“Be nice, try hard”: an interview with Lawn Care

I sat down with Cameron, Matt, and Harrison of Lawn Care last month to talk about their upcoming record. We ended up having a really great conversation that also touched on what musical genres really mean, their future plans, and their thoughts on the local Pittsburgh scene. Definitely don’t miss these guys at their record release show tomorrow, Friday, July 21st!

20257480_10212168585803422_2020548949_o

Lawn Care is:

CLV: Cameron LeViere/guitar, vocals
MV: Matt Very/saxophone
HT: Harrison Thurman/bass, vocals
John Paul Zigterman/drums (not present)
Ryan Ruff/trumpet (not present)

Q: Your first full-length, Replacement Therapy, is being released by A-F Records on July 21st. Tell me about that. 

CLV: I always wanted to be in a band but musicians are notoriously flakey, and liberal arts students that play music are even more so. For two years in college I tried getting a band together and it just never worked out, so I was like, “Iʻm just going to have to learn to write songs.” One summer I started writing songs and I did that for awhile, played solo, and I really liked it, toured a bit, and then eventually, after moving to Pittsburgh, I got together with Harrison (Thurman/bass) and John Paul (Zigterman/drums) and we started doing a full band thing, and it was really fun, I was really excited about it. Harrison and I had been in a band called Big Spoon/Little Spoon together and we were scheduled to go in and record, and literally a week or two before, our guitar player quit the band because he was going to become an engineer and he was like, “I donʻt need punk.”

So we were like, “Well, we have this studio time booked, we better use it,” so we just quickly learned some of the songs I had lying around, that I had no intention of making full band at that point, but we enjoyed it and kept doing it, and then we ended up going into the studio with Matt (Very/saxophone), which is how he became part of the band. Everything was kind of last minute… everything with this band feels that way a lot. We were like, “Let’s add trumpet!” so literally one week before we recorded we found a trumpet player to come in and record with us.

And so the record is really a lot about young adulthood… I don’t know, all songs are about feeling weird about growing up, when you think about it. But yeah, it’s kind of about being an unhealthy person in a lot of ways, and trying not to be an unhealthy person.

After the recording of the record Matt joined the band and Ryan (Ruff/trumpet) joined the band. I’ve described the recording and making of the record as feeling like Ocean’s Eleven in the beginning, where they’re getting the different people together… they’re like, “Oh, we need a demolitions expert,” and they show the scene where the guy is blowing up something in, like, Beirut, and then he gets the call and he comes in… that’s kind of how it’s felt every step of the way. Piece by piece, it’s felt like we’ve gotten closer to what we should sound like, and the group dynamic…

I remember when you (Matt) joined the band in particular, I guess you and Ryan joined at very similar times, but that first band practice, I was like, “This feels way different and way better,” where before, it was me, Harrison and John Paul and I was like, “Did that sound good?” and they were like, “Yeah, whatever dude.” And then you show up, and you’re like, “Fuck this, this is fun now!” Not that it wasn’t fun before, but it was a different dynamic.

vinyl_images.jpg

Q: How did you get hooked up with A-F Records?

CLV: I don’t entirely know. I think how it happened was… I’m sure Derek (Zanetti) had something to do with it.

MV: Yeah, whenever we were shopping the album around, I guess Harrison sent it to Derek and he fell in love with it and basically passed it off to A-F, and they were like, “Hey guys, we’re into this.”

CLV: I think it was that, then also we played with Nightmarathons, which Chris Stowe is in; we played with him opening for Chris Farren. Harrison knew Chris (Stowe) from awhile ago. Before I lived here, I lived with Harrison at Spider House and we had booked Chris Stowe a couple of times–he played on our roof and in our basement, so we knew him through that. Good dude.

Q: Are you excited? Do you feel like that (signing with A-F) has opened doors for you?

