Q and A with The BackgroundDecember 3, 2012
It is truly my pleasure to bring you guys this great band out of my own town, Dallas, TX. The Background is an awesome, high energy pop rock band with all different types of influences that shine through their music. The band is made up of vocalist Shaun Gunnels, Kris Trevino and James Gonzalez on guitar and vocals, bassist Sean Bottoms, and drummer Ray Baumgratz. This may be a smaller band, but through our contest they proved they have a strong fan base that stretches across the globe. We got a chance to meet up and sit down with the guys here in Dallas, take a look at what they had to say.
BS: How long has the current line-up been together?
TBG: A year.
BS: What type of music is it that you would say you guys make?
Sean: I think more and more its become just like rock, maybe with a pop influence.
Shaun: Like mainstream pop rock. A lot of people put us in the punk genre because of the bands we typically play with, but we do have more of a pop aspect than punk I would say, but rock is definitely in there. So we either play with hardcore like Set It Off, well not hardcore but more of a screamo or we play with the opposite of that, I Call Fives or boy bands like School Boy Humor.
BS: With being from the area, what type of support have you seen around here?
Sean: We have our pockets, one girl always gets 2 or 3 friends or more sometimes to go to our shows.
BS: Do you have a favorite venue around here to play?
Shaun: The Door has always been my home. I played my first show there, played my first tour support show there, and my first headlining show there.
BS: Are there any specific bands that you feel have influenced you in the music that you guys make?
Shaun: For me personally, as a songwriter I draw inspirations from all kinds of shit. Sorry this is turning into a long answer, I use to work for this company called Buzz Oven, which was really awesome back in the day because this company that would print off probably 100,000 CD’s. They’d have a big touring band like Bowling For Soup, then they would have like a regional band, and then a battle of the bands person that was just starting out. I use to promote for them, one of the artists like just going around with him and helping him set up for shows was The Rocket Summer. I saw him start off from bringing 15 people to a Starbucks to 15,000 people at some of his bigger shows. The Rocket Summer definitely got me interested in the whole thing. Now a days probably based more on what we listen to, and we each listen to different types of music. So inspirations are drawn from all types of places.
BS: Do you think that helps with your music that you each have different tastes and bring something different to the group?
Shaun: Oh yeah, I think if we all listened to the same thing our genre of music would be very bland and generic. This way James our guitar player comes from a hardcore band having never done this style of music, Ray came from an indie band and has also been a hip hop drummer has been good for him its been like a mix of everything he’s done, for me I’ve always done this genre of music. Like I told you in the car we’re making it more and more mature, so I guess I am maturing as a songwriter. And Sean comes from the same hardcore bands James comes from. We’re trying to touch upon each genre, and like when we ever decide to sit down and do a full length each song is going to be different.
BS: I think that adds a lot to an album. Like Say Anything released In Defense of the Genre and every song was a little bit different. It was a really strong album for them.
Shaun: Oh yeah, that gave them a lot of respect as a band from other musicians out there and guys especially. It’s people like Max Bemis, people like Andrew McMahon from Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, just the way they write music is crazy. Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie, like those just stick out they have a name for themselves, and not only that their bands have a name for themselves. I am inspired by them.
BS: With you guys having started playing “Hands Up” live, what has the response been like?
Shaun: The Set It Off show was the first time, it was cool cause I had everyone put their hands up, and a couple of people expected it because we talked so much shit about “Hands Up” before that show. The hype was there and the people at the show were hyped. I do that at every show. For me personally, it gives me butterflies when I’m up at a show and like the song is called “Hands Up” so having people’s hands up. If we had a song called Clap and there were people clapping I’d probably get the same feeling or a song called whistle. It makes it more than just a song, makes it almost like a play. Like Say Anything they put on a freaking play live. That’s what we are trying to get into as well. But so far, So good. We’ve only played it at 3 shows. The fans are starting to like it more and more. Like “Okay” is still a hit at shows and its only been out a couple of months, so hopefully “Hands Up” will have the same time frame.
Sean: It’s kind of cool when people interact.
BS: I know the night you guys released “Hands Up” it seemed like there was a lot of people waiting up for it. Did you get a good response from them?
