Cymbals Eat Guitars, a rock band from Staten Island, will bless Penn with its presence tomorrow night.For those of you who couldn’t get enough of what they had to say in the magazine, here’s an extended version of the interview. Be sure not to miss the show (Friday at 8 p.m. at The Rotunda).
Street: Do you prefer the sound of your music live or in the studio?
Cymbals Eat Guitars: We like both for different reasons. I would say each one is half of our job as a band. As far as playing goes, they are radically different experiences. Live playing has a lot more physicality and adrenaline involved. Playing in a studio has different pressures and expectations and is overall a more thoughtful, less visceral experience.
Street: Many reviews of Why There Are Mountains praised its sound for being unique while still pulling inspiration for other music. Who do you cite as influences?
CEG: We like a lot of different music. We get a lot of comparisons to 90’s indie bands, but I think that’s just what people think we sound like. We find inspiration from all kinds of music…random songs on the radio, or a song that we like from a band we have toured with or even a recent record that we really like.
Street: Reviewers have compared your songs to vast, sloping mountains. Is this at all how you picture them?
CEG: Nope. They’re pretty much just songs with parts and other parts. Sometimes we call certain parts “the chorus” when really they’re more of a bridge or a pre-chorus. But they’re just songs. Not mountains.
Street: Where does the name “Cymbals Eat Guitars” come from?
CEG: We were on mushrooms one day at Joe’s house and had been playing Pac Man for like 8 hours. It was totally intense. We were living the experience of being Pac Man. After a considerable time had passed with nothing but the blaring bleeps and bloops of the waking dream video game reality, Matt blurted out “Cymbals Eat Guitars”. It sounded so cool that we all snapped out of it, and we weren’t playing Pac Man at all. We were in the kitchen eating Doritos and it had only been like fifteen minutes.
Street: When did you form? And under what circumstances? When did you transition from a hobby to a full-fledged band?
CEG: We formed in October 2009. We got booked for CMJ that year and our manager was like “This is it, dudes. Either you’re in, or you’re out. This is not a game. You think this is a game? Is this a hobby to you? Thinking caps ON, gentlemen.” And we thought about it and decided at that point to become a full-fledged band.
Street: How was it touring with such a high-intensity band like The Thermals?
Street: What’s next for the band after this tour?
CEG: We’re not really on tour right now. We’ve been writing our second record in a basement in New Jersey. It will be ready to record soon.
Street: Your lyrics are at times really sad, but the music rarely matches this mood. What’s with the cognitive dissonance?
CEG: I think that’s a characteristic of a whole lot of pop music. Content doesn’t always have to dictate form. Most people at most times in their lives aren’t entirely sad to the core of their being even when they’re sad, or entirely longing for something they want or need but don’t have, even if they do feel that longing. I don’t really see sad lyrics paired with happier sounding music as a cognitive dissonance, but as a dynamic I feel like it’s a more realistic portrayal of human emotion.
Street: You recently played a benefit for Project Matters. What moved you to play for the concert?
CEG: The Project Matters is an non-profit organization that was set up in the memory of one of Joe’s best friends who passed away a few years ago. He was an amazing songwriter and musician and had an excellent band called Green Arrows. The organization gives guidance and financial support to young New Jersey-based musicians.