American rock duo ’68 (featuring Josh Scogin ex-The Chariot/Norma Jean) are set to release their forthcoming album Two Parts Viper on Friday 2 June. On top of that, the pair are hitting Australia for a headline tour in July so we caught up with Josh ahead of the release and tour to discuss all things ’68 and more.
Andrew: So are you guys on the road on tour at the moment or on a bit of a break?
Josh: Yeah, we’re on tour. We just finished a tour with a band called Everytime I Die and then starting yesterday we were starting a headliner that will continue on until Europe and then we’ll do Russia and actually pop into Australia.
Andrew: Yeah, obviously, Australia is in July, which is pretty exciting stuff. Obviously, you must have been to Australia before with your other bands?
Josh: Yeah ’68 has also been there. We were there maybe this time last year with Bring Me The Horizon and we were there one other time before with ’68. I love Australia so I try to come as much as I can.
Andrew: How has your experiences been? I mean, how do you find the crowds and all that kind of stuff?
Josh: It’s been great! Both tours have been amazing but the second tour we did with Bring Me The Horizon was pretty extraordinary, I mean it was stadiums and sold out nights and stuff which is nothing that we’ve ever really experienced before but it was amazing [laughs]. It was one of my favorite tours we’ve ever done, actually.
Andrew: Yeah obviously your music and the way you guys sort of play it seems more suited to club shows, how do you handle the big venues like that then?
Josh: Well, I don’t really know. That was an experience, and it was only a handful of days so we just tried to make the most we could of all the space and we still just went about it like a normal show. But we typically do club shows and stuff, so if there was a comfort zone that’s where it would be. So if I did it a few more times I think I would really kind of find a space there but for just having done it a few times it was nice because it was fresh and unique and something different for us. It was a very exciting experience but I do enjoy club shows where you can really see the people and see individuals and not just a sea of heads sometimes.
Andrew: I agree. I am definitely more of a club person myself and I think especially with the kind of music that you play yourself with that kind of energy you can really feel in a small setting. On this time around, what can the fans expect? What are you planning to bring to the Australian fans?
Josh: I don’t really know yet. We don’t do setlists and we don’t really have too many things planned out. We kind of wing it each day which allows us to keep everything fresh and not just be phoning it in but also, every night is unique to itself. I hope it will be loud [laughs], that’s all we know but at the end of the day it will be great because it’s our headliner so we’ll be able to play a longer set and really kind of lay into it which I’m excited about.
Andrew: Interestingly you said that you don’t really have a setlist and you don’t really plan too much out, because a lot of bands that I’ve talked to usually do have something sort of planned ahead. So is every show going to be quite unique and different? I mean, do you like to be spontaneous when you sort of go into a show?
Josh: Yeah, definitely. We don’t have a setlist but also even in each song there’s a good
number of free jam parts that we can extend or shorten or take out all together if we’re rushed. And it’s quite nice because we do a lot of support tours where we might only have 20
minutes one night or one night we have 45 minutes and so it’s nice because we can just do whatever we need to do that day. But I find it interesting because a lot of bands do pre-plan their shows
and that’s fine, some of my favorite bands do that. But it’s just interesting to have everything so
planned out and when you’re planning it out you’re in the comfort of your practice space and you have no idea what the crowd is going to be like or the city is going to be like. Is it a weekend? Is it a week day? Is it a holiday? What’s going on? So, yeah, it’s an interesting thought to do it that way but for us it’s nice because each night you know we just kind of feel it out and I feel like when it goes well I think it works a lot better, at least as for us.
Andrew: Yeah, definitely. I love the spontaneity of that, sort of the winging it kind of thing. It’s very cool and the improvisation that you can just sort of do with some of your songs I guess is one of the best aspects of playing in front of a live crowd like that.
Andrew: Obviously you’ve got a new album just about to come out ‘Two Parts Viper‘. Tell me a little bit about the new songs and how you wanted to approach this one this time compared to the first album.
Josh: Well, we had a few things pre-planned, if you will, but honestly it sort of grew on its own. We were so busy touring that we never had a full on time period to sit down and write the songs and then record the songs. Typically the way I’ve written every album ever, you write it in three weeks or so and you record it in three weeks or so… maybe a month,, maybe less but essentially it’s all one time period. With this one we toured so much we never had that off so I would pop in the same studio we’ve always done but I would pop in two days here and record half a song or a week here and record a song. Even one time we recorded for one night – just had a whole night to ourselves there. So we recorded over seven months little bit at a time so it’s like a really slow puzzle coming together, which was really nice because it was very unique, very different. I’ve never done that in my life but I think because of that when you listen to it, it’s not just one finite time stamp, I think there’s a journey involved. Some of the lyrics from a song I was writing was really hot in the summer time of Georgia where I live in the comfort of my own home. Some of the lyrics and some of the songs I was writing on tour in December in Europe where it was freezing cold. So there’s obviously some different aspects there and I kind of enjoyed that.
Andrew: You mentioned being on the road and writing some of these songs. That obviously must have quite an impact on the song as well because obviously from the stuff that I’ve heard so far there’s a lively sort of energy to it as well.
