IamA Jeff Rosenstock AMA! I do/did the things for Quote Unquote Records, Bomb The Music Industry!, Antarctigo Vespucci, The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, Really Records and a lot more!
UPDATE: There's like A TON of questions here. I feel like my carpel tunnel that didn't exist before 7:00 today is acting up. I need to take a break. I will answer these as best as I can over the next 24 hours. Thanks so much for all the love, interest, kind words and questions. It's nice to me that anyone cares about the stuff I've made over the last ten years :-*
There's a crazy amount of questions here! I'm gonna answer them all but I'm gonna stop taking questions! Did I do this right????
My Proof: it took me roughly twenty minutes to find this proof photo again:http://t.co/pBVMwyOpcK
Chris. I hit the "give gold" button thinking that this would give you a gold star for this post, but it tried to give you some of my BitCoin.
I also did this before I saw that it was in fact you Chris Farren that wrote this. I just thought it was some other funyun.
For some of the older BTMI albums on Quote Unquote, you would put a brief description of the song before the lyrics. I always thought that was awesome because it really brought another dimension to the tunes and gave a setting and emotional palette to where you were when you were writing it. Why'd you stop doing that?
Also, completely unrelated: You and AJJ are in Montreal on the 22nd and Toronto on the 24th. What are you doing on the 23rd?!
Kingston is on your way right between the two AND it happens to be where I do a radio show. Any chance I could trick you into coming by?
On Vacation and Adults I started digging really deep emotionally, and I didn't really know how best to explain that stuff outside of how I explained it in the lyrics. I also am always trying to make stuff something that people can take their own meaning from. That might seem pointless because I tend to write pretty specifically and straightforward, but most of the time these days, the shit I'm writing about is not necessarily what it seems like.
Are the Raptors playing on the 23rd? Probably hanging out in Toronto with buddies and doing weird stuff. Email the amateur booking link on the website and maybe we can set something up though?
Hi everybody. There's so many questions on here, what am I supposed to do?
Hey, backstory question about Panic Bomb. Why did you try and kick John's ass in the van?
Edit: Also, yeah, I fucking love you. You've been my fave since seventh grade, which is one part of my middle-school-self that actually didn't suck.
I was just having a panic attack and freaking out and hitting shit. I was blacking out. It was fucked and weird. It might not have even been John he seems to not remember this.
Yo Jeff you're an inspiring dude.
Legitimately, how do you care so little about making cash? You're like the Alan Watts of DIY punk and I really admire your work ethic & outlook on business and music. I want to quit my office job and make music full time because of fuckers like you.
After ASOB I just stopped looking at music as a viable career option. So it was easy, just have other jobs, pay the rent that way and keep the music as this passionate thing I do when I'm not at work. I think our society defines us by the way we make money, and I just don't agree with that. When I was driving a truck around delivering props for photo shoots, I wouldn't call myself a truck driver, I would still call myself a musician.
I'm almost on the other side of that now, and I feel very fortunate about that, but part of me always wishes I had time to do more work, because any time I'm sitting around doing nothing is like hell to me. I don't know how to relax.
Hey Jeff! I had a dozen or so questions that have been stuck in my mind for the last few years, but I cut it down to the 6 least-awful of them. These are questions too inane and specific for any interviewer to ask, but too long for Twitter. Feel free to answer as many or as few or as none-of them as you want. Sorry.
Is the car crash in Last On My List the same one in I'm Serious, I'm Sorry? Are the five funerals of Five Funerals during "that summer that everybody died" (Sick, Later)? (Why did I lead with such a morbid question?!)
When the ASOB reunion happened, you mentioned there were some ASOB lyrics that you were embarrassed about (specifically, "the winter knocked on my door like a selfish bitch"). Now that we're removed from the BTMI years, are there any BTMI lyrics that particularly embarrass you?
What exactly is Clap Your Hands Say Shut The Fuck Up? From what I can gather from the very few mentions of it online, it was the demo of Goodbye, Cool World. The version I have of it has demos of songs off Goodbye Cool World, Get Warmer, and Scrambles. Does that mean some songs like Wednesday Night Drinkball and 9/11 Fever were written back in 2006, unreleased until 2009?
Do you have anything leftover for Others! Vol. 2, or did most of that get put on I Look Like Shit (like The Internet is Everywhere)?
Do you think the BTMI "experiment" worked? The idea in the first few years was to make music and release it for free, no labels, have no merch, spraypaint t-shirts after shows, all ages shows, for under $10. By the end of the band's life, only the free releases was consistant. Obviously you were meeting demands that your own fans wanted, but do you think a band could achieve commercial and critical success following the original guidelines, or has the landscape of the industry changed too much?
Who played for ASOB's Radiohead show? You, Dave, JT... ?
Edit: 7. Why do you have a "backpack full of sex toys"?
I saw BTMI like three years ago and the show was like 10 bucks and was certainly all ages. I don't want to speak for Jeff but I'm pretty sure that they continued to play only (or at least 99%) all ages shows.
This is true. We worked our fucking hardest to make sure every show was all ages and cheap after we dabbled in more pricy 18/21+ support endeavors. We lost a few opportunities this way, but at least we weren't cutting off access to kids week wanted to see us.
I'm gonna chill on talking about my dead buddies for the most part if that's alright with you. These are about different folks.
I'm pretty comfortable with the Bomb lyrics - I wouldn't necessarily write them all again the same way but there's nothing crazy embarrassing to me.
Clap Your Hands Say Shut The Fuck Up was the original title of Goodbye Cool World but honestly it seemed stupid to trash talk a DIY band just because of the hipster backlash inside me. I'm glad I didn't call the record that. I probably released some early tracks from GCW with Clap Your Hands... as the album title.
Those songs you mentioned were the early songs written for Scrambles ... Beers Again Alone however started as a song for GCW that I couldn't finish at the time.
There's no unreleased Bomb stuff, but there are a handful of b-sides floating around that aren't on the first Others! Others!
