Catch up with pop punk duo The Undecided Majors (Scott (vocals/bass/guitar) and Jake (drums/synth)) and listen to their single "Gone Wrong" off their upcoming EP, In Spite, to be released December 2nd.
What brought you together as The Undecided Majors after Line 45 broke up?
Jake: I guess it was just being in college. We did Line 45 throughout high school and, when we got into college, we started going a different way with our music and getting more serious with it; and, at the time, we were just really undecided about school, so that's how we got the name.
Scott: Yeah [laughs] that's pretty much it. We kind of went separate for a little bit - I did some session stuff in Dallas and our previous guitarist and Jake were chilling back home - and we were all basically just living our separate lives. Then, I made the decision to move back and we decided to get back together and be like, 'hey, let's start something new, but let's not bring back Line 45. Let's do something more serious that fits who we are now, as a band and people'.
Jake: Yeah, we went on a hiatus there for a year or two while Scott went out to Dallas to play and we weren't really doing anything. When he came back we decided to try a whole new thing and go under a different name and just get a little more serious. We entered this contest to play at this music thing in Pensacola and we ended up winning it so we got to play up there so, after that, we stuck with that name; that's how we got the new name, was because we wanted to get away from the Line 45 thing before the competition to play up there.
Scott: Everyone kept trying to say, 'it sounds too much like Blink-182 or Sum 41,' and I'm like, 'my God, it does'. [Laughs] We were pretty much made fun of in high school for our style of music we were doing, but the weirdest thing was, we were the only ones making moves. A lot of the high school bands, they played more shows, but they were post hardcore style and that was not our style, our style was more on the pop punk end.
Jake: We had a lot of '90s influence, definitely, some of our older stuff. Even now, it is pop punk because we like to do it with a '90s influence, in a way.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Jake: I've definitely been influenced by a lot of the '90s drummers. Starting with Travis Barker coming out with Blink-182, really, for me, set the tone for '90s drummers - as well as Green Day and Jimmy Eat World, just to start out. Then, coming along with pop punk and, more-so, post hardcore stuff and getting more into the double bass and a little more complicated drumming, with me.
Scott: I would probably say it's a lot of late '90s and early 2000s influence, from, maybe, '07 and back. I'll go back and listen to All Killer, No Filler, Sum 41's album, and be like, 'ah man, this is great,' but people look at me and they're like, 'oh yeah, I listened to that back in middle or elementary school,' and I guess I'm still stuck in that era. I don't know, I just love it. Third Eye Blind's a big influence for me, personally, and it doesn't really show in The Undecided Majors that much. But, definitely, the early 2000s like New Found Glory, especially when they started doing a little bit more breakdown type stuff, that kind of broke the barrier for us. It would be cool if we could actually pull something similar off, but not be too much alike [laughs].
Jake: Yeah, we definitely try to stand out and it's tough. It was great for us that we stuck to real music and we didn't really add too many electronics into it at first. One hard thing was to get it down and recorded so that we could submit it out to other people, and that's how we got into our own self-producing stuff. We got in and recorded our own selves and, once we got that down, then we could experiment with different sounds. But, definitely some of the '90s stuff really influenced it to start us off.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music?
Scott: Oh man. I don't know. I've started describing it more along the lines of newer New Found Glory type sound - like, similar to the Resurrection era or Sticks and Stones. A little bit of Blink's untitled. We got featured for our song "Insanity" and I had a lot of "Stockholm Syndrome" influence in that song and we just wanted that same effect. For me, I guess, that's along the lines of how I would describe it to someone.
Jake: Yeah, I would say it's like Blink-182 with post hardcore punk influence. It's hard to mention any bands now, because it's not in the mainstream anymore, so you're not sure who knows who. We love Abandoned By Bears and other smaller bands like that, but some of the smaller bands, they just don't get much attention, so it's kind of like an underground thing.
Scott: Yeah, it's definitely started to evolve to more underground.
Jake: It's hard to say who's major now. Other than, maybe, A Day to Remember.
