I recently had a chance to chat with American Pinup‘s Lauren West about band origins, growth, festivals and an upcoming full-length album titled “Change Machine.”
Give it a read here.
DS: Give us a who’s who and tell us a little something about the bands inception.
LW: Andy (drums) and Tim (Bass) have been playing music together since high school. I had just started college when Andy approached me about recording some of my acoustic material in his home studio. That record never got finished because I ended up joining the band they were in at the time, Marissa Feldman, as the singer. I was always very ambitious about music, but also really naïve, I have to admit. I had been so use to doing things as a solo/acoustic artist that I didn’t have a clue how to be in a band. We had so many lineup changes, name changes and random shows, it was really a mess in the beginning.
Andy and I were the only constants since Tim was away at school a lot. we broke up in 2009 then reunited, we put out an ad for a lead guitarist on craigslist, which is how we found Rob. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky we were he answered that ad, not only was he the missing ingredient to the music we were making but his presence in the band motivated us to take it seriously. Shortly after that Tim graduated and became our full time bassist. By that time we were on the verge of signing with Altercation Records and had started using the name American Pinup. after years of trying to hit that stride, we’ve finally come into our identity as a band.
DS: One full length, a Split with Pop Punk up and comers Lost In Society, a new EP, and a full length on the way for spring 2013. Tell us about the music and growth of American Pinup since the first release.
LW: We’re at a very exciting point in our career, creatively speaking. Our first album, Strange Creatures, and the tracks on the split with Lost In Society were all recorded in Andy’s basement, totally independently. For our subsequent releases we wanted to make a record without the stress of having to do all the tracking and mixing ourselves. We also wanted to have some outside input, so for the “The End Of The World” EP which we just released, and for the upcoming full length we decided to work with a producer. We ended up working with Mike Kalajian at Telegraph Recording, its been a great experience. It’s a mixture of scary and exciting to hear what someone else’s take on your sound is, but I think Mike really knows what elements to bring out and has a good sense of our artistic goals.
DS: South By Southwest, Valley Of The Vapors, Upstart Fest, and soon The Fest in Gainesville, not to mention more regional shows than we can count. Give us your insight into the world of the larger fests, the national tours and the hometown shows.
LW: Festivals are fucking great. What they have over hometown shows is that they’re an event specifically devoted to music and music culture. They’re a great place to make connections, discover other bands, and get inspired. Playing in your hometown is always fun, but sometimes can be more about partying than playing. Nothing against partying, but its refreshing to play to a crowd that’s there to hear music and discover their next favorite band. There’s a lot of diversity in the festival scene, a homegrown fest like Valley Of The vapors or Upstart Fest is great because you find this really genuine, eager interest in the music from the crowd. We went from opening the show the first year we did VOV, to headlining our second year because the people there were so responsive to us, I remember driving into Hot Springs for the second time and we saw ourselves on a bill board. It was thoroughly surreal and it really had an impact on us.
Touring is almost impossible to summarize as an experience. Some days it’s amazing some days it’s exhausting, some days you go through a city and feel like you stumbled upon a home away from home, and sometimes you feel like you never saw the outside of the venue. I love it though, it’s just plain good for the soul because it forces you to live in the moment.
DS: Do you find things have become easier for the band now that you’re on the international radar, as opposed to being total unknowns outside of your own city?
LW: It definitely makes thing easier. It’s no secret that success snowballs in the music business. The more you have to work with, the more you can make of it. But the hard work in the beginning is crucial. Everyone has to pay dues. And we’re still not done paying ours, but we’re definitely seeing some results now and its really encouraging. We want to keep growing and most importantly I want people to hear our music. I’ve kind of had to learn to be okay with being obnoxious. every time I meet someone new, I’m like, “I’m in a band! You should listen to our record!” You’d be surprised by how often people take a very real interest and want to hear about it. Sometimes I even get the, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of you!” reaction. I used to think those people were either being nice or total posers, but now I don’t really know any more. And that alone is a good feeling.
DS: What can we expect from the upcoming spring release? and does it have a name yet?
LW: This recording is going to be called “Change Machine.” Expect a more mature, cohesive record with some powerful lyrics and hooks. “Strange Creatures” was kind of like American Pinup BETA. We’ve polished everything up a bit and written some really cool stuff that I think will get under peoples skin. I can’t wait to get it out there into the world. The EP we just released will actually give you a good idea of what to expect. Everyone should go to our website and take a listen!