“People understand that we’re a different band now” — Austin Getz on Turnover’s current identity, following up ‘Peripheral Vision’

turnover interview
Manny Mares

This month’s tour with Sports and Secret Space marks the first time Turnover is headlining since releasing their breakthrough second LP, Peripheral Vision, last May, on which their sound grew from that of an emo/punk band to more of a dream-pop style reminiscent of the Cure. With the growth in sound came a growth in fan base, thanks in part to tours with the likes of Pianos Become the Teeth, Lydia, and Basement.

Tickets to the show at Long Island’s Amityville Music Hall sold out about three weeks before the day of the event. Frontman Austin Getz remembers playing that same venue—in its incarnation as Broadway Bar—for the first time years prior, to only a dozen or so people. Getz, onstage later in the night, recalled that show from years prior. Looking out into that same room, now packed with people there to see Turnover, he gave a shout-out to any of those who supported them from the earlier years and thanked the venue for making these kinds of shows possible.

Conducting this interview, much like Turnover’s success, had some delays. After fixing an input jack that had fallen into the body of his guitar, then finding the bus stop bench near the venue too noisy, we were able to just find a quiet spot behind the venue. All distractions aside, Getz was able to give insight on Turnover’s morale going into the creative leaps taken by the band, the way their DIY beginnings remain part of their identity, and the importance that respect and artistry hold in the band’s hopes for continued growth.

Substream: Peripheral Vision has been out for a little over a year, and you guys have toured a lot and have played with a lot of different bands. What were some of your anxieties going into this album cycle?
Austin Getz: I think that all of us were at a point where we had been playing shows full-time for three to four years, and you get to a point where you’re putting the rest of your life to make this passion project happen. We all still loved Turnover, but I feel like all of us were at a point where if the record didn’t get to a point where we were seeing progress, that we were ready to put the band as more of a hobby-based thing for us rather than a full-time thing. It was a “put up or shut up” moment. I think that allowed us some freedom, because we felt like there wasn’t some huge fanbase that we had that was wanting us to remain the same, so we felt free to do what we wanted. That’s why I think Peripheral Vision is the departure it is from our [old] sound, which obviously we’re all very happy with. After that, there were some things in our mind like, “Will people like it?,” etc. But it’s been awesome and the response has been better than anything we could’ve hoped for.

Your sound changed so much from release to release going into Peripheral Vision—was there any concern that fans might feel slighted that you might not play older songs live?
AG: Definitely. When the record first came out, off the bat we were pretty much strictly playing songs off of it. Part of us was like, “Will there be people that are upset?” And there are people that want to hear the old songs, but for the most part people understand that we’re a different band now and that we want to play the music that we still feel passionate about. [The older songs] are not what we as a band love anymore, and I think that a lot of our fans have grown with us and would honestly prefer to hear the new stuff. And realistically, our fanbase has grown so much from Peripheral Vision, so a lot of people that never came to a show when we were playing those old songs want to hear it now, so we’re like “Well, you missed your opportunity” [laughs].

You mention the fans growing with you, but with the big year you had touring Europe, Japan, and Australia, how do you feel that you guys have grown along the way?
AG: I think this has definitely been the coolest and best year for us as a band. It’s just a different thing where you’re going to shows and you genuinely like all the songs that you’re playing. I feel like all of us, with that, have had a lot less anxiety since some of that progress has been noticeable. It’s a more positive mindset and everyone’s in a good place. The tours have been awesome. I think that it’s cool because we spent so long playing shows that weren’t necessarily great all the time; we’ve learned to remain humbled by it. Our line for what we consider a “good show” is a lot lower than what people might expect. We’ve learned to appreciate every show for what it is. That the people that are there want to hear the music is great, that’s awesome. The fact that there are a lot of people at shows is really cool, too. Even more so than just shows, just hearing positive things about people loving the music everywhere has been great. I think that all of the touring and touring with bands, that might open the fan base, which is really what we want to do the most as musicians—to use our influence as a platform to spread goodness in some way that we can in other people’s lives, which I think this last year and a half has enabled us to do. That’s been my personal, most positive takeaway from it.

Going into PV, you took the creative risks you did because you essentially felt it was a no-risk situation given the lack of expectation. People rewarded that with a largely positive reaction. How does that now influence you moving forward making new music?
AG: There’s definitely a little bit more of a subconscious tendency to cling to what we did because it was successful. But by the same token, all of us listen to such different stuff but are on the same page about what we want to do as musicians. All of us are in it to make music that we want to make. Sometimes, when we’re writing, someone will bring songs in that are weirder than others, but then another member will come in and tone it down a bit. Peripheral Vision was the first time we all wrote together as a unit. That would be the biggest change I would say, from [previously] just being a one-to-two person songwriting kind of thing. I would say we’re all on the same page, and I can tell you that the next record is not gonna be Peripheral Vision 2.0 by any means. So there’s a little bit more anxiety about changing the sound this time, but not enough to sway us to remain the same for commercial sake.

