How do you describe your music to the novice music fan?
Jason Black: Well, while most people consider us to be emo or scremo or finding nemo or whatever the hell you want to call it, we like to think of ourselves as a rock band. Honestly, when it comes down to it, that's what we are, when you consider music outside of punk/rock. We're definitely not a jazz band, you know?
Regarding your latest album, The New What Next, of what are you most proud?
JB: The quality of the album, from beginning to end. Its by far the best record we've ever recorded and definitely the best songs we've ever written we're very excited about it and plan on ramming in down everyone in the worlds throat for the next year.
In terms of time spent recording, how does TNWN compare to your other releases?
JB: It was about the usual, which for us is 6-7 weeks. The difference with the recording of TNWN versus our other records is that we actually didn't have any plans afterwards, so we weren't on a strict time schedule, which made the experience as a whole much more relaxed.
The production is pretty slick on TNWN; was this intentional?
JB: Well, we didn't intentially make it slick, but we are very happy with the way it sounds.
What part does Brian McTernan play in shaping your songs in the studio (how hands on is he in telling you, do this again, this sucks, etc.)? - JG
JB: Brian is very hands on with us, which is why we work with him. Writing songs becomes such an unobjective process that we find it very useful to have someone come in and sift through what we've come up with and help us improve upon it.
This is your third album for Epitaph; how do you respond to critics who complain that moving to Epitaph was "selling out?"
JB: By telling them that I'm as broke as I've always been.
Your live show is legendary for its energy, emotion, and overall fun
had by all; what motivates you to keep rockin' out at full throttle
during long stints on the road?
JB: Well, that's hard to answer. Its different at each show, but our overall theory is that if you have to be on the road, you may as well give it your all.
Does Chuck still drink wine by the lake? How has the recovery
process been and what sort of therapy went down? Truthfully how many
times were you afraid and confused about the future (in relation to the
accident)? This might be a hard question, but if Chuck could not play
anymore would HWM continue on, would you want to, would he want you to? -- JG
JB: Well, we haven't been back to that particular lake since "the incident," so its pretty safe to say that Chuck hasn't put himself in too much danger on that front. We were definitely worried about his recovery, but first as a person and second as a member of the band. If Chuck couldn't play again, we'd either have to be a 5 piece band or none at all. We don't replace people.
Where you guys actually considering breaking up before the show that
became Live at the Hardback? If so, why? If not, aren't rumors stupid!?
JB: We actually did break up for a few months before that show. Mainly due to overtoruing and not knowing our limits as a band and as individuals. Rumors are still stupid.
Forever and Counting is one of the greatest records in the history of
the world; any thoughts?
JB: TNWN is exponentially better. Ha.
"Minno" gives me goose bumps every single time I listen to it; it is my favorite HWM song, too. Can you tell me about the person who was the subject of "Minno?"
JB: He was a friend of our, a recovering addict who had started to turn his life around, started a family, and basically looked like he was getting things together.
Sadly, it would seem he felt differently.
Are you guys able to play shows in VFWs and firehouses still, or is that not possible anymore?
JB: We'll play anywhere.
Robert Smith of The Cure used to shave his head because he didn't want to be known for his big, crazy hair; did you guys and your beards get to this point, thus the disappearance of them, or are the beards simply a by-product of being on the road and not shaving? I'm curious, because long ago, my friends and I referred to you guys as " hot water beards" or simply "the beards," and this is no longer possible.
JB: Well, 3 of us have beards as we speak, so its really a day to day thing
If you had to rank your top 3 favorite HWM albums, what would they be?
JB: TNWN, Caution, Flight
Do you have a favorite song that you like to play live?
JB: Right now its "The End of the LineK
I know you guys aren't into G. W. Bush, but don't you think that the next four years could provide excellent motivation for a lot of bands to make some great records (consider how many classic albums came out from 1980-1988, i.e. reaction to a previous Republican stronghold)?
JB: You'd like to think so, but judging by the shit that's been passed off as punk rock over the last 4 years, you never can tell.
You guys are supporters of PETA; are all of you vegetarian/ vegan?
JB: While we all support PETA, none of us are vegan or vegetarian.
Speaking as a longtime fan, your music has meant an immeasurable amount of joy to me. I have spent many hours of my life soaking in your records, and they have been a source of solace to me in troubling times.
It is truly an honor that I get to ask you guys these questions! I mean these words in complete sincerity.
JB: Thanks so much for doing the interview and for the support over the years!
By Daniel Mitchell and Jonathan Gill