Friday, April 1, 2011

Songwriters: The Growlers

When did Hot Tropics come out?

Brooks Neilsen: Middle of October (2010) sometime. Yeah it was cool, it was the last one we had made here (at the studio). It was kind of older material, but we had to put it out before it got too old.

When you write lyrics, what are you drawing from? For that album in particular? For those songs originally, and then to fit into the album?

Neilsen: I don’t know. A lot of the songs are written in a really short amount of time, like some of them, an hour, some of them a few hours. We were doing the Couples, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time to think about it. I usually don’t spend a lot of time about it. I just kind of like jot it down. A lot of it ends up being like rap, and rhyming. And then it’s, ‘Oh, it kinda seems like that,’ and, ‘They’re gonna think that…oh cool.’ I don’t really get that deep. If I catch myself getting really into it, I’m like, ‘quit being so artsy.’ But I don’t know, at that time, I was working, and driving around in my work truck all day. I was listening to this guy Dennis Prager a lot and his Happiness Hour and hearing a lot of Judeo-Christian values stuff. Thinking about stuff like that; good and bad, right and wrong.

So what did you think about all that? Obviously you were intrigued by it.

Neilsen: Yeah I like it, I mean, gotta keep on making more music so I don’t have to beat the shit out of myself everyday. Just like, shit it out and make more.

Artists around here get 4-5 songs on their EP, and then live off of those songs for the next year. Eventually it becomes, “What’s new?”

Neilsen: It’s weird. Luckily we made it a point to make a shitload. Cause we’re doing basically the same fuckin’ thing right now, it’s just a lot more songs.

Do you think that’s part of the success?

Neilsen: Yeah, to give us more to choose from. And to keep us motivated and happy. Playing the same shit is a real wear and tear, especially when you’re tired. When it’s everyday it’s tough. But the whole thing is pretty mapped out for you. When we were doing it on our own, it’s not mapped out, we can do whatever the hell we want. But now, we’ve started adjusting to being on a label, there’s timetables for everything; when records should be released. And you gotta know a lot earlier, cause you gotta get it done two months, three months before that deadline, and have the art done. And at the same time, the tour is starting to become something, and you’re like, ‘ugh.’ But luckily you’re still making something that you like, so that’s cool, but it’s kind of weird getting into the swing of deadlines. I failed miserably in school. To go back into that mode of, ‘Oh shit, gotta get this done or dad’s gonna be pissed.’ It’s kind of crazy. And that’s when the decision to take a break comes in. If we were on it, the 7” we are releasing would be a full-length album. But it’s not, so we’re not going to have a full-length. And then we can put it out at the end of Summer, but that’s not exactly the time to put out a record. We’ll put it out next February, so there’s gonna be a huge gap here without music. So then you start thinking, ‘aw, well fuck man.’ Luckily we’re going across the country to all these places where nobody knows us, they’re tiny, and everything is brand new to them. The people around here are probably like, ‘same fuckin’ Growlers show.’ So that’s why we don’t really play here too.

You guys don’t play here that much, and I don’t think people are bummed on it. From an outsider’s perspective, you could probably turn around and play another one.

Neilsen: Yeah, I like playing at home a lot more. But when we were playing a lot, it felt like we were dragging people out every time, and it was kind of more of a scene, and less of a ‘come see the Growlers’ thing.

So where do you like to play when you’re home?

Neilsen: Alex’s Bar in Long Beach is cool. Yeah I don’t know a favorite place, we need to find some. The best place is at a big warehouse basically. And a house party is cool, but you can only fit so many, and it’s easily broken up. A warehouse, they tend to go all night, and little kids get to get drunk and have sex in the corner, and pee everywhere. They’re more fun, compared to the venues.

So are you guys writing at all right now?

Neilsen: Yeah, Matt’s got a shitload of songs, Kyle’s got a bunch of songs, Scott’s got some basslines, I have some. So we just need to kinda start combining, just do a little bit you know.

Do you write yours as vocals?

Neilsen: Yeah, separate. And then on their stuff I just create a melody to it over the top. The 7” is gonna be in April, and the full length won’t be until the end of Summer. We wanna get a massive amount of songs to narrow it down and do a small amount. Maybe like 50 songs, and then do ten songs or whatever.

Do you have a certain vibe you’re going for, or do you just kind of create as much as you can?

Neilsen: Yeah, we tend to do that. That idea is just weird to me, too contrived. Like putting yourself in a box. It’s like how do you map that out, ‘Let’s get more Motown or something?’ I don’t know what the hell to even say. I mean the guys have said stuff like, ‘Hey maybe let’s not be so death’ (laughs). But we write songs all in Minor, it’s kind of what the vibe is.

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