Interview with Meg, Dia, Nick, Jon and Mo Powers (tour manager), conducted above Call The Office in London – Nov 1st.
Mike: So how’s the tour been going so far?
Jon: It’s Going.
You’re half way through the tour now?
Dia: No we’re not actually. Wait, wait… yes, this tour is half way over from when we started with Spill Canvas, yeah. We’ve been on the road for a while…
And you’re on for the duration of this one?
Dia: Yeah. The tour runs until the 29th I believe.
Where are you all from?
Meg: Salt Lake City Utah. That’s where the band started. We all live in different places though.
I pulled the bio off the web and it consisted mostly of Meg’s tour memoirs writing on the road and got a lot of information. It was kind of different for a bio actually. I enjoyed reading it. Not much info on the band though.
Nick: Really? Nice.
I’m pretty green on your band. I’ve had the CD for a few months and I enjoy the music.
Dia: Cool. Thanks.
What do you feel your demographic is, age-wise and listener wise?
Meg: Really young. REALLY young!
You’ve got 3 million odd hits on your MySpace which really kind of shocked me. I log onto bands profiles sometimes and wonder how many people are
listening and then how many fans are going to flood the show.
Meg: We have a very strong internet presence. When it comes to actual
appearances and attendance at our live shows it’s a little bit of a different story.
Has it always been that way? Is that how your music started to grow? MySpace helped your band along?
Meg: Yeah. Dia and I started out as an acoustic duo and earlier on we were forming a band, at first we had a MySpace page and we put everything together and we wrote people back personally one-on-one from the very beginning and we started having people get in touch with us online that way. Things have just kind of grown from there.
And how about band members. Did you recruit online or did everybody know each other?
Nick: No one knew anyone else in the band until the band started. It’s kind of a funny story. Meg was going to college and she wrecked a car and she brought it to my shop to have it fixed and that’s how I met Meg. I knew who she was (as a band) so we got together that night and just kind of jammed out and we started it from there, so it’s just the three of us. And then we have like some various bass players and we found Jon who plays bass for us and he’s been with us for almost a year now. He lived in New York so we found him through our label. And then we’ve had a couple different lead guitarists, Carlo who is playing with us now who is not here cause he can’t come to Canada. We found him through YouTube, he just kind of auditioned playing a couple of our songs, put them online and I got ahold of him from there.
Is that how your music would come together in the future? You’re about a year into the cycle of this album so as you’re putting material together do you just file-share and put it all together that way?
Meg: Well our first album – I wrote most of the songs earlier on and they were from a really long time ago so they just collected over the years so those songs have always been there. So we’ve never actually tried to write anything new as a band. So this is going to be a whole new experience, and we don’t know how it’s going to work out. I know that tentative plans are us as a group getting a cabin somewhere in the roots of Utah and recording. We’ll see what we come up with. I do a lot of garage-band stuff and rough recording and I know everybody’s messing around on their own. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of polishing when we get going. Which we can totally do over the internet. But this is the first time we’ll work together on material.
It’ll be interesting for you guys. It’ll be different cause you’re a physical band now and not an acoustic duo.
Meg: Well it’s good because we know each other now, you know? We know each other’s personalities, I think we’re going to have an easier time
communicating what we want and what we don’t want and what everyone’s musical tastes are and the directions for the future. We’ve been talking a lot about new record lately.
Have you physically started putting anything together or is it just scraps of songs?
Meg: Oh yes, we’ve got at least like 15 songs right now and we’re not going to record until the middle of next year. So we’ve got a head start. We have a lot of friends in bands that are always going to the studio and kind of always feeling pressure from all these outside forces and I don’t want to be in that situation. For our last record, I was supposed to write just one song, and I was having trouble just putting that together because when you’re in that kind of environment nothing’s going to be as organic as it would unless you have material comprised that you know you want to do.
When you guys were just starting out and you were playing clubs as a duo and you started to form a band, is there a moment where you just figured that “this is going to go somewhere?”
