To call We Are the Union just another ska band would be disingenuous.
Yes they have a horn section and a deep appreciation for scene mates the Suicide Machines, but they also pull just as many influences from bands Like Kid Dynamite and Lifetime and have a blistering guitar sound that would cause most of the third wave ska kids to quake in their two tone wingtip doc martens.
Recently signed to the burgeoning indie label Paper + Plastick and fresh of the release of their latest full length Great Leaps Forward, front man Reed spoke recently about the recording of the album, cutting a member loose and keeping the day jobs (for now).
http://events.myspace.com/Event/4911956/First-Unitarian-Church-w-STRUNG-OUT-RUFIO-MUTEThe band is planning a major tour in the fall alongside Strung out, Rufio and Mute that will bring them to the First Unitarian Church on September 19.
Did you guys originally start out as a ska band?
Yeah, the band originally was sort of a rebellion against the stagnant nature of the ska scene. Sort of a middle finger to all the bands that were just rehashing the “third wave” ska sound.
You have horns, but definitely don’t get lumped into the traditional list of ska bands. Did you intentional set out to add a harder mix of punk rock to your songs?
We definitely wanted to do something new. We’re constantly doing what we can to push the envelope as far as what’s considered “ska.”
So have you guys been able to quit your day jobs and focus entirely in the band yet?
Regrettably we’re not quite there yet. We all still work remedial jobs, from movie theaters to bars and restaurants.
How was the Harvest of Hope Fest? Were you able to check out any other bands?
Harvest of Hope Fest was great! Our set was a lot of fun. We all got to see a ton of great bands. I got to see Billy Bragg, who I grew up listening to. 7 Seconds, Kimya Dawson, A Wilhelm Scream and Cheap Girls were other highlights for me. The Snips did a great acoustic set, too. It was really cool to hear their songs stripped down.
How long have you wanted to work with Matt Allison?
The idea to work with Matt Allison actually only came up a few months before we recorded. Truth be told, it was the label’s idea for us to work with him. We were all aware of his work with Alkaline Trio and Less Than Jake, so when Vinnie suggested it we jumped at the opportunity. Working with Matt Allison was great. He maintains a relaxed, easy to work in environment that definitely helped us create a record that we’re really satisfied with. Matt Bayles’ did a fantastic job mixing the record, too. We’re really pleased with how it sounds.
You lost a band member during recording this album. What happened?
Basically, we let him join the band before we really knew him. It’s much different to hang out with someone for a few hours than it is to live in a van with them for weeks on end. After a year and a half of touring, we weren’t getting along anymore. We decided he was causing too much tension for the band to continue working with him. After a tour that happened between recording sessions, we asked him to leave the band and went our separate ways. We never made a public statement because he was not a part of the writing process for the record and we simply wanted to continue moving forward.
How much time did you take off after starting the record?
We recorded Great Leaps Forward in two segments. We recorded for a week and a half in mid March of 2009, went on tour in April and May, and went back to the studio for another week and a half at the end of May.
Did that time off change the focus of the songs at all?
It gave us some time to reflect. We definitely made a few minor changes to some of the songs. We actually cut an entire 45 seconds, give or take, out of “Strange, Slow and Old”.
How did you guys connect with Paper + Plastick?
Vinnie (Fiorello, label founder and drummer for Less Than Jake) discovered us through the free download of our first record that we used to offer. The funny part is, we had a band AOL Instant Messenger account to talk to fans, and he actually contacted us through that. He told us he liked the record and wanted to help us out. We are incredibly stoked to be part of the P+P family.
Have you set up summer tour plans yet?
We just got home a few days ago, actually. We did a full US tour in support of Great Leaps Forward, and we have some awesome things lined up for the fall that I can’t spill the beans on just yet.
We’re gonna stick around Michigan and write some new songs until August rolls around. We are playing with The Suicide Machines on July 24th in Detroit, though. That should be sufficiently awesome.