These years, they got away from me
From the bloody trenches of Austin, Texas, I happily introduce you to today's band: Ties. A hard hitting, five-piece band of brothers. Ties have recently released a self-titled EP, let’s take a deep dive. The opening track ‘You Will Never Die’ starts off with overarching clean vocals above crispy guitar chords. Then the floor falls out from under you, and you find yourself buried deep under Ashton Satchwell’s guttural lows. We’re brought up again to catch a breath with another clean section, before getting tossed back down into the pit. A heavy hitter no doubt.
The second track 'Surround Yourself' begins somberly. Slowly, Jeff Gonzalez’s drums begin to take focus and shape. Picking up speed. Until we meet a break, bathed in lows once again until fade out. This all leads us to the third and final track 'Transitions'. A track I would consider to be the crown jewel of the EP. It comes out kicking and screaming, opening up to a fantastic chorus. A haunting backing track of group vocals lays the groundwork for a single, mournful statement. “These years, they got away, they got away from me”
Needless to say, I’m pretty hooked. And that’s only their latest three tracks. Their 2017 release “Departure” is full of elbow-throwers. The first track ‘Entanglement' is a suitable introduction. Building and building until it bubbles over into a distorted cacophony, which bleeds into the intro of their second track 'Silver Tongue'. Then it all collapses into silence before Ashton slaps you across the face once more. He seems to like doing that.
All in all, Ties is a very powerful band, and reminds me of a version of early 20s I wish I’d had. Or maybe I did, in my own way. Someone needs to tell these guys to get a show in Vegas so I can throw hands after this Covid crap blows over.
Alright, let’s get the introductions going, who are you guys?
We are a band of friends that grew up listening to early 2000s post-hardcore bands like: Poison The Well, Glassjaw, Hopesfall, Thrice etc. And wanted to start a band influenced by that era. David, Zach, Antonio and myself (Ashton) have been playing together for several years (since 2014) We recently added Jeff as the new drummer to our band earlier this year. He has fit in with us perfectly and has helped to elevate our songwriting.
You recently released your self-titled EP, how has the reception been?
So far, the reception has been amazing. We have been kind of quiet for the last couple of years so it feels good to finally get some new music out there, and it’s even better to get the positive responses that we’ve been hearing. We really feel as a band that we are writing the best music we’ve ever created, and the validation from listener feedback has been awesome.
I see that the guitarist Zach Kimmel did the recording and mixing, how is the process doing everything in-house like that?
It was a great experience and something very familiar for us. Zach has very capably handled recording and mixing our demos since the very beginning of this band. We decided this time to experiment with doing a real release all on our own. The process was great and it was so easy to make changes and shape the sound of the EP together throughout the whole process. The result of this effort is something that we are all extremely happy with and I think it turned out better than we even thought it would. All that being said, we will probably never do a release on our own again as it is just too much work for Zach to do alone.
What is the recording set up like? Is it living room jamming?
We rent a space here in Austin. Jeff is a legit drummer and does videos all the time, so his drums are always set up with mics, which makes demoing super easy. Tone (Antonio) sends a line out from his amp to Jeff’s interface, and then David and Zach’s guitars are mic'ed and those go into this little Zoom recorder we’ve had for a few years. The easy demo setup lets us evaluate songs before we record for real, and lets us hear any kinks that need to get worked out.
For recording this last project, we started with recording Jeff’s drums while he listened to a scratch track, and we just built on top of that. We recorded Tone’s cab in parallel with his SansAmp and clean signal, which gave us a lot of options for mixing the different sounds together—we’re really happy with how that bass turned out. David and Zach recorded at Zach’s house with an all-mic setup, and then Ashton recorded at Zach’s house too over a couple days.
What software and hardware are you running?
Jeff: Tama B/B kit with Meinl cymbals, Samson drum mic pack into a Scarlett 18i20 interface
Antonio: For this record, I used a Jericho Alpha bass with DiMarzio Model P/J pickups. Next in the chain was a Radial Pro DI to get the clean signal. After that was my trusty AmpTweaker Bass TightDrive Jr. Following this was a SansAmp BDDIv2 going straight to the board, in parallel with an Ampeg PF-50T through a Bergantino NV610, mic’d with an AKG D112.
David: Bogner Uberschall custom 100W head; Orange 2x12 cab; Musicman with Fishman fluence pickups
Zach: Friedman Runt 50 running through a Mesa 2x12 cab; Telecaster HH with Gibson SG pickups
We recorded the whole project in Logic Pro X.
How stoked are you guys to play a live show again?
We can’t wait for the world to hopefully go back to near normal soon so that we can play a live show. Playing songs you write live is the other half of the creative process. We’ve been hunkered down in our practice space for months crafting these songs and now that we’ve finally got them on a recording, it’s so frustrating to be unable to play them for a live audience. We’ve done a live-streamed show in the past that was pretty fun so we are looking into the possibility of doing something like that again soon, if nothing else.
What was the music scene like in Austin prior to Covid?
