AP: I hate this question, but in case people may not know a lot about you guys, could you give us a little history of the band?
Greg: Well, basically Time and Distance as a musical entity started in 2002. I was playing with a band, a pop punk band around home, and I actually got kicked out of that band for being “too serious”—basically meaning that I had realized by that point that I lived in West Virginia, and if I planned on doing anything, I needed to get out of there and tour and do stuff like that. The guys in that band were kind of convinced that if they stuck around West Virginia long enough that they would make it. So they kicked me out and I just started writing songs, just waiting until I got with another band. And one day, it was just, “You know what? Why not just do things my own way?” Whatever that means. I wasn’t sure at the time if that meant I was gonna do something acoustic, or if I was gonna do records and play everything myself, but it was just kinda like, “If I can’t find people who have the same ideas that I do, then why not just do it myself and cut out all the bullshit?” My first show that I played as Time and Distance was a favor for a friend that did shows around home, so he talked me into opening a show because he had a band drop off, and I had bets with friends about how long it was gonna take me to clear the room. But kids were cool about it, and things just kind of progressed and progressed, and next thing I knew I was recording a little CD in my basement to play in shows, and starting to play out of town a little bit. And a friend of mine hooked me up with Rob from Midtown, this is when I was recording the Bloodloss EP, and Rob really liked the stuff and he wanted to put it out, and he did.
AP: How’d Rob get the CD?
Greg: My friend, her name’s Laura, and I’ve known her for years—I’d send her stuff, rough mixes I was doing, and she was totally stoked about it, and so she sent it to Rob just to be like “Yo, listen to what my friend did,” and Rob went crazy and was like, “Holy shit, I love this, I want to put this out.” So he calls me up and he was like, “Yo, I want to put out your CD.” And I was like, “Cool! Alright.” So I did that, and then I started touring full time in the summer of 2003 when I graduated high school. I stayed by myself until about November of 2003. Derek, the other guitar player in our band, was the guy that recorded the Bloodloss EP, we did it at his house in his living room. And he used to be in another band with Ryan and Squared, and they all quit the band because their bass player was—well, I won’t go into that. So Derek started playing with me because when I came home from tour in September of 2003, he and Ryan and Squared were trying to start a band but they didn’t have a bass player, so I was like, “Whatever, I’ll play bass for you, whatever, I don’t care.” So Derek’s like, “Well, if you’re gonna play bass, I might as well play with you.” I’d ask him to start playing with me whenever he quit his old band, in like May of 2003. So this was a week before I was leaving to go on tour again and I taught Derek all the songs in like a week and we worked stuff out and played a little impromptu show at home just to try it out, and it went great. Then in about January, we started talking about, “Why not bring Ryan and Squared in?” The four of us are really good friends, so we brought them in, we hang out all the time, it seemed very natural. Derek and I had been thinking for a while about making things a full band, for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being that if you’re one guy or even two guys with just acoustic guitars its way harder to get into from an audience perspective. So we kinda thought that if we could make it a full band, it would give kids—it’s still acoustic, so it’s kinda weird to a lot of people, but at the same time it’s a lot more familiar to them I guess. So we started touring as a full band in February of 2004, and here we are.
AP: You got into an accident before this tour, correct? Everything alright?
Greg: I’m doing fine now. I had to sit on a stool and play guitar for a while. What happened was I was driving and I was going to make a left turn and I basically got t-boned on my driver’s side back door buy a guy that was going like 50 or 60 miles and hour. So it spun my car around and I ended up facing oncoming traffic—like I completed the turn and spun again basically. I’m amazed I didn’t get hit again. I don’t remember anything. I just remember starting to make the turn, then the next thing I know my car’s fucked up and I’m being taken to the hospital. So I broke my collarbone and banged up my head a little bit, nothing else. The first thing the doctor told me in the hospital—my dad was there with me and was like “He’s going on tour tomorrow morning” and the doctor’s like, “Yeah, that’s probably not gonna happen. I don’t know that you’re gonna be able to do that for a while.” So the first thing I did when I got home from the hospital was I went to my room and picked up my guitar and was like “Ha! I can play!” So we had to cancel a couple shows and then drive from West Virginia to Texas. It was a minor inconvenience, but it could’ve been a lot worse.
AP: How’d you guys get hooked up with Squire for your new album?
