Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Interview with Jesse Price from Letters to Catalonia

 As you know if you follow this blog, I love the screamy stuff. Letters to Catalonia is a new-ish band in that vein from California. Their first couple of releases were decent imo, but when their new e.p. "Fragmentary" hit the web a couple months ago I was instantly blown away, as the band is firing on all cylinders and has things completely dialed in. 

As usual, I wanted to learn a little bit more about the band, so vocalist/guitarist/founding member Jesse Price got back to me and we had the following exchange. 

"Fragmentary" just came out on cassette via Skeletal Lightning in the U.S. and React With Protest across the pond in Europe. I highly suggest you track down a copy and blast that shit on your walkman, boom-box, or the tape deck of your mom's old station wagon.

I always like to get a feel for people's backgrounds a little bit, so talk about your family, your childhood, etc. Were there any particular defining moments for you as a kid?

I was born to a single mother in Orange Park, Florida. We were low middle class so we didn't have a lot when I was growing up but we had what we needed and I will always be grateful for that. My mother is a devout Christian so I had to go to church 3+ times a week until I was 16. I always hated going to church and it really made me hate my childhood. The two most defining moments from my childhood that come to mind are discovering heavy bands like Underoath, Norma Jean, and Comeback Kid. The other would be getting to the point when I realized how bigoted Christianity is and how much I just hate religion.

How much of a role did music and art have in your life or the lives of your parents, siblings, etc.? How'd you eventually discover punk, hardcore, DIY, etc.?

My mom and grandma are both singers and both sang with the church band when I was a kid, my mom still does. So I was around a lot of music as a kid. I went to a lot of metal core shows from the age 12-17 then shortly after I started getting in to punk and hardcore through bands like Pg. 99, Trash Talk and Ceremony. By the time I was 19 I started playing in bands in the DIY scene and getting involved with my local scene.

Was/is it hard to discuss religion with your mom given her commitment to it and your distaste for it? Is she open to hearing your critiques or has it become a sort of "agree to disagree" type thing?

When I was a kid it was really hard to talk to her about anything regarding religion, it's a little easier now but at this point it's definitely an "agree to disagree" type of thing.

How did you pick up an instrument and what was your first band like?

I started playing drums at age 8 and gave up around 12 because I wanted to learn how to play bass, and eventually stopped playing bass to learn how to play guitar. My first band was so bad, haha. We were basically an Attack! Attack! rip-off band and I was the singer.

So at what point did you start getting more into punk/hardcore/DIY stuff?

Around age 16 I started listening to more punk and getting interested in the DIY scene and DIY ethics. coming out of the metal-core scene, I just got tired of how money-based everything was and how much emphasis was put on a band's "image" and bullshit like that.

You mentioned earlier that you grew up in did you wind up moving to California and how did you start getting plugged into the music scene out there?

Oh, haha I should have clarified earlier, I lived in Florida the first 7 months of my life and then moved to San Diego. so San Diego is all I’ve ever known.

But I got in to the scene just by meeting kids in my town and starting bands with them. Once we started playing out of town and meeting other bands is when I’d say I first felt like part of a "scene”.

Talk about the formation of Letters to Catalonia. How did you all meet, and what were some of the initial influences you discussed, as well as the vision for the band?

Letters started after the demise of mine and our first drummer's old band, Recluse, and the demise of our old bass player's band, allmywisheswerethrowndownawellandshoulddiethere. 

I met Julian (drummer) at a hardcore show a few years prior and met PJ through playing shows with his old band. when we started I’d say our biggest influences were June Paik, Republic of Dreams, Battle of Wolf 359 and on top of that we wanted to incorporate breakdowns into our music.

So sonically I would say your 3 releases so far seem to follow a pretty natural progression. The one thing I notice most with "Fragmentary" is the absence of the super shrill, high pitched vocals. Was this more of a stylistic choice or due to the personnel changes?

So basically, the only reason we don’t have those vocals anymore is because the person who did them isn’t in the band now and none of us who are in the band currently want to do those vocals, haha.

Lyrically what sort of themes does "Fragmentary" explore?

Dominick wrote all the lyrics for this release and they deal with current political climate and human emotion.

I noticed the new tape is coming out via Skeletal Lightning and React With Protest. How did you guys hook up with Sean and Lars?

Skeletal Lightning has been with us since our demo. Sean just contacted us a few days after we posted the demo and asked if they could put it out and we were instantly interested. React With Protest bought copies of our demo and sold them in Europe, after realizing they bought copies I immediately contacted Lars and told him how much admiration we had for RWP and that we’d love to work together in the future. After that, Lars started to be a part of all our releases. We are eternally grateful for the support that we’ve gotten from both Skeletal Lightning and React With Protest.

So what's next for you guys in terms of writing, recording, touring, etc.?

We're currently halfway done writing our full length. We should be recording that in February as long as everything goes as planned. We'll be doing a West Coast tour in the Spring with Senza from Oregon, and we plan to do more tours throughout 2018 including a full US tour.

Letters/Ostraca Battle Set:
Photos by Kasey Dyann

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