Band Interview: Restorations & Sam Russo

We sat down to have a chat with Restorations before their show in Derby and managed to hook Sam Russo in, too. Here is a joint interview between Restorations vocalist/guitarist Jon Loudon, and Sam, who are currently on tour together with Crazy Arm. We spoke about their tour, Restorations’ LP3, and the difference in touring the UK compared to the US.

How’s the tour going so far?

Jon Loudon (Restorations): Yeah, it’s been great.

Sam Russo: It’s been lovely, it’s been wonderful.

JL: Shows are great, bands we’re with are awesome.

SR: I think it’s a really great lineup, because you might think these are slightly different styles of three bands but I think we complement each other really well as the night goes on. I like to get people good and greasy, then Crazy Arm rock out, and then people just seem revved up enough when Restorations come on.

Are you used to playing these kind of mixed bills?

JL: We’ve been trying to do it more often. Just doing stuff that makes sense. For us, when we started playing shows it was always like a weirder lineup and we loved that. Then for a long time it kinda stopped being that, especially package tours would always be the same kind of thing. So for this, we just thought “who do we like in the UK?” And this was our short list, and I can’t believe they both said yes.

SR: I was very excited for this. You guys are one of my favourite bands, especially live, so I was ecstatic. I’ve played a lot of eclectic shows, especially in the past. People used to love sticking an acoustic opener on anything.

JL: That’s what I was afraid it was gonna be perceived as [laughter].

SR: I basically don’t support anybody who I don’t absolutely love.

What have you been doing while on tour? I heard you’d been checking out castles and stuff?

JL: Yeah, yeah, we’ve been going everywhere. We’re trying to take it pretty easy on this tour, we’re pacing ourselves and getting up early because it’s quite a short tour. It’s been really nice. Lots of beaches and castles, the weather’s been perfect too.

SR: It rained in Newcastle, but to be honest I really enjoyed the rain. I had to run across town to go see PJ Bond play  just for the last half of the Crazy Arm set. It was nice, it woke me up. We just try to find good food really, just anything which won’t cause us mischief and see some sights. I’m in a different van. I’m in a van with Crazy Arm and my girlfriend is with these guys. So they get to go see all the cool castles and stuff and I just get to see the back of Darren’s head [laughter]. But yeah, it’s great. I love touring with those guys. My favourite thing to do is just lie in a bunk in a van and listen to music while looking out the window. That’s why I love touring. I’m easily pleased.

I guess for both of you really, do you see much difference touring in the UK compared to the US?

JL: I think there’s a lot of similarities which is why I like coming over here, there’s so much which feels like an extension of what happens in the States and vice versa. I’m a huge English guitar music fan, too, so it’s nice to come over and see the places that songs were written about.

SR: I feel the same when I’m in the States. Even cheesy stuff I just love to see. Touring America for me is a dream. I don’t have to drive, I normally jump on someone else’s tour and watch the scenery and soak everything up. Or pretend I’m in a Western [laughter]. I just let my imagination run away, and the food’s great and the people are always so nice. You get to put yourself in dangerous situations every now and then, and I love it.

JL: That’s what we do best.

SR: Even over here, I’ve played some venues on this tour which I’ve never played before, so it’s still fresh and it’s still fun.

Have you got a particular favourite place to play in the world?

SR: In England I love playing in Manchester.

JL: Yeah Manchester is great.

SR: London is always a really good show, but in Manchester, people who come to shows seem to really give a lot and they’re always lovely. It’s good. In the States I would struggle to pick a favourite, but I do love touring the south-east. Like Carolina and Florida.

JL: I’m trying to think of my favourite place to play. Maybe Chicago.

SR: Philly is always great.

JL: Yeah, I’m gonna go back on that. Philly is the best town. I’m crazy about it. I was born there, so much good music comes out of there. The crowds are crazier and stuff, it’s a very personal thing. Things have got great for a us in a lot of different places very quickly in the past year or two, so it’s hard to say. It keeps changing for us fast.

