Unlocked: Everyone Everywhere on existentialism, finance and making a great punk record

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Everyone EverywhereThis week on Unlocked, we’re featuring the latest full-length record from Philly indie / emo four-piece Everyone Everywhere. Like its previous release, this album is self titled, and the band built some buzz for it earlier this summer by selling vinyl copies in a name-your-own-price presale and making a music video that featured barely any music. There’s a lot of absurdity in Everyone Everywhere, but also a lot of serious thought, and I sat down with singer-guitarist Brendan McHugh, bassist Matt Scottoline and drummer Brendan Graham to get to the bottom of it.

The Key: The record is out and it’s your first new music in a couple years. So it kind of
took me by surprise when the first piece of press you had from it is not necessarily about the
music per se, but about your business / marketing acumen, that piece in Forbes. Were you surprised when they approached you for that?

MATT SCOTTOLINE: Kind of. The journalist is a freelancer, and had written a review of our last record. And he just happened to now be employed by Forbes, so it kind of worked out.

BRENDAN MCHUGH: It wasn’t totally out of the blue, he knew our band.

BRENDAN GRAHAM: And the way we released the new album tied into his new gig.

TK: Do you feel like that article led to any kind of notice of Everyone Everywhere that may not have happened otherwise?

BM: Some. My uncle shared it with some of his friends where he wouldn’t normally, because it’s Forbes or something. It made them scratch their heads and think a little more about our band as an entity. I don’t know.

TK: In the eyes of some – family members, perhaps – it lent some legitimacy to Everyone Everywhere.

MS: It’s one of those things that looks really good on your resume.

BM: That said, it was a nice article.

TK: I didn’t realize until I read it the vinyl release was a pay-what-you-will, for the preorder anyway. Kinda ballsy. Were you worried “crap, we may not break even” at all?

MS: A little, but not really.

BG; We’ve been doing that for a year maybe, at shows. And we found that its roughly, they’ll give you what we would have charged anyway. Almost.

MS: With CDs. We’ve never done it with vinyl. With CDs it was kind of safe because they’re so cheap to manufacture. So we were like, whatever, we weren’t as concerned with them. We knew even if we sold them for $3, we’re going to break even at some point, just because of the way the money worked out. We sort of realized that fans try not to be jerks to you .

BG: The people who were going to buy it were going to buy it regardless. But this was kind of a promotional thing that maybe the people on the edge thought “well, if I can get it for $7 instead of $10, I’ll do it now.” So it helped us off the bat get the ball rolling.

MS: And also, it was a special segment of the preorders, it was just the first 100 that were pay-what-you-will. And if you think, who are the first 100 people who are going to know about this preorder? They’re probably big fans. So its not like those first 100 are random people who are like “oh, look at this band I can exploit.” It’s people who follow us, so we had some security.

BM: And since we’re self-releasing, 100% of the pressing is ours. So if we’re selling records for $10 apiece, the break even point is 400 records, and I feel like based on how our past records sold we should hit that point, and after that, everything else is whatever. I think we’d be more likely to leave money on the table by not offering some sort of promotion like that because we don’t really know . There’s a market price point for records, but every band is so different and their followings are so different that you don’t really know how people value your product, because its so fragmented.

MS: Its more important to us that we get rid of records than make money. [laughs]

TK: Moving on from the money end of it to the music end of it, to me, I feel like the album has this real sense of ‘what does it all mean’, more so than what I heard in your previous records. It feels a lot more questioning , a lot more thematically heavy. Am I right in reading it that way?

BM: I think that’s the case. When I wrote the last record, we were just finishing college, and now it’s a few years out and the landscape of our lives has changed. You have a clear direction in your life until you finish college, you know what your next step is along the way. And then you’re done college, and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing with your life. It’s just, I don’t know. It leads to a lot of opportunity for existential examination and introspection. And terror.

MS: I feel like over the last year or so, a majority of our conversations turn into harrowing philosophical, for the most part, we talk about these sort of intangible ideas a lot.

TK: It’s important to talk about, to verbalize!

MS: Yeah, and even though I didn’t even write the lyrics, I know what you picked up on is something I also feel. It’s generally a tone whether it’s spoken or unspoken.

BM: That said, it’s a concept album about a 12 year old boy in post World War II Germany, so you’re just…nah, I’m just kidding.

TK: The music video for “Queen Mary II”, which I freaking love, is probably not the first music video to mock the making of music videos. However, it is so anti-music-video that the song itself is barely featured.

MS: We talked about making a video for a long time, Brendan wrote the majority of the video. We’re just the kind of band that, I don’t know, I think if we made a serious music video it would be ridiculous. I don’t think anyone wants to see us make a serious music video.

BG: When we were talking about making a music video, the only rule we had was we can’t be playing the song in it.

MS: It’s the same reason we decided to sleep through the full album video. We’re just a very realistic band, we don’t have any delusions abut who we are or what we do. So when you see these bands making these serious music videos trying to get some point across, it’s like “why?”

BG: It works for some bands. If the band has a message, it can work for them.

TK: Although it can be heavy-handed. I’m thinking of the 30 Seconds To Mars video where they’re playing on a glacier and stopping global warming with the power of rock or whatever.

BM: Man, I want to do that. [laughs] But also, I like nonsensical stuff, and I like subverting expectations about stuff. I think my favorite music video is Pavement’s “Carrot Rope” video where they’re all inexplicably wearing rain jackets. It makes no sense and there’s no point to it. And obviously, our video, it’s just hinges on one premise, and that’s having Spike Lee as a director. And then everything else is complete nonsense. I think we like dealing in that sort of thing. I mean, we had a t-shirt with a t-shirt on it.

MS: We never take ourselves seriously as a band. Being a band is not the most important thing to us, enjoying what we’re doing and not really caring is. It all falls in line, name your price vinyl, that video, its all sort of the same philosophy.

BG: It leaves us to focus on the music part. Which we do take seriously.

TK: What was the biggest challenge in this new full length?

BM: I think writing it, we realized we are building on something. The last record we had nothing, we had a 7″ and a CD that we made a long time ago. Now there was something behind it, so we had to consider that going forward. Every band that has made more than one record has said that.

TK: Since you had built a name for yourself, you now had expectations to live up to?

BM: Yeah, and also wanting to do something different. I wanted to do something to progress from there.

MS: A lot of what each of us listen to personally changed a lot, from the time we wrote the first record and the time we went to write this record. We all were listen to tons of music that we were not listening to at all then. So even that shifted where our heads were.

TK: Beyond the European tour, what are your plans? Will you do a similar thing in states when you get back?

MS: I don’t think so. It’s difficult for us to tour at all, but especially U.S. tours.

BG: Touring Europe, its like a trip to Europe. Touring here its like “well, I’m in Cleveland, and the show sucks too.”

BM: We never played Cleveland, for the record. No knock on them.

MS: We’ll probably do weekends or things like that, but I don’t think we’ll do a full-fledged U.S. tour. It makes no financial sense, we’ll surely lose tons of money doing it. But we might go to Japan, that’s an offer we have on the table. The label that releases our records, Moorworks, they’d like us to come there, and we’d like to go. I think our touring interests right now lie in exotic vacations.

Everyone Everywhere (2012) is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted single “Queen Mary II” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review; watch the “Queen Mary II” video in yesterday’s post and check back tomorrow for their Spotify playlist.

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