Vocalist and guitarist Mikey Carnevale of the surf-punk trio The Frights is somewhere in a city during the middle of their tour with SWMRS. He, along with drummer Marc Finn and bassist Richard Dotson, released their newest album, You’re Going To Hate This, in February, courtesy of Dangerbird Records. The guys worked with producer Zac Carper on the album, who is most known for his career in FIDLAR.
Carnevale begins the conversation over the phone by talking about how the band has changed their sound to a more progressed, slowed-down, surf-punk element that Hate This captures throughout the album’s 10 songs.
Substream: You guys did a lot of sound changing compared to your other EPs and albums. Why make the change?
Mikey Carnevale: We were in the conscious effort, at first, in making the change. [The songs] were sounding different, anyway. I was taking more time writing them but really once I started, I showed them to Zac (Carper, producer), we sat down together and the band got together and that’s how we started to change. Each individual song became more of a conscious effort, like, “Okay, let’s make every single song different from each other and all different from our previous records,” because it’s fun and we don’t have any limits anymore and it’s more of an experiment than anything else. It had been three years since the first one came out and I was 18 with 18-year-old problems and now I’m 21 and have 21-year-old problems.
What kind of an impact did Carper bring for you guys?
He’s a genius. He taught me a lot as far as songwriting. Before, I would have a riff on a guitar and then we would jam on the riff and then we would go in the studio and make up things on the spot, which is a super shitty way to do it because a lot of time I ended up repeating myself on the old songs and you can tell when I get lazy. I sent him a couple of the lyrics and he was like, “Why are you repeating this?” and I was like, “I don’t know, I thought it looked good there,” and he was like, “No, that’s fuckin’ lazy. Let’s make another verse there.” Production wise, he’s a freak. He’s a total freak [laughs]. He brought so much to the record.
There was one thing he did that was really funny. One night when I was doing vocal takes—he’s sober now—he was like, “Do you wanna get drunk?” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” He wanted to open the beers for me and open the alcohol because he hadn’t done it in like a year. He was like, “Aah, this feels so good,” [laughs]. We went and got alcohol across the street and we start talking and I’m drinking and he’s drinking coffee. It’s late at night and he starts talking about my ex-girlfriend, about why we broke up. I started getting sadder and drunker and sadder and drunker, and finally I’m hammered and sad and he’s like, “Alright, let’s go do vocal takes.” So he puts me in the vocal booth, like, “Alright, go ahead.” So I started singing—like I’m really sad—and I was like, “I sound like a pussy,” and he was like, “Yeah you do, it’s awesome.” That was his mental experiments on me. Two songs made it from that vocal take, which were “Kids” and our last song, “Of Age.” That’s me blacked out and crying.
That’s crazy [laughs]. How different was this for you guys? What did you think of working with him?
Oh, God. I mean to explain it in the simplest terms, our first record took us about eight hours. This took us four months.
Wow, that’s a total difference.
Yeah, it was a very, very big difference.
I know it’s the title of a song on the record, but why did you name the record You’re Going To Hate This?
Originally we had a bunch of different names for it. It was going to be called Of Age, or Coming of Age, or 21. But we decided You’re Going To Hate This because we realized a lot of our old fans were going to hate it because we had started to write different kind of songs, and in our scene kids react pretty harshly to a band that “sells out” or ups their quality of sound. They love the low-class shit. We definitely knew we would get flack from those bands, and we did. When the first couple of singles came out kids were like, “What the fuck is this, man?” This is what we want to do now so it’s kind of supposed to be poking fun at those kids, and honestly though, we were really surprised at how many of our old fans did not hate it, and it’s cool for us because it works in two ways: If you do hate it, we told you you would hate it, and if you don’t hate it then it’s just kind of funny.
On the album you sing a lot about being older as well as missing someone in particular; just standard relationship issues.
When I started writing the album, me and my girlfriend just broke up at the time and it was a really easy emotional time to write, and that’s honestly the best. It’s shitty to say, but it’s the best time to write songs when you’re in a shitty relationship with a person who you like a lot, or you broke up with someone, or you lost a friend, because it gives you great subject matter. I think a lot of times songwriters have trouble finding subject matter unless they’re in a shitty situation. That whole troubled artist bullshit helped a lot in having a situation where I was like, “Okay, I’m feeling stressed out about growing up. My girlfriend and I broke up. I’m trying to figure out how to pay rent.” A bunch of shit that I wasn’t thinking about on the first record and all I cared about was partying and girls.
Being 21 looking back on the years with The Frights, now that you’re older how far do you want to take this band?
I would love to be as big as the Foo Fighters one day. I’m not the kind of guy that’s like, “I don’t want to get that big,” because I would love to get that big. I mean, obviously that’s not going to happen but it would be really cool if we make this last throughout our 20s and see where it goes from there.