Purpose in the Sound: Interview with Austin band Later Days

When I was writing my article for Ovrld, the hypothetical ‘Austin Emo-Revival’Later Days was a band  name regularly dropped by other artists and promoters that I interviewed. I didn’t get around to interviewing Later Days personally, so I made it up to them by organizing a chat with The Kiwi Cowboy. It was fun to talk to 4 members at once, not the usual one on one interviewing I’m used to. Doing so over the phone has its challenges but what I received is a good insight into the short history of the band and what they’ve been getting up to.

Kiwi Cowboy: You guys have barely been together a year, yet just released a debut album, something that takes some don’t attempt for a couple of years. What was it that spurred you to get an album down asap?

Eric [Guitar]: Our guitarist Nate and I were both in other bands and had met and become really good friends.  And we wanted a release, a way to project our artistic creativity into something when we weren’t arty at all. What happened is we started writing songs and then were going to start the band. A band where we’d be our own singers, do our own thing, fill spaces as we could. But we had lot of direction and guidance from others that made us realize what the band could be. Around January 2016 we made our decision to do a full length, we then met Brendan at the end Feb, and went into the studio April 4th. We had booked the studio time before we even knew what we were doing, which is a little ballsy, but it’s me and Nate’s personalities. That’s what we did and were really blessed to meet the people to fill out the rest of this band. And has been a crazy ride ever since. More than we ever imagined in the first place.

Sam [Drums]: We realized that our last day of the album tour was the one year anniversary of us being a band. It was weird, to have so much done, to finish a tour, and then have a full length out.

Brendan [Vocals]: I feel like we’re all highly motivated and we just love playing and writing music. It’s fun. So we thought just be serious about it and set some goals, and see if we can accomplish them. We treated it with a sense of urgency as we were all thinking “Let’s do this.” It’s been a crazy first year. A lot has happened.

Sam: We were in this frame of mind to say fuck it, let’s do it. We’re all in transitional moments in our lives and that lead to us speeding things up.

Eric: I think everyone involved in Later Days felt we HAVE to do this album. And we just finally found the right situation. The right conduit to the way we always wanted to do it. We have a lot of conversations about this, that, and the other thing, what things are and what things aren’t; but at the end of the day we are always going to end up writing a Later Days song, always going make a Later Days record. And that’s what projected us into that fast paced, very realized situation from the get go.

Brendan: Also, I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this, it’s just coming to me, but we’re a little bit older than most local bands. I assume that most local bands are in their earlier 20s, whereas we’re in our later 20s, early 30s. [Sam declared his mid 30s]

Eric: I think we’ve taken some of the mentality from our life experience and have applied it to this project. We know things aren’t going to happen for us unless we make them happen. We’ve been managing everything ourselves in terms of booking a tour and social media. Things like that. I think it’s boded well for us. The thrilling thing is every member you can rely on and they carry their weight which is really refreshing.

[Sounds of someone entering in the background emerge and the band introduce Nate to me and acquaint him with my question regarding the debut album]

Nate [Guitar]: I think with Later Days we had a lot of stuff that we wanted to say, and we had the time; so we just felt we can work on a full length and put ourselves into it.

Was there a chemistry between you guys when first started playing?

Nate: When we first started, Eric and I were both in other bands, and we jokingly said: “let’s get together and play stuff we like to play.” And I think because the chemistry was so great we couldn’t really deny this would be our full-time gig. And then when we met Brendan we didn’t need to look any further.

Eric: After we met Brendan the pieces started to fall together almost over-night. It was like the universe was speaking to us.

Brendan: I really want to echo everything that was just said. [band laughs] I appreciate myself so much and what I’ve done for this band. [band laughs]

What was the very first time all of you played together?

Nate: We were going into the studio on April 4th [2016], so we quickly filled it out with our friends Sam and Dave, and when first got together to practice it was because we going to record 10 songs in about 2 weeks. So, after that first time playing together we thought maybe we aren’t idiots and this could actually work.

Brendan: The first demo Eric and Nate sent me was for ‘Get Estranged’. That was first one that came to me melodically and vocally. And I auditioned for Eric and Nate at Nate’s place, which was just an acoustic practice together. We bonded over our mutual influences such as Third Eye Blind, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday; but we still have different influences which we’ve introduced each other to.

