Samuel Barker: Alright, start with the basic. What is your name, and what do you do?
Rob: My name is Rob, and I play guitar and sing for Ann Berreta.
Samuel: You guys are from Richmond, VA right?
Samuel: There’s a lot of good bands around there.
Rob: Yeah totally, It’s a college town, so there are new kids coming in every fall, so you get a lot of new blood and energy every year. There’s also a lot of good bands the college kids start every year, so there’s always something new, and it’s also very fresh.
Samuel: Didn’t you guys play Warped Tour last year
Rob: No, we’ve been supposed to play it every year, and something happens and we don’t play it
Samuel: So, a couple of you guys used to be in Inquisition right?
Rob: Yeah, me and Russ.
Samuel: Well, that was a pretty politically charged band, but I notice Ann Berreta is more everyday life stories as opposed to being very political.
Rob: Yeah, I think that comes from different people writting lyrics. The singer in Inquision who is now in a band called Strike Anywhere, that’s where he came from, he was very politically minded. I write all the lyrics for us, and what I write about is very day to day. More what I know. I’m not a very socially political person, I’m more into personal politics.
Samuel: A lot of your songs are fun in a way, and that’s something nice to see that people who come from such political bands can have a sense of humor.
Samuel: So, are you guys big Social Distortion fans? Some of the leads you do have a very old style 50’s rock sound in your songs.
Rob: I like Social Distortion and all, but I’d say our sound is based more in 50’s rock. i grew up on that with my dad and everything early on. It all depends on who you ask. I’m a big ’80’s pop fan, because I grew up on that too, but it’s mostly rooted in 50’s rockabilly and 50’s rock, Buddy Holly and stuff like that. And a lot of the punk rock that has been influenced by that, Social Distortion, The Clash. Russ, our drummer, is really into the Descendents and Metalica.
Samuel: You can hear that stuff, because he’s wild, and really tight.
Rob: I like a lot of folksy music, James Taylor, Tom Waits. It comes in because most of the songs I write I begin with an accoustic guitar. So that’s kinda how it starts out on one level, then when it’s brought to the band, it goes to the next level.
Samuel: Is most of the song writing done as a group, or is it mostly singular with you writing most of it?
Rob: The majority of the songs come from me sitting down with my accoustic guitar and writing the songs. Of course it changes when it comes to the band. A small percentage, 20-30% comes from us sitting in our basement jamming. Russ will start playing something on drums and I will begin, or I’ll start off and he’ll come in.
Samuel: So have you guys played together a long time?
Rob: Yeah, about 7 years.
Samuel: So you guys have a good feel for each other?
Rob: Yeah, we work off each other really well, and if one of us starts something the other starts right in. And usually when a change comes the other is right there with it.
Samuel: It helps having experience together.
Rob: Totally, it’s very natural with us.
Samuel: So, were you a bass player before you were a guitar player or vice versa?
Rob: I played bass in Inquision. The first instrument I picked up was a bass. Then I learned guitar which helped my bass playing a whole lot. But I didn’t play much guitar while I was in Inquistion until near the end. Then after Inquisition broke up I started playing guitar more and started this band.
Samuel: So I noticed you guys were on Lookout! is that your first album on Lookout!
Rob: This last album, our second full length, was on Lookout! and before that we released our first full length on Fueled By Ramen, and the EP between the was on Fueled By Ramen.
Samuel: I noticed Avail used to be on Lookout! so you got the whole Richmond thing going on there.
Rob: The Young Pioneers who are also from Richmond were on there for a while too.
Samuel: Has it been a cool label to work with?
Rob: Yeah, they’ve been totally supportive since the start. The way we got hooked up with them was they actually called us and asked us what we were up to at the time and wanted to see what our plans were for a new album, and we were actually in the studio for about 2 days. When we agreed to do the album with us they hadn’t even heard it yet, and they were like ‘We’ll help anyway we can.” So the amount of faith they had in us right off the bat without even hearing the record was a good sign for us.
Samuel: It’s nice having full creative control right?
Rob: Yeah, we’re still working with Fueled By Ramen. We just did an accoustic album, we did one before we weren’t really happy with. The guy who did it got out of the music business and didn’t want to press anymore of them. It’s something since I write on accoustic….
Samuel: It seems like a natural step for this band.
Rob: Yeah, it’s a very natural place for us to be. We talked to Fueled By Ramen and they wanted to do it, and we wanted to do it. So we went into the studio and started recording. I was mostly by myself, it’s not a solo album, but it’s mostly just accoustic guitar and vocals.
Samuel: From hearing the band play live, it doesn’t seem something too far fetched for the band to attempt.
Rob: Yeah, it’s really not. It’s actually a lot of fun. It’s something we do live here or there. Mostly by myself. We do it here and there occasionally. Sometimes I’m able to talk the band into doing it.
Samuel: It’s nice to see people willing to try other things.
Rob: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. We usually just do it at home. I’ve done it here or there. The whole band has done a couple while on the road when we have a night off.
Samuel: Do you guys pick up any fans who normally wouldn’t be into the music?
Rob: I think so, I think more ofter than not we usually turn our fans onto something new as opposed to picking up new fans. But the people who really like the band have been really responsive to the accoustic sets and albums. They really seem to have fun with us.
Samuel: Well, I need to let you guys go, gotta be in Florida tomorrow right? That’s a fun drive.
Rob: Yeah, 10 hour drive. We’ll be driving all night.
Samuel: Anything you’d like to add?
Rob: Not really, that’s always the hardest question.
Samuel: Well, I appreciate the interview, thanks.
Rob: Thank you.
Interview by : Samuel Barker of Rockzone.com