Here’s our list of ten influences. I left out obvious stuff like Bad Religion, Lagwagon and the 90s/early 00s Fat/Epitaph catalogues, and more abstract stuff like jealousy and inadequacy, but make no mistake, those are all HUGE influences on everything we do. But, without further ado, here’s our list:
1. Alkaline Trio
What can I say about the Alkaline Trio that hasn’t been said? For my money, with Skiba’s ability to craft a perfect metaphor and turn it into melodic perfection while Dan lays down beautiful harmonies and Derek completely kills it on the drums and high notes, hardly anything can come close to fucking with it.
2. The Lawrence Arms
Matt Skiba may be the gold standard for metaphors, but the way Brendan Kelly takes snippets from every aspect of pop culture and weaves them together to explain the personal struggles that he (and all of us) are going through is a HUGE influence on everything we’re trying to do over here.
I talk about it all of the time, but I compare the way I love a band like NOFX to the way I love The Simpsons: extended back catalogues, that are still active today, that as a child/teenager everyone relates to heavily, and despite being weighed down by years and years of whatever, it’s hard to compare anything to their golden early-middle outputs. That being said, Futurama (and, for a band example, The Lawrence Arms) is perfect from the jump and is a contained entity that is perfect throughout its entirety that as an adult, I find myself relating to so much more than any other TV show (or band). It’s a show that will make you laugh, cry, think, smile – whatever you want, it’s got. We’ve incorporated everything from song titles and sound clips (“War Were Declared”, “Forget the Park”) to references in lyrics, to band bios, etc. from this show.
4. Comic Books
Perhaps the backbone on which our band is built is Nick and mine’s love of comic books. When I first met Nick, we bonded over the fact that we were both really into comics. It’s sort of defined who we are and the way we think about everything. Our new record “Lanterns” would not exist without the Geoff Johns run on Green Lantern (from like Green Lantern: Rebirth through Blackest Night), our EP “String Theory”’s cover art is inspired by the DC character The Question, an old EP of ours is called “New Ways to Die” which is the name of an arc from The Amazing Spider-Man from like 2008 (even though I don’t really consider that EP canon anymore [even me considering things canon and non-canon is comic-inspired]), our song “Post-Crisis Origins” is inspired by the fact that certain things became non-canon after Crisis on Infinite Earths and how our band sort of had a soft reboot around the release of that song. There’s more examples, but you get the idea.
5. Jeff Rosenstock and Ryan Young
Not in the sense that Bomb the Music Industry/Jeff’s solo stuff and Off With Their Heads are huge influences on us (even though they totally are and I LOVE those bands), I’m talking about how the two of them as people are huge influences on us. At our inception, our band was a lot different. We had different guitarists, different lead singers, a different vibe. But when we were trying to, for like the fourth time in a couple years, find someone to join our band and play guitar, we hit a wall. Some people who lived in town were like, “I can play local shows, but I can’t tour” and people we had met on tour were like, “I can tour, but I wouldn’t be able to do stuff where you live.” So the way that a band like Off With Their Heads or Bomb the Music Industry (especially in their early years) is set up with Ryan or Jeff and then a rotating cast of different people really helped us shift into the band we are today with a guy who plays bass, a guy who plays drums and some other people we trust from different places. I mean, it was either that or wait and do nothing ’til we found someone who wanted to do it full-time (which we still haven’t and it’s been like 5 years at this point).
6. Bojack Horseman
Nothing had a bigger impact on the writing of our first album, “Fail Better”, than the first season of Bojack Horseman. Maybe it had a lot to do with where I was at in my life when I saw it, but I watched that first season front to back like 10 times when it came out. The only thing I wanted to do was put out an album that could maybe make people feel the way I felt when I watched that show. The desperation, the heartbreak, the word-play. It quickly became and still is my favorite show of all time. Our songs “Sandpaper Skin”, “X-Rays” and “No, I Think YOU’RE the Tar Pit” are all directly influenced by it, but the entire album’s vibe was crafted around it.
7. The song “The New Style” by The Beastie Boys
This song is just so cool. The entire vibe of it is just insanely cool. Front to back, just the sarcasm and confident boastfulness of stuff that’s not worth boasting about is incredible. The way that MCA comes in talking about being tough and hard and then Ad Rock comes in to echo his statement and hype him up but he’s doing it in a Jerry Louis voice, the way that most rappers are bragging about drinking champagne and The Beastie Boys are bragging about drinking Budweiser and eating White Castle with just as much pride in their voice as the guys bragging about actual cool stuff. It’s the way that they’re kind of not cool, but so stoked about it that makes them the coolest mother fuckers ever. To this day one of the coolest things we’ve ever done is sit in Nick’s truck eating White Castle while blasting this song.
8. The scene from “Wet Hot American Summer” where Ken Marino crashes his van
It’s just so fucking funny! His eyes aren’t even closed when he’s singing and then when he starts swerving, the exterior shot of the van is just driving straight! And that tree is like RIGHT in front of him. We watched the clip of it like 100 times one tour and every time there would be ANY kind of traffic or something on the road, whichever one of us was driving screamed, “OH FUCK!” Like he does and started swerving the wheel and all of us always lost our shit laughing. It hasn’t really influenced any songs or anything, but there was no way it wasn’t making the list.
9. Ben Folds Five
This is the one that always surprises people, but we fucking LOVE the Ben Folds Five. They’re a HUGE influence. The way that Ben Folds, Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee are just insanely talented musicians but downplay it so much, and that they’re just hilarious! Ben Folds had a guest arc on “You’re the Worst” (an amazing TV show, by the way) a couple years ago and he was so goddamn good on it. The freaking band name is the Ben Folds FIVE and there’s only THREE of them. They’re just awesome and write great songs. And how good was that come back album?!
10. The films of Mike Birbiglia
We’ve always been huge fans of Mike Birbiglia’s stand-up and it’s always cool when he pops up in things as an actor, but the two movies he wrote, directed and starred in are some of the most brutally relatable things I can think of off the top of my head. “Sleepwalk With Me” is an emotional gut punch about long-term relationships and touring. I’ve watched “Don’t Think Twice” a bunch of times and I don’t think I’ve ever made it through without crying. There’s a scene where Keegan Michael Key is tweeting to promote his improv show that night while he’s at work and says something like, “Sup everyone! Just out here delivering food. Fuck my life!” Chris Gethard has a line about how he’s fine working his stupid day job as long as he has improv because it makes him feel like he has a secret identity. Gillian Jacob’s line towards the end about feeling trapped in a well but being okay with it shaped our record “Lanterns”. I can not recommend these movies enough.
You should like Moonraker here and check out their music, including their newest album Lanterns which is incredible here.