El Paso Music Scene

This Day and Age Interview

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7/2/05

EPMS: In the different things I've read about This Day and Age, different personnel are mentioned. You had five members in El Paso. Who is in the band now, besides yourself, Steve Padin (drums), and Mike Carroll (guitar)?

Jeff Martin: Kenny Campbell was our old bass player. Peter Arcara is now on bass. On keys, we have Kelly Sciandra.

Kenny was with us for about a year, then he didn't want to go full-time any more. Pete came in full-time again.

EPMS: Is Kelly a permanent member of the band?

Jeff Martin: Yep.

EPMS: What does the piano add to the band?

Jeff Martin: It means we're able to play the keyboard parts on the CD in the live show. Also, it fills out the band, makes the sound much cooler. He also sings.

EPMS: What is the scene like in Buffalo?

Jeff Martin: It's been getting better the past few years. A few years ago, there were not many bands like us. Six hundred kids see our local show.

EPMS: As a music fan, do you like bands at your level as much as the big-time bands?

Jeff Martin: Some bands that are kind of on our level, we really like, such as Mae, Copeland, and some others. Our favorite bands are Radiohead, Counting Crows, The Mars Volta, and Coldplay. We like bands at all levels. We like June, too. We toured with them a long time.

EPMS Note: This Day and Age appeared with the band, June in El Paso on June 5, 2005. We interviewed June before that show.

EPMS: Whatever happened with the Counting Crows tribute album you were going to do?

Jeff Martin: That never happened. We did a song for it.

EPMS: Why is Always Leave the Ground called your debut album, when you had a previous album, Start Over On Monday?

Jeff Martin: Always Leave The Ground was our first on a label. We don't talk about Start Over On Monday. We don't play those songs live.

EPMS: What's the meaning of Always Leave the Ground?

Jeff Martin: There's a saying, "Keep your feet on the ground." It's the opposite of that. So many people are caught in feelings of hopelessness. You can find hope in different things. It's about having optimism in life.

EPMS: You're now in FYE, Virgin, Tower, Musicland, Best Buy. What kind of distribution did you have before your label inked the new distribution deal with Warner Bros.?

Jeff Martin: Almost none. We had very minor distribution. It's still increasing every couple of months, the Warner deal obviously helped a lot.

EPMS: How big are online sales?

Jeff Martin: I don't know numbers, but we were number one on www.smartpunk.com a couple months ago. We're also on iTunes.

EPMS: What is the importance in the choice of a producer?

Jeff Martin: You want to have a producer you know can get the sound you want. Ed Rose, who worked with The Get Up Kids, one of our favorite bands. He's someone who feels passionately about the work. We enjoyed working with him.

EPMS: Where is Ed Rose based? When and where did you record your album?

Jeff Martin: He's based in Lawrence, Kansas. We recorded it a year ago, at the end of June, the first week in July. We recorded it in Kansas.

EPMS: How has One Eleven Records treated you?

Jeff Martin: Awesome. We couldn't be happier. We're going to put out our second record next year. We're very close to the people on the label.

EPMS: Why don't you record more frequently?

Jeff Martin: I think we have recorded frequently enough. We're making our second CD in less than a year. Some bands take two years, we don't want to make people wait that long. We tour a lot, so we can't always be in the studio.

EPMS: You said that it took you two years to decide on the kind of sound you wanted to have. What were some of the wrong paths you took before you figured out the sound you wanted?

Jeff Martin: The first couple years, we all started working together. I think every band starts by imitating others. As we evolved, we realized what's best for us, and came up with the sound that was best for us. The next CD will be different from this one. A band is never done growing.

EPMS: Who is your favorite band to tour with?

Jeff Martin: Our best friends, The Spill Canvas, probably them.

EPMS: Who is the best band you've played with?

Jeff Martin: The best band we've toured with is probably Mae.

EPMS: You have a video featured on MTV.com. Do you have any other relationship with MTV?

Jeff Martin: No, that's the first thing that has happened with them. We're doing our second video. That will hopefully further our relationship with them.

EPMS: What was involved in making your video?

Jeff Martin: The part we were in was a performance part. We had to play that song for eight hours in a couple of different locations. The whole video took two or three weeks to put together.

