One. Everybody Else is not a Google-friendly band name. Doing research for the band is no easy feat– if you can actually defend sitting on your ass, bathed in the cancerous glow of your computer monitor at 3 am as being a trying task.
Two. Everybody Else are currently on tour with Hanson. All “MMMBop” jokes aside, both Everybody Else and Hanson put on a really great show. (You heard me.) I attended the show with my best friend, Andy. We were not entirely comfortable with the reality of standing in line for a Hanson concert.
Two and a half songs into Hanson’s set, Andy turned to me and said, “We need to get the hell outta here before I become a Hanson fan.”
It was perfect and absolutely true.
If you go to the show to see Everybody Else and just maybe happen to perhaps end up staying for Hanson, we won’t judge you.
Three. I wore a Butch Walker t-shirt to the concert and subsequent interview. (Upon retrospect, I’m realizing that that’s a little tacky.) When I met Carrick Gerety, Austin Williams, and Mikey McCormack after their opening set, I was warned that Austin had a story about Butch.
Three-point-five. I told them that I’d love to hear it. But first, I needed to know…
Audioholic Media: How did you end up touring again with Hanson?
Carrick Gerety: We’ve done a few shows with Hanson before. I just met Taylor and Isaac probably, like, five years ago just out at parties and stuff, and they were just nice kids. I think Isaac was the one I talked to first. I just got to know them over the years and about two and a half years ago, I just bumped into Taylor, like, three nights in a row so we got to know each other a little more. He told me about this songwriting retreat that they do in Tulsa, which is where they’re from. Every year they basically invite a bunch of people in bands and professional songwriters and do this four day long thing called Fool’s Banquet where every day you wake up in the morning and you’re paired with usually two other people so it’s in groups of three. And you have to write a song and record a song in one day. So I did that. It was a four day thing. It was really awesome. Needless to say that cemented our friendship. When you spend, like, 24 hours a day with somebody for four days…
AM: You either love them or you hate them.
CG: Yeah, exactly. We definitely hit it off. When I was at that thing, we were just finishing mastering our record so I was, like, playing mixes there and letting everyone just hear the record. They really liked it so they just asked us to play some shows with them. It was probably a year ago, when we first played some shows with them in California. And then this tour, they were like, “Hey you guys wanna go on a two and a half month tour with us?” and we were just like, “Heck yeah!” And I think they’re awesome. I’m a big fan. I just think they’re talented. I think they’re one of the more– just in terms of musical chops and vocal ability– they’re one of the best bands we’ve ever played with.
AM: Earlier in the year, you released 1 1/2 through… Universal?
CG: I don’t know why it says that.
Mikey McCormack: It’s a Japanese import.
AM: What ultimately made decide to rerecord Everybody Else as an acoustic album?
CG: The Japanese label just said, “Hey we–”… ’cause Japanese people seem to release a lot of records really fast and they were like, “You’ve been out three months, let’s release an acoustic version!” And originally they wanted us to do a bunch of covers of these Japanese pop songs. We were like, “No, thanks. We’ll just do our own songs.” It was fun. We did it in my garage, which is where we practice.
Basically they were like, “Hey, you wanna release this?” and we said, “Sure.” They gave us the budget and we bought a bunch of gear and eventually ended up recording the whole thing. From the time they told us about it till the time we recorded it, it was like two weeks. We recorded it really fast. We just did it in my garage and bought some gear, and it was a really rainy– it just would not stop raining the whole time.
AM: Did you have to make many changes to your original songs in order for the acoustic versions to translate from one album to the other?
Austin Williams: We just tried to start with what would work minimally. We chose the songs that could stand alone with just one instrument. For the other songs, we added what we could without adding too much.
MM: We really tried to keep the parts to a bare minimum or do the least amount we could do to make it add up to the whole of what we wanted.
CG: Yeah, because part of the idea of an acoustic record is to be able to hear the vocals more clearly and just have everything be super stripped-down. You know, if you’re going to make an acoustic record that has just as many instruments as the rock record, it defeats the purpose. As Austin said, a bunch of songs just have piano and vocals or just guitar and vocals.
AM: I wouldn’t describe your sound as very acoustic. Was there any trepidation about changing your sound for your second album?
