Jonas Feinberg - The Hope Conspiracy

October 4, 2002

Tell us about the band.

I guess we played our first show in December of '99. That was almost three years ago now. Myself and Kevin, the singer, are the only two original members at this point although Aaron, our guitar player, has been in the band for the majority of our touring since our first record came out on Equal Vision. He's been with the band since almost immediately after that. The last year and a half we've had a lot of member issues. We just got our new drummer, Jared, I'd say right after we finished recording the record. He did try out for us right before we went to record the record but we had a different drummer play on the record because there was a different drummer that we had written the record with. He was just helping us out because he knew we wanted to get another record done. Basically the way the band was initially started, myself and two other people I used to be in a band with lived in Minneapolis and we had a lot of friends that lived on the East Coast and we decided to just play in a band together. We moved out to Boston and we had met Kevin through some friends of ours. Actually we had met Kevin on a previous tour a long time ago and then we moved out to Boston. He said he wanted to sing for us so we tried him out. It all worked out. Like I said, me and Kevin are actually now the only of those people left. One of them is in the Army now and the other one is married and he lives in L. A.

That's quite a change.

Yeah, he got married and then moved to L. A. a little over a year ago, last summer. We tried it out for a little while. He wanted to still be in the band but live out there. We figured we'd give it a shot and it just hasn't been working out that well. It's hard to be in a band like ours and be married living on the opposite side of the country. We told him straight up that we can't afford to fly him everywhere because we don't have any money. He said he understood. Then he'd always be kind of stressed out about money and this and that so we decided this wasn't working and so we just parted. I still talk to him. He's still my friend and everything. We've been a four piece ever since then. That was about a year ago I guess.

It's different if you're a band like Guns N' Roses and you have a lot of money and can afford that sort of thing. When you're just starting out that's a different story.

Yeah, totally. We're definitely not the type of band that makes the kind of dough like Guns N' Roses, that's for sure.

You've undergone a lineup change. Is this more of a stable thing now?

Yeah, like I said, myself and Kevin and Aaron, bass, singer, and guitar, have all been in the band together for pretty close to two years. Like a year and nine months. All three of us are solid. About a year ago our drummer departed and joined the Army coincidentally obviously right after 9/11 last year. He decided that's what he wanted to do. We're like all right. After that we had one guy fill in. We did a tour with Converge and American Nightmare and this guy we thought would be our drummer literally just disappeared. We didn't hear from him for months after the tour. We basically had different drummers. Then the drummer from Converge helped us out. He played a pretty good handful of shows with us and then we had another friend, Jarrod, just fill in and record the record with us and get ready to record with us. He practiced with us a couple of times a week. Then the day before we went to record, we had probably tried out six or seven drummers and then a different Jared who plays drums in our band now, we tried him out the day before that. Everything is going great with him. He's very much a member of the band. His first tour with us was in June and we've done three tours since then. He's as much a part of the band as everyone else.

That's cool. Who are some of your musical influences and how do they influence you when you write music?

A lot of punk and hardcore bands definitely. Black Flag, Minor Threat. Typically being the old classic hardcore bands. Those are bands that we all are into. Bands like Motorhead we like a lot. Entombed we like. I'd say one of the only metal bands we draw influence from would be Entombed. Then a lot of hardcore bands like Damnation AD, 108, Unbroken. Unbroken, a lot of people say we sound a lot like that band. Their later stuff. When we go on tour, we bury into hardcore or even metal or punk. When Kevin's driving we listen to The Exploited or The Cocking Rejects because he loves that stuff but we like that stuff anyway. We all like Morrissey and The Smiths a lot. Iggy and The Stooges. We all like that kind of rock. The Hellacopters. Those kind of hard rocking bands. We definitely try and have a lot more of that up tempo rock in our songs. We don't sing in a rock band as like in a band that has shitty clothes and stupid sunglasses and stuff like that. We definitely like to keep a good rocking feel to our songs and that's totally on account of liking bands like that. We just love that stuff. Lyrically, emotionally, stuff like Morrissey and The Smiths. We completely draw influence from them.

