[Photo by Kayla Surico]
I arrive to The Vera Project on February 15th, happy to get out of the rain, and holding a box of tea and a bottle of honey in my hands. Not my usual concert essentials. You Blew It!’s tour manager meets me at the door and proceeds to introduce me to Tanner Jones, You Blew It!’s lead vocalist, who was kind enough to give some of his time to talk before the show. We walk into a back room to find members of Tennessee band Free Throw hanging out. “Do you guys know where Cory (Free Throw’s lead singer) is? Someone asked if I could bring tea and honey for him since his voice is shot,” I ask. “Oh yeah! I think he’s out in the van, we can take it to him and let you guys get started in here. Thank you so much!” they reply. After getting situated, which included my clumsy technical difficulties, Tanner and I it down for an interview.
JS: To start off, how has touring with Free Throw and All Get Out been?
TJ: It’s been awesome. We’ve known Free Throw for a really long time but it’s just never really worked out touring with them until now. All Get Out is a band we’ve been fans of for a long time. When I was younger, I went to go see Manchester Orchestra and All Get Out was opening for them. So yeah, we’re really pumped to bring them out.
JS: So you guys recently released a new record, Abendrot, in November. The record definitely explores different sounds and themes. What inspired your transition into a more mellow or controlled sound?
TJ: One thing we got really good at over the past few years is being very loud and kind of maximalist, so it seemed just a little too easy to go in and do that again. Also getting older. we’re playing rooms that have better sound so we can hear things more. We don’t just have to bang out a song that can be heard over a shitty PA in a basement. So those were some of the natural motivators for going this direction. Another thing is, I also think it’s really, really important for a band to change up their sound. It always strikes me as kind of lazy and pandering when bands don’t, so this is just our shot at it.
JS: Lyrically, the album touches on themes of self-doubt and mental illness. Was it hard to write something so vulnerable, or did it just kind of come naturally and end up that way?
TJ: Writing it was really easy, only because all the lyrical content was there just kind of waiting to come out. As far as sharing it, that was kind of hard. Not necessarily with the world, because I think sharing those kinds of things is really important, especially so people going through the same thing can hear it, attach to it, and maybe use as a crutch. The hardest part was actually knowing that people I loved would see it and hear it, people I kept close that didn’t necessarily know that those things were going on.
JS: The word “abendrot” itself loosely translates from German to “after glow” or “sunset glow.” What does that mean to you guys in relation to the album?
TJ: After glow relates to sunsets and sunsets are a really strong metaphor for transition, so that at its surface is really just the main motivation for that. Another one is how the afterglow of the sunset can relate to a type of reflection of the sun on the water and the sky off the clouds and everything. That seemed like a really good metaphor for taking in your external stimuli and either reflecting it or absorbing it in and seeing how you project it, or how it affects you rather.
JS: Also very recently, you guys released a music video for Arrowhead, which was really cool. How was working with Josh Coll of Foxing on that?
TJ: Incredible. We’ve known Josh and Foxing for years. They’ve always been really close to us. We felt we had a really good opportunity to call him in to direct and write a video for us, and it just really worked out with his touring schedule and ours. We had another friend film it and we had another really good friend do costumes for it. It was just a really good experience being able to work with them, and to pay them money for it too.
JS: Speaking of Josh and Foxing actually, one time I saw them start a thread of comparing albums to types of food. If Abendrot was a food of some sort what would it be?
TJ: I like this. This is really fun. I want to say… some sort of gumbo? But I’m thinking it would be cold. A cold food, but not cold gumbo because that sounds disgusting.
JS: I was kind of thinking like a nice warm cup of tea.
TJ: That’s really good. I like that. In my mind, I was kind of going towards a crisp, leafy green salad, but I think that’s a little too crisp. I like the tea metaphor. Can I just steal yours?
JS: Ok, sure.
TJ: But it would be mint tea.
JS: Perfect. I love it. For another fun question, if you got to choose to tour with Smash Mouth or Nickelback, who would you choose?
TJ: Smash Mouth.
JS: Is it because they tweeted you?
TJ: Yes. We have allegiance to them now. We were hoping they would come out to the San Francisco show, but we forgot to ask them.
JS: That’s a bummer. I’ll be waiting on that tour. So is there anything you guys like to especially do or see in the Pacific Northwest or Seattle when you’re here?
TJ: I know it’s cheesy, but we’re fond of this area. It’s called Seattle Center, right? We really like going to the EMP. As far as local spots, we just kind of hang around the venues and take in what’s given to us.
JS: Just to wrap things up, is there anything you guys want to communicate to listeners or have them experience from live performance?
TJ: I really hope people relate to it. That’s the biggest thing that I got out of music growing up. That’s what turned me on to playing music. I think that’s probably the most important attribute of music—just to be able to relate to it, and to know that not necessarily everything that is hard in life is exclusive to you. It’s a really powerful thing and I hope I can have the same role to someone else.
JULIA SCHWAB | I don’t even like tea that much | KXSU Music Reporter