San Diego’s Squarecrow released their new album “Rammi Jamms” in May of 2016 and aren’t slowing down anytime soon. We spoke with Todd Allen about what they have planned for the future. Make sure you catch them live Saturday January 7th at Til-Two Club.
Urban Dictionary told me Squarecrow means “Lame, annoying, repetitive people, who talk you to death about the most boring of topics.” Listening to your latest release “Rammi Jamms” and seeing a few of your shows that doesn’t seem to be accurate. How would you define Squarecrow?
I have seen that definition and actually love it. We all share a sort of self-deprecating humor, so that fits perfectly. Kevin Rettie has helped us create a comic about the fictitious creation of the band name. It will be available with the vinyl pre-orders through Swamp Cabbage Records and at our vinyl release show.
Everyone in Squarecrow has a history growing up in Ramona, does that small town / rural vibe stereotype influence your music?
The town has definitely influenced the music. It’s a very small musical community in Ramona. Everyone played shows together, everyone influenced everyone. I knew of Kevin and Dan’s other bands when I was first learning how to play guitar. They both directly influenced me. I think, in that way, the small town sort of thing put our band together. Our old album, ‘Oh, Ramona’ was meant as just a cover EP to play some old, now (mostly) defunct Ramona band’s songs. We ended up putting some originals on it, but from the title of the album to the tracks, it was all Ramona influenced.
It hasn’t been that long since Kevin moved back from Florida. Was “Rammi Jamms” in the process while he was there or did it all come together when he got back?
A large part of Rammi Jamms was actually written while I was in Virginia, Kevin was in Florida, and Dan was here in San Diego. We would record and send ideas back and forth till we had some sort of a structure. When we were all back in the same city, that definitely made fine tuning all the songs easier.
Shout out time…where did you guys record / mix / master the album?
The entire album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Afterhours Studio in Ramona, CA. We had some help with mixing and mastering from Jon Hasz (Ramona Music Center) and Kenny Hill (The Blackjackits / AK) helped engineer during the recording process.
Was all the above a lengthy process or did it come together fairly quick?
It was one thing after the other, trying to meet certain personal deadlines. I couldn’t be happier with that though, because of how it turned out. The imperfections that I would usually nitpick and smooth out have become what I love about the album. No pitch correction, no 13 guitar tracks, no fifty thousand didgeridoos, no vocal doubling.. We wanted it to sound like us.
How does writing lyrics and music between the three of you work out? Is it a collaborative process or is there one main influencer?
Kevin and I were lucky enough, or unlucky enough to be in similar headspaces during some of the song writing. That way, he was just able to add and compliment the song so much with the words that I had written. I think the best example is ‘Recipient’. We were all on the fence about that song making it on the album till we heard Kevin finally add his lyrics and vocals.
Last year you guys went on a West Coast Tour. What were the Highs and the Lows?
Once we made our way up to the Pacific Northwest, it was just like going home. We are lucky enough to know several people there and play with our favorite bands up there. Fools Rush, 48 Thrills and Four Lights all consist of those amazing people. Every time you turn around, you can’t help but have a huge smile on your face when you see someone else that you only get to hang out with a few times a year. It really is incredible. Then there is Arizona. (Sidenote: we didn’t go through Yuma this time, which is the best part of Arizona)
Who are some up and coming lesser known San Diego bands that everyone needs to hear?
AK is a name that no one knows yet, but they will soon. The band has Amanda from Viva Apollo and Kenny from The Blackjackits. It’s amazing. Everyone will soon hear Ash Williams the way that they are supposed to be heard with their album that should be out this coming year. Their songs consistently are stuck in my head.
After people read this and want to buy you a drink at your next show what do they get…
Daniel…anything with whiskey and a tiny umbrella.
Kevin…probably Miller Light or Pabst.
Todd… the most expensive water at Tower Bar.
What are the plans for the future…more touring, new music?
The most important thing that is coming up is the vinyl record release on Saturday, January 7th. I worked hard to get this all set up. It’s being released through Swamp Cabbage Records (Orlando), Bomb Pop Records (Seattle), Did I Stutter Records (Victorville), Def Cow Records (Oakland), La Escalera Records (San Diego). All these labels were incredible and very kind to be involved in getting it pressed on vinyl.
We have about ten shows coming up for just January and February, weekenders with Four Lights in the Pacific Northwest and up to the Bay Area with Tiltwheel, and some local shows. We are currently writing and planning to record for a split, then soon demoing for a full length.
Thanks Todd for taking the time and talking about Squarecrow!
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Interview by Ryan