Exclusive: Life On The Sideline EP announcement, music video premiere

Since releasing Honesty Is A Dying Breed two years ago, Life On The Sideline has remained active on the road and is now ready to unveil its upcoming EP, Never Settle. To kick things off, we're premiering the music video for the band's new single, "Echo", which tells the sad story of a young girl reminiscing times spent with her deceased partner. While not a pop punk song per se, it's as catchy as one with an infectious chorus that you'll inevitably get stuck in your head. The band's sound could be compared to that of Transit's and The Early November's. Fans can pre-order the EP on iTunes and CD here, before it's released on June 7th. […]

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Interview: Fingers Crossed

In general when someone thinks of Houston, they don't typically think of their Punk music scene, in fact most people probably try not to think of Houston at all. One of the sole gems from that city's musical community is the band Fingers Crossed. A band that has seen adversity at every turn for over 5 years, but managed to shake off the constant negativity and this year finally released their first full-length record, Dedos Crusados. Vocalist/guitarist Andrew MaClaren agreed to sit down and answer some questions for me.

I first heard you guys back in 2009 when you made a post about playing a show alongside With The Punches. Since then, especially the past few years, social media has taken a huge role in everyone's lives. In your opinion how does social media effect the life of a independent Punk band?

Andrew: Social media is key whenever we're promoting shows locally, looking for help booking tours DIY (we don't use an agency). It's the fastest and easiest way to reach our fans and allows them to expand that reach to their friends if they so choose. That ability alone makes it a vital tool for any independent Punk band looking for more exposure, which we always are.

What type of hardships are associated with being in a band for so long?

Andrew: First, keeping the same members. We've gone through a few rhythm sections in the past 5 years, but that's really driven the remaining two founders (Zach and Andrew) very close. Remaining relevant between new releases can also be hard, especially in a dwindling Punk scene. Punk fans are fickle, and if you aren't impressing them, you're disappointing them.

I always see you and Zach as members of Fingers Crossed, but usually you're accompanied by various other people, has that fact made things difficult? Have you solidified a line-up?

Andrew: Like I mentioned before, we've gone through a few drum and bass players. When we decided to start touring is when it became difficult for the other members to maintain the dedication Zach and I have. Today we have a solid line-up, and I'm thankful that it's the same line-up that we recorded Dedos Crusados with. It's made performing material off the new record that much more fun.

In the past I've seen unique trick shot videos from you guys, and a video of a prank you did filling someone's room with crumpled up newspaper. Do you guys still get into similar debauchery?

Andrew: "Debauchery" is our middle name. (Fingers "Debauchery" Crossed). Chyeah, we pick on each other constantly. We haven't had the gifted film making talent of our dear friend John Danielson since he is attending film school at UNT. He's responsible for all the trick-shot videos and the prank film and the video from 2009 for Ambitions, as well as The Ink Fades. We also did an instrumental song for his skate film Corridor Of Shame.

I've believed for years that you guys haven't gotten the amount of attention you deserve, which bands would you like to see get their share first?

Andrew: I believe you're asking who we feel deserves more attention than they are getting, amirite? Our top 5: Light Years, Wildlife (El Paso, TX acoustic group), Will to Live (TX HC), Illustrations (San Antonio HC), Thieves (Austin, TX Pop Punk).

You're just coming off a West Coast tour, what was that like? How were you received?

Andrew: This was hands-down our most well-received tour. Unlike tours before, this time we didn't end up bumping into any larger tour packages en route and having that opportunity to play to their larger audiences. I kind of liked that, it was a lot of really small intimate shows where we got to connect with each kid there and share something.

You came to the Northeast twice last year, is it safe to assume you'll be back this Summer?

Andrew: Full-US tour (including the NE) as main support of Light Years, booked exclusively by the one and only Jason Parent (Peanut).

The whole idea behind the West Coast tour was to promote your brand new album Dedos Crusados, tell us, what is that album about?

Andrew: Dedos Crusados is 12 different songs, about 12 different things. If I had to pick a motif for the album I would say it centers mostly around relationships breaking down, between friends, family, loved ones. There's a lot of metaphor used to call people out on their shit, you could call that the unifying characteristic of the album. Lyrically the record talks about being in an unsuccessful band, being a disappointment to your friends and family, dealing with depression, being an Atheist, being a poor ass indigent, and laying a lot of pipe.

