Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with Pat Graham of Spraynard

I’m so fucking happy to finally be posting this interview. So Spraynard made the punk record of the century and I'm absolutely infatuated with this album and I highly suggest that you download it for free from IfYouMakeIt if you haven’t already and BUY IT  from Asian Man Records. One of the best release in a really long time. They're going to take over the world. And they are pretty nice guys.
Thanks to Pat for being so generous and not getting too annoyed at having to exchange so many emails with me over the last few weeks.

Spraynard - Spooky, Scary from If You Make It on Vimeo.

Hey guys! how are you? How's West Chester?

Hey homie!! West Chester rules. We're all relaxing after our 6 week tour and kicking it hard - summer style.

Funtitled has been out for just about a two month now. How has the reaction been from fans?

The reaction has been so far beyond our expectations. Granted, our expectations were pretty low considering we stink, but have been so blown away by how stoked everyone has been on Funtitled. We kind of thought we would release it, and things would stay the same, but there's definitely been a much stronger and positive response towards our band lately. It's something we're not used to, but super honored to receive.

How would you compare this album to prior releases for fans that have yet to check it out?

I think we definitely tried to clean up our sound a bit with Funtitled. With our older stuff, we kind of just wrote songs as quickly as possible and made sure they were super honest and raw. With Funtitled, the songs are still honest, but we spent tons of time focusing on each part of each song and each lyric, etc. All in all, Funtitled is just more thought out and finely tuned than our other releases.

WMC Fest - Spraynard from Weapons of Mass Creation on Vimeo.

How did you guys enjoy your time in the studio? Who have you been recording with?

Our time recording Funtitled was so awesome. We recorded it with Mike Bardzik who recorded a lot of our favorite West Chester bands from the past. He has a studio right in West Chester, so it was great to be able to just drive two seconds and hang out in a crazy nice studio. Mike had so much good input for the record and we had such a blast making stupid jokes with him. If I could, I would repeat that process forever.

How does the band go about writing material?

Hmm... Well, I guess it depends. Sometimes one of us will come to practice with a whole song written, and then we'll usually all adjust different things about it to try and make it as rad as possible. Most of the time, one of us will be like "oh, I thought of this cool part." We'll play some sort of thing, and then just work off that. I know that sounds simplistic, but we've been playing together for so long that we all kind of just know where the other person is going to want to take it. It's usually a really fun process, but sometimes we definitely get frustrated when we can't work out a song.

What are your thoughts on the finished product?

Personally, all humbleness aside, I love it! We worked so hard on Funtitled, and I couldn't be more pleased with how it came out. Most of the time, after we record, there's things that we are able to pick out and be like "Ugh, I wish we did that differently" or something like that, but I know all of us think Funtitled came out just the way we wanted it to. It really sums up our lives right now in a perfect way.

Funtitled is also your first release on Asian Man Records. How has it been working with the label so far?

MIKE PARK IS THE GREATEST PERSON ON THE PLANET. I cannot say that enough. We take our decisions as a band very seriously and we like to make sure every decision is ethical and fits the ideals of our band. We talked to Mike for about five minutes and already knew Asian Man was the perfect fit for Spraynard. Mike is the friendliest guy you'll ever meet. He runs his label in the most honest and rad way possible. He runs it out of his Mom's garage and loves his life. What more could you ask for??

The band has put out two LP’s in two years. Are you going to try to do something next/this year?

We're not totally sure what the future holds as far as releases go. We're tossing around the idea of releasing an EP either late this year or early next year. We definitely love doing LPs, so it might inevitable to write one fore next year. But in the end we really have no idea right now. We're just kicking back and watching Friday Night Lights for now.

Spraynard- "I Care Not" from Jason Swiniuchowski on Vimeo.

So you guys just finished up a bunch of tour dates in u.s.. How’d they go? Any interesting road/tour stories?

The tour was so incredible. Six weeks is the longest we've ever been on tour. All three of us grew up together and are pretty much inseparable. Recently, we've all been in school and working a lot, so we don't get to hang out as much. We really excited to spend six weeks together. And, despite what all of our friends predicted, we had nothing but a good time! I talk to a lot of people in bands that tour, and often they seem to be like "Man, it was fun, but it was hell. We fought all the time." Luckily, that has never been an issue for us. We get in arguments, but we're mostly just psyched to be around each other.
As far as funny stories go, my personal favorite is that of my shoes. While it's not too exciting of a story, it was super funny at the time. I only brought one pair of shoes on the tour (which I still think is entirely appropriate). One night in Santa Cruz, CA, our buddy Sean and I were wrestling on the beach and threw each other into the ocean. Our clothes were soaked, so he and I placed our shoes and socks on top of the van to dry overnight. Little did we know Mark would be heading to the hospital at 2AM that night for unbearable pains in his abdomen (a story for another time). Well, obviously my shoes flew right off the top of the van. As I walked around Santa Cruz shoeless for a bit searching for them, Mark eventually agreed to buy me new shoes. The kicker of the story is that somehow Sean's shoes still rested on top of the van in the morning. Needless to say, he gloated in my face the rest of his stay with us on the tour.

Spraynard also played select dates on AMR 15 Anniversary. How was your time our on that?

