Comeback Kid

author PP date 15/09/11

It was a long time coming, but finally Comeback Kid made their way to Denmark after a lengthy pause. That they chose to do it in the intimate confines of Templet, Lyngby, was all the better. We decided to get a hold of their singer Andrew Neufeld for a lengthy chat about the band and their latest masterpiece "Symptoms + Cures". He was eating dinner while we conducted the interview, but in between each bite he managed to stuff our recorder full of interesting answers about the band, always with a small quirk on his face suggesting that he takes his band seriously, but not overly so. What's new in Comeback Kid?
Andrew: Well, we've just been doing some festivals all summer long. It is our third time in Europe this summer, [people screaming like lunatics in the background] and as you can hear it, people are having a good time in the background. So yeah, we've just been kind of keeping our heads down and just touring. We had a record out last summer, and we've been pretty much non-stop touring since then. Today you're playing in a venue which has a capacity of 160 or something like that. Usually you guys play in larger places, so how does it feel like to be playing such an intimate venue tonight?
Andrew: We're stoked to play a show like this. We just did a weekend full of festival gigs, you know, big barricades and big tents and stuff like that. So for us, we play shows smaller than this sometimes, we play shows bigger than this, sometimes festivals...I think we just appreciate having a nice change, and I find that shows at the small venues, where people are really into it, are sometimes the most gratifying to us. So do you prefer the smaller ones to the bigger ones, then?

Andrew: I don't know if I prefer it. I love it, and I enjoy it, I'd be bummed if we didn't have it. But I kind of like to mix it up, you know? So you guys are on tour with what is arguably your best record "Symptoms + Cures", did the great critical reception take you by surprise at all?
Andrew: I think that every band, when they release a record that they think is pretty good, they're...maybe not surprised when they get a good reaction from the press, but maybe more so appreciative. I don't know, it's weird, because the record that we did before this last one was "Broadcasting", and I felt like we got a pretty good reaction with the press with that record. But the funny thing was when "Symptoms + Cures" came out, a lot of reviewers were like "we didn't really like Broadcasting as much, we're stoked that we like Symptoms + Cures a little bit more".

So I don't know. Maybe it was the turnaround of three years, different people working at the magazines, but it was just weird. Maybe if we do another record, they'll say "we didn't really like Symptoms + Cures but this one's okay". I don't know, I think it all depends on the time and who's reviewing it and where they are with their life, or with our band. So back when you were writing the record, did you already back then know that you were writing one of your best records? Did you feel like that in studio?
Andrew: I think that we always strive to write our best record. We always try to write our best songs. I think that if you're not doing that, if you're just making mediocre songs or whatever. I mean, didn't NOFX put out a record where they poked fun of themselves, like "ohh, you know, we're just rehashing old songs". And that's cool too. But I'm a songwriter and we're a band that wants to keep on being relevant and kind of keep doing cool things with our music, things that we think are cool. So every time we write a record, we hope that it's our best record. But that's in the ears of the beholder, so. You guys use a ton of gang vocals on the new record, maybe more so than in the past, and it's also one of the fastest records that you guys have written. So usually when bands put out a lot of records, they tend to wind down a bit, but it seems that you guys are doing the opposite, and are going more aggressive. How did that come about?
Andrew: We've always been a band that's played fast music. With this record maybe we added a little bit more d-beat on the drums. Yeah, I guess what you were saying about the heavier style, I used to play guitar in the band and I started singing on the last record before this one, and at that point, when I first started singing, I was kind of like trying to decide, "hey should I try to sound like Scott", who's our old singer, or should I do my own thing, but also trying to keep the band consistent. And I felt a little bit more freedom with "Symptoms + Cures" to kind of like sing in my own style, which is naturally just a heavier voice. I think the new record is more true to how we are live.

As far as the fast songs, or whatever, I don't know. It's just how it came out. I'm glad that you think that [laughs] It's also one of your most melodic records. Did that also just happen, or was that a conscious choice that you went for when writing it?

Andrew: it is a conscious choice. We want to write live music, and I think that's kind of like the beauty of, what I find the beauty of in the songs that we try to play. Just the contrast between heavy songs and melodic parts, just really mixing it up, because I really want to feel something during the songs, and I want hopefully the listener to feel something. Obviously, it's music, so melody increases that. So do you feel that you've found your sound now, the sound of "Symptoms + Cures", is that going to be the future Comeback Kid sound?
Andrew: I wouldn't say that, because I think that every record is going to have its own identity, have its own feeling to it. A lot of people note that "Wake The Dead" is your career-defining and your most important album. To what extent do you agree on that statement?
Andrew: I agree with that. Maybe not by our choice, but I think it's one of the records that...we have four records, and we play songs from every record live, but I would say that "Wake The Dead" is...maybe we play like five songs from "Wake The Dead", as opposed to, say, "Symptoms + Cures", we play like three or four, you know what I mean? And "Broadcasting..." and "Turn It Around" we notice that just from the crowd reaction, and the songs that really work live.

