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Vol 2 | Issue #6 | Summer 2015

You Blew It!

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FEATURE 1 – WORDS BY Jonah Bayer / Photography by Daniel Dorsa

Punker Than Thou

You Blew It! are one of the most interesting bands in indie rock. Over the past six years, the group—currently composed of Tanner Jones, Andy Anaya, Trevor O'Hare, Matt Nissley and Andy Vila—have helped introduce the torch of "emo" to a new generation. Quick distinction: We're not talking about the slick, L.A. brand of emo that's used to commodify the genre as some drunk girl (or guy) screams Brand New lyrics in your ear at a crowded bar. We're referring to the genre's less commercial pioneers like The Jazz June and Pedro The Lion, who may not be household names unless your household is really, really sad.

Currently halfway done with their follow-up to 2014's excellent album Keep Doing What You're Doing, the group's sound continues to evolve as notoriety surrounding the Orlando-based rock act grows. "We wrote our last album right when we got off tour playing basements and small venues where there weren't P.A.s and the sound was kind of muddy, so you had to have an aggressive tone and way of playing songs," Jones explains. "We wrote [last year's EP Pioneer Of Nothing] after starting to play bigger venues with professional sound and monitors so you could hear yourself, things got naturally scaled down a little bit," he continues.

The three songs on the aforementioned EP—released on legendary indie label Jade Tree Records—show an added depth and vulnerability to the band's guitar-driven excursions. However what’s perhaps even more impressive is the band’s ability to implement influences from the past without resorting to the nostalgia which permeates so much of their genre today via reunion-culture. "In the past we've talked about pushing our sound forward or trying to go different directions, but historically as we've written... we come up with a song and then sort of, there it is. Not that it's a bad thing at all. I think it's just ingrained in our fingers by now."

You Blew It! picked up some helpful tips by working with someone whose been able to retain that timeless trait: Into It. Over It.'s Evan Weiss, who incidentally produced the band's last full-length. "One thing that Evan really hammered into us was that big parts should be big," Jones explains. "He also taught us some more nuanced things: For example a chorus should only have one note repeated a certain amount of times instead of the same notes every single time…I feel like personally my vocal melodies and the way we write songs has changed. Because before we tried to kind of bend to the whole pop song "intro/verse/half chorus/verse/bridge/chorus" and he kind of let us be ourselves and do our own thing without sacrificing structure."

Clearly evident in the track You Blew It! have chosen for Singles Club, "Punker Than Thou" displays the darker side of the band's often saccharine sound. While it retains the chiming guitars and syncopated drumbeats that have become YBI! hallmarks, it also features distorted bass and a mantra-like chorus that sees Jones repeating the phrase, "you have nothing to say." Luckily, the group have plenty to say about the song which eschews emo's cliched relationship-based writing and instead explores current societal issues. Don't worry though, it's all done over a super catchy backdrop.

"The song lyrically is about the fact that these days there are a ton of things happening that haven't really happened in history before," Jones explains. "Just as an example, the sheer acknowledgment of any gender other than the binary gender. That's just one of the topics going on right now. There's a lot of division as a nation, but not a lot of discussion about it because I feel like zealots from each side of the fence are kind of just lobbing information here and there and not a lot of people are talking in the way that they should," he continues. "Not to get too political, but I feel like there could be way more discussion than there is."

However he does believe that we are moving in the right direction as evidenced by the dialogue surrounding previously taboo or easily avoidable subjects in American culture. He references Louis CK's monologue on Saturday Night Live's season finale as evidence of this. "His joke about walking into that pizza place and just acknowledging that two black women owned it is in itself inherently kind of racist…. is actually a positive thing according to an article I just read. I think if someone was able to acknowledge that racism did exist in people who didn't want to be racist, there would be more conversation that could happen about that. You know, you kind of need a little bit of venom to get the antidote."

