Brooklyn-based indie group A Great Big Pile Of Leaves was formed in 2007 by vocalist/guitarist Pete Weiland and drummer Tyler Soucy out of a band named Farewell To Arms. Together they recorded The Fiery Works and The Fiery Works II, a pair of EPs, and the group was joined shortly after by bassist Tucker Yaro. Then came the release of the band’s first full-length album, 2010’s Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex? 2011 saw the release of acoustic EP Boom! and an EP recorded live from their manager’s living room, Live From The Living Room. Both were released on Topshelf Records. The Making Moves EP was released in 2012, followed closely by the addition of touring guitarist Matt Fazzi as a permanent member of the band.
2013 was a big year for A Great Big Pile Of Leaves. July saw the release of You’re Always On My Mind, the band’s second full-length album and first as a complete foursome. A heavy touring schedule of the United States rounded out the year. I was given the opportunity to sit down with Soucy to talk about the group, their current tour, and some of their plans for the future. Below is the transcription:
Hey, how are you?
Good, how are you?
I’m alright. Snowed in here, but otherwise okay.
Yeah, we’re in Arizona so I feel bad about that.
Alright, so let’s just get started. How did you and Pete first meet?
Pete and I met in a band when I was in high school. We got rid of a bass player and we were going on tour, and Pete ended up learning to play bass for that tour and came with us. That band fizzled out so Pete and I just started writing music on our own.
How did the way you guys make music change as the band absorbed more members?
The writing style hasn’t changed all that much. There’s definitely just more input now that we have more people in the band. I think as far as the final product is concerned, there’s more harmony and stuff like that. Tucker’s playing bass now and Matt is playing guitar, and they both have a lot of input with harmonies. So I think it’s just added a few more layers to the end product.
What are some of your biggest influences, for both you and the band?
My parents would always listen to a lot of oldies and Top 40s. I think The Police were pretty big for me with Stewart Copeland. He’s probably one of the first drummers I really got into when I was playing drums in jazz band in high school. And I was a huge Blink-182 fan with Travis Barker; I listened to pop punk a lot as a kid.
As for the band, it’s pretty crazy. Everyone listens to a lot of different stuff. Matt’s from the West Coast and likes a lot of West Coast hip-hop, Tucker’s into all sorts of stuff like jazz, and funk bass is what he’s showing me right now. Pete’s really been into Ryan Adams and stuff like that.
You guys are a little more than half a year past the release of your second full-length, and still in the midst of a heavy touring schedule. How have things been going with that so far? Has everything been meeting your expectations?
I think they’ve surpassed my expectations by far, so that’s been awesome. We never really expected to chart on the Billboards or get picked up on some of the publications that we have been. This tour that we’re on right now has been awesome, definitely way better than we could have hoped for. The bands and the kids coming out for the shows have been awesome. Beyond that, I think we’re going to get home and start working on another record, and then hopefully have a couple more tours lined up for this year.
Would you say you like recording or playing live better?
They’re both satisfying in different ways. I like being in the studio and getting the creative juices flowing, but it’s fun to play, be on stage, and get to meet a bunch of new people at shows. So I think they both have their positives.
So, you say you’re in Arizona now and you’re headed to Texas. Have you come across any memorable places while you’ve been touring?
We hadn’t been to the West Coast since the summer of 2011, and there’s this place called Swami’s where we ate the last time we were there, and we’d been wanting to go back. So we ended up going back there this time, and we spent some time on the beach. This was our first time playing in Seattle and Portland, and those were all really awesome, really nice cities. It’s really great walking around and going to see the Space Needle, and going to skate parks in Portland.
You’ve been touring alongside a lot of other bands, and in the recording of You’re Always On My Mind, you worked with the likes of Motion City Soundtrack. Are there any new collaborations we can expect in the future?
There’s nothing that we have planned. We went out with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin in October, and we got along with them really well. It would be cool to do something with them in the future. We’ve thrown around ideas for guest vocals on future records, but there’s nothing really concrete at this point.
How much longer do you guys expect to be on tour before you settle down and start working on something new?
The last date of this tour is March 1, so probably a few weeks after that we’ll start throwing around demos and trying new tracks. It would be awesome if we could get back in the studio by late summer or early fall, sometime later this year.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves will perform at Asbury Lanes on Feb. 19, The Bowery Ballroom on Feb. 21, and Union Transfer on Feb. 22. You’re Always On My Mind is out now on Topshelf Records. For more information, go to agreatbigpileofleaves.com.