Interview: Old News 2-16-19
Interview by Levi Yager with Max Abood, Connor Eaves and Beau Harris of the band Old News.
Right off the bat, I’m curious – where does the name Hands Like Glaciers come from?
Beau: I had this girlfriend with really fucking cold hands.
OK, gotcha. And so was that kind of a theme in the music – your ex – for this release?
Beau: Yeah. So, I would say that I was really intentional about trying not to write a bunch of bummer breakup songs this time around because I feel like it’s a really emo trope to tap into that. And, I mean, I feel like heartbreak brings about some of the best songs ever, but since the music – we were trying to get a little bit more experimental with – I also, lyrically, wanted to follow that. So, I think the Hands Like Glaciers kind of came about from the joke, you know, really cold hands. But also, it deals a lot with distance and coldness of affection. So, it just seemed kind of like an artsy way to sum all that up.
Sure, sure. Yeah, I was curious if that, you know, meant cold hands – or, like, something melting. I wasn’t quite sure, but that’s really cool. So, do you, Beau, do most of the writing, or do you guys kinda all add in on that? Or how has that worked so far?
Max: Lyrically, it’s all Beau. Musically, we all kinda pitch in our own ideas. It’s a little bit like a stew. We all have something, and we’ll all just throw it in. And if it works, it works.
Whatever’s in the cupboard, you just kind of toss it in, pretty much?
Max: Yeah. Sometimes Beau just writes out songs. And it’s like, “OK, well that’s done. On to the next one.”
Beau: It’s definitely changed a lot as our record cycles have continued. I would say the first two were predominantly, like, I would bring a skeleton in, and then I would pass them to Max and Blaine. Then they would flesh them out. And Blaine’s an amazing arranger. So, I can kind of bring him ideas, and he’ll give really honest criticism and then help find some other paths. But for Hands Like Glaciers, it was definitely the most collaborative effort so far. There was a lot of passing riffs around and “What if we put this here?” kind of things. And we’ve started working on a full-length, and that’s definitely the most everybody’s written. Like, Max is bringing entire tunes. Same with Blaine – same with me. But for Hands Like Glaciers, yeah, I would say it was pretty evenly split between the riffs, and then we would all just glue ’em together.
Cool. So a pretty collaborative process for all you guys, then, for this EP?
Beau: Mmhmm. Yep.
Nice. So, I would generally consider you guys a pretty prolific band. As far as, for the years you’ve been active, you’ve steadily been putting out a lot of good tunes. And you said you’re already working on a full-length at this point in time?
OK. What could fans expect to hear from the next chapter of Old News? I don’t know if all the foundations have been laid yet, so to speak, but what could we anticipate in that future with that full-length?
Beau: Well, for starters, Connor.
True, yes. This’ll be your first time recording on a release, is that right?
Connor: Yeah, hopefully, at least. But yeah, it’ll be really fun. I’ve started kinda writing a little bit of stuff here and there for it. It was very interesting because I recently wrote a part for “1917 Cherry St.” It was weird going back and taking a song that was older and writing a part for it now and making it a more almost-modernized version of the “classic” tune. Yeah, I’m getting a chance to write a little bit on the record and stuff, and it’s pretty nice.
Max: You’ve been bringing some fresh lead lines, too.
Connor: Thank you.
Beau: As far as direction – or, I guess, what to expect – spoilers; we’re doing, like, four tunes from our first two EPs. I’m not sure we’ve picked all of them, but we’re gonna try to do three or four and revisit those. Rearrange them and flesh them out a little bit more because when we wrote those, we did not really know what we were doing. We just kinda made ’em.
Sure. Just like, “We wanna make music.”
Beau: Yeah. So, four older tunes. And I would say that the newer stuff is kind of continuing along the Hands Like Glaciers path, which is math rock and emo but with all these really weird influences. Like, there’s a couple of straight country tunes that are gonna be on the record. Math country, I guess. But man, I don’t really know. They’re good. I hope.
Max: We’ve got two acoustic-y, country-ish tunes and then two just in-your-face, rippin’, rockin’ songs. So, I don’t know. We’re still working on some others that are more along that experimental, out-there vibe.
Beau: I would probably sum it up by saying the album is going to explore a lot more dynamic extremes. I feel like the last three records have been – on a scale of one to 10 of intensity – like, six or sevens all the way through all of it. And I would say that, for the full-length, we’re being really intentional about, “Okay, we want some songs that are threes, and we want some songs that are straight-10, noise insanity. And kind of everywhere in between.” So we’re being really intentional about that.
Gotcha. So not really just sitting comfortable in the sort of sound you’ve established – but branching off from that kind of thing.
Cool. Dude, I’m stoked to hear it.
Max: We are, too.
