Too Close To Touch made their first trip to the UK back in May. After opening up the Impericon Stage at Slam Dunk Festival, we caught up with guitarist Mason Marble and drummer Kenneth Downey to find out how things have been going for them over here.
Rock Sins: So just to get started, how was Slam Dunk as an experience for you guys.
Kenneth: Surreal, it’s been amazing. It’s our first trip to the UK so that makes it even more special. We’ve just played our final date of the festival and all 3 days have been packed out. Pretty sure we maxed out the room all three days so that was incredible. We didn’t know what to expect, we were playing early on our stage and we’d never been here before. So just to come and have kids screaming the words, crowd surfing and doing things we’ve never seen before, like we had a crowd do the macarena. I loved it.
Mason: I like that you guys aren’t afraid to get a little weird here, collectively.
Rock Sins: I think that’s a huge part of this festival, everyone just wants to have fun.
Kenneth: Yeah it’s been great. The costumes have been hilarious.
Mason: I kind of think its embedded in the culture. We walked past a football bar where a game was on. It was in Manchester and everyone was just chanting any song that came on like it was some sort of ritual. They were just chanting the shit out of it. You guys just band together and go all out and I love that.
Rock Sins: So how does it compare playing over here to in America?
Kenneth: There is a lot that is the same but so much is different as well.
Mason: Behind the scenes its very different here. We had trouble converting our live rig to the UK system. But as far as the shows go it’s very reminiscent of Warped Tour. It’s got a similar vibe here, especially these shows.
Rock Sins: Slam Dunk very much is the UK’s Warped Tour.
Kenneth: Yeah that’s what we were told. We’ve had friends play the festival and we asked around, like what to expect. We wanted to get as much information as we can leading up to coming here for the first time. Everyone definitely compared it to the vibe of Warped Tour. Everyone having a good time. And the way its ran.
Mason: They give us beers which is great.
Kenneth: Hospitality has been really great actually.
Mason: Yeah even as openers the level of hospitality we’ve received here has been very heartwarming.
Kenneth: You really know how to make us feel welcome. And how to throw a great party.
Rock Sins: So have there been many fans turning up to see you at these shows or have you mostly been winning over new fans?
Kenneth: We have fans travelling with the tour. There’s a group of like 5 people who are coming to every show and been in the front row every time. And I guess with Slam Dunk some people do all 3 shows. And so each time I’m seeing more people knowing the words but lots of the same faces. It’s great that they keep coming back to see us.
Mason: Even the kids that know the words, it’s our first time here. So even if they are familiar with us we still feel like we need to win them over with the live show and keep them coming back. Everyone who has heard word of mouth, those are the kids we are really trying to win over. So I think it’s a mix of both. We put on a fun show, we always try to have the best time so I think that translates to the crowd.
Kenneth: Jayden from With Confidence told me today a lot of people at their signing today were talking to him about us because we’re on tour with them. So that’s really cool to hear. And like I said earlier we didn’t know what to expect here. Flying a thousand miles over water for the first time, you can’t just land here and think yeah we’re gonna have fans. So we were just hoping to have a good time and see where it goes. But its been great.
Rock Sins: So this is all in support of your latest album, how is the cycle for that album going?
Mason: It’s been awesome. As soon as it came out we did a tour Crown The Empire which was a lot of fun. We did our first headliner off of it which is a big milestone. Obviously we’ve come to the UK for the first time. It was as much a progression in our touring career as it was for our sound as band. There’s been a lot of firsts.
Kenneth: Yeah I think it’s shown how we’ve grown. You out your first record and it did well. We had never released any music. We came out of the gate with no background or prior shows. So that set the foundation and then this one was more of a proving ground. People saw that we were taking it seriously and we’re gonna keep growing and keep pushing. Not just stay the same. I think it did a lot for us like Mason said musically and it’s just fun to have more songs to play. It’s opened up a lot of doors, more fellow musicians have told me they love the record. So it’s just been really cool, we feel like we are part of the community now. That in itself really helps, feeling like you are part of something. Nerve Endings was us trying to get our foot in the door. And now going to Warped Tour for our second year, we’re not gonna be the new guys on campus. We can show up and have a good time. Not just scrambling around and trying to get by. We’re still working hard obviously but it’s more comforting knowing we have a little less to prove and we can focus more on what we wanna do with our careers. The vision is clear, there’s not as much clouding now, the path is forming for us so it’s all about following that now.
Rock Sins: You were saying about your shows being quite fun. But then the album is a very emotional and intense one. Was it difficult putting together an album like this?
Mason: It’s a sign of the times we are living in. We focus on a lot of the music writing and we just want to set a vibe for Keaton to be able to sing over. Something personal happened to him and it created a sort of rift to the infrastructure of our band. Everyone felt it so we just came together.
Kenneth: Music heals, it can be a great type of therapy.
