Invite The Neighbors Podcast Interview

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Ever wondered what my voice sounds like? Ever wanted to know the origins of Swim Into The Sound? Do you want to know what my favorite thing I’ve ever written was? Well, the answers to those questions and more will all be revealed in the newest episode of Invite The Neighbors.

Bryan Porter of In A Daydream invited me on to his DIY podcast to discuss this very blog. We covered the first posts I ever wrote, the (questionable) first concert I was ever paid to review, and why I love doing this despite how much time, effort, and money it consumes.

So please give it a listen, and check out some of the other interviews. Thank you Bryan for the awesome chat, and for being such a gracious host. 

Give the podcast a listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or through this link.

Colin Haggerty On Abraham 1:1-4

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Patience is hard for me. Songs come unexpectedly, and often in large numbers. Sometimes I find myself writing records-worth of songs in a few months. Clearly, those don’t all make it to light. Some make it into a solo set and die soon after, while others get put on the first draft of every record only to get pushed off as I write new things. 

Abraham is designed to be an avenue that is a little less serious, a lot less polished, and less thematic than Ship & Sail’s usual records. Abraham 1:1-4 was recorded on my phone, in my apartment, within 6 hours spread out over a handful of sittings. Most times, I did the next track on a song without listening to the last, and it is covered in improvisation and weird noises left behind by my coffee addiction or a cat looking for some pets.

A large part of the creative process of Abraham 1:1-4 was constantly listening to Dr. Dre and working with Tanner Ellis on his record and in my live band. The synth sounds and the surrounding production with minimal instrumentation from Dr. Dre was intriguing to me. I love the way the synth can simultaneously be the backbone and the forefront of a track he produces. Tanner has been able to show me how beautiful music can be made in endless different ways, and that I shouldn’t keep myself to one. 

On the Ship & Sail side of things, we have slowly but surely been recording LP2. I am so thrilled about these ten tunes. I am so excited about the growth I’ve felt with my lyrics and the overall message that this record brings. I am beyond excited to be able to have Mike Higgins, Tanner Ellis, and Anthony Zito working on it with me - as well as others - and having Sean Weyers produce it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Abraham.

Say Love,
Colin

 
 

The Menzingers - Hello Exile

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I’ve been in the punk and hardcore scene since I was a sophomore in high school. I sold merch for local bands, and all my friends were either in bands or involved in the scene. I’ve seen people come and go, and I’ve made some of my closest friends to date through punk and hardcore. Punk and all its subgenres have shaped my politics and my world view, growing up in a conservative middle-class family, punk saved me from growing up and becoming a Republican. There aren’t many punk bands I’ve been able to grow up with, but that’s the reason The Menzingers holds a special place in my music collection. I was a fan of The Menzingers when I first heard On The Impossible Past during my senior year of high school. They instantly became the soundtrack to that year, and again in 2014 with Rented World, but it wasn’t until 2017 when After The Party came out that I realized this band was making music specifically for people like me. I’m not exactly 30 yet, but I related to every word of that album. I was simultaneously coming to terms with having a new group of friends and being pummeled by a failed relationship. As you could expect, listening to After The Party and watching the music video for the title track felt like one of those moments where art eerily imitated life. Now three years later, The Menzingers are back reminiscing on bygone days and being nostalgic about the former self with their newest album Hello Exile.

Buy and large, Hello Exile continues the sound of After The Party but also offers a newly-adopted sound that blends old guy punk with a beach rock-type sound. When the first couple singles “Anna” and “America (You’re Freaking Me Out)” dropped there was some fan backlash and criticism regarding the vocal mix, but after listening to Hello Exile dozens of times since release, I don’t even notice the mixing anymore because it fits so well with the band’s new friendlier sound. While After the Party may have been a gut punch, Hello Exile offers a much more mellow and relaxed feeling, though it’s still not short of any nostalgia that the band has become celebrated for. The album starts with a big political statement, addressing first the state of America, and the monsters that our parents voted for before tackling the idea of Christianity and politics being one and the same, and the idea of not shipwrecking life after your 30s.

Some of that iconic Menzingers nostalgia is seen on “Anna,” which feels like a pre-breakup song set during that awkward phase of knowing the breakup is just around the corner, but when you’re still attempting to savor those memories of when things were easier. We get a glimpse of that with the first verse as Greg Barnett recalls drinking too much cheap red wine and laughing while dancing in the kitchen. Then we see memories of moving in together, and later it’s revealed Anna has been absent for so long that the city of Philadelphia has changed, and all their friends keep asking about her. That emotionalism isn’t just seen in Anna, but also “Strangers Forever,” which was inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Anna Karenina. It presents the idea of a relationship ending and having to see that person again at a show, coffee shop, or just in your peripheral vision and deciding it’s best not to make eye contact and to stay strangers forever. Barnett sings with a bleak emotional outlook “Maybe it's for the better we both stay strangers forever, maybe  it's for the best we pretend like we never met, forget everything that we've ever known,” so even in the post-breakup heartache The Menzingers manage to find a reassuring peace. That reassurance is continued in the album’s title track “Hello Exile,” in which we see a summer romance that lasts for just a season, but whose memory lasts for a thousand years. And how, even years later, the singer still thinks of that summer love and it brings a smile to their face.