I have no idea. One of my biggest regrets is that I got distracted by the original mission because I thought it would be super cool to have my music on a record, cause I'm a big record nerd. Once that happened, it seemed easier to ease up on some of the other stuff. It would have been cool to see if we could survive just on donations, especially since once we stopped being exclusively donation-based we were pulling in $100-$200 extra per show in donations - before we were really all that popular. But having records and shirts made the people coming to our shows happy, and we definitely paid rent with that money.
I don't think a band could be a COMMERCIAL success with that model, because it is one that purposefully avoids commercialism. But I do think bands can subsist in that way as long as they don't mind having day jobs.
Me, Dave, Mike Costa, Sean Eldon, Bove and JT
I like Kool Keith, Das Racist, ODB and other rappers who say weird dope shit. I just liked that line. My backpack is full of bars of gold.
Hey Jeff! I've been a huge fan of yours for the last ~7 years. My question is: What jobs have you had in the past and how have they influenced your music/lyrics? Thanks!
Album Minus Band: For part of this, I was bagging up t-shirts at MerchDirect, immediately after I started my no t-shirt band. You can see how it crushed my soul a little to package up THOUSANDS of shirts that certain bands were selling in ONE DAY and I was like "ugh... merchandise..."
To Leave Or Die In Long Island: I was working as the art director at The Downtown, a music venue in Long Island. Shitty pay, but I worked with a lot of great people, got to be creative and listen to music all day. Working in a basement though and getting laid off when the company went under informed that music quite a bit.
Goodbye Cool World: I worked as a graphic design temp, mostly at Dover Publications, scanning in and re-touching old stock photos. I had a car, and I'd say the commute gave me a lot of time to think and get pissed off about stuff. I would also take a long train ride to the Manhattan from Forrest Hills like ALL THE TIME and get drunk then take a long train ride home again and wake up at like 7 for work every day. Pretty punk stuff.
Get Warmer: I worked as a dishwasher at Transmetropolitan Pizza in Athens, GA. Super fucking fun, great people, very Zen rote repetitive work that gave me a ton of time to just think about songs.
Scrambles: I was back in New York and back at Dover Publications doing the scanning again. I didn't have a car anymore so I did a lot of writing on the J train to the LIRR to Mineola. I got laid off at some point because I was on tour too much. This was definitely the point where it was like "fuck, can I give my all to music while still being able to hold down a job?"
Vacation - current: I've had a bunch of jobs over the past few years, none of them have lasted very long. I'm lucky enough to make a little money doing solo tours, producing/recording records, doing freelance graphic design, event production, truck driving, some freelance scoring (like this Dick's Sporting Goods ad!! https://vimeo.com/69864840) and running a record label. The best (and most memorable) job I've had during the past bunch of years was working at Brooklyn Brew Shop just packing up homebrew kits with some very very very great people. The company expanded and they couldn't really have someone who left as much as me anymore, but I feel like if I ever asked them for work they'd give it to me.
The last job I had was at The Shade Store doing some very very very repetitive graphic design stuff, basically taking photographs and turning them into repeatable patterns which is harder than it sounds. The graphic design department there was very nice, but I realized I had to keep playing and making music even though my band had broken up.
What's the nicest/most meaningful/most personal thing a fan/complete stranger has said to you about you and your music?
Thanks for the tunez, man
Don't know quite how to say this, but there's been a handful of people who have told me that my music has had something to do with them continuing to exist on this earth. I never quite know what to say to that, but as someone who would would not be alive himself if not for music during the dark times, that's a huge honor.
Hey Jeff, I'm Erikk G. We went to high school together. I follow you on Twitter and really dig the music. Way to go my friend. My question is: where can I find copy of the movie you made for Commercial Music, which featured you trying to light a cigarette on the stove and me playing what I think was a gay guy? Also, any idea when you're next playing in DC? Thanks dude!
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Whazzup Erikk. Is your screen name still Tapeball__ I didn't wanna type the number and blow up your spot.
I think we lost the only copy of the movie Burnout, I gave it to John and I really hope he lost it. Holy moly. There's some great editing in there. Holy fuck.
I'm playing DC on... April 25th at Comet Ping Pong! Hit me up on the twitters and I'll guest list ya!
Hey Jeff, when are you going to release the live recordings of the last BTMI show at the Warsaw?
I gotta dig through it all still. It's pretty much done, just not separated and tagged. I was going to do it right after the shows, but I went on a real productive creative tear with Chris Farren/Antarctigo Vespucci/Back To The Island and my solo record, and then producing the Smith Street record and then time got away from me. Now when I listen to it, it makes me very emotional and it's kind of hard to get it all ready. I'm gonna do it though. Don't worry.
Blue or Pinkerton?
Hey Jeff, it's your Cousin Nate
My mom says I'm not supposed to listen to your music because you say bad words. What should I tell her to convince her otherwise?
Peace and love from Cali
Hey Nate! You're in college now so that can't possibly be true, but how long was that true for? Aunt Caroline is right, I do swear too much. Maybe try the ol' "look, he's family and sometimes family members make mistakes but if we don't stand up for family who DO we stand up for??" and this will work better if you can make yourself cry also.
Tell your mom and dad and brothers I say hello!!
Huge thanks for doing this AMA Jeff, here're my questions:
What are the challenges of sustainability with a donation based label and how has it changed your thoughts the selling and distributing of music?
Do you feel you've "sold out" by split-releasing with Side One Dummy?
What's the difference in writing a Jeff Rosenstock song versus a BTMI song?
As someone who currently lives in Indiana, what can be done to make a state more open to smaller and bigger musicians alike?
What was the idea behind the We Cool? t-shirt?
Last thanks for the freebird on the back of the cd, you're always looking out for us haha
Hey Danny. What's up. Hi. How are you. Oh yeah, questions ok let's do that.
- I'm not really sure what the sustainability challenges of running a donation-based label are because I've had two experiences. One was that of a struggling ska/punk band, touring the country and hustling super hard to make enough money to hopefully get to the next town, eat some food and record a record (in that order.)
