2020 was going to be a big year for The Flatliners. After touring far and wide in support of their 2017 full-length Inviting Light, the band took most of 2019 off from playing live. Had things gone according to plan, 2020 would have found Canada’s finest foursome writing and recording a new record and touring […]
2020 was going to be a big year for The Flatliners. After touring far and wide in support of their 2017 full-length Inviting Light, the band took most of 2019 off from playing live. Had things gone according to plan, 2020 would have found Canada’s finest foursome writing and recording a new record and touring heavily in support of the 10th anniversary of their album Cavalcade, an album that made even jaded old punks like me change my opinion on the Flats from being “a pretty cool young band” to “Oh damn, this band rules!” Wouldn’t you know it, 2020 had other plans for the Flats – and for all of us, obviously. Their self-imposed downtime of 2019 obviously bled into the global pandemic-imposed downtime of 2020 (and 2021 if we’re being honest) and coincided with some of the most widespread times of social unrest in probably half a century.
And so was the environment in which the Flatliners, somewhat secretly, finally got to work on crafting a new full-length album. The resulting album, New Ruin, marked not only a return to Fat Wreck Chords as a label home after a one-album stay on Rise Records for InvitingLight, but a return to a more frantic and aggressive sound that was a calling card of some of the band’s earlier work. It is, quite simply, some of the best and most pointed and most vital music of their collective career.
Oh by the way, that aforementioned career just eclipsed the twenty-year mark. That fact is, frankly, mind-boggling not only because the band has consisted of the same foursome – Chris Cresswell on vocals and guitar, Scott Brigham on guitar, John Darbey on bass and Paul Ramirez on drums – for its entire duration, but also when you consider that the band’s members are all in their mid-thirties. I know, right?
We caught up with the Flatliners’ inimitable frontman Chris Cresswell just prior to his heading abroad for a few shows with his other band – a little project called Hot Water Music – to talk about the last couple of years in the Flats’ camp, the writing of what turned out to be some of their angriest work to date, and the ability to simultaneously celebrate both the new album and the comfortable, confident place that the band finds itself at two decades into their collective career. Coming off of the longest break of their career seems to have left the band recharged and laser-focused on what’s to come.
Read our full Q & A with the always affable Cresswell down below. Oh, and check out New Ruin if you haven’t already. Here’s our review of the album, which is out now on Fat Wreck Chords and Dine Alone!
(Believe it or not, the following has been condensed for content/clarity reasons.)
Dying Scene (Jay Stone): So how’s it going?
Chris Cresswell: Good man! Just actually enjoying ten days of home time between tours. It’s been a wild, wild year. I’ve barely been here, I feel like I’m more riff than person this year. (*both laugh*) But in a good way. It’s nice to be back to it. I’ve had a couple little chunks of time at home lately, which is good, man. Necessary. Fill the tank up, you know?
Congratulations on twenty years (of The Flatliners as a band)! It was officially twenty years, what, last week?
Yeah, (September) 14th.
That is wild.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, you know? It’s strange to think that it’s twenty officially now. Last year we were planning all the stuff we were doing this year, anticipating the 20th, and we were just like “how the fuck does this make sense?!”
When you can measure the span in multiple decades, it kinda does weird things to your brain.
I went to a show for the first time in a while this weekend. I saw Face To Face, and we were doing the math, Scott (Shiflett) and I, while we talking, and I realized it’s been 25 years since I’ve known those guys and that we’ve been friendly. Like…I have people in this scene that I’ve been friends with for a quarter of a century…
A few days before the band turned 20, Scott (Brigham) and I realized that we’ve been friends for thirty years. We met the first day of kindergarten, and in Ontario at least, the first day of school is always right after Labor Day. So, we were like “well, we met in ‘92,” so we looked up Labor Day of ‘92 and double-checked it with the school district calendar and we were like “damn, officially thirty years!” So it’s been a big year, for a lot of reasons. Those are two of the big reasons in my life anyway. It’s been a lot of reflection, but it’s good too, because it’s positive reflection that can propel us forward. As much as we’ve been celebrating the twentieth anniversary of The Flats, it’s nice for us to also have a new record out to celebrate the present and take us into the future. It’s not all just pure nostalgia train. And that stuff is cool, I have no problem with that. It’s a powerful drug! But I’m just glad there’s both things happening.
You talked about reflection, and we’re coming out of a time where we were all sort of forced to stay home for however long any of us chose to stay home for…did this period of reflection on twenty years sneak up on you after not really being able to do anything but reflect for a while?
Certain elements of it did, for sure. As much planning and scheming as you can do as a band, everything still comes down to the wire. Everything needed to be done yesterday (*both laugh*) and that’s kind of the nature of the music business at large, as well. But to be honest, that downtime of those couple years, we were pretty well prepared and organized in terms of getting to work and making sure that things were ready for when they needed to be ready. Knowing when we wanted to put the record out – inevitably that got pushed to the summer, but we wanted it out earlier than that – but that kind of always happens anyway, pandemic or major vinyl delays aside – so that was okay. 2021 was pretty well organized and planned. The lamest way I could put it I guess is that we executed everything in a pretty timely manner, which was cool. Because we had 2020 to basically, like, forget we were in a band.
How much stuff did you guys have to cancel in 2020?
A lot, really. A lot! Because we had basically taken 2019 off.
Yeah, back in like spring of 2018, we were like, “well, by the end of this year, we will have gone everywhere we could go on Inviting Light, let’s do something we’ve never done before and take a break.” It was weird to talk about it at first, and then we were all behind the idea, because we all needed it. We had never done that, and it was just years and years and years of solid, heavy touring. 2019 we played two Flats shows, officially, and then we played like a private party with friends and family, and then we did like a Smashing Pumpkins cover set at a different show…which was cool! It was fun! So the idea was that we’d come back and do the Cavalcade 10th-anniversary tour pretty much everywhere, and then we would make a record at the end of 2020 and hit the road in 2021 with a new record, and we’d hit all those places again that we had just hit with the Cavalcade shows. And then all of that took a shit! (*both laugh*)
We canceled a lot. There was a lot of stuff that wasn’t announced. I think there were only two tours that were announced that we had to cancel – I think the UK and Europe one was in the spring of 2020, maybe late April? And then we had a West Coast run in May or June that was announced. But we had shit booked for the whole year. The first month was basically like, who knows what the hell is happening…at first it was postpone everything, then forget that, cancel everything and just figure out how we’re all going to survive and if there’s a way the band can help with that. I mean, we all have lives outside of the band too, which is why taking the break was nice in 2019 and onward. It ended up being I think what everyone needed. Because I know myself and I know that if the pandemic hadn’t happened, I would have been on tour that entire time. I needed that, and I needed for it to be that everyone was home from touring! (*both laugh*)
And I don’t mean that as a competitive thing, it’s just that knowing that this is what I do, and this is what makes me feel most like myself…especially after a year off from The Flats at least – Hot Water was busy but Flats had the year off… I was kinda ready to hit it pretty hard again. But in the end, I was very thankful to have that extra time off. The first few months, we were just chilling and not doing much and kind of enjoying some downtime as best you could. As strange as it was and as many horrifying things that were happening in the world, it was comforting to be home for the first time in forever. And then the writing really started late summer, early fall or 2020. Once that started, it was just like laser focus on that.
Was that the timeline anyway? If you wanted to put out an album in 2021, would you have been writing in the last part of 2020 anyway?
I think we probably would have tried to put a lot more ideas together in the first half of 2020 – or at least spring and early summer while we were touring. We don’t write a lot on the road, but at least if we had ideas we could share them that way and start to compile the list of ideas, and then finetune them when we got home from tour. The idea was to record a record like fall – end of the year in…I guess 2020.
It’s all a blur. (*both laugh*)
Yeah! And it doesn’t matter that it didn’t happen that way, because the way it went down for us is the only way that everyone else knows about. It was nice to have that extra time and to write a lot…
Did you write a lot more for New Ruin than for previous records?
A bit more. We always are in the habit of writing more than we need. For most records, we end up with about twenty songs kinda ready to go. Some of them are always inevitably not as strong as others. For this record, we wrote…I think the final count when I was sending the guys all these ideas I had was like twenty-five or -six. Something like that. Some were fully worked out, some were not, but then we just kinda whittled it down to what we put on the record.
Did you go into it with a direction, either sonically or lyrically, that you wanted to focus on this time?
I didn’t set out to do that, but very quickly with what I was writing about and how the songs kinda felt energy-wise, it seemed like there was a pretty clear vision. Well, there was a pretty clear thesis statement which was “People suck (*both laugh*)…and the world is fucking crumbling all around us.” From there, the benefit of having all this downtime is that I had a lot of time to think about how I personally wanted to bring these ideas even to the rest of the guys, and then us as a band, what we could do together to solidify that even further and go into the studio with a really clear vision sonically and thematically. I had a really clear vision at that point lyrically. And then even not just that stuff, but how we wanted to roll out the record, what we wanted to do with videos… Lucky for us we were working with Fat (Wreck Chords) again obviously, who we fucking love – there’s a reason we’ve gone back, because they’re just family. And with Dine Alone in Canada, it’s great. The whole team is strong.It was the strongest and clearest vision I think I’ve ever had and that the band’s ever had going into something. For sure.
Did it sorta snowball on you, the idea, especially thematically, start as the snowball at the top of the hill or whatever they say and then just pick up steam once you realized there was obviously plenty of subject matter to choose from…because it seems a little more focused than just saying that “people suck”…it seems like a really focused and direct record.
