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“Indie Junk” & Slav Squats: The World of Nakamara

Photos by Jhad Francis. Interview By Jon Birondo.

self-proclaimed “indie junk” trio Nakamara

There’s no excuse; not anymore, at least. In this day and age, making music – even alone – is a feat anyone can do. You just need an instrument, the internet, a computer, and a determined mind. But when you have the right people, the right environment, and the right area, great things can come into fruition on a larger. Such is the case for Nakamara, a Denton-based trio composed of college students who describe themselves as “indie junk” (indie rock, jazz, and funk). Beneath the comical demeanor and colloquial banter, lies a trio of passionate musicians whose self-titled debut Nakamara, was one of our favorite albums of 2016.

Denton is famous for its house show scene; in the midst of multiple closures of popular “venues”, Nakamara is struggling to find an audience through the only way they know how: impromptu shows in someone’s living room or backyard, performing on the verge of a noise complaint. But before the numerous shows across North Texas, the three were relatively strangers. Wiley and Sam met in their freshman dorm, Wiley hearing Sam jamming with a friend on the first day of moving in; while Azael met Wiley through mutual friends going to house shows. Azael was a late addition however, being the second bassist Wiley & Sam have gone through.

vocals & guitar (Houston, TX)

“I feel we all met because we had something to say musically; and were ready to start ‘yelling’ in terms of music. Just screaming out all our creative shit.”

Sam expressed a deep admiration, and necessity, for collaboration when starting out. Prior to their debut’s release, the trio collaborated with Troy Garrick of fellow Denton act OG Garden, even going as far as creating a music video (below), with the help of the UNT Short Film Club. Decker elaborated on the collaboration saying “we [Garrick & Decker] met at a couple of open mics, and we respected each other hard core as musicians. When I asked him to record the feature, I was like: “I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I know it’s going to be great. It was a dream come true to have him nail it on our song, and have that feature in our back pockets ya know? So when we went to do the music video, I decided to do that song. I was like, let’s bring Troy in. He deserves some credit; and make this music video goofy, and fun you know?” “That’s what real art is,” elaborated Reid, “when you just know and respect someone so much that you just know they’re going to nail it. It felt really good.”

Directed by Decker himself, no one (not even the producers) knew what he had planned. Martinez commented on the ambiguity of the project stating “when people asked Wiley and I, what going to happen in the music video we [had] no idea. If we could tell you, we could”. The ambiguity added to the absurdity of it all, and based off of positive feedback from friends and fans, it paid off.

Azael Martinez

bass (Fort Worth, TX)

“Every time I go to a house show, I get really inspired. [Not everyone] in the crowd knows the bands that they’re seeing, they just go to have a good time. It’s great to know that we could be contributing to people having a good time.”

A bulk of Nakamara’s songs were written more than a year ago, but Decker explained that “I knew that these songs could be better, and eventually be really good. Mostly I hear the songs in my head a lot, and that’s what makes me pretty good at songwriting: I constantly hear the way I think the song would be good. When we start jamming, Azael and Wiley add to it, and we find an awesome compromise.” The songs range from topics such as relationships to parties to love. Reid states “I see our music as feeling”; and that clearly shows through the soulful bass lines and equally as youthful themes and ideas peppered throughout the record.

In the middle of a discussion about songwriting, and their techniques to crafting them, Reid interjected saying “When we write a new song totally from scratch we just sit down, and I say [to Sam] just play some chords and stuff. And, the way I like to do music – and we would all give our input – but when it’s kind of on my shoulders, just play some really nice chords; like let’s try to play something jazzy. Once we get [reach] a point where there’s a feeling there, like there’s some emotional content, then we [experiment]: play it double time, or play it half as slow. Or do this rhythm.” In the middle of the riffs and flashy drums lies an emotional core that’s undeniable. “The lyrics are important, but not the most important part,” Sam says; Wiley finishes by saying “The lyrics are just an expression of the feeling; the feeling is what we spend most our time working on.”

drums (San Marcos, TX)

“When I first came up to Denton for school, I left my drum set cause I highly doubted that within the first semester I would have a band. But on the first day, I heard drums down the hall in my dorm. A couple days after that we had our first gig.”

As three different musicians and people, I asked about individual inspirations. “The Strokes,” muttered Martinez “Radiohead [too].” Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. being a big influence for Martinez (whose mind was later blown when informing him of my prior interview with Hammond Jr. back in 2014). Reid’s influences included The Robert Glasper trio, Animals As Leaders, and John Bonham. Reid’s drumming style, in the midst of the band’s funk and jazz influence, manages to be incredibly technical, with little fills and cymbal flourishes scattered throughout – filling any space of silence or monotony. Reid describes it as a “stream of consciousness” expression, drawing parallels between his drumming and his self-described “technical” visual art. “I really like focusing on technique and detail in everything I do. It’s such a beautiful thing when you become invested in every little sixteenth note; I just lose myself. It’s fun; I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore”, Reid jokes.

Decker personally cites Radiohead, Black-sploitation funk, Kendrick Lamar and dance music as his main influences. He says “I just mainly copy artists I really like”; the trio covered Lamar’s “King Kunta” at a house show I attended; when I inquired about it they responded saying “we covered ‘King Kunta’ at a show. When we covered it that was the first time we played it. We never practiced it beforehand. I [Decker] learned the bass, and told Azael to pat on the E minor, and once I started playing the groove the crowd took the mic away.” “It’s not our song, but we’re there to have a good time too.”

Nakamara opens and closes with these beautiful soundscapes, which Decker attributes to Pink Floyd’s landmark record The Wall saying: “in my defense, I wanted something that would hook people into the album”. The pieces showcase a sound that makes the trio seem much bigger than what they are. And for a band beginning in college, they feel that encapsulates not just the college experience but particularly a year in the life – filled with ups, downs, and struggles. While music is crucially fundamental in their lives, they feel that they can provide some “flavor” in the midst of a underground music scene clouded with shoegaze and noise bands. “It’s cool to just have fun. You don’t have to be depressive all the time. You can just go to a show and get lit, and have fun,” says Reid, “we’re like a rare commodity as far as [Denton’s] vibe is concerned with.”

“I want us to be identified as “indie junk”. For the record, we are “indie junk”. It’s indie jazz funk.”

