photo credit: kelly mason.
This interview was easily one of the greatest things to happen to this blog. There’s always that one band who you loved unconditionally through all of their releases and shows, even if everyone else didn’t. As a collective, we’re all fans of Gatsbys American Dream and had all had our own memories of the band long before we started weworemasks and even longer before we became friends. After seeing two reunion shows at this year’s SXSW festival, we made sure to get our contacts in order to make this interview happen.
In the 20 minute interview we had on the phone, singer Nic Newsham and I discussed the reunion shows, among other things, which include their future musical endeavors with GAD, as well as who’s releasing the album and of course, Nic’s perspective on the music industry. Hit the jump and read the interview. Follow em on twitter and lets get excited about rock music again.
Edit: I just realized, I met Panda and Sunbear for the first time at two different GAD shows. Panda was at an As Cities Burn/Gym Class/GAD tour, and Sunbear was at the Starting Line/GAD tour. Insanity. Nostalgia doesn’t get any cooler than that, folks.
photo credit: kelly mason.
Roshan Bhatt, weworemasks.com: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Nic Newsham, Gatsbys American Dream: Absolutely, man. Thank you.
WWM: You guys were great at SXSW. Have you guys played the fest before?
GAD: Oh, yeah. We played back in 2003? Or was it 2004, or something.
WWM: Ah, before I started going every year.
GAD: Yeah, we played an Equal Vision showcase, even though we weren’t on that label at the time. It was just kinda random, you know?
WWM: Did you guys get a chance to see anybody you wanted to see, or was it all business down there?
GAD: Well, we had like 3 shows in 4 days, so we were kinda busy. I was however, able to sneak away and see the Strokes at the [Auditorium Shores] park, and it was amazing. I love the new record, so it was great. At dusk, you know there’s those bats that fly in the air.
WWM: Oh, right. The bats.
GAD: Yeah! And that’s when they started. Their encore started and there was a giant fireworks show and it was an incredible show.
WWM: You guys just played a huge MXPX show in Seattle. How was that experience, as I’m sure you guys are huge fans of the band, and the fact that it was your homecoming show as well.
GAD: God, it was surreal. Just even while we soundchecked. Dudes from MXPX were just walking around and hanging out. And they played all the [Life in General] songs, and we loved that growing up. I can honestly say that I first started trying to sing after listening to MXPX, so just to be able to play with them was amazing. There was the whole other side of things where it was our first Seattle show in five years. People were telling me they had flown in from all over the country to see the show, and that big ass crowd just went nuts the whole show. Kids were loving MXPX and we thought everyone was gonna leave when they were done, but nobody left. Everyone stayed and went nuts for us as well. It was crazy.
photo credit: kelly mason.
WWM: Like you said, it’s been 5 years since you guys were last active. What is the single best reason you could give me for Gatsbys’ reunion?
GAD: Um, let me think about that. The opportunity to say some things that aren’t being said and write some music that I don’t feel is being made. To have a voice and say what’s going on. I think that’s good.
WWM: So besides starting up several side projects (See: Red Red Blue, Wild Orchid Children, Kay Kay, Places and Numbers), how else did you guys occupy that time you had been absent from Gatsbys?
GAD: Well, personally I was just trying to live a normal life. You know, get a job. Play basketball a couple nights a week. Just normal shit. Being a normal person. It’s amazing what you take for granted when you’re in a band.
WWM: Oh, definitely.
GAD: Just being able to be normal – it was amazing and much needed.
WWM: You know, and even more so since you guys were so adamant about releasing music every year and being on tour nonstop for those few years there. And I know this because I saw you guys like 7 fucking times in 3 or 4 years. Different cities, but still.
GAD: [Laughs] Totally! It was never ending. Just push, push, push. We never took breaks. No breaks for a few years, then one giant break, huh? I guess it’s just the way it worked out.
WWM: The self-titled dropped in 2006, and you guys never had a proper tour to my knowledge. How does it feel to finally get to showcase those songs live, even if you’re only playing a couple?
GAD: It’s great, man. It’s not foreign or anything to us. As we wrote those songs, we’d play them “live,” you know? Before the record came out, we played a few on tour. It’s definitely great to do it now. The other night, we played 18 songs…
WWM: Holy shit.
GAD: Yeah! And I mean we haven’t played anything in 5 years, but everything feels foreign now.