Greg: Rob and Heath from Midtown went down to record the “Your Love” cover by The Outfield for the Punk Goes 80s comp, and they did that with Squire. And Rob had known Squire for a while and had been throwing the idea around of us working with Squire a lot. But we didn’t know who Squire was—the only thing at that point that we’d heard was the Northstar CD, Pollyanna, and we all thought the CD sounded really good, but the only thing we were afraid of was what the sound was going to be like with acoustic guitars. There’s that one acoustic song on the Northstar CD, but it’s real basic, so we didn’t know if he was the right guy for us. But Rob went ahead and kind of called us up and said—we’d been bugging and pressuring Rob about wanting to record the record because we had it pretty much ready to go—so he got a deal with Squire and got us in there, and from like the minute we walked in the door, he was the coolest guy in the world. We ended up—to save some money for everybody all around—we ended up doing vocals to the record at home, and every day Matt was calling to see how stuff was going and seeing if we needed help with anything and making us send him tracks so he could listen to them and stuff like that, even though he wasn’t around. It was a really good experience to get someone that was that hands on, because a lot of times you work with a producer and it’s like you do a take and they’re like “What’d you think of that?” “I don’t know, what’d you think?” “Great! Let’s move on.” And they just don’t really care. But Matt is the kind of guy that realizes not only is your band’s name going on the record, but his name’s going on the record, so he makes everything the best he can.
AP: I hear he’s one kick ass dude.
Greg: He’s so cool. He’s a phenomenal guitar player, he’s a phenomenal bass player, he’s a phenomenal drummer. Everything he does, he does well. He works you to the bone. We were in there doing preproduction, and every day after we got done we’d sit around and say “Wow, our band sucks. Our songs suck.” He would pick our songs apart, when we’d already picked them apart in practice. And we get in there with him and he’s like “Yeah, I don’t like this part, you need to re-write it. Yeah, that part there? It sucks.” He had no problem telling us exactly what he thought about anything. He’s blatantly honest. The best thing about Matt, is I still haven’t figured out—the Hit the Lights guys said he did the same thing to them—he’d come in in the morning screaming, “This place is a pigsty! Show some respect!” Just yelling, screaming at us.
AP: Did he bang pots and pans?
Greg: Yes, yes, yes he did. The first couple times we were there, we were staying at the studio cause his old studio had bunks and stuff, and The Junior Varsity was there recording and their van got broken into, and he freaked out because he wasn’t supposed to technically have people staying there, so he rented an apartment like 10 or 15 minutes away, and bands were allowed to stay there. So when we were staying at the apartment, if we were a minute late, he’d call us and be like “Where are you?! What are you doing?!? You’re wasting my time!!” He’d get totally mad, and then 20 minutes later he’d be laughing about all the stuff he was saying. So I still haven’t figured out if he was really ever mad, or if he was just messing with us. He’s crazy. We were on a pretty tight schedule, so we didn’t get to hang out with him as much as we would’ve liked to, but we got to chill a bit.
AP: So are you happy with the way it came out?
Greg: I’m thrilled with it. We’re all super proud of it. In retrospect, you go back, like anything you do in your entire life, there’s gonna be little things that you’re like “Wow I wish I could fix that.” The Bloodloss EP, there’s stuff all over it, stuff I wish I could re-do. But it’s stuff me as the writer and the performer, I can hear, and I can pick out, because of how it sounds to me in my head, but anybody that just listens to music isn’t gonna pick up on it. So yeah, we’re totally thrilled with how it came out and now we’re just trying to get it out.
AP: Yeah, what’s takin’ so god damn long?!
