INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
Personally, I cannot think of any bands that combine jazz and punk influences to fuse a new sound as effortlessly together as IN YOUR MEMORY. Based out of Washington, D.C., this post-hardcore five-piece consists of vocalist Omar Veras, drummer Jonathan Bonifacio, bassist Troy Humphrey, and guitarists Casey Allen and Alex Scott. Together, they form one of the most cohesive groups the D.C. area has seen since forming in 2011 in Scott’s basement. Despite a rough start in 2013 with the release of their self-titled EP, the members have switched gears and roles in the band to develop this new, innovative sound on their most recent EP, Reflections, which include three songs that literally reflect where they are as a band with much more honest songs about Veras’ personal life and recovery from alcohol addiction.
In September 2014, your band released Reflections, which is the first new release since your self-titled debut EP in 2013. On your Bandcamp page, you described this three-song EP as “a sum of the last two years of our lives.” Can you explain what you meant by that and how your band has developed since then?
The majority of that was based off of everything that was happening with me when I was drinking, when I had the whole DUI thing happening, also situations that I was put in from previous relationships — stuff like that where I was the “bad guy” in relationships. Long story short, when we went in to record it and [while] producing Reflections, when I was writing lyrics, I wanted to get the point across. I was talking to my producer, and he was like, “Dude, the more honest you are, the better it’s gonna be.” So instead of taking the approach that I took before in the self-titled EP where it was the cliché “It’s about a girl” thing, all of these songs had a different meaning, whether it had to do with “Karma,” “Breaking Habits,” or “Layers of Lies,” that was pretty much the approach. When we took it to the live stage, whether it was a house show or a bigger venue, it was just more believable.
What is your song “Breaking Habits” about?
That was the first one out of the three that we finished, and it is that right there — breaking the habit. That’s literally verbatim of what happened to me when I got not my first but my second DUI, honestly. It was just what was going on in the back of my head, how everyone was talking to me about it or behind closed doors. Also, on the post-end of things, after everything happened, [it’s about] how did I take everything. For example, in the chorus, [I sing], “Is this my Interview, / Feels more like an Intervention.” So it’s like, the more people ask and the more people want to know, it’s just like people are constantly asking, and you have the same answer for every single person.
According to your band bio, it describes your music as a “jazz-netic twist” to the post-hardcore genre, while leaning on your punk rock influences. What are some ways that you combine jazz music with punk and hardcore?
I used to play guitar in a band before I started singing, and everything we do instead of [playing power chords], our guitars a detuned down to A#. I know between myself, Alex, and Casey, when it [comes] to writing material, nothing sounds just like a power chord. If we want to add diminished chords or different variations of jazz chords in there just to give it a kind of different appeal or twist to things, we find a way to throw it in. Not only that, but our bass player is coming from a reggae background, so kind of in the punk rock genre you have a bass player following the guitars, while he is kind of doing his own thing. You can feel it, especially in “Layers of Lies” where the bass kind of has its own anthem, its own feel. Not only that, but our drummer does his part too to stay in tune. Circling back to the whole “jazz-netic” piece of things, we make sure we remember our roots of the punk and the rock influences, but at the end of the day, we want to stand out so we add those extra nuances.
In what ways did Reflections expand your audience?
Ever since I joined the band, the critique we would always get would be, “It sounds good, but is it ‘rock?’” Even when we started touring In Your Memory, the self-titled EP, we would always [hear], “The sound sounds good. It’s different, but is it rock?” That was [back] when Troy sang, our bass player. Then things happened, and I started singing after that because I had the more “rockish,” raw tone. As far as Reflections, once we put that out, with the help of out producers Kevin Gutierrez and Martin MacAlister [of Assembly Line Studios], they put us in the right pocket. We all had a big discussion, and we spoke a lot about how we wanted everything to sound from the drums, to the guitars, to the vocals in the front and in the back, even harmonies, and we wanted to make sure that no matter what, if you were to hit play, you would know that this was a rock album. So that was the first thing of [making sure] we got into the right avenue with the right audience to touch base on.
But we were also thinking of things more professionally with more business appeal. We wanted to have something that was a little more marketable, something that made sense not only at a bigger or social media aspect, but also locally. Looking at this area in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, there are a lot of different genres going on, a lot of different bands. So we wanted to make sure it was something where it was true to us, it was easy for someone that wants to pick up a CD and listen to us and make sure they can digest it, but the main thing was when we play shows with other bands, we wanted to make sure it has a good flow from us to the next band. It’s great to stand out, and it is great not to sound the same. But you still have to have a good solid show.
