The New Orleans music scene may not be the easiest place for a band like Variants to survive, but thankfully, they are a very hardworking group, and that much is apparent by the soul and effort that has gone into their most recent EP, Commonwealth, out October 23rd. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Jay Maas (Defeater, State Champs, Title Fight) Commonwealth marks a change in sound for Variants, and they can only go up from here.
Variants have been hard at work on Commonwealth, which drops on October 23rd. Fans can listen to their single, "Bitter" below!
Interview by Dom Vigil
You’re getting ready to release your new EP, Commonwealth soon. Can you tell us a little bit about the EP?
Commonwealth was recorded at Getaway Recording. All material was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jay Maas. We went with Jay because we admire the raw tonality of his products, and we wanted to capture that on record.
Is there anything you wanted to be able to accomplish with these songs? Any stories that you wanted to tell or messages you wanted to convey?
We wanted to have a record with outstanding quality and tone. More importantly, we wanted this EP to convey our growth and diversity as musicians. We've learned a lot about ourselves as musicians and which direction we want Variants to go in since the release of our full length, The Concept of Color in summer 2014. We feel that this EP bridges the gap between our older and newer styles.
How was working with Jay Maas for this release?
We loved working with Jay. He's a good guy, knows what he's doing, and genuinely cares about his work. It's always a bit nerve racking going into the studio with a new engineer. There's always that small chance you'll butt heads as you are confined to a limited space with a stranger 24/7. But thankfully, Jay was very welcoming to us, and our senses of humor meshed. In between recording sessions we made a lot of really bad jokes and played his xbox. He's the man.
How do you feel that Commonwealth compares to your previous releases? What changes or noticeable areas of growth can listeners expect to hear?
We've never been so satisfied and excited about the tonal quality of any of our previous material as we are with Commonwealth. As I mentioned previously, the goal of this release is to bridge the gap between our older and newer sound. Stylistically, some of these tracks align more with the sound of our full length, but some of them, including the first single we released, are far from that.
The first single you released from the EP was “Bitter” - can you tell us a little bit about this track?
"Bitter" was a bit of a risk for us, as it's much different from any of the songs on our full length. Nevertheless, it's our favorite track from Commonwealth, and thankfully it was very well received. We strategically placed it last on the EP as it is the best foreshadow of what is to come from the band in the future.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from “Bitter” or any of the other tracks on Commonwealth?
We hope that Commonwealth can turn some heads. Though it's only 4 tracks, we feel that the EP is pretty diverse. We always try to do something different and keep things interesting. We don't want to be a simple carbon copy of some other band.
Being based out of New Orleans, how do you feel that music scene has impacted or influenced your music?
New Orleans is famous for it's rich musical heritage, and many people think that being from New Orleans helps us along. This would certainly be the case if we played jazz, funk, or traditional "New Orleans" music, but obviously, we do not. It can be hard to find playing opportunities in the city, as most venues are constantly booking New Orleans style bands. Even though it can be difficult at times. that doesn't mean New Orleans doesn't have an underground scene. There are a few punk bands that have been getting a lot of attention recently (Pears, Donovan Wolfington). And of course, you have your staple New Orleans metal bands (Goatwhore, Crowbar). As far as rock/pop-punk is concerned, it's a bit dry in this area. Nevertheless, we are determined and aren't letting that slow us down one bit.
Is there anything that you would like to be able to do for or bring to your local music scene?
We'd like to inspire younger kids to pick up instruments and start playing music. It's hard to develop the scene here because there are no younger kids playing anymore. That's also partly due to the fact that all ages shows here are rare. Unfortunately, Louisiana laws make running an all ages music venue extremely difficult. Our hometown all ages venue, The Cypress, closed a couple of years ago. Since then, I (Michael) with the help of a business partner, have started to book shows in our area under our company name, Pavilion Entertainment. Although doing all ages isn't always possible at the moment, we hope to eventually rekindle our once prosperous all ages music scene.
After Commonwealth drops, what is next for Variants? Do you have any other big plans for 2015?
We are in the process of planning a winter tour. Other than that, the plan is to keep writing. We already have a few songs written post-Commonwealth, and I can assure you that this new material it is the best Variants has ever written.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Commonwealth will be available everywhere on October 23rd! We hope you guys will check it out. We will also be dropping a music video soon, so be on the lookout for that!