Man Overboard have seen one hell of a year. With the release of their blowout debut full length, they’ve made headway in becoming one of the most talked about and highly rated bands in the scene. When I found out they were playing at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont this year I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to pin the foursome down for a little Q&A. I knew if I was lucky I might even be able to get them to perform a few songs acoustically for the pleasure of our readers (and myself).
In the interview we discuss their debut album, future releases, tripping on shrooms, and if there is ever going to be a such a thing as maturing. You can check it out, along with an acoustic performance of “Al Sharpton” off the band’s most recent album right here.
In an interview, you once said your band name comes from you guys all being Alaskan fisherman, and someone falling overboard, is this actually true?
Zak: Nah, it’s a Blink song. I remember trying to think of the band name, it took forever, it got to be two months where we didn’t know what to call ourselves, and I remember being on the phone with Nik and Wayne at the same time, going through Blink songs, and I was like “Should we be called Apple Shampoo?” and they were like “No that’s stupid, but Man Overboard’s cool.”
You recently talked about a new acoustic E.P coming out, could you expand on that?
Nik: Did I say that?
Justin: I read that in an interview
Nik: I said that just because we had so many songs that we might end up doing.
Justin: But realistically what we’re gonna do is after the next tour that we do with You, Me and Everyone We Know, we’re going record three songs and do a split, we don’t know with who yet, but we’re gonna record them. But we aren’t planning anything acoustically.
To follow up, I read somewhere that when you first work out songs, you demo them acoustically on your computers, will those ever see the light of day?
Zak: I’ll make an acoustic version on the computer, and then I will pass it on. I just do an acoustic version on garage band, but it doesn’t really count, its more just for everyone to listen to. Nik has his own studio, so we’ll then make full band demos, immediately. Before we go to the studio, we already have 15 songs recorded with full band at Nik’s studio. We’re really just a bunch of geeks.
But those demos will never be released?
Justin: We did the dahlia three song digital release on run for cover, and there is a bonus demo track on their of “Septemberism,” so one’s on there.
Zak: I know kids on the fanpage have them.
Justin: Yeah I’m sure you can find them somewhere.
The lineup changes, how has that changed the dynamic of the band, and Justin how does it feel to move to guitars?
Justin: It happened in the middle of the tour, so that was kind of weird because I had to learn the song, but it was actually a lot easier than I thought.
Zak: We did it overnight, we had to.
Justin: The night that wayne left, we had a hotel, and we hung out until 4 in the morning with a laptop, Joe (fill in drummer) was playing on a pillow, and I was on my guitar not plugged in, and we learned the songs, and the next day we played a show.
And how’d that go?
Justin: Surprisingly well I feel.
What about the dynamic of the band?
Justin: Before we were in this band, me and Zak were in another band where he sang and I played guitar.
Zak: At this point, we’ve all been playing together for three years, so it was never like an earthquake.
“Real Talk” was such a great album, but no one can survive with just one record. Brand New has Deja Entandu, Taking Back Sunday has Tell All Your Friends, but they couldn’t have survived off just that one record; how are you guys differentiating yourself as a band from the record, and at the same time how are you going to follow it up musically?
Zak: We were talking about that the other day in the van actually. It’s gotta be catchy and relatable, that’s all we care about.
Nik: It’s weird, we’ve been on the road so much we’ve started writing songs about being homesick, and not a lot of kids can relate to that.
Zak: Its seems to me that kids talk about “Real Talk” in a good way because they’re like “well this happened to me and my girlfriend or this summer blah blah.” I just think as long as it stays like that we’re good. It can change a little bit, but we just want it to have hooks and things that people can like.
Justin: I think it comes down to whoever is writing the song, and them being a talented song writer who can write something that people are going to relate to.
Zak: I want to keep it easy. You know, when I was younger I used to listen to Cursive, eventually all his lyrics were like “I get paid to be on stage and spill my guts” and all that shit, and I remembering being like “I don’t know what that feels like.” We don’t want to get into that category.
Definitely. Real Talk has that young feel to it…
Zak: There all old songs.
Zak: Yeah, everything was written when we were teenagers.
Justin: Not all of them, but a lot of them.
Zak: We would sit in the studio, and I’d be like “Oh, I remember this song,” and it’d be something I wrote when I was 13. “She’s got her own man now” is the freshest song on Real Talk.
From what I can tell you guys relate yourself to Taking Back Sunday and Brand New.
Zak: Yeah, we do, and Where You Want To Be is an awesome record also.
