For the record, could you state your name and what you do in The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die?
My name is Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak and I play guitar / yell at everyone in TWIABP.
You’re rapidly approaching the release of your debut LP, Whenever, If Ever. First off, did it ever seem like this record would never come out?
All of my bands in the past had broken up before finishing a record so I assumed this would happen too with TWIABP. We got pretty close. It took forever and I’m glad the nightmare is over.
How long have these songs been tossed around, and how much would you say has changed about them since the original writing, whenever that started?
We had the songs for about a year before ever going into the studios. We’ve got demos of the songs from almost every stage of writing them. A lot of them progressed into something completely different than the direction they started with. A few of them stayed exactly the same. Overall the record has a similar theme dynamically but the songs vary wildly in execution.
I want to say I remember reading someone’s description of the record awhile back being ‘pop-punk in space’ or something like that. I apologize for the vagueness of that statement. Anyway, how much would you say that holds against the final product of the album?
I think Greg [Horbal, guitarist/vocalist] said “the a-side of the record is pop-punk goes to space” and “the b-side is ‘weed,” kind of accurate. I think he showed the record to some teenagers in Northern Virginia and they said it sounded like The Wonder Years. That was upsetting. The a-side has the more upbeat songs while the b-side has the wilder longer / expansive jams.
There’s been a lot of members in and out of this band, including the addition of new members to match the ensemble on the record. First off, how much did the addition of said members play into the direction the album took based on what you had written prior?
The record was mostly written instrumentally as a five-piece band with the finished version coming together in the studio with everyone’s ideas. Julia [Peters] (our cellist) offered to play on our record at some point after production had started. We were so impressed with her playing that we asked her to join the band.
Similarly, do you feel like the changes in personnel give this band a little bit more freedom to adventure sound-wise?
The new stuff we’ve been writing for the band is getting more expansive. We’re taking weirder risks with the layering of instruments and structure than we had taken on our previous releases.
I read in another interview about links between songs based on the lyrical writings, such as repeated lines and what have you. How did that idea manifest on the LP, and why continue to make the effort towards such a connection?
I think the idea of being self-referential helps connect our entire work into a more cohesive piece about the collective experience of being alive. That is the sort of general idea about the lyrical aspect of our songwriting.
Where do you feel like you are making your biggest strides, either individually or collectively, as a band on this record?
I really love the vocal layering we’ve done on the record, with four members sharing vocal duties throughout the entire thing. The material has more similarities to the songs we have on the Deer Leap split than any of our other releases. I guess that makes sense since it was the last thing we put out before writing these songs.
With this LP on the slate and ready to get in fans’ hands, you’ve talked a bit about writing for LP2. What’s the mindset on already getting your feet wet in writing another set of songs?
We sat on the songs for Whenever, If Ever for so long that we were all itching to write some new stuff. We also wanted to get the new lineup comfortable with our writing process and really start to click with each other.
Your split on Topshelf with Tiger’s Jaw, Code Orange Kids and Self Defense Family finally came out. That’s been on the burner for about a year I feel. At this point, what is your connection to your contribution to the song “Beverly Wyatt,” and how do you feel it fits into what you’ve written otherwise?
After we wrote and recorded the song we played it live a lot but then sort of forgot about it when we started playing stuff from Whenever, If Ever. It’s a weird song for us, it was mostly written while I was asleep so my contributions came after it was already fleshed out, which is a bit different than our normal writing process. I like the track, I feel like it stands out on its own and makes a lot of sense to be on such a weird split. It’s got that cool Rush-sounding riff that Greg wrote.
The World Is will be pretty busy touring this summer, first with Dads and Cerce this month and then again with Pity Sex, Dads and a few other bands in June/July. How much new stuff can we expect you to perform on the upcoming dates?
Lately we’ve been playing around four or five new songs every night. Hopefully we will be able to incorporate every song from the record into our sets at some point on the tour in June.