That’s true, that’s true. I’m trying to think of the first few songs I sent to the guys…oh man, I could probably tell you…(*pulls out phone*)…One of the first songs I sent to the guys was “Rat King,” and that was a song where I was like “racism sucks and white people are THE WORST! (*both laugh*) So I’m going to write a song about that.” Maybe that’s a shock to people that that’s what that song is about, but it is! (*laughs*) I never really know what a song’s about until the lyrics start coming. Sorry, I don’t mean to do this during the interview but I feel like it would be cool to know (continues scrolling through phone)
Do you hate actually talking about what the songs are about? Because I know some songwriters don’t want to spoil that thing where “once I write it, it’s not mine, it’s yours” – but sometimes I like to know how the sausage is made.
For sure. And I think with other records I’ve been like “Well, just listen to the song because it feels like it should be pretty obvious.” And that’s I think because on previous records, a lot of it was that I’m a product of my environment and I’m writing about what I know. During all those years of making most of those records, pretty much from The Great Awake up until Inviting Light, a lot of it was on the road, really heavy touring years, and I’m writing about that. I’m writing about what that does to me, what I’ve seen that do to other people, how that feels. And it’s not always negative stuff, but it’s that experience. But this one, having done a lot of the writing at home and seeing and reading and learning about how fucked pretty much everything was around all of us for so many reasons, but all of them really at the end of the day being at the hand of human beings, I don’t mind talking about it because I made a decision to write more about what was going on in the world around me rather than my view of the world.
So, here we go…the first three songs that I sent to the guys were “Rat King,” “It’ll Hurt” and another song that we didn’t record. “Rat King” was one of the first ones that was out there, and it’s a very angry and pointed song about a particular thing and particular people. I think from there – well, “It’ll Hurt” is maybe more like a bit of the older lyrical style that I’ve done over the years. So it was cool to have both of those things kind of running alongside each other, those themes of like how I feel in general and how the world is making me feel right now. At some point, I decided to go down that one path of “let’s just talk about the world and what’s happening right now.” And I’m no expert on any of these subjects, these are just my opinions, you know? (*both laugh*) But if someone out there is reading that “Rat King” is an antiracist song and they’re shocked by that, that’s kind of troubling. And if they don’t like that, we don’t want you to listen to that song. We don’t want you to listen to our band (*both laugh*) if you’re not an antiracist person, you know?
Seriously, it floors me every time that stuff like that comes up from whatever artist, from Woody Guthrie to Springsteen to Jason Isbell or whoever, when people are like “shut up and stick to playing music” it’s like…boy, you have REALLY not been paying attention at all, have you?
No, and like, my God, how many people have learned about how to use their voice through music, you know? It’s a cultural wave that hits people in different ways, but it hits people! It’s similarly confusing when I meet someone who, hen we’re talking and the topic of music comes up and I say “oh what kind of music do you like?” and they say “oh, I don’t really like music.” I think “oh, I don’t trust you at all!” (*both laugh*)
And I know that’s subjective because, I mean, music is my entire life, but really, you can’t even tell me like what music you like? And when you hear it, it makes you feel a certain way? I don’t know…
That’s weird. It’s like people who say they don’t like dogs or whatever. Or cats, I guess, although unlike you I’m an anticat guy.
See that’s the thing though, people have an opinion about which animals they prefer. But when people are like “oh, I don’t really like animals…”
That means you’re a sociopath.
“What, you don’t like joy?” (*both laugh*) But really, it was nice to have that time to sit and think about how much I hate the fucking world! (*both laugh*)
Right, but then, as a songwriter, I don’t want to say that’s an awesome responsibility because that’s probably overstating things, but does that seem like it’s a big responsibility, to say “I want to actually talk about this shit in a way that makes sense to me and hopefully to people who have been following and listening to me for twenty years? Because that’s a lot to take on. We had nothing but time to pay attention. It wasn’t just that things sucked for a long time – and probably stll do – but we had all the time in the world to focus on how much it sucked. We had to focus on how racist this little country to the south of yours is …
Hey man, mine too! Mine is no angel. People like to think it is, but we have got a dark history.
Well and some of that came out during the two years of hte pandemic, with all of the news about the indiginous kids at the Catholic boarding schools. It’s an overwhelming responsibility to be able to put some of that shit into words in a way that makes sense, no?
I think that there is definitely a responsibility there. It’s a choice I made to write about this kind of stuff. I’m no authority on the subject, but I know how it makes me feel. At the end of the day, that’s always what I’ve done, it was just different subject matter. Now having all this time to sit in those uncomfortable moments and let those pieces of information – those horrifying pieces of information – the thing you just mentioned about the residential schools in Canada, for instance, let that bounce around in your brain for a while and see how that makes you feel. It’s not going to make you feel good because it’s a terrible thing, to say the very least. It’s a horrifying thing that happened. It is an absolute privilege of mine, and I know that to be true, to just be able to be the guy to sit there and write a song about it instead of being somebody who lived through it, you know what I mean? I understand that there’s a difference, but I’m trying to put my opinion out there in a song in a way where maybe, like we said earlier, it can hit someone in a way that it allows them to think about an issue a little differently.
Or, really at my age now, I’m 35, and I’ve been able to write music for a long time and express the way I feel for a long time, but I feel like at this age – maybe for some people it’s a little earlier or a little later – I feel like I’m part of my community. I feel like I’m a responsible person adding to a community. I’m not trying to take anything away from it, I’m trying to add to it, but not trying to take up too much space or time or air either. That’s very tricky to do in music and in art and this type of thing, but at the same time, there are so many people with maybe a dwindling but a still-existing attention span to hear your ideas, you know what I mean? That’s how I started to think about it and feel about it as well. I’m just trying to add to my musical community with something positive. Essentially, having the conversation about these issues, or at least putting my side of the story out there – and my side of the story is that human beings are the fucking worst and we could do so much fucking better (*both laugh*) better to ourselves, to each other, to the planet, all these things. It was all hitting me so hard because I had time to sit around and think about it. Otherwise man, I’d be on tour, I’d be in a fucking bubble, I’d be living a tunnel vision life like I always was. Not every song on the record, but a lot of the songs on the record are about these particular issues…they’re not new issues, they’re things that I’ve now been able to try my best to compute this kind of information and put it out there. That’s why that record is so angry, because it was not an easy time for anyone!
Did that inspire the sound of the record too? It’s sort of interesting to listen to the last two records back-to-back. The first song on Inviting Light…”Mammals” starts with that sort of slow build. It becomes an uptempo song obviously, but to contrast that opening with “Performative Hours” which punches you in the face right from the beginning and the album doesn’t really let up from there. Was that a conscious choice too, with the heavy subject matter, to put that heavy music behind it as well?
Yeah. Some songs, the lyrics come first even in little fragments, sometimes it’s the music…well, it’s hard to say really which happens more than the other. But if the lyrics came first or at least I knew what I wanted to write about, I knew that the energy of the song had to match that, and vice versa. Because I was already in that mindset of being just pissed off, a lot of the music was very angry, so I knew that the lyrics had to match that. To be honest, once we had a good pile of songs to listen through – the ideas were still being worked on, but once we had a handful of songs where we were like “whoa, this is angry,”…the guys were like “whoa, you’re pretty angry.” (*both laugh*) Like “why not, of course I am, how could I not be?” (*laughs*) I think at that point we were like “well, let’s just make a record that’s going to punch people in the fucking face” like you said. Once the consensus was to open the record with “Performative Hours,” which was an idea that came up early on, we were like “oh yah, this is perfect!” We were able to build off that so well. Musically I think it takes twists and turns throughout the record, but once we chose the songs that we wanted to put on the record, we were like “damn, this is pretty relentless actually.” And that’s what we wanted to do, and I’m so happy with it. And it was the most fun that I’ve ever had making a Flats record, which is funny because it’s the angriest record we’ve ever made by far! (*both laugh*)
And it’s also really guitar-heavy! I mean obviously the Flats have been a guitar band, that’s always sort of been at the front and center, but it’s really riff-heavy this time. I think I texted you when I first heard it that, like, I had plans – my wife and my daughter went out of town for a weekend, and I think I got your album and Jerry sent me the new Mercy Union record on the same day, and they are both really good, guitar-heavy albums and there are so many riffs that I just like “fuck having plans, I just want to play guitar and figure out riffs tonight!” (*both laugh*)
I love that!
But that seems like a bit of a stylistic difference too. Does that come from sitting around the house for a couple years and just playing guitar, or did they come when you started writing with the guys?
A bit of both. It’s always a mixed bag. Each record turns out to be a response to the previous record. I think on Inviting Light, we were trying to build – it turns out – a bit of a different vibe and a different style. We were so close to it that we didn’t really realize what we were doing fully, but I can say that I knew when we were writing the record that we wanted to let a lot of those Inviting Light songs breathe. There were more subtleties, and we’d talk a lot about that it was just as important to know when not to play as it was to know when to play. With this record, we were just like “no, let’s just hit ‘em with everything!” (*both laugh*) Each record becomes an exercise in these things, which is really cool, and we’re lucky that the four of us in the band have gotten to do this together over all these years now. We discover more of ourselves each time we write a song together or make a record together. Part of what we discovered on this record is that we just wanted to fucking rock, dude! (*both laugh*) I know it’s so stupid to put it that way, but it’s real! The energy and the theme of the record and how angry the material ended up being, we’re like “well, we’re going to make this record sound as insane as we can, as powerful as we can.” Sonically that was the vision going into it, that we wanted to make it sound big. Not like something we couldn’t replicate live, because that’s always a bummer, but something that we could just hit people with. Because then when we play these songs live, we are going to feel the power of these songs and we’re going to bring it even harder. Especially after a couple years of not being able to play at all together, let alone go on tour, there’s this newfound excitement. Like, I’ve gotta relax a little bit on stage.
