While on their tour with the Flatliners and Cobra Skulls, I sat down with Broadway Calls guitarist/vocalist Ty Vaughn to discuss their past and what they have planned for the future:
You mentioned Smallman Records on stage tonight so I have to ask about the label.
Well, we were friends with one of their bands called Daggermouth and we did our very first tour with them. I’m pretty sure the label heard about us through them and so we did a Canadian tour exactly three years ago. It was the worst tour we’ve ever done, we were by ourselves and it was booked horribly, but the main reason we did it was so we would come through Winnipeg and play for Smallman. We played at a little place, it was kind of a bar, and I can’t remember the name of it. It went well and since the record was already out they just re-released it for us.
Not a lot of American bands work with independent Canadian labels so what made you guys decide to?
We just liked a lot of the bands on their label. We’re friends with Daggermouth and we like Comeback Kid a lot. Plus, they’re just really cool people and very nice when we first met with them. Plus for us, they were the only option for us in Canada. They were the only label we wanted to work with. I regret not coming back up to Canada before now for a full Canadian tour because they put the record out. We just had such a bad experience on the rest of that tour that we were afraid to come back up to Canada. Now that we’re back with the Flatliners though, everything has been going well.
Moving onto slightly more current topics, Good Views, Bad News has been out since the summer. Is there anything that you would go back and change about it?
I don’t think I would do anything different. When we wrote that record, it was the winter of 2008 and it was a dark, gloomy winter for us. In Canada I’m sure it’s nothing, but for us I was literally snowed into my house and I couldn’t leave. The power was out and it was really depressing. I wrote a lot of those songs because I had nothing else to do, so it’s kind of a dark record. Then we went on a European tour with Alkaline Trio and my whole perspective changed since it was a dream come true, so I wrote a bunch of other songs after that, which were more positive. I feel like the writing process was a little more rushed than I would have liked, but I’m really happy with that record. I think we made the best possible record we could have at the time and I still think that, I don’t think that will ever change.
What did you learn while recording in the Blasting Room?
We learned a lot about paying attention to detail when we’re writing our songs. A lot of the time it’s just me and Josh [Baird, drummer] and we’ll get a verse-chorus-verse thing down and be really happy with it. Bill Stevenson taught us how to pay attention to every little detail, like that my pick strumming is matching Josh’s kick drum all the time, that sort of thing. We thought about it in the back of our minds, but we never did it before so that was really cool.
How did you come up with the lyrics this time around?
A lot of the songs are just based on how I’m feeling the moment I pick up the pen. As a pop-punk band we don’t write very many love songs, but there are some on the record. There are a lot of fictitious songs on there, but they come off very personal. I read a lot of fiction and I want to write fiction since I enjoy coming up with story ideas. And a lot of the songs are still inspired by touring, my friends on the road and my friends back home.
What are some of the fictitious songs you’ve written?
There’s a song called “One More Year” that’s very dark and it seems personal, but that song is just a really vague story about revenge, somebody ruining your life and getting back at them. But it doesn’t come from anywhere in my life, it’s just a fictional song.
There are also some political themes on this record, like your single “Be All That You Can’t Be.”
Yeah, that song is about military recruiters in public schools in the United States. I’m not too sure if you have them in Canada, but it’s really concerning since their entire lives can be affected by these salesman basically. I’ve gotten a lot of crap for writing that song from different people in the military. They write letters to us through our MySpace and they tell me that I’m a coward and I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I know what I’m talking about, I’ve seen it firsthand. I have friends that are overseas right now and I have friends that have come home. It hit close to home so I just decided to write it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted that to be on the record because we’re not a very political band, but before we went to make the record I called Bill Stevenson on the phone. I told him my ideas about the song and asked him what he thought. I told him I like the melody, but I wasn’t so sure about the lyrics and he said ‘If you’re going to change it to a song about a girl or something, don’t even think about it.’ He told me I should definitely write it so we did and the label picked that as the first single. I think that got us a lot of attention because the message is very clear in the song and the video. I don’t have any regrets though.
“Election Night” too.
Yeah, “Election Night” is a true story. We were in Florida after the Fest and our van broke down once again. We had to get a new starter and we had a long drive that day so we had to cancel the show that night. So skipping that show we’d drive from Florida to Richmond, Virginia to make the next show. That night driving we were listening to radio all night listening to the election coverage. We were all blown away by what was happening and really hopeful and excited. I’ve gotten a lot of crap for that song too because people are like ‘Oh, it’s an Obama love song’ and it’s not an Obama love song. It’s a song about how we were feeling that night and how everyone we knew was feeling with the same hope and excitement. We didn’t think it was actually going to change the world completely, but it was the best thing that could have happened that day.
You seemed to be unhappy on the Warped Tour two years ago so I’m just wondering if you’d ever play it again.
Yeah. I would go back because I just learned a lot that year. As frustrating as it is, it’s just a lot like high school and you tend to fall in with who you fit in with and you have fun. You either do that and have fun or you’re miserable the whole summer. I was miserable for the first half of that summer for sure, but then we just kind of said ‘Let’s just make the best of it’ so we did and a lot of good things came out of it. We signed with SideOneDummy because of that Warped Tour and we made a lot of good friends, even though there is a lot of garbage on that tour.
But there still is hope for pop-punk.
I think the pop-punk scene today is incredible and that there are a lot of good bands. Dear Landlord, Off With Their Heads, The Menzingers, Teenage Bottlerocket, those are great pop-punk bands. I don’t think a lot of bands on the Warped Tour that are considered pop-punk by a magazine actually are. But I am very proud to be involved today and I think some really good records are being made.
What are your plans for the summer then?
We’re going to be touring until we go home for the summer, where we’re going to be writing as many songs as we can. Then we’ll be going to Japan in August, but we don’t have any solid plans after that. We’re talking about heading back to Europe though.
So you’re already thinking about a new record?
We have a couple songs, but nothing major. This summer’s when we’ll really get into it.
Any other plans for videos?
No, I really wanted to make a video for “Tonight Is Alive” but it never happened. A friend of ours made a video for “Basement Royalty,” I don’t know why that’s not out yet, but it should be online eventually.
Do you have plans for more covers, maybe even a cover record?
Yeah, I always want to do covers. Usually we just play them live, we haven’t done it on this tour as much, but we usually pick bands like Jawbreaker and Kid Dynamite. They’re just fun to do. I’d like to do another Jawbreaker song, like “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault” because I really like that song. It’s kind of our style. It’s a short pop-punk song with really clever lyrics so I’d like to cover that song one day. I don’t know about a full record, probably just a 7 inch. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the band Comadre. They’re from the San Francisco Bay Area and they’re one of our favourite bands. They’re a really good hardcore punk band and we’ve been really good friends with them before Broadway Calls even existed. I actually went down and recorded one of their songs acoustic. It’s me and their guitar player and it was really cool to do.
Is that released yet?
No, they put these things called mix tapes online for free and the theme of this mix tape is collaboration. That’s the Comadre/Broadway Calls one and they’re doing one with Dead to Me and they’re doing one with a couple of other bands too. It should be out hopefully later in the year, once the other ones are finished.
I listened to "Be All You Can't Be" on the Warped Tour Compilation, and I fell in love. That song is amazing, and the message is undeniable. It's a touchy subject, but that's the reason why it makes the perfect song. Because of that song, I respect Broadway Calls as musicians. Good job.