First of all, congratulations on your newly released single and upcoming releases with Mom's Basement Records. It seems the stars are aligning! What enabled you guys to be so productive lately? And what have you been up all these years since the release of your last album Relationship Sneakers?
Frank: "Thanks! We are really excited to be releasing new music...not just with the amazing Mom's Basement Records, but also Kazu at Waterslide and Henry at Memorable But Not Honorable Tapes. Everyone working on this upcoming EP and album seems to be on the same page and hopefully that will result in our music getting heard by a bunch of new listeners. Patience and planning has allowed this recent surge of productivity. After we released the Relationship Sneakers album in 2012, we were pretty quiet for about 4 years. Then we randomly got an email from The Huntingtons (who we are friends with) asking us to play a show with them here in NYC. “
Victor: “We have been talking about recording a new album for a while but it took us playing a show for us to realize how much we missed playing and recording.”
Frank: “After that show in 2016 we continued to play live from time to time”
Richie: "We talked about recording a 3rd album for a while. I spent a lot of time from 2016 to 2018 gathering and finishing older song ideas while also coming up with newer songs. We learned and recorded all of this material in 2019 as a full band. For me, songwriting is fun and satisfying. The end goal and vision of having a finished album with new material - hopefully on a label - is what motivated me to be so productive. The songwriting, learning, and recording processes were long - but worth it. I would rather spend a long time producing quality material than just putting out a lot of rapid filler junk."
You guys have been around for a long time, but haven't sought the spotlight despite being a great band with great songs. Has your approach to Goin' Places been to treat it more as a hobby? It seems that you guys have all of the ingredients to have pushed it further but were content not to.
Richie: "In the year 2000, the band started as a joke, but quickly became more meaningful. Since 2001, we never intended to treat Goin' Places as a hobby. We are grateful for all the opportunities we have had so far and always hope to grow this band - no matter how long it takes."
Frank: "When we did our first album we were definitely hoping to make the band more than a hobby. We had some great opportunities for exposure and distribution with Coldfront Records which, in retrospect, maybe we didn't take full advantage of. We were a lot younger and we did the best we could though. After that initial push, we let "real life" take over and since that time we have continued to do the band whenever it works for us. That's not to say that we don't take it seriously or put a lot of work into it though."
Victor: “We absolutely want the band to succeed but as Frank said "real life" started to happen to all of us. We still enjoy playing and we would love to have people listen to and enjoy new music from us.”
Speaking of the songs, my understanding is that you all have a role as songwriters in the band? How does that work out? And what are your individual musical backgrounds that inform the songwriting? Goin' Places has a very cohesive sound which is impressive if there are three cooks in the kitchen.
Richie: "If we have the material, we show it to each other - whether it's complete or not. If we all like it, then we use it. If the material isn't quality, we either try to improve it or just don't use it at all. This filtering helps keep our material the best it can be. For my musical background, I grew up with a piano in my house - both my father and mother play. I learned to play the piano by attempting to imitate them. I learned the basics of sheet music from my parents, school music classes, and playing the clarinet in my elementary / junior high school bands. I started playing guitar in high school. I quickly started writing songs after I learned to play the guitar."
Victor: “We have all contributed to the writing process throughout the years. If anyone comes up with an idea for a song we all want to listen to it and work on it the best we can. For our new album Richie wrote all of the songs."
Frank: "Throughout the history of the band we have all played a role in songwriting, though it has changed pretty drastically from album to album. The first album was a real group effort. A lot of the songs were written at practices with all 3 of us throwing in ideas. For Relationship Sneakers we moved into a phase where Richie and Victor were writing fully formed songs on their own and then bringing them to the band. I wrote one song myself and helped out Richie with some lyrics. Richie wrote the entire new album, Save The World, by himself, save for one set of lyrics which I contributed. None of these changes over the years were planned out...it's just how things have progressed."
Songwriting wise, it seems you guys favor concise and catchy structures which I strongly relate to. Do you each have specific influences or templates you have referred to in the past to arrive at this sound? I hear a bit of MTX, some Mutant Pop vibes, and a lot of classic aesthetics in your sound.
Richie: "My two biggest influences for songwriting are Green Day and The Beatles. For Green Day, I'm talking early Green Day - 39/Smooth, Kerplunk, Dookie, and Insomniac. For The Beatles - everything they have done is an influence. I learned a lot about songwriting from these two bands - common chord progressions, harmonies, and how important of a role the melody is in a song (the vocals).
