While on their spring tour, following some news of three-fifths of the band sitting the tour out, Jesusfreakhideout.com's Cortney Warner sat down with Relient K's Matt Thiessen and Matt Hoopes to talk about their forthcoming new album, Collapsible Lung, the band changes, Doctor Who, and more...
This interview took place on: May 14, 2013.
It's all kind of in a different scenario; Ethan has officially left the band, just to kind of do other things, and both the Jo(h)n's are in the short-term not able to tour with us. It's just that that's what it is right now. We'll see where things go. We'll make the next record and tour in the future and take each thing as it comes. But yeah, it's all just another step in the journey.
Yeah. I know Schneck found a really cool job that he likes a lot through a friend-the old drummer from Audio Adrenaline, his name's Ben Cissell. They work together in this place down in Nashville, The Factory, and I got to go check it out. And then John Warne's working in software (to Hoopes), right?
Oh yeah, like web design and app development.
He had a job doing that stuff while he was in the band, too, so it kind of just--
One of his friends had a startup company and took him on board. He thought it was a really good opportunity, to be home more often, and I think the main thing for all three of them really is something more steady, you know? Where it's like, "I'm gonna wake up and do this every day.
Yeah, most jobs don't let you tour "occasionally."
Yeah, me and Matt are still doing it; we've got some great people on board. We're really happy with the vibe, we're having a lot of fun.
M. Hoopes: Well, it's our friend, Tom-- he's playing drums. We've been friends with him for, I don't know, about 5 or 6 years?
M. Thiessen: Yeah, a bunch of years.
M. Hoopes: He's actually from near where we're from in Canton
M. Thiessen: He actually went to the same high school that our original bass player went to, Perry High School.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, he's a good guy. The other guy is Dan Gartley [from Sanctus Real]; he's actually currently my roommate. Great guy, great bass player. So yeah, we've just been having fun with them, and yeah, it just kind of worked out that he was available right when we needed somebody, so we called him. But yeah, honestly, just with moving forward, we'll just take each thing as it comes at this point, and go from there.
M. Hoopes: There's a lot of reasons, really.
M. Thiessen: Yeah, I mean, I intentionally knew after we did the Forget album, I knew I didn't want to put out a record right away. I didn't know how long it would take, and it took a long time. *laughs* So we--Matt and I--would've put it out a while back ago; it's been finished for a while.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, we mastered the record in January (2013), so with the record completely done, it took a while to get the artwork together, and then also we were just figuring out how we were going to put it out, how we were going to distribute it, release it officially, and that just went through several different stages of development, and I'm actually really happy with where we're at right now. We're putting it out on our own record label, Mono Vs Stereo, and it gives us all the control that we need, and we're distributing through Columbia, they're on board to a certain extent, but I think it's really in the best case, because we can do what we want, and if they want to, you know, say, take us onto radio, or like go, do whatever on whatever level, then those things are already kind of written into place with how that'll work. We're "cautiously optimistic."
M. Hoopes: We haven't announced it officially, but yeah, July 2nd.
M. Thiessen: Oh, well, a theme--actually it isn't really a "theme"--is that we collaborated on all the songs. So, there's really different people involved in every song. Like, different combinations of people, and I know there's two that are both just me and Matt (Hoopes), so that was the same combination, but other than that, when you're writing with other people, different people throw out other ideas, and I don't know...
M. Hoopes: Yeah, I don't know if there's like a running theme. There's that "collapsible lung," which is what we named the album, and it's kind of just been, you know, the story of our journey of the last 3 years, and just different things from personal stuff.
M. Thiessen: Mmhmm. Just like taking a break from touring nonstop, and doing all this stuff, I don't know, I just started to realize if you did do that for the rest of your life, I don't know, it's just weird... just kind of seeing time take different meanings. It used to be that every day was so like, 'work, work, work, and travel,' and do all this stuff, and then you slow down and get a couple weeks off where you don't have to do anything, and then what do you do with it? I was wasting a lot of it, you know? I was like, seriously wasting time, just wondering 'why?' What the consequence would be for that, and I don't know, all of a sudden I just picked up the guitar and started writing the album, and I was wondering, "why was I wasting all this time?"
