Features Interviews The Snake The Cross The Crown

Interviews: The Snake The Cross The Crown

Scene Point Blank: How did affect the songwriting or the band, always being in close quarters and then splitting apart? Has it affected your current songwriting?

Kevin Jones: We haven't written any songs since we've been apart and, actually, it's been pretty good for us. Living together made it hard for us to write songs. We spent so much time together it was justâ??there are things that came with it that were positive and negative. You spend enough time with anybody and you'll start to notice their idiosyncrasies and you can start to get cranky when you don't have your space. I didn't have my own room for roughly five years. I don't think I slept by myself for about that same amount of time. We had one room where someone could have it all to themselves and I never got it. Things like that, not having your own private space, and things like working togetherâ??three of us worked togetherâ?? can take its toll. We all hung out together too, partying and having a good time, so it was hard to get in a focused, song writing mode. It wasn't like we all had separate lives and came together at a designated mutual ground to write songs. We had a garage that we could practice in and play in, but that eventually turned into another party room and hang out room, so it was really tough to get everyone focused. We realized that we got cranky when that was demanded, so that had an effect on the songwriting. So the songs certainly weren't sculpted to the degree that the Mander Salis songs were, but we tried to highlight the positive aspects of songs that weren't as sculpted and kind of spontaneous.

Scene Point Blank: Mander Salis had almost two distinct sounds, this folk inspired stuff and a kind of spacey Pink Floyd style. Why did you gravitate more towards the folk style with Cotton Teeth?

Kevin Jones: We had four songwriters so that made it easier to have a really varied songwriting style, so we had very different kind of range. Some of the stuff was similar to our earlier workâ??and we were listening to a lot of the Beatles while still being very Radiohead influenced at the time, which I think made us want to do that really dramatic, sort of minor key rock and at the same we had just gotten into Wilco. I mean we're like everybody else and we're not immune to larger trends. I definitely think a current one is a going back to this Americana sound, even going back to old classical musicâ??American composers, American conductors, ragtime and jazz. I think as an American you kind of identify with that. We kind of noticed that, I think a lot of people noticed that, which made it kind of difficult to not notice and we started identifying with that sound more. All of the songwriters in the band did. We all still had our own styles but we kind of focused on this Americana sound and I don't think it was even a conscious effort to be more concise in our presentation, its just what we were listening to and everything else kind of became focused in that area. Also the songwriting was kind of quick; we didn't spend a lot of time.

Scene Point Blank: For Cotton Teeth or your first album?

Kevin Jones: Actually either one, we had trouble really working as a group. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's not so we realized sometimes we work best if we're just really spontaneous about it. For this record we kind of went with it and didn't try too hard and didn't strain. That kind of came out on this record, we found a lot of variations on a G chord that we found we were happy with and kind of folksy stuff. I don't know a whole lot about music, but I know enough that that kind of influenced us. The ease of those things and the influence of Americana got us writing we could be happy about.

Scene Point Blank: Speaking about Americana, on your Myspace your location is set to Transamerica, which is interesting because in my review I described a lot of the material on Cotton Teeth as road songs, stories that could only be told after seeing America. How did these songs come about?

Kevin Jones: Definitely; that's entirely true. We wrote these songs with being on stage in mind with some respects. With Mander Salis a lot of those songs we written in the studio and we didn't tour. We didn't know what it was like to play the same songs every night. We didn't even play that many shows, we played a lot in our garage, but didn't know was it was like to play the same songs over and over. Having done that affect the kind of songs we wanted to play. That and just being on the road in general along with growing up and having the burden of responsibility; those things really shaped these songs.

Scene Point Blank: When will you start touring for this album? I haven't seen any dates?

Kevin Jones: Yes. We just finalized a tour with Mewithoutyou and Piebald and a band called Manchester Orchestra. And that should be nice; I think we'll be the only band kind of doing what we do. We really like Mewithoutyou, they kind of do a similar thing, but in a totally different sphere of music, plus we really like them as people. That starts at the end of May and goes until the end of June I think.

Scene Point Blank: I think the first time I heard you was when you were on tour with Mewithoutyou and Owen.

Kevin Jones: Yeah that was a first real tour and we had a lot of fun with those guys so we're excited to hit the road with them again.

Scene Point Blank: Actually thinking about it, I think that's where I got tripped up thinking you had gotten substantially more popular. The first time Owen was headlining over you and the next time Owen played main support to you.

Kevin Jones: Yeah I think a lot of people thought we were a lot bigger than we were. We had a really poor draw on the road which is always disheartening I think. It made hard for us to stay on the road; it made it seem as if we weren't really having any affect. We were ambitious, we wanted to be a bigger band that was taken very seriously. We didn't see a lot of other bands in the same place as us, starting where we were starting, doing the same thing and had achieved that, which was also disheartening. I think in a lot of ways we kind of gave up and wanted to think about it rather than keep on doing what other people thought was a good idea. I think it some ways we didn't have faith in other people's plans and we made a choice and did what we thought we had to. It is what it is I suppose.

Scene Point Blank: Around the time Mander Salis came out, I saw you on tour with groups like Owen and Hot Rod Circuit, bands sort of associated with the indie and rock scenes. Based on the sound of this album it sounds like you'd almost be better suited for outdoor festivals like Bonnaroo than something like a punk/emo thing like Bamboozle or the Warped Tour. Are you planning on doing any of those type of shows?

Kevin Jones: Certainly, that's a dream of ours. I think we all kind of identify ourselves with bands that we don't get to tour with. Being on Equal Vision is nice, they're some of the greatest people in the world, but it doesn't always help us to get on tour with bands similar to ourselves so its difficult to break into that, which is one of the reasons we were nervous with the shows were doing before, which is what I meant with our trajectory; it didn't seem like it was going to do anything that was going to break us in to that kind of crowd. I guess we thought that maybe writing a new record would, so it seems like maybe it will happen with the new record but there's no real evidence that its definite, but it's something we're all hoping for.


Interview: Scottie

Graphics: Matt.

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Words by Scottie on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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Posted by Scottie on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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