This interview was conducted back on August 18th, 2007
Aimee Echo and Jamie Miller of theSTART are great people. I just wanted to state that.
We were supposed to conduct our interview before the show started but some scheduling conflicts got in the way. I saw Aimee between their set and The Birthday Massacresâ€™ set but she was busy greeting fans at the merch booth so I figured we could wait. Once the show was over I made my way back to the merch booth and asked Aimee if we could do the interview. She graciously agreed, grabbed Jamie to drag along and off to the backstage area we went.
So, without further ado, hereâ€™s the interview.
Interview written, conducted and transcribed by j. ward
[COMA] You had some rough times in the beginning as far as labels and band members go, how did you manage to keep it going?
[Aimee] Sheer force of will?
[Jamie] Nothingâ€™s ever as difficult as it seems.
[Aimee] Yeah, well that stuff wasnâ€™t difficult; pretty much whatâ€™s difficult is, as today is our sixth or seventh show in a row and Birthday Massacre we were, both bands were discussing this today, we all went out to dinner and we just like, â€œweâ€™re really feeling it right nowâ€. Feeling the burn!
[Jamie] Weâ€™re all on our way here today weâ€™re all like, â€œWow, weâ€™re really tiredâ€
[Aimee] And I think thatâ€™s probably the hardest thing is the grind. As far as the band member thing, itâ€™s always been really fine, amicable splits and right now, I think weâ€™re happier than weâ€™ve been in so long.
[Jamie] Our bandâ€™s always been set up kind of similar to bands like Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stonage. Nobodyâ€™s ever been in the band except for the two of us weâ€™ve always just had a revolving cast ofâ€”-
[Aimee] Our first lineup was official and from then on, well Eric and Billy were kind of official for a while.
[Jamie] Kind of official in the same capacity as Queens of the Stoneage were.
[Aimee] We had the rule of: when you want to be in, youâ€™re in when you want to be out, youâ€™re out, when we want you out youâ€™re out.
[Jamie] At the same time we were making this new record, we started working on it ourselves and it justâ€”-
[Aimee] And our drummer just ended up saying, â€œhey, I gotta go, I got offered Juliette and the Licks and Iâ€™m going to go to Europe.â€ Weâ€™re like, â€œIf you donâ€™t go youâ€™re crazy.â€ So itâ€™s pretty easy. Jamie being the multi instrumentalist extroirdinaire, Iâ€™m blessed. Itâ€™s very self contained.
[Jamie] What was the saying? â€œWhy have someone else do it when you can do it yourself?â€
[COMA] So you mentioned you guys wrote this entire album by yourself, was it the same with your previous albums?
[Aimee] All the writing we did, we did the song writing together. Jamie writes alot all the time heâ€™s writing. In the beginning I didnâ€™t think I could keep up with him and now itâ€™s just canâ€™t. So, pretty much weâ€™re always writing and when it comes time to choose what goes on a record the revolving door band member thing hasnâ€™t been a problem because theres always been a catalog waiting. Theres already songs waiting nowâ€¦
[Jamie] Every record started out as us demoing and then we took it to a studio and let people play or whatever but this time around the demos were going so well that it just kind of morphed into the record.
[Aimee] Alot of the record is the demos. Cause as we get more and more gear our demos start sounding better.
[Jamie] Usually at the end of the record everyone goes, â€œwow, your demos sounded really good, the record doesnâ€™t sound as good.â€ So this time we were like, â€œweâ€™re keeping the demos.â€
[COMA] Youâ€™ve toured with The Birthday Massacre before, I take it it went well before since youâ€™re touring with them again.
[Aimee] Yeah, we get along really well as people and the fit, musically, although the bands are different animals, it tends to go really well with the audience and we appreciate each other musically alot. Weâ€™re fans of each other, our fans tend to be fans of both bands so itâ€™s going really well. Itâ€™s so seamless out here with them as far as personality wise. It couldnâ€™t get any better. Weâ€™re all great friends. Itâ€™s going really well. Yesterday they said they just want to stay on tour with us forever and we said the same thing. When itâ€™s that easyâ€”-
[Jamie] It would make our label very happy. Two bands together forever.
[Aimee] â€œGo you guys, go!â€ (laughs)
[Jamie] They would save money on promotion.
[COMA] You guys have toured with quite a few bands and those bands seem to cover a broad range of styles, how are you received by fans of Rancid as opposed to fans of Front Line Assembly?
