DS Exclusive Stream/Interview: Sad, fast, and loud—Throw brings speed back to melodic punk

The fact of the matter is, whether you’ve heard of them or not, Throw is making exciting music.

Last year, these guys threw a wrench into what could’ve been a recitation of big-names’ sophomore albums and ended up claiming a spot in my year-end best-of list. They came out of nowhere, as most great bands do, with an interesting and developed sound, played very fast. This is the crux of Throw—the self-deprecating vulnerability of bands like Joyce Manor meeting the spastic speed of old school punk. It’s a weirdo amalgam of hardcore, indie, skate, and emo that feels both scrappy and singable—but also, inherently young. 

Throw’s new record, I’m Very Upset, is another set of songs played amphetamine fast with open throats and hearts-on-sleeve. We’re debuting the full stream right here (and it’s their absolute best work to date)—but while we’re at it, we decided to sit down and talk to the Portland punx about the band, the new album, and themselves. Check out the stream and interview below!

 

So, for the folks who don’t know you, who are you and what do you do in the band?

Mike: I’m Mike and I play guitar and sing in Throw. More importantly I also provide the basement we practice in and the van we use to get around. I like to write sad things that don’t rhyme. My favorite things to do besides music include cooking, rock climbing, and backpacking. I have a Master’s Degree in Food Science and my job focuses on helping small food entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest take their products from being made in their kitchen to something commercially available at the grocery stores. I have bad skin and I like beer.

Jake: My name is Jake McLoud and I play bass and sing. So you could argue I do next to nothing! When I’m not doing Throw stuff I book touring bands in Portland through a thingy called Pizza Break Promotions. The idea here is to help grow the music scene by making it easier for touring bands to play here and connect them to great local bands. Hopefully it’ll make touring easier for everyone! I also get really drunk on Friday nights and then try to learn a song on acoustic guitar while super hungover on Saturday’s. I post a video of me trying it out and call it Happily Hungover. Sometimes I get Mike to play acoustic bass and sing with me on these songs! My money comes in from certifying and monitoring clean rooms for Intel. It’s okay… pays the bills. I’d do worse things to support myself just enough to keep playing music with my best friends! I have a hair loss disease and my teeth aren’t the greatest but I live with it.  

Ryan: I’m Ryan, I live in a Soviet era prison under the St. John’s bridge and play drums in Throw. I’m an electrician by trade. I spend most of my non-Throw related time hanging out on bar patios, talking to my cats, pestering my girlfriend about what we’re gonna make for dinner and listening to Dead Bars records.

How did Throw come to be? What kind of music were you guys trying to make, starting out?

Mike: I actually wasn’t in the band when Throw came to be, per se.Though about 10 years ago the three of us in this same iteration recorded a crappy little three song EP in Jake and Ryan’s other band’s practice space. We released it on MySpace under the name Erectile Destruction. I don’t think it’s up anymore (pun intended). Back then we were focused more on writing satirical lyrics and using stolen 80’s hardcore riffs, kind of like “SpaceShip.” I joined the band three years ago as a second guitar player when I moved back to Portland. When our original guitar player/singer had to move away Jake and Ryan told me I had to learn how to sing, I’ve been attempting to fool them ever since. To this day I still make uncomfortable eye contact with them after each song, like a Golden Retriever that’s not sure if it brought the right stick back.

Jake: I joined up with Ryan and Trevor after my previous band Dark Country split up. I knew they were making rad music in Throw so I couldn’t wait to jam with them. I had so much fun playing bass again and especially because I was playing with great friends. I grew up playing with Ryan and I like to think we have a certain chemistry. It was rad playing as a three piece but when we heard Mike was finally coming home from grad school I damn near shit myself with excitement! We immediately got him in and it felt so damn good! After Trevor left we felt a little strange about how to go about writing music but we figured out we were good at playing fast and putting stops in here and there. So we ran with that concept and the more we wrote and played as this combination of Throw I feel like we really hit a stride and I love how the music has been turning out since! Singing with Mike is so much fun for me I can hardly believe it. I’ve never felt so good singing with anyone else! I feel like Ryan and Mike have made me a better singer and bassist ever since they taught me to count to 2. Now we’re here and we got some fun songs coming out on I’m Very Upset, I’m pretty excited to release it and hit the road!