Your first album you put out was called Code Blue. How did that do?

It did pretty well. I don't know exactly how much it sold but it's definitely the kind of thing when it came out, I didn't have the hugest expectations for it, but I wanted to be able to say what I can say now. Which is just that for a first record, it's good and it's done well. It's always a little bit funny when bands just totally blow up. We'd been together for a year when that record came out. Not very long at all. I would say we're still finding our sound. Obviously with different members we have different influences now and it's going more in the direction we've always wanted it to which is apparent to me on the new record. This first record did really well for a first record. It just kind of showed people what we were about. It gave them a little taste of us. That came out almost two years ago so now I can look back on it and be like "well, those are songs from my first record. Let's play a new song." I'm not saying that because it did poorly or people don't like it because there's definitely a fair amount of people that are into that record and I'm pretty happy for that. I'd rather people be into our new record because I like it a lot more.

Well, yeah but it was the first draw.

Exactly. A lot has changed since then obviously.

Right. You have a new release out called Endnote. Tell us a little bit about how that album came about, who produced it, and some of the tracks.

Basically, like I said, we got home from this tour we did with Converge and American Nightmare in December and we thought we had a solid band. Everything was all set and then like I said this drummer guy just completely disappeared. We had no idea what happened to him. We didn't even hear from him until April I think when he asked for his drum set back.

So he's okay?

Yeah, he's still alive. Honestly I could give a fuck about that. He really fucked us over and all he had to do was call and say he's not coming. We had his drum set the whole time. It was a weird situation. It's a really long story. It's pretty funny but it's just the fact that he simply disappeared and we didn't talk to him for probably three or four months. I emailed him. I called his parents' house. I left my phone number. I was told him I'm a little bit worried here. To give us a call and let us know if he's okay.

Yeah, people can have accidents or die.

That was the whole thing. I was just like what the hell. We were like seriously, did this guy just fall off the face of the earth? Like I said, we got home and a couple of weeks later we realized we didn't have a drummer anymore and we realized that we still wanted to work on our record. We were like do we want to break up or should we write this record? Before the tour we had started working on a couple of new songs. We were really excited about it. A friend of ours, Jarrod, is in a band called The Suicide File who we share a practice place with. He was wanted to just practice with us and write the record with usyou. We were like all right so he went and recorded the record with us which is a little stressful because he went to school. He practiced with his band twice a week and practiced with us twice a week. At the same time we were playing weekend shows occasionally with a different drummer, with Ben from Converge filling in, so we had a practicing drummer, a playing drummer, and both of them have their other bands and they both have school and work and stuff like that. It was a pretty hectic time but we were all entirely too excited to just drop it. It was definitely something in the making since it had been so long since our last record had been out. We hadn't had even a new song out for almost a year. At this point it's been about a year but at that point about six months and we just wanted to get out there and just show everyone that we had these new songs. We would be writing them and we were trying to figure out where to go record and this and that. Then Matt Henderson who is an old friend of Kevin's called him up and said we should come and record at his new studio in Brooklyn. Being he has a studio called Atomic where we ended up recording with Dean Baltulonis and some other guys. New York people. Basically it was what we were looking for. A place that we could go for a couple of weeks to do the record and not have to pay a ridiculous amount. They really hooked us up in that sense because Dean Baltulonis who produced and engineered the record with us seriously worked his ass off. He did a great job and we were really psyched. He let us stay with him for part of the time and we'd be in there from 12 or 1 o'clock until 2 or 3 in the morning almost every day. It was a lot of hard work and not a lot of sleeping because I don't know how some of those guys do it, but they'd want to go out and go party after we'd been in there for 13 hours. I'd just want to go to sleep. Like I said, Dean produced and engineered the record and he helped us out a lot. He did a great job. He'd give us pointers on where he thought we needed them too of course. I guess we're just happy with the way it came out recorded.

It does sound like a lot of hard work and dedication was put into it.

