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Guitarist Mike York talks the band’s upcoming show on Tempe campus, new album

Photo by Mitch Wojcik, Courtesy of Top Shelf Records
Photo by Mitch Wojcik, Courtesy of Top Shelf Records

If you’re an ASU student and you have class on Thursday nights, be aware that something other than Facebook or the latest YouTube video may distract you.

Touche Amore, Pianos Become the Teeth and Seahaven are raiding ASU campus for a night at the Secret Garden this Thursday night, showing students what a real hardcore concert looks and sounds like.

The State Press talked with Mike York, guitarist for Pianos Become the Teeth, about touring, the band’s latest album and how writing can have a love/hate relationship.

The State Press: So why did you guys decide to play on campus?

Mike York: Our booking guy booked it for us. His exact words were, “I booked you guys at the state campus because I do cool sh-- like that.” So we didn’t choose to do it, but I’m stoked to do it.

SP: This newest album seems darker and heavier than the past couple albums, can you tell me how you guys got that concept?

MY: It wasn’t really a conscious thing. What we were writing at the time and what was coming out ended up being a little darker, a little bit heavier. Our lead singer Kyle’s dad died this past year, so obviously that’s been pretty much on his mind. That played a lot into the lyrics. Musically, especially guitar wise, as dumb as it sounds, I enjoy sadder, sappy music because I feel like its more fun to write.

SP: Are there any albums from the past five years that have inspired your sound?

MY: I know — as cliché as it sounds — but all of our friends’ bands have released incredibly dark records in the past couple years. The band Defeater, when they did the “Lost Grounds EP,” that was incredible. The new Touche (Amore) record is incredible … I personally listen to that new Bon Iver record, which was really great. I can go on with all the albums that have had some sort of influence on us.

I feel like it’s more so when I sit down and play guitar, it’s not really records that influence me. It’s more so like, “Oh, this is where I’m at in my life.” Chad and I usually write everything acoustically first and then translate it to band stuff. If it sounds pretty heavy acoustic, it’s going to sound heavy electric, too.

We’ll bring it to band practice and people will kind of tear it apart or say, “Hey, let’s try this here.”

We’ll never ever release a song that not everyone is 100 percent stoked on, which is probably why it takes us forever to write.

SP: So how long did it take to write this album?

MY: About a year and a few months. We started writing and funny enough, the song “Sunsetting” — which is the second to last song on the record — was the first we started writing and then the very last song we actually finished writing because it changed so many times. We started writing in May 2010 and we actually finished writing literally a week before we hit the studio.

(On) The Saddest Landscape split, we did that one song and it took us six months to write, so that gives you a kind of indication on how terribly long the process can be.

SP: So would you work on a song every day or every other?

MY: Personally, I’d probably be working on recording or writing three to four days a week. We were all pretty much doing the same thing. We’d try to have a practice and some nights, it’d be overly frustrating and then there would be some nights where things would be going great. It was kind of the luck of the draw.

We set a deadline. We’re not going to go on tour without a new record. Hands down. We’ve already done two tours on “Old Pride.”

SP: Does Kyle write the majority of the lyrics?

MY: He writes all of them and that’s his thing. We don’t tell him what to write because he’s incredible at what he does and that’s his outlet. We don’t have input like, “Here change this line to this.” Usually, when we read his lyrics, we’re blown away.

SP: Did you want to tour with Touche Amore from the beginning of this record?

MY: Oh yeah. We literally saw them in a basement in Baltimore probably two years ago right when they were doing their first U.S. tour. They blew us away.

SP: You guys have now put out three records, are touring again and just toured Europe. What other goals do you have?

MY: We love touring. We love seeing new places and meeting new people. I mean, we’re going to tour as much as humanly possible. I don’t want to leave one stone unturned.

SP: Why should ASU students come to this show?

MY: Come see Touche. I mean, that band kills it every single night. They’re one of the most fun bands to watch live like super passionate. For me, when I see a band play live, I want to see them passionate about what they do.

We’re always down to hang out or whatever. A lot of people get this notion that because we write this music that’s somewhat depressing, we’re somewhat sad people. We’re not at all.

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