post-hardcore band life after me breaks down the creative process – interview

July 5, 2011

Life After Me is a Post-Hardcore group with members split from New Jersey and Delaware. The talented young band independently released its first album, ‘Existence’, in 2009 and followed up with its first EP, ‘Where The Ocean Ends’, last year. Lead guitarist Matt Ryan and vocalist Brandon Potter gave an exclusive interview to Afro-Punk about touring, songwriting, and the future of the band.

Contributor: Griff Fuller Jr.

Afro-Punk: How did the band form, where did the name derive from?

Matt: Life After Me didn’t really start as ‘Life After Me’ as it is today. Prasad, Will, Dan and I have been playing in bands since we started high school, which is about 5 years ago. As our tastes in music and talent evolved we changed our style, members and name a few times before settling on Life After Me about 3 years ago. I think we came up with the name when just brainstorming. I personally really liked it because we can shorten it to LAMe, and I thought that was cool. Brandon joined as a vocalist a little over a year ago and definitely added to our sound making the band what it is today.
Brandon: Like Matt said, the band extends before my time, Life After Me is actually my first band. Last year I was looking around for a band somewhat close to my area that needed a singer, found these guys, and got in contact with them to try out for the band. I joined around last March/April as the new singer and we recorded the EP a couple months later.

AP: How does the band approach songwriting? Does one member contribute lyrics or is it more of a collaborative process?
Matt: Most of the time we write instrumentals as a group just jamming out, but Prasad and I write most parts of the songs and the other members add little parts here and there. Usually one of us will write lyrics on our own for a song and bring it to the rest of the band, and we’ll edit and add parts as a group. For our EP, Will and I wrote a lot of the lyrics, but the whole band definitely contributed parts.
Brandon: Like Matt said a lot of instrumentals come out of group jam sessions. Him and Prasad put the main parts of the songs together. By now everyone kind of can feel where each other is going while making up a new song and it comes together. Getting lyrics for songs on our EP were each kind of different. For some songs Matt or Will would have like 75% of lyrics for a song done, and we’d tweak it and all input changes and stuff. Others, we’d have the instrumentals done and then just sit down with pens and paper and listen to rough recordings of the instrumentals over and over, and write down ideas as they came to us until we had a full song. For the vocal melodies and phrasing, a lot of the time I’d have the lyrics in front of me and the rest of the guys would just play the song part by part as I came up with a melody for it and got it fluent and from there I might change a note or two over the next few practices just to improve the melody.

AP: Who were some of your biggest influences that inspired you to make music?
Brandon: Some of my main vocal influences are from R&B music that I listened to when I first started singing, like a lot of Usher and stuff like that and I try to bring some of that into our music. I actually didn’t start really getting into music similar to what we make until later on in high school (just a few years ago). Bands I would say now that influence me are Paramore, Emarosa, and Circa Survive.
Matt: I think what influences me to make music is just life experiences, growing up and the world around me, and expressing thoughts through something other than just words. What musically influences me for guitar are the bands which I listened to when I was a little younger like The Starting Line and Senses Fail and more recently bands like Oceana, Vanna and Emarosa.

AP: Because you are an interracial band, do you feel that there are expectations that people have of you that they wouldn’t have if the band was comprised of all Caucasian members?
Matt: Not really, but I feel like sometimes when we play live and nobody there has heard of us before, they’re not expecting us to sound like we do.
Brandon: I think it’s not so much that we have expectations placed on us but that most of the time people are just surprised to see that we don’t look like every other band in our scene. People definitely notice us more because we look different and I hope that people listen to us and judge us on our music, and think it’s good because of the quality of the music without certain image expectations.

AP: Are there any plans on touring the West Coast or other parts of the country in the near future?
Brandon: That’s definitely a goal for us in the future. Right now we’re focusing on writing new music and possibly some support from management so we have the ability to tour and do all that good stuff.

AP: Why did the band choose to incorporate experimental elements into its music?
Matt: I think we have the sound we do because we’re influenced by a lot of current bands, but we also don’t want to sound exactly like every other band so we add our own styles. Adding a bunch of ideas together creates the kind of experimental sound we have.

AP: Is the band working on new material?
Brandon: We actually just finished the shell of a new song today! It’s got a little more of a pop punk vibe than our older stuff but it’s still us. It’s just one song though; we’re trying new stuff out and are still thinking of more ideas in what direction to take our music in for whatever we record next.
Matt: Yeah we are currently in the beginning stages of writing new songs. Hopefully we’ll have a few songs done by the end of the summer and maybe record a few of them and release another EP by the winter.

AP: What does success mean to you?
Brandon: To me success would mean people listening and liking our music enough to tell others. I think that’s really what gets bands going and spreads the word. Down the line I’d definitely like to get somewhere with our efforts, but spreading our music while still being us would definitely come first.
Matt: Success really depends on what you’re aiming for and I think our idea of success for this band has changed over time. Right now I think success is having as many people as possible listen to our music and relate to it and have them spread the word to their friends. I don’t care about a record deal or girls or money, I really just want people to listen to, enjoy, and relate to our songs.

* Griff Fuller Jr. publishes more of his writing on his blog, The Swag Express.