New Jersey pop-rock group 18th & Addison joins us for a pit stop on their West Coast Tour at Mar Vista, CA community focused coffeeshop Coffee Connection to discuss their latest release Old Blues / Modern Love, making genuine connection with their fans, and valuing personal relationships.
18th & Addison is comprised of:
Tom Kunzman, vocals and guitar
Kait Kunzman, vocals and bass
Brian Dylla, drums
You’re riding the highs of your recently released EP Old Blues / Modern Love. For those who have yet to discover how awesome you guys are, would you care to share a bit about the lyrical themes and instrumental elements that we should be looking forward to in your music?
Kait Kunzman: Absolutely! I mean, in this most recent release, for the first time ever we wrote a song about our relationship. Tom and I are married, and we just never really do that. We broke it down to an acoustic song where Tom played the whole thing on acoustic guitar and I sang the whole thing. Again, it was the first time we wrote anything about each other, so in terms of the lyrical content for the EP, that was cool because we’d never done that before.
Tom Kunzman: It’s been a long time! So yeah, that was a big piece of it. We usually write about a lot of stuff from personal experience, of course, like all musicians do. Just people in your life that you’ve become comfortable with and trusting of, but you find out their true intentions later on, so you learn pretty quick to sever the ties while you have the chance and move on for a better future and a better version of yourself. Stuff like can be taken negatively in some ways, but it’s really more about self-empowerment more than anything. Musically, like instrumentally, we did experiment a little bit more with some synthesizers, which was fun and it’s something we’ve been dying to do. We’re all pretty big fans of eighties New Wave, just some of that darker, synth-pop type stuff. We got to experiment with some sample drums and things like that to kind of mesh with what Brian does on the record. It was just really cool. We had a lot of fun making this EP.
So which song would you say was your favorite and record? And all of you guys could totally have different answers!
Kait: *turns to Brian* Wanna go first?
Brian Dylla: My favorite that we worked on in pre-production was probably “Leeches.” That one I felt was the most collaborative. Recording would probably be “Drag.” That one was fun to record, and I think I recorded the drums like a month before they went in and finished it all.
Kait: I would say “Drag” is my favorite too. That was an older song that we came back to collaborate together to just make a little bit stronger lyrically. And even in the studio, we were trying to figure out different tones that could work for it because we didn’t want it to be too aggressive. When you listen to it, it’s not like this crazy energetic song like most of our other stuff, but it did kind of take on a different vibe than we had originally intended it to. So that one was my favorite to record and rewrite.
Tom: For me, if I had to pick my number one, I would pick “Minutes Like Fireflies” for sure, just because of the simplicity of it. We’ve all evolved and become adjusted to working together in studios and recording multiple electric guitars, some underlying acoustics, and of course, drums and bass and vocals, but that one was really cool because it was just me doing some sort of fingerpicking almost in this folk-Americana type of vibe on acoustic. I was like three stories up in a barn where the studio was, and Kait was all the way on the first floor in the vocal booth, and we did it with no metronome, no eye contact, and there was just a lot of free space where you really have to understand your partner and the band. It was the most simplistic song I think we’ve ever recorded because of the fact that it was just one guitar and vocal, and something about that was really open and experimental for us. I think it was so fun to make, and it just really stands out because it was the first time we’ve done something like that. The three of us are touring as a trio now, and we used to be a four-piece, but it sounds bigger now because there’s a genuine connection.
That’s why they say ‘less is more!’
Tom: And it shows on the record!
Kait: It’s true though! That whole record was done as a three-piece also.
And how would you say that the songwriting and recording process was similar or different than that of your past work? I know you guys were mentioning that you had experimented with synths this time around.
Tom: It was different in the sense that we were writing these songs over a longer period of time. Like with “Leeches,” it had a foundation and we kind of already knew we wanted to go a certain way, but we didn’t have a chorus for a while. We got better at tapering our enthusiasm and our urge to finish songs when we start them, and to kind of just let the songs breathe and exist. We decided to allow all of our influences to come in and not shy away from our poppier side or shy away from being a little bit more riff-oriented on guitars and bass and stuff like that. We got a little bit more fearless with it, but also more relaxed and just let things happen.
Kait: We also for the longest time would kind of focus on different parts of the songs on our own, but this time around we played off our different strengths in the band. Tom and I both write everything collaboratively, but Brian really honed in on his drumming and making up key parts of the songs that we didn’t even really have ideas for. So he came in and did that and the transitions in-between, I focused a lot on melody and harmony, and then Tom really honed in on his guitar playing and bass playing. I’m the one that plays bass live, but Tom tracked all the bass for this, so that was cool.
