Sometimes it can feel like you’re the only person who gets truly freaked out by how quickly time passes. One second you’re contently listening to your favorite album through an ever-stylish Walkman and before you can blink, over a decade has flashed by and now there’s an overwhelming amount of applications to stream your music through.
As it turns out, guitarist Randy Strohmeyer of Finch knows the feeling of nostalgia all too well. In 2002, Finch released their post-hardcore record What It Is To Burn. Fast forward 10 years to a band that had called it quits, and yet one phone call changed all of that. With their final U.S. reunion tour coming up, Finch will be performing What It Is To Burn in its entirety. In a recent interview, Strohmeyer reflected on how Finch came together to write What It Is To Burn, why they attached to the East Coast scene and how they eventually learned to ditch the drama.
So how does it feel to be going on your last U.S. tour with Finch?
Well it’s really exciting but I think it’s also kind of… I don’t know, it’s weird. It feels good to do it, you know, but it’s kind of sad because we love Finch so much. We don’t really want to stop doing it, but life has a lot of obstacles to overcome, and since the band broke up last time, it’s been a luxury for us to actually get back out there and play for people. We’re just happy to be doing it every second and not take it for granted. It’s a little bittersweet, but we’re just happy we have the opportunity to do this kind of stuff and people were excited about it and we’re really excited about it, so we can’t wait.
How did Finch come together and decide to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of What It Is To Burn?
Um, it happened like a year ago I guess, so it’s in its 11th year now, but we’re still calling it its 10th year (laughs) just based on the timing. What happened was, last winter, our old manager, Andy [Harris], called us up individually and asked us if we’d be down to do it, and we were all like, “Yeah, of course!” You know, like, it didn’t take much convincing (laughs) and all we had planned to play were two shows.
We were going to go play in London and then go near an area where we’re from, which is Southern California, at this venue called The Glasshouse, and it’s kind of like at the crossroads of everything, so we thought, “Well, this would be convenient for people who wanted to see Finch play one last time and do something special and play the album front to back.” So we put it on sale and it just kept selling out, so we just kept adding shows until it got to like, four, and we were just like, “Wow! This is insane!”
So we kind of put together a tour that led us out to England and we actually played the East Coast. We played two nights in New York and in Philly, but we hadn’t played Long Island or New Jersey, and those are really sentimental places to us as a band, ‘cause, uh… It was just strange ‘cause we’re a band from the West Coast and we’re never affiliated with any scene at all ‘cause we didn’t know about anything that was happening on the East Coast. We didn’t know, like, how kids danced there and how they moshed (laughs). Everything is a circle pit in Southern California. So, whenever we’d go to Long Island or New Jersey, kids would just go fucking crazy! Like, throwing their arms around and acting wild, and we just thought that was the craziest thing in the world. So we just wanted to get to those places and we’re excited to come back to Long Island and New Jersey on this last little run.
In your previous shows, how were fan reactions to Finch performing What It Is To Burn front to back?
Insane. It was mind-blowing. I never really get nervous before a show—like, ever—and um, that first show, I was super nervous. Kind of like freaking out and having nightmares about it in the weeks leading up to it. I think a lot of us were just like, “Oh my god, I hope this doesn’t go wrong,” because we were trying to make it sound as much like the album as possible. So we never used like, loops before, but a lot of the songs have interesting little things. Like in “Project Mayhem,” it basically breaks down into a weird techno song in the middle, so we had to kind of figure out how we were going to incorporate all of that stuff.
So we got the master from the record label somehow and we were able to get into hard drives that were like, ancient. You know how technology moves so fast? When they transferred, we were just like, “I hope they’re not damaged, this is all we have!” So we were rehearsing like crazy, just trying to make sure everything was perfect. We never played to a click track before—and you kind of have to. Basically, we just wanted it to sound as much like the record as possible and put people in the state of what it was like to actually listen to that record and have it right in front of your face, playing loud and being live.
