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Q&A: Stick To Your Guns’ Josh James on the Band’s New Album with John Feldmann

Is your seat belt buckled? Because Stick To Your Guns just kicked off a lengthy US trek dubbed Fuck the Message Tour, and they’re bringing along Terror, Hundredth, and Counterparts to a city near you. Be sure to welcome them with open arms because it’s been an interesting past few months for OC’s premier hardcore band. The group recently finished recording a follow up to their 2012 album Diamond with renowned producer John Feldmann, and according to guitarist Josh James, it was one emotional roller coaster ride. We got intimate with James about STYG’s new record, their current headlining tour, and why the first 48 hours with Feldmann nearly gave the band a heart attack.

Why did the Fuck the Message tour almost not happen?

[The tour] almost didn’t happen because we were doing so many support tours over the last couple of years that we kept trying to figure out when we were going to headline. We kept getting great tour offers that we couldn’t turn down. With this tour we said we were going to do it, and then at the last minute we said we couldn’t because we had to get into the studio, and there were a lot of complications with scheduling studio time. Somehow it all ended up working out perfectly where the bands we wanted for support happened to be available. The studio was able to move dates around and it was one of those things that…somehow managed to happen. Our manager had a lot to do with making it work.

Why was it so important for the band to play small venues on this tour?

On this entire record cycle the majority of the tours that we’ve done have been bigger venues, with the exception of one of two tours. We just wanted to do this. I think going out with bands like Motionless in White, The Story So Far, and different types of bands have exposed us to a different audience. All of our die-hard fans have gone out to those types of tours; whether they’ve been fans of the other bands or not, they’ve still come to support us. Sometimes fans might get a little bummed out that there’s a barrier between us and them and still come to support us. It was like “Hey thanks for coming to support us. Now let’s have the craziest wildest shows that we can.” It was something that was like back where we came from and to say thank you to all of our fans.

How did you decide what bands you wanted to take on this tour?

Jesse [Barnett] and Scott [Vogel] from Terror had been talking about doing a Stick To Your Guns/Terror tour for a while. It was just one of those things that was like, if we could get Terror for direct support that would be so awesome because they’re one of our favorite bands, and also because it would be cool to go out with them since it’s been forever. With Hundredth, Counterparts, and Expire — all those bands are great and are doing really well right now. We wanted to make a package for our fans that they would be really into.

What made you finally decide to release Diamond on vinyl?

This is sort of a reissue. All the songs that we recorded in the studio for Diamond are on this vinyl, and there are songs on the vinyl that aren’t on the CD. Plus it has all new artwork. The artwork is super cool; it’s pictures from our personal lives and tours that we’ve done over the years. There are quite embarrassing pictures in there, but since this marks the tenth year of the band, we wanted to do something for our post successful album. I think at this point there are a lot of fans that aren’t aware we have other albums, which is completely fine; because even though the band has been around so long it’s like we’re just starting. We just wanted to do something special for the tour. We are not offering it online and we are not offering it to order through any merch sites. You can only pick it up at the shows. Hopefully that’s more of an incentive for those kids that do come to a show and pick that up to remember that they’re one of the people that went to the show and that’s why they have it.

Could you go into more detail about what Diamond did for the career of the band?

None of us had expectations of what Diamond would do. We just thought this was a pretty cool record and these songs are pretty good. Let’s put this record out and tour on it. Nothing special, nothing different. I think what’s really happened is that the music and lyrics spoke for themselves and our fans really attached themselves to it; and we were able to do a lot of great support tours and play in front of a lot of people that have never heard us. I think it really comes down to the songs just being really good music. We try to put on a good live show, we try to have a good time, and Jesse is passionate about his lyrics and about the things this band stands for. I always think that when you go to a Stick To Your Guns show you get a great performance and you also get a dash of motivational speaking from Jesse. I think that it does a lot for us, and overall it was just the right record for the band and the right people listened to it.

Do you have any summer plans apart from a few overseas dates?

This tour is a little over three weeks long and we’re home for three days before we go to Europe. Then we’re going back in the summer. In August we’re going to be doing some tours around the East Coast and a few other music festivals in New York and Montreal. The next big tour we’ll do in the States, as far as hitting up every city, will be whenever the record will be released. And the record will be released whenever we know what tour we’re going to be doing.

The release of the record depends on the tour?