Mason: We don’t really keep diary’s but we write records. I mean I’ve thought about keeping a journal now…
Kenneth: People do say it helps
Mason: For every member of the band, each year we go on as a band is a year full of firsts. We’re still new to touring and are still a young band, it’s a little weird for everybody. Having to leave family and loved ones behind to do some weird shit all the time. Everything we do always sounds so bizarre when you say it out loud. Like “oh you wanna be homeless for six weeks and play music for kids?” Like of course I do and I wanna do it often. It’s an interesting life style and we have to split it with our home life. I guess it’s different for everybody.
Kenneth: Find a balance can be really hard, we all have hard times. But I mean when you compare the content of our record to our live shows.The content is deep and dark, he was having a tough time. Even on Nerve Endings he was going through some stuff, not as complex and dark. I think this is kind of unspoken so I’m speaking from what I see. We put on the energetic and fun show, to show you can have these experiences and face these demons. It was a terrible time in his life and now he can try help someone who might be having a similar time. To show that you can overcome it and you can grow and still have fun. We want to deliver the message of yes, bad stuff happens and it can be terrible. But when we’re on stage it’s time to let go of all that and realise we can have a good time. You can put all those problems aside, realise you are not alone and just lose your shit. Have a good time, express yourself. Just do what you wanna do, we don’t care as long as you’re having fun. Like I said before about the kids doing the macarena yesterday we don’t care. Just have fun and escape from reality.
Mason: I feel like we’re a band that will say shit that others might not. Like people wanna put on a facade when they write music, like nothing ever phases them. We’re very down to earth as human beings. We see shit for what it is. And we’re trying to do it in a way that is unique to us and our scene. Whatever that is. We’re just trying to be real human beings and connect with other human beings. Someone who I really respect would say experience is the best teacher but it doesn’t have to be your own experience. It can be someone else’s experience that you learn from and that’s what we put out. If something bad has effected you, you can take it from us that you can overcome it.
Kenneth: Yeah it doesn’t have to be the specifics of what we are saying. The bigger message is you’re gonna face stuff in life. Hearts a gonna be broken, you’re gonna feeling down. And I feel like the record is dark but there is a sense of overcoming stuff to it. Like Mason said Keaton is really good at what he does. He’s not afraid to put it all out there and tell you when he’s upset or mad. It’s just honest, we’re never gonna be scared to put out a song that might make people feel down, because at least they are feeling something and that’s what music is. It’s conveying an emotion.
Mason: If you’re listening to music and not feeling something emotionally then what good is it That’s why you get into music. That first time a song gives you chills. You get goosebumps physically and that’s our goal as a band. To really make you feel something.
Kenneth: So hopefully we are doing a good job. Even like stuff you hear on the radio that people talk shit about. It’s just supposed to make you feel happy. It’s designed to make you happy and that’s why those artists are where they are. All the top tiers of any drama make you feel an emotion. If you don’t get an emotional reaction out of someone with your music, then you aren’t doing it right.
Mason: That “I got a feeling” song by the Black Eyed Peas, every time I hear it I feel like tonight really is gonna be a great fucking night.
Kenneth: Exactly, everyone has that playlist for when they are going out. And it probably has some shit pop songs on it but whatever because it gets you hyped and you have a good time. When I’m about to go on stage I’ll listen to Slipknot or like today I listened to Counterfeit. I wanna listen to energetic hard hitting stuff because it gets me in the zone. If I have the time I’ll try and just go for a walk listening to something new as well.
Mason: I’ve been listening to more Slipknot as well actually.
Rock Sins: You can never go wrong with them.
Mason: Where we’re from people used to have a vendetta against them because of the crowd they’d draw so I never listened when I was younger. But as I grew older and heard more I realised how legit it was. Gimmicks aside the music is great.
Kenneth: And as far as gimmicks go, anyone can hate on it as much as they want but the fact is it worked. They did it for the right reasons as well. And I’ve now just realised how much we’re rambling on…
Rock Sins: No it’s great you’ve pretty much answered all my questions but we probably should start wrapping up now. So what does the near future hold for Too Close To Touch and can we expect you back in the UK sooner rather than later?
Mason: We have a lot of surprises. We can’t spoil them right now. We just want people to keep their ear to the ground because we’ve got a lot of stuff coming around. As far as the UK goes we definitely want to come back sooner rather than later but time will tell.
Kenneth: We’re booked up pretty solid for the rest of this year and that will be announced later. But the second we get the option, you know we’ll be back here.
Mason: We really do love it here, we’ve had such a great time
Kenneth: We’ve met a lot of bands from the UK and management as well. So we’re keeping our ear to the ground, we’ve got a few things we could take. So hopefully we’ll be back within the year. Hopefully Europe as well, it would be great to do both.
Rockins: Well thanks so much guys, that was great.
Kenneth: Thanks for having us.
Mason: Yeah thank you.
Too Close To Touch’s latest album Haven’t Been Myself is out now on Epitaph Records.