Rochester, New York’s Such Gold have gained a huge fan base in just a few short years, only increasing with the 2012 release of their debut full length, Misadventures. The band toured Australia recently as part of the Soundwave line-up, and Killyourstereo.com caught up with guitarist Nate Derby to discuss the tour, as well as the band’s plans for new material.
Last time you were in Australia it must have been a pretty different experience to being on Soundwave this time.
Yeah, it’s a complete 180, we did DIY shows last time and played random venues. We played the Annandale in Sydney. We played two shows in Melbourne, one of them was at a venue that’s closed down now that was more centralised and downtown, can you think of what it might be?
Yeah, the Arthouse, that was a really cool place. Actually three venues that we’ve played here have closed, or will close. The Step Inn in Brisbane is closed now, we played there. But anyway, we don’t usually do festivals, we’re not really a festival band and we haven’t really been getting festivals, we haven’t really been in that position. We’re getting more now, which is cool, so we’re starting to get used to that kind of vibe. But I mean, we’re staying in hotels, we’re flying everywhere – the last time it was like we were sleeping on floors and driving twelve hours to the next show, with two vans, and all of our gear. So it’s just a completely different set-up than what we did last time.
I was going to mention that actually – since you were driving, did you get to see more of Australia last time?
Absolutely, which was really cool. I mean we saw more than probably what most Australians see. I don’t know how much you guys travel – I bet you travel a lot – but you know, going through the bush and driving through really weird desert, with a lunar landscape that was just so fucking weird… I think from Melbourne to Adelaide, it was just wild shit that we were driving through. So it was cool to see all that, because normally we wouldn’t. Most bands come and they fly everywhere, but doing it by a van was good for the first time… wouldn’t want to do it again (laughs). The drive was so brutal. Every drive was six to twelve hours minimum. We did Melbourne to Adelaide, twelve hours, and right after the show we got back in the van and did another twelve hours back to Melbourne, played another show there, twelve hours back to Sydney… so it was really rough.
Have you seen much this time around?
We’ve been mostly downtown typically, which is nice. I got to see parts of Brisbane that I hadn’t seen before, like the general area there, that was really nice. Melbourne, I basically walked to Lord of the Fries and back, that was about it. And just kind of in the general area that we’re in, kind of explore that and not really much else. Sydney though, I took a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach which was really sweet, so I got to see all that kind of stuff again but see different pieces. I didn’t go to Bondi, we did that last time, but yeah, mostly just hotel, show, plane, hotel, a little bit of the city, but we’re not doing too much sightseeing. Sydney though, we have to, there’s so much to see.
Oh, what about Melbourne?!
Oh I’m sure there is (laughs). I’m not as familiar with what’s here I guess. And I want to see Perth because it’s so far and we’ve never been there.
You kind of get the best of both worlds with Soundwave, but do you generally have a preference between festivals and club shows?
Definitely club shows, because that’s what we were raised on. Like when we used to go to shows as kids, I never used to listen to the bands that would play the arenas, I listened to bands that would play the under the 600-cap rooms. That’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to play those kinds of settings. Even a 2000-cap room, the stages are a little bit too big, I never get the sound I want off the rest of the band, it’s just not as intimate, there’s a barrier. It’s just not my style. I just like smaller rooms with tons of people, everyone just crowded in – the energy is higher, everyone gets sweatier and crazier, it’s just a different vibe than playing a festival. If we were playing in front of two or three thousand people at a festival, you can kind of feed off that energy, but when you’re playing in front of a hundred people in a festival setting, there’s just no energy to feed off. The sidewave shows, we really kind of feed off that tight energy in the room.
So are you guys working on new material at the moment?