You don’t ever want to release a record without being on tour. Being on tour is the best way to let everyone know you have new music. The band doesn’t have too much control over when the album gets released; the record label does and the label isn’t going to release it if we aren’t on tour. For now we’re just looking at all of the offers and opportunities that we have. We’ll pick a tour and then the record label will set a release date. It’s kind of frustrating because you record a record three of four months before it comes out — and I have a feeling that this new record isn’t going to be out until after summer. We recorded now because this was just the only time that we had. Now we’re starting to get the mixes but we can’t release them yet. We just have to patiently wait.

What was it like to work with producer John Feldmann?

It was pure insanity. We’ve never worked with a producer like him before. Usually what we do is write all the songs and go into the studio and record them, and the producer that’s there just makes sure we get the good takes. For the most part it’s all finished before going into the studio. We went to the studio with 18 songs, we got there and Feldman was like “You need to write some songs.” For the first couple of days it was like a writing session. It was really weird and took us out of our box. He wanted us to write some songs to the lyrics and melodies — and we write the songs first and put the lyrics and melodies in later. So he made us go out of our box. It was a wild emotional ride for the first 48 hours because we didn’t know if we liked it and we didn’t know if it was the right thing. It definitely wasn’t a safe thing for Stick To Your Guns, but I think that’s the point of the band. We try not to get too comfortable or safe. If you listen to the band’s discography, with each record we take a step further and further outside of the box. It’s the same thing with this new record. It’s a different Stick To Your Guns but it’s the same Stick To Your Guns. The fans that really liked Diamond and understand the point…[they’re] going to love this record.

With the release of the new record are there any goals you wish to accomplish?

We’re not setting expectations because there is really no point. We think that we’ve written a phenomenal record and ultimately the fans will decide if they agree with us or not, so all we’re going to do is the same thing we did on Diamond. We’re going to put out a great record and we’re going to do a ton of touring and have a lot of fun. Hopefully our fans will love the record, go to the shows, and have a lot of fun with us.

We definitely want to tour some places in the world we haven’t toured yet. The band hasn’t been to Southeast Asia. There are some places in Eastern Europe that we haven’t been to yet. We want to write music that people can enjoy, whether it’s something that helps them get out of a hard time or just entertains them and lets them escape from the real world for a minute, or maybe inspires them to change and help make an impact in their community.

Is there anything you’d like to add or want the fans to know?

Thanks to everyone that supported us through the Diamond record cycle. We will see you all on the Fuck the Message tour and I hope you’re all looking forward to listening to the next record. Extra special thanks to all of our fans because we got nominated for best metal album at the Orange County music awards. That was something so unexpected and so out of our realm that we thought it was a joke at first. It was so cool just to see our names on the nominee list. That wouldn’t have been anywhere near possible without all the people that support this band.

Stick To Your Guns tour dates w/ Terror, Hundredth, Counterparts:

Mar 24 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Century Club
Mar 25 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
Mar 26 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
Mar 27 Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
Mar 28 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
Mar 29 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
Mar 30 Patchogue, NY @ Mixtape Festival
Mar 31 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
Apr 01 Syracuse, NY @ The Lost Horizon
Apr 02 Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rosa
Apr 03 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
Apr 04 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Apr 05 Greensboro, NC @ Greene Street
Apr 06 Jacksonville, FL @ Southeast Beast Festival
Apr 07 New Orleans, LA @ The Cypress
Apr 08 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
Apr 09 San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit
Apr 10 Albuquerque, NM @ Blackwater Music
Apr 11 Phoenix, AZ @ Nile
Apr 12 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction

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Blog Features

Evergreen Terrace’s Craig Chaney Opens Up About their First Album in Four Years

Can you believe Evergreen Terrace put out their sixth studio album last month? Since the release of 2009’s Almost Home it’s been constant ups and downs for Jacksonville’s finest hardcore band. But even with a lineup adjustment, a label change, and life getting in the way, guitarist/vocalist Craig Chaney was able to keep it together. He opened up to us about his 13-year career with Evergreen, and why Dead Horses may be their best record yet.

How does it feel to have put out your sixth album, the first in 4 years?

It’s been four years since we put out Almost Home. It feels good. It’s been a long time coming. The writing process has been years. We didn’t even know if we were going to put another record out with Josh [James] leaving the band and Andrew going to school. The band members were taking different paths but then got together and decided that this is what we do; and we decided we hadn’t put out our best work and that we had more in us. That’s pretty much what happened.

Why was there such a huge time span in between records?

A lot has happened with the band in the past four years. From us leaving Metal Blade to members leaving the band. It was great though because our former bass player rejoined the band and our current bass player just move to guitar. It was like old times; it was like a breath of fresh air. It pushed us in the right direction and then we contacted Rise and asked them if they would want to put out a record and they said yes. We were excited about that.

