Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hello everybody and thanks for spending some time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog. My first question is actually related to the current situation in Texas. You guys are from San Antonio and I hope that the city wasn’t that much hit by ‘Harvey’.
Mark: Hey Markus! I’m Mark too so it’s good to be chatting with a fellow awesome dude named Mark haha!
Fortunately, San Antonio was not heavily affected by 'Harvey'. We live far enough inland that the storm just brought us heavy wind and rain. We avoided all the floods. Obviously, we all know how bad it demolished Houston, Rockport and the surrounding areas though. Jonny and I both have family and lots of friends that were directly affected and went through the worst of it. But I feel that our country learned something from the past when 'Katrina' hit and this time people came together more quickly in this time of need. People like JJ Watt & Jimmy Fallon from the tonight show raised and donated millions and millions of dollars to help out. It’s really amazing to see that kind of outreach. Nothing More donated to JJ’s fund.
MHMB: That's good news in such an extreme situation. So, let’s have a look on some even more positive things - the new album. “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” got to the record stores mid-September. The album addresses the topic of a disconnection between reality and the stories we tell ourselves. How did you came up with this theme for the album?
Jonny: The title was on the back of my mind since the beginning of the writing process, and I can't recall exactly what put it there. But in the midst of going through some challenging changes in my life I found a lot of solace and strength by listening to lectures done by Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Owen Cook and Jordan Peterson. A common theme I find in those lectures, as well as my personal experiences, was realizing how extremely powerful self-narrative and self-identity are when it comes to determining where you end up in life. The stories we tell ourselves every day, every week, every month and every year are the stories we become. If something doesn't work out how you planned is it a *lesson or a *failure? If something inconvenient comes our way is it a *challenge or a *curse? At its heart it's basically glass half full of glass half empty thinking... but the life implications are HUGE. It's a mistake to underestimate it.
MHMB: Since the topic is present through-out the entire album, would you say that “The Stories We Tell Ourselves” is a concept album? And if ‘No’, why not?
Jonny: Yes, totally a concept album.
MHMB: “Nothing More” included with “Jenny” a song that has a very personal link. How much own experiences and personal stories are connected to the new songs?
Mark: We’ve always been huge fans of Ben Folds. He wrote songs about specific stories and events; Songs like Zakk & Sara, Annie Waits, Fred Jones Part II, & Steven’s Last Night in Town are some of our favorite tracks of his. The fact that he included these names and details made us fall in love with these tracks. He gave the song a personal feel and really made you want to know them and wonder if they were real people! We always like to include personal stories and events as well and the new album The Stories We Tell Ourselves is no exception. The album stretches from personal stories of divorce, to addiction, and to fatherhood. We’re all very connected to these songs and we’re so stoked for people to really dive into these songs.
MHMB: “Go to War”, a song that can reach a wider group of rock fans, was the first single from the album. Why did you decided to go for this track?
Jonny: We wrote "Go to War" very fast, having most of it done within thirty minutes. That’s usually a good sign that you are connected deeply with the emotions driving writing the process and that it has a good chance to make a listener really feel something. It was actually the first song from the album we shared with our label and we thought it would make a great first single from the start.
MHMB: The tracklist also features some interludes. What was the thinking behind this interesting addition?
Mark: Nothing More has always been an advocate of instrumental tracks. One of the biggest problems in our band is that we always have too much material. We typically snag bits and pieces of music that didn’t make turn into full songs and make instrumentals out of them. I personally love doing this because it lets us be more artistic with our instruments and gives us a break from thinking about melody and lyrics. The instrumentals spliced throughout a record can give your ear a bit of a break and let you meditate on a thought or idea before transitioning into the next song. If you haven’t listened to Dredg’s el Cielo do so now. It’s probably our collective favorite album and is part of the inspiration for the band creating on this level.
MHMB: 2014 was a turning point for the band, signing with Eleven Seven Music. How did things change since then compared to the earlier days?
Jonny: The biggest difference is that we now have a team of people working around us helping us reach a wider audience. We work harder now than we ever have, but that support team allows us to be more focused on writing, recording and performing.
MHMB: Is there anything more you want to share with the readers of Markus’ Heavy Music Blog?
Mark: We just want to say thank you to everyone that has supported us along the way. We’re just happy and blessed we get to play, write and record music for a living that people seem to appreciate so much. I know what it’s like to fall in love with bands and songs and it’s one of the best things about being alive. Cheers!