Photo by Monica Sucic
Photo by Monica Sucic

Twin Cities based Remo Drive played Sonia this weekend on Saturday, September 9th, to start off the last week of their first headlining tour. Made up of lead singer and guitarist Erik Paulson, bassist Stephen Paulson, drummer Sam Mathys, and second guitarist Zack Cummings, Remo Drive has entered the emo scene with their highly-praised debut album, Greatest Hits. The album, released in March, includes their popular singles “Crash Test Rating” and “Yer Killin’ Me,” whose music video has over 800,000 views on YouTube. WTBU DJ Monica Sucic sat down with them before the show to discuss the album, music videos, and more.

Monica Sucic: Why did you pick the name Greatest Hits?

Erik Paulson: We just thought it was kind of funny, it was more of just a goof than anything. We also thought it was especially funny considering it’s our first full-length album. Then we thought we could have fun with the visual too, of us just looking very serious in turtlenecks on the front.

Sam Mathys: It’s very sarcastic… It just perfectly embodied the tone and mood of all the songs on the album because they’re all pretty snotty… to call your album Greatest Hits, I think that worked out super well… People definitely take it seriously though, and that’s really funny.

Stephen Paulson: There’s a lot of people that will be like “Wait, why would you even name your first record Greatest Hits? That’s not even creative!”

SM: “Come up with an original title!”

SP: Yeah, and we’re just like “whatever.”

MS: What were some of your biggest influences during the creation of the album?

EP: Jeff Rosenstock and PUP were two big ones for me. I just kind of piqued in my interest of their music. I still love both those bands a lot.

Zach Cummings: Jeff Rosenstock is a person.

EP: He is a person. But he has a band. I guess the band is “Death Showsenstock”. [laughter] And also records that I liked from when I was younger that I’ve continued to listen to, like Pinkerton by Weezer was huge for me.

SP: I think it was a collection of that stuff and then also we were listening to a lot of Vampire Weekend, so I think the dancier parts of songs takes a lot from that. Also The Police. More of that upbeat vibe with stuff.

SM: All the stuff I was listening to at the time didn’t really influence the album. It was more of just listening to lots of bands and artists that were pretty different. A lot of 70’s music. And when we wrote, it didn’t feel like I was trying to write my parts like any bands.

MS: What was your favorite song to write and/or record?

SM: Probably write I feel would be “Crash.”

EP: Because that one was the first we wrote together. Sam and I just got together after school one day and worked on that. Also it felt really good working on “Eat Shit” because that one we were kind of just at practice and just playing around.

SM: It just came, yeah.

EP: And I played something and they were just like “hold on a minute.”

SM: “One sec!”

EP: And then we kind of figured out that one after the duet. I thought it was pretty cool how that day we just put that song together.

SM: Totally. As far as recording goes, I feel like “Strawberita” was really fun because we added a ton of auxiliary percussion and a bunch of random stuff. There’s a plastic toy minion that we used for a sound and that’s actually on there in the dance-y section.

EP: Also the end of “Yer Killin’ Me,” just the little transition. That was very cool.

SM: Yeah! That was not written or planned at all. That was super spontaneous. I think we were supposed to be working on something else at the time.

EP: And then we got bored.

SM: And then we got bored and we said “Oh yeah, let’s do this!” and me and Erik literally just played and recorded it, in a bathroom too. We just thought it would be funny. It’s so spontaneous. We just kept adding layers.

MS: Which song has the deepest or most complex meaning behind it?

ZC: “When You Were Young” [laughter]

EP: Our songs aren’t very deep, or at least not on this record. I think the one thing is that a lot of people mistake what the songs are about. There’s maybe two songs that are relationship-y and the rest of them are about weird friendship stuff. “Strawberita” is probably the least of what people think it is because people think it’s a relationship-y song… it’s more of just like a “sorry, mom.”

MS: How is touring different from doing shows in Minneapolis?

SP: It’s been cool to see how many people are coming out to shows since you don’t really know what to expect. The record has had a lot of traction but you don’t really know until you’re actually there and you see the people actually responding super well to stuff. For a while, at local shows, we were doing well, but after we released the record and had our release show we sold out this venue in Minneapolis called the Triple Rock and for us…

SM: It felt crazy.

SP: Yeah, we had no idea it was even going to sell. We thought it would do well but for the amount of people that were there, it was just like “this is wild!” There were people trying to sneak into the back of the venue to get into the show because you couldn’t even buy a ticket.

SM: There was 300-something cap, but add in all the guest list spots and extra people and there were probably over 400 people at that show.

SP: There were about 425 people at that show. We had never played a show of our own where we headlined and that many people came out. We’ve been doing shows for 100-200 people a night [on this tour], and with that it’s super cool because even if there’s 30 people that came out to a show for us on this tour for markets that we’ve never played…

SM: We’d be stoked.

SP: We’d be stoked. This is our first legitimate tour that we’ve done, so it’s just cool to see how it’s all panned out.

SM: It’s really weird too because last summer we were on tour, but it was all house shows and DIY venues.

SP: We were playing all the same songs.

SM: Pretty much all the songs off of Greatest Hits were all written at that point but they weren’t recorded yet. Playing those shows for 20-30 people–at a lot of those shows the people there would be there for their hometown bands, not for us. Playing shows for 20-30 people with the goal to maybe get some of them to like our music and check it out… This tour, so many people are actually coming out for us, and it’s been so weird but really cool.

MS: You recently put out a new music video for “I’m My Own Doctor;” what was your inspiration behind that?

SM: We did the video with John Mark, who did the “Art School” video. He was a teacher from the high school that I went to. Same with the “Art School” video, we went to him and said we wanted to make a dance video, and he kind of ran with that. We knew we wanted to work with him for the next video we did, and we had a couple songs in mind, but it became clear that “I’m My Own Doctor” was a fan favorite. For most of the videos, we have some basis or idea for it but for that one we really didn’t have anything. We just met up with him and he said “Well, I actually have access to a whole summer camp, so I think it would be really cool to do something there.” He was really the brains behind that whole video.

MS: What’s been your favorite music video to shoot so far?

SP: Either the “Art School” video or the “I’m My Own Doctor” video. Both of those have been more legitimate and have had actual production. With “Yer Killin’ Me” and “Eat Shit,” we just had a friend grab a DSLR camera and said “Hey, just video tape this, this is what we want to do.” “Crash Test Rating” is just live footage, so there’s not really production with it.

EP: I probably had more fun with the less professional ones.

SM: For “Yer Killin’ Me” we strapped our friend into the back of Stephen’s car.

EP: I think that those two were fun, because we didn’t really have any expectations of what the record was going to do so we were just having fun. I think “Eat Shit” was fun too because everyone had to push my face in a toilet.