So you pretty much called Rise and asked them to pick you up and they did?

I’ve known a guy at Rise for most of our career, about 13 years. His old band used to tour with Evergreen. It was one of those bands that we toured with where we instantly hit it off. We played South By Southwest a few years ago and we actually played the Rise Records showcase; and at that show and I hadn’t seen him for a few years. We were still on Metal Blade and we just hung out and had a great conversation. He told me that if we ever left Metal Blade and needed a place, just to hit him up. So that’s exactly what happened. When we left Metal Blade and decided to put out another record we decided against a Kickstarter and joined Rise. It was a really fast process and I liked what they did with the label. They stay relevant and they sign all these bands that they like and personally love. So I like the diversity of the label compared to most labels out there.

What’s the record about? Did you have a theme?

We came up with the title of the record several years ago. It was almost going to become the title of our last record Almost Home. It’s kind of an obvious title in a way but it kind of deals with themes of what we’ve been going through in the past four years. Our writing perspective is usually pretty personal but also some of it deals with some social observation and things in our personal life. Things that we’ve been dealing with. Being a blue collar band, stuff that we feel passionate about. We’ve never really written about that before through Evergreen Terrace before. It was nice to have a new perspective and address some of those things.

What was your favorite song off Dead Horses and why?

It’s tough. It’s weird because writing these songs has been a two-and-a-half year process and now that the album has come out, I don’t really know. “Browbeaters Anonymous” was a different approach to songwriting. We also did different tuning on the record. It added to the dynamic. It’s hard, I hear certain songs on certain days and I feel things I can’t really describe. I guess I would say “Browbeaters” was my favorite track.

How has been the feedback been on the album so far?

It has been overwhelmingly positive. I did not expect it from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram — all social media for that matter. You’re going to have the random kids being trolls, but they’re entitled to their own opinion. But for the most part it has been extremely positive, which is great and hopefully everyone else digs it. People were saying it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and I wasn’t prepared for any of this. With Josh leaving the band, it actually left a lot of the songwriting up to me, so it was probably the most personal record I’ve ever done with Evergreen because it was pretty much all on my shoulders, so the responses have been a relief. It’s been a questionable thing when a founding member leaves the band. How is this going to effect the band, the members, how is everyone going to react? Can we stay true to our sound and still try things that we always wanted to try but haven’t? Now I think it’s crazy. Some of our oldest fans are freaking out over the record and I think that’s great.

I was excited to see that Dead Horses was released on vinyl as well as CD.

That’s one thing that’s great about Rise. Every record label we’ve ever been on we’ve always wanted to put a record out on vinyl. Our second album was on vinyl and it was done by some kid who contacted us asking if he could press 200 copies of it and sell them. We told him “Please do!” One of the great things about Rise is that I never have to ask them for anything. Every time I talk to them I have a list of questions and they would always get answered before I was able to ask them. The pre-order bundles they came up with were amazing, it’s crazy. I’m a vinyl geek so I was beyond stoked. Even I have a couple copies coming.

How did this record show your progression since you joined the band?

Evergreen Terrace existed for about six months before I joined the band. They put out a 4-song EP locally and the originally guitar player left the band and I was contacted. I was in a post hardcore band and we were all friends because we grew up in the same scene. The first time I ever saw Evergreen live, I said to myself, “I have to be in this band.” I was fresh getting into hardcore and I was huge into heavy music so when I finally joined I was happy to bring my own guitar style, and to meld it with their punk and hardcore style. I joined and we wrote the first record “Losing All Hope” and it’s been a steady progression. We’ve never had a record produced by anyone. It’s always been self-produced except for the engineer, but we’ve never had someone come in and do the whole production thing “Try this out. Play this better, etc.” It’s never been like that. It’s always been straight Evergreen, even up until now. I feel like through the years, and with experience, we’ve gotten a little better at [writing songs]. I’m happy where we’re at. We took a couple chances on the record. We write something we want to listen to and we aren’t too concerned about what other people are going to like. No disrespect to our fans and long time listeners, but we really just want to write music we like. I actually listen to this record and I haven’t listened to one of records in a very long time. (laughs.)

What’s the plan for Evergreen Terrace now that the record is out? I know you are embarking on a European tour in January.