Shaun: We’ll find out in January, when the iTunes sales comes back to us.
Sean: As far as verbal we got a lot of interaction. Yeah, we’ll see what the financial reports show, but as far as compliments and people saying they loved it.
Shaun: Like Substream had it up for free and PureVolume had it up for free for a couple of days, so a lot of people downloaded it. A lot of good response, a lot of people want a music video, but we probably won’t do one.
Sean: I think we’re going to do a lyric video if we do anything.
BS: Where can people download “Hands Up”?
[also available for a limited time as a free download only on BareBones Ent at the bottom of this interview!]
BS: Besides Set It Off, what other bigger bands have you shared the stage with?
TBG: We have played multiple shows with Sparks The Rescue, This Providence, Hit The Lights, Action Item, Never Shout Never, The Venetia Fair, and Artist vs. Poet.
BS: What are some bands you would still love to share the stage with?
TBG: Third Eye Blind
BS: You have a single out called, “Okay”, what was the inspiration behind that song?
Shaun: About a girl. Every line in the song is about something real that actually happened. I wanted to write heartfelt song that reflected something personal in my life. I think we all have that one someone who we miss and will never get that second chance with. “Okay” is about mine.
BS: You have a great album out called Your Friends, which features the title track, what was the inspiration behind that song?
TBG: Just the party life and materialistic girls. “Your Friends” was a fun track to write I think because of the tempo. Lyrics were added later and I think we just wanted that gutsy in your face attitude with that.
BS: Was there a running theme or message that you were trying to get across through that album?
Shaun: We let out a lot of angst on that album. Your Friends was written over the span of an entire year. I went through a lot in my personal life in that year, and basically wrote a song about every big event.
BS: With the 2 singles you’ve released, can we expect another album or EP soon?
TBG: Yep!! New EP in 2013 for sure. Might have “Okay” and “Hands Up” on it, but we aren’t 100% sure yet. Only time will tell!
BS: There’s been mention of a new single, when can people expect to see that be released? Any information you can give us on it?
TBG: This January! It’s going to be a mix of both singles we have out now. Expect things also that we don’t normally do.
BS: Now is it correct that you’ve been doing all of the albums, songs, shows, etc. by yourselves? What has that experience been like?
TBG: We just have a really close group of people outside of the band that are helping us. We record with a very good friend on a cheap budget. All funds made on iTunes or merch go directly back into the band through merch and music.
BS: Is there any desire to get on a label or do you prefer the DIY method?
TBG: We just want everyone to hear our music and hopefully fall in love with it. Wherever that takes us if where we will be!
BS: You’re making an announcement about a tour, what is that like for you? Anywhere you are excited to play?
Shaun: We haven’t toured in a while so we are all excited. Some of the newer member have never toured, so I am stoked to see how excited they are, ya know? I can’t wait to get out of my element and spread my music around the south this January, and hopefully more in 2013!
BS: From the experiences you guys have went through, what advice would you have for other unsigned bands?
Sean: I think we had better luck outside the Dallas area. I mean sometimes some of the bands are busy and can’t do it, but as far as the wanting to do something I think it’s been more positive feedback.
BS: What can fans expect to see from The Background in the near future here?
TBG: We’re planning a small Texas tour for late January. Another single coming out, we’re trying to push out by January, but we’ll see how that goes. Definitely in March we’ll do another run and try to get outside of Texas that time. It’d be nice to start in Florida and work our way over to Texas but we don’t know, or even starting in Oklahoma and doing Texas. Definitely more shows and more media. You’re just going to see a lot more of us.
BS: What would you say are your short-term and long-term goals for the band, what would you like to see?
TBG: Long-term, I’d like to see, well every band wants this, but I’d like to see about 50 die-hard fans in every state. Looking for our street team to grow. Just the whole experience with The Background to grow. Right now we have 5 band members, Jen, and Jan so that’s a team of 7. It’d be nice to get it up to a team of 10 and have a thousand supporters underneath you, die-hard fans. That’s our realistic numbers we’re looking for.
BS: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
TBG: We are very grateful for the support, we wouldn’t be here without you. We hope to see you soon.