When Bomb started, and Quote Unquote thereafter, it was night and day between how hard it used to be and how easy it now was. Granted, I didn't have the recording skill to make everything sound perfect, but I could just record stuff for free, throw it on the internet and people would hear it. When I started Quote Unquote, I just wanted people to hear other bands. I think my web hosting costs like $4/month, so it's not like I have a lot of overhead or anything. And luckily I've had a few bands (Cheap Girls, Laura Stevenson and The Riot Before come to mind but there are others) who have gone on to be pretty successful after getting their music out there to anyone who wants to hear it. So if there's some huge roadblock that people who don't release music this way are AVOIDING, well, I just don't know about it. This shit seems pretty rad to me.
I think it's as much of a sell-out move as it was to put out a record with Asian Man, as much of a sell-out move as it was to eventually press records and print t-shirts. For me, I always try to do something that I think would be fun and interesting and don't necessarily concern myself with thoughts of "selling out." Up to this second, I've managed to stay completely honest with the records I release, I've never lost an ounce of creative control, and all my music has been available for free/donation to anyone who wants it.
There's no real difference to be honest with you.
The whole state is a big fucking task, man! The best thing you can do is set up shows in your town, bring bands you like through, try and get your friends together who are into music and start interesting bands, play shows with friends, play shows in small towns near you and trade shows with those bands, and on and on and on. I was lucky to grow up in the northeast where there were seemingly 500 different scenes within five hours.
I asked Sean Bonnette from Andrew Jackson Jihad to draw something shameful.
I tried to format this correctly the best I could. Sorry, Danny. I'll honor all refunds.
First off: LOVE the new record, congrats.
QUESTIONS: 1) I see that P.O.S worked on Get Old Forever, which is super rad. Is there any possibility at all in the future of a Jeff/P.O.S collaboration, beyond just production?! 2) I posted this on your Facebook page, and I'll ask it again here: WILL YOU MAKE ROSENSOCKS?! I need more cool socks to wear. 3) This isn't a question I just wanted to say thanks for being awesome and keep doing what you're doing. 4) Pizza or tacos (OR BOTH?!)???
1) Me and Stef have been friends for years, and we've talked about making something together. I know he's working on his own thing and getting healthy right now. I think it's a matter of one of us actually having a directional idea of what we want to do, so we have something to build off of other than just being buds!
2) Yeah duh
3) This isn't a question o wait you said that
4) It goes pizza, burritos, pho for me. Laksa is creeping up on that list though.
Hey, Jeff! So, I stumbled onto your music a couple of years back while I was fucking around on YouTube and looking up some Tom Waits videos. The first song of yours that I heard was your cover of Anywhere I Lay My Head. This lead to me promptly dropping everything I was doing and rushing off to get ahold of all of your music. It was kind of weird, like one of my favorite musicians just introduced me to ANOTHER one of my favorite musicians.
ANYWAYS, my question to you is: What is your favorite Tom Waits song/album? And will you play some Night Birds at your upcoming Houston show?
Rain Dogs is my favorite which is a boring answer I know, but check out this boring answer. Anywhere I Lay My Head is my favorite Tom Waits song which is a boringer answer. I'm also a big fan of Blood Money, Swordfishtrombones and I think Bad As Me is underrated. No Tom Waits covers at the Houston show, but fuck, how crazy would it have been to guess such a specific cover.
Really enjoyed Kudrow. Any chance of new stuff in the future?
I don't really know! We have two songs that we never recorded... it'd be fun to record those some day!
Are we ever going to get a digital version of the Adults!!! remaster? It's great and I wanna listen to it in my car!
P.S. Thanks for drawing a cool tat on me at the S1D House!
Yeah it's on iTunes and Spotify. I keep forgetting to put it on Quote Unquote, I'd do it now but I'm doing this AMA now!
Hey man! At risk of being too suck up-y, I just wanna say thanks for doing what you do. Bomb The Music Industry has been the soundtrack to my life from the latter half of high school to my current final semester as a college undergrad, and at this rate your solo work is right up there with it.
As for a question, I was just wondering if you had any general advice for somebody starting to make music. I’ve been writing and performing songs for a while, but when it comes to recording and producing I feel lost. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to programming drums and such, and when it comes to programs and the actual planning process I just never know where to start. Going from ASOB to Album Minus Band, how did you get started just doing everything by yourself?
Thanks for stopping by! See ya in Detroit at the end of the month!
I kinda answered this above, but here's some general advice.
DO IT BECAUSE IT IS FUN. DO IT BECAUSE YOU NEED TO IT. DO IT BECAUSE YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT IT. DO IT BECAUSE YOU'RE LONELY AND NEED TO DO SOMETHING. Don't do it because you wanna be rich and popular some day, there's easier ways to do that.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR ADVICE OR LOOK THINGS UP. If you have any friends that do stuff, ask them how they do it. I still ask Rick Johnson and Joel Hatstat for advice every time I'm mixing something. When I got the chance to work with Jack Shirley, Sam Johnson, Matt Voigt and Jon Low I asked them a million questions. They weren't annoyed and they were happy to help. We're all learning. I also still google "How to mix drums" before every record I mix.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY "FUCK YOUR ADVICE", DO YOUR OWN THING AND MAKE MISTAKES. At the end of the day, just try to make something that YOU THINK SOUNDS GOOD. The band Deerhoof made the record Milk Man with three iMacs that they hit SPACERBAR AT THE SAME TIME ON. Then they just listened to records they thought sounded good, tried to make their music sound like those records and made something super unique and DIY. After that, record labels were hitting them up asking who produced their record, after they recorded it themselves in the least conventional and weirdest way possible.
I got started doing everything myself 'cause my friend Rob Spadaro lent me an MBox and I was like "holy shit anything is possible"
I know it's kinda cliche, but just wanted to say thanks for all the music and for being such an inspiration over the years. I suppose the important question is what is the greatest Simpsons episode ever made? (Also, hate to be that guy but any plans for the UK at any point?)
Oh, and any news on the documentary?
My favorite Simpsons episode might be "Colonel Homer" oddly enough 'cause it's not super funny. "You Only Move Twice" is definitely like the one that always cracks me up. I'm LOLing like crazy while I'M WATCHING THAT FUCKING SHIT
Trying to get to the UK next year. And I finished all the titles/graphics for the documentary today! So it's almost all done!
Hey Jeff! I'm a big fan of your work. I'm in constant amazement at how all the stuff you do is so fucking rad. You've been a huge influence in my life.