M. Hoopes: Yeah, and I think that's kind of a theme on the album, where we just have some of the lighter-hearted songs on the record as well. We had talked about a few record ideas for album titles that were sillier and we kind of felt like, this one would fit more with some of the more serious songs, Collapsible Lung. Yeah, it's really just kind of that theme of time, and the meaning behind that, you kind of...
M. Thiessen: The fact that we all fall apart, I mean, our lungs are collapsible, our hips are, what? Replaceable, you know?
M. Hoopes: That is the lyric.
M. Hoopes: We've been playing five or six of them every night; it's been really fun. The song "Boomerang," we've probably been playing the longest, and it's really fun
M. Thiessen: Yeah, it is fun.
M. Hoopes: I've had some friends describe it as sounding like a rock band covering a rap song. *laughs* and I think that's cool; it's a fun direction to take with it. But yeah, there's a song called "If I Could Take You Home," and it's just a completely different vibe, but it's cool. I think it's a cool moment in the show, you know? To play something different, and the song has a lot of energy; it's just something we've never done before. It's kind of how we approached each song: Well, let's do something we've never done before, but also really think about the song; not just clocking in and doing what we normally do, but making each thing as good as each song can be.
M. Thiessen: Yeah.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, pretty much in every way. We used two different producers; we've never done that. We worked with two producers we've never worked with before and did them in different ways; some of the songs we did at Paul Moak's studio, and it's all really nice, with live tracking and things like that, and with Aaron Sprinkle. He had just moved to Nashville, we've always wanted to work with him. He's a good friend, and we decided to do a lot of the stuff out of Matt (Thiessen)'s house--just kind of wherever, kind of tracked wherever and whenever, and got the songs done when we got them done. And that was a new experience as well. I think it just gave a certain character to these songs to do it that way. So each thing was kind of a new territory for us, that's for sure.
M. Hoopes: That's kind of what we were saying; I think we have like eight or nine co-writes.
M. Thiessen: Nine?
M. Hoopes: Eight. Yeah, eight co-writes out of eleven, so a decent amount.
M. Thiessen: With Relient K, we've never really brought anybody from the outside in so, I started being "that guy" on the outside for other people, so I guess, just because I've been getting used to collaborating with other people myself, I thought we should maybe try it and see what happens. It really is fun; I think it's probably how we'll maybe do the next one. And it'll be fun to write one with just me and Matt (Hoopes) again and who knows? So yeah.
M. Hoopes: It was really all over the map from anyone from--
M. Thiessen: A lot of names that we could list.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, I'm not really sure which names to list but, there's--
M. Thiessen: Tim Pagnotta from Sugarcult--well he was in Sugarcult--and that was with another guy named Ari Levine, he's really great, he's helped produce Cee Lo, and Bruno Mars, and a bunch of cool stuff. So we were all in the room together making something from scratch and, you know, seven hours and we had a song. And [it was the] same situation pretty much with the other seven cases of us going in, not really knowing the people or getting to know the people. "Boomerang" was with this guy Evan Bogart, me and Ari Levine again; the three of us I think on that one, and that was really fun. It's kind of like, as Matt (Hoopes) said, kind of like a rap song, and Evan Bogart used to have a hip hop act so, it kind of makes sense.
M. Hoopes: well, I think for me personally, I approached the guitar in a different way, instead of "ok, we need two guitars here, and two guitars in the chorus, and an extra third one here;" it wasn't like just plug in my live guitar rig and go for it. It was more like, "what does this song actually need, does it even need a rhythm guitar? Does it need one guitar? Does it need seven guitars? What does it need right here?" I think, also, just trying to sonically be in a different territory than where I've been. You know, the record's really all over the map, so there are songs that we used a lot of synthesizers and fake drums, and there's songs that we used real drums and real pianos. Like we were talking about, it's kind of just like each thing with what the song called for.
M. Thiessen: Yeah, I approached doing the record a little more hands-off on the tracks side of things, and treating myself more like a singer of a band. The songs were already written, so when it came time to do them, it was, I don't know... I felt "less connected" or like I needed to be less controlling. So when I sang, I sang the songs a little more freely than I normally do. [I] let mistakes go a little bit, and yeah, just kind of did my best, but didn't get over critical or analytical about it.
