Shameless Promotions sat down and spoke with Steve Schwartz, vocalist of The Things They Carried, a metal band based out of New York that's armed with an experimental rock/metal record that's ready to be released to the masses. The band recently released "Melancholia", a six-song EP that covers a number of emotional territories, both lyrically and musically. Shameless spoke with Schwartz about recording the album with Shawn Milke (guitarist/vocalist of Alesana) and mix engineer Neil Engle, their upcoming tour, and much more.
Congratulations on announcing your new tour. I’ve started to ask this question a bit to other artists, but there always some kind of purpose or goal behind any particular tour. For you guys, what is the particular goal for you with the tour you have coming up?
The goal is to finally get the physical copy of the CD into peoples’ hands, so they can finally get familiar with all of the songs. We’ve been on tour for pretty much this whole year, and we haven’t had the physical copy. We actually went back and played some of the venues that we played over again, once or twice. People came back to those shows, but they still didn’t know the songs. So the goal is definitely to get the songs into peoples’ hands.
When you guys went into the studio to record “Melancholia”, did you guys know exactly what you wanted the EP to be, or did all of the songs have to grow over time? Walk me a little bit through the process of getting these songs into their final form.
This was a really cool process for us. I’ve done many recordings with my previous lineup of The Things They Carried, but with this one… We did two new songs for the EP, and then we redid a few old ones, but the process was really cool. Basically, our label picked out the old songs we wanted to do, and then we submitted the two new demos. The producer, Shawn Milke, helped us restructure and make it as digestible and as perfect for our sound as possible. It was really interesting working with a guy like that; he was very hands on.
You worked with Shawn Milke of Alesana as producer, and engineer Neil Engle for the EP. Going off of what you said, what did they bring to the table for you guys in terms of being able to bring all of these songs to life.
Oh man. Neil Engle, I don’t even like to call him “engineer” because he was such a vital part of this record. He’s brilliant. I like to think of him as a producer as well on this record. They got us exactly what we were looking for. We went in with a vision. When we formed this band, we knew we wanted a specific sound, and they really made it come to life, even more than we expected. They were fantastic; the best team that we’ve ever worked with.
Where did the term “Melancholia” come from? I really like it.
Thank you! I just thought it was really fitting with the lyrical topics and the music to the record. Even though the drums are very driving, I think there’s this sadness going on through the whole record, and I really like the tone of the name.
As a lyricist, for this particular EP, what were some of the most prevalent topics that came to you when you were writing this EP, and how did you kind of narrow down what you wanted to focus on?
Some of the songs touch on older topics that I had been going through and facing a few years back. Some of the songs were a little older. I draw from the seedier side of life, the darker side. I like to talk about more serious topics that people are going through and dealing with.
The next two questions I ask to every artist that I interview. First: what kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Two messages. Musically, if someone is searching for something a little bit different than what’s out there, I think they should check it out and know that it’s okay to be different. I think a lot of people musically are scared to take risks at this point. Lyrically, I just want people to know they’re not the only ones going through struggles. Hard times happen to everybody. Everyone goes through struggles, and they should hold. Hopefully, this music can help them get through that.
What does music mean to you?
It means everything to me. I eat, live, breathe, and sleep music. It’s in my blood. I can’t do anything else. It makes me… it’s the reason why I’m here. I don’t think I’d really be here if it wasn’t for music. It’s everything to me.
The Things They Carried's new EP "Melancholia" is available now. For more information on their new tour dates and music, visit www.facebook.com/thethingstheycarriedband
This has been another Shameless Promotion.