SXSW Music Coverage: Catching up with A Fragile Tomorrow
A Fragile Tomoroow is a band I met last year and enjoyed hearing their music and learning about what made them who they were. You can read that article here. But, meanwhile, check out what they have been doing in the year since I last saw them.
You guys have been busy in the last year. You've been touring all over the place. Tell us about some of the places you've been recently.
We went to Europe which was amazing. We did Belgium and Holland. We toured with a band called K's Choice who we had toured with here in America in April and May (2013) and they invited us over to Europe and it was incredible. Then we toured with Toad the Wet Sprocket. They were incredible. Like a dream come true. When I was a kid one of the records was like the reason I started music. It was a good year last year. Since last South By we've probably done every region of the country. Now we are taking some time and writing. Sean and I are opening up a recording studio in Savannah, Georgia. So we're doing that right now and writing and getting ready to work on another record.
Tell us about your new record.
Belgique which is the French word for Belgium. It was in Brussels, Belgium which is French speaking. Each city in Belgium speaks a different language. I know I wanted to record at least one show. So we got to the show is Brussels; it's probably regarded as the best venue in Europe in sound and everything. I talked to the guy there and asked if they had any way of just capturing the audio. They had a set up and he said, "As long as I don't have to move anything, take your set and record it and then I'll give you the session." He did and I just mixed it. And the great thing about that show is that is wound up being the best show of the tour. We sold like 45 CD's which is great for an opener. It was one of those shows where you don't feel like you're there, just like on a cloud; sort of out of body in a way. And it just happened that we recorded that show. I barely did anything to the mix. I just wanted to make it sound like you were in the audience. We're all really happy with it and really proud of it. It was an amazing thing and the fact that we get to actually put it out and others hear it. We get to relive it too just by listening to it.
What about your up and coming CD. What are you writing?
SEAN: The songs are different. The writing process has changed a little bit. A lot of the songs are coming about like, I don't sit down and write a song like I did when I was younger. I would write little parts or a little lick or something like that either I would work on it for as long as I could; that's all I could get out and then I would put it away for a little while. So then what happens is I write something else then I'll have a catalog of stuff that I have little parts and stuff and put things together and see if they work. Most, if not all of the new songs are formed that way. I'm just putting different parts together and working on them over time. The one song, I wrote the chorus a year and a half ago before I wrote the other half of the song. I didn't know what to do with it. I had this chorus and I felt like I said everything I needed to say and then a year and a half later it happened where I wrote this thing and it clicked with that part. So that's how the songs have been coming together. They're more complex.
SHAUN: Definitely more complex to play but I think that because it's all different parts that have their own hooks and all together it's more accessible and catchier and much more complex musically.
SEAN: It's more of a challenge for us and that's actually more fun. We've been getting together and running through the new stuff and working out different parts and trying to figure (it) out. It's an ongoing project. It's the most pre-production we've ever done on a record and it's kinda cool. It's very different but it's exciting.
SHAUN: It then becomes more collaborative. Sean comes in with the great bones. It's like building a house. Each person has a different job of doing different finishes.
SEAN: We're trying to put more effort into not just learning the songs and playing them but composing things. I love pre-production and being in the studio.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Still touring and making records. Finding new ways to do it. Being on the road. And the studio. We're excited about working with other bands producing and working together on that. Trying new things and working with new bands. For us, our band will always be a thing even if we're doing other things even if the studio becomes more of a day to day thing down the road, the band will still be there making records, touring and working in between. I can't picture us not playing together. Our lives have become this band. We'll just be old dudes touring and playing like the Rolling Stones.
What advice do you have for a teenager thinking about doing what you are doing?
If you really want to do it, commit yourself to it. There's no road map. There's no one thing you can do. There's really no formula either. Figure out what makes sense for you and do it that way. Then even if you make mistakes, you'll learn from it. You have to be able to take leaps on things. You have to define your own success. A lot of people think that success means Lady Gaga playing arenas but I think we're successful for what we've done so far. Defining your own success where you're happy. If you want to be world famous, fine, go for it. I think it's about how committed you are to do it. Jump in, do it. And just write all the time. Even if you write a crappy song, just put something out as an exercise. And listen to music. That was what all of us in between records we were always immersed in it so we have references. I think the key is to surround yourself with music as often as possible. That's all I think it comes down to. You're separated from that and then you go and do it and it comes and goes. You're always surrounded by it. It's always going to be there and it drives you to move forward. That's how we got through the learning phase. Even if it's recording a cover on my computer it's always doing as much as possible.
I like what you said about "define your own success." People see American Idol and think that is success. But do we really know what happened to many of them over the years since they won? But, that becomes many people's vision of success.
I think of legacy bands; Big Star is a perfect example. They never really made it by industry standards but they are one of the most influential bands in existence. People love those records and bands like R.E.M. and the Smiths wouldn't exist if it wasn't for that band. That's the perfect example. They were hugely successful just not commercially successful. And don't get discouraged if you're not selling a lot of records. Setting small goals for yourself. "I'm going to play a show next month somewhere or playing open mic." Make smart goals for yourself that way you're climbing. People think money, fame and fortune but the truth is in the music industry is that it's so rare. Statistically that doesn't happen for most people. So many talented musicians who deserve it. Playing South by is a perfect example. You'll see a club one out of hundreds that's packed with a band and those are the people who are going to have long-term success if you're going to have a packed club when you can get someone to come to your show.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kathy Strain
Brothers Dom, Sean and Brendan