First off, for all the people reading the interview. Introduce yourself and tell us what you do in the band.
CHRIS: I’m Chris, I sing and play guitar for Day At The Fair.
ROB: I'm Rob, I play guitar and harmonize.
Now, this is a question that I seem to ask a lot of bands, but its always interesting to find out what the meaning behind things are. Where does the name Day At The Fair come from?
CHRIS: I used to work at this place in Jersey as a kid that held company picnics. It was kind of like a water park type place that people would get really wasted at and make asses of themselves in front of their colleagues. Anyway, at the end of the summer season, they open the door the public, and give all the staff t-shirts and call it ”A Day At The Fair.” At the time, I was like “cool, that’s my new band name and I got the first shirt.” Now a days, I sit back and think, “what the fuck was I thinking, that’s a terrible band name,” and now I’m stuck with it.
Same goes for the album title “The Rocking Chair Years”
CHRIS: The record is very autobiographical and when I was writing it, I couldn’t help but realize that a lot of the stories I’m telling in this record are the same stories, about the same people that I’m going to tell my kids and my grand kids about. My uncle actually came up with the name while we were on tour in California. He knows everyone in our band’s life story cause he’s an incredible guy and a great listener, and one night we were all hanging out and he just simply said to us, “you guys got to go out there and keep doing this, cause you are living you’re rocking chair years.”
I see that you guys are from New Jersey, what was it like growing up and playing in a band in that type of music scene?
CHRIS: I couldn’t have asked for anything more from growing up in jersey. I hate to say the scene was better then than it is now, but it seemed like more of a tight knit group back then. I grew up going to shows, seeing bands like Jimmy Eat World, Less Than Jake, or The Get up Kids come through and playing a basement show, or a skate park in front of 15 people. I was in a band called Lanemeyer that started back in 1996 and we enjoyed some local success back in the day and had a great time doing it. Bands like Midtown, Armor For Sleep, Houston Calls, Steel Train etc. all came from the same thread of bands like Lanemeyer that played almost every show in Jersey together every weekend with their old bands, and we had a blast doing it. I love all those guys, and the bands they are in now, and I couldn’t be more happy at where they all are and the fact that we’re all still playing music.
Did you ever find it hard to get noticed or stand out from all the bands in that area?
CHRIS: It’s funny cause a couple of years ago we did a Lanemeyer reunion show at a K of C in Jersey and there were like 400 people there, then the week after we played as Day At The Fair at the same venue and there were about 8, so yeah, it was really hard. The hot shit now in New Jersey, and a lot of places is the screaming thing. It’s not really my style. I can respect it, but I don’t like it. Instead of trying to conquer new jersey like we did in Lanemeyer, we just said fuck it and went on tour. We got a much better response in other states then we ever did at home. It seems to be turning around a little more now a days for us, but then again we’re always on tour.
The new album was just released on May 3rd on Rushmore Records. How did you guys meet up with them and finally decide to sign with them.
CHRIS: Richard and Stefanie were pretty big Lanemeyer fans back in the day. I met them in NYC for the first time in 1997 when they were still working out of their garage and living room, and we were playing at Coney Island High (RIP) in front of just the two of them in NYC. Ever since then, I always wanted to be a part of that label because I loved them as people and dug the way they did business. After we recorded “the prelude” e.p we actually started getting interests from certain big independent labels, and a couple of major labels, but nothing from them (Richard and Stefanie) like I had hoped for. I called them, emailed them, annoyed them, and tried pounding it into their heads to listen to it and they never did, it just sat on their desks. After a few weeks, Steve (drums) and I flew out to California to meet with a few indie labels for alternative options, and I called Richard to see if he wanted to go out to lunch to catch up on shit, figuring he never even listened to the C.D yet. Turns out, he listened to it the day before we got there and loved it. After that lunch, Steve and I cancelled all of our meetings with the labels we were actually scheduled to see, and got drunk and went swimming. It’s where we wanted to be all along because we trust them, and it’s hard to trust anyone in this industry cause it’s super fuckin shady.
I read on your website that you worked with John Naclario and Chris Badami on this album. What was it like working with them, and did they have a lot of help on giving direction on the album?