CLV: I dunno, see, I feel like these are kind of music business-y questions and I’m having very existential personal thoughts about what I’m doing with my life most of the time . Yeah, it’s really exciting, it’s really nerve-wracking…

MV: It’s one of those situations where it’s what you put in, you get out. And it’s been a ton of work, and it’s been funny working with these guys because after I joined the band, Harrison’s eyes kind of lit up like, “Okay, now I can come into the studio whenever and make changes!” And so it was a lot of work for us to put together this album that we’re all proud of, and that we’re all 100% set on all the different parts and the production and the way it came together. And, I dunno, I feel like, now that it’s finally happening the reward is setting in, and we’re like, “Wow, we’re actually going to have physical albums and we’re on a legitimate label.”

You know, there’s random people that I’m friends with on Facebook that I recorded their band 10 years ago and they’re posting about Lawn Care and they don’t even know I’m in it! They saw a sponsored post or something and they think it’s really cool. It’s neat seeing the fruits of your labor come together.

CLV: That was kind of my big reaction… I don’t remember whether it was Derek or when Chris reached out to me, but just having someone from a record label legitimize what we were doing felt really good. It wasn’t like the 50s, “we’re gonna make you a star!”–it wasn’t any of that, but it was like, “Hey, we like your shit and we want to make a handful of records.” Even that just felt really good, because I think a lot of artists can get trapped in that thing of agonizing over whether what you’re doing is worthwhile. And it’s really hard not to, so having anybody legitimize that and say, “Hey, we think what you’re doing is worthwhile.”–it goes a really long way. And similarly, I’ve had people reach out to me that I haven’t talked to in a really long time, and they’re like, “Hey, good work on that thing!”

Q: It seems like a lot of your songs are material that you (Cameron) had written solo and then morphed into full band stuff. How do you think that sound changed through that process?

CLV: Oh man. It’s felt like… have you ever heard the analogy for how the brain evolved, where we have all these weird quirks in our behavior because of the way the brain formed? It’s like if you have a shitty wooden canoe and someone says you can use whatever materials you want, but you have to turn it into a yacht. That’s kind of what making the songs become this full band thing has felt like. I started with just these skeletons of songs, some guitar riffs and lyrics. I knew the songs inside and out from playing them so many time, but doing that and then adding layers and layers, they felt like totally different songs. I would start with a song, then take it to Harrison and John Paul, and it became a different song. And then when we would add horns, it became a different song. And then in the studio, when you have the ability to agonize over every five second interval, that changes the songs drastically. I had never thought about guitar tone at all…

MV: I think that was the biggest change for what I saw as these songs came to life… the original, “This is what the guitar tone should be,” and then as we were tracking it, like, “No! Cut back on distortion!” and we went with a Jazzmaster. It was just neat, I think none of us really saw that was going to be the direction where the sound was getting steered.

CLV: It was fucking teamwork. When I was talking about writing the songs and feeling validated by A-F, it’s like… when you’re making shit in a vacuum, it’s really easy to second guess everything that you do. And when you’re in a group environment, you can second guess every decision but there’s a little bit more hive mind, swarm thinking. Like, “I’m not sure if this is the right decision, but these three people that I trust say it’s a good decision, so I’m confident in it.” Or, even saying, “I’m not sure if this is the right decision,” and they’re all like, “Yeah, you should think about that again…”–it’s really helpful. And it’s not just me; Matt will come up with something, Ryan will come up with something. Literally the record was done and Matt was like, “Can I add some sax?” and then I came back and there was sax on the record.

 

Q: The album was recorded at your studio, Matt? Did you do production on it too, or just recording?

MV: Well, production is a term that’s loosely thrown around. It was a group effort. That’s usually how it goes, as far as projects I work on, where we’ll be like, “Yeah, this tone isn’t fitting with this,” or “We need to change the way these drums sounds,” or “Let’s try a harmony here.” It’s a big group effort. Whenever we were doing Omri with the trumpet, I think that was one of the wildest days, because initially we were like, “We’ll just do two or three hours of this trumpet tracking,” and it went like 10 hours. He and I were just pitching ideas…

CLV: Yeah, that was crazy!

MV: That dude was, like, on it.

