Q&A w/ Mr. Fancy Pants

Hometown and current homebase

Wheeling/Bellaire/Moundsville; Martins Ferry

Either make up a new word for your genre, or give us 5 words to describe your sound.

S: Scrumtrulescent, NeoNeoNeoWave
M: Weird "Al" but not funny
R: Post-grunge new-wave.  Shoot, that's only four words...  AWESOME post-grunge new-wave.


Sean Decker: guitar/vox
Ryan Sears: bass/vox
Matt Klempa: drums

What are you listening to now? 

S: New(er) bands: Beach House, Local Natives, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend, The National, The Walkmen.
I've been trying really hard to discover new tunes. I know they are out there. I am not one of those aging hipster shitheads that complains about the state of modern music. Plenty of greatness out there, just not a lot of free time to explore.
And I always keep my favorite 80s and 90s tunes firmly in the rotation
M: Right now, I'm kind of enjoying not listening to 80s music. But, I just got Angel Olsen's My Woman, so I've been listening to that a lot. Also, I really like the new Mitski album and this punk band from Toronto that a friend clued me in on called Pup. Oh yea, The Replacements and The Go Gos as well. 
R: Mainly Spoon, Queens of the Stone Age, and Kendra Morris.

What would you have been listening to when you were 15? 

S: Weezer, 311, Live, a myriad of local punk/hardcore bands, Rage Against the Machine, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., Sugar, Girls Against Boys, Alice in Chains, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, Primus, Shudder to Think, Pavement, Jane's Addiction, Sunny Day Real Estate. Basically a mix of my own purchases, the hip stuff my brother would bring back from college, and whatever album Dave Klug had in his car's CD player when we'd ride home from school and around town. 
M: As much as I want to sound cool, when I was 15 I was listening to Blink 182. Although, I was probably also starting to dive deeper in punk music, so maybe I was listening to The Clash. I know I was at least also listening to Rancid.
R: At 15, it was mostly Aerosmith, Ozzy, and Weird Al.

What are you promoting/what are you working on now?

S: Working on a full length album.
R: Sean will kill me for this, but Matt and I were coming up with a concept album last night.  MFP - TLC.  All songs will be cable show themed.  

How do you write a song?

S: Usually the guitars comes first.  I'll just play chords and riff about and wait for something interesting catch my attention. Then I'll make something out of it. Typically i'll hum along or just throw words together to match a vocal melody that invariably springs forth from the chord progression of riff. Then typically anywhere from a week to a day before a show I'll actually write down some lyrics. Sometime after that I will ascribe some meaning and/or context to those lyrics. And then around the 4th or 5th live performance of this new song, I will memorize the lyrics. Voila! Song done.
M: Sean and Ryan generally handle all the songwriting. I'm just not as experienced as they are. A lot of me writing drum parts comes from suggestions from either of them, but also ultimately adding and modifying them to make it my own.
R: Ideas come all the time: sleeping, working, pooping...  I used to carry a micro-cassette recorder, but now since phones rule our lives I use that.  Sometimes one melody results into a whole song in a few minutes, sometimes there are those riffs that hang around, haunting you for years.

What song do you wish you wrote? (Assuming money and credit are  NOT factors. Only you would know you wrote it. Your only reward would be knowing that you brought this song into the world)

S: Too many. But, I'll go with "Just Like Heaven" by the Cure or "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead or "My Iron Lung" by Radiohead, or "Oliver's Army" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions or "Middle of the Road" by the Pretenders. Okay, I'll stop. Okay, I cheated, but Michael I. picked more than one, so...(raspberry sound)
M: The Weight by The Band. That's a great song that pretty much everyone loves. Maybe also Dare To Be Stupid by Weird Al
R: Obviously, given a choice, "Life on Mars" is the song. 

If there was one place in the area you could play a show, where would it be? 

S: Capitol Theater with the Wheeling Symphony.  
M: I think playing The Children's Museum would be fun. Like, playing it while they are open and families are there. I also don't even want to play children's music, just our normal set. I think the kids and parents would really like it.
R: I really love playing small places where the crowd has no choice but to be in the band's face.  As far as somewhere in the area I'd like to play... maybe we could hook up with Towngate and make an indie rock show there

Are you "there" yet? (What does that even mean, we don't know. Define "there" however you want)

(Disclaimer: At this point readers should be prepared to skim through Sean's exhaustive response so as to more quickly get to Ryan's funny answer)
S: For me getting or being "there" is all about songwriting. I take some pride in the fact that there are at least a few songs on our set list that were written 7-10 years ago, and yet I still get excited to play them live. Those songs are the ones that have something in them that makes me pause and say, "Where'd that come from?!" I am not a "trained" musician, so I couldn't tell you what's happening in those songs in any technical way, but to me they are kind of personal watershed moments in my own development as a songwriter.  For example, you have a song like "Retro + Useless" which has a tried and true guitar riff. I've always been a rhythm guitar guy, so writing a riff is not something that comes naturally to me.  I can always do a little bit of finger picking or some good arpeggiations, but riffs are difficult for me. Or "Cause I Know" which I actually wrote almost entirely on the keyboard and was originally much more upbeat. That song morphed over the years to a slower, guitar-based anthem. What makes me proud of that one is the fact, that I still really like both versions. If we had the personnel, I would love to play the original synth-based version live some time. I know this is something that all songwriters do, but it is really the first and only time I ever developed a song in such a way. 
I really take a lot of pride in my solo tunes as well. That acoustic/clean sound--and my probably irrational fear of boring the audience--really pushes me to either harness all of my playing skills into each song or work really hard on developing good vocal melodies or both. There's nothing between me and the guitar and my voice, so I think that those songs end up being some of my most well-crafted. Also, I tend to play differently on those songs. I play in time signatures and rhythms and keys that I wouldn't think to do in a rock song. So, quite a few of those songs, I listen to them and just say, " Alright, that's pretty cool. That's something different for me."  For example, "Ouch! My Stars Hurt" on the split CD with Michael Iafrate. I think I play in this kind of cut time signature or syncopated rhythm or something. And, I play at least 15-20 different chords with all of these bass note walks throughout the course of the song. It's like my attempt to be Paul Simon or Cat Stevens or Paul McCartney. Of course, as with all of my songs that stand the test of time for me, I don't really know where they came from or if they are as impressive to others as they are to me.
So, I don't think I am there yet. Or, if I did get there at some point, I didn't really follow a map and didn't know where I was when I was there.  I know I have never been to Albumville. I (we) haven't written an ALBUM. I'm (we're) still just throwing good songs together. So, I would love to "consciously" develop an album.
Wow, I've never talked about my songwriting process at such great length. I really kind of sound like a pretentious asshole. Sorry about that. 
M: I'm probably as far "there" as I am going to get. I never set out doing this to "make it" and I'm happy with whatever comes my way now. I've had a lot of great experiences, played plenty of different venues and met great people who have become friends. I also get the chance to play music and hang out with Sean and Ryan, who have become two really good friends. So, yea, maybe I am "there". If I go anywhere else because of this, it will be a really pleasant surprise. 
R: If you ask me that one more time, I'm TURNING THIS CAR AROUND!