The Afters : 2008-02-26I interviewed The Afters in the Regis University caferia on February 26, 2008, shortly before their show opened by Everyday Sunday and Falling Up. The Afters (left to right): Matt Fuqua-guitars/vocals, Brad Wigg-guitars/vocals, Josh Havens-vocals/guitars/keys, and Marc Dodd-drums.
Randy: You guys are familiar with Sufjan Stevens, right?
Randy: My daughter Heather's a big fan. I was surprised you guys kind of went into his whole geography thing. You know, "Never Going Back to Oklahoma." I mean, that kind of surprised me a little bit. You've probably heard that one a few times.
Josh: Oklahoma's been so bad to us.
Randy: Can't go back there.
Josh: In fact I did a radio interview there this morning, with two stations in Oklahoma, and I spent half the interview assuring them that the albums not about Oklahoma.
Randy: You haven't lost any fans in Tulsa or anything?
Randy: So you could have gone with O-K-A-Y and avoided that.
Josh: We want controversy. People are talking about it now, right? "What's so bad about Oklahoma?"
Randy: It's definitely the buzz. Well, significant day today, speaking of the album. Comes out today. I got my email from iTunes and there it was. I scrolled down and saw it right there in the iTunes New Music Tuesday. You guys pretty excited about the new one finally coming out?
Josh: Very excited.
Josh: Been working on it a long time.
Randy: I saw you guys, I think you did "Tonight" up at GMA last summer, so that's a while back. You've been doing some of these songs for a while. Are you slowly working them into the sets?
Brad: "Tonight" has kind of evolved since that time.
Randy: Is it going to be over half new stuff tonight?
Marc: Probably about four or five new songs.
Randy: You going to do "Forty-Two"?
Josh: Not tonight. We’re close. We're almost there.
Randy: Brad described the new record as Air Supply meets Aerosmith in an interview with Jesus Freak Hideout.
Matt: Comes back to haunt you!
Randy: How awake were you?
Brad: Probably about awake as I am right now.
Randy: So I should get something just as quotable?
Brad: Chicago meets something....
Randy: You remember what you said, Matt?
Matt: I don't.
Randy: You said people are not going to want to kill themselves when they listen to it. It's not dark.
Matt: That is true. That remains true.
Randy: So it will be positive.
Josh: I do agree with that.
Matt: In fact, the opposite, I would say.
Josh: I do not agree with Brad's comment, but I do agree with Matt's.
Brad: About Chicago? Matt: I think it's being pulled out of context maybe.
Josh: What were the comments you made in regards to something totally different?
Randy: I got two DVDs in the mail yesterday; the video of "MySpace Girl" and the other one, I forget what they call it, just the promo.
Randy: Yeah, Sizzle. But it didn't say that on there. I thought it'd be a good one for the Sizzle.
Matt: That must be the code word for it I guess.
Randy: "Beautiful Love" has obviously kind of defined you guys in a sense, thus far. That's the song that's been huge and everyone's familiar with.
Matt: That's why we named our new record Beautiful Love.
Josh: Actually if you look really closely and kind of do that thing with your eyes where you look beyond the colors...
Marc: Yeah, you’ll see it in there!
Randy: Actually what I did find was "Beautiful Words" kind of tapping into that whole thing.
Matt: We snuck that in there. Yes, we did!
Josh: We almost didn't call it that, but then we did.
Randy: And then there's "Ocean Wide" has a lot of love in it, so there's still love on the record.
Josh: Still some love, still some beautiful. It wouldn't be The Afters if we didn't have that.
Randy: On iTunes I saw that if you download the whole thing you get an acoustic version of "Beautiful Love" as a bonus. It's not on the actual CD is it? No hidden track?
Josh: Nope. iTunes exclusive.
Brad: Yeah, it's a hidden track, man. It's on there. Very well hidden
Josh: You have to listen to it thoroughly.
Brad:. There's clues.
Randy: Well as far as numerical song titles go, U2 had "Forty" and you raised them two and went with "Forty-Two".
Matt: That's a good way to look at it.
Randy: U2 plus two or something like that. You write that one, Josh?
Josh: We had the song for a while, wrote it a while back and there a couple little extra things that were added at the end that people contributed on.
Randy: Influenced by, of course, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," it played a role. My claim to fame actually in the '80s, when I was writing Apple software, Douglas Adams bought some of our software and wrote us a little thank you note that he liked our software.
Josh: That's really cool.
Randy: That's my connection to "Forty-Two." That's probably why I like the song. Here's a quote from a well-known reviewer. "Songs like 'Ocean Wide,' 'Falling Into Place,' and 'Forty-Two' are examples of those superb power-pop rock ballads that The Afters excels at." Is that correct? Should it be single or plural? The Afters is the band...
Matt: Well he said it, so I mean...
Randy: Actually, that was my quote.
Josh: Well, that was a really brilliant review.
Matt: Brilliant review, I would say.
Randy: So The Afters is the band, so I was correct in treating it as singular.
Josh: Yes. Perfect.
Randy: That's always a challenge because it sounds weird to say "Afters excels." Josh: "Afters is."
Randy: Yes, the plural part can be confusing. But I was serious. Those three songs really stuck in my head when I listened to it. This is what I think of when I think of The Afters. The title track was a little more rock than typical which certainly was enjoyable, but those three kind of fit my image of The Afters. Not that you want to be pigeon-holed, but they fit real well into that whole genre. I read the title "MySpace Girl" to my daughter Erika and her response was something like, "Oh no! The Afters?" And I said, "Yeah, that's The Afters. But it's based on a true story." She says, "Oh, I guess it's okay then." She was worried it was some sort of selling out to the MySpace crowd or something.
