Latest release: Fluorescent Youth (Good Fight/Riot!)
Band site: www.myspace.com/conditionsband
US post-hardcore/punk/pop/hard rock crew Conditions are heading our way next February as part of the mammoth Soundwave 2012 bill. Guitarist/vocalist Alex Howard talked to Loud about the festival, the success of their latest album, social media vs touring, his favourite releases of 2011 and more.
Q: Fluorescent Youth has been out for more than a year now. Looking back, is there anything about the record that you wished you’d done differently, or do you instead use those elements as a learning experience and improve on it the next time around?
A: I think the best way to look at it is that it’s a learning experience. Of course, playing songs on the road more and more, you tend to manipulate them a bit, but Fluorescent Youth is a good snapshot of that moment in time for us, and we’re still proud of it. It’s our first full-length, so we have learned a lot since then moving onto LP number two.
Q: Is the band writing material for the next album yet? If so, how does it compare to your previous work?
A: Yes, we have been writing for a while now and will pretty much continue to map out our second full-length right up until we leave for Australia. Our plan is to record around April and have it out in the late summer/early fall of 2012. So far, I think we have been keeping the sound that people would expect from us, but we’re making a conscious effort to write a little more dynamically. One of our biggest criticisms is that everything sounds the same; fast tempos, high vocals, etc. We will be exploring some new styles in our songwriting, but will definitely keep the sound that has defined Conditions thus far.
Q: Good to hear. There’s clearly a disparate range of influences within Conditions’ music. Who are some of the main bands who inspire your writing these days?
A: All five of us are all over the spectrum, but I think some big ones across the board are Thrice, Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, Brand New, Muse, and Finch just to name a few.
Q: What is it like for the band on the tour bus then – is there a rather eclectic collection of music played on there?
A: Always! It depends on who’s playing the role of DJ at the time. If it’s me you can expect some Thrice or Foo Fighters a lot of times, Ryan (Tinsley, drums) will put on Dave Matthews Band or some metal, Brandon (Roundtree, vocals) will put on M83 or some electronic stuff, Jason (Marshall, guitars/vocals) will put on Breaking Benjamin or Linkin Park, and Corey (Thomas, bass) will put on old AFI or some old hardcore bands.
Q: Interesting. The catchy hooks seem to be such an integral part of your music. Do you think this is the main factor that has resulted in the band appealing to everyone from teenage pop fans to older, grizzled rock fans?
A: We hope so. We like to focus on the rock part first and foremost, keep that sort of edge, and then write some good hooks on top of that. The “pop” term sometimes scares me, because we’d definitely like to consider ourselves as a rock band, but people are always going to label you the way they want to. But I think there’s a little something there for everyone.
Q: The band has built a reputation as “road dogs’ despite your relatively young age. Do you think more young bands need to adopt the attitude of touring as much as possible? Or are tools like social media just as effective for a lot of young bands these days?
A: We all just have this sort of old school sense of what being in a band is supposed to be about. Since day one, we’ve just been playing out and spreading our name regionally through shows rather than social media tools. I think social media is fantastic, and has definitely helped us get our music out to people that probably otherwise wouldn’t have heard it, but kids these days just need to be a BAND. When you have an EP, a music video, a fancy online merch store, and a pro website before you’ve even played a fucking show, you’re not a band in my eyes. Focus on the music first, and get out there and play it. Let the other stuff come after.
Q: Well said. Conditions have also supported some of rock’s biggest names. What have been some of the highlights of those experiences?
A: We have been so amazingly lucky so far, and it’s all thanks to the fantastic people we have around us. It was early on in our career, but one of our favourite memories was touring the UK with Paramore and New Found Glory in 2008. To go from playing in front of maybe 500 people in Richmond, Virginia to playing in front of 5,000 people in London was just unreal. It was such a great experience for us to step up our game early on, and we are so thankful to them for taking us out.
Q: The band is a part of the massive Soundwave 2012 bill. What are your expectations for the festival and Australia overall?
A: I don’t think we honestly know what to expect! We’ve talked to some friends of ours who have done the tour in the past, and everyone just sings Soundwave’s praises. We are unbelievably excited just to see Australia, and the fact that we get to see it while playing this amazing tour is a dream come true.
Q: Which bands are you hoping to catch at Soundwave?
A: I guarantee I was just as excited as anyone attending the festival while looking up the line-up to see who I can watch when we’re not playing. Some bands that I will definitely watch as much as I can are Letlive, Circa Survive, Lamb of God, Slipknot, The Used, Underoath, Thursday, Four Year Strong and Saves The Day. I’m also really excited to see some friends that we’ve toured with in the past like You Me at Six, VersaEmerge, and Kids in Glass Houses. I think I’m actually really close to naming almost everyone on the bill, so you can tell that I’m excited (laughs).
Q: If you could choose three bands you’d like to open for at some point in your career, who would they be?
A: Foo Fighters – because they’re the greatest rock band of my generation. Thrice – because they’re my favourite band of all time. Jimmy Eat World – because I think they are a pretty huge influence of ours and are one of the best out there.
Q: On a more personal note, 2011 is rapidly coming to a close. What have been some of your favourite albums released this year?
A: Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light, Thrice – Major/Minor, Deaf Havana – Fools and Worthless Liars, There for Tomorrow – The Verge, MuteMath – Odd Soul, City and Colour – Little Hell and many, many more.
Q: Any famous last words?
A: A huge thank you to Soundwave for having us and we can’t wait to come down to Australia for the first time and meet some new faces. Cheers.
CONDITIONS will be appearing at Soundwave 2012:
25/2: Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
26/2: Sydney Showground, Sydney NSW
2/3: Melbourne Showground, Melbourne VIC
3/3: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
5/3: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth WA