On the other hand, when it comes to recent music tastes he admits that, like many of us, he can sometimes get caught in a loop of the music that influenced him early on. "I'm not proud to say it, but I listen mostly to older stuff," he says with a sigh having spent the last two or three months solely listening to The Photo Album by Death Cab For Cutie and Pedro the Lion. “I wouldn't call myself ignorant as far as newer bands go, but the majority of it is early 2000s.”

This all sounds pretty depressing, huh? "Yeah, when I'm in my car it's mostly just David Bazan singing stories about wives leaving husbands… and then eventually killing them," he laughs laugh. "So not a lot of smiles on my way to work.”. Seeking inspiration from other art forms outside of music, Jones will “sometimes find inspiration in stand-up comedy, just the way that things flow and the connections that are made in stand-up or the way tones are represented in movies and films.”

"It gives me inspiration to create," sounding as if contemplating a new musical motive as we speak. Right now what's next for You Blew It! is as wide open as the ocean that borders their home state, but leave no doubt whatever form it takes, the music will remain vital, meaningful and unique. And really, what else can you ask for from a rock band these days?

FEATURE 2 – Interview by Tom Mullen

Jade Tree: 25 years later

When Jade Tree Records started nearly 25 years ago, neither Tim Owen or Darren Walters could have anticipated the longevity and relevance their label would continue to have. Nor could they have expected that bands influenced by some of the earliest Jade Tree releases like The Promise Ring and Cap’n Jazz would grow up to release their own music on that very same label. Tom Mullen runs the blog Washed Up Emo and has been following Jade Tree’s history for years. He serves as an ambassador of sorts for the bands and scene it encompasses. Having done curatorial work for Beats Music, coining New York’s original “Emo Night”, and running a podcast featuring conversations with purveyors of the genre new and old, we found it fitting for Tom to discuss the state of the scene and where Jade Tree fits in with the label's own Darren Walters.


Did you ever think the word emo would come back and have this revival?

I'm not certain I ever gave this any thought. In my mind, emo is and was two things. One, the music and ideas of the mid-80s DC scene represented by Rites of Spring, Embrace, etc. The second is the artists like The Promise Ring, which for me, was already a 'revival' of sorts. However, I think of artists such as The Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate, Texas Is The Reason and the like as a slight bend in the road from hardcore bands simply because they focused on speaking about emotional topics or esoteric or poetic ideas and because these bands usually operated in the same underground scenes as punk and utilized the same tools and were in essence, the same thing, except for being less aggressive musically. The bands were hardly indie rock though either. Today, what I see is that the artists who carry the torch for emo are happy to be called such and play appropriate styles associated with this tag. In doing so, they service a new generation of fans who are happy to embrace this style of music and all of the associated trappings. The world is much more open than the 80s and 90s and more accepting and the 'emo' revival reflects this.

Did you ever think you'd be doing reissues of albums? The Promise Ring?

Of course! Or rather, I had hoped so. For a long while I had been looking for an opportunity that would present itself and in which doing so would make sense. When The Promise Ring toured a few years back, reissuing the vinyl was initially on our agenda, but vinyl had not resurfaced to an appropriate degree and CDs were basically dead, so there was a sense of what would do the releases justice? Now, with the resurgence in vinyl, the possibilities are endless and it makes reissuing a catalog of such importance much more sensible. The scale can be so much larger too, whereas when we initially issued the Cap'n Jazz on vinyl, we were unsure as to what the reaction would be.
JT1035 : The Promise Ring - Nothing Feels Good

What is the one album from the Jade Tree catalog that people keep forgetting about that you love?

The roots of the label are based in our love of the music, but that doesn't always translate to the fans who may not always like what Owen and I like! For that reasons, there are two great records that I have to point out as they are fine examples of amazing records that are less appreciated. By no means are these the only one, there are certainly many more. First is The Explosion "Flash Flash Flash"', the best punk record on the label and made by the best group of guys. Second is Turing Machine "A New Machine For Living" an instrumental record that kicks ass from start to finish and is a non-stop ride.

What is the modern day Jade Tree like?

