Maybe you heard them in Rolling Stones The Breakout Rock Acts of 2014‘s playlist. Or maybe you checked out the premiere of a track off their upcoming Weezer tribute EP on USA TODAY. If you are super lucky, then you’ve caught them on tour with Say Anything. Of course, I am talking about the incredibly talented emo rockers in You Blew It! The Florida natives are generating a ton of buzz in the emo and indie genres alike for their January release Keep Doing What You’re Doing and more recently, the Weezer tribute EP, creatively titled You Blue It, which drops this Tuesday July 15th. A couple weeks ago, WTSR was lucky enough to host the band for an acoustic session in our studio and The Garden Statement’s own Madison Ouellette sat down with vocalist Tanner Jones to talk about everything going on at the YBI camp. CHECK IT ALL OUT BELOW!
[Interview conducted on June 27, 2014]
The Garden Statement: You’re on a national tour right now with Say Anything, The Front Bottoms, and The So So Glos. How is that tour going so far?
Tanner Jones: I wish there was a better word than awesome, but it’s going very awesome. It’s hard to understate it just because Say Anything is such an influential band to our band. So being on tour with them is so sick.
TGS: Last night in Philadelphia was sold-out. Tonight at Starland Ballroom is sold-out. The day after, New York City is sold-out. How do you feel about playing to these huge sold-out crowds?
TJ: It’s the most wild thing that, I think, we’ve ever done or been able to do. Usually, we play in basements to like 30 kids, so standing on stage that’s probably bigger than my apartment and playing to more kids than I’ve ever seen in one area at one time is totally surreal, in the best way.
TGS: Is there any way that you alter your set to handle these bigger crowds or these bigger venues as opposed to when you play the basement shows?
TJ: Yeah, that’s actually a good question. When we play the basement shows, we usually try to stack the older, more popular songs at the end, the ones that are faster and more conducive to people getting involved and singing. [However,] up on stage in front of all these people who probably haven’t heard us before, we try to stack the anthematic songs, the songs the guy can put some strobes to or whatever. [laughs]
TGS: While we are on the subject of playing shows you aren’t quite used to, You Blew It! just finished up a European tour. How was playing to the European fan base instead of the American one that you are used to?
TJ: Well it’s weird because we kind of expected the same people. People are people and we expected people to react the same way in England and Germany as they do here. But I feel like, for the most part, England was more – I think they like to sit there and appreciate the music more. At least, that was my impression. When we played, they usually stood around and watched us and listened. You could tell they were, like, taking notes and thinking hard about the music, which is really nice. It’s a nice change. But sometimes, it was a little bit off-putting. I felt kind of shell-shocked because I was expected like ‘hey let’s fucking move! Let’s hang out!’ But they were really nice; they were really cool.
TGS: Did you figure out how to adapt to that all, by changing your set at all or switching up some songs?
TJ: We played the same set but after about the second or third day, we stopped whining about it. We kind of realized it was a thing there.
TGS: A couple months ago, the band released Keep Doing What You’re Doing, which is currently hitting college radio now. Did you find any differences in writing and recording for this album compared to the last release Grow Up, Dude?
TJ: The last one, not to discredit it at all, I feel like we were chasing something with that, like trying to get into the whole emo revival. We were trying a lot to sound like a certain – we had a goal. We had a target that we wanted to sound like. With the new one Keep Doing What You’re Doing, we kind of just let it go and just allowed ourselves to play what we want and be ourselves and kind of be our own band. I feel like that was probably the biggest difference.
TGS: That’s kind of funny that you said that, for the last one, you were trying to go for the emo sound and in reality, with this one, press outlets like Stereogum and Pitchfork were saying you guys were what the emo revival was holding out for! Were you surprised by any of that positive feedback from huge music critics?
TJ: Absolutely. When we were talking about releasing the record, I was expecting like ‘Man, I hope we get on AbsolutePunk’ or ‘Man, I hope we get on PunkNews.’ Then, the first review we got was on Pitchfork, which never in my wildest dreams did I expect Pitchfork to even A) acknowledge us or B) review one of our songs and/or records. And there is was right in front of me. Definitely one of the coolest things that has happened to us, definitely one of the coolest things I can tell my parents at Christmas time that happened and to kind of be proud of what I’m doing, be a slob in a band. [laughs]
TGS: By appearing on sites like Pitchfork and all these outlets that aren’t restricted only to the punk genre, did you find your fanbase changed at all or at least broadened?
TJ: Yeah, definitely. I feel like the same type of person is still listening to us, just there are more of them which is very sick.
TGS: You Blew It! recently released two music videos, one for the track “Award of the Year Award.” For anyone listening that hasn’t seen it, it has a 3D panoramic deal going on. Who came up with that concept?
TJ: Our friend Jeremy. He runs a label called Jeremy Records. He shoots videos, and he is a photographer, a videographer basically. He got ahold of this camera and he’s like ‘I got this new camera.’ It looks like vile, sort of. It’s glass and 360 degrees around, and he sets it up in the middle of the room and shows us this video. You can pan and drag the video around, obviously if you’ve seen it. And he said ‘I think we should use this for a music video.’ We didn’t really have anything to lose at the time and we were like ‘Absolutely, fuck yes.’
TGS: So did you do anything to prepare to shoot this unconventional video? I’m sure there was something different that went into it compared to a traditional setting.
TJ: Lots of coffee, lots of light. I wish I could say lots of organization, but there really was none. It was just ‘stand in a room and we’ll see how it goes.’
TGS: I mean, it worked for you and it created a ton of buzz since you guys are the first to ever do this sort of ‘click-and-drag’ 360 music video. One last thing to talk about – coming up on July 15th, You Blew It! is putting out a Weezer tribute EP, creatively named You Blue It Why do the Weezer tribute now?
TJ: Well, it’s the 20th anniversary of The Blue Album. As far as we’ve seen, Weezer wasn’t doing anything with it, with that fact. Not that we were trying to outdo Weezer or anything like that.
TGS: That’s kind of hard to do.
TJ: Yes, exactly. It’s impossible. We just saw our chance. It seemed like something that would be super, super fun. We all fucking love Weezer. It all came together just out of fun and trying to be one of our favorite bands. [laughs]
TGS: Did you feel any sort of pressure covering a band like Weezer?
TJ: Yes. At first, we had these huge ideas of like, you know, ‘we’ve got to change these songs around. We’ve got to make them sound like our songs. We’ve got to completely twist these songs around to sound totally different.’ But, after a couple hours of sitting and trying to work it out, we realized that that was the wrong move because, like you said, there is no outdoing Weezer. I think our best bet, at least for us as dudes that are huge, huge fans of that band, we wanted to have it be more of a tribute and keep the songs more straight-forward as they were because there is no improving those songs. We just wanted to add our own spin and have fun with it. I think that’s what came out and I’m pretty happy with it.
TGS: That’s all I have on my end. Is there anything you want to end this with? Comments? Messages to fans?
TJ: Let’s mosh.
An unbelievably huge THANK YOU to You Blew It! for taking some time our of their hectic tour schedule to hang out at WTSR studios and jam. We had an awesome day! Also shoutout to Allan from The Syndicate and Joe Marro for making this in-studio possible!