August 22, 2009

Buffalo Band Profile: Unwelcome Guests

If The Replacements ever decide to pack up and move to Buffalo, they may sound a bit like these guys. They take as much from punk music as they do from country and folk, resulting in a sound that seems rooted in the nineties (in a good way) with jangly guitars, and a pop punk mentality.

How long have you guys been a band?

Micah: In the summer of 2004 I started writing songs and playing them at shows with my friend Colin, we called ourselves Unwelcome Guests. Long story short, people came and went but the current lineup came together when Steve joined up with the rest of us in the fall of 2005

Steve: It’s true. I joined last, I’m like the sprinkles on this delicious musical cake called Unwelcome Guests. Micah is the Red Velvet Batter, Zac & Chris each are ingredients in a scrumptious butter cream frosting

Zac: Forever.

Chris: Since 1995

What influenced you to form a punk band in particular?

Micah: In the beginning I definitely just wrote songs without much care of what genre they fell into and I suppose that still holds true. We try to play louder and faster because it’s more fun that way and Zac really enjoys hitting his drums hard. Also the definition of punk can be debated forever and never really come to a definition that everyone agrees on. The aspect of “punk” that I truly love is DIY, for all arguments for or against it no one can disagree that it’s a great thing to experience when it works.

Steve: Micah definitely wrote shitty, boring country songs in the beginning which eventually morphed into punk-like songs. We’ll cover this more in question 9.

Zac: I hit things hard!

Chris: My friends in High School wanted to start a band but that never worked out so I joined this band.

What drew you to this genre of music?

Micah: In high school some friends of mine played in a band called The Young Ones and they played shows at the nearest DIY venue called the Cobra La. I went to a whole bunch of their shows… they played Clash covers, it was fun and then I decided that I wanted to do it too.

Steve: Micah. I only listened to annoying core and ragtime before joining the band.

Zac: Same story as Micah, different town one hour away.

Chris: My older brother is the one who introduced me to punk.

How do you think you have grown as a band (musically/artistically) since you have been together?

Micah: At first I’d write songs to sound like other songs, if people said something like: “sounds like a song I’ve heard before” I took it as a compliment. Now I’d like to think I’ve gotten past that a bit, though I don’t go out of my way to hide my influences (i.e. the Replacements). The biggest step forward for us was simply when Steve joined the band, he rips.

Steve: I prefer the term “shreds.”

Zac: My biggest step as an artist was actually learning how to play drums.

Chris: I have developed a drinking problem.

How do you think the Buffalo music scene has changed since you've been a band?

Micah: Some venues have gone away and others have sprouted up, people have come and gone, but somehow it really hasn’t changed at all.

Steve: Many great bands have gone, but plenty new ones have sprouted up to take their place. Like flowers germinating (is that a word?)

Zac: Less hardcore, more indie, more drinking, less straight edge.

Chris: It is still the same, lots of drunks and sporadic show turnouts.

"Warm Soon" seems to pay homage to the Replacements a tiny bit. What are your biggest musical influences?

Micah: The Replacements and Uncle Tupelo are the most obvious comparisons and I love that but we all listen to very different things:

Steve: As I mentioned before, I really love the Annoyingcore (Micah coined that term). I also love the cardigans.

Zac: I’ve been hypnotized by Micah’s Wilco-esque propaganda.

Chris: My influences range all types of genres and bands.

I really like the song "Walking is Tough" what is it about exactly?

Micah: It’s basically just me being grumpy… my expression of how life’s a bummer but I try to make the best of it. The “I’m gonna write all my lines so they rhyme” line is in reference to modern song writing. So many people try hard to sound sophisticated or progressive with their writing and end up with a song that people can’t relate to, so that’s me saying “meh.”

Steve: OMG Micah is always grumpy, except on 50 cent wing night.

Zac: A night after several beverages formerly known as Sparks (with caffeine).

Chris: I agree with Zac.

The song "Waiting" sounds a lot different than your newer stuff.

Micah: That song was actually written while we were writing songs for the album, we were asked to do a split 7” and that and “Diddle” were the two that were most ready to record. The main difference that I notice is simply the recording being raw, recorded analog without much polish. We did that at Hi-Lo with Matt Smith… he’s awesome.

Steve: Hi-Lo Studios was great fun! By “different” do you mean “different good” or “different bad” ?!

Zac: Beer and cigs in the room we recorded in.

Chris: I’m still “waiting” for Micah to write some good songs.

What caused the musical shift in direction that is demonstrated on such tracks as "Put Down Your Gun?"

Micah: I’m not really sure if there’s any shift for that song in particular… though it is one of the cases in which Steve and I wrote a song together. I had a really shitty, boring country song written but I liked the lyrics… he came up with the verse chord progression and we took it from there.

Steve: Basically Micah had a really shitty, boring country song and then I made it better…. J/K Micah! Kisses!

Zac: We were really pissed!

Chris: I don’t know why but everyone got angry when I brought a gun to band practice.

Where do you see your careers as musicians going in the future?

Micah: Haha... Failure? Nah… I think we’re all on the same page of how we’re never going to make enough money to live off of with music. So we’re trying to figure out some kind of job or career in which we can take care of ourselves and also go on tour. I could never stop doing it because, well… I’d become incredibly depressed and bored. Doing both is a simple concept that is terribly difficult to pull off. Right now we all hate our jobs and it seems when people find a job that they don’t hate, it takes up all their time and they give up on music. If we could financially pull it off to just be on tour all the time, I’d be down… but financially we can’t seem to pull it together.

Steve: Relegated to the miseries of open mic night.

Zac: Simply playing in an alternative cover band in weddings and pig roasts.

Chris: I’m going to hit it big in Nashville.

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