Nakamara is another band in a sea of other bands trying to find their sound and hone their skills as growing musicians and artists in a climate of political turmoil, and a community that really holds the arts very dear to the city’s identity. “There are so many shows I go to and no one is moving because there is nothing really inspiring anyone to move; and that’s my whole thing. I want people to move” says Decker. Playing local creative space 1919 Hemphill, Reid notes the clear distinction between the heavier bands on their roster and their sound: “People were jumping and dancing; and that’s exactly what I want to see.” Decker closed the interview saying “when people go to house shows, they have NO idea who you are. When they go to see you for the first time they may have listened to a demo, or have heard of you – but they have never listened to your music. So they’re not going to be singing along to any of your songs. The whole philosophy for our band, I feel, is: make something that, on the first listen, you’re moving too.”

Make America Jam Again.


EXCLUSIVE Q&A: Heidi Callaway’s Insight on “In The Cards” and Robert DeLong on Performing Solo

Plus, a blast into the past with an interview from Robert DeLong’s set at the House of Blues last June.

“Just say ‘yes’ to everything until you have the option to say ‘no.'”

 Returning for his second year at Edgefest in Frisco, TX, Robert DeLong performed in front of a crowd of 20,000+ fans by himself, while his girlfriend Heidi Callaway painted the faces of sweaty, passionate concert-goers, pressed up against the barricade.  Following the release of his latest EP, Long Way Down, the twenty-nine-year-old solo artist is starting to gain traction amongst larger audiences, as well as radio stations.  His two studio albums, Just Movement (2013) and Long Way Down – EP (2014), merge electronica and rock in a uniquely thrilling way, unparalleled by any current EDM artists or indie bands.

Edgefest 25, Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX – April 25, 2015

Prior to Robert’s set, I casually run into Heidi while exiting the press pit, and ask if I can interview Robert.  After I quickly explain how we’d met at the Dallas House of Blues in June of 2014, she apologizes that Robert is not immediately at hand, but promises I can interview him later in the day.  Given the unreliable cell service in the stadium, and the erratic nature of large crowds, I decide to interview Heidi while I have the chance, and she ecstatically agrees because it is her first interview ever.

Spencer Vilicic: Who is your celebrity crush?

Heidi Callaway: Probably Jude Law, but only because of the characters he plays.  I don’t know if he’s actually a cool guy or not.

Spencer: Does Robert ever look to you for musical inspiration?

Heidi: I like to think so.  He asks me sometimes what “kick” I like best, and he will let me listen to the beats, and I get to choose one of three of my favorites.  Usually, they all sound the same to me, so I’m just like, “Number…three!”

Spencer: If you are allowed to say, is Robert in production of a full LP right now?

Heidi: Oh, yeah, of course!  It should be released so soon.  I’m crossing my fingers for end of July, but it might be more like September.

Spencer: Do you have a name for the album?

Heidi: I think it’s going to be called In The Cards.

Spencer: Oh, awesome, I’ve heard that [song] before.

Heidi: Yeah, it’s kind of like… A running theme in the album is the reinterpretation of tarot cards, and whether your destiny is your choosing, or if it’s all written out in the cards… It’s really cool.  You know his music is always really philosophical.

Spencer: Yeah!  I’ve always wondered, does he have a background or major in philosophy, or something like that?

Heidi: No, he’s just a really intelligent guy, and really fascinated with that type of stuff, and religion.  Yeah!

Spencer: Okay, final question.  What’s the best advice you’ve ever been told?

Heidi: Hmm, shoot… Probably “Live long and prosper,” you know?  Star Trek themed.

Spencer: Cool, thank you!

Heidi: Of course!

After this brief encounter, Heidi takes down my phone number, and tells me she’ll text or call me later in the day, so I can meet with Robert and interview him.  Within an hour, he is up on stage moving the crowd with his dynamic stage presence and impressive use of video game controllers, while Heidi tirelessly paints abstract war paint on the faces of those fighting the heat.

Heidi Callaway paints the face of a fan at Edgefest 25.

Heidi Callaway paints the face of a fan at Edgefest 25.

Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong “baptizing” the crowd (says Heidi) at Edgefest 25.

A few hours pass, and the rest of the Pretty Neat Grooves team and I go to the meet and greet area, further off from the stages, tucked away near the artists’ coach buses.  Hopefully, I intend to meet Robert right there, and avoid the trouble of trying to talk to Heidi on the phone over the noise of the festival.  With as much fortuity as before, I immediately spot Robert standing next to a tent, talking to some fans, and as I approach him, I run into Heidi again.  In this very moment, he slips past me to go back to the stage.  We nod in agreement, and she says that she’ll get him for me after he is finished “nerding out to Death Cab.”  What an awesome reason to do anything.

He soon returns from the set, Heidi mutters something to him, and I am now standing face to face with Robert DeLong.  Again, I explain how I’d met him last summer at a concert downtown, and he recalls it briefly.  After introducing the rest of the crew, the interview begins.

Spencer Vilicic: Who is your celebrity crush?

Robert DeLong: My celebrity crush…uh, probably Jena Malone.

Dustin Bagayna: Nice.

Michael White: It’s nice to hear somebody who’s not like, the same name that everybody drops, you know?  Everybody likes to say Scarlet Johansson and stuff like that.  Jena Malone is a cutie.

Spencer: Have you considered expanding from a solo act to a group act, or collaborating more?

Robert: Uh yeah, I don’t know.  I like doing the solo thing, but I’m definitely gonna have more and more, like, you know, guest features on different songs and stuff like that.

Spencer: Yeah, I really like the feature you have on “Perfect.”

Robert: Oh yeah!  Natalie Nicoles, she’s great.

Spencer: What do you like or dislike about performing solo? Are there like…

Robert: I mean, I love it.

Spencer: Pros and cons and stuff?

Robert: It’s awesome because I get to, you know, practice and control everything, I guess.  The other side of it is that it’s a lot of stuff all on me, you know?

Spencer: Yeah.

Robert: I get lonely on stage. [chuckles]

Spencer: You had one of the best crowds, I would say.

Robert: Awesome, thank you.

Spencer: Do you ever look to Heidi for musical inspiration?

Robert: Yeah, I mean we’ve always… She’s always been a big supporter, and you know, she was the one who kinda introduced me to electronic music-

Spencer: Really?

Robert: And like the whole dance music scene, so yeah.  I mean, you know, she’s been a big part of that.

Spencer: What’s one question that no one asks, that you wish they’d ask?

Robert: Uh…I mean, I wish people would just talk about my favorite Sci-Fi books or something. [chuckles]

Spencer: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Robert: The best advice that I ever heard was just to, uh…You know, that it’s all about working hard and being nice, or something.  I don’t know.