WWM: You’ve released two new songs: “Modern Man” and “Shapiro/Untitled” – Is this pointing to some type of EP or a full length release?
GAD: Yes. I did the first two songs with Thomas Dutton [of Forgive Durden]. I recorded vocals with him. He’s a close personal friend of mine. With Casey [Bates] and Spencer [Mertel] as well. So I wanted to do the next few. I think we have 3, maybe 4. I want to do the rest of them with him too, so I’m flying out to New York City, where he lives. Before Bamboozle, I’ll fly out a few days early so we can spend some time and lay down the vocals for those songs.
WWM: Is he producing the album, or just the vocals?
GAD: Well, he’s going to produce the vocals for now. We’re on the same wavelength. We like the same music and we’re homies, so it just makes sense. It’s a fun and easy working process. So that’s at the end of the month. And back to the question – the EP – that is the goal. How many songs total? Not sure yet. Hopefully, we’ll get something out as fast as possible!
photo credit: kelly mason.
WWM: Is it safe to assume that once the record is done, that fans can expect a full fledge tour? Or are we getting ahead of ourselves here? [Laughs]
GAD: Exactly, man. Our whole thing right now is to do things that we think are fun. If we get festival opportunities, then yeah we’ll do those. Maybe we’ll do a short tour, or maybe we’ll get an offer for a tour we can’t refuse, or maybe not! That’s why our situation is kind of cool. We just want to keep it fun and spontaneous now. Whereas before, it was hard to be spontaneous. It was hard to have fun because it was a grind and we got kind of burned out there.
WWM: Back to the SXSW reunion show. Equal Vision Records held the showcase where you played your ‘first show in five years.’ Have you guys signed to the label, or was that just for shits and giggles?
GAD: Well…back in the day when we did it, that was just them being cool dudes and homies. That’s just how cool that label is. We just wanted to play, and they told us to jump on their showcase. They’ve always wanted to work with us. We were talking about wanting to make music again, they were just like “Awesome. We’ve got your back. We’re here for you guys.” So yeah – we’re working with Equal Vision. They’re just one of the best labels around.
WWM: That’s great news. I’ve been a fan of the label for years now. They’ve had great bands over the years, so I think this will be a great opportunity to get to work with those guys now.
GAD: Absolutely, man.
WWM: With the reunion, are you hoping to bring in new fans? Or was it more for yourselves and the long time fans?
GAD: I mean, I would love it if we got new fans. I’d never be like “Don’t listen to us!” [Laughs] People who have listened to our band definitely have their hands in this reunion, whether it was people online or just running into random friends and fans of ours at shows. People would come up to me and say that they miss Gatsbys and what not. I guess people wanting us to do music definitely had a lot to do with this. It kind of kicked us in the butt a little bit. The old fans definitely influenced us to make music and just be a band again, but I would definitely love new fans. Bring ‘em on! I think we’re writing cooler songs, and the more the merrier.
photo credit: kelly mason.
WWM: So, because you said that you are trying to bring in new fans, what does a band like yourself feel like they can offer a new crowd? Especially in the musical climate now, that’s totally different from when you took your hiatus in 2006.
GAD: Absolutely. Well, we can offer a different perspective than everything that’s going on right now. I’m not saying that I’m not a fan of things that are happening now, but we have a unique approach on music. Especially given the fact that we’re veterans of the road and of the industry. You know – working with different labels and managers. We’ve seen the insides of the industry. At the same time, we have a five year gap where we’ve seen how things have evolved. We’re back with a new perspective. Hopefully it comes across as a fresh new voice and people are excited about it.
But then again, maybe not. Maybe we’re too odd for what’s going on. Whatever, that’s fine too. We’re cool with that. We just wanna write great songs again; it’s that simple.
WWM: Yeah, I was definitely going to dive into that. As in, what are your most current thoughts on the music industry as it stands now. Your old records had plenty to say on the topic, whether it was about the music scene or the fans. Especially the self-titled record. When you played the first reunion show, my other writer and I discussed the fact that it was perfect to open with “You All Everybody.”
GAD: Hell yeah.
WWM: We just thought it was the perfect way to come back.
photo credit: kelly mason.