Oh yeah, I totally agree, and those bands both had great debuts, but then they all matured, I mean, have you heard Brand New’s “Daisy”?
Zak: It rules
It’s so different. How is Man Overboard maturing?
Zak: I think it’s still too early to tell. I don’t see us getting weirder. I see us getting more polished. Well, not more polished, but more grown up. In my head, I wish we could be a normal people band, that we could be a band that your mom listens to, but like in ten years. You know what I mean? If there was a concert your teacher would go, instead of being Blink 182, I’d rather be like Everclear or Kings of Leon, where there are 13 year old girls there and 50 year old dudes, like The Killers. I’d like to be that someday instead of some alternative band that needs to be an emo band.
Yeah, you don’t want to just be a niche’ band. But with that said, that would mean you changing your sound to a more “rock” sound… How do you feel about that?
Zak: I think it would just mean us calming down a little bit.
Justin: I feel like the bands that get really big do their own thing, and that’s why they’re cool. I mean, for me, I just think the music we write is natural. We don’t have a set out formulas we are trying to fill so its always representative of what we want to play. I think the sound of the band will mature with however we mature as people. I don’t think its something we worry about.
Yeah, I get that. You must be proud of what you write. When you first heard the masters of “Real Talk” for the first time, did you get a rush of excitement and accomplishment.
Zak: First time I ever heard “Montrose,” we were tripping on mushrooms, and we were walking around the studio, doing our own thing.
Justin: We were sleeping over at the studio
Zak: Yeah, and Jesse Cannon is in the next room mixing “Montrose,” it was 4 in the morning, me and Nik were peaking, and he comes over to us, and he goes “Hey, I’m done.” So we were like “Alright,” so we go in his room, and I started like freaking out, just visualizing shit. I remembered he (Nik) looked like Mickey Mouse and Jesse looked like Goofy, and I was still on drugs, and I told everyone to fuck off and I was going to be rich someday, then I just went to sleep.
Nik: You cried.
Zak: Oh yeah, that’s right, I cried myself to sleep that night in Jesse Cannons studio going, “Oh it sounds so real. It sounds awesome man, we’re like a real band..”
Nik: When he first played “Real Talk” I was just like “holy fuck” it just sounds heavy and good.
Zak: When we first got it back, the songs I listened to the most were “Fantasy Girl” and “Al Sharpton.” I just couldn’t believe it was my band, it was just so cool.
Do you feel any pressure?
Justin: I don’t think he (Zak) is that kind of guy.
Zak: I think about it, but not really. I mean, we used to be in a band called Front Page together. We went to record our record, except the day before, I wrote 4 better songs, so I said “Yo, fuck those 4 songs, I’ve got four new ones.” It’s just not something I think or care about.
Justin: But you don’t let it get to you.
It seems that pop punk has been going through a resurgence lately…
Zak: I hope so, I agree.
What differences do you see as a pretty big force in the pop punk scene?
Zak: The overwhelming influence of hardcore. Pop punk is being used as a really easy gateway for hardcore, and it was never really like that before. You know earlier, it was like you were a metal kid then you turned into a hardcore kid, or you were a skate punk kid and then you turned into a hardcore kid, and so kids are getting into hardcore via pop punk. There is moshing at every pop punk show. I mean, as long kids are excited about the music its cool, but there has definitely been a change. I think it used to be a little more nerdy…
Justin: I feel like if you went to see Saves The Day in 1998, and they were playing songs off Can’t Slow Down, and there was a kind of breakdown part, I don’t think you’d see kids two stepping, or push moshing. Now kids just love to mosh, which is kind of weird, but whatever.
Zak: In a cool way, I think it used to be a little more nerdy, but now its cool to listen to pop punk.
Run For Cover records, which you released “Real Talk” on, seems to be becoming a stronger brand in the indie/pop-punk scene. Do you ever feel like “We’re on this label with so many other good bands, how do we push ourselves forward?”
Nik: I think everyone is growing at the same rate and the same time. Everyone is rooting for each other.
Justin: Everyone is kind of doing their own thing, but still working together, and I don’t think it is ever like “we need to get ahead of this band,” or anything like that, everyone is going hard their own way, but still working together. We still play shows with all the other bands.
Right on. That’s all there is from me, is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Justin: We’re doing a tour Oct. 10th until early November with You, Me and Everyone We Know, and then we’re going to Japan with Rufio, then we’re going to Europe with Transit, and check out the label Lost Tape Collective.Add Man Overboard to My Radar