After two failed attempts at a phoner (phone interview for those not in the know) with Matt Friction from The Pink Spiders, I finally got to interview him via the wonderful form of electronic communication known as email. I have to admit, I was hoping for some lengthier responses from the band’s lead singer and guitarist, but I will take what I can get. This was my first time having to interview an artist via email and let me tell you: it is very hard to get someone to answer your questions when they are hundreds of miles away from you and have the option of simply not typing up an answer to your question. So when you get your questions back, a lot of them will be blank. Oh well.
I am still going to their concert tomorrow night – Friday, June 27th – at Reggies Rock Club on the Southside of Chicago. The band is in town while on the road for The Tapped Kegs, Spread Legs and Fertilized Eggs Tour with special guests Drive-By. I have never seen the band perform live, but have only heard good things from friends who have attended every Chicago show The Pink Spiders have played in the past couple of years. Keep reading to see what Matt had to say – I mean type…
With three studio albums to choose from (plus short Warped Tour sets of about 25 minutes), how will you pick songs for Warped?Does anybody get to make an executive decision if the band can’t agree on song selection?
We pretty much just pick the highest energy songs and play them all in a row without any breaks. Warped crowds are all about the fast and furious songs, so that’s what we play.
Are there songs from your third album – Sweat It Out – that you will be playing this summer?How do you decide which songs will be played to balance out the set between new and old songs on tour?
We’re just playing a few songs from the new album. We figure it’s better to wait until people have the record and know the songs before we start playing more than that.
What prevents you from playing different sets every night? Or from changing songs in midshow, depending on your mood?
Keeping the same setlist makes the show go smoother and keeps the momentum going. We don’t like stopping between songs.
What have you noticed about crowds at recent Pink Spiders shows?
With almost two years having past since our last album’s release, it seems like these crowds are pretty much all die-hard fans.
Do you plan your sets differently when playing in your hometown of Nashville?
What’s on The Pink Spiders’ rider?
Big League Chew Bubble Gum
Do you have a favorite story from touring in the past?
It’s all kind of a blur.
Did you ever go to Warped Tour as a fan?
Nope, never have.
How do you feel about playing Warped Tour for the second time this summer?
When you’re in the studio, do you think about how the songs will sound live?Does that affect the decision as to which songs will make the record?
No. We just make the records we want to make and then figure out how to play them later. In the past, we’ve hired touring members to play on stage. We also speed songs up to make up for any missing parts.
What do you do on the road to relax?
I read a lot and watch a lot of DVDs. There’s not much time to relax though.
How is the Warped Tour going to be different this year from other multi-act tours and festivals you’ve played?How is it different from playing a headlining show/tour?
It’s completely different from headlining. We can’t backline or soundcheck, and shows are in the middle of the day and hot as hell. We play a much shorter set too.
What are your thoughts towards the ‘360 deal’ model that the majors are now imposing on new talent that they want to sign?
It’s a bad deal for bands to sign 360 deals. That’s why we avoided major labels for this record. It doesn’t make sense for a touring band – and all the labels seem to want everything these days.
How do you improve your skills on guitar while out on the road and holed up in recording studios?Do you have a practice regimen?
I never practice. We play shows almost every night; that’s plenty for me.
How did you start playing guitar?
I started playing when I was 16. I had previously been into sports (baseball, basketball, wrestling), but I realized I could play guitar in a band and avoid all the running.
Who are some of your favorite guitarists?Singers?Songwriters?Bands?
I really only have favorite songwriters. Definitely [John] Lennon, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello – to name a few. I love George Harrison’s and Brian May’s guitar playing.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from mistakes you have made during your career so far?
Trust no one.
“Little Razorblade” was featured in an episode of The Hills.As far as commercial music licensing goes, what television shows would you enjoy having your music placed and featured in?
I’ve been trying to get music on the show Entourage for awhile; no luck yet.
Who would you love to tour with or open for?Write songs with?
The Rolling Stones.
What is this label going to do differently as far as marketing Sweat It Out is concerned?Is the album slated for September release?
Yes. The album is in stores September 23rd.
How did the band get involved in appearing on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen?
Our publicist asked if we wanted to do it.
What did the process of starting your own label, Mean Buzz Records, involve?
Finding cool bands and talking them into letting us put out their records.
How would you categorize your music?
Rock ‘n’ Roll.
What makes your band stand out from others in your genre of music?
We can barely play our instruments.
How did you end up writing for Ashlee Simpson’s new album?What did those writing sessions entail?
I never wrote songs for an Ashlee Simpson album.
When on a smaller headlining tour, how do you choose the opening bands?Is the label involved?Are the openers bands you already know somehow?
We got a submission list and I checked out the bands on Myspace. We picked the ones we liked.