By Cullen Ronan
Ryan Scott Graham is the vocalist for an emo/indie group that goes by Speak Low If You Speak Love and the bass guitarist for a pop-punk band that named the State Champs.
It’s sort of a combination of 2 interests I had in High School. My freshman year I took a brief liking to Shakespeare and “speak low if you speak love” is a quote of his. My sophomore year I got really into a band called My American Heart and coincidentally they had a song based on that very quote. I felt as though it was TOO much of a coincidence and I decided to adopt it as my moniker. At this point, SLIYSL is such a long, annoying name that I just go by Speak Low. But that’s how it came about!
2) How did your relationship with Pure Noise Records begin?
I started talking to Pure Noise shortly after I joined State Champs. They knew I had a solo project and believed that the songs had potential, so they asked me if I’d be interested in re-releasing my previously independently released full length. Obviously I was stoked to work with a label that I believed would breathe new life into the record that never had a proper release. The rest is history. Incredibly hospitable individuals who gave my solo endeavor a chance. Very, very grateful for the opportunity they’ve provided for me.
3) At what moment in your career did you decide to fully commit to your music?
I’ve always known I wanted to do music as a full time thing. I originally didn’t even apply for college because I wanted to tour. Eventually I did go, but I wasn’t invested because I had my mind on music. Between taking classes and working part-time jobs, I was touring relentlessly with my previous band, Good Luck Varsity. It has been my number one priority since high school and it’s awesome to finally see it blossoming.
4) What was the inspiration behind your debut SLIYSL album: “Everything But What You Need”?
The album covers a massive spectrum, but its main idea is dealing with the idea that you’re not good enough or just not enough in general. I write songs that are personal but still leave a lot up for interpretation. It’s fun for me to hear what listeners have to say about certain songs and lyrics. I try not to divulge too much about the ideas behind each song unless I’m having a conversation with someone. They’re emotional!
5) What was it like creating the music video for “Knots”, considering it’s the first one you’ve made for Speak Low If You Speak Love? How did you come up with the idea for the video?
The video process was awesome. I had been watching a ton of colorful films before I left for a short tour in Japan, and knew I wanted to create something that was visually stunning. Choosing to do it in a country like Japan was a no brainier. Once the tour finished, we stayed 7 extra days to write and plan for the shoot. The conceptual process was just Elliott and I sitting across from each other at a table bouncing ideas. I took a lot of ideas from movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lost in Translation. Movies that don’t necessarily have a happy ending, rather one that you can develop for yourself. It was fun to sort of leave the audience hanging.
Very similar, actually. Just a lot of sitting around with acoustic guitars and fiddling with chords and melodies. The main difference is that Speak Low is just me locked away in a room, rather than being a collaborative effort.
7) What venue on your upcoming tour with Aaron Gillespie and Nathan Hussey are you most excited for?
Very excited to play Anaheim’s Chain Reaction. I’ve been there a few times with State Champs and it’s always been an amazing experience, so I’m ready to see what it will be like for an acoustic show.
8) What was the experience like playing on Warped Tour 2015?
Warped was great, but just too short! Unfortunately I was only able to play for a week of the tour, dude to State Champs touring duties, but each show was special. I haven’t done a ton of touring with Speak Low, so some of those places I hit for the first time. It was really incredible to see the reaction in the tent. Some days there were a lot of people singing along with me, and truthfully I wasn’t really expecting that.
9) What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever been a part of, on stage or in the audience?
The Australian arena tour with 5 Seconds of Summer was probably the most surreal show experience I’ve ever had. Playing for upwards of 15,000 people a night was something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. It was strange and scary at first, but as soon as we settled into it, I felt like we nailed it. It was fun and interesting and hopefully something we get to do again down the road.
10) What do you consider to be the best album of 2015 so far?
My favorite record of 2015 is Kintsugi by Death Cab For Cutie. Bleak and beautiful. Ben Gibbard is a brilliant songwriter – one I strive to emulate. Really pleased with their latest effort. Nostalgically brings me back to younger days.
11) Do you prefer performing the Emo/Indie Rock style connected with SLIYSL, or the Pop Punk style of State Champs?
It’s really not comparable. Both projects are so different in a live setting. The intimacy of Speak Low shows are something I look forward to, whereas the energy of a State Champs show really shines. You’ll have to come out to one of each and let me know what you think.
12) Has the extremely positive response to your new State Champs record “Around the World and Back” surprised you?
It hasn’t necessarily surprised me, but it’s been a great affirmation of the idea that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m so happy people are enjoying it and buying it and sharing it with their friends. Really hoping that this record will be able to take us to the next level!
13) If you could collaborate on a song with any artist, who would you choose?
I’d really love to write a song with David Bazan. He and I have similar upbringings and his honesty is something I admire. There are times where I want to just come out and say something, but instead I retreat to skirting around it with a metaphor. He’s someone who can bring a simple idea or concept to life with his candor. It’s really special.
1. Where did the inspiration behind your band name come from?
The band name is taken from a section of a science-fiction book from the 90s written by Michael Marshall Smith. It was a toughie making music was the easier part.
2. How did you guys decide you wanted to start a career in music?
Max – We both took a risk and moved to London from other countries to pursue our musical dreams and to do what we loved doing. It’s hard to plan for these things, you just sort of dive in head first and work as hard as you can.
Dave – We both have been playing music for a long time, I made the choice when I was about 12.. It probably wasn’t the best choice till a few months ago ;)
3. How has the band affected your lives?
Dave – Wake up calls from management are a pleasure as well as hearing Step back on the radio. It’s been positive so far.. Even the relatively early mornings…
4. What was your favorite part about recording ‘Step Back’?
Max – Half of the song was recorded in our producers bedroom, the other half in his living room. We had so much fun throughout the recording. Stomping around making animal noises and shouting was fun, it gave the last chorus its character and sound.
