According to You Blew It!’s 2013 record, Florida Doesn’t Suck. It’s a dubious claim at best. There’s abundant evidence to the contrary, just take a few scrolls through @_FloridaMan and decide for yourself. Growing up in South Florida, I can certainly attest: Florida Does Suck. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean everything that comes out of Florida does.
Currently touring behind its latest EP release, Pioneer of Nothing (out now on the prestigious Jade Tree Records), Orlando’s You Blew It! is ready to take steps outside of their comfort zones, both geographically and sonically. The newest record feels like progress; the’ve limited the bouncing-off-the-walls reckless-abandon approach of last year’s superb Keep Doing What You’re Doing, instead favoring a more subtle but no less dynamic sound. As leaders in the emo revival movement, it seems You Blew It! is now looking to the future, rather than the past, for inspiration.
We caught up with lead singer and guitarist Tanner Jones over the phone in advance of their Monday night show at DC9. Get your tickets here, and read the interview below.
I’ve yet to see you guys, but I’m looking forward to the show at DC9 with Tiny Moving Parts and Rozwell Kid. I dig Rozwell Kid a lot.
Yeah, Rozwell Kid is incredible. We were joking around about how it’s the best and worse decision we’ve ever made. It’s the best decision because they’re an incredible band to watch every night; but it’s the worst decision we’ve made because they blow every single band out of the water every night.
That should be great. The new EP, Pioneer of Nothing seems to be a bit softer than Keep Doing What You’re Doing. Are you taking on a new direction with the band in that style?
Maybe, we haven’t really started writing the next LP yet, that’s our next big thing after the tour. But, I think it went that direction because since it’s an EP, it’s so short, it’s solid ground to just try things and experiment, things we’re kind of afraid to do for an LP. I guess that softer side, that more indie rock feel is a part of that. I can’t say if that’s the direction we’re headed, but I like it a lot. I guess we’ll see.
Do you self-identify as emo? Usually that’s a word that bands don’t like to hear.
Yeah, definitely. It’s hard and confusing to a lot of people, because whenever you bring up emo most people’s minds go to high school jocks making fun of kids in tight jeans in high school. Like My Chemical Romance-era emo, you know?
Which is still emo, the same world.
It’s like The Menzingers are punk, and like Fugazi are punk. Just because it doesn’t sound the same, doesn’t mean that the genre can’t evolve. Anyway, yeah, we do identify as emo. Just because that’s what we grew up listening to, and we’re going back to those days, in terms of our writing style.
I don’t know where along the line it became an insult. It seems like once one band took it as an insult, then another band, and then more and more bands started stepping away from it. At least the term.
I’m all for it.
Yeah, us too. I think it’s just a term that people can grasp on to, and you know like blogs and outlets needed a term for it, so I guess that’s it.
Do you feel like the media’s representation of You Blew It! is accurate? Like, do you ever take issue with a piece that says you’re something that you feel you aren’t?
Completely honestly, yes, sometimes I do feel like we are a little misrepresented. I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault; it’s just people have opinions and people see things a certain way, and I guess we’re coming across one way to them, so it’s not their fault.
Right, everyone perceives art differently, that’s kind of the whole thing.
We read a review of the EP, and it likened some of the songwriting to Silverstein. And reading that initially, we were like ‘what the fuck is going on?’ Like, this sucks so much. Then you start to think, and you can’t really blame the guy because he’s writing him based on what he likes, and what he used to listen to. So, it reminds us that we can’t blame anyone for that.
Well, at least he didn’t say Silverchair.
I’d rather have some guy say ‘hey, I like this band a lot, their songwriting reminds me of Silverstein,’ than some guy saying ‘this song fucking sucks.’
Who did you work with on the recording of the new EP, at what studio?
Around where we’re from in Orlando, there’s a studio called North Ave Studios, and our good friend David Playkon is an engineer there. We’ve been meaning to work with him for a long time, because he does a lot of work with indie rock bands. We had him engineer for us. We kind of produced it ourselves, but he was there, giving opinions and dropping hints as to what he thought would be cool in the songs. The opinions of someone from a different genre were super helpful.
Do you guys still live in Florida?
The band is kind of splintering outwards, but yeah the majority of us live in Orlando. We’re all thinking of finding some place new, though.
I was happy to have left Florida, I left as quickly as I could. Have you lived in Florida your whole life? Does your Florida background affect your music?
Yeah, I grew up in Ft Meyers, and I moved to Orlando for college. I think, for me and most of the band, Florida is sort of most of our identity. Just growing up here, it feels like being the underdog, and without that I don’t think we would have worked as hard, and I think Florida has a lot to do with that.
Emo is music for underdogs. And Florida is far from the rest of the country, you’re cut off a bit. I remember in high school, bands wouldn’t always come down to South Florida on tour.
Yeah, once you go passed Jacksonville or Tallahassee, you’re stuck in the state for the next three or four days. As a kid growing up I would always wonder ‘why don’t bands come down here? These guys assholes.’ But now being in a band, if I didn’t live in Florida, I’d never come here.
Edited for length and clarity.