The American Scene was nice enough to do an interview after their show in San Jose, CA. The band is from the Bay area and is currently on tour with The Story So Far, Handguns and Forever Came Calling. The American Scene is getting ready to record their full-length after the tour and also recently released a split 7” with Daybreaker. Read on to get advice on touring, the key importance of making good music and tips on recording and engineering.
Rob Marcacci: Could you introduce yourself and say what your role is in the band?
I’m Charles Vincent and I play drums. I’m Matt Vincent and I play bass and sing. I’m Jeff Wright and I play guitar and sing.
RM: Did you guys take music lessons when you were growing up?
CV: I grew up playing music in school. I was in jazz for six years and was also in band for six years. I did not take lessons outside of school.
MV: Same. I played in jazz band and orchestra. I played upright bass, let me tell ya, it was real cool.
JW: I never played in a school band. I took lessons for a long time.
RM: How did The American Scene come to be?
CV: Me, Matt and our old guitar player Dave were living in an apartment in Berkeley and we had nothing else we wanted to do. We were unemployed and real poor.
MT: Hey, I was employed.
CV: You were, huh. Well I was definitely unemployed. We had a lot of free time for a period and we wanted to play music and shows. Here we are.
RM: What bands would you say influenced you guys?
MV: I listen to a lot of David Bazan.
CV: Drumming-wise would be anything on the rock side. I like Taking Back Sunday drumming. What I listen to on a day-to-day basis is very different than our style.
MV: Motion City Soundtrack was a huge influence on us playing pop-rock in general.
JW: When I started playing guitar I was really into The Who.
MV: Hell yeah.
JW: I will also throw Don Caballero in there. Other bands too that have mind blowing guitar but they don’t have anything to do with this band.
RM: Do you like playing guitar in the vein of Don Caballero and Tera Melos?
JW: I have. I was in a couple bands that had that sound. We have all been in different walks of music.
RM: What genres did you start out playing?
CV: Matt and I started out playing this weird, experimental fast music. Kind of like Fall of Troy meets Circle Takes the Square.
RM: Were your family and friends supportive with The American Scene?
MV: Very. We have the most supportive family out of anyone I know.
JW: My Dad is. And yes, to the extent that they could be.
RM: Do you think Berkeley is a good area for your style of music?
CV: The Bay area is the best area in the entire world.
MV: That is a fact.
CV: Berkeley is a hub and it is right in the middle of everything. It is a gorgeous area and a very positive and creative environment.
MV: Definitely supports musicians.
RM: How would you describe the music scene in the Bay area?
MV: It is really diverse I think. There is a great hip-hop scene, really good underground rock scene.
JW: I just moved to the Bay in December and it’s amazing to me that you could go to a show every single night and see a completely different style of music every night. Basically all I do is go to shows when I am at home.
MV: I think the variance in the different types of music really contributed to my idea of music growing up and being able to dabble into everything and apply it to what we do.
RM: How did you build, and how are you currently still building, your fan base?
MV: We’ve done a lot of touring. We would not be anywhere without Pure Noise. It is the best label there is right now.
CV: Everyone is just destroying right now and I could not pick a better label to be on. I live with Jake, the owner, and he is one of the coolest dudes I know. He is ridiculously intelligent, loves music, and he gets what’s going on. He is really feeling that and the scene is popping off because of that.
Listen to the track “Why I’m Not Where You Are” from the split 7″.
RM: How did you guys get signed to Pure Noise?
CV: I randomly emailed Jake before any of this went down. The Story So Far was signing a few months later. He just put out the Man Overboard/Transit split and he was looking to pick up some bands. He liked that we were in the Bay area as well. We met up one day and instantly clicked. He was really positive.
We hung out because we both lived in Berkeley. We got lunch and hung out on the regular and realized that was what we had to do at that time. It was the perfect fit.
RM: Jeff, how did you join the band?
JW: Well, I have been in bands alongside and been hanging out with these guys. We all came from the same town. I have been in completely different sounding bands while we have been playing for years. They eventually asked me if I would jam with them because Dave quit and moved to New York. I didn’t see any reason not to and since I joined it’s been the best thing ever.
RM: How important do you think it is to be on a label?
CV: It really depends what level you are on with your music. You have to be able to rehearse enough where you can put a record out on a label. Then it could be pushed and successful. It has to be good music and you have to be able to tour. It is not worth going to a label if you don’t have a van and the means to get on the road. That is what it comes down to. You are selling your record, getting new fans, and really pushing your band. The two key components are that you have to make music worth putting out and you have to be able to tour.
RM: How crucial is touring when a band is first starting out?
MV: Starting out I would say not that important.
CV: More important to write good jams first.
MV: Really rehearse and get your tracks as amazing as they can be. Play locally and really connect with the crowd. Networking is the biggest part about music.
RM: Do you guys have any extra advice for people in bands that are just starting out?
CV: Practice your ass off. That is the number one. Play local shows and do everything you can.
JW: The whole deal is that for a long time things are going to suck.
MV: It’s true.
JW: The point of being in a band is that there is this period where you will be playing, what feels like, ten millions shows where one two people show up. Then you will have to be able to say, “ok that was cool because we got two more people to like our band.” Once you get past that point it gets a lot better. You have to remember in that time that it’s just how it is.
MV: Perseverance and waiting is the key to being in a band. Be prepared to wait for ninety percent of the year. You have to wait for tours to come up, wait for your album to come out, wait to record. We are going to record our new record when we get off tour and it’s probably not going to come out until December. We all love these songs and we want kids to hear new music, but it is all about waiting.
CV: Learning how to record your own demos is important too.
RM: How do you record your demos?
CV: Jeff is the certified recording engineer so he demos all our songs.
JW: I did some college, you know. (laughs)
RM: Where did you go to school?
JW: I went to school at American River College in Sacramento.
RM: What did you learn that helped you with engineering?
JW: I learned everything that you could know about audio recording. I actually did have the choice of going to a more established audio school like Expressions but it is a really expensive school. The facilities at ARC are comparable. They have a $2 million studio there that has a SSL 9000 and tons of other equipment. The teachers are great as well. I came out of it knowing how to pick up any device that you can record with and make it work, no matter what.
RM: What classes were most important for you?
JW: The way that the program works there is that you have to go through a five semester basic course of recording workshops. It’s lab and then teaching time. Those classes are the most important. Gaining Perspective, they make you take music business classes that are good for young bands because you get to learn about the business. Even if you’re not trying to be a music business major if you want to be in a band it’s important. You need to know how the structure works on a higher level even if you aren’t there yet.
Check out some photos from the show in San Jose:
Thank you again to The American Scene.
Check out their album By Way of Introduction on Spotify.
Purchase Introduction over at Pure Noise here.