…And the Sadness Prevails (Vagrant)
An interview with vocalist Jeremy Palaszewski
by Scott Hefflon
Your bio says you’re from Oxnard, where’s that?
It’s about 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Max, the other guitarist, and I live right on the beach. Roger, the bass player, and Pat, the drummer, live a few miles inland.
Being a pretty new band, have you been doing a lot of interviews recently?
After shows and stuff, yeah. Scratch and Heckler and a few other ‘zines.
Vagrant’s sampler, 5 Years on the Streets, has gotten you a lot of recognition.
We have two songs on there, and it’s weird because when we play live, everyone knows the words to those two songs and the album only just came out.
You’ve called yourself “sadcore.” What’s that mean to you?
I write lyrics when I feel bad about things, when I’m feeling down. It’s therapeutic to me, and it’s the only stuff I write that has meaning to me. I tried to write a happy song once, but it just didn’t work out. We call it sadcore because even a lot of the riffs we write sound sad.
How many releases do you have out?
Our first 7″ was about five years ago and had four songs on it. It was released on It’s Alive Records in Oxnard, run by the guy that does the ‘zine, It’s Alive. I guess a lot of people liked it. Back then we played a lot of fast stuff, but it was still sad-driven. Later, we did a split with The Choice, and that went over really well. That was on It’s Alive as well. We also put out a CD, Cynical, on The Edge Records, an indie label from Oxnard. I guess the guy pressed, like, 1000 records and then stopped. He might re-press it, I don’t know.
Tell me about the new record, …And the Sadness Prevails.
We’re really happy with the way it came out. It’s exactly the way we wanted it. It was produced by Trevor Keith, from Face to Face. He was really fun to work with. He was easy-going, too. He didn’t try to change anything, he just made suggestions here and there about getting certain sounds and backing vocals and stuff.
Did you walk into the studio with the 11 songs on the CD done? Were there any that didn’t make it?
We had all the songs ready except the last song, “Shells,” which wasn’t quite finished. I had the melody, but I had no lyrics. The day before we had to do that song, the lyrics came to me. A few of the songs on the record are really old.
Why were “So What” and “Nostalgia” chosen for the Vagrant comp?
They were the ones that gave the best idea what we’re like. Some of the songs are quite different, like “So What” is almost hardcore. It’s a pissed off song about friends only pretending to be friends. And “Nostalgia” is, y’know, about going through some old stuff and getting nostalgic about simpler times, like wanting to be a kid again.
What was the specific instance that sparked the song?
One day I was going though my closet and I found all my old comics. I used to collect G.I. Joe comics. I used to read comics and skate all the time with my friend Joel, and it was cool, ya know? Things are so different now…
It’s funny how something, like collecting comics, was your whole world at one point in time, but now you realize you haven’t thought about that in a long, long time – something that was that important to you…
Yeah, right. I still talk with Joel, but not all that often. The only friend I still have from when I was younger is Pat, the drummer. All my other friends either moved away or got screwed up or whatever, ya know?
So what’s your thing now? Did you finish high school? Did you go to college?
I finished high school, and I was going to go to college, just to have something to do. But I’ve always wanted to write music, so hopefully I’ll keep doing it and getting better at it. And I work part-time at a coffee shop, Starbucks, and that’s pretty cool. A lot of cool people come in, so it’s pretty interesting. Max works at a coffee shop in Ventura, and Pat works for the city, at a civic center. Roger doesn’t really work, but he records bands that don’t have a lot of money at his house.
What about hobbies?
Even though I haven’t been in a while, I’ve been a surfer since I was 14. And I like hanging out with my girlfriend a lot. I mean, I really do. We go to the beach, go for a walk, or we just hang out. If I’m not working, I’m either hanging out with her or playing guitar. And sometimes I go snowboarding with my friends, but that’s really expensive so we only do that once in a while.
Do you hang out with the guys in the band a lot?
Yeah, they’re my closest friends.
When people come up to you and say, “I really love that song,” what song do they mention the most?
Probably “Solemn.” It’s about… well… See, my girlfriend and I have been together for six years, and last year, in October, just before we went on the Good Riddance tour, she broke up with me. It’s a long fuckin’ story, but she’s been having a lot of trouble at home because her dad’s a total prick, and she needed some time to think things over. She didn’t want to go out with anyone else, she just wanted to be by herself. And when we got back… Things were just screwed up, ya know? It really gave me a reality check. Things can happen, and you can never really tell if what you have is what you can depend on having for a long time. The song’s about not knowing what to do when you’re in limbo: you don’t know if you want to be there for them – just forgive and forget, or if you want to just be friends – if you’re even capable of being that. I think everyone can relate. Everyone’s been heartbroken. Most of the songs are about relationships. Like “Waiting Hurt,” only that’s a good one. My girlfriend went to Ireland a few years ago – she was there for 36 days but it felt like three years. I didn’t hear from her the whole time because it’s like really expensive to call and stuff…
What do you think about other sensitive punkpop/powerpop bands like Lagwagon and MxPx? Who do you like and who don’t you like?
Bands I don’t like are, like, The Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, shit like that. When I first heard Jewel I was really into her, but I heard her interviewed and she said she wasn’t really into music anymore, she wanted to get into acting. All her songs seemed so passionate, and then she nullified the whole thing. I was really bummed.
Strange thing is, all that “slow dance music” – I hesitate to call it pop because it’s not pop, it’s shit – all that “I’ll love you forever” crap by all these one-hit-wonder singer/songwriters with massive symphonies and cheesy keyboards… You just don’t believe them.
Exactly! The insincerity. That’s the one thing I can’t stand. Bands like MxPx and Lagwagon I like a lot. I think they’re really good and they mean what they say. That means a lot to me.