With their 5th album The Tropic Rot recently released and soon to tour Europe with Rise Against, things look promising for Miami's Poison The Well. However, disaster struck on the latest USA tour, when thousands of dollars worth of equipment, instruments and the tour van itself was stolen outside a hotel.
First off, after the stolen van incident, has everyone in the band had a 'My Name Is Earl' idea and tried to have good karma?
We have no idea what will come, after it all happened I kept wondering what I'd done that was shitty to deserve it. I try to live pretty straight and well and I couldn't think of any just deserves. Oh well, sometimes shitty things just happen. We chin up and try to look of the blessing in disguise and keep on. I'm just excited we could actually stay on tour after something that epically destructive happened to us.
Besides the commemorative t-shirt design, what else have you done to recoup the losses?
There's really nothing we can do. We had insurance on everything and everyone who bought a shirt to help us out has no idea how much we appreciate it. All of that helps to keep us on tour because it was absurdly expensive to rent a van and trailer to put nine thousand miles on. Other than that, we're just waiting for insurance to come through, which hopefully it does, and then start looking for replacements for our babies.
With those kind of low moments, what has been the highest point of touring in the last year?
That's a tough one. One highlight for me was playing a festival in Belgium this past February to somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 people. We didn't really notice it had filled up in front of our stage that much while setting up, and when we were all ready we turned around everyone thought "Holy shit!", then got on with it and played our little hearts out. It was the last day of a two-month international tour, tons of friends were there and it was just an awesome time.
Do you have to prepare yourself in a different state of mind when you're the headline band, as apposed to support act? Do you feel more pressure?
I guess there's always the headliner pressure of "However many people are here, it's our doing, for better or worse," but I try to avoid that mentality. I'm going to play the show either way and I don't care where we play in the order.
Five minutes before a show, some bands have a group hug or chill alone, what do members of PTW do?
Five minutes out we're usually just all hustling to get ready. We have a little "all hands in" group cheer we do right before we play, it changes every night. Just whatever someone calls out and makes us piss our pants a little.
The Tropic Rothas been out for about four months now, are you still 100% happy with the results, or are there a few niggling things would wish you could have changed now? Are you still happy with your four previous albums?
I'm still pretty stoked about it. There aren't too many things I would want to change, like "Crap, I wish I'd done this other little guitar overdub here" or that kind of thing. We made a record we're all really proud of and it's holding up pretty well in our minds. I know Ryan (Primack, guitarist and founding member) isn't that way with pretty much every other PTW record.
I believe the album cover and title The Tropic Rot refers to your home town of Miama, Florida, are you trying to say basically it's
a horrible place but still home?
It's an entirely subjective thing depending on who you ask. Everyone in the band has their own little personal twist on what the title and everything means to them, which I think is awesome. To me, it's indicative of my time spent in Florida during the writing of the record. My days mostly consisted of band practice and waiting for the next band practice.
Are you a band that comes into rehearsal sessions with a clear idea of what to set out, or you prefer just to experiment and see what happens?
We're pretty much a "five dudes in a room" kind of band. Someone will come in with an idea and we'll all develop it until we're happy with the end result. There's tons of experimentation and noodling around before we settle on anything. It's always pretty fun.
Was the four-year gap from You Come Before You to Versions just because of record label trouble? Did that affect the overall outcome of the album as you had possibly too much time to work on it?
The gap was a combination of different things. There was a lot of touring on You Come Before You and some member changes, then writing and recording, then more member changes and more writing and recording then finally the ultimate product. I don't think there was a whole lot of time spent just straight chilling, but yeah it was definitely a long process.
What was the 10 for $10 tour all about?
In theory and practice it was really awesome, with 10 hardcore bands for 10 bucks. Everyone was hanging out and having a good time and getting to play venues that none of us could pull off alone, but together we could. There were some awesome hangouts, really hot summer days, and some of the longest drives in history.
Does it still amaze you that music does transcend cultural differences and people in different countries enjoy your music? That you can go from North America all the way to New Zealand and still get the same response?
It actually is pretty insane when you think about it. Going to a place like Sao Paulo and playing to a bunch of kids who are super excited and singing every single word. It's pretty mind blowing.
Poison The Well has been around for more than 10 years, has there been a lot of documentary footage collected? If so, are there plans to release a documentary on DVD?
There are some talks of it. There's definitely a good amount of footage and more piling up. I'm not sure what it'll take to get it out for real, but I hope it happens. It needs to.
Your video clip for "Exist Underground" is a "Whiskey In The Jar" style shoot, did that house end up getting trashed?
It got trashed as much as we possibly could. I kept asking our director Sam Macon, "Hey…can I smash this?" By the end we developed this "look" system, where we'd just look at each other and Sam would nod his head and I'd know that I could break whatever item it was. There was no blame that way! But the people who lived in the house were totally cool and hospitable and we had a fucking great time.
Finally, just a random question, who's the last person in the world you would want to be stuck on a desert island with?
The person who stole our van and trailer, because they'd be playing my guitar all the time and I'd either be really bummed or really pissed and have to kill them. Then I'd be lonely on the island, so it's a double-edged sword with that option.
Thanks to Brad Clifford and Andy Turner from Ferret Records. www.myspace.com/poisonthewell