Photo by Joe Calixto
Interview with vocalist and guitarist Pat Graham | By Kayla Greet
Since forming in 2008, Spraynard have helped put the Philadelphia punk scene on the map. “I saw a Modern Baseball shirt in the Hot Topic at the Exton Square mall. It was weird,” says singer and guitarist Pat Graham.
Despite a hiatus in 2012 after touring for three months on their Asian Man debut full-length Funtitled, they were welcomed back in 2014 with even more vivaciousness than when they split up. They immediately played a sold out show in Philly. Asian Man founder Mike Park had a lot to do with getting Spraynard back together, somewhat coercing them to put out their compilation album The Mark, Tom, and Patrick Show. “Mike would hit me up every few months and be like, ‘Do a record. Are you guys friends?”’ Graham remembers.
Initially the band was started to foster the scene in their home of West Chester and they have since blossomed into an international touring act with several releases under their belts. On May 19, Spraynard released Bench, a two song 7” on Jade Tree Records, as a precursor to a new full-length out later this year. The new full-length will include some of the last songs recorded with the band’s original lineup.
Just before starting a tour with Iron Chic and The World Is A Beautiful Place…, the band announced that bass player Mark Dickinson had left to pursue being a full time teacher. Stating that they are all still best friends, Graham goes on to say, “It’s not like it was a really ugly and hurtful conversation, but it was definitely a difficult decision to make. All three of us are just doing what we think is right and I don’t think any of us fault each other for that.” Spraynard are ramping up to be a full time band, and Jake Guralnik will be taking over bass. Graham says, “He played in a band called Crossed Eyes from Richmond, Va., and is really into the show ‘Friends.’”
Spraynard have had their fair share of tumultuous events and surprises on tour, so this change, while sad, is totally manageable. During their 2012 tour with Delay—also a three piece—both bands lost one member, to a medical emergency and family emergency respectively. This cut them down to one bassist and one drummer between the two bands for a few dates, though both members eventually rejoined the tour—on the same day! “I wouldn’t trade that tour for the world. It put a lot into perspective,” says Graham.
While the majority of their shows are full of people who intensely love Spraynard, not everyone agrees with their ethos. At recent show at UMASS Amherst, Graham talked to the crowd about inclusiveness and communication, especially as it pertained to women. “A dude” in the audience cut him off, yelling, “‘Shut the fuck up!’” Graham responded directly, telling them not to go to shows unless they include everyone. “Shows are my place to feel safe away from the shitty outside world. I’d like women to feel the same way, and the only way to accomplish that is to communicate with each other,” Graham shares.
Later this summer, the band plans to announce the yet untitled full-length, as well as a large U.S. tour. Getting signed to Jade Tree Records was like a dream come true for Spraynard. Of the new record, Graham reveals, “We all like Taylor Swift a lot more than we did a few years back, so the songs definitely have a stronger pop sensibility.” If the new single is any indication, Spraynard’s brand of pop punk does sound a lot more grown up.
In January 2015, the band joined a six way split, with Philadelphia bands like Beach Slang, called Strength in Weakness. The release was put out by Lame-O Records and is a benefit for United Cerebral Palsy. Late last year, they toured the U.K. for the first time with Modern Baseball. These moves are huge for a band who used to throw their shows at My Parents’ House, the house venue where they lived in their early years. They truly have grown out of their parents’ basement and small town, and into a widely known band who are much loved by their fans.
Spraynard just released their new album Mable, which can be heard below and purchased here.