Florida’s own There for Tomorrow will be taking the stage at Jack Rabbits July 12 as part of the Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour. I chatted with front man Maika Maile during a day off about how their sound has evolved over the years, their involvement with the 2010 Take Action Tour, and how they’ve been keeping busy over the past two years with a new album, several major tours, and even a trip abroad to play for fans in Japan.
Before I jump into the questions, you should know that the first time I saw There for Tomorrow was about six years ago, my freshman year of college, at Wackadoo’s at the University of North Florida. Even then I was really blown away by you guys, you were so young to be playing so well and so professionally. And then a few years later you put out your first EP and it was a totally different sound, and I was even more blown away by that. Was that change in sound an intentional thing, or was it kind of an artistic evolution, or a combination?
Yeah, since we kind of hold our music pretty close to our hearts it just grows as we grow, because all it is is an extension of us at the end of the day. Of course, as time comes and as we go through different things … Now we’re traveling the world, I can’t imagine what our music is going to sound like in a couple years. But it’s not like we ever try to neglect the past, or anything, and move on to something new, we use the past to move on to something new. I can’t even really remember what we sounded like before Pages, it was a lot more, like, metallic, more metal influence. We just started to adopt a huge love for good pop songwriting, so maybe that influenced a lot of what we did from then on out. But it’s always going to be a changing thing.
For people who aren’t familiar with There for Tomorrow, how would you describe your sound?
I don’t know, that’s always a tough question for me. We’re influenced by a lot of things, but at the end of the day, in layman’s terms, we’re just a melodic rock band. We’re really inspired by melodies, that’s really what drives our music, but we’re still rock-rooted because all of us grew up, mainly, rooted in rock-playing and rock music culture and everything. But we really do listen to everything, so it’s kind of eclectic for just being a rock band, so it’s hard to exactly title it. That’s the thing, a simple question like that, which could be answered in two words, gets thrown out in a couple paragraphs, that’s how much we don’t know what we are.
How was the process of writing and recording your very first album, Point of Origin, different from writing and recording your subsequent releases?
Oh my gosh, we were, like, thirteen, that was us just having the time of our lives, just making music. Looking back on it I really can’t remember tracking or anything about the experience of the process of making a record. Everything was just so different and I was so young I can’t even remember. But, we went in there and did all our songs, we wrote all our songs, we always have, and did our thing, and we have that to always reflect on and brag about, like ‘look what we were doing when we were thirteen, while you were playing with Pokemon trading cards we were making full-length albums.’
There for Tomorrow recently wrapped up the 2010 Take Action Tour with Mayday Parade and A Rocket to the Moon. Tell me about the Take Action Tour’s mission and why it was important to you guys to be a part of it.
Take Action was great, we’ve always kind of looked up to it because of it being involved with things not just trapped into what happens in the music scene. It’s reaching out to the world, and it’s making an impact for situations that are tough for people. This year it was about bone marrow diseases and raising awareness for it. The National Bone Marrow Registry has a thing called the Be The Match Organization where it just tries to raise the most bone marrow donors as possible. We raised a bunch this year, I think by the second week [of the tour] there was like 200 or 300 newly registered donors, so it was really cool. The organization that was behind it all was started by a kid that had leukemia when he was fourteen, so it was amazing to be behind something that a fourteen-year-old is doing. That’s so positive, and it’s making such an impact, because he had leukemia and he obviously had his struggles with that, now he’s making a difference in the world, which is really cool. We just helped out by playing music.
You guys also recently returned from a tour in Japan. What is it like having fans in another country that don’t even speak English as a first language, and do they still sing along to the songs when they see you guys play?
I think nowadays English is the epicenter of communicating among the world, so they all know far more English than we know Japanese. That’s always respectable to go to other countries and meet people that are bilingual or sometimes trilingual, and sit there and translate with their friend who’s a fan who can’t talk to us because she can’t speak English. We meet really cool people all around the world, it kind of blows our minds that we were just playing Wackadoo’s a couple years ago for, like, thirteen people, and now we’re playing packed shows in a whole other continent.
Speaking of tours, There for Tomorrow has been busy over the last couple of years with the Secret Valentine Tour at the beginning of 2009, last summer you had Warped Tour and also released your album, then this year you had the Take Action Tour and the dates in Japan, now you’re on a tour with a little over 40 dates. Have you guys had a chance to kind of sit back and take everything in, and how do you deal with homesickness and keeping in touch with your family and friends?