Do you know when it’s gonna be released maybe? And I know you guys just came out with an EP, so it’s not like you have a release date out.
Beau: We haven’t booked it yet, but we’ve toyed around with the idea of starting to record in March. Because we’ll be touring for South by Southwest, and I’ll be off of school. So we might set up in the studio for a couple days and at least test sounds out; try out a studio and see if it’s a good fit. I mean, I would love it if we could at least get it recorded by the end of this year. But, release-wise, it probably won’t come out until next year ’cause we really wanna do vinyl, too, and that takes a long time.
Well, cool. Good luck.
Beau: Yeah, thanks man.
So, another question. As I was listening to the new EP, I was wondering – did you go into this album with any overarching themes, or even characteristics, in mind for any of you? Or would you say each song is more of a standalone thought?
Max: Lyrically, I think there’s definitely themes. Compositionally, I think every song kinda has a different inspiration, I guess. Like, they’re all very much their own song, and I feel like this EP didn’t have as much fluff. On the past couple EPs, there were some songs where it’s like, “That was cool. Could probably do without it.” But on this one, it’s like every song just kinda hits. And it’s like, “Yeah, that’s a good song. Yeah, that’s a good song.” But yeah, they all definitely stand alone really well.
Beau: Connor joined a few weeks after we finished tracking. But it was never meant to be an EP, and it became one. So we met Connor ’cause he was part of the Wichita scene that we all play in. Our bands toured together this summer. And so we got really cozy with Connor and knew that he was gonna be a good fit when our previous guitar player left. And we’re all about pushing content out. We’re not a big enough band that we can just coast for awhile. You know, people have short attention spans. So we got back from tour, and we were like, “Okay, let’s do, like, two singles, and we’ll just put ’em out over summer and have something for people to listen to.” So we went into the studio and recorded “Quarter Life Crisis” and “Melatonin Gummy” and then liked the way they sounded. And we had a little bit of money to play with, so we were like, “What if we recorded this one and this one?” So we went back to the studio and recorded “Tangled Up” and “Floods Of Color.” And then we were like, “We should do five songs.” And so every two months, we’d be like, “Well, what if we added these other two?”
Max: “Don’t Bum Me Out” was the last one that we wrote.
Beau: Yeah, and so then we were like, “Oh, well, we have five songs; we should put this out as one thing.”
Max: Just do an EP.
Beau: Which, I feel so bad for the engineer because, you know, having to mix an entire EP – mix and master it from three different sessions – and make it sounds like one thing. And we worked with Scott Spriggs, and he’s just an insane engineer.
Max: Scott’s a killer dude. He knows what he’s doing, for sure.
Beau: Really supportive guy. Really encouraged us to find some new sounds and kind of push things further. Like, it ended up being heavier than I think we’ve done before. He’s an amazing rock engineer, and so he was helping us find these, like, really gritty tones. Anyway, I can’t say enough nice things about Scott. But yeah, it wasn’t necessarily supposed to ever be an EP. So I think that’s part of why all five songs sound so drastically different, and we just kinda include ’em together. But, lyrically, they center around the same four or five topics.
Nice. Well, it’s cool that you guys were able to pull that off – as far as, you know, recording it in little stints. That’s awesome. So, Connor, you have been with the band for how long now?
Connor: Jeez, maybe three months.
How’s it been?
Connor: It’s been pretty good, I guess. I don’t know. They’re cool, I guess. No, it’s been great. It’s a very new experience ’cause all the bands I’ve played in ever have been, you know, straight emo bands. Lots of ambiance and shit. And it was just this big jump to go into something that’s like, “Alright, now you’re gonna play really jazz- and funk-influenced type stuff. But don’t worry, it’s still, like, the same emotion that you’ve been playing with, but it’s completely different at the same time.” And so, I had to go through and pretty much relearn how to play guitar. And that was super fun, and I just got to sit there with guitar again and just learn how to make my hands move into these crazy shapes I had never even thought of. So that was fun for me ’cause I know nothing about theory – or really music in general. I just kinda started playing. So it’s been a very pleasant experience so far.
Connor: Yeah, and it’s nice getting to, like, piggy-back off of all their hard work, too, I will say.
Sure, yeah. Jumpin’ in on that?
Connor: Yeah, yeah. Just like, “Oh, you guys have already put in all this work. Let me just weasel my way in.”
Cool, cool. Another question – so, what are some goals that you guys wanted to accomplish with Hands Like Glaciers? You could do for each of you – or if you don’t know any, that’s fine. But yeah, are there any? And, if so, what are they?
Beau: Max, you wanna go first?
Max: I have no idea. I gotta think about this one. Goals, as far as with the release? Or just, like, the overall product?
