Thursday, April 09, 2020

INTERVIEW: Spanish Love Songs chat about building setlists, their new record and their time with Pure Noise

INTERVIEW: Spanish Love Songs chat about building setlists, their new record and their time with Pure Noise

If you’ve headed out to see The Wonder Years on the incredibly special two set run they find themselves on now, I hope you’ve found yourself in LA’s Spanish Love Songs presence, to really catch something in the making. Fresh off the release of their third album, the band is on the brink of exploding onto the scene. Building on that buzz, since my interview with vocalist Dylan Slocum at the opening date of the tour, the band has even announced their next tour already, being a headlining run that will grace our city on April 22nd. Find us there and check out our interview below where we chatted planning their setlists, the brand new album and their signing to Pure Noise! 

You just put out your new record – it’s not even two weeks old – you released it while you were on tour in Europe. That tour with The Menzingers and coming into this run, how do you feel the record’s going over so far?

Dylan Slocum: Yeah, I mean, the tour was amazing. I called it a “perfect tour,” much as this one is, from top to bottom. It’s a perfect lineup of bands that we enjoy. So that was great. The response to the album has been better than we could have ever hoped. We knew people were interested but aw, shit! We got the numbers back and just the response at shows. Just everything. Down to people talking to us, stuff online. It’s been just a weird swell of awesomeness I guess. All we ever wanted to do was do an album that we were going to enjoy and that we want to listen to. And we hope that people like it. So yeah it feels great when people like it a lot.

The numbers must be crazy to you because it’s only your sophomore album.

DS: Technically it’s our third but really it’s our second, let’s be honest. The first one, we put it out on the internet. Because Kyle worked in the studio, we just did it and put it out. We didn’t know what PR was, I mean I did, but we weren’t going to pay for it. So yeah, it’s been great. The response has been overwhelming and everybody is happy which is great. Because there’s a lot more people we can let down if it sucked. So it feels good to not let people down.

Is there a particular song on the album that’s really catching on with fans of yours that maybe surprised you?

DS: I mean “Routine Pain” has really caught on with people, which I mean obviously we knew people would enjoy because it’s the first song. You make a statement when you put a song first. But it’s been surprising how quickly it’s picked up. We played it for the first time in Southampton like last Friday, and there were people shouting the chorus back at us. It was like, “Woah, wait a second”. We’ve never played this live. So that’s been good. We’re really proud of a lot of them so we’ve been slowly mixing in the singles, like “Routine Pain”. So tonight we only have thirty minutes, so what do we play? With four minute songs, we get seven songs so it’s like, shit. Do you play new? Do you play old? So today I think we’re scheming more towards new just because we’re bored of the old stuff. Yeah they’ve been all great. “Kick” has been getting a good response. “Losers” too has also been getting a pretty good response. It’s been cool.

How is it deciding on songs for the set? Because I know going into this tour, The Wonder Years is playing two sets every night despite having three openers. Are you going to change it up every night, going to test what’s connecting with fans?

DS: We have to lock it in first. We just came off that Menzingers tour where our set time was fifteen minutes longer. So that’s almost four more songs we could play. So yeah, we’re going to start mixing it up. This tour is different. I’ve had people be like, “Play this song, play that song”, and it’s hard to explain to somebody that’s really excited to see you, this show isn’t necessarily about us or them.

Well you guys have experienced a lot, you’ve all played Boston a few times. I know Free Throw sold out Great Scott not long ago, you guys have headlined Once before.

DS: Yeah, we played Once and we almost sold it out.

It’s a tour that’s stacked.

DS: It’s stacked. Our job is not to play for our fans necessarily, our job is to play for The Wonder Year’s fans who don’t know us. That’s why you do these tours. And so it’s like, what are the seven best songs that we can play every night? And It was  the same goal with The Menzingers tour, I want people to come up after the show and be like, “I’ve never heard of you and now I’m listening to you”. To me, that’s successful. While also pleasing the people that are going to show up no matter what. We’ve never had to deal with that which is a great position to be in. Yeah, I think some people will be disappointed with this set. I mean it’s just how it is. We can’t play only two people’s favorite songs, we’re just not going to play some, we don’t have time.

Sad Summer Fest was something where you had bands like The Wonder Years but you also had bands like Mom Jeans and Just Friends who could easily do a headlining tour, but they’re opening for this huge festival lineup where they only have those thirty minutes, and they’re an indie band opening for a band like The Maine.

DS: Yeah it’s like what do you do? When you have to kind of cater it to the audience, and what you think they’re going to like? Support tours are great, because they’re pretty easy. You kind of get told where to go and you show up and you do it.  But it’s also stressful to know it’s not your show. It’s not about you so you just show up and do your job. How do you do that the best. What hypes up the crowd. We can’t break out a fucking acoustic song in the middle of our set, it’s just not going to work. And I’ve had people go, “Play Aloha,” during the set and I was just like, “No we can’t. I physically cannot”. It will ruin the show. If it was a headline show I’d be like yeah, absolutely, let’s bring it down a minute.

But when you’re opening for a high octane show like that.

DS: Yeah like I’m not even going to talk between songs. It’s thirty minutes sets.  It’s 30 minutes on the clock, let’s go. And the changeovers are quick, because Wonder Years are playing two sets. So it’s a fast run of show. It’s just show up, do our job, get out of the way, and enjoy the night.

There’s a tour that’s coming up in Boston, but it’s like three sets with two openers. It’s Silverstein.

DS: Like three different albums?

Yeah, like two albums and favorites, but they’re playing three sets with two different openers.

