Ibanez: What has Hot Rod Circuit been working on lately?
Andy: We've had a little time off, and I've been recording some other bands at my studio in Alabama. We finished up a headlining tour a couple of months ago, and we're leaving on the 26th for the Warped Tour. We start in Detroit, and I think we'll be out for about 30 days. Then, we fly to Buffalo and play a college show. After that, we'll be home for a couple of days, and last I heard we'll be going right back out with The Starting Line and Paramore. So two pretty good tours back to back.
Ibanez: Are there any cities that are personal favorites of yours to play?
Andy: We love every city [laughs]. Pretty much anywhere in California, New York, Connecticut, Boston, New Jersey...pretty much East Coast and the West Coast. Sometimes the Midwest can be a little slow.
Ibanez: What was the recording process like for the new album, "The Underground Is A Dying Breed"?
Andy: We actually did it at my studio and recorded it ourselves. Then, we had our friend, Tim O'Hare who produced and recorded our last album, mix the record. We were in a position where we were able to leave Vagrant Records, and we were going to make a record whether we had a label or not. About a week after we decided to do the record ourselves, we started talking to Immortal Records. A kid that worked over at Vagrant called me about doing a compilation for Immortal, and when he heard that we were leaving Vagrant he said, "You should talk to the guys at Immortal. Jason, the guy that runs Immortal, is a big fan." So I told him to ask Jason to call me, and he literally called me five minutes later. He said that if we wanted a label, that they were definitely interested. They hadn¡Çt even heard any of the new songs yet [laughs].
So I sent him a couple of tracks that we had demoed, and he was totally into it. I told him that we wanted to make the record ourselves on our own terms, and he was totally into that, too. It was a really good experience. I think when we first got into it, it was a little stressful. We realized that we had to make the record on our own, and we had to do a good job to prove ourselves. I think it turned out awesome though, and Tim O'Hare did a great job mixing it.
Ibanez: How long did it take?
Andy: Honestly, it only took about three weeks. We knocked out the drums in a couple of days. Guitars and vocals stretched out a little bit, because I started rewriting some of the lyrics. Then, we spent about a week mixing it in New York. I think we would have gotten it done in about two weeks, if I had had most of the lyrics already written [laughs]. Most of the songs were written over the course of a year. I just wrote at home whenever we had time off.
Ibanez: How has your approach to guitar playing changed from the first album, "If I Knew Now What I Knew Then", to the new one?
Andy: We've definitely evolved as a band. Especially with Casey, he's a jammer. That's a big part of our sound, and he makes up a lot of the dynamic parts of the guitar sound. Playing a lot of pedal steel I think taught him a lot about placement, and we did a lot more vocal play between us rather than just on top of the stuff. We've just learned to be more sparing rather than just noodling the whole time. I think we¡Çve just learned to work together a lot better.
Ibanez: When did you first start playing Ibanez guitars?
Andy: It's been almost three or four years now. One of my buddies had one of those Jet Kings, and I thought they looked pretty cool.
Ibanez: Was there anything in particular that drew you to the Jet King and Artcore guitars?
Andy: I think the main thing for me was that I'm into a lot of boutique and vintage instruments, and the Jet King has that kind of classic look to it. It's a really durable guitar, and it stays in tune really well. It's a great live guitar. You can beat it around [laughs], and it still rocks every day. You just pull it out of the case, and it's ready to go. Having the single coil switches on it is really great for our stuff, too. We've got a lot of things like that where I might have recorded something with a single coil, and the Jet King gets that kind of sound without me having to switch guitars.
Ibanez: How did the acoustic versions of some of the new songs on iTunes come about?
Andy: Basically right after we did the album, our label was asking for us to do some stuff that they could use for exclusives with different outlets. So we did a couple of extra songs. As it turned out, we had those 5 acoustic songs, and they decided to just make an EP out of it. It's me playing guitar and singing live. Then, I just sent it to Casey, and he put pedal steel and acoustic stuff on it. My wife did some harmonies on it, and I put some little key parts on it here and there. That¡Çs pretty much all it is. It's really simple and raw.
Ibanez: Do you have any advice for young musicians just getting started?
Andy: Yeah sure. Just practice and get your band to stay focused and stay together. Stop fighting. I deal with a lot of bands recording at my studio, and I sit here and watch them fight and argue about stupid little stuff. You're in a band to have a good time and play music, so just try to keep that in mind at all times.