EPMS: How does a band like yours develop a fan base all over the country?

Jeff Martin: Just touring. We've toured ten of the last twelve months. We try to hit the same cities every couple of months. We'll be back in Texas in September. Just keep hitting the same market. Also, having a live show that matches the CD.

EPMS: Are you coming back to El Paso this time?

Jeff Martin: Right now, I don't think so.

EPMS: On your CD, it says, "This Day and Age proudly wears Sacer Clothing." What's that about?

Jeff Martin: It's just a clothing company, our friends in Buffalo. It's a smaller clothing company. They have some big bands wearing their clothes. They're just friends of ours.

EPMS: You took voice lessons for two years. What were you learning after the first six months?

Jeff Martin: The first six months, it was to figure out what kind of singing I'm best at. After that, it was me working at things I needed to work on, shaping my voice. I've noticed improvement. I was working on a lot of our songs with a vocal coach.

EPMS: With as much touring as you do, how do you kick back? What is your idea of fun?

Jeff Martin: Touring the country with your friends. Having a chance to play music, meeting people. We all enjoy that.

EPMS: You were one of very few people I've seen give the sound man instructions from the stage. What is the importance of this?

Jeff Martin: Normally we try not to, but the sound there was very weird, especially for the singer, it's important to hear yourself. We liked the place, but the monitors were funny at first. I've noticed a lot of bands do that.

EPMS: Do you think that upsets the sound man?

Jeff Martin: I don't think the sound guys take it personally.

EPMS: Why do you tour so much?

Jeff Martin: To increase our fan base, to become more known across the country. It's necessary to keep up with other bands.

EPMS: You have said that you think emo is a trend. What about that? Is it fizzling out?

Jeff Martin: I think certain parts of it, especially screamo. That's definitely fizzling out. A lot of bands that are looked at as emo are becoming more creative.

EPMS: You take particular pride in your live show. In what ways do most bands let their live shows slack?

Jeff Martin: I guess having it not sound like the CD.

EPMS: In what way has your music touched people's lives?

Jeff Martin: We've had so many kids come up to tell us our songs mean something to them. A couple of girls have come up to us, and said they were going to commit suicide before they heard our music. People notice the optimism in our lyrics.

EPMS: You're very religious, for instance, you thank "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" on your CD. This might be a turn-off to many kids. At the same time, you don't push it as far as you might, for instance, it isn't all over your site, and you don't categorize yourself as "Christian emo." How do you draw the line as to how far you push that, and why don't you make a bigger deal out of it?

Jeff Martin: Some Christian bands want to be preachy, evangelistic. We never planned it to be part of our live show. Some kids talk to us about it at the show, though.

EPMS: From the stage here in El Paso, you exhorted the crowd to come and talk to you after your set. What's that about?

Jeff Martin: Like I said before, to make them feel they're equal to us. We appreciate everyone who comes to see our shows. We like to make friends.

EPMS: I've only seen one band that really kicked ass with nobody in the audience. How does This Day and Age really keep up the enthusiasm for a situation like this?

Jeff Martin: We just like seeing new faces. Even at the El Paso show, some kids were singing along. We play every night, and we always have the energy. It helps that we enjoy the music we play.

EPMS: I saw lots of personality on stage from the three guys in the middle, none from the other two. The contrast was really noticeable.

Jeff Martin: I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. Everybody performs in their own ways. All bands are like that. Kelly, for example, is different at every show.

EPMS: Some of the members of This Day and Age were high school friends. You've said you weren't much into music in high school. What was the high school relationship like for the different players?

Jeff Martin: I wasn't friends with them in high school. Steve and Kelly were into music. The first year of college they were music majors. The other guys went to elementary and middle school together.

EPMS: You talk about not taking yourself too seriously. How do you not do that, knowing that thousands of kids all over the country know your band? Would you say you are rock stars?

Jeff Martin: I definitely don't think we are rock stars. We have a long way to go. We are on the same level as the kids that come to our shows. We want to make them feel equal to us, that's how we feel.

EPMS: Thanks.

Jeff Martin: You're welcome.

- Charles Hurley

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