CG: No. I didn’t even think about that, honestly. I think some bands, maybe back in the day, carried more of a rock/acoustic dichotomy. It had to be one or the other. Like in Bob Dylan’s day he was, like, acoustic, then he went electric. Or like Nirvana and the Unplugged record that was kind of a big deal. Nowadays the boundaries of music are kind of just blurred. I don’t think anyone’s gonna be like, “I thought you guys were a rock band!”
AM: How did you come to be signed with The Militia Group?
MM: Uh… how did that happen for us?
CG: Mikey’s chatting online with fans.
MM: I’m talking to girls online. I’m sorry about that.
CG: He’s like that guy on Napoleon Dynamite.
AW: I don’t even know. How did we sign with The Militia Group? They came to a show at The Prospector and I don’t remember how they heard of us. They found us and they treated us right.
CG: We liked their level of enthusiasm. That was a big part of it. You don’t wanna sign with a label that’s not psyched to sign you, and they were really stoked about us. They also seemed to know what they’re doing when it comes to being nimble in this very unstable, changing music industry environment. Major labels just have no clue what to do. We found somebody that’s a little more creative and ready to try new stuff. For example, the artwork for this record is not like anything else in the store and, according to my friends at the major labels, it’s not even something major labels will let you do. Usually they’re like, “It’s gonna be a jewel case, a minimum and a maximum this number of pages…” [The Militia Group] just said, “Do whatever you want.” So I came up with this idea of artwork that I thought would make people wanna hang on to it and make people wanna buy something that’s actually a physical CD. It folds out into a poster. You have to step it up nowadays to get people to buy a CD because otherwise they’re just gonna go to iTunes.
AM: I’ve read a lot of things about the band being ecologically aware. Have you been able to implement that in any way while you’re on tour?
MM: On tour, in terms of gasoline and that sort of thing, no. We wish that–
CG: Yeah! Actually, yeah. We drive one small van with no trailer. We use way less gas than most bands. Most bands have a bigger van and a trailer and are using, like, one and a half times as much gas as we do.
MM: That’s true.
CG: In terms of vegetable oil and stuff like that, it’s not clear that that’s actually a better idea. But the best thing to do is just use less energy. Period. Any time at all. I think that’s what we’re doing. We’re three people and we’re traveling light. We just pack it in.
MM: And mainly, the way that we’re most ecologically friendly is that we’re all vegetarians. We’re keeping the methane and CO2 from farm animals completely out of our equation.
CG: Not that many people know how bad the meat industry is. It’s worse than cars.
MM: None of us drive when we’re at home. We all have bicycles or we walk.
AM: Is that hard in L.A.? I’ve heard a lot of times that the one thing you need in L.A. is a car.
CG: People say that it’s hard, but it’s not as hard as people think. L.A.’s huge but it’s really a bunch of little mini towns just squished together. We live in Hollywood and it’s not that big of a town. The actual area that we go to on a daily basis is probably five square miles, and if you can bike ride… you know? And if you live in Santa Monica, you’re probably not gonna leave Santa Monica that much. We’re lucky enough to have the type of job where we can practice at my house, so unless we’re on tour we don’t really have to go far.
AM: In the liner notes for Everybody Else you list some organizations that you support, but your lyrics aren’t politically-driven. Did you make a conscious choice of having a message without being a “political band”?
CG: When I wrote this record I maybe wasn’t thinking about politics so much, and then since the record came out or as we were making the artwork, I was getting more and more pissed off. It’s really hard to write any kind of protest song that actually works without being preachy. It’s a goal of mine and hopefully on the next record there’ll be a little bit more of that in there. But, yeah, if you’re asking, “Do you wanna be labeled a political band?”, absolutely. I would say 99.9% of my friends are very liberal people and are gonna vote for Obama, as I’m going to. A ton of my friends are in bands, but of the people that I know in bands who are liberal, there’s maybe five or ten percent who are actually ready to tell all their fans what their views are and own up to it. That to me is just kind of bizarre. I wish I could change their mind about it because the people that I admire, like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, they’re authentic in terms of revealing their full personalities to the public. If you’re a public figure you kind of have a responsibility to do your homework a little bit and know what you’re talking about if you’re gonna open your mouth. Yeah, it’s entertainment and we try to have fun when we’re on stage and our music is supposed to be fun, but we’re living in a world that’s got a lot of problems. When you’re standing up in front of 2,000 kids like we did tonight or 100 kids at a smaller show, those kids will listen to you.
