MEB staffer Tim Dodderidge spoke with three of the members of Such Gold on the streets of Lawrence, Kan. before a late-night gig: guitarist/vocalist Ben Kotin, guitarist Nate Derby, and bassist Jon Markson, who happens to be a sentient wolf. The band talked about their current tour with The Story So Far and Stick to Your Guns, the evolution of their hardcore-tinged pop-punk sound and shared interesting tour stories, and in the middle of it all, Tim attempted to hand a random dude back his cigarettes. Yeah, it was weird.
You guys are on tour with The Story So Far and Stick to Your Guns right now. How’s that been?
Nate: It’s been pretty wild. Every show’s been packed, kids going crazy. Well, we’ve had a couple really good sets with kids going wild, but kids are always fucking going crazy for Stick to Your Guns and The Story So Far and Rotting Out. And all of the bands are pretty cool, so it’s been pretty fun. That’s about it (laughs).
So this is a side show, and The Story So Far isn’t playing tonight. How did this all come together and why isn’t The Story So Far here? I mean, not like (laughs)…
Ben: …it was a day off on the tour. They play longer sets than everybody so they booked days off. For some of us, we just wanted to play an extra show. I’m sure it’s not like they didn’t want to play here or anything (laughs).
Nate: I don’t remember exactly what we’re doing, but any other day off up until about Thanksgiving is just filled with shows. Instead of having a day off and losing money, we’re making a little more money and kind of supplementing the gas needed to make it to the next show.
I’m sure playing all these shows makes you exhausted. What keeps you fueled, what keeps you motivated to keep doing what you do?
Nate: It’s tough, I mean.
Nate: Weed (laughs). Weed, cigarettes, and beer pretty much. Your vices, your main three.
So you’re spending the money you make on the shows on that.
Nate: Pretty much (laughs). Just the opportunity to visit a lot of spots where we’ve already been, and see friends.
Ben: Meet new people.
Nate: Yeah, meeting new people and…oh, here’s Jon.
Jon: Here’s Jon (laughs). Hi.
Nate: You can jump in this interview too.
Jon: Okay, now I’m in the interview (laughs).
Ben: Since this is a recording, he is a wolf.
Jon: I am a wolf. Hi, my name is Jon “Steel Wolf” Markson, and I am an in-bred mammal.
Nate: The question was “What keeps you going on a tour like this?”
Jon: Usually skateboarding, but I sprained my ankle two days into the tour. But the support of my good friends and bandmates, with the exception of Nate because he’s a piece of shit.
Nate: (Laughs). Well yeah, obviously.
What are some of your favorite things to do on tour? Like, for instance, you said skateboarding. What do you do apart from playing the shows?
Ben: Eat Thai food.
Nate: Thai food.
Jon: We love Thai food.
Nate: Find the closest Thai place and spend our money there.
Jon: Thai spot.
I don’t know any good Thai places in Lawrence.
Nate: Honestly, we’ve had plenty of Thai.
Jon: We’ve had plenty of Thai, and there’s going to be more Thai.
Nate: There’s more Thai where that came from (laughs).
Jon: At least one more Thaim — spelled t-h-a-i-m.
Ah, good one (laughs).
Ben: You got it (laughs).
Jon: One more thai-m, one more thai-m (singing).
Do you guys have any funny tour stories from this tour, or from this year?
Nate: What was the other night? Iowa City?
Ben: Is that tellable?
Jon: I think so.
Nate: I think that’s the best one.
Ben: Yeah, so we were in Portland. I think I broke a string at the show or something was going wrong with my amps, so I was a little bummed, but it was still fun. So we went to a strip club and we sat down, had a drink, tipped a few dollars, tipped about $5 each within about two minutes.
Nate: Two and a half minutes.
Ben: Then the stripper said that she was going to kick me in the face if I didn’t leave because we didn’t spend enough during that amount of time.
Nate: She kept like coming up to us and basically fucking forcing us to give her more and more money.