Greg: Well, the basic story is that we never signed a contract with I Surrender, like from the beginning when I started working with Rob. It was always talked about, but it just kinda never happened. So we recorded the record with Matt, and then understandably before Rob put out the record, he wanted us to sign a contract, and that’s understandable. And so we finally got a contract from him, and it just wasn’t what we were thinking it was gonna be. There was a lot of things in it that we were uncomfortable with. To make a long story really short, the situation got worse, and worse, and worse, like on both parts, to where our friendships with each other started to deteriorate. We were on tour with Hit the Lights at the time, and they were like, “Well we’ve got this lawyer, here’s his number if you wanna call him, he said he’d talk to you.” And we called him up and we explained the situation briefly to him, and he said, “Cool, well send me your record, I wanna hear it.” And we were gonna be in St. Louis in five days—he’s based in St. Louis, so we were gonna sit down with him there and talk. We overnighted the record to him, and he was into it, like really into it, he liked it a lot. We sat down with him and went over everything and he said, “I think your record has potential to do something. I think you’d be in a good position to shop it around to other labels and see what could happen.” And in light of the situation we were in with I Surrender at the time, it was kind of like, “Sweet.” You know? It was kind of one of those things that based on the situation we were in at the time didn’t really think through to the point of “What if we are 6 months down the line and we still don’t have the record out?” So we said “OK” and we told Rob that we were gonna shop the record out, and understandably he wasn’t too thrilled about it. Our relationship with Rob now has gotten back to the point where I can call Rob for advice and he’ll give it to me. I’m real divided as to whether we jumped into it, because the kids who are already into our band are having a hard time getting the record, but on the other hand, the situation we would’ve gotten into wasn’t the situation we would want to be in. It’s kind of a split 50-50 as to which was the better decision, but I think at the end of the day it’s gonna turn out for the better.
AP: Are you guys totally done with I Surrender?
Greg: I don’t like saying we’re done—our CD sales still go to Rob for the Bloodloss EP, and I still talk to Rob a couple times a week, but as for if the record or any future records are gonna be out on I Surrender, it’s very unlikely.
AP: Do you guys still owe Rob anything, or are you good to go?
Greg: See, that’s the tricky part of the situation, is that right now technically and legally Rob owns the new record because he paid for it. So our problem has been that we can’t just go press 1000 copies to sell on tour because we don’t own it, and we being a full time touring band, we aren’t the biggest band in the world and don’t have a lot of money to throw around for things like that. That’s the thing we didn’t really think out, because I mean—the music industry’s weird. The more I’ve been around it, the less I’ve started to like it because everyone wants to talk you up and tell you these things with big words and make you these promises. And I read The Juliana Theory’s breakup letter on AP.net about why they were breaking up, and it’s so true. Everybody talks you up, and then yeah, half of what these people say actually happens, and half of it never does. Rob’s a good guy, Alex is a good guy, he’s got a couple of interns now that they’ve got working for them—everyone there is so nice and so sweet. They’re doing such good things for Valencia, I’m stoked for those guys. They’re the nicest people in the world, and it just basically became on all possibly fronts a really shitty situation. We’ve had the most stressful year ever because of it, but once again, it’s one of those things where I’m proud of the record, and I’m confident in the record. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one of these days in the very near future, things are gonna work out for the better.
AP: You guys just played a show in California for some labels, right?
Greg: Yeah, we’ve been talking to some people about putting the record out. We had a couple meetings with some people in California and random stuff like that. We’ve been emailing people back and forth and sending the record out, and we’re getting good responses, but the way the music industry and especially record labels work, particularly bigger labels, is that nobody wants to make the first move. If you had a label and I had a label, and we were both looking at the same band, you want to wait for me to make an offer because you don’t want to make an offer that’s too low so you get laughed at, and I want to wait for you to make an offer because I don’t want to make an offer that’s too high so I look like a moron. Everyone wants to wait for somebody to make the first move to see what happens, and it’s just been a long, hard process getting to that point. The other side of the postion that we’re in—because we’re so confident in the record and had such good responses with it, we’ve kind of been in this position which is a good position in our heads because we can walk in and if someone says “I don’t like this, change this,”—as a band, that’s our biggest thing, we don’t want to change what we’re doing. We’ve been doing this for a while, it’s worked to a degree where we can see it consistently building. So we’re just kind of in the position where somebody doesn’t like the record, we can say, “Cool, we’ll go somewhere else.”
AP: What kind of a label are you looking to sign to?
Greg: I can’t name names—our biggest thing, and our biggest frustration that when we had when we were on I Surrender—and it’s not Rob or anyone else’s fault, it’s just the size I Surrender is—the biggest thing was, “Why don’t we have advertising going on in Alternative Press or AbsolutePunk? Why aren’t there any ads?” If kids want to go to the store and buy our record—not necessarily every store, I’m not talking about Walmart—although, if it was, I wouldn’t complain—but typical indie record stores that could at least order it. Why can’t they do it? It’d be nice if we could’ve gotten some tour support money, because like I say, we’ve been doing this for a while and have exhausted pretty much every financial resource we have that could lend us money. So it’s just kind of, there are a lot of things where we want to take things to the next step and take a step up because we feel we work really hard, and we feel that if we’re working hard and touring 6 or 8 months a year, it’d be really nice to have someone in an office or bedroom or whatever working equally as hard for us. And Rob always did work really hard, but it was more on the financial resources thing that just wasn’t there. So we’re kind of looking for somebody who has that, but we also want them to respect what we’ve done on our own, respect where we’re at as a band, our ideas for our band and what we want our band to be—basically someone who’s on the same page as us. Signing with a label is in a sense adding another member to your band. Same thing with a booking agent, manager, or whatever. Ultimately, you want to assemble the strongest family you can with everybody working hard towards the same goal.
