Power pop punk rockers FOUR LIGHTS discuss touring, Seattly punk rock scene

FOUR LIGHTS band photo
We caught up with Seattle-based power pop punk rock outfit FOUR LIGHTS to talk about their recent trip to Mexico, debut album “Death to False Posi”, which serves as worthy successor to your favorite WEEZER-inspired jams, Seattle music scene, missing home while being on tour, and some more. Read the full interview below.

“Death to False Posi” by FOUR LIGHTS was released on August 15, 2016 through Bomb Pop Records. 

The following interview was conducted in early September, 2016.

Hey guys! Thanks so much for joining us here on IDIOTEQ! How are you? How’s Seattle? Is it true what they say about it? Is it really grey and rainy every day, haha?

It’s funny you say that. We are actually on our way to San Diego to play Gringo Fest in Tijuana and Awesome Fest in SD. Right now it is very grey and cloudy and we are stoked for some sunshine and burritos.

Haha, amazing! I’ve just wrapped my Summer escapades, so I kind of envy you, cause I’m forced to sit down and focus on my day job more now.

How are you travelling? It’s one hell of a ride from up there to Mexico!

We are flying down to San Diego and renting a car to drive down. Tijuana is always a fun time. I’m really glad we are able to get down there to play. If bands have never played TJ, I highly suggest they make it a part of their tour route next time.

Could you give us an overview of your touring experience? How active are you guys when it comes to playing shows and what does being on the road mean for you?

We play a show about every month and we haven’t toured yet. We are so stoked to be traveling. We just played Tijuana last night and it was incredible. We just like to have fun when we play.

Awesome Fest 2016

How do distant gigs compare to playing shows locally? Please tell us a bit about your local punk rock scene and what do you miss or do not miss when you`re travelling?

Playing show in different places has its own thrill. You get to play some rock and roll to people who’ve never heard you or seen you. Sometimes you get that person who starts to smile and bop their head to the beat.. and we are always excited to play. We are always having fun.. even when it’s just us in the practice space or in the studio, we are always smiling and having a good time. It really makes a difference.

The local scene in Seattle is incredible. We have tons of good bands (YOUNG GO HARDS, FOXHOLE NORMAN, AMSTERDAM, SUCCESS, OL DORIS, BURN BURN BURN). You just miss the familiar faces. It’s always fun playing in front of your friends, but then being out of town gives you the ability to make new friends and see old friends you haven’t seen since they came up or you last came through.

I’m planning on hitting a US roadtrip sometime soon and Seattle may land on my map, so please expound a bit more on that. What are some of your favorite spots and recommended new artists in Seattle?

Of course, The Kraken is a must. A great punk rock dive bar that makes you feel like family the moment you walk in. Great shows every week and try a Vitamin C shot while you’re there. El Corazon/The Funhouse always has shows and is a great venue as well as Victory and Lucky Liquors. There are just so many great venues in Seattle. If you go go Victory, try a hot dog!!

THE YOUNG GO HARDS are an amazing Seattle band featuring members from THE DAMAGE DONE and other great Seattle bands. They just put out their debut release and it is a banger. AMSTERDAM recently came onto our radar this year even though they have been a band forever. Great pop punk and it’s very catchy. They are also the sweetest people. RAMONA, LISTEN LADY, CUMULUS, POST/BOREDOM.. the music scene in Seattle, even outside of punk rock is just killing it right now.

Do you have your favorite outside-Seattle venue you’d like to visit more often? What are some of your favourite memories or trips from over the years?

I really love playing in San Diego. Till Two, The Soda Bar, The Hideout.. so many great venues and it feels like you are playing at home with all of the familiar faces and hugs flying around. Colonial Cafe in Sacramento and Dive Bar in Las Vegas are also some fun places due to their clientele and atmosphere.
There are so many great memories on the road.. but this trip we were just on for Awesome Fest 10 was just incredible. It was the first trip out of town for FOUR LIGHTS and it was unforgettable. Any time you get to play Tijuana is going to be a trip. The people there are some of the sweetest and genuine people I’ve ever met.

There are always interesting characters as well. Our song, White Girl Wasted, is about three different people I met on the road over the last few years. A lady in Oakland who encouraged all of my friends and even servers at a restaurant that I was only allowed alcohol and nothing else. A lady I met outside of a bar who was so drunk she didn’t even notice her shirt was wide open and was quick to walk away when I said I was there on tour.. and finally a very drunk lady who kept hitting on me all night and was trying to entice me into questionable acts in public places. You meet so many interesting people while traveling. Some people that changed my life.