M. Hoopes: I'm really proud of Matt's vibe on the record vocally; it's really cool. It has a little bit of a different feel than I'm used to, but I really like hearing his voice that way, I think it sounds really cool. I'm proud of him.
M. Thiessen: Aww! You're the best in the whole world! *laughs*
M. Hoopes: Not really.
M. Thiessen: Caleb Owens.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, our friend Caleb.
M. Thiessen: He was in the band called The Becoming that was on Tooth and Nail, but now he's got a solo thing. I don't know if he's calling it "Bones" or "Bones Owens"
M. Hoopes: Bones Owens, I think.
M. Thiessen: But yeah, he's a good buddy; he helped write three of the songs, and he sings on it a little bit. But yeah, it's just like, the guy who's singing in my piano room with me, he's the guy singing on the record, it's not--
M. Hoopes: It's not Elton John or anything.
M. Thiessen: You know, someday. Someday when it's important, when I've got the right thing to say to the masses, I'll have her say it.
M. Hoopes: I don't think we've ever planned it out, and I don't think that if you do, that it'll turn out the way you think it will anyway-- just seeing through experience, at least. But I don't know where we're gonna go. I like just kind of floating and seeing what is inspiring at the time. It's kind of always a goal, I guess. You know, I remember driving to the studio, it was like the first day we were recording with Paul Moak, and I just felt really inspired to throw everything out the window and do something new in this direction, to kind of try some new territory. I was actually listening to a record, and I won't say who it was, it was a band that I like, and they put out a new record, and I was just like, "You know, they're just doing the same thing again" and it just felt like not what I wanted to hear, and that was always kind of a thing on this record was to break out of the mold from where we've been, you know?
M. Hoopes: And it seems like there's always people that will want you to stay the same. There's always people that will want you to change. I don't know... you just have to do what's inspiring to you, you know?
M. Hoopes: I think it's been really positive.
M. Thiessen: Yeah, nobody's thrown anything sharp
M. Hoopes: Or tomatoes
M. Thiessen: Or bricks, or yeah, zero tomatoes so far. *laughs* But yeah, you know, every time you play a new song, it's like "oh, I hope we don't bore everybody for three minutes because they don't know the words," you know? I feel like that when I'm watching a band that I know. I'm like, "oh no, song that I don't know" you know? And then I think, for some reason, people know every word to some of the new ones, anyway. I don't know how.
M. Hoopes: From watching YouTube.
M. Thiessen: Yeah from YouTube.
M. Hoopes: I think we made an extra effort on this tour to tie in some of the older songs this time and just kind of make it, you know--
M. Thiessen: Square.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, make it square.
M. Thiessen: Mmhmm! It was just a good time.
M. Hoopes: It was a good memory, yeah.
M. Thiessen: It's like, I don't know... you look back on a band's map and you can kind of see what happens. And for us, it was like we had made three albums and we were kind of figuring it out, and we had this one album where we almost had it figured out, but not so much where it was actually a good album. And then afterwards, we had it figured out, and that's when it all started to kind of lose it. It's like you know what you're doing, and it becomes a formulaic sort of thing, and so after that, it's been a journey to figure out what's "new" for us, you know? But that Mmhmm record was a really cool moment in the band's history.
M. Hoopes: It was a cool moment. It was the first record we really did write. It was the first record we did in a real studio, and not in Mark's (Townsend) basement. Which you know, Mark does great work, he did that record as well, and it just kind of seemed like we were like, "OK, let's go in and not cut any corners. Let's make a great record and do what we can do." It just was a good atmosphere. It was a good time, and I think even the Forget and Not Slow Down recording felt very natural, like it was what we should be doing right now.
M. Thiessen: Those two reminded me of each other, but I feel like when Mmhmm came out, it was also, like, pop-punk was a genre that had a time limit on it, and that was, you know, right about when it was going to get really old for a lot of people, so we kind of caught the tail of that at the right time. So it was good.
M. Thiessen: I remember when I was seven and I wanted to be a "rock star" like the ones on the TV, and then I remember immediately feeling remorse, like I had sinned. *laughs* So I just put it out of my head for a while.
