Throw together a bit of Weezer, a bit of Jimmy Eat World, a heap of Washington D.C. charm (of course, that’s a thing!), and four beards of varying lengths, and you’ve got Typefighter, purveyors of nostalgic ’90s garage-pop.
We caught up with Ryan McLaughlin (lead vocals and guitar), Thomas Orgren (vocals and guitar), Will Waikart (drums), and John Scoops (bass) before they jumped onstage at Mercury Lounge on November 7th and melted the faces off of just about everyone in the building.
It was their second-to-last performance on a mini-tour with Canadian rockers PUP and Brooklyn’s own Chumped, and in between some light stage banter they got the crowd moving on a cold November night. (Though, probably no one was jumping around as much as the extremely energetic Scoops!)
In the basement of Mercury Lounge, somewhere past innumerable crates of PBR and Tecate, somewhere past a motor that enjoyed turning on at the most inopportune moments, we chatted with Typefighter about the garage-pop direction they took on their excellent debut LP, The End of Everything, kids and their love of rotten food fights, and marijuana laws in D.C. (Oh, and probably one or two other things as well.)
Punchland: So, the music you’re playing today is pretty different from what you did in the past. You used to be very folky.
Ryan: It was very different before, yeah.
Punchland: What influenced the direction of The End of Everything?
Ryan: It was just kind of a change in… emotion. I got tired of writing acoustic songs and started wanting to write more rock songs, and then Thomas joined us.
Thomas: It was a change in lineups.
Will: It was different people coming in.
Ryan: Will and I have been original members since the beginning. So, that’s good and bad.
Will: Really bad!
Ryan: But yeah, Thomas has been in the band for about two and a half years by now–
RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR – (A loud motor turns on.)
Will: It’ll stop soon! We’re just going to have to wait it out.
Punchland: You’re used to this then?
Ryan: No, I mean… it’s annoying every time it happens. This is like the fourth time – (shuts off) Oh, and there you go. Now it’ll happen again in like twenty minutes. Anyway, so Thomas has been in the band going on three years.
Thomas: Four years.
Ryan: Four years? Really?
Punchland: You started out saying two and a half years before, then three years, and now four years.
Ryan: He would know better than I would, I guess.
Thomas: It’s like the fish we caught!
Ryan: And then you’ve [to Scoop] been going on like two years, right?
Ryan: So, it’s been solid for a while. We wrote The End of Everything together. Just a change in lineups, and a change in general interests in what we want to be playing. It kind of happened organically. We were going to change our name actually. But then we just decided not to.
Ryan: I don’t know.
Will: It’s a good name.
Scoop: We couldn’t think of anything better.
Ryan: I still hate the name.
Scoop: I like it.
Ryan: But you know, it is just… who we are. It would have felt weird changing the name. We went this far with it, we might as well just carry it home.
Punchland: What were you listening to when you were developing your album?
Will: I think as a sonic template Pinkerton by Weezer was big. That kind of rough around the edges bit. When making the record we really were careful to never make it sound like we were being careful. If that makes any sense. Like just kind of, get energy over clean.
Thomas: There were a lot of mistakes that ended up being the takes.
Ryan: Oh yeah, a lot. Those are my favorite parts.
Thomas: A couple of my solos on the record I actually, half way through recording the take I did something wrong, and thought, “Oh, this take is fucked up. I’m just going to throw it away and fuck around for the rest of it… And those became the takes!” (laughing)
Punchland: It adds a bit of improv, a bit of life to it.
Ryan: It makes it kind of fresh. Recording can be really grueling and taxing and make you fall out of love with the songs, so it ended up actually helping to bring some of that freshness back, to get you excited about recording the songs, and making them be the best that they can be.
Punchland: So, the lyrics in “Much” such as “Photos of you are with me… and I like that, I long for it, and you fought back and you’ve got too much to give. And I know it’s not gone… so let’s keep on talking.” Are these about a specific person?