Tom: It was a challenge for ourselves vocally as well, like, for me to just accept my lower vocal range as a good thing and not like I sound like I’m boring, you know? I just own it and try not to shy away from it. And same for Kait, she was really pushing the boundaries and going more into softer vocals that she was a little intimidated to do at first. We really pushed ourselves to do things that we haven’t done before, and it was really easy when you’re in the studio with a producer like John Ferrara, who just makes it so fun for all of us. He literally is just like one of us. It’s insane. It’s like, we met, we got in the studio, and it just rolled out so naturally, like, we didn’t even have to try.
It was a divine pairing!
Tom: Yeah! His input was great and it was really helpful.
Kait: There was no pressure, but there was also pressure, you know?
Tom: Healthy pressure that you put on yourself. It felt optimistic instead of like, ‘Oh my God, this producer’s a pain in my ass!’ *all laugh*
Kait: He made you want to be there.
Tom: Yeah. You wanted to keep going back.
He was like, ‘I just want you to be your best selves!’
Kait: Yeah! It really was like that! And that was really the difference from past experiences at least.
And kind of going into a little bit about the modern music industry, it’s kind of been leaning towards more like singles based releases as well as shorter EP releases, even bigger artists are now starting to do that.
Why do you think music consumers are starting to be more in tune to that as opposed to a full-length album?
Kait: Honestly, I think their attention spans are getting shorter because they want more so quickly. We put out a full-length record with eleven or twelve songs, and it was a fun and cool experience to have under our belts, but I prefer the whole four-song EP because you get to play them all at the show, and then you’re able to release something more quickly because you have this arsenal of songs. And again, with the attention span of certain people, like, with Spotify able to have you put something up once a week, it makes it a little bit easier. I think it kind of keeps you on your toes a little bit more as a musician. *turns to Brian and Tom* I don’t know if you guys feel differently about it, what do you think?
Brian: I think the attention span thing is definitely true, but I think it’s good to take some time to create and record a batch of songs that you’re really proud of and then put that out. I’m not really a fan of rushing to come up with a ton of songs.
The filler songs.
Tom: There’s no room for fillers anymore because everything’s on Spotify, so essentially everything is a single whether people hear it on your biggest radio station or not. You got to think about that in the sense that every song has to be ‘good.’ But the beauty of doing a single-by-single or a four-song EP like we did and then another four-song EP a few months down the line, you’re kind of given the opportunity to not have to sit there and focus on an entire record. Sometimes you listen back a few years later and you kind of wish some things weren’t a part of it, you know? You’ve got to just really focus on the song and take your time to make sure it’s great so then you can look back and be really proud of it. And that kind of goes back to the last question, like, we were able to be really confident with our decisions going into this EP. It’s definitely our favorite release that we’ve done, and most bands can’t really do that.
Kait: We just had four really good songs.
Tom: Quality over quantity.
Kait: Yeah, four great songs over eleven ‘ok’ songs, or even five out of eleven songs being solid.
Brian: *in whisper tone* And it’s cheaper to do, albums are more expensive. *all laugh* So yeah, take your time guys.
And as music listeners, we appreciate it more when we have a good quality work that we know that you spent the appropriate amount of time to actually love and have it grow naturally as opposed to just putting something out willy nilly.
Tom: It’s like that cliche of ‘you get what you put out into the universe,’ and it’s like if you put love into your records and into how you present your record, you’ll get that love back. That’s exactly what we’ve been seeing, just more love for Old Blues / Modern Love than we saw for all of our three previous releases, and we did a lot more to promote those three albums prior to this one. That’s why we came out here to L.A. to try to make that happen for this EP. But yeah, you get what you give.
Definitely. I mean, I feel like music listeners now are more in tune with what exactly is going on in the song itself instead of just, ‘this sounds cool’ kind of thing.’
Kait: It’s because they can focus on less songs now too. Like you were saying, EPs are full of a few solid songs that we really put our heart and soul into that they can connect to on a higher level because it’s not this eleven song piece of work that they dig into. They have the time to really hone in on those four songs and fall in love with them.
And to learn all the words so when they go to a show they have no excuse to not sing along.
Tom: *laughs* Exactly!
So you guys are here in L.A. visiting from the good ‘ol state of New Jersey, and you guys have gotten to tour around many parts of the U.S., which is super awesome and I’m totally jealous. *all laugh* What are some differences that you guys have seen in regards to audience support or excitement, or even just how shows are run in the different parts of the country that you guys have performed in?
Kait: I mean, just considering this is our first time on the West Coast with this band being together five years at this point, the reaction here was great because it built up for so long. We had people who were dying to see us for a long time, and we finally made it over here so obviously that was great and really interactive. We try our best to kind of get the crowd interacting with us every show, but in New Jersey it’s hard, and you kind of have to like space out your shows because a lot of things can get oversaturated in a way. I’m sure it’s like that in other states as well, that’s just how we feel because we live there. But here on the West Coast, or at least in California, it seems like everyone is really open to hearing new music, or just listening to music in general. You can go to a bar to hear a band even if you’ve never heard of them. So I like that.