Ryan: Throw conceptually started with a drunken conversation between myself and Trevor Oatts, our original singer, after a Pageripper show in late 2013. We started jamming a few weeks later with Trevor playing guitar, myself playing bass and a friend of ours named Kevin on drums. We recorded a quick demo of two songs that would later go on our first record but nothing really panned out with that line up due to Kevin moving to San Diego directly after the recording of that demo. A month or two went by and Trevor and I decided to give it ago as a 2 piece and I took over drum duties. We wrote the rest of the songs that would make up Feel Good Hit of the Bummer that spring and spent all Summer recording in our tiny, blisteringly hot practice space with Trevor and I splitting guitar and bass tracks. It was a mess but it was a blast! Shortly after we wrapped up that record we managed to con Jake into playing bass for us and started ramping up shows and trying to find our voice as a band. Over the couple of years going forward we zoned in on what our sound actually was and started incorporating more tempos and melodies from bands like Bad Religion and the Descendents. There came a time where we really felt we needed to add some more depth to our sound and luckily enough the guy that we wanted to come in as a second guitar player had just finished grad school and moved back to Portland. So Mike joined the band and we finished writing our second record and toured some up until Trevor moved to Ohio. Leaving us as a three piece again. It was a little bit of a learning curve but since the three of us had been playing in bands together in some fashion since our preteens it just felt natural to keep that configuration and write songs until we were happy with how we sounded and that pretty much brings us to today!

You guys have released a fair amount of material for being, at least to me, such a young band. Do you guys tend to write pretty fast? How’s the songwriting process break down for you guys?

Ryan: Usually it all starts with a riff or a couple off bits of a song. Jake and Mike will just start playing something in between songs at practice and the rest of us will be like “wait…what was that?!” Or “dude knock that shit off!” And we go from there. We tend to have long stretches where we can bang out a bunch of songs and then we kinda go quiet for a while. We tend to be pretty creative when there’s a lot of change going on in the band or we or one of us is going through something out of the ordinary. Mike got a rib straight up removed from his body a while back, that ended up being great for creativity!

Mike: The writing process goes a couple different ways for us. Sometimes me or Jake will come up with something on our own and bring it to practice, then we try to workshop it. Sometimes songs come together very close to the original idea (“Wisconsin” and “Atlas; Bummed”) and other times we have to work on them extensively until it’s something we are happy with (“Smoke ‘Em” and “Crawlspace”). Other times one of us will just start playing something mindlessly and then we work around that to turn it into something (“SpaceShip” and “Pass the Prozac”). The majority of the songs are hammered out within a few weeks of the original inception but we worked on “Smoke ‘Em” for almost two years before we were ready to even think about recording it. We are really happy with the volume of songs we play live right now and are really excited to have this next chunk released on I’m Very Upset.

Jake: Usually we write pretty quickly. At least it seems that way. Normally someone will bring a near complete song and we will learn it, tweak it, sit on it, bop it, etc.. I feel like we’re pretty good about ditching songs and keeping certain riffs in the bank which helps the process along for future songs. I feel like the best part about our writing process is how open we are to trying every little idea anyone comes up with. Most of the time it doesn’t work out but when it does it’s pretty rad! Definitely my favorite way to write is when we all write something together from start to finish like we did with “Spaceship” and “Pass the Prozac.” This is just the most fun way for me to write because we get to share ideas in the moment and that’s always such a great feeling for me.

Jumping back to stolen riffs and Bad Religion, one of the things I like about Throw is that you guys seem like a marriage between two very different worlds of punk. On one hand you’ve got the self-deprecating, emotionally charged indie punk; then, on the other there’s the fact that you guys play so fast—totally old school, and with the Bad Religion name-drop, it lends weight to the idea that you guys are pulling from a lot of different types of punk. So, first off, what kind of stuff inspires you and is it in the playbook to be loud and fast, and vulnerable as fuck? And second, what Bad Religion riff did you steal in “Spaceship?”

Ryan: We really all grew up on super fast early 90’s skate punk type stuff. Like when we were kids, starting out playing in bands, I think that Jake and I actively had this misguided view that if you played slower than like 160 BPM you were probably a poser!  All that punx posturing was super exhausting though and I really started to get into some more dynamic music as I got older. Some of my biggest influences, especially as a drummer tends to be the more fuzzy, stoner bands like Fu Manchu and Kyuss. As far as our playbook goes, I think if we had one the first rules would be fast as fuck/sad as fuck.

