Who knew that the same kids who played in your small high school theater would one day play sold out shows at some of the most popular venues across the country?
San Diego-based rock band, The Frights, have blown up the music scene with their new sound and unique, DIY music videos that are reminiscent of, whatInterview Magazine calls, “the intersection of Keith Haring's artworks and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo”. Their uncontrollably large personalities and intoxicating stage presence can only be matched - or maybe even challenged - by that of their dedicated fans, which I got to see first hand at their sold-out show at NYC's Webster Hall.
With their first nation-wide tour alongside SWMRS and the release of their latest album, You Are Going to Hate This (produced by Zac Carper), The Frights have had their plates full and we haven’t even made it halfway through this year yet! Luckily, I was able to catch up with them in their rehearsal space in San Diego to chat about their new shift in sound, desires to work with Kanye, strange encounters with RiFF RAFF (and his neon Air Jordans) at Beach Goth, and, of course, the ever so inspirational *Marc Finn on the mother fucking drums*.
POND: How did The Frights form?
MIKEY CARNEVALE: Me and this other guy started this band - well - a band after high school and then he went to college and all my other friends went to college and we wanted to do a show with that same style so I was like let’s do a fun little surf punk show. Like, “Hey Richard,” - me and Richard were in a band at the time - “Do you want to play a show as well?” and he was like “Yes, I play bass,” so we did that and for whatever reason, it took off really fast and then kicked that guy out, got Marc in and brought Ryan on to play guitar, because Ryan was playing drums for us while we were waiting for Marc to get back from Boston, from school. So it all came together like sweet bliss; a beautiful fairytale of The Frights.
POND: You guys are all from San Diego; what is it about the San Diego music scene that makes it unique and how do you think you fit into it?
RICHARD DOTSON: Originally we didn’t fit in, or at least I didn’t feel like we fit in.
CARNEVALE: I still don’t feel like we fit in in San Diego. San Diego has a really, really strange music scene. We have a huge bar scene so when we first started when we were 18, we’d play bars, but they kicked us out immediately after. As weird as it is, there’s a lot of older bands that kind of just play bars, and they all play shows together. And then all of a sudden, Burger hit San Diego and [all] of these fucking Burger bands - sorry if I can’t curse - but fuck it, all of these fucking Burger bands started sprouting up and became this huge kind of thing and everybody started playing the Chez Cafe again and it was cool to play underground places. Like fuck SOMA, they’re run by the man... And then it just kinda became this clique where all the bands were playing the same shows and we definitely didn’t fit into that; it was just a weird scene... I don’t really know what the fuck is going on in San Diego.
MARC FINN: I compare it a lot to some east coast places like Boston and New York where I’ve visited and where there’s a really established hierarchy which in some ways is good, but in other ways kinda sucks because you have to do what everyone else is doing. San Diego is pretty much like the wild west, wide open and stuff.
CARNEVALE: Yeah the wild west of rich suburban kids starting punk bands.
DOTSON: It’s kind of like "The Wild Wild West" starring Will Smith.
CARNEVALE: Hahaha a bunch of kids who don’t wear deodorant and start surf punk bands.
DOTSON: Yeah...Stevie Wonder is a big influence, what question are we on again?
Marc Finn, drummer
Ryan Ward, guitarist
Mikey Carnevale, singer & guitarist
Richard Dotson, bassist
POND: If you could collaborate with, work with, or tour with anyone, who would it be?
DOTSON: Like a band? Or in any capacity?
RYAN WARD: Taylor Swift.
DOTSON: What kind of collaboration? Musical?
WARD: Both. I mean if she’s into it.
THE FRIGHTS: *laughs*
FINN: On the singular “real”....
DOTSON: The Under the Sun tour - there’s a tour every year, it’s kind of a fluctuating collection of bands but last year or the year before, it was Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Blue’s Traveller, Everclear, 311? What’s that band that does “Amber”?
DOTSON: Yeah, 311. Anyways, the pinnacle of that “California good good."
CARNEVALE: It really is! If there was such a thing as a “California band," it has to be all the bands on that tour. That’s California.
FINN: They should form a super group.
CARNEVALE: For better or worse, that’s California. Um yeah, I think that would be good. I think a collaboration with Kanye would be great.
DOTSON: I’d be scared, I’d be intimidated.
CARNEVALE: I mean you just sit back and let him do his thing, and we kind of you know - “What do you wanna do, Kanye?” That’d be cool.
WARD: All of the Smith children.
CARNEVALE: Oh like Will Smith and Jaden Smith?
DOTSON: They’re certifiable geniuses. They would bring us to the next level.
FINN: Jaden Smith is an incredible rapper.
DOTSON: His Instagram is really good too, have you seen his Instagram? He will post - I mean like - I’m not gonna try to describe it, I’m not gonna do a good job of it. It’s very aesthetically pleasing if you look at his page and not as his individual posts as they come up in your feed.
POND: You have a new album out, what was writing that like? What was the process that went into making the album?
CARNEVALE: It was very exhausting, but very fun. It’s very different from anything we’ve put out before. Zac produced it, from FIDLAR. We went up [to the recording studio] pretty much every weekend and took a total of four months going up on the weekends and stuff. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done in our opinion for sure. We called it You are Going to Hate This because it’s kinda like -
DOTSON: It’s a departure.
CARNEVALE: Yeah, our scene is very judgmental you know. Kids are very underground and -
DOTSON: Loyal to a specific sound.