Either way, really. You know, it could be the product as far as going in and recording. Did you have anything in mind, like, “This is what I want to be doing on this EP?” Or, it could be with the release, you know, “This is what I want to come out of this EP.” Either way. You can kinda do whatever you want with the question. I don’t know if that helps or maybe makes it harder.
Beau: I have a couple if you wanna think about it.
Max: Yeah, go for it.
Beau: So, as far as things we wanna do going forward, we will be touring much heavier on this one. ‘Cause I love Castro, and I think that it was a really fun album cycle, but we only toured on it once. I mean, we played regionally with it, but we really only did one run in support of it. And I think that it was kind of a missed opportunity. So, we finally have enough money to buy another van, and we’re doing a run in March with Idea and some festival appearances in support of Hands Like Glaciers. So, touring on it heavier and treating it like something we’re proud of and want people to hear. And as far as things that I wanted to do with it, was lyrically explore some more mature topics that weren’t just bummer breakup songs. EPs are so cool because you don’t have to invest a lot of money, but you can explore a lot of musical territory. And so I really wanted to see, like, how far can we push these jazz colors? How much weird stuff can we sneak into this? So I just wanted to really make sure that it still sounded like an Old News EP or record but it showed that we can do more than just four-chord emo tunes. So that was my goal going into it.
Connor: I wasn’t really there to have goals for the record, but I can just say what I appreciate about it, I suppose.
Connor: I think if you look at the contrast between, like, “Johnny Poop Shoes” and a song like “Melatonin Gummy” or “Floods Of Color,” the growth is pretty ridiculous. It’s just like this crazy insane growth that happened in a very short amount of time, which – out of Wichita bands – that’s probably the quickest growth that I, personally, have seen. And so, I think that my personal goal, then, with that would be I wanna help share that with people through touring and everything. But, also, getting to share an idea is a super important part of music. And I think that’s gonna kinda be what I want to help share is the whole idea behind it by taking more mature themes that are also these classic tropes of emo – like breakup songs. But what’s really the in-depth part of the breakup? And sharing something like that with people is super fun. So that’s what I got, I guess.
Max: I think we also wanted to just expand our audience – as far as listeners and even us as a band – regionally. We’ve been pretty well-known in the Wichita area, but I think we’re wanting to be a little bit better as far as breaking out more Midwest-area. But yeah, as far as listeners, I don’t know. There’s a lot more pop influence. Like, take “Don’t Bum Me Out.” That one is very straight-forward and not very crazy, though we do throw in some off-wall changes here and there to keep people interested, I guess. And then something like “Quarter Life Crisis,” where it’s a lot softer, a little bit more mellow, and then it builds up and gets a little bit heavier. All those songs just, I think, reach a different audience of listeners. People who super like math rock are gonna probably listen to “Floods Of Color.” People who like the more straight-forward stuff, probably “Don’t Bum Me Out” or even “Tangled Up” – even though it’s in seven, it’s still very cut-and-dry. So we definitely were trying to appeal to more people, I guess.
Beau: Can I piggyback off that?
Max: Yeah, go for it.
Beau: I think that’s a really good point, and it’s almost like each song has a niche of people that we can market it to. And I know that sounds so clinical.
Max: That’s exactly what I was trying to say.
Beau: But, you know, I’m a huge fan of Chon and Dance Gavin Dance, and to me, “Floods Of Color” is like, middle school Beau would love this. But then, we have a lot of people that really like indie rock, and I think that “Don’t Bum Me Out” is a great example of something that gets kind of Death Cab for Cutie-ish in parts. You know, each song has a niche. And “Melatonin Gummy” is just a pop punk Fall Out Boy banger. So I think a good goal of ours would be, since we’re going to be supporting this for awhile through the use of music videos or even just posting songs to certain groups – we’re really active on Reddit or on Facebook groups – cherry-picking some of these songs and just making sure they’re going to the right audience. Because we wanna expand our audience regionally, of course, but I also really wanna see our music get into the hands of different groups of listeners that emo music doesn’t normally find its way into.
Connor: The coolest thing ever is taking somebody who’s never really been a part of the whole music scene or anything and then getting them into emo music. So that’s cool. Getting them into the whole punk scene and stuff – that’s always a good feeling.
Cool. So without forsaking the core elements of what makes Old News, Old News, you still provide something for everybody on Hands Like Glaciers. Is that kinda what you’re getting at?
Beau: Yeah, definitely. And, you know, we’ve gotten a lot of listens to it, which is really, really cool. But one of my favorite things that’s come out if it is people are connecting lyrically with this release, I think, more than some of our other ones. And it almost seems like every time someone says it, they point out something different in a different song. It’s not like, “Hey man, these lyrics in ‘Floods Of Color’ were really cool,” and then everybody picks that one. On Castro, people were like, “Man, ‘Disappointed but Not Surprised.’” It’s like a Wichita meme now.
