Last November 17th STICK TO YOUR GUNS played a sold out show at Löwensaal, Nuremberg. We had the chance to interview Josh James, one of the guitarists of the californian hardcore band, during this European tour which started couple weeks ago which promotes their latest release TRUE VIEW (PURE NOISE – END HITS RECORDS).
AFL: You guys have just started the tour, how was the first show last night?
JJ: Yesterday was great, we started off in Hamburg, show was sold out which was a great way to start any tour off, I think we had a pretty good start!
AFL: You are the headline band of this tour and two first shows are sold out, how cool is that?
JJ: Yeah! And it’s our first tour since our new record TRUE VIEW, before this we were playing 8 shows in the States since the new record came out, so we were very excited about this tour because the record has been out for some weeks now, so you know, people know now the new songs, so it’s not awkward to play new brand songs. It’s kind of a different type of set we play, but it’s a lot of fun. Judging on the reaction of the crowd last night, they loved it too because there were a bunch of songs too that they don’t heard us playing live.
AFL: Let’s talk about your new record TRUE VIEW, it’s the 6th album for the band and the 3rd one for you since you joined STYG. How you feel about?
JJ: When we recorded DISOBEDIENT, we weren’t kind of like all expectations, it wasn’t really concerned about if people were about to like it or not, not about how many copies gonna sell, all that kind of shit. That record felt really good, we put the record out, our fans liked it, it was easy and I didn’t feel the pressure that I put myself before like with previous records, so with this new record I kind have the same approach. When we got it finished, and we decided on which songs we wanted make the record, when we decided the track listing and all the stuff, and then listen to the final product, like the read the lyrics and all that stuff I personally thought: “daaang! This is a fucking great record!” But still didn’t put any external pressure on myself, about like “how many copies gonna sell”, “people gonna like it?”, and not, I was just really stood on the record myself.
I think in my life I have been part like 20 releases through different bands, and I was like ”man, this is may be my favorite one I have ever done!”, what it is really cool in my career and the band’s career “. When the record came out it was received very well, I think it is now in Germany the number 16th or something in the charts, and in USA most successful records as far as on selling on the first weeks, and that kind of shit. That is really impressive to me for us to be a band for this long, and for the band’s 6th release, this one is that really pops off, and we have talked about it few times, and Jesse actually mentioned it on the stage.
I was not in the band when THE HOPE DIVISION came out, people were like “this record sucks” and when DIAMOND came out people were like “this record sucks, this is not THE HOPE DIVISION” , and later people were like “DIAMOND is amazing! Then DISOBEDIENT was released and people “This record is good, but it isn’t DIAMOND!” and this is the first time when we release a record and people are “I LOVE IT! THIS IS GREAT!”, so it is cool to be 6 records deep into our career, the band’s career, and still releasing a record that can rival our past records, and their successes.
AFL: And this is your first release on your new label record, PURE NOISE…
JJ: yeah, in America, and END HITS RECORDS in Europe, which been really coo! because in the past I felt like the label support in Europe always lacked, and now with END HITS seems they really believe in the band, they have a big part with us on the success of this record, I mean obviously the record stands tall alone, but you do need a team, people who make all work well together and make things successful, and they definitely can be that, for this tour, for the record.
AFL: Right, it is very important if a record label is backing you up and put lot effort for the band.
JJ: yeah, it make a huge difference! And also, I think that having a label that is based in Europe makes sense, in my personal my opinion, because they understand well European culture, they understand how it works over here, you know, we are from America, and our label understand how it works for AMERICA and CANADA, but not for Europe, for Australia or Asia, different parts of the world.
AFL: Let’s back to the new record… You just said this album is first record all people say “I love it, it is great” and well, I think it’s powerful and meaningful, specially for Jesse as his mom has huge influence, even she’s featuring on it.
JJ: yeah, the way we wrote the record, especially this record, it was Chris and I wrote songs with our guitars, and then we sent it to everybody. Everybody puts their input on it. With the lyrics and melody, it is 99% Jesse’s work, but it usually doesn’t take place in the studio, so before that, we have like 20 songs that all just music and it was interesting because I think that we view our band as a band that is politically charge, socially aware, and I think that our fans do as well so Jesse came and said: “I feel like everyone is expecting us to write this record at is gonna have much political impact, and social impact! But we do not”.
He has had some rough few years personally, you know when you have some personal challenges you don’t care about the outside world, you are like “oh yeah, the government is corrupt”, “people are getting mistreated and that sucks”, but “i am having a hard fucking time right now so I am gonna deal with my own shit”, so the angle of the lyrics is all personal perspective from him, Jesse, and I think that gives to the record lot of more feeling that is more powerful in this moment because it is true to us, but if we would to write DISOBEDIENT right now, it would feel kind of fake, because those are the issues and things that are consuming our personal lives right now or that need our attention. I think maybe that is why the record does feel more emotional.
