Brooklyn, NY 4-piece indie-rock band A Great Big Pile of Leaves just released their brand new record, today July 2nd. Like right now, you can go and get it and be one of the very first people to hear it, besides their already growing fan base who are probably waaay ahead of you in the race to be the first ones there. No matter, as long as you give it a shot, you’ll probably find yourself a new band to be a fan of, and that’s the important part.
As luck would have it, I got to check the band out for the first time on the very day their latest album came out. Titled You’re Always On My Mind and released via Topshelf Records, AGBPOL are making NYC proud and pounding pavement to bring their tunes to us.
I spoke with drummer Tyler Soucy in Syracuse, NY during their tour with NJ favorites The Front Bottoms to talk about the (very) new release, what their writing and studio process was like for the record, and what artists/albums every AGBPOL fan should have in their collection!
G- Tyler! Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! How’s everything going?
T- Thank you for having me. It’s good… Good day. Humid day, but a good day.
G- Yeah it’s a little swamp-assy here in Syracuse today. Now, I have to warn you, I Rick Rolled Kayleigh (Goldsworthy) today in our interview, so you’d better be on your toes. J Is this your first time playing in Syracuse?
T- Yep our very first time.
G- So if you would, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
T- I’m Tyler and I play drums. Pete plays guitar and is the lead singer. Matt is the lead guitarist and sometimes singer, and Tucker plays bass and sometimes sings.
Matt grew up in San Jose and moved to NY. Tucker, Pete and I grew up in Connecticut and NY… Pete and I knew each other before moving to NY and met Tucker in NY, and just so happened to grow up in Connecticut, so we all have that little home base.
G- Dig it. So how long has AGBPOL been around and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really started feeling the group “click?”
T- Yeah I was talking to someone about that today, actually . Pete and I were in another band and we started recording songs, just the 2 of us. We put out our first EP, 6 months later we put out our second EP, still just the 2 of us. We didn’t play any shows.
Then, we got Tucker to join the band and we started working on our first full-length, which was put out in June 2010. So, we put that out, and we ended up going out on our first tour in Winter 2010 with Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything, and Saves The Day…
G- Pretty nasty first tour!
T- Yeah it was an amazing first tour, by all means. So that was really awesome, and that was kind of the catalyst that made us become more “professional” and an actual band, rather than just a couple of dudes hanging out.
So we did that, and then we met Matt and did a tour with The Appleseed Cast, and he came out with us to play guitar, and he’s been playing with us since then. And we’ve done a few tours since then and the new record that came out today is the first one with the 4 of us being involved.
T- Kind of a short history of the band.
G- Right on.
T- As far as things clicking and actually feeling alive, I think it was the first press campaign we ever did, because we’d never done a press campaign for the first 2 EP’s or full-length. Then, we did 2 acoustic EP’s with Topshelf Records, who put out the most recent full-length. They did a press campaign, and that’s when we started seeing kids coming for us, you know what I mean? It went from like 50 kids in NY to 250 kids in NY singing along. So, it’s one of those things where you can make music, but if nobody knows about it, nobody shows. So, it was definitely a really interesting thing.
G- Nice feeling, right?
T- Yeah it’s pretty good!
G- Alright! I caught some of the Youtube footage from your last Knitting Factory show and it looked wild… Good times!
So, you released an album today, You’re Always On My Mind. Have you been playing many of the songs live prior to release?
T- Yeah we’ve been playing 3, and then there are 2 others that we’ve been playing on and off to kinda get everybody ready for the record release shows we have coming up. So, we’ve been slowly adding stuff. We don’t want to overdo it depending on whether people know the songs or not, and we want to be super comfortable with them ourselves before we start playing them out a little more.
But I think the plan is to have most of them nailed in the coming weeks.
G- And have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record, or any singles we should be on the lookout for?
T- Yeah I think “Snack Attack” has been a favorite from the record, which we’ve also been playing out live. And then another we’ve been playing live is called “Amber Version,” and we did an acoustic version of that almost a year ago, so there are a lot of kids who know the song from the acoustic version, so we play it live and they know the words and stuff, which is cool. Probably those 2, I guess.
G- Cool! Now tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards, and how long did it take to do?
T- We recorded it with Ed Ackerson in Minneapolis at Flower Studio. He’s recorded Motion City Soundtrack and The Replacements and a bunch of cool bands.
G- Is that it? What a slacker.
T- (laughs) Yeah just those guys. Super cool dude, knows his stuff. We’d never worked with a producer before… We’ve always recorded in, like, a garage or bedroom or something, so it was our first time going in the studio and kinda trusting an entire record in someone else’s hands kinda thing. But he worked with us really well, didn’t try to change the band and introduced a lot of sounds and textures that we would never really use on our own, because we’re pretty stuck on using our gear for everything, so he kind of opened the door to us using different amps and getting different drums sounds and stuff like that.
We did it in 2 weeks, I think… 12 days and maybe 1 day of kind of mixing and then had him go back and actually mix the record a few months later, but it was fun. It was interesting.
G- Cool. Now, can you tell us about the writing process and how long that took as well? Do you guys have a primary songwriter, or did you guys go into the studio and kind of jam out a bit? How did it come about?
T- We’d been… It’s been 3 years last month that we put out the last full-length, so we didn’t know when we wanted to start writing, so we’d go to rehearsal and we’d ended up jamming out a few parts that we’d never really turned into songs that ended up as songs for this record.
