This is an archived interview conducted by Meghan in 2008 for Front & Center Rock.
18 April 2008
Beta Bar|Tallahassee, Florida
Mae: I’m Jacob Marshall and I play drums in the band Mae
On this tour you guys are doing charity for Habitat for Humanity. What made you decide to do that and how is it going so far?
Well it’s going awesome! I tell you that’s probably what I look forward to the most each day is that. And it’s at the end of the night. We have had a vision as a band for a long time of using the platform that we have to work on behalf of things that we feel passionate about. But n a lot of ways it seems like bands will invest in a cause of some kind and they’ll be stuck in that cause, like that’s there thing. And that’s cool, but we feel like we would rather be a bridge between a bunch of different organizations in our fan base opposed to any one thing. Mostly because we feel more merry to the idea of making a difference in a lot of different ways than just trying to stay focused on one thing. And instead of trying to start our own organization or anything like that, and there’s so many amazing organizations already running, we kind of want to learn about themand instead of, ya know, just being too focused on any one thing like being able to kind of do our homework and experience what a lot of different people are doing. And in the meantime teach our fans as we’re learning. So what we stumbled across on our last tour was that these acoustic shows didn’t cost us anything at all, I mean it was a simple way for us to use what we do to actually really focus per tour on a dif cause. So we started last tour with the Toys for Tots organization. And we just learned about it. We learned that they were started by the marines, I didn’t know that! And it was so awesome! So many people came out early and brought toys and I think we raised close to four or five thousand toys in the course of like three weeks, it was crazy! It was so cool! And people seemed to react. They seemed to genuinely be into the fact that, ‘oh ok this is weird and different but I like it’” ya know? And they’d show up and they’d bring the toys and it was phenomenal! So with this tour we chose habitat for humanity because we have a film maker in our band, Brett Brownell, and he had been filming a documentary, or like a project, in Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity in February. So we just talked to him about his experiences and he said that it was really cool so we wanted to learn about it and so from here on out every tour that we do will have like these acoustic shows as a part of it and we’ll be learning about, and helping, and being partners with these different organizations.
So you think you’ll do a different organization each tour?
Yeah! That’s the plan
Alright, well in the four years that I’ve been living in Tallahassee, I’ve seen you guys play here A LOT. Do you have a secret love for this city or are you just the kind of band who likes to play smaller towns who usually don’t get cool bands?
We love visiting smaller cities, especially college towns are great. A lot of our audience seems to be at that point in life where they’re making transitions and starting to really think for themselves. And our music has a lot of hope and a lot of, I guess, inspirational qualities so we really as a band believe in the idea that anything is possible. And I think that this age in particular is where you have to least amount of jadedness and the most amount of ambition, ya know? And you’re kind of seeing the ceiling lifted and having to make decisions for yourself and we love that. I mean that was the era that gave birth to this band we were in college and we were like well we could either go do something traditional or we could live in a van for a while and try to make some music and it worked and so we want to kind of carry that message of hope to people and really encourage them to think about life differently and really take a step back and realize that life is short but its also the only thing that we know for certain that we have, so you might as well live it to its fullest and not settle for anything less than what you really want to be here for.
So since you guys don’t consider yourselves a “Christian band” did that have anything to do with your switch from Tooth & Nail to Capitol?
Not at all, Tooth & Nail used to be a Christian label back in the day, we used to love to listen to Tooth & Nail bands, we were very aware of that side of things but they kind of approached us in a new chapter in their career. And we fit well with them because our music is very positive and the message I guess in the music resonates with people valuing love and valuing hope, and truth and all of these things. And I think the idea of using Christianity to market something is strangely ironic. So we were all raised in that world of our parents wanting us to listen to Christian music and stuff like that, and so we’re very familiar with it. But Dave and my dads’ were both in that Christian music industry for a while and what we saw growing up and seeing it from the inside out was very different than what most people see of it. And the sad truth is that it really is just a market. The people even running a lot of those labels don’t necessarily have the same value system, or belief systems that the customers do. They just view it as a market. So we were very uninspired by that, we’re very inspired by asking questions and really challenging what we had grown up believing because I think that’s healthy no matter how you grow up. And so that was kind of the story and then at a certain point really the transition from tooth and nail to capitol happened because both of those labels are owned by a larger company called EMI, so it was a very easy, they were like ‘well we would like to prioritize you guys higher’, which ended up not being so awesome once the label got bought by another company.
What label bought it?
It’s not a label it’s a private equity firm called Tierra Firma, and it was like a four billion dollar transaction so they put a spending freeze on all the marketing budgets and its been interesting. We’ve actually had to do more ourselves being on a bigger label than we had to do for ourselves even marketing wise or printing posters or things like that its kind of funny. We’ve learned a lot and we’re definitely looking to go much much more independent from here on out. Absolutely.
On Singularity you worked with producer Howard Benson who is typically known for harder rock bands. Singularity is your hardest album yet, compared to your last two. Do you think that it was more of you guys looking to do that and going for him, or did he have an influence over the record being harder?
