Stepping into the rock world can be a difficult task, but June Divided is ready and waiting for the chance to shine. We got to speak with the singer/guitarist Melissa about the band's new record, Warped Tour, and more. Thanks to Melissa for doing the interview.
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the band.
I'm Melissa Menago. I sing and play guitar in June Divided.
2. Let's get the giant elephant out of the room. How do you guys avoid the Paramore stigma being a female fronted band?
I guess I don't see the Paramore comparison as a stigma, since the root of the issue is much deeper. Paramore is a good band, and being compared to a good band is a compliment. The real problem is the focus on gender in the first place, and that's where the comparisons come from. Literally, we're female-fronted, but I hate that term because a lot of people are using 'female-fronted' as if it's some kind of musical genre or category- it's not. So that results in people only comparing female artists to other female artists, when they could very well be totally different from each other. It's kind of silly to me. I like being a girl, but it really has nothing to do with my band, and our music would be the same if I were a boy or a girl. We're our own sound, and if you look at our influences (Jimmy Eat World, Thrice, Foo Fighters, Manchester Orchestra), you'll hear that. I think as the ratio of guys and gals in the scene even out in the next few years, this weird focus on gender will just kind of fade away, and I'm pretty optimistic about that.
3. You guys just released Backbone. You went with Alec Henninger to produce it. Why him and what did you learn from working with him?
Alec did our first EP, and there was no one who could stop us from going back to him! (And quite a few other producers did try.) First of all, he's a blast to work with and he really just loves what he does. He cares so much about not only the outcome of each song, but the happiness of everyone involved. Most importantly, he's all about keeping the art in music alive- and that means a lot to us. All aspects of a song have to work conceptually, and I learned a good bit of that from Alec. He's a really smart, good guy who's doing amazing things in the music industry.
4. A lot of bands have an awful syndrome of writing a fantastic debut record and then completely flopping on the follow-up. How did you guys approach writing the second record with the buzz around it?
Well this is really our first record. The first release was an EP so it was just a few songs we had casually written and recorded for fun. But we were definitely a band on a mission when it came to a full-length like Backbone. We had a better idea of what kind of sound we wanted, the concept behind the album, the ebb and flow of it all. I definitely had more fun writing the songs on this album since I knew more of what I wanted to do. We're still the same songwriters- only a year and a half smarter, so I think our fans will like it just as much if not more than the EP.
5. Is there any lyric or part of a song where you sit back completely impressed and taken aback that you wrote something of such a high quality?
There's lines and parts I'm really proud of, yea. But that's just as of right now. Your own opinions of what you've done always change over time. If you're ever too impressed with yourself you stop learning. Learning from yourself and getting a little wiser with time is probably one of my favorite things about being a songwriter.
6. Being from a rich musical town like Philly, how much has that helped you guys develop as a band and as musicians?
There's been a few really big rock bands to come out of this city for sure, but overall, Philly really isn't as big of a 'rock' town right now. That kind of helped us out when we first hit the local Philly scene, because we stuck out like a sore thumb. I think the attention might have lit a fire under our asses to really develop our sound and polish up fast. We liked being different, so it was encouraging.
7. You guys are on Warped for a week. What are your thoughts, expectations, and are you ready to hate your life living in a van for a week on Warped?
If I had to pick 3 people to be stuck in a van with, I'm sure glad it's Chris, Keith and Lenny. They're my best friends and we always turn tour life into crazy adventures. But yea, we're all expecting to be pretty uncomfortable, hot, sticky, gross, exhausted. On the other hand, we're also expecting to rock out, meet amazing people, see new cities, watch awesome bands, and have a blast.
8. How do you plan on separating yourself from your peers on Warped this summer?
We're working like crazy on our live show and the material on Backbone has definitely given us a lot to work with! There's some interesting parts on this record that will be a blast to do live. Some of it is pretty different and hopefully, people will take notice. We'll also some some cool surprises at our merch tent!
9. What are your plans for the rest of 2012?
We have a tour in the works for late summer/fall of 2012 to promote Backbone, and we're not stopping there. Touring is probably our top priority. Also, a music video. We'll be pretty busy!
10. Anything else to say?
Don't forget to check out our new album, Backbone! We love keeping in touch with fans, so follow us on twitter @junedivided and find us on facebook.com/junedivided. If we're coming to your city on Warped, come say hello. If I see you in the crowd, singing along, I will high-five you from the stage (if I can reach you).