Scott: You tell someone now, 'we sound like State Champs mixed with Neck Deep,' and a lot of people will be like, 'what?' but if you talk to the right crowd, they'll be like, 'oh, okay, cool that sounds sick'. You gotta watch who you're talking to and how you would describe your music, 'cause I pick up the vibes of who they would know, band-wise, and then I can sit there and describe to them what our music is similar to: if they look like they don't know anything about Hopeless or Fearless Records bands, then that's when I pull the whole New Found Glory and Blink with a little bit of Sum 41 influence, something like that, versus the people who do know the underground stuff.
Jake: Yeah, I'd say the Warped Tour crowd.
Scott: There you go [laughs]. That sums it up, right there.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Gone Wrong"?
Scott: At the time of recording and writing this EP, we didn't write or do anything for a while, because our previous guitarist left us hanging, so we were empty-handed. At the time, I was focused on just being a bass player and I didn't have any studio engineering experience - but we messed around in the earlier days with GarageBand - so I made investments into equipment for recording. We started just sitting around and Jake was playing drums and I just had a guitar in my hand and we started just coming up with stuff and I was like, 'oh my gosh,' and the writing just flowed.
The whole EP is like a story. The first song is an intro, just because we honestly just like doing the whole intro thing, and "Cindy's Downfall" was basically a girl who's living the party style life because she's having personal issues with being in a relationship and then "Cindy's Struggle" - which is right after that - is dealing with the struggles within the relationship and, basically, all she wants to do is have fun. In "Gone Wrong", it's basically eating at her alive that she's living the life she's living and not ending the relationship. She's comfortable in what she's in but it's driving her insane; when I sing, there's a line like, 'with the devil's grip on her brain': she's literally having the mischief, sleeping around type feeling. With "Insanity", I went more towards the line of, it finally just hits her and she goes insane, tells her boyfriend, and it drives him nuts - that's more from the boyfriend's perspective, in "Insanity". I'm going all over the place, but I want to make it clear that "Gone Wrong" is that turning point in the EP where it's just caught up to her and she's driving herself crazy and she's in denial but she's not going to admit it because she's having so many negative influences.
Jake: I leave it up to Scott to do all the organizing and storylines, I just do all the drums and the beats. It's just hard because, right now, we're apart, so we can't really write together so it makes it hard to bounce ideas.
Scott: It makes it hard but I know, with Jake, he actually helps out with a lot. I'll ask him to just come up with a name of a song and he'll start off with a name and, all of a sudden, I'll just start writing, using similar words to that name. Or even he'll sit there and he'll just ramble off lyrics and a melody and it will stick and I'm like, 'oh my God, that's it, that's what I want, but let me keep working on it,' and all of a sudden it just evolves. He helps out a lot with the writing process because even if he says random things that aren't used as lyrics, he comes up with the melody and I'm like, 'oh my gosh, why didn't I think of that?'. He came up with part of "Gone Wrong"'s chorus and I was like, 'that's great!' and I built upon that. When we're in a room together and we're working, we bounce off each other like no one's business but, like he said, it's really hard at this point.
Jake: Whenever me and Scott work together at the actual studio, it's super easy just to bounce stuff off of each other. I really hate the whole cliche thing so Scott's really good at coming up with whole riffs and stuff and if there's anything cliche in it, that's when I come in and try to beat the cliche out of it, I'm like, 'no, no, we gotta do something else here,' and he's like, 'okay, so we'll come up with another way to say a word or do a riff,' and just try to make it wholly on our own stuff. I'll come up with a bunch of random stuff and, probably, 90% of it will just be weird, off-the-wall, bad stuff, and I'll look at Scott and he catches all of it and the good stuff comes back out.
Could you tell us more about In Spite and how it compares to your last EP, Redemption Rule?
Scott: Well, let's put it this way-
Jake: I don't know where to start-
Scott: I'll say this, the producer we had for the first EP, Redemption Rule, was thought out to be a good idea, at the time. It ended up not really being a great idea.
Jake: We didn't mesh well. That producer for that, he wasn't the right producer-
Scott: For our genre.
Jake: Yeah, not for our genre and what we were looking to do.