Jon: And we…
Ben: And we’re a struggling band.
Jon: Wait, hold on, hold on, hold on. But here’s the thing. We respect strippers. We respect their work.
Ben: Yeah, we didn’t say anything rude or anything.
Jon: And we went in there to respect them and respect their work, and we left with respect for the establishment of strip clubs and for strippers, but it was unfortunate that one of them, for some reason, must have had a worse day than Ben.
Ben: And they had a problem with me.
This was in Portland?
Jon: It was in Portland.
Nate: Because Portland has like the most strip clubs, so if you’re in Portland, it’s just something you do. It was like our one little treat when we were there. Well, one of many.
Jon: It was a little treat. Ice cream and strippers.
Nate: Yeah I mean, hey, you’ve got to have a little fun, so yeah, we got turned off really quickly. Ben and I left immediately.
Ben: Union Jacks didn’t treat us right (laughs).
Nate: Yeah, don’t spend your money there.
This tour has a strong mix of pop-punk with you guys and The Story So Far and some hardcore with Stick to Your Guns and Rotting Out. What kind of relationship do these two genres have, and how do they complement each other?
Ben: I think a lot of people tend to like both. Obviously The Story So Far picked the tour, so people who like The Story So Far think, “Oh, those are the bands they like. I’m going to check them out.” And also, there’s a lot of energy in both types of music I suppose, and in a much different way.
Jon: There’s a lot of crossover, you know? There’s a lot of crossover in certain maneuvers that bands do. No matter what music those bands are making, there’s a body of groups that have influenced all of the bands and that all of the bands have respect for.
Nate: I think in this tour, we fit right in the middle of all of that. We have a little of the hardcore element, we have a little of the pop-punk/punk element. We’re like third of the night out of five bands. We fit the middle of the bill really well, and we also fit musically right in the middle of everything — kind of like bridging the gap between some of the heavier bands and stuff. And also breaking it up, too. Like, Souvenirs is kind of an emo band. Then you have Rotting Out who comes out, and they’re just a fucking crazy hardcore punk band. We come out and we do our thing. Stick to Your Guns is heavy as fuck. Then The Story So Far finishes it out — more of like the pop-punk side. They all complement each other really well and the tour itself.
Like you said, your guys’ sound brings to mind some of the more melodic pop-punk and a bit of the harder, more edgy stuff. Why do you think the band brings both sides to the table?
Jon: What band?
You guys (laughs).
Jon: Oh, you mean why our band brings that (laughs)?
Ben: We just like both kinds of music. We like melodic music, and we like all kinds of shit.
Nate: We don’t really listen to…well, I don’t personally listen to a lot of pop-punk and shit.
Jon: (Yells to random guy walking down the street who dropped his pack of cigarettes on the ground). Hey, you dropped your cigs!
Nate: Hey, your cigs!
Jon: Excuse me. Yo, you dropped your cigarettes!
I’ll run over there. [I return the pack, and the man offers me a few cigarettes. I decline, so for some reason, he throws them up in the air. The band members say they want them, so I pick the cigarettes up off the ground and give them to them]. I’m straight edge, so here you guys go. [I hand the members the cigarettes.]
Jon: That’s cool. (Grabs one).
Ben: Aaah! (Grabs one).
Nate: (Grabs one).
This is like my favorite interview I’ve done all year. This is awesome (laughs).
Jon: I don’t think we’re deliberately trying to bridge a gap. I think it would be far-fetched to also say that we are bridging a gap. I think we’re just making music, and maybe people who like both kinds of music like our band, hopefully.
Nate: Certainly nothing we do is a forced thing. We don’t try to be like, “Oh, we have to write something that sounds like this or that, or bridges the gap.” Whatever we write kind of comes out naturally, and it has elements of heavier music and more punk music…
Jon: …more melodic music.
So was that stuff you guys listened to growing up then, those two kinds of music?
Ben: Yeah, for sure.
