We're from Austin, Texas and we've been around for six years almost. It's crazy. Five or six years. Since '98 so six years. We got signed to Aware/Columbia in 2000 and we put our first record out in August of 2002 and basically we toured for 26 months straight. We toured with all kinds of great bands and built up a good following when our record came out and kept touring and touring and touring. Then we took some time off, recorded this new record that we're doing now, and we worked really, really hard on it and we're really excited about it. It's coming out in three weeks on October 19.
What makes this record different from your last one?
Well, for one we're a lot more mature as far as musically and used to playing together. As band mates and players we know each other way better on this record than we did in the beginning. We were really, mentally and experienced as far as playing together, way young. Songwriting wise too. When we got signed, we had songs that we had had for years. We'd been playing songs for a couple of years and then we got our record deal and we went in and recorded them. We just went in and recorded this catalogue of songs that we already had. This time we went in the studio with no songs and we had toured and only took a month to come home and work on writing and stuff. When we went in the studio, we were pretty much still writing and this whole record is just a collection of songs that were put together and written in the studio. We're in a lot different places in our lives now than we were back when we did the first record. I think the songwriting and everything is more superior and I think also on this record, we didn't want to concentrate on any kind of genre. We weren't thinking about having to be punk or being emo or what's cool right now or what's going on in the world. It's been a while since our last record. What is cool? What if people don't like it? We just said hey, let's record a good record and we wrote the best songs and did it. Some of it sounds like our old stuff a little bit and then some of it sounds way different. I'm really proud of this record. I know all of us are. We're really excited about it. We just concentrated on writing great songs and I think we did that.
You talked about sitting in the studio and just pumping out songs. Did you feel a lot of pressure with having to write them right there and then?
Yeah, the second record is the most important. The first record, you want to get your name out there and you want people to know who you are. We definitely developed a solid following on our first record. We sold a decent number of records but if we were on an indie label, we would have been huge for the number. We sold just over 100,000 records. We would have been huge on an indie label but we're on Columbia Records. As far as major labels go, that's kind of a failure almost. We had extreme pressure from the label because with the way the music business is right now, bands that are our friends and all these bands are getting dropped left and right. Fortunately we're not signed straight to Columbia. We're signed to Aware and Greg Latterman, the president of Aware, really believes in our band and he made sure that they didn't drop us. He had no intention of dropping us at all. We had pressure from our label. To get any kind of push or any momentum from our label and backing, we had to really impress them and from our standpoint, they could be saying to go do this and they can't wait to hear it and if they don't like it they could have dropped us. Secondly, we really want our fans to love our record. We want people to embrace the new record. We have to grow as a band but at the same time there were worries about what if we change too much and people don't like it or this is weird. Then we just said you know what? This is also about ourselves and about writing songs for ourselves and we've always had fans that have stuck by us no matter what. They really believe in us so we just said we're going to be true to the music and just write the best songs possible and people are going to like this record. That's what we did and we're lucky. Everything turned out great. There were definite stresses, trials, and tribulations and hard times in the recording of this record but after it was all said and done, the end product was good.
The new record is going to be called Stop The World. You recorded half of your record in Chicago with one producer and then you recorded the other half with another producer someplace else. Where was the other place and why did you decide to split the recording like that?
We started the record in Chicago. We started on it with our producer Paul Ebersold who did our first record and we did most of the record with him. Eight of the songs on the record were done with him. Then we also wanted to get a new flavor and even the songs we did with Paul don't sound like our last record. There's more than one way to look at it. For one, what if this was our last record and something terrible happened and we broke up. What if something happened and we got dropped and then we decided not to go on? Which I don't think would ever happen but every record that we've ever done would have been produced by the same guy. I think it was smarter and a better learning experience because in the studio, even with Paul on the second record, we were learning things. By going with another producer, we learned even more from Chuck. We went to Chicago to work with Chuck and I think doing it that way, we decided we'd get the old flavor from Paul and then go work with Chuck and get a little bit of something new to make this record be a little more different.
