A Great Big Pile of Leaves

It seems like every day I'€™m at shows, one or more of the bands are NYC based and sometimes everyone just blends into each other and don'€™t really stand out but one band definitely does. That band is A Great Big Pile of Leaves. The intelligence that is clearly seen in their lyrics or musicality is something that becomes contagious among audiences across the country.

Despite their limited touring that they'€™ve done in the past and their most recent headlining tour being only their fourth tour ever, they are consistently packing shows and touring with greats like Motion City Soundtrack, The Appleseed Cast and Say Anything to bringing out the up and comers like Young Statues and Mansions. Read on for our exclusive with drummer Tyler Soucy where we talk about the '€˜Making Moves'€™ series, being managed by Jesse Johnson of Motion City Soundtrack and their next record which is much anticipated considering the material we saw on the now almost two year old '€˜Have You Seen My Prefontal Cortex?'€™ Catch them in Cambridge next on May 31st, you know I'€™ll be there!

How is this first headlining tour considering it ends tonight?
It'€™s been awesome! I mean we kind of knew Young Statues and Mansions going into it but getting to know them while on tour, it'€™s honestly been one of the easiest tours we'€™ve ever done. Whether that'€™s because of them. For some reason, there'€™s less stress. We feel like we only have to live up to our expectations because when you'€™re on tour with bigger bands, they kind of watch what you'€™re doing all the time and it'€™s just a little less comfortable. I mean the amount of kids that have showed up to shows for the most part has been amazing. We were super nervous when they were even talking about booking this tour. We were like '€˜Uhh'€™ because we had toured three times before this so it was a scary thing and especially to be out for a month but yeah I mean it turned out way better then we thought it would. So for whatever reason, we don'€™t know why, kids are coming out and singing. It'€™s cool!

Then '€˜Prefontal Cortex'€™. Obviously it'€™s been almost two years since that record and I was reading your tumblr and saw on another interview how the LP is kind of in progress. Like you'€™re writing it right now.
Yeah, we started writing at the end of last year and then Motion City'€™s doing that '€˜Making Moves'€™ series so we kind of put writing on hold and wrote different songs for that series. We wanted to focus on one or the other. So Pete wrote one song specifically for the Making Moves series and then the other two songs. One'€™s an acoustic. It might be a full band version on the next record and then we might also re-record the second song for the next record but we have like ten song ideas that we'€™re demo-ing. So as soon as we get back home, we'€™re going to finish all the demo'€™s, try to write a few more songs, pick our favorite like ten or eleven to record. Then find a producer hopefully, find a studio, find a label. We'€™ll see. It will be interesting. I'€™m really excited. Writing and recording are one of our favorite parts of being a band so it should be fun. Hopefully!

Did the writing process change a lot? Like sound wise? Or is it pretty similar to the past?
I'€™d say it'€™s pretty similar. All the songs are pretty different. I mean I personally feel like all the songs on the last record they kind of all stand on their own and they all have like their little different sounds. So I think we always do that but I mean Pete'€™s been writing a lot on his own and bringing full ideas to the band and then we'€™ve also been going into our space and fleshing out ideas and making them into full songs. So it'€™s going to be half and half again as far as writing.
Is that still something that'€™s going to be in 2012? Do you think it'€™s going to be pretty soon?
We'€™re really hoping to get in to the studio at some point in June/July at the latest. So we'€™re hoping to do it in July at the latest and if we can get a label interested in doing it, then hopefully it will come out in like October or November of this year. So we'€™re really aiming for that and we want to push to get it out as soon as possible. Come the summer, it'€™s been two years since the last record. I mean the 7'€ will be cool. A few songs but I want to get a full length out.
Then maybe how did you get involved with that series? I know it'€™s Motion City Soundtrack they'€™re like curating it.
Yeah, so what happened is we played South By last year and Terry who runs the Mad Dragon label at Drexel, they were interested in the band and so Jesse talked to them through the year. It kind of turned into a situation where Motion City had left Columbia Records so they started their own little imprint label to do whatever they want basically. So that project kind of merged into this project and then each member of Motion City chose a band to work with and Jesse is our manager so he was like '€˜Hey want to record some free songs?'€™ So yeah we did that and it was our first time working with a producer in an actual studio so it was really nice and that'€™s our plan for the full length. So we wanted to kind of get that experience before going in for like a month and doing it. So yeah it was good!

Like you said you'€™re managed by Jesse of Motion City Soundtrack. Obviously he'€™s been doing this for so long, how is it having a fellow musician as your manager?
It'€™s good and I mean Motion City as a band, they'€™re very like self sufficient. So a lot of the ideas from them, I mean they work very closely with their management, so he works the same way. He knows exactly what we'€™re going through. I don'€™t want to stay struggles because everyone acts like they are this struggling musician but it'€™s not a struggle. It'€™s all fun to do it. So they just know what it'€™s like to sit in a van for a couple days. They know when to kind of take it easy and they know when to push us. I think that'€™s an important part and he'€™s already in a successful band so I don'€™t feel like he'€™s trying to push too much of himself on the band which I see with other managers sometimes. They feel like they want to be in the band or something. Luckily, we have some one that has that seperation.
Seperation because he already has an established career.

Then maybe what'€™s coming up after this tour? Focus on the record?
Yeah, we'€™re planning on taking April to finish writing and then hopefully May we'€™ll find a producer then go into the studio but we have a few spot dates in April. Then we'€™re playing a festival in May that we'€™re not allowed to announce but it'€™s a festival in the tri-state area in May that some bands are playing. So there'€™s that! That'€™s what we'€™re looking forward to but, um, yeah!
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Young Statues

Carmen Cirignano took a chance and self produced both an EP and a full length record before his full band came to fruition with that project being Young Statues! Despite the album being so new, just now being six months in, he currently finds himself about to hit the road with legends The Early November and touring all around the United States.