Meg: I still don’t feel like that moment’s actually coming (laughter). I think that that level would be when Doghouse Records (our independent record label) that we worked with before Warner Brothers decided to sign us. Because up until then Dia and I were just playing music and we got our band together and we started working on stuff and were just jumping into everything. We had friends that were doing band stuff and we were just jumping into everything so quickly. You had to book your own tours on the road and get your MySpace page up and make your photos, all the stuff that goes along with doing it yourself and we were just doing it. We were always really, really into our music and I saw what we had and offer to people. When somebody else like a reputable record label decides to support you, that’s a time when you’re like ‘okay this isn’t just about me believing in myself anymore’. Hopefully if you’re a positive person, you’re always going to believe in yourself, you know? But when somebody else credible that you trust buys in – you start to really think ‘Well if they have confidence in us then maybe we can actually do this.’ We loved a lot of the bands on Doghouse’s label too, like The GetUp Kids. We were pretty excited about it.
How many people are behind Meg and Dia now that maybe the average
listener wouldn’t know about. Does somebody manages your MySpace now? Or do you guys still try to do that yourselves.
Meg: We don’t, we try to do our MySpace all by ourselves. The only thing different for us is that Warner will come in and redo the website’s front page, just like add a picture or change the background but when it comes to like writing back people or commenting back people we always do that ourselves. We all travel with our laptops and make sure to do that every night and try to do that as much as possible. I know on the Warped tour for instance it’s hard to get internet access, and when that happens we’re asking the label to take care of this sort of thing while we’re away. But for us, that’s one of the most important things – is to check up and see the feedback that you’re getting from your listeners and seeing like what they say. And the second most important thing is make sure that you don’t take everything that everybody says to heart, cause that could get really negative.
Your guitarist didn’t make it over the border. Do you find that is typically
a problem, jumping backwards and forwards when you’re on tour?
Meg: From Canada to the United States? Yeah it’s ALWAYS a problem, but hopefully we’ll get that squared away for our next tour and if not I’ll be very angry.
Nick: Our guitarist Carlo is a Canadian citizen but he’s been living in the US for 7 years. So he could come to Canada, but he might not get back to the States.
Jon: And the risk is he comes over no problem and plays his three dates, but then he’d risk not getting back into the US for the rest of the tour.
Nick: We decided to play it on the safe side. We thought about sneaking him in in our trailer or something but that’s not right.
(laughter) Yeah – do the 3 dates with somebody else and live to play another day.
Nick: Our manager doubles as our lead guitar player for these dates
Sweet. (to Mo) Is this your first of 3, then you’re doing Toronto and Ottawa and Montreal?
Mo: Yeah. I think The Spill Canvas opted out of Montreal. I guess they don’t do as well there as everywhere else. So we’re just doing that one.
What are you guys listening to?
Meg: The new Saves The Day record.
Jon: The new Jimmy Eat World record
I haven’t heard that yet. You’re the fourth person to tell me it’s really good though.
Jon: It’s REALLY good.
Nick: Yeah, the new Saves The Day, The new Jimmy Eat World and the new Foo Fighters disc are the three things we are playing a lot right now.
Meg: We went and saw Across The Universe as a band, and I’ve been on a real Beatles kick lately.
I hear that’s a decent movie.
Meg: It’s great. I really liked it. Not everybody in the band feels the same way (laughter) but most of us think it’s great.
Who are your favourite live bands?
Meg: Jimmy Eat World, Cursive, Eisley are really good.
Nick: I really like Bayside. They are really good live.
Yeah, I really enjoyed them live too. Same with Cursive.
Meg: And Say Anything are really good live.
Their new disc is supposed to be really good.
Jon: We’ve played it a little bit. It’s decent.
I’ve heard it’s all over the map as far as the genres they are tapping into.
Jon: For sure. It is.
What are your hopes for the band for the next 5 years?
Meg: To still be playing music! Right now for bands especially with the computer, internet and file-sharing – so much stuff is changing that it’s hard for a band to stick around. There’s so many bands that are big for the year (or less), and they come back to the venues they played and play to half the kids will come out. You can get huge on the internet for a couple months and then just die down. We’d like to be one of those bands that will stick around for a long time and I just want to be around in 3 or 5 years which I think is a really hard thing to do now.
