Mike: Let’s start off by introducing yourselves and saying what you do in The Format.
Nate: I’m Nate, and I write songs.
Sam: I’m Sam, and I play instruments and write songs.
Mike: Earlier today you went into Providence’s WBRU studio for an interview and an acoustic performance. How you do think that went?
Nate: My voice was pretty shot. But I thought it was cool. I think they wantedÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã‚¦ do you go to Brown [University]?
Mike: No, I’m not smart.
Nate: I don’t know, I think they wanted to hear “The First Single” pretty bad, but it wasn’t happening.
Mike: What did you guys end up playing?
Sam: We played “Snails,” and “The Compromise,” and then I messed up “Tune Out.” It was pretty cool. And we played “On Your Porch.”
Mike: Nice, that’s one of my favorites. Is it true that you’ve had little to no radio play?
Nate: I think so. We might have had college radio play.
Sam: Yeah we had a little college radio for the first album…
Nate: I don’t read the radio reports now, for this record, just because I felt like we’re doing very well right now. My expectations have been exceeded already, so I mean… and it happened without ever having radio in the first place.
Mike: I think you’re on the Hollister soundtrack so I guess it doesn’t really matter if you’re on the radio or not anyways… How does your fan base continue to grow at such a rapid pace if you’re not on MTV?
Nate: I think just because we’re on tour a lot. We’re touring constantly and I think word of mouth is starting to catch on, and hopefully people really like Dog Problems.
Mike: I think they will.
Nate: I hope so. I mean it’s rough, like when we’re playing these shows I know that they want to here the Interventions songs more, but I also know that we just released a record three weeks ago so I don’t expect every crowd to know the songs by heart, like they would…
Mike: Yeah and the album has a little different feel to it, so it might take a little longer to catch on…
Nate: I think subconsciously we were probably hoping for that, in the songwriting. I don’t know, all of my favorite records, the ones that I didn’t necessarily think were too awesome at first, for example: A Ghost Is Born, the Wilco record; I didn’t like it at first. I was so mad that it didn’t sound like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. And eventually I just realized that it’s a better record, it’s just not the same. It’s just not the same record, and I’m just so glad that they didn’t make the same record, because I would’ve never been introduced to these amazing songs.
Mike: Speaking of MTV, was that you playing one of those My Super Sweet 16 parties?
Nate: (Laughs) Sam was that you?
Sam: No. I didn’t really sing anything but I think I was there. Um, yeah… we were there. It was something that we kind of did, and would never do anything like that again.
Nate: No, now we just have to answer questions about it all the time.
Mike: (Laughs) How did you get pulled into it?
Nate: It was just one of those things where it was like, “Hey, someone wants you to play their Super Sweet 16, it’s on MTV, you only live once.” “Okay! They only live once, alright!”
Mike: (Laughs) “Let’s do it?”
Mike: Okay, so now I’ll give you a chance to redeem yourselves. You released Dog Problems all on your own, without the help of a major record label, and it debuted at 77 on Billboard’s Top 200. How much work went into this album?
Nate: A lot. I mean, it was three years worth of… well, two years worth of just constant fighting with the record label, so that was one thing. The second was just what the songs were about, and just the relationship. So, obviously getting all of that off my chest over that span of time, that took a lot. And just going into the studio and making a record that’s pretty heavily orchestrated, or isn’t as easy to get the first time around, because we did so many things. It was a lot of hard work, and I’m ready to do it again.
Mike: And we can’t wait! What would you like to say to Atlantic [Records] right now?
Nate: Um… (Long pause).
Sam: Nothing, really. It doesn’t really matter. You know, we had our time with them, and it’s over, and I don’t think anyone really cares.
Nate: Yeah, I’m so over it. Like, it’s funny. I don’t even know… I’d like to tell them, “Good luck pushing the back catalog of Otis Redding.”
Mike: You guys are pretty well-known for being big DIY people. Who does all of the album artwork, merch designs, etc?
