Two Thumbs Down - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Austin of Two Thumbs Down. We discussed how they formed the band, writing and recording new album, ‘End All Be All’, songwriting, which songs were the easiest to write and which songs were more challenging, creating the cover art for the album, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

No problem!

Can you tell me how you got together and formed the band for those who may be unfamiliar? How did you initially become interested in music?

The band started with me recording an EP of songs in garageband on my iPhone that I felt good about, for pretty much the first time ever, my senior year of high school. So that winter I convinced my friends Will and Lauren to help be my backing band for a show our friends and I were trying to set up in Lauren’s basement. We had like, 5 days to practice, but the show was fun and went surprisingly okay so we sorta became a “real” more collaborative band from there! 

Your new album ‘End All Be All’ is out November 12th. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for the album?

Yeah! So the writing process was mostly over the course of my freshman year of college, when I was very much still adjusting to moving to New York and trying to find my place in the city. I had a lot of trouble making friends that year in particular, and felt really isolated and depressed; a tendency of mine that I’ve been trying to move away from is that I tend to think moving to a certain place or making a certain creative project or what have you will solve my problems and make me happier, when obviously it doesn’t work like that. So just kind of adjusting to a city that I had so many expectations about and having to realize that not everything is going to match up with those expectations (and that that’s okay) was a big part of the writing process. 

I just kind of worked on the tracks piecemeal until that summer we were able to work together (wearing masks in my garage, mostly) and finalize everything. As far as recording goes, we recorded most of the record with Jen Watson, who we knew from Faceplant and Courage Mother, late summer 2020 in her basement. Recording this project was pretty grueling, to be honest; it was still pre-vaccine, so unfortunately Lauren couldn’t come up to Westminster with us (we recorded her parts in her garage and my garage, with masks on) and the pandemic along with a hundred other things and a limited timeframe made recording really stressful. 

We did drums first over the course of about two days, bass in Lauren’s garage, and guitars back up in Maryland, and then we did vocals on our own. I remember feeling really self conscious every time I’d fuck up a guitar take or something and worried I was holding us up, but Jen was super kind and great to work with. Her records with Faceplant always sound amazing, and she killed it on our record from start to finish. If you’re reading this hire her to record & mix your shit!! 

You released “Tourist” with the album announcement. What made you pick that song as one of the first singles and the introduction to the album? 

I think we all just felt Tourist was one of the strongest songs on the album performance wise, and I think it serves as a good introduction for what this album is gonna be like. We definitely still sound like a bomb the music industry tribute band, but I’d like to think the songs this time around are better, more mature, and change up our sound a little more. This one’s definitely more mid-tempo than our songs usually are. I also feel like thematically it works; it’s about going home for the first time in a long time and feeling like a tourist in your own childhood bedroom. I dunno. Most of all we just thought we sounded the best on it! I’m sure if you talked to Will he’d give a better answer on this one!

What was the easiest song to write for the record and what was the hardest song to write for the album?

It’s hard to pick an easiest song to write because they all went through so many permutations! I usually demo stuff in garageband a lot, that’s definitely a big part of my writing process. I wanna say I think I figured out almost all of Halloween III (at least structure wise) in garageband in an afternoon in my freshman year dorm, but Knife Song also came together pretty quickly because Lauren had a clear vision for the song. So we were pretty easily able to hash out the structure for that one. Yr Voice I think also mostly came out of one creatively productive afternoon. The hardest song to write was probably either Skyline, because for a long time I couldn’t figure out how I wanted that song to sound, or maybe End All Be All. I dunno, in general everything took hard work to pull together!

The cover image is really interesting. Can you tell me a little about why you used that image and the meaning behind it?

That shack on the cover is one I’d pass walking up Kent Ave in Brooklyn; I did a lot of walking around and exploring my freshman year, and I got some decent photos of it on my phone. For some reason, something about the photo and the framing of it stuck with me - and, this was kind of more of a happy accident than an intentional choice, but I liked how it kind of worked thematically with our last EP (Nothing to Write Home About)’s cover art. A lot of that EP and the first TTD EP was about the daunting and unknown at the time prospect of going off to college in New York, and a lot of this album is kind of “well, I’m here… so now what?” 

So I liked that the buildings were in the background of the photo, rather than right up front like on EP2. Something really stuck about this dilapidated shack in front of the beautiful skyline. (New York still officially has the best skyline, by the way) It took FOREVER to land on the final image though, one that I took with my good camera about a year after the original image by sneaking around the fence. I was really indecisive about it, because something felt missing from just the photo I’d taken on my phone. I’m happy with what we landed on!

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that would like to add?

I don’t really have anything else to add other than to check out End All Be All, out on Lauren Records November 12th! We’re really proud of it. We also have a show coming up in NYC on my birthday, November 16th, and are currently in the planning stages for a tour we’re hoping to embark on in early/mid January. 

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