This interview was conducted with Joel and Adam of The Working Title on April 7th, 2006 via phone.
AP: First off, thank you very much for doing the interview. So you guys have a few days off from the Mute Math tour; how’s the tour been so far and how’s the response been to your songs?
Joel: It’s been really cool. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, the crowds have been really receptive, it’s just been awesome. It’s probably one of my favorite tours.
AP: I bet getting to watch Mute Math every night is a real treat.
Joel: Yeah, they’re insane! They’re amazing dudes too. We’ve had the chance to hang out with them a lot, and they’re great guys. We’ve been playing a lot of football with them and stuff.
AP: Any fun or crazy stories from the tour?
Joel: Luckily this tour’s been kinda crazy story free. We’re used to having a lot of crazy-ness going on in our tours—trailers exploding, getting our stuff stolen, fireworks wars, but nah, it’s been pretty pleasant. It’s been kind of a lax tour, we’ve had plenty of days off in between shows, and kind of a relaxed schedule. We’ve got kind of a football rivalry going on with Mute Math right now, so when we have a few days off, we get the old football out and find a field.
AP: Is it true you guys light fireworks out of you asses?
Joel: [Laughs] You know, I don’t think anyone’s done that, but I could be wrong. We’ve had some interesting experiences with fireworks though. I know that the guys in Noise Ratchet are keen on fireworks out of the butt action.
AP: One of our readers was saying you recently added a third guitarist to you live show. What has that added and how’s that been working out for you?
Joel: We’re a five-piece again. We’ve been basically a five-piece the whole life of the band. We’ve always hired another guitar player to come on the road just to take some pressure off of me, being able to move around more and give more of an energetic live show without having to worry about playing all the extra guitar parts and what not. We started doing it as a four piece for a while, and it was working, but we just decided to add that fifth person. We missed that fifth element—it’s louder, it’s more energetic.
Adam: Do you play guitar? We’re thinking about adding about three more guitar players.
AP: [Laughs] Yeah
Adam: All right! Well we’ll sign you up. Actually, anyone basically in the crowd has the opportunity to jump on the stage and start doing whatever; it’s a free-for-all when we play.
AP: Speaking of your live show, I’ve seen you guys a few times, and I’ve gotta say, you are by far one of the best sounding live bands I’ve seen in a long long time, but to be totally honest, I didn’t feel like the EP captured the power of your live show – is that a fair assessment, or are you happy with the way the EP came out?
Joel: Thank you for the kind comments – that’s definitely fair. The EP is definitely something that we recorded like three years ago and we did it in like a week and a half or two weeks. The EP was done really quick, and when we did it, we were just kind of doing demos and it kind of turned into an EP. At this point, we’ve been sitting on it for like three years, and we’re tired of it as well. We finished our record which we spent a lot more time on and we are very, very, happy with it and excited about releasing it in June.
AP: So you recently recorded your Universal debut with Brad Wood and Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson – do you think the new record captures the power of your live show a little better?
Adam: I definitely have to say it captures a little more of the live show, definitely more than the EP.
AP: How was that working with David Bryson – are you a fan of the Counting Crows?
Adam: We definitely are – they’re Joel’s favorite band I think.
Joel: We’re all big fans of the Crows. It was really cool working with both those guys. It was a cool dynamic – we weren’t sure what it was gonna be like having two producers, but it ended up working out really well.
AP: Did you feel any pressure with the record being your major label debut?
Adam: I mean, there’s some pressure that kind of comes with it, but to be honest, it’s been kind of lax and from the beginning. We wanted to take our time, and that’s what we’ve done. I’m sure we’ve been accused of selling out as a band, but we knew we were a young band when we signed with Universal and we’ve taken our time, and the pressure hasn’t really been too much to handle. If anything, any pressure we’ve had has been good, just to keep the ball rolling.
Joel: We definitely haven’t had any guys in suits breathing down our necks.
Adam: If anything, we’re the ones who’ve been breathing down their necks.
AP: How did the signing process go about – how did they find you?
Adam: Well that actually came about after we recorded the demos that turned into the EP. Somehow our demos got spread around and our lawyer sent them to a few people, and pretty soon there were just a lot of people who wanted to meet us and fly us out, and that’s kind how it came about. As far as Universal goes, they were the only ones who weren’t blowing smoke to blow smoke. They weren’t just making stuff up. The things they did say were exactly what we wanted to hear, and what was our vision as well.
Joel: We definitely had a good experience with a lot of the labels we talked to, and they were great people, but there was just an instant connection with our guy at Universal. He was right there with the vision of our band and that we needed to take time before we put out our debut record.
AP: What was the reasoning behind re-recording three songs from your EP to put on the full length?
Joel: When it came down to it, we probably had like 40 to 50 songs written for the record, including some of those songs from the EP. Some of those songs are the songs that got us signed and got us interest – when it came down to everyone’s lists that they wanted to be on the record, a few of the songs from the EP were on there, and it made sense to re-record them at least and see how they came out. I think it’s always a positive thing when a band on their debut record has a couple songs that people are familiar with, songs people can grab onto immediately.
AP: How’d you come to the decision to release “The Mary Getaway” as the first single?