Heidi Callaway [to Robert]: You wanna know what I said, Robbie?  You would’ve been so proud.  He asked me what the advice was, and I was like, “Live Long and Prosper!”

Robert: Oh yeah?! [chuckles]

Heidi: I thought for sure you would’ve said that.

Michael: What’s the best advice that you could give to other people?

Robert: You know… Do your best to have a good time, be happy, and work hard.  I don’t know. [chuckles]

Dustin: So this is Dallas… or uh, Frisco, Texas.  What do you like and dislike about Dallas or Frisco?

Robert: I love the heat, and I…also dislike the heat.  It’s kind of a…

Dustin: Yeah! [chuckles]

Robert: But it’s nice here.

Dustin: Alright, that’s it.

Robert: Sweet.

After our interview, we take a few pictures, and then Robert and Heidi retreat back stage.  If you ever get the chance, say hello to these two because they are wonderful and fun people!

House of Blues, Dallas, TX – June 4, 2014

Robert DeLong's set up, pre-show

Robert DeLong’s set up, pre-show. Photo by Spencer Vilicic

Remember the Robert DeLong concert at the House of Blues that I mentioned?  Well, after that show, I met Robert.  He and I talked for a moment, but then I was made to watch the car and ensure it wasn’t towed, while a couple of my friends stayed behind for this stellar interview…

Maddie Flores: Boom. Okay.

Martin Flores: Were you in a band before you became a solo artist?

Robert DeLong: Yeah.  I was in a lot of bands!  You know, I was in a lot of bands in high school and stuff like that.  But then in college and afterwards, I was in a lot of indie rock bands, like progressive indie rock.  A lot of weird psychedelic stuff, and also folk rock bands.  You know, I was recording people, and I was doing this as a side project, and it just became my main gig eventually.

Maddie: Sweet. Okay, how does being a solo artist, like…in terms of writing.  How is that different, being on your own versus in a band?

Robert: I mean, you just get…You have total control, it’s the best. [chuckles]  But no, I mean, like I said…It was just this weird side thing that I was doing, and then, at some point as I started performing, it started taking over.  It’s a really nice thing to be able to have total control.  But then also, have input from other people if you want, but not have to have the argument every time you use a C minor or something like that. [chuckles]

Maddie: Can you tell us a little bit about your recording process?

Robert: Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of across the board.  Sometimes, I just start with the melody in my mind.  I go to my computer, lay down the melody, and then build a song around it.  More often than not, what I do is I start with a drum beat, or maybe a synth line, or some idea I had.  Like, I want to copy “this sound.”  And then, it’ll never end up there, so I’ll just build something on that, and then in the end, something comes out.

Martin: Sick.

Maddie: Sweet.

Robert: It’s kinda hard to explain.  You just sit there…You have computers, you’ve got headphones.



Robert DeLong blissfully rocking out at the House of Blues. Photo by Spencer Vilicic.

Robert DeLong blissfully rocking out at the House of Blues. Photo by Spencer Vilicic.

Martin: So, how is Dallas treating you?

Robert: I’ve enjoyed it!  This is like my fourth or fifth time here.  It’s always been great.  I’ve always had…Honestly, Texas in general I’ve had really great crowds and good people, so it was nice.

Maddie: Yeah, this is my fourth time seeing you, and his [Martin’s] third.

Robert: Oh, cheers!

Martin: Yeah, I’ve heard you talk about Edgefest, and how the whole right side of the speakers…

Robert: Yeah!

Martin: What was your favorite band at Edgefest?  Like, were you starstruck by anybody there?

Maddie: Or at any festival?

Robert: I mean like, specifically Edgefest, I actually knew a lot of those bands, besides like…Uh, what’s their name? [snapping fingers]  It’s the band…Why am I blanking on the names…You know they had the album White Pony or whatever…Deftones!

Maddie: Oh! Yeah.

Robert: Deftones was one of the only bands there that I hadn’t met before.  But, we ended up meeting them in South Africa, and they stole our power strip. [chuckles]  But, I mean, yeah, I love it.  Touring…One of my favorite bands that I’ve seen touring in the last year was Architecture in Helsinki, actually.  I saw them in Australia just a couple of months ago.  It was fucking the best, but…

Maddie: Yeah!

Martin: Dream collab?

Robert: Dream collab…I would say Brian Eno, but that’s reaching for the stars.  Besides that, like, Flume.  I love Flume right now, it’s one of my favorites.

Maddie: Dude. [to Martin] Do you wanna ask about Logic?

Martin: I’m a total Logic nerd.

Maddie: Please just nerd out.

Martin: Do you use [Logic] 9 or [Logic] X?

Robert: 9, no I switched over because I use a lot of 32-bit plugins–

Martin: Yes.

Robert: –that haven’t been upgraded.

Martin: I bought X earlier this year, and I’m like, “Oh my God.”

Robert: Right? Yeah, it’s a lot of stuff.  I’ve used Logic since 2004, and that’s when I switched to Mac finally.  I’m just so fluid in Logic that, like…I will always compose in Logic, probably.  When I play live, I use a lot of the environment window, which is like, you know, doing MIDI transformations and stuff.  It’s just like weird, archaic stuff.  It’s not the easiest way to do that stuff, but it is really precise, so I do it.

Martin: Any go-to plugins?

Robert: Yeah.  I mean, my favorite soft synths are, like…I use DUNE.  I actually just bought DIVA by U-HE, which is really cool, a really cool software.  And then, you know, for certain heavy bass sounds, I use Massive like everybody.  And like, FM8, and then Appsynth every once in a while, but mostly my go-tos are DUNE and DIVA right in the suite.  And then, you know, Logic has the EXS24, but yeah.

Maddie: Cool.  Any tips for aspiring artists, like electronic or not?

Robert: I don’t know, like…Work hard, be nice to people…Those I think are literally the biggest things.  Just say “yes” to everything until you have the option to say “no.”

Maddie: Sweet.

Martin: You played a couple of new songs tonight.  Can you talk about what’s going into those songs?

Robert: Sure, yeah!

Martin: Like, what influence is going in?

Robert: Yeah I mean, it was kind of funny.  I played them…I played three new songs of mine right near the beginning of the set, and then I played a couple of covers in the middle of the set…One of them being a Rolling Stones tune, which most people don’t recognize because I’ve changed it a lot.  But, yeah, I’m doing a lot of different things, like…Those things aren’t even necessarily a good litmus test for where I’m going.  I’m doing a lot of really heavy, disco-y kind of stuff, but still electronic, house, modern.  Like pop songs that are very focused, like verse/chorus and that kind of thing, but also very out there like Talking Heads, like yelling and all that kind of shit.  Anyway, I’m rambling… [chuckles]

Maddie: No, it’s cool.  Um, I don’t have anything else…

Robert: What’s the name of your thing?