CHRIS: Everything with us comes around in full circle. Chris Badami recorded the first Lanemeyer record in his basement when I was 16, and John Naclerio did the first Day At The Fair demo’s in his basement four years later. Ryan Sellick of North Shore recording studios (another amazing guy and producer) also demo’d “the rocking chair years” and he helped out with some of the tracks we did at John’s. All of them have moved on to much bigger (and more expensive studio’s) now and I’m so proud of all of them as they were of us. It was perfect for the theme of the record, and the nostalgia behind everything the record spoke about that they produced it. They are all really good friends of mine and I love them to death. They are fucking geniuses and I would do anything for them.
ROB: As far as giving direction to the album, it's hard to say. They both have very different styles, and I think it shows in the songs that they each did. John is very pro-active. He almost drives you up a wall sometimes, but he pushes you until he gets the absolute best out of you. And when you finally hear it at the end, you're like, "Damn that was totally worth it." Where as Chris is a very laid back guy. Chris creates a really amazing environment where you're so completely comfortable that things just flow right out of you. And that's what Chris is all about, capturing those moments.
Did the writing process come of ease when you went into the studio, or did you guys have most of this stuff written previous to going to record?
CHRIS: All the music was written prior to going into the studio, and there were a couple of verse’s and chorus’s I didn’t really have yet that I was working out. The first song (the rocking chair years) on the record actually came out on the last day of recording when we had a few hours left... We re-recorded it at Chris Badami’s cause I chew at piano, so we had Jeff from the modesty panel do it over for us.
ROB: Yeah pretty much all the framework was there. We wrote some guitar parts and bass lines, and things like that in the studio, but nothing too drastic. There was actually maybe 2 songs that didn't have any lyrics until we got in the studio, and at night when we were in our hotel, we'd be watching T.V and drinking 99 cent 24oz Miller Lites and Chris would be writing the lyrics to “Dignan” and reading them back to us and asking if they sucked. And then on “Everything I've Ever Wanted,” Chris was just writing the lyrics as he went, and then he left the bridge alone, and had the rest of us write it. And I think Todd came up with it because he was the most sober.
What was it like filming the video for “Eastern Homes & Western Hearts”?
CHRIS: Scott Culver is the fucking man and I love what he did with that song. I got a call from Richard about five months prior to our record being released, and he asked us about doing a video. At the time, a video wasn’t even in the cards for us because the record wasn’t even finished, but Richard said that Scott loved our band and wanted to do a video for us. I was like, “fuck yeah, we’ll do a video, have Scott call me with the concept.” Later that night, Scott called me with this insane concept. I pretty much had no fucking idea what he was talking about, but he sounded so amped up about it and I knew he could picture it in his head. A month later he flew out and shot it in New Jersey. We are so used to being poor and scamming our way through life, that we actually finished the video under budget which is rare. The car we drove in the video was Steve’s next door neighbor’s who was in the hospital at the time so we sort of, uh, stole it. Plus we used her house as my house... Instead of renting a sound stage for a thousand bucks, we were like, “fuck it, let’s film in that big baseball field over there behind Steve’s house.” Instead of getting a model I asked Scott if we could use my friend Jenni (the girl we smoked out in Steve’s neighbor’s car) cause she was in a Dr. Pepper commercial before. Instead of renting a sweet hooked up bar with extra’s, I asked Scott if we could film in the dive bar on my street and invite my local drunk friends to hang out and be in the video. The whole experience was amazing and we had a great time doing it and I love the video. We’ve gotten so many emails from broken hearted kids that were like, “dude, sweet how you smoked that bitch in you’re video brah.” I just email them back with, “dude, Scott Culver did that shit, I had nothing to do with it. You talk to him about killing bitches.” Regardless, Scott became a really close friend of ours after that we love him and appreciate him more than anything. When we’re in L.A, we crash at his apartment, and when he’s filming in Jersey, he doesn’t even go to hotel’s anymore, he just sleeps in my extra bedroom. Last time he was here, our bar (the one on my street that we filmed the video at) nominated him as a local and gave him some free shots. That kid can fuckin drink like no body’s business.
