L+T: One of the first things that caught my ear from you was a demo version of the album cut “Such A Sad Puppy Dog,” which had a Tupac sample and also the sample used on Kanye’s “Drive Slow.” What’s on your iPods?
ER: A bunch of stuff, like Tom Waits, Fela Kuti more and more recently. When I was like 15, I listened to a lot of Tupac, Wu-Tang. A lot of kids I knew in school were either hip-hop heads or metal heads and I kind of walked the line. I liked the hip-hop heads—I didn’t like the metal heads so much. So I guess those sort of influences were at the back of my head, so they’re always, like, there.
TM: I’m listening to a lot of Bongwater recently. They’re basically like the best covers band of all-time. But they also got some really good songs that they wrote. I like Big Star and, uh, what’s his name? Slick Rick. Slick Rick’s my favorite rapper.
ER: That “Puppy” song with the Tupac sample, the chorus, the lyrics, they were sort of a reference to Tupac. Content-wise, it’s more about your freedom being sort of taken away from you when you’re given a responsibility. You no longer have the freedom to be what you want to be when you’ve got responsibility to live up to.
L+T: Is being in a band something you guys always wanted to do?
TM: I remember wanting to get a real job and then just being a muscian on the side because I thought if I ever had a career as a musician, it would ruin it for me. [Laughs]
ER: I always kind of wanted it not to be a band, more like a company that produces music and in that way, it leaves you free to do other things. It wouldn’t have to be like, ‘So, what’s your next album gonna be?’ You can talk about other things. I guess at the end of the day, the only reason anyone’s interested is because they like the music. The music is the line. That’s what we’re in New York doing—here on a business trip. We’re here to play a gig. I think we’d all like to do things beyond the music in the future. I’m kind of interested in the film side of things—like putting together the “DIRT” video. Things like that.
L+T: You guys did that video yourselves?
ER: Yeah, yeah. This guy Fil Kaler filmed all this footage and I found it all, downloaded it, and we made those titles with the lyrics. This guy called “Ollie” is an editor and he edited it, because Final Cut’s a real bitch to work, or at least I find it.
L+T: “DIRT” in particular has really strong drums in the beginning and such a big sound. Most bands seem to be going more minimal and quiet, but you guys have a heavier sound.
TM: After we started the “heavy pop” thing off and started thinking about how you would approach music differently so it would feel different—feel like “something”—I started to think all of the music I listen to has a heaviness to it that I didn’t realize before. Either the content or the sound needs to, like, come into you. Otherwise, it’s just like nothing.
ER: For me, when I saw Fucked Up—they played at Manchester—I remember seeing that and wanting to make music as strong as that. I didn’t really like that much heavy music when I was growing up. But define heavy? I didn’t like shit like Pantera where it’s just like, ‘Rawrrrr!’ That’s lame. But, say, like a heavy beat which kind of hits you, I was into that.