Maddie: Pretty Neat Grooves.  I have a card!

Robert: Pretty Neat Grooves.  Cool, so should I say something like, “Yo, what’s up?  This is Robert DeLong with Pretty Neat Grooves.  Keep rocking.”

Maddie: Oh my God, yeah. Thank you so much!

Robert: Cheers!


Thanks for reading.  Look out for In The Cards, to be released on September 18, 2015.


Taken by Michael White

Interview with Jordan Hudkins from Rozwell Kid

In a makeshift backstage area in the Off The Record record shop, which resembled a storage closet, Jordan, singer and shredder for West Virginia’s Rozwell Kid, sinks into a chair. “It was a very short trip [from Austin],” Jordan says, thankful for a drive that was shorter than a 24-hour drive from South By Southwest to work in West Virginia. “We didn’t kill each other,” he remembers, trying to make light of the terrible situation he was in. “It’s easier these days with smartphones. We all have fun and joke around,” when surviving on the road. The busy schedule of touring occupies the band to the point where they don’t have thoughts like “why haven’t I showered in a week,” Jordan adds. He is not the world’s biggest fan of showers anyway: “It’s annoying. I do it but it’s annoying.”

“Busy” is the keyword for Rozwell Kid in 2015. “We’re just trying to tour as much as we can,” Jordan reveals excitedly, “we’ve got a couple of cool releases coming out. One of them is coming out in March and the other’s in the Spring. After this tour, we’re doing South By South West and then a few dates in the Midwest.” After all of this, a new full-length will hopefully be demo’d for next year. The band has been working non-stop since they released the LP, Too Shabby, in November of 2014. Ever since they were featured in the 2013 Topshelf Records Sampler, their popularity has risen and therefore their schedule has been busier.

“It’s really cool that [Topshelf Records] has such a loyal fanbase and that they share other bands on other labels with that fanbase.” Jordan appreciates the opportunity for Rozwell Kid to be on the sampler in 2013, as well as 2014 with the single, “Kangaroo Pocket.” Jordan says that a lot of people heard his band thanks to those samplers.

I asked him what his “dream” opening slot on a tour package would be, to which he responded, “does Weird Al count?” Jordan later reveals his love for zany music like Weird Al and The Aquabats, two bands that he listened to frequently during his formative years. “I love The Aquabats,” Jordan reminisces his high school years that he spent listening to a band that wrote songs about two-headed cats and pizza parties. “I also think touring with Saves The Day would be sick too.”

Help Rozwell Kid be big enough to open for Weird Al by listening to them here.


Interview With Shaun Durkan of Weekend!

The door to the green room at Club Dada in Dallas swang in and out as the all girl punk band The Coathangers, brought their instruments up onto the stage to prepare for their set. Meanwhile, Pretty Neat Grooves co-founders Michael and Jon, and a friend walked in, amongst the rock stars and festival staff, to the artist lounge. The cold air smelled of fresh tacos, cigarettes smoke and beer, and in the corner stood San Francisco black metal/shoegaze band Deafheaven, chatting amongst themselves near their instruments over a few beers in Pabst Blue Ribbon cups. Approaching the couch, we sat down and chatted with the lead singer and bassist of the San Francisco shoegaze/lo-fi band Weekend Shaun Durkan about musical influences, Dawson’s Creek, nature, Natalie Portman and San Francisco.

PNG: Your music sounds very[ grounded] in the 80s. Do you try to form [your music] to reflect 80s music, or do you keep it updated with modern techniques?

Shaun: I grew up listening to a lot of music from the 80s, a lot of post punk, my dad was in a post-punk band, and he’s from London. So I just kinda grew up hearing that kind of stuff, you know: Joy Division, uh Killing Joke and The Cure. So I think that, you know, when we all met we sorta just found that common ground and started writing songs just because that’s what we were interested in and it’s what we grew up listening to. With that being said, I think we’re always conscious that we want to make a record that doesn’t sound like a throwback, or a tribute record or something like that. Everything we’ve done so far has been a modern take on these influences from the 80s.

PNG: Sweet. You guys are from San Francisco, where it’s normally sunny, yet your music is very murky and cloudy, does San Francisco influence the way you make your music or are there other influences at the wheel?

Shaun: You know it’s kind of funny, people always think of San Francisco as a really sunny place but it’s really not. It’s pretty much always, like, grayish and has a pretty legendary fog that-

Jon: Oh, I’ve never been

Shaun: Yeah, that’s what the tourism board wants you to see. The reality is that it’s always in the 50s and there’s a lot of fog that sorta shrouds a lot of the Bay Area. That stuff was really an influence on the earliest record, for sure. I think being close to nature was really important to us too as far as influences in music. We live in Brooklyn now, I can’t remember like the last time I saw a forest or something. (laughs)

PNG: (laughs)

Shaun: yeah, but in the San Francisco and Bay Area, you can drive 15 mins and find like a red wood forest or state park or something like that. I think that that sort of variety of landscapes were very important when making a record.

PNG: …and were there any new influences for your new record?

Shaun: yeah, if anything Jinx was like…the last thing we wanted to do was make Sports again. You know, we’re a band that thrives on forward momentum and challenging ourselves. I think people wanted to hear a record just like Sports and we never have been interested in repeating ourselves and doing what someone else is doing. So, if anything, the main goal is to progress as a band-

Jon: Yeah, Jinx sounded a lot cleaner-

Shaun: Yeah, the production is a lot cleaner. That was a conscious decision, yeah. [Jinx] was recorded in the exact same studio where we recorded Sports with the exact same producer. It was just a conscious decision to make [the album] a bit more direct. I think songwriting was much more important this time around as far as lyrics go, arrangements and stuff. You know, when people make their first record it’s like you spend two years in a rehearsal space just jamming and then you spend a week just trying to record what [inaudible] those jams sound like. Jinx was more about creating songs in the studio via the recording process rather than just trying to document what we had done before .

Michael: So speaking of murkiness and San Francisco stuff, you think that murky environment helps you determine what you do pedal-wise? Cause you guys use A LOT of crazy effect pedals.

