Though the album isn’t expected out until later this year, much of the newest material from Herzog’s forthcoming Boys has already made its way into blistering live sets. Recorded over two weeks in upstate New York, Herzog flagged producer Kevin McMahon to collaborate after hearing his work with Titus Andronicus. “Boys will be even more punk still,” says lyricist Tony Vorell. We talked to Vorell and Nick Tolar about writing the new album, their evolution since 2012’s Cartoon Violence, and how their collaborations outside of the band influenced this record.
Select interviews will be printed in the Premium Guide Book along with CD samplers of Brite artists given as a reward to Kickstarter backers. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte // Photo credit: Suzuran Photography
“At a certain point, that’s kind of the reason for writing. To have something the guys want to play, to get excited about, to have some fun. ” – Tony Vorell
There was a natural sound evolution from Search into Cartoon Violence, especially with Tony, who comes from a background with a punk influence, collaborating more as a songwriter. In the same vein, how has that progressed from Cartoon Violence to Boys?
TV: Boys will be even more punk still. The tempos are way faster, and that’s really Dan Price on drums just cutting loose. Nick definitely had a lot more classic rock influence; Beatles, Pink Floyd, where as I was a huge Bad Religion fan. But Nick has taken to it; he’s having a lot of fun with louder songs.
From your work together in Expecting Rain to Herzog becoming a full band, can you tell us more about your songwriting process?
NT: We took a big break when after the Search record. Since then, we just kept writing. We get together once a week. Tony has his ideas ready and I have a song ready and we just do it, in terms of the very beginning of the song. Then I take it to the band and we flesh it out. We’ve been together so long that we know each other pretty well now and trust each other. We have a good working relationship, a very honest working relationship.
We wrote all the songs together. I came up with the melodies and the chords but everyone wrote their own parts and we all arranged it together so it was very much a band record. That’s the biggest thing; everyone had a hand in this. A couple of the songs are a little older, but all of the songs on the record have the same feel to them. It’s much more cohesive and I’m really proud of it. I think it’s the best thing we’ve done.
How do you think your collaborations outside of Herzog have affected how you write together as a band?
TV: There’s a song on the new album that even names Rob Kovacs, Expecting Rain’s keyboardist. I just wanted to write something Rob could play on. At a certain point, that’s kind of the reason for writing. To have something the guys want to play, to get excited about, to have some fun. That comes up a lot, the theme of guys going out and just having a good time.
NT: I think over the last couple years, Rob moved back from New York and we’ve all been a little closer and willing to help each other out. Out of the group of people I know that I play music with, we just kind of rotate. We’ll work on anything.
Whenever the band gets together, what do you listen to that always makes its way back into rotation?
NT: The Beatles. Everyone in the band likes different music but whenever we put on The Beatles I feel like everyone enjoys it.
What’s been one of your favorite places to play live?
NT: The Happy Dog. Every time I play there it’s better than the last. I absolutely love that place.
What’s your favorite material to play live?
NT: Usually the new stuff. My favorite part of music is creating it and usually the newer a song is the more fun and fresh it is to play. In some cases, you’re still figuring parts out and there’s an energy in that.