Spotlight Band: Your Best Friend
Now YOU have a friend in the music business! This progressive rock quartet hails from Saginaw, MI. Their music will make your ears happy, their hijinks will make you laugh, and should you ever have the misfortune of being stuck in a tree, they’ll be there to rescue you! Meet YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Your Best Friend is:
Interviewed by: Debie “Jinx” Patton
Let’s start with a little basic background info: everyone introduce yourselves, tell us what instrument you play, and how you first got started in music.
Nick: My name’s Nick, I play the drums. I was sixteen, and I wasn’t good at anything, so I figured I’d give drums a try…and it worked!
Steve: My name is Steve. I play guitar and I sing. My mom says I’ve been singing my whole life, so I don’t know when that actually started. Thirteen or fourteen is when I started playing guitar seriously, I guess.
John: My name is John, I play the guitar, the keyboards, and I sing. I started playing guitar when my older brother, Joe, brought one home. I think I was like eleven or twelve, and I thought he was the bee’s knees! I thought it was so cool that he could just listen to the radio and play it on guitar, so I just started doing what he did. And then I started playing piano when our guitar & piano player quit, and I ended up pulling double-duty.
Dale: My name is Dale Brown and I play the bass guitar, and I sing as well. I got started playing the bass when I met John and this band, and he was like, “hey, do you want a roast beef sandwich?” And I was like, “no, that’s stupid! You’re an idiot!” And then he said, “do you wanna be in my band?” And I was like, “okay!” And then he said, “do you wanna play the bass guitar?” And I was like, “oh, man, okay!” That’s the long and short of it, if you will, and I hope you will!
How long has “Your Best Friend” been together as a band, then?
Nick: We’ve been a version of YBF for…seven years? Yeah, seven years this November. I joined about four years ago, in April, and Steve joined about six months..or a year now?
Most musicians are able to pin it down to one artist or group and say, “they’re the reason I decided to play music.” Who is your biggest inspiration or influence?
Nick: I’d say that The Beatles were it for me. My favorite band of all time. And um..I hope to be one, someday..if that’s at all possible?
Steve: I don’t know..probably Coldplay is a huge influence for me. In like, middle school I was trying to pick up what their piano melodies were and stuff. That was the first kinda music that I really tried to learn. Yeah, that’s me.
John: I think my two most major influences right now would be Cursive and Modest Mouse. But there’s so many, like Radiohead and Brand New.
Dale: I think..we’re gonna start with one band, and we’re gonna see if I can turn it into another by the time I’m done talking… I think At The Drive In is the band that really slapped me in the face and showed me what I should be doing with my life. I am nine, so… And I’ll stick with that one..I don’t wanna get tortured on it.
Describe your sound for our readers who have never heard of you until now, and what sets you apart from others in your genre?
Nick: We like to just kinda call ourselves a rock band. I mean, I guess people call us progressive, people call us indie… But I think the thing that kinda sets us apart is that we all sing. We’re really big on the four part–there’s not really a lead singer, the vocals are just kinda all over the place. We’re kinda like the Backstreet Boys, but with a bitchin’ rock & roll band behind it!
What’s the overall message you’d like to convey through your “bitchin'” music?
Nick: Well, we have separate things with each song that we want to express, like whatever the story is, or whatever we’re feeling.
John: We try to keep it positive. We just wanna write music that means a lot to us, and hopefully it means a lot to other people.
You mentioned that there’s not really a “lead” vocalist in this band, all four of you sing. Does this affect your songwriting process at all?
John: YES!! It affects it very much beacuse there are four people who all want a certain thing to happen in each song, and we always butt heads and we’re always fighting. But, I think..like, it’s a very strenuous and stressful process..but I think the end result is what makes us happy to be a part of this. We’re really proud of the songs that we’ve put together.
Steve: Just to add to that: when we write, like if someone doesn’t like a part, then we oust it. We don’t use it… Which really sucks! But in the end, everyone likes every part, you know? So..that’s how we do.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you guys have already released one self-titled full-length, right?
Dale: You are correct.
John: You are not wrong.
And you’ve got an acoustic EP on the way July 10th…
Dale: Sure do!
What can you tell us about that? Title, tracklisting, where can people buy it, anything?