Connor: It’s disappointing but not surprising.
Beau: Yeah, but with this one, I’ve had a lot of people be like, “Damn, dude. ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ just, like, punched me.”
Max: I’ve heard so many people say that song’s too relatable.
Beau: Yeah. Or, like, there’s a couple of tunes in there about friends with benefits situations gone horribly awry. And some people being like, “Oh damn, dude. That hits just a little too close to home.” So, you know, I think there’s something musically for everybody, and I think there’s something lyrically for everybody, too. If anything, I’m really proud of that aspect of the release.
Cool. I got another question here for ya. So, the inclusion of brass instruments – horns, sax, things like that – has been a part of Old News’ sound since the beginning. What made you wanna stick with keeping horns and sax involved with each EP you’ve released so far?
Beau: I mean, it’s just out there – in a lot of ways. For a long time, we had a trumpet player named Sutton Wilson, who is a killer guy – killer musician. And I met Sutton because we toured in a funk band together. That was, like, the first group we ever went on the road with. And, you know, Max and Blaine both are university jazz students, and I was for a brief period of time, too. So, being in that world really exposes you to a lot of super badass horn players, and it’s just part of that culture. So we just love jazz music, and I think that the intersection between rock and jazz provides you with so many colors. And horns are cool.
Almost like floods of color, you could say.
Beau: Yeah, exactly.
Max: You could say that.
Beau: And I would say that Hands Like Glaciers probably has the least amount of horns on it just because Sutton stopped playing with us about halfway through the recording cycle. So he’s on the last two tracks, and then we wrote the other three. And those don’t have horns on them. But, dude, I’m just all about that Soul Train/funk horn section stuff. So I think on the full-length, I would love to see us kind of return to that and do more with it. But we’re just all about bringing unorthodox elements into rock music, and I think horns are a cool way to do that but not be a ska band.
Connor: Next is didgeridoo.
Beau: Oh, hell yeah, man.
Connor: Old News also is a ska band. Old News is technically a ska band.
Beau: Dude, the amount of times that we have gotten pigeonholed into opening for ska bands is absurd.
Beau: Yeah. Like, we played Riverfest, and we opened up for Save Ferris, which is a really old school ska band. It seems like every time a ska band comes through, someone hits us up about playing the bill because it’s like, “Oh, you guys have a trumpet player; you’ll get along great!” It’s like, “Yeah, I mean, I guess. But our music’s real weird in comparison to ska music.”
Yeah. It’s not ska, that’s for sure.
Connor: Having a trumpet player’s a personality trait. It’s kinda like friends who just smoke weed together but don’t talk the whole time.
Beau: So, I mean, we haven’t ruled out getting another trumpet player or another horn player. For our album release show, we had a pianist and a sax player join us. And a couple shows back, we had a cellist and a piano player. So, I think we’re interested in exploring those unorthodox sounds, and we would really like to find someone who can play multiple instruments. That way, it’s not like horn on every song or keys on every song. You know, something to kind of pick and choose. But yeah, we’re all about horns, man.
Yeah. I think it works for you guys, definitely. So you said you’re kinda looking at, maybe in the future, having another core member around – at least for your live shows – who would do all that miscellaneous, extra sound that you guys have with either your horns or keys or cello. Looking at that maybe?
Beau: It’s something we’ve talked about but we haven’t really committed to.
Max: Yeah, we haven’t really been actively seeking out anybody. It’s kinda just like, “Well, if we meet the right person.”
Beau: Exactly. ‘Cause I think one thing we goofed on a little bit is – and not to speak poorly of anyone who’s been in the band – but it’s really, really important to be very, very picky about who you play with. And personality-wise, it has to be a good fit. Musicianship-wise, it has to be a good fit. Then also, you gotta have the same goals. And I know that Connor, Max, Blaine and I all want the same things, and we kind of imagine the same things here in a few years. So, we’re just really taking our time. And, you know, if we don’t find ’em, we won’t get it. But if we do find someone, it would be a cool addition.
Cool. So, not really something you’re hurting for in the moment, but you’re definitely open to it if the door’s there in the future.
Beau: Yeah. And not having one also gives us opportunities to play with different colors. You know, we’re blessed enough to have a lot of really, really talented friends. So whenever we come through Wichita, it’s really easy to hit up the people on our list and be like, “Hey, do you wanna sit in?” And that way, every show is a different thing with a different instrument with a different person, and it just brings extra colors and textures compared to if we had a fifth member right now. It wouldn’t limit our ability to do that, but it would complicate it because, you know, more parts have to be written, more people have to be at rehearsal, more things can go wrong.
It would create a different dynamic than what you’ve already known.
