First and foremost, since you guys have been making music for a long time, could you both introduce yourselves and let our readers know what bands you have been involved with over the time span of your career?
Ryan: Iím one of the 4 guys that were Camden. I also played with the Promise Ring. I played bass and a little guitar on their last record Wood/Water for Anti. Around the same time I started playing with the Promise Ring I co-founded Decibully who put out a couple records on Polyvinyl and are now on Listening Party. Iíve dabbled in quite a few other projects, but these are most notable. Iíve been a studio engineer, mixer, recording guy too for a number of bands as well.
Eric: I played in Camden with Ryan from 1998-2001. We recorded two records with Chris Walla from Death Cab and toured constantly with the likes of The Promise Ring, The Gloria Record, Hey Mercedes, Death Cab for Cutie and Pele to name some of them.
The second most obvious question would be what Iím sure many people have wondered: who, in all, did you collaborate with for your debut?
Ryan: I know more bands could be attributed to the folks on the record but this is a list that Iíve compiled, Shearwater, The Dirty Projectors, Volcano Choir, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Pele, Owen, Joan of Arc, CapíníJazz, American Football, ViaTania, Headlights, Sufjan Stevens, Maritime, The Promise Ring, Vermont, Dashboard Confessional, The Snake The Cross The Crown, Braid, Hey Mercedes, The Gloria Record, Mineral, Zookeeper, Parts and Labor, Volcano Iím Still Excited, Americans UK, Decibully, The Championship, Juniper Tar, The Celebrated Working Man, Parts and Labor, Fever Marlene, Revision Text, Control, The Tea Cups, Faux Fir, Group of the Altos, Trolley, Jonathan Burkes, and the Idaho Yodeler.
Itís always a nice surprise to see 2-3 known musicians as guest vocalists/contributors on any record, but to see so many, in a debut record nonetheless, is a rarity and such a nice change. How were you able to pull it off?
Ryan: Iím lucky to have met such great people over the years. They all deserve credit for sitting down and contributing tracks. I canít thank them enough.
I think one reason we were able to pull it off is it seems if you are able to check your e-mail youíve probably got some software on your computer that would allow you to record tracks. So it was kind of one of those things like, ďhey youíre reading this e-mail, why donít you take a couple minutes and do a harmony or pick up a guitar.Ē So many people went above and beyond and itís kind of cool to think one of our songs was present in a bands recording session. For example Kim from Shearwater was in the studio recording for an upcoming release and when the rest of the band took a lunch break she had an engineer record her bass for I Hear Trumpets. Cool to think weíll have the same bass tone on a song that is also on their record.
Another reason we were able to pull it off was we were really patient to wait for tracks from people. We had no label or even fan pressure to get something done. It was just Eric and I dreaming of how cool it would be get these friends from throughout the years together on a recording. Its funny but All Those I Know was written before we decided to get All Those We Know to collaborate with. I think words that I wrote inspired me to do the project. Subconscious self inspiration???
Eric: I think that the other reason that this was so successful is like Ryan stated, everyone was able to do this on their own time without any direction from us. I think that is what makes all of the songs so special. We were receiving tracks in the way that each individual was interpreting the song. When combined with the original track and with the other contributions we really saw the songs take on a new life.
How do you go about the song writing process? Do both you share the duty?
Ryan: We share the duty. Weíre constantly bouncing ideas off each other. So far lyrics have been my department, but weíre open to anything.
Eric: Song writing is definitely split between both of us. Not a week goes by that we arenít sending each other new song ideas to listen to. We had so much fun writing All Those I Know that we havenít been able to stop! Even though we split the song writing, Ryan does all of the compiling/editing/mixing since he has been recording records for over 10 years.
The internet has made it easier for bands to get noticed, but harder at the same time because there are simply too many bands to check out. So, besides collaborating with so many known musicians, how do you try to stand out?
Ryan: Putting stuff out for free seems like a good option for bands that arenít already well known, but man, if I had any ideas Iíd be doing it.
