Interview & Photos by Rachel Lim
We should get everyone’s names and what instrument you’re playing first.
Sean: I’m Sean. I play guitar and sing.
Alex: I’m Alex. I drum.
Andrea: I’m Andrea. I play piano and sing.
Daniel: I’m Daniel. Bass.
S: And Zachary Lee is outside. He plays guitar as well.
An: And he sings, too.
S: He does sing. That’s true.
An: Sean’s the main singer.
S: Well, I think like during Surefire, you were buzzing around the room very rapidly so I was like oh you’re a pretty serious photographer. She’s really getting the angles and -
Well, yeah, you have to...
S: Doing due diligence.
R: The lighting just looks like that - There’s one light in the center and the rest is like dark. How do I use the one light that’s on you?
S: It should be on me. What they should do is just close spot on me and darken the rest of the stage.
Al: We all wear black like the Lion King, you know?
So how long has this version of you guys been -
S: How long have you been in the band, Zach?
Zach: I started on bass, oh way back, 2019.
An: But when did you play bass?
Z: At the show you came to!
An: Nuh-uh, you played guitar!
S: Andrea, in Deutschtown. He played bass.
An: I thought you were talking about, okay, sorry.
S: And then technically, no one else here was on that show, though. I started, and it was a whole new band. First, Andrea agreed to join. After that show that Zach played - right? You agreed to join -
Al: So Zach, then me, then you (Daniel) and then Zach again.
S: Right, then Zach again. So Zach played bass for Deutschtown, and then Andrea joined, and then Daniel found a Craigslist post that I made and joined. And then you (Alex) found an Instagram post that I made and joined. That’s all been like within the last two months, right?
S: And then Zach joined again to play guitar which he’s -
Z: I was waiting for him to get shit together. Then I swoop in and take all the glory.
S: Smart. Very smart.
A: I came when you had nothing!
S: You’re such a good friend.
A: I know. Thanks. All the way from the beginning - like July.
So you released -
S: A record without - oh you two were on the record, that’s true, but these two weren’t.
Z: Us two.
S: My plan was just to make a record myself and then be done. Just put everything I’d recorded, well everything that I’d written, that seemed reasonable for that project onto a record with no real intention of ever playing a show. And then as we got Andrea and Zach played a little bit on it and as things started progressing I was like I think that I can make this a thing. A show - a seaworthy vessel, right? And so that’s when we started putting ads up. But yeah, I didn’t plan for this to be anything other than a CD and now here we are. We have another show coming up and a show in December. We’re going to do a Jason Molina tribute which is - do you know the band Songs: Ohia?
S: He’s like a singer/songwriter that I think influenced most of us in different ways. Well, three-fifths of us in different ways, and he died a couple of years ago so we just wanted to do like a little - play a little song, have some friends to Full Pint so that’s December 27th. We’re going to do a cover show and then Zach’s band - Zach has another band - just called Zachary Lee that’s going to play. Reliable Child is going to play. Adam Fitz is going to play. I dunno - I’m looking to you for the call sheet. There’s a bunch of guys there that are going to do it with us. We’ll be doing that in December. And I guess we’ll keep playing shows if we’re still a band. We have another record that’s written that we haven’t recorded yet.
S: Well I had a bunch of songs lying around so we’ll be doing that soon. I want to say December we’ll be back in the studio. Maybe January if things really go poorly. I’m trying to buy a house right now so there’s a lot of money up in the air. We’ll see. It’ll be winter though. We’ll put out another record I hope. It’s not giving me anxiety talking about it right now. Not at all.
An: You’re handling it well.
S: Thank you.
How would you classify your sound?
D: I would say - wait, why me?
S: I don’t want to answer every question, and I feel you’re much smarter than I am.
D: I don’t know about that.
An: Dan’s probably the smartest one in the band.
D: I definitely know that’s not true. I would say rock with folk and country influences. Does that sound reasonable?
S: Did you say alt country or country?
D: Alt country influences. What do you think anybody else? An: I wouldn’t have added country in there.
D: Alt country.
An: Alt country. I don’t know what alt country is.
S: It’s a fair assessment honestly.
An: Whenever people ask me, I just say cult rock. Indie rock.
S: What do you think Zach?
Z: It kind of sounds to me like when Dylan went electric.
S: Okay, stop it.
An: I guess I would call it indie rock but I definitely hear the alt country stuff. It sounds kind of Ryan Adams to me at some points.
S: Thank you. You hear some Whiskeytown, some Son Volt…
Z: Can I say - you probably don’t want to print this - I loved Ryan Adams growing up. Like worshiped him and now I feel like I can’t even listen to him or talk about it at all. It’s very grimy. All very grimy. But you know, it’s such a huge part of my life.
An: What a shitty conflict though - to be so influenced by this one person’s music and then all of a sudden - for years -
Z: So what I’ve discovered - it’s complicated because I’ve never done anything like that but - I’m certainly not like a -
D: Shitty person?
Z: I would argue I’ve done shitty things to people so that’s like -
D: You’re a human being, I mean.