CLV: He was fun to work with. Everyone was… so, we’re a band, but we’ve collaborated with so many different people at this point that it feels–and this is going to sound real tacky–but it does feel like a family effort, at times. The person who did the album art is my buddy from college, Louie. Really amazing artist, hadn’t talked to him in a long time, and reached out. Working on that allowed us to touch base and talk for the first time in a long time. And I feel like having those kind of working relationships with so many different people–it’s not impersonal, and it adds depth to those relationships. And so, I feel like it’s been really cool to have this project be a vehicle for developing those relationships. Like, I didn’t know Matt before we started doing this, and there’s a lot of people that I’ve worked with that I didn’t really know very well.

HT: We met Ryan the same way too. I think Matt’s the perfect example, though… I knew Matt through mutual friends and I helped Matt a couple of days when he was building his studio–I wasn’t very helpful, but I was a body . But I was really big on going and working with Matt, and it was productive enough and he got along with us well enough that eventually he literally became a part of the band. So working with people and then having them feel like they’re a major contributing factor in the band, and feel like a part of the band, I think is absolutely true. Ryan is the same way; we found Ryan online and now he feels like a crucial part of the “family.” And I would run into people who run house venues, and I was like, “Hey, can I list you as a sponsor for the Lawn Care album release show?” and they asked what that meant, whether they had to do anything, and I’m like, “No, I just want to say thank you, because you hosted three or four shows for us over the last couple of years.” That happened to MJ, who runs the Hen Haus; that’s another example of someone I’ve become significantly closer with simply through the music.

CLV: And the number of people that we’ve brought in to do guest vocals… honestly, I guess that’s probably a lot of DIY records, you get all your friends to come and do it, but just thinking about the amount of fucking talent just in the people that did vocals…

HT: Who came in to scream one thing.

CLV: Seriously, like Joey Schuller, Laura Lee, Derek from The Homeless Gospel Choir…

HT: Drew Clouse

CLV: Tatiana

MV: Jackson

CLV: Every one of those people is an amazing, integral piece of the music scene for me. Fucking Jimmy, Jimmy’s on there. It’s this dude, James Ikeda from Boston… he’s been instrumental, there would not be Lawn Care without him, honestly. He’s one of my best friends, we met through music. I remember a conversation a couple of years ago when I was playing with him in Boston, and I was like, “Dude, I’m really getting burned out on this.” I was still playing solo, and I didn’t think I could keep doing it because I wasn’t enjoying it too much, and he told me to shut up and keep going.

Q: Is he the one you put out a split with?

CLV: Yeah, you got it, The Michael Character. He’s on the record. And there’s so many other people that I respect with all my heart, and that makes me really happy.

Q: So what was the impetus for adding the horns last minute?

CLV: Did we ever talk about that?

HT: I think you (Cameron) always had a couple horn lines in your head. I think maybe even John Paul and I were kind of side-eyeing you when you were like, “I want a trumpet section!” because, you know, there’s a lot of cheesy trumpets out there. It’s a slippery slope to crappy ska music or whatever. But you always had a couple songs where you were thinking horns, and I think the trumpet player that we found, Omri, was so talented that it became very easy to make it sound like an integral part of the band. And I do think it makes us stand out in a sea of similar guitar tones and punk music that’s two guitars, bass, drums.

CL: I think that all those things are true, I grew up listening to a lot of music with horns. I think the reason I hesitate is because I cannot remember when the decision to track down a horn player happened.

MV: Probably a day before we recorded!

CL: But yes, I love horns in music and at some point in the back of my head I thought horns would sound cool with this. I think I heard that it was a possibility, but I don’t remember when I took steps to find a horn player. But then once we had the horns, that was a big thing too–we recorded with this guy Omri, but then he was moving to Philly, so we were like, “Fuck, we need to find a replacement!” We ended putting up flow chart flyers on Pitt’s campus… I was desperate, and I needed something that was eye-catching that I could plaster everywhere.

20251376_10212168565722920_1528397499_o

The flyer in question.