Gotcha. Next question for ya – so, you guys are currently working on a music video, right? Editing that today, right?
Beau: Yep, editing.
What can you tell us about that?
Max: I actually haven’t seen anything from it.
OK. So, Max, what can you tell us?
Max: I know it’s blue and red.
That’s pretty good. Those are good colors, yeah.
Beau: One of Connor and I’s friends name is Jacob Prickett, and he’s a director and a filmmaker here in Wichita. He did our video for “Disappointed but Not Surprised.” So I’ve been exploring video, but I knew that I wanted Jacob to do another one for us ’cause he’s just phenomenal, man. We had a couple of ideas for singles that we knew we wanted to push maybe more than other tunes. And so I passed Jacob a flash drive with these tunes on it, and I was like, “Pick the one you’re most excited about, and make a short film to that song,” essentially. So he listened through ’em for a few weeks, and he was really diggin’ on “Melatonin Gummy,” which is the one that the music video’s for. We gave him no rules, pretty much. We were just like, “Whatever. Play to your strengths. Make just a fucking cool video to this tune.” I don’t wanna give away too much, but I would say that what to expect are some of the dopest, twitchiest color schemes. He set up these really cool lights, and we shot it in his house. It’s real psychedelic and kinda creepy – just vibrantly 3-D colors. It’s really dope.
Cool. Do you have an idea when it’s gonna be out? Or you’re still just kinda taking it as it goes – working on it?
Beau: Hopefully, next week. We filmed the video before “Don’t Bum Me Out” was recorded. So we’ve been sitting on the footage, but it was kinda tricky to get all of our schedules lined up. And I just moved to Lawrence, and that made it even worse ’cause Jacob and I have to be in one place to edit it. We’re gonna meet up later. So it’s like 90-percent done, and it’s been 90-percent done for, like, three months. Literally, we’re gonna meet for an hour and trim two shots down to size and then color correct it, and then it’s done. As soon as it’s done, we’ll probably take a week to kinda work some press and PR angles and see if we can get another premier. And if we can’t, then we’ll just toss it up on YouTube and Reddit – call it good.
Nice. So it’s coming out regardless.
Very cool. So, you said you moved to Lawrence recently. Are the rest of you guys still living in Wichita, or are you kinda all in different places right now?
Max: Yeah, we’re all in Wichita right now. Except for Beau, obviously.
Gotcha. When did you move to Lawrence?
Beau: Like, a month ago. A month-and-a-half. I mean, Connor, Max and Blaine are just insane musicians, and everybody does their homework. For the album release show, we didn’t practice in two months, and we met up the day before. We picked all the tunes a week or so [in advance] and wrote out the setlist and then showed up. For the show, we literally ran some of those songs once – and the other ones, maybe two or three times – and then just went in and did it. So it’s a really good group that allows me to live in a place that I wanna live but still not have to sacrifice the integrity of our sound.
Connor: Yeah, this band’s a lot about homework. It’s a lot of homework. It’s like I’m in school again.
Sounds fun. That’s why they call it math rock?
Connor: Yeah, exactly. I have to do my equations, and then I’m good.
Max: And turn it in.
Nice. So, is that gonna change the recording process a little bit more? Is it gonna take a little longer, maybe?
Max: It’s definitely been a little interesting. Yesterday was the first show that we’ve played since Beau has kinda been gone, and it was encouraging to see we were able to get together and just kill it without really seeing or playing with each other for a month or so. As far as the writing and recording process; the writing process, with Beau gone, we’re probably gonna be doing a lot more bouncing riffs back and forth over the internet. Just saying, like, “Hey, here’s this idea.” “Cool, I’ll toss it in this.” Or whatever. Whereas, before, we would do that in person. So that’s really gonna be the main change. Recording; I think we’ll all still get together and plan dates and record together as a band, as bands do. Yeah, I don’t know. You gonna be able to do any home studio stuff? We’re probably not looking at doing that for this one.
Beau: Probably not. But kinda like Max pointed out, it’s really transitioned to – rather than writing in person – we’re now writing over the internet. And one cool side effect is now we just have a hard drive full of riffs. So every idea is very, very curated now. And so, we have tunes for the full-length that will not make it on the full-length, but we can go back and chop them up and reuse them later. But it’s changed, like, I miss seeing them every day a lot. But we’re a highly scheduled group of people. Like, Max and Blaine and Connor and I all play in multiple other bands and go on the road with multiple other bands. So we gotta keep pretty organized with online calendars. So, really, keeping shows and recording and doing all that stuff is already so scheduled out anyway. Either I drive down here, or, if we’re playing up north, then they drive up there. And, you know, once we get the van, it will be a little easier, too.
So it’s not necessarily a lot more difficult. Just kinda different?