It's always funny when you're writing a record and you're imagining how it's gonna go live. Sometimes I think that bands maybe over exert themselves in the studio. Because something can sound good and feel good when you're recording it, and then you try to put it in a live setting, and it doesn't really translate as much. Maybe it translates to the crowd, but you can't feel it as much when you're playing. There's just a lot of different dynamics to that. But "Wake The Dead", yeah, a lot of the songs on that were...I wouldn't say simple, but they were simple enough that we could play them and have fun while playing them, and really enjoy it.

And I also think that with a lot of music, people find certain music in a certain time in their life, and I think that "Wake The Dead" came out at a time when a lot of people who were getting into us were maybe younger, and just getting into hardcore. I know that records that I listened to when I was in high school, or like early 20s, really really stuck with me more as opposed to a record I'm listening to now, being 30. So I think timing has a lot to do with it. How would you say your sound has changed from when Scott was the vocalist as opposed to now that you're on the vocals?
Andrew: I'd say it's a lot heavier now. Naturally just a lot more aggressive. But I think that we've pretty much kept a consistent sound throughout our career. There are songs that we wrote seven-eight years ago that wouldn't be too far off from what we would write these days, so. When you took over the vocal duties, was it difficult transitioning from playing just the guitar into the main vocals. Was there any pressure in it?
Andrew: I didn't want to sing in the band. I wanted to stay playing guitar, but it was just something that had to happen, and we needed a quick decision. But now I hang out with Scott all the time, and he always wants to try to do some shows. We actually did a thing with him in Seattle, we played a few songs at a festival with him. I played guitar, and it was super fun. But it's definitely a lot of pressure trying to move from guitar to vocals. People are gonna latch onto what they love about the older stuff, and that might cause a little bit of backlash, but at the same time, I feel like it's been received well, and since Scott left in 2006, we've definitely progressed as a band, and our audience has come with it.

(AP) But how did it actually come to be, that you became the vocalist. Did you have some kind of big band get together, where everybody went and tried the mic?

Andrew: No, well, actually before that happened, there was a tour that we were on, I think we were on tour with Bane and Strung Out, and halfway through the tour Scott had to move or something with his girlfriend, so he didn't want to do the tour, but we were like "oh fuck it, we wanna do it anyway", so I just sang. And I've sung in a band before Comeback Kid, too, and I did all the lyrics with him, and worked on the phrasing. I was very involved in the vocal songwriting process, so it was kind of no-brainer that I kind of had to step up to the plate. I didn't really choose it. I think it would've been harder to find a new singer than a new guitar player. Do you guys wanna be seen as a punk band, a hardcore band, or something completely different?
Andrew: I guess a hardcore slash punk band, right? [laughs] You're known for your energetic live shows, where do you source that energy from on stage? I've seen you play even on festivals, where there's a big distance between the crowd and you guys, and that still seems to be the case.
Andrew: I don't know. It's just something that we love...I would like to say that we feed off the audience, but we're give it whether the audience is losing their shit or not. It's part of the music, we feel the music, so we just need to react and try to play as hard as we can.

(AP) Does it have some effect on your show? Last two times I saw you guys was at Groezrock this year, and the year before, and even when you had a sound problem in the middle, somebody wrenched a string or something, people were singing the chorus. How does that make you feel?

Andrew: Groezrock is one of the best festivals we've ever played. There's some kind of electricity when you're waiting to play and there's like eight thousand people waiting to watch you. There's no way that you can not be excited, I feel, unless you're like some huge rock star or something who doesn't feel anything. Where does the name of the band originally come from?
Andrew: That's a really interesting question. Never been asked that before [laughs]. Nah, just joking. When we first started the band, Scott, our old singer was looking through the newspaper, and Mario Lemieux just came back to the NHL, and it said like "the comeback kid, bla bla bla", and that just kind of clicked, and that's how it all went down. When's the next album coming out?
Andrew: No plans of that right now. We put out a record last year, and we're not the kind of band that can churn out a record every year and a half, so we're just taking our time. Thanks for the interview. Do you have anything to add?

Andrew: Thank you for having us in Denmark. Shout out to Mew, because they're like my favorite band. And fuck yeah, thanks for having us!

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