GAD: Music today seems to be…well, super fucked. Major labels aren’t as influential it seems. I mean, a famous guy can give you hype or cred or whatever on his Twitter. Bands are getting signed so much more quickly. It feels completely unpredictable. But as far as the music that’s being made today, I feel like certain genres are more innovative than others. As far as popular music and what’s selling, it’s ok to be innovative in hip-hop. I mean, dudes like Kanye West are making that forward-thinking, great music. You don’t see that many bands making forward-thinking music and being able to sell a million records. It just doesn’t happen.
Rock and Roll has become pretty stagnant in my opinion. Unfortunately, the great bands – there’s no money running behind a lot of them. So that’s kind of the situation we’re in. If I want to be in a successful band, I’d try to sound like the pop-punk bands of the 00s and what not. That’s what is selling now. Kids that are 15 are the ones buying the albums it seems, therefore that’s the kind of music that’s getting popular. Those dollar signs move the market.
WWM: And that’s cool that you mentioned hip-hop. Our blog definitely prides itself on not being pigeonholed to any specific genre, but when you look at it, the bulk of what we throw up is hip-hop. That’s mainly because they’re the ones droppin’ all the free music. I still have my old AP-type music. I mean Absolute Punk is where I found you guys a long time ago, you know?
GAD: Oh, I’m sure. [Laughs] That’s really cool.
WWM: Yeah, and I don’t exactly get into new bands that are poppin’ off in that arena.
GAD: Right, and that’s exactly what I’m saying too! It’s kind of become dead. Unless they’re “scene bands,” you know? They’re making the same shit they made 5 years ago. Where’s the progression? Nothing’s fucking changed. I guess that’s where I feel that [GAD] could do something different. I know that’s a blanket statement, but I’m not talking about all bands. As a whole, I think we can agree that there isn’t much innovation happening with those bands in the “scene.” If you want to find something exciting now, you find yourself listening to some new hip-hop shit, or a great R&B record. That seems like it’s what people are doing.
WWM: I guess going along with that. Furthermore, it seems like these days, you have to embrace the internet and go about and release your music in a specific or a creative way. A lot like hip-hop artists releasing mixtapes over the past few years. You’ve clearly done this with your two new songs – How do you plan to go about the rest of your new material?
GAD: Oh, man. That’s such a good question. [Laughs] I mean there are a million different ways to skin a cat…
GAD: …But what’s the correct way to do it? I think we’re still in limbo with that. How do you market a rock band in the age of mixtapes and free downloads, unsigned hype and shit. The bigger the hype you have, it can help you. At the same time, you don’t wanna be a flash in the pan, you want some longevity. I don’t know, man. I just want to make sure that our music is accessible, so that the people who want to hear our music can hear it. I hope that new people do hear it, but I know we’re not gonna go to radio. It’s gotta be word of mouth and the internet. Exactly how that’s gonna happen, I don’t know. We fucked around with a few things, like with that first song and the game.
WWM: I don’t know if I just suck at games, but that was really fucking hard. Awesome, nonetheless.
GAD: [Laughs] I know. Thanks man. It’s just – what do you do? Who knows how it’ll be received and who knows who will hear your shit?
WWM: I feel you. But I definitely don’t wanna take up any more of your time.
GAD: Oh, yeah man. No problem.
WWM: I definitely want to thank you for talking to us. We’re all huge fans of Gatsbys American Dream and have been for years, so this was really cool.
GAD: We really appreciate it man, thanks for everything.
WWM: For the record, even though the Equal Vision show was your reunion, that Peckerheads show was so much better!
GAD: [Laughs] It really was, though!
WWM: I haven’t stood at the front of a show like that in years. I mean, we’re old and we like to hang out back and drink now.
GAD: I totally agree.
WWM: We’re too old for this shit. Murtaugh Law.
GAD: How do you think we feel?! How fuckin’ fun was that, though? Shows don’t happen like that anymore though, dude. At least, not the ones I go to.
WWM: Yeah, they really don’t.
GAD: But man, it was a great show. The whole room was alive. It was equal parts the band and the fans. It was just a lot of fun. That gives me hope. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Maybe people are just going back and listening to their favorite shit, but maybe shows can still be like that. All we can do is try.
WWM: Word. Congrats on everything and welcome back, most of all.
GAD: Thanks for everything. Thanks for taking the time to call and all of that.
Thanks to Nic for talking to us and good luck to GAD on their reunion.