After nearly 13 years spent signed with Hopeless Records, the Dangerous Summer parted ways with the label to pursue their own independent ventures. Following their 2019 album, Mother Nature, the group have continued to focus on connecting with fans and creating music on their own terms.
Now, as the Dangerous Summer embark through uncharted territory of independent releases and creating music on their own through Molly Water Music, the band have returned with their first single, “Fuck Them All.” An ode, or more specifically, a middle finger to the individuals in the music industry attempting to bring artists down, the Dangerous Summer’s new single is equal parts charismatic and addictive.
Frontman AJ Perdomo caught up with Alternative Press for the exclusive premiere of “Fuck Them All” as well as what it means for the band to take on this new adventure. You can watch the exclusive first look at “Fuck Them All” below.
In March 2020, you fulfilled your record contract with Hopeless Records, and you have since left the label. Why did you make the decision to leave Hopeless and go independent?
I have been signed to Hopeless since I was 18 years old while in my senior year of high school. Hopeless was a great independent record label, and they made us who we are today. After years of being in this industry, you really start to understand how it all works. Record contracts are essentially stacked against the artist pretty hard no matter who you sign to. It forced us to make all of our money off touring, which can be incredibly frustrating, and now with touring on hold, [it’s] near impossible. I think we are at a place now where we believe that we can do this on our own, and for once make money off music.
Out of all of our full-length records, not one has recouped. We have been held in a place where our art can’t even support us. In the digital age, I think more than ever, record labels are less necessary. We have access to all of the tools and services that labels use, so it is time to use them.
Now that you’re independent, do you feel that you have more creative freedom with your music and branding?
Luckily, Hopeless gave us a lot of rope to run with as far as our own creativity, but I think there are a lot less walls and a lot less structure. I think one of the most frustrating things can be when you want to decide your own release dates and your own schedule with your work. We always have off-the-wall ideas of how we want to roll out new songs, but in the music industry, there is a very specific outline that people follow. It’s one of the more maddening things to see, that every band follows the exact same pattern that repeats over and over again.
One of the main things we would like to push is we want to try to have a release every year. We want to get our art out to everyone. I think we saw a beautiful thing happen when SoundCloud became popular. You had artists making music and putting it straight online for consumption with absolutely no downtime. How magical is that? And the music that came out of that situation is nothing but that: magic.
What inspired you to create Molly Water Music? Will you be helping other bands release music through the label? Do you have anyone lined up to work alongside the label?
I actually started Molly Water Music out of my mania while dealing with the labels that wanted to sign [us]. I came to Matt [Kennedy, guitarist] and Ben [Cato, drummer] at the time and told them I would like to fund the new music myself and just wanted to attach my label name to it. We plan to release this new music, as well as a couple other projects I am working on. I have a side project with Derek [Sanders] from Mayday Parade coming out soon, as well as a solo project coming out. I wanted those to be safe under my little umbrella, and there are already a few artists I am talking to about doing releases [with]. One of them comes from Hopeless as well. I am not coming in trying to be a label to take over in any stretch. I more so want it to be a place for musicians to come to for answers and a safe place where the darkness of the industry doesn’t touch. Just fair and resourceful. The Dangerous Summer are a great experiment to run through the wringer.
You’ll be releasing your next EP through Molly Water Music, which you’ll be launching yourselves. What are the difficulties of starting your own label?
I think the hardest part is creating a solid foundation. We broke it down to the basics of what we needed to get this off the ground. Building our initial website, merch store and sourcing all the content and marketing strategies. We had to think about every single detail about releasing. It can also feel really loose at times when you don’t have a label breathing down your neck with a deadline. We just take this one step at a time, and brick by brick, we are making our own world.
What have you noticed as the greatest benefits of releasing music on your own versus through a major label?
I think just tasting the fruit of our own labor is the best and the learning involved. We have been taken to school on this trip. [We] are learning even more about how everything works and is supposed to flow. Also the money, we are now getting paid directly without the middleman. Fans don’t even think about these things, and many have asked me from time to time, “What is the best way [we] can support?” Well, if a band are on a record label, you can only really support a band on the road [and by] seeing shows. Artists receive very little from actual music, if any. When we were on Hopeless, we also signed away our rights to sell our own merch online. So we can’t even reach our fans unless it is strictly on the road. It’s pretty unreal if you think about it.
You mentioned that Aaron Gillespie worked with you on your upcoming EP. What was his involvement, and what was that experience like?
Aaron is the man and a legend in his own right. He really started becoming a brother to me. He’s eager and driven, and he is fighting the same way we fight for it. He randomly added me on Instagram one day. Me being the person I am, I messaged him right away and said, “Let’s make music together.” He said, “Fuck yes,” and we were off. We were writing songs together and vibing together, just for creation’s sake.
One of the songs [that] is going to be on the EP actually, Aaron wrote and played all the instruments, and I sing over it. It’s pretty unreal and unique, and that became his first involvement. He later came in and started sitting down on some of the tracks to help us write to the songs we were already developing as a band. He added something so beautiful to these songs and really brought them alive. It is sad because of COVID-19, we still haven’t even jammed in a room together. That will be one of the first things that happen [when we can see each other]. He let us know he would also love to tour with us when his schedule permits, so we shall see what the future holds. The fit is unreal.
For the first time in your career, you have full control over your music, creativity, releases, etc. What was the most rewarding part of recording your new single “Fuck Them All” and creating the video? What was the inspiration behind “Fuck Them All”?
“Fuck Them All” is about the music industry, but not even specifically—more so the oppressors in life. The people that make you not be who you are meant to be. I have had a great psychedelic soul-searching journey over the past few years, and I really found out who I was. It gave me an incredible strength that I’ve never had before. I learned to shake off anything draining that was holding me down.
It was amazing to go into the studio and lay down this track and to do it ourselves and put up that middle finger to all the people that doubted us. The video was made in Richmond, which was really special to me, and we found a moped gang to join along. Shout out to Paul Leavitt [mixing], Will Beasley [producer] and Nick Marfing [on video] for putting in their hours to help us get our vision off the ground.
Your music videos released through Hopeless typically created a story, and the band were seldom in them. What was it like filming a video while the world is in quarantine and being a major part of it? Did you feel less pressure having creative control over the imagery in the video?
I still love the story videos, and, in fact, our next video is going to be a story video. [I] love putting some great art alongside our music. I always say, “The kids don’t want to see us [Laughs.].” This just felt like something we needed to be a part of for this one and with a strong message. So, I just wanted it to reflect us as a band. I said to Nick, our director, “I’m not an actor, [and] neither is Matt. Let’s just be candid mostly alongside some performance shots.” I just wanted to home in on our culture and our attitude. We wanted to make it feel almost like a hip-hop video. The Dangerous Summer have always been rooted in our spirit in life; our fire to keep living, keep dreaming, keep partying. We live every day like it is our last, and I wanted to capture that feeling. We can’t stop [and] we won’t stop.
Toward the end of the video, you’re seen putting a stack of papers into a bonfire surrounded by friends. What were those papers, or what did that scene represent to you and Matt?
It is the end to all of the old and onto something completely new. We have made it to the future.
What do fans have to look forward to next from the Dangerous Summer?
We have a lot, and we are still building. There will be singles soon [and] an EP that we are calling All That Is Left Of The Blue Sky. There will be touring once [lockdown] is over, there will be merch and more content to follow. For everyone that knows the story, we got a chance to live again—we came back from the dead. We are not wasting a single moment of our time now. We are going to run until it’s over.