This is phone interview conducted by Brad Streeter with Shaant of Cute is What We Aim For.
Shaant thank you so much for your time. Lets jump right into this. Didn’t you just back from the UK?
Yes did, 2 days ago.
How was it?
It was flawless. Shows were sold out a month in advance. The kids are always amazing there. It is just one hell of a time. A lot drinking.
Now I know you did a set at Bamboozle, but how was it to actually get out and play a set based around the new songs?
Bamboozle was great. But I would say playing the new stuff is more fun. But being able to get out and play, Doctor, and the new harder songs is just more of where we are at as individuals. So we get to go to town about it. It is actually great timing. I think this goes for all of us. We have such huge smiles on our faces playing the new stuff. It’s just us.
I heard you were actively seeking a producer for the new record around Warped Tour last year. What initially sparked your interest in working with John Feldmann?
I have always been a fan of pretty much everything he has done. I love, love production. I love big production that takes you on a journey or when its like a soundtrack. I mean there were plans for little details and ad libs under the record, and I knew John Feldmann is amazing at that. But at first, I was kind of apprehensive because it was a big move. We already worked with Squire. But the guys reassured me that he was there to let us do whatever we wanted and he would back us up on it. It just seemed like a no brainier, and especially once we met with him. He is such a rad guy.
Nice, because that was my next question. What was your first impression of Feldmann?
Haha…he is just John Feldmann. I don’t know if you are a Goldfinger fan, but he is a fucking nut….hahaha. He is super nice, but at the same time very strict. But definitely deserves respect.
Speaking about Feldmann. I have heard rumors that he has some unorthodox ways of recording and it is especially true with you guys.
Yeah man. We did all sorts of stuff just because we could. We thought, what the fuck, why not? Why wouldn’t we exhaust all resources that we could? If we wanted to record a baseline on the beach…well just record a baseline on the beach. If we wanted to record live bullfrogs to create an ambient noise and that takes you like you are walking in a park near a pond. Lets go find some god damn frogs and record them. We did whatever we wanted.
Is it true he had someone punch you in the stomach while you were tracking vocals?
Yeah, Dave got to punch me while I was tracking “Doctor” during the bridge. That’s John Feldmann right there. You know my eyes were closed. I am in the vocal booth. I can see Dave and John in the control room behind the glass. Then I open my eyes and see Dave Melillo in the booth smiling at me with this shit-eating grin. Then all of a sudden you hear Feldman yelling in the background, “Fucking Go! Do the Take!”. Then Dave starts punching the shit outta me.
Now spending close to three months with Feldmann and looking back in retrospectives, can you even compare Squire and Feldman?
Night and Day. But you know what is funny. When I heard The Used is going to work with Squire it was like a total flip-flop. I mean we jump ship then they jump ship. I am really anxious to hear what that sounds like. But yeah, we actually got the time to write the songs, and we knew what we wanted to say. We weren’t scared. We sold a quarter million records, we built up a base of fans. We knew that if it was going to, I guess you can say flop, it was all good because we did have that base of fans and we could still tour.
This is what I think is ridiculous, when people get nervous about the sophomore slump. I mean of course man you want to maintain and you never want to regress. But how lucky are you to be thought of to be even be having a slump on your 2nd album. I mean we are in a spot where people would kill for, and we understand that. There is no reason to be scared about the next step because we have already vastly surpassed all our expectations. I mean there is so much to being said about being thankful for what you have, and then really, really appreciating it as opposed to striving for excess.
The record is done and you titled it Rotation. Any significance in the title?
Absolutely. I mean we all took 180s in our lives, as individuals, as a band. As everyone changes, as does life, as does the earth. It is all a rotation.
When you guys first put up the songs. I believe it was “Doctor”.
Yes it was
Absolutepunk made a post about it. And understanding your history on Ap.net, what did you think when you were getting positive response from our readers?
Dude. Twilight zone. Twilight zone. I mean we were all in shock. We didn’t believe it. You know you rub your eyes. But then again you take it for a grain of salt. I mean they really hated us the first time, and then we did really well. But I have a lot of hope. I mean with the last couple posts I have seen I see a lot more positivity than negativity. We are pretty excited about that. It definitely aides this whole process for us.
I believe despite all the shit you have received in the past and some deserving. I believe music always speaks for itself, and this new album is definitely a step in the right direction.