MM: There’s so much to say. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I read about it, the more I think that our country needs to sit down and read and learn a few things before they start making any really big decisions about our future. I think it’s in everyone’s interest to learn as much as they can.
CG: [Mikey's] having a cynical day.
MM: I feel like ignorant people should not be allowed to make major policy decisions. Call me a lefty crazy for saying that but…
CG: You mean voters? Or Bush?
MM: Yeah, voters. President Bush is a representative of those people. He’s hired to think like them, that’s his job. I don’t want to lose faith in my country’s ability to make wise decisions. I guess I just think our Founding Fathers had a little bit more faith in the American people. And I realize they had an uncertain amount of faith because that’s why they instated the electoral college.
CG: The electoral college is not cool.
CG: I think it should be abolished.
MM: It screwed us in 2000, that’s for sure.
CG: To broadly answer, we really want people to know what we think. We do a lot of reading, and we do a lot of thinking, and if you don’t know who to vote for, talk to us about it. We’ll be happy to talk to you.
MM: We just think that people should read, and learn, and seek knowledge–
CG: And think for themselves.
MM: Think for themselves. Yes. They should make wise, informed decisions, not off-the-cuff decisions based on something their preacher told them, their father told them, or what some dude in a class told them. They should think for themselves, learn for themselves, and seek out knowledge.
AM: It’s unfortunate because a lot of times, when someone does choose to speak out, they’re called anti-patriots. They say, “I love my country. I want to see us do well. I want to see change,” and they’re accused of abandoning the will of the country. I think that keeps a lot of people from speaking out.
CG: Yeah, I agree. I really do wish that bands were more courageous, though. There’s 300 million people in this country and if you are the biggest band around and if you maybe have sold ten million records, you could alienate 200 million people and you’ll still as many as ten million records. I think people are chicken. I think bands are like, “I don’t wanna offend anybody,” but it’s like, then why are you in this supposedly rebellious genre of rock n roll? If you don’t wanna express your opinion, if you don’t wanna put yourself out there, if you don’t wanna question authority, and you don’t wanna be a gadfly then why the heck are you playing rock n roll? Rock n roll’s not meant to be safe.
AM: Austin, did you have anything to add? [Austin shakes his head] I mean, it’s all pretty much out there already. It’s been said.
MM: Yeah. I mean, I think that at this point we have talked about this so much that we’re almost just throwing our hands in the air. I just don’t know what to say anymore. I’m waiting for November 4th and I’m praying to God that our country is smart enough to make the right decision. And if they’re not, I’m just going to be speechless, perhaps for the rest of my life. This is one of the most important elections in our lives. And as Bill Clinton said– and I think that a lot of people probably will not agree with Bill Clinton and think that he is divisive or whatever– but he said that Obama is on the right side of history. And god man, it is just so freakin’ true. I mean, how would you feel if you were the guy who didn’t vote for Kennedy? Would you wanna be that guy right now? Would you wanna be proud that you were the guy that didn’t vote for Kennedy? I wouldn’t be proud of that. I’d probably wanna crawl under a rock and not talk to anybody. I’d be embarrassed.
AM: Absolutely. That said, what was the Butch Walker story you were talking about?
AW: We got together because when I was a teeny guy– a teenybopper– I was teenyboppin’ to Marvelous 3. Before I moved to Los Angeles I went to go see a Butch Walker show and Carrick was the opener because he was fresh out of a band. I stopped to talk to Carrick and Mikey after the show and then hooked up with them years later to audition for the band.
AM: I had no idea about any of that when I put this on. I just needed a clean shirt to wear.
AW: That’s cool. I like Butch Walker. He’s an awesome dude.
AM: Do you have anything coming up before the end of the year or in 2009?
CG: Yeah. Right now we’re about to release a little four song EP of these four songs we did [that weren't released on] the first record. That should be coming out maybe sometime in late October or something. As soon as this tour’s over, we’ll be dabbling in writing for our second record which hopefully will come out sometime in 2009.