Beau: Yeah, it just takes a little bit more thought. And we have to be a lot pickier with the shows that we take, which is really a good thing. I mean, we love playing, and so we’ve always been pretty down to take just about whatever. But we’re having to get pickier in terms of where, what venue, what cities, the money aspect behind things. And we have to put more thought into it across the board.
OK, cool. So I’m curious to get your guys’ take on this. ‘Cause I’ve heard it said before that the Wichita music scene, in general, has been kinda inconsistent – fluctuates quite a bit as far as turnout at shows with fans and everything like that. So I’m wondering, do you guys agree or disagree with that idea of how it’s worked so far in the past? And also, what do you think of it now as far as playing with Old News for a little while?
Beau: Connor, I feel like you’re probably the best equipped for this.
Connor: I mean, every music scene is gonna go through its highs and lows. That’s just kinda how it works. All these new bands will pop up because there’s a need for that. Especially with young kids, there’s always a need to be in bands and have music. Music’s lasted so long for a reason. But, you know, those bands end up breaking up or not really doing much. Or people stop showing up to shows or something. And it’s not usually the band’s fault; that’s just what happens. We always just need new bands. And I think we’re almost approaching that in a weird way. We have a really strong music scene, but at the same time, we definitely need new bands always rolling through because that’s what keeps it alive. So I guess that’s just my view on the music scene is we always need new bands.
So, basically, the scene is always kinda there; you just gotta tap into it – help nurture it.
Connor: Yeah. ‘Cause people grow up, and people kinda lose interest. Or people move away. A lot of people move out of Wichita for school and everything – a lot of people who go to shows. So, it’s finding more people to get them interested in it and everything. It’s about getting people out to your shows – ’cause I definitely love playing in front of a bunch of people. But, at the same time, it’s about the people there, too, and letting them have the best time they possibly can with it and feeling like they’re in a cool, safe environment and everything. I think it’s this super important part of the music scene and why it exists in the first place.
Yeah. No matter how many kids show up.
Connor: Yeah, no matter how many show up. As long as they’re having a good time, I’m gonna be having a good time. I’ve been on tour and played in front of literally two or three people, and some of them are fun. Sometimes. South Dakota was an interesting time. But as long as they’re having fun, and everybody’s just getting along and having a good time, that’s a music scene in itself. That’s what matters with it, you know. So if a band like Kill Vargas can get 500 people out to their shows, that’s amazing. But then, smaller bands around town – and newer bands – they’ll have a draw of, like, 20 people. And as long as those people are loving what they’re hearing and having a great time with it, then both shows are super successful. And what determines the success of a music scene is, how do we provide a good environment for people to have fun?
And that mindset probably provides for a healthier music scene in general, I would assume.
Connor: Well, I would hope. Yeah, that’s what I think. I think that everybody kinda gets a little worried about us. Like, “Oh no. What if people don’t show up?” That’s OK. Just have fun, and more people will show up. Yeah. Just have fun with it.
Beau: I definitely agree that Wichita has the perception that our scene fluctuates, perhaps more than other scenes do. I think part of that really boils down to money in a lot of ways. Like, Wichita is not necessarily the best economic place.
[Max had to leave for work at this point.]
Beau: Quite frankly, since Old News has been a band, three out of five all-ages venues have closed down. And in that same amount of time, not very many venues are opening up. So as shitty as it is, being a band is being a business. And in order for you to play certain places, you have to bring a certain amount of people so an actual business can make money. I think part of the reason it fluctuates so much is people get used to not paying money for art. But I would say that now we’re on an upswing. There are venues in town that are more accepting and encouraging of smaller bands that are not necessarily financially beneficial to the venue. I think that’s important. Several venues in town – Wave being one of them, for sure – they pay artists really equitably and really transparently. And I think places like that provide a stability for bands to go out and do their thing – compared to when you’re dealing with real fucking sketchy bars, or if you can’t bring kids out to a show so everything’s a house show. And not everyone wants to go to a house show, or some people only wanna go to house shows.
Connor: Yeah. At the same time, house shows are super important in music scenes, I think. You know, I threw house shows for four years straight before I finally was just like, “I can’t do that anymore. That’s just too much for me now.” But I was doing that for four years straight at two different houses, and a lot of times kids’ first shows are house shows that their parents finally let them go to because they’re seeing their friends’ band there. And I know my first shows were always in houses or in little DIY spots. ‘Cause it’s kind of like a separation of two ideas. And there’s places like Wave where they’ll pay artists. They will accept smaller bands. They’ll just try and get people there. They just want people to have fun. And that similar idea is changed when it’s in a house venue ’cause it’s more like, “You just want people there so you can pay these touring bands.” And I think house shows are what really help touring bands the most. So I think both are super important pieces to the music scene. ‘Cause it’s like, you start with house shows, and then you move up to places like Wave – or even Barleycorn’s and everything. And that’s how local bands grow. But you gotta start somewhere, and that’s why I think house shows are probably the most important part of a music scene, which sucks ’cause we don’t have any house venues right now.