Shaun: I think the pedals and production stuff was lie, we just wanted to make extreme, melodic music. Around time we were writing Sports, there were a lot of sunny beach music and stuff going around: Real Estate, Girls, who else, Best Coast. You know? And we weren’t into that, we basically trying to make a record that was like “F*ck You” to that stuff, and especially a record coming from San Francisco, which was always though to be a garage city or something, or like a coastal beach vibes kind of town, we wanted to make something dark, brooding, and aggressive and create a kind of schism in the expectation of what we were gonna make.

Nate(Our friend): What are you putting your bass through?

Shaun: Like effects wise or something?

Nate: Yeah

Shaun: It goes through a tuner, MXR Double Shot distortion, Boss guitar chorus pedal, Deluxe Memory Man, Digital Delay like a DV-7, a Hardwire Reverse Reverb, and a Holy Grail…and a Freeze pedal… and an EHX Freeze Pedal…it’s a lot of sh*t.

PNG: (laughs)

Shaun: …a lot of guitar pedals.

Michael: So a quick non-music question: Have you gotten to do anything cool around Dallas?

Shaun: We got here at one, so we haven’t gotten to do much. I really want to go to the Grassy Knoll…

Jon: It’s really close

Shaun: Is it?

Michael: Yeah it’s….(to Jon), Do you know where it is?

Jon: Yeah it’s just straight down Commerce, wait, no, Elm. Head down Elm.

Shaun: Oh OK, I gotta check it out. I’m gonna check out some of the other bands later today. We have the day off tomorrow so we’ll probably go tomorrow and the next day.

Michael: Who else are you excited to see?

Shaun: Nothing just played, we’ve been touring with them. Really excited to see our friends Deafheaven a-

Nate: Oh you guys know them, cause I was gonna ask you guys, cause San Francisco… you guys know them?

Shaun: Deafheaven? Yeah, we toured with them in Europe, they’re really good friends of ours, we played a bunch of shows together when we were still in the Bay Area. They’re cool dudes…

Jon: Yeah, we’re hoping to get interviews with them later tonight…

Shaun: Well (points to corner behind couch), they’re right over there, maybe you could talk to them…

Jon: Sunbather was one of the first albums that got me, no, it was THE first album to get me into metal. Ask Michael, I’m was more of an indie kid-

Michael: Yeah he loves Best Coast, Vampi-

Jon: Yeah, then he showed me Deafheaven and stuff

Michael: Yeah that’s why I was laughing at him when you said “f*ck you” to Best Coast cause he loves them an-

Jon: Well, cause every song reminds me of California so much. I first heard them on the Santa Monica beach in the summer and stuff, it was that carefree, you know, nothing to do today, nothing to do tomorrow kind of vibe-

Shaun: I have nothing against what they’re doing, I respect that and stuff-

Jon: I can see why people hate them and stuff-

Shaun: I don’t hate them at all, I think what they do is great. It’s just we wanted to do something that was the polar opposite of [their style of music]-

Michael: Do you think they’re accidentally stereotyping the San Francisco scene?

Shaun: I mean, not that (to Jon) Best Coast, what, lives in LA right?

Jon: Yeah..

Michael: Oh I just thought…

Shaun: I think San Francisco is mostly known for like psychedelic music and garage music, but uhh, it’s funny, I don’t think San Francisco is known for anything now, other than tech sh*t. Like every single band that I know, from San Francisco, has moved out. Even Kerry from Deafheaven lives in LA now. You know, (Whacktiles?) is gone, (Tamarind’s) gone, Girls are not really together anymore, S-

Michael: What happened to Girls?

Shaun: I think Chris and JR decided not to write music together anymore. I think JR’s doing some production stuff on his own now, producing stuff. He’s working on a Melted Toys record, which is good. He’s done stuff with Smith Westerns before and he did a little bit of work with Dive. Chris is just doing stuff on his own.

Michael: Just a couple more questions…

Shaun: Yeah sure..

Michael: When can we expect new material from Weekend?

Shaun: Hopefully next year, c-

Jon: Jinx was just released…

Michael: What’s it like working with Slumberland?

Shaun: It’s just one guy, Mike Schulman-

Jon: Of Queens of the Stone Age? (For the record, the bassist for QOTSA is Mike SHUMAN, honest mistake)

Shaun: No, Mike Schulman, he was in Black Tambourine.He’s the ultimate music lover, label guy. He’s just so focused on the art side of it, he’s not gonna tell you what to do: if something’s too loud, too quiet. It’s great. he signs bands cause he loves them, and he loves what they do, sort of like the bottom line for him.

Michael: Ok, one question from me: What’s the one question you want to be asked that no interviewer ever asks you, ever?

Shaun: Uhh, I don’t know. I’m so used to the generic questions everyone asks. I think you’ve had some good ones already. I don’t need to throw you anything, you’ve got some good questions. Maybe if it’s an attractive girl that asks me for my number or-

Michael: OOH! Thanks for reminding me. We both go to an all boys catholic school-

Nate: I don’t-

Michael: (laughs) -but we’re still high school boys, so celebrity crushes are a big thing for us: So who was your high school celebrity crush?

Shaun: Like when I was in high school?

Michael: Yeah, or even now (laughs)

Nate: Yeah high school girl now haha

Shaun: Oh yeah! I have a list! No, but uh, when I was in high school, I was oddly into Mandy Moore for some reason. But uhh, I went through a phase where I would watch that movie, A Walk To Remember and for some reason-

Jon: (laughs)

Shaun: – I mean that’s really embarrassing. I was really into Mandy Moore at some point. So I would have to say that, or Natalie Portman or something predictable, boring guy sh*t.

Jon: Yeah watching A Walk To Remember isn’t embarrassing (points to Michael) he watches One Tree Hill.

Michael: You wanna hear a really girly show with an AMAZING soundtrack? One Tree Hill. They named dropped Fugazi, Hot Water Music, Sparta and the term straight edge in one episode-

Jon: -in like the same five minutes

Shaun: That writer was fired . (laughs) Never wrote another episode.

Michael: I mean, that’s not why I watch it, it’s an added bonus. There’s this one character on it and she’s like a (12/10)

Jon: (laughs)

Shaun: When I was in school, I got really into Dawson’s Creek, for a little while-

Jon: I hear that’s a good show, but I never watched it. Katie Holmes right?

Shaun: Yeah-

Michael: It was like 90s right?

Jon and Shaun: Yeah

Jon: early, early 90s

Michael: I gotta get into that… But you gotta start One Tree Hill

Shaun: Yeah, I’ll give it a shot

Jon: It’s on Netflix, go to episode one…go to episode six haha

Michael: It’s one of those shows where you like it, but you don’t know why you like it

Shaun: (laughs) I know what you mean. That’s how Dawson’s Creek was for me. I threw a party at my house in San Francisco and someone stole my box set of Dawson’s Creek…

Jon: What?!

