Interview with Laura Stevenson and The Cans
I’m a sucker for a strong female presence in rock music and not the kind that is found in the “Paramore” stereotype bands that are all over the alternative scene. Instead, I’m more a She&Him, Jenny Owen Youngs kind of girl. One of the bands that falls in that vein is Brooklyn based Laura Stevenson and The Cans! With punk backgrounds, they are indie rock darlings that are in the process of making their follow up to their debut record ‘Sit and Resist’.
During their time in Cambridge on a headlining run, we discussed everything from the writing process they are taking for the new record to their first musical experiences to the essential Twazzles and Beef Jerky they must have while on the road! Read on for our exclusive with Laura and Mike!
Artist: Laura Stevenson
Title: Sit and Resist
Release date: 05/17/11
Label: Don Giovanni Records
Laura Stevenson and The Cans Official Website
Buy at: Amazon
Last I saw you guys, you were still finishing up the album when you were on tour with Fake Problems. Obviously you’re toured quite a bit, what are the three things you must have while you’re on the road?
Laura: The things I must have? Eye make up remover because I don’t really wash my face that often. What else? Twizzlers if I’m doing a late night drive. What do you do when you do a late night drive? Jerky?
Mike: I have beef jerky, red bull and a large coffee. It keeps me occupied.
Laura: Everybody has their candy and energy liquid that will sustain them when everybody else is sleeping. So yeah mostly Twizzlers but I call them Twazzles.
Mike: When we stopped for gas today, I saw a 4 ton container of Red Vines.
Laura: Yeah for 7.99.
Mike: It’s a good deal.
Laura: I almost got it but I read the container.
Mike: Yeah, five vines is one serving.
Laura: They’re long vines. Anyway, mostly candy. Really. And instruments. So Candy, eye make up remover and pajama pants because I usually go asleep in my shirt that I wear when I play and in my jeans but I bring myself some pajama pants and an extra pillow case.
An extra pillow case?
Laura: Yeah, because then your face is on the same dirty pillow case so it’s good to change it.
So the record came out a while ago. April 26th of 2011. So obviously it’s been a while. Still a young record since it’s under a year but how do you think its’ been going over so far?
Laura: I would say it’s a grower, I mean every record is, but it didn’t come out with this crazy backing push. It was more like now that it was the end of the year, you know the January top ten. A lot of people were blogging their favorite albums, like anybody cares, but a lot of people put our album on there. That was cool.
Mike: Yeah I think it was more of, like Laura said, there wasn’t much media reaction to it but over time, I think a lot more people have come around to it. Which is good.
Laura: Yeah! Next one hopefully, we’ll do both. Big good bang to start and slow burn. Two opposites.
Mike: Like rice! That’s what we should call it. ’Like Rice’.
Laura: Cool! At least we got that part nailed down. Maybe we can get a rice sponsorship.
Mike: We could!
Laura: Could get sponsored by Uncle Ben.
And then even though it still is really new, are you even writing the new one? Because you guys joined in 2007 but then it wasn’t that long into it. Like you were playing with Bomb The Music Industry! And then you put out the debut with you guys on it.
Mike: Yeah me and Alex played on it.
So you must be constantly writing. Is that some thing that you’re even working on?
Laura: Yeah, we have like the majority of the new record written. So we’re ready to start thinking about the next step with it.
Mike: Actually, we’ve gone over ten.
Laura: We’ve gone over ten? That’s as many as ’Sit and Resist’ had, right? ’Sit and Resist’ had thirteen. Well, there is a song like that’s a minute and half. So let’s say eleven songs. So probably like twenty second oh no’s and then we have a record. Doesn’t matter for shit. Just kidding, it does matter.
And then how do you normally go about the writing? Is it one person, is it more collective, does it change?
Laura: I mostly do a lot of the writing alone and then I bring things. With the last record, it was like where a lot of things were pretty much done when I brought them in but this time, there’s a lot more things that were in pieces and they all kind of helped me mend them together. So it’s been a more collaborative writing process which is cool. It took me a lot of time to be able to get comfortable enough with people to be able to do that. I still am not able to sing my lyrics until they’re exactly what they’re going to be. So yeah it’s definitely more collaborative.
