INTERVIEW: You Bred Raptors?

Pic by Thomas Lee

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey Vents! We’ve been super busy and stressed putting this album and tour together. We aren’t signed to any label or helped by any booking agency so it’s all on us to make sure the wheels on this vehicle stay rolling. It’s a good stress, I suppose. We’ve recently had a changing of the guard in the band and incorporating a new member at such a crucial time has been a challenge. But we’re super stoked with how things sound now and the new energy in the band. We’re definitely going to need it from here on out.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Smithereens”?

This is the final track of the album. We wanted it to be epic and sprawling to finish off the album with a huge bang. We are still stubbornly living in the world where we hope people care about the arc and cadence to an album. It felt right to start with “Bayonette” and to end with “Smithereens” as two very different but very distinct bookends.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Smithereens was written at a time when I started seeing the writing on the wall with our former cellist mentally checking out from the proect. Don’t get me wrong… everything is amicable and civil between us and we wish him the best of luck with this new journey in life. But it’s always hard losing a member. It kneecaps your progress and it feels like a break-up of sorts. As we traverse adulthood, we find that the ends of relationships hurt the most when they are done out of necessity or logistics. We wrote some amazing music together and it will be big shoes to fill but it’s the right call after five years. This band is meant to enhance our lives as well as our fan’s lives. It can’t be stifling or repetitive or unfulfilling. I think we both collectively said that it would be best if we parted ways before it got to that point. I was in a funk when I wrote Smithereens. It felt like I was losing a best friend since we were so intertwined for so long. I knew this phase of the band was ending and while I knew that I would always continue, I wanted to convey the feeling of finality of one chapter and hope for the next. It sounds cheesy and I’ve never actually disclosed what this song was about until now. So, I hope you feel special knowing.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

We might do a live playthrough video because of the structured layering of cellos and various basslines. We want to do it justice but also are mindful about the decaying state of music videos. Before we would spend a couple thousand dollars on a video but now it’s a flash in the pan, forgotten when a new viral cat video splashes on social media. It’s hard getting people to give a shit about music when they long ago decided it wasn’t worth even buying. Streaming companies embraced that lazy attitude and profited off of it. The artists are left playing catch-up, doing more with less and watching quality of live music ever dwindle. So, yeah, we’ll release SOMETHING for this song since we are really proud of it. Maybe it will be in the form of a scratch-and-sniff sticker since those are always timeless, right?

The single comes off your new album International Genetics – what’s the story behind the title?

All of our albums are named after characters from the original Jurassic Park franchise. Each release has also been a play on where we were as a band as well. The first EP was called Lex & Tim and was child-like in its production and instruments. The color schemes were playful and non-threatening. The first LP was called Muldoon and was fearless and heavy with a muted color pallet of earth tones for the album design. Hammond was recorded all analog with live, full takes and with grand ideas in mind, despite obvious limitations. Much like the character, we spared no expense. Grant was a new and refined direction for a band. We took the recording process more seriously and layered it with overdubs. It was a focal album that relied heavily on a variety of songwriting styles while maintaining and honing our signature sounds. International Genetics is the corporation funding Jurassic Park in the novel and film. They are fleshed out more in the book but I found the entity interesting as a shadow organization funding a very questionable gamble of a project. The look and feel of this album is corporate and sleek. It’s badass and features some of the best compositions we’ve ever done as a project. We’ve also had two straight years of non-stop gigging and touring to craft these songs. Conversely, it also has brand new songs that were in their infancy when they were recorded. Go big or go home.

How was the recording and writing process?

Long and varied, through 5 drummers, 3 years and about 350 shows. We write what we know and the band went through a lot. It was many hurdles that would have destroyed most other bands. It made us stronger and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel to get to where we are at.

What role does New York plays in your music?

NYC is a cruel and thankless bitch but we love her nonetheless. The only solace we get living and barely surviving as artists in this city is that the inherent brutality weeds out the hobbyists and amateurs that aren’t cut out for this lifestyle. On the other hand, you’ll always be competing with shit bands that have connections or bankroll behind them, thrusting them into undeserving opportunities. It’s hard not to be a little bitter about the awful politics in this game after playing almost 1,000 shows. We’ve cut our teeth and put in our time. Every step we make is small. I liken it to climbing a cascading avalanche. Those with nominal talent, nepotism and endless trust funds jump to the head of the line and further dilute the already stagnant waters of contemporary music. All we can do is stay tight, stay together, craft our brand and HOPE that someone worth their salt will notice and give us a shot. NYC is a great equalizer that way. Playing in the subways has helped us see EVERY demographic possible. Most everyone is forced to take the same subway system. We are humbled by those like us that work tirelessly for too little pay to keep this city weird and interesting.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Everywhere. It happens. We’re merely vessels for these songs. We aren’t waiting on some mountain hoping for inspiration to hit us. It happens randomly, though usually in the wee hours of the morning when you have to get up super early the next day. Swimming upstream like barren salmon has created a plethora of feelings that NEED to be hashed out and put into music. We don’t have lyrics so these sounds can mean anything to the listener.

Any plans to hit the road?

We are currently en route to Des Moines, Iowa from Lafayette, Indiana on our 22 city tour. There are windfarms, tractor trailers, boring flatlands and maybe even a tumbleweed or two to count. It’s middle America but the tour has been awesome so far. We’ll be doing an in-depth tour diary for coming out over the next couple weeks before the album release on June 16th. Lots of touring and festivals this year.

What else is happening next in You Bred Raptors?’s world?

We have some really big tours planned for Fall that we can’t announce yet but trust us, they are doozies. Pushing the album hard, hitting new markets and further hurling our musical agenda on people is the plan. We’ve been grinding for 7 years and finally seeing some much deserved traction. It’s not easy coloring outside the lines but we are pleased for the response. We are scoring an audiobook, mapping out a European tour for Spring of 2018 and continuing the path of making this 100% full time work for us. We’ll be getting back to writing since we have new blood in the band and because we never want to become stagnant. Expect further busking, more residencies and some great support slots for NYC and beyond. We’ll keep writing and performing until our fingers fall off.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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