- by Tom Dumarey
Holy shit! Has it really been 20 years already since ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’ came out on Vagrant Records?
The easy answer to that question is ‘yes’. The hard answer is ‘yes, you really are gettting old’.
Not ones to let the occasion go unnoticed, No Motiv are back with the original lineup for a pair of 20-year anniversary shows in Ventura and Anaheim, CA in November. And to make things even sweeter they will be releasing a newly mixed and mastered version with two additional bonus re-recorded songs. These will be available on a limited pressing of vinyl (preorder here) along with a digital version later this month.
We caught up with lead vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Palaszewski, drummer Pat Pedraza, Face To Face’s Trever Keith who produced the album and Rich Egan of Vagrant Records to talk about all things ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’.
11/1 Ventura, CA- Discovery Ventura Tickets (w/ special guests Out of Trust, Slowtrip, and Omega Point)
11/2 Chain Reaction - Anaheim, CA Tickets (w/ special guests Modern Color, Slowtrip, and Omega Point)
PRT: 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’. What does the album mean to you personally?
Pat: It means a lot. We put in a lot of work leading up to it. We couldn’t believe Vagrant was going to put it out and Trever from Face to Face was going to produce it. It was pretty insane for some kids from Oxnard, California. It was like a dream come true honestly.
Jeremy: Personally? It’s as personal as it gets really, but making music has always been more of a therapy session than a creative endeavor for me. Oxnard has a very sleepy and lonely quality to it, so it kind of breeds introversion. Songwriting, in those early days of forming ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’, came out of the gloomy days of depression. It was very cathartic to write and share songs with my close friends- of whom I was confident would not judge me for it. At least not verbally.
Rich Egan (Vagrant Records): I love that album. Just hearing the intro to ’Solemn’ or ’Nostalgia’ sends me right back to when it all started. It was a great time, full of possibility.
PRT: What was the first song you wrote for the album and how did it come about?
Pat: We had some older songs that we recorded before we got signed to Vagrant that made it on the album. I think the first song we wrote specifically for the album was ‘Solemn’. We had been playing that one on a tour we did with the band Good Riddance through Canada in 1998.
Jeremy: Sigh...first song on the album? I remember my girlfriend who I was completely in love with had just told me to give her some space. Anytime I get bummed for reals I just turn to my guitar (never leaves me). Over the next 36 hours I wrote ‘The Waiting Hurt’ and ‘Empty’. I was pretty psyched on those songs and was excited to share them with the guys, but the first person to actually hear them was Johnny Krier from Whereabouts. We were drinking 40’s of malt liquor on the beach and when we got back, I played them for him in my room on my black and white Mexican strat. I just couldn’t keep them in any longer.
PRT: Was ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’ in general an easy album to write?
Pat: All the songs on the album weren’t forced and came naturally. It was pretty smooth as far as the writing went.
Jeremy: No album is ever easy to write for me. The courage to even start something is the hardest thing sometimes. But in the end, no matter the hardships, it’s all worth it. The things I learn about myself from the process alone are invaluable.
PRT: How ‘finished’ was the album when you headed into the studio?
Jeremy: Hmmm, I remember writing lyrics to a song in the studio. We had most of the music, and I had some vocal ideas, but it wasn’t there yet. We tried tracking what I had and it still wasn’t there. I was starting to get discouraged about the song. Next morning I rolled into the studio and Trever showed me some ideas he’d cooked up overnight. That sparked a new creative thread in me and I finished off what we now know as ‘Shells’. Thanks Trever!
Pat: I thought we came in with 11 full songs and 11 made it on the album.
PRT: What kind of influence would you say Trever had on the album?
Pat: A lot. Trever is an awesome songwriter. He knows guitar tone, and had some pretty rad ideas as far as song arrangement went. We were big fans. It was such a blast having him work with us.
Jeremy: Trevor was very helpful with me when recording vox. He would suggest other ways to get points across or alternate methods to get around performance difficulties. I was green as the Grinch when it came to recording performance, but he never reminded me. Thanks again Trever!
PRT: Trever, was No Motiv an easy band to work with in the studio?
Trever: The guys were super easy to work with. They were a lot of fun in the studio. They were open to trying new things and willing to listen to the ideas that I and Chad Blinman had for their arrangements and recordings.
PRT: Do you feel like being in a band yourself makes you a better producer? Or does one have nothing to do with the other?
Trever: Yes, because you can be empathetic to their experience in the studio as a musician. A lot of times a producer’s role is to encourage and support the musicians.
PRT: No Motiv was one of the first bands to get signed by Vagrant Records. How did you end up with them?
Jeremy: If it weren’t for Pat, we never would have been on Vagrant.
Pat: I had a Face to Face live CD. I looked at the address on the back and just started to send them demos. It was kinda funny how much I bugged them. They answered my phone calls and listened to our songs. They never hung up on me so I took that as a.....maybe???? Haha!
Rich Egan (Vagrant Records): Pat started sending us demo after demo and calling us weekly to check out his band. We couldn’t get him off our radar. He was relentless…and I’m glad. We went to see them play at a laser tag place and decided to sign them. We wanted to sign them because they were great kids with really good songs and a solid work ethic. I also loved the fact they were from Oxnard, right up the highway.
PRT: The label blew up around that time thanks to The Get Up Kids’‘Something To Write Home About’ and them then signing Saves The Day, Alk 3 and Dashboard Confessional. Looking back, was it more of a blessing or a curse to get caught up in that whirlwind?
