Record Overplayed
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Brand New interview | Oxford Zodiac | January 2002

"At home it's like kids come out of a cookie cutter"

Brand New interview by Katie

I've been a fan of Brand New ever since a friend introduced me to them two years ago and was very excited to be able to interview the band on their first headlining sold out tour courtesy of Dawn. I sat alone at a table downstairs at the Zodiac, as their tour manager went to fetch Vinnie Accardi, the guitarist. I kept fiddling with my newly purchased Mini Disc recorder, praying it would work and trying very hard to think of intelligent questions that wouldn't make me seem too fangirly. Vinnie soon appeared with a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of beer, asking if I wanted a drink. I declined and we soon got down to the questions.

Katie: Do you like doing interviews, because you never seem to say much in them, especially when it's the whole band?

Vinnie: I don't know why that stuff happens... I think we have better things to do. Nobody really gives a shit if we're there or not, that's why I stopped doing interviews, especially with all four of us, we'll all go out and it'll be a big thing about all four of us being there and anything that we say never makes the magazine as the person interviewing us just does not fucking care. It's like why are you going to wake me up to do interviews and all that when you're not giving a shit what I'm saying anyway? It's like do I need to be here? Can't I just be at home? And then I do say something and they print it, it's like the most ridiculous thing like for example, there was one magazine that came out just recently?

K: Ahh, it just came out here, Kerrang! magazine?

V: Yeah, Kerrang!

K: And you made that throwaway comment about the cocaine, "I'm going home to do an ounce of coke"?

V: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I did that purposely to see if it made it in there and it did. Made the front cover, Brand New fucking cocaine and strippers and it's like are you fucking kidding me? So that's why I don't do interviews, they're all bullshit. Um not really, that's probably why you hear a lot more from Jesse than the rest of us.

K: What did you do before the band, we know that Jesse was training to be a teacher, and that Garret and Brian were roadies but I've never heard what you were up to before Brand New?

V: When the band started, I was in my junior year at high school, I was 17. We spent a year and a half making the record, and waiting to go on tour. I wanted to make sure I graduated first. I don't have a degree or anything, so that's why you don't hear about what I was doing before the band!

K: What's it like being on tour at the moment?

V: Over here or just in general?

K: Oh, here in Britain...

V: Oh here, it's fucking awesome, I think it's really crazy, the last time we were here, we did the Barfly show which was great fun, that's what makes it all the more strange, we hardly sold out the Barfly last time and now we're back here on a headline tour. I don't know why... I don't know what kids over here are doing to find out about us.

K: I think it's mostly the internet and word of mouth?

V: Yeah it's crazy, the first time we were here, supporting Finch when our first record was out here, we were shot dead and back here on a headlining tour that's sold out, it's just wow.

K: Yeah that's what I wanted to ask you about, as it's such a big change, whether you feel like you're finally getting the success you deserve or whether you feel like the band's just being hyped up?

V: Here it's more difficult to say. At home we've constantly been on tour for three years, got out there by ourselves, and gradually got better tours. We just kept going back to the same cities, like twice a month, here it's a little stranger as we've only been here once really and all of a sudden, you're coming back and it's harder since we gained a great deal of fans on the Finch tour, it takes more time to wrap your head around and it's great to see kids going crazy to see Straylight Sun and Moneen and the same kids keep coming to a lot of our shows so it's great.

K: Talking of kids following you around and devoted fans, doesn't it get scary when you see fans with tattoos related to the band?

V: There are so many different levels and stuff like that, it's incredible that someone would want to do something like that, that they want to have my band's lyrics or whatever it is on them but it's also creepy that so many kids are young. I had this young girl who couldn't have been more than 16 or 17 and she asked me to sign her hip and I don't like signing people's bodies so I was fucked off like "why, you're just going to wash it off, it'll be gone in a few hours" and she's like "no, I want you to sign my hip so I can get your signature tattooed there" and I was just like "no, my name, my signature is on your hip for the rest of my life, and I'm going to know that it's my name, my signature is there and I don't know you at all." I feel like I'm doing something wrong, and when she's 40 is she going to be happy that she has my name tattooed on her hip? Yeah it's kinda crazy. You see the same kids every night and some of them can be super cool and just want to hang out and talk and others can be so crazy, like "why can't you give me your hat?", "Why aren't you helping us do this?" Like the other night, right after the show, I came off the tour bus at two in the morning and they were like, "is Jesse coming out" I said, "No, he's sleeping and when he's not sleeping, he's in the bathroom as he's ill" and they were like, "Can you go and get him?" And I'm like, "no, I told you, he's sick. Why would you keep asking, why would you want to keep bothering him when you know he's in bad shape?"

I try to put myself in fans places sometimes, it's hard to be a fan when you're in a band, and you don't even have the time to see shows. We saw Coldplay and they were incredible and all I wanted is just want to shake their hand and tell them that they had a great show, you know? I don't know what it is they want from us, they wait outside in the cold outside the bus all night. They ask for clothes and I don't think I would do that, you know?

K: One of my favourite things about Brand New is that you're passionate onstage. When you were starting out as a band, you and Jesse used to stage-dive. Do you feel like you've grown up now and you don't need to do that stuff anymore as a gimmick to get fans or was it something you felt at the time?