CARNEVALE: Yeah, it’s like, “Oh, it’s gonna be that good fucking lo-fi,” like well, the only reason that sounded that way before was because we couldn’t afford to sound better. And you know, it was cool to sound that way like, “Yeah, let’s record a tape! And now give me some fucking reverb! You got a reverb machine?! Cool!” We all have this stupid shit that like doesn’t - well - looking back on it, it’s all insecurities. Reverb is a huge insecurity regardless of who tells you what. It’s an insecurity of your voice and how you play guitar. This time Zac was like, “Nope. No reverb!” and it was really hard. It was like, “What do you mean no reverb?! We’re The fuckin’ Frights, dude! We have huge insecurities about ourselves.”
The writing process was also different because pretty much the whole first record was written in the studio. Before, we wrote the songs; you know, we’d have a song, jam on it, and then I’d make up words. This time, I wrote the song, did demos of the song, sent them to Zac, feedback, and then went in. We weren’t prepared. And even now, next time we do a record, I’d wanna be even more prepared because even so, we had the songs prepared but when we went in, it was still like, “Alright, let’s fuck around with it,” and we were adding shit onto it as it came together. It would be nice to take even more time than we did this time. It’s definitely different. Some people will hate it, some people will like it.
DOTSON: I think this record is what we’ve always wanted to sound like but never were really able to sound like and I’m afraid that some people are really gonna be confused by how different it sounds from what we’ve released in the past but in reality, this is - I think - truer to what we want to sound like as a band than anything.
FINN: One of my favorite things and what really helped set this record on this path was when we brought these songs in for the first couple of days with Zac and we listened to all the demos and started doing the basic tracks and stuff, we would just change everything just because it was another way to do it. Like we would have some suggestions on a whole new vibe or way to treat this song and it would sound completely different from the demos, like that kind of process; not being afraid to not sound like us was really helpful with that.
CARNEVALE: Another thing that people should understand about sounding different is that, our first record, I wrote those songs when I was 18. It’s like, I’m not 18, I’m not fresh outta high school thinking about my girlfriend who was in college and I broke up with her for 2 years. This is a different time. So it’s like, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to fucking change. It’s like we could do the same thing but that would be so boring! I could easily give you Frights 2; if you want Frights 2, we’ll make Frights 2 for you but it’s boring as fuck!
FINN: There’s no reason to do what we’ve done before.
CARNEVALE: I get angry about this sometimes. I’m sitting at home like, “Those mother fuckers don’t want me to change… *continues to mumble angrily*....”
DOTSON: It’s all internal though because we don’t know if anybody hates it or not! We just project onto people “You are going to hate this”, I mean we called it that - You are Going to Hate This.
CARNEVALE: Well we ran into a kid at Guitar Center today and he heard the first single and was like, “You are going to hate this. I think you’re right. I think I’m gonna hate it.”
DOTSON: Was that a joke?
CARNEVALE: I don’t know if it was a joke.
DOTSON: It sounded like a joke to me.
CARNEVALE: I mean he could be. He just said he didn’t like that record. Regardless -
DOTSON: EVERYONE’S AGAINST US, DON’T YOU GET IT?
WARD: Can’t hear the haters.
POND: What’s your favorite song on the album?
FINN: I mean, I like all of them. I think “Of Age." It’s the last song on the record.
WARD: I was also gonna say “Of Age”.
CARNEVALE: Definitely mine too.
FINN: Or “Afraid of the Dark”.
WARD: That was gonna be my second.
FINN: ["Of Age" is] really a diss track.
CARNEVALE: It’s pretty much a diss track. I like that song a lot.
DOTSON: I like that song too, but I’m gonna say “Tungs”. Not to be the dissenting opinion but I think it’s a fun little tropical fiesta. Upbeat. It’s the “Cali good good” for sure.
CARNEVALE: Oddly enough, the old songs on the record are the ones I’m most scared of people hating.
DOTSON: Yeah me too.
CARNEVALE: I’m most scared about people hating “Tungs” and people hating “Puppy Knuckles”. “Kids”, I’m not worried about people hating. But “Puppy Knuckles” and “Tungs” I’m pretty worried about.”
FINN: “Puppy Knuckles” represents just how far we’re going into new directions and stuff. It’s the point of the record where you’re gonna make your decision if you like or hate what we’re doing. It’s pretty cool. I like it for what it’s worth.
POND: What is the weirdest thing to ever happen to you guys on tour or at a show?
THE FRIGHTS: *long silence*
DOTSON: We’re pretty fucking boring…
WARD: I accidentally flipped off two people I thought were Sam and Ryan -
THE FRIGHTS: *all start talking at once about Ryan almost getting his ass kicked and fearing for his life*
FINN: I was so scared that he was gonna get like killed.
WARD: I thought I was gonna wake up with my tongue cut out.
DOTSON: We were walking from our van to our hotel room in Santa Cruz and there were these two guys on this balcony and we thought it was Mikey’s brother Sam and another person of our posse and as we were walking, what did you even say to them?
WARD: I didn’t say anything! I was just walking and flipping them off!
THE FRIGHTS: *all start flipping off each other*
DOTSON: And you hear a really gruff voice like, “You got a problem, bro?!”
WARD: I was instantly sober. Like, “Holy shit. That’s not Sam….”
DOTSON: They were tough looking guys too!
CARNEVALE: Richard puked a lot on his 21st birthday.
FINN: That was fun.
DOTSON: Uh huh.
CARNEVALE: That’s about the whole story right there.