Mike: I love 80’s hardcore and also some weird stuff like Type O Negative. I am a big Stoner Metal fan as well. Lately I have been listening to a lot of Cayetana, PUP, Lemuria, and Jimmy Buffet for some reason. Right now Se Vende’s newest release is in my CD player, before that it was probably Odd Robot. I would say loud/fast/vulnerable is not just in the playbook, the whole playbook is to be loud, fast, and sad. Beyond that we just chuck stuff at a dartboard.

Jake: Oh, fast and loud and sad and sloppy is most definitely the entirety of the playbook. We tried writing a slower song and later ditched it because it just wasn’t fun enough for us. I would say my personal main influences would include Alkaline Trio, Lawrence Arms, Bad Religion, Jawbreaker, the Menzingers, Tiger Army, Bill Withers, NOFX, Strike Anywhere, and other bands like these. The list goes on and on. I would also include every single local and touring band we play with. Seeing other people playing music and putting their whole souls into it is what motivates me to do my best and try to enjoy myself to the fullest while also hopefully adding a little more joy to their experience as well.

So, the new album is I’m Very Upset.  It’s great. What went into it? How did you approach it compared to your other releases?

Ryan: The recording process was a lot different for this new record. In the past we’ve really gone into recording like “well we have 8-10 songs now….time to record I guess…” We did Bummer and Real, Real Nice ourselves in our practice space, mostly because we were lucky enough to have a recording engineer in the band at the time. This time around I think we had a lot more of a vision of what we wanted the record to sound and feel like. We actually recorded this album twice, believe it or not. We started back in January with a set of these songs but just couldn’t make ourselves happy with the performances so our good friend Chris Finster at Aetherspacr Studios offered to squeeze us in again this Summer to pretty much bang the whole record out in a week. I think the pressure of getting it done in that short time frame really pushed us to play as well as we could.

I’ve noticed you guys release a lot of cassettes. Do you have a particular affection for the format? Is there a vinyl release in Throw’s future?

Ryan: Honestly, I think we always gravitated towards tapes because they are nice and compact and fit in your pocket, so if you buy one at a show you don’t have to lug around a 12” for three more bands. Funny enough I’m pretty sure that most of the folks who buy our tapes don’t even play them, they’re just after the download code inside. Which is really kinda the design, nobody wants to walk up to your merch booth and buy a card with a few letters and numbers on it. Having something physical makes it feel a lot more real, at least to me. I truly love the way vinyl sounds and looks but it just hasn’t been economically feasible yet. Hopefully soon though!

Mike: Cassettes are neat, I wanted to do them for this record but the turn around wasn’t quick enough for tour. Maybe next pressing will be tapes. I like them because they fit in your pocket at shows. I want to do a vinyl split with one of the bands we’re friends with!

Do you guys have any plans to tour? What’s the big picture dream for Throw?

Ryan: We’re actually about to start a West coast tour on September 7th! Check out our Facebook page for deets! As far as the big picture I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re gonna do anything possible to keep putting out records and touring as often as possible until we’re broken or dead. We’ll never be rockstars but we have a sweet mini van and we’re super down to play in your kitchen or dive bar or record store if you’re into it!

Punk has branched off into so many distinct directions in the forty years its been around. You’ve got pop punk—and its got a clear, definable sound, chord progressions and catchy melodies. You’ve got hardcore, folk punk, post-hardcore, emo, and these days melodic punk has even become its own corner—that grey area of emotionally resonant punk rock with strong melodies and a more introspective approach that doesn’t feel quite pop punk. What I like about you guys is that you feel sort of like a culmination of sorts for a genre that has a lot of distinct approaches. What do you think is the ultimate common ground of punk? Is it being fast? Is it DIY? Authenticity? Some sort of vague and hard to pin down scrappiness? Do you consider yourselves punk?

Ryan: I think when it really comes down to it, it’s really about what it is that drives the bands to make music. To me punk rock is about doing whatever it is that YOU want to do. I’m not one of those “don’t pigeonhole me, bro…” type guys but I don’t think think that punk really has to be anything in particular. Personally I’m way too boring to call myself a punk, but I DO play punk rock in a punk rock band with my best friends because a bunch of records from bands that have always been presented to me as punk bands changed my life when I was growing up. And to this day there’s a handful of records that I can honestly say are the only things that have always been there for me, no matter what.

Thank you so much for chatting with me. The new album, I’m Very Upset, is an awesome release and I hope a lot of people get into it. I’ll leave you guys with the last word, anything to say to our readers?

Ryan: Up the posers, tip your bartenders, be nice to each other. Fuck Jeff Sessions!

 

 


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