On another note, I saw btmi play in Missoula Montana a few years ago, and the audience was pretty rowdy, and a guy knocked over your keyboard and you seemed pretty pissed, so on behalf of that asshole, I just wanna say sorry we pissed you off.
Anyway, I was wondering if you guys are going to be playing any Bomb songs on your upcoming tour? Or will it just be solo stuff? The new album is so fucking good by the way. Stoked to see you on tour!
First let ME apologize. I'm usually pretty down with rowdy. At that show I happened to have a sprained wrist (why I wasn't playing guitar) from a dude who drunkenly tackled me in Minneapolis. I was wearing the "hey I've got a broken wrist thing" and that kid just kept literally pulling my wrist and pushing my keyb and it was like "ahhhhh this hurts and i can't play and you're blackout drunk and not wearing shoes. we're never in montana, please let us try and play our songs!" So sorry I got aggro. I love Montana so much.
There's not gonna be any Bomb songs on this solo band tour. We've got enough songs we'd like to play and it would be disrespectful to the other dudes to be like "hahahahaha eat shit I don't need ya." We need each other for Bomb!
Hey Jeff, have you got any plans to tour Australia with The Smith Street Band again?
I have all the plans in the world to do that, I just hope they have the same plans. I have a feeling Wil and I wil (get it?) some day drive around in a car with acoustic guitars and play weird places.
What is the best BTMI album and why is it Vacation?
Album Minus Band is probably the best one because it's so fucking crazy insane. It sounds completely unfiltered to me which I think is interesting.
But Vacation just sits close to my heart. I think that record and the new one are the only times I've ever felt confident while recording, especially while singing.
Any plans on an Antarctigo Vespucci full length at some point? Side note: Get Warmer is the best song ever, thanks for that one.
Chris and I talked about doing a full-length and we ARE gonna work on something in May. I do really like the shorter format we've been working within though, so we're not gonna force a full-length if it's not there.
Thanks! Glad you like Get Warmer!
Jeff! What's next now that We Cool? is out? Who's the best character on Lost? Also, I fuckin' love you, can I buy you a drink or something at the Philadelphia show this month?
Touring, writing new songs and hopefully making them good! Best character on LOST is Mr. Eko!!!
You don't need to buy me a drink I'll just steal ALL. OF. CHUMPED'S. BOOZE.
What would you tell to an aspiring teenage musician? What did you do to end up the way you did? Because whatever you did, I'd like to avoid that.
Jk man, you're a huge inspiration and I've yet to hear anything by you I didn't love. Cheers <3
Hahahaha, if you wanna end up like I did, sit in your room and learn how to play guitar by listening to Sparkle And Fade by Everclear, Far Beyond Driven by Pantera and Dookie by Green Day.
and have no friends for a while
Does Chris Farren's moustache come with a creepy white van or did that come separately?
DON'T TALK ABOUT MY FRIEND CHRIS FARREN LIKE THAT!!!
Hey Jeff! Glad to see you're doing this Ama! I'm a huge fan of yours and all your stuff from Asob to your current solo stuff. I'll try to keep it short.
On each Antarctigo Vespuccia album you only sang on one song for a few lines why is that?
How long does it take you to write a song?(like a song from "We Cool?").
Do you ever plan on doing another reunion show for ASOB? Or BTMI!?
How tall are you?
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Do you ever plan on making some more of those "Jeff Rosenstock is bummin me out/gettin me stoked" shirts? They sold out b4 I could get one :(
"Three Cheers of Disappointment" is one of my favorite albums of all time which makes makes me wonder, do you plan on making another ska song or do you feel you're done playing ska?
I just wanna say your an amazing artist and your music inspires me everyday so thanks for that, I hope I get to meet you some day!
Those songs all started out at Chris's. We tried to find places for me to take the lead on the first one for a second, but it never felt like it would benefit the song except for that one part where I essentially play drunk Chris. I think Chris would like it if I sang more, but I kinda love just doing one part per record and thinking about all the other stuff instead. We do both sing choruses together though.
Darkness Records, Hey Allison and I'm Serious I'm Sorry took about an hour or two to write. Beers Again Alone took about 7 years. Some songs come to you right away and some take some time.
Nah, no plans for that shit, although we do all love each other. That ASOB reunion was very fun and I don't want to spoil the memory. It's barely been a year since Bomb played our last show, I doubt even thinking about that right now would qualify as reunion territory
Do what feels good.
I don't know, anything can happen. I'm not a real planny guy.
Like I said in question 6, I'm not a real planny guy. Especially with songs. I just want to write what feels natural. I still love ska and if those songs start coming to me again, I'll be stoked and try to get them good enough for a record like I do with any of the others.
Thanks a lot, Chris! That's all very nice!!!!!!!!!!!
jeff . does i'm serious, i'm sorry sound like pulp?
p.s. its epic, and btw i love u!
Huh, yeah I guess it's got a little Disco 2000 in there huh? That's what happens when you listen to too much music, it seeps in sometimes. D'oh. Don't sue me Pulp!
hello jeff! i've been going to your shows since high school, and every time we spoke you've always had such a great energy and nothing but encouraging words to say. thanks for all those good vibes. your new record is dope by the way.
i have two questions! do you have any tips for programming drums? i've never really found anything like BTMI! in terms of original percussion, be it you slamming some pasta boxes or pretty much just blasting them programmed beats. i'm starting my own projects and can't get it quite right just yet, so any ideas would help.
and second, how do you work with people? does it just get easier as you get older? ive been kicked out of/quit a bunch of bands and im just not sure if its me, or if its them, or if making music just really is that difficult and straining on your personal relationships.
I try to write catchy drum parts. I'm not sure if that makes sense. Sorry. I program in reason, I used to use the sequencer in ReDrum but now I just play it and quantize it and fuck with the piano roll stuff. The more successful programmed drums I've had are the ones where I haven't been afraid to like FUCKING GO FOR IT.
Working with people can be tricky. I know I am not great at it at times and a handful to deal with myself. I think the most important this is to be honest and straightforward about your ideas and try to remember that the people you are working with are people too and as long as you can get on the same page about making whatever you're doing as great as possible, you should work together fine? Are my answers GIBBERISH AT THIS POINT?
