We jumped on Zoom with the pop-punkers in Keep Your Secrets! We talked being Fall Out Boy fanatics, favorite gear, and whether pop punk is dead or being revived.
Go-to gas station order?
Matt: My go-to gas station order would be one 16oz hot coffee with a thimble-sized container of half and half with a dash of cinnamon as well as one stale Krispy Kreme donut inside one unnecessarily large donut box because they ran out of bags. And also one cheese stick.
Malerie: I’m a little under the weather, and it might be because of a gas station order. It used to be one of those taquitos that are on the rollers, and I think I played myself because I feel terrible today. I think I’m gonna go back to my old-school order from when I was six, which is just a Cherry Coke Slurpee.
How did you and your bandmates meet?
Matt: Malerie and I went to undergrad together. Fun fact, I actually had a different pop-punk band back then called Say Your Name. We used to play a lot of basement shows. A good friend of mine, Kenny, she had a concert series where one band would choose an artist outside of their genre and only play covers of that band. We did New Found Glory’s version of “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic, and we asked Malerie to do the vocals from that one song. We have not publicly revealed this yet, but the other band members are Malerie’s coworkers.
One of your covers is of a lesser-known Fall Out Boy bonus track called “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out.” As fellow Fall Out Boy fans, who’s your favorite member and why?
Matt: I don’t want to be one of those straight guys that says no homo or something, because that’s not my intention, but my favorite member is Pete Wentz because I think he’s hot. Well my favorite member is actually Andy Hurley because he’s the drummer like I am, but also because I got the fortunate chance to see his vegan anarchist hardcore straightedge band at a tiny venue called Mojo’s, but I think it went out of business because of coronavirus. One of our band members had a different band that had a chance to open for Sect, and Andy Hurley said “Good set.”
Malerie: My favorite member is Patrick. Usually people go for the frontman, but with Fall Out Boy it’s always Pete. But Patrick’s vocals are just killer. His range is wild. Usually people try to emulate people of the same gender, but for me it’s always been Patrick Stump. Like “America’s Suitehearts”? I just love his vocals. When they came back all together, I saw them at a really small show before they blew up when they all came back. It was outside in a yard, and they used to finish every show with “Saturday.” And when Pete was doing his scream-thing, he went out into the crowd and all of these girls were all over him, and I was like, “I’m gonna hang out with Patrick and see what’s up.” And we had a moment, cause all the other girls were with Pete. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It was small, but it was meaningful.
So, you only have covers out so far, but you mentioned in your most recent cover of “Therefore I Am” that you’re writing original music. How has that been going, and is there anything about the process you’d like to share?
Matt: We have a six-song EP written. We’re not sure what exactly the ETA is, but we’re shooting for August. We need to work out distribution, marketing, financials, yada yada. As far as the process goes, it’s hard in quarantine. You can’t just sit down and listen to the same thing in real time and share notes with each other. It just takes more time to figure out what we wanna play exactly. We think if we work really hard, we can get it out in August, knock on wood. We’ve been open to the idea of outdoor shows, preferably socially distanced. We do want to gig in advance of the EP and after the EP, we’re just gonna have to see what’s available.
You recently posted a picture of your mic setup, what is your favorite or must-have item in your home studio?
Malerie: For me, since I’m a vocalist, my microphone is key. I use this Audio Technica right here. Sometimes I use it for work and the students are like, “Your vocal quality is podcast material!” which is kind of nice. And I’m like, “Yeah I got it just for you guys.” Because little do they know I have a band on the side. And also my dog. That’s not equipment, but my dog is key. I’ll put him in his little bed in my studio. It’s like an immediate response. If it’s bad, he’ll look up and wince at me. But if it’s pretty nice, he’ll kind of chill. He’ll sleep, sometimes he snores and I have to wake him up a little bit. His name is Boscoe. It was supposed to be Roscoe, but the shelter read it wrong and now it’s Boscoe.
Matt: My favorite gear to use is my KRK Rocket 5 Studio Monitors. They work for the genre. I’m not a corporate shill, they just sound good.
What are your non-musical influences, like books or movies?
Matt: This has nothing to do with our music at all, but when I’m sitting at my desk I have Boba Fett, BB-8, and General Hera Syndulla Funko Pops. And also, in terms of lyrics, many of our lyrics are very loosely based off our own relationship experiences.
