Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey hey… thanks for having us! We’re doing great! Life is good. Grateful to be alive. Excited to be making music and sharing it with people… FINALLY!
Can you talk to us more about your song “Cannibals“? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Yeah absolutely. “Cannibals” was a song that I wrote a couple years back during the height of the ongoing Syrian conflict. It is one of the most confusing political / war situations I’m aware of, but in – as basic of a summary as possible – Syria has been in a brutal civil war for the past 7 years and at the peak of it, there were roughly 100,000 civilians trapped in the city of Aleppo. The civilians were trapped for weeks in no-man’s land between two modern-day armies. I believe there were roughly 30,000 people killed.
I was at home on a Friday night practicing guitar and had plans to go out with friends. I turned on the news as I was running my scales and this story came on detailing the conflict in Aleppo and showing Instagrams and Snapchat stories of the civilians BEGGING for help. The stories and Instagrams were from that same day. Here these people were trapped (literally right that instant) in a city with bullets, missiles, and bombs being carelessly hurled in and I’m at home on my couch playing guitar and getting ready to go out drinking. I felt disgusted. How can I just not give a fuck?! These are people… humans… begging for help and I’m just going to shrug it off and booze simply because I’m isolated and safe from the problem. What if that were happening here and I was the one getting bombed, begging for help…?? But, at the same time… what can we do?
The story hit me and really made me question myself and what I could do. I felt powerless. And that was when I realized that the one thing I could do was sitting right there in my hands. I could write about it… I could talk about it… and I could share it. Doesn’t do much good for the people that are their dying that day but who knows what it could do in the future? “Cannibals” fell out. It’s written from two perspectives. The verses are the questions that I was asking myself And the chorus is ambiguously sung from two perspectives: me and of somebody trapped in the city. “When the lights go down in the city, and the stars come shining bright, I’ve been praying but I don’t hear no answer, who will come for me tonight?” The Journey reference was specifically put in there because it is such a well-known almost cliche party song. It begs the question of how could I just go about partying and ignore so many people in such need.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
We do. We have a video for “Devil On My Shoulder” coming out soon. We’re pumped about the video. Got to work with some really talented friends of ours: Jacqueline Justice and Sam Boyette. They crushed it.
The single comes off your new album Human Part 1 – what’s the story behind the title?
One of my early goals as a songwriter was to write songs that highlight the very different emotions of humans. I always hated the idea of being boxed into one sort of label… growing up I played sports, acted in plays, loved video games, art and the people that I connected with in each of those areas. I’m nerdy, sporty, artsy, bro-y, moody, irreverent, and straight-laced all at once. In my first season as a writer, I wanted to challenge myself to write in very different moods / styles / genres in order to reflect my different curiosities and qualities. No two songs on the album sound the same yet there is something that keeps them all linked. They’re all Arts Fishing Club. They’re us. They are all Human.
Would you call this a conceptual record?
Only insofar as it is a record that has officially been conceived and brought to life. I think each conception was independent though. It’s more an orphanage of bastard conceptions than it is one straight bloodline. But just like an orphanage, the songs make up a family despite their individual conceptions.
Will each installment follow a different theme?
Human I is definitely darker in tone. Human II is lighter. The album art will directly reflect that.
How was the recording and writing process?
Recording was quite an absolute adventure and took a massive emotional toll on me in the best way possible. We learned SO much as artists through recording this record; it is wild to think about. We recorded with Collin Pastore out of Smoakstack studios. Collin is an incredibly talented producer that is dialed into pulling out the best sounds possible. We recorded the record in two installments and really began to dial in and understand our identity as a band. I think we still have some exploring there but we’ve made so much progress as a group this year it makes me so excited for the next couple years. Everyone who came into the studio crushed it. We’re so proud and thankful to have gotten to work with each other and so many other talented people.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?
Absolutely. When I’m by myself it is so much easier to just let loose and freely create. When we’re together it is harder to let that guard down. It is also difficult to know when to say “Nope. This is how it is going to be!” or when to sit back and let others step in. There is a delicate balance there and that is an aspect of the recording process that really developed over the year. But I will definitely say that the ideas of the group as a whole are SO much better than what I’d be able to do all alone. Matt Siffert has a particular skill for arranging. Peter and Jimi both know how to create grooves and tastefully fill out the space. I think that’s part of the reason why “Cannibals” is my favorite song off of the record. Each member of the band has a distinct fingerprint on that song. That one came to life in such a meaningful way that I couldn’t believe when it happened.
What role does Nashville play in your music?
Nashville constantly CONSTANTLY kicks your ass haha. She always reminds you that you can be better. The instant you step out the door and listen / watch other people, you’re reminded just how talented and how hard people work in this industry. For a while (and at points of weakness still) that instilled a lot of fear in me. It is a scary place to vulnerable because every one of your peers is not just adequate… they’re damn good. But the more that we’re able to focus on simply being grateful for what we get to do, the easier and more invigorating it becomes to be a part of the community here. When you let your ego fall and understand that other people’s talent doesn’t hurt your chances of earning a living wage, it actually helps you, well, it makes us more hungry and more excited to help support the community and help our friends succeed too.
I know, no doubt, that Nashville has INFILTRATED me sonically. I grew up loathing country (sorry y’all ;)) but there is definitely a number of our tunes that have taken on some of Nashville country feel… and I’m ok with that. I’m just excited to bring the songs to life and let the city and air we breathe help inform that. I’ve learned so much as a songwriter from this town. It really is a special place.
What aspect of humanity did you get to explore on this record?
Icarus – Hubris
Devil On My Shoulder – Brokenness
Tupelo Honey – Sweet Unabashed Love
I See You – Regret and Love Lost
Cannibals – Confusion, Powerlessness, and Privilege
Skinny Dippin – Free Love and Fun
Cigarette Phase – Sweet Unabashed Love
Rarin to Roam – Confusion of the early 20s
Greatness – Ambition
Human – Modern Life and Technology
Take a Walk – Conquering Fear