Where: The Casbah
Scott McDonald: You and [Drums co-founder] Jacob [Graham] have been friends for so long. Does it help the band knowing someone that long?
Johnny Pierce: Well, Jacob and I have been very close since before we were even teenagers. I think we thought we knew all there was to know about each other, but touring for three years has shown both of us that there is so much more to know. I feel as though we are growing together through all of this. Some of this growth has been lovely — other parts of it have been ugly.
SM: Portamento keeps the energy of the first record and builds on it. Was there a difference in the process?
JP: One of our goals with this band is to stay consistent sonically. Our favorite bands always sounded the same with every song and usually to critical fault, but we never really cared about critics. We just do what we do. I think the only main difference here is subject matter. I wanted to write an honest album … one that was less escapist than our previous releases.
SM: Production sounds a lot cleaner this time around. Did you just have access to better equipment?
JP: Well, we didn’t buy a single piece of new recording equipment. I think it’s just like anything else one does. You just get better with practice.
SM: Is that you on the front cover? The pics seem to mirror each other.
JP: Yes, that is me as a boy. I found that photo while looking for a cover that reflects the autobiographical nature of the album. I like that you used the word mirror in your question because that was the exact intent.
SM: Sick of the Joy Division/Smiths/etc. comparisons yet or does that just come with the territory?
JP: Those are all good bands that got me into the bands that I obsessed over growing up — like the Wake and Blueboy — so I don’t mind the comparisons. I do have to say I haven’t personally listened to Joy Division or the Smiths in years … I just can’t anymore.
SM: It was publicized that you guys almost split recently. What happened and how did you guys keep it together?
JP: Oh, it’s like anything else. If you run too fast for too long, you’re gonna crash and burn. Touring was starting to grate on all of us. Thankfully, working on Portamento helped unify us again in some ways.
SM: You write some damn catchy tunes. Can you see the formula ever changing?
JP: I have such a big fetish for perfectly constructed pop, and I think that will always dominate this band. But I also have a soft spot for linear, repetitive house — like some of the smart house that Kompakt has been releasing for years.
SM: What is the current incarnation of the band? Are you at the kit when you play live?
JP: We are five onstage. Jacob has moved to synth, and Connor has moved to guitar. We have a couple friends joining us on drums and bass. I just sing, but I did record and program all the drums on Portamento.
SM: Two years and two albums. Is the plan for a new record sometime next year?
JP: I think we are going to take a year and focus on some other things. For one, I’d like to meet someone and fall in love.
Originally published by NBC San Diego on October 15, 2011