Tom: I noticed in Texas we have a much better following than I thought. It was cool to see because from the first show up until we were on our drive to play in L.A., we were noticing new faces that we don’t hear from every day on social media. And we engage a lot on social media, we love to interact with the people who support us, so we know what a lot of them look like and we know a lot of their names, what songs are their favorites and other bands they like, just all that. There were so many new faces who we knew nothing about, and they were just coming up to talk to us after the set and started messaging us and commenting on things after those shows. It was really cool to witness that and realize that we have more fans out in this area than we thought we did. You kind of wish you went there a little bit earlier, but you know, timing’s everything, and it was probably the right time to be for there for this EP and needed to be just the three of us.
Kait: Obviously, certain places have better music scenes than others, but the point is, we go out and we play the same show everywhere we go. Tom’s really good at bringing the crowd in, and so it’s more or less about the towns and the areas you pick to go to in those specific states, more so than the scene itself. We try to link up with bands that we know work as hard as we do so hopefully it’s a great turn out for everybody no matter where we are. *turns to Brian* Anything to add to that?
Brian: Texans are very nice, very nice people, very supportive, and they sing a lot. I think they sing a lot more than the East Coast. *laughs*
And speaking of touring, if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would choose and what would you name your tour?
Kait: Oh my gosh, I think about this a lot and I always never know who to choose! *laughs*
Brian: *turns to Tom* You go first, I need a second. *laughs*
Tom: Can they be dead?
I mean, we have holograms now.
Tom: Oh man. I’d like it to be us opening for Green Day, opening for The Clash with The Smiths headlining so I can hang out with Johnny Marr.
Kait: That’s pretty good!
Do you have a tour name?
Tom: I don’t know, I’m not good with tour names. *laughs*
The ‘I Wanna Hang Out With Johnny Marr’ Tour! *all laugh*
Tom: The ‘Bring Back Joe Strummer, Please!’ Tour.
Kait: Mine are off the wall different. Actually, maybe not, but I would have us opening for Good Charlotte, opening for Green Day, and opening for either Tom Petty or Elvis Presley, and I’d call it ‘The Holy Shit!’ Tour.
Tom: Aww man, that would be pretty cool! I like my tour, but her tour would be fun too!
He’s jacking your tour! *all laugh*
Tom: Can we just build a festival? *laughs*
Kait: Good thing we’re in the same band! *laughs*
Tom: Just build a festival, it’ll be a three-day festival! *laughs*
Brian: Mine would be us opening for Twin Peaks, opening for King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, and then opening for Frank Zappa.
Brian: And then we would all share a van, and this credit goes to my friend Michael Kilkenny, but the tour would be called ‘Bands In A Van.’
Tom: I like that!
Kait: It doesn’t seem like you needed all that time to think about that! *all laugh*
Brian: It’s always tough because every day you’re in a different mood musically, so it’s like, ‘Hmm, who would I want to go on tour with today?’
The entire world! *all laugh*
Tom: We wanna tour with everybody!
Kait: I really like mine!
Brian: My friend’s gonna be happy that I said that. *laughs*
So a question for Kait, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful? And of course, the gentlemen are welcome to chime in as well. Everyone’s answers are accepted.
Kait: I don’t feel like they need to, but I think a lot of them feel like they have to, whether that’s to get more attention or make themselves more well known. I mean, I’ve always been very myself. I’ve gone up on stage in skinny jeans and a T-shirt forever, so I don’t believe in portraying yourself a certain way. I mean, obviously, we go out with a level of professionalism and an ‘image,’ but I don’t think that’s crucial as far as men or women. I don’t like when women come out in like no clothes just to show off their music, I’ve never believed in that but only if you’re comfortable doing that. No one should force you to do what you don’t feel comfortable doing. Some people just don’t feel the need to do that and I’m one of those people.
You can tell if it’s being forced too.
Brian: Going off of what you just said, you can tell when any musician is faking it.
Kait: Or they’re being told to do it.
Brian: Yeah, exactly. You can smell that out, and fans, like genuine fans of a band, can tell. I think it goes for everybody more than just women. You have to remember to not try so hard. If it’s not you, don’t do it.
Tom: Yeah, just don’t try to be other people. The whole point of playing music is that everyone’s an individual. We’re supposed to sound different because we’re all different people, men, women, all that. We’re all supposed to sound different from each other, so don’t mimic other people and don’t do what you saw someone else do before you, because that means it’s already been done. People are gonna say what they’re gonna say. There’s always gonna be somebody who’s got a problem with anything really. They’re going to have a problem that there’s another band that’s all guys, or they’re gonna have a problem that there’s another band with a female singer, like someone’s always gonna complain about something, but as long as you’re happy and everyone in your band is having fun, and you’re playing songs that you love and connecting with people, you don’t need to do all the extra bullshit to prove it. That’s the proof right there. You don’t need to work so hard.
