Interview: Emily's Army Talk "Don't Be a Dick", Punk Rock, "The Hangover" and More
Tue, 02 Aug 2011 10:14:39
"We wanted a title people would remember," says Emily's Army drummer Joey Armstrong.
No one will forget Don't Be a Dick! for a few reasons. First off, it's the coolest title ever. Second of all, the music is exactly what punk rock should be. It's got vitality, vigor, and vivacity wrapped up inside of quick and dirty punk punch. Emily's Army don't mince words (as you can tell from the album title), and they've got the instrumental prowess to back everything up. Drums build with a bombastic intensity while the bass roars, and the guitar and vocal assault rips rock 'n' roll a new one.
With Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong as his pops, Joey certainly found inspiration at home, but he and his band mates, bring everything to the next level on their own. They're also not stopping. "We already have a lot of songs written for the next album," he goes on. "We're going to push ourselves a lot.
Max Becker and Joey Armstrong of Emily's Army spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino about Don't Be a Dick, finding punk rock early on, favorite movies, and so much more in this exclusive interview…
How did you discover punk rock?
Joey: My dad is involved with it, and I grew up in Berkeley going to a lot of shows. I really got that Berkeley punk scene vibe. Going on tour with my dad, I also saw a lot of bands, and that's where I got my understanding of punk rock from.
Max: I got some punk through middle school. That's really when I started listening to that kind of stuff. Growing up in the new millennium, it wasn't so much punk as it was pussy boy band music [Laughs].
Which bands initially spoke to you?
Joey: Growing up, I loved listening to Operation Ivy and all of the classics like The Clash and The Ramones.
Max: We have this connection to Green Day, which is super awesome. We also have a connection to Social Distortion. Mike Ness and Billie Joe Armstrong are two completely different people, but they both serve as really good influences on us. In Southern California, we're neighbors with Mike Ness, and he's taught us a lot about life experiences on the road. He's like a touring machine.
Joey: They're mentors, and we can listen to their stories and go along with them.
Did you have one vision for Don't Be a Dick from the beginning?
Joey: Cole just showed us different songs over about a year and a half. Max would also bring songs to practice, and we'd do our take on them.
Max: We've had some of these songs for two-and-a-half years. I wrote "Regan Macneil" freshman year, and I'm about to be a senior. We've had some of these songs for a while, but they've evolved so much with our growing abilities. I think it really shows and why the album flows.
Joey: Some of the songs were originally supposed to be acoustic love songs that Max had written for girls. We wanted to do something different with them though.
Do you aim to tell stories with your songs?
Max: I was reading Catcher In the Rye because you have to read that in sophomore year, and "Strictly for the Birds" is a line in the first three chapters of the book. It's talking about Holden's school and how it's just a bunch of people who feed off of bullshit. I felt like writing about that.
Joey: We tell stories about what we feel, what we experience, and what goes on around us. That's how it came to place.
Max: Cole and I have two different writing styles. He puts thoughts down, and my writing is more about experiences. That's what I like to think.
Tell me about your take on "Loch Lomond".
Max: It's actually an old Scottish folk song that Cole and I sang in our choir at school. Cole was like "eff this version! I want to do a punk rock version"! It turned out to be so freaking awesome we play it at the end of every show, and everyone goes crazy. "Loch Lomond" was an escape route for the Scottish. It's also a lake in Scotland.
What fuels your drumming, Joey?
Joey: I listen to a lot of fast-paced music. There's a lot of Minuteman influence, Keith Moon, and Ringo Starr. They're all completely different, but that's what's so cool about it. I like the different styles of drumming. I'm also in our school pep band so that helped me out with faster rolls and finding stuff that would sound good and affect the whole band sound. I wanted to be able to play something simple like Ringo Starr and then be able to shred like Keith Moon, but it wanted to be able to shift smoothly back and forth.
If Don't Be a Dick were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?
Max: Most of the movies we watch are comedies. I don't know what our album would be though, maybe some kind of superhero movie?
Joey: We're always watching Step Brothers and other Will Ferrell movies.
Max: What would you say?
Max: That's perfect!
Joey: I could see that. That's awesome!
What are your favorite Will Ferrell movies?
Joey: Let's see…Step Brothers, Old School, Talladega Nights, and Anchorman. We also love I Love You, Man.
Max: We like bro humor like The Hangover!
Have you heard Don't Be a Dick yet?