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If you are looking for a refreshing take on genres of some of the biggest bands ever, Staring at Nothing is your band. Staring at Nothing is from Rockwell City, Iowa but currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa. The band consists of two best friends, Andrew Schreier and Zach DeMoss. Between their different musical backgrounds, tastes and great collaboration skills on top of the lyrics, you will be hooked. Recently Toonari Post had a chance to interview the two guys.
Toonari Post (TP): How did you guys come up with the band’s name?
Andrew Schreier (AS): When I was around 14 or 15 years old I fell in love with this video of Say Anything ‘s Max Bemis playing “Alive with the Glory of Love,” and I thought when I got older and had a band I’d want my album to be near his, so I started making lists of band names starting with S. It would have been more impressive had I found a name that at least went SA instead of ST. But it was one of like, a hundred and twenty or so I wrote down, and I wrote a song based on the name so it stuck.
Zach DeMoss (ZD): Like he said he came up with the name long before I started to learn drums so when he asked me if that’s what I wanted I agreed candidly.
TP: What music genre do you think best describes your band, and why?
ZD: It’s a cohesion of punk rock and alternative rock. It has some punk elements such as Andrew’s singing and some rhythms are punk oriented, and most of these songs have “take offs” which we patented as meaning speed up and rock out. Also songs such as “Knots” and “I handle…” really enunciate a hard rock or alternative rock element with heavy, fuzz riffs.
AS: We try to have diversity across the record, because we aren’t into the ideal that I’ve heard kicked around of, make an album of eleven or twelve similar sounding songs. We as a band, and I as a writer are into having different moods and vibes throughout the record, diversity and dimension. We’re not into static records. We range from strands of emo/alt rock like “Breeze” and “I Do This Thing Sometimes” to fuzzy rant raves of “Ihandleprettymuchallmyownmoney,” to depressive acoustics that no one should probably listen to. Ha. They’re just journal entries with guitars thrown behind them and they’re uber depressing. I don’t listen to them, save the end of “Fragile.” A friend of ours Emily Winks was chilling and jamming with us one night and I had just recorded it that day and I had this idea for her to sing, she did it and her voice absolutely sheened. I was really lucky she came along and was into what she heard and put herself in there. We’d love to have her around more, but right now it’s just not what she feels she needs in her life. We respect that, but much love to her as a person and a singer and her contribution.
TP: What do you hope fans get from listening to your music; getting to know you guys?
AS: It’d be amazing if anyone cared at all. The dream would be, to be to any fans what our favorite bands are to us. If our band could mean what Say Anything, Brand New, or Nirvana do to me that would leave me in absolute awe.
ZD: I agree with Andrew 100%. If our songs can just entertain people while they listen to it I would be plenty happy, and if it inspires anything in anyone that would just be going above and beyond. Personally I didn’t get into music to become super popular I did it for fun so if our songs can excite and entertain people than that’s all I really want.
TP: Being from small town Iowa, what do you feel you bring to the music world?
AS: I’m not sure that had anything to do with it. Whether I was in a large town or small town I probably would have done the same thing. Kind of isolate myself from everyone and go to my bedroom. Skip a lot of school, buy a lot of records, and watch a lot of interviews. I’d be kind, and smile and laugh when talked to. But inside I really didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to … I don’t even know anymore. But it wasn’t driven by my environment I don’t think. It was all just, inside me, watching videos of my favorite bands and songwriters all the time. Spending embarrassing lengths of time alone in my room with Zach. We shot hoops now and then…but I usually left or felt uncomfortable if others showed up.
ZD: Being from small town Iowa and not having a bunch of money to spend on musical instruments I think shows people that you can play music as long as you are willing to put in the effort. I spent most of a summer’s salary on an electronic drum set, and the acoustic set I have is one that Andrew bought for like 200 bucks. Also making a homemade album shows that people can make their own music and they don’t need any big studios or super nice instruments. All you need are a few instruments and some people willing to try.
TP: If you could tour with anyone, what would the line-up be?
