Boston’s Defeater are one of the most outstanding and meangingful bands that still exist in melodic hardcore today. The band have just released their second full length, the follow up to 2008’s ‘Travels" titled "Empty Days And Sleepless Nights". This month will see Defeater finally hit Australian shores with Perth hardcore long timers Miles Away and Brisbane newcomers Fires Of Waco. I caught up with drummer Andy, who was kind enough to give up the time to discuss the new album, the history of Defeater and touring.
I’m speaking to the drummer Andy from Boston, Massachusetts hardcore band Defeater how are you doing today?
I’m doing alright it’s been a busy couple of days. Just got back from New York two days ago so yeah things are a little nuts.
For those who aren’t familiar with Defeater, could you give us a brief rundown of how the band was formed?
Jay and I started the first version of Defeater with a different band in 2007 and it was just for fun, wasn’t supposed to be anything serious we just wanted to get something together and start sort of a side project to our other bands. We wanted to play some hardcore and got into it a bit, you know played shows, did short tours. The singer from that band Mike left the band when we already had our second record written and recorded, so all the music was done. He took off, we found Derrick and he and Jake collabarated, and all the lyrical content of Travels really turned into something interesting we were all about. That then became Defeater’s first record and from there, we just started to become more of a serious band.
So a month ago you released "Dear Father"on vinyl – the follow up to your full length, how has the overall response been so far?
The response to Dear Father has been unbelievable, I think it’s really been overwhelming. With that first song and the whole response to the new record, it’s been incredible.
What made the band decide to release "Dear Father" as a record? Do you feel like more and more kids are starting to buy vinyl these days?
Absolutely, I mean in our scene vinyl is huge. In the States and Europe people are collecting it and reacting like it’s a huge part of how our band and lots of other bands stay alive, you know we couldn’t hold onto any record we brought over Europe long enough. We’ve been sitting on CD’s for a long time, but vinyl just delivers.
How has your experience been working with Bridge Nine, one of Americas most iconic hardcore labels?
It’s been unbelievable, they are so good to us and are so receptive to all of our ideas. They have been overwhelmingly supportive to our band and our initiative. We’ve been working on this record, and it’s been a little ambitious. When Jay came to them and I said I wan’t to do a double LP, and a 64 page book and all this ridicilous stuff, I think most labels would just say like "kiss my ass". It’s intense, but they are just with us through everything 100 percent. So they’re incredible and supportive.
So the bands brand new album "Empty Days and Sleepless Nights" just dropped only yesterday, are you stoked with how everything turned out?
We are blown away by the reaction we’ve been getting. We go into every record feeling very, very nervous about what’s going to happen because we are in it to make the music that we like, we’re honest about and that mean something to us. That doesn’t always end up being something that other people nescasarilly like, but we’ve been very fortunate and really lucky so far.
Explain how the writing process was for the album?
This one was very different to the last two. Normally Jay and I will basically write all the songs together he’ll come up with guitar riffs and raw structure ideas, then we’ll play it in the basement on drums and clash with all our ideas and create parts. This time around we did it a little different because we didn’t want to repeat ourselves with alot of our old ideas. So what we did we started from the ground up. We started with the drums, so I would physically write alot of parts, come in and get on the kit and just play, play some of the ideas I had written, improvise a lot of stuff. We built on ideas and would essentially figure out what we liked, and what we didn’t like and rewrite alot of the songs and create structure just based on drum parts. From there Jay will write guitar melodies over the drums, and there was alot of assignment and crap that went in after that but that was basically how all the musical structure of the album was written.
What is the concept behind "Empty Days and Sleepless Nights"?
There are alot of concepts that i think Derrick catches on in the lyrical content, but love and loss are two big ones, also interception and self evaluation.
So on your last album Travels there is a hidden acoustic track, but on the album there are four new acoustic tracks. Personally I think they are great, how do you think other fans will react?
So far it’s been a little bit mixed, I think people that understand what we’re doing and appreciate the content of our band will get it. We’re used to it that everybody wasn’t going to be into the songs, but overall people who appreciate our band will really, really appreciate them. I think Derrick especially did an incredible job writing them, and they’re powerful songs. No matter if you like hardcore or not, or what you think of our band I think they are emotional and powerful songs.
I’ve noticed that on the last track of the album "White Oak Doors" at 5:50 it just comes to an immediate stop. Is this just my Bridge Nine download or is it purposely done that way?
That is not a mistake, that is 100 percent intentional. I think people that are interested in that explanation would be caught figuring it out for themselves.
Will this be Defeaters first ever trip to Australia?
Yes, this is going to be our first to Australia as a band, we are so thrilled. We have been wanting to do this for a long time, and the times now, we are very excited.
How have you been preparing for these run of dates?
I don’t think we really ever "prepare" for our tours, there’s a certain bit of nervousness going through us. Like do we have our paperwork, our visas and our flights and all that stuff like what’s going to happen when we get there. That’s really the toughest part, but I think overall we’re just going into this like any other tour and we’re going to absolutely like every minute we’re over there, and be humble that we’re even on another continent, on another side of the world.
Have you had the chance to check out any of the bands you are touring with over here yet?
Yeah i’m pretty familiar with Miles Away, I havent checked out any of the other bands we’re playing with yet. We’ve been pretty busy, but I’m stoked we’re playing with that band and I met one of the Miles Away dudes in Berlin on this last tour. So they’re super nice dudes and we are excited to go on tour with them.
What is your favourite thing about touring in Defeater?
Playing the set every night, Jay and I joke all the time that touring is 23 and a half hours of total misery. I love playing music, I love playing our songs and the vibe from our shows has been incredibly inspiring, it makes going out, flying and being away from home a real exciting thing.
Name 4 albums you can never get sick of?
The Felix Culpa – Sever Your Roots
Russian Circles – Enter
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
What are some new bands we should be looking out for?
So many of our friends bands, Touche Amore, La Dispute who were just over there I know that and I’m sure they were unbelievable. Make Do And Mend I think are one of the best bands that are playing shows now, such good friends and good dudes. There’s a thing called Now, Now on No Sleep Records which Ireally got into, it’s pretty laid back and I’ve been listening to it a lot.
What are the bands plans for the rest of 2011?
Heaps of touring, as soon as we get back we are going on a U.S tour, not doing alot of stuff in the summertime I have to go out to Warped Tour. We are working out our fall plans now, we’re going to get some west coast stuff in, some Canada dates happening and we’ve got some pretty solid U.S touring to handle, but really going to be on the road alot this year.
Alright, I think we better wrap it up. Thanks for doing this interview, I hope to see you at one of the shows.
Cool man, yeah definetly come see what’s up and thankyou for talking to us, take it easy man.