Malerie: When I listen to pop punk, I think of Malcom in the Middle, Dude Where’s My Car, those kinds of movies and TV shows from the 2000s. Whenever I’m writing or coming up with ideas, I’ll write on my acoustic guitar and think, “OK, how can we turn this into a banger?” or a 2000s bop, in a way. I think of what I would listen to on Malcom in the Middle and Dude Where’s My Car. Or Napoleon Dynamite to be honest, that’s another one. Like, Malcom in the Middle had a lot of Sum 41 in their tracks.
Some would argue that pop punk and the culture surrounding it is “dead” compared to what it used to be. What are your thoughts on the current state of pop punk and how the culture has changed today?
Matt: In terms of whether or not pop punk is dead, I think, and I believe the rest of the band thinks, that it’s not dead, it just had a near-death experience around 2010 and it’s still on the mend. My opinion is the same as that of Finn McKenty of the Punk Rock MBA. He believes that modern pop punk is for college aged young adults, and the older pop punk was for teenagers in high school. I think that’s very accurate, and I think that that’s reflected in our lyrics and instrumentals.
Malerie: I believe that a lot of people who have started transitioning over to pop-punk, a lot of them were mainstream artists like Machine Gun Kelly. And like, Travis Barker is bringing everything back. He’s collaborating with Machine Gun Kelly, Suicideboys, everything that’s really mainstream is moving on to pop-punk and being like “Oh, okay, this is what the emo kids are up to. I get it.” And I just get really excited because I feel like a lot of mainstream artists are kind of moving over there. Even at some music award shows, mainstream artists will cover their own songs in pop punk or emo style, which is really interesting. That’s the indicator that really showed me that people are moving back to pop punk. Maybe because we’re all really sad. Everybody’s angry. We just need some heavy vibes. Covid has taken a toll on all of us. But I don’t know, I appreciate it.
What bands do you feel really paved the way for you to be where you are today?
Matt: I’d say that for me, the bands that paved the way for where we are today would be New Found Glory, one of the greatest pop-punk bands of all time. Paramore, because they’re very talented but also because they paved the way for female vocalists in pop punk, Meet Me @ the Altar, because they really smash that whole easycore thing, with the double bass and everything. MGK, because without writing the original song we would not be where we are today. Say Your Name, because Malerie and I would not have met without that band in college. And also this T-shirt I’m wearing, this band from Richmond, Virginia called Dead Format. They gave me a lot of experience in terms of conducting myself professionally in a gig setting, and they’re working on music right now that’s even better than when I was in the band. We want to go on tour with them if they have time.
Malerie: He’s not a band, but one of our friends and fellow musicians Joseph Dubay, meeting him on TikTok really paved the way. People who like his music like our style, too, which is really cool. He gave us a shoutout, which was really cool, and he’s really trying to promote female-led pop-punk bands or female-led musicians on TikTok. Him posting a TikTok got really big, out of nowhere. It had like one hundred thousand views. We were like, “What?”. I Snapchatted him and I was like, “What did you do?”. I woke up and now we have 4,000 followers on Spotify. He really did help, and he wants to set up something for us to all work together, and even go on a tour potentially if that’s something that we’re all able to do. So hopefully, if that’s something that ever comes across and we can work that out. I think that was a really generous shoutout that helped pave the way.
As per your band name, what famous person (dead or alive) would you trust to keep your secrets and why?
Matt: Right off the bat, I’m gonna say no politicians. But in terms of which famous person I trust, I choose Guy Fieri because he is too busy eating great food inspired by cuisine from around the world, and he has spiky hair to scare off all of the secret agents that might want to steal my secrets.
Malerie: To be honest, I don’t trust anyone except for Matt. But, if I had to pick, I’d probably say Snoop Dogg. Just because if I told him a secret, he might not remember it anyway. If I would tell a celebrity or anyone a secret, it would be Snoop.
Where do you hope to see yourself and the band by this time next year?
Matt: In one year, by this time, we hope to financially be able to go full-time. I don’t know how possible that is in this economy, but that would be great. I hope that we can resurrect Warped Tour, because I really want to play Warped Tour and it’s a shame that sort of basically almost died. They’re still doing individual shows in Jersey and California, but those don’t count.
Malerie: I want to be thriving and making music together, and just be happy while we’re doing it, because it’s really fun. Covid has been really hard for everyone, I think, but one thing that’s really helped me get through it is to be able to hang out and make music virtually. Being able to talk with Matt and make music and do something that’s meaningful. And now with the followers, it shows that it is meaningful and people kind of like it. I just want to still be doing it and be happy while we’re doing it, especially with adding new members. I do want our EP to be popping, I want to have views, that’s what I want to see this time next year.