I was just going to ask that.
I’m ready to like kick a hole through the stage every night because I’m just like “I’m fucking back!!” It feels really good.
And then you get three songs in and you’ve got to take a knee. You’re in your mid-thirties now, man…
My first show back was a Hot Water show, and it was at Furnace Fest in Alabama in 2021. I was terrified before the show, I was nervous, I was anxious, I thought I was going to forget everything. And the first note we hit, I was like “ oh fuck yes!” and I was literally stomping so hard on the stage. I think Chuck sang the first three songs and I was like “I gotta chill! I’m like winded and I’ve gotta sing in nine minutes.” (*both laugh*) And it’s the same with the Flats now, man. When we got together to really dig through these ideas as a band after almost a year of sending ideas back and forth, this was now late Summer 2021…the four of us hadn’t been in the same room in almost two years! It was the longest it had ever been. It was amazing and it was emotional and I remember like a week after that when we went to go record, after doing like a week of (pre-production), we did like a “have a good show” thing before we were recording and we kinda all went “fuck, man, this feels powerful.” There was an energy to it, man, and it sounds kinda cheesy but it’s true. It had been so long at that point since we had done anything together, and we kinda knew what we had to. Not in an arrogant way, I hope it doesn’t come across that way because I hate that shit, but there was a confidence in what we were building together and what we wrote and were going into record. Knowing what we wanted to do helped us feel so confident that we were like “fuck, this is going to be awesome.” We’ve never really operated that way before, we’re kinda like “well, I hope people like it!” With this one, that’s still the case, but I think that all of those things – the time away from each other, the time away from this, the time away from the band and being able to do our quote-unquote thing – it just kinda solidified the love for it and the power in it to us, you know?
Well because that could go the other way, right? You could take two years off and just not really be in it anymore or just get to a place where you think you’ve done everything you wanted to do in music or with the band and then be on to the next thing.
And I respect that too, man. It totally depends on the person. I’ve got a lot of friends actually who made that decision since everything that’s happened the last few years, and I respect that. The four of us, like I said, each have lives outside of the band and things have changed. Touring nowadays, we can only operate in a certain way. That’s cool though, because it keeps it special and it keeps, maybe, that feeling that we’ve discovered when making this record and now celebrating twenty years and everything WITH the new record, it keeps that energy and that excitement alive, instead of “hey, let’s go on tour for ten months straight…” (*both laugh*) Fuck that, man, oh my god.
Is this the first time you’ve written a full album without playing any of the material out before? Like, would you workshop things on the road before?
We’d show each other ideas but we wouldn’t jam a lot on tour. We did that a little bit on Cavalcade, and we just felt like we were annoying the people that were working at the club. Because we were soundchecking, and in that era we weren’t headlining the show so if we were opening the show, we might get a thirty-minute soundcheck if we got one at all. The fucking bartender and the venue staff do not need to hear us working through the same 16 bars of an idea over and over again (*both laugh*). We started to do it offstage. Jamming and putting it together as a cohesive thing always happened at home.
Once the songs are fully fleshed out, though, are there songs that would actually make their way into the live set before anyone heard them? Because now everyone’s had a chance to get to know the album for a while before you can hit the road.
I think we’ve always been a little bit protective of playing new stuff before it’s out, and I don’t know why really.
I feel like that’s a YouTube thing.
Yeah, because people videotape shows and put the whole thing up on YouTube now, so if you have a song that you’re sort of woodshedding, why play it in front of people because then everyone knows what it is, and then maybe you don’t even like that song or maybe it takes a turn in the writing process, but now you’re sorta stuck with the way it sounded that one night in Detroit in June or whatever.
Totally. We actually did this very recently with “Rat King” for the music video, but that was the first time we had done that in, I don’t even remember. It was a long time. It could have been for Cavalcade or something, because we recorded a big chunk of Cavalcade one year, then we went on tour for like nine months or something, and we finished (recording) almost a year later. So I’m sure in that era of Cavalcade being like half done or three-quarters of the way done, we were probably playing a couple of those songs live. But, for “Rat King” we did a video shoot in Toronto and part of it was a show we played. We ended up doing this last-minute show at our friend’s bar, Hard Luck, and it was like a week’s notice. No one knew why we were doing it. We had a Midwest tour coming up and we were like “fuck it, let’s play a show in Toronto, and we can film it. We’ll let everyone know we’re making a video, so if you don’t want to be in the video, go to the back, if you want to be in the video come to the front! (*both laugh*) We’re just going to play this one song that you’ve never heard before, and that was kind of exciting. That was the first time we had done that in a while and it was cool. But aside from that…I think “Performative Hours” was already out at that point, maybe “Souvenir” was already out or was about to come out. People knew there was going to be a record, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to play a new song. I think that’s maybe why, because in the past we haven’t wanted to do that because it kinda spoils the surprise. We like to record records kind of in secret. We don’t typically post stuff from the studio
I was just thinking that, yeah. I was looking back at the Flats Instagram account and I did notice that you didn’t post teaser things or whatever from the studio, it was like, all of a sudden here’s the cover art and the first single!
It’s similar to the way that we wanted the record to sonically and musically be, that kind of relentless slap in the face. We wanted to just be like “WE’RE BACK! SURPRISE!” And also, you never know how long after you finish tracking a record, how long the entire process will take. Like for instance, we’re talking today, the 26th of September, and the last day of tracking in the studio for New Ruin was October 3rd of last year. So we finished almost exactly a year ago. Then our friend Dave did some piano tracks at his home studio after that, and then mixing we took our time with. Because we like to take our time with this stuff. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any Flats fan at this point (*both laugh*). So I think part of me and my approach to it which I think trickles down to the guys – only because I’m the most neurotic with this shit, more than Scott, Paul or John – is that, if we put it out that we’re in the studio, people get excited hopefully, and then like a year later the album comes out? I feel like you kinda lose the excitement. You’d lose it on me at least. If it’s a band I like pulling that move, I’ll have completely forgot that I saw that picture or watched that video by the time the record comes out. So we like to be a little secretive about it. It’s fun! There’s not a lot of mystery left in the world, so if we can create a little bit, it’s fun for us!
The brothers Hause have been no strangers to the pages at Dying Scene over the course of the last decade. The bulk of that coverage has been dedicated to older brother Dave. After hitting the indefinite pause button on his beloved band The Loved Ones, Dave launched his own career as a solo artist a […]
The brothers Hause have been no strangers to the pages at Dying Scene over the course of the last decade. The bulk of that coverage has been dedicated to older brother Dave. After hitting the indefinite pause button on his beloved band The Loved Ones, Dave launched his own career as a solo artist a dozen or so years ago, right around the time this website launched, giving us essentially a front-row seat to his growth and maturity as an artist. One of the benefits of embarking on a solo career is that it’s given Dave the opportunity to spend more time with Tim, his kid brother.
If you’ve paid even the littlest bit of attention to the elder Hause’s career since the touring cycle for his second solo album, Devour, you’ve no doubt noticed that he’s been figuratively attached at the hip to his younger brother. Because of the fifteen-year age gap between them (Dave is the eldest of the five Hause siblings, Tim the youngest) Dave did the bulk of his growing up without having a little brother, while Tim did the bulk of his having an older brother who, when he wasn’t swinging hammers, was busy working as a touring member of the punk rock scene.
Tim’s first real exposure to the world of being a professional musician started essentially as an experiment, joining Dave on that 70-date marathon Devour jaunt through the US and Canada, filling out the live sound with harmonies and guitar and helping to set up and tear down merch displays after the show. “The first two weeks of that tour, I hated,” Hause jokes. “I thought that anyone who would choose that life, was insane.” It’s important to point out that when that tour kicked off, Hause the Younger was the ripe old age of twenty, not able to legally drink at the vast majority of venues they stopped at. “Over the course of that tour, I started to really love it (though)!”
As time progressed, Tim increased his role in what would eventually become the family business. While always a touring partner, he began contributing to the writing process on Bury Me In Philly, the 2017 follow-up to Dave’s Devour. “(BMIP) was kind of my intern, new kid record,” Hause jokes. “I think the first song that we wrote that ended up going on to a record was “The Flinch.” I remember having the idea “I ain’t flinching anymore” as a line from my notebook. I loved it going onto the record; that was a huge deal for me.” Tim didn’t just influence a couple of songs on the album lyrically and musically, he had a role in shaping the album’s whole sonic vision.
It’s part of the natural evolution of things for the big brother in this or any situation to pass influence down to the little brother. In the case of the Hause family, Dave was instrumental not only in the music Tim would grow up with – more on that in a minute – but in showing him the music industry ropes: how to exist on the road and structure a setlist and create dramatic tension with an audience and how to develop and stay in the pocket and on and on. Though sometimes big brothers are reluctant to admit it, however, sometimes the little brother’s influence and teachings can be just as potent.
