Fresh off the release of their new single With Friends Like These, Who Needs Empathy?, Indianapolis-based emo/punk outfit SUMMERBRUISE checks in with us today to give you their 10 bands that heavily inspired them while writing their new album.
“With Friends Like These, Who Needs Empathy?”
Chicago – My dad was in a kickass oldies cover band when I was growing up, and my favorites were always the Chicago songs with the big bombastic horn sections. This was the first time I ever attempted a brass ‘arrangement’ of any sort and I drew heavily from bangers like “Saturday in the Park” and “Make Me Smile” while writing & structuring horn parts.
Keep Flying – If seeing my dad play with a horn section planted the idea that I wanted to do the same somehow/someday, Keep Flying filled in the how & when. I hadn’t heard another band up to that point that added brass to punk without getting ska (which rules, to be clear, but just isn’t what we were trying to do), and touring with them a few years back was what finally inspired me to take a crack at it. We were lucky enough to have Rick and John track them as well, and they knocked ‘em out of the park if I do say so myself!
Rozwell Kid – A lot of our emo/DIY contemporaries will have funny merch or social media presences to accompany some of the most despondent fucking lyrics you’ve ever heard in your life, and I can’t really get serious like that without also trying to be funny. Rozwell Kid is probably my favorite band, and how I learned to use humor as a songwriting tool without necessarily writing joke songs (even though their joke songs are also great). Also both times on “Friends” when the guitars do the muted “chk-a-chk” thing in time with the drums we’re just trying to do the “UHF on DVD” intro because it’s perfect.
Mover Shaker – The melody for the vocals and lead guitar on the choruses of “Friends” are super lifted from the chorus of “Latchkey,” to the point that my girlfriend overheard me recording the demo and asked if that’s what it was supposed to be. Hehehe sorry friends 😈
Stars Hollow – Similarly, I’ve been obsessed with the groove on “Tadpole” since the first time I heard it and have always wanted to steal it for a Summerbruise song. So I did 😈
Prince Daddy & the Hyena – When I was writing it, I always envisioned the third verse of “Friends” sounding like the last verse of “Lauren,” where the band picks up and the lyrics sound almost crammed in or rattled off, followed by the big exhale feeling of everything coming back down. It’s more subtle and maybe not quite a full blown rip-off but certainly intentional.
Fountains of Wayne – “Friends” is one of the first (and only) Summerbruise songs to use a standard ~pop structure~ with the whole verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus deal, something I never intentionally avoided but something that never really came naturally to me either. Then, a couple summers ago, I saw Kory from Prince Daddy cover “Mexican Wine” on a livestream for the Alternative which unlocked a memory of me being absolutely obsessed with Welcome Interstate Managers as a kid. This sent me on a Fountains of Wayne re-discovery binge in the midst of writing the album that had a huge influence on a lot of the sounds and structures within it.
Pavement – I don’t think any of the songs on the album sound like Pavement, but I was also listening to a shitload of Pavement while writing them to the point that, at least to me, some of the choices sort of feel like Pavement. I think what makes Stephen Malkmus an interesting songwriter to me is that he takes no pains to make his lyrics relatable, but doesn’t go out of his way to make them weird either, leaving you somewhere between relatable songs with a weird narrator and weird songs with a relatable narrator. I definitely challenged myself on this album to keep stuff I liked the sound of even if I was worried it only sounded good or made sense to me, in hopes that the authenticity is what would make other people think it was good.
Plans – Yes I technically play in this band, no it doesn’t count as a self-plug because I’m not on any recordings. Sue me. This album will be Summerbruise’s first as a 4 piece, so writing it was the first time I’d written any bass or lead guitar parts and I’d have been completely clueless if not for what I’ve learned playing in Plans. There’s a common cliché that the best way to improve as a musician is to always be the worst in the room, and I’ve absorbed so much from them since joining a few years ago that it feels incredibly true. It might be a cornball pick for a list like this, but an undeniably huge influence on this band one way or another.
Elliott Smith – For the longest time Elliott Smith was a sort of anti-influence on my songwriting (or lack thereof); I first started playing guitar in high school after becoming enamored with his music and spent a lot of free time learning Elliott Smith songs as a hobby. The more I got to know his music, the more sure I was that I could never make anything like it and shouldn’t bother trying. Playing guitar was a private thing I did to practice Elliott Smith songs for fun, strictly a non-creative exercise. It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that someone showed me a now-rightfully-disgraced band that influenced a lot of early Summerbruise and I realized you could actually suck all kinds of ass and still write songs people would like, somehow. They would just call it “emo.” It was then and only then that I made my first attempt at songwriting and started this very band. Outside of the occasional cheeky reference in past songs, this record is the first time I’ve really tried to tangibly emulate Elliott Smith (by which I mean the opening track is literally a carbon copy of “Independence Day”).