It’s been two years since indie power-pop band The ACBs released Little Leaves, the criminally underrated follow-up to the promising Stona Rosa. The Overdub got a chance to chat with members of the band about what they’re cooking up for 2015, the inspiration behind Little Leaves, and taking mushrooms in Pennsylvania. They were even kind enough of to let us hear a demo from their new album!
It’s been over two years since Little Leaves was released, what have you been up to?
Konnor: I’ve been playing in a band called Shy Boys. We’ve been touring and putting music out for the last year or so.
We (ACBs) haven’t played a ton of shows since touring for Little Leaves, but we’ve been getting together pretty often to work on new songs.
What’s your song writing process like?
Konnor: I record ideas I have on my phone or recorder. It’s usually just a melody. When I’m actually at home and in the mood to work on stuff, I’ll listen to some of the voice memos, and if something stands out, I’ll tinker with it. I demo lots of stuff on my laptop and send them to the band. If they like something, we’ll work on it together from there.
I read that the album title “Little Leaves” was inspired by solitude and Konnor’s job as a landscaper. Can you give me some more insight on the inspiration behind the songwriting on Little Leaves?
Konnor: Yes, I work as a landscaper, and I mostly work alone. In the fall, work slows down and the only thing left to do is clean up leaves.
My method is to blow/rake the leaves into big piles, then run over the leaf pile multiple times with a big mower, in a circular pattern, to mulch them up into a smaller pile of shredded leaves to be loaded onto my truck or trailer. As far as I know, this is a pretty standard method for leaf removal.
At a certain point of the fall season, it starts to feel a little extra lonely out there. It gets colder and more quite outside. Work slows down too, so this is when I’m usually working on songs the most.
I associate a lot of the songs on the album with the fall season. And when I think about the fall season, I picture those crushed-up leaves.
Can we expect a follow-up album in 2015?
Konnor: Yeah, we’ve been putting together songs and we’re pretty close. I guess one good thing about our lack of success is we feel no pressure to put something out fast. I wouldn’t rush things for the sake of staying relevant. The ultimate goal is to make something as good as it can be.
But the short answer is yes, we should have something out in 2015.
What is the inspiration behind the lyrics “glue diet, nobody wants to try it” on the song “Glue Diet?
Konnor: The track is a demo of a song that’s going to be on the next album. There’s an album worth of demos, and we’re now in the process figuring out how to play and record the songs as a band.
Lyrically, it’s just a silly song about keeping to a light amount of drugs, and not going too far with anything.
How similar is this to what we can expect on your next album, lyrically and musically?
Konnor: There probably won’t be many songs with bongos in them, but this is generally the tone of the next album. I’m thinking it will be more groovy and less guitar-driven.
It took some digging but I finally found your first self-titled album on your old Myspace, I was pretty amazed by the change in sound between then and Little Leaves. Can we expect a change in direction, as far as sound goes, on your next record?
Konnor: I’m pleased to hear that Myspace is still up and running.
We started off as kind of a power-pop band. It’s sometimes painful to listen to those old songs, specifically because of the way I sang them on the recordings. I was really pushing my voice, and trying hard not to sound nasally. Our second album was a little more relaxed, and Little Leaves was even more relaxed, at least vocally.
The goal for me is to take the “performance” out of things.
I don’t want to make two albums that sound the same, so the next one will probably be pretty different.
Kansas City is the city with the second most fountains in the world. Did you know that?
Konnor: I used to hear that a lot growing up. I guess it’s true? It could be that most cities simply aren’t vying for that title.
Konnor: That’s Bryan, wearing a Lord of The Beer shirt. The guy in the Gandalf outfit is a friend of ours – not actually in the band. I don’t know why I made it our Facebook profile pic, but it always brings me joy.
Any interesting or amusing tour stories?
Bryan: (sober account of events): There was one pretty hilarious adventure that happened to us between shows in Louisville and Philadelphia last summer. We had an afternoon to kill and were looking for a natural spring a little bit southeast of Pittsburgh so we could swim and chill out. We also had the idea to eat some mushrooms beforehand to make the trip that much better. I volunteered to drive so I was sober as a mule and really enjoying the scenic drive we took to get to the swimming hole. After a couple of wrong turns, we eventually figured out the directions via internet message board instruction and found a couple of other cars parked by a railroad track next to a shallow creek bed.
