Pianos Become the Teeth - 12.28.11

Interviewed by
Pianos Become the Teeth - 12.28.11There are a lot of "sad" records written every year. They tend to pull at our heart strings in one way or another, and we choose to let them to because we find a sort of solace in it, answers we're sometimes looking for desperately, or indirectly hit us at the right moment. Pianos Become the Teeth have written one of the most heartbreaking albums I've heard in some years with The Lack Long After. It's not just gut-wrenching lyrically, but you can feel it in the moods and sweep of the music as well. The guys took some time to discuss the work that went into creating a staple of 2011's already great bag of music.

[The following questions were answered by vocalist Kyle Durfey]

The writing for The Lack Long After is intense. It's one of the most unsettling records I've heard (and I think a lot of people agree) in some time. It deals with a subject we all have or will have to deal with at some point in our lives. Why did you feel it just to write something like this, and what do you think of the reaction it has gotten so far?

Well, I knew most of the record would be heavily influenced by losing my dad, but I don't know if I sat down and thought, "I'm going to make this thing entirely about him." I suppose that's just the way it came out. I honestly tried to write about other things and I had other ideas in mind for songs but when It came down to it, I was writing about him in one way or another so I just let it happen and didn't try to force anything out. I feel like if I had made an attempt to change the topic, it wouldn't have been as honest. That being said, It was pretty terrifying putting this record out. It's just so personal to me and I was afraid people might think I was trying to capitalize on a heavy topic because that would be maybe the 'easy' thing to do. At the end of the day, I didn't really care because I knew it had to happen, and I can't thank the guys enough for just being supportive and writing this music and just really encouraging me to be myself. I definitely don't take that freedom for granted.

Which song, after listening to the complete track for the first time, took you back the most? Were there any songs you had to walk out of the room after hearing the playback and sort of collect yourself? What was your reaction?

It's a strange thing, recording. You try to pour everything into every take, and sometimes what you're singing gets lost because you're trying to just get through it or make it sound a certain way, and you've been saying the same line 4 times. Then other times you can't escape what you're singing and you don't care how it sounds, you just leave it the way it is because thats the way it came out. I tried a little cleaner vocals on this record, and that was a little nerve racking just getting comfortable with my voice. I'd say 'Liquid Courage' was and still is the hardest to listen to, I think that's the simplest, most straight forward thing I've ever written and one of the only songs I've written that I didn't edit at all after I wrote it. Also, The end of 'Spine,' I did in one take and just left it the way it was. At the beginning of 'Good Times,' before it really kicks in, I couldn't hear myself in the headphones when we were recording but I just let it rip and hoped it sounded okay, and during the playback, I thought to myself, this is how it should sound, because I sang it like it didn't matter what it sounded like, and I think there is something to be said for that, just letting go. I can say I cried a whooooooole lot during the recording process. It was totally just allowing myself to be cut open again, and I think it was healthy for me. 'I'll Get By' was another rough one. It's a strange thing, listening to your own record and just getting bummed out. haha.

How does it feel playing these songs each night? Especially with "Cripples Can't Shiver" in the setlist. Is it tiring mentally - or quite the opposite - vindicating?

It feels great just to play new songs live. I think it all depends on the kind of mood you're in that day. Tour makes everyone cranky every now and then and I think that definitely plays into how moved you get by the music. I think it's the kind of thing where you have to snap into it and snap out and not let it take you over, especially when you're singing about so many personal things. I think there's a fine line between dwelling and a healthy release. With "Cripples" especially, I can sing that song every night and be okay, but as soon as I hear my mom's voice in the clip, I get weird.

Have there been any in-person reactions that made you feel either uncomfortable or even proud to have helped someone else in a time as tough as the subject matter on the album?

This is a great question. On this last tour alone, a lot of people have either emailed me or come up at shows and just said thanks, or told me incredibly personal stories of loss and heartbreak. It's pretty overwhelming. I don't know how to take it sometimes. I love talking to people at shows and I think it's awesome that people can come up to me and feel comfortable enough to share their story, and I hope it keeps happening, but other times, it's almost like people are talking to me because I've been through it so I have the answer how to deal with it. I have no clue, I still deal with it every day. It's the worst. I just try to be honest with people.

What is the last thing your mom says on the album? Where did that come from, and why the significance of putting it there? Was it a decision from the start?

She says "I hope you know how much he loved you, and I think you do." It was a voice mail my mom left for me. God Damn, as I type this, I'm realizing again that this record will haunt me forever. haha. I thought it was a cool way to tie OLD PRIDE and TLLA together, since its the same voice as the clip in "Cripples."