The album ends in true Menzingers fashion with “Farewell Youth,” which is a little bit of a slow burn, and one of those reasons I love this band so much. I moved from Los Angeles to outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and in my high school, I was the only punk around until I converted some friends into punks and hardcore kids. This song is essentially about exactly that, being one of a few punks in a city and growing up and then growing apart from those friends. The chorus is a call back to former you, with “farewell youth, I’m afraid I hardly got to know you,” and the rest of the song looks at being a punk in a small town, getting high while listening to favorite albums and drinking the cheap stuff. The album ends with a love letter to the days of youth and adventure, days when you tried to fit in by hanging out with the older kids. Days of desperately attempting to escape your hometown, whether that was driving to god-knows-where or just killing empty days in the basement of a friend's house.

 Hello Exile is an album for any punk who has found themselves growing up in the scene and asking yourself what’s next now that you’re older. While After the Party was about failing a relationship in your 30's, Hello Exile examines the dissociative nostalgia that comes with your 30's. It's an album dedicated to looking back at the person you were through the years and the continued search for the person you are continually growing into. Anyone who is experiencing a shift in life can find this album as a soundtrack because it covers everything from the American political landscape to remembering those days of summer love, and even getting high while listening to your favorite albums with your high school friends. Hello Exile by The Menzingers will be your soundtrack down memory lane. 


 

Just a 20-something former hardcore kid living in Nashville. Follow @EyeHateHockey (formerly EyeHateBaseball, but after the Dodgers elimination I’m done with baseball until April) on Twitter and Instagram for lukewarm music takes and bad sports opinions. 

 

Jail Socks - It's Not Forever

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My first encounter with Jail Socks was shrouded in mystery. Sometime in December of 2018, I stumbled across a tweet from @thisbandfucks claiming “Jail Socks has RIFFS,” and that was all I needed. 

The video in question showed the band playing the outro of “Freshman Year” at a house show. The room was dimly-lit, the instrumentals were tight, and the crowd was shouting along enthusiastically. All you can really make out in the low-res video are three vague figures flipping their hair and jamming out.

 
 

That one minute clip scratched the insatiable part of my brain that’s constantly-hungry for twinkly emo riffs and ended up sending me on a search for Jail Socks’ music, but I quickly discovered there wasn’t much of it. I found the emo trio on Bandcamp, downloaded everything I could, and then spent the better part of 2019 listening to their four available songs spread across one single and a split

I had already memorized every word of the group’s music by the time No Sleep Records announced they signed the band in February of 2019, and as a budding fan, I had never felt more affirmed. Needless to say, after seeing the band play live multiple times throughout the year and listening to their four songs literally hundreds of times, It's Not Forever has been one of my most-anticipated releases of 2019. Turns out, even with all the hype, expectations, and near unbearable build-up to its release, this collection of songs was absolutely worth the wait.

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Opening track “Jake Haplin” is a re-recorded version of the same song off No Promises, which is so fully-realized here that it retroactively makes that earlier rendition of the song feel like a slightly more whiny demo. Now featuring tighter instrumentation, sharper vocals, and a fully-instrumental outro that leads directly into the following track, it’s incredible how much life the band was able to breathe into a song I’d already listened to hundreds of times. 

The song begins with a pinprick-precise guitar riff courtesy of guitarist and lead singer Aidan Yoh that feels like a rush of caffeine traveling directly to your brain after your first sip of morning coffee. From there, the rest of the band enters the fray, launching into a bouncy emo riff with jagged fist-pump-inspiring beats. After a minute of straight riffage, that energetic excitement boils over and lulls to a subdued hum that makes way for the now-iconic first lines of the song as Yoh shouts.