When Dave and I connected for an interview in the press cycle for Bury Me In Philly, he spoke of how Tim’s lack of punk rock guilt and his well-beyond-his-years wisdom got Dave to punch through some periods of writer’s block and focus on working through what he was going through at the time. When I asked Tim about how he’d characterize his influence on his decade-and-a-half older brother, after an initial pause and attempted deflection, he answered in a way that was a pitch-perfect match for Dave’s answer six years ago. “I think that it broadened the sphere of what he thought he should do,” he explains. “He was like “what do I write about? What do I write about?” and I was like “the thing that you’re on about right now is the fact that you live in California now and have this strange relationship with the place that you’re from.” That kind of was a light bulb moment for him, and it’s one of the things that jump-started the whole process and that whole session.” Tim’s vision helped free his older brother from the constraints that can sometimes be placed on a songwriter who spent as much time as Dave did in the punk rock community. To paraphrase Craig Finn, we in the punk rock scene said there weren’t any rules, but goddamn there are so many rules. “I think the continued “hey this doesn’t have to be punk, this doesn’t have to fit in whatever box.” Having that person on your shoulder just going “do it! Go! Go! Do it!” I think is a huge help.”
While he has remained a constant road partner, whether the brothers toured as a duo or as part of a larger band – Dave Hause and the Mermaid – that’s consisted of a rotating cast of incredibly talented musicians, Tim’s status as a writer and contributor increased to essentially 50/50 by the time of Dave’s 2019 release, Kick. Tim was writing so much by Kick, in fact, that it’s where the seeds of his wanting to someday put out his own record under his own moniker started to really establish their roots, due in no small part to that album’s inclusion of the song “The Ditch.” “That kernel was something I came up with and brought to the table,” he explains. “That was the first song that I wrote on that made me go “I don’t know if I can give this one up.” While Tim is ultimately happy at how the song turned out and that it was included – with ample and continued credit from Dave, he also points out that “that was the moment where I was like ‘yeah, I have to make my own record someday.”
The brothers would go on to put out another album – 2021’s aptly-named Blood Harmony – under Dave’s name, an album that would also mark the first full-length release of their jointly-founded Blood Harmony Records, which will serve as their very own, in-house DIY record label for the future. And now, it’s Tim’s turn. January 13 marks the official release date of TIM, the younger Hause’s debut full-length record under his own name. While he’s been a part of a handful of releases at this point and while he and Dave co-wrote all the songs as they did on Kick and Blood Harmony, having his own name on the album jacket changes the stakes for Tim on multiple levels. “There’s a different level of ownership” for work released under his own name, he explains, adding that there is also “a different level of appreciation for everything Dave has done and that goes for the work he did prior to me jumping on board and the work that we’ve done since.”
TIM was a labor of love that, if we’re being honest, can find threads that extend back well before “The Ditch” made it onto Dave’s record. Tim astutely points out “they say that your first record took however many years you’ve been alive to make it, and I’d say that’s definitely the case with this.“ Tim’s musical ambitions began when he was still early in grade school. “I started playing guitar when I was probably seven or eight,” Tim explains. “When I was ten years old, (Bouncing Souls) played I think two or three nights at the Troc (editor’s note: The Trocadero in Philadelphia) and all of them were sold out. The Loved Ones played their first show I think ever opening up for them, and they brought me out to play “Manthem” and that was my intro to all of those people. They ended up putting that on their live record.” While Tim would shift his entertainment goals to concentrate more on theater throughout his high school years, good old-fashioned rock-and-roll was too far in the background. “You know in a perfect world,” Tim states, “I would have been old enough to be in The Loved Ones, and we would have called our thing The Loved Ones, and it would have been two brothers…but that’s not the world we live in. There’s a fifteen-year gap, I was busy being in high school!“
By the age of twenty-two, however, Tim had a landmark moment that would ultimately solidify his decision to jump headlong into the waters of life as a professional musician. By that point, he’d graduated high school, dabbled with studies at Temple University, lost a very dear friend in a tragic accident, and he’d spent some time in that exploratory phase making and playing music with Dave. Then came a ground-breaking realization. “I was eleven when my mom died,” Tim explains. “When I turned 22, it was a watershed moment in the grief process and the life process, because it marked the moment that I had spent more time on earth without her than I had with her.”
It’s perhaps at this point that I should back up a bit. If you’re familiar with the Hause family’s musical journey, you’re no doubt aware that Dave and Tim’s mom passed away back in 2004, succumbing to a fierce battle with cancer. Echoes of that time have popped up in Dave’s solo work (see “Autism Vaccine Blues”), and The Loved Ones’s debut album Keep Your Heart essentially served as Dave way of processing the incredible range of emotions prompted by his mom’s passing. As gut-wrenching as it is to lose a parent in your mid-twenties as Dave was when their mom passed away, it’s another level of heart-break to have it happen when you’re eleven and still have so many formative childhood years and experiences left in front of you.
And so the realization that, at 22, he had now spent more time on this planet without his mom’s physical presence than he had with it inspired what would become the song “4000 Days,” a song that serves as the emotional high-water mark on TIM, an album that is certainly full of its fair share of emotional moments. “That (realization) was the initial kernel of “4000 Days” as the first thing that I remember writing, and I know that for a fact because that was such a profound marker in my life.” Since the song’s debut as a single in the lead-up up to the official release of the album, it’s not the song that has garnered the most plays on the various streaming platforms – that honor belongs to the anthemic “High Hopes” – it’s a song that has warranted far-and-away the most overwhelming listener response. “4000 Days” blew every song before and every song after out of the water in terms of people reaching out through DMs and messages and email and everything, to be like “hey, I related to that so much.” People have been telling me their stories, thanking me for it. That has been far and away the most connecting part of the release process. It’s definitely affirming and validating and exciting.It was tough to make and I’m so glad we did it. I made sure to give my sisters trigger warnings when I sent them the song first. And my dad.”
Tim’s older brother didn’t need trigger warnings, obviously, as he was there for the writing and pre-production process for “4000 Days” as well as for the rest of the songs on TIM. Just as Tim served as the “Go! Go! Do It!” voice on Dave’s shoulder, particularly during the BMIP sessions, Dave returned the favor for TIM. “Having him on my shoulder telling me to do all that stuff is I think the most valuable asset. Just “hey, feel free to just do you and be as fearlessly ferocious as you need to be with your own art.” But when it came time to put the album on wax, big brother took a step back. Were they to record Tim’s solo record in the same manner that they’d recorded Dave’s last few records, there’s the very real possibility that they could have fallen into similar patterns. “I didn’t want it to be “Dave Hause Light” you know? I didn’t want it to be “The Little Brother Record” or whatever. And I’m sure to some people it will be that. We’re inextricably linked in that way, but we tried to deviate as much as we could” he explains.
Instead, Tim returned to Nashville to team up again with the great Will Hoge, who manned the producer’s chair just as he did on Blood Harmony. Hoge has been a seamless fit into the Hause brother’s working process – they jokingly refer to him as their Southern brother. For this process, he assembled an Avengers-like cast of Nashville heavy hitters to lend their unique sonic textures to the Tim Hause musical landscape. “The guy who came up with a lot of the atmosphere on my record was Josh Grange. He was in Sheryl Crow’s band. Chris Griffiths who played bass on it is in Will’s band. He’s awesome. Dean Anshutz played drums on most of it, and he’s from Red Wanting Blue (and Jessey Dayton’s band). And the other drummer was Matt Billingslea, and he’s Taylor Swift’s drummer. He played on “Fit To Be Tied.”
The result is a record that is quintessentially Tim Hause. It’s very much a rock and roll record, drawing sonic influences from the various phases of Tim’s upbringing, influences that obviously range from the Beatles and Patty Griffin to The National and Gaslight Anthem. “But the overarching thing is, you know, some kind of mix of Tom Petty and Frightened Rabbit. I think the nuanced, idiosyncrasies of both of those while making evergreen, universal songs that are sorta simple…that’s the pinnacle for me.” Lyrically and thematically, it’s also an incredibly meaningful record. “I mean, calling the record TIM was a pretty clear indicator that this was a really personal record, that it was going to deal with many of the pillars in my life.” It’s an unflinching reflection on some of the watershed connections and relationships in his life. It’s very much centered on love (particularly for his wife Madeline) and on loss and on the complex emotional prism that the human condition creates. “The goal (for Dave and I) is to write from our own perspectives, and write (songs) to be universal and evergreen and applicable to somebody else,” Tim points out. “If we make something that we spill a lot of our hearts into, then somebody will identify with it as well, because we’re not as alone as humans as we sometimes think that we are.”
Check out Tim’s album below via Spotify, or pick it up wherever you get your music. Here’s the link to get it directly from the Hause crew. Keep scrolling to read our full Q&A. Lots of insight into Tim’s musical upbringing and his family and a series of heart-breaking losses he’s suffered. Full disclosure: I’ve obviously been pretty vocally in the Dave Hause cheering section for a decade now, and the two brothers are, and should be, inextricably linked, so we talk a lot about their wonderful personal and professional relationships and how they’ll continue to support and collaborate and bring out the best in each other going forward. We also spend quite a bit of time extolling the virtues of Will Hoge and Scott Hutchison. Tim is very much a wise and insightful and gracious human – well beyond what his twenty-nine years on this planet would indicate – and we’re lucky to have his voice added to the mix.
(**Believe it or not, the following Q&A has been condensed for content and clarity reasons.**)
Dying Scene (Jay Stone): So I guess we’ll start with this: congratulations on the record. It’s the first record under your own name, which is a really cool thing. Obviously, you’ve been writing songs for a while now, but how does it feel like there are physical copies of it now and people can hear it for themselves? How does it feel now that it’s a real thing?
