We are very excited to offer Blow The Scene readers around the world an in-depth interview with international purveyors of compelling hardcore, Narrows. This intriguing quintet is spread across the US and into Great Britain, featuring current and ex-members of such music mainstays as Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Some Girls, Tropics, Rohame, Unbroken, and Makeout Boys, to name a few. Name-dropping aside, Narrows is a band much greater than the sum of its parts. Often categorized and over-simplified as a math metal band, Narrows has proven to deliver more than this niche moniker would suggest.
Fusing an intelligent and complex musical foundation within frameworks that remain accessible to even casual fans of metal and hardcore, Narrows achieves what many bands attempt, but rarely execute well- A punishing sound that is complex, catchy, unique, and emotionally compelling. Having hit a new stride with the their latest release on Deathwish Inc, Painted, we catch up with four fifths of Narrows, including guitarist Jodie Cox, drummer Sam Stothers, vocalist Dave Verellen, and guitarist Ryan Frederikson, just as the band wrapped up their recent US tour run and prepares for a handful of West Coast dates with Retox. These members of Narrows share with us the history behind the making of Painted, favorite tour stops, current music picks, musical endeavors, and much more in this feature interview.
Without further ado, let’s here from Narrows..
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the World! Let’s begin by having you introduce yourself and declare your onstage weapon of choice with international purveyors of compelling hardcore tunes, Narrows.
My name is Jodie Cox and I play guitar.
My name is Sam Stothers and I play drums.
Joshua BTS: Narrows just wrapped up a US tour. How did the road treat you on this latest outing? How do you define a “successful” tour outing?- Reaching new fans? Pleasing old? Drawing out fans from your previous endeavors? Or a combination of all of these? I am sure it was somewhat a relief just to be able to play together as Jodie Cox had issues with the Department of Immigration last go around..
Jodie Cox: I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how good this tour was. We had some very long drives that took their toll on us in different respects however, the turnouts, support and enthusiasm at each show was so awesome and encouraging that it made each show really fun. Plus, I rarely get to see these guys let alone play with them, so it was great to hang out with my boys too.
Sam Stothers: This tour was really amazing. I think a successful outing is a combination of both living up to and possibly exceeding peoples expectations of how the band is live and also winning over people that may not have necessarily been there to see you, but end up buying the record at the end of the night.
Joshua BTS: Any show or extra-curricular activities that were particularly memorable on this tour? Any favorite food stops?
Jodie Cox: A true highlight of this tour was playing on the Lemar Pedestrian Bridge in Austin. So many people came out at 3am for the show. All powered off a tiny generator. People went nuts and the energy of it all was amazing. So much fun. We got to see tons of friends from all over too. Almost a familiar face in each place we stopped.
Sam Stothers: Austin was definitely a highlight. The bridge show, Rock of Ages Tattoo and Torchie‘s tacos. Good food and great people. The Seattle record release show was also pretty special.
Joshua BTS: Narrows recently dropped a new LP, Painted, on Deathwish Inc. Give us the skinny on the record. When, where, and whom did you record with? I know the band faces some exceptional challenges with members spread across two US cities and guitarist Jodie Cox in London.
Jodie Cox: Those guys recorded with Matt Bayles at Red Room in Seattle and I got on Skype with them each day to catch up and see where we were at. I get sent the basic tracks they laid down and would demo stuff on top and send it back to them. Once all the basic tracks were laid down, I demoed more of my parts and then recorded those parts 2 weeks later with an old friend, Wayne Pennel, in my hometown of Brentford. I think that both Ryan and Dave were preparing to record their parts around the same time too. It was a strange, and at times, frustrating process. It’s pretty cool how it all came together though.
Joshua BTS: I know the recording process involves sending tracks back and forth online and group meetings on Skype. Is there a captain at the helm that steers the direction of the ship or this a full-on collaborative process?
