Heavypop: How’s the tour been going so far?
Russ: It’s been great. We haven’t been to Europe in 5 years, so we’re super-excited to be here and have a chance to play here again.
Yesterday you’ve played in the Czech Republic. It was also the say of the World Cup finale, did you follow that?
Yeah, it’s kinda hard not to. We were playing this festival and there’s this huge field of people sitting and watching the a big TV, people were freaking out. I know that soccer’s a lot more popular over here. At home, once the United States was out, the interest went down a bit. People were still enjoying it, but I think in Europe it’s different.
It’s been 7 years since your last album Virulence, and you’ve never taken so much time for a record before, how was making it and what happened in the meantime?
There’s 2 big things that happened: first of all, our band, due to it’s nature, all of us are busy with other bands and other careers, we all live in different spots, so it’s not so easy for us to get together and rehearse and practice, so that’s obstacle that we always have. The second one was that after Virulence, we had 2 members that left the band, so we needed to replace them. And then, after that happening, when we tried to write some new material, our drummer Bill became very ill. And for several years we were attempting to meet up to write new material, so we would do that and then it would be 6 months before we could do it again, or maybe a year, because of schedules and because of Bill’s health issues. And it just took us a long time to get Pursuance together, so we started writing the songs on this album in 2008, and we just finished last year, so it’s been a long time. But the main reason are members quitting after Virulence, not for any bad reason like, they’ve just been moving on to different things, opportunities and stuff like that. We’re still really good friends with all these guys, but that, and then also Bill’s health problems. Not only did they affect the band, they also affected Bill’s life, and that’s a much bigger deal than what happens with the band. We were just concerned about him and luckily he’s back to 110%.
Are you going to focus more on Only Crime now, meaning there’s gonna be shorter intervals between the next albums?
I hope so. Like I said it’s hard for us due to our schedules, but we feel very fortunate to have our record released on Rise Records, those guys have been awesome, and we feel like we owe it to them to do our best and go out and play as much as we can. To remind people that we have a band. You know, you play and 5 years go by and then people go like „oh, who are these guys?“. So we will do our best to play as much as we can this year, and then trying to start writing again as soon as we can.
So you recorded a solo album back in 2012, are you going to pursue that solo career and release another album anytime soon?
I’m pursuing it. I play as much as I can. I played at a festival last night, it was really fun. Yeah, I’d love to come over. I came over last year and toured Europe a little bit with Joey Cape and his band. I’d love to keep doing it, it’s a lotta fun. And it’s a completely different environment, which is interesting to do. And it’s helping me, I think about songwriting differently, which I think is never a bad thing. So yeah, I’ll keep doing it.
You’ve been 36 when you started Only Crime, would you say there are things you’ve learned on the way you could put to good use starting a new band at that age? Mistakes you’ve avoided?
So many. The first thing we did in Only Crime before we even played a note of music was we all sat down for coffee and everybody told about the experiences they had in previous bands, that they didn’t wanna repeat. And find some ways that we could avoid that. So in that we were very fortunate, to have a second opportunity to start a new band, but with all of this knowledge and experience. Especially Bill. So we were able to put all of that stuff to good use and avoid a lot of the pitfalls and mistakes. And the result has been, while we might not be the biggest band on the planet, we, as a unit are very tight, we care about each other a great deal, and we don’t have any of the disagreements or arguments or fights that I’ve seen bringing other bands down, so we’ve been very fortunate.
What made you get Good Riddance back together and start playing shows again?
So we stopped playing in 2007, due to people’s lives getting very busy with children and careers, and the music industry basically telling us „nobody likes you anymore.“ Our sales went down, we played shows and nobody came, it was pretty obvious, we were like „Ok, ok, we understand, let’s stop.“ So we stopped and we all got busy with other things and we continued to receive numerous offers throughout these 5 years, like people saying „hey, we’ll give you all this money if you come back and play this festival“, and we just wouldn’t do it. The other guys in the band kept asking me like „we should do it again, we should do it again“ and I didn’t want to, so I said „Let’s just practice, and we’ll see how it feels.“ And so we did and it was fun, so „Let’s play one show and see how that goes.“ And we did and that was fun too, and that’s just what we’ve been doing. And now we played enough to where the desire to write new music is coming again. Which I didn’t expect, but that’s what’s happened. Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to enjoy our experience of playing together without any of the expectations or pressures that we’ve put on ourselves before. Or that I put on myself. The band became right-sized to me, like it’s in the right perspective now, when you realize you’re very fortunate to have had that opportunity and to be able to travel and meet people and touch people’s lives. It’s very humbling for us, and so we’re excited to get a chance to enjoy it still and we’re excited to put new music out.
You’re working on quite a few different projects, are there any particular aspects about Only Crime you can’t put into another one?
Yeah, in Good Riddance, I write a lot of the songs, and my solo songs, obviously I write all of them. In Only Crime, especially now, musically it’s Arron and Don and Bill and Zach. And then I’m responsible for coming up with vocal melodies and lyrics. And the music that they’re writing is much more intricate and complicated than what I write. So it’s a challenge for me. It’s having to write melodic vocals over dissonant chords. And trying to write lyrics and rhythmic cadences over songs that are in like 6/8 or 7/9, some crazy time signatures. So for me, it’s forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and be willing to just try things which I’m not comfortable with, which I think, no matter what you’re doing, is healthy. So that’s much different for me, so it’s a challenge. But I feel like I always keep learning from those guys, it’s nice.