Eric: Agreed, since we have been getting some good initial press for the record we have seen a lot of people downloading it from our Band Camp site. The idea of getting a whole record for free is pretty enticing and there isnít a huge commitment if you donít end up liking it.
What made you pick ďI Hear TrumpetsĒ as the first single? The reason I ask is because that song singlehandedly made me look for your album immediately Ė before I even knew about the list of bands/artists that you worked with. I could not think of a better song from your debut to put out there, so Iím curious to know how musicians decide what track would represent their music best and/or grab peopleís attention.
Ryan: At a certain point in time when we were deciding what would be the choice of a single I was convinced that I Hear Trumpets was the best song on the record. Since that time I have no idea. Iím equally proud of them all.
Eric: Ryan and I went back and forth between I Hear Trumpets and one other song, but at the end of the day that was the one that we were feeling. The song is very interesting from an instrumentation standpoint and it is short and to the point. It is also the song that evolved the most from how we wrote it to how it ended up with all of the contributions. We were just super excited about how it turned out.
Your album has been available on bandcamp for sometime now, but press releases going around talked about a January release date. What was that all about?
Ryan: Ah yes, well we had a release in the UK that was set for Jan 24th. This got pushed back to TBA, but I saw today that our UK label, Luau records, has info posted on their site. Weíre certainly not trying to confuse anyone, stuff was just getting sorted and re-sorted.
It looks like you guys just started a kickstarter project yesterday, too. Want to tell us what thatís all about?
Ryan: Yes we did! Weíre partnering with the vinyl imprint Ten Atoms. If our kickstarter is successful that is. So please check it out! There are reward levels and unreleased song available through it.
Do you think this is the future of the music ďindustryĒ? More and more bands seem have DIY attitude nowadays.
Ryan: From where Iíve usually been in the music world itís always felt really DIY. I really love how the community can be brought together over the internet rather than having to drive somewhere. Maybe Iím lazier. Iím going to sound old, Iím only 34 as of Feb 2nd, but we booked our first tour by cold calling clubs around the country then mailing them packages with CDs in them. Weird. We found our way to the clubs by looking at a driving atlas. Ha haha.
Eric: It certainly seems that, with how powerful technology and the internet have become, bands are now able to record their own records and can release them digitally via sites like band camp instead relying on a label for backing. By using social media outlets there have been many bands that have gained notoriety who we may never have heard of if the internet did not exist.
Being around for so long has probably led to many fond memories from touring. What has, so far, been the most memorable experience?
Ryan: I was on the road for a lot of time. Incredible highs and incredible lows and so often they happen the same day.
Eric: Drinking beer in Moscow, Idaho listening to Buzz Goertzen (the Idaho Yodeler) on vinyl.
On a related note, making music for as long as you have has probably been very time consuming. Do you have any other jobs/careers? Hobbies?
Ryan: I record bands as part of my work. I also have a somewhat regular job instructing people how to use computers. I hope to be making a career change to international development work at some point. I know I can speak on behalf of the band that we really enjoy pontoon boating.
Eric: I have been working for a marketing firm from NYC for the past 3.5 years. Hobbies would definitely include pontoon boating, hot tubbing and hanging out with my wife & kids.
I'm interested to see where you guys go from here Ė especially after releasing such a strong debut. Are you working on any new music yet?
Ryan: Weíve got quite a few songs sketched out so far for the next record.
Eric: Yes, as I mentioned earlier, we are still having so much fun with this project. The new songs are shaping up really nicely and we are excited to see where we can take it from here.
Your email is one of the nicest ones Iíve received from band members, and your overall attitude has made me appreciate your music that much more. This is often difficult to display through news posts, so I suppose this is my way of asking you guys to let people know how awesome you are and why they should listen to your (fabulous) music.
Ryan: Haha.. awe thanks, maybe itís a Midwest thing, but Eric is a sweet guy.
Eric: Shucks, thanks guys! You should listen to our record because Lueda wants you to!!!