Interview with Tanner Jones of You Blew It! | By John Hill
With the hubbub about “the emo revival” finally dying down, the cream of the crop has set itself apart, especially Orlando, Flo.’s You Blew It! Since the band’s inception in 2009, they have been ceaselessly pumping out releases and touring. With each new record, they further transform their influences, even releasing a cover album, You Blue It, which colored classic Weezer favorites with their own flair. Their latest three song EP, Pioneer Of Nothing, dropped Jan. 27 on the legendary Jade Tree, a huge achievement for the band.
When you covered songs off of Weezer’s Blue Album, what did you learn from adapting those songs?
I guess before we started working on the stuff, I always assumed, “Oh, Weezer’s great and all, but everything is so simple, it must be so easy to write these songs.” Then, we start learning them and notice these subtle marks of genius. [I went] into that thinking everything was so simple, it must be so easy to write, and I came out with a new appreciation for their songwriting style, and the immense [restraint] and genius it must take to have that [restraint]. Just to play the simple things, but focus on the bigger picture, which is certainly what those records are.
Has that experience affected the way you approach your own songwriting?
Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure you can tell, but our writing style isn’t… I don’t want to say [it’s] muddy, I feel like that’s the wrong word, but there’re so many guitar parts interweaving throughout any part of the song. I feel like that’s kind of a mark of insecurity for us. It’s something crazy that’s happening; we don’t feel like we’re great musicians or songwriters. So, I feel like doing the Blue Album and those covers has given us the courage to take a step back and maybe leave one guitar part in—or silence in—and focus on the song as a whole, rather than our insecurities of whether or not we’re doing something crazy.
Is it surreal to have your record coming out on Jade Tree?
It feels like a dream. It really, really feels like a dream. They approached us about putting out a 7”. We didn’t have any music at the time—or time to write it—but we bent over backwards, because they are Jade Tree. They put out all the releases that we look up to and base our records off of: Pedro The Lion, The Promise Ring, Appleseed Cast. Just to be a part of that family is completely wild.
Looking at an EP as a specific art form, what are your favorite parts about the medium?
I think it gives a lot of room for creativity, and provides a medium for a band like us to try new things without too much commitment. When you put out a full-length, obviously 12 songs is such a big body of work, you want it all to be perfect. With EPs, you also want it to be perfect, but since it’s such a short spurt, we feel way more comfortable going outside of our comfort zones to experiment, feel around, and make sure we’re comfortable going into a full-length.
From your last album, Keep Doing What You’re Doing, to this release, how have you changed as a musician?
Writing Keep Doing What You’re Doing, we [just] got off our last “basement” tour. We were playing in basements where you had to crank the amps up to 10 for people to hear you. Everything is so muddy, and you had to write a certain style to be heard in those venues. So Keep Doing What You’re Doing is very based on that. After we put that out, we were lucky enough to play venues with professional sound and microphones that don’t shock your face when you put your lips on them. So I feel like our writing style has gotten more delicate, and more focused on the intricacies that can be heard in those kinds of venues. We have a bigger [canvas] to paint on, I feel like.
What can you tell us about Pioneer Of Nothing?
We went into it with a lot more knowhow. I tried to nickname this one the “no screamy vocals EP,” because we want to keep moving forward in our musical… talents? I feel like Lebron James. [Laughs] “Gonna take my musical talents to Pioneer Of Nothing and Jade Tree.” Just trying to do things that scare us, in general.
Lyrically, what sort of themes and emotions did you want to express with this one?
I’m not smart enough to write fictional lyrics and get away with it, like [Jimmy Eat World’s] Jim Adkins or [Saves The Day’s] Chris Conley who write beautiful, beautiful pieces of music. So, anything I write is kind of reactionary to what’s going on in my life at that point. This EP is mostly about a time in my life a year ago when everything seemed uncertain. My girlfriend and I had been dating for about a year, and she got sick and was in the hospital for about a week. Most of it was about how scared I was, and how weird it was to go from feeling you’re invincible to sitting in a hospital for a week. It’s funny, because when you’re 18 and 19, you’re jumping off bridges, proverbially and literally. And a switch flips, you go into your 20s, and you’re like, “Holy shit, what the fuck was I thinking?” You learn the fragility of life, I guess.