Interview: Islander vocalist Mikey Carvajal talks about Pains

Interview with vocalist Mikey Carvajal | By Nathaniel Lay

This past October, modern rockers Islander released their debut EP through Victory Records, titled Pains. The four track collection brings to mind the likes of Glassjaw, Deftones, and Rage Against the Machine; it’s powerful, surprising, and crazed from start to finish. We recently spoke with Mikey Carvajal, vocalist of Islander, about the band’s signing to Victory, their EP, their upcoming recording plans, and more. Check it out.

How did you guys come to joining Victory?

We sent our press kit out to several labels and were in the process of talking to a couple when an A&R at Victory emailed us about coming up for a showcase. He was really excited about us from the start and really started the entire process for us going with them. We went to Chicago two weeks later, played some songs, ate some deep dish pizza, and the rest is history.

Why did you decide to start with an EP over a full length?

We recorded the Pains EP prior to signing to Victory. We didn’t originally plan on it coming out on a label, but once the deal ended up happening the options were really to either shelf the EP or Victory could release it. It would have been a shame if it had never seen the light of day. We had shot a music video ourselves for the single, “New Colors,” and we recorded a track with H.R. of Bad Brains through a cell phone. So we are really glad we got to share those with our fans.

When do you expect to begin work on a full length?

We are heading to California to hit the studio in January. We can’t wait for people to hear what we have been working on. I’ve never been to California, so needless to say I am super excited about that too. We really want to try In-N-Out Burger.

Your label debut was also released on 12″ vinyl. How do you guys feel about keeping that format alive?

We think it’s really cool. Honestly, I only have like three records on vinyl. Maybe that is a huge no-no or something, but I’m not usually near a record player. I will say that I prefer hard copies of music far more than anything digital though. I like holding a booklet in my hand and really studying the lyrics and the artwork. I think music is more than just sounds. The whole package is what makes it special for me.

Islander - Pains 2013

Why the title “Pains”?

All four songs on the EP deal with a different frustration/pain. The cover art shows a street where all this chaos has taken place outside. Power lines are down, and stuff like that, yet the lights inside of the house are on. It represents the idea of there being a reason to continue living even though the world outside is just crazy sometimes.

What was the process like for writing and recording these songs?

We had just gotten back from tour last year and wanted to write some new jams. We took about two months I would say writing, and then we went to the studio. Recording was honestly a huge headache for recording this EP. I ended up getting sick and things just kept going wrong in the studio, but somehow it helped give the EP the charm that it has and I think it helped us grow as a band.

When I listen to this EP, it reminds me a lot of Glassjaw. Is that a band you guys are interested in? In general, what musicians have inspired your music?

We like Glassjaw. Our bassist, Chris Doot, is really into some of their stuff I believe. We all listen to different stuff from one another. We all like bands like Blindside, Deftones, Dillinger…stuff like that. I think we’ve all been influenced by some of our local friends and bands we’ve been in with them before we started Islander as well. Sometimes a movie or a book can influence my lyrics. I’m becoming more influenced by my actual band mates lately though. Our guitarist, Andrew, comes up with some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever heard, so he is actually an influence for me now [laughs].

What’s next for you guys? Any more big movements this year past your album release?

We are just trying to take one day at a time. We have some cool things in the works though. Right now our main focus is to write a record we can be proud of. Once that is done we are planning on playing as many shows as possible.

Purchas Pains here:

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