Definitely. While we were writing the record, it was a battle. That's for sure. For the most part I guess to get a good song, that's how it's got to be. Some of the songs that we had been working on we cut out. There were a couple of songs that we had been working on because we felt that we needed more songs and we didn't like them so we dropped them. There would be a couple of songs on the record that the night before we went to the studio, we decided to change because at the last minute one of us decided it sucked. Which in the end is much for the better because for the most part, the songs that are on there I can't think of writing wise much that I'd really change. Which is pretty good. I'm generally like that though. I'm kind of a music nazi. When we're writing I'm just like "no, no, no." Actually we're all kind of like that in our own way. Honestly, one thing that I will never understand is something that's going on right now with music. I'm not necessarily one to talk because I'm no genius but there are just bands writing songs that I hear that kids are really getting into that just sound like they don't know how to write the song. It sounds like they know how to write great parts except there's just something about a song making sense to me.

In other words, the lyrics are kind of empty.

The lyrics are one thing. That's not even my department. It just seems like these days there a lot of bands that are like part, part, part, part, part, part, like smashed together. There's a certain thing that to me our band has always had, like a certain simplicity with our songs. Even though we're not a pop band or a radio band, that kind of keeps a catchiness which has always been important to me because I'm completely ADD retarded. I can't focus on a song if it's not catchy a bit. That's how we end up having songs that are two minutes all the time because if I'm watching a band like Guns N' Roses and the songs are over three minutes I'm like "whoop, whoop, doo doo." I don't know what's going on.

Short attention span.

My attention span is ridiculous but it's mostly short.

A lot of songs don't appear to be well structured or have some kind of continuity or flow.

Yeah and that's a big thing I think all bands have really done a very good job of doing and maybe that sounds shitty and confused for me to say but that's just kind of how it is. When I look at songs I'll think this makes sense but then more bands that I see live I'm like "what the hell happened with that?" It's just hard for me to make sense of it all sometimes.

Are there any particular tracks that reach out and grab you?

I really like the first couple of songs on the record. Honestly, I'm really happy with the whole record. The second and fourth tracks we had on samplers before the record came out and I was really big into the songs. Now we just started practicing the third song on the record because we're going to play that at our shows coming up.

"Holocaust"?

Yeah, we just started practicing that the other night because we're leaving for tour again soon. We definitely all like that song and now that I think about it, after putting that song on the Internet I really like that song. Honestly, it's hard to say right now. Like stand out songs. Actually, you know what? The second to last track on the record is that kind of instrumental track.

"Fading Signal".

That one stands out a lot to me. We've never done anything like that at all before. That's always pretty exciting for me. I think that's caught people off guard too. I don't if it's anything that we'd ever be able to incorporate in a live set. It's still something that's very cool to me. I feel that we kind of accomplished something putting that song on our record. I like that.

You guys hooked up with Equal Vision Records which also has Converge on their label.

When my old band was around, I had known Steve and talked to him a lot. He kind of wanted us and we ended up breaking up instead. I had seen him before we even recorded our demo for The Hope Conspiracy. He told us to send him a demo. We sent it to him and they saw us at the New England metal and hardcore fest 2000. Maybe that was it. They were all about it. We have a few other offers on the table but being that some of our friends are on the label, Converge is on the label, we're already friends with them. Vain is on the label, we're friends with them. American Nightmare was not on the label but they were talking with them as well. They're a band that we came up with. We both started playing at the same time. We were new bands at the same time so we do the same things together. They were talking with Equal Vision at the same time we were so we just decided to go with Equal Vision and everything went cool. This is our second record now on Equal Vision. On the first one around they definitely did a good job. We didn't have member issues around the release of the first record so we kind of screwed that up I think. This time around they're doing a great job. They're definitely holding down their end of the bargain so we're pretty happy.

Who handles most of the writing?

All of us pretty much. The first track on the record is the track that's just based on that drum beat. The drum beat that starts the record. The kid Jarrod who did it is the most amazing drummer. He's always telling us to check a beat out. He started playing that and we just thought it would be cool the whole time to do a song that was really short that was only a part for the whole song. He told us to check this out so we did and we decided that was going to be the first song on our record. That was cool. In general most of the writing, Aaron our guitar player, writes more songs than I do and I'll write parts that don't really go together. I'll just write scattered parts here and there. The arrangements are all of us together. It ends up being very evened out except the lyrics. Kevin writes 100 percent of the lyrics. The songwriting winds up being very much a group effort but the lyrics themselves are very much Kevin's.