And, oh my god, we talked to… there was one person who melted down on me via Facebook, and then other people who said they’d do it and then drop out two days before practice. At the 4th River music festival last year, there was the May Day marching band, and I was just going up to trumpet players and asking about the band, and they were like, “Who are you? Please leave.”

MV: And then we ended up with Ryan.

CL: We ended up with you and Ryan, and it’s fucking perfect.

MV: What was funny, too, about tracking the horn parts was we got them on there, and then practicing together as a five piece, we started changing and writing different parts, and then we decided to go back through and add those.

CL: It made the recording process… extensive. Exhausting for Matt.

HT: If we had decided to self-release it, I think… I loved your songs enough, Cam, that I was always excited to record them semi-professionally and to try to find a label, and we were really lucky to find A-F. But the fact that releasing an album through a record label takes some time actually allowed us to go in and do several things, which included adding more trumpet parts and get our friend Derek Zanetti from The Homeless Gospel Choir on the record. It was lucky, in a way, but I imagine our next recording process is going to be very different. I think we’ve grown as a band…

MV: We’re more comfortable now as a group.

CL: We’ve learned a lot.

HT: And I was trying to think… you had a ska phase, right?

CL: Oh, yeah. I literally have a fucking Streetlight Manifesto shirt signed by all the band members framed in the hallway. Yeah, I had a ska phase.

HT: You’ve always cited Jeff Rosenstock as an influence, but did you have, like, Stevie Wonder or Motown in mind when you called in Omri?

CL: Honestly, when it comes down to it… across genres, ska being one of them, but mostly like Motown and even Chicago and shit like that–anytime there’s a horn line, I just get stoked. That’s really what it came down to. There’s just so many fucking times in music, there’s that fucking “I can’t stop this feeling…” and when I hear it, that brass, I melt. That’s it, I’m done.

HT: I mean, I didn’t have a huge ska phase, but I think I’ve been saying for years, even before I started playing music with you, that trumpets just make all music better. There’s no song that isn’t made better by a horn section, I really believe that.

CL: We did Cake for a Halloween set, and that was… my Cake and ska phases were equal in their obnoxiousness. So that’s some stuff about horns.

Q: I know there is some contentiousness about what genre you fall into… what are your thoughts on that?

MV: 2% math rock

CLV: How dorky do you want me to get? So here’s the thing about genre: genre is not a reflection of things that are pre-existing in the world–it’s not like there is a sound for rock & roll. These genres are constituted in the dialogues that happen between performer and audience. This is a pet thing of mine. If you go see a band that’s an emo band, you already have, in your mind, a bank of understanding about what emo music is and how that band sits in relationship to other bands–you know, they sound like these three bands with a bit of this other band thrown in. The other side of that is that the performer knows that you know those things, the performer is also aware of those bands you think they sound like.

Instrumentation is huge. Whenever I would play acoustic, everyone said I sounded like AJJ. As soon as I started playing electric, they said I sounded like Jeff Rosenstock; they’re similar in a lot of ways, they run in similar circles, the instrumentation is what’s different. So there’s all these different aspects of how you make the music that play off of the audience’s expectations and then what you decide to make in relation to those expectations. So, in terms of how I would classify us, I make a conscious effort to hit certain bases that draw from the parts that I like in different genres. So many bands do that, this isn’t us being unique; at this point, it’s really hard not to reference three other genres if you’re making a full-length record. So I try to do a little bit of mathy stuff on time signatures, but not go overboard. We have the horns, the instrumentation from ska–I think the instrumentation is really what makes people think of ska, because we don’t do the ska guitar. There’s literally two bars of a song where we do the traditional hardcore beat, but then it’s very easy to say punk…

There’s also the expectation based on the bands you hang out with, you know what I mean? If you hang out with a bunch of hardcore bands, but you don’t play hardcore music, people will still kind of refer to you as that. There’s just so much that goes into it. The individual descriptors are no longer a matter of being prescriptive, you don’t start out saying, “I’m going to be a punk band,” and then you’re a punk band. You start out drawing from eight different kind of things, so then when people start asking about genre, you have to reference those things. That’s my rant.

