HEY! THIS INTERVIEW ACTUALLY HAPPENED APRIL 20TH, EW RIGHT?!! Well hey. I've had a weird last few months. Right after this interview I was let go from one of the worst jobs I"ve ever had. I was verbally abused + talked down to CONSTANTLY from a filthy rich person who fired me over moving chairs. That's where I'll leave THAT. Anyway - it took me a little less than a month after that to restabilize my workflow again. Luckily even without that job I wasn't struggling - I just had no money for savings or fun - which sucked and to me is just as stressful as having no jobs because I'm a FREAK. Then - I had Boutique Nite right after my workflow was back to the norm and THEN I went on my first vacation with Stephen! This was the true test of working at home full time. I really got to see what it's like making anywhere my desk. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to be able to explore a new city but still create an income for myself. We came back last week and now are in the middle of Boutique Nite and Pin + Patch Expo this weekend. PHEW! It's been...a lil crazy but I like it that way. All of this being said - I'm back on my weekly posting! Yay!
On 4/20 I sat down with Travis of The Penske File - a Canadian three piece punk band that truly have mastered putting on a show. We talk everything from their roots, the themes of their newest record, horny goats, Harry Potter and MORE. So grab some popcorn, take a shot, do whatever you need to in order to get comfortable and enjoy!
I'm Travis. I play guitar and sing in The Penske File. I tour around half the year and I have a lot of fun with it.
Salvation just came out. I've had it on repeat since the release - it's so damn good. A theme that I picked up on with it is kind of living in the moment and just taking advantage of the now.
Do you have any other themes that are hidden in there with that and can you elaborate at all on them?
Definitely! Like you said - that's a lot of what it is. ..Sorry it's actually been a long time since I thought about it, haha. We wrote those songs like three years ago, recorded them two years ago.....and now we're just starting to play it again. But - at the end of the day - it's kind of striving to live in the moment and striving to find people you love and things you love. It's about holding onto the positive relationships with those around you and your surroundings too -- just trying to exist outside of the societal paradigm of what you have to do: worrying about numbers and debt all the time. Finding the moments that make you feel like moments cease to exist. It's the cliche of stopping time or whatever but find the things in life that make you feel like time is stopped and find the people in life that make you feel that way too -- pursue those things with those people relentlessly. Strive to find your own happiness and pursue that because the natural byproduct of that is projecting that happiness to others in the world. It's a lot about seeing and enjoying the good things in life. The only certainty is that we are all gonna die so...that's the counter tone to it. A lot of the record is about exploring the certainty of death and the uncertainty of life.
Was there anything specifically that triggered you to gear towards those themes? Did something happen in your life that made you think you needed to get those messages out?
I think there was a time where I had a few new songs and Alex has a few new songs and we kind of just latched onto the common themes of those which had a lot to do with death. As you grow older you do start to think about that and other dark things. That was a common thread of the first batch of songs that both Alex and I wrote. Then we elaborated on that. There were times we were out too where I was thinking how it would apply to those themes and make it a cohesive picture. There wasn't any one specific moment though that I can recall. It just kind of came together eventually. It was a lot of internal rambling haha.
Something that really stuck out to me with The Penske File is how energized and entertaining you are when performing. Who inspires your stage prescence?
We've been playing together since we were thirteen -- so almost thirteen years now. We haven't been, "The Penske File" for that long but we've been playing in all sorts of bands together since then. I remember one time when we were around that age, thirteen, we were really obsessed with Anti-Flag. I had Death of Nation Live DVD and they would do these crazy jumps and spins and I remember we played a couple of shows and Alex -- he was like, "Man! You guys are so lame on stage." He pulled up, like a hockey coach or something haha, the guitar and would show us how to spin and play on stage in my parent's basement. We'd be like, "Yeah! Nice, okay." Early on - we were so inspired by Anti-Flag because of the energy on stage with the jumping and the moving. I feel like it kind of gets everyone into the music more when the people on stage are into it themselves. That was the original spark. Of course over time there have been more people that inspire us.
When you go to a live show - you kind of expect a lot of energy and a performance. I feel like The Penske File has that down and has mastered it. It makes people want to go to a live show over just listening to you on Spotify.
How do you achieve such a full sound with only three people up there? That's a lot harder IMO than the energy that we were just talking about.
Yeah...haha. When we played together in high school we were a four person band. When we decided to be just a three person band --- the 4th person of our high school band went away for school. The rest of us really wanted to solely focus on music and not go to school. So we decided to part ways with him and were wondering how we were going to fill that element. We originally were thinking that harmonica could be our lead instrument and we do play it sometimes now but we ended up not doing that. At around the same time, Alex started playing guitar along with drums. He had a little studio setup in his basement and he recorded it. We didn't even know he was messing around with guitar but he showed us what he recorded and he was doing these three part harmonies on his own and we were blown way. We had no idea and told him he had to sing. I think our voices play a huge part in filling out the sound. We have a lot of three part harmonies and everyone has a moment to shine with their vocals. For us, vocals are like another instrument in the band.
I heard you on Spotify, first, and then saw you live. I could not believe you were only three people! It was more exciting to see how talented you guys are for sounding that way with only three people.
How is touring in Canada, if at all, different than touring the USA?