AP: What if things don’t all work out? Would you put the CD out yourselves?
Greg: Ultimately in the event that things wouldn’t work out, we would at some point—we’ve talked about it, and there’s a point where we’d have to say, “Ok, we’re going to have to do this ourselves now.” I don’t know that it’s going to come to that point, but if it did..
AP: Cool. So pretty much in every promo picture I see of that lame band [I kid, I kid] Hit the Lights, Omar’s wearing a Time and Distance track jacket. How’d you guys get close w/them?
Greg: We’ve known those guys for a long time. Like, we’ve known them in the way that we met them a bunch of times, but we didn’t really realize—because Omar and Nick used to be in other bands, and I know Colin used to be in other bands, and they were from Lima, and we’re from West Virginia, so they used to play West Virginia a lot. But actually it goes back even further because Laura, the girl who hooked me up with Rob, actually knew Omar pretty well because she went to college in Lima, so she knew them really well, so the first time I remember meeting them, we played a show with them in Columbus—I don’t think they were even on the show, I think they showed up and got on it somehow, so we played a show with them and I remember standing and talking to Omar for like an hour and a half and he’s such a cool dude about everything. And we kinda just started bullshitting around, “Hey, we should do a tour together.” And Joe Lemble and I met years and years ago through some other friends and Joe’s become a really good friend, and he obviously put out that EP for Hit the Lights, so me and Joe even more started talking “Hey we should do that tour.” Then Hit the Lights and us played Scenes From a Movie’s CD release show last March, and it was like right in the middle of us recording the record and we were home for a couple days before we had to go back to DC, and so they played the show and we hung out and partied that night. It was super fun and we were like, “Lets do this”—it was by far the most fun I’ve ever had on tour in my life. There’s stories I could tell you about the tour that would gross anybody out.
AP: What kind of stuff do you guys listen to on the road?
Greg: It’s so varied. That’s our thing. Our band—it works really well, but at the same time it clashes every now and then, because the four of us have such different personalities. Hot Rod Circuit, The Goo Goo Dolls, Gin Blossoms—Derek and I are more stuck in the 90s, and even moreso than that, we’ve all gotten into 70s stuff like Foreigner and Journey. It’s interesting—everything that’s out now is just rehashings of all that stuff, with some exceptions. Personally, my favorite band is the Foo Fighters, I have a sick obsession with Dave Grohl. The Colour and the Shape—the question “If you were stuck on an island…”—that’s it right there.
AP: So what’s in store for Time and Distance?
Greg: We’re actually gonna take most of April and May off, because being a touring band we have to have a little time at home to gather some cash for the next round. We’re gonna do a lot of weekends. We have a habit—we’ll play cities and we’ll do really well, but then we won’t play there again for 6 months, so we’re gonna try to hit those cities again and again—we’ll do weekend shows, and we’re going to try to re-work a lot of the ways that the band runs in terms of the places that we play and then don’t play again for 6 months. West Virginia’s a good location because it’s not too far from everywhere. Then we’re talking to a bunch of different bands trying to figure out what we want to do this summer, but we’re definitely gonna be out on tour, probably doing a full US tour once again. We’re just trying to figure out who we want to take out or who we want to go out with or what we can make happen. That’s the other thing; it’s so hard, we’ve been riding out an EP that doesn’t reflect us as a band, and we’ve been riding it out for two years, and we’re still riding it out. I keep saying, and I’m pretty much swearing by it at this point, one way or the other this summer when we leave for tour, we’ll have copies of the new record to sell, even if it’s us burning CDs or pressing our own copies. There’s a career ambition involved. We want to take this to a higher place. I’m not saying that my silly little band’s ever gonna get as big as Green Day, but if it happened, I’m not going to complain. Nobody ever starts a band not wanting to be that big. But we’re kind of starting to realize but us trying to take that next step is in a way hindering what we’ve already done, because the kids that like us, you can only hold onto a 5 song EP for so long. So one way or another we’re gonna get that out this summer, and we’re gonna tour and tour and tour and tour. And I figure, depending on the situation we get into, I figure sometime next spring we’ll start writing and recording for a new one, and hopefully it won’t take over a year for us to get that out.
