Interview With Socratic: Starting Fresh

Jersey natives Socratic are back and ready to prove that there is a lot more spunk and fight left in them. They recently added drummer Ryan Mcnulty, and are gearing up to start recording a new album, which has neither a title nor an estimated release date at this time. The band has been experimenting with heavier, acoustic-driven songs that they plan to showcase at Maxwell’s on March 4, a show that will serve as the beginning to their comeback.

I recently sat down with singer/guitarist Duane Okun and singer/bassist Lou Panico to talk about the future of Socratic, the music making process and some of their fondest memories of the band.

What’s coming up in the future for Socratic?

DO: We’ve been practicing a lot. We have 10 new songs and we’re trying to play more than we have been. We’re looking to put out another record, either by ourselves or if someone could help us out, that’d be nice. Maybe get another deal. That’d be nice.

Could you tell us when you might have something ready?
LP: I have no idea, we’re always writing songs. Just last practice we wrote another song. We started recording a few of them, we’re going to record as much as we can and then pick and choose them. Then we’ll start showing them. So probably in a few months, we’re definitely on the ball, we’re definitely doing it. So, it’ll come out eventually.

Do you guys have any album titles in mind?
LP: We don’t, but I was always a fan of the subtitle thing, but no we don’t. We were thinking of changing the band name for a while, but we didn’t come up with anything.

Was there any particular reason why you were looking to change the band name?

LP: Just as a fresh start; it’s been a long time with a lot of bullshit. We feel like it is fresh now, we’re playing a bunch of new songs, and with a new drummer too, so we thought maybe it’d be appropriate. But we haven’t come up with anything yet. We’re in no rush.

DO: We go back and forth with the idea of it.

What are your favorite venues in Jersey?
LP: Definitely Maxwell’s in Hoboken.
DO: That’s the only place that we use to play that’s around anymore. We use to play School of Rock but we haven’t been there in a while.

Lou: We’ll play anywhere though. Like we’ve been playing at Apples [Lounge] around here.

What is your favorite show that you’ve played?

DO: Probably when we played in Anaheim, California. There was over 2000 people. We were playing with Hellogoodbye and Say Anything.

LP: My favorite show was when we played with The All American Rejects, it was the Mayfair Festival, it was outside and there was a huge stage and it was windy as hell.

What are your favorite songs to play live?

DO: All the new ones.

LP: That’s a tough question to ask seeing how we haven’t played any of the old ones in a while. I’ve always liked playing “Lunch For The Sky,” I like the bass in that song.

What will be in your set for your Maxwell’s show on March 4?

LP: We’re not playing anything kinda old, all new stuff. We haven’t [gotten] into the old stuff with the new drummer. I’m not saying we’re not going to ever play the old stuff again, but right now we’re just moving forward.

DO: And all the songs were [written] with different people, so it’s hard to go back and say you play the song like they did.

Duane, where do you get the inspiration for the lyrics of the songs?

DO: I guess wherever, really. I get stuff from my friends and what might be going down. I’ve stolen lines from so many people in my life that it’s hard to count. Like in “Lunch For The Sky.” My great uncle was kinda crazy, so he’d literally mark his books with steak knives so there’d be books with steak knives all around the house.

How about the instrumental portions of the songs, what is the process of coming up with that?

DO: A lot of the new stuff is me on acoustic. We all get the core chords and come up with our own things.

LP: I feel that someone will have a chorus or riff and then we’ll go from there. Most of the time it’s Duane and he’ll have a new song and we hear it, but it’ll only be guitar so we’ll do whatever to make it work. Or sometimes there is a bass or guitar lick and we’ll be like, ‘Duane can you sing to this?’ And then go from there.

We don’t have a set procedure, it’s more like however it comes to us. We try not to fight it, but it happens and we wind up making it more complicated than needed. But that’s part of being in a band.

What are your tour necessities?

DO: I usually don’t bring a lot with me on tour, because I’ll lose it. I once lost a whole bag of all my clothes. So after that, I just don’t bring a lot of stuff with me. Two pairs of pants, a few shirts and a book.

LP: I usually just get a fresh package of socks, a few shirts, my computer, my phone, my headphones, a pillow and a blanket. We pretty much end up just living out of our van.

What would be your dream lineup to tour with?
DO: I know I’d chose Coldplay.
LP: Realistically, to me, I’d like to tour with Good Ol’ War. That’d be a good tour. I think we’d mesh up with them. I mean, anyone could say I want to tour with Nirvana or the Beatles, but that’s never gonna happen.

DO: I’d like to play some festivals.

As far as tours goes, what has been your favorite tour?

LP: Hellogoodbye and Say Anything. It was for a MySpace Tour and it was two months after we were in L.A. doing our record so we were just having a blast after being in California recording our record with Mark Hoppus.

How was working with Mark Hoppus?
LP: Pretty cool, I’m not gonna lie it kinda blowed my mind a little bit. It was pretty crazy. The studio was really nice that he and Travis Barker owns. Oh, and he drinks a lot of coffee.

DO The only thing, it was a 9-5 deal, it was like a job. So everyday we’d drive about 30 minutes to get there.
LP: Yeah, it wasn’t like your late night thing. It was like literally your daily 9-5 drive. Other than that everything was great. We didn’t really even have any songs when he said he wanted to do our record. We demoed five songs in Ohio and then two weeks later his manager sent us an email saying he wanted to do our record. We only had those five songs and only two ended up being on that record so we wrote about 14 songs in tops a month span. We weren’t going to turn down a shot to work with Mark Hoppus. We don’t regret it, but if we had a chance to do it again we would have and hopefully we’d have more time.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

DO: I say do it. Just start playing all the local shows you can. I think people in this area are finding more and more places to play.
LP: My advice is to go out there and meet as many people as you can. Start in your home town and just branch out. Don’t be intimated by the world out there.

For the new songs that will be coming out, do you have any plans for any music videos?

DO: We actually tried to do one. But it didn’t work out. But, hopefully. I mean if you’re going to release something you need to have a visual.

LP: I’m sure there will be something out there. We go on a day-by-day basis. We recorded a video that was literally a 24-hour decision, but the reason we didn’t put it out there was because it was for a song that was recorded on Duane’s computer that we are planning on re-recording.

What is another interesting place you’ve played as a band and do you have any interesting stories of being on the road?
LP: Australia. We took like 12 flights in 14 days. It was an amazing festival with a crazy lineup from Incubus to All Time Low and The Offspring. We also had to sell our record to try to come up with some gas money. We took our chances and gambled in one of the casinos and we ended up winning enough money to make it to L.A.

Who is your biggest musical influences?

DO: We’ve been in this since we were 15. My biggest musical influences are these guys. We love to make music, and we’re not concerned about trying to fit in. We never fit in anyway.

You can check out some of the new tunes that Socratic is working on by going to and make sure you check their show at Maxwell’s on March 4 with Chocolate Bread, West The Defender and Elephant In The Room.