Band Interview: The Lawrence Arms

After a lengthy departure, The Lawrence Arms burst back onto the scene earlier this year with the release of Metropole. Now, the band are back for a UK tour supported by Sam Russo and Bangers. We caught up with them to ask about the new record, the inspiration behind it, and the reception on this tour.

So you’re back in the UK after the release of your new record, how does it feel to be back?

It’s good. We’ve been away for a while and I feel like we should have done a little more in the interim. It’s good to be back. I did an acoustic tour two years ago with my friend Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio and that was awesome. That was probably the best tour I’ve ever done and maybe the most fun I’ve ever had. It was just the two of us and we took the train everywhere (although we’re still taking the train everywhere.) But it’s great to be back with Chris and Neil and I love playing with The Lawrence Arms, those are the songs that everyone knows. I love Bangers and Sam Russo too. I wasn’t familiar with Bangers before this tour but Russo was like “you’re gonna love these guys!” He was right. They’re great people and I love them.

I know a lot of people were excited to see you back playing a few festivals and dates in Europe this summer, including Groezrock, how was that?

We only did a week in Europe this year and that was the best – we got all the bang of doing Europe but it was fast and really nice. The problem with European tours is that they’re really long and we don’t know anyone so to be honest it gets really lonely. To do a week is perfect, we played those big festivals and some shows with NOFX and Jello Biffra. It was just such a rush, it makes me feel relief just thinking about it.

What has the reception to the new stuff been like?

It’s been great! On this particular tour, in the UK, this is the first time where I’ve seen a big swath of the crowd that only knows our new stuff. Our fans are usually like “play the old shit!” So it’s nice to see a little bit of new blood.

Have you been happy with the reception to the record in general?

Well, I get asked this a lot and I don’t really know what to say. People don’t usually come up to me and say that record sucks. On one hand, I don’t really care what the critics say but then when people come up to me and say nice things about it that’s nice. Overall I’m stoked.

What inspired you to come back with Metropole after such a long break?

This is just such an important project to us. So, it was sort of like we should probably do something, if we’re ever gonna do something. There had been a lot of things that had gone on in the time between – I had some kids, Chris moved away, we both put out a few solo records. It just didn’t seem like it was ever the time. But then we just decided to make a record and we were all of sudden like “woah, yeah, we’ve got something cool.” Nothing inspires you like success. If Chris writes a song and sends it to me and I’m like this is good, it inspires me. Whenever he sends me something I’m like make me work here and I try to send something just as good back.

For me, Metropole is a very coherent album, how do you manage that even though you and Chris write separately? Are you both on the same page when it comes to writing?

We’ve always written alone generally. There’s not a lot of jamming. We’re a very structured band we’re not doing riffy guitar solos that’s not our style. There’s a couple of things that have been written by more collaborative processes but generally 95% of our stuff is us sitting in a room alone and then sending it to each other. The collaborative part comes out of it after the bare bones, chords and lyrics. But with the record, we work in this sort of tandem and inspiration and returning the favour. Once we had a rough outline of the themes, we did try to marry them together. The songs build off each other. We’re both very aware of trying to make things very cohesive. We’ve been friends for years and for better or for worse our brains fire off the same cylinders.

What’s in the future for you and The Lawrence Arms?

If I know Chris, he is writing songs. He did just put out a Sundownder record recently. I’ve got about half a wandering Birds record cranking and a Falcon record too. There are the 2 things I’m trying to do next. I have around 5 or 6 Wandering Birds sons and I’m really excited about it. It’s my dorky thing to be excited about.

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Tasha Louise Kitchen

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