An Interview With The Drummer And Bassist Of Guilt By Association
California's Guilt By Association have existed in one form or another for nearly 10 years before releasing their EP "Chapter 1: End Of Story." Despite lack of a supporting label they've managed to take their blend of hard rock and metal on tour through most of the U.S. and even into Mexico. Guilt By Association's drummer Jake and bassist Britt talked with me about what the band has done in the past and where they are going next.
xFiruath: How long have you personally been involved in music and are you currently with any other bands besides Guilt By Association?
Jake: I've been playing drums and percussion since age four. I played guitar and piano briefly, but drums were always just so natural to me. I've recorded and played live with a few other local bands, most recently I recorded with the band Lemonwilde that a friend was playing with. They are currently in Europe.
Britt: I've been playing bass for 13 years. JD (Vocalist for Guilt By Association) actually taught me how to play bass two weeks before he was scheduled to played at the Roxy in Hollywood for the first time. I was always the tag along little sister so I was at every practice anyways so when the first bassist quit unexpectedly I stepped in and never looked back. With the addition of Sean on guitar that same week, Guilt by association was formed and we rocked the Roxy, for a very short set .
xFiruath: For our readers who aren’t familiar with your band, can you give me a brief run down of Guilt By Association’s history?
Britt: Guilt By Association was formed 13 years ago by JD, myself, and Sean. We've had a lot of drummers in our years but Jake has been with us for while now. We all grew up in Chatsworth, California and have been friends for over 10 years. We enjoy a diverse range of music and find that when it comes to writing we can all draw from our different tastes. Over the years we have written and recorded many songs that have all helped to define our current writing style. We are definitely a blend of mainstream and metal but in the past we tended more towards metal and hardcore. We found that as we matured so did our musical taste. We love the raw energy that our driving guitars and drums provide and blending in the clean vocals gives us the depth and diversity that we crave.
xFiruath: Let’s get a little more into the exact sound of the band. Which genre would you consider Guilt By Association to be in?
Jake: I like to think we have our own sound, of course that is Always debatable. I think we have a good “progressive” side to us that keeps the music interesting. JD writes in-depth and intense lyrics that always seem to fit the vibe of the song really well. I think our sound is accessible to a wide range of people who like all different types of music, just as we do. We've called ourselves “Inde-metal" because we think we're independent enough of most “metal” genres but we aren't gonna go on tour with Vampire Weekend anytime soon.
xFiruath: Speaking of lyrics, what do they generally deal with in your music?
Britt: Murder, rape, paranoia, religion, love, death, frustration. Sometimes JD likes to think of a fictitious scenario and pull from inner confusion or emotion to create a story other times just whatever JD is feeling at the time comes spilling out on paper. Personal or fictitious, JD always takes his time and puts serious effort into every song. He knows that you truly have to believe in what you’re singing in order for it to translate as more than just notes and that's what makes a song really grab the listener.
xFiruath: Tell me about the writing process for the average Guilt By Association track. Does everyone write their own parts independently or do you work together on songs?
Britt: We usually write as a group. Like I said above we find it helpful if we all draw from our different musical tastes and strengths. That's what truly makes a Guilt by Association song.
Jake: The parts are written into songs together. Ideas are thrown on to the table by one or more of us and then we start putting the puzzle together. Sometimes it's as easy as teaching parts to each other and then putting our own spin on it, or sometimes it's a matter of playing a certain part over and over again to get the feel right and the phrasing and melody etc.
xFiruath: Your music has both the more mainstream rock sound and some of the vocals that are generally kept to the most extreme forms of music. What made you want to combine the two and how has your music been received so far?
Jake: I think the music is received well and I think we can only get better and reach out to more people the more experience we get. I also believe we are entering a new part of our career together where we are writing more intelligent music and always trying to improve ourselves before anyone gets to pass judgment. We are our biggest critics, as most musicians and artists are. Combining the two “styles” of vocals is just a staple of our style and the way we write music. I think that too many people criticize “harsh” sounding vocals and never give them the credit they deserve. JD's use of “dynamic” vocals just makes us a better band. If he was screaming all the time, where would our dynamic qualities go? If he was just singing monotone the whole time, there would be no emotion when he is clearly singing with emotion and dynamics. We realize it's now the typical American Idol over-produced bubble gum that seems to be the pinnacle of music these days, but I think it comes across with more conviction.
xFiruath: Where did you record “Chapter 1: End of Story?” and did you do the production and mixing on your own?
Jake: The EP was recorded using a mobile Pro-Tools unit inside an office building in Chatsworth. We tracked all the instruments in the office in three days and then moved to our studio to finish the vocals. It was then mixed and mastered by Greg Hayes in his apartment in Valley Village.
Britt: Yes we had absolutely no budget but a great group of songs, lots of cheap beers, good friends, and a great engineer so we decided to do the album guerilla style and see what we came up with. We were thrilled with the end result and had a blast working our asses off into the wee hours of morning.
xFiruath: Are there any parts on the album you think are the strongest or you like the best?
Jake: I think the song "End of Story" is particularly strong. It came together in the days before we were set to start recording. The music just spoke volumes to us because it showed growth and maturity in our song writing. Add to that the intense lyrical content as well as the process in which we recorded, and the song just seems to define the record.
Britt: Yes "End of Story" is the first song we wrote after the death of our ( JD and Britt) grandma. We were very close to her and if you listen to the lyrics you can hear the tragic end to a beautiful story. That's the song I'm most proud of because it came from the heart with raw emotion. I cried the whole time I was recording the backup vocals.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about the music video you guys did for “Living In Silence.” Where did you record at and how did you like the end result?
Britt: “Living in Silence” was a no budget video done by Josh Kanan who works for Red Van Pictures. We were approached by him and after a few production meetings we started pulling in volunteers and got the ball rolling. We filmed it out the Palmdale area in one day. Given the circumstances we are very pleased with it. We are looking forward to doing another video and using all the things we learned from our “Living in Silence” shoot.
xFiruath: Tell me about your local music scene. How is the metal and hard rock there?
Britt: We have played in 40 U.S. states and down in to Mexico so we can honestly say that we think the music scene in and around Los Angeles kind of sucks. Bands are a dime a dozen and shitty bands pay to play everywhere so it's hard to catch a great night of music. We've definitely had great shows and seen other great bands but they're always sandwiched in between other god awful bands that ruin the night. We're definitely ready to get out of L.A. and do some more touring but I think if we've survived here as long as we have than hopefully we can pretty much rock anywhere.
xFiruath: What’s coming up in Guilt By Association’s future? Do you have any upcoming tour dates or plans for recording?
Britt: We are in the pre-production stage for our next EP “Chapter 2” and are having a blast. We are taking a little different approach to this album and excited to see where that takes us. We have five fresh tracks to lay down with Greg Hayes as engineer and producer. These five are more moody and heavy than “Chapter 1” so stay tuned metal underground fans.
xFiruath: What albums or bands are you currently listening to most often?
Jake: Recently I've been listening to As Tall as Lions new album “You Cant Take it With You." If you don't have it, go get it, it's a perfect album. I've always branched out in music, the last five albums I have listened to, besides As Tall as Lions are “Black on Both Sides” by Mos Def, “The Great Misdirect” by Between the Buried and Me,” The Alchemy Index” by Thrice, “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne, and “Undertow” by Tool.
Britt: My top five albums right now are “Crack the Skye” by Mastodon, “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King” by Dave Matthews, “10,000 days” by Tool, “White Pony” by Deftones, and “Battle Studies” by John Mayer.
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