An alternate title for this interview could easily be, “Garage rock be damned!” While I love a good lo-fi, jangle-y, ramshackle rocker as much as the next guy, I’m also a sucker for well-produced, structured and melodic pop-rock. With that, it’s obvious to see why we chose to feature Post Child this month. In the interview you’ll soon be diving into, guitarist Jared Olson dropped the term, “ear-candy,” and that maybe be the perfect descriptor for the band. Catchy, hi-fi rock that’s definitely reminiscent of Weezer and their 1990s power pop cohorts but with a grungier edge. I recently sat down with the members Post Child, which includes drummer James Andrew, guitarist/vocalist Jared Olson, bassist Justin Gutierrez and lead vocalist/guitarist Bryan Alvarez, and had a casual conversation about their formation, influences, the importance of finding that right tone and, of course, their new single “Fake Sex,” which was recorded exclusively for LoudLoopPress.com by our own Damian Wiseman, and is available for free download at the conclusion of this post and/or can be streamed in the Bandcamp sidebar to the right.
LLP: From what I understand the current lineup of Post Child is fairly recent, can you start by talking about the formation of the band?
Bryan: Before Post Child, James and I were in a different band called Your Mothership with some friends of ours. We broke up, and in that interim where I wasn’t sure if we had broke up, I was writing songs.
James: Tell’em about Scotland.
Bryan: Well, I was living in Scotland, and that was probably one of the things that went into the fact that our old band broke up. But I had moved back from Scotland, and I was writing songs and making music out there under the name Post Child with a few local musicians. So when I got back here, I had a couple of songs written. The band we were in before was about to break up. So, I was like, “hey I’m just going to play these Post Child songs,” and James said he’d play drums. Then the old band just fell apart since we were at that point anyway. Over the course of about a year or year and half of trying out people, we got in these two guys [Jared and Justin]. So, yeah, the current incarnation of our band has only been around for about a year now. A little over a year now, and that’s awesome. Time flies.
LLP: One thing that stands out about Post Child is your very pop-driven, youthful sound. It’s like practically 1990’s FM-radio rock ready. Can you talk to me about your inspirations and influences as a band?
Bryan: That sound that you’re referring to…the band that had broken up that we were coming out of was very orchestrated music. It was very progressive. We’d sit and write these 10-minute long songs with ridiculous guitar solos and drum solos. It was very particular in what we were playing. When I started writing Post Child, it was really more of me just writing songs as they came to me. As opposed to having to really sit down and make these long-winded progressive, 10 and a half minute jam songs and ensure the guitar solo sounds like this. In Post Child, it’s really me trying to have something simple as an outlet. The idea was to really not censor myself either. It was to just keep writing songs.
Jared: Slacker rock.
Bryan: It’s slacker, yeah. If the song wasn’t that good or didn’t need anything then either we played it or we didn’t. The more we went in that direction with the songs. Then having these guys influence…you know, we all grew up listening to that ‘90s music as the majority of the people that will read this probably did as well. I think in that sense that we draw inspiration from that, but I also like and have liked my Beatles and my Beach Boys. They were writing hit after hit of songs that were meant to be played on the radio, and half of them aren’t on the radio. So you know, I like the idea that you could play any one of our songs on the radio, and it probably wouldn’t be that out of the ordinary.
Justin: I liked the idea what you told me before how Post Child is like that grunge band teenage Bryan never got to start. So, we’re like you’re living your teenage years.
Jared: I feel the same way, man. [laughs]
Bryan: It’s like the music I wanted to write but wasn’t capable of writing when I was 15. And now I’m actually capable of playing it.
Jared: It’s the band my high school self would have killed to be in when I was 16.
Ed. Note: This video clip features temporary drummer Moose, while regular drummer James was out on tour with My Gold Mask. But a cover of Weezer’s “I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams” with Adele Nicholas of Axons/Puritan Pine on vocals? Too good not to share.
LLP: Continuing along the same lines, can you discuss your songwriting process a bit…wait, Justin, you’re smirking. Why?
Justin: Cause Bryan writes like a billion songs. He comes up with his scroll of work, and he’s like, “Well I have this one.” From there, we just kind of work on them, and yeah, everyone…well, mainly Jared and Bryan, do a lot of the fleshing out. But I like to think we all contribute to it.
James: Right. It was kind of like when we worked on the first album, New Age Whatever, mostly it was Bryan who would write the songs, and I would help chop up the parts and make the songs way shorter than they normally were. Now, it’s more Jared and Bryan doing that sort of stuff.