It seems like then it would become a natural thing.
Nate: And we certainly all listen to a lot of stuff that’s nothing like this tour, or nothing like even what our band is like. But we kind of bring that element in existentially.
Jon: We kind of think of ourselves as people who like to play and write music and don’t really think too much about what’s coming in.
Ben: Three men and one wolf who like to write music (laughs).
Jon: Yeah, three people and one wolf (laughs). I mean…
Ben: …we’re bridging that gap, between wolf and man…
Jon: …yeah, wolf and man, but the other thing is that there’s an issue with sentience between animals that aren’t humans. And I, for one, as a talking wolf, would argue that I do have sentience. I mean, I play guitar.
Nate: And very well, too.
Jon: Even though I have paws (laughs).
Still able to play (laughs).
Jon: Still able to play.
The band released their first full-length on Razor and Tie last year. Have you seen a notable response from fans, and has that continued to increase now that it’s late 2013?
Ben: For sure.
Nate: I think it’s better now.
Ben: It’s growing slowly, still on the move.
Nate: It’s better than what it was a year ago. More people have heard it now at this point. I think kids still want to hear older stuff. We play a good amount of that, but we’re more focused on still trying to push Misadventures as it is, the active record that we have.
Jon: I can speak for probably all of us in the band. We may not get bored easily, but we definitely want to continue to make music that doesn’t sound like the music we made before. It’s not so fun to do the same thing over and over again…
Nate: …continue to progress. We hope that kids really dig not only Misadventures but the newer stuff as well. Because we’re just going to continue to grow. We’re not going to keep writing the same shit.
Jon: Also, and nor can you choose the people who like your band.
Jon: Whoever those people are are those people, and we thank them for that.
Nate: We have a good core fanbase that is loyal, but we hope that they stick around with us as we continue to grow.
So you’re talking about growth and progression. Where do you go from here?
Jon: We have two 7”s that are coming out soon.
Ben: Louisville, Kentucky (laughs).
Jon: Yeah, we go to Louisville, Kentucky next (laughs). We have two 7”s that are coming out soon. You want to talk about them?
Ben: Yeah, one of them was just announced. It’s a series of 10 7”s with the label Secret Audio Club out of Rochester. So there’s 10 different split 7”s with 20 different artists, and you pay and get a random assortment of 7”s. And it comes with trading cards as well.
That’s pretty cool.
Nate: Yeah, it’s an interesting idea.
Ben: We have a split with Placeholders. P.J. Bond is on it, Arliss Nancy, Half-Hearted Hero is on it. There’s a lot. A lot of really good artists.
Nate: It’s a good spatter. Marathon, Fire One Ready.
Jon: Yeah, a lot of bands we like a lot too.
Nate: Yeah, [they’re] from Upstate New York.
Ben: And we have another 7” coming out, but it hasn’t been announced yet. We have another song that’s going to be on that. It’ll be released early next year.
Nate: Those two we’re going to be playing tonight, so…
Jon: We’ve been playing our two newest songs for a while now, and I think we’re definitely very lucky in the fact that people have given that a very positive response. A lot of times, if you’re going to play a brand new song, let alone two brand new songs, people are going to be like, “What are you doing, man? That’s not what I wanted to hear.” But people have been very, very receptive to those songs.
Nate: And actually, “Choosing Cages” is on AbsolutePunk I believe. You can stream that there, so if you want to check it out, you can check it out there.
Jon: Nate’s only telling you that because he has a guitar solo in it (laughs).
Nate: It’s pretty rippin’.
Flaunting it (laughs). Is there anything else you have to say to your fans?
Nate: Thank you for your continued support.
Ben: Thanks fans. Thans.
Jon: Okay, yeah. Say it again. Listen particularly to what Ben has to say right now.
Ben: Thanks fans. Thans.
(Laughs). Oh my gosh. Pronunciation matters.
Jon: T-h-a-n-s. Thans (laughs).