The four members that make up the post-hardcore band XY Spaces are no strangers to making a scene wherever they go. Hailing from Decatur, Alabama where the hardcore/punk community support has “ebbed and flowed” as compared to the slow, southern country music most people envision comes from Alabama. “We have played many shows where people look at us like we’re fucking monsters. When we play, my stage presence is a little hammy and somtimes people just don’t get it,” reflects lead singer Brady Lett.
I got to talk on the phone with Lett and guitarist, Jonathan Ransom for a bit to talk about the band, the scene, and their newest album, The Conductor’s Fatal Bow.
How did you meet?
Brady: We all knew each other from middle school/high school. Our guitarist and bassist had been playing music together for years. I couldn’t really play an instrument at the time that we started up, I just wanted to yell. I had showed Joe, our bassist, the band Ceremony, and had been trying to get him to start a band like that with me. We met up with Jonathan one day and started making music together, and have been doing it ever since. Didn’t ever really sound too much like Ceremony, but it probably worked out for the best.
What’s the hardcore scene like in Decatur?
Brady: It’s changed a good bit since 2010 when I first started getting involved, but I’ve always liked it. As far as a hardcore scene, there are a lot of mid level hardcore bands that come through right now. There’s a lot of touring hardcore bands that come through, but only a handful or so of local hardcore bands. There’s a good bit of variety in our scene, when we first started, our drummer was playing in a funk band, and another band in the scene played alt-country type stuff. There’s a good bit of indie/alt-rock bands in North Alabama, probably a little more so than hardcore.
As far as our support, it’s ebbed and flowed. We’ve played many shows where people look at us like we’re fucking monsters. When we play, my stage presence is usually very hammy, it’s just kinda our shtick, and the people that don’t get it seem to not know what to think about us. It’s been better, it’s been worse. Right now we’ve got a new venue after not having one for a bit, and shows are kind of picking back up a little bit. I’m proud of how resilient things are around here in Decatur. We usually don’t go too long without having a venue.
Have you gone on tour or are you planning to promote the new album?
Brady: We’ve been on a few tours before, like a good bit of 3-5 day runs, a couple that were a week long. We started in 2011 when I was 15 and the guys were 17, and we didn’t even think about touring until 2014. I think we might not try again ’til March 2018 or so. It takes a lot to drop everything and go for it; I definitely praise those who do.
How does the songwriting process go?
Jonathan: I usually come up with the riffs on my own on my acoustic. I take out my phone and record it because I will forget it if I don’t. I think about it for a while, expand on it, and then look back and see if I wrote riffs of a similar vein. I put things together, and sometimes it works that way. You never know. I take it to the drummer, and then the bass player and then we all put it together.
Brady: Originally I just wanted to yell, so I didn’t really try to write good lyrics at first. At a certain point I was like “man, we really need something with substance in that department.” I always liked writing, but it wasn’t really until later on that I actually tried to write things that didn’t suck. Hopefully people read them now and think that they required a little thought.
I like the writing style of Every Time I Die and snarky stuff like The Dismemberment Plan and KEN Mode. I’m also pretty influenced by mewithoutYou. A lot of the lyrics are pretty vague. I imagine people have a hard time pinpointing exactly what they mean, and I like it that way. The more vague the lyrics are, the more personal the song is usually. It’s a really cathartic thing for me to get all that stuff out there without totally giving away what it’s about.
Lucas Smith produced your album. How did you come about him and what is his experience with hardcore music?
Brady: Lucas Smith is a good friend of ours in Northeast Alabama. His studio is far enough out there to where it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. He does a lot recording for commercials and has been doing it for a handful of years now and has done a good bit of bands. We went to him because we had been hearing about how his work was really good. He’s done a few heavy bands, including his own band, Headwires, who reminds me of The Bronx. He’s always doing something interesting like recording Sacred Harp chorus singing, R&B bands, etc. He’s all over the place but does great work.
What is your biggest hope for X.Y. Spaces?
Brady: I look up to bands like Every Time I Die and mewithoutYou. Each time I go see those bands, people are fucking in love with them and losing their shit. If people were to ever care about what we do half as much, I’d be really happy. Music is immortal once it goes up on the internet, unless we encounter some internet apocalypse soon, and I just want to put my tiny stamp on the world with the really unique music that we’ve made together, as it’ll live on forever. I want to see what would happen if our music spreads and catches a large amount of people’s attention and hits them at the right time, ’cause if it does, I have a feeling that a lot of people will love it the same way that I love our music; the same way that I love the music of those aforementioned bands that I look up to.
Judie Vegh likes to believe she knows how to use a camera. You can find her at a show in Cleveland or within a 4 hour radius thereof, and posting reviews and interviews on BGM way past its deadline.