Ok guys, so let’s learn more about FOUR LIGHTS. Have you been in other bands before this project? Please tell us more about your background and what led you to forming this band?

Oh man.. so many bands. KII currently also plays in ACES OVER KINGS and HONEY BADGER, Brian plays in DIET RIOT, Jeff played in THE PINIELLAS and in STAB ME KILL ME with KII. I used to play in SUCCESS. There are still a handful more band names we could list in the “previous” side of things.

We started playing together at the end of the last year and played our first show together on New Years Day. Last summer after leaving SUCCESS, I moved out of the city into the suburbs and just sat in my apartment writing. I was sending demos to Brian and Jeff of the songs and they kept asking when something was going to come of it.. I let them both know if I was going to do something with the songs I wanted them both involved. One day Jeff mentioned that we should bring in KII to play drums. He came out one Saturday and he just brought some amazing ideas to the songs and it just felt natural. Shortly after we all were in the same room playing music together, we decided to book studio time with Don Farwell at Earwig Studio to lay down what we had.. I kept writing and we ended up with a full length before we got into the studio and now we have Death to False Posi!

Having been involved in so many bands before FOUR LIGHTS, how has this one differed during the creative process from your point of view?

Well, it past projects I was usually only responsible for my parts or little suggestions here and there while recording. In FOUR LIGHTS, I came to the guys with finished songs and let them kind of write their own parts based around what the demos had. It is really fun working on new songs with this group, everyone has great ideas and they can really see my vision for the song and anything they have added has just made them better. I’m pretty lucky to have these guys involved. Now that our first album is out, I have about 12 songs written and demo’d for the next release and I can’t wait to start working on them and getting ready for whatever we want to release next.

When we went into the studio to record with Don Farwell at Earwig, he also brought a lot of great ideas to the table. He helped us add little parts we didn’t hear before or add little effects to guitar lines that really helped them stand out. He was a great ear and we can’t wait to work with him again in the future.

FOUR LIGHTS by Shawn McClung
Photo by Shawn McClung.

“Death To False Posi” serves a really solid portion of uptempo pop punk rock. Was it always your thing? Can you explain the inspiration behind this particular sound?

I write all sorts of music. Years ago a critique I got was that I hadn’t “found my sound” or style of writing.. and that always kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I write whatever comes out when I pick up the guitar. It could be an acoustic ballad or it could be a barn burning rocker. I have influences from all over the spectrum and to just sit down and write a certain style of song seems boring to me. I see people like Rory Phillips from THE IMPOSSIBLES or Ben Kweller put out all sorts of different kinds of music and it gives me the confidence to do the same. Even if DTFP seems like uptempo pop punk, each track has a different style. I could be trying to write a Tom Petty song (Whiskey Woahs) or I could be trying to write a WEEZER-esque song (Is That You?).. but I like playing loud crunchy guitars and I like to move so the songs tend to move into that uptempo rock direction no matter what I tried to write it as. I guess that is the glue that holds these songs together as a collection and doesn’t make it sound like it jumps all over the place.

How about the lyrical side of your tracks? What can one expect to find within your stories?

Well, I guess the common theme is relationships. With friends, with lovers or with myself. I’m not very good at writing clever turns of phrase like some so I just write honest stories about interactions I have with people or situations I’ve been in. I have a bad habit of writing songs about romantic interests. I grew up listening to The Beatles and power pop bands that sang “girl songs” and so when I started writing music that was the natural go-to for me. You just have to look as far as the title track where I sing, “I’m not trying to change the world, I’m just looking for a way to get the girl” I don’t pretend to have any answers for love or life, I just sing what I know.. and on this album what I knew was heartbreak and the chase. Most of these songs are about a very specific situation I was in. So most of this album was about my missteps along the way and me wanting things to just move forward and us to give it a go again. For a little spoiler for the next album.. it didn’t work out, so expect to hear about that on the next one haha.


Cool :) What’s the timetable for your next release?

Well, the new one hasn’t even been out for a month yet but I’m writing like crazy. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have the next one ready for next summer. We don’t have any rush or timeline so as soon as we have what we think is the right songs to put out, we will hop in the studio and knock it out.

Ok guys, so finally, what else do you have planned next? Feel free to wrap it up and thanks a lot for the interview!

Well, we are talking about the next steps ourselves. Maybe hitting the West Coast a bit after the new year. New music for sure. Right now we are just trying to get this record into as many hands and ears as possible. The digital and the CDs are out now and the vinyl should be released by the end of the year. We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves and just playing it by ear at this point. Whatever the future holds, as long as we are having a good time, we are all for it.

Thank YOU! This is has been a pleasure!

FOUR LIGHTS official website
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