M. Hoopes: That's funny.
M. Thiessen: But yeah, when we were 15, we started watching pop-punk bands, seeing them get in their vans and drive out of town.
M. Hoopes: We were thinking, "we could do that!"
M. Thiessen: And we did.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, we did. We started playing opening shows and doing what we could do.
M. Thiessen: Gypsy and the Cat
M. Hoopes: I'm trying to think of who I've been listening to. I've been listening to that new On An On record, been listening to Michael Kiwanuka
M. Thiessen: Yeah! Michael Kiwanuka!
M. Hoopes: It's a band favorite.
M. Thiessen: Paul Simon, always the favorite.
M. Hoopes: Man, I'm trying to think about who I'm really excited to listen to right now. I like that new The Strokes record.
M. Thiessen: I'm excited for the new Vampire Weekend record!
M. Thiessen: I think there's always, well, right now what are we drawing from? (to Hoopes)
M. Hoopes: I think, that's a good question.
M. Thiessen: Tom Petty, but it's not like we're that same thing. Man, what else? Like, Justin Bieber? I mean, not literally, but just whoever's writing Justin Bieber's stuff. I mean, I want to be that catchy. Catchy and melodic, I guess.
M. Hoopes: Hm, I don't know. It's hard to pinpoint what is actually shaping you.
M. Thiessen: Unless you're blatantly ripping it off, I think we've kind of given up on that to a certain degree. *laughs*
M. Hoopes: Yeah, there's different takes on that. There's some who write a lot of songs that won't listen to anything because they don't want to rip anything off. And some people listen to everything.
M. Thiessen: They're like, "alright, we're gonna take the chords from this song, and we're gonna write over them" *laughs* And it's like, "ok, well here's chords from seven songs, so go ahead."
M. Hoopes: There's different ways to do it, you know, if you listen to our new record, you'll definitely hear some songs have more of a 90s influence, some songs have more of a hip-hop influence, some have more of an 80s [influence]. I don't know.
M. Thiessen: Yeah, we're label-less. We're that cool. *laughs*
M. Thiessen: *sing-song voice* Craziest fan encounter! I had a girl tweeting what I was doing the other day instead of coming and saying "Hi." She's like, "Why is Matt sitting over there?" and I'm like, "Why are you just tweeting about it?"
M. Hoopes: We were talking about it, and we were like, "it would have been so much less creepy if she would've just said 'hi', instead of just talking about what we're doing on the Internet."
M. Thiessen: Um, I mean we've had some crazy fan experiences; we had a woman follow us around for a while. She's older--
M. Hoopes: She bought her own bus, traveled to our shows, we became friends with her.
M. Thiessen: She would find out who our favorite authors were and buy us books, and she would send us weird health supplements.
M. Hoopes: Yeah dietary supplements. She one time sent about 25 tubs of dried food to my house.
M. Thiessen: Like astronaut food?
M. Hoopes: Yeah, for the apocalypse, for the end of the world. If that happened, she wanted to make sure we had food.
M. Thiessen: She would get on the Internet and listen to weird political conspiracy places, and let everybody know about it.
M. Hoopes: But we were friends with her, she had a really good heart.
M. Thiessen: She was good to us, yeah. She asked us over to her house in Miami one time and hired this Cuban couple to cater and made some really awesome food. [We] swam in her pool, it was fun.
M. Hoopes: It was a good night. It was something.
M. Hoopes: Somewhere, yeah, somewhere in my basement. [To Thiessen:] So if you guys ever want dried food, let me know.
M. Thiessen: I'll come over after the apocalypse. Half past apocalypse.
M. Hoopes: I'll cook some mashed potatoes over the fire.
M. Thiessen: Dude, can we put the fire in the trash can?
M. Hoopes: Yeah, and a barrel. You bring the barrel--
M. Thiessen: I'll bring the tuna cans.
M. Thiessen: Political power *laughs*
M. Hoopes: To get to the moon.
M. Thiessen: Ooh! Did you hear about that Virgin Galaxy thing?
M. Hoopes: I've heard about it, yeah.
M. Thiessen: They're like making airplanes that can go into space and you can get to Australia in like an hour or so or something. So that's what Relient K would like to accomplish: start flying on that airline.
