So I took the time to interview Erik Haag from Ladder Devils, a noise-rock band formed 2009 in Philadelphia. They’re releasing a new EP on June the 26th named Nowhere Plans. I asked some well-thought questions about the music industry, their upcoming EP and if there are any good restaurants in Philly.
So why did you choose the name Ladder Devils? And where did your musical career begin for real? Have you played in any other band prior to this one?
– We chose the name because we all liked it. I think we like serious sounding things with multiple definitions. It was an old Minor Times song title, which was Tim and Matt’s previous band. Tim and I played in a band when we were much younger, still teenagers, but The Minor Times is probably the most notable prior bands from any of us.
What would you say is your main musical influence? What decade of music do you enjoy the most?
– I think we have been writing music so long that it’s hard to say what exactly is a main influence since we draw from so much. We have habits that we’ve picked up along the way and we have bands and songs that we hear and are influenced by, but it doesn’t come from the same sources all the time. Liars, Harkonen, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead even, all of those things influence us to some extent as well as countless other punk and post-punk type things.
You say that you play loud music – but who plays even louder?
– Ha, I think we just thought that was an apt description that doesn’t pin us down to a genre. We all have trouble saying we are one particular style and that’s it, but we do end up doing mostly loud stuff, so that just sounded right. But we aren’t the loudest band out there, that’s for sure. The loudest band I’ve seen recently is Psychic Teens – They have us beat there. Painfully loud.
When you sell your merchandise, who buys the most of it? Which item is the most popular one? And what country stands out in the order-section?
– No particular country stands out but I’ve been surprised by the international response. We have people from Europe and South America interacting with us on the social networks and such, and blogging about us or reviewing our stuff. I guess that’s just normal these days. But it’s still a bit of a surprise given we have barely played out of the Philadelphia area.
On a more serious note, what do you think about the music industry? Have it affected you in any way? What do you think is the most positive thing about it and the most negative? What kind of music industry would you like to see grow out of the old one?
– I don’t think much about the music industry, as I see it I am not really involved in it. This is just a fun thing we do to keep ourselves satisfied and busy.
What do you usually do when hanging around your town Philadelphia? Are there any good restaurants in that city? What is good about your city and what’s bad?
– There are tons of great restaurants in Philly. I would say it’s one of it’s strong points. There’s too many to try all of them. There’s also a lot of small to medium sized music venues, so between those you don’t need much else. The good thing about Philly is that it’s affordable and has all this stuff but it’s not overwhelming or difficult to deal with like New York. You can also afford to buy a house, have a practice space, stuff like that here. In New York it’d be a totally different game.
There’s also something written on your website that you’re releasing a EP, and that it would’ve been released in April? Has it been postponed or released in secrecy? Could you tell me something I don’t know about it?
– Yeah, we’re on the verge of releasing it. Just took a little longer to get it wrapped up than we initially thought. So it goes. But we’re done now and it’s being pressed and any day now we should have an official release date announcement. The timeline is a little out of our hands because of the vinyl pressing. If we were just releasing it digitally it’d be out already. But we’re stoked to do vinyl and it’s totally worth it of course.
I guess there’s some good news coming sooner or later, since you’ve got a photo of vinyls in a box on Facebook? When do you think you’ll release this EP? Or maybe it’s something else?
– It’s an EP, coming out on vinyl. It may be a little more than people expect, though.
Which album that you’ve released so far have been the most interesting one according to yourselves?
– Hmm. Well, I hope the newest one shows some songwriting and production improvement. Hopefully it shows some growth for us, and I think it does, but who am I to say?
In what way do you think you’ve evolved since you started out?
– I think at the beginning of starting a band you come at it with a million different ideas and the hard work is all about narrowing those down into something coherent that you all can agree on. Then once you feel like you’ve established some sort of basic sound for yourselves, that sinks in and defines the project for everyone. Then, at that point the process evolves to being about expanding it back out so you don’t keep repeating yourselves. That’s what we’re doing now and it’s even more exciting than ever.
What new band or artist would you sincerely recommend to the readers?
– A Place To Bury Strangers is pretty awesome. And very loud! I’m not sure how new they are though.
You’ve also got a free-to-download debutalbum out on your site, why have you chosen to make it a free download?
– Because more people will get it if they don’t have to pay, and for a small band like us that seems more important than trying to squeeze a few more bucks out of it.
When playing live, do you have any certain ritual you prefer to do before getting on-stage? What’s the key ingredient for playing an awesome show?
Could you tell me your approach in the studio? Where do you get your inspiration, what do you generally start to record?
– We always go in to record with everything pretty much planned out and rehearsed. So it’s really just about getting a good sound and then doing good takes. And of course you have to start with drums. Then bass. Then guitars, and vocals last. I think inspiration comes from the sounds you find in front of you. We just have a general idea of what we like and we work with what we have.
What will make your yet to come EP different from your other releases? What subjects will be taken up and will there be a certain theme? What was the approach this time? Are you satisfied with the end-result?
– It’s just a new set of ideas and songs. I don’t think there’s necessarily a theme running through it but I do think it sounds a little less pissed off. Which is probably a good thing. The approach was pretty much the same as before except that we had Scott Evans mix it instead of doing it ourselves. That turned out to be a great idea and we are definitely satisfied with the results.
Could you tell me anything that pisses you off the most today? I usually ask this question for the punk and hardcore bands, but figured out that you have a pretty laidback attitude too! At least, I think so?
– Yeah, I would say so. We don’t have anything in particular that pisses us off. We are all happy guys that just like this type of music. I think we tend to focus our music on things that are frustrating or dramatic or whatever but it’s really just a style, not a statement. We are so used to it that it feels natural at this point, although we do consciously try to take the edge off of it and not just sound like a bunch of angry white kids. Although, there is plenty about the world that everyone deserves to be frustrated with. But in general music is supposed to be fun. The loud shouty music just tends to be primal and engaging in a live situation so that’s what we gravitate towards.
What do you recall to be your best show ever and why did it turn out that way? Also, what have been your worst show since you started out?
– We played a show with Young Widows recently that was a ton of fun because of the amount of people that showed up and the general vibe of the evening was exciting and fun. But we’ve played a bunch of shows that were that way. We’ve had shows we weren’t in love with but have been fortunate to not have too many of those. None bad enough to mention.
Where would you say that you’ve gained your most die-hard fans? Or, is that yet to come?
– Most of the people that like us most are probably people we know personally, I would think. But I wouldn’t say there are many die-hards.
So far, have you only been playing in the US? When will you come to the Nordic countries or Europe?
– You know, that sounds like a blast, but we’re a band of guys that are pretty tied down to our homes with jobs and wives and all that. So it’s hard to imagine something like that becoming a possibility. But who knows? Maybe the opportunity will present itself at some point.
What do you prefer to do when you’re not out playing for an audience or in the studio?
– Music is our hobby when we’re not doing the other stuff in our lives.
What band do you think I should interview next and what would you want me to ask them?