TMHT: Aite hombres, what are your names, and what do you do in the band?
W: My name's Will, I play bass
E: My name's Evan and I drum
TMHT: How's Canada Treating you?
W: So far so good. This is our second time; we were here earlier this year with Pianos Become the Teeth, so this time we know what to expect, and we're excited.
TMHT:I heard you got in without a passport?
W:Yeah, Evan here didn't have his passport, it kind of got lost in translation somewhere and we kinda got lucky I guess. The dude didn't care at all, they kind of just let us in.
TMHT: That's weird, usually it's the other way around where they'll get hyphy on you even if you have all your shit in order.
E:Yeah, I guess we just lucked out.
TMHT:So is this your first headlining tour?
W:Nah, I don't really know if you wanna call this a headlining tour, it's kind of like just us going out with friends and having a good time.
TMHT:Fair enough. How was Bled Fest last night?
W: It was pretty cool. Although it's kind of weird playing in a high school.
TMHT: Wait, say what?
W: Yeah the way it's set up you're playing in a high school, like straight up. In the gym or cafeteria area or whatever they have this huge all purpose space with two stages set up, then they have another stage in the lobby, and three classroom stages. So at any point during the day there's five bands playing – it's kind of a weird setup. Especially when you have like 3000 kids running around this empty high school. It's kind of crazy but it's cool.
TMHT: Yeah, that's pretty wild. It strikes me as kind of weird that your first show on the tour is at a fairly large fest, and your last one on this run is Sound and Fury, yet tonight you're playing in the basement of a restaurant that I've never heard of before [the place was called “Shops at Parts & Labour,” and was actually really cool]. So is there a different atmosphere to shows of different sizes?
E: We generally like to play shows as if they're the same, whether or not there's 3 kids there or 200 kids or whatever. We try to approach them as if they're the same.
W: Yeah, it doesn't matter really, we're kind of just doing our thing. If people are there, they're there. If they're not, they're not.
TMHT: Makes sense. So, the only things I know about Kentucky are horse races, Hunter Thompson, bourbon and Xerxes.
W: What was the second one?
THMT: Hunter Thompson.
W: I don't even know who that is
E: (laughs) me either.
TMHT: You ever seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
E: I've heard of it.
TMHT: Shit! You should check him out. Anyways, what else is going on in Kentucky besides chicken?
E: Well, Louisville is kind of separate from Kentucky. The rest of the state is looked upon as part of the south, and I feel like Louisville isn't like that at all. It's the biggest city in the state in terms of population, so it's pretty cool. There's a pretty cool music scene going on, that's about it.
TMHT: Well what else is going on music-wise in Kentucky? Because I've never heard of anything except you guys and [Will's other band] Whips/Chains, who I just read about on the internet 20 minutes ago.
W: There are a couple of other bigger bands like Young Widows and Coliseum that are kind of doing their own thing, and then some other cool locals. That's about it.
TMHT: So this question is for Evan. I read somewhere you used a lot of unconventional drumming techniques on the last album...
E: Hm. You don't say?
TMHT: Yeah, you were using like a bow to play the drums or something?
E: Oh yeah, for the first track, the intro. I was bowing the cymbals with a violin bow, and I also used an instrument called an ocean harp. It's got these weird wire things that go around, and you put water in the bottom and bow the wires. It makes this weird eerie noise. It's pretty cool.
TMHT: So where did you get the idea to fool around with that stuff?
E: In high school I was in percussion ensemble and we actually used that ocean harp a lot. So when we recorded the intro track we wanted it to have that creepy, eerie feel to it. We wanted it to build up into this huge monster sound and I felt like doing those things would really add to that.
TMHT: Are you looking to continue experimenting with that stuff?
E: Kind of, I've been thinking about different drumming styles in terms of expanding my playing outside of a conventional hardcore style, and also adding more interesting percussion instruments as well. Not necessarily live, but it would be cool to do that stuff on record.
TMHT: What do you guys have planned for the rest of 2012?
E: After this tour we go out with This is Hell, which goes until a few days before Sound and Fury. What else?
W: Then we've got Sound and Fury, then we come back with our friends in a band called Mountain Man. After that we're going to Europe in the fall. Then we're home, and hopefully doing something around Fest.
TMHT: True. Have you been to Europe before?
W: No we have not.
W: Oh yeah, for sure.
TMHT: So I saw on the internet there's a No Sleep/Topshelf split coming out. Are you guys on that?
W: Yeah, we have a song on that.
TMHT: Can you talk about it?
W: Oh yeah, it's just one of the songs off our full length, I'm not even sure which one it is. But there are a bunch of cool bands on both those labels, so check that out for sure.
TMHT: Yeah man. Those labels are at the forefront of the whole “screamo revival” thing where you see a bunch of bands where people are borrowing a lot from that “three feet away from the mic” screamo from the late nineties. Why do you think that sound's resonating with so many bands right now?
W: I dunno, I wish I had a cool answer. Maybe because it's good music.
E: I think some people are getting bored of what's really cool in music right now, so they're looking elsewhere for influences. That sound's coming back, but with a much more aggressive and more polished feel to it. What was really cool about 90's screamo was that it was just raw and really in your face, and kind of, not sloppy but not really polished. Now it's coming back with the same raw emotion but with more of a polished feel to it.
TMHT: The last time I saw you guys with Pianos, you were an extremely energetic live act. Is that something that developed organically, or was it something you were always striving for?
W: I think it's something that just developed organically. We all just kind of lose our minds when we're playing and we can't really contain what we're doing.
E: When I watch a band, I'd rather watch one that was super into what they were doing, even if they weren't that good technically, or even if they aren't that great a band generally. I'd rather watch a band just lose their minds then a band standing there playing really good music but not being that into it.
TMHT: Have you ever seen the Chariot
E: Yeah, they played Bled Fest last year and I watched three or four of their songs and it was really cool. I don't really like them as a band necessarily, but they're great live.
TMHT: Yeah that's what I'm saying. I'm not into them as a band at all, but they were throwing their guitars in the air and crowd-surfing and shit, and I was really getting into it.
E: There was one moment – and usually I think this is kind of cheesy – but one of the guitar players had climbed on top of this huge PA speakers, and there were a bunch of weird lights going on and the whole crowd was going nuts. I thought that was really cool.
TMHT: So I gotta ask, was your band name influenced by the movie 300?
W: Nah, we were a band before that movie came out.
TMHT: How often do you get dicks like me asking that question?
E: Daily, probably.
TMHT: Did you enjoy the movie at least?
W: I don't think I've ever seen it...
E: Yeah, I thought it was a tight movie.
TMHT: Has anyone ever done this at the edge of the pit [makes a kicking motion]
W: Nah that hasn't happened yet.
TMHT: Someone needs to get on that...
So yeah; Xerxes are cool as shit. They've got a bunch more dates left on their current touring cycle, so go check them out and kick a motherfucker or two.