It does seem like the genres and the classifications of music sort of fade out really quickly and something else will come back in. I don’t know how bands stay pertinent. You look at longevity like U2 or even Green Day has been around for half as long as U2 but they still release a disc and everybody will jump on it, y’know? I don’t quite understand what the magic is behind it.
Meg: I think you have to have a connection with your audience. And that’s hard to acquire with those genres of music that you have like U2 has such a universal sound I think a lot of people relate to them because they’re lyrical content and their musical ability and a lot of people just appreciate that. It’s like some bands can grow in front of their audience, and they watch them go from adolescence to adulthood in their music.
Do you like to meet your audience?
Meg: Yeah. Absolutely.
Do you hang out and listen to their rants and raves after a gig?
Jon: I love to hang out after a show and listen to all the weird and wonderful
conversations that come out of fans mouths – for sure.
(we have a little discussion about moving to a different location, as they are now sound-checking the guitars below us –
and we are all talking over an impromptu version of ‘Wildflower’ by the Cult at maximum volume. We weather it out though, and the sound-check eventually dies down. We had discussed moving up the street to Grooves, a local CD/Record store in London – and we get started on some of the cooler places in London to buy music).
Grooves is a cool little indy store in town.
Meg: What else is around here?
There’s Speed City Records just up on Richmond it’s more punk/hardcore. The owner is a good guy, and they sell some good shit there too.
Dia: I just went into a store called City Limits while we were out for dinner looking for Saves The Day, and they didn’t have it. I was sad.
City Limits is more of a used book store, they bring in some newer CDs and stuff. Mostly big lable releases. Saves The Day might be off their radar, y’know? Hit Grooves after we’re done and they should be able to hook you up. They might even have it on vinyl.
Dia: Sounds good.
How do you guys keep up with bands and literature when you’re on the road. You go from city to city to city, you kind of have to sneak out to get a meal, so do you feel disconnected when you’re touring around from what you want to do?
Meg: No I think you feel a lot more connected. When I’m at home my day consists of getting up, hanging out with my family (which I love), recording music (which I love), and going to sleep (which I also love), and when I’m on the road – you just seem to hear about everything. I know the people in our band, like Mo, knows a lot of media and things that are going on. We get to talk to other bands, and there’s just 100,000 more people that you interact with every day rather than when you’re at home. And you’re out exploring different cities and I tend feel a lot more connected that way. I’m in a book club – so that’s why I keep connected with literature, and I’m always looking around – a book is like – they always make reference to other books and subjects while you read them. So, really it’s like a never-ending journey that’s really easy to hop on and have it never end. When it comes to music I haven’t really found a way to find the underground next musical thing. I guess the internet is always a tool but I don’t really know.
Do you listen to the radio?
Meg: No never.
I always look at the charts, I’ll pick a magazine out and I’ll go well they’re popular on college radio, I’m so out of tune with the radio, I never listen to it even when I should be listening to it. So I don’t even know what those ratings mean now.
Meg: Yeah I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio.
Mo: I listened to XM the other day, I went for a drive with my mom for a couple hours and it was the first time I’ve listened to radio in easily a couple of years, and I knew all the bands that were on there and I was really excited. I Just chose a rock station that suited me. I knew lots of the bands. I found myself waiting to see what was coming on next. So, XM works. I’d heard so many different bands I’d never heard of on the 3 hour drive. It’s all niche markets now. It’s a very narrow casted things. XM is catered to that but the radio is so broad and there’s so many genres now that people have just been turned off to it. People can find what they want very easily. Like if I want to find a punk band I’ll just go on MySpace and search for punk. Or just go to XM and listen to punk. Chances are if you turn on the radio station you could spin the dials for hours and never hear a song that you want to hear, at all if punk is the kind of music you listen to. So that’s why I think radio is kind of a lost cause. I knew friends when I was in college who had radio stations and they had their 2 hour blocks every Saturday or every Wednesday and they just played the music they wanted to play and they got people to listen to it all across the country. People can go on the internet and listen to college radio too. But in offices they just have the common radio station they go to that they put on their website and listen to it with not much thought to it at all.