HT: 10 page dissertation, let’s go! I think also there can be a real elitism about genre, and there can be gate-keepers when it comes to genre or talking about music. We’re all music scholars in some way and we try not to be elitist about it, but you (Cameron) are drawing from a lot of sources and I think your song-writing is meant to surprise the audience. When you think we’re one thing, we can go ahead and switch it up and do another thing, you know? And I think you vacillate between simple parts and complicated parts, and catchy parts, and just messing with the audience’s expectations.

I think too, as a band, we all listen to different things. Our tastes are very dissimilar, there’s not a lot we can agree on. We’re all bringing in various influences. I think John Paul, our drummer, comes from a background of math rock and hip-hop and grunge. Stoner metal. And, what’s the video game music? Chiptunes, he makes chiptunes as well. And then Matt comes from a hardcore and classic alt-grunge background. I’m a huge pop music fan, but I think the band would kick me out of the van if I put on Kelly Clarkson. I think we all bring something to the table.

CLV: That’s a really good point. Having all of us with different tastes and backgrounds writing different parts… if Harrison is writing a punk bass line and John Paul is playing a really sludgy riff, what do you call it?

Q: You recorded your album about a year ago? What have you been doing musically since then?

CLV: Well, I say that we recorded the album a year ago, but as Harrison recently pointed out, we didn’t finish the final master until about three or four months ago–I dunno, time is a flat circle, but it was not that long ago, really. The flat circle is our record Replacement Therapy, out on A-F Records on July 21st . From when we started recording we had to find a trumpet player, we added Matt to the band, so it’s been getting comfortable together… and also going on tour, which has been big.

MV: We played a bunch of gigs out of town, every other month it seemed like for awhile.

HT: I think we did four months in a row; we did three days a month for four months in a row. Which, working around all our schedules was tough, but it was so much fun. I had a ton of fun.

CLV: And we’ve got the whole album to promote… right now I’m working on booking a tour, we’re working on a music video, getting all the stuff that you have to do after you make an album, like the album art and all that. A lot of it, honestly… we recorded the album and then started working on new stuff, but also I feel like your band has to kick into administrative overdrive once you finish the record and doing record label shit… so a lot of our energy has been focused on making sure that the album is coming out in the way that we want it to.

HT: We’ve got spreadsheets!

CLV: We’ve got spreadsheets on spreadsheets on spreadsheets… making it rain spreadsheets!

HT: We can’t tour that much because everybody’s got day jobs; I think some bands make a career out of touring 4-5 months out of the year, and we can’t necessarily be that band. We could tour a lot, but not four or five months. So we’re trying to figure out other ways to get the music into the ears of people who will like it and appreciate it, and a lot of that has to do with press… reaching out to writers that we like and people in Pittsburgh who are passionate about punk music and weirdo rock like we make, and trying to get some attention that way, so some young kid in college can listen to the record and maybe it will make his life a little bit better hopefully. Who knows?

CLV: So we’ve certainly been busy. I think at this point it would be hard to not work on new stuff, I think now that we’ve done the proverbial building of the team… now that we have that together, we’ve gotta make Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen . I feel that having Matt and Ryan in the band now feels way more like we hold together as a group, not just musically but as friends and as a team. It’s a nightmare getting five 20-somethings to do fucking anything, and it will always be that way, but I feel like I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished and I think at this point we’re setting ourselves up to do bigger things, which feels really good. We’ve been talking about flying by the seat of our pants and we made something we’re really proud of, so now it’s like, what can we do with the right preparation?

Q: What would you like to do?

CLV: We’re talking a split, and then the second record. I talk way too much about the fucking second record at this point .

HT: It’s going to be like summer 2019.

CLV: It’s so far down the line that… every time I talk about future plans I feel like I’m jinxing it past a certain point. But part of the thing, and this is something that was really important to me, was that I wanted to cultivate a group that was in it for the long haul. There’s so many fucking bands that are around for two years and then they break up, and that bums me out because there’s so many good one or two record bands. And I’m not saying we’re going to be doing this until we’re 50, but I want to have a stable foundation. And so I’m really excited for what we’re going to do for the future.