You hear a little bit of The Beatles, Cheap Trick, The Ramones, and bands like that in the record. Are these bands that have inspired you guys over the years?
For sure. All those bands you've mentioned are amazing. Faith No More is an amazing band. There a jillion bands that influenced us. What's weird is like our band, we always did a completely different type of music and it's cool because when you put us all together, you get something different that comes out. You could pigeonhole us into genres if you wanted to but we definitely are influenced from all different areas. Basically we all like great music and great songs. I'm a pop guy. Dave our drummer likes metal. He's a super metal dude but at the same time he loves The Beatles. It's hard to say. We all have very varied tastes.
Who does the majority of the songwriting or is it evenly distributed?
Every song is written completely different. There might be a song that I work on with Dustin and there might be a song that I work on by myself. There might be a song Dustin worked on by himself. Dustin and Mark work on things together. Every song is different.
Tell me about some of the songs on the new CD.
"Stop The World" is our single. That song is very different from anything else on our record. Basically when we were writing that, we just thought let's try and do something a little bit different. We don't want all our songs to sound the same. We started experimenting with doing a song that swings a little bit or let's do a song in 3/4 time or let's try this and that. This song had a little bit different sound. I thought it would be cool to do. That song basically is lyrically about just somebody who is fed up and about to freak out. Basically in a nutshell. Then you have "Talk Of The Town". That song was written about gossip. Every town has it. I remember having a friend say "I'm ready to move out of this town. Can't do anything without somebody talking about it." I've had several things where "hey, so-and-so said you said this." There's gossip in every town. I told that friend of mine "you can move out of town but you're going to get settled in somewhere else and it's the same thing." It's the same everywhere you go. I really got to thinking about that and then started writing a song about it. That's what "Talk Of The Town" is about. It originally was going to be called "Dave Grohl" because there's a part in the song where we were working on it and gave the drummer the song. Our producer Paul said to play like Dave Grohl. Think Dave Grohl when you're playing this part. So Dave is playing like that and for months and months and months that song was called "Dave Grohl" and finally right when it was time to turn in the names and all the stuff in to get printing done, we changed it to "Talk Of The Town".
Wherever you work there's a grapevine. Where I work, it's gossip central. It's not just where you live but where you work too.
It's all around you. In songwriting, me personally I would just think more about melody and music and rhythms. To me, it sounds funny but the lyrics were filler. I wanted a good vocal melody but the meaning of what the song was about was not as important when I was 19 years old. I didn't really care. A lot of times I just made crap up. When you think about Nirvana songs, you don't know what the hell he's talking about half the time. It's all a bunch of incoherent babble most of the time.
People used to tell me he was such an intellectual writer. I was like intellectual writer? "I'm about to crack and I don't have a gun?" What the fuck?