Kait: Speaking directly about women, I also don’t like if a woman goes up in a revealing outfit for the sake of the show, but then complains that people are objectifying them because of the way they dress or whatever.
Tom: It’s just like the idea of Alice Cooper went on stage in makeup, and then got mad that someone didn’t agree with a guy wearing makeup. It’s like, he should know what he’s getting into before seeing him right?
Tom: He’d probably be like, ‘Hey look, it’s ok, you don’t have to like it. We don’t have to agree. It’s not your band, so I’m going to do what I wanna do.’
And kind of staying on the same topic, it’s pretty rare to see female-fronted bands and even co-female-fronted bands, or even all-female bands that aren’t a pop group. Why do you think women feel more comfortable doing their music in a solo setting as opposed to group setting?
Kait: Again, I don’t know if it’s women or men because I just don’t think of it that way, but for me, I’d be worried about being judged a certain way. I mean, if I were in an all-girl band I would feel judged solely because girls are catty. *laughs* I mean, I’ve never been in that situation, luckily, and you could totally meet three or four other amazing women that you click with and it could work out. I’ve also been in situations where I’m doing my own thing, and I just personally feel more comfortable in a band. That’s not because I didn’t enjoy doing it myself, but I like collaborating and I like having that camaraderie with your own bandmates and being proud of something together. So I don’t really know how or why they would lean more towards the solo thing, because I kind of feel the opposite. The only thing I can think of is maybe they’re just not as comfortable collaborating or if that’s what they’ve always kind of known. And let’s face it, there haven’t really been too many crazy huge solo women aside from maybe Joan Jett when it comes to rock music, and even she’s got her band behind her. I think a lot of women, like, when they first start out, all they have is themselves, so they feel comfortable in setting and they’d prefer to keep it that way. But again, I personally feel differently about it.
Tom: Yeah. And there’s some really amazing bands out there right now that are half girls, half guys like The Bombpops, they’re two girls and two guys and they’re this badass punk band. There’s a band called Dog Party from Northern California. They’re two-piece, they’re both girls, and they play badass music. They sound almost like Bikini Kill and Green Day and The Ramones. They’re awesome! I think some people choose the solo route more so to just have freedom and control, and that goes for guys and girls. And then there’s also this weird competition at younger ages when you normally start a band, where like a lot of guys don’t want to be in bands with girls because they don’t want to be overshadowed. it’s all about their ego and it’s stupid, but that’s just how it ends up going sometimes. Maybe for some girls at that age where you start something, they have this idea of like, ‘I don’t need to deal with that bullshit. I’m just gonna do it by myself.’
Kait: There’s also that typical, ‘Oh, we don’t want a girl in our band’ kind of crap, and then there’s the side of like you just said, the intimidation from men of having a female in their band might have just forced a female to feel like they have to do it on their own.
Tom: And that can be good or bad depending on what she’s trying to do. Sometimes the bad is also great because you can use that as a fuel to do better on your own, which is great. Like, you see these people who go solo and it’s like, ‘I wouldn’t want to hear you with a band because then we probably wouldn’t have you in all your awesomeness,’ you know?
Sometimes people just work better as solo artists. They’re able to really get the music that they’ve wanted to put out there instead of having to compromise.
Kait: Yeah. And then I agree on the other side of it too. There are people that shouldn’t have left their band because they were better in a group, you know? And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do something different, it’s just that some listeners will always enjoy the band stuff more than you doing the solo thing. That’s going to be a preference I think.
Tom: It’s also going to be whatever makes the artist happy. They’re gonna make better music when they’re in the right headspace, and some people just work better alone.
*Kait starts singing “When I’m Alone”*
Tom: Oh my God! Please put in there that Kait sings her own song! *all laugh*
Kait: It just popped in my head! *laughs*
I’ll make sure to leave it in! *laughs*
So you guys have been doing this for a long time together and now you have good ‘ol Brian here joining the crew.
Whoot! How did you guys decide to start up a musical partnership, and when did the decision to bring in good ‘ol Brian here?
Tom: *laughs* It goes really way back now at this point. Kait and I have known each other, well, known of each other at least, from within the music scene in our town.
Kait: Like twelve or thirteen years I think.
Tom: Yeah, a long time. And just to kind of cut the story down, I ended up playing bass for a band that she actually formally sang in. Once that band completely broke up and she had a new project going, I started a new band that started to play shows with her new band. So we both had these new bands, we met each other through local shows, we didn’t really like each other leading up to that moment, but when we met in person we were like, ‘Oh, you’re actually pretty cool.’ The more we saw each other at our shows, over time we started to hang out more and found out we liked a lot of the same bands.
Kait: A lot of the same bands that our friends would make fun of us for liking. *laughs*
Tom: We were the only two that liked them and we were like, ‘Man, I wish we were friends earlier. We would’ve just forgot everyone else! *laughs*
Kait: But then we started covering songs and writing songs together, and it kind of just kicked off from there.
