● Hey! I’ve (Paul) been doing pretty well, I’m sure the other guys are out there living their best lives.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Cool Bands”?
● For sure, it’s a song that I wrote a couple years ago about Max (guitar/vox) and some others in the scene when I first came back to New York after living out of state for a little over a year.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
● To be honest, I think a bit of jealousy inspired me. But not the kind of jealousy that makes one do crazy things — like look through someone else’s text messages. I remember sitting at my desk in California listening to all these great bands that a lot of my friends had started and thinking, “Damn, I wish I was doing that instead of sitting here.” I was filled with this mix of “I want that so bad” and “I’m so proud of my friends!”
Any plans for a music video for the song?
● We did for a while. If I remember correctly, we were going to have a lot of our local scene and community in the video to really emphasize what the song’s about. I’m not sure if we’re still going to follow through with it but it’d be fun to get that done eventually.
The single comes off your new album Perfectly Temporary – what’s the story behind the title?
● I think one of the other guys decided we should call the album Perfectly Temporary. It’s part of a lyric in another song on the record (Drive Thru) and we all thought it was fitting. It’s kind of like a metaphor for all the moments in your life, right? Whether they were good moments or bad, they’re all perfectly temporary. It’s like allowing yourself to feel everything in the moment so you can move on with a good head on your shoulders. I’m not sure if that sounds a little pretentious but that’s what I think about when I think about those two words together. Also, I thought it was real clever to have the name of our album come from a lyric in a song as opposed to a song title. One of my favorite bands, The Long Winters, did this with the two albums they put out.
How was the recording and writing process?
● The writing process was pretty interesting. Most, if not all, of the songs I wrote over the past few years in various bedrooms I occupied. When Live Well started, I’d head over to Max’s house and he’d help flesh out those initial ideas. After that, we bring the song to the rest of the guys where Max helps arrange the other parts of the songs. I’ve never really written music with anyone before but the experience I had with Max, Neil, and Luis has been a positive one. Everyone’s willing to adjust and learn and do what’s best for the song.
In terms of recording, that was a little scary at first. I’ve never recorded anything I’ve done before in the “proper” way. Before the band, I recorded every song on my iPhone in my voice memos. So I was really used to trying to do everything in one take. Recording took a little getting used to for me, but with the help of our producers and my bandmates (who, in my opinion, are all really talented musicians) helped me get comfortable in that space. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it wasn’t for them.
What was it like to work with Ace Enders and Nik Bruzzese? How did those relationships develop?
● It was a little intimidating at first. I remember trying my hardest not to freak out when we first got there. I grew up listening to The Early November and listened to Man Overboard a lot when I was in college. So having these two guys listen to my music and help bring the best out of my songs was a little crazy. In the end though, I’ve learned so much from both Nik and Ace that I still carry with me today, so it was a really good experience. I like to tell people that they’re my best friends, so I’m going to do that now. The relationship developed into best friendship. We’re all best friends. We call each other every day and talk about sports, it’s a great time… No, none of that is true. But working with them was a blast.
How much did working with them influence the sound on the album?
● They both really helped bring out the best in the song. They have an acute understanding of what makes a good song, whether that be sonically or lyrically, and they both — at least in my opinion — really stood behind the story (or stories) I’m trying to tell. They really helped elevate the songs into something stronger than what they originally were. Imagine eating pizza, right? You’ve eaten it before. But your whole life you only knew of pizza as being plain ol’ cheese pizza. There’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ plain slice. It’s good. It’s filling. And it warms the heart when made right. But then imagine walking down the street and Ace Enders and Nik Bruzzese are standing there with pepperoni (that’s my favorite topping, feel free to sub in yours for the sake of this analogy) on their pizza and say, “Hey bud, take a bite”. And now everything you know about pizza has changed, it’s still the same — at its core — but it’s been elevated to a level you didn’t think possible. That’s what they did to the songs and the sound.
How does being from New York affect your music?
