Law of Inertia's Interview with Saves the Day
Interview with Multiple
August 10th, 2000 Law of Inertia Saves the Day by Ross Siegel
The first question is for Ted. Now you work at Equal Vision doing mail order. Isn't Hudson, New York, where EVR is located, a little bit far from New Jersey?
Ted: It is, but the commute is worth it. And they pay big bucks so it's doubly worth it. (laughter)
What do you do, Chris, or are you a full time rock star?
Chris: Well I do school. I go to NYU with Bryan.
So let's get on with the interview. What is each of your favorite Equal Vision bands that is not yours?
Chris: I love Converge.
Ted: Geez, that's tough. Maybe Another Victim because I used to play with those guys and I love those guys.
Wait a second, Ted. You work in Hudson, NY, live in New Jersey and used to live in Syracuse (read Another Victim is from Syracuse)? What's up?
Ted: Well, I'm from all over. I actually grew up in Ithaca where you go to school.
Oh, is that where I go to school? (sarcastically)
Ted: Yes, for all you out in zine land, Cornell University is in Ithaca where I grew up. Anyway, it's either Another Victim or Bane.
Can you guys each tell me a little bit about how you got into hardcore?
Chris: I was always into punk. I loved Screeching Weasel and Jawbreaker. I was a huge fan of Jawbreaker. Bryan and I have always been great friends. He got into hardcore before I ever did. He'd play in my bands and I'd be like, ?´what is this? They're just screaming.' After a while I developed an appreciation for it and then I found bands I could really get into like Gorilla Biscuits and Dag Nasty. So, I wasn't hardcore since birth. I went from the punk thing to hardcore which I think is probably what most people in hardcore do.
Ted: For me, when I was going to high school, there were kids who were into punk and hardcore bands like the Descendents and Bad Brains and stuff. I sort of found out about those bands and I remember wanting to get more into the music and find out more about it. So I went to record stores and said, ?´do you guys have any hardcore bands?' I went through the period that every kid into hardcore goes through, just trying to hear as much music as I could and find out as much information about the bands I liked as I could, hoping that would lead me to other bands. I would go hardcore shows at Cornell and in Syracuse. Sean from Immigrant Sun, the guys who were in Birth Rite helped me out a lot. It was always a conscious thing, just trying to get more and more into it.
Ted, you mentioned that you used to listen to the Bad Brains. So you know they're back together under the name Soul Brains. How do you feel about reunions and are you going to go see the new Bad Brains?
Ted: I want to go. I'm very down on reunions right now, though. A lot of bands have been ruined by reunions. Like Burn, for instance. Their reunion was a terrible idea, the same with Underdog. But, it's the Bad Brains with HR so I gotta go make my venture to go see them.
Chris: It's one thing if a band tries to cash in on success that might be hitting them like 10 years after they were actually in existence. A lot of hardcore bands aren't popular until after they brake up, like Minor Threat for instance. Their following is definitely bigger now than it was back then. It's another thing if a member of a really good band starts a new band and tries to do something new. Like Jets to Brazil. As I said before, I'm a huge Jawbreaker fan, and I love Jets to Brazil. Blake is like my idol, and I love anything he does. I think they're an incredible band and he writes amazing music.
Chris, if I'm correct you write everything the band plays yourself?
Chris: I do, but it's not totally everything. Like, I'm not a dictator over my citizens. I write the music and the words and everyone puts their own personality into it.
This may sound like a stupid question, but you obviously play guitar, so why do you just sing in Saves the Day? Why not play guitar or bass or something in addition to singing?
Chris: Just because it works out to our advantage at shows. If I were to play guitar or bass and sing, people would be afraid to come sing with me. I think one of the great things about us is that if someone is really into our band, it's almost cathartic for them to scream their brains out at a show. And, we want to them to sing into the microphone sometimes, and I think most people wouldn't want to run up on stage, push me out of the way if I were playing guitar and sing a few lines. But, if you have me only singing and I put the mike in your face, you're going to sing if you know the words.
Ted: Basically, Chris is just a good showman and he engineers the bands for what makes the best act. (laughter) But, recently we've all been trying to have a foot in as far as writing songs. We're all trying to have a more concentrated group effort in the writing process. I've been writing songs and bringing them into the band. Chris has been writing songs the longest out of all of us so therefore he has the most experience, that's why we tend to use his songs. It's sort of coming around now that our band chemistry is getting better as we all have a bigger part in the writing process.
Let's talk about hardcore versus punk. Now, on the west coast where I'm from your type of music would almost certainly be labeled punk, whereas on the east coast you guys fall somewhat into the hardcore category. What are your feelings on that?