HT: I will totally play music with you when I’m 50… I’m only 20 years away, so it’s not even that far for me

CLV: So, yeah, we’re working on releasing a split that’s about… we’re shifting into very different stuff.

MV: You’re jumping too far ahead! The album’s not even out yet.

20226479_10212168585843423_1532542957_o

Q: Who’s the split going to be with?

CLV: We don’t know yet, that’s why Matt’s making fun of me, because it’s down the road. And part of it is that we have to do our due diligence with this record. It’s hard because we started it so long ago that it feels… you know, that’s a common tendency for people who make stuff–you make something, you finish it, and then you’re ready to make the next thing. But I think giving the record some time to breathe and not immediately moving on to the next thing is probably a prudent thing to do.

Q: Are you planning a big tour in support of the album?

CLV: As big as we can, yeah. I was working a job where for the first six months I didn’t get time off, so it was really hard to tour and we would just do weekenders. So then for three months I was gearing up since I would finally get time off, and then I moved to a new job and started from square one. So now I’m working on doing that again. But we’re planning on doing a midwest tour in August. RIght now I think we’ve got seven or eight days planned, and I’m real excited. It’s the longest tour that we’ve ever done and I have so much faith in us.

Q: Do you have any good tour stories from those weekenders?

MV: There’s a basement littered with Shrekles.

HT: Now you’ve got to explain it, man!

MV: For whatever reason, I ended up taking a piece of paper and drawing a fictitious dollar, but with Shrek on it. And it became a Shrekle. I don’t know how it spiraled out of control, but basically John Paul and I made about a hundred of these .

HT: In some basement in Ohio.

MV: That’s the Reader’s Digest version of that story. They’re all over the basement.

CLV: I feel like that’s a thing with our band. We’re all like… we joke about spreadsheets and shit, we’re kind of… I don’t want to say we’re grown up, because that hurts to say, but we’re all…

HT: To be fair, we were also drinking Colt 45 on this tour.

MV: I feel like we’re the inverse of a bell curve, where we’re professional on one end but very childish on the other.

CLV: That’s true. I’ve been on tours where it’s just debauchery the whole time, and it’s just an excuse to do dumb shit, and I feel like we’ve all reeled it in enough where we can have fun and party and stuff, but not be ignorant, you know? I had so much fucking fun on those tours, but it’s just like… wandering around a waterfall.

HT: I think the reason the tours were so fun is because we actually enjoy each others’ company. I’m thinking about tours I’ve been on, where it’s 12 people and a dog in a van and everybody’s naked at some point or something dumb like that. We don’t get that ridiculous.

CLV: Well, wait for this tour, y’all! Just wait! I think because we’ve only ever done weekenders, we’ve had to be a little conservative. I think going out for a week, there’s a little bit more time to get into trouble.

HT: Or find bodies of water to jump into… I’m actually a little disappointed that we don’t have wacky tour stories.

Q: If you don’t have any fantastic tour stories, how about some of your favorite shows?

CLV: Nana Grizol was real real fun. I think that was also the best show we played in terms of how we sounded, how we felt.

HT: It’s a good point of influence, because they’re also weirdo punks with a singer/songwriter bent and also trumpets. So they’ve also got that hard-to-describe-in-genre sense.

CLV: And they’ve been musical heroes of mine for years, so playing with those people was outstanding. You got any favorite shows, Matt?

MV: Probably that one we just played with SIKES. That was a blast! I like whenever people interact with me, because I like to have fun. And whenever people are grabbing my hand and screaming stuff back at me… I think that was the first time ever, aside from one or two random people at shows, that there was a whole group in front of us singing along.

HT: And the record isn’t even out yet.

