On a Thursday afternoon in May, one o’clock Michigan time and six in the evening overseas, I hopped on a Zoom call to talk to the lads of Neck Deep. Despite a few connectivity problems, we managed to land the call, and we talked about the new record, Animal Crossing, and post-quarantine plans.
Neck Deep has been around the block a few times now, with their first record turning seven, it’s incredibly gratifying to see how far they’ve come as artists. Their latest album, “All Distortions are Intentional,” drops July 24th, and the record maintains the perfect balance between the new sound of Neck Deep and their classic pop-punk roots. Read on to find out what’s going on with our favorite group from across the pond.
Your new Record “All Distortions are Intentional Comes” out July 24th. Can you give us some insight on what inspired this record?
BB: I’m not really sure if there was any specific thing that inspired it directly. It’s influenced by the world around us. It’s influenced by mental health, its influenced by love and self-discovery and all that stuff. It follows the story of a central character whos name is Jack and the girl he ends up falling in love with, who’s Alice. It kind of revolves around his story and his struggle with depression, and ultimately looking into the world around him and how he fits into the world or how he doesn’t fit in the world and ultimately this grandiose realization at the end. It follows a pretty linear story, but heavily influenced by the time really. The kind of things that are happening now, I don’t think its an album about politics or society, I don’t think its directly social. It’s very much about your own personal discovery and journey within the crazy times we’re living in. I was inspired by wanting to maintain the Neck Deep sound and formula but to push ourselves and give ourselves more freedom than we ever have too.
I wanted to mention your single, “Lowlife” was lyrically reminiscent, to me, of “The Importance of Being Idle” by Oasis, I was curious if that was intentional at all?
BB: No, it wasn’t. Actually, I would say that that song was more heavily influenced by “Lithium” by Nirvana, but I will take the importance of being idle any day.
SB: Our press guy did say that, though. He came to the studio, and we were working on that song, and it was like a really weird song, and we weren’t sure what to do with it, he said: “if nirvana met oasis.” he had that same wavelength with that song. I don’t think it was intentional.
Sa. B: I think the only thing that was intentional is once we laid the foundation, there’s a bit of Weezer vibe.
BB: All Distortions are intentional mate, it’s all intentional.
You guys have been streaming on twitch, so I was just curious how that was going in terms of fan interaction, and is that going to become part of the Neck deep culture as we move past this pandemic?
MW: I think so, hopefully when this is all done we’ll be doing this while we’re on tour, we normally have a fair amount of free time where we’re out and about, and we’d like to expand it past playing games and the odd Q&A. It’s been really good, we’ve built a nice little community of fans on there. Its a lot of the fans we already know in real life, and it’s like we’re hanging out with them two to three times a week.
SB: A lot of familiar names, and its a good place to coordinate fans to come and hang out and talk to each other and talk to us.
I also appreciated you guys were streaming Animal Crossing. That’s my favorite game. So I have to ask, how do you feel about turnip prices lately?
MW: This directly relates to me because Seb played for a week and stopped.
SB: I got too impatient with it, and started like-
MW: Literally time-traveled, like, day one! Cardinal sin.
MW: Turnip prices, mine suck. Do you use that turnip exchange website where you find out the best price? That’s what I do every Tuesday or Wednesday.
I didn’t even know that existed.
MW: Basically, you list your island, and you go and find the best turnip prices, it’s sick. It’s free, as well.
In 2018 you covered the hit Natalia Imbruglia song, “Torn” for the compilation, “Songs that Saved My Life.” Can you walk us through the process of choosing that song choice?
BB: Honestly, it doesn’t really get any deeper then it was a good song that we all love and that we all felt was nostalgic.
SB: It was a song we felt like we could adapt to our sound.
BB: Honestly, I don’t think it was a song that was particularly important in any of our lives, but everyone knows that song we know it. It brought a lot of joy and good memories to us. It’s just a good song, and we felt like we could adapt it well to our sound. I think we were alright with it. I think it was more successful with it then we thought it was going to be.
SB: You heard it on the radio, didn’t you?
Sa. B: We had a couple of other choices, and we were kind of going to go with one of the other two. Ben, I thought it was you. You heard it in a coffee shop or somewhere heard it was like, “oh, think would be good to cover,” and it kind of made more sense.
SB: She liked it too. She, like, tweeted it and commented on Instagram.
MW: There was a minute where we were going to do a shirt where her comment was just her saying “really cool,” and we were going to do that on a shirt for a minute.
So, your style has changed from a distinctly pop-punk sound to a more pop-influenced sound. Can you tell us what motivated the change, and do you see yourselves branching out further?
SB: I think that this record we didn’t like, we said at the start of it we aren’t going to have any rules, and we wanted to scare ourselves in a way. In terms of it being like, I don’t think it was really an active choice to be more pop.
BB: I think we’ve chosen some pop-centric singles, but I think that makes sense as a move for a band because obviously, the singles are going to be the most widely heard things. There’s lots of fans of pop music, and it naturally leads that way. When it comes to choosing singles, pop songs are catchy, and you want to catch someone’s ear, especially if its people that haven’t heard you. I think the records generally hold lots more content for actual listeners and fans of the band who are looking for that. I think we’ve managed to retain a good balance in this record, especially of like classic Neck Deep sound, more modern Neck Deep sound, and then also us experimenting with things we’ve never done before. It’s like Seb said we didn’t want to tell ourselves “no” if something felt good if something felt like it was if it felt like it was right and it just felt good then we generally tended to go and write it. We didn’t say no, we don’t want to write this song, or we have to write a song like this or we have to stay away from that. It was just you know, let’s write and see what comes out. See whats the best, what feels the best, and go from there. I think that comes across in the record. It comes across as this organic. It feels good as a record generally. Obviously, we’re going to feel that regardless because we wrote it, but I think that comes across when you listen to it all the way through, and you really take it in. It all makes sense with each other. It’s not just a collection of songs. It’s like a record that really makes sense as a whole.
