Monday, March 27, 2017

An Interview With Remo Drive

Album art for "Greatest Hits"

One of the more "up beat" acts from Minnesota, Remo Drive, has taken great care to craft their signature brand of emo tinged pop punk into something they can all be proud of. Their newest album, "Greatest Hit's", boasts refined rhythms and tasty jams under Erik's well honed vocal skills. Lyrically, I think it's more "mature" than their past songs with songs like "I'm My Own Doctor" and "Yer Killin Me" deploying clever lines and tongue-in-cheek metaphors to convey a deeper and more serious meaning. "Name Brand" stands out to me with the lines "I piss away my money on this bourgeoisie coffee/I am a child who needs pleasing/Pacifier lost my mouth I’m screaming".

Instrumentally, they aren't breaking any boundaries, but that's not the point. Sam and Stephens rhythms perfectly complement each song while Erik's leads and hooks find the right times to shine. I don't think one member stands out more than another and that's one of my favorite things about this album. It stands as a cohesive work between talented musicians that have learned how best to work with each other to the benefit of the individual song. 

Overall, this record is the result of years of tweaking and learning what works best for the band and their creative process. They've come along way from their early days and this album is a testament to that journey. 

Photo Credit to @Trevor Sweeney Media

1. This is a run of the mill question, but one I feel should be asked. How did the band begin and what have you learned since you started? If you could go back and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

Erik: We began in the later part of 2013 after Stephen and I's first band had just broken up. There was a bit of a DIY pop punk/ Emo scene going on in Minneapolis so we tried to hop on some shows within that. Since then a lot has happened. If there was one thing I could tell myself, it would be "its okay to try new ideas". For a long time we tried to go about the band in a very straightforward way. I think once we started thinking about things in our own way it started to click a lot more.

2. Y'all have come a long way since the first time I saw you play in St. Louis. Erik, you where only 18 and Sam was still finishing up high school. Steven couldn't even legally drink yet. How does it feel to come so far, in terms of popularity and recognition, in such a short time and at such a young age?

Erik: It's really great to be picking up all this steam lately! We've been going at this for 4 years so it's cool to see such a great reception. We put a lot of time into this new batch of songs so it feels particularly good to see such a positive response!

3. While we're on the topic of your relatively young ages, what was your parents reception to you playing shows and going on tour while in school? Were they supportive from the start or did it take some persuading to get them to go along with it?

Erik: It took some persuading but after the first couple of weekenders they were down!

Photo by Snuff Film Collective
4. With 5 or 6 tours completed you have a taste for life on the road. How is the DIY community in Minneapolis compared to the places you've visited on tour? Whats your favorite thing about going on tour?
Erik: Minneapolis is a very interesting place. There's plenty of great bands and I'm sure we don't even know a fraction of them. There's so much culture here. In the DIY community the vibe is kinda the same everywhere (for better or for worse). It's cool seeing how the cities themselves vary! We've come to love a lot of places we would have never been able to visit otherwise.
5. You've released several videos recently, Art School, Yer Killin' Me, Eat Shit, and Crash Test Rating. What was your favorite one to work on? How has the feedback been since releasing them?
Erik: I liked working on them all! Yer Killin Me has done the best which makes me happy because it was so spontaneous. Art School is another favorite because of how visually pleasing it is. The feedback has gone above and beyond any of our expectations!
6. I saw where The Needle Drop shared your video for "Yer Killin Me". How did it feel to have "the Internets busiest music critic" take the time out to show some love for your music?
Erik: It felt amazing, I've been a viewer of his for 5 or so years so it was surreal to hear him singing some of our words on camera

Screen Cap from "Yr Killin Me"
7. Art School in particular was very unique and seemed like one hell of a good time to shoot. It also has been the most "technical" video you've done so far with the choreography and amount of props used. Where did the idea for this come from and what was it like to shoot this as compared to your other videos?
Sam: The idea came from us wanting to do some sort of dance video for a song. We thought Art School was a fun, upbeat song, so we decided to use the idea for that song. Then from there, I thought it would be fun to collaborate with people from my high school, since I went to a performing arts school. So I reached out to John Mark who was a dance teacher at my school and my show choir teacher, and talked to him about getting dancers and doing a video together. From there, John Mark really did all of the work with coming up with all the ideas and details with shots, he choreographed everything, and got all of the dancers, extras, and crew together to make what was a small idea into an amazing production and video. He did such an amazing job with everything and we'd love to work with him again in the future.
8. Erik mentioned on a Facebook post that you guys took your EP's off of the internet because "We were never completely satisfied with our performances on those songs and they feel like us trying to sound like other bands..." Do you feel like you have found "your sound" with Greatest Hits, or do you still feel there is room to hone and improve your art? How was the writing process compared to previous releases?
Erik: I think there will always be room for improvement but this is the first release of ours that feels true to who we really are. As far as writing process goes, I made the bricks and Sam/ Stephen built the house. I would typically come to practice with some ideas, we'd play through them and pick out which ones we liked enough to work on. From there on Sam and I would mold the songs into their respective arrangements. Stephen then came in and figured out bass parts and acted as the last wall of defense. Overall this was our most collaborative effort.

Photographer @brettballachino
9. When it comes to the song writing, what comes first, the lyrics or the instrumentation?
Erik: Always instrumentation! Sometimes I have an idea of what I'd like to write a song about but usually I cant write lyrics until there is something to write to.

10. Production wise, Greatest Hit's is your best sounding record yet. I'd go as far as to say it's one of the the best sounding records I've heard yet this year. I understand Erik has recorded Demo 2014 and Christmas Tune, along with Greatest Hits. How did the approach to recording Greatest Hits differ from your previous releases? What have you learned about recording that might be helpful to other people going the DIY route?

Erik: Previously we had worked with Andy Mathison who is very talented, we just wanted to have unlimited recording time for this record. I think the real kicker when it came to Greatest Hits sounding better was Jack Shirley's mixing and mastering. If you wanna record your own stuff, you gotta be your own producer. You are the only one there to make sure you give passionate takes. That's probably the trickiest part haha
11. Talking about DIY again, what does being a DIY band mean to you? Is there anything you think should change about the community?
I like to think of us an independent band. DIY is really cool but DIY feels really exclusive. Whenever there's a large community of people there are going to be bands that are favorites and ones that aren't. We have been in the latter until very recently.
12. Now that greatest hit's has been released, what are you plans for the immediate future? Where do you hope to see the band in a few years?
We are just rolling with what comes to us! I'd like to see us touring more regularly and hopefully having another record under our belt!

Photo Credit @Trevor Sweeney Media

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