In 2010, scene favourites From First To Last announced that they were going on hiatus. In that same year, an engineer at Oceanic Recording, Taylor Larson, was working on Periphery’s 2010 self-titled album. Those two completely different events have seemingly no connection, yet when From First To Last reformed, and when Larson joined up as the rhythm guitarist, his connection with Periphery singer Spencer Soleto made for a truly grand opportunity. And so it goes, Soleto joined up with the reunited band, taking on the job of main vocal duties, which were once held by Sonny Moore. Last week, the fruits of From First To Last’s labour dropped from the tree of anticipation and ‘Dead Trees’ was released unto the world. With From First To Last, who have a new lease on life, being so busy over the past year or so, we spoke with the band’s guitarist/co-vocalist/songwriter, Matt Good.
Hey Matt, how are you today man?
Hey there Alex, I’m doing well thanks.
Good to hear man, what are you up to today?
Just in the studio right now, just getting ready to mix down this record that I’ve been working on for the past couple days.
Sweet man, before we get into all of the questions, I’m wondering if you and the rest of band are big Harry Potter fans, as you’ve got the song ‘I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good’, and you guys used some the theme music in a teaser video last year?
Oh yeah, we’re big Harry Potter fans (laughs). It’s funny, we have been fans forever, since like 2005 we used to walk out on-stage with the Harry Potter music as our opening theme.
Oh cool man, are you excited for the new planned movie trilogy that’s starting next year?
Definitely! I’m not one of those people that’s like, “Oh no, you can’t make anything new!’ I don’t give a shit, if it’s a Harry Potter I’ll watch it.
Right on Matt. So let’s get into it. I imagine it was quite surprising to have your Kickstarter goal exceeded after having over three years off for the hiatus?
It really did. I was honestly thinking that I’d just put this out with no expectations, which is honestly the better way to do something, in all of life. Then people started supporting it, and so we had money, we can go make a CD, that’s a good start. Then people started joining the band, like Taylor [Larson, rhythm guitar], Ernie [Slenkovich, drums] and Spencer [Soleto, vocals] and now we had money, a whole band; let’s make a really sick record. I feel like you want to live up to the expectations of the people around you, at that point you have to deliver.
It must have been massively humbling to have so many people still care?
Absolutely man. It made me feel very, very happy. It can be a very hard feeling to describe, like “It’s sick, people still love me”. But for me, it’s crazy to think that something I’ve done my entire adult life, something that I’ve sweat and bled for, still means enough for people now to come together and say, “Yes, do this!” It’s a crazy feeling.
With the new versions of the three singles, I’m wondering if there were more old songs re-recorded or just those three?
There are actually a few more we’ve recorded, but they’re not fully done yet. I think three is enough. There is a song called ‘Failure By Designer Jeans’ that we re-recorded and it was never on an album, it was just on a compilation called Punk-O-Rama [specifically number 10, the final compilation] back in the day. I think we’ll release that one, and we did a live jam version of ‘Emily’ that we’re messing around with, but I don’t know if we’ll release that one.
This is kind of a weird question, but have you ever thought about what would have happened if Taylor didn’t know Spencer and if he hadn’t of joined the band?
(Laughs) that is a weird question, I feel like things in life happen for a reason, even if you don’t understand them. But I’ve learned to go with the flow, to take signs from life and to really trust my instincts.
If they had never come into the picture, then I suppose we wouldn’t have made the album. We probably would have just made the EP that we were originally planning on making. I do think that would have been good, but with as much input that I have in the band, I do value the group effort. I think that you are only as strong as the people you have around you. I’ve written a lot of music in my life that I’ve loved, but I don’t think you can be your best without people around you. I feel that From First To Last’s evolution over our career has been a reflection of who has been involved. I’ve always been the source material guy, but there are so many things that happen past that point. Like songs will take on different character due to the people involved, so it definitely would not have been the record we have now, and I am super happy about the record we have now.
Well as you said, it takes the people around you, and you’ve got some strong people around you to help, especially with Spencer. Speaking of which, are you a fan of Periphery’s music?
For sure man, I think they’re a great band.
Yeah, I really dig them too. When I heard that Spencer was doing vocals, I was really caught by surprise.
Our bands is one of those bands that was a gateway to people who had never heard metal or hardcore before. We had like just the right amount of metal and pop in our music to make kids be able to accept it. I’ve met people in heavier bands who have told me they used to listen to us in high school, and I just think, “Holy crap, there’s no way you liked my band”. Spencer’s told me that he used to listen to the band all the time, which is just awesome, and I think he’s a really talented guy, he rules.
That’s awesome to hear dude! Excluding ‘I Don’t Wanna Live In The Real World’ and ‘Back To Hannalei’, a lot of the songs are quite heavy, and I’m wondering if you would agree with me that this record has the heaviest songs you’ve written?
I probably would agree with that. We definitely hinted to heaver stylings on our second record, ‘Heroine’, but they were progressive and heavy…but there was a different vibe. On our last album, ‘Throne To The Wolves’, yet again, it was aggressive and heavy but it didn’t have the same vibe. Again, I think that’s down to the group. I think the way that Spencer sings over these songs really helps to sell the marriage of the heavier stuff and poppier stuff. Then we have Travis and Spencer going back and forth, screaming their heads off, and then Spencer ripping these awesome melodies, it just all comes together in this big melting pot.
Yeah, it’s a solid mix for sure. With the band, and I know you guys may not even know the answer to this, do you think the band will continue on consistently from now, or is too soon to tell?
I think at this point, there is nothing to stop the band from making music. Now, more then ever because of our personal situations, we could make songs for the next tangible how many years. Because not only do I have a studio, but Taylor has a studio too, and with the technology the way it is now. Those remakes, they were recorded in like three different places. I recorded my guitar leads and vocals here in my studio, awhile Taylor was tracking the bass and drums at his place. The fact that we can do that means that there’s no reason why we can’t keep making music.
Sweet, I do hope to see the band continue on man. I’m a bit curious, did Sonny show any interest in being involved with the band for this time round, or has he reached out regarding the announcement and the release of the new album?
Yeah, I have actually spoken with him for the first time in a while. I mean, as far as his involvement with us, I always say the same thing because we’re all on good terms and we have a lot of respect for each other, the door is always open. I’ve always said that, and if we ever do anything together, I think there are better odds of us collaborating together in the future then there isn’t. But, you know, nothing is ever for sure (laughs). So who knows?
We’ve had so many different members in the band I feel like it’s almost a thing with our band. I’ve always thought of us as being a weird travelling hippie band. We used to have a keyboard player in our band named Chris [Lent], we don’t even have keyboard parts, we just wanted him in the band cause he’s a really cool dude.
(Laughs) so it’s just always been like that. I’ve never taken the whole member thing that seriously; I just wanted to be with people whom I thought were really creative and positive forces.
If Sonny wanted to come back and put some really cool, crazy sounds or record a vocal on a song, I’m totally down for that.
That’s very true, and hey, a mash up of Skrillex and From First To Last would be insane.
Yeah, exactly! I just really like to keep myself open minded. I hate how serious some people have to take music. Like if a band wants to make a different kind of song, then who the fuck cares? Music is like the only thing they do, they should write whatever they want, and it’s like their whole life.
Couldn’t agree more man. Well with that Matt, that’s all I’ve got for you, thanks for doing this, it’s been really cool.
Oh, awesome man. It was very nice talking to you.
‘Dead Trees’ is out now through Sumerian Records, and you can read our review of it here.