Is A Great Big Pile Of Leaves a bridge to the emo revival? (playing tonight at North Star Bar)

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Photo by Servin Lainez
Photo by Servin Lainez

Stereogum’s “12 Bands To Know From The Emo Revival” was not necessarily a title I was planning to stumble on when reading up on the whimsical indie-rock outfit A Great Big Pile Of Leaves.

Making my way through the introduction, I wasn’t sure if I could agree with Chris DeVille’s decision to “bridge” this New York based four-piece with the hypersensitive bleeding hearts of bands like War On Terror for the “emo illiterate among us.” So I asked AGBPOL’s guitarist Matt Fazzi (ex-member of Taking Back Sunday and founding member of Happy Body Slow Brain) how he feels about the list.

“I think it’s cool that they consider us part of that. I find the whole term emo to be funny to begin with. But I get it,” Fazzi responds. Mentioning that he personally considers AGBPOL to be a 90s alternative throwback band, Fazzi continues on to say that Stereogum’s brief description of “Snack Attack,” the opening track of July release You’re Always On My Mind, is congruent to the band’s light-hearted air in their music. “[It’s] a good way to explain what’s at the heart of the band.”

To give a brief background, AGBPOL was formed by singer/guitarist Pete Weiland and drummer Tyler Soucy after their last band, Farewell To Arms, was dismantled. Working together, the two wrote and self-produced The Fiery Works EPs debuting AGBPOL in 2007. Just before their first full-length release, Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex, they went to Craigslist and found power bass player Tucker Yaro, changing the band from a duo to a trio for the next few EP releases. Fazzi met the band at a concert in Brooklyn that Happy Body Slow Brain and AGBPOL played together. Following the care-free, down-to-earth band for the next few months, AGBPOL asked Fazzi to fill a needed guitar position for a world tour in 2011. Fast forward about two years of writing, creating, and touring to the full outfit’s sophomore release; which has the same nostalgic vibe as Prefrontal Cortex in more efficient melodies.

“We cut the fat, so to speak,” Fazzi says while describing the new record. Rather than bringing the whole band together and composing in one room, each member worked on the songs independently from one another because they all lived in different areas; Weiland living in Conneticut, Soucy and Yaro in Brooklyn, and Fazzi in Queens. Fazzi mentioned that the goal with this album was to extract all the extra instrumentals and create concise arrangements “that really hit you in a punchy way right from the get-go.” With almost all the work done before the studio, the band was able to fit the whole production into 12 days of recording with the help of producer Ed Ackerson, who has previously worked with bands such as Motion City Soundtrack.

Asking about their inspirations with song titles like “Snack Attack” and “Pizzanomics,” Fazzi explains that Weiland is the mastermind behind all the lyrics. Using a nostalgic approach to writing, Weiland simplifies ideas into metaphors that still appeal to your childhood side. With that, I asked if any of the members had pet mice to inspire the third track of the new album. Fazzi explained that “Pet Mouse” was inspired by the mouse problem three of the guys had while living together in a Brooklyn apartment, although the song is also a metaphor for a bad roommate. “They’re nice when they’re in a cage, and all taken care of and clean. But when they are running around in your cabinets and all over your apartment, it’s not so good.”

Adorning their whimsical lyrics and fun-loving song titles is quirky, straightforward artwork “that really worked perfectly for what we were going for.,” Fazzi says. “In the same way that the last album had a lot of extra music stuff going on, the artwork is really colorful and rich and dense. And for this one we kinda wanted to simplify it a little bit.” A friend had already drawn the cover picture and the band just happened to stumble upon it and threw out ideas to the artist, creating the seamless album art.

Currently AGBPOL is touring with off-the-wall indie pop outfit Someone Still Loves Your Boris Yeltsin with a show tonight at North Star Bar. “Tyler our drummer is an especially big fan of theirs so for him it is a big deal to go on tour with them,” Fazzi mentions. He goes on stating that he can’t say enough how sweet and down to earth the guys from SSLYBY are, and that the personalities and music all mesh so well together creating good vibes on and off the stage.

Ending the conversation with some memories, Fazzi states that being on stage in front of a “super crazy” crowd at the New York release party was a big “ah hah” moment for the band collectively. Explaining that moments like those make all the hardships of touring worth it, Fazzi finishes by saying, “It’s sometimes the little things like that are reassuring for an artist, that we’re making the right decisions and that we’re also doing right by ourselves by following our gut instincts on the kinda music we wanna make. And it’s awesome to see the reflection of that in people’s enjoyment of it.”

Get ready for tonight’s 21+ show by viewing AGBPOL’s “Snack Attack” video above. Find all details and tickets here.

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