After a ten year hiatus, Sig Transit Gloria recently got back together to record a new EP 'Ok, later' and play a few live shows in support of the release. The band talked to me about what went into recording the new EP, their other projects, The Fireside Bowl, Hanger 18 and much more. You can download the new EP for free at the band’s Bandcamp page.
It’s been a long time since you last were together and released any new material. What has happened between now and then and how did you get back together as a band?
NATE - Ten years ago I don’t think any one of us had a clear idea of what we wanted to do with our lives. I’m not sure that as serious as we were about the band back then that any of us thought it was going to be our career or anything of that nature. We were young and loved playing music together, but we all had some things to do with our lives. Getting back together was as much fun as starting the band in the first place, except we already had a bunch of songs written that we could just play. We all enjoy playing music with our friends and it just kind of seemed like a good time to put it back together.
How did the new EP, 'Ok, Later' come about? Who recorded the album and mixed it? Did you do anything different this time in terms of the recording process?
NATE - Mike Perkins took the lead on this one in that we recorded it at his place. I think it turned out better and more personal than if we had done it in someone else’s studio. We could relax and try different things, be ourselves completely, and feel no pressure to get it right or done quickly. We realized that we finished tracking on 2/8/11, exactly 11 years later after finishing our first EP '2>28>2000'.
MIKE: I live at a place called the Shape Shoppe. It’s a loft space with a collective of musicians. We’re lucky enough to have a really nice recording setup there. I knew enough about sound from working at the Mutiny as a sound man that I felt up to the challenge. It was a longer recording process then in the past with this band, but much healthier.
JASON: Mike did an awesome job. Key ingredients to making this such an enjoyable experience: no time constraints, no money being spent, and this time around we really were doing this for no other reason than we love playing music together. I think it is safe to say we are all very proud of what came out of the sessions.
Jason, “8 Eyes” and “Sound Sound” are two new songs that you sing on. What can you tell me about them and by the way, who sings backing vocals on “Sound Sound”?
JASON – Lately, I have learned to not fear singing a little deeper. Pat said I sound a little Danzig-ish. I think that may be inspired by my buddy Darren from The Scissors. “8 Eyes” is a love song for my amazing wife, Kelly. I borrowed the name from one of my favorite Dan Potthast songs. “Sound Sound” is much darker. The band really helped me to deconstruct this one and put it back together as a rock song. Crazy keys, crunchy guitars, and driving drums. The whoah-oh gang vocals are provided by Nate, Mike, Pat, with help from my BFF Tyler Flynn Rambo. The super high note just before the whoahs is belted out by the one and only Pat Kilbryde. I wrote this song several years ago. My previous band, The Kidults, did a version of this as well.
How do you guys write songs? Has it changed at all in ten years or do you go through the same process as before?
NATE - I think the band writes pretty much in the same manner that we always have. Jason and I bring some rough idea to the table and we all put our mark on it in some way. Anyone that knows us as musicians knows that we all have our own individual style, and even if it alters a little over the years, it is still distinct. The last song on the EP, “I think it’s clear,” was mostly written in the studio. We barely practiced it before laying it down. That was my favorite song to record because we could do anything we wanted to it. The major change with our approach to songwriting as a band was that this time around Mike worked on his parts aside from the rest of us, after we laid down our initial tracks. The keyboards have turned out much more complex and really add a whole other dimension to the songs.
JASON: In the past we would go into a studio already committed to our plan of what the songs were to sound like. This time the songs really took shape during Mike’s recording. He could sit back and compose to our tracks on his own time (rather than our old approach of wanting him to work his magic on the spot). When we came back to the studio and heard what Mike had added we were even more excited about the songs. This lead to adding loads more guitars and being more open minded than we have ever been to try just about anything.
One of my favorite songs on the new EP is Nate’s acoustic song, “Pull You Closer”. What can you tell me about it? Did you have it written for a while or was it completed during your sessions in the studio?
NATE - That song was something that I never really intended to go on the EP. It was just something I had written, and I really enjoyed it, so I asked Mike if I could come lay it down one day. The rest of the band had never even heard it before it was recorded. It was very raw and unpolished, just sounding as if I had sat in a room and just started playing.
PAT- I had no idea he recorded that song until I walked into our studio and heard the playback. He seemed on the fence about putting it on the record but once we all heard it there was no doubt it had a place with the other songs.
JASON- It’s really a beautiful song…had me choked up when I heard it for the first time.
Nate and Jason, both of you have shared vocal duties for the band. Are you both vocalists at heart and did the many bands like Alkaline Trio, Get Up Kids, Lawrence Arms who share two singers influence you in that sense?
NATE - I think just as in those other bands you mentioned, we are fortunate in that we both love to write songs. Our song writing styles are different but both very personal and we know how we want them to sound.
JASON – It is nice to share the vocal duties. It’s part of the stg sound just as it is with the bands you mentioned. I enjoy being able to help bring each other’s ideas to life. I think it’s one more way that we connect as friends. We do lyrically write very personal and there is a comfort level between us. We have all been friends for over 15 years. If Nate or I show the others a song, we all know what it is about without an explanation. It’s a very supportive environment.
Speaking of influences, what bands/artists did the different members grow up on that shaped your band?
NATE - That’s a tough one. It is probably too diverse to ever make sense of. I guess the common ground is that at some point in our lives we all listened to some sort of structured pop rock, be it Green Day, Tom Petty, or any four/four timed rock songs. I don’t really know how Mike got to where he is today. I know that he is the most trained musician in the band playing a bunch of different instruments in high school and college. Maybe that broadened his musical tastes a little more than the rest of us.
MIKE- At the time we started the band the Anniversary was pretty crucial to me, as far as what synth sounds I liked.
PAT- When I first started getting into music around the 4th grade I was obsessed (and still am) with Guns N’ Roses. Being a 10 year old kid and getting my hands on 'Appetite For Destruction' was probably a life changer. When I was 13 a friend of mine turned me onto the Descendents and I’ve wanted to be Bill Stevenson ever since. I had a kid at one of our last shows tell me that some of the things I do reminded him of the Descendents and it was easily the best compliment any drummer could ever get.
What new bands are you currently into now and could recommend? How has your musical taste evolved in the last decade?
NATE - (insert friends’ bands here)
JASON – Yes, Lasers and Fast and Shit and 97-shiki are some local/friend bands that are doing some really unique music and lights. Chicago Thrash Ensemble is amazing and they all were baseball hats.
PAT- I really love the new Foo Fighters record and pretty much anything Dave Grohl does. I would tell anyone reading this to get their hands on every record by Prince, The Descendents, Thin Lizzy, The Ramones, and Cheap Trick. There are many others but those are the essentials in my book.
MIKE- Wendy Carlos, weird dude, but brilliant synth god…not new but it’s what I listen to. The Chandeliers are my current favorite local band. They jam hard…real hard.
What can you tell me about the days of The Fireside Bowl, Hanger 18, Villa Park vs. Elmhurst and Johann’s Face Records?
NATE - They were great. There was always a show you wanted to go see. Everyone we knew was playing music in one band or five. Chicago has changed a bit and obviously all of us are older. Not everyone has the time to play and attend shows every week. They were great times and good memories.
MIKE- If I remembered it, I’d probably say it was great.
PAT- When Marc Ruvolo asked us if he could put out our record on Johanns Face I shit a brick. All of my favorite bands were a part of that label so to me it was like winning the lottery. Any kid that was into punk rock around that time wanted to play the fireside. It was like having our own CBGB’s. Sadly it’s not what it once was but to say I played there is fantastic. Villa Park sucks.
JASON- Hanger 18 was our home. Last month we played at the Lucky Gator Loft and it reminded me of the Hanger in a lot of ways…we’re always reminiscing in our old age.
Social networking has broadly changed the musical landscape on how bands are exposed to the masses. How have you tried to adapt to use Facebook and Twitter? How have things changed in your mind on how you promote your music compared to the past?
PAT- Personally it’s a love/hate thing. I think its great to have those tools, but all the flashy website stuff is meaningless when you’re on stage. I remember going to see Squirtgun at the fireside bowl and this band from Minnesota was the opening act. They blew me away and I bought both of their 7”s and went home and wore those records out. That band was Dillinger 4. Had all the social networking been around then I probably would’ve loved the songs but might not have seen them play because I already had that instant gratification from the Internet.
Where do you see yourself as a band in the next year? Do you have plans to release any new music besides the EP and do any touring?
JASON- Nate is actually moving to Philadelphia a week after our record release show. He’s pursuing some great opportunities to further his culinary career. We are all very proud and excited for him!
NATE- Yeah, so like always with STG…who knows when and where we will appear?
PAT- At this point in our lives the band is about the 4 of us and having fun. If people love what we do and want us to make more records that’s great. If that doesn’t happen I’ll still call Jason in 10 years to eat burritos and play guitars.
JASON - I’m looking forward to emailing Nate songs back and forth and eating lots of burritos with Pat.
What other bands/projects are you working on besides Sig Transit Gloria?
JASON: Mike plays around town as Mr. 666. I make vegan cooking videos with my wife, The Vegetarian Librarian. Pat can be seen every Halloween in the worlds only Body Count cover band, Smoked Pork.
Final comments? Thanks for the interview!
PAT- Thanks to everyone that remembered our songs after all these years. It really means a lot to us. Go Cubs.
JASON - Thank you for the interview, Kevin. Go Sox. Good luck, Nate! Our new EP 'Ok, later' is available for digital download at sigtransit.bandcamp.com
Purchase 2>28>2000 EP and S/T: Johanns Face Records