symbols magazine: Welcome back! How is it being back as opposed to New York?
Shaun: Weird, it felt foreign.
Abe: Same, It feels really distant now.
Kevin: This is the first time I’ve been back to San Francisco, and definitely didn’t identify with it. It’s really yuppie-fied now. It’s changed a lot. It’s just a lot of wealthy people that work in the tech industry. All the places we used to hang out have turned into artisanal ice cream shops and stuff like that. So it’s a little weird, but LA’s nice. [There’s] a reall good vibe down here.
Nick: I love LA. It’s my favorite.
sm: We’re always really excited to hear new music. I immerse myself in it and I begin to think of where it would fit within the world. What feeling it evokes or what it equates to. And the only thing I can even come close to seeing in my mind’s eye is the movie Valley Girl. You could play your music throughout the entire movie and it would make sense. It would be a perfect fit.
Abe: That’s flattering!
Shaun: Yeah that’s great.
sm: What have your biggest challenges been as a band?
Shaun: Yeah I think it’s like being able to lead a lifestyle that is conducive to actually being creative and making music, and not having to be totally obsessed with working a day job in order to afford to live, in order to make music. It’s hard to balance making a living and making art.
Abe: It’s definitely a tightrope walk making everything fit into place.
Shaun: Logistics, like you know, I think we all feel inspired on a regular basis to write and play music and stuff, and we don’t have as many creative challenges as we have sort of just logistic and financial challenges.
sm: Before working on your own music, what did you guys play together? Were there any covers involved?
Shaun: I don’t think we ever played covers, it was always kind of writing our own stuff. I think I stopped being understood and playing other people’s music when I was really young, my first couple years of playing guitar. Nothing really intrigued me about learning how to play someone else’s music. And the guitar has always been a good creative thing, not necessarily just a talent or something.
sm: Is it possible to explain where your sound comes from? How it’s evolved from Sports to Red and now to Jinx?
Abe: It seems on Sports it was this huge outburst of energy that just needed to be documented.
Kevin: This latest album it’s much more a product of being in a band for a few years together and playing tons of shows and just kind of maturing as people and as musicians. Wanting to focus more on the craft, bring in other influences that we might not have shown as much on Sports
Shaun): We’re all eclectic people and we have lots of different influences We wanted to use that to our advantage and make a record that played off all those influences not just the few that we were using on Sports.
sm: Have you guys picked your favorite tracks for this album yet?
Shaun: I think they’re all unique and special in their own way. Otherwise we wouldn’t have put them on there. I have certain tracks I think are more fun to play live and certain tracks that I think turned out better on the record for sure. I think they all serve their purpose on the record in certain
sm: Since it’s release, there have been a lot of great reviews on this album. How does that feel when you know that your art’s being appreciated on an even wider scale than before?
Shaun: It’s cool. I think this record has the power to reach a lot of people that the first record didn’t. And so it’s cool to watch that happen. People who didn’t know who we were three years ago, and are now discovering this record are kind of like discovering our band in reverse, you know? Going back and listening to the older stuff and now that they understand this record they can sort of appreciate where the older record was coming from. I think the older record had a lot of, pop moments, but you had to sort of dig for them. This record’s a lot more blatant pop choices.
sm: This record sounds a lot better than the first in terms of the production value. A lot more polished. It was just much easier to listen to than Sports.
Shaun: I think that was a conscious decision on our part in both cases. Like the first record we wanted it to sound really fucked up and challenging and abrasive, because that’s where we were. And I think once we did that we wanted to expand and try new things. It would have been really easy for us to make a record that sounded like the first record again. We had to figure out that process and sort of, hone in on that. I think it’s important for us to challenge ourselves as musicians anytime we make something new.
sm: Good. Evolution.
Shaun: Yeah I mean there’s no point in recording the music if it’s just going to be rehashing what you did three years ago. It wouldn’t be representative of our development as people.
Kevin: As far as reviews, I feel like I’ve been listening to this record for so long, and I’ve been so stoked on the way it turned out that I haven’t even really thought that much about them or cared too much about them. I just kind of understood it so much on my own I haven’t had the same interest in how other people respond to it.
sm: Alive or dead, who would you want to make music with?
Abe: Wow. Tupac.
Kevin: Robert Smith.
Shaun: I think the biggest one, someone like Malcolm McLaren would be really interesting, just because he approaches music from such a strange angle, you know. It’s like this weird art product and I think it would be interesting
to try something like that.
sm: That would be quite nice! What inspires you? You stated once it was love and death, but would you want to expound on that?
Shaun: Just extremes of emotion, I guess. Horror, super natural…
Abe: For me it’s new, foreign environments.
Shaun: Photography, films, writing and stuff. All the songwriting and stuff comes from a personal place, but try to make it a little more universal.
Kevin: I think turmoil has always been a part of our music. You know it’s emotional or an environmental turmoil. All of us kind of felt that in some way and wanted to respond and reflect on it.
sm: Last words before you die, if you’re going to be eloquent about it?
Nick: That’s what they say on the black boxes of like planes crashing, that’s always the last thing the pilot says, “oh fuck!”
Kevin: I tried.
Abe: I’ve always been secretly gay!