Victor: “When it comes to song structure I don't have a specific style I choose to write in. I have taken inspiration from pop-punk bands such as MTX, heavy bands such as Bad Religion, and the basic rock and roll progressions from the 1950's and 1960's”
Another feature of Goin' Places that stands out is your total lack of pretentiousness. There's a very humble quality in the way you present which suggests that you guys aren't willing to take yourselves too seriously even though you clearly put a lot of thought and effort into your songs and recordings. What do you think accounts for this? Is it intentional?
Richie: "We all love to laugh. We are good at maintaining a balance of business and fun. We are very organized and always make sure a project is complete - but we also will participate in some crazy antics along the way. In addition to our music, we have developed a fictional "Goin' Places Universe" which features extremely exaggerated versions of ourselves and other fictional characters. This has shown up over the years in home-made movies, home-made comics, and even during our live performances, radio shows, and podcasts. Sometimes it's difficult to tell which version of Goin' Places will show up - the real life Goin' Places or the fictional Goin' Places - but either way it will be fun."
Frank: "I guess we have always wanted to just let the music speak for itself. If a song is catchy, it will get stuck in your head...plain and simple. We never put much thought into how we present ourselves as individuals. For instance, when we were doing Girl Songwriting 101, Brett at Coldfront had asked us to do a photo shoot where we were all wearing white t shirts and blue jeans and sitting around eating pizza or something. He wanted to go for the whole "group" or "band" look, but that has never been us. My favorite band of all time is the Ramones, so I definitely don't have a problem with bands being concerned with their image, but it just never would have worked for us. Richie and Victor will spend hours focusing on getting a harmony just right, but we probably won't spend more than 10 minutes on a band photo shoot."
Victor: “I agree that we do not take ourselves too serious when it comes to our impact in the scene but we absolutely take the music seriously. When we record we can sometimes take hours recording one harmony or many variations of a track until we find the one that sounds the best. We do it for fun and we hope that our hard work in recording speaks for itself.”
Lyrically your songs seem to keep the subject matter light and fun. Romance, relationships, heartbreak, rock n' roll - all fairly universal themes. There's not a lot of angst or negativity in your songs. Do you set out to right more "fun" songs instead of venting or expressing serious/strong sentiments in your music? Are each of you fairly balanced, mellow individuals?
Richie: "Our first album, 'Girl Songwriting 101', is definitely a lyrical outlier. When the lyrics were written for that album, they were all meant to be a joke. Our 2nd album, 'Relationship Sneakers', is the start of our true style of lyrics. While the music is very poppy and uplifting, a lot of the lyrics are about mistakes, hopelessness, failure, and lessons learned. I wouldn't consider these 'fun' songs - but they are helpful for expression and personal growth. Our upcoming album, "Save The World" continues this style of lyrics at an even deeper level.
Frank: "After that initial batch of songs, we started getting in to some more serious songwriting, but still with a sense of humor and always lots of melody. I think sometimes those qualities disguise what a song is really about. For example, a song like Relationship Sneakers is a straight up bubblegum song with admittedly funny lyrics, but the message of the song is to be yourself and stand your ground. Another one of our songs, Running Out Of Time, has been described by Richie as very poppy and happy, with lyrics that are pure misery. People might be surprised by some of the lyric content on the new album. It's got some humorous stuff for sure, but also plenty of songs that hit a little deeper."
Victor: “This new album is more reflective and has more feeling than the prior albums.”
What were the circumstances that led to you linking up with Mom's Basement Records? John Proffitt, Jr. is a connoisseur of pop punk so it must be pretty cool to work with him. He's also known for releasing high-quality records, so that's awesome too.
Frank: "When we started looking for a home for the new album Mom' Basement was basically a dream label. Then after John heard it and said he was interested we were thrilled. He was upfront and said he wanted to do the album, but had a lot on his plate so it would be close to a year before he could get to it. It was a no brainer for us. We were happy to wait because there wasn't anywhere else we would rather be. It also worked out great when John said he wanted to do a 7 inch before the album, because we had recorded several extra songs which needed a home. Both John and Tricia at MBR have been great to work with. Honest people who care about what they are doing….can’t ask for anything else."
Where do you guys see yourselves within the context of the current pop punk scene, and how has the scene changed from your perspectives since the release of your first album Girl Songwriting 101?
