Saturday, August 31, 2013

Emo Side Project [Interview # 154]

1) Does your name ever get confusing, being next to other bands so then it makes them look like they are the emo side project?
My name doesn’t get confusing to me because I know what it means and what it stands for, but it seems to throw other people off pretty often. ESP has never strictly been an “emo” specific project and I’ve dabbled in pretty much all types of music ranging from rap covers to indie rock to pop punk to classical-esque instrumentals to avant-garde. The story behin the name is: whenever I started ESP acoustic side-project for popular bands were very very common (Dashboard Confessional, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business, etc) and instead of naming my project something like (or using my actual name, Andrew McShan) I decided to be ironic and go with “Emo Side Project.” It’s a stupid name and I hope that it’s obvious to people that it’s supposed to be sarcastic.
2) Back in the ‘00’s, being emo was cool, but then it became a curse and now it’s coming back.  What are your thoughts on how that kind of cycle has played out?

Hmmm. I remember the emo scene back in the late nineties and early ‘00s because I’m old enough that I was actually part of the scene back then. I can’t ever remember a time in my life that “being emo” (whatever the heck that means) was a “cool thing” to be. I mean, regardless of whether you’re defining emo as the “Heroin” or “My Chemical Romance” type of emo movement, being into punk music has always made me feel like an outcast to the general community, especially being from the south where country and classic rock are popular. It was hard finding friends that liked the same music as me (pre-internet) and it was difficult finding records/cds in stores that I went to. I think that’s why the DIY / punk community is so important to us now. It brings us all together with common interests and goals. Regardless, even though some of the “emo” fashion and music became popularized in the mid 00’s (which I assume is what you’re referring to), I think it was still out of the norm and frowned upon by the general population. Because of that popularization, emo kids had a lot of false stereotypes attached to them. More recently, a very specific kind of emo that originated from the American Football/Sunny Day Real Estate movement has become popular now. It’s cool to see happen because I love that style of music, but also is weird to see considering I remember it being so unpopular just a few years ago. Anyways, music is like anything else and trends in and out of popularity. For the people who truly adore the music and ideologies, it stays with you regardless.
3) Even back in 2000, bands who were once hardcore became emo.  Bands nowadays are turning to other forms of music than just emo (Some ex-hardcore band members are turning to shoegaze or ambient, for example), but why do you feel it is that so many hardcore band members end up in emo bands eventually?  Are they just too old to play so fast and scream?
I think this happens for a few reasons. First, as you mentioned with the above question, music follows trends and bands often seem to follow those. Second, nased on my experience having known people who were involved in hardcore scenes and being involved in the emo scene myself is that many of the ideologies behind the movements the two are very similar in nature. I mean, even hardcore and emo music are very similar as well, but different enough to be separated into subgenres (the father genre being “punk rock” or whatever you want to call it). However, I think often enough you’ll find a lot of people who are involved with the emo/hardcore scene to like both kinds of music. Finally, bands have different members with different musicals tastes and often start other bands to play another style of music that they love. Because ESP is a solo project, I get to do whether I want with it. I love to play all types of music and I’ve definitely dabbled in other genres depending on what I’m listening to at the time. For example, I’ve been listening to a lot of Wild Nothing / Slowdive recently, so my songs have become a bit ambient due to that influence.
4) What is it like being from Kansas, like so many other emo bands and my aunt?
I’m actually FROM Houston, Texas, but I’ve been living in Kansas for about 5 years (I moved here for school and other dumb stuff). It’s definitely better than Texas, but there are still plenty of things I dislike about it. Mostly political stuff. Anyway, there are a lot of great bands from here that I’ve gotten to see. The most popular of those bands are the Get Up Kids, The Casket Lottery and the Appleseed Cast, who all influence me musically. Other than that, we have a very small DIY scene (mostly for hardcore but sometimes emo), which we have been trying to build upon over the years. A lot of our shows have been ran by house shows in the past. Recently, I’ve been booking shows at a small DIY art studio called Art Closet Studios. They’ve been an amazing help to the music community in Kansas City.
5) You’ve done a lot of splits. Are there any bands left you’d like to do a split with?
Yes, I have! I think splits are a great way to promote your own music and help promote the music of your friends. Collaborations are a great way to explore your sound musically and with lyrical content as well because you’re able to experiment more than you would be on a typical EP or album. Most recently I’ve done a split with Mane Horse from California, a split with Cadie Cowden, Sink or Swim and Aaron Hurtado who are all from Kansas City, Missouri , a split with Little Kingdoms from Pennsylvania, and a split with Joie de Vivre and The Please & Thank Yous from Illinois. I love those bands both musically and as individuals. There are plenty of bands I still want to do splits with. Some I can think of off the top of my head are: Bicycle Sunday, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), Palmkite, Malegoat, Dowsing, and Football Etc. But there are many many more.  
6) Whenever I go to a thrift store, I tend to find CDs for sale of emo bands (Get Up Kids, Brand New, etc) and it seems to me in ways that people tend to go through an “emo phase” in their teens perhaps (And I don’t want to generalize or sound sexist, but I do believe a lot of them are teenage girls), thus when they grow out of it the albums get dumped into the donate bin.   I have created a photo blog that will represent this called Disposable Emo ( and as someone with emo in their band name I was wondering your thoughts on emo music being a phase for some people, more so than other genres of music it seems?

In my opinion, if you go to record/cd stores you’ll find all types of used music for sale there, not just “emo” music. I don’t see why you’re focusing on that type??? In regards to your question, I think almost everyone goes through some sort of a music phase and it doesn’t necessarily have to be emo. I used to listen to Madonna 24/7. You can connect with different types of music at different times of your life. Sometimes you get over it, but often it sticks with you. In addition, I think we could talk about this for quite some time, but it’s actually a bit silly that you generalize “emo kids” as teenage girls because a large criticism of the emo community by feminist (that I generally agree with and believe is the entire punk community needs to work on as a whole) is that it often excludes individuals who are not white heterosexual males.   
7) Final thoughts, shout outs, etc…??
Yes, of course! I want to remind everyone that you can download all of my music FOR FREE on my bandcamp:
Thanks so much to you for asking to do the interview and running a rad website! Thanks so much to Dael Horhota for being the cutest human being on the planet and making my life perfect (go listen to his music: Thanks to the following record labels for being the best: Keep It Together. Count Your Lucky Stars. Carucage. It's a Trap! Finally, thanks to anyone who took the time to read this!

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