The instructions, again, I think they were from various internet sites purporting to be experts in Pennsylvania’s natural watering hole locations, advised us to follow the train tracks across the creek bed and eventually you would find a nice watering hole. Now, the train track basically acted as a bridge over the creek bed and I would say it was about three stories high and maybe 200 feet from where we parked our van to the opposite side. As we started on our way, some kids were coming back towards us having completed the same activity we were attempting. They were real nice and gave us a vague idea of where we needed to go to find the best place to swim. I remember one of us asking whether or not any trains ever cross and one of the kids advised, simply, ‘no’.
At this point, I believe the mushrooms had kicked in for everyone so we were all in a great mood and looking forward to the swim. As we continued on the tracks for about 15 minutes, the only negative was all of the trash we encountered, pointing to the popularity of the spot and a seemingly strong Juggalo vibe. Lots of Faygo lying about. Faygo or no, we would not be deterred in getting our swim on so eventually we found a small fall where the water was about crotch high and the current was strong. Everyone grabbed a spot so as to not get swept away and we had a nice little hang even though swimming was now out of the question.
About a half hour after we had found our spot, it started raining which added to the experience. I really enjoy driving through Pennsylvania and encourage anyone to explore the countryside if you have a chance. It started getting dark because of the cloud cover so we started heading back in what was now just a light drizzle. Some fog had also set in which made the walk kind of surreal and limited visibility to probably 50 feet or so. We were having a ball, refreshed, relaxed and feeling good.
Finally we came upon the bridge with our van sitting across the way, which was a relief as all of our gear was inside. About half way across, we all had to stop just to take in the sheer beauty of our surroundings. Kyle, our drummer, decided to take a picture and as we huddled together so that he could get us all in the frame, a train whistle sounded. What I remember first was seeing the reflection of the light hit the rocks as the train was rounding the bend in the tracks. We were in the absolute worst spot as we had stopped exactly in the middle of the tracks to take in the view. The next thing I saw was the smoke billowing over the tree cover and seconds later, you could make out the train coming our way. From the get-go, I had the sense that we had enough time to make it back to the side from which we came so I remember ordering everyone back that way saying only “Go, Go, Go, Go!”. Again, we’re running across tracks that are a sheer drops down to very shallow water on both sides. To add to the degree of difficulty, the space in between single wood tracks was such that you couldn’t easily step on one after the other in a regular running motion. Even still, I thought we could make it without having to jump a la ‘Stand By Me’ and risk a broken leg or pull a ‘Lost Boys’ and hang over the edge while the train passed overhead.
I think I was the first to make it and Konnor and Kyle were close behind. The next closest guy was Ross and I’d say he was 10 feet from the end when he tripped and bought it. Kyle immediately ran out to help him which earns him the Medal of Honor in this story. Both guys were back but Andrew was still a ways out due to the fact that he, perhaps wisely, elected to run on the outside of the track in case he needed to jump. I felt that he still had a good 20 seconds before the train would catch up to him and we all cheered him on saying there was no problem…he was going to make it. He did make it and once the train passed, we all just started laughing maniacally.
I drove home and once we got to a gas station by the motel we were crashing at that night, I couldn’t stop shaking my hands for about 15 minutes as the adrenaline had finally caught up to me. My wife was pretty pissed that I told her about it then instead of waiting until after the tour. I think we watched ‘Grown Ups’ that night. It was as awful as we imagined it would be.
Konnor: (non-sober account of events): Yeah, we all almost died once on a bridge somewhere in Pennsylvania.
We had an open date coming back from the east coast, so our idea was to take mushrooms and find a place to swim. We found an online map to a swimming hole somewhere in Pennsylvania and went on kind of an adventure.
It was hard to find, and the only way to get to the creek was to walk across this scary bridge. It was pretty high up, and it was just train tracks, so there was a wide separation between the railroad ties. You had to carefully walk across while looking straight down at the rocks below.
We had a great time in the water, and after a while it started getting kind of dark, so we started heading back. It suddenly started raining pretty hard, and it was actually kind of nice since we were already wet. The rain finished just as we neared the bridge, and it was a beautiful sight. It was super foggy and we were feeling fine.
We got about halfway across the bridge and Kyle wanted to get a selfie taken of all of us to capture the moment. We all got together to take the picture when we suddenly heard a loud horn. It took a second for the gravity of the situation to sink in. There was a second horn, and the light of a train cut through the fog. It was terrifying.
Bryan, the only one that hadn’t eaten mushrooms, made the call and shouted for us all to run the way we came, as the train barreled toward us. We all had to run on this train track bridge, which was kind of hard to do. Ross actually fell down and Kyle or somebody ran back to help him up. Andrew was the last to make it to safety, I think. He was running on the outside of the tracks preparing to jump I guess. We all made it safe, but it was pretty close.
I know this sounds exactly like the scene in Stand By Me, but it is actually what happened and it was very scary.