You know, we’re just so eager and young and adamant about what we do, we love playing so much that a lot of the time it’s just blurred in our lives because of what’s happening. We basically save ourselves up for just the 30 minutes, 40, 50, an hour we get to play a day. Since we get so wrapped up in that, it’s hard to think about other things too much. But obviously we’re very close with our families, and we have real tight-knit groups of friends at home. At times you can obviously get a little homesick, but I think we’re all just so used to it by now, and our eyes are so set because we’ve seen such a return with it, with how amazing our fans have become, and are becoming, and some of the people we get to meet are really awesome. It always inspires us to meet people that are still actual, legitimate fans of music, so it makes us feel like we’re doing our job to return sincere music to the limelight again, instead of all of this candy land music.
Tell me about the Rock Yourself to Sleep Tour and how There for Tomorrow became involved in it.
Rock Yourself to Sleep is put on by Motel 6. They just contacted us about it, and our friends were going out as well, so we just decided to come out and visit all of our friends that we’ve built all over the country one time during the summer, and then we’re coming back all around the U.S. again in the fall. We just want to get out there and just really keep tying the knots with our fans, we gotta keep busy on the road.
Talking about your new album, A Little Faster, how does it feel to have an album that’s doing so well? You guys got the MTVU award … Was it surprising, or something you feel like you’ve been working towards?
It’s kind of hard to really classify what “doing well” is nowadays, but for us, and how young we are, and how much time we’ve been doing it, it’s been a huge honor to see what’s happening and how people are really paying attention to our music. Personally we don’t feel like we’ve connected with the world yet, at all, we don’t feel like we’ve made any sort of stamp yet of what There for Tomorrow is, what we mean, and what we will mean. It’s obviously just going to take time, just like everything has up until now. We’re young, we’re 21 years old, and able to travel and play, but it’s not like we’re real interested in making suitcases of money any time soon. We’re just trying to put in time and show some genuineness towards what music is nowadays.
Are the lyrics on A Little Faster about specific events, or situations, or people in your lives, or are they meant to be more general?
Especially on A Little Faster, they’re fairly personal accounts of things I’ve been through and things I see happening through my eyes. I’ve been through a lot, I’ve seen a lot happen, and have made it through a lot of things thanks to the love and support of my family. I’m able to kind of just share my personal experience being myself and striving to be a unique individual, so I think A Little Faster was kind of … just a way to vent, to just cope with being a person. So I try to open up as much as I can because I think it’s really important for people nowadays to understand how important communicating is; communicating your thoughts, what you think about things in your voice, just speaking up and not being ashamed is what we’re trying to encourage.
Just to go back to this whole “making it big” idea, in an industry where bands with little to no talent can become popular overnight just with marketing by the right people, how do you set yourselves apart from everyone else and get your music out to listeners?
You know, thanks to the internet and thanks to all these new ways to reach out and break language barriers, this and that, we can kind of enable ourselves to start to slowly become something global. Thanks to the support of our team behind us who help us push what we do, and they all really believe, we can get our stuff out there among the cesspool of candy land music, and baby music – cute music is what I like to call it. But everybody does their thing and my whole perspective on life is that there is no one better person than the other, there’s just good and bad intentions, and I think everybody can understand what good and bad intentions are. So when you have people singing about just taking shirts off, and partying with “my red cup” and this and that it doesn’t really hold any true weight to anybody, it’s just a fun time to get drunk to. Like I said, I want to be a part of the fight to restore sincere music to the top again.
Another thing that has changed in the music industry, also because of the internet, is how accessible artists are to their fans, and vice versa. But along with that comes easier access to the critics, too. I took a few minutes the other day just to look at some news entries about There for Tomorrow on AbsolutePunk.net and immediately found hundreds of people who had lots of good things to say, but there were also lots of people who had bad things to say. Do you guys ever read reviews and look at message boards, and is the negativity that comes from some people on the internet something that’s ever bothered you guys, or is it as normal to you as someone stopping you to take a photo with you?
Well, when we were young and kind of new to having ourselves out there it was a lot more effective, like, somebody attempting to bring us down, but now it’s just an understanding that some of those people are probably just sitting in their underwear with milk crust all over their lips in their parents’ basement on the computer that their parents bought them last year. So it’s not like that really has a huge effect and weighs heavy on what we do, but of course you have to have those people. You have to have the naysayers because there’s no protons without electrons, there’s obviously no good without bad, bad defines good, so the negativity defines us just wanting to prove through and come out with something positive instead.
Do you have any last words, anything to say to encourage people to come out to the show at Jack Rabbits?
I don’t know, I think the people that really want to be there will be there because they know where we’ve come from, we haven’t come from anything different than just what we’ve done. They’ve seen us play Jack Rabbits a lot of times, and Murray Hill Theatre, so we have a lot of family there, a lot of believers and followers so we’re excited to be in Florida once again.