New Jersey, New Jersey. I wonder how many NJ bands per month do I talk to ;) LOST IN SOCIETY is definitely one of the most experienced punk rock acts from the area I has a pleasure to talk to. Formed in 2004, they delivered their debut EP, a full length called “Eastern Empire” (2009), second EP (2011, produced by Pete Steinkopf from THE BOUNCING SOULS), second album “Let It Sail” and a split EP with AMERICAN PINUP in 2012. They have been on the serious rise since last year and I am worried it is going to shoot them to the top, way too high for a DIY rock / punk rock band ;)
Anyway, with a DIY dedication to touring and the whole idea of this band, signed to Altercation Records, LOST IN SOCIETY‘s melodies and a solid dose of positive energy caught my attention and resulted in the following interview. We discussed their local scene, taking part in contests, GREEN DAY, SXSW 2013, sharing stage with the legendary names of punk rock and a lot more. See for yourself.
Hi, guys! I’m really stoked to interview another punk band from New Jersey! How are you? Everything cool?
Hey! We’re excited you were interested in interviewing us. I’m all good, gearing up for our tour down to SXSW. It should be a great time, there’s nothing better than being on the road and playing shows every night. How about yourself?
I’m all good, thanks! I’m almost deaf about yesterday’s EXPIRE / ROTTING OUT / DESPERATE TIMES / REALITY CHECK / LAST DAYZ / OUTBOUND / GOOD LOOKIN’ OUT gig, but I’m getting better [laughs]. The show was dope.
Any outstanding gig you’ve attended recently?
That sounds like a great show! You should invest in some ear plugs. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. I don’t feel like I’m a 90 year old when I talk to people anymore. I recently caught CAKE at the Wellmont Theater near me. They always put on a great show! Other than that, I saw a few night of THE BOUNCING SOULS Home For The Holidays shows. Those guys know how to throw a party.
You probably have a bunch of great shows still coming up on your current tour, right? Will we manage to finish off before guys come back home? [smiles] How has the tour been going so far?
Yes! We are excited for all of the showcases we are playing during SXSW. Most of them are for our label Altercation Records. I’m probably most excited for the BBQ with Teenage Bottle rocket, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS and THE SCANDALS whom we are touring down there with. We will be playing 8 shows in the 5 days down there, including 3 on Saturday. It’s going to be really intense, but I can’t wait.
The tour has been good so far, it’s beautiful today in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Much better than NJ which just had a blizzard.
What’s the phenomenon behind SXSW’s events getting so good in recent years? Please explain it to me like I was not aware of the fest at all.
SXSW is absolute insanity. I don’t even understand it myself. There are so many hidden gems for shows. The unofficial showcases are the way to go. Most are free and have free booze or close to it. It’s unreal down here, think of a street with tens of thousands of music fans walking from venue to venue for a week straight. 6th St. is ridiculous. There have to be 50 venues in half a mile. And everyone single one is packed. Bands and fans are all attracted to this so everyone just rushes down to Austin for their own unique experience. It’s day two and I’m already drained. On Saturday we are playing 3 shows, so that will be the cherry on top of an intense week of musical madness.
Amazing… I wish we could have a marathon like this right here.
Alright, let’s focus on LOST IN SOCIETY and its early days. Tell me about how you started this band.
Well, back in 8th grade (about 8 years ago) I asked Nick If he wanted to play the schools talent show and do a GREEN DAY Medley (duhh). Nick said yes and then we had to find a drummer. So our friend Hardu asked if he could join the band, and that was the initial line up of LOST IN SOCIETY. We all played locally for about 3 years until Nick and I decided that it was time to move on from Hardu. I then met Heitor at a mutual friends house in the spring of 2008 and he knew we need a new drummer. He then offered his services and we practiced the next day. From then on that has been the LIS line up everyone has been exposed to.
How do you feel about GREEN DAY nowadays? [smiles]
Honestly, I still love them. I still buy whatever they put out. I thought Dos was a cool album, although I thought they should have put out one great album rather than put out three meh albums. I also think that American Idiot was an incredible album, I hated when people have them shit for it. They were going multi platinum when nobody else was anymore. I also think they need to chill out with the eyeliner though. It’s like, dudes, you have kids and you’re not in an 80s band.
Ha! True that! [smiles]
How did you end up on Altercation Records roster?