CLV: Seeing people sing along is the best feeling. On the fucking planet. It’s the same thing with our Boston show… so, because I know that guy, The Michael Character, and I’ve been back and forth to Boston so many times, I’ve met so many friends there and they were singing along. The record wasn’t out, I wasn’t from there, but people knew the words and I was just about to cry. Oh, your (Harrison’s) friends’ house–that was a cool tour story for me! So after one of our shows in Boston–this is the only cool tour story I can think of, but you’ll see why I’m laughing–we went to go stay in this house, and it was one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen, it was just so gorgeous. I come downstairs and I see some people dealing with white powder on the kitchen table, and I’m like, “Ah, I see what time of tour it is!” and it’s artisanal salt. They’re literally taking small pinches of, like, Himalayan smoked sea salt.

HT: We’re all just tasting salt.

CLV: And then of course I get fucked up on salts!

Q: What are your feelings about the local scene in Pittsburgh?

HT: I don’t feel like it’s a scene, I feel like it’s 20 different scenes. But we don’t have the same problem that Philly or New York does, where there’s very little overlap, little to none. We actually have a fairly substantial amount of overlap, I feel. I think the music communities that I’ve known are very easy and accessible… I don’t go to metal or hardcore shows often, but when I end up there I don’t feel totally not at home. I feel like the DIY music community is generally pretty accepting. I think it’s fascinating that we had three legendary in my mind house venues that closed and then opened up under different ownership. That’s incredible to me. The Vatican’t became the Maxi Pad, the Bates Hardcore Gym became Ba Sing Se, and People’s Warehouse became Cafe Verona. These are all in Oakland. In all three cases, too, the people who took it over… it’s less of a party vibe and a little bit more homey and feels more like a community vibe. And people are a lot more respectful. I also work at Roboto. Roboto is doing cool things. I get the chance to see high schoolers come in and try out their weirdo punk projects, where they just play Dead Kennedys covers or whatever. To see a 17 year old sing Nazi Punks Fuck Off gives you hope for the local music community. I don’t think we’re getting as much attention as we deserve, because we’ve got a lot of really talented people doing different things. And, of course, there are a lot of people who are kinda crappy or bad to interact with, but as you get older you make friends with the people that make you better, I think. You build the community you want to have.

Q: What are your favorite venues?

HT: Ba Sing Se, right now. It’s run by a whole bunch of really awesome young, enthusiastic, friendly… I can’t stress enough just how cool it is that these 20 year olds have taken up the mantle of running shows, specifically for the purpose of making a good music community. It’s not to have a house party, it’s because they love music and they want to host bands in their basement.

CLV: And also building a space where so many different people can feel safe. That’s so huge. Thinking back, when Harrison talked about the differences between the older versions of these venues and now… people are putting so much more work into and paying so much more attention to the identify politics that need to be paid attention to, and that’s really cool. And there’s more political work going on–there’s the stereotype of the drunk punk kid who doesn’t actually do anything and just complains on the internet, and I’m not seeing that, what I’m seeing is people doing real legit cool political work.

Q: Any other venues?

HT: There’s so many good ones. I’m obligated to give a shout out to Mr. Roboto Project. We’ve been doing it for 17 years, all volunteer run, dry space, all ages. Huge zine collection. Trying to focus on making people feel comfortable and trying to create a music scene that’s outside of the bar scene… which is also awesome in Pittsburgh. Howlers and Spirit are both excellent.

CLV: That’s tough, favorite venues. The Maxi Pad might be my favorite venue, honestly. A lot of the first shows I ever played by myself, probably eight out of my first ten, were in that house. Under different ownership, but still. And so then to now be playing full band as a proper adult is really crazy, but it feels really good. It’s a very different vibe from a big bar where there’s more people, but I’d much rather look out and see a crowd of 20 of my friends than 100 strangers. It’s not that I’d mind 100 strangers, it’s just very different.

HT: I think we also have to shout out Spider House, which Cameron and I both helped run for a long time. We’ve been doing it for four years, mostly acoustic shows on the roof of our house. We’re really lucky in that our neighbors don’t get angry at us. It’s a really stressful thing to run a house show, which is why I think we are very appreciative of all the people that do it now.

Q: How about local businesses involved in the scene that deserve to be recognized?

CLV: City Grows/the Venus Flytrap. They host a lot of really cool shit. Very Tight Recordings… pretty okay spot . Matt’s studio is wonderful.

