Brian Southall may lurk in the shadows these days, but it’s where he’s most content. The former guitar player for The Receiving End Of Sirens took a break from causing mass hysteria on Twitter to talk with MindEqualsBlown about his solo project, tour managing, his collaborations and of course, TREOS.
Mind Equals Blown: Your most well known works are 2005’s The Earth Sings Mi Fai Mi with The Receiving End Of Sirens and 2010’s The Hearts Of Lonely People with Isles & Glaciers, but you seem to have a hand in many other bands. What have you been up to the last few years?
Brian Southall: Since the break up of TREOS, I haven’t been up to a whole lot publicly. I write songs every day, but most of them just get stored on a hard drive and sit around waiting for a chance to be apart of something. I’ve finally become content with creating music just for the sake of creating, and I no longer have the desire to try and “make it”. It’s a nice feeling. I’ve done a few remixes, co-wrote some things, and been working on 2-3 bands at home with friends, all which will eventually see the light of day. And I have my “solo” project, The Company We Keep, which I hope to finally release something with in the new year.
MEB: You worked with Craig Owens on his solo EP, With Love, and on I&G. How did you two get hooked up?
BSouth: We both live in Michigan, and our bands used to play together. We became friends and always hoped for a chance to work together. Craig finally had an opportunity to include me on something (I&G), and it went well. I had a great time working on that stuff. From there, we kept working on music, and after playing for him on his solo tours, it was just natural to play some things on his EP.
MEB: So what’s more stressful: being in the band or tour managing?
BSouth: That’s difficult. Being in a band is stressful because you never know what will work, if you’ll have any money, if you can eat, etc… I think those stresses are more real, more severe, and more dangerous. The stress of tour managing is more just my neurotic nature making me double and triple check everything.
MEB: Those of us who aren’t musically talented see tour managing as a way to contribute without being on stage. What steps should regular fans take to get involved in tour managing and other behind-the-scenes positions?
BSouth: The best way to get involved with working on a crew is to just get out there. Find any band you know, and ask to work for them. You may have to do it for free, you may have to do some terrible tours, but you will never get hired for a good gig if you don’t have a resume to back it up. Experience is the second most important thing in the industry. The first still happens to be who you know.
MEB: Isles & Glaciers’ EP was well-received by critics this year, in large part due to the instrumentation. What was your role in creating the music for the album? How much of the music was written specifically for I&G versus riffs you had previously written without a home?
BSouth: When I was brought in, I was told I would just be adding some programming on top of songs. It turned out no one really had the time to work on songs, so I ended up writing a lot more than I planned. I think everything was written specifically for this project, and then changed more once we were all in a room together. It was very rushed, but very fun. I wrote a good amount of the music on the record, but it was made much, much better by the other talented musicians in the room.
MEB: Do you have any tracks stockpiled without a home right now? Any chance we get to hear some of your stuff soon, either via your solo project The Company We Keep or another venue?
BSouth: Like I said, I have way too much music stockpiled. I have some special friends helping with TCWK stuff, which has added to the slow nature of the project, but will make it so much better in the end. I have enough songs for an album, so I’m just hoping I can find the time to put it together this year.
MEB: Of the tracks you’ve recorded over your career, which two songs most embody you as a musician and why?
BSouth: I don’t know if I can answer that! Makes my head hurt just trying to think. Maybe TREOS – “Saturnus” as a guitar player; that song has most of my tricks all wrapped up into one song. As a drummer, you’d have to dig up my first band’s record (referring to Mycomplex’s 2000 debut record, If We Keep Moving). That’s when I still had some chops!
MEB: Earlier this year TREOS played a couple reunion shows, most notably Skatefest 2010. Take us through the process, from “Hey, let’s play a show again” to headlining a major festival.
BSouth: None of us in TREOS ever want to stop making music. We hated having to call it quits, and we all hope to continue to make music together, and to play shows whenever we possibly can. Maybe it’s once a year, every few years, every 10 years, who knows. We all have different lives now, so it’s hard, but it’s something we still very much miss and want. When our former agent decided he wanted to revive Skatefest, with the help of our drummer Andrew, it was an obvious choice for us to use it as a reunion. It would help our agent, who was always so great to us, and it would give us a chance to play again. It didnt take much debating. It was very stressful in that those of us who still tour were on tour almost right up until the show. In the end I think we had 1 and a half days to rehearse, but I think we did a good job.
MEB: Recently you stirred up quite the buzz with a few select tweets. Since then, your former band mates Brendan Brown, Nate Patterson, and Andrew Cook have joined in, even mentioning Alex Bars in recent tweets. It sure seems like you’re all working on new songs. Was there a writing session at Skatefest 2010? Did a crazed fan hold a gun to your head and demand a new album? What in the world is The Receiving End of Sirens up to?
BSouth: Like I said, we all still want to make music together, and all hope to be able to again some day. Sadly, I can’t say much, and I don’t want to cause any confusion about what may or may not be happening. But if something were to be happening, I’m sure news of it will come out soon.
MEB: I don’t know if you recall, but this one time (and another time, and another time, and another time) there was supposed to be a TREOS DVD. Status report?
BSouth: Ha, yes I heard about that. In short, we were unhappy with the first edit of the dvd, and before another edit could be finished, we had planned Skatefest, and decided we wanted to film that as well. I’m not even sure where the DVD stands at this point, but it does exist, and will eventually be out there.
MEB: Better musician: Brendan Brown or Parker Brown?
BSouth: Parker Brown for sure. Dude rips.
MEB: Should we forgive Nate for joining forces with Pete Wentz? (in reference to Nate Patterson’s current employment as guitarist of Black Cards)
BSouth: Say what you want about Pete and/or Fall Out Boy, but you have to respect it. They write good songs, despite whatever anyones personal opinion may be. Nate wants to play music for a living, and this is an amazing chance for him. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a musician making music, it’s what we are supposed to do, and if you care about music, you should always be happy and respect people when things work out for them.
MEB:Anything else you’d like to add?
BSouth: I think that about covers it! Hit me up anytime, I’m always glad to speak to anyone who cares!