I understand there's some confusion over the name Dedos Crusados for those of us that "no hablo Español" what does the title mean? What do people think it means?

Andrew: As someone in a neighboring state to Mexico I feel it's necessary to correct your Spanish, you conjugated that wrong. I believe you meant "no hablamos Español". The album title was inspired by the song Welcome To Mexico, which is about daydreaming to escape your problems. It means "fingers crossed" in Spanish, big surprise, huh? Pat from Light Years famously dubbed the record Dudes Cruisin', so I think we'll start telling people that.

In the past I believe you've worked with Vinyl Junkie and Mind Records to put out vinyl, can we expect to see the new album on that format soon?

Andrew: Definitely. Let me just pay off the debt I acquired from having Stephen Egerton mix and master the album real quick and then we'll self-release a vinyl edition of the album. UNLESS, of course, someone wants to lend us the money to put it out. HINT HINT WINK WINK ANY SMALL-TIME LABELS LOOKING TO TAKE A RISK AND MAKE SOMETHING BIG.

You just mentioned having the record mixed and mastered by Stephen Egerton, for those who don't know, Stephen Egerton has been a member of the legendary Punk band, Descendents for a dozens of years. How intimidating did that make the recording process?

Andrew: He's a very nice guy, a family man, and he loves bacon, so it honestly wasn't that intimidating. Like any new project we wanted this to be more refined and professionally done than our past releases, so we didn't cut any corners. Having Stephen handle the mixing and mastering was an absolute pleasure, he was on board with our sound and approach to recording the record from day 1 and I think it turned out tremendously better because of that.

Stephen Egerton is a classically-trained guitarist, with years of experience in Punk music. In his lifetime it is probably safe to assume he's heard it all. How did that help while you guys recorded, or when he mixed/mastered Dedos Crusados?

Andrew: I was honestly surprised by some of the things we ran into with him, it was kind of the opposite of that "he's seen it all" notion. More than a few times he would be working on mixing a song and call me with a long list of questions about my tones. I expanded on the amount of different guitar sounds for this record and that was something he wasn't used to, but was happy to make the record sound the way I imagined it in my head. There are some guitar tones on this record that are disgusting, and at first he hated that, but came to love it.

At some point during the recording process I'm sure you had moments when Stephen either gave you criticism, advice or maybe even compliments on your music. What's it like to look up to this larger-than-life Punk and hear him speaking of songs you've written?

Andrew: Stephen doesn't really dish out the compliments to try and make you feel like you're getting your money's worth, he's more of a cut-and-dry hard-working dude. There were never any moments of extreme criticism from him either, like I said, he was uncomfortable with some of the tones and structures of the songs at first. But after speaking about the overall goals of the record he was on board and delivered a great product. I have never been more proud of a release, and never have I ever been so fortunate to gain someone like Stephens respect.

The new year is just underway and you've already accomplished a bunch, what other plans do you have for the rest of the 2013?

Andrew: Tour a lot, write a new record (already underway), graduate college.

Enough about Punk Rock, Fingers Crossed, tours, and records. I'd like to talk about something much more meaning full. In April major league baseball will kick off another new season. This year something will happen that hasn't happened in 15 years. A team will switch leagues, that team, the Houston Astros, will move to the American League, your thoughts?

Andrew: Astros games are only fun to go watch because the tickets are like 5 dollars and you can yell anything you want. If they didn't win in one league, what makes them think they'll do better in another? Once Bagwell and Biggio left, I stopped watching.

The NHL lockout has ended, I understand you are Houston residents but Detroit Redwings fans, how does this happen. How do you feel about the salvage of a partial NHL season?

Andrew: Well Zach and I both were born and raised in Detroit, so by nature we are die-hard hockey town fans. Hands-down, the Detroit Red Wings are a dynasty team with some of the most memorable players the NHL has ever seen. The NHL looks like they've come to a form of agreement and we will at least get some games this season (even though there will be no Stanley Cup which sucks). Regardless, the NHL needs a new commissioner. This is ridiculous. I need to bang on some glass.

Interview by Anthony Allegra