Richie: "I see Goin' Places as a persistent band that keeps going and going. While our live show presence has been very local, we have a larger global presence on the internet and social media. We have a lot of online material available. Our bandcamp site https://goinplaces.
Frank: "Honestly, I don't know where I see Goin' Places currently. I guess the reaction to the new EP and album will let us know where we stand. So far people seem to like the first single, so that's a good sign. As far as how the pop punk scene has changed over the past 20 years, I think it's gotten way smaller obviously. But the people that are currently into this music seem to be more passionate about it than ever."
Victor: “The scene that we knew is long gone. We rely on fans to listen to us and spread the word through blogs such as this and through word of mouth. When we started digital music was just starting out. More people bought CD's than any other form of music. Now the tides had shifted and digital platforms such as The Dummy Room and other YouTube channels control what content fellow punk rock lovers see and hear.”
Hailing from Staten Island, I must now ask you a series of New York-related questions. First of all, did you guys feel like you were part of the big pop punk boom in NYC in the 2000's? There seemed to be a huge resurgence of bands and the PPMB was populated by more than a few New Yorkers in the know.
Frank: "Absolutely not. That NYC scene in the early 2000s was incredible, but we were not a part of it at all. I read the PPMB every day, but it always felt like the Cool Kids club to me. It was a cool site to use to find out about new releases or upcoming shows though."
Richie: "I don't feel like we were ever part of a NYC pop-punk boom in the 2000's. We tried to be a part of the scene, but I always felt we were outsiders. I don't have very fond memories of the Pop Punk Message Board. The best thing I can say is that it partially inspired the lyrics to "This Song Is Not About A Girl" (which was written in the 2000's)"
Frank: “That’s kind of been a recurring theme with us over the years…even within our small hometown scene. Richie wrote a great song called “Nobody Gives A Shit About Us” which was on our 2nd album and tells that tale of being part of a scene which is a popularity contest.”
Do you guys have a favorite New York pop punk band from past or present? My vote is probably split between Egghead and Kung-Fu Monkeys.
Frank: "I love KFM, but I'd probably have to go with The Unlovables as my fav NYC pop punk band. Have to mention The Ergs! too, even though they are NJ boys, but they were a big part of the scene."
Richie: "My favorite New York pop punk band is "The Amber Jets" (formerly known as "Darien"). They have great songs and an incredible live energy."
Staten Island is also infamously known as "Shaolin" and home of the immortal Wu-Tang Clan. Are you guys into them? I'm a huge Wu fan, so I'd be interested to know how much of a presence they had locally outside of the core hip-hop scene. Any favorite Wu releases or members?
Frank: "I love 36 Chambers. After that I'm mostly a singles guy. They are really big here though. The pride of Staten Island I guess you could say. A few years ago I was walking out of the supermarket and I could have sworn that Method Man walked right past me into the store. Now, I'm not even sure if he still lives here, but I still regret not going back in to see if it was really him. Would have loved to get a photo with him in the peanut butter aisle, holding jars of Skippy, Jif and Peter Pan."
Richie: "I never got into the Wu-Tang Clan - but I respect them and the success they've achieved. It was pretty awesome to see Method Man as a special guest, playing himself, in 'Luke Cage'. Method Man happened to be in a store while it was being robbed - both the villains and Luke Cage were star-struck during the robbery - hysterical."
What's next for Goin' Places? Do you find it's easier to be more productive as a band in this current era of plentiful tools and technology? What's your approach to being a band in 2020?
Richie: "Definitely. Goin' Places will always stay updated with the latest tech. Not only has technology expanded our internet presence, but it also has played a large part in our recording process. Our upcoming album, "Save The World", was produced digitally at our home studio (Good Good Studios) with the latest tech tools in digital recording. Personally, I will always want to write more music. So far, this whole 3rd album experience has been a great one and is definitely motivation to start preparing for a 4th album."
Frank: "Depending on when you read this, we either are about to release or just released an EP called "Better Things To Do". Then in early 2021 we have our new album called "Save The World" coming out. Tough to say what will happen after that. When we did the 2nd album we all said "let's not wait another 10 years between albums", but you know how that ended up."
Victor: We are excited that our EP and our album will be coming out soon. I hope that they are well received and we get some interest that can compel us to maybe play a few shows to promote the album. As of right now the whole world is on hold but I would love to see fans in a club singing to our songs again. There is no better feeling than having others singing along to something that we wrote. After that, who knows what the future holds for GP. I guess we will have to see what 2021 brings.