Well, a few years back we started going around the Tri-state area and doing weekend warriors. Eventually we contacted Travis about playing his bar Snapper Magees. He had us on the show and we made friends from there. Eventually we started playing different shows he was putting together and when we finally started recording a new album we asked him to release it. Travis obliged, but since we only recorded 5 songs he got one of his other bands “American Pinup” to record 5 songs and make it a split. Then, 4 months after that in June, 2012 we released a full length entitled “Let It Sail” also under Altercation. The Altercation family is awesome and we are honored to be a part of it. Travis and JT are good guys who do it because they love it. Just like us.
Alright. Let’s go back for a while. You won a competition called Metromix’s BreakThru and cashed a very nice prize. Was it in any way controversial for a punk rock band to even enter such a contest? I’m asking because I know there would be a massive diss on a band like you for making such moves. I believe it’s ridiculous, but unfortunately I came to grips with calling bands “not true” because of this. [laughs] Have you faced any faced any criticism because of that competition or other nominations and awards you receive?
Actually, the reception we got from winning was really positive. It wasn’t a pay to play type thing, every show was free and there were no ticket sales. We hate competitions and shows that force bands to sell tickets and that’s basically the only way you can win. Selling the most tickets, not talent based. A lot of people recommended the competition for us, that’s really the only reason why we did it. I think it worked out pretty well. I’m happy that people didn’t get on our cases about competing because it’s our decision and it doesn’t change who we are or what we play music for. I’m glad you can see through that. So, yeah. We did a competition and we won and I was thrilled [laughs].
Did it change your perspective and open a window of opportunity when it comes to recording and overall conditions of it? What were some of the differences between recording “Let It Sail” in 2012 and “Eastern Empire” two years earlier?
We never actually used the recording time we got for that contest. There were some legal issues that we couldn’t come to terms on. However, on both Eastern Empire and Let It Sail we recorded with Jon Leidersdorff at Lakehouse Studios. EE was a lot of fun to record, but we really let Jon run the show on that one since we were so young. Most of those songs I wrote between the ages of 15 and 17. Let It Sail definitely has a more mature sound and it was more of a team effort. We came in knowing what we wanted the record to sound like and Jon lead the way and also made some great suggestions. He’s an incredible producer and a really close friend of mine. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today. With Let It Sail we went with a much darker vibe than a more pop punk adolescent album which is more like Eastern Empire. I am happy with both albums, but I am really proud of Let It Sail and all of the positive reviews it got. We weren’t just seen as a young pop punk band following the times anymore. We found our own sound and ran with it.
And how did you like the idea of a split? Your co-release with AMERICAN PINUP turned out pretty well, huh? Any chances for another one sometime soon?
I loved the idea of the split. Travis suggested it and we were all about the idea. We had played with PINUP a bunch of times before that and we loved their music. It definitely turned out really well, we now have great friends in that band. And the lead singer and I also date now, so I think Travis secretly considers himself a bit of a match maker. [giggles]
As far as recording it goes, it was awesome. We got to record with Pete Steinkopf of THE BOUNCING SOULS. Need I say more? Those dudes are legends in my book and it was an absolute honor to be able to work with him. They are all such amazing dudes and their manager Kate is an absolute sweetheart. The experience overall was really great and I still keep in touch with Pete quite frequently. Nicest dude in the business.
As far as another one in the future, I’m not sure. It was definitely a cool experience. It’s your music going on to two separate markets at the same time. So it’s definitely beneficial. It was also a lot of fun working with another band. I would definitely be open to doing it again.
Oh yeah, speaking of Pete, I believe that due to tunnel vision having complete control of your ideas isn’t always the best. Having a fresh take can really open things up. How did he affect this material?
Recording with Pete was a great experience. It was surreal recording with a punk legend. It was a different experience from our previous recordings. Pete was pretty laid back and let us work the tracks the way we felt comfortable. He had some awesome suggestions and got us some brutally crisp tones to make the record feel like a full on punk onslaught. He did a great job and we worked well together. I definitely want to work with him again and I hope we can in the future. It’s nice going back and forth between producers. As you said, it’s a breathe of fresh air and it helps keep the creativity flowing.
