Brian Wakefield of San Francisco-based Emotional took a few moments before the band’s set on April 4th to talk with me about Emotional’s latest LP, The Band, and some of the tour highlights. He also expressed mild disapproval when he learned I gave up my tape collection (but I assure you, their departure weighed heavily on my heart).
A photo gallery of Emotional’s April 4th show at Denver’s Hi-Dive follows the interview:
Can you tell me a little bit about the current tour and how it worked out that you’re touring with the Memories?
Well, we talked about it for a long time. We’ve been friends for a long time; we used to live together in Portland. We took a long time talking about it, but then we finally did it together. It took us along this magic journey. It’s been pretty good so far.
What have some of the highlights been?
Oh boy. This might be a five minute pause because it was too good of times. Tuscan, we had a fun night. We played a nice, raunchy DIY space. South by Southwest was cool. We only played one show, but it was really good. New York, we played two shows. The first one was really bad, but the second one, we came back and it was a good redeemer. I have a bunch of fireworks I can’t wait to light off.
Where are you going to light the fireworks?
We’re going to Vegas tomorrow, and then Joshua tree.
The tour is ending in Joshua Tree, right? Is that where you’re going to set them off?
Yeah, I guess it depends on when the acid hits.
And you guys played South by Southwest last year, too, right?
Yeah, we did.
How did it compare?
Last year, we did more, like, scrappy shows that were cool – house parties and stuff – and that was fun. But this year, I think the band was a lot tighter and and more fun, and was relaxed and cool. Also, last time we went with our guitar player for this tour – his band is Friendless Summer. So, we were touring and sharing a van, sharing people and stuff. It was one really hectic van ride that was super fun. This year was cool; it was mellow. We only played one show. It was at sunset, so I was really into that one.
You guys are also promoting your second full length album, The Band. And you guys worked with Alex Brettin. He was the producer for some of the songs.
He helped take the songs from a reel-to-reel machine to getting them to where they were. We spent a few days at Studio G with Izak. Chris Funkle helped a little bit and even Jimmy was around. I met Alex because we played a show together one time. We got along and we both like to do the same kinds of drugs. When he was recording his album, I was there and he had me do some stuff for it, so I was trying to return the favor. His band is very next level. I was also trying to get secret tips from him, but all in all it just came down to “it is what it is,” you know? He’s playing in Oakland tonight – Mild High Club.
In an interview I read, you mentioned that writing and recording is more like keeping a diary than being in a band. For a lot of people, a journal entry should be kept private. What makes you want to divulge something so personal?
I think my friends would tell you that I can’t stay face. I’m emotional. I need to get better at hiding my emotions. I’m also kind of okay with being embarrassing to make it okay for other people. My line for awkwardness is a little skewed. I tell too much, sometimes, to strangers.
In addition to being involved with Emotional and Melted Toys, you also founded Death Records, which releases albums on cassette, and LP a little bit.
Yeah, this is our second LP, technically. We mostly do tapes.
Why do you mainly do tapes?
A lot of it has to do with these dudes. When we lived together, I saw them run a tape label. My time in Portland ran up and I was like “Fuck, I guess I’ll move back to San Francisco.” I moved to San Francisco, and I thought, “What am I gonna do?” All my friends were starting cool new bands and stuff. I needed to distract myself from other things, you know, stuff you get caught up in: drinking too much, getting your heart broken all the time, which I was really into in my younger, more vulnerable years.
But why cassettes versus vinyl?
Because you can do a million for super cheap, really quick. You can do ten different bands’ tapes – ten different separate releases – and that’s still less than the cost of one vinyl record. In that situation, you get a thousand tapes and you get three hundred records. It’s kind of just to spread it out. And I like tapes a lot. You can get a tape player for super cheap and it’s portable. You don’t have to look at a screen to use it. Before that, I was just into collecting tapes because Goodwill had them for cheap. And you can put tape on it and record on it. It’s so versatile.
I had a really great tape collection but I had to get rid of it.
I move a lot. And I had a vinyl collection, so I chose the vinyl over the tapes because I couldn’t bring it all.
Tapes are lighter.
Haha. They are! But I had to keep my vinyl. I have some good vinyl. My tape collection wasn’t as great. I did keep most of my mix tapes from my friends.
That would be messed up if you threw out your mix tapes.
Well I’ll let you get back to your shit – keep it short.
Cool. That’s it. Sweet.