How does it feel to be a lead singer again instead of singing back up vocals?
It's a more comfortable place than where I was. I'm always writing lyrics and it's nice to be the one delivering them again. I also love to sing so it's better all around.
What kind of direction was Taking Back Sunday's music heading in that made you want to leave to pursue your solo career?
It wasn't so much the musical direction as it was the process of writing the records. I felt really good about the music we made together and if you hear 'Bend to Break', I wasn't trying to write anything drastically different from what I did with TBS.
Was the overall feel/sound/vibe from The Color Fred something you tried to impose on TBS?
The Color Fred started as just a side-project with no real agenda. If you hear the similarities between the records I wound up with and the TBS records it's because it's my writing and I was a part of TBS.
What was the hardest thing about the new record (Bend to Break)?
I really wanted to be honest with the lyrics. I worked for a long time on each song to make sure that I was getting across the meaning of the song very clearly. I wasn't trying to be vague or metaphoric and that was often challenging to do that and be consistent.
What's your favorite song off Bend to Break, and why?
My favorite is probably 'Hate to See You Go'. I like the mood of the verses and how the instruments are all doing their own thing and then they all come together for the chorus. I could see the future TCF records going more in this direction.
What was it like working with P.J Bond and to what extent did he contribute to the record?
I used to play shows with P.J. when he was in Outsmarting Simon and I was in Breaking Pangaea. I thought he had a great voice and his style reminded me of Jim from Jimmy Eat World. A lot of the songs I was writing for BTB had the interacting 2 vocal thing that I've obviously gotten used to writing for. I found out that he was living near me in Jersey and we started hanging out and playing off and on. I asked him to sing on a few tracks, play bass on 'Get Out' and come on some of the tours. He's a super talented guy.
Will there be any permanent members added to TCF? If so, who?
The reason I haven't ever posted anyone's names anywhere is because all of this happened pretty quickly and I'm still seeing which guys work well together. My drummer, Steve Curtiss, has been with me for over a year and played on the record but then, I just added a fifth guy, Padraig Murphy on keyboards/guitars. I've only been doing this full-time since October so everything is still evolving and growing with each tour.
When did this side project start looking like it was going to be more than just that?
I could feel it coming on during the recording of the record in July but it wasn't until I was on the Project Revolution tour in August that I knew I had to shift my focus. Here was a record that I wrote and recorded during my in-between-tours time and I was pretty happy with it. I felt like, if I could give it all my time, it could really be something in the long run.
What's the reception of this album been like to you? Have you received more hate or love from TBS fans, or have you attracted an entirely different audience?
I used to always say that TBS fans were the best in the world and they absolutely proved to me that they were when all this happened. It seems like they've been awesome about supporting both sides.
Will this be your full time project from now on?
Totally. For the first time in my life, I can see what I want to be doing five years down the road.
Are you still on good terms with the guys in TBS or was it an ugly split?
It wasn't ugly at all. It was hard for all of us but I've spoken with some of them since.
Any idea who will be taking your place in TBS?
What advice would you give to that person?
Well, the funny thing is, I had some people call about the guitar parts. One of them called the day 'Bend to Break' came out. He was really cool and I didn't mind of course, but it's just funny.
How was the recording process with Lou Giordano this time around versus the first time you recorded with him (with TBS)?
It went really smoothly because we already had a relationship. I started calling him about the project a year before 'BTB' came out. By the time we went to record, everything was demo-ed so we both knew the songs and what we were trying to accomplish, so things went pretty quickly. Lou has made some of my favorite records ever so it was easier for us to be on the same page.
Was it more relaxed due to the record being almost entirely you, or was it more intense?
Well, obviously, there weren't any of the fights that usually happen when a band makes a record but it was still really intense for me and I ran on 4 hours of sleep that whole month. We were up in the mountains of upstate New York so we just focused on making a complete record, trying to make it as eclectic yet cohesive as we could.
Will The Color Fred be going on a headlining run anytime soon? If so, who would the support be?
We go out with Angels and Airwaves at the end of January, then the UK and we're doing Warped Tour. After that, I'm not planning on any breaks so we'll see where things are at. Things are still changing all the time because this thing is so new.
Would you ever consider going on tour with TBS as The Color Fred or would that be too weird?
It wouldn't be weird for me.
Will there be another Breaking Pangaea album or even reunion tour?
Wow, thanks for asking. I don't know if I have another BP album in me. That music was really labor intensive to write. Some of it was so complicated and intense. I do still talk to Willie and Clint every day, so it'd be fun to play the old stuff on the road. We'll tour if Thrice will take us out.
Did you really shave your beard for the video?
Yeah! It was a good effect to show me wake up with
the beard back on after each accident. I also thought it would be cool to show a different side of myself but then I was so freaked out because I hadn't seen myself that way in years. I think I'll have a beard till I die now.
The difference between Where You Want to Be and Louder Now is vast. Do you think more in the hands of the major label or the band?
It was absolutely our doing. It was the producer that we chose and the fact that we wanted to play bigger sounding rock songs. We wrote everything in New York and the label was in LA. I would record the demos on pro-tools and the arrangements on those demos were very close to what's on Louder Now.
How did your signature shoe come to be? Did Macbeth approach you?
I've had a relationship with everyone there for a long time. I've also done a lot of touring with Tom Delonge who pretty much started the company. The fact that I'm vegan and have a lot of interest in the environment made us want to make a shoe that used no animal products (including the glue). We tried to make a shoe for people with those similar interests to mine.
Is it more difficult being out on the road as a vegetarian?
It's not hard at this point because I've been doing it so long. It's probably a little annoying to the meat-eaters that I tour with but I’m pretty easy.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a musician?
I have no idea. I play and write music to counsel myself. I wrote BP's 'Lullaby' for a girl and proposed with it. She said yes and it's been 8 years.
What could compare to that? I'd rather have that than my gold records.
What are your favorite albums this year?
The Weakerthans- Reunion Tour, Thrice-The Alchemy Index, Saves the Day- Under the Boards, that Flight of the Concords EP...a few others that I can't think of.
Any last words?
I'd just like to say that TBS played the Live Earth Festival on July 7th. I wanted to see that day as the beginning of something. It seemed like the global warming issue which was just a hippie thing in the past had finally hit the mainstream. But I'm not seeing as much of it in the media at all since then. It's been seven months. It's January and it was 65 degrees in NYC last week. The problem is not going away so I'm just urging people to find out what they can do to help. There's plenty of info online. Climatecrisis.net or stopglobalwarming.org are good places to start. Thanks a lot.