We first met Winter Break back when they were Summer Vacation at a show at the Warehouse at 12th and G (pre-VLHS). They were incredibly good, incredibly kind, and seemed to like us as much as we liked them. Over the years they have only gotten better, kinder, and hopefully like us even more? In love with their debut Winter Break LP, I hit them with a few questions and crossed my fingers that they would respond to my email…
– For those who don’t know, how was Winter Break formed?
The band started from the break up of Summer Vacation. We were a four piece then, with a second guitar, but ended the band so that we could keep playing together. This time as a three piece. Winter Break formed July of 2014 or it formed sometime in 2010 during our Summer Vacation. Both answers would be right.
– How do you think the sound has changed or evolved from Summer Vacation?
I think the biggest difference, possibly because it’s the only major one, is the lack of a second guitar. We’re writing songs as a three piece now and it’s making everything sound tighter because we’re having to carry more weight between us. Cutting out that extra instrument forces us to try to be more effective in our writing and playing. The songs that we’re writing are a continuation of what we were doing in Summer Vacation but also a fresh start for a band that’s been playing together for a few years now.
– Besides the music, have the lyrical themes changed at all from SV to the Winter Break s/t?
I think many of the lyrical themes are similar but slightly different in tone. Depending on what I’m at emotionally, mentally, etc, recurring themes will be unique to how I felt at the moment of writing them. I was younger when we wrote Summer Vacation songs and many of those songs of anger and frustration are more nihilistic in nature than the songs I get to sing now in Winter Break. Many songs we play now are still songs of anger and frustration but they feel more optimistic to me because of it’s intent. I’m still venting but songs now also serve me as reminders. I need to remind myself of what I’ve been through and where I want to go. If there’s anything new that I feel has been introduced to our songs, it would be that feeling of optimism.
– What is the writing process like for you guys? Is there a primary song writer / do you collab / do you guys jam?
More than half of the time I’ll write the skeleton and then I’ll flesh it out with Aaron and Matt at practice. Sometimes things have to go through a process. Sometimes the song is already finished after a couple of practices. The other way we write songs is to work off guitar riffs or groovy basslines. From there we’ll jam out a few parts and I’ll throw some lyrics I have on hand over ’em. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s terrible. We like to try a lot of different things while not trying to be overfocused on coming up with “awesome parts”. I think both ways of writing have gave us equally good songs in the past so we switch it up.
– What is the state of the punk / diy scene in Southern California, and where does Winter Break and VLHS lie in it all?
I think the Southern California DIY scenes are thriving. Winter Break is lucky because we can play pop punk shows and hardcore shows and most things inbetween and surrounding that. We do play pop punk music but I think our relationship with DIY music in Southern Calfifornia determines our scene more than our sound. Because of that, we get to play with many different sounding bands. VLHS is one of my favorite spaces to see and play music. It’s sort of like the “testing grounds” for us. If we want to play a new song for the first time or try some different gear configuration and it works at VLHS, it’ll work anywhere. Tim and all their regular volunteers there have worked their asses off to make it a great place for shows and I commend them for that. I think the shows at VLHS do inspire a lot of people to get involved in the type of scene we are.
– After you’ve recorded an album, what is the process like for you guys to promote and support it? Are there any punk/diy ethics that you consider when making band decisions?
Almost all of the behind the scenes work has been done by Aaron. He does a good job and works hard for our modest little band. We recorded the album in August of 2014 and I don’t think we talked about promotion until about early springtime when the record process was speeding up. The only ethic I think we rely on when making band decisions is listening to each other. It can’t work if we’re not communicating.
– Hey Marc, what’s up with KYEO Speaks?
I’m helping to release a 7″ record for my friends in Caust, a Virginian screamo band. It’s their first release in a couple of years and also a split release supported by friends (multiple labels). Hopefully it’s out in the fall. The other record I’m working on now is for Ten Thousand Leagues, a screamo band I play in. It’ll be an LP and will likely be out next year. The Ten Thousand Leagues record has been in the works for about three years now. I’m very excited for that one. As for a KYEO Speaks zine, the itch isn’t there yet but there might be one out before the year is over. It’d be nice to do at least one zine this year.
– Hey Aaron, what’s on the horizon for Lauren Records?
Upset’s ’76 EP will be coming out on 10″ later this year, it was released on cassette a couple months ago. I’m also releasing this older album on vinyl, “Every Town Needs A Cowboy” by Walter Mitty & His Makeshift Orchestra. They’re pretty famous.
– Hey Matt, how much can you deadlift now / what’s up with Settling?
I dropped down to 345lbs. Not really going for strength at the moment. As for Settling, we’re doing a west coast tour with Great Hart from San Francisco to SoCal and finishing in San Jose, we have upcoming plans for a split with Koi from San Jose, we’re working on a couple of songs for a full length in the long run. Just taking it step by step.
– And what is in the future for Winter Break?