It's really hard to put into words how much playing that fest meant to us. It is unbelievable enough that we are lucky enough to have released something with one of our favorite labels growing up, but to be surrounded with so many good people that create some of the best music around right now... it was just beyond comprehension. Sometimes I find myself reflecting on how insane that was. Our lives rule!

What about a favourite band to play with?

Wow, that's a tough question! We played with so many great bands. I would say my personal favorite band of the tour was Criminal Culture from Tampa, FL. Not only are these dudes some of the sweetest people we've ever encountered, but they are so freaking good at playing heartfelt pop-punk. It was really hard to leave Tampa.

 What’s the best or most memorable gig you have played?

We've actually asked ourselves this as well! We rarely ever come up with a concrete answer. I think the show that pops into our heads the most often with this questions is our show in Wales, UK. Our UK tour was so surreal in the first place, but at that show, kids just went absolutely crazy. Our friend Sean jumped off the top of a balcony into the crowd at one point. It was just amazing to see so many kids giving a shit about our crappy band. I think that show was definitely a turning point as to how we viewed punk rock in general.

Do you play mostly basements or venues? Preference?

Basements! We always prefer basements. There's nothing wrong with venues or bigger shows, but it's just always more of a personal experience when we play house shows. We were brought up in a scene that emphasizes the equal parts of the band and the audience. To us, there should be no divide. When you play bigger venues, it typically makes  you feel as if you are more important than the kids watching the show, which is fucked up. We are all equal participants in punk rock, and the show should reflect that. That being said, there are a lot of great DIY, all ages venues in America that promote that idea. Obviously, playing those places rules as well!

What do you do outside of Sprayanrd? Do you guys have day jobs?

Up until recently, all three of us worked at an arcade. Dos and Mark still work there, but I quit and have just been chilling out for a bit. Considering our power got shut off briefly the other day (due to an unpaid bill), I am frantically searching for a new job. We also all attend school, so Spraynard tends to slow down a little bit during the school year.

How do you think the Wst Chester punk/hardcore scene is looking right now? Do you have any local bands that might not get a lot of attention from that area you'd suggest checking out?

West Chester is constantly (slowly) growing as far as the punk scene goes. We are doing tons of shows at our house throughout the year, we've got a few DIY spaces in the works to do shows at, and more and more kids keep popping up at shows. I'm not sure if Spraynard has anything to do with any of that, but we are definitely always trying to build the scene in West Chester. It's great to have Philly so close by, but there's nothing more exciting than watching the town you grew up in thrive. We've even snatched some Philly kids who are moving to West Chester! TAKE THAT PHILLY!!!
As far as bands go, I have been trying to tell everyone about Nona lately. Awesome pop-punk in the vein of Superchunk and Green Day. Also, Failed Attempts at Facial Hair. FAAFH is our friend John who writes acoustic jams that possess some of the most mind boggling lyrics I've ever come across. If you met him, you would never believe he wrote these songs. Total goof.

If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?

As predictable as this may be, Iron Chic is my current favorite band. Some of the most incredible songwriting I've heard in years. They are also all buddies of ours, so I would love to see that happen. As far as bands I love and don't know, Joyce Manor rules. And if we're getting into "all time dream" status - Green Day/Pinhead Gunpowder... either/or.

Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics?

Yep. I mean, there's a time and a place for everything, but personally I am only interested in bands that have a code of ethics. They don't have to write songs about it or anything, but I think the most important part of being in a band is being good people. Take The Weakerthans for instance. They don't necessarily sing about personal politics or anything, but they are all good people and John K. Samson is always speaking up about things he believes in outside of the band's music. Also, take that band Odd Future. They are painting themselves as "alternative" people with like, radical mindsets - but, in reality, they sing about terribly offensive things and present themselves as hate-fueled jerks. No thanks.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

That's a tough question, indeed. Since I just talked to my friend about this the other day, I'll go with the current lack of interest in radical thinking. When I got into punk, the music was just as important as the politics. My gateway band was Operation Ivy, and it was impossible to read their lyrics and not walk away pissed and ready to start a revolution. As I go to shows nowadays, it seems like most of the kids at shows have no idea what they're actually there for (at least in Philly/surrounding areas). I mean, I'm definitely painting with very broad strokes right now, but my genuine vibe at shows is that kids are into the bands, but they are not taking away the ideals and values being portrayed by said bands. It seems like kids are just looking to have a good time and not worry about pushing it further than that with punk rock. Having a good time rules, don't get me wrong, but punk is more than just singing your favorite songs with your friends at shows. It's about finding what's fucked up with the world, and trying your damnedest to change it. And it's about not being ashamed of what you are... being a punk is the best thing in the world! If you're feeling pissed about something, scream it from the rooftops. Maybe not everyone will listen, but someone will, and that's all that matters. I'm not sure if I'm articulating that correctly, but hopefully you know what I mean... ha.

What else does the future hold for Spraynard?

Well, we're not going to break up. Other than that, we have no idea! We will probably keep playing shows, keep writing songs, keep touring, and keep loving every minute of it. Then we're going to do a concept album about the Kennedy shooting.

 Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank YOU, buddy! I would just like to say that doing these interviews means so much to us. It's just so crazy that people are interested in what we have to say. Also, I want to say that what you're doing RULES! It's rad to see people finding new ways to participate in the punk scene. So yeah, KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON!!!

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