Tom: It took a minute to really click, but we wrote this song called “Running,” and because we felt really good about writing that together that we were like, ‘Man, we should keep doing this!’ And then “Like Porcelain” I think was the next one that lit the fire where we were like, ‘Let’s do it!’
Kait: Both of our previous bands had broken up at that time, like, while we were hanging out and recording and just messing around doing stuff on our own, our bands disbanded. We were happy to have each other to collaborate with, but at the same time, we weren’t rushing to be in anything new. We were just letting it organically fall into place, and I think that’s what made it so easy to form this band in general because we just kind of let it happen. Like Tom was saying, “Running” happened and we were like, ‘Ok, that was pretty good. Let’s write another song.’ And then “Like Porcelain” happened, so then we just decided like, ‘Hey, we both don’t have a band, and this is working out, let’s just try it?’
Tom: And it was cool with it happening like that because it was like the music kind of did the talking for us and helped us make a decision. We decided from there that we were gonna start something up officially, and over time we decided we wanted to keep it to being a duo in photos and videos solely because we went through other projects where people were quitting right before major things were coming up. It had made our old bands look really bad because we would show up and it was no one in the photos that was on stage. So when we started doing this we thought it was just easier to ask friends of ours who wanted to learn songs and play shows with no strings attached. Went through a few line ups with drummers and bass players in our hometown, just all over the state really. We went through a lot of people that unfortunately didn’t like what we were trying to do…
Kait: Not even that though, they just didn’t even understand it.
Tom: They didn’t understand it but they also hated that what we’re doing is what it is, like, it was almost like they wanted more, and we weren’t really willing to budge on that because we had a vision for it, you know?
Kait: But then Tom did some work for Brian’s old band. Again, we’re in the circle of musicians just working with each other. So yeah, Tom filled in on guitar for Brian’s old band and developed this cool connection with him. We became friends, and one day we’re like, ‘Let’s ask Brian if he wants to join.’ He was down, and we ended up learning that we had a lot of the same influences that we didn’t think we had because the bands were so different. The band he was in was like this funk-y pop-rock kind of thing.
Tom: It was really fun playing music together in that band, but we never really conversed too much.
Brian: At least not about our influences or anything like that. Yeah, once we started playing together we all connected really quickly, like, even our first show was really tight. And then even later on, like, obviously they have the basics for all the songs they’ve written, but they’re still really open to showing the demos and working out parts together, they’re very collaborative like that.
Kait: We both are drummers too, so Brian can just play we can think of because we don’t know what we’re doing sometimes. *laughs* But then he makes up all these cool parts and we’ll be like, ‘Oh man, that’s so much better!’ It’s because he’s an actual drummer. *all laugh*
Brian: Luckily there’s not a lot of music the three of us hate.
Kait: As you can tell from our tours. *all laugh*
Tom: We find something good in every genre and we all kind of talk about it, so you start to see that come through to the point where it’s almost like we’re reading each other’s minds all the time.
Brian: We’re also very different people all around, so it’s very interesting the way it works on stage and in writing and recording and stuff.
Tom: It’s just so easy! It’s like the easiest time I’ve had writing with people, you know. I’m getting ideas from people, people being open enough to try new things, so it’s really cool.
And speaking of influences, who or what inspires you?
Brian: Growing up when I first started playing drums, it was definitely stuff like Green Day and Blink-182 and Sum 41 and stuff, and not even just being influenced by cool drum parts, but even the guitar and melodies. I really am influenced by all kinds of music just to be creative…
Kait: Which makes it so much easier to collaborate with.
Brian: Yeah definitely. I don’t think we think in terms of a genre when writing parts, or specific parts, of songs that we’re working on.
Kait: We also don’t just think about the parts we play either, like, we’re constantly thinking of things and we should do and come up with different parts aside from what we play in the band.
Tom: Yeah, when we say we ‘collaborate, we fucking do! *all laugh*
Kait: For me, Good Charlotte was my favorite band growing up, and still is. I love them! They taught me a lot about melody and catchy guitar parts and they made me want to be in a band. People think they’re corny, but it’s ridiculous. *laughs* Like, them and Simple Plan were like the hub of every pop-punker for our age group, and again, they made me want to play music, so that’s gotta mean something right? I mean, I do like Blink-182 and Sum 41, which again, comes full circle as to why we all work so well together because of those influences. But honestly, Tom was really the one who got me into focusing on bands like The Rolling Stones and The Clash, just bands I always knew existed and would listen to their singles or whatever but never really focused on the actual instrumentation of some of the songs. And now that I’m playing bass, now more than ever, I’m influenced by bands like The Replacements and bass parts that, again, you don’t listen to until you’re actually playing that instrument or honing in on those things. So it started off with early 2000’s pop-punk, and then gradually has changed into the eighties synth-pop.
