Monday, July 15, 2013

Locktender Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?

Andrew: To be honest, we have set 2013 aside mainly for recording. We have done and will do a couple weekend tours here and there around the Midwest, but for the most part we have set this year aside to record Kafka and our next LP Rodin. We have spent so much time working on these albums, that it was really the best move to get them out there before we started working on more new material. Now that Kafka is complete, we are making plans to recordRodin sometime in the early fall.

Jason: That said, we also have the opposite problem of most bands by having way too much material and already started working on the release after Rodin. We get so excited by new material that all we want to play live is new songs that haven't been recorded yet.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album?

Andrew: For me at least, it's odd to isolate Kafka as a sound on its own because I was writing it at the same time as Collected & Rodin. I feel I'm always tinkering with a bunch of things at once, and what gets recorded isn't necessarily what was started first rather what gets completed first. Some of the Rodinsongs are older than Collected & Kafka songs. That said, I feel Kafka was centered around being positive and optimistic. I think it's apparent with a lot of my lyrics and even some of the brighter sounding chords with the guitars. I loved what we did with Men As Trees, but since becoming a father I wanted to focus on what is good/what we can do better rather than focus on the negatives. 

Jason: When we are writing a lot of times the music will come first and once we have several songs it becomes obvious which ones go together. The Kafka songs all seemed to fit together the same way that the Rodin ones do, with a cohesive sound and flow. We kind of feel like where one is light the other will be dark. That isn't to say that all the future music will be heavier and darker, or that we are committed to a specific direction. It's an organic process and at the same time a little bi-polar.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the new release?

Jason: We touch on a lot of topics, together and in our own way since there are all four of our voices on the record. Kafka's aphorisms that we based this album on are so wonderful and really abstract that they can open themselves up to lots of interpretation. Specifically the album touches on the experience of leaving and arriving in new places, freedom and living fully, integrity and artistic value, religion, environmentalism, the ability to connect with others, parenthood...actually a lot of themes of transition and experience, both looking back and anticipating the new. Andrew's is right that Locktender does try and take these subjects, a lot of which could be approached negatively, and try to see them in a positive or optimistic light. There is still a lot of anger on the record but we try and focus that in a way that isn't pessimistic or nihilistic.

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

Andrew: Locktender actually started when I moved to the Philadelphia area after a brief stint teaching English in South Korea. Jason and I really wanted to start a 3 piece band in Korea, which didn't work out since I left to come back to the states to start a family. I had a bunch of music written that was intended for Jason & I, but when I moved back to Philly I started playing music with Jon & Kyle (old friends, ex-Lady is Not for Burning/current-Casillis). So what was originally a super fast hardcore/techy punk screamo sound got really slowed down and re-thought with those really slowed no distortion even. Very different but very cool. I think that had a big influence on the sound we ended up with. We played for awhile and things slowly fizzled out due to life commitments. Regardless, during that time we decided to call ourselves Locktender. It came about from me running along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania and seeing the old locktender's houses and monuments. A locktender was someone who controlled the different locks/accesses and flows of the river and I feel like that idea translated well to music, especially ours. Once Locktender ended up relocating to Cleveland and starting with all the guys from Men As Trees, we had a different name at first but ended up coming back to Locktender. I feel like it fits our music well. 

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?

Andrew: That's really a hard one. Certain shows are memorable for different reasons. A lot of the shows on our first European tour hold a special place in my heart. Playing on the Adriatic Sea in Slovenia during a thunderstorm, having Lithuanian friends travel 2 days to see us in Berlin and even playing for our Luxembourgian friends and picking stuff up like we were only there yesterday with Men As Trees. All great times. Stateside, we can't complain either. We just played Michigan for the first time in 4 years for all our old friends. It was a blast. And also recently got to do a weekend with The Reptilian. Super proud of how far those dudes have come and how great their music is. It's hard to pick one great show I guess. Skeletal Lightning Fest this year was a total riot too. I guess regardless of the turnout, it really only takes a couple rad people to make a show great. With regards to performance, probably any band can relate to things just feeling right. Playing with good friends, cool venues, etc, etc. I love playing with people we have known for years. It's nice to be a part of a scene that is so based on friendship.

Jason: I'd agree with all those shows for sure. We've also been able to play a ton of great Cleveland shows with bands that have toured through and we'd known in the past or gotten to know more recently. Joe from Masakari does lots of great booking here and we try and keep involved as much as we can.

6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future/

Andrew: Like I said, this year is really focused on recording. We are still trying to get out there as much as possible. We are doing a weekend tour in July with Brighter Arrows. Long time buds who are just phenomenal musicians. Then we will record Rodin and hopefully do a another weekend in the fall with our friends in Yusuke. All of the recording is eventually leading up to us touring Europe again in 2014, most likely with those noodlely dudes in The Reptilian.

Jason: We are also playing our first hometown show since winter, a big benefit show for one of our good friends. It's going to be August 9th at the Grog Shop, lot's of great bands and an awesome cause.

7. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to the new album by fans of underground music?

Andrew: So far it seems pretty positive. It's always hard to tell in this scene. I feel like music is released and it can be years until someone hears your music and responds to it. It does seem that people are enjoying it so far though. I'm curious to see people's reaction to Rodin since it is a lot darker in my opinion.

8. Are there any other musical projects besides this band or is this a full time line up?

Andrew: It's pretty much a full time thing for all of us. With the amount of music we write and the length of our songs, it's almost hard to focus on other stuff and still give Locktender 100%. We are all also extremely busy with work/family/life/etc that there isn't a lot of time left for other endeavors. 

9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

Andrew: We are always all over the map. Anything we do will sound like Locktender but since each release will focus on a different artist, the music tends to take the tone of that artist's work. Rodin will be darker but has it's bright moments and will also see the return of some additional instrumentation like melodica and strings. Next we are working on songs inspired by the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. Those songs are so night & day of each other but it works based on the art they are written for. 

10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Andrew: To be honest, I tend not to listen to a lot of music that sounds too much like us as I don't want to be influenced by it when writing. I personally spend most of my time listening to Sam Cooke, Motown & Lagwagon. As for influences, Envy & City Of Caterpillar will always hold a special place in my heart.

Jason: It's always great to see bands we love and respect and play with them on tour or in Cleveland. Last year was really great for that. For our music it almost seems like its own thing since we've been playing together for over 10 years now. Early on I think we would write things that we're heavily influenced by certain bands or songs but less so now. Andrew has a very unique guitar style that he writes with and I think has come into its own and evolved in Locktender.

11.Outside of music what are some of your interests?

Andrew: I think we all vary but have similar wants out of life. I'm a family man so I try to spend as much time with my wife and daughter as possible. Jason and I also hang a lot since we are brothers. Additionally, I'm all about getting together with old friends with good food, drinks and just relaxing. 

Jason: I'd agree with all that. We are lucky to all be very close and able to spend a lot of time together socially. We're also all involved in DIY-influenced hobbies outside of the music scene like brewing, cooking, publishing and have also always been pretty outdoorsy guys.

12.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Andrew: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Hope to do it in person in the future :)

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