This is my interview with Matt Whipple (left, bass/vocals), Matthew Miller (2nd from right, drums), and Joseph D’Agostino (right, vocals/guitar) of Cymbals Eat Guitars on October 23rd in Cleveland, OH. I love this band and it was great to meet them and see their fantastic live show. Here are links to the band’s songs “Wild Phoenix (Live)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1JBTSz0Liw&feature=relmfu and “Cold Spring (Live)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sge_9AUVtbI&feature=relmfu.
How are you guys?
Joseph D’Agostino: Very tired.
Matthew Miller: We are tired
Matt Whipple: Sorry, we’re a little bit punchy. This could be a weird interview.
How has this tour been so far?
JD: Pretty excellent. It’s been wonderful touring with Hooray For Earth; they are great guys and an awesome live band. It’s been one of the better tours for us in that regard, probably the best. We really get along with them and most of the shows where you’ve expected to be good have been good. Some of the shows where you expected it to be bad were also good. So, it’s been really solid.
When you are on tour, what do you do to stay busy?
MW: Be on tour (laughs). There’s a lot of time in the van.
MM: Video games, reading, that’s about it for me.
MW: Video games, reading, that kind of thing. Just like…
JD: I zone out. For hours.
MW: Staring at iPhones.
JD: Because I don’t have the energy to read something or watch something. So I’ll just stare at the front seat.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
JD: I would say that it is easier than it has ever been to make a good sounding record so do that and maybe you can get some attention.
MW: Just focus on your craft, song-writing, and don’t worry about all the internet bulls**t just write as many good songs as you possibly can and then start a band and put them online and stuff. I think a lot of people…
JD: Get ahead of themselves.
MW: They get ahead of themselves. That’s exactly right.
If you could give yourself advice 5 years ago, what would you say?
JD: Take a vocal lesson. Seriously.
Me: I think your voice is fine.
JD: Well now it is sure…
MM: Five years ago, my advice would be to slow down. That’s what I would tell myself.
JD: Relax actually, relax, loosen up.
MM: Yeah, I guess that’s pretty right.
MW: I would tell myself to cut loose. (Laughs)
MM: I would have told myself to finish college.
JD: Yeah, I think that’s about all…finish college.
MW: Oh, I was going to say quit college. (Laughs) I would have been a senior at the time so it would’ve been pretty important.
JD: (takes a drink) I would have told myself five seconds ago not to drink this s**t.
MM: Yeah, that’s just awful.
If you could co-write an album with anyone, who would it be and why?
MW: We have a really, really good idea for a band with Hooray For Earth, it’s called Bug Arms. They are a high school, garage, grunge band…
MM: That just doesn’t give a f**k.
MW: That just never practices and accidentally gets huge just riding a wave of bands that sound just like them. It would be like…actually I don’t want to name any names. It would be really, really s**ty though, the entire thing (laughs) but it would be really fun.
Do you have a favorite place to play live?
JD: The Bottletree in Birmingham, Alabama. I really liked The Slowdown in Omaha, NE, because they have washers and dryers.
MM: Saddle showers.
MW: Saddle Creek owns this venue and drink tickets for bands get top shelf liquor and you can do laundry for free and…yeah, it’s awesome. (Laughs)
JD: The Black Cat in Washington D.C.
MW: And Beloit College in Beloit, Michigan, I think.
JD: Yes, best college show we’ve ever played.
MW: Sweetest college show we’ve ever done. Those kids go ape s**t when bands come to campus.
Do you have a favorite song to play live?
JD: We like playing the new songs because we aren’t tired of them. I would probably say for me, “Rifle Eyesight” is the most fun to play at this point.
MW: Same here.
Who is your favorite band that you’ve toured with?
JD: It’s between Bear In Heaven or Hooray For Earth.
MW: Yeah, both are really amazing bands.
Is there a song of somebody else’s that you wish you played live?
MW: We’ve been meaning to work out a version of “There She Goes” by The La’s. As covered by…I mean…
JD: Made famous by Sixpence None The Richer.
MW: But the original song is bada**. So, yeah.
JD: We could do a good cover of that.
You have been featured in Pitchfork’s “Best New Music,” as one of Beyond Race Magazine’s “Emerging Artists,” and this tour has been featured in Spin Magazine’s “Best Fall Tours.” Is it strange to see all of this hype surrounding you guys?
JD: Yeah, it’s kind of surreal but I’ve been trying to Google myself less.
MW: We had a lot of press buzz around the last record. This time around is a little bit strange because it doesn’t really equate to being a huge band like a lot of people would think it would. We played a show with some guys that were friends with the band Das Racist, dudes from Brooklyn. They’re on the cover of Spin this month and they’re not selling out shows. It’s kind of strange that there is now this weird disconnect between getting great press and…
JD: People liking you.
MW: People liking your band, yeah. (Laughs)
Are you pleased with the reaction that the new album?
JD: Critically, certainly, and certainly the people that come out to shows all seem to be embracing our new material and the direction we are headed in, which is great. So, yeah, we are building it.
MW: No complaints. It’s been pretty wonderful.
What was different in the studio working on this new album?
JD: Well, we were working with a big name producer and we were an actual band. When we made the first record, I wrote pretty much all of the parts and it was kind of like my project and now it’s a lot bigger than me. Guys have a big say in how the songs are shaped and how they turn out and we cut a lot of the stuff live too. So, minimal overdubs and more of a live band feel is what we sound like live.
What’s your greatest memory with the band so far?
MW: Opening for The Flaming Lips was pretty amazing.
JD: That was mine, too.
MW: That was kind of the high point…
JD: Standing in the audience at The Troxy Theater in London with my parents as the confetti cannons shot off at the beginning of “Race for the Prize” with tears in my eyes.
MW: “Do You Realize?” That night brought me to tears.
What are your plans for the future?
JD: We’re going to make another album. We are going to start working on the songs as soon as we get home from this tour and then hopefully continue to tour as much as we can.
MW: Some more touring, some more day job working when not touring. Try to have regular lives.
JD: Regular fulfilling lives.
MW: Lives, relationships, and friends who don’t tour in bands. Not that people who do tour in bands are lesser.
MW: Well, yeah.
JD: A little less.
Christopher Principe (of Hooray For Earth, fellow tour mates): Why are you looking at me like that?