Hey Jeff! First off, "We Cool?" went beyond my already really high expectations, so props on making a sick record.
You've been one of my favorite musicians for a long time and you're now becoming one of my favorite producers. Do you have any tips on recording music that sounds really big (e.g: Throw Me in the River, We Cool?) for really cheap?
Thanks for saying it sounds big!
Oddly enough, I think in order to sound BIG you need to not be afraid to sound fucking quiet. Dynamic is key, otherwise it can just sound like constant noise, which doesn't really sound big to me. Also, don't be afraid to blow stuff out, push your pre-amps too hard, turn the instruments too loud, record distorted guitars direct... just do whatever you think sounds good, work hard at it until it sounds right (enough) to you and you'll make a cool sounding record that's unique to your own style.
Hi Jeff! The new record is great. You may already know that. We’ve said it a few times. But, more to the point, I have a few questions so I’ll try to keep it short.
- 1) What’s the average production time for an episode of Back to the Island, including editing & writing recording themes?
- 2) What is your favorite book (if you have one)?
- 3) From my cohost: She says “Syke! Life is Awesome!” comes on her running mix with eerie regularity when she’s starting to drag and it always pumps her up (so thanks for that!), but ever since the first time she heard it she’s wondered about the line at the end “And if you hadn’t fucked my ex-girlfriend, I would still owe you $3,000!” She really wants to know what the deal was with the money and the cheating, if that’s something you’re willing to discuss.
Thanks for all the cool things you put out there for the world to enjoy!
1) There's the hour of watching it, after which we IMMEDIATELY record the episode. If we are doing a good job, we write down what songs we have to write, if we are doing a bad job I have to listen through while editing (which takes about 30 minutes) and call up Chris and say "um! can you write this one!" That's why we started saying "Hey Chris, play that Grandmother's Day Theme Music!" and so on... that way we could force the theme songs on each other. Each song takes around 20 - 30 minutes, we fly through them, Chris quicker than me most of the time. So probably 3 - 4 hours per ep.
2) Long answer above - Cat's Cradle, Catch-22, Tenth of December
3) We'll talk about that over a beer some day.
Hello Jeff, thank you for consistently making the music I never knew I needed to hear. Musically and lyrically you just get it. We Cool? is end-to-end brilliance. I love both it and you. I can’t wait for it to get under my skin and love it inside out, but I also have to mention how perfect Vacation and in particular Hurricane Waves is.
Here’s my question. Less of question, more of a quiz: 1. Did you get the tattoo mentioned in Polar Bear or Africa? 2. Which new song are you most excited to play? 3. What records are you digging this year? 4. When did you last hi-five Chris Farren? 5. Any chance of a UK show soon?
Thanks so much....
Mr. Five O Clock is right! The scar went away so I'm glad I didn't cause then it'd just be a weird outline.
We played "You, In Weird Cities" and "Hall Of Fame" the other day in Ithaca and it was fucking FUN. I'm stoked to play anything off the new record. Playing music is great.
Tons. 10 Thermidor by Shinobu, No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney, I Love You Honeybear by Father John Misty, Runners In The Nerved World by The Sidekicks, A Princess Named Leroy by F. Stokes and Gliss Riffer by Dan Deacon are all fantastic.
It's been too long. Probably December. Ugh, TOO LONG.
Yeah, we're hoping to get there before the end of the year.
What challenge do you want to do next as a musician? I recall reading you had decided to abandon the drum machine at a certain point in Bomb the Music Industry, do you self impose certain restrictions for each project?
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. All I ever want to do is keep it feeling fresh and not just record the way I feel comfortable recording. I've thought about going to a cabin in the winter for 30 days without any outside help and trying to play everything. That'd make for some pretty epic drum tracks for sure!
Doubt you'll get to this, but maybe you'll scroll down to it one day. But man, I just gota say, you have (excluding people super close to me) had arguably the largest impact on me as a person. Your music has been the soundtrack to my life for the past 8-9 years. I've sat alone, depressed and defeated, crippled with pain, listening to your words. Identifying with you, relating to your lyrics, finding that extra wave of strength needed to start a new chapter. And on the flip side of that coin, some of the most fantasic moments of my life, side by side with my closest friends, are seared into my memory with your ska-synth-punk blaring in the background. I cant accurately articulate how much your music means to me.
But it's a goddamned lot.
Just wanted to say thanks.
Also, just to keep this on topic, would you ever consider revisiting anything you did during your time with ASOB?
Thanks Terry! It never crosses my mind to play any ASOB stuff, it doesn't sound particularly good when I'm playing acoustic guitar and when I'm traveling with the band we only know "Jeff Rosenstock" songs if that makes sense... sorry!
Do you have a favorite album by the aquabats? (this is the only question I could come up with)
Then my friend wanted me to ask if you remember the drunk guy with the cheap girls shirt and the get warmer tattoo at the beat kitchen in Chicago? He also wants me to apologize for him.
edit: i have an alternate and probably better question and that's do you have a favorite japanese rock band? i just started listening to polysics.
Very hard to decide between Fury, Floating Eye and Myths Legends so I just won't!
Haha, it's all good friend of drunk guy.
Hey! Will you be playing BTMI and ASOB songs live moving forward, or will you just be playing your solo stuff?
Just solo stuff with the band. If it's just me an a guitar, only ELO songs.
Hey Jeff, big fan of ASOB, BTMI, and now your solo work. Been listening to We Cool? all week and love it.
Because of the raw and intense emotion of the song, I wanted to ask if the subject of 'Last On My List' has been the inspiration for any other songs you've made. Unless thats too personal in which case
Do you think Quote Unquote records has been a success and did it turn out to be what you hoped?
Oh and does the beginning of Hall of Fame sound kind of, Weezerish to you?
My friend who tragically died in a car accident when I was a teenager hasn't come up in any other songs. Unfortunately a fact of life is that as it goes on more people you're friends with will die tragically and you'll spend many hours wishing you had just spent more time telling them how much you loved them.
I never thought anything would come of Quote Unquote. I hoped it would help people hear the bands I put up on there, and it exceeded my expectations wildly.