Sam: I do. Yeah I just started doing it because when we first started the band we kind of opened a little store on the website, so I started making stuff, and then I just sort of got stuck into it. And eventually, I just kept doing it, and doing it…
Mike: Well everyone I know really likes the artwork. Did you take any art classes in high school for it?
Sam: No, I kind of started doing stuff because I worked at a concert venue, so I had to make posters, and I sort of learned how to use Photoshop. It’s more of like, something I do now. It’s not really a hobby or anything.
Mike: You probably didn’t do the website… Who did that?
Sam: Our manager found these great guys who make tons of websites for like, really big bands like Madonna, The Flaming Lips… a bunch of other bands that I can’t even think of. But basically they’re big-time website guys and they agreed to make us this website for really cheap, and totally hooked us up because we never really had a budget for that. We never really had a real website.
Mike: It’s really cool how you can navigate around using a dog and stuff.
Sam: Yeah it was inspired by this thing that we found online, this guy that made like, a flash greeting card… we kind of took that and added some stuff to it. It turned out really awesome.
Mike: So after being on Elektra and Atlantic for two releases, you decided to establish your own label named The Vanity Label. Have any bands sent you press kits yet, and are there any that stand out?
Nate: We’ve gotten nothing, and I don’t think we’re ready to even start really working on The Vanity Label, other than with The Format right now. I’d love to do it in the future when we have some time off. And unfortunately at the same time we haven’t heard anything that really interests us.
Mike: The entire Dog Problems CD was made available digitally via The Nettwork Music Store, which led to the sale of over 2,000 digital copies prior to the album’s official release. Do you think this helped you or hurt you?
Nate: It was a blessing in disguise. I was freaking out the first day. I wrote this big, long article, pretty much, on what it took to write the record and why people shouldn’t steal it. And it ended up being great because it is such a different album, and I wanted our diehard fans to get it before anyone else and understand how it worked, so that come July 11th nobody would be shocked completely. And by that time too the press had jumped on it, and so it was really great to be able to do it ahead of time.
Sam: Plus it helped us for touring and stuff because we went on tour right after, and kids were more familiar with the songs than they would have been by the time we got to their city.
Mike: One of my friends recently told me they loved your new album because it reminded them of The Beatles. Has this release been compared to The Beatles before and how does it feel to draw such a comparison to one of your major influences?
Nate: Yeah, we’ve gotten like the Sgt. Pepper’s thing a few times, which I think… anytime you’re going to do pop music and add horns or orchestration people always go that route, and Sam and I are just so overly “pop” it just seems to fit well. But at the same time there have been a million people compared to The Beatles so like, I want to hear someone dig a little deeper.
Sam: It is more rewarding to be compared to The Goo Goo Dolls though, because we were on our last one.
Mike: (Laughs) What are your future tour plans like?
Nate: As of right now it’s… finish this tour out. It ends the beginning of September. And then we get a week off, and then we go to England for two weeks with The All-American Rejects, and then we come home with the Rejects until Christmas.
Mike: We interviewed a few bands at Warped Tour and like two of them said they were going on tour with the Rejects.
Nate: That’s what everybody’s saying.
Sam: Yeah I guess there are like a hundred bands on that tour, but as far as I know, it’s The Starting Line, and then I guess Gym Class Heroes.
Mike: We didn’t even interview those two bands, so…
Nate: Who were the bands?
Mike: I think Motion City Soundtrack is going on one tour with them, and I can’t remember the other one (Gym Class Heroes, who did play Warped Tour).
Sam: Maybe they’re splitting it up or something, I don’t know. We haven’t seen like any dates or anything.
Nate: I don’t know, we were just told we were on the whole tour. The Rejects are taking us everywhere. And we’re just along for the ride I guess, but apparently a lot of people are. They could be splitting it up and there could be different people on it, but as far as I know we’re on the whole thing.
Sam: Yeah I think we are.
Nate: But someone else told me that too. Like, “I’ve talked to other people that said they were going on tour with The All-American Rejects.” I guess we’re all just going to have to fight it out.