I remember them like it happened yesterday. Opening for THE BOUNCING SOULS was absolutely incredible. It is one of my favorite shows to date. Highline Ballroom was the biggest room we have played and the sound was incredible. Nothing has come close to that yet. Everybody was so cool to us and when they said we could have a meal we were expecting cheeseburgers…but we got Salmon!!! Salmon! It was ridiculous. The Strike Anywhere show was also a great time. It was in our home town at our favorite spot to play, The Asbury Lanes. Kate (Manager of THE BOUNCING SOULS) made us all a vegan buffet. I’m not a vegan, but this stuff was really really good. I was surprised. The guys in STRIKE ANYWHERE were also really nice and they put on a killer live show. THE MISFITS show was fun, even though it’s not really THE MISFITS anymore. It was more nostalgia than anything else, but we had a great time and Jerry was a really nice dude.
We also got to play with Tim Barry and Grey Area during THE BOUNCING SOULS show and I have to say that Tim Barry may be the nicest guy in the business. Everyone that Kate works with is a sweetheart. It’s a big family and I hope we get the chance to become a bigger part of it.
So when can we expect a European run? [smiles]
It’s definitely something that we want to do very soon. Maybe this year? Definitely by 2014 we want to get over there. We are at the point that we want to go overseas and see what Europe has to offer. I hear people really love music out there. Is this true? If you have any suggestions as to going about finding an agency to help us out, our ears are open.
Yeah, man. I think you should definitely book it DIY. I promise you won’t regret it. There are lots of people who can help you out. Anyway, here are some of the bigger and smaller agencies I can recall instantly: Start Today, No Decline Booking, Avocado Booking, Yo-Yo Records, Paper And Iron Booking, No One Likes Us, Panther Booking, PaperClip Agency, Feuzeul Booking, MAD Booking, Kingstar Music.
Ok, before we wrap it up, guys… Asbury Park, NJ sounds big from my perspective. My first association with the name is awesome. Cool shows, special performances, original venues – and, to be honest, I have only a few arguments and examples to back that up [smiles]
Please tell me about your view on your local scene, people engaged in it, venues and the general atmosphere around it.
I think Asbury Park has a cool little scene going on. I would say it’s like a baby brother of Austin, TX. Lots of venues and bars in a small area. There are always bands playing and people looking to be entertained. You can go to the Asbury Lanes and see awesome punk bands or a burlesque show. Then you can walk a few minutes and catch SOCIAL DISTORTION on the summer stage at the stone pony, then a few minutes more you can bar hop or shop in downtown Asbury and check out some blues bands. Or you can walk along the boardwalk and catch some waves or eat some greasy food, play mini golf, or do some fine dining and drinking while staring out at the Atlantic. I sound like a tour guide, but I love this place. It’s the place to come to if you’re in New Jersey. It’s a creative mecca and people are starting to catch on and appreciate Asbury for what it is.
The people here for the most part are really great. We have friends in bands that we hang out with all the time and go to each other’s shows and promote and help each other along the way. Our brothers and sister in THE OBVIOUS are one of our favorite bands out of here, Angie is a sweetheart and then she gets on stage and there’s no looking away. There are a ton of great bands out of here and I’m hoping someone takes off and puts this place back on the map again.
Nice. What other bands are you into lately? Any uncharted bands you recently discovered? I bet the SXSW gave you some ideas, huh? [smiles]
I’m so guilty in the sense of not listening to a lot of new music. It’s a shame, I know there are a ton of great bands out there. Recently though, I’ve been listening to a lot of THE FLATLINERS and THE MENZINGERS. I listen to the bands on Altercation a lot. SAY HELLO TO THE ANGELS just released a killer album and AMERICAN PINUP will be putting another one out soon, I hope.
Alright, Zack. Tell me what important stuff did I miss and let’s wrap it up, shall we?
Well. We are in the preliminary stages of planning another tour in the summer or fall. And I believe in June or August we will be record a 3 song LP with Chris Guglielmo of BAYSIDE. So we are pretty stoked about that. Then everyone can expect another full length in 2014 and a bunch of tours to follow. We will be busy, which is how we like it.
Thanks so much for doing this interview! The guys and I really appreciate it. Can’t wait to post this everywhere! And when We make it to Europe we will let you know. And thanks again for those links!
Sure, no problem. Feel free to contact Stronger Bookings, Revival Booking, Impact Bookings, P&R Concerts, Cold Life, Stageload, Lukinzine, or Some Will Never Know. They will help you out or link you to the right guys. Also, drop me a line as soon as you get into specifics.
Thanks for your time!