DS Exclusive Interview: Latin For Truth talk inspiration and the band’s ever-changing sound

DS Exclusive Interview: Latin For Truth talk inspiration and the band’s ever-changing sound

I was able to catch up with Charles Hastings, Latin For Truth‘s vocalist and guitarist, to talk about the musical style of the band, their ever-changing sound, where they gather inspiration from, as well as the difficulties that faced the band in writing a song about a loved one that had passed away. You can read the full interview here. If you haven’t heard of these guys, you can listen to a few of their songs off the “Diatribe Or Die!” EP on their MySpace page.

Latin For Truth released their latest EP, “Diatribe Or Die!,” on Mightier Than The Sword Records.

DS: What’s up, guys? Your six-song EP Diatribe Or Die! EP has been out for a couple of months now. How has the response to the release been so far?

LFT: I think the kids who dug Eleven Eleven liked it, we found some new fans because of it, and it was a logical step between Elven Eleven and our next full length, Youth Crew Blues. We kind of show off a bit of musical bi-polar wizardry by skipping around genre wise, but it seems to be well received. I think people expect it from us at this point.

DS: You guys play fast, melodic music that blends together different vocal styles. To someone that hasn’t ever listened to you guys before, and want to classify you into a certain genre, how would you describe your sound to them?

LFT: I’m horrible at this. We’re a skater punk band who wants to put out a different kind of record every year. I hope we sound like if Jawbreaker borrowed A Wilhelm Scream’s drummer, Fugazi’s bassist, and Bayside’s guitarist and tried to write a skater punk record. But it intent is hardly ever outcome, you go into the studio with Hello Bastards and it comes out as Rise or Die Trying, ehh, *cough* eleven eleven *cough*.

DS: On your Myspace page, you write that you “sing positive stuff.” when you’re writing music, what do you draw from for inspiration…Is it more stuff you personally went through or things that you’ve observed?

LFT: Inspiration comes from a lot of sources: art, music, literature, and our personal lives. We draw from everything, from listening to less obvious influences like Edith Piaf or Tom Waits or Wu Tang Clan or Dillinger Escape Plan, visual art by Toulouse Lautrec, that’s where I get a lot of my distorted sense of proportion in our shirt designs, or literature like Kerouac, Hemingway, Ginsberg, Bukowski, and Steinbeck. We’re all over the place, it seems. People have described the band as bi-polar, ha, but I think it’s natural to want to be everything, chase anything that you dig. I feel centered with the ethos of the band, there is and always will be a continuity in how we carry ourselves as a band and individuals. Specifically the positive tinge to our music comes from our personal lives. Everyone in the band has someone in their life touched by addiction and just in general we’re surrounded by people with shitty attitudes perpetuating the existence they’ve grown to hate. It makes no sense to me how you could live in our country, have the resources we have, and not enjoy every second of your life. Across the world there are people with real problems in really fucked up situations. Here we are, eating mcdonalds, watching tv, googling porn, arguing with ex’s, etc. Just coasting through life, some of us are completely miserable, but why? Makes no sense to me, so we stay positive, for ourselves and the kids coming up looking for good habits. I went from being the son of a drug addict and a convicted murderer to a street musician in NOLA to a nice, sensible adult with no major vices, all through positive mental attitude. Praises to PMA.

DS: Your new song “Pall malls and Die Mountain Dew” was written about your friend Jake, who passed away a couple of months ago. Is it difficult writing the song when it’s about a loved one, or is writing the song sort of your way of “coming to terms” with the reality of the situation?
LFT: The difficulty is writing a song to sum up the essence of someone you loved. One song will never be enough, will never be good enough. My feelings about it is, he was a perfect developing punk rock vagabond, an all around kind and beautiful dude who also happened to be an amazing drummer on his way to writing some really great material with Dead Heroes and Roaming Cloud. I was genuinely stoked to hear Dead Heroes write a full record cause their last ep was insanely sick. I’ll never come to grips with the loss, neither will any of his close friends. The first couple of days after it happened I literally felt like everything was plastic and hollow. This life, the pursuit of our music, all of it was so frail and frivolous, which lead to me reasserting myself to the pursuit. Everything is about as deep as the thump of a heartbeat or the silence where it once was. So I say, I’ll burn forever now because of it. He’s not able to pursue so we all need to keep it going, if not for ourselves, for his memory.