[Jamie] You know, thatâ€™s a funny question cause when we got offered the Rancid show, I said, â€œNo fucking way. No way were gonna play that show.â€
[Aimee] That was actually the first one where we were like, â€œWow.â€ We go offered Social Distortion before that oneâ€”â€”
[Jamie] Thereâ€™s been bands that we were like, â€œthe crowdâ€™s going to hate us.â€ We got offered a Tiger Army tour and they are really cool guys and a really cool band butâ€”-
[Aimee] We were just thinking, â€œhow on earth are we gonna open for that?â€
[Jamie] Some of the stuff weâ€™ve done before has been like, â€œWhat are we doing here? Ahhh, weâ€™ll try itâ€ But the Rancid show we like, â€œno way.â€
[Aimee] And it actually went well.
[Jamie] Yeah, so someone talked us into it. A booking agent talked us into itâ€”-
[Aimee] And theyâ€™re great people so itâ€™s not- itâ€™s just that their fans are notoriouslyâ€¦ Rancidy they want to see Rancid and they donâ€™t really want to see anybody else. Especially not some freaky, faggy electronica band.
[Jamie] But it went really well. We got there and the band guys were super awesome and everybody in the crowd was great.
[Aimee] And the thing is I think the reason why we get such a diverse range of people asking us out on tour is that they get sick of playing with bands that sound like them. So they want a band that will mix it up and I think weâ€™re the go to band. Apparently. And with Front Line it went great.
[Jamie] That was another one where we were like, â€œIâ€™m not sure.â€ but then we thought about and weâ€™re like, â€œahhh, itâ€™s Bill Leeb, weâ€™ll try it once.â€ We got there and Bill, again, was totally fucking awesome. Super sweet. Was like, â€œI love your band.â€ Weâ€™re like, â€œCool.â€ The first day of the tour was totallyâ€” The second night of the tour was fantastic, it was awesome and the first night of that tour, Aimee didnâ€™t play that night.
[Aimee] I wasnâ€™t there
[Jamie] So the first night wasnâ€™t very good. The second night of the tour and from then on was super awesome. Again, those guysâ€” The bands were different but it actually made sense. Everyone had a mutual respect for what was going on. I heard alot of people were like, â€œwhy is that band going out with that band?â€ Then when we got there people were like, â€œOh, I see, it makes sense.â€
[Aimee] And if you think about the way things used to be, different bands played with different bands. Now itâ€™s sort of like, I think people, I think the people feel like they need that homogenization and put 5 bands that sound exactly alikeâ€”â€”
[Jamie] Cause we grew up with those Lalapalooza days where it was like 10 completely different bands and thatâ€™s what we grew up with going,m â€œWow, this is awesome!â€
[Aimee] Siouxsie and Body Count? Woah!
[Jamie] And that, to us, that was awesome. Like when we do our headlining shows, the last thing we want to do is take out two or three bands that are just the same shade of the same thing weâ€™re doing. It gets boring. Weâ€™d rather broaden peoples horizons. Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s cool with us and The Birthday Massacre weâ€™re two sides of the same coin but itâ€™s totally different. So itâ€™s not too weird, weâ€™re not up there playing traditional Mexican folk music.
[COMA] Aimee, youâ€™re a vegetarian as my wife and I are.
[Aimee] All of the band is actually.
[COMA] I didnâ€™t know that. My wife likes to tell people who start asking about our diet that we donâ€™t eat anything that shits.
[Aimee] (laughs) Thatâ€™s the best one Iâ€™ve ever heard.
[COMA] What do you tell people in those situations?
[Aimee] What Iâ€™ve found is the easiest is to tell people youâ€™re allergic. Because otherwise theyâ€™re like, â€œWhy? Come on, itâ€™s good for you!â€ And if people ask me, and I had a girl who asked me outside, â€œIâ€™m vegetarian trying to transition to vegan and what do you suggest?â€ I said, â€œDonâ€™t take anything away, add things. Add vegan things to your diet. Donâ€™t think about what your going to be lacking.â€ and thatâ€™s how Jamie ended up going vegetarian it wasnâ€™t, he didnâ€™t think about stopping eating meat it was starting eating vegetarian.
[COMA] How do you guys feel about the Wikipedia entry on the band that says that youâ€™re one of the first bands of the new wave revival?
