MEB Staff Writer Nick Niedzielski recently got the chance to talk to Tim Riley, vocalist and guitarist for the California-based emo band Souvenirs, about a few things, including their writing process, what goes into writing a full-length, and the importance of a good live show. Be sure to catch Souvenirs on the Spring Fling Tour this month.
MEB: How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t listened to Souvenirs?
Tim Riley: I’d like to say that we sound like a ’90s emo band would sound in 2013.
On the band’s Facebook you cite Mineral and The Promise Ring as influences and you talk about ’90s emo a lot, how did that style shape your music?
That’s what we all love.
A lot of your lyrics seem very introspective. What’s the songwriting process for you guys?
It’s different for every song, but, for the most part, I’ll have a riff or like the bare bones of a song, with lyrics to it, and then I’ll bring it to a practice, and then we kinda start from the ground up. We can just layer on top of everything. We’ll play a song probably like 100 times, and then we break it down and change it and try to make it better.
The structure in most of your songs is a little different; they’re not the generic verse-chorus-verse, but more of a kind of build-up. Is that a conscious effort the band makes?
Yeah, it’s definitely a conscious effort. I like to keep the song structure very linear in the sense that some parts don’t repeat and it’s more of a story than an actual song. I just try to mix it up. I wouldn’t like to give the same thing every time, that would get repetitive and lackluster. We try to make every song unique in its own way, without losing that Souvenirs sound.
You put out the EP Sadder Days in 2011 and another EP Tired Of Defending You last year. What kind of growth was there between those two releases?
It was huge because Sadder Days was like a demo that we recorded in a day, and it was just kinda thrown together, and I had written everything while I was on tour with another band. So we were just so excited to record it that we just wanted to put it out. With Tired Of Defending You, we kinda pumped the brakes a little bit, and we got to put a lot more effort and time in to it. And we recorded it live. We wanted to do that to give it a really gritty, all of us in the same room type of feel.
Is that how you prefer to record songs?
I wouldn’t prefer that for every recording, but at that time, for that record, that is the vibe that we were trying to capture. I think it goes with the overall emotion of the record.
You put out a split with Silver Snakes this past winter, what kind of recording plans do ya’ll have now?
We’re actually in the middle of writing our first full length right now, so we’ve just been working on that. Writing a full length is a lot different from writing an EP in the sense that it’s a lot more music, obviously. It’s hard to create something to keep someone interested for 45 minutes or an hour or however long it’s going to be. We want to make every song a song that stands out. My biggest fear is making a full-length of filler. So we’re not rushing it, we’re taking our time. As far as the direction goes, it’s definitely going to sound like Souvenirs, but I, personally, and our other guitarist have been listening to a lot of more indie rock type stuff and more shoe gaze type stuff. A lot of My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, Pale Saints, things like that, and I definitely think that’s going to show through on this record. But the raw grittiness that we like to give our songs will definitely still be there.
Are you approaching writing a full length more as a cohesive piece than an EP?
I don’t know, I’m pretty new to this, this is my first full length I’ve ever written. It’s very daunting. I like to be prepared, probably over-prepared going into the studio, so our initial plan was to have about 14 or 15 songs completely finished, and then take maybe 11 or so of those and use those for our full length. So we’re still in the process of getting all those together.
Have you played any of the new songs live?
We actually just played a new song live the other night in Camarillo, and it was so fun. It was just like a very relieving experience. It’s kinda weird to describe it like that, but we just worked on these songs for so long, and just put so much time and effort in to the songs that to finally be able to play them and have them come together live, you know, we were the only people who had heard these songs so far, so to have other people hear them, it’s a big relief and I’m very excited.
How important is your live show to your band?
Probably the most important thing about us, that’s the general consensus among the band. If I see a band that I can’t get into live, then I can’t get into them. It has to be there. You have to make a connection between what they put on a record and what they put out in a live performance.
Ya’ll are fixing to go out on a few dates of the Spring Fling tour, how are you looking forward to that, and what other touring plans do you have?
We’re so stoked, the Second To Last dudes are awesome, and we’re really excited to spend some time on the west coast with them. And we’re going to be playing a couple fests in the summer, and we have some plans for the summer and the fall that aren’t announced yet.
Well I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. Thanks.
Thank you man, thanks for taking interest in us.