Bitter Sweet Symphonies’ Zoe Peck talks to The Orwells, following their recent show in Manchester with Weezer, as part of their 10-date European tour. The garage five-piece from Chicago toured the UK themselves in August to promote their third album, ‘Terrible Human Beings,’ released in February via Canvasback Music.
Zoe, BSS: In one word, how would you describe touring with Weezer?
That wasn’t what I was expecting. “Easy” in what sense?
Matt: It’s just like, the bigger rooms, the thirty minute sets; they’re feeding us.
Henry: When you’re the headliner people are there to see you. When you’re the support act it’s like “I’m just gonna play my music. I hope they like it.”
Matt: I feel like Weezer fans, for the most part, they’re definitely not jaded. So they’ve been very, like, welcoming and accepting [of the opener.] ‘Cos a lot of times, if you’re the opening band for the wrong band, it can be like “get these ******* off the stage! I don’t want anything to do with them!”
You toured the UK yourselves in August. Did you feel like your latest album (‘Terrible Human Beings’) was well received over here?
Mario: We were really happy with it. Our fans – nobody dropped off like “well **** you now, we don’t like this new thing.”
In 2014 you sang “A bunch of empty bottles / bunch of could be models / It’s the best that I can do” (Bathroom Tile Blues). Is that still the best you can do in 2017?
Henry: Instagram models…
Mario: I dunno, a lot of models are actually not super pretty, you know like the teeth thing and the eyebrows. I dunno if I’m the “going after models” type guy…too skinny.
You’re known for dramatic live performances – a particular Letterman appearance springs to mind. Has there been a live performance from another artist that sticks out as being inspirational?
Mario: The first time Odd Future was on TV (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon). That was like, the coolest thing I’ve seen on TV.
Using your song ‘They Put A Body In The Bayou’ as an example, you’ve started writing more fictional lyrics than you did in your first two albums. What’s the reason behind this?
Mario: [Fiction] is more interesting. Like when people make movies they don’t just show s**t that’s in their house. Not every director makes like, an autobiography. That would make no sense, to only write lyrics that pertain to your life and situation.
Henry: Especially when you’re in a band, touring.
Mario: Maybe one day we’ll write a nice song about catering…
Matt, in a previous interview you said that artists can’t just make people “feel” anymore, they have to comment on politics – “have to talk about Trump”?
Matt: I think it’s true of any public figure. I also think it’s a little too easy.
Henry: Yeah, like obviously we all hate Trump.
Isn’t the role of an artist to comment on social change of their time?
Matt: Yeah if that’s your style, but use your medium. [As a musician] if you feel that way so strongly write a f**king song. Like, write ‘Ohio’ (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). Don’t just post 140 characters and call it a day.
Mario, in Vice you said Rock is seen as a “joke” these days. What did you mean by this?
Mario: The profession [of a Rock musician] – sometimes it can feel like a gag. Like if you hang onto like, ’80s Hair Metal or something – that’s like a Halloween costume – it looks goofy. The whole thing, like, why people think backstage is some crazy thing, like maybe it is for some people – the whole like “Rocker” thing – something about it is so damn cheap. So you don’t wanna cross that line. Certain things are a little cringe-y. You know, like “Dad Rock”?…Old ass people, like a Joan Jett or something, but she’s dressed like she just got out of Hot Topic. These people are like, stuck in their prime. I feel like younger Rock musicians don’t want people to take them less seriously but older people are trying to hang on to certain aspects of what it used to be. People are like “You’re in a Rock band. Is there like…fire?” No. When do you try to progress onto the next thing without coming off as like “Cock Rock” – like, jackass-y? Maybe that’s why I cut my hair.
How much do you read of what is written about you online?
Henry: I haven’t opened Twitter, like, for the band, apart from to tweet the people coming [to the shows].
Mario: I don’t even like when artists respond to fans, to like, stupid things. If it’s a nice thing or a negative thing like don’t even validate anything. There’s too much stupid s**t to even read it.
Matt: We have like, thousands of Facebook messages.
Henry: YouTube comments are like – the s**t of humanity.
Mario: I guess artists should stop responding to people who don’t create anything themselves.
Did you ever reach out to artists in the early days of being in a band?
Matt: Oh yeah. Black Lips – we were actually putting physical copies [of our demo CD] under their windshield wipers. Not being fifteen anymore I hope they didn’t listen to it, because we thought those songs were much better than they actually were. And we’d blow people up on Twitter and send stuff to every blog under the sun.
That worked though, didn’t it – emailing a blog?
Matt: It did work, yeah.
The new album ‘Terrible Human Beings’ is out now – available to stream on Spotify here.