Tim Hause: It feels totally exciting and amazing, and then also it feels already normal.
Does it feel different now than it does for one of Dave’s albums or like how Kick just said Hause on the cover?
For sure. For sure, absolutely. There’s a different level of ownership and there’s a different level of appreciation for everything Dave has done. And that goes for the work he did prior to me jumping on board and the work that we’ve done since. There’s a different level of artistic ferocity that you need to even get an album created, and he by nature is a more fierce person, and we have this push and pull between us that makes for a good team. But it definitely feels different and it feels like a monkey off my back. It was something that I always wanted to do, and I never really knew how to get it done. And then, not only did I get it done, but I got it done in Nashville, The Music City, with some of the premiere players in the world. And I haven’t spoken at all about the players on it – I’m not really good at smelling myself publicly – on Twitter and Instagram and social media, you have to pump up your own brand so to speak…I’m not good at that, and it’s probably a skill that I need to learn and get better at. But there were some serious heavy hitters that played on this. And so to get it made in Nashville, with a guy whose work I respect tremendously in Will Hoge, and to do it without Dave there. He didn’t come down to the session for a couple different reasons, and it was hard to not have him there, but also I’m so glad that he wasn’t in some ways…
Which is a weird thing to say (*both laugh*)
It is a weird thing to say, and I mean in the most non-disparaging way I could possibly mean it about my best friend and my partner and my brother. He’s my best buddy. But it just felt like it was something that I needed to take on on my own.
And I think that the album probably benefits from that, from having it be just you. I forget exactly when you came into the writing process of Dave’s solo stuff, but there are probably three full albums that have been released of that material at this point, so I can see where you might need to draw a line in the sand where even if you are creating this stuff together, these are the songs that are his voice, and these are the songs that are your voice. So I think it does probably benefit from that.
Yeah, I think so. And I think we try to make decisions from a production standpoint and from a key standpoint, and a vocal register standpoint, that would reflect the differences between us two. It’s definitely something that we went into the process being cognizant of. I didn’t want it to be “Dave Hause Light” you know? I didn’t want it to be “The Little Brother Record” or whatever. And I’m sure to some people it will be that. We’re inextricably linked in that way, but we tried to deviate as much as we could.
You know, it’s interesting to do research for interviews and to find that because I’ve talked with Dave so many times, a lot of the research I did for this chat was just stuff that I’ve already written before. But he and I spoke on that first tour that you came out with him on, the Devour tour, which turned out to be a 70-day tour, and I’d forgotten how Herculean that tour was. And you were, what, twenty at that point?
Yeah, that was 2014, so I would have been twenty years old. I remember being under age, because there was a place in Salt Lake City where I was pouring whiskey into people’s mouths from the stage. And Dave…we were drunk. We spent a lot of those nights drunk, which was really fun and really wild and the complete polar opposite of what things are like now. Backstage now, we have Bob Ross on the TV, we have a candle going, we have La Croix in the fridge, and we have peace and quiet as much as we can.
But you hadn’t really even been in bands at that point, right? Not even like dopey high school bands?
No, I played with my dad. So, the first time I was ever on stage was with the Bouncing Souls.
Whoa! Way to set the bar for yourself.
Yeah! So I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since! (*both laugh*) I was ten years old, and they played I think two or three nights at the Troc (editor’s note: The Trocadero in Philadelphia) and all of them were sold out. The Loved Ones played their first show I think ever opening up for them, and they brought me out to play “Manthem” and that was my intro to all of those people. I mean, I had known them before, as much as any adult would know a ten-year-old. It was like “oh, you’re Dave’s brother!” or “oh it’s so cool that you have Vans on!” or whatever the case was. (*both laugh*). So they brought me out, and it was so cool, and they ended up putting that on their live record.
Oh shit, yeah!
Yeah, that version of “Manthem” is the version that’s on the live record, and if you listen to the end of the song, you hear Greg say “The kid rocks!” and all this…and that was about me! (Editor’s note: Listen to it here!!)
Yes! That’s awesome! I had no idea, and I’ve heard that a hundred times!
That’s a pretty funny bit of Hause trivia.
When you say playing with them, were you playing guitar at that point or were you singing backup?
Yeah, I played guitar. I started playing guitar when I was probably seven or eight. I’d get really into it and then take my foot off the gas pedal and do something else for a while. In high school, my thing was I started acting in high school. I tried out for a play – a musical – and I got the lead, and that set off a series of okay I’m gonna do all of these productions that the high school does. So I wanted to be an actor. I always kinda knew I wanted to be in entertainment of some kind, then I went to (Temple University), kind of got disillusioned while I was there, didn’t know what exactly I was going for, didn’t exactly know how getting a degree would help with what I wanted to do, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Well, the fact is, I did know what I wanted to do, I just didn’t know how to make it happen. That might sound crazy as the younger brother of someone who has been successfully doing it, but it was more of an experiment than anything, for me to go out on the road with him. We talk about that from time to time, like “how did it even happen?” The first two weeks of that tour, I hated. I thought that anyone who would choose that life, was insane. Over the course of that tour, I started to really love it. I definitely had an itch to leave the town in Philadelphia that we’re from. So, we live in an area that is technically within the city limit, but it doesn’t feel like Center City. It’s a little more suburban, there’s grass and trees and stuff. I spent my first twenty years waiting to get out, scratching the itch a little bit with travel…and then now, my wife and I own a house in that very town that I couldn’t wait to get out of.
Of course you do! (*both laugh*)
I don’t have that itch anymore, it gets scratched by all of the touring that we do and the travel that we do. It’s a constant adventure, and it’s pretty awesome.
What were your influences musically during that time. You mentioned the Bouncing Souls obviously, so there was that part obviously, but with fifteen years between you and Dave, that’s almost like three different generations there when it comes to musical trends and how we consume music. So what were your influences when it came to writing music or even just playing music in your bedroom?
From a playing standpoint, like any little brother, I was getting stuff from my big brother. I was a huge fan of the Souls, a huge fan of Alkaline Trio, and I would gravitate towards them more than any of the other punk bands. I think that has to do with their melodic sensibilities and their songwriting. The craft in both of those acts is top-notch and has been for a long time. That was kind of my first real love. Between that, and we were a huge Beatles family, and Tom Petty. Those are the first four or so. Then, me and my best buddy who grew up across the street from me and unfortunately died in a tragic accident. He and I got into Weezer’s blue album. We wore out that CD, we listened to it when we were together, when we were apart, all the time. That was an early one too. I got really into hip-hop and rap. Countercultural figures and artists were always there. I went through a huge Queen phase, and that felt like kind of my own thing. No one else in my family really got into Queen like I did.
Well, you were into theater, so that sorta lines up.
Yeah, exactly! I saw one video of Freddie Mercury and Queen in Montreal doing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and if you haven’t seen that video, you have to look it up. (*Editor’s note: I looked it up for you – find it here.)
I probably saw it twenty-five years ago.
Yeah, you probably did. That’s one of the finest pieces of live rock and roll that you can find. I watched that once and said “oh, I have to devour that.” (*both laugh*) I hate to say it now, but it’s always good to separate the art from the artist as much as you can: Kanye West was a huge filler of my ten-to-twenty-year-old listening phase.
College Dropout was a massive hit for a reason. That was unlike any other album that existed at that point.
Absolutely. And I always felt a sort of a kinship – not always –
Right, not the last half-decade or so.
Yeah, prior to him going really off the rails, which is really sad and unfortunate. But previously, I felt a kinship with him because he lost his mom too, and the loss of a parent, at any point but particularly with younger people … that’s a huge deal. So that kind of stood out for me. And then more recently, I got super into The National and Frightened Rabbit, in the last ten years or so. Those are some of my main touchstones, especially lyrically with Scott (Hutchison), I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better lyricist than Scott.
Tragically so. I mean, some of his stuff was tough to listen to before, because of how real some of the emotions were. I’ve had conversations with your brother about things like that from his own catalog, where there are moments that are so real and you had to kind of pause for a minute after you heard them the first time because they were a little bit too heavy. And then in retrospect with Scott’s music, there are some songs I still can’t really listen to.
Yeah, it’s rough, because it’s one of those things that you hope that the person is able to exorcise those demons through their art, and you hope that that expression gives the person enough of a reprieve to keep what ended up happening to him from happening, but it doesn’t always work that way. That’s a really gnarly one. His lyrics and their music have been a huge, huge influence. And then, I got super into My Morning Jacket. That’s been another pillar in my musical life. But the overarching thing is, you know, some kind of mix of Tom Petty and Frightened Rabbit. I think the nuanced, idiosyncrasies of both of those while making evergreen, universal songs that are sorta simple…that’s the pinnacle for me. That’s the whole shooting match for me.
Were they influences in the way that you liked their music, or were they the ones who made you go “I want to do that!” or “I want to do my version of what that guy is doing”? Because I mean you can like Pearl Jam or Bouncing Souls or Kanye West, but that doesn’t mean you want to do what they’re doing. But then, that Petty “thing”…
Yeah, for sure. For sure. And then there’s also closer to our circle, there are influences too. I’ve always loved Gaslight (Anthem) and I’m buddies with all those guys and I love Brian and his work. I have a pretty wide net of influence and interest as far as music goes, but yeah, those are like the Mount Rushmore.
When did you start writing for yourself, rather than writing as a collaborator with your brother?