DS: That’s a big bill. Four band bills are tough, and that’s a four band bill essentially right? Bless the Wonder Years for putting up with it. Because they could bring one band and do two sets and that could be it. But I feel they’re very involved and very just positive and supporting. Just in promoting bands that they enjoy, that they want to promote. And it’s important to put your money where your mouth is. Back it up if you talk about the scene and do it. Not that they have to. But they do, which to me is just the greatest thing.

They’ve put in their time.

DS: Yeah! They could bring anyone they want to, and not care and not be nice to us, but the fact that they are, just makes it even better.

Then to bring it back to the record, the album is still so new. When did you start forming this record? When did it really start coming together? I know you put it out at about the two year mark since your last album. 

DS: So we got off tour last June. And I knew we were recording in September and I didn’t have an album written. So I took most of the month of June off and threw down kind of the bare bones of it. The song structures and the melody. Then took that to the band in July and August, and we kind of did pre-production and worked through things. So really all of last summer I spent burning through my savings. Lost my job, and just kind of went for it. When we were doing it, I was absolutely just miserable. Like, “Why did I do this? This was a terrible idea.” Even when the album was done, I didn’t know if I liked it. Again because there were so many people involved that had something riding on it. Not in a too many cooks in a kitchen way.

And you’re a signed artist now.

DS: Exactly, I have management and this and that. So I remember sending out the demo’s, like the pre-production to the label and our managers and I was like, “Oh, they’re going to give us their opinion”. And being like well, I hope they like it because this is it. This is what I’ve got. These are the twelve songs that I wrote. This is the album, this is the best I can do at this possible moment. And thankfully, they were very encouraging. “It’s good, keep going”. I think they were very careful not to tell us it was good until we were done with it. Then they were like, yeah it’s fucking great. I lost my mind a little, I was like why didn’t you say something. I’m sitting here doubting everything we’re doing. I guess that makes it better. Push it harder or whatever.

And it seems like it’s such a personal record. Putting yourself on the line.

DS: That and I think other people know that. We’re very good at taking criticism but we also do a lot of stuff in house. So there are certain things like well I don’t know if I like that lyric. They’re not just going to listen to it. This is what we do. But everybody that we work with vibes really well together so there’s no really, really tense moments of you’re wrong, we’re right. It’s more of a team working towards a common goal. We’re super lucky because it could have been gnarly. You’ve heard stories of bands who go to labels and it’s just, “Do this, be better. We’re not going to put this out”. Shit like that, but they never did any of that. They let us go record it ourselves. They sent it off, got it mixed and they were like, “Yeah this is great”.

Pure Noise has been the home to so many great acts. Seeing Man Overboard’s come up, The Story So Far’s. Maybe how has it been being something a little bit different for Pure Noise?

DS: We had wrapped up most of our touring on “Schmaltz”. We had just started working with a lawyer and I told him we wanted to take the next step and find a label and he’s good at that. He just kind of put out some feelers and Pure Nois was the first one that got back to me. Then Jake and I, who runs the label, kind of met up  and immediately, he was like I want to sign you guys and work with you. We grew up maybe thirty minutes from each other, went to a lot of the same hardcore shows, he’s just a few years older then me. So that felt like a natural fit. Obviously Pure Noise is a huge label, a very fast history, they’re maybe eleven years old at this point. Just came out of nowhere and blew up. Had their growing pains and had their successes and failures I’m sure as we’ve all seen. When they wanted to sign us, I was a little surprised but then I noticed they were talking to us and they were signing bands like Just Friends and Graduating Life, Mundy’s Bay and it was like, oh they’re branching out. They’ve reached the point where they can. They have their story, they have their Knocked Loose, their Terror. They have their bands that are going to keep the lights on so they can take chances. I felt good about that because we talked to some other labels where we wouldn’t have been the only band like us, which I guess is nice in a certain sense, but I like being on Pure Noise and being like no, that’s our whatever you would categorize us as band. Like there’s nobody else on the label that sounds like them. And I think that was important to me after the fact. Like after I started thinking about it. So it worked out pretty well. They’re psyched, we’re psyched. Again we grew up close to each other in LA, I can just text the head of our label and be like, “Yo! What’s up! How’s it looking?” I can ask him things like are you excited and stuff like that where I don’t feel bad or self conscious. Which is definitely important. I feel like I’m the type of person who would have the tendency to be like, “So sorry to bother you, Mr. Person who gives us money to do the things”. But no, it’s great. And their support has been amazing. To be able to record it ourselves and then put it out with the push they gave it on these tours, we couldn’t have asked for a better album launch. And they didn’t know that was going to happen when they signed us. So they were definitely taking a chance on us. I think they just kind of believed in what we were doing, which is great.

You have this record out now, you just finished this tour in Europe. You’ve just started this tour, obviously keeping you busy for a little bit. Maybe focuses or goals  for the rest of 2020 for Spanish Love Songs?

DS: We’re just touring. We can’t announce everything get but we’ve got some headlining stuff coming up and then back to Europe for some festivals/headlining stuff. Then in the fall, we’re kind of formulating fall plans now but it’s just touring. We just want to get in front of as many people as possible. We all just lost our jobs from being gone so much. I lost my job in March, Meredith lost her job in October, Trevor lost his in December. Then Kyle lost his right before we left for the Menzingers tour. His boss was like, “I didn’t approve that time off.” And he was like, “Okay here’s my keys”. So the more we’re on the road, the better off we are because it’s hard to be in a new place, go get a job and be like, “Hey! So, I’m going to be here for three weeks and then I’m gone for a month. Then I’m back for two weeks, gone for a month”. People don’t like that, so yeah we kind of need to live on the road. That’s the plan at least. After all that, we’ll figure it out.