Yeah, there's definitely a bit of a Weezer vibe on some of the songs on this record. That song was more inspired by seeing Shellshag perform on the Chris Gethard Show test pilot, and they played this song that had such a cool slow chunky heavy beat but it was super poppy too. I think most of the stuff on the new record that people attribute to my (very clear) love for Weezer has more to do with my obsession with the self-titled Fountains of Wayne record, .010 by Ulysses and Rock and Roll Part Three by Ozma - I was listening to all of those a lot at the time of writing this.
Hey Jeff. I love your music! And how you want everyone to have access to it. Also, the Nausea video made me tear up once you started barfing up the confetti. The whole thing with people partying to your misery type thing. It got to me.
- What did you study in college? A lot your music in BTMI talks about being frustrated with work/having to "grow up" stuff/student loans. I've always wondered about specifics.
- Also, where did the string of exclamation points come from? (!!!!!!!!) I think it's pretty funny whenever you do it. But how did that start?
I went to school to study Music Technology but couldn't really wrap my head around the electronics stuff, so I changed my major to a design your own major thing called Music and Communications which was basically recording, theory, graphic design, journalism, creative writing, film editing and media theory.
Sometimes you just feel like FUCK YEAH! and you gotta write exclamation points. Or sometimes it's just like panicky and sarcastic? I don't know if this answer is even true, I don't really know the answer to this. I just do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hey Jeff, You're my favorite musician and a huge inspiration for my own music-making. How do you go about writing your songs? do you do it in one sitting on acoustic guitar and then hammer out all the details later? Or do you do all the music first and then just fill in lyrics?
I tend to write musical stuff in my head - then I chase that idea and see if there's a full song in there, and if so I'll try to demo it out. Or I'll record the idea in my phone and re-visit it later. I wrote a song recently that I think turned out great and it was from some piano part I wrote like a year ago and totally forgot about until listening back on my phone.
Lyrics have started to come last for me as it's more of a challenge to not constantly repeat myself. Whenever I have a song that all comes at once it's like the best fucking feeling in the world. Novelty Sweater, I'm Serious I'm Sorry and Darkness Records were like that.
I read that article posted last week where you ranked all of the BTMI albums from your least favorite to favorite. I was just wondering where Three Cheers for Disappointment would rank on that list, because it's my favorite album ever (I wrote an essay for school on my favorite song on that album, actually, "Yeah, I Don't Know What it's Like to be Around a Bunch of Hipsters")
Also, any chance of you working on another Bruce Lee Band album? Community Support Group and Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend were amazing.
I don't know, man. I had a really hard time ranking those records, I don't like to see Get Warmer, Goodbye Cool World or Leave or Die so low on a list. I like them all the same for different reasons. I'm glad I didn't have to put Three Cheers on there 'cause that would just be another record I put in the wrong spot.
I'm glad you like the Bruce Lee Band records! No plans for another one just yet, but there is a Mike Park kids record from those sessions that I just need to mix!
Hey Jeff, first off I love you and all of your albums.
Also, Vacation is probably one of the most important albums to me personally, so I'd like to know a little bit more about that record. What was the hardest song to write on there? The easiest?
P.S. I made my senior quote some of the lines from Everybody That Loves You, do you want to see a picture of that?
The hardest song to write musically was "Everybody That Loves You" - for some reason it took a super long time to get the structure where I wanted it, but once it got there it ended up being one of my favorites on the record. "Vocal Coach" took a while too.
The easiest ones were "Can't Complain" and "The Shit That You Hate", those songs basically just existed one day.
"Hurricane Waves" started with a few ideas I had kicking around for Kudrow for like a year or two, and could never make sense of it, and then one day it all snapped into place and I wrote it very quickly.
No real question but an explaination? Maybe?
I was at the Antarctigo Vespucci/Hard Girls show at DC9 earlier this year and I had a blast! At that show I had (drunkenly) mentioned/yelled over the pa that Scrambles had changed my life. You asked if I meant in a good way. I do!
When I was turned on to the record I was moving between states, attempting to actually do something in college, and trying to find a job that wasn't serving coffee and that let me sleep regularly and still have a little bit of money and energy to see my friends. So certain tracks on this album jumped out at me. It felt good to be able to empathize with. It felt good to sing and yell and beat along with. It helped.
As a bonus it made me listen to more Bomb albums, and then seek out Laura Stevenson albums, and Lemuria, and the Ergs, and AJJ, and Cheap Girls and a whole lot more fun music in between.
So thanks! Again!
Wow! This rules!
Thanks for doing this! I have really appreciated your music over the years and have always enjoyed your passion and devotion to music. You have been someone whose music always kept me afloat.
What authors would you say have influenced your life the most? What are some of your favorite books?
My favorite book for a while was Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It's just so fucked up but also really funny and weird. I think now my favorite book is Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I got on board with him pretty late and it's like discovering Operation Ivy in your 30's or something - everything is just perfect and that book is so crushing and confusing and amazing. I also think Tenth Of December by George Saunders is gonna be in the running for my favorite book of all time, the way he ends his stories by giving you a perfect balance of uncertainty and closure is fucking genius.
Hi Jeff Rosenstock if that is even your real name. This is a two part question: 1.Who the fuck runs the back2 back2theisland twitter account? 2. Are you scared you'll wake up one morning with them sitting at the end of your bed?
Two very nice people.
No, they don't have keys.
Hey man! We take a lot of DIY inspiration in a Fistful Of Vinyl from seeing stuff that you've done in the past (we spray paint shirts; you can ask /u/Chrisfarren about it). How has DIY influenced what you d now? In what ways is DIY still a part of what you do?
Much love, my friend. Hope we get to host you for a session soon.
PS - Jamie told me she was considering making a reddit profile to ask you potentially embarrassing questions anonymously. Font know if she did it or not, but any guesses as to who might be her?
The way DIY culture or whatever has influenced me is that it taught me how to do a lot of things myself! Now I can help out other people when it comes to recording records or doing graphic design or booking tours, or if I just want to release a song real quick or play a few acoustic house shows, I don't have to bother anyone else to help me, I can just do it.
I really enjoyed your production style on Throw Me In The River. Each track has so much character and depth while keeping a live, garage grit.