Bryan: When I write songs, as I said before, I tend to not really censor my self. I just kind of let it go. That’s where James comes into play. He kind of says this part’s meandering and unnecessary. It’s good to have that.
LLP: So, he’s like an editor?
Bryan: Yeah. I’ll write the songs, but a lot of the times a song doesn’t really come to life unless we’re playing it as a band.
James: And we rip it apart first.
Bryan: Of course. I’ll approach the band with like a dozen songs, but we might only use a couple of them because the songs don’t sound like much until we’ve sat and played them over and over and over again. I think that’s where a lot of our live show energy comes from. We’ve, as a group, made the songs into something more.
LLP: On your website on the info page, there’s a line that says, “We have faith in the Big Muff. And you should too.” Can you talk to me about how important it is to find the right equipment to reach that ideal sound?
James: Getting the tone is extremely important for us. Now with me playing drums, of course I’ll go back to like all those ‘90s grunge albums and research a lot of what they do. I’m trying to recreate what they’ve done – but there’s going to be a little bit of me in there to – so it’s kind of like that style but different as well.
Jared: What we go for is really heavy and melodic. So, you want the tones to be ear-candy in a sense. It’s good to really mess with your equalization. When I first started, I had a pedal that I was borrowing from my buddy that was a Russian big muff from the ‘90s. Like just a huge black box, and I sought out a pedal that sounded exactly like that. It was important to me, you know? I found one that does that exact same job as his, so I never had to borrow again. It’s important to us that the tone of the guitar be heavy and melodic or warming and brash at the same time.
Bryan: Generally, when I play guitar, I use two distortions. One is general overdrive and the other is full on kick-in-the-teeth. When I first started I used the Boss DS-1, that orange pedal that’s just super basic, and I also used a RAT distortion as well. But that wasn’t really cutting it, so I replaced the RAT with a NYC Big Muff Pi. Then Matt from the Peekaboo’s, an amazing guitar tech who knows all of his stuff, and I would recommend him to people, actually modded my Big Muff Pi. Now, it sounds awesome. So the Post Child sound people are hearing now and over the past six months, I would say some of the credit goes to him. Part of the idea too when I was trying to get these guys in the band was I like the idea of the pop song being played as loud as possible.
LLP: That’s a good approach.
Bryan: I cant even count how many sound guys have told me to turn down. For some reason, it’s becoming very difficult for them to mix us.
Jared: And they’re always right.
Bryan: And they’re always right as much as I don’t want to admit it.
LLP: Lastly, you recorded the rocker “Fake Sex,” for us, which features some gooey melodic guitar lines. Can you talk me about the creative process behind and recording of “Fake Sex?”
James: With that one, we started out with drums. Basically, what I did was…I’m a big playing to a click sort-of-guy, so I hooked up a metronome to my in-ear monitors from my phone. I did that while Bryan did rhythm guitars, and laid the rest of the track on top of that.
Bryan: “Fake Sex” took a long time to write. The complexity of the song wouldn’t indicate that. When I first wrote it, it was always other riffs and a pre-choruses and post-choruses and bridges and post-bridges. We were like let’s try and make it all work. So, in the end, none of that worked, and we simplified it and kept it straight to the point. It took forever. And its weird because songwriting to me…sometimes a song writes themselves, basically. Other times, it feels like you’re forcing it out of yourself for better or for worse, really. That song was one that like, I had to take an epidural, and it came out.
Jared: We just crowded up at our practice space, and we nailed it out. It was effortless. As Bryan was saying, it came a long time to form the song. When you go to record, you want that sort of experience because you’ve already spent so much damn time on it. [LLP Producer/Engineer Damian] kept it rolling real nice, and he got it done.
Bryan: With “Fake Sex,” the song was there. Then Damian came in and kept us oriented and made sure we got it done before we sat down and started listening and thinking “Oh do we wanna change it?” Kind of similar with how New Age Whatever was done. We took some time to write it, but we recorded it in about three days. We did three days, and we did one more session a month or so later to finalize the vocals.
Jared: We really like to prepare the music before we record.
James: Yeah, and you save money too.
Jared: It’s not the ‘70s more anymore, man. You can’t just hole up in the studio and do a bunch of acid.
James: I have no interest in doing that.
Jared: Well, they got paid a lot of money to do that back then.
James: Yeah, well, that’d be nice. [laughs]