Beau: And I think that’s a really great point, is you have to have both. You have to have a DIY culture, and you have to have a stable bar scene or music venue scene. And I think part of the reason Wichita fluctuates so much is they just cycle back and forth, and they’re not always both there at the same time. So right now, there are some great venues in town, and on the flip side, there aren’t very many house spots or DIY spots. Six months ago, that was the polar opposite. You know, there were more DIY spaces. There were more house shows. But several all-ages venues were closing down, and then there were really only bars. So you have those two pieces of the puzzle – and then good bands. And in order to have a successful scene, you have to have all three. And with Wichita, it’s kind of like a “pick two” situation. But I would love to see the DIY culture continue and hopefully grow back to where it was, like, six months or a year ago. I think that would help it a lot.
Connor: Well, we need another band like Valleyview. That’s what we need. Valleyview was our saving grace there for a minute, honestly. But now they broke up. Sad day. But yeah, we just need young kids starting bands. That’s it. ‘Cause then, everything else will happen from there. They’ll go to a show, they’ll meet an older person that’s like, “Wait, let me share a little bit of knowledge with you real quick.” Then they’ll be like, “Oh, I can throw shows at my house? Amazing.” That’s pretty much how it happened with me, at least. That’s how I got into this mess.
Well cool. Yeah, thanks. I was curious to get your guys’ thoughts on that. So I believe I heard that you guys are gonna be going on tour sometime soon or later this year. You said that’s gonna start in March, is that right?
Beau: Yeah. It’s not all booked yet – some of it is. We’re slated to appear at South by Southwest and The Math Rock Times Festival. And, I mean, The Math Rock Times goes on during South by Southwest. So we’ll be there anyway.
Well, that’s convenient.
Beau: Yeah, right? South by is so cool. But yeah, so we’re touring down there and then back up in March over spring break ’cause Blaine and I are out of school; we can miss a week. And then, we’re gonna do at least one actual tour this summer. I would like to do two, but it just kinda depends on people’s availabilities. But I would guess at least this March run, one summer tour and hopefully one more later fall/winter kinda thing.
Gotcha. But you’re still figuring out locations and dates.
Beau: Yeah. And like I’ve mentioned, we’re just about to get another van, and that makes it economically so much more possible ’cause renting vans is so expensive. And, I mean, having one is expensive, too. But it makes it a little bit easier to do it without having to coordinate so much.
Yeah. So, will this be an additional van, or are you getting rid of Castro?
Beau: Oh, dude. Castro is dead. That boy is gone. We ran that van into the dirt. And I also forgot to give it coolant. So, that will do it.
Oh, that’ll cause a problem. I’ve had that happen before.
Connor: That reminds me, I need to put coolant in my car now that I know that exists.
Beau: Yeah. So, Castro treated us well, but I think we need something a little bit bigger ’cause we have more amps now. It was easy when we had a trumpet player ’cause he could just literally keep his trumpet on his lap. But, you know, now our amps are getting bigger, and we’re bringing more guitars, and we have actual merch now. We just needed more space anyway. So keep an eye out for that.
Connor: Yeah. Well, when we toured together, you just had Sutton’s Ford Focus or whatever it was.
Beau: It was buck wild. Yeah, the tour we did with Junior Retreat, Junior Retreat had a van and a trailer. And we did share a lot of gear, but we tossed a bunch of stuff back there, and then we kept all our guitars in this Ford hatchback. And all of us and our fucking luggage and our guitars in, like, a compact car for two weeks was rough.
Wow. You really got to know each other, then.
Beau: Yeah, man. You get to know people intimately.
In ways you never wanted to know them.
Do you have an idea of who you might be touring with in the future? Or are you still kinda figuring that out?
Beau: For this March one – and it’s still being finalized – but there’s another band from Wichita called Idea. Killer, killer math rock band, and they’re also appearing at The Math Rock Times Fest. So I think we’re gonna try to do a couple dates on the way there with them, and then we’ll appear at the festival with them. So that’ll be one. And then, also, Travel Guide. ‘Cause Travel Guide’s back to doing things. They’re at South by Southwest, so we’re gonna be kinda playing around there with them. I’m not sure if we’re gonna share a bill, but I know that some of us are riding together.
Connor: And Cartwheel, too, right?
Beau: I don’t know if Cartwheel’s doing South by. I hope so.
Connor: I think Cartwheel’s doing South by as well. And then another band that Caleb was in, I think, too, if I remember correctly. Yeah. It’s like everyone’s going this year.