AS: Without a doubt Say Anything, Brand New, and if we could go back in time Nirvana. Manchester Orchestra would be rad too. Zach has a bit more ambition than I do. Haha.
ZD: Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Say Anything, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World, Silversun Pickups. Obviously those are the “dream” bands I would want to tour with, but really I think it would be awesome to tour with some local punk bands and just drive around in a van.
AS: Yeah. Vans are awesome.
TP: Speaking of favorite bands, who do you give credit to for inspiration?
AS: I really buy into certain songwriters although my writing certainly won’t display it. Writing and poetry is what really got me into music. Max Bemis of Say Anything was my obsession from when I was fifteen to today. Funny story about it was, when I first bought “Is A Real Boy,” Say Anything’s first record…. I hated it… for six months, I listened to it every single day, hating it. But obviously something else was going on in me because I kept listening to it day in and day out and it became my favorite album of all time. Also Nirvana’s knack for taking straightforward simple riffs, and making them sound and feel so huge on record, that’s certainly to be admired. And Brand New, just, wow. So much more I could say about any three of these bands.
ZD: Well for me a few factors played a role in me beginning to play drums. First I always knew Andrew played guitar and I thought that was cool but back when we first met I had no aspirations to become any sort of musician. I never played any instruments as a kid and I really never listened to rock music. Then freshman year of college and my roommate played guitar and one day I ended up with Rockband the video game. Next thing I know I am wasting hours and hours playing this stupid video game getting yelled at by neighbors, but honestly it was the best thing for me musically. I was exposed to tons of rock songs and I learned the basics of drumming. As for musicians who inspired me when I heard Dave Grohl on drums, I was sold. Every one of his songs he rocked. He is by far the best drummer alive to me, he keeps a straight forward beat and doesn’t try to show off he just does his part and helps the song musically. That is exactly what I try to do, fit my part to help the band be the best it can be.
AS: Zach learning drums is one of the greatest things that ever happened for me. Who in a band doesn’t want the core to be him and his best friend? I don’t have to censor one sliver of myself, because if you think any of these songs are heavy. I talk about and reek of my issues non-stop. And lucky Zach living with me, I take it out on him all day every day. Also, being his best friend for a long time, I exposed him to a lot of bands I listened to and he grew to love them also. So we really come from the same roots of musical influence overall because of our friendship going back before we had this band together.
TP: Is there a favorite song that you guys recorded that you want to explain or give the reasoning behind?
AS: For me it’s definitely either “Breeze” or “Ihandleprettymuchallmyownmoney.” I wrote “Breeze” the day before we were done and had to leave our personal studio. Where I still felt like I hadn’t written and recorded a song like what I really wanted to do. So one night I just, went to write exactly what I had been wanting to write for a long time and “Breeze” nailed it. “Breeze” is definitely a song that is in the direction we are heading as a band. It was something I wrote in like an hour, plucked my poetry into it, and everything just clicked. It said and did everything I wanted it to do. While “Ihandleprettymuchallmyownmoney” is without a doubt my personal woe garbage bin. I love I got to open with a fiery showcase of my favorite vocal technique in “Ihandle,” the drunken sailor rant. Then it anchors into a heavy groove that really allowed me to spew chunks of thought out over it without a moments hesitation. The entirety of that song was plucked straight from my veins. Something about the riffs it clicks in and out of all allowed me to have it say what I wanted it to say. I also love how it clicks into this rave rock, and then back out into my favorite heavy drop onto the record. That song started with a drum riff from Zach that inspired me to no end.
ZD: “Breeze” is just an awesome song, and it is by far my favorite. It has an awesome build up and then explodes into a catchy chorus, and even though it is long I am always enthralled with it. I also really like “Knots” because it shows off a more heavy side with the noise guitar and gritty chorus. I also fought to keep “Same Vein New Fluid,” because I love the easy rocking leading up to the “rock-out.”
You can check out more about these great guys and their music at www.staringatnothing.com. They currently do not have any tour dates planned, but plan on playing in the Iowa City, IA area once they have a bass player.