Kind of like going back in time!
Kait: Yeah! Exactly! It’s kind of cool thinking of it that way.
Tom: For me, when I was a kid I really gravitated towards Joe Perry‘s guitar playing in Aerosmith because my dad was listening to a lot of that type of stuff. I still love him to this day, and a lot of that went into what became, like everybody here said, Green Day and Blink-182, who were my first real ‘favorite bands,’ and The Ramones of course. But then I started getting into some metal, some reggae, I like a lot of old-school country like Johnny Cash.
Kait: Yeah, country was a big thing in my house too growing up, and I feel like it influenced me without me realizing.
Tom: So yeah, it was basically just rock n roll, punk rock, some country, and I like a lot of dark eighties synth-pop.
Kait: Depeche Mode.
Tom: Exactly. I like a lot of the really dark stuff. *laughs*
Brian: You can take parts of any genre and put it into any other genre.
That’s pretty much what we’re doing now in modern music!
Tom: For real though! I think that’s the best thing that happened in the last decade was the death of genre. Bands can do whatever they want. You don’t have to be fearful of anything. It’s just so exciting!
I love it! I mean, I don’t play music, like, no one wants to hear me sing. *all laugh* I am very much a listener and I appreciate it when a band incorporates new and fun elements. Like, take All Time Low for example, their last album Last Young Renegade sounded completely different than all of the other stuff, but I personally thought it was one of their strongest songwriting-wise.
I was getting so mad when ‘fans’ were like, ‘It sounds too different! It doesn’t sound like “Dear Maria”’
Kait: Ugh! The worst!
Tom: That’s like the beauty of it all though! Like, you can be driving in the car and with Spotify on, and you can go from having an old Green Day song or New Found Glory, and have it switch over to Lizzo or the new Jonas Brothers record or something that Ryan Tedder produced, which is everybody, and absolutely love it. And he’s one of my favorite producers, like, he’s everywhere and you always know it’s him, but it’s always a little bit different. That’s a guy who just loves music, and that’s really what I was trying to get out of my influences, not just bands or specific people, because there’s always some good in every genre, which, of course, the ‘good’ is subjective. I have a hard time disliking music.
So going into everyone’s favorite topic of social media…
*all three members of 18th & Addison cheer*
Yeah! *laughs* Right now, it’s pretty much the main form of marketing, whether we want to accept it or not. Do you feel that it makes it easier or harder for artists to make a name for themselves?
Kait: I think it’s easier. I mean, it also depends on how you look at it. When my dad was younger and going to shows wearing his leather jacket and ripped jeans, he was looking forward to the weekend to go see shows, and it was great because that’s what he had to look forward to. There was nothing allowing you to see that stuff from that show afterwards to stop you from going, like, if you missed that show, you missed that show. It was very much everybody had to be very involved in going to shows, which made the shows bigger and better. That’s something I wish existed, but at the same time, they didn’t have those outlets to reach people in different countries and different states like we do now. We wouldn’t be playing anybody here if we didn’t have the luxury of social media because, like, nobody would even know who we are because we haven’t made it out here until now. And that’s just the West Coast, there’s so many other places we want to reach, and being able to build that fanbase and connections with people makes it easier to get them excited for when you’re coming their way. I’m like 50/50 about it.
Tom: I think it’s great. I mean, I like to interact with people so I think it’s cool. I also know there’s a lot of noise out there, so you’ve got to do something special to cut through all that and make sure you’re seen and that your music’s heard. Like Kait said, the interaction is great because it’s so much easier to talk and connect with people who are potential fans of your band or already fans of your band that you didn’t even realize. *turns to Brian* Brian, what’s your take on social media man? Or I guess, when was your last post? *all laugh*
Brian: 2016 I believe.
Kait: Brian’s never on it, but he’s there when it counts!
Brian: I’m torn with that’s for sure. I feel like the music promotion has always been so saturated because there’s always been so many bands trying to promote themselves, so I don’t think social media made that any worse, but you can definitely see how saturated the market is in real time with social media. I’m definitely the last guy that should be talking about marketing or social media though. That is what I’ll say. *all laugh*
Tom: I just love it because I get to be in touch with people and I like to share what we create together. It’s exciting and I love the immediate feedback, and that’s really the only feedback we actually give a shit about is that people, like real people, who are in their bedrooms or in their car with their friends or by themselves with their headphones on and loving “Leeches” or relating to “When I’m Alone.”
Kait: There’s also a big difference between a band just sending out a ton of messages that are the same to every single person that they follow.
Tom: Like the automated messages.
Kait: Yeah, like the automated mass messages. There’s such a difference between that and us literally writing each message being like, ‘Hey, what was your favorite song? Your hair looks awesome!’ We do genuinely talk to these people, like, we look into their profiles and we want to know who they are when they follow our band. So we reach out and we connect with them more than just like, ‘Hey, check out our music.’ That goes a long way I think.
