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Interview: The Starting Line

One of the undoubted highlights of this year's Slam Dunk Festival was the triumphant return to the UK of Pennsylvania pop-punkers, The Starting Line. It’s been five years since the boys played a show on UK soil and Alter the Press were lucky enough to get a chance to catch up with them to see what they’ve been up to for half a decade and what’s in store for the future.

Alter The Press: You're back in the UK since reforming. What’s prompted this reformation?
Matt Watts (guitar): We started playing some Holiday shows back home after taking a three year hiatus and it just felt really good being around each other playing music again. We wanted to do things on a really minimal basis and only if a really cool opportunity came up - we know Ben from Slam Dunk and he wanted to bring us over and we just jumped at the opportunity.

ATP: What have you been doing in the mean time?
Matt: I’ve been in artist management for like the last five years (working for Force Media Management).
Mike Golla (guitar): I work for an engineering company as an engineer. It’s not really cool but...

ATP: What was it like to come back and play your first UK show in about five years at Slam Dunk yesterday?
Mike: It was unbelievable.
Matt: Yeah it was completely overwhelming.
Mike: We’ve been very overwhelmed by the reaction.
Matt: It feels like some kids were really fanatical about some things which we totally didn’t expect. But it was a blast.
Mike: Yeah, we did a signing and there were like a hundred people there, we thought it’d be like a ten minute signing.

ATP: Everyone expects you to play ‘Best of Me’, but how do you decide what other songs to play?
Matt: There’s a couple that we have to play otherwise fans will kill us and ‘Best of Me’ is one of those. But we have our favourite songs from each record and we really enjoy playing so we stick to about 20-25 songs that we choose from.

ATP: What do you think about the music scene - and the pop punk scene in particular - since The Starting Line started their break over 3 years ago?
Matt: It depends what music scene - like, this certain genre seems to be going on the same path that it was kind of on. But I do like the up-and-coming new school pop punk genre like Man Overboard, Transit. I feel like that’s a lot more real than some of what’s happened in the past couple of years, so I'm excited to see how that grows.

Mike: I don’t really follow the music industry at all. When I'm at home I just space out and listen to the stuff that I grew up listening to. If somebody recommends a band to me, I'll listen to it but other than that I'm pretty far away from it all.

ATP: The internet wasn’t really as big when you were really making a name for yourselves as it is now, what do you think this massive surge of social media does for bands?
Matt: It’s a direct interaction with your core audience. It makes things a lot easier but it also makes illegal downloading a lot easier, so you have to look at all sides of it.

Mike: There’s a little bit of an exaggeration from other bands that ‘anybody can be in a band now’ and that wasn’t as prominent back then anyway.

Matt: There is a playing field that has been leveled but that might be a good thing. I think that it might make the good bands stand out. I don’t know if it’s easier for bands to get signed, but it’s easier for bands to create music on their own with Garage Band and throw it up on iTunes for 30 bucks and they’re competing with every other band out there which is great for them.

ATP: Who do you think has filled the void that The Starting Line left when you took a break?
Brian Schmutz (keyboard): Ke$ha.
Matt: Nicki Minaj actually.
Brian: Yeah, she fits right in that slot where we were.

ATP: What do you wish you had known before your break, that you know now?
Mike: Always trust your instincts.
Brian: All good things come to an end.
Matt: I dunno! Liquor before beer?

ATP: Any chance of you guys writing/releasing some new songs together at all in the future?
Mike: We’ve been writing a little. At a snail’s pace.
Brian: We have a few songs in the mixing bowl but we haven’t gotten them in the oven yet

ATP: Do you have a schedule for when they'll be done?
Mike: We don’t do well with schedules.

ATP: Will you be coming back to Slam Dunk next time?
Matt: We would like there to be a next time. We’d love to come back, it’s been way too long.

Official Website
The Starting Line on PureVolume, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

Chantelle 'Kiki' Goodchild

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