I read that each song on your latest album No Place represents a room in a house. Can you explain that? We had been touring pretty extensively—seven, eight, nine months out of the year—so the idea of home became really foreign to us. I wanted to explore the idea of what a home really means and to break it down room by room.
Basically, [guitarist] Michael Franzino and I would sit down and pick a room in the house at random, a bathroom or a bedroom or the kitchen. I would tell him my ideas; for instance, for the living room I wanted to discuss the irony in calling it a living room, because obviously if you’re spending all your time in your living room you’re not really living. With the basement, how isolated and creepy it is—it’s the only un-homey part of a home. So I would tell him what ideas we wanted to express in each song and he would come at it with a demo and show me what he did instrumentally. And then we laid the album out with the entrance being the first track going through the hallway and ending with the room with no purpose, the idea that many homes have a room that nobody really uses anymore. I wanted that to be the closer.
Are you considering another concept for your next record? We’re going to move a little bit away from the concept. We want to be more sporadic and allow ourselves to branch out and cover different lyrical content in each song. There are some rough ideas, a little more zany, not as somber as No Place was.
Was it hard to sell a concept record to your label, given the way sales have shifted to singles more than entire albums? That is something we were a little worried about, especially because with a concept record the songs end up becoming a lot lengthier than your typical single. It definitely was nerve-racking, because it is a little more unconventional. It’s hard to get people to wrap their ideas around the concept, like, “Here’s a new single, completely out of context!” But it worked. We were thrilled with how many people picked it up. It did have that mystery of, “Here’s a song that’s one room of the house, go check out the rest of it.”
Your music is heavy but it doesn’t rely on layered, chugging guitars to make it that way. You use driving drums, electronic padding and screaming to make it heavy. Yeah, we all come from different musical backgrounds. For some of us, it would be hard to fully embrace a traditional breakdown, because not all of us come from that kind of music. [Drummer] Joe [Arrington], for instance, plays with a single kick pedal (laughs). We tried to get him to play with a double kick pedal for a while, but he was like, “Oh, I hate this, I can’t drum with it.” All of our guitars are standard tuning—we don’t use drop D; it just feels unnatural. So with us embracing what feels natural to each individual, that’s how you get that amalgamation of heavy while still an instrumentally softer side.
I saw that your bassist Michael Littlefield left the band a few weeks ago. What happened? He’s pursuing his career, or his educational career. He had been going to school when we first started touring, and then the touring schedule got to a point where it was impossible to study when he was home, so now he is just full time going to college. We haven’t picked up a permanent replacement, but we have a friend from a band up in Idaho who is going to fill in on this tour.
A Lot Like Birds with Icarus the Owl, Amarionette, Spiritual Shepherd, Pool Party, Almost Awake. March 22, 5 p.m., $13-$15. Eagle Aerie Hall, 310 W. Pacific Ave., 702-498-4488.