Scott: We spent a lot of money on that EP and when we got the result back, we were like, 'wow, we paid this much for this?' and it wasn't the style we wanted to go for. So, that's why a lot of our stuff is personally done, because we know what we want the sound to be like, whether people like it or not. I'm trying to sell records, but I also want us to write something we're going to be proud of and be like, 'yeah! That EP right there, that's our sound'.
Jake: You want to make it sound good for yourself first before you can make it sound good to everyone else.
Scott: You know, Fall Out Boy started out with Take This To Your Grave and you're like, 'whoa, man, they hit hard,' and then, all of a sudden, they come out with From Under The Cork Tree and you're like, 'okay, it's a little bit pop-ier, a little more standard,' and then you get further down the line with their albums and everything just becomes more within what's going on with pop culture. I don't want to have to appeal to people with my music. If they like it, they like it; if they don't, they don't. I enjoy it, personally.
Jake: Yeah, you don't want to have somebody leaning over you, like a boss or something, and be like, 'no, you gotta play it this way'. I think the biggest thing was just doing it on our own. With the amount of PC power now and computing power, we were able to record and produce our own album without an actual producer there and it was so much more free to do whatever we wanted. I think, after the first EP when we spent so much money making it, we were like, I think we can do this on our own. We studied the different programs that engineers and stuff use and we got to the point where we were like, 'this is actually pretty easy, we can actually make music on our own and make it sound good'. So that's what we decided to do and we got more and more practice and we got better and better at recording ourselves and making it sound good.
Scott: I worked for a studio at the time when we were making the EP and, in return for my work, they said, 'we can stay open later if you want to record under no pay'. Well, of course I'm like, 'yeah! I have all of this equipment here, I want to utilize it to its fullest potential,' so that's exactly what we did. We did stuff on our own way back with GarageBand, but it sounded not that great-
Jake: -The quality was so bad.
Scott: Yeah, and so we had all this stuff that was professional and we were like, 'let's do this, I think we can actually make something great out of here,' and that's pretty much what we did. Over the time that I was there with the studio, we got five songs out of it and decided to go ahead and keep it [laughs].
Jake: I would say the biggest difference between our first EP to where it is now is, it's so much more 'us' and so much more of what we wanted to do with our music. Musically it's heavier, a little more electronics in it, heavier bass and bass drum -heavier drums in general - and there's definitely a lot more experimenting around with stuff.
How would you sum up In Spite in one sentence?
Jake: An energetic side to the downs of reality.
Scott: Yeah, I like that. 'Cause that's my goal when I write. My goal is to have a, basically, pop-ier style of music but more along the lines of, I guess, downer lyrics.
Jake: It's almost optimistic but it's not optimistic... It's energetic, but not optimistic, because we wanted to look at the tougher sides of parts of life but also with an energy behind it that tries to make it fun without sugar-coating anything.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Scott: For me, I want listeners to be like, 'man, these guys literally defeated the odds to make this. The drummer lives all the way in Florida and the vocalist/guitarist lives in Texas,' and I have a kid and Jake and I are both in school so we're managing a lot, but I want people to take away from this EP and be like, 'man, these guys had so much thrown at them, but they've overcome it all with this'. That's basically what I want people to see it as.
Jake: I want people to take away that we have the energy too. And I want at least one song to get caught in somebody's head, that they play it over and over again. If we can just catch them with one song then I think we can really make them listen to everything and they'd really, really love it. Just to have the one hook and the song that gets people pumped up. They all get me pumped up, but just as long as there's that one song that I can catch people with and be like, 'ah man, the lyrics here are so catchy and they hit me hard'. If they look back at our other stuff and be like, 'wow! That's really bad. And look how good they are now,' the progression of it is just night and day. Yeah, if they could listen to this EP and think, 'man, this song is energetic and it hits me hard,' then that would be the best thing to come out of this EP.
Is there anything you want to add?
Jake: Definitely give us one listen to one song, 'cause I think they're all awesome. They're all great songs, so I don't have a favorite song, just give it one listen to one song.