HT: A-F Records for sure. Thai Gourmet. Spak Brothers.

CLV: I want to shout out to Prevention Point Pittsburgh. It’s a harm reduction clinic, needle exchange, they do a bunch of really cool shit.

MV: I’d like to shout out Bigs Seeds for sending me all those seeds Bigs Sunflower Seeds sends me free stuff to give out to bands to munch on.

HT: Snacks are important.

CLV: I want to shout out 4th River Music Collective, the people who have put that together… Cousin Boneless, The Hills and the Rivers, they’re also building an incredible community. It’s just very unique, and I have mad reverence for those folks.

Q: What are some local bands that people should check out?

HT: Rue fucking rules. Rue is amazing, Rue is maybe my favorite band in Pittsburgh right now. The Homeless Gospel Choir, we were lucky enough to come in and do some backing vocals for his new record and it’s gonna go off like a bomb, I think. It’s really really excellent, it feels honest and true, it feels completely in line with who Derek is as a person: kind, thoughtful, trying to take care of himself and doing it through music.

CLV: He took fear and turned it alchemy-like into love, and that’s unbelieveable.

HT: I think Rue does that as well, and The Otis Wolves too, where Max writes songs about growing as a person which is just really really powerful.

CLV: I think AllegrA is stellar. Harrison also plays bass with AllegrA… their new record is so so good.

HT: Same, whose band shirt I’m wearing. Matt recorded the Same EP and is hopefully going to be recording the record.

CLV: Calyx. I can’t stop listening to Calyx.

HT: Oh my god, Calyx is so good!

CLV: I seriously can’t stop listening to Calyx, and Caitlin Bender is one of the sincerely coolest people on earth.

HT: There’s so much good music in this town, it’s absurd. Our neighbors in LAZYBLACKMAN are fucking amazing.

CLV: Brian Howe of SIKES. Trash Bag, who are unfortunately slowing down and moving and doing new things.

HT: Childlike Empress!

CLV: Oh my fucking god, Childlike Empress!

HT: Yeah, we can just go on and on reminding each other.

CLV: Tatiana is going to take over the fucking world. If I could buy stock in Tatiana, I would take my 401(k) and throw it at her. She’s absurdly talented.

MV: I just have to keep my mouth shut, because if I leave someone out…

CLV: Ah yeah, it’s a business thing. Old Game is so good.

HT: Distant Futures. Hearken. I could go on and on. Surf Bored. edhochuli. There’s so much good music in this city.

CLV: Here’s the thing: the list of Pittsburgh bands that we aren’t in love with is way shorter than the list of bands that we do love.

HT: I’m consistently impressed by the quality of music in this town.

Q: Last question–favorite local pizza?

HT: It’s gotta be Spak, hands down for me. But on the other hand, it’s really fun to make your own.

CLV: Spak is not my favorite pizza. Their sandwiches are out of fucking control good, but their pizza is just… some days it’s good, some days not so much. Pizza Italia and Caliente are both good.

MV: I like Pasquale’s.

HT: Pasquale’s fueled our album, essentially!

MV: Their flyer sits on my coffee table.

HT: Spirit‘s pizza is pretty good too.

CLV: Yeah, either Caliente or Pizza Italia. The people who run Pizza Italia are so so friendly. I will honestly order from just to say hi, because they’re so nice.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

CLV: Be nice, try hard.

HT: I knew it, I saw it was coming. Also, too–we’re really excited to get this album out to people and into people’s ears. If you want to reach out to us, lawncaremusic@gmail.com.

19983543_1365996590173833_1309107454894272379_o

Lawn Care will be releasing their album TOMORROW, Friday, July 21st. Don’t miss their record release show at the Glitter Box Theater with Endless Mike, Old Game, and Rue. You can buy their new album Replacement Therapy from A-F Records or Bandcamp.

One thought on ““Be nice, try hard”: an interview with Lawn Care

  1. Pingback: Weekend Roundup: 7/21-7/22 | Punksburgh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s