AP: What about the band are you most proud about?
Greg: It’s crazy, because when I started doing this band, it was just something to do, I wasn’t in a band, and I didn’t plan to do this forever. I was hoping, if nothing else, I could find people to play with out of doing it. For me to take something that started totally unserious and then—Midtown, aside from Rob running our label, which was a total trip, I remember the first time Rob called me on the phone, I freaked out. They’ve been one of my favorite bands forever, so we toured with them, that was amazing—there’s nothing better than getting to play with one of your favorite bands every night. That ruled. I think out of everything we’ve done, my biggest memory, for some reason—we played a show in Summer of 2004 in Seattle with Daphne Loves Derby, and for some reason we’ve always done really well in Seattle. The first time we played there, we drew a ton of kids and we didn’t even know it. In the middle of the set, we asked if anyone had heard of us and half the crowd raised their hands and we were like “Whoa.” So we played there again that summer, I remember playing and hearing pretty much the whole room singing our songs back to us. It was trippy, being that far, all the way across the country with this thing that started out as basically a joke—I didn’t plan on going anywhere. It’s nice to feel your silly band’s going somewhere and doing something people appreciate. It’s weird, everybody takes a song like “Pretend You Don’t Know”—everybody takes it to be about a girl. It’s not at all. But everybody takes it as that, and I’ve had so many people come up to me and say “Dude, that helped me through a really hard time” and to feel like you’re helping people out, the same way when I was growing up and listening to Blink 182 and the Movielife and those songs were like “Yeah, I get that!” Maybe not to a lot of people, but to think you’re one of those bands for some people is CRAZY. And it’s so awesome. And I’m really proud just of the fact for the last 3 years, we’ve managed to tour 8 months out of the year, each year, booking everything ourselves, doing everything ourselves. I’m proud of the fact that, not so much tonight, but in a lot of cities, we draw a lot of kids when we play. It’s kind of weird to have something that you’ve built from the ground up and to see where it’s going. I’m the impatient person that wants to know where it’s going next, but at the same time it’s so awesome to see where you’ve been.
AP: Any regrets as a band?
Greg: You know, I don’t believe in regret, and I never have. In addition to being a Midtown quote, it’s just a really good way of thinking, but I have “regrets are worthless” tattooed on my arm. I’ve just never believed in it, because I feel like everything you do that you feel you could’ve done differently or better later, at the end of the day you learn from it. Like, I got burned really bad by a girl in high school and I don’t regret it at all because I learned not to let myself get burned really bad by girls. It’s kind of like—did you ever see Van Wilder? It’s about this guy who spends like 8 years in college, has no direction whatsoever, doesn’t know what he’s doing, ends up his dad stops paying for his college tuition so he starts raising money to pay for his own college. He doesn’t go to class, he just parties—he throws parties to raise his college tuition so he can stay in college and hang out with his friends, and there’s a point where his assistant—because he has an assistant—asks “Don’t you worry about anything?” and he said “Worrying’s like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” And the first time I heard it I was like, “Yeah, exactly.” So I just don’t freak out too much, I just let things happen the way they’re going to.
AP: Anything you want to say to the readers of AP.net, any shoutouts?
Greg: I gotta give a shoutout to a couple bands; there’s a couple bands from home, one called Scenes From a Movie, they’re really good friends of ours, their guitar player is Squared’s cousin, another band called Fairweather Fan, those are good dudes. Obviously Hit the Lights. Obviously Matt Squire. Obviously Rob Hitt, Joe Lemble. And you know, AP’s always been totally cool; I remember reading AP way back in the day. I don’t remember when it started, but I discovered it years and years ago, and Jason has always been totally cool to me and to us, and everyone on there who’s supported us has been amazing. Every day I get to get into a van and drive around the country with my best friends and play music I wrote in my basement, and it would in no way be possible without all the kids that come to the shows and post on the internet and listen to our songs. We’re grateful for every moment of it.