Beau: There’s a lot of good bands. I know the only band that we’re slated to actually go on the road with is Idea, but we will be riding with a lot of people from a lot of different Wichita bands, which’ll save money on gas.
Gotcha. So, for sure, probably Idea and Travel Guide. And maybe more.
Beau: Yeah, maybe more. But definitely Idea and Travel Guide. Later, when we do these other, kinda more extended tours, I don’t think we’ve really gotten to the stage that we’re talking about bringing other groups with us yet. ‘Cause I think it would be good for us to do just an Old News tour. And, of course, get local support in the cities that we go to. But, dude, sharing the road with your friends in another band is so fun. You know, it gives you a break from your band. Yeah, it’s very nice.
Connor: There’s several bands I want to tour with. There’s always bands I wanna tour with. Mess.
Beau: I would love to tour with Mess. Actually, Mess and I stayed on Connor’s couch yesterday. So it was like an emo boy slumber party.
Connor: Yeah, it was ridiculous. But it was, like, 3 a.m. So we were all just like, “It doesn’t matter.”
Beau: Like, “I’m gonna go the fuck to sleep.”
“I need a place to be unconscious for a few hours.”
Beau: Yeah, exactly.
So, just one fun question for you guys. For each of you, what’s an album you’ve been listening to recently, and why? Just one album – if you can think of one that you’ve been listening to a lot recently.
Beau: Ooh, this is gonna be so hard to pick one.
Connor: I have to remember what the actual album name is real quick
Beau: Can I pick two?
Sure, you can pick two. Max isn’t here.
Beau: So I’ll take his – it’s fine. Dude, I have listened to Delta Sleep’s Ghost City probably three or four times a week since it came out in August. I think that might be my favorite rock record of all time. And then, I’ve been listening to this really, really great afro-beat/afro-funk album called 4 Hlidar by the Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band, which is some of the coolest, funkiest percussion stuff. It’s super groovy.
Connor: I’ve been listening to Springtime and Blind by Fiddlehead a lot. That album is amazing. They’re kinda like basement but better, basically. And then, I’ve been listening to – probably my favorite rock album of all time – which is Die With Your Tongue Out by Tigerwine. They’re just the best band I’ve ever seen live. So, those are my two records I’ve been listening to a lot.
Beau: I know Max has been listening to Keep Doing What You’re Doing by Tangled Hair a lot – and the new Periphery single, just, on repeat.
Connor: He loves Periphery, yeah.
Beau: See, I’m gonna say that Max has been listening to that, and he’s gonna be like, “Man, I’ve been listening to this.”
At one point in time, he was listening to that.
Beau: Yeah, “Three months ago – I swear to God – you were, like, screaming that album all the time.”
Connor: It’s hard to just pick two albums that you’ve been listening to. I just did my last two that I had listened to today because I’m constantly changing records. Like, every day is a new set of records. It’s just whatever I feel like listening to that day, but it’s always changing. So it’s always hard to pick when someone is like, “What have you been listening to?” It’s like, “That’s a big question.”
It is. It is a big question.
Beau: I could give a lecture on what I’ve been listening to.
True, true. Well, cool. That’s everything I have for ya that I could think of. Is there anything either of you wanna add?
Connor: Listen to the album.
Beau: Yeah, listen to Hands Like Glaciers. Definitely wanna give a really big thank-you to Substream Magazine and Playlistplay.
Connor: I didn’t know Substream.
Beau: Yeah, they premiered “Tangled Up.”
Connor: Oh. I didn’t know that.
Beau: Yeah, it was pretty dope.
Connor: I don’t know how I didn’t know that, but that’s cool.
Beau: Yeah, those two outlets have done a lot to help us out recently. Also, definitely a big thank-you to Scott Spriggs at Naughty Dog and Dan Davis for making some sick tapes. Great dude. Also, as a closing, go listen to the new Cartwheel record. Like, mandatory listen. Kristyn Chapman and Will and Riley just did an insane job on it, and I think it’s, like, the best record to come out of Wichita in years.
Connor: David from Air House engineered that. Yeah, David did a really good job on engineering that record.
Beau: There’s just some really talented Wichita people, and it’s really cool to see everybody working together and kinda cycling through each other’s bands right now.
Very cool. Alright, anything else?
Beau: Watch out for the “Melatonin Gummy” video that I’m gonna go finish in 30 minutes.
Connor: I have to work. Bummer.
Connor: So much fun. I’m gonna make some coffee. It’s actually pretty fun. It’s a pretty good job.
Doesn’t sound too bad.
Connor: Nah, it could be worse.
Beau: That’s all I got.
Awesome, man. Thanks for taking time to come and chat.