It's probably no surprise to you that we love The Graduate. From their first days with Anhedonia to years later, we are still here and begging for new tunes. And now begins a new chapter. We are immensely pleased that we get to break big news from their camp via this interview, but instead of telling you, I'll let our interview with frontman Corey Warning do the honors.
OK, first of all, and most importantly, The Graduate has some big news that they've been excited to release. Corey, what's the big news?
Corey: We signed a recording contract with Razor & Tie, and are heading to Baltimore May 3rd to finish recording our new album with Brian McTernan.
That's just plain awesome. Can you fill us in on how you found this relationship with Razor & Tie or how they found you? And why didn't it happen sooner?
Corey: We've been talking with Razor & Tie for a long time now. I'm not sure who reached out first. They sent A&R to come see us play in Chicago around December. After that, we started getting serious. This whole process has taken longer than anyone expected. Even though we've been pretty quiet for the past 2 years, a lot has happened. We've demoed somewhere around 30 songs, (that number changes depending on who you talk to) had to move around to five different locations to work, we've been with three different managers, and I think we shopped to every label in the country.
So what makes Razor & Tie a good fit for The Graduate?
Corey: We really just wanted a label that understood what kind of band we are and what we want to do with our music. We just wanted to be working with people that believed in us as much as we do, and R&T genuinely loves our band.
Is it a relief to have this contract done and signed? It seems as though you guys have been in unsigned, non-touring limbo for awhile. That can't be easy.
Corey: Yeah it was tough. I think we're all a little surprised someone didn't give up at this point. The hardest part was never talking about any of this to our fans. Everyone wanted to know what was going on, and we just didn't know the answer. So for 2 years we just kept saying, "we're still working on it." We learned the hard way not to get too excited and start telling everyone things we're not 100% sure of.
Well, I can speak for everyone and say we're happy no one gave up too. Let's talk about recording. The Graduate and Brian McTernan have a long-standing working relationship, and this will be your second full-length that you record with him. So why does Brian do it for The Graduate? Why not mix it up and go with another producer?
Corey: I don't think we would have stuck it out without Brian's help. He's been like a 6th member of our band every time we've worked with him. He's also really good at getting us to pull our heads out of our asses sometimes. Most important, he loves the new music and has been a key part in developing our sound. Why fix what's not broken?
Good point. So what about new music ... How has it progressed from Anhedonia? Do you have clear visions on how the new record will sound or flow?
Corey: We never sat down and said, "we want to sound like 'this.'" I think a lot of bands say that though. We just did what came naturally; it's the only way we know how to write. I think it's the next step from our last record that Anhedonia was from Horror Show. There are some really interesting things we're doing, but we're not pulling a Daisy on anyone.
(Laughs) You already have a bunch of demos from before, some of them from extra time spent with in the studio with Brian over the past couple years, is that correct? So how much work has to be done when you actually get into the studio this May?
Corey: It's really hard to say. The last time we worked with Brian, we thought we were going to be recording "Make Believe" and "Choke" and other songs that were close to being finished. We ended up writing five brand new songs and re-working one old demo. The bulk of the writing is already done, so I think this session will be more relaxed. The cake is pretty much done, so we can have more fun with the icing. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if we get in there and nothing goes according to plan. That's why I have a love/hate relationship with making music.
Do you have an idea of when you'll release the record?
Corey: We're still trying to sort out exactly when the record will be officially released, but count on this year.
OK, so talk to me about this Sea LegsEP. I actually know nothing about this.
Corey: Colby Nichols did our Horror Show artwork, as well as a bunch of other designs for us in the past. He's now working with a partner, Josh Kenyon, in what they call Jolby. They were doing a big project called Sea Legs and approached us about writing a soundtrack for the show. We took some b-sides and alternate versions of new songs and put together an EP to be played during the opening. Right now we don't have any plans on releasing it, but it's something to be on the look out for in the future.
Oh, the was the art show that I heard about some months ago?
Corey: Yeah, it was in Portland. We've stayed close with Colby and Josh for years, and we love everything they do. We want to keep doing side projects between albums, like the Analog Rebellion cover. We're slowly building a better home studio, which is great for demoing on our own dime.
So you all have certainly kept busy during the non-touring time. You personally moved away from the band to Chicago and got married. Can you fill everyone in on some details?
Corey: We found a tiny house in Springfield and started working on new songs at the end of 2008. I was driving back and forth between the St. Louis area (where I was living at the time) and the band house every other week to work with the band. The house was miserable, we had no heat, all the doors and windows leaked, we tried winterizing the house but nothing helped. We finally moved into a bigger place after a few months, and Brian had us in Baltimore twice to work on some demos. We did a short headlining tour at the end of 2009, and we'd play shows here and there to help pay the rent, and we worked part time jobs whenever we could. After ICON dissolved we were really back to square one. It was nice to have some time to live a semi-normal life, but I think everyone's been a little terrified the past 2 years. We never knew what was going to happen the next month.
