We’re pleased to bring you the premiere of Scarves’ new song “Arrow” (listen below). The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming album Dinner Dates for the End of Days, which is scheduled to be released on September 28th through Good Eye Records.
Stathakopoulos, Grasing, and Watts wrote and rehearsed Dinner Dates for the End of Days under a cloud of smoke and ash from British Columbia forest fires. If “apocalyptic emo math rock” doesn’t get you excited in 2018, nothing will. Each song is a portrait of an end times that’s positively inspiring and undeniably heart-warming. Even as we lurch toward something unpleasant, it’s hard to be too bummed out with Niko’s vocals and Watts’ driving drums.
Stick around for an interview with the band. You can buy Dinner Dates for the End of Days on standard and limited edition green/blue smoke vinyl and/or add it to your streaming playlists here.
Hi Scarves! Congrats on your new LP. Can you tell us a little more on who you are and how you first got into making music?
Hello and thanks! My name is Niko and I am the main singer/songwriter in Scarves. The full band is made up of Nessa Grasing on guitars, Cael Watts on drums and like three hundred different people who have cycled through on bass.
I got my start making music at the Old Firehouse in Redmond. It is this really rad spot where a ton of incredible bands like the Blood Brothers and Modest Mouse first started playing. The staff there was super encouraging and one of the staffers, Dylan Wall, actually ended up producing the first two Scarves records years later.
What’s your songwriting process like?
I like to think of Cael and Nessa as those two arms you see on a salt water taffy maker. I am a creature of pure ADD so it is hard for me to focus on something long enough to develop it into a full song, but I do end up making a lot of little riffs and melodic ideas those kids can stretch out into beautiful instrumentals. I am constantly blown away by what they can do with just 4 or 8 bars of my noodling.
Lyrically I like to “Michael Stipe” meaning I drive around listening to voice memos of our new songs just kinda throwing ideas out until some nugget sticks. I then obsess about them until the record is mastered and I officially can’t change them anymore.
What was your inspiration behind writing Dinner Dates for the End of Days?
For the past couple of Summers, Seattle has been blanketed by the smoke from the surrounding areas forest fires, this year parts of Washington actually had the worst air quality of any place in the whole world. It gives the air this really strange tint that makes the moon and sun turn into this really apocalyptic red. Last year when we were all reeling from the Trump Election that red gave everyone up here a really unique sense of anxiety like we were all just gonna burn up any second, pretty much everyone had one of those cotton surgical masks on their face and just such a downer look in their eyes. It felt awful.
One night I went to dinner with my partner at the time and she took a selfie of us in those masks and captioned it with “A Dinner Date for the End of Days” and that joke just kinda made everything make sense for me. I had already a written a lot for the record but it wasn’t gelling quite yet. That phrase gave everything the context it needed. It was a record about cherishing what makes this world beautiful even when faced with the ugliest sides of humanity.
What are some of the larger themes at play on the album?
The big themes on the record for me are “loss” and “love.” The record starts off with a song about the death of one of my childhood friends and how my sort of first real loss colored the way I view and value my personal relationships. That song “Crushed Ice” even details the touches on the weird way suburban kids try and commune with the dead, which I always found to be beautiful and tragic.
What was it like working with Hutch Harris?
It was honestly really intimidating at first. Growing up in the Northwest the dude was such a larger than life figure, sort of living that perfect punk rock dream we all wanted. The first time I had to do a vocal take in front of him was one of the scariest things I have ever done.
In reality, the dude is super silly, easy going and mostly makes up jingles about cats – so my kinda guy. He was so nice and really knew out to get the best takes out everybody in the band. Dude also has an impeccable sense of minimalism. The band is a bunch of music nerds who always try and figure out these over complex overdubs and he would just step in and play one note on a keyboard for a couple of bars that would add just as much to the song as any of my pretentious polyrhythms.
I also really want to mention our engineer for the session Victor Nash. He is a killer musician from Portland who has runs Destination Universe, one of the best studios I have ever set foot in. The guy is brilliant and Hutch and him make an amazing team.
Who are some of your biggest influences/favorite artists?
One of our biggest influences as a band was actually your last cover artist Cursive. When we were kids our drummer Cael gave me a copy of Domestica (on a burned CD, sorry Tim!) and it totally blew my mind. One of the most surreal moments of my life was getting to open for Tim’s band the Good Life in my college town Bellingham, the craziest part was it was Cael’s first show with the band.
Obviously, hometown heroes like Modest Mouse and Death Cab helped soften up our sound a bit and I don’t know if there has been a band I have adored and an attempted to emulate more than The Weakerthans.
Any new artists/venues/purveyors of the arts you could turn our readers onto?
We have these buds in Portland called On Drugs who are about to put out a record that is just one of the most bonkers and mind-blowing pieces of punk I have heard in a very long time. Our guitarist Nessa is also about to release their first big solo effort and I am so excited for people to hear it.
Venue-wise we are in love with Barboza in Seattle. It somewhat recently opened up under the mainstay Neumos and is just such a gorgeous place to play music. I recommend any mid-size band rolling through town check it out.
Where can we follow you and where can our readers catch you live next?
We have two release shows coming up next week. First on 9/19 at Barboza in Seattle and then Portland on 9/20 at a venue called No Fun. After that, we are going on our first full US tour detailed below!
9/19 Seattle, WA – Barboza
9/20 Portland, OR – No Fun
9/21 Arcata, OR – Blondies
9/25 Los Angeles, CA – House Show
9/26 San Diego, CA- House Show
9/27 Phoenix, AZ – The Lunchbox
9/28 Tucson, AZ House Show
9/29 The Pizza Joint
10/01 Austin, TX – Cheer Up Charlies
10/02 Denton, TX -TBA
10/03 New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar
10/04 Athens, GA – TBA
10/05 Charlotte, NC – Evening Muse
10/06 Raleigh, NC – Slims
10/08 Washington DC – The Dwells
10/09 Philadelphia, PA – House SHow
10/10 New York, NY – Trans-Pecos
10/12 Syracuse, NY – House Show
10/13 New Jersey – TBA
10/14 Pittsburgh – Mr Roboto
10/16 Cincinnati, OH – House Show
10/17 Chicago, IL – Burlington Theater
10/19 – Davenport, IA – Daytrotter
10/20 – Kansas – TBA
10/21 Omaha, NE – House Show
More in-between and beyond