Tom: You want to support individuality and creativity and that’s the easiest way to do it because we’re not always face to face. Have fun with it!
And staying on topic of social media, do you feel like sometimes it kind of puts on a pressure for artists to constantly have something going on or even posting or sharing certain things about yourself that you wouldn’t normally tell to somebody who’s sitting right here with some coffee?
Kait: Yeah, it does. We went on our honeymoon and it was hard for us to like unwind for a week or two without trying to touch social media. And then when we weren’t doing it I felt like people were going to forget about us because we were so active and talked to them all the time. It’s like, you disappear for a day and you miss conversations that you were genuinely interested in!
Tom: I mean, I feel like it does put a pressure on you because you have to think, like, your post is there for a millisecond and then your phone refreshes and your shit’s gone, someone else’s is right there. It almost puts on this pressure of like, ‘Am I posting too much to a point where I’m annoying people and I look like I’m screaming for your attention?’ And then on the other hand it’s like, ‘Did I not post enough and that’s why you’re not seeing the important things I really want you to know about before we come to your city?’ But also at the same time, we’re in a situation where following the amount of people who engage with your band actually helps the growth of your band, so it’s very important to people like us and what we do and if you’re trying to build some sort of brand or business. I do think that for if you’re a thirteen or sixteen year old kid and you don’t have a personal brand to sweat about or trying to build or anything, and you just want followers on Twitter and Instagram that the pressures can be different. I mean, we see it a lot where people get very stressed out if they lose followers.
Kait: We try not to lose sleep over it.
Tom: No, we don’t. But the point is, that kind of stuff does have an effect on a band and even actors, and it can also have an effect nowadays on jobs you can get or opportunities you can get as a musician or an actor or an entertainer. But if you’re just a kid, you’re just a person who’s on social media and enjoying the entertainment. Like, don’t stress numbers so much and don’t feel pressure to have to create content. You’re not content. Just document the stuff you like and make it like a photo album. For us, we’re trying to document and we want people to know what’s going on.
Kait: We’re also not in a position to be like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to take a break for a little bit,’ you know. We count on talking to these people and connecting with them to be able to spread the word about our band. It’s important, but it’s not a situation where you should, like, lose sleep over it.
Tom: Yeah, the people who do I feel like just get too into it sometimes, and you hope that at least as a young kid, that they don’t get too worked up over that. For us, it puts a little bit of pressure, but you don’t always have to give in.
Don’t give in to the pressure kids!
Brian: Do whatever the hell you want!
How do you guys balance your personal lives with their professional lives?
Kait: Me and Tom are married, and we do really try to make it a point to have date nights or date days, and then times that are workdays and work nights. I think we do a good job. *laughs* We’ve been together a really long time and it’s just a situation where you have to be aware of what’s going on.
And Brian’s included on these dates too right? *all laugh*
Tom: What’s funny is he was basically on our honeymoon!
*turns to Brian* You were the Insta photographer weren’t you? *all laugh*
Brian: When I’m on vacation I get really active on social media.
Kait: He was actually on vacation with his family at the same time we were on our honeymoon, so we ran into each other. So yes, he was there lingering. *laughs*
Brian: You say we ran into each other, but I’m pretty Tom and I were actively looking for each other, at least I was. *laughs*
You were just like, ‘Hey family, my bandmates are going to be on their honeymoon, let’s go!
Brian: You caught me. *all laugh*
Kait: But going back to the question, you just have to balance the two correctly and make sure you make the time for even friendships. It’s not just about mine and Tom’s relationship. When we’re out with other people, it’s not just talking about music all the time, we bond over different things too. It’s important to do that and not get sucked in.
Brian: Yeah. There comes a point, especially when you’re on tour, when you’re just like, ‘Ok, no music tonight. Let’s go out to eat somewhere, but no music and no bar with music playing.’
That’s very hard to find. *laughs*
Tom: It’s just when you’re on tour, you’re in the same type of environment all night long and every night, it’s nice to be able to get away from it sometimes. *laughs*
Brian: Even with writing and recording, you have to take breaks. And then when you go back to something that you would be working on for a couple days straight after you took a few days off, you look at it in such a different light and different headspace that it can be really beneficial.
Kait: A lot of producers do that too because they sit with the song even longer than we do. We have a hand in the production of our records so it’s a little different, but when it’s like Brian in a room for twelve hours doing the same thing, you do need that time to just hang out and reset.
Tom: I think I need to be pulled out of the studio a little bit more than most people do. *laughs*
Brian: Yeah, Tom has the hardest time…
Tom: Letting go? *laughs*
Brian: I would say more like turning off.
Kait: Brian and I put the hockey game on and we’re good.
Tom: If I hear someone say ‘burrito’ I’m just like, ‘Yeah?’
