First off, this was just a wild and crazy interview.  Take four slightly “off” young men and place them in a Long Island diner with lots of coffee and a 90-minute blank tape just waiting to be filled with utter nonsense.  What you get are some memorable stories and band anecdotes, most of which pertain to the travails of drummer Austin, a man the band declares a “magnet for wackiness,” and at times, meat products…Seriously, you have to hear some of these stories to believe it: being the victim of a hit and run (he was whacked in the face with a steak or something while riding a bike by McDonalds, being taken aside while on tour in Georgia by a seemingly nice old woman only to be told he bears an “uncanny” resemblance to her deceased, handicapped son…yeah, I guess you had to be there.  Oh, and then there are the tales of the long rides on I-95 that seem to propagate delirium in those who traverse it, causing one to ponder the Chewbacca/David Lee Roth hybrid – “Chewy Lee Roth” or “David Lee Bacca”?  All right, enough of this insanity.  This here article is about With Every Idle Hour the band, not the weird-ass shit that’s happened to them along the way or what goes on in their deranged minds…

Named after the area in Oakdale (Long Island) in which two of the members live – vocalist/guitarist Sergei and the aforementioned Austin – With Every Idle Hour began about seven years ago, with the band only taking the moniker in 2000. They will absolutely hate me for mentioning this little bit of trivia, but a couple of the guys actually played a part in an old ska band called Seven-2-One.  Luckily I brought along my trusty copy of the ‘Long Island Ska’ comp, which features one of their songs, to the diner.  (Believe you me, they were EXTREMELY thrilled that I was so well-prepared, but ultimately gave me shit for ever buying it in the first place…).  Sergei had actually sung on the track on the CD, claiming this was the ONLY time he’d ever done ska. WEIH guitarist Sean wasn’t in the band at the time and hence isn’t on the record, yet later played a significant role in the band’s untimely demise, but then again, that is most likely a self-deprecatory exaggeration.  See, one thing these guys don’t lack is quick wit and a slightly disturbing sense of humor.

Before releasing 2003’s impressive ‘The Distance Between’, the band had released a full-length in September 2000.  However, the guys rarely ever play anything off that record, as Sean confides that the material off it is “a little more post-hardcore…at times and then there were times when it was even lighter.”  Sergei quips, “There were moments when we tried to rip Quicksand off a little less,” “And there was moments when we tried to rip ‘em off more,” Sean concludes.  “It was like that transitional period between like…ripping off Quicksand and ripping off Sunny Day Real Estate,” Sergei laughingly admits.  One important note about this record is that the current bass player, Lou (guitarist in On The Might Of Princes), wasn’t in the band when it was recorded.  He joined WEIH’s ranks in June 2000 after the band went through a trying period with the old bassist that eventually led to his departure in May. 

From the way Lou’s bandmates speak of him, it’s evident they have much respect for him.  Sergei even goes so far as to say that when Lou joined the band, “it made it actually fun to play music again” because there wasn’t any fighting or anything, adding, “In the last two years, we became much closer as friends,” and Sean gushes, “It was almost like starting over again – that novelty was there.  It was just like super-fun to go to practice.”  Sergei takes it a step further, likening the whole experience to “The Cosby Show” and how “things were new” and “fresh” once Lisa Bonet left.  Uh, ok. 

And since Lou’s other band is becoming so successful as of late and big plans are in the works for On The Might Of Princes like a European tour, Sergei says, “Even if Lou just couldn’t do it anymore…we’d always consider [him] a part of this band.  He did so much for us, just as a friend.”  But Lou avers he will “always come back.”  The rest of the guys have known each other for most of their lives.  Sergei and Austin have been friends since first grade, and Sean, who is a bit older, had been close with their brothers.  He explains, “I knew them first as acquaintances…but then it was like I stopped hanging out with their brothers and started spending more time with them as we became a band.”

About their latest album, ‘The Distance Between’, Sergei explains that lyrically, there is no major theme; rather, every song is “pretty much it’s own little story whether it’s like I made the whole thing up or it’s somewhat based on something that happened to me, like ‘El Camino’.”  This track actually epitomizes how the youth on Long Island spend their time: driving around aimlessly listening to Busta Rhymes.  Sergei elaborates, “[It’s] about those times when you realize that…doing something that stupid and just finding out who you were was more important than trying to befriend everybody around you and be Mr. Popular.”  Another song of note, the impassioned “Moxie”, which was actually chosen in 2002 to be on a CMJ comp that showcased the Long Island scene before Long Island was even known for its scene, is, in Sergei’s words, about “when you go to shows and everybody is just so full of shit.”  You know the deal - phoniness and not being able to tell who really means what they say.  “It’s just saying, ‘You got a lot of moxie, man. You got a lot of pluck.’”  Plus, he continues, “I just like the word.”

They had about six of the songs that appear on the record written while they had the old bass player, meaning some of these songs were three years old before they were released.  Once Lou joined, he rewrote the basslines and then the band wrote the rest of the songs.  And overall, there’s nothing the guys would change about ‘The Distance Between’, although Austin is quick to point out that at least he personally “keep[s] rewriting the song[s] whenever we play.”  Live, he adds some parts that aren’t on the album in order to “give it flare,” but according to Sean, these impromptu changes “always fit within the structure that’s already on the record.”  Sergei, on the other hand, says he usually just sticks to playing the songs live how they are on the record, although every now and then he’ll spice things up by adding a little something different.

Sergei describes the band’s sound as “just rock music,” expounding, “I know at this point it even sounds cheesy just to say that ‘cause everyone’s trying to, you know it’s like the whole emo stereotype – and not to insult any of the emo bands – but I don’t know; I just don’t really try to whine…not too much…When we write the songs, we don’t really try to think about who will like it, we don’t try to think what shows we can get on by playing this style of music.  We really just write the song and if people like it, that’s great and if they don’t, that’s cool too.  I mean you can’t really please everybody.” 

What they have created with ‘The Distance Between’ is a highly enjoyable rock album that is an amalgam of many different styles – a number of tracks like “Unluckiest”, “Getting the Last Word” and “Collapser” are more upbeat and catchy and “El Camino” is rather heavy, while others such as “Closing Credits” and “Untitled”, which even features a viola part, are more subdued and light, and quite frankly, beautifully composed.

WEIH don’t have any tours planned this year as of yet, but are playing around the Island sporadically in early 2004.  On the songwriting front, they have about eight songs prepared that had actually been thought up while they were still working on ‘The Distance Between’.  Sergei says if he came up with a song during that time, he wouldn’t let the guys play it “because I was afraid we wouldn’t put any of our efforts toward recording because we’d wanna start working on new material,” adding, “So by the time we finished [the record], we just started working on all these new songs.”  As a result, they’re planning on possibly recording some songs in the summer for inclusion on either an EP or as a start to their next full-length.  No matter what they decide, there’s much to look forward to from With Every Idle Hour, an undoubtedly talented, promising band.

Interview date: Jan 2, 2004

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