INTERVIEW: Daytrader

Stuck somewhere in between semi-conscious labels writers have thrown at them, New York outfit DAYTRADER are a group simply focused on a passion to write and perform. There is the bold alternative sound and the style that harkens back to a form of originality held by bands in the early-2000s’ (Northstar, Anberlin), but being cut from a various backgrounds – including Long Island’s Crime In Stereo – has allowed the quintet to be creative, direct and in terms of their debut Twelve Years, emotionally inspiring. Those aren’t always simple accomplishments but as the band discussed with us a few hours before their recent headlining gig in Toronto, they’re challenges worth enduring.

You guys are on tour right now with friends Pentimento, who seem to sit well to your style. How did you establish yourselves with only a demo and EP behind you?

TYM: We started this band only a year and a half ago maybe? We put up our first set of songs online and then we went on tour before our first EP even came out. We toured most of that year up until the summer and I think just having that kind of start helped us.
You’re noted and respected for your unique sound that sets you apart but still helps you appeal to fans of traditional hardcore. How did that unique quality form?

DERRICK FLANAGAN: It came from everyone’s different influences.

TYM: It shows, especially on the new record. Half of us used to be in metal bands.

DERRICK: We’re definitely a metal band!

TYM: We’re definitely a metal band (laughs). We have a different range of influences and we definitely didn’t try and set out to write a certain style of music. The broad style that we’re playing now is something that probably all of us have always listened to. We never really went to write a record like this as we didn’t say, “Hey! I just heard this band. I just heard punk music for the first time. Let’s start a band and try to sound like The Ramones!”.

DERRICK: That’s actually exactly what we said.

TYM: Yeah we tried to sound like The Ramones (laughs).
Last year, you guys signed on with Rise Records who also house Bleeding Through, Man Overboard and The Devil Wears Prada. How does it feel to have a record label supporting you rather than doing things yourself?

TYM: They’re actually really, really supportive and they’ve been supportive of us since we started the band. It’s nice when you’re touring a lot. We’ve all been in bands where you put out your own seven-inch and you do basement tours, but touring to the point you want to make a record is different. We made an album with Mike Sapone and it was easy because we had the label to support us with that. It’s great to have people that are working full-time to make sure your lives are a little bit easier and that people know when you’re playing a show.

DERRICK: And also in particular, Rise Records really lets us do whatever. For us at the beginning, they simply told us to go for it. Some labels will review your record before they put it out, but there was nothing like that for us.
Is the transition from being independent to signed difficult when you’ve built a sound by yourself?

TYM: No. For us it was great.

MIKE MASCARENAS: It was super smooth.

TYM: Yeah, it was easy.

MIKE: I didn’t know we were signed until like… yesterday (laughs).

TYM: Just so you know, everything Mike says is a joke.

DERRICK: We have a new record coming out?

In an industry that’s becoming more about pleasing your audience, how does Twelve Years maintain a sound that’s original but appealing?

MIKE: Is the industry about pleasing your audience?

TYM: I guess the industry is about appealing to your audiences, but for us, we just spent a really long time where we wrote a lot of songs and kind of picked the ones that we liked the best. Some of them maybe don’t appeal that much to people who listened to our demo or EP and some of them probably do. I think especially nowadays, people can smell bullshit a mile away, so you should just kind of do what you want to do and people will generally respect it.

DERRICK: That’s because every time you write a song, they know it’s not going to be a hit song. If you write a song and everyone doesn’t like it, then you write a new song.
How does Rise, the production team and friends and family feel about the album?

TYM: They love it. My dad loves it.

DERRICK: My mom finally thinks I’m cool (laughs).

MIKE: My mom always thought I was cool (laughs).

GARY CIONI: My parents don’t know what we sound like.
When you sat down to write, what experiences attributed to the songs?

DERRICK: We definitely stood up to write it.

TYM: You sat down.

DERRICK: I sat down. Everyone else was definitely standing (laughs).

TYM: Some experiences included being in a windowless room in a basement in Queens.

DERRICK: Oh, and lot of Tony Hawk Pro Skater. And a lot of Katamari Damacy.

GARY: A lot of waiting around for people to show up to practice.

TYM: A lot of sandwiches.

In regards to the music, “How can you breathe when your body is working against you,” is a lyric from “Firebreather” – which is a wicked song in my opinion…

DERRICK: A wicked… bad song?

MIKE: Wicked?

TYM: Like wicked, evil?
No, I meant “wicked” as a good thing (laughs).

MIKE: This question is about lyrics, I’ll take this one. Well…

TYM: He’s kidding because he’s the guitarist.

MIKE: I didn’t write any of the lyrics.

TYM: Well, I think…

DERRICK: Jennifer Aniston (laughs). Jennifer Aniston and Tom Cruise.

TYM: I don’t really like to talk about specific things that inspire lyrics because I think especially when I used to read liner notes, it would mean one thing to me and one thing to someone else and one thing to the person that wrote it.

DERRICK: So we Kurt Cobain-ed it.

TYM: It’s like when I read a book, I don’t merely ask the author “Hey! What was this part about?”, because it’s going to ruin if for me, you know? But I’m still going to answer this question for you. “Firebreather” specifically is about me being really sick on tour. When we were doing that first round of touring, I had a bunch of crazy medical issues going on and it’s just a general thing about being sick and just having to deal with stuff like that.
Is there a general inspiration for the other songs or do they draw from different things?

TYM: There’s no broad theme. It’s really what we all wanted to write and had never done before. We haven’t been in rock bands like this in the past, so I think it kind of runs in the gambit of all the songs I wanted to write.
With the amount of emotional output that goes into your material, especially the new record, is there a feeling of relief that follows once they’re recorded and you get the chance to perform them live?

TYM: Yeah, definitely.

MIKE: I do not want to play these songs anymore.

TYM: It’s a very cathartic experience and it’s one of the most rewarding things about being in a band.

DERRICK: We’ve been having so much fun in the past few months because of it.
How does traveling affect you guys as a group of musicians?

DERRICK: There’s a lot of post-work. Recording is one thing as you’ve got to practice and sort of make sure everyone’s playing the right stuff and then afterwards you record it and it’s all kind of done at once.

TYM: You can play some things one way or play it another way. Then you kind of have to figure out the live interpretation and how it’s going to sound best.

MIKE: I think the “record cycle” is kind of weird too. When you’re working the entire time to record , you end up thinking about how hard it is to actually write songs and record and then when you’re finished, you then think about how you have to go on tour for two years (laughs).

GARY: You make the record then you have to figure out how to actually play it live.
What do you mean exactly?

GARY: It’s not like when we’re writing a song and things like guitar leads, there’s a bit of structure but then you build on that in the studio. Once that’s done, you have to figure out how to play that final version live after you walk out of the studio. It’s been challenging but it’s helped us become real musicians.

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