Um…I would say it’s probably in the first two years of touring. I remember jotting down things as early as the European leg of the Devour tour, which would have been summer of ‘14. So it’s been almost ten years of doing it. And actually, it’s funny, because you asked earlier what was the impetus for making my own record and my own songs…I think the first song that we wrote that ended up going on to a record was “The Flinch.” I remember having the idea “I ain’t flinching anymore” as a line from my notebook. I loved it going onto the record; that was a huge deal for me. I wrote a couple of the other songs with him, but it wasn’t 50/50 yet. That was kind of my intern, new kid record (*both laugh*) like “okay, let’s see if this thing works.” And it did. “The Flinch” ended up being one of the staples of that record. By Kick, it was 50/50, and I think the real kicker for me was “The Ditch” going on Dave’s record. That was the moment where I was like “yeah, I have to make my own record someday.” Who knows, maybe I’ll re-record that song at some point and put it on one of my records. I’m so glad that we put it on Kick, but it wasn’t easy for me to let that one go. That was the first song that I wrote on that made me go “I don’t know…I don’t know if I can give this one up. Maybe I should save it for this future record that I hope to make someday.” The giving of it made me go “yeah, I really have to do this.”
Does that create a certain amount of tension between you and Dave? And maybe tension is the wrong word to use, but at least a sort of creative tension where you have to bargain, like “okay, I’m going to keep this one for me, you take two of these for you…”
He’s super gracious about that, and he’s really, really the biggest ally I have outside of my wife. I think she and him are the two biggest preservers of my creative life force. So no, I wouldn’t say it created tensions between us. We’ve had talks, like when we started the sessions that ultimately led to Blood Harmony and TIM, he kind of was operating under the assumption that some of the songs that we were working on would be on his next record, and I quickly swatted that down and we got that sorted out and he was cool with it. It wasn’t without a little push, but he was willing to go “okay, if you insist that this one is going to be your thing, then go for it.” What I will say is not tension between us, but there was internal tension with the fact that I was writing for – so to speak – a guy whose name was THE name. You know in a perfect world, I would have been old enough to be in The Loved Ones, and we would have called our thing The Loved Ones, and it would have been two brothers…but that’s not the world we live in. There’s a fifteen-year gap, I was busy being in high school (*both laugh*). So the tension was that I’m writing songs and I’m really, really creatively involved. Like, “The Ditch,” that kernel was my own thing. It was something I came up with and brought it to the table and was kind of hesitant to do so and then when it ended up on the record, Dave was really good about giving me credit publicly as much as he could, but you can only go so far with that when ultimately people know that to be a Dave Hause song. When your name is on the ticket and the record and the whatever, that’s where people think it all comes from. And so, I think that created some tension within me in that I knew I had something to offer and I wanted to be recognized for what I was able to offer.
It’s obvious from the conversation so far that there is obviously some of Dave’s influence in your writing and in what you were exposed to through his scene when you were growing up. But I’m curious about what you see as your influence on Dave’s either songwriting or approach or the music he listens to, as someone fifteen years younger than he is.
That’s a good question. I would say…how do I answer this without sounding like a dick (*both laugh*)…I think that it broadened the sphere of what he thought he should do. And what I mean by that is there was some writer’s block that went into Bury Me In Philly. From my perspective, I was like “dude, you’ve got people coming out to your shows, I’ve been all over the country with you, I’ve been across the pond with you. People show up.” And he was like “what do I write about? What do I write about?” and I was like “the thing that you’re on about right now is the fact that you live in California now and have this strange relationship with the place that you’re from.” That kind of was a light bulb moment for him, and it’s one of the things that jump-started the whole process and that whole session. I think the continued “hey this doesn’t have to be punk, this doesn’t have to fit in whatever box.” Having that person on your shoulder just going “do it! Go! Go! Do it!” I think is a huge help. And now, knowing the experience I have from doing it on my own and having him on my shoulder telling me to do all that stuff is I think the most valuable asset. Just “hey, feel free to just do you and be as fearlessly ferocious as you need to be with your own art.”
I think that’s important. Say what you will about the punk rock community – and I guess this website that I co-own and have been helping to run for a dozen years is pretty firmly embedded in that (*both laugh*) – but it can be tough to get the intestinal fortitude to go outside those parameters of three chords and a Marshall stack and a Les Paul and that whole thing, and to realize that you don’t have to do that all the time.
And you know, there’s also the stage of “I’m a singer-songwriter but I’m a punk, let me play this acoustic guitar as if it were an electric and let me belt it out…” and yeah, you should do that, that can definitely be part of the thing. But you’re so capable of all these other things; incorporate as much of you and what you can do into this thing, and it’s going to be so much more multifaceted and deeper if you do that.” I think with this next Dave Hause record, it pushes even further into that realm, and what’s cool about it is that the fact that I did my own record I think gave Dave a little bit more creative freedom. And also, I took my hands off a little bit at least on the production side. we wrote all the songs together, just like on my record, they’re all 50/50, we finished all these songs together, he’s got fingerprints all over my record just like I have had on his records since Bury Me In Philly, but I think me doing my own thing enabled him on this last session to not have to say “what does Tim want to put on, I have to make room for Tim here…” and whatever the case was. I think it was cool to see him go into mad scientist mode, and it was awesome. I’m really excited about it.
I was hoping to talk a little about the differences in writing between the two of you. You guys both wrote in what I assume from knowing you and being a listener from a very intensely personal perspective. There isn’t a lot of character-based stuff really on either of your records, you’re writing more from your own perspectives. When it comes to writing either for Dave’s records or what becomes your records, how conscious are you of writing in your own voice versus writing in Dave’s voice, if that makes sense?
I’m a fan of his first, before I started working with him. And also being his brother and sharing DNA and our relationship, I felt like I had a good window into what he did best and how he wanted to present himself. And also my own ideas about how I thought he should present himself as a green person who didn’t know anything about the industry. And so I think that being a fan first enabled me to jump into the river and not send it in a totally different direction. I’m definitely aware of the fact that we have our own perspectives. I mean, calling the record TIM was a pretty clear indicator that this was a really personal record, that it was going to deal with many of the pillars in my life. I would say that there are probably three pillars that it’s about. The goal is to write from our own perspectives and write it to be universal and evergreen and applicable to somebody else. I hope that’s what ends up happening. I guess the idea is that if we make something that we spill a lot of our hearts into, then somebody will identify with it as well, because we’re not as alone as humans as we sometimes think that we are.
Do you find that that comes easier to you – writing music that is overtly personal. I mean, “4000 Days” is probably the most on-the-nose personal as you can get as a songwriter, but I think the remainder of the album is stuff that you were going through but that also translates in a universal way. Is that what feels best do you rather than trying to ‘creative write’ and build these sorts of characters?
It feels best…music, we use it as sort of our church in a lot of ways. It’s kind of the way that we tap into spirituality, it’s a therapeutic endeavor that also has a commercial bent to it, which can be really weird at times – negotiating that line – but yeah, it feels comfortable for the most part because it feels meaningful enough to sing when it’s a story about me. I would really like to get into more character-driven stuff in the future. I’d like to be able to branch out that way, but they say that your first record took however many years you’ve been alive to make it, and I’d say that’s definitely the case with this.
How far back to some of these seeds go?
The first line from “High Hopes” is the first line that I can think of. “Let’s go walking in the pouring rain/ before it turns to acid” must have been…I don’t even know how old I was. I remember exactly where I was when I was writing it. I was walking with my wife down to what was the first place we’d move into together. We weren’t married at that point…that would have been maybe when I was 22 or 23. That would have been the same year that Bury Me In Philly came out – I think that was ‘16.
That sounds right.
So it goes back that far. Actually, come to think of it…the real answer I just discovered. Here’s the real answer. I was eleven when my mom died. I had just turned eleven. When I turned 22, it was a huge, watershed moment in the grief process and the life process, because it marked the moment that I had spent more time on earth without her than I had with her. That was the initial kernel of “4000 Days” as the first thing that I remember writing, and I know that for a fact because that was such a profound marker in my life.
That sounds like it’s around the same time then as that line from “High Hopes,” so it seems like that’s when things really shifted into this direction.
Yeah, that’s when things really started percolating, back when I was 22. So it goes back a while.
Was it hard for you – and was it important for you – to put a song like “4000 Days” on the album, because it’s such an intensely personal and vulnerable song, and you’re writing about things that, if people are familiar with you and Dave, they’re familiar with the story – Dave essentially did an album based on his processing of that with The Loved Ones – but was it important for you and nerve-wracking for you to put that on the record?
For sure. I would say I’m more nervous to play it live than I was to put it on the record.
I can’t imagine having to play it live, to be honest with you.
I don’t know what to think about that. I have the record release show coming up on February 10th at World Cafe, and I don’t know how to skin that cat. It feels like I have to do it for a record release show, but there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to do it. I’ve been no stranger to tears on stage. I’m okay with that for whatever reason. I think it’s a genuine mark of courage to be able to be okay with that in a public way. I’m okay if it goes that way. The friend of ours who passed during that November tour with Will, we played a couple songs at her service. And that was just brutal. So I’ve got some experience when there’s a tremendous weight in the room and there’s real gravity holding it together and trying to steel yourself so that you can deliver this piece of work you’re trying to deliver and then after you can kind of ease up and process what that was. But yeah, I wasn’t nervous to put it on there. I knew it was a good idea. It was a good enough idea to tattoo on myself. It was 4074 days, technically, because that’s the first thing that I got tattooed on my chest, was a piece with a couple of swallows holding a banner with the number of days on it. That was the first tattoo I got, and 4000 days sounds a lot better than “4074 days” so I had to take a little liberty with it.
