Living illegally out of a storage unit so that you can practice with your band all night long – that is serious commitment. Pop punk band Handguns did exactly that while writing and recording their upcoming full length ‘Angst.’ Killyourstereo had a chat with guitarist Jake Langley to hear all about how the record came to be.
Let’s talk about ‘Angst,’ what can you tell us about the record first up?
We wrote the record while living in a ten foot by three foot storage unit in a storage centre. I would work during the day at Wendy’s and swap back and forth between work. Because our families live so far apart in like a four hour triangle, so we weren’t close enough to each other and we wanted to write the record together, we didn’t want to be sending parts or e-mail or anything dumb thing like that. So I said I would get a job in Harrisburg and the other guys can come for two or three days at a time and we would have a place to practice because we could practice all night from seven o’clock in the evening to five in the morning. So sometimes we would stay up all night from sundown to sun up practicing and writing. We wrote about fifty ideas for songs, then we took fifteen into the studio and came out with twelve songs on the record. Twelve songs, no filler, straight up pop punk. I would feel like a douche to call it punk rock.
Seems like a weird way to make a record, would you do it that way again or not?
I didn’t mind it. Right now I’m still living in the storage unit so we can rehearse. You ever go to see a band and you’re stoked as you have never seen them before and you get there and you have paid all this money, drove all this way, waited in line, sat through the other bands and then they sucked? And they were fucking awful and it seemed like they didn’t even practice? We don’t want anybody walking away from our show feeling that way because it’s like you ripped all those people off man. We don’t want anybody feeling like they didn’t have a great time or that we weren’t on point because we love what we do and we want it to come through in our music. So I’m living there again because my parents live like four hours away in the mountains so I got another job down here and a gym membership down the road so that is where I shower. So fuck it.
That sounds like some hefty commitment to your band, a lot of bands find it hard to find such passionate members, it sounds like you guys don’t have that problem?
Our drummer is moving into the storage unit tomorrow so he is doing the exact same thing that I am. Our singer still lives in Baltimore but we don’t need him to practice with us all the time because he is pretty on point. We know what it is that we need to work on and him being here everyday is unnecessary, he also needs to work and he has a job down where his parents are, so me, the bass player and the drummer are going to practice everyday, if your rhythm section is tight then your band is tight.
So you say the album is pop punk, which is a genre that has been around for awhile and people have heard plenty of pop punk bands, how do you guys approach to make yourselves stand out from the pack?
We just wrote twelve songs the way that we wanted to write them, so we wrote parts that we thought were cool and catchy. We’re not re-inventing the wheel, of course we are doing things that people have done before, nothing is ever new, everything is regurgitated, and everything has been done before. If you have heard one pop punk song, you can pretty much figure it out, it’s a genre for a reason. But we also take influences from other places, like nineties music, me and our bassist are super into Alkaline Trio and bands that keep it simple. The coolest fucking songs are the ones with the least chords and catchy vocals. It’s not necessarily how great that guitar is or how cool that drum solo was, are the lyrics something you will remember so that when you put it on you’re like “damn, fuck my ex-girlfriend,” that is what you want a song to do. The crowd won’t sit around going “wow that was a great harmonic,” nobody knows that, they want to say “This is that song they wrote about my ex” something people can relate to, not necessarily re-inventing the wheel and saying we came up with this great new way to play pop punk, y’know just play it. When you listen to hardcore, you want a song that means something and makes you want to punch a hole in the wall, nobody says “wow, what an interesting way to play a break down,” no, it’s all about emotion.
In regards to the actual recording process, did you guys try anything different to how you have recorded in the past on this record?
Nope, we just took out time recording our songs. We worked with a guy named Chris and he knew what he was doing and he gave us a bunch of advice and we took that advice and it worked out. The record sounds great, we love it, we’re happy with it, nothing that we did this time was different, we just took more time. Chris has been doing it longer than any of the other guys we’ve worked with before so that is all it was.
And what is your plan post-release?
Tour. Tour, tour, tour, tour tour.
Will you head overseas?
We’re going to Japan, and clearly I have a bunch of interviews with Australia today so I’m telling every single person, if you want to see us play e-mail Soundwave and tell them you are going to burn down their houses or throw water balloons full of pee at their cars if they don’t put us on.
Okay, why Soundwave?
Well, you know, that or any other tour. Just say you will paintball their houses.
Would you guys consider coming out for smaller non-festival tours?
Absolutely one hundred per cent. It’s all about plane tickets and the money it takes to tour over there, it’s very expensive to tour overseas. It’s expensive to get on a plane and get our merch printed over there. It’s a process but when it makes sense and when we can do it financially we will do it. We don’t really work jobs, we just have the band so when the band is at a point where we can do it we will. We got lucky with Japan where our Japanese record label put up a bunch of money for plane tickets or we wouldn’t even be able to afford to get there so that’s how it happens.
What are you expecting in Japan?
It’s our first time we have ever been overseas. So I’m expecting to have a lot of fun. I don’t know what to expect, I’ve heard a lot of different things from a lot of different people but we’ll see what happens. I’m excited just to be there so I won’t be let down at all no matter what happens.
Beyond this album cycle is it just rinse and repeat with you guys, straight into the next one?
Yep, being in a band, that is all we do.
Finally, you have Pure Noise Records bringing the album out, which should get you a little more exposure down here, how do you feel about that?
I am just excited that it happened and I’m stoked it will be out in another country. We were speaking to a band called Tonight Alive on Warped Tour and they said we should come down and we said the next chance we get we will be, we wanna come.