The Lawrence Arms - 01.22.14

Interviewed by
The Lawrence Arms - 01.22.14Almost 8 years after Oh! Calcutta! was released Chicago punk trio The Lawrence Arms is back with a new record, new label and new tour. We talk with vocalist/bassist Brendan Kelly over the phone about what all went into the making of Metropole:

How did you know it was time to start doing another Lawrence Arms record?

Well, it just sort of happened organically. We just started writing songs that were becoming a record, we never really had much of an agenda for releasing things in a timely fashion obviously. I think that after we finished touring the last record a lot of things started to change and we were all a little burned out from being on the road so much. One thing that weíve always been really conscious of, Chris [McCaughan, guitar/vocals] and I particularly, is not just putting out a record that sucks. Weíve seen that happen with other bands, they put out a couple of good records, they get old, theyíre going through the motions, itís not that good anymore. Weíve always talked about how we definitely donít want to do anything like that. When we started putting this together one of the big things was that it had to be cool and it just took us this long to get to a point mentally when we thought this was a cool new chapter of the band that stands up to the rest of the catalog. That was the only goal.

Was there anything you wanted to do with this record that youíve never been able to do with the Lawrence Arms previously?

I donít know, weíve always operated with a do whatever the fuck we want kind of attitude when it comes to recording and this time was really no exception. We recorded it at Atlas like we did with our other records. The process was a little more streamlined this time because Chris lives in Portland now and he had to fly in to Chicago and we only had a finite amount of time to get stuff done. In the past weíd spend months in the studio, we all lived around the corner from the studio and we could just take our time and dick around, but this time it wasnít like that. It was a lot more focused and thatís pretty much the only difference.

You told Noisey awhile back that ďThereís a lot of attention to detail that went into it.Ē What exactly do you mean?

Well, we did a lot of stuff, itís mostly nerd shit I guess, but the first line of the record and the last line of the record are the same. And then the beginning of the last song is the intro to the first song and then the intro to the first song is also the intro to the last song. Thereís a lot of cross referencing of dumb, sort of esoteric literary, cinematic and musical references, stuff like that. It depends on what level you want to get into it, really I think itís something that all three of us enjoy doing, putting a lot of attention to detail into everything. Thatís kind of how we roll and Iíd like to think that every second of the record has a lot of attention to detail.

Some people have already started comparing this to The Greatest Story Ever Told. Would you agree?

I can see where people are coming from for sure, that record was a pretty thoughtful record. Iíd have to say our last record Oh! Calcutta! is a bit more bombastic and this one is more thoughtful and pensive. I think itís also a nice mix of everything weíve ever done really, I think there are parts in the new one that remind me of the first record we did as well. I think we dug through all the chapters of the Lawrence Arms to make this record.

It seems like cities are the big theme that runs throughout. Any specific reason for that?

Yeah, well I guess, thereís just the fact that all three of us come from urban environments. When youíre a little kid, like my son is 5 and heís friends with everyone in his class. When youíre little you kind of like everything and then you kind of figure out what you donít like and start paring it away. As you get older and older, like people the age of my parents, they donít have many friends and itís like the world just seems to get lonelier every year kind of. Thereís something fascinating to me about living in a huge metropolitan area and being totally alone even though youíre surrounded by people. That feeling of being lost in a crowd or alone in a group, itís one of the thematic drivers that we really latched onto when we were making this record.

It seems like aging is another big theme in there too, though I guess thatís somewhat similar to what you were just describing.

Yeah, Iím going to sound like such a self important dildo when I say this and I apologize, but itís also about the relentlessness of time and I guess the only way to grasp the magnitude of that is to get myopic and reflect it through you. The fact that my body is physically getting old or whatever, thatís the only way I can really comprehend or engage just how brutal and crazy time is. That I think is a huge part of the record, thereís a vast expanse of time and Iím not just talking about my life or anything like that. The first and last line of the record, ĎI was born then I died, and just a moment went by,í itís based on the idea that everything happens in the flash of an eye. Iím not weeping for my lost youth or anything like that either, itís just talking about the idea of time in general.

Is there any track on Metropole that stands out to you in particular?

Thatís hard because Iím really pleased with the whole thing, but my gut extinct is the last song ďOctober BloodĒ because I think it does a great job of summing up what the record is all about. I hope people check out the whole thing and listen to it the whole way through, thatís really the way itís meant to be consumed.

