A Static Lullaby
Interview by Chuck Prutzman
A Static Lullaby came through Allentown, PA's Crocodile Rock Café on June 26th, a part of their summer headlining run with Vanna. I sat down with their vocalist, Joe Brown to discuss Rattlesnake, the state of the scene, and the future of ASL, amongst a bunch of other topics.
Chuck Prutzman [WJRH]: I'm here with Joe from A Static Lullaby here at Croc Rock in Allentown, PA. For listeners who don't know, their latest CD, Rattlesnake, came out in September '08, and it's definitely their most mature and heavy up to now. It's pretty dark, too, especially lyrically, so if there was a theme to the album, what do you think it would be?
Joe Brown: Rehab and divorce, I guess [laughter]. Makes me think some fucked up shit, and I did a lot of healing through putting my shit down on paper. It was ugly, you know, but I think, hands down, I got the lyric content that I wanted for the album, and basically when we wrote it, I had a lot of lyrics already written. And if the album wasn't heavy—I don't want to make a heavy record that's just bland—but it wouldn't have worked for anything else, so—
CP: Yeah, it's really distinct, it needs it
CP: If you revisit the earlier ones, especially And Don't Forget To Breathe, it lacks the complexity of Rattlesnake, so do you think that's a writing style change or do you think it's progression as musicians?
JB: 100%, dude—I was 18 years old when that album came out, that was ten years ago, bro! We were kids, like we weren't out of high school! You grow as musicians, and whether it's to everybody's liking or whether it's not, we've never been the band to write anything for anybody but ourselves, and that's just the way it's gonna come out. I think, yeah, we did take a lot of pride in our musicianship, and we do take a lot of pride in everything that we do, whether it's how you construct a song, to your transitions, to your lyrics, how a melody's sung, and a lot of that gets lost in music, and we make it a point and made that a very strong dynamic in our band. Rattlesnake is my favorite album, of all the albums, hands down.
CP: I agree
JB: I like And Don't Forget to Breathe for memories, but, you know, it created something, and it created something I don't give a fucking shit about, to be honest! Like, I'm sorry—I'm sorry that I helped create that fucking bullshit. It just lost so much substance; there's a lot of good but then after you make a carbon copy of a carbon copy, of a carbon copy, of a carbon copy—it gets washed up. And Rattlesnake is just how we were feeling musically at the time.
CP: I was going to bring it up, you see everybody cloning that, you see them cloning Full Collapse and all those other records—
CP: —what made you guys make the music that set this whole scene off? What were you listening to?
JB: Let's see… me, I was listening to Poison The Well, Adamantium, Throwdown… um, fucking Goddamn it…, Bane, One King Down… I don't know, I was into Chain of String. I was into youth crew hardcore like In My Eyes and shit, but I also have been an avid listener of music, and I like Get Up Kids, and I like Saves The Day, and I like—you know&,mdash;I liked all that shit, like Hot Rod Circuit. And to me, no one was really doing what we did at the time. I wanted to fuse the sound of something that I wanted to hear in a record. That's how A Static Lullaby came about. It was a conscious effort to say, "OK, I like, Grate, I like what Grate's doing, but I want to do what Grate's doing on top of what Grate's doing. I like what Poison The Well's doing, but I want a little more melody to it, you know what I'm saying? And that's how that worked out.
CP: Have you had a chance to listen to The Tropic Rot yet, [Poison The Well's] new album?
CP: It's really sick
JB: Yeah, Steve recorded it, and I'm supposed to go into the studio and hang out with him and listen to it, so I can't wait to hear it
CP: Track eight, "The Pledge," features Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan—
CP: Can you see yourselves touring with them maybe in the future?
JB: We've played with Dillinger in Mexico, so we've done some shows with them—Hellfest and whatnot. You know, personally, I can say I'm friends with Greg, and I really love what that band does. I mean, they take metal to a whole different step, and they're really progressive and I really respect, you know, everything that band does, from as far as his scream to the way he sings to their time signatures, you know? It's insane what that band is to me, and to have him sing on the record was great. I loved it, just cause I respect the band so much.
CP: He was such a great add to the song, too, he has such a style
CP: The other song we should mention is "Toxic." It's your second successful cover, so do you see yourselves doing it every album cycle?
JB: You know, doing a cover is something that I don't mind. I wanted "Toxic" to be a single on our album, not a single on a Punk Goes Pop album, because I believe so much in Rattlesnake that I wanted to get it out, do you understand what I'm saying?
CP: Yeah, yeah, I dig that
JB: It didn't turn out that way. It turned out to be a single for a compilation, instead of a single for an album. And our album was done six months before that was even brought up. It kind of got lost in the transition—
CP: Was that a Fearless decision?
JB: Oh yeah, yeah. I understand what Fearless did, and it's cool. I mean, it sold a shitton of singles! But, you know, I have so much belief in Rattlesnake that I wanted that to be the lifting point to get another single out there and have people listen to the album.
CP: A couple questions about the industry in general: Are you glad to be with Fearless when you see the majors struggling now?