“I’m only smoking to feel the satisfaction of warm hand
I know I can’t freestyle, but I swear
I’ll come back from this. 
I’ll come back from this.
I swear”

After these tearful promises to return from some unspecified physical or emotional space, the group quickly picks up speed again and returns to the rolling emo riff that kicked off the song. From there, “Jake Haplin” bleeds directly into “Parting Words,” blending that same sparkly guitar line into a newly-energized bout of lyrical optimism placed over Colman O'Brien’s steady drumbeat. “Parting Words” builds to a similar instrumental drop-out midway through, clearing room for Yoh to belt:

“AND THE WAY YOU LEFT ME
HAD ME THINKING
THAT I'D DONE SOMETHING WRONG
OH BUT I'D FORGOTTEN
THAT IT WAS YOU
ALL ALONG”

Yet another line that feels primed for screen-printed art cards, Tumblr quotage, and backyard stick and pokes, these lyrics strike an interesting balance between hyper-specific for their author and general enough that a broader audience can project their own experiences onto them. This relatable lyricism combined with Yoh’s group-chant-esque vocal delivery mold together for an unforgettable and instantly-catchy moment that will grab your attention and stay stuck in your head long after your first listen.

Lead single “Poplar Avenue” is perhaps the most energetic track on the EP, weaving a fast-paced tale of a deteriorating relationship all within a few lines, interspersed with tight instrumentation. Throwing the listener straight into the deep end, the band bursts in with a hard-charging and bassy riff as Yoh expresses drunken statements of regret, exacerbated from spending too long on the road:

I wish I never said those things to you
That at the time I really thought I meant
When I called you drunk from Memphis, Tennessee
I couldn’t comprehend the gravity of things to come”

After Yoh beats themself up for alcohol-assisted faux pas, the track opens up allowing some of the most evocative lyricism on the entire EP to emerge:

“The way you pressed your lips on to my neck
And no I don’t consider you a friend
God knows I still wish you all the best”

As the lead single, I feverishly devoured “Poplar Avenue” the day that it came out, listening probably dozens of times within the space of the first 24 hours. Emotions and excitement were already running high when I first hit play on the track, but the lines above evoked such a visceral reaction from me that I began to wonder if the band had firsthand knowledge of every relationship I’ve ever been in. First I got chills, then I got goosebumps, then my eyes began to well up. It’s the closest an emo fan ever gets to being “shook,” and I was shaken. These lyrics are followed closely by astute observations that can only have been made by someone in a deteriorating relationship.

“Softly spoken in your bedroom
See your phone light on the ceiling
Lets me know that you’re not listening
Why can’t I get through?
You in my arms is all that I need
So why can’t,
Why can’t I,
Why can’t I get through to you?”

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In the back half of the EP, things slow down a touch. “Sunlight” sees drummer Colman O'Brien and bassist Jake Thomas taking center stage with one of the song’s most hard-hitting rhythm sections. Meanwhile, the penultimate “Freshman Year” is yet another re-recording off No Promises, seen here rendered in a more produced, honed, and precious light as Yoh reminiscences on bygone friendships, romances, and late nights of high school.

Possibly the EP’s greatest achievement, six-minute closer “Steering Wheel” is a poignant and carefully-crafted emo track that feels at once hopeless and optimistic. Opening with an acoustic introduction, the full band eventually comes in with a bombastic crash of cymbals and bass before developing a masterful slow build. Over the course of the song’s six minutes, Yoh paints a picture of an existence plagued with nostalgia, regret, and betrayal. 

In what feels like a thesis statement for the entire release, “Steering Wheel” finds Yoh coming to an important realization in the form of the EP’s namesake before the band launches into a meditative instrumental break: 

“You always said that I would run when shit got tough
I hate coward I’ve become
I hate the things I’ve done
But I keep reminding myself when the days are long
It’s not forever” 

It’s here that the EP’s title finally makes sense. Yet another example of lyrics that are (obviously) meaningful to their creators while simultaneously being relatable enough that anyone listening can grasp on and fill with their own meaning. The lines evoke hazy memories of friends who may still live down the street, or you may never see again. It feels like youthful exuberance and hopeful romanticism swirling together. These lines act as a reminder that nothing is forever; friendships, relationships, family, pets, sadness, happiness, memories. It’s the knowledge that all of this is fleeting. Some of it may be good, some of it may be bad, but for better or worse, this will never happen again, and that’s something we often lose sight of. 

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It’s Not Forever is a labor of love. It’s the result of years of touring, basement shows, and honing their craft. This is most directly evidenced by the change from the early versions of songs like “Jake Halpin” to these newer renditions, but it’s also seen in the lyrics sprinkled all throughout the album. This EP is also the result of years of life; years of experiences, feelings, and emotions sometimes long-bottled up, now poured on to canvas for all to see. It’s reflective, cathartic, and deeply-feeling. 

It’s Not Forever is an absolutely fantastic unveiling to the world, and the fact that it’s not even the group’s first full album makes them one of the most exciting and promising acts in modern emo. It’s hard to quantify all of the passion and life that went into this release, and trying to picture all that might happen between now and the band’s next collection of songs makes my head spin, but one thing’s for sure… It’s not forever, and we’re lucky that Jail Socks are here to remind us of that.