The label is really no different than it ever has been. Remember, Jade Tree never disappeared. The label never stopped existing, it simply slowed down the amount of releases and with that, the label took stock of what we wanted to accomplish moving forward. The focus is the same now as it was from the start and that is to work with artists and personalities whom we respect and love while doing our best to help them reach as many fans as possible without compromising our principles of what we believe independent music represents. This values are a DIY ethic based on our role models of Dischord and Touch & Go while expanding upon those principles. The label remains about the artists. Without them, the label would not exist. A label's job is to expose an artist's music to the world and that is what Jade Tree does.

When you started thinking about new bands/label, what about You Blew It! connected you to when you ran the label previously? Or was it something completely different?

Specifically with You Blew It! I was instantly drawn to their sound. They spoke to me as the perfect combination of the bridge between the older generation of touchstone artists from the Jade Tree catalog and a new generation. YBI! manages to do this without being derivative which is the key. Tanner's lyrics are pure poetry and the band's melodies blend well between pop sensibilities, punk roots and rock epics. At the end of the day, it's al about the simple fact that they floored me. But again, I saw a connection to the new and the old and that really attracted me to their particular style in addition to being wildly good humans. I'm super-excited about what the possibilities for the new full-length holds.

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Five Before You Die

For any vinyl enthusiast, pairing down ones collection to bare essentials is no easy task. However the process can often remind us of the albums that have had, and continue to have a lasting impact. We asked each member of You Blew It! to pick one record that has been monumental to their musical upbringing. A portal to their collective musical subconscious, these are their alone on an island albums, or if we're not being so nice about it, five records to hear before you die.

Sondre Lerche – "Duper Sessions"

Tanner Jones
A wonderful record to get wrapped up in. His jazziest, most cabaret-style record. I can't think of a time this record hasn't enhanced the moment, and really, isn't that all you need?

Refused – "The Shape Of Punk To Come"

Matt Nissley
I got into punk music very late in the game. The shape of punk to come was the first real punk record I fell in love with. What first grabbed me about this record was the first class drumming done by David Sandström. The musicianship, talent and passion displayed on this record was nothing I'd heard or felt up to that moment and moved me deeply and showed me what punk music can be.

Saves The Day – "Through Being Cool"

Trevor O'Hare
Through Being Cool is definitely an essential part of any record collection. Rarely have I met someone that doesn't absolutely love this thing. Every song on this record is a classic, and has influenced so many bands that we know and love. I think if I had to pick one album to listen to for the rest on my life on that proverbial desert island, it would be this one. Every once in a while I scroll through my music collection, see this record, and listen to the whole thing like it's 1999 again.

Television – "Marquee Moon"

Andy Vila
Released in 1977 this album embodies a lot of the quirky sensibilities that I enjoy in music now, like off-time riffs, long passages, interesting chord progressions and great bass lines, all wrapped up in a poppy, easy-to-digest format. (Oh! And there's guitar solos!) They were one of the first bands to really think outside the box with their sound and that's something I admire about this album. They allowed punk to veer off of the 4 chord verse-chorus-verse build and allowed it to evolve into the massive sprawling genre that it is now.

Capsule – "No Ghost"

Andy Anaya
The 2nd full length from Miami, Florida's progressive hardcore titans of all things heavy. It's bit of a departure from their earlier spastic sound, trading in the raw flurries of speed for wider, more groove oriented riffage. While the songs still feature all the facets that made their debut full length great (odd time signatures and shifting passages, unique chord voicing, and wide dynamic range), the change in vocal style from shrill, sometimes indecipherable screaming to shouted singing (wow, notes!) makes for a more accessible, and in some ways more enjoyable, listen. 10/10 - love it. Recommended Tracks: "Gown of Frost", "Rylan", "Small Caps".


Singles Club is a subscription record club and digital music journal published quarterly. This single contains an exclusive A-Side recording from the artist along with an interview on the B-Side featuring the artist's description of the project and track.

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