TG: I do think laying it out to feel like a soundtrack was intentional, but I’ve been obsessed with track lists and sequencing as a rule since a kid. Certain records that really impacted me took me on a journey and we are always attempting to capture that same flow. This record really feels like the most cohesive execution of that for Soft Kill. It definitely was the sum of the parts in effect though... these songs all were intertwined subject matter wise and Dave Trumfio’s production and vision for how it should be presented to the world took it to another level we couldn’t have imagined was possible.
You have publicly been very open about the struggles you have with addiction and the prison time you have done. With things going in the right direction personally did you find it easier or harder to make this record. How was the approach of writing this record different than something like Savior or Choke?
I don’t want to downplay past records or shit on the discography, but “Choke” is a collection of songs from a specific, rather tumultuous period for this band. It was the start of the turning point for this project to be a legitimate entity that tours but I was also pretty buried in crystal meth addiction during the bulk of the writing process.
I think what “Dead Kids...” has that other records don’t is clarity. It’s not a subconscious cry for help as much as my partner Nicole and I processing our experiences as addicts and to talk about people we lost to the streets through our lyrics. I’m in awe listening to it because there’s this confidence in the words and they take me back to those exact moments every time I hear them. Lyrics on “Choke” and “Savior” were written by someone very lost and can be interpreted in different ways depending on how I feel at that moment. “Dead Kids...” is up for interpretation by the listener but for me I go back to the same places each and every time.
What is behind the title of this album?
It's a play on Kendrick’s album of a similar name. Portland is called Rip City and I made the joke once that the next album should be called “Dead Kids, R.I.P. City”. That title plus the album cover and comparing that to what is expected from us it just seemed like a perfect step in a unique direction for us. It plays right back into the contrast factor that is an important part of what I think makes us different.
With Welcome I love the juxtaposition of mixing occult imagery with colors/themes that are “cheerier”. One of the things I find very intriguing is that you guys typically tour with death metal bands instead of bands one might think would be closer in genre. How did that come about?
We like everything. We’re not goths or “post punks” or sad Dracula’s. That’s been really hard for people to process and it’s depressing that some people can’t get behind something unless it fully validates their dedication to a specific subculture but I would look out into the crowd and realize we had such a varied audience appreciating the band. Stepping outside of our comfort zone felt necessary to grow and play to different people. It’s been a huge part of building a support system fan base wise that allows us to operate independently and survive without the opportunities you get from being in the cool circle. I think we’d be ten steps back from where we’re at if we played by the silly rules.
Music is main driver of inspiration of Welcome from the art to the clothing design, getting to hear the album early really helped in putting together the art on this collaboration. Has skateboarding influenced your music in any way?
It’s such a cliche but skateboarding was my gateway into music. Only a couple of us actively skate but I have felt a kinship with that world as well as graffiti writers, streets kids, etc. It all feels like the same world to me, no matter how commercialized some of these things have become, most people still don’t understand what all of us are doing and are dedicated to and within the mystery of that I feel really at home if that makes sense?
This is your first album you have released independently which I can relate to as Welcome was truly an independent venture in all facets. What has been the best and what has been the worst things about making that decision so far?
We were pretty much completely ignored by the cool blogs. The legwork that went into not just funding and producing this but making sure it ended up in stores was not only expensive but draining mentally. The days leading up to dropping the first single and preorder almost sent me off the deep end.
The advantages far outweigh all of that though. We’re personally connected to our audience and every dollar earned we keep which leads to us doing more and making each of those moves more realized and substantial. The ability to live off our music and invest in the next steps is 100% a result of self releasing. All my friends who released records on labels this year are broke and it breaks my heart. I always say that it bothers me that we recognized what was wrong with the major label music industry trappings but the independent rock scene has essentially created a mirror image of that with even less guarantee of financial pay off. You have to get REALLY big to profit off that model, and while I respect those who have made it work it’s just not for us.
Thank you for doing this interview and thank you for Soft Kill.
We love y’all. This collab means the world to us.