[Aimee] I think at one time I was doing this thing for Fuse and I was supposed to interview Matt Pinfield and as I was waiting to interview him, it was a television interview, he, Matt Pinfielded me. And he basically said, â€œSo Aimee, how do you feel about reviving this new wave sound, this dance rock sound and all of these bands following in your wake and having so much more success than you?â€ I was like, â€œâ€¦â€ and theyâ€™re like, â€œfour, three, two, oneâ€. Iâ€™m like, (sounding depressed) â€œIâ€™m Aimee Echo from theSTART, here with Matt Pinfield.â€ (laughs)
[Jamie] Here being bummed out by Matt Pinfield.
[Aimee] So, I know that itâ€™s obviously not an original idea. We didnâ€™t start it.
[Jamie] And then when like, The Faint came and actually, The Faint started out around the same time, then all these other bands started coming out and calling themselves new wave and all the sudden we were, us and The Faint were the two bands that started this thing but neither of us were like, â€œWeâ€™re a new wave band.â€ We were both just doing music that we grew up liking and then later it got tagged, â€œOh, youâ€™re the first of that new wave sound.â€ So weâ€™re like, â€œI guess thatâ€™s what we are.â€
[Aimee] Iâ€™m cool with being the first of the second of the third of something. (laughs) Next wave.
[Jamie] As long as they donâ€™t make it Nu wave, cause then itâ€™s just stupid.
It could be worse, it could be, â€œHow do you feel about being the 10th generation new wave revival band?â€ [Aimee] You know, about being the last dying gasp of the new wave revival. (laughs) Pretty fucking great, thanks.
[Jamie] Whatâ€™s that new, really bad major label band? I donâ€™t mean to talk shit but, itâ€™s one of those, itâ€™s just a bunch of kids saying, â€œWe like The Killers.â€ and they wrote this record thatâ€™s just so over produced and so over the top. Itâ€™s like, â€œHow does it feel to be the 900th version?â€ So weird.
[Aimee] Yeah, but thatâ€™s what kids like to do.
[Jamie] One of the bands is actually going to be a baroque wave band. Thatâ€™s coming next.
[COMA] So would you guys even consider yourself to be new wave?
[Aimee] In the traditional definition, I guess if you considerâ€¦ if you go to the Wikipedia entry of New Waveâ€¦ Um, perhaps. Basically, in my humble opinion, my personal definition new wave is what happened when punk rockers learned to play their instruments and got bored with guitar, bass and drums.
[Jamie] We didnâ€™t set out to be new wave but once we started getting called that we started to go back and go, â€œI guess we do have a similar vibe to that.â€ It would be nice that instead of a revival it would be cool if it was an option, instead of going away again. Thereâ€™s some people out there that canâ€™t get into electronica so a band like us that has some rock in it, maybe it will be a gateway into electronica.
[COMA] Do you have any plans for any new music videos now that the new albumsâ€™ out?
[Aimee] Yeah, somebody was actually supposed to be sending me a treatment so when that comes Iâ€™ll let you know. (laughs)
[Jamie] We were going to do a video for Wartime and then we decided, well actually the timing didnâ€™t work out and then we thought about it some more and a couple of the other songs lent themselves more towards visual kind of stuff so were thinking about doing something in the next month or so.
[Aimee] The nasty tour keeps getting in the way, Iâ€™m so spoiled, literally I think weâ€™re going to have 5 days off.
[Jamie] Making a video only takes a day and a half to two days.
[Aimee] Weâ€™re going home weâ€™re doing a few more dates with The Birthday Massacre and then weâ€™re gonna go, Iâ€™m gonna go do my Teddybears thing for a little bit and then weâ€™re going to go out with She Wants Revenge and then weâ€™re going to go to Europe.
[Jamie] Weâ€™re going to try to squeeze in a video before we go to Europe. Cause in Europe theyâ€™ll actually play the video.
[Jamie] Want to talk about aliens? (laughing)
[COMA] (laughing) I donâ€™t think I have enough tape for that.
[COMA] So how did you guys get Eno to sing on this album?
