Musicscan: What's your attitude towards Senses Fail in general? I noticed that you are a highly professional working band regarding the music, but that you at the same time seem to continue with your DIY-mentality, right?
Senses Fail: Senses Fail for me is my life, so I look at it as both a job but also a hobby, a creative outlet and a chance for me to be heard. I am the singer, songwriter, manager, tour manager all at once. In the past it was not this way but over time I have taken on many roles. Our operation is almost 100% DIY other than our booking agent in US and Europe, merch company and a business manager that helps pay bills and taxes, it is all done by myself. I feel very strongly about keeping things as DIY as possible.
Musicscan: Hardcore, punk and screamo have always been emotional genres – have to be emotional out of my view. Do you agree? How important is this “emotional side of music” to Senses Fail?
Senses Fail: Emotion is the most important thing to me in music. To me music is a multi layered expression of emotion. All of what I do in Senses Fail is geared towards providing the most raw and authentic expression of emotion. I want the listener to almost be overwhelemed with emotion when they listen or they see us play.
Musicscan: From your point of view: has it become an exception in these days that bands play the music they really want to play without focusing on what listeners -or the industry- expect? Are we really that far? The music played by Senses Fail is above all personal, so you stay somehow outside “competition”. But what do you personally think about that topic?
Senses Fail: I am not sure. The bands that I follow and enjoy seem to play music more themselves and not for anyone else. However, there are a lot of bands trying to appeal to a larger audience and in order to do that you really have to "play the game". That means making music that people want to hear and not always what you want to play. Sometimes it lines up and you make the exact music you want to play and people want to hear but over time it can change in either direction. I personally don't want to make music for other people because I feel I will not make good music if I do that. I also fell that our music now is much better than our older music because we stopped trying to do whatever one wanted us to but that is of course, my personal opinion, haha.
Musicscan: I would say that with “Pull The Thorns From Your Heart” your taste in music has become wider while the songwriting became more focused. True? How did your view on your songwriting and the style you are playing develop for this new album?
Senses Fail: I appreciate that. Yes I would say we are pulling from a much wider range of influences on this record. This was the first time I ever picked up a guitar and wrote songs for this band. A lot of these songs I had a hand in writing the riffs and structure of. It is the very first time I have every done that. It was a really amazing experience and I didn't really hold back. I didn't want to put any boundaries on what we could do for this record.
Musicscan: Where do you guys see the line drawn between progressing on what you do well, and completely offering a new direction or sound? Are there any limits towards what you are doing with Senses Fail?
Senses Fail: I am not sure just yet. I don't really want there to be a boundary. If we put a boundary on our music then it won't be very exciting to create. But I will say I want to keep it in the post-hardcore/hardcore/metal world. I don't want to be a pop band.
Musicscan: Has it been harder coming up with new material this time as you are around of a couple of years already? What did you guys do differently for the new album that you hadn't done previously to keep things progressing?
Senses Fail: No, it was so easy this time. I felt such an excitement and energy in creating this record. This record has been the easiest record we have ever made. Well, as I said before I became one of the song writers on this record and I think that changed almost everything about the process. Instead of waiting for people to write something I wanted to sing over, I just wrote it. There are a lot of domes writer by the other members as well, this was a very collaborative effort.
Musicscan: Were the songs for “Pull The Thorns From Your Heart” already written and ready for recording when entering the studio or did you rearrange some parts to make them more effective? What did you change and why? Did you manage to capture the spontaneous moment of your music in the studio from your point of view?
Senses Fail: Yes, everything was done and planned and mapped out. There are always spontaneous moments in the studio. We changed a couple transitions, breakdowns, little tricks here and there. Also, the sounds of the record are all very spontaneous. We never used the same guitar tone of snare drum for any of the songs.
Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on “Pull The Thorns From Your Heart” that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you you would like to share with us? Is there an underlying idea behind the album that can stand for the record as a whole?
Senses Fail: A lot of this record is about me coming out as Queer. I recently came out to the public as queer in November. Here is a link to the statement and pod cast where you can see more about it.
I practice a type of meditation called Vipassana, also called "insight meditation". It is part of the Theravada school of Buddhism. I have been practicing diligently for the last year and a half. However, Buddhism has always been an interest, in fact the band named was named after a Buddhist idea and concept, that our senses fail to show us the truth at time. We perceive that our senses are truth but in fact we can be easily misled by them. A lot of this record is born out of the insights and teachings I have come across in my meditation practice. Most of the lyrics are split between Buddhist concepts, spiritual explanations and my own coming our story. The record is broken down into 4 parts or 4 musical movements. It is not a concept record in the way of Tommy, where there is a clear protagonist but it is ordered and arranged in a way that the flow is meaningful and the lyrics support the concepts of the distinct parts.
Parts I, II and III are Buddhist concepts and or practices. The language of the titles is called Pali, it is an ancient language with close ties to Sanskrit and would have bee most likely the language that the Buddha spoke. It was the language that the first writings of the Buddha were recorded in.
Part 4 is not in Pali but in Sanskrit.
Musicscan: Lyrically and musically Senses Fail seems to stand for a certain kind of “emotional intelligence” that sometimes gets missed in nowadays music. Do you as a band ever think about your lyrics and music in this particular way?
Senses Fail: I appreciate the compliment. Thank you! Yes I think about lyrics as the way in which I can give to the listener and how I can personally be heard. Being heard and seen is a very big par of my emotional need and part of my story. Being in a band and having an outlet to communicate and to connect with others is what I love about being a musicians. The lyrics are the life in which the music lives. I want the lyrics to touch and to change the listener, to make them think and to make them feel in ways they never have.
Musicscan: What do you want people to take away from “Pull The Thorns From Your Heart”, and what hopes do you combine with the release of the album?
Senses Fail: I want people to find a sense of peace in this very difficult world that we live in. I want them to find a way in which to connect and to view the world in a different way.
Musicscan: From being on the road a lot, what is one of the things you've come to realize? I'm sure driving to and from a venue almost every night leaves you ample time to sit and think about things. Unless, of course, you're too tired to do so. Do you think it's made you a stronger person at all? It's difficult to maintain friendships with people back home, I'm sure.
Senses Fail: I think being on tour is a practice in being uncomfortable. It is always challenging me to be in situations that are not always familiar and ideal. I have learned a great deal about what I can an cannot tolerate and in moments when I felt I couldn't make it, I did. I've learned that we don't always think we can handle what we really can and above all I have learned that my mind is not who I am.
Musicscan: Lastly, if you would have to say what your band and especially the philosophy behind Senses Fail is all about – how would that description look like?
Senses Fail: The philosophy behind Senses Fail is to bring about a shift in view. With our new record I want people to view the world in a way that sees our vulnerability as beautiful thing to cherish and nurture not to condemn. I want to show people that we are all interconnected and that your very own happiness relies on the happiness of others. I want to make change by showing how I have changed. I also want to stand as someone in the LGBTQ community who is creating safe spaces for other LGBTQ people.