Substream Approved: Better Off

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Better Off
photo: Ryan Green

Nashville’s youthful new rock outfit Better Off swiftly stormed onto the pop-punk scene in 2013 with the release of their debut LP (I Think) I’m Leaving, which elicited comparisons to the likes of Brand New—but that’s not nearly where it all began. Frontman Luke Granered had been a fan of the genre back as far as he can remember: “The first CD that I bought with my own money was Catalyst by New Found Glory, I remember that very distinctly,” says Granered. “I definitely grew up with the stuff that we get to be a part of now, which is awesome.”

Playing in a few other bands prior to Better Off’s formation, Granered has always been a proponent of this particular realm. “The first thing that catches me in any song would be melody—and that’s in any genre—so I think that’s the biggest thing for me,” the frontman admits. “There’s a lot of melody in there, but it still maintains a driving sound as opposed to whatever is played on the radio or anything like that, plus there’s a lot of room to be creative in that world.”

Now, the band has released their vivacious new sophomore LP Milk via Equal Vision Records, a label that has housed some of their own major influences. Produced by Saves The Day’s Arun Bali, the supremely mature album lays forth some heavy fuzz-oriented guitar tones and an impressive musical growth considering they’ve only been together for two years. “[Milk] is a little more collaborative than the first album,” says Granered. “We spent a little more time picking ourselves apart, trying not to get into the same cycle of playing the same stuff over and over again. The goal of Better Off is to always write something that we think we’ll still enjoy when we’re 40, something that has a little longevity for us, personally. We also wanted to make guitars a big deal on this record, even if it isn’t noticeable to the listeners.”

Speaking on his favorite track, Granered says he has two. “The two most personal songs to me on the record are ‘This Day Will Never End,’ which deals with looking back at the past and wondering if you could have done stuff better,” he offers, “and ‘A Lesson In Loving,’ which is about dealing with depression and anxiety and what caused it to become a problem in your life.”

Just in case you were wondering if Granered indeed likes peanut butter and jelly, given the album’s unique cover art: “Yes, I absolutely do like peanut butter and jelly and milk,” he says, laughing. “The album cover is actually an inside joke between me and a high school buddy who would bring disgusting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to lunch every day. He kind of dared us to make our album cover a peanut butter and jelly sandwich thinking that we wouldn’t do it, and we just did it anyway. It ended up being awesome—at least we think so.” S

A version of this piece was published in Substream #48.