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!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview with Tony Clark of Prawn!

I’m going to say it right now, truthfully and sincerely, loud and clear and for all to hear- Prawn is simply the best band I’ve heard in a long time and I’m so fucking happy to finally be posting this interview. In the interview we discuss their euro tour, future plans and more. Thanks to Tony who was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions. 
Read up it bellow.
Make sure to pick this up from Topshelf Records, as they do fantastic work releasing beautiful records.

Hey Tony! How are you doing?

Hey Vanya. I'm doing well, thanks! I just started classes today for my last semester as undergrad. Pretty excited about life in general!

First off, introduce yourself and members of the band.

My name is Tony and I play guitar and sing in Prawn. Jamie plays drums and occasionally gives a yell here and there. Kyle plays bass and sings a bunch on our records but unfortunately doesn't sing as much at live shows. And then there is Andrew who plays guitar.

As there isn't so much information or band biography on Prawn around, could you begin with a history of the band. What made you decide to form this band? Why did you choose the band name Prawn?

Right. Prawn formed from other bands that dissolved throughout highschool. Andrew, Jamie, and I had been playing in and out of bands in highschool for a few years. Eventually it just made sense for the three of us to really try and pursue a steady band. I think the summer before all of us went away to university Kyle started playing bass for us. ( I knew Kyle through work) Prawn was pretty much defunct for that first year of school, as all of us were hundreds of miles away and pursuing other things. It just so happened that Jamie and I both dropped out of our respective schools, moved back home, and attended community college for a year. It was really during that year, so the fall of 2008 into the winter of 2009, that Prawn really became a band. Shortly thereafter, in March 2009, we recorded our first legit EP, False Institutions. The band name Prawn just kind of stuck with us from high school. Andrew came up with it one night. It originally began as a joke and we were going by Prawn Prostitutes. Eventually we dropped the Prostitutes and just went with Prawn.

 So on to the music. Could you describe the way Prawn sounds?

I'm not exactly sure how Prawn sounds half the time. Most of the time we write songs, we also have an identity crisis. Sometimes songs or parts of songs come out sounding really like a certain genre ie - post rock, post hardcore, or emo. And then we go back to revamp the song during the writing process and write a part that doesn't exactly fit in the genre of that song. I know I personally I was worried that You Can Just Leave It All was going to turn out as a mix and mash of different genres of songs. However, I was pleased to hear that the album actually flows nicely and has a distinct feel to it. More generally though, I would say Prawn sounds like an indie/emo/post-rock band.

Your full-length debut “You Can Just Leave It All” came out a year ago. Are you happy with the overall response?

Yes. I couldn't be more excited about the response. We worked really hard crafting those songs and the entire recording/mixing process took about five months. The response to our full length has been exponentially more enthusiastic that when False Institutions came out. There actually wasn't much of a response to False Institutions when it first came out. After touring a lot for a year and playing a slew of local shows, kids started picking up on False Institutions. With our full length, I felt like we had enough press and good publicity that we engaged a lot of new listeners and were finally able to "get out there." I'm extremely happy about everything regarding You Can Just Leave It All!

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

You Can Just Leave It all is a lot more of an easy, happy listen than False Institutions. False Institutions actually turned out to be a really dark, eerie album. I know I personally tried writing happier songs, which really reflected the fact that I was happier in general when writing the full length. The songs are shorter and more structured than that of False Institutions. All the lyrics I wrote about on our first EP dealt with an end to a 5-6 year relationship and a death in the family. My lyrics in the LP deal more with happiness and sadness -  being alive and all that comes with it, rather than focusing on a certain subject like death.

"You Can Just Leave It All" is also your first release on Topshelf Records. How has it been working with the label so far?  Do you think working with them has given you a lot more freedom than you might have had otherwise?

Topshelf Records is the best label out there in my opinion. Granted we've never worked with another label, Topshelf's attitude towards music and community is incredible. First off, they pick the best bands to work with. I know before we started working with Topshelf, I always was excited to see what new bands they were working with and what previous bands on the label were producing. They also support a slew of other bands that aren't on their label. Topshelf's last sampler had almost 70 different awesome bands on it. Another great thing about Topshelf is they don't stick to one genre. I mean you have bands like Piano's and We Were Skeletons, while you also have bands like By Surprise and A Great Big Pile Of Leaves all calling Topshelf their home. We literally have all the freedom in the world with Topshelf. It's more of a day to day approach than a long drawn out contract, which is extremely nice because all of us are in are young 20's and aren't really  responsible enough to have it any other way haha.