Nick: It’ll be one new song, called “Setting Sail,” and four old songs from the last record that are re-written. It’s kinda like an alternative version, I guess. We’re gonna have it up on iTunes and a couple places like that. We’re gonna do the digital drop cards. And um..we recorded it with our friend Sean in Orland Park, IL. He’s awesome. He helps out a lot, he played a bunch of different instruments on the record that we don’t know how to play with like pedal steel and he played some banjos and mandolins and all kinds of weird hippie stuff. It turned out really well, we were all really happy with it. So we’re gonna do that July 10th, and then we’re going back into the studio like three weeks later to do a new EP of regular, full-band, all-new songs.
How do you feel you’ve grown musically since the first CD?
Nick: Honestly, I mean, it’s been two years since we released that, and we toured for about a year and a half of that..we toured a lot. And you get better as a musican just playing every night like that, and you don’t even realize it. And we came home and just..the new songs are like..they’re a little harder for us to play. I think we’ve found our sound a little bit more, though. Some of the new stuff is a little more vocal-driven. It feels like it’s more cohesive now, it doesn’t sound like just parts that we mashed together, it sounds like..songs!
John: When we wrote some of the songs on the full-legnth record that we have out, it was like five years ago, so we’ve gotten better at writing and our styles have changed and progressed over the years. So I think that’s why we’re most excited about this new direction we’ve taking.
Of the songs included on the CD and the EP, which one do you feel most defines your band? Which is your favorite one to play?
John: That’s tough… I think, right now, we would have to say all of our new songs, because that’s what’s happening right now to us; that’s what’s most fresh and that’s the direction we’re going right now. I think, over time, bands shed their skin and they evolve and new music comes out of that, and that’s what’s so exciting about being a band, you always get to create something new. With our last record, there were three or four songs that were written with a different drummer, like five of them were written with a different guitar player, there was one–well, half of one–that was written with just three of us..I mean, it was different people all the way through it. And you know, when we do this new stuff, all of it’s been written by the four of us sitting in a room just..just fighting it out, like little sissy-boys, punching faces…
Nick: Steve has a quick couple questions for you, Jinx!
Oh, I wasn’t done with the interview yet, just…
Steve: We’ll get back to that in a minute, I have a question for you.
Steve: How many times a day would you say that you…think about running laps..on a racetrack?
Well, I go running every morning at 6am, and I run about four miles, but it’s not on a racetrack, so..one..-ish?
Steve: That’s great! That helps a lot. Okay, question number two..and this is my final question, bear that in mind… If you were to climb a tree, and you got to the top, and realized that you were scared and couldn’t come down, do you think you would have remembered your cell phone to call the firefighters to get you down, or do you think you would have forgotten it that day?
I always have my cell phone on me. Always.
Steve: Alright, you did great! That’s 100%, two-for-two, and we can continue now with things that matter. I wanna add to that, that if you get stuck in a tree, you call us, and we’ll be there for ya!
Alright, thank you so much for that! You’re unsigned, but your online bio boasts some pretty significant accomplishments: 11 self-booked US tours, over 500 shows that have taken you to 35 states already, Warped Tour… How difficult has all of that been as an indie band in today’s music industry?
Steve: Um..it’s actually 13 now..and it’s been rough! We had a booking agent for a hot minute and..that didn’t last. But I think the way that we’re doing it is better in the long run..that once we get a certain level of success, that we’ll really apprecaite it, being that we worked so hard for it. But yeah, it’s been..way too much work and it’s a full-time job, you know? One that we’re not getting paid for! It’s tough, but we’re just doing what we love, just trying to get by.
Would you say that’s one of the best parts of being an indie band, then? Being able to truly appreciate the success you have because you really worked for it?
Steve: I wouldn’t say that’s the best part…
Dale: I think it’s the women!
Steve: I think at this point we’re kind of over being an indie band. We’re looking to..we’ve done all we can as an indie band and I think we’re looking to move on and take the next step.
How do you feel technology has impacted the industry? Do you feel that reaching more fans through sites like MySpace and Facebook balances or outweighs the money bands & labels lose because of file sharing sites/programs?
Nick: That’s tough. I think that in the beginning MySpace and Facebook and things like that, they were making a lot of bands very successful, but now it’s just… Everyone’s looking for that new social networking site because they just get so worn out and there’s a million bands in the world trying to do exactly what we’re doing. And it’s sad, you know? We play shows every night and we play with a lot of great bands, but we also play with a lot of bands that..shouldn’t be touring, you know? I mean, it’s sad, the state of the music business nowadays. I mean, there’s still plenty of great bands, but there’s..it’s almost like they need to be weeded out a little bit, you know?
