Interview with guitarist Ryan Walker | By Tim Anderl | Photo by Jacki Vitetta
Los Angeles, by way of New York, trio Second Still don’t appear to be a band who are concerned with pacing themselves. Their debut effort was lauded by one critic as the “best post-punk debut of 2017,” and only months later, they followed it up with a pair of EPs, both released on April 20: the Part Time Punks EP via Sentimental Records and Equals via Belgium’s Weyrd Son Records.
“We [are] completely humbled by the positive response and support from overseas,” guitarist Ryan Walker reflects. “It’s a beautiful thing. When we toured Europe last fall, we were shocked by how much love we felt, especially from the cities and countries we never would have dreamed of visiting.”
While the songs on Equals retain the intensity and allure of the band’s previous effort, Second Still continue to lurch forward into uncharted territory, picking up an arsenal of analog synthesizers. According to Walker, the seamless way in which these songs blend is a happy accident. “[Equals] contains songs that were written over a large timespan, with no intentions on how these songs would live together,” he admits. “‘Automata’ was written just months before the EP, whereas ‘Walls,’ the bonus track, was written when the band was still in New York.”
“For me, the cohesion is found in the evolution of our music,” Walker adds. “The band’s sound is shifting, and this EP demonstrates that. Suki [San] has some truly powerful vocals, both sonically and in meaning—and it isn’t fair for me to say what she’s communicating, since her stories can either directly move you or they can be left open to interpretation. For me, this EP is less about communicating and more about celebrating our growth.”
Equals also demonstrates more pop savvy than ever before, which Walker says was unintentional as well. “We definitely recognize the pop elements throughout the EP, but for me, it was never intentional,” he confirms. “When I listen to music, I’m never directly trying to seek out pop. There’s definitely a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s pop that I’m influenced by, from Depeche Mode and anything from the Manchester hacienda scene to Grace Jones to The Human League. Sometimes, pop is just so engrained in music that it inevitably shows itself in all facets of music, including ours. The verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus formula just happens to represent the best structure at times.”
For a band on a lightning-fast upward trajectory, it is surprising that Second Still don’t look over their shoulders from time to time and that the finish line isn’t necessarily a destination as much as destiny. “As long as we grow as a band [and] as individuals and, most importantly, remain as authentic and genuine as possible, then we are happy,” Walker says. “I guess that’s the goal. We focus on short-term goals and take things step by step. At certain moments, I’ll look back on what we’ve accomplished and be in disbelief. It feels like we are fulfilling a dream rather than achieving a lofty goal.”
In the meantime, Walker is also enjoying one particular aspect of their new L.A. home. “Go Dodgers!” he exclaims. “They are one of coolest franchises in all of sports. They even had a day where they celebrated the legendary Los Angeles punk band X. What other franchise can say they did that? I also love how irrationally superstitious baseball fans are. It makes winning that much more satisfying. Also, what can’t Justin Turner do?”