METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Jimmy. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
How are you? How are things going?
JIMMY HOWELL: Pretty good, definitely still readjusting back to our normal lives after tour.
MPAP: Before we talk about your latest release, Undercover Scumbag, I want to mention that you just finished the Undercover Scumbag Tour, starting in Akron, Ohio October 4th, and then just finishing things up on the 29th in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. That was 26 shows in 26 days. Wow, how was that?
JIMMY: It was a little insane, being our first full US tour, we got the opportunity to play so many places that we've never been before. Like every DIY tour some shows were better than others, but overall the tour was definitely a success for us.
MPAP: Most bands take a day off here and there, to naturally relax, recharge, or it takes a while to drive to the next venue. Why did you decide to do 26 shows without a day off?
JIMMY: Well the way I've always seen it is every day is an opportunity to play for new people and to make money on the road. For this tour, we only had a limited amount of days we could go out for and wanted to play as much as possible. The long drives definitely got to us at some points though, especially in the Midwest.
MPAP: I guess the next question should be, would you do it again? JIMMY: I would, but I'm not sure about some of the other guys. Our plan for future tours is more days and shorter drives. That way even if we don't have any days off at least we won't be spending the majority of our time in the van.
MPAP: Did you learn anything from it that you might change next time you go out on tour without a day off in between shows?
JIMMY: I think I mostly covered that with the last question but every tour I've ever been on with this band or others has had no intentional days off. While on this tour we had two shows cancel but ended up finding shows last minute. I find it best not to plan for days off because you might end up having one anyways. MPAP: Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, 156/Silence is a metalcore/hardcore band that formed in 2015 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Let’s have you introduce your group to everyone out there reading this. Who are your partners in crime and what do they play?
JIMMY: Jimmy Howell – Guitar, Christian Snow – Bass, Jack Murray – Vocals, Max Bradshaw – Drums, Ryan Wilkinson - Guitar
MPAP:Undercover Scumbag is 156/Silence’s heaviest, weirdest and most dynamic album to date. When you first began, the group was a bit soft, what was the reason for cranking things up for this release?
JIMMY: Well the heaviness is definitely not new with this release, things have slowly become heavier over time. When the band first started it was a side project for most of the members and we wanted to do something soft to counteract our main, heavier projects. However, over time as 156 because our main project, the sound just molded into what we really wanted to play. MPAP: So, with that being said, what can the new listener expect to hear when once they get Undercover Scumbag for the first time?
JIMMY: I think you can expect to hear a weird, noisy, and heavy album. While this is still a metalcore/hardcore album, what we really tried to focus on was the guitar effects and use of feedback. People who know me know I love Daughters, and that influence is what really drove me to write some of the weirder noise parts on the album.
MPAP: Tell us about some of the songs from it like, "Saving, Saved", "Wasted Potential," and "Indecent Exposure"?
JIMMY: Well "Saving, Saved" was a song that we had written parts of a very long time ago. From the clean guitar onwards was written very early in the writing process but it ended up being scrapped because we didn't like the rest of the song. Around a month and a half before hitting the studio we rewrote half of the song and decided we wanted it on the album. I'm happy we did because a lot of people have told us its their favorite song. "Wasted Potential" is actually a very similar situation as well. The song originally had a different section in the middle and different outro. While we fixed the ending a while ago the middle section was rewritten literally weeks before going to the studio. We usually tend to be more prepared for the studio but this time we worked on the songs until the week before we went. This theme of being unprepared continues with "Indecent Exposure" which was the last song we wrote for the album about a month out. Some of the members said that they felt we needed one more heavy song to balance out the weird and the softer tracks and that's how it came to be. It's definitely the heaviest song we've written and it's very fun to play live.
MPAP: The band stated, 'We just want to express ourselves and create something truly memorable and unique. In the current landscape of heavy music, it can be hard to stand out, but that's precisely what we plan to do.' Now that the release has been out for over a month now, and you’ve done a tour, do you feel you are accomplishing that statement?
JIMMY: I think that we are doing our best to accomplish that. We've seen support like we never have before in Pittsburgh and while on tour we've met at least one person every day that loves our band. If we can make one person feel about our band the way we do about our favorite bands, then I think we've accomplished something.
MPAP: How has the crowd reaction been so far to your release, and to the tour you just finished?
JIMMY: It's been awesome, like I mentioned before we played a lot of places we hadn't been to before and to see people mosh and scream the words to our songs on the other side of the country is a crazy feeling.
MPAP: Tell us about the cover artwork of Undercover Scumbag? Is there a message behind it? Is there a meaning to the cigarette, the pills, or even the hand coming out the cartoonish characters mouth?
JIMMY: To tell you the truth, there really isn't much of a meaning to it. The artist that made it had a premade design that was a little different than the final product, but we felt it definitely fit with the title and the theme of the album.
MPAP: The character does have a slight resemblance to Donald Trump. Is there any truth to this?
JIMMY: I've never heard anyone mention that before but no there's no truth to this. Besides I wouldn't say Donald Trump is an undercover scumbag, he's more of a blatantly obvious scumbag.
MPAP: Our hearts go out to the families, unfortunately, just recently in your hometown, a gunman stormed the Tree of Life synagogue killing 11 people. Are you worried in any way with what’s going on the United States lately?
JIMMY: I can say without a doubt that we're all extremely worried about what's going on in our country. This definitely hit me close to home while on the road because I literally live 10-15 minutes from where it happened.
MPAP: What do you feel a person can do to try to make things better?
JIMMY: I think that speaking up is one of the most important things you can do right now. While our album doesn't have much if any political meaning behind it, the theme of calling people on their bullshit still applies.
MPAP: Being a journalist and asking the question 'what does your band’s name mean?' is a basic interview no-no question to ask, but in this case, I think this might be different. There are so many meanings to the number 156, anywhere from mathematics, military, transportation, to even being in music. So, before we bring this interview to a close, I must ask, please tell us what does 156/Silence mean?
JIMMY: I know this is a boring answer but there is no meaning to it. I think we've answered this question at least once a day for the past month and every time people are disappointed when they don't get a deep story. Our original vocalist Mike said that he saw 156 and silence somewhere in a museum and the name just came to him. We went with it because it's a memorable name, and when we are listed in an alphabetical list, we are usually first.
MPAP: On behalf of myself and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you for doing this interview. We look forward to what 156/Silence does to finish out 2018 and beyond.
Any last words for all your fans out there?
JIMMY: We definitely appreciate the support we've received so far, and we definitely don't plan on slowing down!
MPAP: Anything special you can announce here before any other place?
JIMMY: Well, this may not be anything too exciting but we're currently working on an unannounced tour for early 2019 and have started the early stages of writing our next album already.