Before the Scream It Like You Mean It show in Atlanta, Katie got a chance to meet up with some of the members of one of Ohio’s most thriving bands in the rock world, Close To Home. JJ Cooper and Andrew Deneef joined her to talk about their new album, future plans, and what it’s like to be apart of one of the summer’s biggest tours. Close To Home’s new album, Momentum, comes out July 31st and they are definitely a band to check out on this year’s tour!
Sound Scene Press: Can I get you guys to introduce yourselves, your name and role in the band?
Andrew: I’m Andrew, the singer.
JJ: Hi, I’m JJ. I play guitar.
SSP: For readers who don’t know much about you guys, could you give us a brief history about the band, or back story?
JJ: We started a band along time ago, we had a couple EPs we put out on our own. We released an album called Never Back Down last year on Artery/Razor & Tie and we just recorded a new album that’s going to come out July 31st, called Momentum [that] we’re really excited about. We’ve just been touring non-stop for [it], like, the last two years, basically, and still doing it.
SSP: What are the messages Close To Home tries to send to listeners and why should people check you guys out?
JJ: We like to write songs about experiences we’ve been through, you know? We know people have been through hard times, everyone has. You know, everyone has fun and everyone has hardship. It’s about putting our lives in perspective, mainly, realizing that you might be down at some point, but there’s always someone that’s got it worse than you do.
Andrew: We try to remain positive. The world’s full of negativity already as it is. And, by nature, even I’m kind of a negative person so I kind of, as a lyricist, tried to turn that around and realize that. Even some of the songs are almost a message to myself, that you have to remain positive and you have to keep going because sitting there feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t make anything better for anyone.
SSP: As you said, your new album, Momentum, drops later this month. How was the recording process behind that and how do you feel this album differs from your earlier work?
JJ: Aw man! Actually, this recording process was really weird because we just had a new vocalist, Andrew, join the band and he lived in Phoenix at the time so what we had to do was, like, Skype, or Face Time, a lot when we were writing. And it was just a bunch of late-night ideas thrown back and forth and then we finally got down to Florida. We started recording and we kind of took the songs we wrote initially, demoed out, and took them to Andrew and he just started to put his own idea into them. We kind of did everything backwards! We recorded guitar first and drums last, which never really happens, but it was just the way we were doing it and I think it came out pretty well.
Andrew: Strangely enough, in a way, we were actually more prepared for this record than the last one. They came off the road right from touring and hadn’t had a lot of time to write when they did Never Back Down. It was kind of written in the studio and, even though we were thousands of miles apart, we were actually able to get quite a good idea of most of the album well beforehand by communicating, sending each other demos and stuff across the country. We did work that whole, probably month and a half prior to going into the studio writing a lot.
SSP: You guys have been on Scream It Like You Mean It before, right?
JJ: Mhm! Very first one, first ever Scream It Like You Mean It! It was fun, this one’s better though!
SSP: You have plenty of dates left, but how has the tour been treating you so far?
JJ: It’s only been a week and we have to deal with these guys! Jerry Roush (Glass Cloud) over here naked, running around. It’s awesome! But yeah, it’s been fun! It’s only been a week but I have to deal with all these assholes!
Jerry: Only my butt hole!
JJ: True! But no, it’s fun! It’s a lot of fun. It’s like a boys camp, you know what I mean? ‘Cause we’re all friends, we’ve known each other for a while. Every single band has toured before, together, so it’s just like a little summer camp. And it’s just the start, it’s just the beginning of it!
Andrew: It almost has, like, the outdoor concert festival vibe, like a Warped Tour type thing, because when we roll up with twenty buses and vans and trailers and things like that and everyone’s kind of hanging out before and after shows, it almost feels like you’re at a festival because there’s just so many bands!
SSP: Yeah, there’s tons of bands! What has been your craziest tour experience ever?
JJ: I don’t think I could tell you! No, honestly, there’s so many.
Andrew: Whats the rating on this?
JJ: Yea? But honestly, I don’t even know. There’s so many stories! Like, everyday is a different story, especially being with our really good friends, all these bands! For All Those Sleeping, We Came As Romans, In Fear and Faith, those bands, we’ve had so many different crazy experiences with over the last two years, I can’t pick one that’s the craziest . Honestly, I mean it’s really hard to do! Let’s just leave it at: we all like to have fun!
Andrew: Don’t want to embarrass anyone either!
SSP: [Laughs] Alright. What’s your favorite part about being in a band and what’s the most stressful part?
JJ: The most stressful part is being in a band! I don’t know. The most fun is the fact that you get to play the music you wrote, that you believe in, to kids and they can take that in and they believe in it too. Seeing people that actually support you is the best part.
Andrew: Seeing people have a good time! When we play a show and we see people singing along and you see the smile on their face, we live for that! I love being able to meet a fan who’s excited to meet me. And I love that sometimes, even just saying “hi” to them can make their day. If that’s all it takes then that’s awesome! But I would do anything to make their day. I love meeting our fans; we love our fans! But definitely the most stressful part, for me at least, is being away from home for so long. I mean, I’ve been home for a grand total of two months so far this year and that’s just getting started. It’s tough saying goodbye to your loved ones. And I love my dog, I miss my dog like crazy! We’re all animal lovers, so…
JJ: Yeah, that’s the most stressful part. Leaving your dog!
Andrew: Yeah, leaving your dog behind is pretty rough.
SSP: Do y’all have any other plans after you finish up with this tour?
JJ: We do! We’re supposed to go to Canada right after this.
Andrew: Don’t think the dates are out just yet, but details should be out in the next couple of weeks or so.
SSP: Well, I’ll let you guys go and finish eating and getting ready, but do you have anything else you’d like to add?
JJ: Yea, anyone who comes to the show, talk to us! We seriously live for this. We want to to everyone! Seriously, like Facebook and Twitter, we run that ourselves.
Andrew: We’re very active when it comes to communicating with our fans so don’t be afraid to say hi. And we appreciate any and all support we get from anyone who helps share our name, tells another friend about us, that’s how we survive, that’s how we continue to do what we do – through people sharing the love for Close To Home.
JJ: It’s true! We wouldn’t be here without people supporting us so it’s what we like to do!
SSP: Alright, well I guess that will wrap it up for us. Thank you guys so much!
CTH: Thank you!