Shaun: It was the only thing that was taken…

Michael: They didn’t take anything else? Just that…

Shaun: I didn’t really have anything valuable I guess, but yeah I had many other DVDs and that’s the one they took.

Michael: That is crazy! Someo-

Shaun: Someone out there has them-

Michael: They probably knew you and how much you liked Dawson’s Creek and they were probably liked “I’m gonna mess with Shaun”-

Shaun: -like a cruel ex-girlfriend or something.

Michael: yeah, like “You don’t have time to love me but time to love your favorite TV show” kind of crap

Shaun: (laughs) Yeah you’re just talking about Joey all the time.

Michael: (laughs) Well, I don’t think we have anymore questions, do yo-

Jon: I think that’s it, Thanks!

Shaun: Ah, don’t mention it. Enjoy the day, no problem man. Hit us up when we’re in town again.

Watch Weekend perform “Coma Summer”


Interview With Old Ivy!

How did you guys start?

Our singer Stroef (who played the guitar back then) and our guitarist Cedrik played in a band together when they were about 15 years old or something like that. When Cedrik quitted that band they asked me to fill in on the guitar so I agreed. It didn’t took long to split the band but about a year later, Cedrik and I began talking through internet because we didn’t know each other in real life. We shared the same ideas so we decided to start a project together. The genre and the bandname changed a lot through the years but since 2011-2012 it became Old Ivy as Stroef joined the band. Also Lisa (bass) and Brecht (drums) completed the line-up that year but since 2013 Laurent joined us on bass and Frederic on drums.

Who are your influences?

Kevin: Our influences vary a lot ! From Code Orange Kids to Oathbreaker, from Have Heart to Touché Amoré. We just don’t want to be put in any genre like ‘Yeah, Old Ivy is definitely a melodic band. No doubt about that.’ So that’s why we have so many bands as our influences.

Lorang: The biggest influences for me to play Melodic Hardcore are Crooks, Climates, The cold Harbour, The Smiths, Insomnium, Skid Row and My Emotions

Belgian hardcore has been getting a lot more recognition in the US (Oathbreaker, Hessian). Why do you think that is?

Kevin: I don’t know, maybe the darker sounds? It feels like this genre is haunting you when you listen to it. It sounds heavy, dark but it feels like you’re in another dimension when you hear them live. On stage they always wear clothes in black and white and stuff like that, that makes it more dark. They are very known and rightly so ! They deserve it.

Lorang: I think that is because hardcore is getting more popular than ever in Belgium and so by supporting Belgian bands, those bands can get to places. Also the internet is a great way for bands to get recognition

What do you aim to do with your music?

Kevin: We don’t claim anything. We started this as a hobby and it’s still a hobby. We’re not that big but it feels good when you hear some people say : ‘That or that song from you guys really touches me.’ We just want to do some (little) tours and when people are angry, happy, sad, … just come along and sing, yell, jump, dance, but most of all : feel free to do whatever you like if you don’t hurt anyone else with it. Every gig we say this : ‘Equality is the soul of liberty.’

Lorang : Be happy, Living my dream..

If we wanted to book you (for example, in a house show or basement show) how would we do that?

You can contact us through facebook (it’s the most efficient way) or through e-mail :

Do you have any upcoming releases?

We’re now busy recording a single called ‘Coals’ which will be released as a music video. It will be way harder and darker than our other releases but there’s still a melodic touch in it.

Do you plan to tour the states?

Kevin: Not yet because that’s a big project for us to come over because most of us are still students. So to get your stuff in the U.S., tickets for the flights, and things like that, it would be too expensive right now. But in the future, we would very much like to come over to the U.S.!

Do you listen to any music that is unlike your own?

Kevin: I listen to instrumental music like Mono or Sleep Dealer. Or punk rock like Rise Against. Most of the time bands with very good lyrics or bands with no vocals in it. Bands with vocals but shitty lyrics don’t mean much to me, I must say.

Lorang: All kinds of metal and hardcore, K-pop and J-rock are really awesome! I also like Traditional Indonesian music. Rap and Jazz.


Read our review of their latest EP, The Greater Mind

Interview with Sam Lao!

By Michael White and Jon Birondo

Sometimes, being an up-and-comer in Hip Hop is a crazy journey. You have to dedicate so much time to writing and promotion that it takes over your whole life. Female rapper Sam Lao provides some insight on what it’s like to be an MC on the rise.

PNG: When did you first begin performing as an artist and how?

Lao: If we’re talking just musically, my very first show was March 2013. My mentor Killa MC let me perform at his birthday show at Prophet Bar. I was super nervous not only because it was my first show but because it was the first time a lot of my friends found out I was doing music. Outside of music, in high school I performed a bit with theatre and poetry slams, so I wasn’t completely new to performing in front of people when I started rapping.

PNG: Who was your favorite artist/band as a kid?

Lao: Oh goodness, we were definitely a top 40 household when I was growing up, lots of KISS FM so I definitely listened to plenty of Britney Spears, N’SYNC, Backstreet Boys and all that. And my mom loved Queen and Prince so I listened to a lot of that and still do.

PNG: Who are your musical influences?

Lao: I prefer the word inspired over influenced because I don’t feel like any one artist shaped the music I’ve put out. I don’t go into it with the mindset of “I want to make a song like that one” or “I want to sound like this person”. It’s been more of a listening to different artists and feeling inspired and creative and just going with the flow when I get in the studio. Me and my producer IshD call my music Experimental HipHop for that reason. Although its hiphop at its core we like to build on top of that into something people wouldn’t expect and haven’t heard before.

PNG: We heard you opened up for Jessie Ware back in October. How was that experience?

Lao: It was amazing! I got asked to do that pretty last minute and I just remember opening the email and staring at the screen for a few moments in disbelief. I was already lined up to play 4 more shows that weekend and early the next week but I just couldn’t say no! I knew that no one in the crowd would know who I was but I walk into shows like that with the intention of gaining new fans so although I was nervous as long as I gained a few new fans I felt like I’d be ok. The show was great, Jessie and her band were amazing and I got to meet her during the after party. She was super nice and really encouraging.

PNG: What bands/artists are you currently listening to?

Lao: I listen to a lot of Kanye, Jay-Z, Beyonce, TDE Everything (lol), Childish Gambino, Killa MC, Blue the Mistfit and The Airplane Boys with a few other randoms mixed in.