The magic word! *all laugh* Now people know how to kidnap you.
Tom: Oh, it’s very easy. And our location is all over the internet at all times. *all laugh*
If you guys could give your younger selves any advice in regards to music or what you’ve experienced in life in general, what advice would you give them?
Kait: Brian looks like he’s got something to say!
Brian: I’m thinking. *laughs*
Tom: I can off with music. I’d probably say to slow it down a little bit, and like, find the right people first instead of just focusing on writing. Not that I regret anything because it led us all to each other and led us to this moment, but I would’ve told myself to just chill out. You don’t have to control every single aspect, because once you relinquish a little bit of control, amazing things can happen when you’re not suffocating the project. Just let it happen. It’s been great since I’ve been able to start doing that. *laughs*
Better late than never!
Tom: Yeah! *laughs* But that’s what I would want to tell myself, like, ‘Dude, shut your mouth, calm down, write the songs, and have fun.’
Kait: I started playing in a band that was having semi-success really early on when I was like fifteen, and I definitely wouldn’t have done a lot of the things that I did while I was in that band. I would have said ‘no’ to a lot more, like, just because you feel like you have to get your foot in the door a little bit, you take opportunities that you may not be comfortable with. And like he was saying, I don’t regret it, but there’s definitely some times I should have stood my ground a little bit more, but you live and learn. I actually prefer being in an independent band now, and people kind of knock that sometimes, so I would tell my younger self to not think so much about being famous,’ which I never really cared about anyways, ‘and to not put so much pressure on myself to be something when it should happen organically.’
Brian: I would probably say to take more risks. I didn’t start really touring until I was like maybe twenty-one, twenty-two, so if you’re like seventeen, eighteen and you are in a band, that’s the best time in your life to go out on the road and fucking grind. It just gets harder and harder when you get older. So yeah, slow down, take more risks, and just enjoy things.
Kait: Good advice.
Absolutely! And what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Kait: I hope they feel like it’s a little different than all the rest of the stuff that they hear. I hope they hear the different influences from all the bands that we listen to from Green Day to The Replacements to The Clash to Joan Jett…
Tom: These are all falling under the same umbrella. *all laugh*
Kait: Fine! *laughs* So we’ll say from like The Everly Brothers to Shania Twain, just everything. I hope they can hear something special, and I hope that they connect to the songs just like anybody who writes music would.
Tom: Yeah, I hope we give them something a little bit different to connect to. We hope they understand that we’re being open and honest and that it’s meant to be played to have a good time, you know?
Kait: Just have fun!
Tom: Yeah. Like, we understand that our lyrics can be pretty dark and sound pretty bleak at times, but if you really dissect our lyrics, you always notice there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for every song, and there’s always big, upbeat rhythms that are meant to make you move and feel good when you’re at the show. We want everyone to be a part of the show and to not just come and see us to stare at us.
Kait: Yeah. Forget about what you’re going through in general, just come to a show to get away and escape for a little bit.
Brian: There’s no negativity, it’s all just honesty. It’s like, ‘Look, shit happens, but we’re getting through it together.’ That’s all that matters.
And to end us off, what are the other big exciting things should we be expecting from you?
Tom: Well, we’re working on a ton of new music. We’ve been writing a lot of new songs, and we’ve actually been collaborating with a lot of artists that we really admire. Not really sure what’s going to happen with those just yet because we’re just getting into it, but what we do know is there’s been a lot of talks of touring. We’ve got a lot that we want to do for sure, but yeah, we’ve got a lot of new songs that we’re really excited about and going back to what Brian said, we’re definitely taking some risks on these ones. We will also be doing a Stageit Live Stream on Saturday 4/4, in which we’re donating some proceeds to Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. We’re very excited to still perform for people & hopefully donate a sufficient amount to their cause.
About Coffee Connection:
Coffee Connection is an absolute dream of a coffeeshop on a visual scale. Formerly the location of landmark West L.A. Italian restaurant, Bruno’s Ristorante, Westside Vineyard took the beautiful storybook venue under its wing and transformed it into a shop focused on community. Internet gypsies can rejoice with plenty of outlets to go around in multiple seating areas, including a spacious entrance seating area, a stunning courtyard, and a lounge area complete with cozy couches (plus many rooms available for rental). A wide variety of organic and fair trade beverage options provide anyone that walks through their doors something to write home about, including myself who got the Calm-omile (chamomile, cardamom, and milk).
Coffee Connection also goes above and beyond business-wise, as they are categorized as a 501(c)3 non-profit. So apart from how amazing the shop looks and their impressive menu, they’ve partnered with charities that work to fight against childhood cancer (Alex’ Lemonade Stand), animal abuse (Forte Animal Rescue), child sex-trafficking (Fashioned For Freedom, Saving Innocence), and many more. The saying ‘A cup a day’ means more when it comes to this shop, and is something for any coffee lover to commend.