Catch up with indie rock band June Divided's Melissa Menago, listen to their latest single, "Body Wars", off their Body Wars EP, set to be released December 2nd and catch them on tour with Lydia through November.
What brought you together?
Melissa: It was [laughs] it was actually a college project. Me and Chris, our guitar player, went to school for music and we really started it for our college project. Then, after we graduated, the job hunt's always tough after college and we found our drummer kind of just for fun, but then when we met our drummer - we actually put an ad out on Craigslist and [laughs] we weren't even serious about it, we didn't think anybody was going to respond and it was kind of like a joke - then when we found Keith, who's our drummer, something really clicked between the three of us and so it started to get pretty serious and that's what brought us together.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Overall, we're all really big Mutemath fans - they're my favorite. As a kid, growing up, I wanted to be like Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World - Jimmy Eat World's songwriting really influenced mine. Keith's influences are everywhere but I know, growing up, he was really influenced by Yellowcard, as a drummer. Chris has a lot of similar influences as mine - we just went to see Foals together the other night, so we're definitely more influenced by indie rock. And Lenny's kind of all over the place. Lenny, our bass player, I know he's a big Pink Floyd fan [laughs] which is cool. So we get our influences everywhere.
Where does your name, June Divided, come from?
It was actually the name of the project in college. We had to have a name for our project to pass and [laughs] it was our senior project so we were graduating and we needed a name. We went to Drexel which graduates in June and we were happy in college, we knew that time was coming to an end, so we were kind of like, 'hmm, our lives are being split in two, so it's June Divided, okay, cool'. Actually, I wasn't going to keep the name but, when we found Keith, I was like, 'so what should we call ourselves?' and Keith was like, 'well wasn't your college name June Divided?' and I was like, 'yeah, yeah,' and he was like, 'that's a cool name, you should keep it,' and I was like, 'okay'. So we kept it [laughs].
How would you describe your sound?
Well our new sound is definitely more pop-y. Our old stuff was a little heavier rock, but our new stuff definitely took a turn in a more pop direction, but it's definitely indie pop, but there's still a lot of rock elements in there. It's somewhere along the lines of indie pop and rock. There's some electronic stuff in there but there's also a lot of real rock instruments in there, so it's a mix of that.
What were your inspirations behind your single "Body Wars"?
Musically, it just fell together; a lot of things influenced it musically. I guess topically-wise, I was going through a lot of internal conflict - I feel like everybody goes through internal conflict at some point in their life - and I was trying to find the best way to describe what I was going through [laughs] and that's what came out of it.
Could you tell us more about your Body Wars EP and how it compares to your previous releases?
Yeah, so Body Wars is very different. It's way different from our old stuff. Things happened really fast when we first started and our influence grew over time. Years ago we were on Warped Tour and so we had more of a rock sound and it really happened as soon as we set foot on the scene, like we played our first couple shows and, before we knew it, we were on Warped Tour - that was back in 2012. So, after that calmed down, we had a chance, as a band, to be like, okay, so now that we've got time, what do we want to do? And it took us a couple years. We actually wrote, probably, two albums worth of material and we trashed some of it just to find the sound, like we would write stuff and we'd be like, 'nah, that's not it, that's not the sound,' and so it took us a really long time to settle on the sound we were going for. We bought new instruments and we really learned a lot. People were like, 'where were you guys, you took forever' and we were like, 'we know'. A lot of people asked me if we were on hiatus and we were never on hiatus - it was like the opposite of that, we were writing and working together all the time, it just took us a while. So, sonically, that's where the EP is coming from.
Topically, "Body Wars" I thought was a really good title track because it kind of just sums up what the whole record and what every song on there is really about; even though they're about different topics, it's all about that struggle and it's all about being okay with the struggle. In writing "Body Wars", I realized, it's okay if you're not okay with things, so that's the main point.
Is there one track off of this record that you're most excited to share with people?
We're all excited to share all of it, but I was really excited too for the first single we put out and I was happy with the response for "I Didn't Mind". I actually produced that one and Chris, our guitar player, engineered it, so that one was really exciting for us. And, also, I have a blast performing that, it's just such a fun one. But besides "I Didn't Mind", I would have to say our ending track; we have an outro track that I'm excited for people to hear 'cause it's a little more lengthy and involved - that's all I'll say for now [laughs].
You've touched on this, but how would you sum up the Body Wars EP in one sentence?
It's okay to have internal conflict.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Definitely, from this new album, we're all really, really thankful for the fan base that our old stuff got us and I remember chatting - we've been playing these new songs out - and I remember chatting with one fan who's just been awesome, he's from New York and he comes to almost every show we play up there. I guess, as an artist, you're not that concerned about what people are thinking because you just want to do you and put out what you feel's good but, at the same time, we're very thankful for the fan base that we've gained. So, I was like, 'oh, I wonder what those fans who have stuck with us, I wonder what they'll think' and I do want them to like it and I do want them to be happy with it. I remember having a talk with our one fan from New York and he just said everything that I wanted to hear; it was awesome and it was everything we were going for. He said, 'you know, it's different and it sounds great, but you're still a rock band so I still feel like I'm listening to June Divided and that makes me really happy,' so that was awesome. That was good to hear. I do want our older fans to be able to take away that, yeah, we grew and our influences changed a little bit, but we still want to be the band that they liked, for whatever reason. As far as this new record, topically, I guess any songwriter hopes that their audience can relate to them. I think that's why we write music in the first place, is that we want to express how we're feeling and we hope that someone out there can somehow relate and understand, so I guess that's what I hope they take away from it.
Is there anything you want to add?
Next week we have a run of dates with Lydia, who we were big fans of back in college so it's really cool that we're doing a couple dates with them . So, basically, we're doing a run of dates from the 9th to the 13th and we're hitting Baltimore, Brooklyn, Boston, and then Philadelphia - which is our hometown - and you can find more about those dates on our page. So we're doing a run of dates with Lydia and we're really excited about that.
Upcoming Tour Dates with Lydia
Baltimore, MD - Nov 9.
Brooklyn, NY - Nov. 10
Boston, MA - Nov. 11
Philadelphia, PA - Nov 13.