[Jamie] Aimee and I just got back from India, but we left for India at the end of out record and mixing was suppose to be completed, but our mixer guy is the slowest mixer in the world and didnâ€™t finish the last five songs until after we got back. So when we left for India, I forgot, We always try to get a little bit of Eno on every record but we left and I had forgotten to record it. So, I was like Oh crap, oh well, we will just skip it this time. So the whole time weâ€™re in India waiting for mixes, heâ€™s emailing us the mixes while weâ€™re over there. So we didnâ€™t get the record done. We come home and I was sitting in our little home studio and I had just gotten the last mix. I had gotten off the plane and the last mix showed up in my email to check. It was a b-side or something I think. I was listening to it speakers in the studio and I had left a mic open for what Aimee and I were demoing, we just had some vocal mics on around the studio. Left it open and put on one mix, it was â€œWartimeâ€, which was one of out first mixes. I had it up pretty loud and he was sitting on my lap cause we had just gotten home, hadnâ€™t seen him in a month. So I just had it playing and it was louder than shit and all of a sudden I just hear Eno start to howl or rip it. Heâ€™s just getting louder and louder, Iâ€™m turning it down and he just keeps going! I pressed play again, hit the record on vocals, pulled the mic over near him and he just went. I just turned on the mic and and he just started going! That whole thing is just him sitting on my lap singing along to that song!
[Aimee] Thatâ€™s so funny!
[Jamie] But I recorded that like what, and hour after we got home from India. You know Eno is actually the secret mastermind behind theSTART,
[Jamie] He was supposed to be on our EP too but the source files got lost. We had a really good one for that one. Weâ€™re petitioning for a new Grammy category of best dog performance on a record. We think he might have a shot this year.
[COMA] Has your personal relationship inspired any of your songs and have any of them made it onto any of the albums?
[Aimee] I honestly really did write that really pretty little love song on our first record, Gorgeous about him.
[Jamie] I write all the music and I try to tailor it to what I think she wants. I tailor everything, what shes going to want to say, what shes going to want to hear, I kind of tailor it to what moodâ€™s shes in.
[Aimee] God you such a bitch! (Laughing)
[Jamie] You know Iâ€™m always like, â€œHey, what mood are you in this week?â€ and Iâ€™ll work on that a bunch of tunes like that.
[Aimee] He does that. What I want.
[COMA] I have a weird one here, is it just a coincidence that you released â€Dance Revolutionâ€œ on Metropolis the same label as Electric Six?
[Jamie] Do they have a â€œDance Revolutionâ€ track? I know they have â€œDance Commanderâ€.
[COMA] They have a lot of dance whatever songs.
[Jamie] It is a coincidence, but a happy coincidence. We love Electric Six. We were opening for Alkaline Trio and we were using â€œGay Barâ€ for our walk on song.
[Aimee] Before people actually understood what Electric Six was, we were using â€œGay Barâ€ as walk on music and it was like, â€œOK.â€ We were just asking to get our asses taken down.
[Jamie] Thats a perfect example of a band that we shouldnâ€™t have been on tour with but the band, we met â€˜em out on tour and they were the nicest fucking guys and they were like, â€œWeâ€™re tired of all these opening bands, will you guys come out? Youâ€™re so different, it would be great.â€ Were like, â€œYeah, why not. What the hell?â€ And the crowds, some of them just scratched their heads like, â€œWhat the hell?â€ and some of them were getting it. So then we got to a point where it was like, â€œLets just play the goofiestâ€¦â€ because they said we could play whatever music we wanted. Electric Six was huge in Europe at that point. We met Dave Heckman and when he was asking us about being on the label (Metropolis) one of the selling points was, â€œI just signed Electric Six.â€ and weâ€™re like, â€œReally? So I guess it wonâ€™t be that weird for us to be there.â€ and then it was Moving Units then us soâ€¦ But yeah.
[Aimee] Well, weâ€™ve been doing the whole dance thing since â€œShakedownâ€
[Jamie] That song was written to be kinda funnyish but people think itâ€™s dead serious. Itâ€™s a song about a friend of ours a DJ. Alot of people are like, â€œItâ€™s so weird, I donâ€™t get it.â€ Itâ€™s supposed to be fun and silly, not so serious. Itâ€™s funny, the type of people who get it and the people who donâ€™t.
[Aimee] And then the people who hate it right off the bat and later are like, â€œI love that song now.â€ I love that.
At that point my tape ran out making this the longest interview in COMA history. Iâ€™d like to thank Aimee and Jamie for this interview and urge everyone to pick up their new CD, â€œCiao Babyâ€. It is awesome.