|Photo by: Evan McGrew|
In August 2011, emo-throwback outfit You Blew It! was signed to Topshelf Records. At the time, You Blew It! had only released a full-length, The Present in Past, via Good Friends Records and an EP. Topshelf added the band to its impressive lineup and the band hit the studios whenever the members weren’t in class.
Amidst those classes and a slew of lineup changes, Tanner Jones and the rest of You Blew It! successfully released their Topshelf Records’ debut Grow Up, Dude on April 24. The release is the band’s hallmark to date, featuring guitar nuances and strained vocals that bring to mind names like American Football and Joie De Vivre.
The band has made ground and will be on tour for the summer, proving to the rest of us that there is a place in music for bands that combine these particular sounds. Of course, they’ll do it in style and good humor.
Jones, the vocalist and guitarist of You Blew It! spoke with ACRN about Grow Up, Dude, his unabashed like for Slipknot and I.C.P, and what You Blew It! will be doing in the near future.
ACRN: Where are you right now?
Tanner Jones: I am at my house in Orlando, Florida.
ACRN: Any upcoming plans for You Blew It!?
TJ: Tonight is our big release show in Orlando. Tomorrow we are going to head out on a five-or-six-day Florida tour. It’s the first one we’ve done in a year. Right now, we’re booking a 30-day summer tour, which I can’t really talk about yet.
ACRN: The album was released Tuesday and on Monday night you streamed it for fans on Turntable.fm. Were you and the rest of the band in attendance?
TJ: Yeah, we were all in there.
ACRN: How was that compared to releasing it as a stream on a website?
TJ: It was awesome because we got to joke around and essentially just fuck around with some of our best friends on the Internet all in one place. It was kind of rough because apparently Turntable.fm has a block where if you play a certain artist for three songs it won’t let you play that artist again. So we had to go into our computers. The stream should have taken only 33 minutes but it ended up taking an hour and a half to two. There was a lot of Slipknot [played]. A lot of Slipknot.
ACRN: Are you all big fans of Slipknot? I know that You Blew It! has mentioned I.C.P before too.
TJ: I.C.P and Slipknot is all just the novelty and nostalgia of the music we all used to listen to in fifth, sixth and seventh grade right before we found emo [music like] The Promise Ring and Taking Back Sunday. I.C.P. and Slipknot were [all that we listened to.] It was pretty much just the novelty of it. We’d sit back and laugh and go, "I can’t believe we used to listen to this."
ACRN: This recording process was the first with Topshelf Records. What stood out to you this time as compared to previous times?
TJ: We recorded it with the same guy who recorded our last EP, The Past in Present, so a lot of it was very similar and very comfortable. This time, it was even more...streamlined is not the word I’m looking for. It was way more in-depth. We were way more comfortable with Derek Perry, the guy who recorded The Past in Present and Grow Up, Dude. There is a lot more delving into the songs and really going in and altering them and making them different. I’d say that was the main difference. Overall it just felt more organic and friendly.
ACRN: You transitioned singers on this record as well. You’re the one singing on this new record. Is that correct?
ACRN: Was that natural to do?
TJ: Well, actually every release we’ve put out has had a different singer which is pretty unintentional. Our singer for the first demo we put out had to leave because his main band was touring too much. Then we picked up Trevor and he started singing because, to be blunt, he had a better voice than I did. And then he graduated and got a full-time job and couldn’t really put the effort that he felt he needed to in the band. So he had to leave, at which point I knew the words and can sing better now and it was just more natural than trying to find someone else to fill his role and everything in such a short period of time.
ACRN: So is Grow Up, Dude your lyrics or lyrics previously written?
TJ: They’re all mine. Well, the first song is our old bassist’s. He ended up having to leave as well. The rest of the 11 songs I ended up picking up the slack and basing the whole record on my experiences and such.
ACRN: What experiences are those?
TJ: The whole album is pretty much about growing up. It was a time in my life where I am in a huge rut. I just got out of huge, horrible, horrible break-up, as any emo album begins. It’s just about me going through all these awkward stages trying to fit in, trying to cope with it all while having social anxiety at the time I was in. Kind of just growing up.
ACRN: The album begins with the line, “When will I see that superstitions mean everything?,” and ends with, “When will I see that superstitions won’t do anything?” What meaning does that have for you?
TJ: I wish I could say that it had more meaning to it, but what happened was that the last song on the record, “There’s Nothing I Love More Than Baseball,” [was written about how] our van broke down in the middle of nowhere, Georgia. The van got fixed and we continued on tour, but as a band we went through these horrible superstitions like, “Well, the last time our van broke down Tim was driving so we can’t let Tim drive again. Last time the van broke down I was wearing this shirt, so I’m never going to wear this shirt again.” And then the van ended up breaking down again. So it was just that these superstitions don’t mean anything at all. It's ridiculous that I’m even thinking this.
And then going into recording we thought [the song “There’s Nothing I Love More Than Baseball”] would be a great book-end because it’s also the same key as the first song. So then we modified the meaning because the whole superstitions thing flows well with the way that part of my life was. I was going through these horrible rituals of trying to be a certain person or trying to do something to prove something in my life. Like wearing the same socks or wearing the same underwear, which is ridiculous when I think about it now, but it's just something that most people go through when dealing with rough break-ups like that.
ACRN: Were you in class during the recording of Grow Up, Dude? How was dealing with that?
TJ: The way we recorded--we were absolutely in class. The semester had just started and what we do is go on long weekends. We recorded three hours south in Naples, FL. Every weekend we would go down and track as much as we could, drive back up, go back down the next weekend that we had free. Pretty much we just did that for a month or two until we started mixing the record. It did kind of take a toll on our grades, but nothing substantial.
ACRN: What is the cover art of Grow Up, Dude a picture of?
TJ: The cover art is actually my dad who is on the right and my grandpa who is on the left. One day I was going through old family photos with Tim and that one popped up and we both stopped and thought that it looks like the record’s sound. That looks like the way we feel like the record should appeal. We thought that picture had a lot to do with the record itself.
ACRN: You Blew It! is very vocal and easy to talk to on Tumblr. Is that communication with fans important to you?
TJ: Absolutely. As fans of music and of certain bands, one of the coolest things I always loved about going to shows or the Internet was just talking to the bands and picking their brains. A lot of it was based on when Saves the Day was recording Sound the Alarm they started a web-blog where they took videos of them responding to fans. And I always admired that a bunch.
The other half of it is that for pure enjoyment. We pretty much live on the Internet so whenever anything comes up we’re usually sitting on our phones or on our computers in class. You can either listen in class or respond to Tumblr questions and the Tumblr questions usually win.
ACRN: You Blew It! said once that you became a band because you were frustrated with promoters and, what you call, “paying to play.” Do you still see that now that you are, so to speak, on the next level?
TJ: The way the band formed pretty much was just boredom. If there was any one thing that we stand for, it's that you shouldn’t pay to play or take any shit from promoters who are pretty much just in it for the money or doing it for pre-sales or taking a couple bucks every show. The whole premise of music is to have fun and the minute it stops being fun, I’m going to stop playing music. It should be organic and it should be DIY. It should be fun for both the fans and the bands. If you’re charging bands to play, it just takes away that whole aspect and completely wrecks that whole foundation of what I think music should stand on.
Even now, we still have to deal with promoters contacting us with all these deals we can get with email subject headers like, "You could make money from this show.” That’s not our motive. We want to play and sing with fans. That’s pretty much it.
ACRN: Any last thing to mention?
TJ: Listen to Dikembe! They’re from a couple hours away. They are pretty much our best friends in the world. Any success we see we’d love to have them see as well.
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