You’ve toured with a wide array of bands in support of PV. When the album dropped, you were opening for Fireworks’ farewell tour. Since then you opened for the likes Pianos Become the Teeth, Lydia, The Story So Far, Basement, Citizen. Now, you’re headlining. What kind of experience did you gain from doing those support tours?
AG: We had never played shows as big as any of those support tours. When we first put out Peripheral Vision, the people who knew it was obviously a much smaller range, but we still felt really psyched about the shows. So there was all of these people that knew these other bands but didn’t know us, were learning songs that we had just written and we loved. All of those support tours that had very different fanbases allowed us to take pieces of them and bring them into the circle of people who liked Turnover. Now you come back and headline and you hear, “Oh, I was at the New Found show,” “I was at the Story show,” “I was at the Lydia show,” “I was at the World Is… show”—whatever the case may be of all the tours we’ve done. And you know that all these people are now here, and it’s your show. That’s why it’s set up how it is; you’re a support band and people find out about you, so you go, “We’ve done the support, now let’s see what we can do ourselves.” This is the first time we’ve done this off of Peripheral Vision, and it’s just the third show but it’s gonna be cool and we’re psyched.

It seems like the lineup really solidified when you brought Eric Soucy (guitarist/back up vocals) into the band around 2014’s Blue Dream EP. How has he helped changed the band?
AG: One-hundred percent, him being in the band has changed it so, so much. Not saying that this wouldn’t have maybe happened with one of our other guitar players or anything. Turnover used to be this animal where I would write a song and bring it to the band, then Casey would put drums over it and we’d play it. Magnolia was sort of a different thing where Kyle [Kojan, former guitarist] and I had our own songs, where we wouldn’t really touch each other’s song. But when Ric and I write, we’ll straight up sit down for eight hours and jam a song, where each of us will add parts of it and build it one-hundred percent together. There’s not “Austin” songs or “Ric” songs. We’ll bring it together, and Danny [Dempsey, bassist] will chime in with what he likes about it, and it’s made us a much stronger writing team. There’s a stronger respect for each other as a musician, because it’s like, “I may be psyched on this part, but if you say the song needs something and it’ll make all four of us like it as opposed to just two of us, then the odds of it being a great song are much higher.”

The theme of respect seems to be reflected in the way different music communities have responded to you guys, especially with the announcement that you’ll be playing Back To School Jam with Title Fight and Turnstile. You guys have evolved to this lush, atmospheric sound, yet there’s this strong respect and rapport that you guys have from the hardcore community. Where do you think that comes from?
AG: I think that in this era of music, the word “hardcore” has expanded to this growing up in the DIY world that we’re all from. We’re not some band that just got big all of a sudden. We played shows all over the country in a van that we bought ourselves and have gone on tours that we funded ourselves. I think that really it comes from knowing that we’re a group of people that like music for the right reasons and are playing music for the right reasons. The tours that we’ve done and the friends that we’ve made in every different community of people has remained the same. As much as we’re trying to expand the sound and fan base, I wouldn’t change how Turnover came up in any way. We were talking about it recently, how there’s these “press baby” bands where they get all these great reviews or whatever, but then you hear about their shows and they only do well in a couple markets. But if you come up by playing shows to make your band known, and then the press and all that comes afterwards, then you’ve really touched all your bases, because the people love to listen to music but also like to go to the shows because you know what it is to play a live show and do it yourself. It makes you all the more respectful that you even have a show. There’s definitely bands that just start and quickly get popular—from the internet or whatever it might be—that are just used to playing these crazy-good shows, and they’re just ungrateful. I think the way Turnover came up and grew as a band kept us safe from that, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

You mentioned expanding the sound. What is the next step that you guys want to take sonically?
AG: I don’t think that it’s anything deliberate. It’s hard to say. I think that the next record will definitely have more “dynamic,” and be the next logical step in the evolution of the band. But we’re also not the kind of people that want to make a record just to be weird or anything like that. At the end of the day, we still want to write good songs that are fun to listen to—songs that people enjoy listening to, where they don’t have to “try” to listen to super-hard, but at the same time that are still pushing boundaries that people wouldn’t expect of us. I’m super psyched. Ric and I have been writing for a weeks now; we’ve got some solid ideas down, and I think it’s gonna be our best record.

How many song ideas do you guys have so far?
AG: Riff-wise, probably about 30. Actual songs, about 9.

It’s been a busy year. You guys have learned a lot about your identity as a band. What would you want Turnover’s legacy and identity to be?
AG: I just want to be a band that people remember affecting them in a positive way. I don’t want to be a band where people remember one song because it was catchy. I’d rather be a band where people like the music and can say that helped change them in some way in their life, and write music that makes people feel a certain way even without any intended message. And write lyrics that go along with it that spread things that we believe in. More than anything, be a band with integrity. Be a band that wasn’t afraid to do their own thing. Be a band that’s artistic about it, not just making something for commercial sake. Really I think that I’m less concerned with the legacy to other people. When I look back on Turnover, I just want to be happy with everything we did and not say, “Oh, we took the easy way out” or anything like that. Which I think, if you do that, other people will see it too, because it’s genuine. That’s really all you can ask for y’know?