Z: So like where is the line and how - what makes me so holy that I’m - anyway -
D: That’s the thing about art though, right? So much good art is created by people who -
Z: Are flawed. Elementally flawed.
D: Flawed at best, right? Flawed is your best-case scenario. It’s the nature of humanity.
How did you each start playing music - or each of your various instruments?
S: For me, it was a little sad. My uncle died suddenly and he played guitar. When he died they shipped his guitars up to our house from Florida. He lived in Florida. I started noodling around with them and wanted to take it more seriously like be in bands - punk bands when I was a kid. Had that not happened I probably wouldn’t have gotten involved in music as early as I did which was pretty young, I think. Zachary, I want to know your answer, bud.
Z: I had a choice between either getting a bicycle or a guitar -
S: Or a machete
Z: Or a machete. I’m from West Virginia so - yes. I chose a guitar and my dad bought me this sweet electric guitar and my best friend at school - his dad - got him a sweet electric guitar after they saw mine and then he and I started battling. We’d go our separate ways and come back a week later and try to outdo each other. I got lessons and he got lessons. He quit so I win.
S: Good, good, good. Andrea?
A: I started singing when I was little.
S: You went to Duquesne for -
An: Oh yeah. I always sang and then in middle school, my dad started teaching me piano and then I became a music major and then I went to Duquesne.
S: She’s a music therapist
An: Yes, I am a music therapist.
D: We always had this extreme not good acoustic guitar sitting around at my house. We’d pluck at it lazily. I got involved in grade school marching bands. I played trombone in the band because we had a trombone. When you play trombone, you never play any parts of the song that anybody knows like even if it’s a popular song. We’d play Happy Together and somebody would be like Play Happy Together and it’d be like alright, here’s a counter melody you won’t recognize. I found I really like those - I like how that fit in and kind of liked the lowness. When junior high happened and we all decided we would be in a rock band, I just naturally gravitated toward the bass and then I discovered punk rock. Then it’s like oh right we could actually do this and it just went from there.
S: Punk was a nice entry point for me too. I also started on bass when I started playing in bands. First off, it was the thing nobody played. Punk was nice and easy, cord-wise, to learn.
D: Yeah, that’s the thing. If the Ramones taught themselves how to play using their own songs, you can surely teach yourself using your songs.
Al: I started playing guitar in middle school because it was the thing that you did when you were in middle school as a boy. I don’t know why I played drums. I don’t know when I started to play drums, I don’t know how I learned to play drums. I just woke up one day and I was drumming. I didn’t take lessons.
S: In your sleep? Like had you been drumming all night?
Al: It was more of a metaphor. It didn’t really happen like that.
S: I thought you woke up with a snare resting on your… and you were on a sick roll like on a really tight drum roll and you woke up and were like oh what the?
Al: That actually wasn’t the case.
S: Sure, okay. Kinda let me down, then.
Al: I guess I did notice that everyone plays the guitar so not to offend the guitar players in the room, but everyone does it. Whereas you play the drums, you don’t even have to be good at drums. You can, you know… like…
S: Make sure that ends up in print.
Al: Bassoon. You can play bassoon haphazardly and can end up somewhere –
Or a tuba.
S: I wish we had a tuba player. I once saw a Ke$ha cover band, like a dance band, and they had a tuba doing the bass line. It was fucking great.
Z: Did you ever go to - What’s the thing that happens in May? The brass thing in Schenley Park? The Pittonkatonk.
S: I saw a brass band at Deutschtown this past year. I don’t know what they were called.
Z: Well if you like tubas, you should check out the Pittonkatonk. You know what’s cool about this band is like, I’m not -
S: That wasn’t one of the questions.
Z: I don’t consider myself a virtuoso or anything like that and I’m not really trying to be. I just like being in a project -
S: If you’re in -
Z: Shut up. Shut up. I like being in a project that everybody has their own voice, their own thing to say.
S: You saying that after saying shut up.
S: Dude my favorite part of that, I thought you were doing an alliterative like none of us are virtuosos so I feel like I’m awesome compared to these losers.
An: None of us are virtuosos especially not Dan. Single someone out.
Z: And I really mean it.
Al: Prove it.
S: I think we do consider Zach to be a virtuoso.
Z: That’s why it was funny.
An: Common knowledge.
S: I kind of find that word virtuoso is like a bad word because when kids pick up a guitar or
D: Not to belabor the point, but I think you’re right, a lot of kids do want to be virtuosos and they want to be whoever the guitar hero is right now. I think that is the thing about the punk rock influence like you could follow that route, you could treat music like weightlifting or you could have some [excess] in your day to just start making music now. I think that’s why it’s so appealing to a lot of people. Also, the whole middle finger to -
S: That’s what was appealing about it to me. The fact that it felt like a middle finger to my family and the conservative theology that I grew up with.
Z: It was a middle finger to rock at the time, right? It was a direct response to bands like Yes that were lugging around huge setups.
S: The anti-prog-rock
Z: Which was funny because punk rock for me was totally a gateway into prog.