Interview: Zach Dear of EXPIRE
When the news that Milwaukee’s Expire had decided to call it a day I was pretty surprised. I certainly dont know the inner workings, relationships, etc. within the band. Nonetheless, I was surprised. Expire went on to loosely outline their plans for their final lap around the world. What got my juices flowing was their plan to do eleven dates on a Midwest house show tour. You can bet your ass that I cleared everything off my schedule so I could be in Grand Rapids, MI and so I could see who was brave enough to open their basement for 100+ maniacs to see Expire for potentially the last time live. Not being one to miss an opportunity, I was lucky enough to sit down with guitar player Zach Dear to talk about the new record amongst other things.
From the bottom of my heart, Josh ,Zach ,Marcus & Caleb….. it’s been my pleasure. Here’s to bigger and better things!
With Regret charted at #14 on Billboard HeatSeekers, Were you shooting for that or did you really care? Especially considering the direction that the band is going.
Z.D. When Pretty Low came out we definitely were in a different place as a band. We had management and really got caught up in the moment of it all. It was very focused around numbers. For example if they were to ask us about tonight’s show and we told them that 100 kids showed up it would’ve been like “that’s nothing!” So with “Pretty Low” we were definitely pulled in a different direction than we had ever been before. With the new record our attitude was just to not worry about that side of things. That’s not to say that we slacked or didn’t care but we just wanted to put out a good record and go from there. We wanted to outdo ourselves even though it was going to be out last record.
Lyrically, the majorities of the songs on With Regret seem fairly introspective & almost teeter between being apologetic & hateful. How were the lyric writing duties divided
Z.D. One of the main differences between Pendulum Swings is that the lyrics Pendulum were about 90% .Josh. With “With Regret”, it’s a lot closer to 50/50 between him and me. We both had stuff that we wanted to get off our chests. It kept with the same pace since Pendulum Swings came out four years ago and we’re four years apart in age so I’m kind of in the same place that he was and it weirdly made sense to step up and write more vocals.
You’ve said that with every new record you didn’t set out to reinvent expire. You took a turn and recorded With Regret at Bricktop Studios with Andy Nelson (ex. Weekend Nachos’). How was that experience & did you take any tricks away from the experience?
Z.D. Oh, it was awesome to work with Andy! What we did was tracked all of the music parts at Bricktop. We wanted a fresh perspective on things. We went back to Shane for recording the vocals like we always have. I remember sitting with Shane and listening to the entire record a couple times and just saying “look, you’re my friend…give me your honest input.” As far as tricks and stuff… No. When I go in the studio the only questions that I really ask is does it sound big, loud and like a hardcore record? If the answer is yes then I’m good. All of the new approach stuff gets lost on me.
You just finished a tour with Stick to Your Guns / Stray from the Path & Knocked Loose and then flew into the house show tour. How did this all come together?
Z.D. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time; it’s basically my passion project. It started out right before I moved from Cedar Falls, IA to Chicago. I went to pick up the moving truck and of course they were out of the size that I was supposed to get so they upgraded me to this 26 foot truck (yeah, HUGE) so when I got home I had this idea about doing a gig in the back of the truck. I called all my friends for extension cords and was like let’s do this. Two hours later we loaded like thirty kids in the back of this U-Haul, shut the door and ripped a gig at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Needless to say, the cops show up. They’re banging on the door and when we opened the door they stood there totally dumbfounded! They were like look, were gonna drive to the other side of town and if we get a call about the noise or whatever were gonna come back and shut this down. When they pulled away we slammed the door of that truck and finished the set. So, I devised a plan to do a U-Haul tour where you pick up a new truck in every city. It’s still on deck too! I knew that the guys in the band wouldn’t go for it because let’s get real it’s kind of sketchy…. I was like look were doing these tours with barricades and five foot stages and it sucks. That’s not what drew me to hardcore and punk music. With the band ending we don’t have to worry about numbers or anything so why not and make it a special thing. Its only Midwest dates with local openers and everyone who’s doing the shows I’ve known for years. I was like let’s go out with a bang.
When I saw that Expire was making some final runs and then calling it quits I had this rush of Déjà Vu since there’s a lot of similarities in the way that Have Heart called it quits. Was their final lap in the back of your mind when you plotted this all out?
Z.D. I don’t know that it was in the back of my mind but knowing how they ended I can definitely see a lot of similarities. Just recently we saw the way a lot of our peers were breaking up, bands like Weekend Nachos, Bane, Foundation, and Rotting Out and even the way a lot of our friends bands went out it was just this very long and drawn out process and that’s fine if that’s how they wanted to do it.. I thought to myself if that works for you guys that’s awesome but I looked at it and said I want to do exactly the opposite. I want to do the Stick to Your Guns tour and take a few days off and go right into the house show tour. Take the holidays off and head to Japan, Australia and places that we haven’t had in a long time. Come back to do a headline tour in the spring and call it a day. A very go-go-go schedule and that’s the only way I thought it would be fitting. for us to finish up.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to that kid out there that’s just starting a band.
Z.D. Obviously, work hard and take it serious but also don’t let anyone tell you how to run your band. If you want to tour then do it. If you want to play house shows, do it
I’ve asked this question so many times before but today it’s valid…Where is the final show going to be & what’s the final song you’ll play?
Z.D. The finally show will definitely be in Milwaukee. We haven’t mapped out a venue yet since the place that we basically called home, Boardwalk is closed down. The last song will be Abyss for sure! It’s kind of like if Agnostic Front ever calls it a day their last one will be Crucified.
Shout out to The Art of B for recording the set. Click the show flyer and see what you missed!