Can you tell me about the Disney cover song you guys are working on, “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” from Mulan?
It’s actually fully done. We finished pre-production back in December . We got the final copy January 5, and the same gentleman that is going to help us with our next release, Eric Taft, just finished the mixing for it. We recorded it with Martin [MacAlister], who did Reflections with us too. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. Right now, we are in the process of getting the copyrights, and I know Disney is all over the place with that to make sure no one makes money. We didn’t do it necessarily to make money, but mainly to have fun with things because it isn’t something we have done before. We haven’t given any cover, period, any random twist. It got to the point where we started bouncing ideas off each other where this year we want to put out four videos because we’re local. The only way to keep our name on people’s tongues is constant releases. So we decided to make this song one of the next videos that we put out.
What is the theme that you guys are doing for the “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” video?
We want to make sure that we have fun with it instead it just being a band scene. For this next video, we [plan to] take it to the next step as far as comic relief, if I may. We are releasing it around Valentine’s Day for a reason because we take relationships to another step. Plus, the concept of “I’ll Make A Man Out of You,” we give a modern twist to it. Hopefully it’s not expected, and we keep people laughing. But our next video will keep the momentum with the comedy behind them. Eventually, we might do something serious, but I’m not too sure because I’m not too sure how serious we carry ourselves. Obviously we are very serious about how we carry ourselves, but we are all goofballs.
Why did you choose to work with Eric Taft of Buzz Lounge Studios (originally known as Salad Days) on recording your next two singles?
We were bouncing a lot of ideas back and forth. We went from recording with the guy that did PARAMORE and this and that. We were thinking about going to the “next step,” but then, we started slowing down and looking at the bigger picture. The point of it is, [we thought], “What is the point of investing all this money, taking a trip, and doing all that stuff if only 15 people listen to it?” Who knows if by recording with this person if it really mattered? So we were like, why not record some place closer to home? Why not work with someone that is already embedded into a scene that we are slowly getting ourselves into, networking more, making friends with bands, and stuff like that. But a lot of bands we already worked with recommended him to us, so it just made sense to use someone that everyone [in the area] has worked with. Personally, I am a big THRICE fan, and I know that the studio he currently owns is where they originally wrote a lot of their records, CIRCA SURVIVE’s records. … Not only that but after talking and relating with him, there were a lot of influences that he listens to that we related with [as well]. His talent, given all the other bands that we’ve heard, it’s mainly to support the scene.
Do they have titles yet for the singles you will be releasing with Taft?
We have two tracks that we just finished doing pre-production. In total, we want to release six, but we in a debate of whether we should put all six on the next EP, or release two singles and do a four-track EP after. If we do that, we do have two tracks. The first track will be called “Solace,” and the next track is going to be called “Decadence.” We won’t make another big twist based on the feedback we heard from Reflections, but it is different. Maybe the maturity and the progression in how much more technical we got [is different] just because of feedback we received. … These new songs are a lot more aggressive. They are a lot more energetic, and even live, we already played these two songs on our last run when we went to [Pennsylvania]. It was phenomenal, with no antics, no lighting, no extra backtrack. It was rawness, and it worked. It’s great when something like that comes to fruition.
When do you plan to release the two singles and then the four-song EP?
We haven’t settled on a date yet. We’ve been talking about a few things here and there. We are going to start to record the other [songs] midway through February, but we are all over the place. No matter how much you want to keep things in line, some things come up. … I can only assume we might release “Decadence” and “Solace” by the time we do our summer run, which will be two or two-and-a-half weeks that Casey is currently putting together. That’s gonna be an east coast run. We are going to have some Ohio dates as well, but it will possibly be anywhere between May and July.
On your website, you announced that you are booking a tour this spring. Can you tell me more about that?
That spring tour is going to be a quick run. What’s happening is Casey is also doing his part in booking in the Baltimore area as well. A lot of bands that we have befriended in the last few years, he has been booking, and they have been asking for us to come back to their states and towns. When we did that run in [Pennsylvania], we had five or six days there, and we really had a good turnout. They also want us to come back to see some friends and play some shows. It’s just gonna be [another] quick five or six day run, but the big one will be in the summer time.
For more updates on IN YOUR MEMORY, be sure to visit their website, “like” their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to Reflections on Bandcamp.