We’re trying to work on new stuff while we’re on the road. I have an iPad and a little interface I can plug into and if I have an idea I can get it out really quickly. Then I can let it sit and come back to it later and hopefully write a song out of it. So I have a lot of that stuff saved away ready to go, ready to be written. I know Ben and Skylar are the same way, and Jon, our new bass player, also. He’s a very talented guy. He just produced two of our new songs that we’ve recorded, he works at a recording studio in Brooklyn and he is going to be essential when it comes to writing this next record. He’s going to really help us hammer out the details, writing second guitar parts on top of the structure we already have written. So we have maybe one or two songs structure-wise, written, ready to go. I think this summer, hopefully we’ll get a lot more written. I would like to go into the studio, probably by the end of the year and have a record out by early spring or late winter next year at the latest. It’s going to be time by then to have another record out, it’s already been eight or nine months since Misadventures came out, so it’s time for some more material.
You say you have stuff saved at the moment. How does that writing process usually work?
I mean, we’re a punk band, it’s all typically guitar based music so I write a riff and the riff is formulated into a song. I have maybe half a song written, an idea for it, and I take it to Devan, our drummer, and work things out from there. And from there we kind of work out where we want the song to go. It always starts with guitar and drums and then the others come in. The lyrics and vocal melodies are typically the last thing we do. I don’t know how bands start with lyrics, that’s just not how we do things, and most bands that are in our genre, sort of like punk bands, usually start off with a riff and you turn it into a song.
So, Misadventures kind of steered away from the pop punk sound of your earlier stuff.
Yeah, we kind of started with that and quickly moved away from that.
Are your influences more in hardcore and melodic hardcore then?
Yeah, I mean we’ve been saying our three biggest influences would be bands like A Wilhelm Scream, Propagandhi and Strike Anywhere – just like fast melodic punk bands. I mean, we listen to a ton of stuff, but mostly just heavy shit, and we’re kind of trying to get a lot of that out and into our music. I think people consider us to be more of a pop punk band because of Ben’s voice, even though he does a lot of the yelling or whatever, the singing style kind of fits in with more of a pop punk vibe, and I think a lot of people sort of listen to the lyrics and the vocals and attribute a lot of that to our sound rather than what we’re doing sonically and tonally with guitars and drums and all that. But we definitely put ourselves in more of a category like melodic hardcore or melodic punk, that’s the kind of stuff we listen to. We don’t listen to pop punk really. I mean, I liked Saves The Day, you know, ten years ago, and I think Living With Lions would be considered a pop punk band and I love those guys. But most of the modern pop punk bands that we’re associated with, we don’t. We’re into fast punk, heavy stuff, typically, that’s what we listen to.
So Misadventures was more the record that you really wanted to make.
Yes, yes. Like the first song I wrote, the song Two Year Plan, that’s probably the most accessible, pop punky kind of song on the record, but the record slowly gets darker and darker in the songwriting and in the tones and everything. Kind of like Pedestals, our last EP, we wanted it to be more of a step in the hardcore direction, and even further with this record. So I don’t think the next record’s going to be straight hardcore or whatever, there’s going to be a lot of different things going on, but any time we go to write new songs we just get ideas out that we’ve wanted to for a year or two and just haven’t been able to. Because it takes us so long to write a new record, we build up a lot of these different ideas, and whatever comes out comes out, so who knows what the next record’s going to sound like. It’s probably going to be a lot like Misadventures I’m sure, where there will be heavy, fast stuff, and maybe some slower, more melodic stuff. I don’t know, we’ll see.
You’ve said that the first record took about a year to write. Do you think you’ll take your time with the next one or is there more pressure this time around?
Yeah, I mean like I said, we’re kind of slowly writing now. There’s no real pressure right now. There was a time in June, about two Junes ago now, we put ourselves into a practice space because we had more pressure on us because we thought we were going to record, and thank god we ended up waiting a while because otherwise it wouldn’t have turned out as good. But when we’re under pressure we do way better, but not having a deadline or anything set right now has been a lot more relaxed. We are going to set ourselves a time in the summer when we’re going to get together and just bang out a few songs hopefully, but yeah, it’s really relaxed right now, we’re not under any pressure.