ROB: The only thing I'll say about filming a video is that doing performance shots sucks. You have to play the song like 25 times. You get no break, and you get yelled at if you start pussyfootin.
I see that Chris actually worked for Drive-Thru Records. What was your job at the label, and why were you claimed as “Drive-Thru’s Secord Worst Employee Ever”?
CHRIS: After I left my old band, Richard and Stefanie were nice enough to give me a job in California. I just wanted to live where it was sunny and get the fuck out of Jersey for a bit, and I told them that I was done with music and wanted to be a devoted employee. Maybe it was a pity hire I don’t know, but I’m sure they learned their lesson after hiring me. I was actually the “street team coordinator” which took about 15 minutes a day to do. I was also the errand runner (the bitch that had to get all the “real” employee’s lunch and stuff.” They would send me down the street to get some paper from Staples and I would go home, play video games, watch office space on stolen cable, take a nap, maybe go to the beach and get a tan and watch the dolphins swim and shit. They canned me after like 6 months or something. I wanted to still do music, and I didn’t like working in an office cause it wasn’t me and they knew it quicker than I did. However, I did learn to work a Mac computer and teach it how to talk to me when I was at the office.
You are on tour most of the month of June, are there any other tours or shows that you will be playing this summer to help promote the new album?
CHRIS: We actually had to drop off that tour for a little while cause we had some problems with guarantee’s that we were promised but didn’t get, so we cut our losses and went home for a couple week break from the road. It’s not easy these days with gas prices and driving a 27 foot RV with a 10 foot trailer across the country. Normally, we would sell our records at our merch table, but this time around, people already have the record cause it’s in stores. We were so fired up when we found out that our record has been selling, then we get to a show and we’re like, “shit, we always banked on how many C.D.s we sold at shows to get us from here to there.” Don’t get me wrong, we love the fact that people buy our record and sing the words, we were just shocked at how our bread and butter now comes in the form of Hanes T-shirts. In any case, we have no right to complain, we are doing what we love and we are not taking it for granted, even though we’re still broke. Anyway, we are finishing the mid-west tour with Stimulis and The Big Screen next week, then we leave in July with the suicide pact and Madison and will most likely finish the summer with our boys Houston Calls and Socratic. We’ll have crossed the country four times before the summer ends, then we have some pretty sweet shit planned for the winter.
This year has been full of good album releases. Are their any personal favorites for you guys?
CHRIS: Mae, The Killers, Say Anything, Team America Soundtrack, Bright Eyes. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to the new Early November and Houston Calls
ROB: I Can Make a Mess..., Self Against City, Say Anything, Ben Folds, Emanuel, and I'm probably most looking forward to the new Brand New
On that note, what are all of you guys currently listening to on your Ipod/cd player?
CHRIS: Teitur, Damien Rice, The Weakerthans, The Format, Neutral Milk Hotel, Keith Welsh.
ROB: Wilco, Postal Service, Say Anything, Jets To Brazil, Ludacris, Quicksand, The Replacements.
That’s about all the questions I have for you guys, is there anything that you would like to say to all the fans and readers out in absolutepunk.net land?
CHRIS: Thank you for the interview. Absolutepunk.net is something every band in every scene reads, and no matter where you go on tour people are always talking about it. Keep up the good work and stop giving us shitty reviews ( I’m kidding, it’s all good.) As for the fans, thank you so much for everything and we can’t say that enough. Support the scene in your area cause there is so many great bands out there that are working so hard. Almost every night everywhere in this country they're playing legion halls, and basements, and small clubs, and they're doing it because they love it, and they're kicking ass, and there's a good chance you're missing it. Check out The Arcade Academy, Roma (ex-cents less), The Modesty Panel, Birdsting, and if you’re in a band from NJ/PA/NY, go record here www.northshorerecording.com.
ROB: I'd just like to thank all the amazing people we meet from all over the country, you all know who are, and you'll never know how much fun we have hanging out with you before/during/after the shows. We love you all so much and all of you make this worthwhile.
These guys are some of THE nicest guys. Our bassist gave them a demo of ours and they checked it out and called us back with some very kind words. I wish everybody was as nice as these guys, and everybody should definitely give them a listen.