Currently on the road with No Sleep labelmates La Dispute, Former Thieves have been making waves in the post-hardcore scene for a few years now, especially since the release of last year's The Language That We Speak. In anticipation of their upcoming tour with Every Time I Die, Terror and Stray from the Path, we checked in with vocalist Matt Schmitz to see how this round of touring with La Dispute has been treating them and how the thought of this little band from Iowa going to Europe has settled with the band.
You guys are currently in Europe touring with La Dispute. How have the shows been so far from a reception standpoint now that most people have had a chance to really get into "The Language That We Speak"?
The shows have been incredible and the reception to the record over here has been great! We honestly did not expect the amount of positive feedback we have received so far over here! It's really overwhelming and cool!
Former Thieves and La Dispute certainly have a bond together, touring and being on the same label. How has them taking you to Europe reminded you of that bond?
We have known each other for years now and have become pretty close friends. We helped book each other DIY shows in UFW halls and art spaces and it's so wild coming overseas and seeing huge venues selling out and kids losing their minds to La Dispute. We are so proud of those guys!
Does it ever just hit you that your band is playing shows some odd number of thousands of miles away from home?
It took a few shows for it to really kick in. When a kid comes up to you after the show and they are trying to tell you they enjoyed the show and like your band, but there is a compete breakdown in communication due to language barriers, you can't help but feel overwhelmed and almost dumbfounded. Never in my life did I think this band would be over here playing shows.
"The Language We Speak" has been out for almost a year now, it certainly got a great reception when it was released. You recently put it up for free download to give back to your fans and perhaps find some new ones. How important is doing this to re-establishing a connection with your growing fanbase as opposed to anything else you could have done to show appreciation?
Since the record has been out for almost a year and is all over the Internet for free already, No Sleep and us decided that it wouldn't hurt to put it up for free on our terms. It definitely helps get the record into the hands of someone who hasn't really heard of us before, but may be coming out to one of the dates on any of the upcoming tours we are doing. All that we ask is that if people dig it, come out to a show, pick up a shirt, or pick up a record and help us keep doing this. Art should be a free domain, but there are costs of upkeep and we try to keep them as low as possible.
Now that you've had some time to reflect on what you did with this record, what are some things that particularly stand out to you or that you're proud of with The Language We Speak even nearly a year later?
The writing process for the record spanned almost a year and a half, and to be honest some of our favorite songs were the ones we finished up in the studio. We play the songs so much live, but we realized we will go months without listening to the actual record. Whenever we all sit down as a group and listen to the record I can definitely say we are all very proud of it as a first effort and gets us even more excited to start working on a new full length.
With trying to give more people the opportunity to listen to this, what are some things you hope people take away from the music and lyrics of this album?
As cliche as it sounds, we were all in a pretty dark place while this record was coming together. The feeling the music projects when I personally hear it is sad and obscure. The lyrics are mostly about my frustration with my inability to cope with how others can live their lives in such a mundane way and continue doing it day to day. It felt to me like a cry for help for those who chose that direction.
The No Sleep family seems to be a big fan of splits and EPs, have you guys tossed around the idea of doing something like that in the coming year?
We have, we were actually supposed to be in the studio recording a new EP as I am typing this. We got offered this Euro tour with La Dispute and the following tour with Every Time I Die and it got scrapped due to time constraints, which to be honest we were actually pretty happy about. It allows us to give our full attention to a new full length.
How has the relationship with Chris and the No Sleep team helped this band not only to grow, but continue on a path of creating art?
Chris has been a supporter and a great friend of this band even before we were apart of the family. He flew out and hung out with us while we recorded "The Language That We Speak". We would not be where we are and have been able to have done what we have so far without Chris!
Once you get back to the states, you'll be opening for Every Time I Die, Terror and Stray from the Path. How did the initial inclusion of Former Thieves on this tour settle with the band?
We heard about it around November and thought it was a pretty long shot for us to be apart of. A week or so later we found out we got chosen for the tour and we all pretty much lost our shit. ETID and Terror have paved the way for so many bands and have done so many amazing things in the last decade that I couldn't even begin to list them. Stray From The Path are touring machines and put out one hell of a record last year, and we are beyond excited to play with them every night as well. We consider this to be the "Partyapocalypse 2K12 Tour"!
How do you think this tour will compare to say, the tour you did leading up to Bledfest last year with La Dispute, Defeater and Native?
That tour for us was the end all be all of tours. We got to hit the road with all friends and bands we love and highly respect. The vibe on that tour and at Bledfest was so amazing, time will tell if this upcoming tour will be equal to or greater than that tour. We are betting on good things!
Can you tell us what kind of touring you are hoping to do after the ETID tour?
We are heading down to SXSW with our friends in Code Orange Kids who just hooked up with Deathwish. We are going to be down there for the full week this year and plan to play as many shows as humanly possible! After that, with a few fests sprinkled in this spring and summer, the plan is to settle in and write a new full length for the end of 2012/early 2013.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks so much for the interview! See y'all back in the US and Canada very soon!
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