Ted: I don't know. It's a good question. I mean , the hardcore scene on the west coast is really limited. It's not nearly as big out there. But, the punk scene, with labels like Epitaph and Fat Wreck, is really huge. And the thing is that on the east coast so much is labeled hardcore that clearly has no similarities to what is most often thought of as being plainly hardcore. Like, Lifetime or Texas is the Reason. So, yeah that's true. Since the beginning, Saves the Day has had its roots in punk music. That's what Chris grew up listening to. As we all start writing more we're trying to walk the line a little more closely and not as be as easily labeled either punk or hardcore. I think it's a mixture, or at least it's getting to be. I don't like drawing that line between the two styles, ?´cause a lot of the time the best stuff is the stuff that blurs the line.
Chris: Yeah, I agree. I mean, obviously we're not screamy metallic hardcore like Converge or Bane or something. But, we're on Equal Vision which is mostly known as a hardcore label. So, any band on EVR is going to be most closely associated with hardcore. It's interesting ?´cause I hear a lot of bands like Texas is the Reason that clearly have nothing in common, other than roots maybe, with most hardcore bands, but since they're on Revelation and all came from hardcore backgrounds they are labeled hardcore. When I write, I don't try to be either one, I just write music that I like. If I have more melody in my music than, say, Converge and that gets me the punk label ?´cause punk has more melody than that's fine with me. Ideally, though, I would like our music to just be good music that maybe blurs the line between all types of music.
So, Chris, your lyrics seem to be really personal on "Can't Slow Down." Are you an outgoing person, ready to bare your soul to the world, or is music your way of opening up?
Chris: No that's just me. I mean, anybody that knows me knows that I'm not afraid at all to talk about myself. Here's my theory on art in general: if you make it personal and specific to yourself than it becomes more universal ?´cause then people can understand and relate to your experiences. I write about me ?´cause I know me best and then it just happens to work. I try to write in a very honest way, not bullshit myself or anyone who's listening, you know. I think that's the best way. In other words, as long as the music or the lyrics are from the heart, then it doesn't matter if it's yet another song about girls or how much the world sucks, ?´cause it's true to you and it's how you feel.
Don't you feel a little bit vulnerable baring your feelings to the world?
Chris: Maybe a little bit, but then again I wouldn't have it any other way. I mean, if you can't bare your soul in music, in your own music, then can you ever do any other time? When I listen to other bands, I think the most honest and introspective music, the music anyone can relate to ?´cause they've been there, is the best. I mean, I guess I could write music about esoteric topics that have no relation to my life or anyone else's but then I wouldn't be into it. Oh God, I sound so emo! (laughter)
Okay, here's the question I've been trying to avoid, but I feel I must ask because I'm super curious: what do you do with the comparisons to Lifetime that you guys get?
Ted: I think it's a flattery to a certain degree. There's the people who say that we just rip off Lifetime and have nothing original in us, I think those are the people who haven't even really listened to us. I think when the comparison came around it was in our demo days which were more influenced by Lifetime. A lot of people who I talked to when they had first heard the record thought it sounded like Lifetime but after a few more listens they changed their minds. I've met a lot of people who actually have never thought it sounded like Lifetime and still don't.
I think at times it sounds better than Lifetime.
Chris: Thanks so much.
Ted: I think a lot of the similarities are on the surface an if you actually take the time to listen to it then you'll see that what we're doing is different. Especially with the new record we're writing which is more of a Saves the Day style as opposed to a Lifetime style.
I think that Lifetime could be sloppy on their recordings. Which isn't to say that Lifetime was a bad band, because I love them so fucking much. But, on your recording it's as if the production is a bit slicker and a bit more focused.
Chris: Thanks, that's really nice of you. I don't know. I guess that people who think I write music like Lifetime are talking about our chunky guitars and probably my voice a little bit too. Just for the record, I don't intentionally try to sound like Ari and as a matter of fact I think we have completely different sounding voices. I mean, listen to those early Lifetime recordings, totally different. If it sounds like Lifetime, then hey, shoot me.
Coke or Pepsi?
Ted and Chris: Coke.
Chris: ?´cause it's a better drink, plain and simple.
Ted: It's like Go-Bots and Transformers.
Oh my God. We had an article about that in our last issue. (I explain the article)
Ted: That's weird, but I was actually going to go the other way and say that the Go-Bots came first and the Transformers were like souped up version. So Pepsi is like the flashier version of Coke, hence the Transformers in this case. You've gotta give respect to your roots.