It seems on the previous Smith Street records, Wil's vocals are mixed quite cleanly. How did you achieve such a perfect dirty and personal sound from his voice on this one?
One of the big things had to do with recording in the house, which was made of wood and old train carriages. Wil was standing at the bottom of the staircase and across from the tile bathroom. Sam Johnson, the engineer, had this thing you put on the microphone to isolate all the reverb and make it sound like a vocal booth, so we threw that on the microphone and then threw microphones in the bathroom and at the top of the stairs to capture the whole space instead of adding in space later. I think this added a lot of unique color and depth to the whole thing.
And I think that blended really well with Wil's vocal style. We both had a similar reference point (London Calling) as far as really great vocals laid down on a record, and just said alright let's give it all we got every day. Probably didn't hurt that Wil only had to do a few tracks a day. Wil's also passionate dude and we are friends, so we always had an open discourse about the songs and felt comfortable digging real deep into the heart of everything.
Basically the answer to this is that Wil is amazing.
Do you ever look at the guitar tabs people post up online for your own songs and see if they're getting it correct?
Yes, and they're generally not :-(
If I take a BTMI spray paint special shirt to your tour with AJJ, will you cross out the BTMI and stencil JEFF ROSENSTOCK over it?
I'm not gonna have spraypaint and stencils on this trip, my new persona is SUPER LAZY GUY.
Hi Jeff, I love you. Been a fan since around 3 Cheers. Did AJJ work with you on Darkness Records? That song is incredible but I guess the bass and production reminds me of them. Any chance of you making more of the Jeff is bumming me out shirts? I've been scouring the internet for one over the past year or so. Have fun on tour man, see you in Boston and come back around with Antarctigo again!
No, but I had Christmas Island at that point and I think that's such a fantastic record that I was likely inspired by it. I was trying to write my version of a Neil Young song. I had just read an interview with him where he said his only songwriting rule is if you have an idea, chase it until the song is done. After I read that, I wrote that song.
I've loved the evolution of your music as of late. "We Cool?" felt like a very different album for you sonically, but still undeniably you. Do you have any ideas about the kind of music you plan to make in the future? Can we expect genres that you've never explored before?
The songs I'm working on now are pretty power-poppy and short. I've thought about trying to write some music without loud guitars one day, have something else take over the loud. I'm always trying to explore new shit, whether or not it sounds like it, otherwise what's the point of making another record?
Hey Jeff, HUGE FAN DUDE YEAHYEAHYEAH. I just entered into that contest thing please pick mine okay? Anyway, what made you move on from ASOB and start BTMI? What was it like starting up a band that didn't make any money? Was that hard as far as friendships went and that kinda thing?
Starting Bomb was incredibly hard on my friendships with the dudes in ASOB. Some of those relationships have only been mended over the last five years. The traditional band-path just wasn't for me though, and I didn't want to starve and be poor for a path I didn't feel aligned with. It took a long time to make records in that band, and I think deep down I knew I had a lot I wanted to get out.
I feel lucky that I'm still friends with those dudes because they are my family. I would not have gotten through my teens without their love and friendship.
Also, can you give us some backstory on the song 'hey allison'? One of my faves dude keep at it
It's about two friends who fall out of touch with each other - one of whom seems to care more about the other. Then again, maybe sometimes caring is understanding that your friends still love you, they're just busy. It's really hard when friends move basically.
Are you still going to play all requests at your shows? Are you open to playing one or two BTMI, or even ASOB songs if asked?
Eh, no more all requests. We hadn't done that for a while with Bomb, it got too hard, too many songs. With the new band, we only know the songs on the new record and I Look Like Shit so no Bomb or ASOB stuff for a while at least.
Hey Jeff. You've toured pretty extensively and have eaten at several different restaurants around the world. What city has the worst food?
A place in New Orleans has the worst slice of pizza I've ever eaten in my entire life.
Being a touring musician is amazing because there's always someone willing to help you find the best food spot. I can't remember any specific city or place that I've been like "ugh, this food SUCKS in TOTALITY!" There's good and bad restaurants everywhere.
Hi jeff. Seriously can you play the I don't wanna die cover at the Baltimore show? Is there any possibilities of that happening or nawh? I offered some good local beer and some Doritos. Tell me what your favorite is. Even if you cant play it I wanna thank you for everything you have done for me :)
There's a possibility. If I remember this, it'll definitely happen. I'd love some good local beer. I saw these 3D Doritos Jacked at a Sheetz the other day, you should get those 'cause there's no way I'd ever be able to bring myself to buy them, um, myself.
Will there ever be an Others!!! Others!!! Volume 2 of BTMI! stuff that compiles the songs that weren't on the albums after Volume 1 came out?
Some day! It's unfortunately low on the list of priorities of shit to get together right now. I'd love to do an Others! Others! double LP but I bet it would be hard to get the rights to all the covers.
Hey Jeff, any surprise projects coming up?
I produced the new Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room record in January and that'll be out in June, that's kind of a surprise to people who might not know about it?
Is there any chance of BTMI ever returning for either another tour and/or album? Do you have plans to play BTMI songs in your solo tour?
Nope and not this time around. If I go around with just me and a guitar again though, I'll probably play anything.
JEFF you have one of the greatest albums ever, three cheers for disappointment. It's in my top ten, next to suicide machines destruction by definition and others! my question is, will ASoB ever return, in its full glory as a whole BOUNCY ANGRY and halfway incoherent ska. I LOVE IT AND I NEED TO SEE IT HAPPEN. Please, if not, would you play some ASOB songs at the Philly date on your tour with AJJ? I love you.
Love, Dylan, or mo.
Hey, Dylan... no ASOB is not going to return some day. I am very proud of that record, but writing super fast punk/ska just isn't where my head is at these days. Plus, we already made that record so what's the point of making a record where a bunch of 30-somethings try and do it again. No point! Can't do it!
Hey Jeff! I hope all is well. Just wanted to say that i love your music. Espescially BTMI! I'm 25! now and its amazing how acurate that song is. Scrambles is one of my favourite records of all time!