JB: You know, it's such a give-and-go. I've had the pleasure and the fucking experience of living it all.
JB: I mean, I've been on successful independents, I've been on huge major labels, and you know, it is what it is. For some bands like 3oh!3 and others, that's going to work for them. As long as you've got good A&R behind you, and the business takes off that way. I appreciate Fearless because I can call my A&R, who is the president of the label, and discuss shit with him and say, "This is my idea, can we get funding for this?" And he's willing to have a conversation, as opposed to a major label where you have to go through 18 different channels to talk to anybody and you get lost in the shuffle. Other than that, you know, I don't give a shit, I just don't care. To care about all the logistics will kill you. If I spend every day counting records I'll kill myself, you know what I mean?
CP: Speaking of that—the digital age and piracy and stuff—have you guys considered yourselves adapting or do you think it's a non-issue in this scene?
JB: It depends, like, I think bands nowadays get big on how colorful their t-shirts are. That's fucking disgusting, to be honest, and not that I don't like some of the bands that have colorful t-shirts, and I'm not saying anything like that. I'm just saying I see these fucking swarms of kids just move to whatever they're directed towards, and it doesn't make sense because if music had integrity, and you were to boil it down to what it is, in my opinion, there would be a lot of bands that are a lot bigger than what they are. Yes, some of the bands that are big would remain that way. A Day to Remember wrote one of the catchiest fucking albums I've ever heard in my life, so if they're huge, I understand it. I can get why kids like it. But there's some shit I just don't understand.
CP: Like the Brokencydes of the world.
JB: See, that's not personally me, I don't understand it, I'm not going to say "fuck those bands," because everybody's doing what they do. I like fucking Bring Me The Horizon, I think they're sick as fuck, I like that band. I can understand why they're huge, because I like them. But I don't get the movement, or where the scene's gone. I don't even pay attention.
CP: Around here at least, it's either the neon bloc or the all-black metal dudes. It's really weird to watch because it wasn't like this four years ago.
JB: It wasn't, and that's so confusing to me, because I've gone through so many transitions of people. I was having a conversation with my buddies in Vanna and I said, 'Listen, I used to tour with Anti-Flag and fucking Strung Out, and the package was fucked up, but kids would stay and they were just there to see fucking music. And if they liked it, they liked it, and if they didn't they throw shit at you, but at least they'd be there [laughter]. I don't know, I have no real idea about where it's gone and how it's going to go. I hope there's some redemption for music itself, because you know, whether you've got a min chord doesn't make you a cool band, you know what I mean? If you play something that doesn't make you good, whether you can play a breakdown or not—I can teach Tyler [Mahurin] a breakdown in how long, and he plays drums, you know? Anybody can play a fucking breakdown. There's gotta be more to music, you understand what I'm saying?
CP: No, I agree.
JB: But that's how I feel, but I still love melody, so I'm stuck.
CP: What albums have come out this year that you think everyone needs to hear listening to the show right now?
JB: I don't know, I'm weird, dude, because if you look at Tyler's iPod, you know, all the dude listens to is fucking Lamb of God and just fucking heavy shit [laughter]. And that's my shit, but it seems like I'm so wrapped up in the van and I'm losing my Goddamn mind that I put on fucking Billy Joel or The Fray. The best album I've heard in the last two to three years, hands down musically is Brand New. I think that album [The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me] is a state of genius and one of the best fucking things I've ever heard. Lamb of God's new album is fucking so insane. I gotta be honest, there's few things that have come out that have really impressed me. Like I said, Bring Me The Horizon, I saw the video, I was like, this shit is fucking amazing, and maybe it's because the video is so fucking cool.
CP: They draw a crowd.
JB: Oh God! And I was like, I fucking love this band! It kinda reminded me of The Bronx, but they were fucking heavy as fuck, you know? I don't know, it's hard for me to think—I haven't listened to too many bands that have come out, just because like you said, you saw those neon crowds flock to them, and immediately I want to say, "I don't give a fuck about this band!" But when I do actually listen to it, I think A Day to Remember made a great fucking album. Okay, I was not expecting from their first album to what they did. I think they made a great album, hands down. There's some really good bands out there; as far as the new scene, I'm not too tapped into it.
CP: I don't blame you. Okay, last question: what are your plans for touring and writing for the rest of the year?
JB: I've got some big life daddy shit to do. I might be having a baby, so after this tour I might have to go figure that out. We do plan on writing; we're going to take a little bit of time off so I can figure out my life shit. And we do plan on making a record, but as far as what it's going to sound like, I promise you it's going to be one of the heaviest fucking things anybody's ever heard, but it's also going to be A Static Lullaby. I want this album to be a statement of what I believe. Not to be conceited and not to be full of myself, but I believe our band has the capability of writing a really well-written record. So I hope that the new album comes out the way that I envision us.
CP: That was one of my first thoughts after hearing Rattlesnake a few times…the next one is just going to be so ridiculous because this is so good, and it's been such a progression.
CP: Thanks for hanging out, I appreciate it.
JB: Thanks dude!