Well - it's way more sparse in Canada. Once you go out West in Canada there's almost nothing. You can drive like 40 hours and not see almost anything. You also have the Central Eastern part which is where Ontario is - and that's a busy spot. But because the West of Canada is so sparse that's why on tour we start in the States and make our way up to Canada. So that's definitely different. Our first tours we did we drove SO long between shows - maybe 10 / 11 hours between cities. Hmm...we have a lot more history and traction in Canada too since we are from there just meaning the shows and hospitality and things like that. That's about it, actually. It's really similar. The people are really similar too for the most part. The punk rock scene, no matter where you are in the world, there's a sense of community and similarity.
I saw on your Instagram that someone was drinking Horny Goat Weed Tea. Let's.......talk about that. What happened with that?
Haha! It was just at a continental breakfast in Nebraska and it was this Horny Goat Weed Tea. He drank and it...got super horny and was trying to screw us all. Hahaha - no. It was just some like herbal tea. It didn't make him horny as far as I know. If it did have any special effects - he was very good at hiding them. I have seen Horny Goat Weed at some gas stations before and you smoke it and it actually makes you horny.
During FEST - I wanted to ask you this and IDC how outdated this question is I NEED TO KNOW! If you were to do a cover album or cover set - what would it be and why?
We talk about that a lot with each other! The one we talked about the most is doing Bouncing Souls. Just because the songs are good but they're also really easy and it'd be a lot of fun to do especially in the FEST setting. I think we'd be able to pull it off. They're one guitar, bass and drums.
*I did this interview on 4/20 LOL IT'S BEEN ALMOST TWO MONTHS SHUT UP*
Okay so obviously it's 4/20 - what is the weirdest snack food you created while high?
I don't partake in the Devil's elixir. JK, haha. I'm sure there's weirder but there's one that comes to mind right away - I was sixteen or something. We were at Alex's parent's place and we all would stay in the basement and sneak upstairs to make snacks super late. I remember he had these cookies, "President's Choice Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies" and every kid in Canada wants these in their pantry. He had those so I made a peanut butter / Nutella cookie sandwich and warmed it up a little bit.
OMG - that's a boujee MOFO snack. I know people that will eat cans of not heated soup.
On the way down here, totally sober, I did eat a can of not heated up Chef Boyardee mac n cheese that was cold. My stomach is pretty resilent.
But that sandwich sounds so professional. Maybe you should be a chef.
I've actually thought that before!
..While I'm high and making it I'll think how I'm such a fucking artist.
This is a question from a fan of yours -- Why are your moving rates so much more than U-Haul?
It's because our vehicles are far superior, safer and faster, shinier, taller and the weigh more and are more fuel efficient. I used to drive a Penske truck too but that has nothing to do with our name.
How do you #staynerdy?
I #staynerdy with my healthy obsession with Harry Potter.
What's your House?
I don't even know. Obviously I'm rooting for the protagonist. I don't know though - I'm not the sorting hat!
Whoa wait you've never taken that quiz online that tells you!?
I don't think so? Hmm..I'd probably morph my answers if I took it to get what I think would be a good House.
So you'd cheat??? You'd be a Slytherin!!!
The whole quest for greatness with Slytherin..I don't know I may hang out with Draco. I kind of wish I was Ravenclaw.
Hey - that me! Okay easier question what's your favorite book of the series?
The last one.
Because it ended??
Hahah. No! Everything just builds up the whole time and when you're reading you have no idea how it'll conclude so you build up all this excitement. I also really love the last two movies back to back. That's one of the only things that I can sit in front of the TV for five hours for.
Gah. Travis is so easy and fun to talk to! I had a ton of fun hanging out with him before his show at Tower Bar here in San Diego back in April. (I still cannot believe I let this interview sit for this long....) But I hope you got to know everything you could possibly want to about Travis and his band and if you haven't listened to Salvation yet - WTF! It's been out for TWO MONTHS now - get on that shit and #staynerdy until next time.
Aaaah. Stephen + I's first official vacation EVER besides tours/work related traveling. We drove up to San Francisco with Mercury and it was beyond incredible. A little mini blog will be up in the next few days talking about our time there! This was also a true test of fully working at home now (CONGRATS to me, by the way) and it was...one of the most indescribable feelings to finally have achieved the goal I set for myself 1.5 years ago. I'm working at home FULL TIME now only working jobs I truly am passionate about, am able to focus more on kenNERDdy/Perfect humans AND travel without worrying about PTO/requesting time off/losing a paycheck to vacation. I am damn proud of myself! Look at how happy us dweebs are in San Fran!
PERFECT HUMANS NEWS OF THE WEEK
That NEW NEW. Our Spyro n Sparx chain pin along with our Sailor Scout bookmarks are HERE and ready for you to take 'em home. I'm so happy with these new products of ours - we will be doing a lot of new products with that Sailor Scout series so stay tuned!
TREAT YOSELF ITEM OF THE WEEK
If for some weird reason you aren't aware - Alex Pardee has been my favorite artist since I was in 8th grade. His art really speaks to all the fucked up dark parts of me. He just released these pin boards to hold enamel pins and I knew I had to scoop this design up! The quality is magnificent on these things - they're so sturdy and is such a unique way to own a piece by Alex.
EVENT OF THE WEEK
Ahhh! Perfect Humans is doing their first big show! I'm not having a panic attack...YOU ARE! I'll be here ALL DAY on June 16th. Come say hi! Let's hang out. Bring me food : )
**THANK YOU to all artwork used: TheCandyCoating, Zombhood, cosmik-junky**