Steve Evetts produced the record and he actually contacted you guys, is that right?
Yes, that’s right. You’ve done your research, which is very nice (laughs). That’s great. Yes, we got signed to Razor & Tie and somehow he got wind of just our early material and he contacted them said, "I want to do their next record." From what I understand that’s how it worked. And we kind of got on the phone with him and touched base on what we were all thinking and it just kind of made sense. We were going to go with somebody else, a smaller producer, and because we signed to Razor & Tie we had a bigger budget, and they wanted us to go with a bigger producer, and we were fine with that as well. It was time to work with a bigger name, somebody who had more experience than anybody we’d ever worked with. And Steve Evetts was perfect, he’s done so many records that we’re all in love with – the bands themselves and the way the records came out, we wanted that kind of feel. If Misadventures was with anybody else it wouldn’t have been as good I don’t think. It’s tough to say, but you know. I think we’d go back with him. We do want to explore other producers, there are other people that we want to work with. So I don’t know if we’ll work with him again, I would like to, but unfortunately he’s so far away from us, which is kind of a pain in the ass. He’s in California, so we had to drive out there, which is across the country so…
Oh okay, so you guys still live in Rochester?
Yeah, it’s like an hour and a half from Canada basically, so it’s way up there. It’s way up there. We’re six hours from New York City, and we have to explain that to people too. It’s not New York City. Jon lives in Brooklyn so he enjoys that, and I think Devan also really likes it there but it’s not my kind of vibe at all. I like living in Rochester, it’s a small city and I’m used to that, I want to stick with that.
It must give you a lot of confidence working with someone like Steve Evetts on your first album.
Oh absolutely, we were blown away, it was an honour that he even considered us. And like I said, it made sense to go with him. Anything else would have been not as good, I believe that.
I know you’re not part of Taking Meds, but do you know how that project came about?
Yeah, three of the guys, Ben, Skylar and Jon started the band. I think it’s the same kind of deal – Ben writes a song and everything else is formulated around that. And he just had some material that he was working on for a long time and it just wasn’t really appropriate for Such Gold, and he was really hell-bent on starting something else. He loves playing guitar and he doesn’t get to in this band. Sometimes I don’t play shows for one reason or another and he gets to play guitar and he loves it, so he wanted a band where he could play guitar and sing, and kind of get that aspect off his checklist. He’s got Skylar and Jon on board, which is great, and Skylar’s writing a lot of the vocal melodies and the lyrics, and then their buddy Matt Battle, who they’ve known for years and have always wanted to do more shows with or play in a band with, he’s playing drums, so he’s perfect for it. I’m actually trying to book those guys personally. I’m trying to get my foot in the door as a booking agent, if I could make that work for myself. So I took on Taking Meds and we’re trying to book a tour so we’ll see how that goes.
Do you have any side projects or anything that you’re working on?
I would like to. I listen to a lot of stoner rock and stuff, so I kind of want to start something a little bit heavier, more in that vein. I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with anything; everything I’m writing is more Such Gold appropriate. I’m married, I have a house, my wife doesn’t really want me to do anything else – if I’m not doing Such Gold, I need to be working. I actually don’t have a job either, so I need to find a job. I don’t have anything that I’m working on, I’d like to but I don’t know if it’s going to work out. So we’ll see if I have time for it.
Do you know what’s in store for the rest of the year? You seem to be touring constantly.
Basically, yeah. Because we’re not doing Warped Tour, we were kind of hoping that our summer would be mostly free just to have a nice summer at home for the first time in years, to focus on writing and getting jobs and stuff. But we’ve had some really good offers come up, I can’t say what they are because nothing’s confirmed or announced at this point, but we do have some really cool plans for the summer in the US. It’ll be all US stuff, we’ll go to Canada as well. As far as coming overseas again, I don’t see it personally for this year, but next year we’ll do the same run – UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, ideally.