Brad: Not at all. Not hardly. No selling out whatsoever.
Josh: We went into this record and we just wanted to have fun, and we had no parameters about what we were going to write about.
Randy: So it's not just girls who want to have fun, it's also The Afters.
Josh: The Afters want to have lots of fun. We wrote about all kinds of things that influenced us. One of the funny stories that happened over the last couple years was how our former bass player met his wife. First at In-n-Out Burger and then finally got to know her on MySpace.
Randy: That is pretty incredible. I love In-n-Out, being from California. First year teaching, we were married, we had an In-n-Out right close by there.
Josh: It’s so good!
Randy: Good stuff. Having just watched the video last night, what I was curious about was did you guys play through some of that and then it got animated, or did you just animate it based on sketches of you guys, or did you kind of act out the video and then it got animated?
Josh: We sent in photographs. We took some video roll and he animated from that.
Randy: Do you know how long it took him?
Matt: I'm not sure exactly when he started...
Josh: I have no idea, actually.
Randy: Well, it was something different, kind of fun.
Josh: A little animated, viral video. We intended it just to be a little thing for our fans, because we're still going to make another music video. It's pretty cool how it's kind of taken a life in its own right. Lately all the Jonas Brothers fans have been getting into it because Jonas Brothers really liked it, so they sent out a bulletin to all their fans telling them to check it out.
Randy: So it should trickle from him to Hannah Montana, the whole Miley Cyrus thing, and once Billy Ray Cyrus does his cover of it, you'll be set.
Matt: Is he coming out with a record?
Randy: Well, he might now. Josh: Duet with his daughter!
Randy: He's got some material to cover. In the Nashville Airport, have you noticed the heart defibrillators there? Nashville Airport, donated by the Billy Ray Cyrus Achy Breaky Heart Foundation.
Matt: Oh gosh, does it really say that? (laugh)
Randy: Yeah. You ever heard of Randy Stonehill's album Wonderama? Album from '93, it's got a song called "The Lost Parade" on it.
Josh: I have never heard that song.
Randy: Great song. Lyrics, it says, "and the stars shine like the tears of God for the weary world tonight. Clothed in flesh and bone, masters of disguise. With rage beneath the painted smiles, fear behind our eyes." Of course I thought of that song as soon as I saw the start of your new one. Little different flavor.
Matt: His is way better.
Randy: You've got your own little parade. Talk about how kind of a unique little thing got on the album. Part of having fun, doing something different?
Brad: It started out as kind of a joke. We probably told you this joke. People would ask where we got our name. We had this collection of very difficult vocabulary words we had stumbled across over time. We’d say it was the Sedulous Panoply of Ebullient Valetudinarians. That was the name we tried to get but the website was taken. (Rimshot). Started thinking about the words and the actual translation is "hidden parade of happy sick people." It painted this really cool picture of a church. That we’re walking through history in spite of all the sin and soul sickness we have, we can rest assured in the dignity we have in Christ and be happy about where we're going.
Randy: Good story for a short little song, right? I did have one other question for Josh.
Josh: The story’s three times as long as the song. (everyone laughs) Randy: Is it true that when you're not on the road and your wife's not around, you settle for snuggling with dogs who shed a lot? I heard about the hotel story on Jesus Freak Hideout. Had the story of the horror hotel with the dog hair everywhere.
Josh: That was a host home. That was a nightmare. The last host home we ever stayed in.
Matt: That's not true.
Josh: The ones we've stayed in since then are very nice. We did this concert in some college. "Yeah, yeah, we've got a place for you to stay, no worries." It was like some college girl's house. There was a bunch of college girls living there. A bunch of them were out, they left the house there. So we're setting up and there's dog hair everywhere. We're trying to look for a place to sleep, a couch, some beds. There's just dog hair everywhere. There was this dog, and it seemed like any time you would lay down he'd come up and snuggle with you. So I kept trying to nudge him off my bed. He kept coming back and finally I nudge him off and I fall asleep, I wake up and there he is. Right there. (holds hand inches from face)
Brad: Of course, I had fun with the tennis ball. Throwing the tennis ball on top of Josh and the dog would jump on top of him.
Randy: No door? You couldn't lock him out anywhere?
Matt: Well we were just sleeping in the living room.
Brad: This dog had opposable thumbs and he could doors.
Randy: Talented dog. Wonder Dog. I'm sure there's a lot of weird road stories with all the crazy stuff--
Brad: How did you find out about that? Where'd you read that?
Randy: I do research on the Internet. Everything's on the Internet, you know that. I found out at one o'clock today that the interview went through. Actually the passes and everything all came through just a few hours ago.
Brad: What was my favorite hobby when I was ten years old?
Matt: The Internet wasn't around when he was ten years old.
Randy: I don't know, you tell me, Brad.
Brad: I'm not going to tell you.
Randy: OK, I'll look it up tonight. I had to throw some quick questions together, so I did a little Internet research, and you know, you find a few things. That was basically it, just wanted to get some background. Already put my review up a few days ago. Good timing to get an interview the day it comes out. Thanks for the time. Josh: Absolutely.
Marc: Thank you.
Matt: No problem!