Heyrocco spent the last few months touring with So Pitted and the Garden on the Big Shot Jackpot Tour. Before hitting the road the boys Nate Merli, Tanner Cooper and Chris Cool hung out in Nebraska where Nate was nice (or bored) enough to talk to me about music, McDonalds and “hippy advice” all of which you can read about below.
So you guys are in Nebraska right now?
Yeah fortunately we’re in Omaha. The first show of the tour is Sunday in Reno. Right now we’re just traveling. We’re going sky diving then we’re going rocky mountain climbing then I’m going 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu.
That sound’s exciting
Sounds fun right? Then we’re going over to old Reno, blowing in the wind.
Are there any cities you’re looking forward to playing in?
Well Seattle’s probably number one place I’ve always wanted to go to and I’ve never been there. We’re going to Portland too, I’m gonna get a tattoo. Portland should be fun, good fun for the whole family. We’ve also got to go to Texas for a few days which always scares me.
Why does Texas scare you?
Well last time I went there they put me behind bars. So Texas is kind of scary when you’re you know — a free loving, drug taking… nah I’m just kidding about all that.
Yeah Texas is not very high on my travel list
Nobody’s high there [laughs]. We’re also going to Dallas and I was born there so that’ll cool, playing where I was just a little wee youngin’.
This tour schedule seems crazy it’s just like back to back shows, every night a different city.
Yeah I like that, we finally got a guy booking shows for us. When we started out, most people probably think it was magic fairy dust sprinkled across cities if we played a show there, but really it took a lot of time staring at screens sending a bunch of fake ass emails about how popular your band is to go play a Monday night in Salt Lake City. So I’m glad we’re playing like that. I wish we were playing every day. These few days out in Reno are kind of killing me you know? We live for the stage, I like thinking that we live for performing and being on stage and just getting to have a good time. We’re just big rigging truckers when we’re not playing gigs.
What is the approach to your live performances?
Well it all just depends, sometimes we write down a setlist and we follow that. But that’s just a little organized, and a little predictable. These days we might turn a 3 minute song into a 5 minute song or a 9 minute song even. I think all the best music that I actually listen to for more than a few months at a time is spontaneous so that’s what we’re going for. And lately we play a lot earlier. The band is a lot more focused at 7 or 8 than playing in someone’s living room at 1 am.
From what i’ve seen it seems like you guys have a pretty big—
[laughs] fanbase, in Europe. Have you seen a real difference between European and American audiences?
Well sometimes no one’s at your show and sometimes hundreds of people may come. It really depends on where we’re actually playing. When we’re in Europe attendance isn’t as important to me as the style that we bring. We’re rednecks from South Carolina and that makes us kind of appealing for some reason. It’s just something different, it’s something they’re not use to hearing every day. When we play a show there we already feel like we have this special trick up our sleeves. That’s a big part of it and people feed off of that. It’s like these guys are maybe the greatest band in the world even though there’s not that many people at the show.
I mean in Europe kids love to go to concerts. Its so strange! I mean people go to concerts here too but it’s usually this weird niche group of radio station kids from college. But there it’s just recreational. It’s not like you saw Bassnectar one time and that was your concert experience your whole life. That would be unheard of there, you’d almost be an unexperienced person if that was the only live music you’d ever witnessed.
Do you have any really wild tour stories?
Oh sure! Let me just pick one out of the hat. How about this time that I went to McDonalds and I asked them for a bacon egg and cheese biscuit and they gave me a McMuffin. I’m like what the fuck I asked for a biscuit baby! And she says do you know where you are? I say no, and she says you’re in Clemson prison, this is all that we give you. Then I said wait a minute how did I get here? Then they told me that I tried to steal this kids guitar or something, so I kind of traced back to that. I don’t know I guess I really did try to. That was a wild time in Clemson, South Carolina.
So your latest thing was Waiting On Cool
Yeah that was just a few tracks that we recorded with a couple of guys here and there. One cat in Nashville, one cat back in Charleston where we live and it’s all these songs you can really sing along to so we thought we’d put them on this little hip hop EP and the follow up is underway.
Do you have a timeline for that?
I don’t know, I mean usually what happens is we hit the road and I just bring an extra guitar. We’ve got a session booked to record at the end of this run in Echo Park so who knows we might be there for like a day, we might be there for a fortnight. We’ll probably just record all the tunes we got and go from there. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up in Omaha playing theatre [laughs].
Waiting On Cool was kind of a departure from your first LP. Is the next album going to be a continuation in the shift away from that sound?
I look at all those tracks as just kind of figuring out how to write songs so maybe it sounded like this feel or this time period or from this scene. But I don’t really think about it like that anymore. We just sort of make a song and the song kind of just makes itself. The sound will probably share similar tones and instrumentation but it’s really just figuring out how to sing, that’s all I’ve ever done. But before I was kind of talk-singing, this next one is you know holding out a note a little longer, giving the people what they really want — giving them that home run singalong. These next songs will all go together because they’ll have more emotion, more melody, maybe less conviction actually [laughs]. I just want it to sound free, I want it to sound like people who are truly free from any kind of fears or their past or anything like that. I think that’s what our discography is lacking.
Do you personally feel completely free from those things?
Yeah I really do, I just feel like a new man these days. I don’t know what it is maybe it took a certain amount of time on the road and maybe it took a certain person but I just feel more comfortable in my skin than I ever have. Whatever I’m going to turn out now it’s just gonna be the chapters or wisdom that I’ve read or that’s been shared with me on my time on this Earth. There’s some real hippy guidance for you.
Have you noticed specific relationships between certain drugs and certain aspects of the creative process? Like I don’t know maybe Adderall is great for writing or something…
Over these last shows it’s just become more clear that drugs are not really the answer. When it comes to the music we make you know whatever, we smoke a lot of pot. We sometimes do other drugs but that’s not really the key to success by any means. It’s also not going to help you make a certain song you know? For example I’ve taken LSD and tried to make a song and it doesn’t really happen, it just really doesn’t.
What you do discover is that total carefree accepting-the-world-for-what-it-is vibe instead of just complaining or writing just comments on society. And that helps you get that song that you think drugs will get you.
You bring up Adderall and it’s kind of shitty. Kids take it everywhere every day to focus in school which is almost just cheating. I don’t know it’s just kind of shitty. You don’t get any homegrown affect from it. You don’t develop any sense of a work ethic or focus or anything like that. I’ve played tons of shows on it and in your mind you’re amazing and you get off stage and the people whose opinions you value are like no that was shit man. So instead you have a beer, you have a meal, you go on stage, you get the guitar, you face the audience, you face your fears and you just do your thing.
Did you guys ever tour when you were underage in the States?
Oh yeah that’s when it all started. It was fine it really made us realize the difference between the north and south. In Alabama they would give us beer and say we don’t care — here do whatever you want to do. Up north there were times we were being escorted out of the venue for just trying to sell a fucking t-shirt after the gig. Not being 21 you had to be outside after you played whether it was hail, snow or whatnot. It was cool we just had to act more mature to not really get messed with. I thought it was good for us as people and that’s been different now for a year or two so we’re just really growing up these days. But yeah those were good times.
Interview by Tamim Alnuweiri. Follow her at @tamimalnuweiri.