Joel: That was kind of a long process – we were all kind of really unsure for a long time about what we’d make the first single. For a long time, there were about 5 songs that we were all tossing around. We did a re-mix of “The Mary Getaway” actually and when it came out, it was just kind of obvious that that was the song. “The Mary Getaway” is one of our oldest songs, and was one of the key elements to the label attention we got, it just kind of made sense – while it may be an old song to us, it’s a song that not many people have heard, just because this is gonna be our debut record.
AP: Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like you guys could probably hop on a tour with, say, John Mayer or Dave Matthews, and do extremely, extremely well in that scene—like, instantly. Instead, you guys are taking more of an “indie” approach and doing smaller tours with bands like Cartel, New Atlantic, Mute Math, etc. What’s the thought process behind that kind of approach?
Adam: Well, that’s pretty much where we came from – we all grew up listening to punk and we were definitely deep in that scene. When we started, that’s where we were, and I think that’s kind of the approach you want to take, the one that builds from the ground up.
Joel: We definitely wanted kind of a grassroots beginning, as far as playing the small shows, building the fans that discovered you and fans that will stick for you life. At the same time, it’s kind of been whatever’s been available. It’s not like we’ve turned away tours – we’re open to touring with anyone when it comes down to it. Well, probably not anyone, but close.
AP: Is there a set release date for the record?
Joel: It’s something like the first or second week of June probably.
AP: How do you feel about it leaking so early?
Adam: We don’t really think it’s that terrible of a thing. We’re happy that people want it! I’m not too worried about people getting our music – it’s kind of why we’re doing what we do. It’s to get people our music. The last thing I care about is like how many records we sell in the first week, or if someone’s got the record who didn’t pay for it, I’m making music to make music. If that means more people can listen to our music, then so be it.
AP: How long’s the record been done for?
Adam: It’s been almost a year since we finished recording, it was the end of April last year. But it’s not quite where it finished, because we did a lot of re-mixing and mastering. The final product has probably been done for four months maybe.
AP: What’s the scene in South Carolina like?
Adam: It’s definitely getting better! There was a handful of bands for like the past 10 years, and some of those bands are starting to go away, but there’s a lot of new bands coming from their ashes. There was a band called Jump, Little Children that was from Charleston that just recently called it quits, but they were a huge inspiration to us. They’re great. And now there’s a lot of up and coming bands that you’ll probably hear about soon.
AP: What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
Adam: World domination.
AP: Good plan.
Adam: Joel wants to dominate the world.
Joel: I just want to be on Madden ’07.
Adam: I think we just as many people as possible to hear our music and hopefully enjoy it.
AP: What music first changed your guys’ lives and/or made you want to play in a band?
Adam: The first music that made me want to be in a band was definitely Nirvana, and the first CD that changed my life would be Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity I think.
Joel: Yeah that record was kind of instrumental for all of us. Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity is one of the first records that I really, really, really got into as a musician and drove me to writing songs and really wanting to do it.
AP: One of our readers was wondering about the Christian aspect of the band – are you guys a Christian band or a band with Christian members?
Joel: We’re definitely not a Christian band. There are definitely some roots of Christianity in our band, but yeah, you could say we’re a band with Christian members.
AP: What one song do you wish you had written?
Joel: Adam wishes he wrote “Who Let the Dogs Out” [Laughs] and “Number of the Beast” by Iron Maiden.
Adam: Oh that’s true – but “Number of the Beast” is an album. My favorite song off that would probably be “Run to the Hills.”
Joel: Good call. The song I wish I’d written is probably “Bouncing Around the Room” by Phish.
Adam: No, no, that’s not true.
Joel: I’d have to say any song by Zombie Guts or “Happy Birthday.” Check out Zombie Guts on MySpace – best band name ever.
AP: What albums are you guys currently listen to right now?
Adam: I actually just now picked up the new Appleseed Cast record and its great. I’ve also been jamming the old Sufjan Stevens record lately, it’s been one of my favs lately. Also the new Damone, the new Sounds, “Number of the Beast,” Pink Floyd.
AP: What’s been the band’s biggest accomplishment so far?
Adam: In all seriousness, Joel going through puberty was one of my favorite parts. He sprouted a little hair on his little chest.
Joel: I got one hair.
Adam: Seriously though, just seeing us all grow in the past four and a half years. We’re still doing it, we’re best friends, and we’re having a great time doing it.
Joel: As far as something tangible, the record we just made is probably our biggest accomplishment so far, to ourselves and personally. It might not have done anything yet, but it’s still our biggest achievement personally, it’s something we’re very proud of, and it’s got us all over it.
AP: What advice do you have for younger bands trying to make it?
Adam: When we first started, the hardest thing was playing a show in front of one people or two people maybe, but you have to play the same way you would as you’d play in front of 1000.
Joel: That’s very true, because as a band, more likely than not you will play a lot of shows with not many people.
AP: Unless you’re Panic! At the Disco.
Adam: Right, exactly!
AP: Well that kind of wraps it up, thank you guys so very much for the interview. Anything you’d like to say to the readers of AP.net?
Adam: AbsolutePunk.net rules, and thank you for taking the time to do the interview, we appreciate it.