Thank so much man. I am so excited to have people listen to this record in its entirety. We did a lot with it. This is actually the first times my friends actually like our music…ever! I mean my best friend never like the first record, and I totally understand. Dude, I don’t like most of the stuff in the past. But I think that says a lot.
But I am like a kid on Christmas. I am so eager to let people listen to it. I want to hear what people think or what they like about it. I mean I like it so much. We like it so much. I listen to the record everyday. John Feldmann made us step up. I think people are going to be really surprised as to where we are now as songwriters. Because we actually sat down and wrote true songs with some message. It is not songs whining about petty, baby bullshit. I hear some people that are 25 plus writing about some of the most immature, naive shit.
Another thing I want to ask is the Fred situation. You guys never publicly said anything about him. He was out of the band, then he was back in the band, then he is out again. What is that story? Did he record this album with you?
Yeah I think Fred did some stuff initially. But we did rerecord a lot of his parts. But I am definitely not certain. You would have to ask Dave and Jeff. I wasn’t there when they were recording guitars. So I would say I don’t know. But he left early in the process.
Was it Fred just being Fred and him just leaving. Or can you explain what made him leave the second time around?
Oh we just don’t like each other. Not at all. We don’t click at all. I am not really bummed out about people knowing that. It is self-evident. We are not compatible. He wanted to do everything different for the band musically. That is why he left the band. You know that is why that was necessary. We just wanted everything different. We loved this production and he loves Nirvana production. We were just individuals that didn’t see eye to eye. So we thought why don’ t we surround ourselves with individuals that do see eye to eye. You know call me crazy, but I think harmony is preferred.
Agreed. Definitely in a band. You have to be more like a family instead of friends.
Right! Dude do you know how miserable it was being on the road? Being around Fall Out Boy and just hating each other. I mean we were on stage and shit would be said. It was so stupid, and I don’t think that will ever happen again. But you know the people that meet us and say we are assholes for kicking him out or assholes during that time period. I say well listen. I know first impressions are everything but you probably met the guy or one of us for three seconds. But the anger we had for each other I am sure turned around and we were bitter people. But sometimes I think people just want to hate, or throw more fuel on the fire. I mean people, I am sure make up certain stories then you read something like “Shaant Just killed his Grandma.” You have to learn to take it with a grain of salt.
This tour you have coming up. You guys are starting off and doing a headliner, and you are playing some pretty decent sized clubs. The support on this tour, was this mostly the bands choice?
Yeah, of course. I mean you have Ace Enders. I think we are going to learn a lot from the dude and his million different people.
Danger Radio. I mean I even tried to get danger radio signed back in the day a few years ago. Evidently I am kind of successful. I have kept in touch with Andrew and we have been sending demos back and forth. So we thought let justus tour together.
Powerspace. We have played a few shows with them in the past, and we genuinely like the guys. I think they are a band that is most certainly going to blow up. But just wait. You are going to watch these dude shred on guitar and your jaw is going to drop. In fact, Johnny Minardi just sent me two new demos today. It has some cock rock guitar solos, but some of the best I have seen. No lie. I mean we have had some opportunities to be on some pretty killer tours. So if we have the opportunity to help out a band. Why wouldn’t we? I thought Powerspace would be perfect. They are really going to bring a lot to the show. And you know there is way more to tour than just the shows. We all hang out. We want to create than environment where everyone are friends. I mean we are the only band in a bus on this tour, and on each night one of the dudes on the tour will be able to get out of the van and sleep on the bus. I mean Paramore let me sleep on the bus, and Boys Like Girls did too. But it gives everyone the chance to get out of that van. But I want to this tour just to be a great time.
Awesome well thanks so much for your time Shaant. Good luck on the tour.
No thank you, and just so you know man. It is always a pleasure talking to you. You have always been one of the realest dudes in the world. And once again your videos on The Starting Line….Killer!
Thanks dude. I put a lot of time into those.
It was just the fact that that band meant so much to me, and I thought I have to do something for them, I have to give back because they have given so much to me. This is least I can do.
Right! You hit it right on the head. That’s so awesome. Well I appreciated it, and I know a lot of other did to including the band. So props!
great interview. I knew Shaant and Fred weren't the best of friends but I didn't know they hated each other... that sucks. Didn't love how he basically put down SOBR though - I still love that album (even if I'm the only one!)