I first got the opportunity to speak with Carmen right before the record came out and it was a time where he couldn'€™t really discuss the record at all but most recently he found himself in a different position. In our most recent interview during his time with A Great Big Pile of Leaves, we talked about how he made the songs on his own through programming parts together and the influence that his fellow artist/manager had on him Joseph Marro. Read on for our exclusive and catch Young Statues opening for the prolific Early November in just two weeks!

Obviously you'€™ve been doing this tour for a month and it also included South By Southwest which is huge! Maybe how was SXSW in general?
It was great! It was crazy. The way I describe it to people is that it'€™s like going to summer camp. So like you get there and you'€™re seeing everybody that you haven'€™t seen in so long. You'€™re excited that you'€™re there and you'€™re seeing all these friends that you haven'€™t seen and it'€™s crazy and hectic and fun. Then by the end, you just want to get out of there but with that being said, it'€™s really fun. A great way to meet people in the music industry and it'€™s a great way to see your friends in bands who are all traveling constantly and you don'€™t really get to see them. Then when your working schedules allow it so that'€™s another good thing about it. It'€™s fun!
When you'€™re all in the same place.
Yeah, exactly.
Then maybe how has the tour been going?
The tour has been great. The tour, everyone'€™s been really surprised. I wouldn'€™t say surprised but being that all three of the bands have always been supporting other bigger bands, for us all to go out on our own. It'€™s like do people come to see our band or do they come to see the bands that we'€™re supporting? So everybody was kind of like a bit curious to how the turn outs were going to be and I think that it went above and beyond what any of us expected. Like the shows have been really good. So the tour has been a success. Everybody gets along really great so that'€™s another plus of it. We really enjoy being around each other so even when some of the shows weren'€™t great but we we'€™re altogether like spending time together and having dinner. It'€™s been really fun and really successful.

Then last time we talked, the record hadn'€™t come out yet and you were kind of keeping everything on the DL in terms of the record. B I know you'€™re managed by an artist Joe Marro but maybe how has that experience been considering he knows what it'€™s like to be a musician, has been a musician for years with Hellogoodbye and The Early November. How has that experience been with him?
Oh it'€™s been a blessing to have him manage and kind of guide me personally because I did this record on my own. From day one the start, it was really only him who I spoke to about anything and he gave me a lot of good advice. A lot of the advice that he gave me resulted in us being where we are now. He kind of was the one who said '€™Do it on your own!'€™ You don'€™t need to like form a band before you start. Do the record on your own. Worry about making great songs and then we'€™ll figure it out once the record'€™s done. For me, that was like the most important process I ever had as a musician so I have him to thank for all that and I know I can talk to him at any point about anything. There'€™s nothing that he hasn'€™t been through so it'€™s comforting to know that you have some one in your corner that can guide you the way that he can. He'€™s seen all of it and as much as he tells me the right things to do, it goes equally with as much as he tells me the wrong things to do. The things not to do. So, yeah, it'€™s been great! He'€™s great. He'€™s one of my best friends.

Then like you said, you did the record on your own. You have the band now with you. Maybe how did you go about the writing process for that record? Now that it'€™s come out you can talk about it more.
Yeah I would just kind of write songs. I mean I always grew up thinking that there needed to be a traditional structure in terms a band in writing songs. I needed to have a drummer while I'€™m writing just to kind of play. I figured out how to do midi drumming where I could actually program drums on my computer myself and write guitar to them so that'€™s how all the songs in the record are. Mapped the drums out on this little computer. I'€™d sit there all day and be typing like a dork and then I would be able to scope out a song and arrange it around. So I was able to do everything on my own without others and then I was lucky enough to find musicians who actually played. Like our drummer now, Dan, he'€™s been a friend of mine for a long time. I asked him '€™Will you take these computer parts that I made and make them better and actually play them?'€™ And he did an awesome job. So most of it yeah was just me and Steve who'€™s our engineer just hashing out songs and once they were produced and totally done, the guys who play the instruments that I didn'€™t play came in and did it.

Then how do you think it'€™s been going over? As your first CD it'€™s pretty scary. To just let it out in the world especially when you did it all yourself but it'€™s been a few months now, like five months or so I want to say.
It'€™s been a really flattering reaction. I'€™m just happy that people like it enough to the point where I have a band to play shows with. So for people to be responding to it the way they are is really encouraging and it'€™s awesome for me. I'€™ve said before, like I felt accomplished even if it never came out. If Nobody had ever heard it and it be just my thing, I would still be proud of it because I proved to myself I don'€™t need anyone to do anything and that was a good feeling. That I could do something creative on my own without thinking about all these other things but the reaction was awesome. I'€™m so happy! I'€™m enjoying my life as much as I ever have so I guess I have that to thank to an extent. So it'€™s just been really great!

Then this tour finishes today but what'€™s coming up after this tour? Are you going to take a little time off? Continue touring a bit?
We'€™re doing some one off shows in April. Just like some college shows and then we'€™re doing this thing called Raleighpalooza in May. And we have a couple things and then we'€™re going back on tour. It'€™s not announced yet but it should be this week. I think it will be announced on the 4th of April it should be announced. So I guess that'€™s Wednesday? It'€™s a good tour. It'€™s going to be a great tour! I wish I could tell you right now but I can'€™t. So we'€™re doing two new songs. One is a cover. It'€™s a Billy Bragg cover with the girl from the band Tigers Jaw. The girl Brianna who plays in that band we did a song together. We recorded that awhile ago and have been trying to figure out what to do with it and then finally we'€™re doing a split 7'€ with another guy so we recorded a new song which we'€™re going to finish when we'€™re home and then do those shows in April and then back out in May!
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