Before the band's Winnipeg show, I sat down with Heartsounds guitarist/vocalist Ben Murray to talk about the history of the band and their new record. Thanks to all the users who submitted questions:
Your second record, Drifter, comes out on July 26. What were your thoughts going into it? Were you nervous?
I don’t think we thought about it much, I definitely wasn’t nervous at all. I mean, with the first one there were no expectations and now there’s expectations, but I didn’t think about it that way at all. I just wrote the way I always write and I think it turned out a lot better than the first one. I think people will be stoked. Yeah, none of us were nervous. We’re curious to see how people will like it, but that’s about it.
And this is your first official release for Epitaph?
Yeah, they re-released the first one. This is our first debut for Epitaph.
How did working with them come about?
It was random. We didn’t send our record out to anyone, we weren’t trying to get signed, we were just doing our own thing. Brett [Gurewitz] emailed me one day and I guess he heard it and liked it so he wanted to meet up and the rest of it is history. It was just luck.
How would you say it varies from Until We Surrender?
I think it’s a bit faster, a bit more technical. More guitar work, more guitar oriented. I just think it’s more mature as well and a lot better written and I think people can really tell. This record sounds more thought out and the melodies are deeper, it’s a little catchier. I don’t know, I guess it’s like the first one on steroids because everything’s amplified a little bit better.
How would you describe the recording process?
It was super cool. We did the music with the same guy last time, Zach Ohren in the Bay Area of California. So that was relaxing because we’ve worked with him before and everything was really comfortable. For the vocals this time around, Brett said he wanted to help produce it so we went down to LA to record the vocals. That was amazing and it was very surreal to be working with him and have him putting input on our record because he’s one of my favourite songwriters of all time.
And Jason Cruz from Strung Out actually did vocals on “Elements.” How did that come about?
We had played with Strung Out a few times and I actually know Jordan [Burns], their drummer. But I had never met Jason. Jordan gave me his email and I just hit him up saying ‘Hey, we’re going to be down in LA doing vocals with Brett and we’d love to have you on this track.’ I sent him the demo and the lyrics and he agreed to drop by. That was the first time we met him and he liked the song. He totally killed it on the vocals and we hung out after. That was like a childhood dream come true, he’s been my favourite vocalist and it was insane to get him on one of our songs.
Are there any other guests?
No, Brett does a few ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ but that’s it aside from Jason’s part.
Would you say there’s a theme on this record?
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Drifter refers to a lot of what I was writing about. The feeling of wasting time and drifting through each day in a haze and being really unsatisfied and feeling like you’re going through the motions of school or work and that life is short. Trying to find a purpose in life, but not really being able to find it and being upset that you only have so much time.
I noticed you have clocks in the album art for both records. Any reason why?
Both records are very focused on time. Right before we started this band my dad got diagnosed with brain cancer so time, time running out and all these things were always a very heavy element for me. It’s about trying to live in the moment and find purpose and happiness. Making the most of each day and stuff like that. Time is just a big thing I think about often and we just thought that since there are similar themes on this record, we’d just carry that artwork over. We thought it was a cool continuation.
What was it like making the transition from metal to pop-punk?
It was easy. I never put any thought into it because Laura [Nichol, guitar/vocals] and I have been listening to punk since before we even started the metal band. I love punk music and it came easily.
What are the major differences between the two scenes?
The punk scene’s a lot more fun. I’ve been going to punk shows forever, but the metal scene or at least the metal touring scene is very competitive and very cold and very money driven. Every industry is, the music industry especially. Touring with metal bands we made a lot of friends, but with punk shows it’s a lot more youthful and fun with kids singing along whereas with metal people are judging your musicianship. Like ‘Oh, he’s not playing as fast as the CD.’ It got very alienating and annoying. We were wondering why we were doing it, we started the band to have fun and play songs we like. We still liked playing the songs, but we felt like we were in the wrong business with the metal. With the punk we’re just going out here and having fun singing out hearts out and kids like it. We don’t think about it much more than that, we’re just having fun.
I’m going to ask some shorter questions now, what are some newer up and coming bands you’re listening to?
I own a label actually called Creator-Destructor and I put out the first Heartsounds record before Epitaph did. I kind of have my radar out there for up and coming bands, but there are a lot of bands bigger than us that are still up and coming. Like Tigers Jaw and Title Fight, those bands are awesome. Bands like The Flatliners and the Menzingers too, but people already know those bands because they’re getting big. The Stereo State. And Kids Icarus and Anchors from Australia. Those are bands from my label so I’m a little biased, but I think they’re doing a great job. If you like Heartsounds, you’ll like them.
How’d you come up with your name?
Laura came up with it. We were just trying to think of a name, we just wanted something memorable and easy. Something that summed up our idea of the band which is very honest songs. As cheesy as it is, just pouring your heart out into the songs. It wasn’t taken so we grabbed it.
One thing you'd like to achieve as a band in the next 5 years?
Just travel everywhere we can with it. I’m not concerned with record sales or selling merch or doing whatever. If kids like the band, good things will happen. We just want to have fun with it and go to the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia and other parts of Canada. Everything. We just want to experience more of the world with this band and have fun. Five years from now I want to be playing in this band and still have a smile on my face and not just do it as a business, you know what I’m saying?
This is the sixth show of our 5 week tour we we’re out for most of the summer. Then we’re flying out to the Fest in October and try to do some east coast stuff after that. We have tentative plans to head to the UK and stay in Germany in November. Probably another US tour in January. Just play it by year, but we definitely want to play as many places as possible supporting this record so kids can hear it live.