Josh: Right, writing on the road definitely creates its own energy for sure.
Andrew: Is that something that you really try to capture on record? Capturing that live sound that you are sort of known for?
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. I don’t know how other people write and record, but I think they write an album and then they spend the next year or so trying to perform that record live. We do think the opposite, I like what we do live – I enjoy that aspect and so therefore, when we’re recording I try to make it feel as lively as we can because there are a lot of things against you: they’ve got volume control, they can turn it down, it’s a sterile environment, whatever. And so as far as sonically while we’re recording we try our best to bring the live performance at least a little bit to the album in any way we can.
Andrew: In the press release that was put out it says on the song ‘This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed and Blue’ that you mentioned that this song almost didn’t make it on the album, could you sort of elaborate a little bit on that and how you made it work for the album?
Josh: Well, at the end there it’s really heavy, which I’m not opposed to but it was one of the first songs I had written for the album and as I said, it was written over a seven month period or so. And because it was so heavy at the end in my mind I was like, “Well, if the rest of the songs feel this heavy it probably won’t make it,” because having done the Chariot and stuff in the past you know, I’m not trying to recreate that or anything but because the rest of the songs are so much more rock or blues based or whatever, I felt that it definitely had a spot and a home there. So I think it came out nicely and well balanced.
Andrew: I haven’t heard the whole album, I’ve only heard a couple of songs. I’m interested to know how you sort of view ’68 compared to some of the other bands you have done in the past? And when you first started the band what was the sort of initial idea of what you wanted to do musically speaking?
Josh: I mean, I think it’s a night and day because sonically where it comes from, I mean, there are things that are similar. Obviously all the passion that I wanted to create and the art that I wanted to make, but as far the music I think it’s… I don’t know, maybe there’s like a common thread but it’s definitely different. It’s definitely got a very different vibe than my other bands. As far as when I started it I thought long and hard about what it was going to look like, what it was going to sound like and different things. The moment that I decided to make it a two piece in my mind, that’s when everything started to fall together like a puzzle coming together right before my eyes because having done bands in the past I just wanted something fresh, something new, something different for myself and this was a very easy way to make that happen. Now I’m having to play guitar live, I’m going to have to figure out pedals, what do the songs look like, what can we perform and what we can’t… I got 2 dudes on stage, so yeah, it all sort of fell in place once I had decided to make it a two piece.
Andrew: I think the dynamic must be quite different as well compared to a four or five piece band and a two piece band. What’s the biggest challenge when you’re working with such a limited amount of people in an act like this?
Josh: The only challenge that I found is, I mean, we have to have more… Well, we don’t really have any crew right now but it definitely would be nice! When you have five people, if one guy is doing this he could probably also do other things, whereas, now on tour it’s just me and my drummer so it kind of demands a lot of your time and a lot of your mental capabilities.
Andrew: I’m sort of curious to know as well how you got into music in the first place, growing up who were some of the biggest influences shaping the way that you sort of play your music?
Josh: I’ve always been interested in performance based artists, everyone from Elvis Presley, James Brown who are performance-based and Nirvana. Obviously a lot of those were before my time but the idea of the music there was not a gimmick. The music is beautiful and amazing but, live, they’re able to just really let go every night and be free and that sort of thing always interests me and I think all the bands sort of pointed very heavily to that being some of the most important stuff. You know, the music’s got to exist obviously and it’s got to be something that you can listen to on an album sitting in the car but when you go see it live, I think that’s when people really can connect with and it kind of makes more sense at that point I believe.
Andrew: Yeah, definitely and it’s funny you mentioned Nirvana as well because after hearing some of your music I sort of heard a little bit of Nirvana. So obviously you must have been a big fan of Nirvana and all that sort of grunge stuff back in the 90s I guess.
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. That’s some of the first stuff that started shaping who I was to become or whatever. I mean, it’s just I was the right age at the right time and it hit me in the right way. All the earlier performance’s from James Brown was just stuff that I just heard stories about, maybe see archive footage of but Nirvana and [Smashing] Pumpkins and a whole bunch of that world was the stuff that I was specifically seeking out to learn about and to watch and to go see live. Nirvana, I never got to see obviously but other bands were like that.
Andrew: Well it’s great to be chatting to you today and congratulations on the new album and we’re looking forward to seeing you in July in Australia. So thank s for your time, really appreciate it.
Josh: Thank you very much!
Destroy All Lines & Chugg Entertainment Presents
’68 AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES:
THURSDAY 20 JULY – ENIGMA BAR, ADELAIDE 18+
FRIDAY 21 JULY – NORTHCOTE SOCIAL CLUB, MELBOURNE 18+
SATURDAY 22 JULY – THE BASEMENT, CANBERRA 18+
SUNDAY 23 JULY – OXFORD ART, SYDNEY 18+
MONDAY 24 JULY – SMALL BALLROOM, NEWCASTLE 18+
WEDNESDAY 26 JULY – CROWBAR, BRISBANE 18+
Tickets $30 + BF on sale Friday 5 May @ 9am