It’s probably not too surprising to hear that, prior to Covid, the Austin music scene was very active and healthy. There were changes happening prior to the pandemic though with investors forcing out small venues downtown in order to build new stuff which I’d imagine is a struggle for other cities with an exploding population. It’s not like it used to be but this city still loves music! There are definitely some unique challenges in particular for a post-hardcore band though. We’ve always been kind of a niche genre in our local music scene and fitting ourselves into a show lineup can be difficult. Most of the time we’ve ended up playing with metal or hardcore bands that are much heavier than us, or we play with bands that are not as heavy as our music and we kind of stick out. I think we’ve enjoyed occupying this space though and it’s allowed us to get our music out to some people that may have never listened otherwise. We are also lucky to have some great local bands with us in the hardcore/metal community that have really helped create a growing ‘underground’ scene.
How has being in a band been these past few months during the lockdowns?
I mean it’s been a little weird. We were never the kind of band that had a show every week, but to not even have the option at least a couple times a month…that was a struggle at first. And it wasn’t even so much about us as just feeling for the other bands out there, the ones that actually do this full-time and rely on live shows to survive. It’s just heartbreaking that this time has been such a struggle for so many talented and passionate people. But it did get us to focus on writing and recording. I think having these songs to work on and perfect and record really helped us keep our heads right and keep away from despair. Having a goal, having something to work towards has been really important for us over the last six months.
Have you lost any venues due to covid?
Oh yeah. Unfortunately we know a few venues were forced to close, and a couple of those were ones we played at kind of a lot. Dirty Dog Bar, Skull Mechanix, and Barracuda were all local venues that were super supportive of heavy music that have closed permanently. Hopefully we still have some left after all this.
The self-titled EP has some dark overtones, what’s the inspiration or story behind the album?
Yeah, this EP definitely touches on some dark content but I also think that it has some positivity too that relates to the reason that this is our self-titled release. The overall inspiration for the theme of this release came from a story that I (Ashton) listened to on NPR about how middle-aged men in particular frequently become isolated in their later years. This is due to a lack or meaningful friendships or relationships that can be compounded by romantic relationship issues. Due to this, there has been a rising trend in depression/suicide among this demographic. This story hit me even harder when a family acquaintance who seemingly fit this description perfectly took his own life. These three songs deal with various personal circumstances of mine but that issue was always on my mind while compiling these songs.
The first track, ‘You Will Never Die’ deals with the death of my friend a few years ago due to cancer. At a song level it is just about that event, but in a broader sense this is a contributing reason to why men can end up alone. Sometimes we are powerless to the loss of our friends. The second song, ‘Surround Yourself’ is really the song that highlights the overall theme of ending up alone. It was inspired by several of my personal relationships with close friends who are now states away. With time and distance, these relationships become strained and you gradually become more isolated. The last song, ‘Transitions’ is more about what I do to isolate myself from friends and family because we absolutely play a role in our own isolation. Like I said earlier though, there is a redemptive message in ‘Surround Yourself’. To quote the lyrics, “The truth is we are not alone, and I was never on my own. We have to lift each other up, we are not alone”. How do you combat loneliness? Ties to others. This is why this EP project was the perfect self-titled release for us. We value the ties between each other and those important to us.
What would you say to someone reading this if they were suicidal or depressed?
Reach out to whoever you have in your life! We all need to be better about checking in on each other during this pandemic lock down as we are all more isolated. Your life has value to more people than you probably even know. I assume that music is important to whoever would be reading this, and music is such a great catalyst to get the emotional work done in order to end up in a better place. Hold tight to the records and the songs that lift your spirits, bring you strength, allow you catharsis, etc. Music is such an invaluable resource when you feel alone and depressed.
What do you want fans to take away from your music?
We want fans to take whatever away whatever appeals most to them. We write these songs hoping that there’s a little bit for every kind of listener. Maybe there are people out there who grew up in the same era when post-hardcore was at its peak and they can enjoy a fresh take on a nostalgic genre. Or maybe there are fans who can appreciate the instrumental intricacies that went into the songwriting. Maybe there are fans who can relate to the emotion of our lyrics and vocal style. Whatever it is, we’re just happy to share what we love to do and witness it bring some type of enjoyment to others, especially in these difficult times. Our music is extremely important to us but when it becomes important to others, it takes on a whole new life.
I know that we’re hot off the heels of the self-titled EP, but do you have anything else coming down the pipeline?
Hell yes. After we finished recording Departure in early 2017, we immediately started writing again and ended up with enough material for two short projects. We released this first one as a group because they reflected a certain theme and writing style; we’re scheduled to hit the studio next month to record the next batch of songs. We’re excited about the self-titled project, but we’re REALLY looking forward to getting this next EP out there. Going back to a studio, recording everything in like a week, all being together and hanging out—that’s an experience we missed a little bit with this last project and we’re excited to get back into that. Plus, these next songs are really different for us in a lot of ways; it’ll be a whole other beast.
Catch Ties at the links down below! Thank you for hanging out with us for this interview. If you would like to get featured, or know someone who does, reach us on our social media, or email us directly at: Contact@therduneclothing.com to share!Spotify