SR: The best thing about touring the States for me is that nobody really knows anything I do, so it pushes me to work really hard every night, and I get to see people either go to the bar or really get into it. And that’s cool.

Does your sound go down as well over there as here?

SR: Yeah, it’s mixed. I’ve played a lot of shows with pop-punk bands and people don’t really get into it, and that’s fine. People like what they like. People are getting annoyed at people talking at shows nowadays and shushing people. I have no problem with people talking at my shows, if they’re talking at the bar with their friends, I have no problem being the soundtrack to their night. They don’t have to be looking at me. It’s fun winning over people in the States.

JL: It’s impressive because nobody does that.

SR: Well I’ve definitely bombed in a few towns. But I like it, I get a bit of banter going. That’s why I like small shows. Somebody says something and you can say something back, like it should be. I’m lucky to have Red Scare putting my stuff out over there. Chicago is a lovely town to play as well, so many good venues. I got lucky and played with The Lawrence Arms at the Metro in Chicago which I never would have dreamed of. It was packed and sold out.

Is there much difference playing massive shows like that compared to these kind of DIY shows?

SR: Oh yeah. I get nervous playing a room like this, so it’s scarier. Generally the sound is a bit better in a big room, but it’s harder to make a connection. But, I love it. I love it just as much.

So for Restorations, how have things been since the release of LP3?

JL: Really good, yeah. I kinda thought “oh this is just a Philly thing, nothing is gonna go well for us.”    You always think that the last record you put out will be everybody’s favourite, and the new one is a little slower and moodier. We thought we’d probably lose some people on this record, but we really liked it. But, it’s gotten us to a completely different place. It’s bizarre to watch. It’s cool because it was gratifying creatively, but to go on the road and for it to be like a “thing,” it’s amazing. We got really, really lucky that people stuck with us. It’s really exciting. Maybe it means our next record will be terrible.

SR: No way. It’s such a great record. I’ll hear some noise in the house at like 2AM and come downstairs and my girlfriend will just be sitting there by the record player like “I can’t go to bed, it’s too good!” And I’ve been reading the lyrics, and I’ve just been blown away by the lyrics. You’ve got this incredible poetry which you don’t often hear in the music that you play. It’s the kinda poetry which I think is really accessible yet still thought provoking, and it works so well with the music and the textures, and the amount of work you guys put in live. You’re all sound artists, I don’t know how you do it. That’s recreated on the record, the energy is exactly the same. It goes a long way… As a fan.

What’s it been like working with Side One Dummy?

JL: It’s been amazing. We wouldn’t be a band otherwise. We were just a bar band for so long. Even that first record on Side One took a minute for things to pick up where we could tour and not get fired or not go broke. So really until this past year, It’s just been a whole different thing. They’ve been super supportive. They don’t ask us to do anything or pressure anything. They just help us out, some of my best friends, I love them.

They’ve had some great records out recently.

JL: Yeah, it’s been amazing.

I mean, you haven’t been a band for the longest amount of time. Is it weird seeing everything just blow up so quickly?

JL: Maybe like five or six years, and yeah, it’s been crazy. Some of us had been in post-hardcore bands and stuff, very small bands. We just did what every post-hardcore band did last decade, toured a ton to absolutely nobody. That’s why this is so fun for us now. We don’t do all the stuff that sucks. It’s been really, really intense. It’s really exciting.

What have you both got coming up?

SR: I’ve got a new record out in October, and a couple of festivals between now and then. I’m gonna do a release tour for the record in November. I’m very week to week with my musical life. I don’t know what’s coming next most of the time!

JL: We do this, we go home, we do summer festivals. We’re gonna do a full six-week US tour in October. Then we’re home for a couple of months and see what happens. We want to come back here as soon as possible too. We’ll do another record. Hold on tight.

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Max Qayyum

Max Qayyum

Seeing Your Scene / DIY promoter / Cutting Room / Taco Hell

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