PNG: What is it like being a female MC in the Dallas hip-hop scene? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Lao: I feel like it’s worked in my favor. Even if people are initially turned off by the idea of a female rapper I think I’ve done a good job of drawing them in at shows and getting those people to listen and enjoy my music. That and being a part of BrainGang has been beneficial. It’s like having a team of really talented big brothers on my side and I know that that affiliation has definitely helped people take me seriously and give me a chance.

PNG: What is your advice for an up-and-coming rapper?

Lao: Your brand and your team are very important. You are more than just your music. You have to take everything into consideration in order to present a cohesive package. Thats album art, videos, any other visuals, your personal style and your live performance. Having great music is wonderful and yea that will get you fans but creating a full package and really branding yourself as an artist makes people take you seriously and stick around to see/hear more. As far as your team, friends are good but you need more than “yes” men. You need people that you trust to tell you when you need to go back to the drawing board or to go with something you might be too afraid to follow through with. You need people that will challenge you and people who inspire you, that you can feed off creatively.

PNG: Do you have any upcoming musical releases?

Lao: I’ve been working on a lot of new music and I plan to release a new song soon. This year I’ll be working on a full length album as well.

You can learn more about Sam Lao on her website.

Interview with Lord Byron!


by Michael White and Jon Birondo

Poignant and personal, Dallas rapper Lord Byron opened his mind up to the audience at the North Texas Hip Hop Showcase on January 10. After an electrifying performance at the showcase, Lord Byron agreed to answer a few questions about his origins and inspirations:

PNG: How did you discover that you wanted to rap?

Byron: It was more less discovery and more so destiny even though that sounds extremely cheesy. I never in a million years thought I would rap I wanted to draw and create characters for cartoons. I always wrote raps for fun just being smothered in the culture but eventually it turned into something unexplained.

PNG: What are your biggest musical/non-musical influences?

Byron: Jay Z, Basquiat, Malcolm X, Kanye West, Khalil Gibran, Bjork, Marlon Brando, Stew Brrd, Thomas Welch, Nas, Fat Bastard from DSR

PNG: How did you assemble your band? They sounded super tight.

Byron: Those are my Jazz friends that i met through another friend named Rami who’s a member of Billie Gang (a Dallas based Hip Hop collective) they did me a huge favor even though they were happy to do so

PNG: What music are you currently listening to?

Byron: Chief Keef’s Almighty So mixtape, Bjork’s Debut, and Mile’s Davis’s
Kind Of Blue

How do you approach songwriting and What advice do you have for an up-and-coming MC.

I only write when I feel like it of feel inspired, I never rush the writing process so it could take me 5 mins to write 2 verses or 2 months to write 5 bars. It’s all about making the most perfect song possible. And as far as advice ….idk I’m not famous yet I’m still up in coming haha but ummmm just study the game before you enter it, study the culture, study the people affiliated with the culture, study the music, then rap with the mentality to make the greatest product possible. That’s it

You can check out his work on his website.

sleigh bells

Interview With Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells!


Our dear friend and colleague John Jackson sat down with 1/2 of the acclaimed noise pop duo, Sleigh Bells after their show Saturday night (10/26/13) at the Granada Theater in Dallas, Texas in support of their new LP, Bitter Rivals. Here’s what she had to say to some of our questions!If you are unfamiliar with Sleigh Bells, click here for some background info! (Click “Sleigh Bells” for their website)
PNG: About the new album that just came out, did you have any specific goals when you started writing new music? Or did you just go with whatever came to you?
Alexis: You know, we never approach albums with strategic visions. It’s always more about what ends up happening, and the songs come out really spontaneously. We were feeling really positive and really energized, so we wanted to make music that reflected that positivity, and reflected that energy. Because Reign Of Terror was a bit melancholy, you know, sort of surrounded by gloom and darkness, so our intention was to make a record that was reflective of how good we were feeling, and I feel like it has a lot of that fun energy.PNG: A lot of our blog readers are students and young adults. When you were growing up, what kind of music did you listen to?

 I listened to a lot of different kinds of music. My dad was a huge soul fan, so I listened to a lot of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, and Etta James, people like that. Every single girl group, from The Shangri-Las to… I mean literally like every single Phil Spector girl group. Motown. And then I listened to a lot of Zeppelin, a lot of Bowie, a lot of The Clash, and then I listened to a lot of pop music too. I was always a big fan of Cindy Lauper.PNG: And you guys played with her!Alexis: Yeah, I sang with her! But yeah, it was really diverse, and I think that’s super important, to listen to as many genres as possible

Did you play music growing up? When did you start singing?

Alexis:I was singing from the time I was- before I could speak. My father’s a musician so it was always part of my upbringing. I was always either singing with him, performing with him, and then I got into musical theater. Music has always been a really integral part of who I am.

PNG: And when it comes to music, do you have any guilty pleasures? If so, what are they?

Alexis: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures with music, I really don’t. I think that everything has a certain merit to it. I never feel embarrassed or shy. I grew up singing in a girl pop band, and I felt embarrassed by what I did for a long time, because I would go to punk shows, be listening to The Clash, and then be playing bubblegum pop music, and I decided to never ever be embarrassed by anything I listen to.

PNG: What is your favorite Sleigh Bells song?

Alexis: Currently, I’d say probably Love Sick.

And what artists should fans of Sleigh Bells be listening to?

Alexis: I’ll answer this one on behalf of Derek. He’s been listening to Krewella a lot lately. I know she’s up and coming, so check her out.

That’s it! Big thanks to John and Sleigh Bells for making this HUGE endeavor happen! Good Luck to Sleigh Bells on their tour as well as their future albums! #KeepItNeat

Just as she said ” I think that’s super important, to listen to as many genres as possible”, keep expanding those musical barriers; strive to be open to all kinds of music!

Be sure to pick up Sleigh Bells’ Bitter Rivals as well as their other releases Treats and Reign of Teror on their website here. I guess you could say they’re…Pretty Neat. Thanks again Sleigh Bells and I hope to personally see you guys live one day and have a more formal interview as well!

– Jon Birondo
Co-Founder, Main Writer

My review of their single “Bitter Rivals”

Interview With Chris Linkovich of Cruel Hand!