Jodie Cox: We pretty much owe a lot to Matt with helping keeping this all together. Rob and Sam had to get back to San Diego right after they recorded so he was in touch with all of us separately and tying it together. We all spoke to each other at different points but it was tricky to all be able to have the same conversations at the same time. We’re thankful that Matt could be so patient with us. Especially as he had to fit this around his own crazy-busy schedule too.
Joshua BTS: Can you touch on some of the lyrical focuses of the new LP? For lack of a better description it would appear this effort has lyrics that offer a more hopeful motifs albeit the sinister and haunting deliveries. And do you all help develop lyrical contexts and applications for the songs?
Dave Verellen: I’m Dave- I wrote all the lyrics. Each song has its own theme and I wouldn’t say they are hopeful, but stem from different emotions I’d had. This wasn’t a cohesive concept record.
Joshua BTS: You have members from several prominent bands, including some now defunct- Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Unbroken, and Some Girls to name a few. Do you foresee Narrows becoming your sole or main endeavor as artists? Do you view the band as more of a side project?
Jodie Cox: I can’t speak for everyone here but I don’t see this as a sole endeavor or side project. It’s something that we all do together and make work when we can around our already busy lives. It’s kind of amazing we’ve been doing it for this long!
Sam Stothers: Like Jodie said, it is something we do as much of as we can, when we can. Not something that really falls in to either category very well. We all have very busy domestic lives and it helps to drive us when we do get the chance to come together to record or play live. It makes it that much more special.
Joshua BTS: The artwork/photography for Painted is very interesting and is a standout amongst a lot of cookie-cutter album covers. Who crafted the artwork and what, if any, significance does it have to the track “Face Paint”? Was this theme something you settled on collectively or the vision of the artist?
Ryan Frederiksen: That would be me. I talked it over with Dave to get an idea of what the lyrical content was about as I like to get a cohesive feel as far as how it sounds, lyrics and artwork come together. With a somewhat recurring theme of getting to know people for what they really are than the front they put up, or “mask”. So it stemmed from there. We all have a fondness for Day Of The Dead themed artwork, so I felt that represented us pretty well as a whole.
Joshua BTS: For our readers just tuning into Narrows– Is there a specific story behind the band name?
Dave Verellen: I grew up near the Tacoma Narrows. A turbulent stretch of water in the Puget Sound that had been rumored to house the largest Octopus in the world.
Joshua BTS: I would not consider Narrows an overtly political band- But do you as a band or as individuals support any current movements or grassroots organizations? Do you guys ever talk politics on Skype or in the tour van? And do these discussions ever find their way into lyrical contexts?
Dave Verellen: They aren’t prominently displayed but I do have “topics” that are inspiration for lyrics and themes… I don’t really get into grassroots movements very often.
Joshua BTS: With such a rich history in various acts- I am interested to know- What bands or artists are exciting you these days?
Jodie Cox: I’m a big fan of the last Swans record and the Angels of Light records so have been working my way back through Mr Gira‘s output. Enjoying a lot of soundtracks, the last Earth record, Metz and the Numero Gospel Soul compilations.
Joshua BTS: Any artistic endeavors outside of Narrows? Whether it is music, visual, or writing?
Jodie Cox: I’m involved in the bands Tropics, Rohame and now Hymns. Have also been given the opportunity to write and record music for a couple of short films and other interesting things.
Jodie Cox: The most fun possible.
Joshua BTS: What is in store for Narrows as we head into 2012? Any new material or tour plans in the works?
Jodie Cox: There’s a West Coast tour happening in May but sadly I won’t be able to attend due to another visa being required. They’re so damn expensive. However, our friend Jason who filled in for me already in Seattle, is going to help us out once again. It’s awesome of him to help us out. As for anything else, we have various commitments to work around so we’ll see.
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for taking a few moments with Blow The Scene readers from around the world, as we look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors. Any final thoughts?
Jodie Cox: Thank you for taking an interest and spreading the word.
NARROWS – “Absolute Betrayer” taken from Painted
Photos Courtesy Of:
Top Live Photos by Sam Marble
Bottom B&W Live Photo by Mitchell Wojcik
Interview by Joshua T. Cohen