At one glace the Saint Louis based band, So They Say, may seem like just another punk rock band partying on the road and hoping for fame. However, the members of So They Say aren't what they seem. They are driven by music and strive to make quality tunes while enjoying life on the road. The young band packed up and spent half of their summer on the Vans Warped Tour on its 13 year running. Music fans gathered at the Smartpunk stage daily to see the guys rock the tour. They played some new songs from their up coming album called 'Life on Surveillance' hitting stores on October 9th (2007) on Fearless Records. I sat down with Joseph Hamilton (vocals) and David Schroeder (vocals, guitar) at their merchandise booth to talk about their experience writing their new record and touring.
Kristin: Where did you play your first show, who was it with and how does it compare to current shows?
Schroeder: Ok we played our first show in Illinois. It was at a place called Pops. We just started our band and a bunch of our local friend heard some of our songs and asked us to play a show with some of the bigger local bands. We played the show and two months later we got a record deal. He [Hamilton] was the original singer but he left to sing with another band.
Hamilton: They kicked me out because I sucked.
Schroeder: Hey man, shut up! (Laughs) we played our first show and thought we had something. St. Louis is a pretty tough crowd. Story of The Year is from there. At the time there weren't that many bands playing out. We just really feel that we were the luckiest ones. There are millions of bands in the world that could get signed but I mean it is all about being prepared for the opportunity that you are given. We want to throw props to our friends at home because we wouldn't be sitting here underneath this tent if it weren't for a lot of people.
Kristin: How was the experience recording your record Life on Surveillance with (Uncle) Matt Hyde?
Schroeder: It was the best experience ever!
Hamilton: One word
Schroeder: We call him Uncle Matt.
Hamilton: You got to change the 'Matt Hyde' to Uncle Matt. Uncle Matt is probably the best thing to happen to So They Say to date.
Schroeder: Matt Hyde is a true band producer. He was in Porno for Pyros and he recorded No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom record. The guy knows music. He is a very, very intelligent guy and you walk in there and immediately respect him. Especially for us growing up in the 90's. There would be no Lollapalooza if there wasn't Porno for Pyros. We really care about the music we write and it was really a treat to work with him. His wife, Aunt Nicole, made us dinner when we were down.
Hamilton: It was a good experience having a producer that cares about your music and your band and what your band wants. Matt is very smart. He knows what it takes to be in a band these days. He will let you be your band but he will tell you if something sucks. We got told so many times that shit sucked. You have to be grown up enough to understand that that person is there to help you and they wouldn't be saying things just to be a dick.
Schroeder: That is what I would tell younger bands going to record your first record. You are going to be told what to do a lot but it is only to make you record better. Like that that guy is not being hired to make your record suck. He is being hired to make your record better. A guy in his 40's is defiantly going to be more mature than a guy in his 20's. They have been through a lot more and Matt Hyde was very wise to everything we were doing. As soon as we played a song, if it wasn't exactly fit for our record, Matt would be like "I don't give a fuck! I like that song." He doesn't care about genres. If you're writing good music he respects you and will work with you. If you are writing stuff that is not good, than a producer like him can help way more than he is supposed to. He was like family when we left. When we go to California the night before [Warped Tour], we are going to hang out with Matt before we even see what Warped is like. His is apart of our family. Quote me, "He is the most genuine dude you will ever meet in the music business." I want that quoted!
Kristin: Was this time in the studio harder or easier than last time?
Schroeder: I would say it was about the same for me. I am a worrier. They call me Negative Nancy. At any point of the day, any one of these guys is pissed about something that is going on. We want everything to work out right. Nobody wants something blown for them especially when you work really hard for it for many years and given everything you have to do something. People don't care. They pass by you tent and call you a 'fuckin' retard' and they don't care but there are people out there that care like me.
Kristin: What is your biggest fear of stardom?
Hamilton: Stardom? I don't have any fear of stardom because of the fact that I won't have stardom. Growing up I know what it is like being poor. I've grown up a poor kid and I still am a poor kid and therefore stardom will be nothing to me but another day. Whether I have money or don't have money or whether a thousand people know me or don't know me I will still be the same person. I have known Dave all my life. Have I changed the last 6 years you have known me?
Schroeder: You're never going to change man! (Laughs)
Hamilton: I am not going to change at all. Stardom is nothing that is going to change our band. Our band is based off of having fun.
Schroeder: The reason that some bands get cocky, I feel, is when they are given opportunities that they don't deserve. That makes them cocky because once you get something that you had no idea that you would ever be getting, it like you become a different person and you live that life. We don't want that life. We want to write legitimate music that people like. I don't care about getting as big as Aerosmith. I want some kid to come up to me and be like, "You man your song helped me get by the whole day at school or got me through a day at work."
Hamilton: Just yesterday this girl said "About a year ago, my grandma was my best friend and she passed away. It was a sad thing but your album got me through it." The songs on the record weren't really about someone passing away but if somebody can pull that out of our record and it got them through that time, to me than it means the world. I didn't really part take in the writing process but I care for this band. For someone to tell me that the record helped them get through something like is just a big thing. If someone comes up to you and are like, "Hey, you changed my life," you will never forget those people.
Kristin: How important is your live performance to promoting your music?
Schroeder and Hamilton: It's everything!
Schroeder: When you are playing your music, when I watch other band, I can see if they believe what they are playing or if they are playing something to get cool or popular. You know what I am saying. You see that a lot at Warped Tour. I don't care if my band ever gets big because I know that where my music comes from is personal. I don't care if it means anything to anyone else in the world but me. That is why we can do what we do is because I believe in me as much as I believe in the fans. I would say our live set means ten times more than our record does because you get to see people who really do give a fuck about their music. We play like there is no regard to being exhausted. If there is a kid out there singing the words, that makes up feel so good because we don't get that everyday so we play harder.
Hamilton: All we are trying to do is have fun. It is all about the experience. This to me is a job but in the same sense it is so much an experience. If nothing ever happens from this and this is all we get, than I can be an old man and be like, "Yep in one year that was my life. I toured the United States and seen ever inch that I could see."
Kristin: What is your best tour story?
Schroeder: One fun moment in the van is when Joey [ Hamilton ] does the face. Do the face.
Hamilton: You got to audio clip this and a picture for people to see.
Schroeder: Yeah that face! I will be driving and bummed out because I would be driving for twenty hours when he would poke his head out from the back and make that face.
Hamilton: Don't listen to him! First off everything is planned. Everything I do is pretty planned. I send them a text message that says 'Ahhhhhhh'h,' and so as they get the text message, and I am watching them through the mirror, I know that the first reaction I am going to get from them is for them to look into the rearview mirror to look back to see what I am talking about. Than I make this face. The face is kind of funny. You got to see it. She, [Kristin], will take a picture of it and you will see it but with the voice it is really funny and random.
Kristin: What is your most awkward or craziest fan moment?
Hamilton: Well Dave [Schroeder] doesn't even know this yet. We are not against gay people or anything but there is a guy who is in love with Dave. This guy has left us messages on myspace. (Laughs) This dude has seriously left us messages like 'Please get me five minutes alone with Dave. He will never regret it." He really loves Dave. (Laughs) What I will do is go myspace and find the guy and tell him that Dave is ready to meet him. (Laughs)