DS: The song is set to appear on the new album “Youth Crew Blues”…What can you tell us about it?

LFT: It’ll be painfully honest about where I am and where the band is and has been the past two years, writing a record at 24 is about as stressful as shaving with a chainsaw. I can tell you a few certainties about the record. It will be the first accurate portrayal of who we are as a band through production and artistic execution in the studio. We are extremely stoked on that portion of the record. The material will be a bit different because we’re a four piece now. Michael recently quit so we’ve had to rewrite the record again for the 4th time, but I don’t mind, it seems to get better and better. It’ll be like listening to Townes Van Zandt writing a youth crew hardcore album.

DS: Back in October you guys went on an “indefinite hiatus” and announced that your guys’ last shows would take place November 13th, 14th, and 15th. What’s changed in the band since then?
LFT: Well, I don’t mean to air out dirty laundry, but the truth is a lot of bands have these problems, so I’ll talk about them. This band has always had a very small flow of cash funds, it use to be that Michael and I would pick up the tab on most things and after our wreck when Eleven Eleven came out on Wisteria, we were stranded for a bit cause no one would get jobs. We had just gotten to a point where we felt it was silly for us to throw in anymore money into the band. It didn’t take me long to realize I couldn’t live without this band. What we do is important to me and to some outside of our community, though it’s a very small number of kids, they dig us and what we do. We can’t let them down. Not much has changed, just refining the space in my head where I felt safe when we first started. The band use to be a very internal dialogue put on display through tunes. It’s like I forgot that for a while because of all the financial frustrations.

DS: You guys released the 7-inch “The 95 Sound” on Pitfall Records and then that was it. you guys were done. Then all of a sudden you guys come out with new music for a new EP, not 2, 3 months after you guys announced your hiatus. What made you guys come back for good?

LFT: Well RJ at MTS had talked to me through emails a few times about putting out our next record and we were sitting on what might have been our last ep, half of which we gave away through Beartrap PR and Pitfall as a digital ep called I’m Sick of Not Having the Courage To Be An Absolute Nobody and the other half was the original demos for Youth Crew Blues. We decided the idea of putting out the record with a cool dude like RJ was too good, so we gave him the six song ep to release for us and we’d begin to seriously write for YCB again. RJ is on the same page as us, has two fingers on the pulse of what we want to do. It seems to have amped my confidence in what LFT is and can be.

DS: There’s a new bassist in the band, Tom…where’s he from?

LFT: Tom is from Atlanta, GA. We’ve known him for a few years cause he plays guitar in a band that we’re good friends with, Word Travels Fast. Him, their lead singer, Timmi, and drummer Sweat T are the coolest dudes in ATL. Tom also has a newer band, Some Mistakes, that is uber legit. They’re actually recording an ep, called Glamorous Thoughts, with CJ Ridings, the engineer for YCB. Tom is easily the best bassist we’ve had. He’s intelligent, a nice dude, professional, a good player, and he’s straight edge, which only adds to whatever pretentious idealistic undertones we have going for us. “LFT is not straight edge, but our bassist is” I think I’ll make that into a shirt design, ha.

DS: When you get new members, do you guys have a certain way of playing things or do you let them do their own thing and see what they bring to the band?

LFT: We let them essentially play it the way they want unless it’s a super important part to a song that shouldn’t be tampered with, that’s just on those key elements that kids expect to hear at shows. The reason YCB will sound so different from previous releases is because of all the input each member has put in. It’s seems to be an important part to writing tunage. Personal tastes chip away at the marble till you have something that sounds like a band.

DS: You guys are on Mightier Than The Sword Records. What made you guys want to sign with them, and how different is it being with these guys as opposed to being on your old label?
LFT: Things are a little less legit, we’re not trying to shoot down the moon with a bb gun. Just trying to tour till kids talk about us from coast to coast. RJ seems pretty chill to that point. Also I think I’d let RJ babysit my record collection, the previous could babysit my wallet, ha, you can take that metaphor whatever way it speaks to you.

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