There are Zeppelin songs. I know how they go but I couldn't tell you one word to a Zeppelin song. That's how I was. I was like who cares and I could spend all day trying to be a poet and then have a song that sounds like garbage or I can throw some melodies that sound good together and have a good song. Then the older I got, I changed my tune a little bit and started really getting into songwriting and really enjoying writing that stuff. Then I'm always trying to find subject matter that somebody can listen to and really relate to. Put themselves in the shoes of the singer when they hear the song. That's why I thought "Talk Of The Town" would be good because it doesn't matter if you're at work or in a city or where you are. Like you said, there's a grapevine and things always come around. On this record also, there are songs that are tongue in cheek. That's the stuff that I enjoy the most is writing just silly songs. There's a song, "I'll Promise You Anything". It's some dude trying to get some action from some girl. Trying to talk some girl's pants off. It's kind of funny. It's ridiculous. There's another song, "Turn Around", that is written from the perspective of a real asshole boyfriend type of guy that has no shame at all. In the choruses he's apologizing "please come back to me, blah, blah." Then in the verses, there's stuff he says like oh my god, what a douche bag. I can't believe this guy. Saying stuff like "oh, I forgot to pick you up the other day. I'm really sorry. You only had to walk five miles. What's the big deal?" That kind of thing. I remember sitting around, trying to ask friends of mine what the most douche bag that they could think of, of a guy doing to his girlfriend. One of my best friends from Austin, he's the singer for a band called Born To Lose, I was asking him and he said "you should say you went to a strip club but you only got lap dances from girls that look like her." I thought that was perfect but I didn't use that one but I thought it was funny. That's basically the vibe on that song. That song is totally ridiculous. "I didn't have time to get anything for your birthday. Sorry. It's the thought that counts." Then "I know I passed out that night when you got naked." Trying to paint little funny pictures of stuff. That's a fun song. We like those kind of songs because we're all a bunch of jokers. There are songs that are definitely serious on this record from the subject matter of somebody dying of cancer to being really jaded and bitter about past experiences with our record company to having our management and road crew all abandon us all at the same time and jump ship. There are all kinds of things that have happened to us in the last few years so the writing on this record is a lot better. It's not just bitter breakup songs about girls. There's a lot of different subject matters on this record. It's the thing that I'm proud of most probably.
You guys have new management and a new road crew.
Basically, this is a fresh start on our second record. We saw our old management earlier today and we were totally cool. Everything is cool. We had high expectations for our first record and things went well but everybody has to believe that they're going to reach for the stars to continue getting up every day and doing what you're doing. Things went really great for us but we weren't done with our first record. We believed in our first record and everybody around us said "no, your first record is done." From our label to everybody and it was really a tough thing for us to expect. Once we were able to do that, we were able to go on and do another great second record. It's kind of a rebirth for us. Even personally, we all get along better than we ever have and everything seems to be going really great.
You don't need to be around people with negative attitudes.
I definitely agree with that.
Are you guys currently touring?
Right now our CD comes out in three weeks. We don't want to say any tours because nothing is confirmed but there's talks about going on tours with some different people. We're talking to our booking agent, trying to figure out what tours we should take and also we have a lot of radio shows. Our single is on radio right now. We just charted yesterday which is cool and now we're just waiting to see. We have a lot of radio shows and tentative tour opportunities that we're trying to figure out which ones we're going to go on. What would be the best for us.
Are you guys thinking about doing any kind of music videos?
We're actually filming a video today and I'm on location. We're doing a video for "Stop The World". It's going to be really cool. It's going to be black and white. Kind of an Alfred Hitchcock looking creepy feel to it because this song is kind of a creepier song as far as Riddlin' Kids songs go. We're doing it in black and white and it should be pretty neat. We're really excited about it.
That's what I like about the old horror movies back in the past like Dracula movies. They did them all in black and white and they always had more of an eerie, creepy feel then doing them in color.
Yeah, really. We're doing it like that and crazy long shots like at the beginning of The Exorcist where you see the priest walking down the street with the long shadow, stuff like that. In a lot of old Hitchcock movies, a lot of the camera angles and things and the shadows, it's not like you necessarily see blood and guts or somebody getting killed but you'll see feet running through a puddle and then you'll see a shadow of people chasing somebody. You'll never really get to see what exactly is happening and it's actually a little bit more suspenseful than if you actually saw it.
It also puts your imagination to use.
Yeah, exactly. It should be cool. We're excited about it.
Any other thoughts or comments?
Buy our record on October 19 in stores. We toured for 26 months straight on our last record and we're going to do it again so we'll see everybody soon. We'll be in your town I swear to god.
You'll do another 26 months straight.
We're going to keep touring until they make us stop. That's what we do. We're like people who get out of prison and can't adjust to normal life. We don't know what it's like to be home. We are conditioned as road dogs and that's just what we are. We'll just keep touring and touring until we get too old and fat to jump around on stage which is debatable right now. We're going to keep doing it.
You can do what KISS did and work out at a gym and get back to it.
Either that or wear a girdle like Elvis used to.