What is the inspiration behind the album title?

Nate: Lost in the Sound was about isolation, lots of a reference to some of the themes on the album and sometimes how you can keep yourself from the things that you want. A kind of brain static. Lost in sound. Trapped.

Eric: I think ‘Lost in the Sound’ is something literal and figurative at the same time. For Nate and I, one of the pillars of our friendship, and one of the pillars of this band, is getting lost in our sound. I know that sounds ridiculous, pun intended. But like Nate said, it can also be all static. Sometimes you don’t know where to go, and I think that’s kind of the theme of the record. There’s the song ‘Iridium Flares, the literal description is when you look up at the sky at the right time and you see a reflection of the sun off a satellite. I wrote that song and when we were wrapping it all up, the meaning of that song is what ended up being the artwork for that record [album design by Mikey Sabatella]. And so then the themes in the song ‘Lost in the Sound’ ties very closely into ‘Iridium Flares’.

Nate: Lyrically, ‘Lost in the Sound’ and final song ‘Iridium Flares’ are almost sequels to each other.

Eric: You can get lost but you can also find purpose. You can see where you need to go but sometimes you don’t really know how to get there.

How did you guys fall in with Joseph Milligan for producing and recording your album?

Nate: Joe’s an old friend of mine that I’ve recorded with and he’s been a mentor to me. He’s always part of the things I do. He’s there for guidance and he definitely left his mark on the album in terms of any electronic ear candy, which is kind of his thing.

I mentioned you a few times in the ‘Austin Emo-Revival’ article I did for Ovrld, but I’m sorry I didn’t get around to talking to you about it personally. So I’ll ask you now; do you think there’s an emo-revival going on in Austin?

Nate: I think a lot of people call it a lot of different things. Maybe a resurgence

Eric: I don’t really think an ‘emo revival’ is a thing at all. To be honest I don’t think it’s ever gone anywhere. I think it has always been there, but it’s not going anywhere. It can just be focused on. Though you can see a punk pop revival, and that’s obvious as its very marketable. Most bands don’t want to have that cadence, that banter [about emo]. Most bands wouldn’t call themselves an emo band.

Yeah, my conclusion was there isn’t a full-blown emo revival, I was more hearing new bands in Austin that show the influence of those older ‘emo’ bands, such as Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday.

Eric: Emo has a lot of different meanings for a lot of different people. You can call emo a lot of things. At the end of the day we’re ok with calling ourselves emo. I think that’s the grand conclusion.

You just got back from an East Coast tour and some SXSW gigs. Any highlights from these recent shows?

Nate: I think anybody can start a band but when you go on your first tour you don’t really know what it’s going to be like. Whether you’re going to get on with everybody when you’re in such close quarters for that long. So I think highlights on a tour are not fighting, having a great time exploring, and I appreciate all the friends we’ve made in other bands throughout the years. Everybody has their own personal highlights. Like making a lot of new friends, and hopefully they bring their friends next time.

Eric: I think we realized what we’re doing is important to not only us but is relevant to other people; and we’ve had a great time. We had nothing negative happen and we got closer as people, and that’s all you really expect from an experience like that.

Do you have similar music influences? Do you combine all into one soup?

Nate: I think we all come together. We’re all from various parts of the US, various ages, but if we’re thinking of a cover to play it’s always the worst. The only band we all seem to like is like Jimmy Eat World. But its general range is late 90s actual emo, bands like The Get Up Kids, Save the Day, early 2000s like Anberlin, Hot Water Music. A lot of punk music. Anything from labels such as Solid State, Tooth and Nail, Equal Vision Records.

Sam: Just honest shit, that’s really what we’re going for. What you see is what you get. That’s our thing.

Nate: We also really like At the Drive In and The Refused, Third Eye Blind, stuff like that.

Sam: It’s across the board, but we just kind of dial it together.

I see on your Facebook page you list The Smashing Pumpkins as one of your influences. I’m an unhealthy SP fan, so I must ask if there’s a favorite song of yours?

