Dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and an American Apparel hooded sweatshirt, James Schwartz finishes off his bowl of Easy Mac and removes his Bose noise-canceling headphones. A cloud of Camel Light smoke hangs low in the air as he chooses his words carefully.
“I would say that I was disappointed but that would imply that I was actually expecting something out of the record. I think I’m just bored by it,” he said.
Schwartz explained that he first heard about these guys when they were playing VFWs and KFCs and frat house basements. He had downloaded a demo version of their breakthrough album from an invite-only torrent site nearly a full year before its official release date.
“Back then they really cared about the music, you know? Now they’re just a bunch of corporate sell-outs. All they care about is selling records, getting on the radio, and filling arenas. They’re more interested in making money for the corporations than staying true to their fans who have been loyal to them. It’s really kind of a slap in the face.”
According to Schwartz, the band’s entire sound was compromised upon being embraced by the web’s influential underground music elite.
“Once the blogs found out about these guys, it was pretty much over,” he complained. “Next thing you know, they’re on Facebook and YouTube and then, bam! They’re on your mom’s iPod, which I maintain for her. You know, she tells me what songs she wants and I put them on there for her.”
Schwartz maintained that the new record “wasn’t really bad, per se,” but it seemed like they were overthinking their material in the studio a little too much.
“I think that they were trying to go for a more anthemic sort-of feel with this one, whereas I think they’ve always maintained a sort-of New York gutter trash kind of dingy yet hauntingly melodic and beautiful sound. It just comes off as sort of confused. It feels like Springsteen meets Cheap Trick meets Duran Duran, whereas their earlier stuff is more Portishead meets Mellencamp meets Velvet Underground. It's a clear regression.”
Despite his negative reaction to the band’s new album, Schwartz was planning on getting tickets to one of their upcoming shows.
“I don’t have a lot of money in my bank account right now, but I just Facebooked my mom to see if she could PayPal me some money so I could pick up some tickets. Even if I’m not as into them anymore, all of my friends are going and its really more about having a good time, you know?”