One of the ones that stands out to me is ďParadise Shitty.Ē

Yeah, I like that one too, itís long now that I think of it, itís very long, but obviously I stole the chorus from Guns Ní Roses. They are a great band and they have an awesome tradition of singing about feeling alone and disconnected in big cities, itís a big theme that comes up in their music as well.

Speaking of big cities, you also shot your video in Los Angeles. Who came up with the idea to dress like juggalos?

Our friend Ben directed the video, but that was our idea, I was working on what we were going to do with Chris and I canít believe someone let us do that. It was super fun, we ended up having to do the video in LA because that was the only way we could pull it off logistically. And once we realized it was going to be shot in LA, the Guns Ní Roses ďWelcome to the JungleĒ video and Poisonís ďFallen AngelĒ came to mind. We thought it would be cool to do a video where we try and make it in LA, itís such a classic video thing and everything came together pretty quickly after that.

And speaking of LA, Epitaph obviously has its head office down there. Did you approach them or did they approach you?

Somebody put me in touch with them, I heard they might be interested in hearing some stuff and weíve been a band for so long I always wanted to see what else was out there and itís really fun. I grew up with all these bands on Epitaph and itís really neat to work with them. I remember being some kid in the Midwest ordering their records and having these mythological ideas about what it would be like to release records through them one day and here we are. The coolest thing about any of this is getting to be able to do this stuff you dreamed about.

Lastly the Lawrence Arms will be kicking off a U.S. tour soon.

Yeah, weíre going to go west coast, east coast and then after that weíll do a Midwest run and a couple dates in Europe. Weíll try and go everywhere we possibly can, though weíre also not at the age when weíre going to get in the van and stay there for nine weeks at a time. Playing shows is great and itís one of the most fun things you can do, but touring itself can get hard and turn into a bit of a grind. I donít bounce back from sleeping in the van like I used to and I also miss my kids if Iíve been gone for too long. The key is to find a balance between the two.

Do you have any plans for Canada?

I love Canada, I just did a sold out show in Edmonton and I had an awesome time. Iíd like to encourage all of your readers in bands to play in Edmonton and go through this dude named Ben Sir. Heís a great promoter and heís doing something really cool up there. But Canada is hard, itís the hardest border in the world for us to cross and we try to do it by the books. Still weíve had items confiscated, like big boxes of sweatshirts, and they wouldnít give them back to us, even when they turned us away at the border. Itís all just pretty fucking silly to me, we want to go there, but fuck itís easier to go to Australia than it is to go to Canada.
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
09:15 AM on 01/22/14
Andy Adores Alliteration
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prefix-core's Avatar
Great interview! Glad he pointed out the "attention to detail" they put into their lyrics, though I would love to know why they don't always do the liner notes like they did with GSET. That was insane/awesome.
09:31 AM on 01/22/14
Some Brains Are Just Wired Wrong.
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bagwell5's Avatar
Great interview! Glad he pointed out the "attention to detail" they put into their lyrics, though I would love to know why they don't always do the liner notes like they did with GSET. That was insane/awesome.
The liner notes in Greatest Story are amazing. The level of detail is absurd.
10:32 AM on 01/22/14
Jake Denning
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Jake Denning's Avatar
Brief but sweet. Oh yeah!
12:49 PM on 01/22/14
Regular Member
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bdjac82's Avatar
Cool interview. Very well spoken, and insightful. I'm hoping to catch a northern California show.
05:21 PM on 01/22/14
No Closer To Heaven
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Jaytothesyg's Avatar
Midwest ASAP please. Love Metropole and everything about BK I've been reading a lot
09:11 PM on 01/22/14
Saved The Day
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hectorial85's Avatar
TLA are very welcome in Australia.
I'm hoping for a Denmark show or at least Germany on the upcoming tour.
07:19 PM on 01/23/14
Steeeve Perry
Pushin' th' little daisies
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Steeeve Perry's Avatar
TLA are very welcome in Australia.
I'm hoping for a Denmark show or at least Germany on the upcoming tour.
I'd love them to come back to Australia. Last time was for Soundwave and the organisers put them on the same time as Lucero. The only two 'orgcore' bands for the day, at the same fucking time. I caught the first TLA song and then went off and was Lucero.
11:06 PM on 01/23/14
Saved The Day
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hectorial85's Avatar
I'd love them to come back to Australia. Last time was for Soundwave and the organisers put them on the same time as Lucero. The only two 'orgcore' bands for the day, at the same fucking time. I caught the first TLA song and then went off and was Lucero.
Last years S/W was the first I've missed. Damn, would have loved to see both of those bands. Pity they clashed.
What's orgcore?

Edit; Ok, I see. Thanks google.

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