Ryan: No, it’s not about someone specific. Those are specific lyrics, but it’s more specific situations rather than a specific… person. I’ve had that kind of situation with multiple people. As I’m sure many people have, where it’s just… a part of the relationship is slipping. It’s kind of disappearing, and you’re not quite ready for it to be that way, so you fight for it. You find ways to make it work. It’s kind of about not accepting that something is done, because you’re not done. And it could be healthy or unhealthy, but that’s just the situation.
Punchland: And what was the relation to the music video then?
Ryan: The song is kind of the immature emotional aspect of being in a relationship, just refusing to give up sometimes. Sometimes you need to just cut your fucking losses and move on, but you don’t let yourself do that. So, it’s kind of an immature… almost like degenerative decision. But also the song itself is bouncy and fun and so… Kids having a fucking food fight in the woods. It’s a fun way to show what the song is about without being overly…
Ryan: Yeah, explicit. And not just kind of making it emo and be deep or whatever. It’s just fun. We worked with Aviv Rubinstien, and he just spearheaded the whole project. I just gave him the idea, and we talked loads and made it happen. Will and I were there on the set when the kids were having the food fight. It was disgusting! (laughing) Everybody, all the parents who came with the kids, was having fun with it too. They brought all of their rotten food out of their fridge.
Punchland: Oh shit!
Ryan: I remember a couple times I literally had to walk away while filming because I was gagging. It was disgusting. But, you know, it was fun.
Will: The kids were loving it, huh?
Ryan: It was a really fun video to make, and we’re really proud of how it came out.
Punchland: What do you do to unwind after a show?
Will: It’s different every night because you don’t know who you’re staying with, and a lot of times you’ll have to figure that out. That’s the first thing. And if they’re gonna get up for work in the morning, you’ll go [back] and try to keep quiet, or if they want to party all night, you’re doing that. So, you’re kinda at the mercy of whoever’s hosting you.
Punchland: Have you been doing more partying this time?
Thomas: In D.C. after the show, both bands, both PUP and Chumped were staying with Ryan and Scoop–
Ryan: And Solids who actually came through from Montreal. And they’re another great band.
Thomas: [They] came by and stayed so it was just a huge–
Will: There were like 15 people sleeping in your house?
Ryan: 15 or 16. I found out my house can sleep 15 to 16 people if everyone sleeps everywhere on the floor.
Thomas: Yeah, it was fun to catch up with guys and gals after the show and meet Solids, who were awesome people, French Canadians. It was fun to have French Canadians thrown into the mix.
Ryan: It was a good time. But yeah, winding down is different every night. I like… pot. Literally.
Punchland: Oh, okay. I was gonna get to that! So, weed was just legalized [in Washington D.C.].
Ryan: Kind of. It was decriminalized a while ago. Like a year ago or something like that. But now they just made it even more decriminalized. And they’re actually starting to go through and expunge people’s records who were in trouble for pot and stuff like that, which is pretty cool. That’s going to take a long time. There’s a lot of ‘em. But yeah, they’re apparently putting legislation towards recreational regulation-less weed, which would be awesome, but you know, until then it’s still… ample (laughs). It’s around. You can carry up to like two ounces. Before if you got caught with up to an ounce it was a 25 dollar fine, but now it is… two ounces and you’re good. You can also cultivate up to six plants while only allowing three plants to be blossoming at that point. I did my research, I’m pretty excited about it!
Punchland: So, what’s up next for you guys?
Ryan: We’re writing. Trying to do some regional touring. We linked up with Chumped here, so hopefully we can link back up and bring them down to D.C. We’re going to do a video next.
Punchland: For one of the songs on your album or for a new song?
Ryan: I think both. We’re not done with the album. We want to put out something kind of specific for the tour, which is exciting for us. And we wrote a couple songs and we wanted to fucking record some new stuff. The other album took a while to make, and we’ve been writing a lot since then. There are a couple songs that I want to revisit, video-wise, on The End of Everything. And I’m sure we’ll do something for “Wall Song.” It’s just a matter of sitting down and hashing out ideas and deciding on something and committing and doing it. That’s the hardest part.