Scene Point Blank: First off, how many Fests have you played?
Chris Matulich: We've played the last two Fests.
Scene Point Blank: What's your best Fest memory, onstage or in the audience?
Chris Matulich: My favorite Fest memory would have to be watching Paint it Black both years we were there. The secret shows they did were great. At Fest 6, they played an apartment building on the second floor in a living room, and I was watching from the kitchen. The floor started to bend with everyone moving around in the room, so to keep if from caving in they had everyone sit down cross-legged. It kind of looked like a kindergarten classroom at storytime, only it was a hardcore show and about eighty drunk dudes with beards instead of a teacher with a book and small students. Last year they played out of the back of a U-haul truck in a huge lot. Tons of people gathered to watch. When the cops came on their horses to break up the congregation, my friend Mitch (drunk as hell and dressed in a giant rat costume) was yelling, "You're killing the spirit of Halloween!" You can probably spot him on YouTube if you look it up. My other favorite Fest moment would have to be at our show last year when I realized people actually wanted to see our band. There were so many good bands playing, and I had no idea anyone would go out of their way to see us, but they did. The crowd was very excited which, honestly, is not always the case at our shows, and I don't think any of us were prepared for the welcome we received. Super fun times.
Scene Point Blank: Do you develop any Fest rivalries against other bands with the same timeslots?
Chris Matulich: Not really, I think most shows are staggered at the Fest to start and end twenty minutes apart. So usually if there are two bands playing around the same time, you can go to see one of them for fifteen minutes, and only miss a small portion of the next band playing at a different venue. Last year we played and Dillinger Four was starting ten minutes before our half hour set was up. I packed up our stuff, sold some CDs and t-shirts, and walked over to see about six or seven D4 songs.
Scene Point Blank: Who are you excited to see this year?
Chris Matulich: I want to see Lemuria, The Copyrights, The Riot Before, Samiam, and Off With Their Heads... I'm not even sure who else is playing, but I'm sure there will be plenty of great bands to watch.
Scene Point Blank: Changing subjects, how did you settle on the band name?
Jay Northington: Well, my birth certificate says Nothington by accident and it was a joke... But it stuck.
Chris Matulich: And now we have the dumbest name in punk rock.
Scene Point Blank: Were you worried that people would take it as Jay's project instead of a group effort?
Chris Matulich: When I joined the band Jay had already come up with the name, and he had four songs recorded. I just went with it. I always kind of thought it was a stupid name, but I also think most band names are stupid. It was really Jay's project: the first record was written entirely by Jay. I wrote one song, and I added back-up vocals and some small guitar leads. At this point anyone who takes it as Jay's project clearly hasn't heard our new record (which is everyone because it's not even out yet...) but I think it's very clear that there are four people writing the songs collectively on this record. It's different, and it's more diverse in sound and feeling than the last record.
Scene Point Blank: Was the new record written throughout the past two years, or did you sit down and do it all together?
Chris Matulich: We toured pretty much non-stop on our first record for about a year and a half. We didn't write much in that time, but when we ended up at home for a significant amount of time we started getting together to write new material in my living room and at the practice space. A year after that our new record was born. Ten brand new tracks we barely remember how to play!
Scene Point Blank: How has the band changed, in addition to having more people writing songs?
Chris Matulich: This album has a lot of different sounds, whereas I feel like All In was a lot of the same. The new one will probably surprise people, but I think Nothington fans will like it. This record hits harder and is more aggressive in many ways. However, I think it still speaks to the qualities that people enjoyed about our first record. I would be surprised to hear reviews comparing us to Social Distortion again, but who knows - and I take that comparison as a compliment anyway.
Scene Point Blank: I've seen a lot of comparisons to Social Distortion and even Lucero. What do you listen to outside of punk rock that has influenced your songwriting?
Chris Matulich: Jay listens to a lot of old country and folk music. I don't really listen to music at all anymore. I'm a weirdo. Listening to music kind of feels like work to me sometimes because I can't stop thinking about is as research on how to write better songs. I pretty much think Tom Petty is the best songwriter ever, so I have been listening to him a lot the last few months.
Scene Point Blank: What about the new record's title. What's its significance?
Chris Matulich: The title, Roads Bridges and Ruins, was taken from the lyrics of the songs, really. It's not literally pulled from them, but to me the title sums up the feeling of the record very well. To me the songs are about our changing lives, the journey is the road. Many of the songs are about things falling apart: the ruins. I don't really know, but there just seemed to be a theme to this record and I feel like the title fits the record very well.
Scene Point Blank: How do you feel about internet leaks? I keep hearing stories about records being online before the band has even gotten their copies.
Chris Matulich: I don't really worry about that stuff. Maybe if we were selling a lot of records I would care, but I don't think there are a lot of people out there trying to get a sneak peak.
Scene Point Blank: Did you have an early fall release date in mind? It seems like more records are coming out shortly before the Fest the past couple of years - though that may be my imagination, since the Fest kind of takes over my thoughts for a couple of months.
Chris Matulich: I wanted to get this record out before the Fest. I knew it was going to take us a long time to get everything together because without a clear goal we just kind of flopped around a bit. So I made a goal as to when I wanted to record and when I wanted the record to come out. Once I set those deadlines things really started to come together. I didn't want to go the Fest again without a new record. I wanted to tour out there with new material to make sure people would have something to be excited about instead of seeing us play the same eight songs that we played the last two years.
Scene Point Blank: How did you get involved with BYO?
Jay Northington: They found out about us on Myspace and we started talking.
Scene Point Blank: Has Jay's vocal style always been the distinctive growl? Where did it come from?
Jay Northington: It just happens when I yell really hard. I've actually learned how to sing a little better without yelling so much in the last two years.
Scene Point Blank: Are you singing more out of necessity to preserve your voice, or because of what you're trying to do musically?
Jay Northington: I had never really sang too much before Nothington, so it's more a process of discovering different ways to sing. Sometimes yelling is the best thing for a song, and sometimes singing fits the song better.
Scene Point Blank: Was starting Nothington a welcome change after Tsunami Bomb? You weren't an original member so I'm guessing you didn't have much of a say in the songwriting there?
Jay Northington: I wrote nothing for them and, yes, it was a welcome change.
Scene Point Blank: How was it to go from an established band to playing basements again?
Jay Northington: It's not my favorite thing in the world, but I never really deserved that success anyway.
Scene Point Blank: Every time I've seen you perform, outside of the Fest, it has been at a house show. This time through Minneapolis, I see you're playing both the Triple Rock and a basement. Do you have a preference?
Chris Matulich: I like both for different reasons. I love basements with people at eye level and beer cans in their hands. The energy is always built in better at those shows. Clubs sound much better, but it's more serious. It's less personal; sometimes I can't even see people's faces because of the lights in my face. But if the energy is there, and it sounds good, there's nothing better than a packed club with a great sounds system.
Scene Point Blank: Is there anything you'd like to add?
Chris Matulich: Our new record comes out on October 6th! Check it out sucka MC's!
Jay Northington: I feel like Auburn should be ranked this year. Just because Chiszk has no proven record doesn't mean we can't beat Alabama.