Concert Crap: What are some struggles you face as an unsigned band?
Robert Parks: One of the biggest challenges we face as an unsigned band is trying to distinguish ourselves in an oversaturated market. The reality of the music industry right now is that there is a virtually unlimited amount of free music available to the public at large, 24/7 – which is incredible for fans. For artists, that can be kind of daunting when you’re starting out, because there was always a question of “How do we get people to care about what we do?” Now there’s an added dimension of “How do we keep people’s attention when there are so many different artists to focus on?” Specifically for rock & punk rock; I think a lot of sources that fans trusted to find new music have fallen by the wayside in recent years – growing up I relied on MySpace, PureVolume, even Absolutepunk to find new artists, and I think the focus online has shifted toward Top 40 / EDM, which is disappointing because we know there is still a huge part of the culture that’s interested in rock & punk rock. All we can do is create music that we’re passionate about, share it, and hope that other people feel the same way.
Brian Staples: Money is also a huge obstacle – and almost every band starting out struggles with this unless they come from wealth. Everything we do costs money – recording music, getting professional-level gear for our live show, transportation to shows, printing merch, paying for a rehearsal space, etc. While we don’t take ourselves very seriously, we do take what we do seriously, and if we want other people to do the same, part of that involves presenting people with something substantial. Not just a poorly recorded demo. Not just a hastily coordinated live show. Not just a Facebook page with a status update that says “Music coming soon!”. To Rob’s point, I think social media has made it easy to come up with a band name, create a page, and call yourself a band without doing any of the real work. Music listeners are smart, they always have been. If you give them something you didn’t make real sacrifices for, that you didn’t pour you heart into, that wasn’t a labor of love, they can tell. This is what we love doing, we’re incredibly passionate about our craft, and I think that shows to both the casual observer and the devoted fans. So our struggle has been not in the creation of all of these things we love – our music, our live show, our physical art – but to find a way to pay for it all.
CC: Who do you draw your influence from?
RP: This ranges a lot for me. I grew up listening to 90s alt rock and punk rock, as well as the art rock bands from the 70s and 80s. To pinpoint one single influence wouldn’t do it justice. A lot of times my writing comes from what I’m feeling at that moment in time, in life. I’ve been a lot more political lately, mostly because of what’s happening to this country, so I pull a lot from my Bad Religion, Black Flag, even Refused-era bands. It’s all about writing in the now and not necessarily writing to “sound” like something that’s been done before. “Shape what has shaped you” is how I look at it.
BS: I think the both of us draw influences from a lot of different places. When it comes to writing for this band, I think my influences stem from a few specific genres. I grew up listening to what was on pop & rock radio in the 90s and 2000s, stuff like Third Eye Blind & Goo Goo Dolls. That group of artists really taught me what it means to write good pop music without compromising lyrical content.
As I got older I got introduced to heavier music, stuff that was much more raw and emotional, bands like My Chemical Romance & The Used became part of my life in a big way. I kind of learned how to express my emotions in this cathartic, visceral way without sacrificing great songwriting. One of the threads that ties those two together & informs how I approach writing for this band is my love for musical theatre. I grew up with a lot of Broadway cast recording CD’s in my house, and I think that’s definitely been ingrained into my musical DNA. I think the way that manifests itself when I write for this band is by doing my best to tell compelling stories. “Lie to Me” is probably one of the best examples of all three of those influences converging in our music – the way that chorus really acts as the centerpiece of the song both lyrically and musically, the emotion of the story, and the way the music conveys that sense of urgency & anxiety.
CC: What was the greatest achievement in your musical career?
RP: I’ve been lucky enough to release music that has been played in many countries on the radio as well as tour to meet those who have been supporting me since. I don’t know if I’ll ever say that any one thing has been my greatest achievement but rather given the opportunity to do what I’m doing, that’s a blessing that I couldn’t take for granted.
BS: Playing for people who care about the music we make is the best thing we do – every time we get to do that, it’s a great achievement for me.
CC: Are you hoping to hop onto another tour soon?
RP: Absolutely. We’ve been working hard on new music that we’ll be going into the studio with this winter. Once we find a release date we will definitely want to look up friends of ours we’ve made over the years, as well as make new friends, to take our music on the road and share it with people.
CC: What was the best memory you’ve had on tour? Anything goes for this question.
RP: There are too many to even remember. I’d say a few of my fondest memories were meeting people on the road and getting to hear their story. I’m obsessed with hearing about peoples’ origin stories; where they’re from, what they’ve done, what they want to do — I’ve always been fascinated about it. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons I love touring, obviously amongst being able to play music and travel, I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives.
CC: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?
BS: Trust your instincts, they’re never wrong.
RP: Don’t give up. A lot of people will tell you differently, not understand what you’re trying to do, but don’t give up. Stay the course. You are you and no one can tell you differently.
CC: What else do you hope to achieve as a band?
RP: We definitely have a bucket list of sorts for this band.
BS: We want to write a pro wrestler’s entrance music.
RP: And get one of our songs in an NHL video game. We’ve always wanted to do both those things since we were younger.
BS: I think just being able to make a living making music is the ultimate goal, everything else is extra.
CC: Any last words for fans or anyone reading this interview?
BS: You can check out our new music video for “Find A Way” on YouTube (here) or our official website, www.lostsonsofficial.com , and you can stream our entire catalog on Apple Music or Spotify. For those in the Los Angeles area, we’ve got some great shows coming up that we’d love to see you at – you can find all of our tour dates on our website, as well.
All questions answered by Robert Parks and Brian Staples.
Post and interview by Kayla Rojas
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