But Pete had moved back to Connecticut from NY and had been fleshing out those songs as acoustic demos, and would email them to us in NY. We’d go into the practice space and record the drums over it, Tucker would write his bass parts, and we’d do lead guitars and stuff. It was a super different way that we’d never done before, and it worked out really well because we could chop it up with Pro-Tools, change parts, extend parts, and see how we wanted to go. It was interesting for everybody to sit down in their own headspace and get their input on the song, rather than everyone in the room.
But there’s also a few songs that came out from us being in a room. It’s kind of hard to deny that, because that’s a great way to write music… When you’re al in a room together and it just kind of clicks when writing a song.
G- For sure.
T- So, some of those songs came really easily, too.
G- Cool. Ok, now I’m going to hit you really hard: 4 albums every fan of AGBPOL should know about or have in their collection and why. Go!
T- For me personally, the stuff I’ve been listening to is this band called The Little Ones, and I think the record is called The Dawn Sang Along. They’re this Southern California band, super indie-pop, extremely catchy and they produce their own music. Really awesome!
There’s this band out of Brooklyn called Bear Hands which I love.
G- Great band!
T- I don’t know what their record is called. They only have 2 records, and both of those are great, so Bear Hands is awesome. As far as what could relate to the band a little bit, I think we all share common grounds with bands like Weezer, like Pinkerton. What’s that… 3 records?
G- That’s 3.
T- Matt is a huge Tears For Fears fan, but I don’t know if that goes with our music at all.
G- That’s alright.
T- He’s a huge Tears For Fears fan, so a lot of the vocal harmony stuff is that. He’s a big harmony guy. What else? Pete loves Andrew Bird… Huge Andrew Bird fan, huge ryan Adams fan…
G- That’s 5! You’ve overshot it!
T- (laughs) Sorry!
G- That’s ok.
T- But, I think that would be the culmination of what everybody likes. And Tucker went to school for Jazz, so he likes a lot of Jazz music.
G- Interesting little mix there.
T- Yeah for sure.
G- Decent. Now, I want to know…. Do you have a favorite song you have ever written with the band or that is most fun to perform? Or, if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
T- I’d probably give them “Snack Attack” because I thinK, as far as the new record goes, it’s kind of the middle ground of where everything comes from. So, I think it’s a good summary of the record, if you were to put all of the parts of the record together.
As far as the one I like to play the most, I usually like to play the challenging ones. Maybe not live (laughs,) but yeah I love to challenge myself with the parts to make myself a better drummer, even though it’s sometimes easier to be lazy and play the easier ones. But, there’s a song called “Fun In The Sun,” and there’s a song called “Back To School” on this record, which are usually the hardest ones.
We don’t play those yet, but I foresee them being my favorites.
G- Getting there?
G- Alright. So, right now you’re just finishing up your tour with The Front Bottoms, and your first tour was with Motion City Soundtrack and Saves The Day, so that’s pretty awesome! But are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future, or if you could curate your own 3-band dream lineup to be on tour with, who would you want to hit the road with and why?
T- For selfish reasons, probably The Little Ones or this band called Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltson, just because they’re one of my favorite bands.
14 year old me would probably say Blink 182 and The Foo Fighters. I LOVE The Foo Fighters…
G- Hell yeah.
T- But yeah, I don’t know… A mix between those 2 I guess.
G- That’s legit.
T- Or The Rolling Stones, I guess. The Beatles?
G- That’s awesome. It’s nice to see a drummer with such punctual and precise responses. Most of them are like ‘Uhhhhhh, I don’t know, man.’
So tell us, either this tour or the last tour or any tour you’ve been on, what is your favorite show memory that you’ve played?
T- Oh man… I mean, Saves The Day was my favorite band growing up, so being able to walk off the stage every night and just watch them play right after us was so surreal. Every night. I had to pack up while I was watching them, but to be able to watch them every night was amazing.
And then, we played NY maybe a year ago for a 7” record release show that we did, and there were 250 kids there and everyone was just going crazy. So, I think for a show that we headlined or something, that’s probably the one. When you see all these people giving you that energy back, it’s really cool.
G- Do you remember the venue?
T- It was The Knitting Factory.
So to finish up, you’re a band on the rise. You just dropped your album today on Topshelf Records, and you’ve been touring, are currently on tour, and will probably be touring a whole lot more in the near future…
The music dream never dies, and there are a lot of kids out there that are gonna get the record, love it, and want to start their own bands and projects.
T- I hope so.
G- From your experience in the music biz, it’s a tough game…
G- What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands and musician sout here and everywhere who want to make it in music, go on the road, and release a record on a cool label like Topshelf?
T- It’s probably a super cheesy answer, but it’s one of those things where you do become involved in the music industry. And it’s sometimes stressful because there’s a lot beyond playing music, writing songs, and making a record, and even just those things are a lot of work.
But I think the best thing is if you are really playing music you love and doing it with guys you love, and you wholeheartedly enjoy what you’re doing, it becomes worth it. Because it is a lot of work, and if you’re doing all this work, then you can easily get burnt out on what you’re doing if you don’t care about it.
So I think that’s it. If you’re able to have fun with it, and not take it so seriously all the time, or at least not take your so seriously all the time, that’s one of the biggest things. And beyond that, it’s practicing your instrument and practicing your craft.
But it depends. Not every band needs to be the most proficient…
G- Yeah. The White Stripes headlined Coachella.
T- Right. So, if you love what you’re doing, it will translate to people and make your life that much easier when you’re playing in a band and trying to do it through the industry.
G- Dig it. Well look, good set tonight.
T- Thank you. Sweaty set.
G- Yeah that’s gonna happen more and more. But again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today, travel safe, and we look forward to seeing you guys again!
T- Thank you!