No Fun Club Is About To Be Your Favorite Emo Band

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One of the most rewarding parts of fandom is digging through a band’s back catalog and discovering that they have a slew of EP’s, demos, and splits that aren’t on streaming services. Sure, most of the time they lack the production quality and songwriting craft of the band’s later material, but for obsessive superfans, these types of discoveries are as valuable as gold. 

These early recordings offer a glimpse into a band at their most infantile stage. Sometimes you can hear seeds of what they would later become, other times they bear little resemblance to the music you’ve come to know and love. Early recordings also offer the musically-inclined a bit of escapism; it makes the creation of music seem approachable, it humanizes the band members, and it makes you think “hey, I could do this!” which, in my mind, is the sort of inspiration that all good music should instill.

Living in Michigan, I’ve now experienced the reverse of this phenomenon: discovering bands before they’ve released anything substantial into the world. Groups that only have an EP or two out, if that. These bands communicate to their audiences primarily through smaller releases, one-off songs, leaks, weekenders, and house shows. Sure, their music is online somewhere, but it often fails to capture the awe-inspiring mayhem of their live shows. 

These groups are comprised of performers and artists playing their hearts out to devoted crowds of fans, even if their Spotify stats don’t directly reflect their rockstar status. These are the bands who still care about every follow, retweet, and shirt sold. They're the bands poised to achieve a larger-than-local success that will eventually have future fans digging through their back catalog in search of these early musical artifacts.

Seeing these types of bands live offers insight into how their music can live in different situations. Following them long enough, one can combine the publicly-available music with personal experiences at live shows and imagine a bright future of music and growth that will be on display in the band’s next release. No Fun Club is one of the bands that I consider myself lucky to have watched grow in just the handful of months that I’ve been seeing them live. 

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Self-described “slacker rock for neurotic workaholics,” No Fun Club makes hard-hitting “fake emo” that falls somewhere between Charmer and Oso Oso. There’s some guitar tapping, some riffage, and some sentimental lyrics, but it ends up feeling like a unique version of emo-tinged indie rock that’s distinctly their own. The group’s publicly-released music is comprised of one self-titled EP and one Bandcamp-only EP of four lo-fi demos (again, lying in wait for future fans to discover and consume with the benefit of hindsight). 

Clocking in at 18 minutes, No Fun Club’s self-titled EP is a substantive and full release packed with resonant emo rock that captures the hard-to-pin-down feeling of that liminal space between college and adulthood. “Big Mood” is the EP’s slow-building and ironically-named opener. Beginning with a solitary guitar that sounds like it would fit perfectly on a Snail Mail record, frontman Jake Rees enters the song with a statement of weary regret as he sings:

“slipping out shots in the dark
how many times can I miss the mark?”

Soon, that verse is interrupted by a harsh stab of distortion signaling the entrance of the rest of the band who bluster in with a hard-charging riff that might bowl you over if you’re unprepared. After a second verse that’s equal parts hesitant and combative, the track briefly dies down for a fakeout ending that allows the band to pull the rug out from under the listener as they throw back to that lumbering riff one last time.

The band deals explicitly with post-college listlessness on both “Disappointed” and “Joan of Arc,” the former of which bounces back and forth between thrashy emo riffage and fast-paced verses, eventually making way to a shreddy guitar solo. Meanwhile “Joan of Arc” features a pleasantly-upbeat and dreamy instrumental that calls to mind Alvvays as the lyrics wrestle with feelings malaise and loss over a tight drum beat.

Rees’ songwriting shines through the brightest on “Windbreaker,” a punchy crowd churner with a catchy sing-along chorus belted out over a bouncy rhythm section. Easily the EP’s most fast-paced track, the explosive energy and captivating choruses of “Windbreaker” are sure to stay stuck in your head long after your first listen. Essentially the album’s climax, the snappy choruses of “Windbreaker” make way for “Junji Ito,” a borderline-post-rock track that gives the audience a chance to catch their breath before the EP’s grand finale. 

Album closer “McDonough, GA” is another slow-starting track that gradually builds into an emotive explosion of fuzzed-out guitar, crashing cymbals, and screamed vocals before fading out into a mellow jazzy riff.

No Fun Club is a fantastic and honest encapsulation of the ennui that comes with early adulthood. There are moments of bonding, moments of disappointment, moments of anger, and moments of frustration, but most of all, just a feeling of being lost. 

At its most poignant, No Fun Club is more than just an excellent emo-adjacent EP, it represents the first steps of a band emerging on to a larger stage. It’s 18 minutes of inexplicable feelings and unforgettable experiences finally being put to words. It’s both a celebration of and reckoning with life’s imperfect nature. It’s a reminder that as overwhelming as everything may seem, you are not alone. Not only that, No Fun Club is here to let you know that those feelings are more universal than you think.