Jeremy: A blessing of course. What’s good for the group is good for the individual.
Pat: It was both. A lot of those bands were getting lots of hype at the time, so Vagrant just did what they did, and it worked. I honestly feel that if our record came out a year later, we would have seen a lot more traction. Vagrant ruled at that time. That whole team there was on point. We got to tour with those bands, so we couldn’t complain.....but looking back now.....we complained a lot!!!!!
PRT: Rich, what was that time like for you guys?
Rich: Insane. In a two year span, we we went from 2 guys working in a one room office to a staff of 18 people in a giant warehouse. We had no idea what we were doing because none of us had ever worked at a record label. Which turned out to be to our advantage because we didn’t know that we COULDN’T do a lot of the stuff we were doing. We (the bands and the label) played by our own rules…and it worked.
PRT: With the success of the above mentioned bands, do you feel like you had enough time and resources left for a band like No Motiv?
Rich: What’s the old saying? A rising tide lifts all boats? I think that applies here. The success of those bands enabled us to get more copies of everyone’s records into stores, market them and put the bands on tour. “Sadness” was probably a year ahead of its time. I think No Motiv saw the benefits of Vagrant's growth more on their next album “Diagram for Healing” than they did on “Sadness”.
PRT: What is the most random thing that happened while recording ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’?
Pat: I can’t recall anything from the recording sessions, but we did pre-production at my mom’s house where I lived at the time. I remember Trever walking up to the front door. That was random and rad at the same time. So crazy.
Jeremy: Chad Blinman. Silly Putty. Fill in the blanks.
PRT: Were there things you learned or found out while writing and recording that you knew you wanted to do differently on the next album?
Pat: I really wanted all of the songs to gel together more on the next album. The Sadness album had 2 fast songs, ‘So What’ and ‘Tribute’ that kinda didn’t fit with the vibe of the rest of the songs.
PRT: In hindsight, twenty years later, anything you would have done differently now with regard to ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’?
Pat: Yes. I wish we released it a year later with the mix we have right now for it!
Jeremy: Hindsight? Work harder and tour overseas. Write more.
PRT: Do you still feel the same way about it as when it came out?
Pat: I do now. When I hear these new mixes it brings my back to 1999. It’s cool being in the same room with the guys when we rehearse. We’re just old now. Haha.
PRT: Trever, you also produced the band’s follow-up album ‘Diagram For Healing’. How do you feel the band had progressed compared to ‘And The Sadness Prevails...’?
Trever: Their songwriting became more sophisticated. Their arrangements more complex. And the lyrics more refined.
PRT: With the album being newly mixed and mastered now, did you discover something new in the recording?
Jeremy: Not really, just that we played super fast.
Pat: There was some talking from the band that was picked up by the microphones we found on the reels. We added some of that to the new mixes.
PRT: Trever & Rich, what are your favorite stories about working with No Motiv?
Trever: Chad and I had brought a goat in the studio one morning before the band arrived to get some samples of the goat making its ”baaahhh” noises and despite our best efforts, it was uninterested and just kept chewing the corner of the couch. We told the studio owner that Max did it!
Rich: So one day the phone rings and the receptionist tells me that Joe Escalante is calling. I was stoked because I grew up going to Vandals (Joe’s longtime band) shows. I must have seen them a hundred times. I pick up the phone and Joe starts screaming that he was gonna sue me, and how dare I try to steal his song, and on and on. I had no idea what he was talking about, I’m thinking… “did we put out a Vandals song?” but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to even ask. Finally, I just hung up on Joe. He called right back and goes “DID YOU JUST HANG UP ON ME?!?” and started yelling again. So I hung up again. Joe calls a third time and calmly says “Ok, I’m not going to yell…but I’m pissed that you took that song from me and released it”. I said “Joe, I gotta be honest, I have NO idea what you’re talking about. What song?” Joe says, “The No Motiv song. I put it out on my label (Kung Fu) compilation and I have a signed contract giving me the exclusive rights to it.” I apologized profusely and mentioned that I was big fan of his band and I really hoped we could work it out. Before we hung up I asked him when he got the song and from whom. He goes “A couple years ago-- before you signed them. The kid in the band wouldn’t stop calling me so I finally agreed to put them on the comp. I can’t remember which band member it was” … I go “I’m pretty sure I do”. Good ol’ Pat. I let Pat have it for not telling me about it but he has a way to make everything seem really funny and by the end of the call he had me laughing it off. He followed up by sending me a huge bowl of his mom’s homemade salsa which is what he always did to get on my good side. Worked every time.
PRT: You haven’t released anything since 2011 but now there’s this anniversary edition of the album as well as two anniversary shows. Is there still a chance that at some point we might see another No Motiv album?
Pat: Who knows? We got asked to be on a new Nardcore compilation album which would require us to record a new song. I’d definitely be into recording some new tunes for a future release.
Jeremy: I hope so.
Most of you have kids now. How do they feel about their dad’s Nardcore days?
Jeremy: My daughter is almost 5 years old. She and I have a band called The Honey and The Sea. Look for us in 2020.
Pat: None of our kids are past 7 years of age, so I don’t think they know what Nardcore is just yet. Funny you should ask though, after my daughter was born 2 years ago, I started a hardcore band called “Dad Brains” We write silly hardcore songs about parenting...it’s kinda fun.