Yeah! With Suicidal Tendencies which is crazy. We’re doing Europe, Russia, Ukraine, and we’re planning a US Tour right now. We try to go everywhere we can go pretty much. We want to hit up South America and Southeast Asia. Get back to Japan and Australia. It’s all pretty open right now. There’s nothing solidly booked, but we’re definitely going to get back on the road. I think we might even specifically plan a California tour so San Diego would definitely be on the list.

Evergreen Terrace tour dates (Europe):

w/ Suicidal Tendencies, Terror, Strife
Jan 16 Berlin, GER @ Astra
Jan 17 Saarbrucken, GER @ Garage
Jan 18 Oberhausen, GER @ Turbinehalle
Jan 19 Deinze, BEL @ Briellepoort
Jan 20 Paris, FRA @ Bataclan
Jan 21 Wiesbaden, GER @ Schlachthof
Jan 22 Zurich, CHE @ Komplex
Jan 23 Munchen, GER @ Backstage
Jan 24 Hamburg, GER @ Grosse Freiheit 36
Jan 25 Dresden, GER @ Event Werk
Jan 26 Tilburg, NLD @ O13

w/ Strife
Jan 27 Kiev, UKR @ Bingo
Jan 28 Moscow, RUS @ Plan B
Jan 29 St. Petersburg, RUS @ Mod

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Blog Features

To Crowdfund or Not to Crowdfund: Protest The Hero’s Tim Millar Weighs in

Protest The Hero blew everyone’s mind when they crowdfunded $340,000 for their new album Volition. Even the band was shocked by the overwhelming support, especially since their goal of half the amount was raised in just one day. Volition came out a few weeks ago and we caught up with guitarist Tim Millar while on the band’s current tour with Affiance, The Kindred, and The Contortionist. He talked about the new record and offered his reaction to the band’s successful Indiegogo campaign. And what he said might surprise you.

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Everyone Dies in Utah: Did they Change their Sound? The Band Responds to Fan Criticism

Everyone Dies in Utah have been getting some slack for their new sound. The band’s latest album Neutral Ground came out last week, and it’s left a bunch of devout fans unsettled with their new musical direction. Being the nosey rosies that we are, we asked guitarist Keaton Smith to weigh in on all the criticism. And despite what anyone thinks, he says EDIU are just doing their own thing.

What’s different about this album versus the previous two?

It’s a lot heavier. We have a different singer but it’s still Everyone Dies in Utah.

I’ve heard the album and noticed the new sound. Why did you decide to go in a new direction with your music?

Keaton: It’s not necessarily a new direction for us it’s just like us trying to figure out. We write what we like and we don’t try to fit a certain style. We did want to bring more of the synth stuff back.

What was the theme of the album if any?

Not necessarily. I had a basic idea of topics I wanted to write about but I kind of just ended up with certain things that were a little more angry but still had that positive message.

What were some of the topics you covered?

Heartbreak, bullies, just because I’ve seen a lot of that stuff recently and it’s angered me. I feel like if we all came together as people we could stop all that. That’s pretty much what I wrote about on this album.

I’ve been reading comments on Facebook and some of the fans are responding to the new songs negatively. How are you dealing with the negative comments?

Well to me it just seems like it’s more production wise, which I didn’t understand because I didn’t know there were so many audio engineers in this world (laughs). We went to Platinum Recording and so we tracked all real instruments and used all real drums. People are just used to hearing overly produced albums and since we used real instruments it’s just going to take people time to get used to it but we think it will grow on people eventually. Pretty much all the negative comments we’ve gotten were on production.

What’s next now that the album has hit stores?

We’re going to do a small album release tour that starts tomorrow and after that we’re going to start the New Year and promote the cd. On top of that over the holidays we’re actually going to start writing a new album.

Do you have any big tour plans for next year?

Not yet but we are working on getting something big set up for next year.

Are there any goals for the band as a whole or individually as far as music is concerned?

I want to put out another album pretty soon actually which is a pretty big goal… the real goal is to just keep putting music out and constantly doing what we do.

Any message for the fans? Or any last thoughts?

Don’t ever ever cook bacon without a shirt on. Just please let everyone know that.

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Blog

Q&A with Vanna’s Davey Muise: “I used to believe in god but he let me down”

On one of the last stops of Vanna’s U.S. tour with Every Time I Die and The Acacia Strain, our contributor Danielle Bellavance got candid with frontman Davey Muise. The band’s new album “The Few and the Far Between” hit streets this past Tuesday, and it’s the result of “five guys [wanting] to be in [the] band.” In this intimate Q&A, Muise shares secrets of the group’s writing process, tells us how you’re not alone with the bullshit in the world, and sends a bold message to fans.