So he handles all that. What inspires him?

Just every day life for him. Kevin's been through a lot in his life and obviously he calls it like he sees it. Some people are like "wow, I didn't know he'd say that." I don't know about saying that he's very outspoken. I'd say just normal things, things that have happened to him, girls, that kind of thing. That inspires his lyrics.

You guys have done some vigorous touring. How has that been going for you and what are some of the festivals you've hit?

It's been good. We played the biggest one Hellfest which is always ridiculously huge, Monsterfest in Vermont, and Crazy Fest in Louisville. They were all pretty good fests. The touring we did this summer was good. We did a tour with Stretch Armstrong and Reach The Sky and that was a quick U. S. tour. Sixteen shows in 17 days. All of it was crazy driving. That's pretty intense. It was really fun. That was actually really good because a lot of kids that like Stretch Armstrong don't know who we are so that was good. We did a 10 day tour through the Midwest and East Coast with some friends, Count Me Out, Suicide File, and Nights Out. That went pretty rough. It was not as good as I thought it should have been considering how good I think all of the bands are but it was all right. We actually just got back from touring with the Cro-Mags and No Warning for a week and a half. In general we like touring. It's what we do. I'd rather do that than go work at a regular job.

What does your live show consist of?

A lot of energy. That's basically our whole thing. We just want to have an energetic show. If we're not putting into it, why should anyone else? Honestly, right now we're actually working on some things to change up the live shows. We've been doing the same thing for a long time. We want try to pride ourselves on being really tight when we play live which is cool. At this point the band is at a turning point right now so we're trying to do something different now. I think we're going to be doing different things when we get out there again on the road in the next few weeks. Actually we may have another guitar player too.

You're going to be adding a new person to the band?

Possibly. We're still working on that at the moment. We only have one guitar player right now so that will just be a second guitar player. If it works out it will be really cool, but if not, we're still happy how we are.

Are you doing a full U. S. tour?

Yeah, we leave on the 18th with Bleeding Through and Most Precious Blood and that's going to be a full U. S. tour. I think it's probably about 30 shows and then after that we're actually coming home to be with our families for Thanksgiving and then from the beginning of December to right before Christmas time, we're doing some shows with From Autumn To Ashes. I'm not sure where that's going. I'm pretty sure it's going all the way out west in Texas as well. That should be cool too. I know a lot of people dig our band and we played a few shows and they've always been nice kids with us so we're pretty happy to be doing that too.

You might be hitting Europe too.

Actually we had a European tour that was beginning to be booked last July and we had to cancel it because we had issues like passport issues. That was a bummer but at the same time I think we're going to end up with a better tour this time than we would have at that time because our new record is coming out and in Europe it will be out in January I guess. We have a lot of cool shit we've been trying to do. I think the end of January is when we're going to Europe for probably about a month. Right before we got off the tour with From Autumn To Ashes which we decided would be the best option for us, I was only an hour away from buying plane tickets for us to go to Hawaii. We were going to do a tour on the West Coast in December. Just fly us to the West Coast and do 10 shows and fly out to Hawaii as well and do two or three shows. I've never been to Hawaii and I don't know how I'd ever go to Hawaii unless it's with the band. It would have been cool but we're definitely still planning on making that happen and we're definitely planning on making things like Japan happen, Puerto Rico, Australia, things like that in the next year. We definitely want to make those happen.

Traveling overseas is cool.

Yeah, definitely. That's what we want to do. If I can play music for kids in Japan and Europe, that's amazing. We're pretty excited.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Thanks to everyone for checking us out. I really hope people will check out our new record and if you check out our new record and haven't checked out our old records, pick those up too. We have another full length on Equal Vision and we also have a six song CD on Bridge 9 Records. You can check out all those websites, www.equalvision.com, www.bridge9.com, www.thehopeconspiracy.com.

The Hope Conspiracy