Even with the music of “THE SUN – THE MOON – THE TRUTH”, I wrote that song right after I had a really heated phone call from a family member, It was not that “ohhh now I am gonna take all my emotions and put it into this song!!!” but not, I just ended that call and I started to think about the issue, so somehow it is trapped in that song, you know, it is an energy that I put onto that song musically and plus Jesse‘ lyrics it completely mixes it very meaningful and emotional feeling, it is not just being a song, it is a trapped energy.
AFL: So, talking about songs, which is your favorite from this record?
JJ: It keeps changing, my favorite song to play live is right now is DOOMED BY YOU, but that is not my fav song of this record, I really like 3 FEET FROM PEACE, I don’t know, they are all good!
AFL: For you it’s five years since your joined the band. How have been this time being part of STYG?
JJ: It’s being great, I have been in a lot bands before and as far as a full time touring band this is the band that has been the easiest, I think personally wise, because we are all kind of same level of what we want and what we expect and the respect that we have of each other. When I first joined the band it felt such an easy thing, it was about to be six months and now it is almost six years, and now it fells like that now I am a member of the band, I write songs, I have a voice in this band, it is great! I love to be in STYG! It is really good!
AFL: and comparing to your previous bands?
JJ: I think that comparing to EVERGREEN TERRACE and CASEY JONES, I was a founder member and I was also young, so I didn’t fully understand life, people, and the complexity of relationships. You know with what I compare it too?! I compare it to being in a long term relationship, right? So, I was in a relationship for 8 years and 3 of those years were full of ups and downs and I learnt so much and then the relationship fell apart, I was heart broken and all this, and then I was single for a couple of years, and then I met a girl, and I dated her, I ever expected to do that, instantly we felt in love and now we are married, and it is a lot like that… Evergreen terrace was my first love with all those ups and downs, but in the end it just fell apart, because I didn’t have the right tools to take care of it, and unfortunately for that but fortunately for STYG I am able to apply all these tools and all those things that I learnt from that relationship in this relationship with STYG, and this is how I try don’t act like that or to destroy it, I kind view it like that.
AFL: so, that’s how we could say you are MARRIED TO THE NOISE?
JJ: YEAH! Kind like that! I gotta a wife and five husbands!!! ha – ha!
AFL: I (Michelle) remember the first time I saw STYG it was in 2009 on tour with TERROR, BORN FROM PAIN and TRAPPED UNDER ICE in the north of Spain, there were around 100 – 150 people at that show, and tonight the band is playing a sold out show or more than 1.000 people out there. Isn’t that crazy?
JJ: yeah, It is crazy! I mean it is funny because the first time ever that STYG came to Europe it was on tour with EVERGREEN TERRACE and WALLS OF JERICHO, I was in EG and Chris in WOJ, and there was a show that STYG was opening and there was like 8 people watching them and by that time EG and WOJ used to have couple hundred people watching us, and now it is so cool because at the time it was just Jesse the only member of the band that remains now, and it is also cool for me because I remember watching this band playing for 8 people and now I’ve seen 8.000 people seeing this band playing!
A lot of bands are told “you guys gotta focus so much in social media and you gotta connect with the fans” and bla bla ba, that’s bullshit. Yeah, it is true that nowadays you gotta have on social media presents for any business, ‚cause at the end of the day the band is a business, but it is really cool to see that you have worked your ass off, wrote good music, and it works! It might be slow but I may have a slow grow that a huge spike and then drop off like it is happening to lot of bands now.
AFL: so, to end this interview I want to make some kinda “game”… Could you describe your band mates with one or two words?
AFL: let’s start with Chris…
JJ: Just with one word???
JJ: what about with a phrase?
AFL: yes, cool! Ok, go ahead!
JJ: I just trying to think the right words. Chris? I would said: “Find something that he likes and doesn’t even ever changed”
AFL: ok, next, George?
JJ: Politically overwhelmed
JJ: An absolutely mystery
AFL: and last one, Jesse.?
JJ: Fully unpredictable but… predictable not how be unpredictable.
AFL: ok, Josh thank you so much for your time, if you have any last words, just let it them here…
JJ: Thanks a lot to anyone who has came to the show. Thanks for the interview, hope see you guys soon.
You can check the complete photo gallery of the STICK TO YOUR GUNS’s show together with BEING AS OCEAN, FRIST BLOOD AND SILENT PLANET by clicking on the following photo…