Recently, I was granted the opportunity to sit down with Chris Linkovich (pictured above), lead singer of the Portland, Maine hardcore act, Cruel Hand. This unabashedly heavy group tore up the stage last Saturday while opening up for Title Fight and Balance and Composure at The Door in Dallas. As this was Pretty Neat’s first interview, I was pretty nervous, but with a slew of well-thought-out questions (and my dad’s encouragement), I asked Chris for a quick interview. He could not have been nicer, and said yes; we made our way to the area outside of the bathrooms and started the interview:Me: So what’s your name and role in the band?

Chris: My name is Chris Linkovich, and I sing for Cruel Hand.

PNG: When and where did Cruel Hand start?

Chris: Well, we were a bunch of friends from different parts of Maine that started recording demos at around 2006 when our old bands (including my old band, Outbreak). We wanted to develop a reputation of our own, not one influenced by what our past bands did.

PNG: That’s cool that you want to define yourselves with YOUR sound, not the sounds of past projects. So how did you guys get signed?

Chris: We’re label-less now, but after our demos circulated, we released our debut Without a Pulse on 6131 Records. We are releasing a new 7-inch on Closed Casket Activities in the near future…That’s not really us being signed, though, that’s just us calling them up and saying, “We have some stuff we want to record.” The guys there totally know what they’re doing, and they’re awesome.

PNG: So, being in a band on the road with your friends sounds like a lot of fun. What’s the best part of touring all the time?

Chris: We aren’t vegan, so finding the best regional fast food is always awesome. You got Whataburger around here, and IN-N-OUT in California, and we love it.

PNG: Speaking of vegan, do you guys associate with Straight-Edge

Chris: I’m straight edge, and our merch guy Blair is straight edge. I have friends that partake in drinking and stuff like that, and sometimes I’ll go to the club with them just to hang out. I also like being the hero that can drive everyone home afterwards (laughs).

PNG: I’m straight edge too, and I think that’s cool that you can still accept people even if they don’t follow the same lifestyle. I don’t think that defines who a person is. I don’t get the whole radical “Let’s smack cigarettes out of people’s mouths” ideal of some kids, though.

Chris: Yeah, that’s crazy.

PNG: What’s the Biggest Challenge you guys face as a band?

Chris: For me, it’s a mental thing. I want us to stay relevant. We don’t tour as much, and it’s challenging.

PNG: What do you guys listen to for musical or lyrical inspiration?

Chris: Lyrically, since I do a lot of the lyrics, I write very angry lyrics. I’m NOT miserable; I’m not an angry guy anymore, but that’s because I vent in my lyrics. I usually just take inspiration from people in my life, and apply that to the words. Musically, we all have broad tastes (our lead guitarist is a big metal guy), and we let a lot of those sounds that we listen to pour into our music. We make it very subtle, and not everyone catches the little things that we throw in there.

PNG: I heard a little bit of southern ‘tude in your music, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Chris: Yeah, like Ian Mackaye (of Fugazi and Minor Threat) once said that once you put  your music out there, the people will take it how they take it. It’s not your decision, you can’t make them hear exactly what you want them to.

PNG: Where do you guys see yourselves in 5 years?

Chris: I hope we are still a band, a relevant band. I hope we are all the same people, and that we still want to play.

PNG: Alright, cool. Well, thanks so much, man. This means a lot to us at Pretty Neat Grooves

Chris: It was good talking to you.

Well, there you have it. There’s substance behind the screams and stage dives, and there’s another story to be told behind the scenes. You can check out Cruel Hand on Facebook on their official page, or on tumblr at

Interview With Slingshot Dakota!

Courtesy ofTopshelf Records

I sat down with married indie-rockers Slingshot Dakota, who were on the Cruel Hand, Balance and Composure and Title Fight tour that stopped at the Door last Saturday. These guys deliver very passionate tunes with just their voices, a keyboard and a drum kit. After nervously approaching vocalist Carly about an interview, she (and husband Tom) gladly agreed to talk to me. Here’s what these two lovebirds had to say:

Me: So when did you guys start out?

Tom: In 2003, before I was in the band. Jeff Cunningham was the guitarist, and Pat Schramm was the old drummer. Jeff and Pat left, and I took over for drums. That’s how we became a two-piece.

Me: How did you guys get signed?

Carly: Our first album was self-released, and our friends convinced us to send demos out. One named that kept coming up was Topshelf Records. We talked to them, waited for a long time, then got signed.

Me: So you guys know Seth Decoteau, right?

Tom: Ya, he’s a good friend.

Me: We’ve talked with him before, he’s a really cool guy! All the bands on Topshelf seem awesome! Can I make a slight imposition?

Carly: Go for it…

Me: Can you tell Mr. Decoteau that I said hi, as well as Pianos Become The Teeth and You Blew It!?

Tom: Pianos is amazing.

Me: I know! They opened my mind up to screamo.

Carly: We could probably text them right now!

Me: Thank you so much, we’re big fans! Anyway, what’s one thing that is awesome about being in a band on the road all the time?

Tom: For me, it’s getting to spend more time with Carly, and doing what we love.

Carly: For me, it’s spending time with Tom.

Me: Alright, just a couple more questions, because Title Fight is up next, and I know you guys wanna see them.

Carly: They’re awesome! And ya, the sound-checks on this tour have been really quick.

Tom: We love every band on this tour, and we want to support them.

Me: This is like the first tour I’ve seen where every single band has blown me away. I mean, you guys killed it, Cruel Hand made it nasty, and Balance and Composure…

Tom: They’re incredible.

Me: I know! I’d never listened to them before this tour, and that’s a huge mistake. So what do you guys listen to for musical inspiration?

Carly: Well, the bands on this tour, haha! We like Into It. Over It. We’re also appreciative of our local hardcore scenes. I grew up in Long Island.

Me: Who are your best friends on Topshelf?

Both: The World Is A Beautiful Place, Tancred.

Tom: That girl can sing…

Me: I was listening to one of her songs on the sampler this morning. Blew me away.

Carly: Ya, she’s great.

Me: So where do you guys see yourselves in 5 years?

Both: Hopefully still around, doing what we love.

Me: What’s the one question that no one asks that you wish they would ask?

Tom: Why do we do what we do?

Me: Why do you do what you do?

Tom: It’s been a large part of my life, and I can’t see life without music. I might even want to do electronic music.

Carly: You gotta figure that out first.

Me: Well guys, thanks for the interview, it really means a lot. We’ll send you the link, follow us on twitter, Facebook, all that good stuff. Hashtag Keep It Neat! Please say hi to everyone for us!

Both: Will do!

Keep an eye out for Slingshot Dakota, follow them on Tumblr, and pick up “Dark Hearts,” out now on Topshelf Records.