Very true. Let me ask you this. If you had control over some of your fans – for when they are telling people about your band, and your live sound. You know they are going to say ‘ Meg & Dia? Well, they sound like so and so…” If you could control THAT, what would you have them say you sound like? If someone else was going to promote you? What would you want them to say?
Meg: That’s a hard question because nobody likes to say they sound like anybody, they’re too proud.
Writers are always looking for those descriptive words, y’know?
Meg: You can’t be all “we sound so different than anything else, y’know?”
Dia: I think some of it kinds sounds like Avril Lavigne. Like a very, pretty pop rock girl band that… its not typically cause you know when you think about pop rock you think about a certain type of lyrics, or ballads or heartbreak songs, but we’ve got a bit of material that sets us apart as far as lyrically, we write about different stuff. We have a song that’s a biography song about a German piano player named Robert Schumann… we have some songs about books and about films, East of Eden by John Steinbeck is what inspired ‘Monster’, and ‘Indiana’ is about another book so it’s actually inspire younger kids to go to and read. Sometimes people will bring books back to the shows and ask us to sign it, which is kind of awkward for us – because we just wrote about something that inspired us. So, we’re signing this classic piece of literature, but it’s cool at the same time cause you know they went out and read it. We’re not the standard pop band that’s going to wear a certain outfit on stage and make a certain statement, and get them to all scream along at the count of three or anything. So, we just started our way and hopefully I think we are going to continue to grow. I mentioned some of the songs on Something Real are 6 years old. I don’t know. We want to crawl out of the standard pop rock formula but we are still always going to stick to our roots.
Most of the reviews I read will pick a band and say if you like these 3 bands then you’ll likely like this band and it’s almost a cop-out for a review I think.
Nick: I agree. Anytime I see something like that I feel kind of cheated, y’know?
Meg: But it’s so easy to say because there’s So MANY bands now. Like if it was earlier you couldn’t say oh well Led Zeppelin sounds like so and so but now it’s like you could say bands sound like them cause there’s just so much music and there’s really not a lot of styles that people are playing. There’s a couple of styles – and a lot of bands are playing those styles.
I think it’s neat that you have fans that bring you books that have inspired songs, and I want you to sign this cause I read it cause your song is about it and vice versa. I’ve gotten into music from writers who have said I really like this individual you should check him or her out. And all of a sudden you’re being steered into a musical genre for a writer who may like the same stuff that you like.
I think we’re good here. I’m looking forward to seeing your show. Thanks for taking the time today.
Dia: I like your t-shirt.
I love Mew. I’m a bit of a fanatic. Have you ever seen them play?
Dia: Not yet. We missed them by one day when we were on tour. And I was very sad about that.
When you get the chance – you should totally see them, cause his voice sounds exactly like it does on the recordings. It’s amazing.
Mo: I wondered about that. His voice is really amazing.
I don’t know how he does it but he hits every note and he can do it live it’s pretty phenomenal to see. I’m a big fan. How have the Spill Canvas been as a band to tour with?
Meg: They are really nice guys.
Nick: We’ve been having a good time touring with them.
Have you ever toured with a band you haven’t gotten along with?
Meg: Oh yeah. It’s terrible. You just have to kind of keep your space from them. We just keep in mind that we are a small band. Most of the time bands that take us out are headliners. You just have to be grateful that they took you out in the first place. We just sort of stay out of their way, y’know? All headlining bands will have a different attitude and persona towards their openers. Small stuff, y’know. Not being able to get water for us on their riders. That sort of thing. We’ve had people that we’ve disliked, but it’s never been anything major or anything. Never a big deal or anything. We’re never arguing or getting into any spats or anything.
Mo: Usually it’s just a single member of a band. And you can’t be down on the whole band because one band member spoils it for everyone else.
Well, I hope you guys keep getting cool people to tour with. Would you ever tour with Eisley?
Meg: Would we? If we got the chance… for sure! I like them a lot.