And also that Really Records has a flawless catalog so far. I haven't listened to We Cool? yet cause i'm still not over the new Sidekicks, Sleater-Kinney and toyGuitar Records. Gonna pick it up soon though.
But what i really want to know if there are any plans for a European Tour? I saw you guys opening for Less Than Jake and hopefully can catch you again sometimes. Preferably in Summer though. Driving through heavy snow in November 2010 for two and a half hours was kinda shitty.
Keep doing what you're doing. You're one of the People that make Punk music and it's Community great.
Hey, we are going to try to come this year but unfortunately I don't think it will be in the summer aaaaa 乁༼☯‿☯✿༽ㄏ
Hi Jeff, huge fan. Really love the new album
A lot of your songs seem really personal, I was wondering if there any that are particularly difficult to perform? Will Bomb ever get make more music? And do you have any idea on a release date for the documentary?
and most importantly, do you have any plans to tour the UK? I'm sure you can just tag along with AJJ in a few months
I get in a totally different headspace when I play and write music than when I am just talking to people. This probably makes it seem like I'm more comfortable talking about certain shit than I actually am. I think this stems from the first bunch of songs that I ever wrote, which no one will ever here, in my bedroom as a kid just playing a guitar and screaming sad bullshit into a tape recorder. So for the most part, no. It actually feels nice to get that stuff out, especially when people sing along 'cause it makes me feel less alone. I think "Last On My List" by ASOB was pretty hard to do the few times we did it, and will probably always be hard. "Sick, Later" was tough to play acoustic. But again, honestly, for those I tend to just dig into the terror and sorrow and I think that's how I deal with those situations.
As far as I see it right now, any "Bomb the Music Industry!" record would just be a cash grab, using the name as branding or something. That would be completely antithetical to the whole mission of Bomb. Maybe some point way down the line we'll all naturally be like "let's play music together again" and I'll have a bunch of songs and we'll do it, but there's no plan to make that happen any time soon. I've said this before though, I'd really love to reunite Bomb when we're like 55. I think that'd be funny.
No release date for the doc. UK soon I hope!
Dude! You're amazing! I look forward to seeing you in Brooklyn on Sunday along that vein, what was your favorite show you've ever done?
Edit: said Saturday originally...
We're playing in brooklyn on SUNDAY!
Favorite show? It's pretty hard to compete with the last Bomb the Music Industry! shows at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. We played a show in Los Angeles at the End Of The World bookstore (or I have the name wrong?) Our original show got canceled that day, they set something up for us last minute, and it was just such a great cool fun fucking time. Loved it!
No really jeff, KUDROW full-length ever? Kudrow tour? give mike and dave some <3 .
nevermind someone asked basically the same thing so ignore this here are two quick other questions 1. thoughts on Odd Future 2. thoughts on Death Grips 3. thoughts on Anthony Fantano (he gave your album an 8/10 ! Nice :0 ! )
Mike and Dave, I'm ready!!!
Love the independent spirit, but the sexism, homophobia, etc. for shock value is motherfucking appalling.
Death Grips rules. Leaking your major label debut and the cover is a boner? Holy shit.
He seems like a nice guy who really likes music. I'm glad he liked my record, but he's sleepin' on "All Blissed Out" that shit is naaaaaasty.
What was the conversation like to get the album released early and on QUR? Did the push back or did they realize it was a big part of a Jeff Rosenstock album?
Getting it released early just had to do with the record leaking. They had people on it to kill the leak, and those people did a great job, but once the stream happened it seemed impossible to stop it.
I guess the main part of that conversation was just saying "hey, if everyone's gonna be getting this record online anyway, why don't we make it available through our things so they don't get a shitty leak of it." The websites that host leaks (at least the .rar files that you download) make money off of ad sales, it's super easy to download viruses from them, and they're just gross. Or there was a full stream on fucking YouTube so GOOGLE was doing their datamining and marketed advertisements to people who wanted to stream the leak. I've gone out of my way to make sure all my music is available for free/donation on an advertisement-free website for years and years, and basically I didn't want those fuckers to exploit listeners via advertisements just because they had the record first.
Releasing it on Quote Unquote was an easier conversation than I imagined. We talked about it, they were a little skeptical, and then I reiterated how important it was to me and they were no longer skeptical! Was very very very very cool of them to be down with Quote Unquote.
Two of my friends & fellow fans have had awesome encounters with you that I'm jealous of. Can we hang out at the Philly show and make them mad envious?
Nahhhhhhhhhhhhh... they're your friends! Don't make them envious!
Hey Jeff! I've recently (as in the past three years) become a huge fan of your work. My boyfriend pretty much gave me no choice but to love BTMI when we started dating, because that's almost all he plays in his car :) We're also really looking forward to getting your new album!! I have two questions. First, what was your favorite year, music wise and why? Meaning your music, other people's, and the scene in general. Second, will you allow myself and my boyfriend buy you a drink at the Asbury Lanes show next month? And maybe talk a little about playing our wedding? (Just kidding. Sort of.)
What's my favorite year music wise? Holy shit. That's hard to say, but I think it's probably 1994. That was the year of Dookie, Smash, Downward Spiral, Punk In Drublic, Let's Go!, the first Punk-O-Rama, Black Sunday?, Ill Communication, Far Beyond Driven... that might not all be accurate entirely but '94 was a year that fucked me up music wise as a little kid.
Hahaha, I'll play anywhere for $50,000.
Are you really made of tacos?
Nope - organs, muscles, tissues, blood and bones for me!
So is that new Dan Adriano record kick ass or what?
Just came to say I love the Antrarticgo Vespucci record and cannot wait to dive into We Cool?
The new Dan Andriano record is so fucking good. By the way it's Dan ANdriano, a mistake I'm glad I corrected before we started working together.
Do you remember my mate passing out after a btmi gig in Bristol, UK, 4 or 5 years back? If so, sorry, he does it a lot.
I've never remembered anything.
Hey Jeff I always see you/your bands around at Fest and think I should say hey/get a picture with you. What do you think: Should I do it this year or should I just leave you the fuck alone?
Try to find me when I'm like realllllllly not doing well, and try to have your phone ready!
Have you considered making an alternate version of your record called "We Cook?" for chefs or is it true you hate chefs ?
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