Well I think he captured harder tones, like the sounds of the guitars, but that was intentional on our end of the creative process. There was kind of an undercurrent, of frustration with certain aspects of our experience as a band especially in the context of that transition from a small independent label to a big label and kind of losing the connection that we had with even the company itself and we saw so many people come and go in that period and it was frustrating and as a whole singularity is a record about asking questions and it’s a record about taking a step back to realize that everything you’ve ever experienced in your life has built this perspective that you have. And your perspective is unique to you because those experiences are unique to you. And if you can step outside of that, if you can kind of break out of that and see yourself from a different perspective as a part of this greater whole that it gives you the choice to either resonate with the larger picture and find your place in that or kind of retreat back into your little world. And what we found is that we didn’t want to retreat back into our perspective. And I think the things that you see like these tours supporting different organizations and things like that are the physical manifestations of stepping outside of ourselves to see the bigger picture and I think it’s scary, for a seed to turn into a tree it has to break out of its shell. And growth of any kind requires the destruction of the old. And so for us the destruction was hard it’s painful to kind of pull yourself apart and really dig as deep as you can and ask the questions that matter and I think you hear that in this record. And so when we’re creating music we try our very best to make all of the ideas resonate with each other whether it’s the lyrics telling the story or the tones of the instruments in a sense conveying that emotion or that perspective on something. So that’s really, it was really that simple.
What was your purpose in the track “(Silence)”?
The record starts with a song called “Brink Of Disaster” and ends with a song called “Reflections” and what we wanted the record to be was kind of a puzzle where that portion of the record represented the human experience as its kind of trying to identify all of the different spectrums that we live inside. So if you actually rewind before “Brink Of Disaster” there’s a different hidden track called Last Transmission I and that kind of represents fear and isolation and abandonment and darkness and being alone and being lost and then you have “Brink Of Disaster” which the first line of the record that you hear is “light starts in a dark place” and that was really how we wanted to set the tone for the record its like the big bang if you will, the beginning of this transition, of this journey outside of that place of being separate or that place of being isolated. And so the rest of the record is observations and stories within that experience, you get to reflections where your kind of looking back at everything and realizing that all of that is a house of mirrors and it really takes throwing the stone to get out of that. And to see clearly for the first time requires our action, our initiation and our breaking out and so the other end of that story is Last Transmission II, and so instead of making, ya know a lot of bands do a hidden track at the end of the record, we wanted to have that effect but we didn’t want people to have to listen to four minutes of silence so we just made that a track that you could skip over haha.
I like that! Are you guys planning to release any Singularity B-sides?
We do have some, we have one called Novocain that’s actually my favorite song that we did for the record and I think it’s available on iTunes and its also available in Japan on the CD. But yeah we have another one called “somewhere” that’s gonna be coming soon hopefully. And we’re actually about to go back into the studio and start recording new music.
Do you want to tell us anything about that?
Ummmm… yes! Be prepared for a very creative and different approach to hearing it. Because we’re very tired of the way things are right now in the music industry as a whole and we’re excited about taking a step back.
Do you think you will do like a Radiohead, “In Rainbows” type deal?
Something in that vein for sure. Yeah, absolutely.
Ok well, on “The Everglow Special Edition” you guys did a song with Kenny from The Starting Line. Do you have any future plans or ideas for collaborations with any other artists?
Actually that song Novocain on iTunes has one of our favorite artists Kenna. And if you haven’t heard him, he’s amazing, so it was an honor for us to work with one of our favorite artists on that track. And yeah, I mean I’m sure other collaborations will happen. We love doing stuff like that.
How has it been without Mark and Rob?
Yeah ya know that season of transition that started around the time that they left is much bigger than just that. Its weird I’m sure anybody who follows the state of the music business is aware that sales continue to slump and companies are laying off people. In fact when our record company got bought by that company Tierra Firma the very first announcement they made was that they were going to be letting go 2,000 people and so you think about TWO THOUSAND people losing their job and its not just them I mean Island has laid of hundreds and hundreds of people and all of the companies are having to downsize and reproach how they do things and that affects the bands of course too and in the process of this whole last year and a half the struggle to make things work in the old way of doing things just wasn’t working anymore. And so what happened is mark and rob both have wives back home and we finished our headlining tour in support of Singularity and we actually lost money on the tour. And for them to have been away to record the record, and we toured with Relient K and we toured with the fray and then we did this headlining tour and they’ve been away from their families for all but a couple weeks for almost a year and then to lose money on top of it just… Rob has a law degree and mark owns a studio back home and it just got to the point where it was time for a new season in the life for those guys. And we love them to death and we respect them and there’s no hard feeling or ill will ya know what I mean it was just a different chapter and so the same theory of time we also have parted ways with our management company and we’re seeing our label disappear so its kind of like, it’s a wake up call. And its kind of like either you can kind of continue trying to move forward in this direction and keep smacking up against the wall or you can stop take a step back and look at what you’re trying to accomplish and why you’re trying to accomplish it and its been the best thing that’s ever happened to our band. It’s the hardest, but its been the best. You’re witnessing the seed phases of like a new era of what you’re going to see from this band, and I tell ya I’m excited about it. And out of the hardship, light starts in a dark place, so there ya go!
Alright well, last question, what are you listening to now?
I am currently listening to ‘In Rainbows”, like crazy, I can’t get enough of that, its sooo soooo good. And uh, man, a lot of stuff, but “In Rainbows” is the foundation right now. I love it.
Ok, that’s all I have, if there’s anything you’d like to add feel free.
Thank you for listening, and get music however you need to!