● I’m not sure how being from New York affects our sound at all. We’re all well-travelled individuals with a variety of experiences and influences. We all just happen to be in New York at the same time. I know I like The Knicks, though. No matter how bad they do every season. Maybe that says something about my own personality. Am I loyal to a fault? I don’t know. Do I stick by people even when they disappoint me? Maybe. Do I have a blind faith that people can change and overcome their past? Yeah, for sure. I think this question really through me for a loop. In terms of our music? Maybe our songs can ride the subway without worry, I don’t know.
What aspect of the emo genre did you get to explore on this record?
● I’m not sure how to give this a definitive answer. So, I guess, I’ll tell another story. I remember when I was in high school, all I listened to was At The Drive-In. They were my favorite band at the time and I felt like they were both the end and beginning of music for me. Then I find out about The Mars Volta and absolutely lose my mind. Growing up, Cedric Bixler was my absolute favorite frontman (maybe he still is, I don’t know, that’s a bit of idol worship I don’t really get myself into anymore). So I bought their first album and listened to it non-stop. I got entirely obsessed with them — the same way I did with At The Drive-In. All that being said, I remember looking at their MySpace page, and just, like, looking at all these pictures of them and geeking out. And I looking at their genre section, and it said something like: If every song has an emotion, isn’t every song emo? If every song is moving forward, isn’t every song progressive?
Now, I could be misremembering exactly what it said. Or making it all up ‘cause my brain is kind of squishy these days. But I thought that was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. So, with that in mind, I’m not sure if I — or we — took any aspect of the emo genre to explore. I was just exploring my emotions, that’s it. I grew up listening to emo bands, so it sounds like emo bands. I’m sure if I grew up listening to more hip-hop or R&B than emo songs, it’d sound like that. I don’t know if that was a real pretentious way to answer this question, so I’m sorry. But there it is.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
● Most of the inspiration comes from actual things I’ve been through. A lot of the songs outline detailed moments in my life. Before I started this band, someone told me, “I thought songs had to rhyme and have some sort of structure. But your songs make me feel like I’m reading your journal or diary.” I still don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment. But it accurately describes what these songs are like and where the inspiration comes from. Just my life and, at times, some songs are experiences my friends have had that resonate with me. I just try my best to express how I’m feeling or a feeling in general.
Any plans to hit the road?
● Isn’t that interesting? To be in a band and to be asked if we’re going to play out some places. The expectation is to say, yeah, and list some dates. It’s the nature of the business, right? Start a band, play shows, put in work, hope for the best, maybe get signed, maybe meet nice people, who knows? It’s interesting. It’s a lot of work. Especially for an unsigned band like us. This is all new to me, and I guess this is just how bands do things. It’s real interesting. It’s harder than anything else I’ve done. It takes a lot more effort. It takes a lot of time. It’s like juggling, you know? But you’ve already started with 3 balls in your hand and then you add a couple more. It’s just been a real interesting experience, wanting to hit the road, as you put it, and managing exactly what goes into doing that.
But hey, I’m pretty sure I’m not answering the question. So, yes, we do.
What else is happening next in Live Well’s world?
● I just want to play music with my friends and write songs that resonate with them. I’ve recently realized that I’m in pretty special position as a member of this band. And by that I mean I’m the lead singer of the band. Maybe the face of the band, I don’t know. But I’m also the son of immigrants. I’m Filipino-American. I’m in a band mostly made up of people of color. So, in terms of what’s next, I think it’s that. I grew up being the only POC at the emo/punk show. I felt alienated by my peers and even by the people on stage. At 18/19 years old, I remember thinking that I’d never be in a band and I’d never be a frontman. But that all changed 10 years later. I’m young, brown, and brilliant. And I know there are other people of color out there (Filipinx or otherwise) who feel the same way I do. So, I just want to do my best to represent what our experience was like. We’ll keep playing shows and recording, of course (that’s the nature of the business, right?). But it’s also really important for me to represent my community in a way that makes them proud.