Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Interview - Punchline

The guys in Punchline have been knocking fans out with their brand of pop-punk for a decade now. I caught up with the band to hear about those past ten years, as well and the present and future status of the band.

PPJ: First, tell us your name and what you do in the band.

Chris Fafalios: My name is Chris Fafalios and I play bass and sing a little bit in Punchline.

PPJ: You guys have been a band for about ten years now. Did you ever think you'd make it this far?

Chris: I always had hope that we would be successful. I like the music that we make and the people that I get to make that music with. I feel like every album that we make is better than the last, and if I didn't feel that way I would probably not play music anymore.

PPJ: Which of your records are your favorites? Which do you wish you could improve on, and why?

Chris: Our newest album, "Just Say Yes", is by far my favorite. It is the best collection of songs we have ever put together. I am still very happy with both "Action" and "37 Everywhere" and proud to say that me and my friends created those albums. I am proud of the songwriting on both "The Rewind EP" and "Major Motion Picture", but I think that the recordings left a lot to be desired. We were a lot younger and inexperienced at the time we recorded those. Our self-titled album and "How to Get Kicked Out of the Mall" (both which were put out in the 90s), I kinda wish no one ever heard. We were very young when we recorded those and not that good. A lot of people in bands would have changed the name of their band after their early releases, but we never did. We have always been Punchline, and always will be Punchline. This is the band that we learned how to play our instruments in, and other than putting out a few bad early albums, I'm pretty proud of that fact.

PPJ: What went into the recording process for the upcoming "Just Say Yes?" Did you do anything differently than you had on previous records?

Chris: We split the recording of the album between 2 producers who we really loved (Jamie Woolford and Sean O'Keefe). We decided which producer would be better for each song, and in the end, everything turned out perfect in my opinion. We also funded this new album completely on our own, which we hadn't done since "The Rewind EP" in 2002.

PPJ: Why did you leave Fueled By Ramen Records?

Chris: We had a 3 album deal with FBR and we had put out 3 albums. It was time to move on.

PPJ: Are you close to signing a deal with anyone else?

Chris: We signed a deal with ourselves. We started a new label called Modern Short Stories that we will be releasing "Just Say Yes" on September 16th. We are very excited about having our own label, and love being able to do things totally our own way. We're also looking forward to signing a few bands once we get our feet on the ground after the release of "Just Say Yes."

PPJ: What can we expect from the new album?

Chris: It is head and shoulders above anything we have ever done. Our album is not out yet so its still acceptable to listen to our own album and really enjoy it. I have been doing that. When I listen to our album, I try to think about if I wasn't in Punchline if I would be a fan of it. I can honestly say that I would be (and I'm a tough music critic!) I think that the album could appeal to anyone, not just people who read AP magazine and go to Warped Tour. My Mom loves it...and my Dad even cracked and finally liked one of our albums. I think aunts, uncles, grandmas, dentists, cardiologists, canaries, and beagles could all like our album. It's got a little somethin' for everyone.

PPJ: What was the best tour you've ever been on?

Chris: It's really hard to pick just one. Although it was a short West Coast leg of a tour, being able to do The Get Up Kids farewell tour was incredible. I always loved that band and to be able to be on a part of their last tour ever was amazing. We have been on a lot of great tours, but that one was almost magical.

PPJ: Is there anywhere you haven't toured that you want to?

Chris: I would like to tour Australia and see lots of cool animals. I've always been a fan of cool animals.

PPJ: Finally, tell us three bands you think we should be listening to.

Chris: Procession Came Opposite, The Casual Lean, and Barely Blind.

Thanks again to Chris for answering our questions, and the Mike at Earshot Media for arranging the interview. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Just Say Yes, which hits stores in September!

Listen at: Website | MySpace | PureVolume

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thrills, The - Teenager

The Thrills - Teenager
Record Label - Virgin Records
Release Date - July 30th, 2007

Ireland's pop outfit The Thrills are known for their beachy pop songs, carried by the breathless voice of singer Conor Deasy. Probably the best way to summarize their sound is to note that the band was featured playing in the bar on The OC. With they newest release, Teenager, The Thrills have delivered us another round of exactly this music. The album isn't a huge departure from either So Much For The City or Let's Bottle Bohemia. This isn't to say that the album isn't enjoyable. Rather, the opposite is true. When listening to Teenager, it's hard to believe you're not on the west coast at sunset.

The album opens with some jangly guitars and cymbals on "The Midnight Choir," and launches almost immediately into Deasy's falsetto. The Thrills have often used guitar hooks rather than vocal hooks, and this trend continues here. It's a pleasant midtempo track that sets the mood for the rest of the album.

When listening to Teenager, the lyrics end up taking a backseat to the instruments. Part of this is the thinness of the vocals, but part of it is just the fact that the lyrics aren't particularly memorable. Deasy is always nice to listen to - he never hits a harsh note - but at the same time it doesn't really matter what he's saying. Many of the songs on this album feel like that - like they make better background music than singalong tunes. However, maybe that's the idea. I'm not sure. The downside to this is that many of the tracks blend together and seem a bit interchangeable.

There is a marked change of pace on "Restaurant," where the guitars are clearer than on other songs, and there's a bit of a country vibe to the whole song. Deasy's voice almost clashes with the music, but not quite. There's a fine line there that he manages not to cross, and it makes the song work beautifully. "I'm So Sorry" uses a piano and a harmonica to great effect, also adding to the country feel. Sometimes it's hard to believe that this band is from Dublin, when it feels like their songs are straight out of the American West. The title track is a meandering song that has Deasy longing for a love from his past. The instrumentals are beautifully arranged and complement the pining vocals perfectly.

The final track, "There's Joy To Be Found...The Boy Who Caught All The Breaks," is where the band brings in all the musical elements found throughout the album to create a wonderfully hopeful dual song that winds everything up nicely. Overall, this album is simply "pleasant." It's not inspiring, but it's not unbearable. It's perfect background music for your summer bonfires on the beach.

01. The Midnight Choir
02. This Year
03. Nothing Changes Around Here
04. Restaurant *
05. I Came All This Way
06. Long Forgotten Song
07. I'm So Sorry
08. No More Empty Words
09. Teenager
10. Should've Known Better
11. There's Joy To Be Found...The Boy Who Caught All The Breaks *

* - standout tracks

For Fans Of: Athlete, The Magic Numbers, Nada Surf

Listen: Website | MySpace

Buy: iTunes | Amazon