What do you think it is about What It Is To Burn that makes it so memorable?
For us, it was new. We had come from a small town in Southern California with like, two high schools, and it’s not very often that you find people that are into the same kind of stuff as you. The only thing that we really had in common were a few certain bands that kind of tied us together and we were like, “Oh, we should jam and see what happens.” And they were really into metal and stuff at the time and I think when I was in high school and joining the band, I was really into a lot of more emo stuff, like old Jimmy Eat World and Mineral, and I used to listen to old pop-punk, like the first Blink record and Lagwagon. But it was definitely more of a poppier kind of sound.
So, when I started writing songs with the band, it just kind of developed its own character, and I think when it came out on Drive-Thru, it just kind of stood out and everything was just exploding on Drive-Thru, so it was just like, definitely the right time and the right place, you know? It was all kind of an accident, really. It was just circumstantial, but it’s rad. I mean, we all get along. We’re friends, but we’re more like a family, really.
It’s strange, I don’t know why we ever stopped playing music sometimes. I think it’s because you just get into these little spats, you know? Like, it just seems so heavy at the time, then all of a sudden they get away and they’re not a big deal. We used to argue over the dumbest shit and then it was just like, “The band’s over!” (Laughs)
How do you think touring this time around will be different?
I think there’s just like, a lot less tension. ‘Cause you get that break, and then you start to miss each other, and then you don’t have the opportunity to get together and hang out, and I think that ever since we got back together, the last time we had Daniel [Wonacott]—who’s Nate’s [Barcalow] cousin, play bass with us and like, he brings such a great dynamic to the band—it’s not as poisonous as it used to be. It’s way more laid-back and all the people who are on our team are really supportive of us and mellow, and we all get along. Everything that was maybe rotten about things that could have happened in the past have like, abolished. Now we’re just more adult and we just know each other so well, so it’s easy to know when to leave somebody alone for a little bit or like, they’ll hang out and do something weird and crazy.
This tour will be slightly different than the last tour we did. We have this weird half bus thing called a BandWagon, and it’s like a bus but it’s a little bumpier—and scarier—but it’s cheaper than a bus, and we have a lot more crew. I mean, we know what we’re doing now, too. We’re going out and we’re playing What It Is To Burn all the way through, and I think a lot of the things that may have been annoying to some of our fans at the time that would come see us is that we would refuse to play certain songs off that record. Like, we stopped playing “Stay With Me” and “Letters To You,” and a lot of people loved those songs and we kind of felt like maybe we had moved on or something and wanted to like… I don’t know, there was this weird, embarrassing thing about it. But now when we play those songs, it’s the funnest shit ever, because it’s super fun when people are into it and jumping up and down and singing along. It’s a really communal feeling.
Looking back and thinking how we were maybe embarrassed by those songs at one point seems so silly—so stupid. I mean, if we lived in a perfect world, Finch would write a third record with a lot of cool shit on it and we would play that too, you know? But I wouldn’t forget where we came from and I’m more than happy to play those songs now. Looking back on that behavior, it just kind of seems like a slap in the face to the fans and really embarrassing, actually.
After getting back on the road together, is there any chance Finch will continue after this tour is over?
I don’t think any of us really want it to end, but I think we just have to figure out… There’s just a lot of things that have to be put in place in order for that to happen, and the odds are kind of stacked against us, but I just learned never to say never, because that’s what we’re kind of known for. Like, “It’s fuckin’ over! Never again!” (Laughs) I mean, I would love that—I’m sure it would be awesome—it would just have to be the best thing that Finch has ever done, in our minds. If we could kind of figure it out, I wouldn’t rule it out, but I would also not want to get anyone’s hopes up, either.
Finch will be performing What It Is To Burn in its entirety on their final U.S. tour, which hits The Paramount Oct. 13 and the Starland Ballroom Oct. 14. For more information, go to facebook.com/officialofficialfinch.