That’s a hard song to listen to, and I say that as somebody who’s got both of his parents still with us – but that’s a hard song to listen to nevermind perform, but I can also see it being a song that doesn’t just get the waterworks going for you but for everyone in the crowd, because everyone has lost someone and had to watch someone pass away – mom, dad, grandma, brothers, whatever. That could be a real cathartic thing for everybody, and I think that that’s a sign that you nailed the sentiment that you were going for.
For sure. Lately, there’s been part of me that thinks that I might be some kind of angel of death. (*both laugh*) I lost my mom when I was eleven, I lost my best buddy (Shane) when I was twenty-two, and he went missing for thirty-six days. He was out with his friends the night before Thanksgiving…
Oh man, I remember this story, yeah.
Yeah, he got separated from his friends around closing time, and I think he went to take a leak by the river and got swept away. There was a bunch of rain that week and it got really cold, so the river was higher than it had ever been or whatever. He was found thirty-six days later.
That is horrifying.
Yeah. And then my best buddy in high school overdosed in 2020. So I’ve had a bunch of really, really, really close losses. And then over the last two months…the dad of my best bud Shane, he just passed. I was a pallbearer at Shane’s funeral, and then I was a pallbearer at his dad’s funeral like two weeks ago. Two weeks before that was Lindsay’s memorial that we flew out to California for and played a song at. And it just so happened that…you know, Thanksgiving week is always rough, because Wednesday is the day that Shane went missing, Thursday around Thanksgiving dinner time his mom called me and I just kinda knew as soon as she asked me that something was really wrong. Oddly enough, we flew out to California (this year) for Lindsay’s service on Black Friday, and the service was on Saturday, and that just so happened to be on my mom’s birthday.
Good grief, man. Wow.
So the last two months have been really, really difficult, and I’m back in that same place that I know so well, of grief. This last loss with Kevin, Shane’s dad, was really rough because of them being the family across the street. My dad was in a really, really bad way after my mom died, understandably, and he was sort of unable to do a lot of the normal functions of a parent, and they were the stand-in family. That was like where I would go to eat a meal that wasn’t Quizno’s. I’d go over there to have a family meal, you know? That’s where I’d escape. My mom died in hospice so after that, I just needed to be out of the house and his dad and his mom were like my stand-in second family. That was a really crushing blow just over the last couple months. So yeah, it’s a really hard song to think about playing, but I don’t think that we deal with death enough in our culture. I think we try to put it off and pretend it doesn’t happen, but it’s maybe the most universal part of human existence…birth and death and water, I guess, are the three biggest things, right? So if I’m not a stranger to it in my own life, I don’t want to be a stranger to it in my art, because the art that we make, fortunately, is an expression of our lives and hopefully it does connect with other people. Like you said, everybody knows somebody and if they don’t know they will someday. That sucks to say, but it’s just a fact. It was tough to make and I’m so glad we did it. I made sure to give my sisters trigger warnings when I sent them the song first. And my dad. Dave didn’t need any warning because he and I made it together.
Have you had feedback from people on the socials and whatnot about that song in particular and how you nailed it, and being told that you nailed a song like that, is that almost more validating than any other sort of feedback you can get about your art?
Absolutely! “High Hopes” was the first single we put out and that was sort of the leader in the clubhouse in terms of plays on different services and streams and whatever….so you would think the most-played song might get the most feedback online, and that’s just not the case at all. “4000 Days” blew every song before and every song after out of the water in terms of people reaching out though DMs and messages and email and everything, to be like “hey, I related to that so much.” People have been telling me their stories, thanking me for it. That has been far and away the most connecting part of the release process. It’s definitely affirming and validating and exciting.
It does open that door where people then put their thing on you, right? Because they know that you can relate to it, and it helps them through, but then it also means that you have to wear their thing now too, once they tell you their story.
Sure, there’s some emotional exhaustion that can come along with it, especially being out on tour. By the end of the day, when you’re putting everything together, even just getting to the show is a lot, especially when we go out to the merch (area) and you end up talking to people, it’s so awesome. The reason that we do it is to connect, but it can be emotionally exhausting, for sure. You just have to mind the shop; you have to stay on top of your own mental health. That’s part of the game, keeping things as in-check as you can. That song has been awesome (for that). There is an element of people putting it on you, but I kinda like that, you know? It’s such a signifier of connection that I enjoy it.
And it comes from a genuine place. Like I said, I think it’s indicative of the fact that you really nailed the sentiment. If you didn’t, people wouldn’t be opening up to you that way. I’m glad that song is on the record, for what that’s worth. I’ve talked to Dave in the past about his own sort of versions of processing that time in your lives, but that’s a very different thing to go through when you’re twenty-six versus when you’re ten or eleven.
I wanted to talk a little about working with Will (Hoge) again. Dave’s last record that people have heard was your first time working with Will and then you went back to Nashville for TIM and him for his next record. It seems like a match that I hadn’t even considered previously, and yet once it came about, it made perfect sense right away. The way all three of you not only write music but approach things and view the world, it seems like a perfect sort of symmetry. How did that really come about? You seem to have become fast friends.
It actually came about the same way you and I are talking right now, on Zoom. It was during the tail end of whatever that first or second wave was – there was Covid, but then it was looking like there was a window where it was safe enough to get together and make a record. It was kind of everybody’s first foray back into the studios in Nashville. For all of those guys, one of their first projects back if not their actual first project back was Blood Harmony. Alex (Fang), our manager, manages Will too, so that is the boring answer. We share a manager. But we met him on a Zoom, and it only took five minutes to get a bead on who is this guy, what’s he going to do for the record, and is he the right guy…and all of those questions were answered within what felt like seconds. At max, it was five minutes. It was one of those things like “wait…are you our family?” We joke about that we’re Southern and Yankee cousins, and it’s so true. There was an instant connection and an instant (realization) that this guy gets it. He’s done it a few times for himself. He’s thoughtful enough and mindful – his wife is a therapist, you know, which is always a good sign (*both laugh*) – and he’s got the mindfulness to think outside of his own scope and say “okay, what does this project need from me?” Immediately, it was a match made in heaven. It’s going to be hard someday in the future to not make a record with Will.
Probably for both of you. I think that it’s become a thing for him too.
Yeah for sure. It’s tough to think about that now. The cast of characters he put together for Blood Harmony was amazing. And then the guy who came up with a lot of the atmosphere on my record was Josh Grange. He was in Sheryl Crow’s band. He was huge on it. Chris Griffiths who played bass on it is in Will’s band. He’s awesome. Dean Anshutz played drums on most of it, and he’s from Red Wanting Blue. And the other drummer was Matt Billingslea, and he’s Taylor Swift’s drummer. He played on “Fit To Be Tied.”
Oh just some guy who plays with some obscure footnote in American music history named Taylor Swift. (*both laugh*)
That’s Will Hoge kind of in a nutshell. He’s the belle of every ball. There’s not a person who meets him who doesn’t immediately fall in love with him. He has that magic and that magnetism where people just think he’s the best. And he has that kind of pull in Nashville where he’s buddies with everybody and it’s for good reason. He’s just the best dude and he’s immensely talented.
I feel like he’s also representative of the good part that’s left of Nashville. I know he did the punch in/punch out songwriter thing in the corporate Nashville world, and I think at some level if you live there you probably have to at some point. But I think he’s become representative of the good part of Nashville that isn’t just corporate songwriting and the corporatization of “country music,” and I of course use air quotes around country music for a reason. He is one of the guys that is a real artist.
Through and through. And I think having had commercial success, the blessing and curse of that speaks to who he is. He’s still an artist, and he could have really shifted there, and he could have easily changed up his whole MO and done things differently and he didn’t. He got a taste of this unbelievable success and if anything it’s made him a better person.
I was just going to say, it seems like he’s come out of that better than before.
Yeah! That speaks to his character. He’s awesome.
I was painfully late in getting into Will Hoge, because I have this predisposition against modern Nashville country. The modern Music Row thing, I don’t like, so then if you know that someone has a song that’s on modern country radio, it’s like “well, skip that one.” I don’t even remember where I started paying attention but it was probably either through Social D or Lucero and I remember going “where the hell has this guy’s songwriting been my entire life??” Because, I’m not from there, and yet I feel like I get it.
He’s the real deal…and if we weren’t close enough before, that tour really put the punctuation mark on it.
You guys were tested and then kept getting tested. And you talk about a certain heaviness being over a show when you’re performing, those first couple of shows I was at in (Shirley) and Rockport, those were heavy shows. Dave’s absence was heavy, but the emotion behind it, and then the connection between you and Will, and then Will having his family there to surprise him, those were shows that were really unlike anything that I’ve seen.
