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. […]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Exclusive: Smalls - "We're Taking It Back" Single Stream, Interview

Right off the bat, Smalls has been making waves across the country's local music scenes, ever since the release of last year's debut release, Expecting The Worst. The band has continued to gain momentum, being picked up by veteran label Negative Progression Records to release a new EP, The Same Mistakes. Today, we're presenting a new single, titled "We're Taking It Back", that along with an interview that touches on finding new members, females in the band, and an upcoming music video! Don't forget to pre-order your copy of the EP here. Click the Read More… link to stream the song and read the interview.

For those who aren’t familiar with Smalls, how would you introduce your music to them?

Billy: We'd like to think of our sound to be more of a '90s pop punk mixed with a little bit of the newer sound. Most of us grew up listening to stuff like The Movielife, The Starting Line, and The Ataris, but we also listen to newer bands as well, like Light Years, The Wonder Years, and Mixtapes.

“The Sandlot” seems to be referenced quite often among punk bands with character names and quotes as band names and song titles - you guys have done both. Why do you think this is? Do you think having the name “Smalls” has gotten people to listen to your music just because they love the movie as well?

Billy: I think it has to do with the fact that most bands right now grew up in the '90s - it's that generation taking over music, so to speak. The people who grew up as kids watching those movies are now 20 to 25-ish.

Speaking of song titles, “Cali’s Worst Dancers” is on your first EP, Expecting The Worst. I’d guess based solely on the name that you are fans of Lifetime. What other bands have influenced the band as songwriters and performers?

Billy: When Ashley and I first thought about what we wanted the band to sound like, we were aiming for a mixture of Lifetime, Rufio, and Kid Dynamite, meets The Wonder Years and early Transit. We didn't really want to focus too much on the sound, though. We just knew we wanted fast, catchy, short songs; keeping the energy up at shows and having fun. As far as performers go, we didn't really think that much ahead. We didn't think this would take off the way it has. We definitely want people to have fun and move around. Keep the energy up.

It’s been a year since Expecting The Worst was released. How have you progressed as a band in that time?

Billy: We've gotten very good at feeling each other out as musicians. Keep in mind that when we wrote most of these songs it was just Ashley and myself. I sat down, started writing all the music, sending it off to Ashley to write vocals, and when she had something solid she would come over and lay it down. Then, putting everything together ourselves was a lot easier to do than having to write with five people in a band. We knew what we wanted and we worked on it together. When the first EP came out, we still didn't have a drummer, and Gus wasn't in the band yet either. Both Brit and Gus joined a month after we put it out. We found Gus because of Expecting The Worst, which was the plan I had pitched to Ashley to begin with: "Let's put this out and I'm sure we'll have an easier time getting solid band members" - we really struggled with that at first. We have now begun to write new material as a whole and it's just grown very organically. We've been playing all these songs from both EPs, give or take a song here and there, ever since back then, so as far as progress goes, in the two albums you won't see too much of that. There is some, but not too much. The new songs that we've started writing will definitely show you what five people can really do together; more ideas come in, more trial and error. We're really pushing ourselves as musicians to make that leap to better the band without losing who we are. Musically, it's gonna be eye-opening for some people and we'll have Ashley's vocals to gap that together and keep us whole.

Expecting The Worst is a prime example of how well dual vocals can be pulled off as well as how short songs can still produce an emotional punch. Can we expect more of this on The Same Mistakes? Will the new EP break the fifteen-minute mark in length?

Billy: The only reason why it's breaking the fifteen-minute mark is because it's six songs [laughs]. Like I said before, we wrote all these songs at the same time as Expecting The Worst, so yes, you could actually put both albums together as one full-length. Had we had the money to do that a year ago, we probably would have. The songs are basically gonna take off exactly where the last album ended. Being that we had about seven months to make tweaks here and there, I think that helped us out to make sure these songs are the best they can be. There's dual vocals on this album as well. We also took the time to write harmonies a little better than last time, so I think vocally it's better than the last. We also focused hard on Russell's parts this time around.

Being that females in pop punk bands are unfortunately so rare, do you think that this has any positive or negative effects on the band, which you might not otherwise experience?

Billy: There's good and bad in anything. I think that because it's so rare, sometimes there's a little more pressure sometimes, but those things have never bothered anyone. We focus on being a band; we're five people who are friends that play music together. We can list a million "negatives", but there's no point really because that's never our focus. We focus on the positives; the things that matter. We sometimes feel like we're pushed in the spotlight because we have females in the band and that's fine if people want to do that. For us, we're just a band. No one individual makes this band - five people make this band.

How did signing with Negative Progression come about and how has working with Seth been for this release?

Billy: When we saw the success we had with Expecting The Worst, we started talking about maybe finding someone who would like to release hard copies of it. We were originally looking for someone to do vinyl. Most of the labels that hit us up were offering to do tapes and we didn't want to do just tapes. Seth reached out to us about doing an EP and when he came in contact with us we thought he was talking about Expecting The Worst. We emailed back and forth and he felt that doing a new EP would be better. We told him "Hey, we have the songs, we just really can't afford to do an new EP so soon", so we worked it out so that we could jumpstart the recording process and we did it. We decided to go with Seth because of his experience. He's been around the block a really long time doing this, so we knew that we were going into this right. Working with Seth has been great. We're all pretty laidback people and go with the flow, so as long as there's a plan and a layout of things, we let everything just land into place. We owe him big time for making this happen. We're very grateful as well.

With the popularity of vinyl increasing, it makes sense to release The Same Mistakes on wax. However, cassette tapes haven’t made nearly the same comeback. Why the decision to release the EP on tape as well?

Billy: I think tapes will make a comeback. I think they're getting there slowly. Maybe not as huge as vinyl, but I see its potential. Don't underestimate the amount of people out there driving a bucket with a tapedeck either. We've all been there at one point, scrambling for a tape adapter for your iPod or, in my case, a CD player because I'm old as fuck.

Are you guys fans/collectors of vinyl as well? If so, what records in your personal collections do you cherish?

Billy: I bought a Lifetime 7-inch off someone from Spraynard - I think - I don't remember who it was, but I remember seeing the link to their eBay page and getting the highest bid. That right now is my favorite 7-inch. It has "Haircuts And T-shirts" on it and "All Night Long". It's just called "2 Songs" and it was a one-time print - 200 on blue (the one I got) and I think 800 on black, so it was the rarest variant. Another record I love is my Fingers-Cut, Megamachine! 7-inch. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, it's the project that Devon Williams from Osker did right after Osker split up. I've always been a fan of Devon and everything he does. He's currently writing under his own name.

You guys recently filmed a music video for “Tired”, a song off the new record. What was that like and when can we expect to see that popping up online?

Billy: I'm not really sure when, yet. I don't want to jump the gun on that. It will be in June and that's just around the corner, so you'll see it soon. Soon-ish? That video was a lot of fun to do. My best friend, Aaron Alvarado, had everything professionally laid out so that we knew exactly what was going to happen and when. Everyone involved are our friends, so it felt more like a hangout/pizza-party, with some filming in between, more than anything. We were originally going to do it ourselves, and I think that would have been a nightmare for me because it means I would have been responsible for it. It looks great and I hope you guys like it. I hope people get it as well.

Any plans for a tour after the release?

Billy: At this point, I guess it's safe to say that we will be touring this record. We were notified a few days ago that it would be announced before the end of the month... so you'll most likely hear about it in the next six days or so. Hopefully. If not, later - I don't know - I don't want to say anymore than that, because I don't think I can. We'll see some of you for sure! Maybe not. I could just be making things up, but I'm not. Or am I?

Interview by Josh Jurss