Interview by Holly Aker.
Mozart Season is a five-piece hard rock group from Sacramento, CA. The band signed to Equal Vision Records last June and a month later released their EP, Nightmares, an angsty, yet smart album that hits as hard as a kick in the face. While you might not have heard much about the band yet, keep your ears open because you will in 2011.
Before their show at Emo’s here in Austin this month, we sat down with Mozart Season to find out when fans can expect a new album, how it was collaborating with Dance Gavin Dance vocalist Jon Mess and why they call themselves “somethingcore.”
You’ve all been playing together for a five years now. How did you first meet each other?
Nate Richardson: The band’s been around for five years. We’ve been playing together for about two years.
Christensen: Me and this guy (Nate) have been playing with each for about five years.
Richardson: Oh my gosh, it’s a long story. Pretty much just all being in different bands and stuff in the Sacramento scene, and then line up change came and we’ve all been friends from other bands in the past so it kinda just came together.
I understand that there are tentative plans to release a full-length album sometime in 2011. What can you tell us about that?
Richardson: After this tour we’re going home to write a new record. As far as release date or anything more than that. I have no idea, but we are going home to write a new record.
Christensen: It’s our primary focus right now.
Are we looking at a 2011 release date?
Richardson: That’s the goal, yeah.
Christensen: If not, the latest would be early 2012.
Will that album include any tracks from your Nightmares or will you be going all original?
All: All new songs.
Christensen: We’re ready to write an entire full-length and not half ass it in anyway. After five years I kinda feel like it’s owed.
Trux: It’ll be a big step forward. I think we’re all ready.
Christensen: As musicians and just as people, we’re ready. After touring for weeks and weeks playing the same songs over and over, you really want to have something to play other than the same songs.
What is the writing process like for you? Is there a primary lyric writer or is it a collaborative effort?
Trux: Lyrics, usually Nate does a lot of. As far as instruments and song structure, it usually starts with guitars, riffs, just little licks, little jammy things. We bring them to practice and develop them from there. That’s how it’s gone in the past. I think now, in the future, looking towards this album, we’re going to try and just be a lot more loose and free flowing as far as letting ideas develop.
Christensen: Seeing how far we can really push the boundaries.
Trux: Yeah, being willing to just try something new and really go for it and maybe try it in a different way, something that we’ve never done before whether it be a new kind of sound for instruments or structure.
What is the overall theme of Nightmares?
Richardson: I mean, it’s not like a concept album or follows a theme or anything, but the title of it is pretty much self-explanatory. All the songs are for the most part about something bad unfortunately because it was a rough last year or so, and that definitely came out in my lyrics and stuff, which is why we named it Nightmares because it was about some nightmarish things that were going on in my life. Now it’s like, shits kind of died down and going smoother and my lyrics are going further away from real negative stuff. Or not like negative by less angsty.
What do you want fans to take away after listening to the album?
Richardson: I want them to take away whatever it is that they hear that they think is good. Whatever it is. I think that everyone interprets music a different way or interprets lyrics a different way, so however they think it’s supposed to be is how I want them to hear it. I don’t want to tell anyone how they think our music should be or what it should mean to them.
Christensen: We just like people to nod their head to it. Nothing too crazy, we just want people to like it.
Trux: I mean if you can connect on another, deeper level that’s cool. Like, finding something relatable in a song. To me, those always mean the most.
What would you call Mozart Season’s genre of music?
Richardson: We battle with this a lot. We have a joke because everyone is metalcore or hardcore…
Christensen: …post-hardcore, easycore.
Richardson: So we have a joke that we’re somethingcore. Just somethingcore. We mostly just say we’re a rock band to most people.
Richardson: I don’t feel like we fit in with a lot of the screamo acts that are out there, and I definitely don’t think that we’re a hardcore band, but we scream and we sing. Unfortunately that lumps us into screamo, but I just think we write heavy rock and roll pretty much.
How is Nightmares different from every other hardcore, post-hardcore, hard rock album out there?
Christensen: It’s a hard question to answer without being pretentious and cocky, but we’ve always tried to be heavy but like not metal and playing breakdowns. We feel that we are able to express the emotions of hardcore and of heavy music without doing it how 300 other bands are doing it. I think that we are doing what a lot of people are doing but I just feel like we didn’t take the easy route. We tried to meld it into our own type of shape and our own way of doing it.
Richardson: Every single song we’ve ever released whether it’s on the label or before we were signed have all been self-produced so everything is pretty sentimental to all of us. We all are really close to the baselines. It just means a lot, and a lot of stuff right now is kinda real corny, and it doesn’t seem like people really connect with it, the people that are actually writing it. I think that’s where it differs.
Christensen: The way we think about it is we write music we want to hear. If we like it then we’re happy with it because we have to play it every night. We have to listen to it everyday. We want to like it. I think in doing that we’ve been able to pull ourselves away from what other people do. Whether they’re writing it to get big or to sell records with a motive.
Cooper: We’ve never compromised what we wanted our songs to sound like just to sell some extra CD’s. We have pride in what we do, and if we never get past the point of playing small venues then I’ll at least know that I can be proud of the music that I created and what I did.
How was it collaborating with Jon Mess (ex-Dance Gavin Dance) on the song “Look Mom, I’m on TV”?
Richardson: It was cool. He’s been friends with Troy probably the longest, and me and Jon lived around the corner from each other in downtown Sac and have just been friends. He wasn’t in a band, and at the time we were hanging out a lot. I think we were drinking one night, and we were like, “You should do a track!” and he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” Then it actually happened, and that’s pretty much it. It’s cool. It was fun. He’s a good friend.
Christensen: He’s very interesting too. He’s very clever. He writes very clever lyrics.
It seems like a lot of great bands come out of Sacramento. Before you signed to Equal Vision Records, did you feel like you had to be pretty competitive to get any attention from record companies? If yes, do you feel this competition made you a better band?
Richardson: It’s like coming from any city that has a reputation for a good music scene. There is competition, but if you’re good and you work hard and you promote the shows you want to be on, people are going to notice you. That’s what we did and what we still do even when we’re not at home. We work hard and we promote and we get noticed. There’s a lot of competition in Sacramento because there’s a ton of band, but the ones that do well are the ones that work hard. Yes, there’s competition, but no, if you have the right mindset, there’s really not.
Christensen: If anything it’s just inspiration that proves to us that being from Sacramento, we can see the potential of where we can go. There are bands like Dance Gavin Dance and A Skylit Drive who are making that route, and there are bands like Cake and Deftones and Papa Roach, which really sit at the top of their category and are timeless names now just because of the impact they’ve made.
How has life changed since signing with Equal Vision Records?
Cooper: I think if anything this has just become even more serious than it was before. Before we obviously took everything pretty serious to get to this point, and being on Equal Vision is like something we’re all really proud of doing because no other band from Sacramento has signed to Equal Vision before, so it feels pretty special to be picked out of all the bands all over the place. So in that respect I think that we all feel proud of everything we’re doing, so we’re just working even harder now to live up to everything that has been laid out for us.
Do you have a music video in the works or any plans to make a music video anytime soon?
Cooper: We were doing an interview with DJ Rossstar, and that question came up and someone from our label was actually in the room, and said that with our new album comes a new music video. So the plan is new album, music video, and lots of touring.
|Mozart Season in front of the White House (taken from band’s Facebook page)|
What do you have planned now that this tour is over?
Christensen: We’re just going to go home and write a record.
Any more tours for the rest of the year?
Richardson: We’re just going to be off for a chunk of the spring, and then from what we’re being told we’re going to be doing a lot of touring in the summer and fall.