They were unlike anything that I’ve been a part of too. It was such a cool format. Obviously, the most tragic thing was losing Lindsay, but there was also a tragic sense – much, much less gravity-wise, but we were looking forward to that tour for so long. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to pull it together again and to bring it everywhere on however many legs we can, because it works so well. If you get bored of a guy’s voice or a guy’s song or a guy’s playing, there’s gonna be another guy in five minutes who’s doing something different. If you’re not a fan of mine or of Dave’s or of Will’s, you probably will be at the end of it, but if you’re not, you have this built-in respite every couple minutes. As a person whose attention is hard to grab and keep, I can relate. I grew up in the restaurant industry so I always think of things from the perspective of what’s it going to be like for the customer, what’s it going to be like for the diner? What kind of service should I give that I would want to get? So that’s kind of how I approach show-going too; what type of show am I going to go out and see? That’s one that was so cool. Will was just so good during that whole thing. He could have easily gone and been like “alright kid, this isn’t what I signed up for. I signed up to do this co-headline bill with Dave Hause, and Dave Hause is gone. You’re gonna get thirty minutes and then I’m going to take over the rest of it. I’m headlining and we’ll do it the (normal) way.” On night one, I actually lobbied for that because I kinda freaked out a little bit. I was like “dude, I don’t know if I can do this tonight.” It was a long day, and the physical duty of splitting up all the work that Dave and I usually do between the merch and the stage and my heart being elsewhere with him and his family and (Dave’s wife) Natasha and the family out there in Cailfornia, I kinda freaked out an hour before stage, or half an hour before stage. I was out in the van and I called my wife and called Dave just in tears, and I said “I don’t know if I can do this. This is so heavy and so gnarly.” I got that out of my system and I came in and kinda said the same to Will, like “I don’t know man, we should maybe do this the old fashioned way, where I’ll go up and play thirty minutes.” And he was like, in a perfect part Ted Lasso, part Jedi fashion, completely like “those aren’t the droids you’re looking for” – “he was like we could do that…(*waves hand Obi Wan style*) but I think we should keep the spirit of this tour alive…” I think part of that was that he wanted to be up there to be able to catch me if I fell. He wanted the camaraderie and the familiar thing to be together as brothers going through this difficult thing was awesome. My actual brother wasn’t there, but I had my Southern brother there to fill that void and it was a huge, huge blessing. There’s not a better person that could have been out there for the shit to hit the fan in that way with than Will.
Not that you’d want to, but you couldn’t recreate those shows and the way they happened organically and didn’t go the way that anyone was expecting or thought that they would, but I think the vast majority of people that were at those shows came away tremendously impressed with you and how they went.
I’m hopeful that that’s how it came across.
It may not be reflected in snowglobe sales, but…
(*both laugh*) Yeah! It did feel at the end like a huge growth point for me, and I’ll be a better person and artist and all those things for having gone through it. It’s the hardest tour I’ve been on, and I’ve been on a ten-and-a-half weeker! (*both laugh*)
Greetings, fellow degenerates! Welcome to the latest installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar. If it’s your first time here, thank you for joining us! This is a weekly column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl; new releases, reissues… you name it, we got it. So kick off your shoes, pull up a […]
Greetings, fellow degenerates! Welcome to the latest installment of the Dying Scene Record Radar. If it’s your first time here, thank you for joining us! This is a weekly column where we cover all things punk rock vinyl; new releases, reissues… you name it, we got it. So kick off your shoes, pull up a chair, crack open a cold one, and break out those wallets, because it’s go time. Let’s get into it!
Let’s start this week of with a banger 💥 Propagandhi‘s Supporting Caste is being reissued on pink colored vinyl thanks to an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign. Back in print for the first time in seven years! Head over to their Bandcamp page to get in on the action.
Another huge drop we let you know about earlier this week is Fat Wreck reissuing four 2000’s era Strung Out records on colored vinyl. The Element of Sonic Defiance, An American Paradox, and Exile in Oblivion are back in print for the first time in a long time. Blackhawks Over Los Angeles finds itself on wax for the first time ever. These are very limited, and most of the colored LPs have already sold out. Head over to the label’s webstore for the leftover scraps and black vinyl.
Those who read last week’s Record Radar know that NOFX has finally launched colored vinyl pre-orders for their upcoming LP Double Album. Well, much to the dismay of you collector nerds, a new “golden green” variant (it just looks green to me 🤷) has popped up on some European retailers’ sites. This is the EU indie exclusive color variant – here is one of the many places you can get it.
Newbury Comics has some new exclusive color variants of the self-titled debut albums from both The Interrupters and PUP (coincidence? most likely, yes). Each of these pressings are limited to 500 copies. Visit their store to get your hands on them.
Florida pop-punk veterans New Found Glory have a new acoustic record on the way. The 14-track LP titled Make the Most of It features seven new songs, and stripped-down versions of seven NFG classics. Check out the first single “Dream Born Again” below and get the wax here (green vinyl) or here (yellow vinyl). Or get both! I don’t give a shit, to be perfectly honest with you.
Bad Brains live album The Youth Are Getting Restless is back in print for the first time since its original release in 1990. This LP was recorded in the Netherlands in ’87. Zia Records and Brooklyn Vegan each have their own exclusive variant of this one. If you get it from Brooklyn Vegan, don’t forget to use their 10% off code – don’t be a sucker who pays 30 fuckin’ dollars for a record.
The Flatliners‘ latest album New Ruin makes its third(?) Record Radar appearance! The band has announced test pressings of the LP (limited to 15 copies! and it has some cool alternate cover art) will be on sale at Dine Alone Records‘ storefront in Toronto on Record Store Day Black Friday. More info here on how you can acquire one of these in exchange for Canadian dollars.
Speaking of Record Store Day Black Friday… have you heard Red Scare is reissuing Masked Intruder‘s debut album? Well, they are! And the only place you (maybe) can get a copy is your local record store on Black Friday (November 25th). The label usually throws a handful of copies of their RSD releases up on their webstore, too, but you didn’t hear that from me 😏
As I’m writing this, the Old Wives just announced a new record! Mega Low Maniac, the Edmonton punk band’s first album in five years, is due out in early December on Rad Girlfriend Records. Check out the first single “Me & Jack” below and go here to grab the LP.
Bringing up the rear on this week’s Record Radar is Neck Deep, with a reissue of 2014’s Wishful Thinking. Brooklyn Vegan, Newbury Comics, and Zia Records all have their own exclusive color variants of this one and they’re all ultra-limited and pretty and yada yada yada blah blah blah.
RECORD OF THE WEEK!
We here at Dying Scene are all about trying new things, so this week I’m challenging you, loyal reader, to listen to something new! This week’s Record of the Week comes from our friends at Punk Rock Radar (no affiliation with the Record Radar 😉) and Cat’s Claw Records. It’s a fucking awesome Split LP from Lookit, Martians! and The Cheap Pops. If you enjoy 90’s pop-punk even half as much as I do, this shit’s right up your alley. Check it out below, and pre-order the LP here (US) or here (EU).
And that’s all, folks! Another Record Radar in the books. As always, thank you for tuning in. If there’s anything we missed (highly likely), or if you want to let everyone know about a new/upcoming vinyl release you’re excited about, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll look into it. Enjoy your weekend, and don’t blow too much money on spinny discs. See ya next week!
*Wanna catch up on all of our Record Radar posts? Type “Record Radar” in the search bar at the top of the page!
Hello, and welcome to Record Store Spotlight; a new column here on Dying Scene dedicated to an institution almost as American as apple pie and unfettered capitalism – the record store! Today, I’ll be putting the spotlight on one of my favorite local stores, the Clearwater Record Shop. Nestled in the middle of my hometown […]
Hello, and welcome to Record Store Spotlight; a new column here on Dying Scene dedicated to an institution almost as American as apple pie and unfettered capitalism – the record store!
Today, I’ll be putting the spotlight on one of my favorite local stores, the Clearwater Record Shop. Nestled in the middle of my hometown (a city most well known for being home to the Church of Scientology’s headquarters), the Clearwater Record Shop sets itself apart from other record stores with its heavy focus on used music. Rather than relying on distributors to supply new releases, owner Casey Brown has spent years building his inventory one record collection acquisition at a time. The store which spans two interconnected warehouse spaces boasts one of the most expansive selections of used CDs I’ve ever seen. Every time I visit, I leave with a stack of jewel cases a few feet high. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re met with hundreds of bins overflowing with discs, the majority of which are just $3.75 each (or six for $20!).
Sure, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of shopping online. But the Clearwater Record Shop goes toe to toe with Discogs prices, and I find that most of the time, they come out ahead. Also, I’ve yet to find a more enjoyable way to kill a few hours on my day off than thumbing through thousands of records and CDs, searching for worthy additions to my collection. It’s a visceral experience that can’t be matched by browsing an online marketplace. Finding a record like The Clash’s Combat Rock for $15, and not having to wait an eternity for USPS to deliver it is icing on the cake. My only complaint about this store is that the selection is literally overwhelming. If you’re on a budget, you might have to get a little picky as your stack grows taller.
In the cooler months (yes, we sometimes have those here in Florida), the Clearwater Record Shop acts as a host to monthly swap meets. Local record collectors and vendors are invited to set up tables in the parking lot to sell their wares. These events serve as a great meeting place for the community, and are a highlight of winter and spring for me. The first time we attended, I grabbed a few LPs, including the Buzzcocks’ A Different Kind of Tension ($10) and Billy Joel’s Songs in the Attic ($5), along with a bunch of dollar bin CDs by the likes of the Ramones, Ozzy, and Megadeth.
It’s always a fun time shopping at this store. Casey is very personable and has created something really special here. The store has a unique, inviting old school atmosphere. The selection is great, and the prices are fair. Your dollar goes a lot further here than it does at most record stores.
If you ever find yourself in the Tampa Bay area, I highly recommend stopping by the Clearwater Record Shop. With two air conditioned warehouses packed to the rafters with nothing but music, music, and even more music, you’re bound to stumble upon something that suits your fancy. Or, if you lack self control like me, you’ll probably leave with a mountain of stuff that suits your fancy.