What other bands have you been involved in? And what inspired you to making a solo project?

I was in a few different bands in high school like I said earlier. All those band weren't really serious, but they were nice just to get your feet wet with music making. I decided to do a solo album mainly because Prawn wasn't doing much. We all go to school away from each other and it's near impossible to practice on the weekdays and sometimes even weekends. I had a bunch of free time and started writing acoustic songs which eventually turned into full band songs. It was convenient too because I was able to record them all in my garage and then have a friend mix and master them, It was by far the easiest and most rewarding recording process I've experienced thus far.

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

There's a ton of tour stories I'd love to share, but they'd probably be more appropriate over a beer than on the internet. We've toured parts of the U.S. 3 times now. This last tour was by and large the most successful one we've had to date. Our first two tours were really tough. No one really knew us, we weren't getting paid, and we didn't really have any merch to sell. The first two tours were more about the experience of traveling and partying rather than the music. This last tour was more of a reality check that there could possibly be a future for Prawn other than playing to 5 people every night ( which honestly none of us mind).

Prawn euro/russia tour 2012! Is this your first venture to Europe, are you excited? what are you expecting/hoping to for?

Woo! Yes, we are very very excited. I'm really excited to be going with Ape Up!, too. We just so happened to play a random show with them in Pittsburgh back in 2009. They are some of the nicest people in the scene now and are extremely talented. I know all of us are really excited to head to Europe. We've been working with Guillaume from Back From Outer Space Bookings whose been amazing. So far, everything is going swimmingly. I'm excited to see Europe by car and really get to know the culture, hopefully. I've been there a few times before but on vacation and not really traveling, ya know. I just hope its a successful tour, we have fun, and everyone comes home alive.

How is the Ridgewood scene? Any acts we've been unfortunately overlooking?

The Ridgewood scene is insane. Growing up, Senses Fail was the big act to come out of Ridgewood. The lead singer has a little sister who actually was one of my best friends in high school. Since then, a slew of bands have come up and made on impact on the scene they're in. Titus Andronicus, Real Estate, and Big Troubles all used to/live around  Ridgewood. I used to be really good friends with Ian from Big Troubles too. Then there is Zona Mexicana. Cameron and I went to high school together before he dropped out to tour with Ra Ra Riot. He left that band and started an incredible math rock band called Zona Mexicana. We've played a bunch of shows with them over the years, great dudes. I'm probably missing a lot of other Ridgewood bands, but there's also a big Bergen County scene. Hands on the Stereo are some of our good friends from Bergen County. A lot of our friends are starting bands now that are turning out to be pretty amazing.

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

Oof, I don't know. Could you picture an Explosions in the Sky/Prawn split?

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

I think its important for every human to have a form of ethics, what those specific ethics are is up for debate. But I know personally, learning how to critically analyze situations and critically analyze what you believe in has helped me navigate through life.

What's your biggest gripe with the punk scene?

Biggest gripe with the punk scene? I guess when success goes to a band's head. I've seen bands get a lot of buzz around their name and become  successful, but then totally forget where they came from and what made them into such a like-able band. I guess that ticks me off the most because I personally view being in a band as something more than a means to an end. There's no big end goal for Prawn, rather we just enjoy the ride we are on together and the community we surround ourselves with.

 What else does the future hold for Prawn?

Who knows! Obviously the European tour is on our minds right now, but we've been working hard on new material over the last few months. We're actually almost ready to start demoing some songs in a few weeks. Hopefully we'll be releasing something,( a split, an EP, and LP, who knows) before the European tour. We're talking right now about either a US or Canadian tour after the Euro tour this summer. Jamie and I also graduate college in May, so I plan on taking him out on on the road with me and do some solo touring next fall.

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

Thank you very much! These were great questions. I'd just like to add they were so excited to come over to Europe/Russia in June and meet all of you! If you also want to check out my solo stuff, you can here.