What do you feel is the biggest thing that’s missing from music today?
Steve: I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest thing, but something that’s very important to us is: musicians that know how to play their instruments! Like, it means a lot to me when someone takes their craft and they learn the ins and outs and how to properly play your instrument and be a legit musician versus someone who just picks up a guitar and..chokes.
Who has been your favorite artist or band that you’ve shared a stage with to date?
Nick: There’s a lot. We just had the opportunity to play with Chiodos, and they’ve been really good to us. There’s a band from Denver called The Rouge that we really love. There’s some bands in Illinois called Harvey and Whisperwall..um, Sent By Ravens..Jacob’s Ladder. There’s a lot of bands from Michigan that we like, too. The Swellers, Robots in the Garden… We’ve had a lot of opportunities to play with a lot of good bands.
Who haven’t you performed alongside yet but would like to?
Nick: Metallica. (laughs) There’s a lot. I mean, I guess we’ve all got bands that it would be our dream to tour with.
John: I’d love to tour with Cursive, Modest Mouse, Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World, Moneen…
Nick: Jimmy Eat World, for sure.
John: I mean, that’s just dreaming, you know, but that’d be huge.
Steve: I’d like to tour with Foxy Shazam because he eats cigarettes onstage!
Yes, he does!
Steve: His CD is awesome! I heard it’s actually really good for your digestive system when you eat cigarettes.
Actually, it’s terrible! (laughs) Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions?
Nick: We like to stretch, because we’re old men and we’ll pull a hammy!
Dale: I never eat cheese before noon.
Nick: Yeah, Dale never eats cheese before noon. (laughs) I like to jump up and try and get myself all fuckin’ pumped up and jacked. Um..sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and just try and give myself a little pep-talk like..like, “listen, you! You’re really gonna give it..give it to ’em today!”
John: In addition to doing stretches, I do vocal warm-ups. A couple of us do them, and they sound really stupid. They’re like, “lagalagalagalaga!” I dunno…
Your bio says you’ve been through three vans and two trailers already…either you’re buying cheap transport or you’re going to share a crazy tour story right now. Which is it?
Nick: No, we’re trying to each have our own van and trailer, so uh… We’re midway. We take ’em all.
Dale: …that’s not true. (laughs)
Nick: No, we go through vans because we tour a LOT. And it’s not that they break down, it’s just, we outgrow them. The first two vans were minivans and uh, we started workin’ out too much, and our muscles got too big and… Pretty much, we couldn’t fit all our stuff in the van, so..we had to buy a trailer. And when that trailer filled up, we had to buy a bigger trailer. So that’s where we are. You still want a crazy tour story?
John: We were on a five-week tour one time, and it was wintertime, and we like to head south to get out of the ice and snow and stuff. So we’re coming back–I think our last show was like March 1st back in Grand Rapids–and we’re on our way there, and it’s just a huge snowstorm. We were going like, maybe fifty miles and hour, and we hit a patch of black ice, and we spun out. We did um, a 540, and we ended up facing the wrong way on the highway, and our van and trailer was like, stuck in the median in all the snow and ice and stuff. So we called the tow truck companies, and they would not come get us out! We called the police, to maybe send someone out to like, put up some flares or something, because the way our headlights were facing, other cars were drifting off the road, and then they were getting stuck in the median, too! So, no one was gonna help us, and the cops didn’t come, so we had to unload all of our stuff out of the trailer, put it in the van, unhook the trailer from the van and try to get out. About an hour and a half later, the cops finally show up, and they’re like, “which one of you is John Bonham? You were really rude to our dispatch!” And like, you know, I was upset, because I had just been in a wreck and almost died, but I was not rude! And so they made me call the dispatch and apologize! And I..I couldn’t believe it.
When you’re not playing music, what can the members of the band be found doing?
John: Most of the stuff that I do day-to-day still has to do with the band, like booking shows or writing music, stuff like that. Some of my hobbies: I like watching a good TV show called “Lost,” and I’m a huge wrestling fan.
A friend of yours told me that wrestling would probably come up in this interview at least once!
Steve: Hm..what do I like to do on my time off from tour? …I don’t know what I do, man! What do I do? I’m always writing music, whether it’s for Your Best Friend or like, solo stuff or whatever, so I’m always doing that. I like to go swimming in the summer with my friends.
