Philadelphia / South Jersey pop-punkers COUNT TO FOUR have just released their debut album “Between Two Cites”. I immediately got interested in their instrumental led, catchy pop-punk and caught up with them to get some answers.
Their debut album comes off the back of 2010’s critically acclaimed “Know Where You Came From” EP and is supported by their brand new video for the song “Lavender Town” (check it out below). Go!
I can’t believe it, you’re like the tenth NJ band I have the pleasure to talk to [laughs]. Anyway, you’re almost a Philly-based band. There is around 5 miles from Barrington to the border with Massachusetts, right? Which state do you belong to mentally? [smiles]
We’re right outside of Philadelphia in South Jersey, (which should be Its own state) but we always say South Jersey when we’re on tour or when people ask.
Ok, you’re about to unveil your debut full length called “Between Two Cites “. How does it feel to be on the verge of releasing it?
Honestly very relieving. We recorded the album November 2011 and it’s being released April 2013. Without getting into details we ran into tons of road blocks on this record that pushed the date back substantially. Mike (vocals, guitar) already has another album written ready to go and we haven’t released this one yet [laughs]. But we’re really glad people get to hear our new material which we believe shows a development and an improvement of our sound. It’s exciting.
Great! I love this organic feel in your instrumentarium. How did you end up in this specific genre?
We all grew up loving bands like JIMMY EAT WORLD, BLINK-182, NEW FOUND GLORY, any form of pop-punk really…and it was always a blast to play. The band actually started because of Pete and Mike’s affinity for Fall Out Boy.
Is there a genre you could easily switch to without making any changes in your line-up? Do you guys like to warm-up playing something you would never record or perform live?
I think we could always go a more indie / post rock vibe, which is actually sort of where our newer music is leading. You and hear some of that in songs like “Tear It Apart” or “My M.O. on the new album, but I would say the songs we’re writing now aren’t pop-punk anymore. Actually some of the songs on Between Two Cities wouldn’t be classified as that either.
What other styles do you like as a listener?
We’re all pretty all over the map with other genres. Jay is really into any type of metal band, he’d be the one listening to IT PREVAILS or BORN OF OSIRIS in the van. Neale’s taste is very diverse, loving everything from the Bobby Darin to THRICE. We’re all open to almost anything. Except for Pete who literally listens to nothing but BAYSIDE.
[laughs] Alright, back to the album, tell me more about how you’re putting it out. What labels are you cooperating with and what formats are you using this time?
We’re releasing Between Two Cities independently. We are releasing it 4/30 on physical CDs as well as digitally everywhere, and those who order the physical copies from Bandcamp receive bonus material we included.
What makes it a “progressive pop-punk” album? [smiles]
Going back to question 4, there are definitely elements to this album that aren’t pop punk. Track 8 “My M.O.” features a 9/8 time signature in the beginning, and is mostly in a minor key. Not pop punk in the least. And track 10 “Bottles and Books” the opening riff is in 15/8 switching back and forth from 7 to 8. Even with the chords we used we tried to experiment with suspended and 7th chords, really branch away from generic bars. The new material we’re writing now does that even more so.
It’s been 3 years since “Know Where You Came From” EP. Why did it take you so long? [smiles]
We put out an Acoustic EP Nov 2011 during out time at 37 Studios while recording Between Two Cities. As mentioned, the original release date was supposed to be May. We’re can’t really discuss why we ran into so many issues, but everything got put on hold until the mixes and masters were done. During that time we just toured relentlessly.
You have just released the official music video for the song “Lavender Town” on April 22nd. Is there a certain concept behind it?
Oh yeah, we didn’t want to do anything generic, we wanted the message to be as deep as the lyrics were. The song is about struggling with who you are and who you are trying to be, and living with your decisions and mistakes.
The video shows a scientist hell bent on building a time machine to go back in time to be with his son again who has passed away. It’s open for someone to interpret how they want, or the message behind that particular idea, but the video itself shows struggle through a dark time in someone’s life.
What, in your opinion, makes a great music video? Any masterpieces you’d like to recall?
We all like videos that tell a story, and a story that is original in some regard. It’s horrible to see a band put out a story about a boy and girl fighting/breaking up/getting back together it’s just been so overdone at this point for the past 30 years. We personally like stories that tell of self discovery and coping with the world around you, or to show how one copes with the life they lead.
…Or every video could just be Dust in the Wind by Kansas…cuz that’s pretty much perfect.
Have you received some calls from labels interested in your music? There are at least few “bigger” names that I would call appropriate for you guys. [smiles]
We’ve had plenty of interest from smaller labels, but I don’t think we’ve really been put on the map by press like this until now. We’re hoping the response from the new record plus our insane touring schedule will show we’re marketable and ready for the next thing.
How has your experience been touring so far? Tell me more about your first proper trek and the single shows you’ve played.
Touring has been awesome. Every time we go out we meet new people and make friends, and kids seem to know the words to our songs in certain areas, some that we’d never been to before. So it’s definitely been great. Plus we love to site see and explore. Even went to Abe Lincoln’s birthplace in KY.
Your second American tour will take place in July and August. What’s it gonna be like?
Well for one it’s far easier to book and plan having already done it once. We book all these tours ourselves. And it should be 3x as much fun since we know what to expect and we will be playing a bunch of new places. Plus we get to visit Disney Land.
What’s it like to play shows in your local scene? How do you compare it to other places you’ve visited?
NJ surprisingly has one of the best scenes in the entire country (that we’ve seen at least). We really love playing home shows. The kids come out. They enjoy themselves, everyone gets along, people are genuinely die hard music fans here.
What are the immediate plans for the band after the summer ends? What will the autumn and next winter bring for you guys?
We are already booking another tour 2 weeks after we’re home for all of September and October. After that we will have a short tour in December and then be taking some time off to finish writing and plan on recording the next record.
How have your life experiences shaped COUNT TO FOUR?
Most of the lyrics tie in directly to experiences that we’ve had growing up, especially Mike. A lot of the newer songs reflect the struggle of growing up. On a more personal note, we have all been through some crap and those experiences of being on the road and just living life have made us closer friends, and gave us direction on where we wanted to go musically, and how we wanted to present ourselves. As far as music goes we musically draw from what we like and take note of what we don’t like.
Ok, so how do you feel you guys have evolved?
If you listen to our first EP and then listen to the new album, you can tell that there has been some growing up, both lyrically and musically. And we think it was for the better. It’s a more mature sound. We also became wiser and far more professional in all areas, ranging from the live show to our artwork.
What do you know now that you wish you had understood when you were a real rookie?
Literally almost everything we know. I guess the number one thing would be your demeanour and image on stage while performing.
Alright. Thanks so much for your time, guys.. before we wrap it up, please tell me what’s one thing your listeners don’t know about you? [smiles]
We all listen to and love this band from the 80’s called THE HOOTERS. If you don’t know them, well, then you’re just not living life to it’s full potential.
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