands before this were not very good.
We were in a band that really loved At The Drive-In, but also really loved like ska-punk, so it was like, “Let’s do ‘em both.” [Laughs.] So there were these, like, At The Drive-In parts and ska parts in our songs. It was really, really bad. So this was the first time going into like a real studio with Alex Estrada who did the first record. We were just so eager to please. Any time that he’d be like “Okay, someone might not like this,” we just would scrap it, not do it and write another song. It was very intentional, like, people have to like this.
We were very self-aware of it being our first record, so we really had an opportunity to make a really likable record and that’s similar to a lot of bands with their first records. If you listen to the early Beatles stuff, it’s just begging to be liked because they had a chance. And our first album was going to be put out on a record label—a pretty decent sized record label in 6131. They had Touche Amore who were getting huge, so that label was getting a lot of attention at the time and we knew people were going to hear it, so we were like, “Fuck, we really have a chance to make a record people are going to hear and like, so let’s do that.” All the songs were infectious, but also really energetic and we were really excited, so that comes through on the takes. We had a year to just kind of hang out with that and watch our record and see it be well-received. We were like “Holy shit, we did it. We pulled it off. I can’t believe it.” There’s always that worry in the back of your mind that’s like, “Oh, yeah, no one is going to give a shit.” But people ended up liking it—we did what we set out to do.
After that we had a lot of confidence, so when we were writing for the second record we demoed a lot of the songs and a lot of them didn’t sound like the way they do on the record. We went up and recorded with Jack Shirley—the whole record—and it didn’t sound like it [does now]. My voice was gone because I was sick and was frustrated that the vocals weren’t coming out good, so I did really aggressive takes. I was just like, “Well, that’ll sound awesome.” It’ll just be like “He’s so mad. Cool.” [Laughs.] But I just blew out my voice completely and for the rest of the recording session I just couldn’t do vocals at all, so we had to drive home with our tails between our legs and then we had a month before when we went back up there.
In between that month, I basically rewrote every song for the most part. “Violent Inside” I added that guitar lead, “Bride Of Usher” I rewrote almost from scratch—that song originally sounded like Bruce Springsteen with this big chest-beater feel—if it were in an arena, it would have fucking killed. Like, 7,000 people going nuts in an arena, it would have been awesome. [Laughs.] Now it’s less of a chest-beater anthem and more of just a guitar-pop, jangly kind of song. That’s the most extreme case. “I’m Always Tired” wasn’t acoustic; it was kind of like “Bride of Usher.” It had clean guitars and a lot of reverb, but in the end I thought, “I don’t know if I want to do two songs like that.”
I wanted to try to make the record seem a lot longer than it was—13 minutes—so I just never really like repeating an idea. It’s kind of like a Tim and Eric episode—so much shit happens in that 15 minutes that’s it’s on that it feels long as fuck. Is there show even ten minutes? 15 minutes long?
Yeah, I think it’s 11 minutes without commcercials.
But so much shit happens because you don’t have all the mundane stuff in there. You should make as much as possible in the shortest amount of time that way. I’m not into epics, really. I could never really write one, but I think it’s cool to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time. It really feels like a lot more happens. So when the record’s over, you’re like, “It didn’t really feel like 13 minutes.” A lot of shit happens in that 13 minutes, I think.
That’s a pretty good analogy.
The Tim and Eric analogy? Yeah, those things always feel like a lot happened in those 11 minutes.
Yeah, and there’s usually never an idea that’s repeated.
Jesus, that was such a rant. [Laughs.] I started off talking about how we were really confident. We weren’t scared to try anything. We had that kind of—we already made a record people like. People are going to give it [the new record] more of a chance and some people are not going to give it a chance. People who really like our band are going to be like, “Man, I really want to like this record” so they’re going to sit with it and say “All right, I like these two songs. Um, these four are good. You know what? The whole second half is good. You know? The whole fucking record is good.” I think that’s what’s going to end up happening and then other people are just going to be like, “I don’t like it.” Or maybe a couple years from now, they’ll be like, “Actually, that record is pretty good.” This is me way overthinking it’s going to be like a [Jawbreaker’s] Dear You or a [Weezer’s] Pinkerton when it comes out, where nobody fucking likes it but then four or five years later, they come around to it and think it’s the best album ever. It’s not necessarily going to be our best album, but I think it’s going to be better than people thought it was initially. What did you think initially?
It’s interesting. It kind of caught me off guard in a way because, like most idiots, I was expecting it to sound just like the first one and then when it didn’t, I was like, “Oh, what is this?” but then I listened to it and thought, “Okay, this is pretty cool. I get what they’re doing here.”
If you knew us more or even just sat down and had a beer with us and hung out with us for a night, you’d know most of us—none of us really listen to pop-punk. We listen to the classics, like [blink-182’s] Dude Ranch and maybe Descendents. None of us really listen to pop-punk at all, so I don’t think [this record] was a surprise for any of our friends. It was more like, “Oh, you guys can make this kind of record now? I didn’t realize you guys were capable of making pop songs.” We didn’t really realize either; we were like, “Holy shit, we’re pulling this off, we’re pulling this off.” I wouldn’t say you’re an idiot for thinking that because it sounds like we’ve been listening to a lot of pop-punk on the first record. I’m not surprised by it at all.
Compare the recording process for Joyce Manor to the process for Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired. It was pretty different, wasn’t it?
For the first record, interestingly enough, the bass and drums were recorded to tape and guitars and vocals were recorded digitally, which was stupid and I really regret doing. I really wish we would have done all digital or all tape because it sounds unlike any other recording I’ve ever heard—maybe not in a good way. Maybe there is a reason other records don’t sound like that. It’s really unnerving that some of it has this warmth and some of it doesn’t. If you listen to it—especially if you listen to it on vinyl—you can really hear the separation between the guitars and the vocals and the bass and drums. It’s almost like they’re panned.
This record, we did all to tape. I just got the test presses the other day and the record is a 12” at 45 RPM. It’s all so fucking rich and it sounds so fucking awesome. It sounds so much like the way it sounded in the studio when we were doing it. So yeah, we did this whole record to tape, as opposed to the first record, which was half and half.
We had Alex Estrada, the guy who recorded and produced the fist record, produce this one, too. He was like, calling all the shots, like “Hey, that take wasn’t good enough. Do that one again.” He’s a real hard-ass in that sense where other people tend to kind of say “No, man. If that’s what you want to do, if that’s good enough for you,” etc. He’d make you keep doing takes until you get it right, which I think every band should have. You need to have someone in there who doesn’t care how you feel about the take and is like, “No, you need to do it properly.” Every band should have that when they go in the studio, I think. I never thought I would have wanted that, but the final product is so fucking worth it. alt