Nick: I actually go to college, so I gotta do a lot of that crap–which totally sucks, but… I got some friends at home, we do a lot of the same stuff. I watch “Lost,” hang out. Lately I’ve been going to shows, which is weird, because normally I don’t. All of us have been doing this P90X thing for a while, which totally sucks, too…
Oh my God…yeah it does! (laughs)
Nick: I wanna fight. If you can get a hold of Tony and tell him our band wants to fight him… But we wanna do it over time, though. We wanna him fight over time.
Dale: I don’t do P90X because I don’t believe in it, it’s against my religion. But that’s beside the point. I kind of only do two things. I do construction, I build stuff, work on houses..that’s like the one facet. And then, the other faucet facet is hanging out with my girlfriend, Sarah. And we do things like watch movies, and just..like figure skating, and we take dance lessons… And none of that’s true except the movies. But we don’t hold hands too much, because that’s kind of weird. But that’s about it.
Describe each of your bandmates in three words or less…
Dale: Oh! Man! Each of them, like person-by-person?
This is a two-part, fill-in-the-blank question. You can answer both parts or just one. Fill in the blank: “I’ll never forget the first time I…” For the second part, I want you to choose one of your bandmates and complete the same sentence: “I’ll never forget the first time (bandmate)…”
Steve: I’ll never forget the first time I went to second grade! Yep.
Dale: I’ll never forget the first time I had my first beer!
Nick: I’ll never forget the first time Dale took his pants off and ran through our practice space! I say that like it’s happened more than once now. I won’t forget.
**We’re not sure if this is the incident in question, but it’s pretty traumatic nonetheless!***
If you had to be handcuffed to one other member of your band for a full 48 hours, who would you choose and why?
John: I would pick Dale, because he could get us out of that! (band agrees)
Dale: That’s perfect that they say that, because my answer was gonna be, um… Did you ever see the movie “Saw?”
Dale: That’s my answer! (laughs)
Oh my God!
John: It’s only 48 hours, we can’t just wait it out?
Dale: Nope, sorry!
Um, moving on! What’s your favorite curse word?
Dale: Oh! Bitchtits!
Steve: Shitbird’s a good one. Um..punkass.
Friends share secrets… If you’re going to be our best friend, what’s the most private thing you’re willing to share about yourself with TWRY.com?
Nick: Can I share something about one of the other guys? That’s way easier!
Sure, why not?
Nick: John’s got…
Nick: You just nodded that I could!
Dale: I’m giving you permission!
John: No, why’s it gotta be about me?!
Nick: John’s got issues with..number two.
Dale: John wipes a lot.
John: It just never goes well..it never goes well.
Nick: That’s not my secret to tell, but I’m gonna do it in code, so… B. Space. 2.
There’s a line in your bio about you guys not liking Fig Newtons or shrubbery, so I have to ask: if you were stranded on a deserted island with Fig Newtons and a shrubbery, which would you throw into the ocean first?
John: I would say I would throw away Fig Newtons because they are not edible, however, shrubbery is delicious!
Dale: I think..what happens is we just say or type the first thing that comes into our heads. A lot of times, it doesn’t make any sense. You probably already know that from all of this interview. I don’t know if he actually hates Fig Newtons or shrubbery, I think that’s just what his brains told him to write!
In all seriousness, what is the most important thing our readers should know about your band?
John: This is all we ever want to do with our lives. Music is the most important thing to us, and that’s what we spend every second of the day doing: trying to figure out ways that we can make this band successful and let us do what we want to do with our lives, because all we want to do is play a show in a different city every single night and meet new people and have them help us sing our songs. That’s the best feeling in the world. A crowd of people singing your words with you..that’s the most powerful thing in music.
Famous last words? Anything goes here.
John: On a serious note, let’s mention again that our acoustic EP release is July 10th at Fischer Hall in Frankenmuth, Michigan. It’s called “Ghosts.” It’s gonna be $6 in advance, $8 at the door, you get the drop card with the album on it for free, and… We’re gonna be heading back into the studio the first week of August, and look for some new full-band material this fall..late fall!
July 10, 2010 Fischer Hall *EP release show* – Frankenmuth, MI
July 11, 2010 Hot Topic – Saginaw, Michigan
July 22, 2010 Howell Opera House – Howell, Michigan
July 23, 2010 Plymouth Roc Bar – Plymouth, Michigan
For music, videos, news, tourdates, merch, and other randomness by Your Best Friend online, check them out on the following sites: