Tempe, Arizona's Rumspringer
released their second LP, Stay Afloat
, via Dirt Cult Records
yesterday. It's a dangerously catchy bit of punk rock, and a grand step forward for the trio. All three members were kind enough to take some time to answer our inane questions via e-mail.
I'm always curious as to why bands release a stack of singles but rarely put out full-lengths. Is it a financial thing, or just a sense of immediate gratification?
Well we’ve never really put out a "single" but we’ve contributed songs to several split 7 inch records that either our friends were on or putting out and wanted us to be a part of.
Financially, we’ve honestly never had a stake in anything we’ve done and have been fortunate enough to have people doing it for us.
Being from Arizona, was it inevitable that Stay Afloat would come out on Dirt Cult?
I don’t think being from Arizona was what made it inevitable
It was Chris being a rad fucking dude and wanting to do records for us.
I don’t think Dirt Cult necessarily has that "southwestern desert sound" or is even a "southwest" label by definition but is just about good friends doing good shit for one another, regardless of geography.
Your first batch of releases came out on Traffic Street. How'd you meet up with Sam North, and what was that relationship like?
I met Sam in line at one of the shows at the Fest in Gainesville. He was passing out these business cards for his record label. It seemed pretty ridiculous, and Sam denies that they were business cards, but they totally were. We recorded our first batch of songs a week later, and when it came to posting them online, I contacted him. He was interested in putting them out, and it turned out to be a great fit. He was really enthusiastic about us, and put us on a few split seven inches.
He took a chance with us and put out our record. He's a sweet guy, he put out a lot of our music, but our friend Chris from Dirt Cult wanted to put out our stuff also. Sam seemed to hit some hard times, but appears to be back on his feet and starting up Traffic Street again after a small hiatus, we are working to possible repress our last LP, Empty Towers
The scene out there in the Southwest seems to have developed its own sound. Where does this lo-fi, garagey take on punk come from -- was it all because of Scared of Chaka?
It is all because of Scared of Chaka, but we don’t sound like that. We butchered a couple of their songs once though. We don’t really fit in here so that question doesn’t make sense. I think that garage sound comes a lot more from places like Tucson, but that’s not really our shit. Phoenix has a lot of studded belts and mohawks and cool punk stuff.
Phoenix has a lot of great hardcore bands, but other than that, or at least the kind of stuff we play, we don’t really have much going on here.
The only thing that’s garagey about us is that we practice in his garage, which it sucks because its hot, and we use low-fi gear because shit is fucking expensive.
It's been hard to listen to all of Stay Afloat, because I keep playing "Air Raid Curfew" over and over again. What's the title in reference to?
Nothing spectacular, our song titles are mostly weak associations or references that we name at the last minute. But with "Air Raid Curfew" we were playing a house show in Phoenix that was right by some train depot and we could hear some alarm going off in the distance. It reminded Mikey and Matt of the curfew alarms that would go off in their hometown Coolidge, and I later figured it to be a decent title for a song regarding some fatherly advice I got once. Like I said, it's a pretty weak association, but it works a lot better than "Jazzy Song" which was what we had been calling it.
Dirt Cult says of the album that the "subject matter is both devastating and uplifting," which is pretty damned accurate. The three song run of "Duct Tape and Sheer Will," "Emotional Void Fraction," and "A Treatise on Letting Go" is telling just in terms of titles. How do you balance getting the sad out cathartically without it turning into complaining into the mic?
Uh ... I thought we were complaining into the mic this entire time. We're white kids in a punk bands, of course we're complaining. I think if anything, that’s just a fucking ... I don’t think that’s necessarily on purpose, it just happens and its good that is how its perceived. I don’t think that when you sit down to write the lyrics you think "how am I going to make this sound like I’m not complaining."
I think we try to make a distinction in this new record between weeding through the things we have no control over and acting on the things we can actually have an impact on. It's nice to hear that we've seemed to strike a balance, but the songs we have on our new record are products of us wanting to cathartically get the sad out That's something we have control over. If it seems like we're complaining into the mic, then that's the listener's problem. They don't have much control over that one, and I don't think we really care.
Is there any chance of Rumspringer making it East this summer, or do you guys stick to that side of the country
Why? Where do you live? Can we stay with you?
We're trying to book a tour to work our way out east in August.
If you have ramen, malt liquor and peanut butter, there's a good goddamn chance well be out there.
You can buy
Stay Afloat on black vinyl (color is sold right the hell out) from the Dirt Cult webstore and stream it via Rumspringer's Punknews profile.