M. Thiessen: We'll write the theme song, *singing* "Only six million dollars to go across the world! *laughs* Virgin Galaxy!" It's a work in progress, work in progress.
M. Thiessen: Just landed a job! Get it? Landed, plane, launch? *laughs*
M. Hoopes: I'm really looking forward to seeing that Great Gatsby movie, even though it's gotten some questionable reviews.
M. Thiessen: Aw, now I'm not excited anymore.
M. Hoopes: But, why it did is because it didn't follow the book?
M. Thiessen: Oh, I heard it followed the book. I don't know of any [other] summer movies coming out.
M. Hoopes: I'm excited to see it.
M. Hoopes: oh yeah, that's another reason it got bad reviews, because people didn't like that Jay-Z did it, because it wasn't like 1920s.
M. Hoopes: You can't avoid getting taught things.
M. Thiessen: Amen!
M. Hoopes: You know? It's like, life happens and you're constantly learning patience and trust and, I don't know, you just kind of learn that you're not promised that everything will be easy, and that everything will work out. You're not promised that you won't have to deal with tragedy and pain and loss, and all these things that life inevitably will throw at you. But there's that balance of hope and trust and, really, actually having to put that into practice and really actually having to say, "I believe this," even through this storm or painful thing that's happening.
M. Thiessen: I've been working on my "stranger skills," being real good to people, no matter [what]. Like, I run a lot, so I'm always seeing people, and trying to make sure cars can go first, and like, going behind and being careful, and when I'm walking down the street or ordering food at a restaurant or whatever, like making good eye contact, and just really enjoying their presence and trying to give them some sort of joy through the fact that I'm happy to be there, too. And, you know, spreading happiness and joy through eye contact and smiles and that kind of stuff is totally what Jesus is all about--spreading that around and all about. So, yeah, that's what He's been teaching me.
M. Hoopes & M. Thiessen: No.
M. Thiessen: I've never seen it before
M. Hoopes: I never have either, actually. I didn't realize that a lot of our fans were Doctor Who fans. Are you?
M. Thiessen: I understand for sure.
M. Hoopes: Yeah, I was having a conversation about it with one of my friends, and I asked her, "Which incarnation do you start with?" and she was getting all excited, she told me where to start, and I can't even remember. That's how good I listened to that conversation. *laughs* But apparently there's like six different versions of the show. You can tell us, where should we start?
M. Hoopes: Season nine?!
M. Thiessen: Season nine is where you start?!
M. Hoopes: Alright, cool. I actually had never seen it before, I've heard of it though.
M. Thiessen: We actually get to answer it "Doctor, Who?" every time, because we don't even know!
M. Hoopes: I posted that on Facebook after we had done that thing, and I just posted "Doctor Who?" and it was immediately ten times as many 'likes' as we normally have on a post, and just that. And I guess people really are into this.
M. Hoopes: Alright, cool. I actually had never seen it before, I've heard of it though.
M. Thiessen: We actually get to answer it "Doctor, Who?" every time, because we don't even know!
M. Hoopes: Yeah, that's the way to go. If we want to sell out, just become the Doctor Who.
M. Thiessen: *singing* "Who let the owls out? Who? Who? Who? Who let the cat out? Meow? Meow? Meow?" Get that one? Cat out of the bag? *singing* "Who let the bathwater out? Blub? Blub? Blub?" *laughs*
M. Thiessen: 4+7! 11!
M. Hoopes: Yes
M. Thiessen: Anything you want to add? Because I can do it all.
M. Hoopes: Learned that one in first grade!
|Caitie Hurst Releases Single, "How Could I Be Silent"|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 21:20:00 EST
|Rhett Walker Band Announces Self-Titled EP for August 10|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 21:19:00 EST
|Owl City Announces "Cinematic" North American Tour|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 21:00:00 EST
|Winter Jam Crowned Top First Quarter 2018 Music Tour|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 20:00:00 EST
|Tom Read Releases Fresh EP, "Lament"|
Fri 20 Apr 2018 01:00:00 EST
|Tamela Mann Receives Two 2018 Billboard Music Awards Nominations|
Thu 19 Apr 2018 22:00:00 EST