Get More Gritty: Again and Again
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Again and Again, of Seattle, who I learned about from Twitter. After I had poked around their website a little bit and listened to a couple of songs, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. After getting past some technical difficulties, drummer XwesX (Wes Keely) (center) and I had the following email chat:
Who was in which band, previously, and how did you get together to form Again and Again? And who does what in Again and Again – did anyone switch roles (or instruments) from previous bands?
OK, well, to start this off, Dutch VI (above left) plays guitar, Geoffrey C Walker (above right) sings, and I play drums. We had a few other members over the years, but at the current moment this is the core group, and we have a few fill in bass players that go out on tour with us from time to time. Geoffrey used to sing in the Victory Records band called On The Last Day based out of Seattle, Dutch VI also plays in a few different hardcore bands that we are not really allowed to talk about, and I was a founder of Walls of Jericho and have also played in bands such as Most Precious Blood, Throwdown, Until The End, Remembering Never and a few others. I also spent years as a hired gun for several different bands over a span of 5 or 6 years.
There was no role switching as far as instruments go, although we all play other instruments. Dutch plays a mean set of drums from time to time; Geoffrey plays guitar and bass and knows how to rock a Pro Tools rig like no other; and I play guitar as well as bass.
On the “hired gun” front, I see from your blog that you were out with the Jonas Brothers. How did that happen and what was that like, because there’s quite a vast gulf, musically, between Throwdown and the Jonas Brothers. Also, tangentially, I have noticed that there are an awful lot of ex-hardcore drummers in pop and/or pop-punk bands. Is that just a coincidence, or a kind of natural progression?
Haha, well, ok, I did some touring with Jonas this past summer, but there was no drumming involved. I was on the tour working for one of the lead sponsors of the tour that works with the Jonas group. It’s funny, I did a tour just before that one with Jordin Sparks and a lot of people were asking me “are you drumming for her?” because really with the amount of jumping around that I have done in the past something like that is pretty possible.
As far as hardcore drummers in pop music, well that one has been happening on and off for years, people like Andy Hurley playing in Fall Out Boy with Pete [Wentz], and Chad Gilbert playing in New Found Glory after sinning in Shai Hulud. I think its just one of those things where people just play in HC bands for years and eventually you just want to do something else.
Pete and Andy used to go to WOJ and Earthmover (band 3 members were in before we started WOJ) shows in Chicago and they played in HC bands too. We all used to have fun and play shows together and mosh it up, but eventually some of us just wanted to do other things. Some people go back to school, some get married, some start pop bands and become millionaires, it happens.
On the ProTools tangent – have you been producing your own records, or are you working up demos and then working with a producer?
YES, the first record we had some help from a sweet dude named Steve Carter, he’s a great guy and a great engineer and has million dollar ideas. Steve and Geoffrey pretty much handled the first record [Again and Again, 2008]. I mean, we all had our hands in, it but the majority of the producing was all on them. The second record, Get More Gritty , was pretty much all Geoffrey. Derek [Casey], the guitar player and song writer at the time, had hands in it as well, but for the most part it was Geoff. We had some outsiders mix and master the record, which is always a great idea.
Why did you pick Seattle as your home base? (Also I’d like to know more about the Barn of Solitude!)
Seattle is a great place to live, we have all lived in a ton of other places, I mean between us all, we have lived in Vermont, Michigan, Virginia, Kansas, Germany, South Florida, Orange County and Washington. Seattle is by far all of our favorite place to live, it has mountains, desert, snow, rain, rain forest, city, hiking, camping, great music scene, jobs, and great food. It’s just the best! Seattle just happened to be the place that we all ended up, before meeting each other. (Other than Dutch and I, we were friends before the band.)
The Barn of Solitude is a great place, free of most distractions, where we wrote and recorded our first 2 records. It has a great sound and we have been fortunate enough to use it whenever we needed to over the past 3 years. It’s 30 minutes out side of the city, up in the hills of an area called Sammamish, just east of the city. We also shot a a video there for More Ripley Less Darrow. It’s just an awesome place to play, write, and hang out.
Woah, that’s a lot of moving. And I say that as someone’s who’s moved, I think, nine times since 1998, or something like that.
Yeah, I mean between dudes in the band that have been in other band, moving and traveling just kind of comes with the gig. Some people are fortunate enough to start a band in their home town and never leave only to tour and record, we just haven’t had that luxury.
“Wish I Could Be” and “More Ripley, Less Darrow” are so far my two favorite songs, MR,LD in particular because a) I appreciate a good ode to a self-rescuing princess but also b) it isn’t a simple song. The narrator sounds like he’s really wrestling with the issue. What can you tell me about those songs?