Corey: As for me personally, I was lucky to have my girlfriend's (who's now my wife) support. I love it here in Chicago, and it hasn't made anything harder on the band. We've never all lived in the same city, so it's not a big change.
It's also something to note that this band has never had a line-up change. I think that says something about your bond as people, friends and musicians.
Corey: I don't think this band could keep going without all five of us. We all write together, and everyone has a completely different dynamic to bring to the table. We had a good combination of everyone believing in the music we were making and not wanting to be the one to chicken out. I think I came the closest to quitting, I actually sat down the band and told everyone I didn't think I could keep doing this, but they had me talked out of it in about ten minutes. We've had a lot of ups and downs, just like any band, our music is what really holds it all together.
When was this?
Corey: Our first trip to Baltimore, at the end of 2008. I was having a long spurt of writers block, and I felt like I was letting everyone down. I just wanted to be done. I'm glad they talked me out of it now.
So what did they say to convince you?
Corey: I really thought everyone would want me out of the band at that point. I really felt like everyone hated me. They just told me that I didn't suck and that if I quit I'd regret it as soon as we got home, and that if I weren't in the band they'd be no reason to keep it going. Like I said, I think that's what has kept us together over the past two years. This band can't work without all five of us, and we all know it.
It shows on stage, it shows in your music. You guys have a chemistry that's always been admirable. So what have the other guys been up to these past two years?
Corey: Matt and Jared are living together in the house we were demoing in, working on and off for a catering company. Tim's been doing sleep studies and Max has been taking online classes and working with special needs kids. I've been doing some census work and flooring gigs with my dad here and there. We miss touring, to say the least.
And you'll be back on the road soon, right? Do you have anything set for the summer or later in the year?
Corey: We're working on getting out there again soon. We're hoping to squeeze a few tours in this year.
Is touring something you can just jump back into, like riding a bike? Or do you think it'll take some time to adjust to being on the road again?
Corey: We're a well oiled machine on the road. At this point I feel like we have almost everything figured out, we played around 200 shows two years in a row. Not trying to brag, but we're really good at touring.
So what makes a band really good at touring? Do you have a few tricks of the trade that us non-touring folk wouldn't think of?
Corey: That question should be an entire different interview (laughs). First, I would say go buy The Musician's Guide to the Road by Susan Voelz. It's full of great advice for touring. For me, I think of coffee and alcohol like tools. Try to eat healthy (harder than it sounds). Pay attention to the little things that get on each-other's nerves and try to be sympathetic, and also forgiving about your own peeves. Don't drink all the beer while the headliner's on stage.
Corey: And don't be one or five on a five band tour. Good luck trying to get everyone to like you on that run.
(Laughs) So I've been watching your YouTube Channel, and I'm wondering why there is this fake plastic or wooden bunny that keeps showing up. Are there hidden messages hidden in there? Because I wouldn't put it past you five.
Corey: Most of the movies we make are just long running inside jokes. We've had that cardboard rabbit sitting on Jared's bass amp for two years now. I'm not even sure what the deal is with that movie, I wasn't there when it was filmed. Maybe we're the only ones who think that shit's funny, but I really feel like our youtube channel is underrated. We don't ever script things out like some bands do, so they are usually randomly made. We all just try to keep a camera going when the time is right, and I'll edit everything and try to make it interesting.
And you'll be doing more of this in the studio this time, so this is a warning to The Grad fans to pay attention to your YouTube Channel.
Corey: Yeah, we'll be filming as much as we can while we're there. Hopefully someone enjoys our sense of humor as much as we do.
What else are you going to do in Baltimore? What places are your regular hang-outs?
Corey: Sadly, our favorite bar, Friends, just closed down. I'm guessing we'll be around Duda's more often now, as long as they keep Resurrection on tap. Isabella's is our favorite place to get lunch, and Hot Tomatoes is great after a night out. Or Blue Moon Cafe. We always end up spending too much at Soundgarden too. Fell's Point is such a cool part of town. It's a big part of why we love recording in Baltimore.
Amen to that. So, you guys did an Analog Rebellion cover in your down time. What brought this on?
Corey: We toured with Dan back in 2008 and we kept in touch after. We had a similar situation going on, writing a new record without the support of a label, and we were sending stuff back and forth for about a year. We just really enjoy his new material as Analog Rebellion and thought it would be fun to cover one of his songs one night. I'd like that to be an on going trend between us and other bands.
What other bands do you want to cover?
Corey: That's a tough question because there are certain bands that you try covering that just piss people off. I covered Brand New at a solo show I played once, and I've had kids come up to me at shows and tell me to never pull that shit again. It's not like we were covering Queen or anything. We would never cover Queen ever.
So now that the news is out, we can all breath easier. And I assume that a weight has been taken off your shoulders too. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Corey: Thanks for being so patient with us so we could make the album the right way. Sorry it took so long and for keeping everyone in the dark.
Wonderful, thank you Corey for the inside info and most importantly, sticking around!