Nate: For me either ‘Stand Inside Your Love’ or ‘Galapogos’. Or ‘Spaceboy’. But I also really like stuff like ‘Jelly Belly’. Depends on the mood you’re in. There’s so much great noise and then so much beauty.

Eric: That’s how Nate and I both met, a mutual friend introduced us to each other, and we saw we both had SP tattoos, and was it literally the first time we talked to him. For myself I would reference songs like ‘Mayonnaise’ or ‘Stumbleine’ because the beauty is in how the noise and the clarity are the same thing. I actually like Millencolin. [Band laughs] Millencolin is the shit. We all agree on that.

Nate: ‘Penguins and Polar Bears’.

Sam: My very first band was in 1994, I’m 36 now, and the first songs we ever did was ‘Raining Blood’ by Slayer [band laughs], and ‘Mayonnaise’. I went to sleep to Siamese Dream every night through high school.

Brendan: My favorite record is Mellon Collie, and ‘Love’ is one of the songs I’d chose. I like the grittiness to it, but juxtaposed with a sweet melody.

Sam: ‘The End is the beginning’, ‘Bodies’

We could just go on forever with this right?

Eric: We’ve started asking each other questions of ‘what was that song about?’

Sam: We opened a Pandora’s box bro, that’s on you, not on us.

I’ll move us along. Do you have any more shows on the horizon?

Sam: We’re actually trying to fill our summer up the best we can.

Brendan: We’re really stoked for June 2nd in Dallas to play at The Door. The Emo Throwdown with our friends in Caterpillars, and then the next night on June 3rd we’ll be at Empire Control Room with our friends Thieves. That’s going to be a fun weekend. I think we’re going to take May a little slower compared to the beginning of the year, in terms of playing shows and try to focus on writing a bit. We are definitely trying to make our summer as busy as possible. We’re going to play Houston for the first time in August which we’re excited about. Fort Worth for the first time as well. So yeah, playing to our regional fan base in Texas.

Sam: We’re going to try get out the west coast in October. Portland, Seattle, San Fran, LA, San Diego.

Are you going to be driving all the way over there? Flying?

Brendan: We’re going to drive. Eric was very gracious in buying us a van. A 1995 GMC Rally Wagon.

Eric: It’s super creepy… [band laughs]

Brendan: But I tell you what man, it gets us from point A to point B, and she didn’t let us down on our east coast tour. If we do this west coast tour we’ll try to make our drives a little shorter, because the east coast was super heavy. We played Dallas on the Friday night, and then the next night we opened in Lexington, Kentucky. So that was a 14 hour drive. Following that we play in Philadelphia which was an additional 10 hours. So was 3 shows without beds and showers, but it was fun as hell.

Eric: We’re blessed enough to have a ton of support and friends wherever we go. We had people from Austin that came to hangout with us in Philadelphia. Nate’s from Jersey and there were a ton of people there. It was the best experience. We’re thinking of touring with some bands that have been on the west coast a bit more. We haven’t been there before. We’d love to travel around the country as much as possible. It’s all a matter of time. It’s tough when it’s not your main source of income, so you have to coordinate your work schedules and keep your day job, and pay your bills.

Sam: Or not pay your bills.

E: Or not pay your bills. We’re definitely wanting to play as many cities and states as soon as possible.

What do you think of when you first hear the term kiwi? The bird or the fruit?

[I couldn’t distinguish each band member that was talking, so this is speaking for the 4 of them]: I think of the fruit… It’s delicious… I think of the bird because it’s awesome.

Eric: It’s a flightless bird right? It’s the only flightless bird other than a penguin and a chicken?

Yeah, it’s definitely a flightless bird

Eric: Do you eat them though?

No, you’d get in a lot of trouble, they’re protected and all.

Eric: You get in a lot of trouble? Is it like the sponsored bird of New Zealand?

It would be like someone eating an American eagle, it wouldn’t go down well

Talk to Trump about that shit…

 [The rest of our conversation involved much mixing up of Australia and New Zealand, but the New Zealand government said I can forgive them. I had a great time and enjoying the album]

You can listen to and buy the album from Bandcamp, iTunes, and keep an eye out for upcoming shows on their Facebook page.


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