Well all of the songs are written biographically and are situational of course. There are metaphors all over the place. Geoffrey really puts the work in to tell a good story in a catchy way. We really try write catchy fun songs but at the time we also try to keep ourselves entertained while playing them, which in turn makes them a little complicated by nature. There is a lot of pre-production that goes into our songs, and we try to write more songs that we will need for a record, so we can sort out the best of the material that we have at the time. We are in the process of starting to write and demo some new tracks, [and] we’re very excited to see what will come out next.
Why did you name the band Again and Again?
That was Geoff’s creation. It was funny, when he and I joined up and we were talking about doing a band together, I asked him “what’s this band going to be called?” and he was just like “Again and Again.” I don’t think that I have ever been in a band where one guy had already decided the band [name]. It’s always such a pain to have 5 dudes trying to come up with that they think is the best band name, him having the name he liked and being set on it was great, because we totally avoided that situation.
When I asked Geoff why that name, he told me this: “To me Again and Again means a lot. It represents persistence and perseverance, sometimes to a fault. But it’s about never giving up”.
Who did the cover art for Get More Gritty and the website? Something about the style seems very familiar and I can’t tell what it is. I am having a moment of Why Do I Recognize That Bear?
If you recognize the bear you are probably just thinking of something else. There are a lot of people that do the “scratchy” type drawings people like Derek Hess and Jake Bannon but I can assure you it was neither of them, it was in fact my roommate and long time friend Rawb Evans. We had this idea for the new record of a “scratchy” bear and he made it for us. There are a lot of bears here in Western WA!
I see you’ve been on Warped Tour before, do you have any plans to go out on tour again soon? Not necessarily on Warped Tour, just, at all?
YES!! We did a short 4 week tour in OCT/NOV and have been planning on heading back out, sometimes life and holidays get in the way, that and the US getting blasted with snow everywhere but here in Seattle hahahahaha. We will be out very soon.
And now the questions for all three of you. What was your transformative song – the rock and roll lightning strike – and why?
Geoffrey: When I first heard a rough version of Excuse This Honesty everything clicked. I’m proud of everything we’ve done, but that song just really defines what we are at this point. It has all the elements of music that we’ve been trying to inject into these songs. Excitement, beauty, sincerity, and intensity.
Dutch: Excuse This Honesty is the jam, it embodies all the rock but still stays groovy and has tons of emotion in the melodies.
XwesX: I feel is the song that actually hit us in the face and the “transformative song” was a song called TMNT2, that never actually saw the light of day. It’s something that we wrote and recorded and it only made it to preproduction before we came up with 4 or 5 songs that were just way better, but had a familiar feeling to the TMNT2 track. It really was the song that started defining what A&A sounds like today.
What in the world does TMNT2 stand for? Part of my brain wants to parse that as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, and I know that can’t be right.
XwesX: HAHAHA, that’s exactly what it stands for. I can’t tell you why, I can just tell you that that is indeed what it stands for!!
Also, let me rephrase that last question a little bit: what song(s) made you fall in love with rock and roll?
Geoffrey: I can think of a few. But narrowing it down is tough. So here are two. It might sound cliche, but Smells Like Teen Spirit made a big impact on me. It was just so HUGE sounding. So aggressive and in your face. The other is Closer by Nine Inch Nails. It was the first time I’d really heard electronics in modern music that didn’t induce vomit. It was dirty and grimy and shockingly honest. Trent Reznor remains a hero of mine to this day.
Dutch VI: I have a record more than any one song: Pink Floyd, The Wall.
XwesX: There are definitely a few records that strike me as “the ones” that made me wanna rock but I think when all is said and done it was probably the Arise record from Sepultura. My brother used to air drum to this record all the time, and spin these drum sticks that he had to all the awesome drum parts. I don’t think he could have ever played them for real, but it was cool to watch him when I was like 13.
What was your first show (that you attended, not that you played)?
Geoffrey: Aerosmith! They played a ski area near where I grew up (during the summer). It was on the Get A Grip Tour. So good.
Dutch: Steve Miller Band, 1998
XwesX: Body Count, 1992
What was the first record/tape/etc that you bought? What was the last one?
Geoffrey: First: I wish it was something that gave me mad street cred. But I’m pretty sure it was New Kids on the Block. I was only 8 or 9. Haha. Last: The last record I bought was the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk. It’s so epic.
Dutch: First: Weezer- Blue album, Last: Behemoth- Evangelion
XwesX: First: Guns N Roses “Appetite for Destruction” , Last: Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More”
Okay! Thanks so much for talking with me. And with that, I’m going to leave everyone with one more song for the road: