(YOU SHOULD GOOGLE IT)
interview ROWLAND AKINDURO
photography JESSE LIROLA
What’s Platinum!? Discussing topics like, life on tour, the Russian American Space Race, Kanye, the complexities of George W. Bush, having kids, and much more, I can say this interview with Joywave front man Daniel Armbruster was an eclectic journey to say the least.
With a 2016 Coachella Music & Arts Festival performance, a successful album titled How Do You Feel Now?, a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, a new single entitled Destruction, and a rapidly growing hardcore fan base, it has become quite clear for the Rochester, New York based band and their fans, that they have chosen an overwhelmingly appropriate band name.
ROWLAND AKINDURO: How would you describe your band and your sound?
DANIEL ARMBRUSTER: It’s a mix of everything I’ve ever been exposed to and then I sing over the top of it.
R: What would be your main influence because for some reason I heard a little bit of The Killers, David Bowie, Under the Influence of Giants, which is the singer of Awolnation’s first group, and I’m like, dude these guys from New York are like killing the game right now. I just saw your video for Somebody New and dude it was like Tony Hawk [Pro Skater 3] on steroids.
D: Oh nice, yeah we’re all big ‘Killer’s fans and anything 80s really. I’ve never really heard Under the Influence of Giants, but I think someone has said that to us before. I think I saw their CD on a Best Buy end cap one time but I didn’t listen to it. But really anyone who does whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it, is what’s inspiring us, like Damian Albarn and watching him reinvent himself every five years is pretty exciting. Every new Kanye West record is more exciting than the last one, so really anybody that’s not being afraid to change and try things that are different.
R: What are your thoughts on Kanye?
D: He’s awesome dude, we’re all really, really big fans. The new record is pretty awesome. The artwork on the new record is basically the same as our entire fall tour campaign from last year which was crazy to see. We’re actually just really excited about it. We were like, “ah we really like our artwork, and we’re really proud of it.” It’s really awesome, and he basically did exactly the same thing on his record with the all caps Helvetia, and the orange and black. We’re like, “okay now we know it was awesome.” It’s crazy there is this outdoor ad, I don’t know of anyone actually witnessed our outdoor ads or anything, but it seems probable, but it’s more exciting than anything.
R: I agree, he’s definitely a polarizing character. There’s a lot of people out there and everybody either loves him or hates him. Do you guys feel, at any point, if you were to acquire that status of polarization, that you guys would be able to hold your own in that kind of global arena?
D: Yeah I think so, I kind of enjoy when people [thoughtful pause]. I generally hope that people love us or hate us and when people hate us, I never get upset about it. Yeah, it makes sense that it’s not for you, it’s specifically for the people who love us. It’s fine and exciting and I think the best things are polarizing.
R: Right I agree, I 100% agree. Now I got a quick question for you about your music and remixes. I noticed that many bands who have a relatively popular jam like “Tongues” for example, (congratulations by the way like 12 million plays on Spotify that’s huge dude) but they have a popular jam that other people are remixing like crazy and don’t really feel the need to remix other peoples’ work after they’ve kind of ‘took off’ so to speak. But I noticed you guys are still in the trenches supporting good remixes of your own work and even doing remixes of your own, despite your busy tour schedule. Talk a little bit about that if you can.
D: Yeah it’s a way to be creative on the road. Sean, our bass player, does all of our remixes. It’s something you can do while on the road on a laptop and try to maintain some type of normalcy to your day. It’s creating the thing that we like to do more than anything else when you’re on the road touring. We were on the road to 200 dzays last year. There’s not a lot of time to spend creating and sometimes it gets kind of almost depressing when you’re not making something if you’re a creative person, so it’s a way of staying creatively active when you’re on the road and it’s fun to do.
R: I got a quick question for you and I’m totally going to throw you a curveball. What do you think of the secret space program?
D: The Secret space program!? What is that?
R: So apparently there’s a secret space program, right? We’re talking, you know, NASA and all that, right? That’s what the public knows, right?
D: Right, yeah yeah
R: Well lately on the Internet there’s been this conspiracy about a secret space program and this ‘break away civilization’ where their technology is way more advanced than we can comprehend and they’re literally traveling/exploring way into space. Do you think there’s any legitimacy to that?
D: (Laughing) I don’t think I can comment on that because I don’t know anything about that other than what you just said. It’s what I will need to Google. Do I google secret space program?
R: Right on! There you go man. That’s exactly what I would recommend doing.
D: OK I’ll read up on it and get back to you.
R: So Daniel, I read on one of your other interviews you guys started talking a little bit about sci-fi and being sci-fi nerds. Maybe a couple if you guys are into it. I know that because you’re the lead singer, you may be able to speak on it a bit. If you had your own sci-fi movie what would it be like?
D: I’m the wrong person to ask I don’t actually really like sci-fi stuff. I know I look like I do, but Paul our drummer, and Joey our guitar player love it. Yeah they’re the guys to ask. My sci-fi movie would be really regular. It would be like a political alternate history thriller like The Man in the High Castle, but it would be better done.
R: So you’re more of a history buff then? Do you like assassins creed?
D: No my historical taste is very specific. I was a history major in college, so I basically wrote all my papers in college on the space race. That’s kind of what I get into, like the Cold War stuff.
R: Oh so the secret space program might actually be up your alley.
D: It would be for sure. I do look forward to reading up on that.
R: I kind of wanted to tap into the lyrics of the song “Tongues.” You know, when you’re saying ‘palms are down, I’m welcome back in town, but I feel like they don’t understand me.’ Can you kind of elaborate on that?
D: Yeah the chorus is like an allegory. It’s kind of like a messiah complex type thing. Being from Rochester New York, there’s not many people who make it out of Rochester who do something on a National scale from Rochester. And everyone in our band works extremely hard and is very focused on creating and making it the best it possibly can be. It’s very strange, I was DJing in Rochester for a few years once a week, and I would see the same people out to every single night. But they where not doing anything. And they would always talk about how they were going to write a novel and move to this place, or do this cool thing, start a band, or make a movie. And no one ever did anything and it was just un-relatable to me because these people were trying to say the same things to me that I wanted to do, like mix things or make something that’s inspiring or awesome, but they just didn’t do it. So, it just felt after a while, though people talked about being creative, they weren’t, and actually didn’t have anything in common with us.
R: So it was kind of a classic case of persistence overcoming resistance in a way then?
D: Yeah yeah, after, when things started going well for us, a lot of people who were in that situation wanted to latch on a little bit and be like oh we should do this, or we should work on that song, and I’m like, “no that doesn’t make any sense.” (laughs) A lot of people want to party or socialize and want to have part of the lifestyle and not do any of the work.
R: I encounter that a lot. There are people that are around that are interested and they’re doing the same thing everyone else does because they’re interested, but it was a struggle for you guys to separate who is committed… I can hear it in your voice that you are committed. That’s the difference between the people that make it and the people that don’t.
D: Yeah for sure.
R: So you say that history has had a large impact on you. What else has had an impact on your sound in the electronic scene?
D: You know, I think being from Rochester, there’s a lot of metal bands and just the idea that we wanted to do our own thing. I would kind of describe Rochester as this creative desert island. Anytime we would have a rehearsal space, you know, like the warehouses with 30 bands practicing. It was 29 metal bands and then us. So our gut reaction is, if we see something being done, or we hear something, we wanna do the opposite. The fact that metal bands were on every single side of us, we were like ‘ungh we have to do the farthest thing from metal that we possibly can.
R: You were going against the grain, but it ended up working to your advantage.
D: Yeah yeah yeah for sure.
R: So how have you been dealing with being in Rochester? Have you been back and how have people reacted to you?
D: Yeah we also live there. I mean It’s an awesome place. The people, they’re great. They’re really happy for us and proud of us, it’s awesome. We did a show there for the first time in a while in January and there were 4500 people there, so it was awesome.
R: There aren’t haters like in the rap game where somebody leaves the city, they can’t ever go back because they’ll get blasted or something?
D: I think it helps that we still live there, but I mean you know it’s only a matter of time until the haters emerge because we become the establishment and then the next generation of kids and their band are like “lets do the opposite of Joywave, they suck.” It’s inevitable. Everything is cyclical.
R: That’s a good way to look at it. Now who would be your ultimate guest interview on Coffee with Joywave?
D: Uh man um, probably, you know what? It would be George W. Bush.
D: Because he’s such a fascinating character to me. He’s either like a diabolical genius or a lovable buffoon. I know which one everyone thinks it is, but you know, he might be an evil genius too, and I just don’t know. I want to ask him so many questions. I mean he was terrible and I hated his politics, but I always loved that it seemed like what he thought he was doing was the right thing. That level of conviction that he felt every time he made a bad decision was just mind blowing to me. We would have to go longer than 15 seconds I think.
R: Dang that is actually, wow, I didn’t think you would say that. I actually do some astrology, numerology, psychology on the side, and I’ve studied his character very intensely. Just on an astrological/numerological level, his charts state everywhere exactly what you’re saying. They state he’s actually very mentally astute and he has capabilities beyond comprehension. People around him have always said that he’s super smart, and the ironic thing is that the mainstream media portrayed him as an idiot.
D: Right right right, have you seen any of his paintings?
R: No no, wow, he’s got paintings?!
D: Yeah, so, he started painting after he left the White House and a few of them, you should Google it, are really interesting paintings. Like there is one of him where he did a self-portrait of him in the shower, and his back is to you when you’re looking at the painting. There’s a mirror in the shower, and if you look at it briefly, you assume that he’s an idiot. You see his face in this little circular mirror and he looks like he doesn’t understand how perspective works. It looks like his head is facing the right and that’s not reflected in the mirror, but really the opposite is happening in the mirror. But if you think about it, the other theory on it, on his painting, there are theories on his paintings, is that it’s someone looking at him while he’s in the shower. As if People are constantly looking over his shoulder, but he’s being watched and under all this pressure. It’s awesome because again you don’t know is he really saying something? Is he stating about how he feels about his post presidency? Are people out to get him? Or is he just bad at painting? And even down to the painting, you don’t know which way it is. It’s fascinating.
R: Some of the best things are that way—super complex, yet potentially simple. That’s really awesome. There’s a level of complexity that’s really insane. It’s crazy. Now MGMT, I remember, were speaking one time in an interview, and they were discussing life on tour. They were saying something along the lines of people think ‘oh it’s the glamorous apex of what you could potentially do as a human, oh my god this is amazing and you’re seeing the world and you’re seeing all these places.’ But MGMT kind of painted it in a way where they were saying -we will literally go to a place, say, Chicago, Illinois and we’ll see a club or a venue and we’ll see the back of the bus, we’ll see loading into a van, we’ll see the venue, maybe the bar if we’re not at the level of insane notoriety yet, then we’ll go back into the back of the venue, then back into the the bus, then to a gas station to get some snacks in order to get to the next venue then pass out. That’s our experience in whatever said city they’re in.
D: That’s spot on
R: Would you be able to elaborate a little bit on the not so glamorous sides?
D: Yeah so, the way that I describe it is, touring is kind of like an episode of Louis. You’re always crying basically, but sometimes you’re cry laughing because you’re hanging out with your friends, and sometimes you’re just crying from this deep personal sadness. And it depends on the day which one it is, but it’s always crying. The day to day experience is definitely as they described you won’t see anything except for the venue. I mean today is a day off and I can tell you right now, I’m looking at a Starbucks and I’m walking around a salad and people have been staring at me for an hour because I haven’t ordered yet because I’ve been busy taking phone calls. Soon I’ll eat a salad though.
R: I don’t want to take too much more of your time I know how intense it is to want to get food. I actually just stopped by Ralph’s and grabbed some Cliff Bars, so I totally know the feeling of just being on the go, but it’s on a whole new level then for you huh?
D: Yeah yeah it’s always on the go for sure.
R: Now do you plan on having kids one day?
D: I don’t know but that’s the strangest question that anyone has ever asked me! (repeats question to bass player) Sean our bass player is next to me right now he’s like, “what did he ask?” Uh, yeah, probably right? I have to extend my influence on the world ‘cause right now I’m using music but I guess sperm would be more effective.
R: You’ll be in the next Coachella Magazine right around when Coachella is.
D: Awesome I’ll look it up.
R: It’s gonna be great! Well, it was great talking to you and enjoy the rest of your tour!
D: Thanks so much man, Later!