Dave – Our producer Ben Jackson would make these delicious vege lunches for us most days, this paired with stomping and animal noises made our days worthwhile!
5. Speaking of ‘Step Back’, where did you draw the inspiration to write the song?
Dave – I had just moved to London and wrote the lyrics and demo in the first week, I don’t ever have a start, end or a plan of any sort where lyrics or riffs are concerned.. Anything can be inspiring, cold London can inspire me to be in-doors with the guitar.
6. Is there any place in particular that you want to tour in the future?
Max – Everywhere! Going back to Ireland or Sweden will of course be special, but we want to go to every corner of the world.
7. What’s the recording process like for you guys?
Max – One of us usually come up with an idea, and the other one completes it. It’s often Dave with a catchy chorus, or a great vocal melody, and we then work on the arrangement and the verses together. Or I have an idea for a guitar riff and Dave works out a nice melody to go with it. Since we come from such different musical backgrounds it’s an interesting clash when our different genres and ideas come together.
8. Has there been anyone in particular in your lives that have had a positive affect on your decision to start a music career?
Dave – I picked up my dad’s un-used acoustic guitar (I believe he received it for Christmas one year), it was gathering dust and I started playing it from that day. So my dad’s lack of interest or time for playing was very positive! ;)
9. What is the best part about making music?
Dave – Hearing it very loud.
10. On your Facebook page, you describe your music as “indie”. What made you choose this genre of music over other genres?
Max – We love all sort of music, but making music that attracts a large audience yet still in an interesting, fresh way appealed to us.
Dave – We were slightly more independent when that was written. It will probably be updated soon. ;)
11. What can fans expect from your future music/albums?
Dave – The songs are getting bigger and bolder, so expect more instruments and primal screams.
12. What do you want your shows to be like? (i.e. what do you want fans to leave saying?)
Dave – The shows have some major lighting, so if people leave the shows slightly blind with their ears ringing and humming the songs we’ll be happy.
Find LWT on social media using these links:
Tom Meyer- Drums/Vocals (age 20)
Axl Sin- Bass/ Vocals (age 20)
1) How was your band formed?
Our band was formed after Axl, and I decided to start writing and working together. We’ve known each other since elementary school, we were both active in the New York music scene since high school, and after having a number of unsuccessful music endeavors between the two of us, we eventually decided to meet up and form a group together. And from there, we posted on a musicians page on Facebook looking for like-minded people, and found our former guitarist and lead singer Jake with whom we played several shows.
2) How did you determine your name?
Bon Mot means the good word or a witty remark and it derived from the thought of “what gets people into trouble?” And it usually is what you say. So I guess it’s just what we want our music to be, us to be, the witty remark to whatever we get thrown at us or see in the world.
3) What kind of music do you play? What is your specific genre?
A general description of our music would be Hard Rock. However, we go in and out of many genres and never liked putting a label on ourselves as being a certain genre or type. If we’re passionate about the music were making, the genre type is the last issue on our minds. But for the sake of putting a label to us as a formality, we comfortably accept Hard Rock or Shock Rock as an appropriate category
4) Do you plan on maintaining that genre or do you plan on changing up your sound at any time?
Right now we have a bit of what we call “shock rock” which is in your face, remark rock. But like any other musician we’ll definitely branch out. Expands ourselves musically but still be the raw in your face monster we started as.
5) Who are your musical influences?
Our influences range from a number of different genres and bands. Off the top of my head, Black Sabbath, Rancid, Motley Crue, Stone Sour, SIXX AM, Halestorm, Metallica, The Used, The Misfits, Nirvana, and Many more.
6) How do you come up with the lyrics for your songs?
Our lyrics reflect the days of our lives. Mainly the ones that stand out the most. Ya know, the kind you think about late at night. So our lyrics are just those haunting thoughts on verse chorus verse spread.
7) When do you plan on dropping your first EP?
We were hoping to drop our EP in December of 2015, but as unforeseen circumstances occurred, as of now were not sure when an EP will be released.
8) Was the recording process difficult for you?
Recording is always a tough nail to hit. It all depends on band compatibility and understanding. Yeah it takes time and you get really articulate about things you’ll change your mind about later but when you get it right, it’s such a rewarding feeling, like fireworks almost
9) How many performances have you done so far and which has been your favorite?
So far, we’ve done about 3 official performances. My personal favorite was our first show at The Grand Victory in Brooklyn. There is nothing greater than the anticipation of introducing yourselves and your own original music for the very first time. It was a life changing experience playing with these guys regardless of bad blood that may exist, and whatever life may have in store for us. Zombie prom was amazing as well, it being our first headlining show to a crowd of over thirty people, it was a personal milestone for myself, and the band.
10) What’s your fan base like?
Fan base alongside your music is super crucial. You get the ones who become die hard since day 1 and the ones who get there depending if your insanity matches there. So we have pretty crazy fans and we believe we’re just as good as the fans behind us. We work for them not them for us. Hand in hand and all that jazz.
11) Do you have any big plans approaching for the band?
As of now, were going to be focusing on finding new key musicians to help expand our band and music. Our biggest plans are to find a vocalist and guitarist who fit in well with Axl’s and my vision, and can add a healthy balance of their own personal goals for the music.
12) Is there anything you want to say to people who haven’t heard your music yet?
If you’re into the wacky hijinks then you’ll be into us. Fiends, ghouls and all the crooked grins, everyone’s welcome to the scene.
By Chris Brachlow and Brian Carducci