[The following questions were answered by guitarist Michael York]

The last time we talked about the record briefly, and you had said something about how natural you wanted the record to come out. The natural echo from the room on "Liquid Courage" was something we discussed with the drums I believe. Was that something you guys wanted from the beginning of recording, to get as close to a live recording as possible?

Well, when it comes to recording anything we want the recording to sound like us. I don't want to have processed drums, auto tuned anything, etc. especially when you have the tools to just make it real. One of the main reasons we recorded with Kevin again is because he spends hours just to get the right tones for the right songs, and tried different things that will make the song come across the way he expects. I think we just kind of went into the recording knowing that we want to do whatever we have to in order to make the record sound it's absolute best, and generally that meant taking hours to tune drums with the room, picking out the right amps for songs, using tape to record drums and bass, and just really fine tune everything.

I remember hearing Old Pride a year ago and you guys ended up being my new favorite discovery of 2010. There's some comparison to Funeral Diner and You and I and some of the early "screamo" bands (for lack of a better word), how do you guys feel about that connection? It seems the word post-hardcore means a lot to a lot of different listeners today.

Yeah, totally. I mean, I like that connection. Funeral Diner is one of my favorite bands. My only issue is, I don't want to be pegged as a "screamo" or "post-hardcore" band only. I feel like it's easy to do that because of our influences as musicians, but we also want to branch out and have people hear more than just the screamo aspect of the band. For example, I can easily say I am influenced now, at 24, by bands like The National and Jimmy Eat World more than I am something like Funeral Diner.

The production on this record is much more vibrant than Old Pride. It sounds like you guys played around with tone a lot with the guitars especially. Any truth to that? Anything specific you were going for, maybe referring back to my first question?

Yeah, there's a lot of truth in that. Well, with Old Pride we had to record it/mix it in like... 9 days, so we didn't get a lot of time to fool around with tones and stuff. This time around we took our time, picked out amps that we thought would be perfect for each song, added layers, and just tried to make everything as big as possible.
For the past couple of years, there's been this big DIY revival, this resurgence in the hardcore/punk/post-hardcore community - more active. It's something I've touched on a lot, but it seems like you guys are one of the bands part of it nonetheless. What did you get from being on a tour with Touche Amore every night, another big name in this movement at the moment?

That tour was amazing. It was really awesome to see the growth in the amount of people singing along to the new record as the tour went on. We were all really blown away by the response that it was receiving at some shows. Plus, Touche always takes care of us, and taking us out on tour was no different. They are the best guys in the world and some of the best friends we have ever had.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 34
02:22 PM on 12/28/11
probably paraphrasing bell hooks
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algae's Avatar
Awe inspiring.
02:23 PM on 12/28/11
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aradiantsunrise's Avatar
Really nice interview.
02:42 PM on 12/28/11
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troubledbyinsects's Avatar
02:43 PM on 12/28/11
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phaynes1's Avatar
Great interview, Adam.
03:11 PM on 12/28/11
henry chinaski
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henry chinaski's Avatar
Good read. TLLA is awesome
03:20 PM on 12/28/11
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awesome band, and they seem like awesome people. we need more bands like this!
03:41 PM on 12/28/11
Jack Appleby
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The only thing more refreshing than heating great interview questions is great responses. I've so overwhelmed lately that I haven't had a chance to listen to this band. That changes tonight, because of this interview.
03:45 PM on 12/28/11
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Amazing interview. I love the thought provoking questions; they brought a lot of depth to the band and new album.
03:56 PM on 12/28/11
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phaynes1's Avatar
The only thing more refreshing than heating great interview questions is great responses. I've so overwhelmed lately that I haven't had a chance to listen to this band. That changes tonight, because of this interview.
If I know you at all, which I think I do, I think you'll really like it. Since you're a fan of Explosions, you should be able to appreciate the instrumentation at the very least.
04:46 PM on 12/28/11
I Don't Make Posts Sober
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Spartan789013's Avatar
Fantastic Read.
04:48 PM on 12/28/11
Elected Asskicker
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silent_platypus's Avatar
I would be the one to ask this, but why is the font uncharacteristically small?
04:50 PM on 12/28/11
What are you waiting for?
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KingsCrossing's Avatar
Great interview, great record, great people.
04:55 PM on 12/28/11
A Small Spark Vs. A Great Forest
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subplotofcrows's Avatar
Awesome interview. Record slays.
05:20 PM on 12/28/11
Busy, Busy, Busy
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showyourteeth's Avatar
Such a great interview. The Lack Long After and La Dispute's Wildlife were two of the hardest albums for me to listen to this year.

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