V: That kinda stuff is weird, it's not necessarily that you're growing out of it. Kids don't realise that there are so many elements when putting on shows, there were plenty of times when we used to do stuff like that. Like we were trying to show people that we were crazy to get more fans, we were practising in our basement; we did it the same way that was always in us. I run into a couple of ordeals that hurt people bad and number one, I feel bad because I don't want to hurt people who are coming to see me, and number two, I realise when playing bigger venues how easy it would be for that person to turn around and sue the venue, sue me, sue my parents. Once I was being an asshole and jumped off a super high scaffolding and broke this girl's nose, she could have easily turned around and put me and my parents out on the street.

We're trying to better our musicianship, so if I jump in the crowd right now no-one would hear my guitar right now or do I stand onstage and play? It's not that we've grown out of it. It's hard work, I watch kids, kids who pay money, kids at the front and kids at the back wanting to get up front and they just want see the band onstage and all I watch is them get crushed and bodies flying over their heads, and it's like, "please stop," you know? The kids at the front are just really trying to watch, I don't really think we purposely want kids to get hurt, so no, we don't really jump around anymore, my body's too old to do it, I guess. To kids who say we don't jump around anymore, I'm sorry!

Also I want to mention the fact that we play 300 shows a year, you can catch a show that can be where one of us are sick or we got bad news from home, someone's family member's sick at home you know, we may not always look 110%, I don't think people realise that we try to cater for everyone. We have our days just like everyone else.

K: What do you think of the tour so far?

V: Yeah, all the shows have been amazing, we've all been so excited and there's so much high energy, it's awesome to be around people who love music and just by chance I happen to be up on stage playing it, everybody's smiling, and it's great.

K: Are you excited to be playing London?

V: It should be interesting, I mean we're super excited to play London, I mean to be playing the Barfly then to be playing to over 2000 kids less than a year later...

K: What's the third album going to be like? I mean, the second one, Deja Entendu was so different from your first one, Your Favourite Weapon in terms of lyrical content and the style of songs. I heard that Jesse and you were writing songs over Christmas.

V: Oh man, that's a good question! We're always writing, it's also become a strange thing but we never really show each other 'til we have 'til we are all about to write the record. That's the way it's always been, it's been difficult to get songs together and I have no idea what it's going to sound like. I remember the songs from the last record that we thought were so extreme are nothing compared to the new ones as the first two records went from such different extremes that I think the third one is even more extreme. We're never going to write a song that we don't like, as long as it starts off with the four of us enjoying it, and then it'll be fine. We always take into deep consideration our friends' opinions and then we just wait around until the good ones come out.

One of the great things about the four of us is that if somebody's playing something to someone else, like for instance Brian's showing me something that I don't really like, or Brian or Jesse or whoever will just turn around and say "that's not cool" and we'll forget it but it's fun because all four of us have to try and believe in everything that we play. I can't even imagine what the record's going to sound like, honestly, whether we're going to like it. And hopefully the same progression we took with the second record from the first record will happen again and maybe get some new ones on the way, just going to keep on doing what we do, I guess.

K: What do you think of the support bands on tour with you now?

V: Oh I think they’re super awesome and it's great that the kids have been coming to support them too. Moneen are like this super high energy band and then Straylight Run are more mellow and we're somewhere in between the two, I guess.

K: Do you think there's an English music scene or it's just a carbon copy of the America scene, what with the fashion being Converse and the whole emo look?

V: There's a whole mixture of different styles here, definitely, which is interesting because at home it's like kids come out of a cookie cutter. Once we saw this girl whose hair was bright fucking red and her whole outfit was totally that same colour, wow, it was great and she was just rocking out, man, that was awesome. Most kids are like, "who cares about clothes, we just want to have a good time," which is great. Also kids here like a whole range of music whilst at home, they seem to stick to one record label, I think kids need to be more open minded about music and not judge a book by its cover, you know?

K: One thing the band's been noted for is its large range of merchandise. Unfortunately we don't get the same selection of stuff at your shows, is it possible that there could be a European merchandise supplier in the future since some people find it hard to order merchandise from the internet?

V: I'm always super sad when some kid can't get the shirt that they want and shit like the shoelaces and stuff, it's just so hard to ship stuff over and we have so many items. But we're working on it, that's for sure.

K: What makes you carry on as a band? What motivates you especially since you all seemed kind of sad over Christmas and New Year?

V: That's so weird, because everyone keeps saying that. My mom actually brought this to my attention as my mom keeps up with stuff online and she was telling me she was reading all this stuff about the band being depressed or not caring anymore and it's kinda interesting since we've come off tour and we're being social, especially around Christmas it's like I'd just like to be at home with my family, so things drop off around then, but there's no worries about the band. We have such long tours and sometimes we're out every night and having fun and other nights it's like, "whoa, what the hell am I doing here?" We're fine and we're still happy with playing our music!

K: Are you thinking of doing anything special for the London show? I'd like to hear Play Crack the Sky live as it's an amazing song or is it too hard to play live?

V: Yeah it is a little difficult to play live but we were thinking of changing the set a little bit so we'll definitely take that into consideration, see if we can do a few sound checks.

At this point the tour manager comes to tell Vinnie it's time to get ready for the show. Vinnie laughs as I get flustered and try to finish the interview up whilst hoping that they have a great show tonight. He surprises me by wanting to shake my hand and thanking me for a good interview and I thank him for being a pleasure to interview.

Brand New are now busy touring back in the USA and are scheduled to support Blink 182 in Australia in March and then are back over here to support Incubus on the new arena tour in May.

Thanks to Vinnie, the ever-lovely Ian Cheek and to Katie.

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