So it changed from the first record?
Laura: There was a big step. I’ve kind of been lanquishing more of the power I’ve so desperately held on to for five years but the last two years I’ve been like easy going. Right?
Last two years out of twenty seven? You’re pretty good about it. Then maybe would you say it’s pretty similar or dissimilar sonically from ’Sit and Resist’?
Laura: I think that it’s a little bit more different maybe and there’s some more of like a country influence on this record. In a way that I like it.
Mike: Not in like a Kenny Chesney kind of way.
Laura: No! I just started listening to Brad Paisley a lot so I guess I’m writing more like him but whatever that’s cool. But, you know, I don’t know, it’s exciting. It’s a new step!
New Step! Then maybe for all of you, who would be like your dream person to collaborate with, to write with? Like in any sense? Maybe just have them like on a song and still write their part.
Laura: I think John K. Sampson. I feel like that’s a bit of a cliché. Kenny G! That would be pretty good. No, maybe Sampson I think. I think that that would be cool!
Then maybe the first CD or first cassette you ever bought and the first concert you ever went to?
Laura: I went to rock concerts when my dad was a big Dead Head and he would bring me with him but the first concert I ever wanted to go to was Soul Asylum and Spin Doctors. It was awesome! It was so awesome! I loved the Spin Doctors. I thought that “Two Princes’ was something where nothing could ever get better then that song when I was little and it never did! It never did! Then first tape I ever bought was ‘In Utero’. I walked to the store, bought it with my own money and I listened to it constantly when I was ten or eleven. There were some things on there I shouldn’t be hearing so it was definitely interesting but I loved it. I loved it and I didn’t have MTV so it was really hard for me to acquire the new music. I heard ‘When I Come Around’ like playing at somebody’s birthday party and I was like ‘Woo I like this’. Yeah I guess Nirvana and Green Day were records that I bought.
Mike: Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ was the first thing I ever bought but my mom made me record over all the curse words with my Talkboy that I got for Christmas that year. So yeah the first tape I ever bought with my own money was littered with all these blank spaces where every curse word I had to record over.
Laura: What was the first CD you ever bought?
Mike: First CD I ever bought was Sixteen Stones and I paid like twenty dollars for it. It was insane that people would spend twenty dollars for a CD.
Laura: So good though! I bought me an import. It was called Brown Bush. Nobody had it. It was same songs just the British name.
Did any of those influence you at all? Like maybe you guys personally or as a band?
Laura: I don’t know. What would you say? My mind’s really drawing a blank.
Mike: Well, what do you like listening to?
Laura: Well, those didn’t at all.
Just those music experiences. Did those influence you? Like going to those concerts? Not just in general like on your sound.
Laura: Oh, okay! Yeah, absolutely. I think Spin Doctors, whatever I’ll say it, had really, really great melodies. Timeless! I’ll say. And then listening to Green Day, just like ‘Distortion’ because I grew up on like music from the late sixties and early seventies. My parents were like old hippies so I didn’t really get into that. And then my dad listened to a lot of Neil Young. Neil Young’s ‘Crazy Horse’. I was like ‘Woah, woah what is this?’ So definitely a lot of that and then The Beatles. That was constantly playing in my house so I was forced to listen to the melodies.
Did it influence you with your Green Day?
Mike: Yeah it was really a big part of my teen years. Still like a lot of punk.
Laura: We still play with a lot of punk bands. That’s our thing.
Then you have toured with a bunch of different kinds of bands per say. Like I said last time you guys were here was with Fake Problems in May like Pomegranates and Into it. Over It. So maybe would be like your dream three to tour with? Like anyone? Like three alive bands still doing it?
Laura: Um, what would you say? Bands that we would want to tour with.
Mike: We have a whole list of them.
Laura: Yeah! I don’t know. Arcade Fire.
That’s not a bad thing!
Laura: No but that’s a band that’s like..obviously! That’s like when you say oh we want to tour with Arcade Fire, Radiohead.
Mike: Bob Dylan!
Laura: Oh yeah, Dylan! How about we say Arcade Fire, Neil Young and Wilco!
"Sit and Resist" by Laura Stevenson - release date: 05/17/11..