SB: We’ve also said in the past, we never want to compete with ourselves on previous records. With “Life’s Not Out to Get You,” that was a super well-received pop-punk album, so I don’t think, we didn’t want and try to compete with it and outdo it. It was just like, let’s try and grow from it.
BB: There’s no point trying to compete with yourself. If we wrote this record and it goes down in the kind of the history of pop-punk and that sort of music, and it the people hold it in really high regard, then that’s something for us to hold our heads up about. But, like, I think it would be very un-Neck Deep to just stick to that and try and keep trying to milk it. All of us are very creative, and all of us have kind of input and a vision. None of our vision was to keep doing the same thing. We all saw this evolving. I think this is a very strong step into that evolution. I do think people are going to be surprised but also comforted by it. I think the older fans will listen to it and it’ll have something on there for them. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the new direction take. I think single choices and being more-pop centric or whatever, that doesn’t necessarily dictate the sound of an entire album. I think the whole album as a whole is a really good balance of a lot of influences and a lot of different minds coming together to make it happen.
Yeah, and it’s definitely interesting for me because I’ve been listening to you guys, pretty much since the beginning, so it’s been really cool to watch you transform and grow as not only artists but as people and to be able to watch the changes in each album has been such a fun journey. So I’m really excited to kind of get to this spot where I feel like, in my eyes, from what I’ve listened to so far from this new record, it feels like the culmination of everything you’ve done so far.
SB: Yeah, for sure. Obviously, we wouldn’t be where we are without the previous records, but I think especially the last record, “The Peace and the Panic” was a real stepping stone for this record not that they’re the same album or they’re even similar really, but I just think if we hadn’t experimented with panic and taken that risk, we wouldn’t have the record we’ve got now, and I guess that goes for every record we’ve done. We don’t want to put the same record out twice.
BB: Like you said, you’ve been following since the start, which thank you very much. Appreciate the kind words, then there’ll be something for you on this record. You’ll listen to it, and you’ll hear bits of “Lifes Not Out to Get You” bits of “Rain in July” because that’s still there that’s still a big part of who we are, and I think like this record shows the best of who Neck Deep are. I don’t think we’ve made a huge departure from what people love about us, but I also think we’ve made significant steps in a direction that is true to us, and I think our fans and even new listeners are going to love too.
You guys have been such a fixture in the pop-punk scene for so long now, and you’ve covered so much ground, so which has been your favorite record to record do far?
MW: This one.
BB: Honestly, this one, no bullshit. Not even because we’ve been talking about this record, this record was the best for sure, other than record, every record has been fun every record has its own records to be sick and enjoyable. We’ve never had a bad time writing a record.
SB: this felt like a real, “real” record. We were in a very big fancy studio, which the band has never done before. It was like a residential studio, so we were there 24/7, which the band has never done before. I think all of us wanted to create a “real” record, like a classic, like how it was made x-amount of years ago with a really big desk and a really old microphones and all this stuff. Like Ben, said no bullshit or whatever. Super, super fun.
So can we expect any live streams of any shows when this record is released? Have you thought about any live stream concerts or anything?
MW: I don’t see why we couldn’t get around to doing that at some point if we’re on tour, I can’t really imagine it would be that hard to get it set up so we could live stream shows during a tour. At the minute, though, we do have maybe something. We figured out we have this professional thing filmed that we completely forgot about that we might do something with that, but we’re not too sure.
BB: We’re pulling stuff put from the vaults here, it’s good stuff, it’s from the reserves, its vintage, well it’s not even vintage. It’s aged nicely.
MW: Three years aged in a cask.
BB: Obviously, we’ve been restricted by the ‘Rona. We would love to even be in the same room to be even practicing together would be fucking great, but we all live a bit of a distance apart. A couple of us live like pretty close, but we all practice fairly from home we don’t practice in our home town, our practice space is pretty far for all of us, really. It’s like a case of whether it’s safe to do that, I think like as soon as it’s safe and like there is kind of guidelines established as to what you can do in groups then our options will open up quite significantly, but just logistically its kind of weird for us being able to get together and play a show. As soon as we’re even able to be in the same room and like at least practicing and jamming, our options will open up, and you know with twitch now, twitch has been such a great tool for us, we can really do anything with that.
So what are the plans now for when quarantine is over. Other than getting back together and playing shows, any other personal plans?
BB: Just see friends and family, I think is the most thing. I just can’t wait to be with my friends and family. I haven’t seen a lot, most of my family for two getting on three months at this point. I haven’t seen any of my friends in even longer. So I think that’s pretty much that’s the main priority getting back to things. Options are wide open as far as the band goes, I think as soon were able to get into a room and practice and its safe for us to do so we should all be doing that. Normally we practice before a tour and its kind of like part of a process. I think this pandemic has really made people appreciate the things they have, even, like, just the simple things of just getting in a room and playing music together and practicing, maybe that, we, you know sort of overlooked as a granted before now is going to feel really good. I can’t wait to finally be in contact with friends and family and finally be able to do something normal. You know what I mean? I can’t wait for that.
No, I feel you. I’ve been thinking about all the restaurants I miss and all the places I want to go and eat and drink when this is all over.
BB: Yeah, for sure, I can’t wait for a pub to open up again, even if I have to sit 2 meters away from someone. I’m looking forward to a Biergarten for sure.