A conversation with Jack Dolan (vocals, bass) and Clay Frankel (vocals, guitar).
Aggie Radio: How was your journey here?
Clay: It’s been good, yeah. We’ve been on tour with The Districts…they’re here at the fest as well, so.
Jack: I don’t even really know who’s playing here, because it’s like, pretty much what we’ve always been doing, The Districts and then us. It kinda feels like a continuation.
Aggie Radio: Yeah, like it’s just another night. Do you guys play a lot of festivals? Do you like playing festivals?
Jack: Oh we’ve played a lot of festivals.
Clay: We haven’t done many this year, just because we’re not really in a record cycle right now. But we did a bunch last year and this year has been more laid back.
Aggie Radio: You like to play them?
Clay: Yeah well, some festivals suck, some are really dope. This one seems chill.
Jack: I like them when they’re inside. And when we play after 6 p.m.
Clay: Right, right. We’ve done a lot where we get there at like 10 in the morning and you’re in the blazing hot sun and you play at like 1 in the afternoon.
Jack: No one enjoys that.
Aggie Radio: So tell me about your songwriting process. You all contribute?
Clay: Yeah, we have four different songwriters in the band who just write individually and then bring [the songs] to the rest of the group. It builds after that.
Aggie Radio: I feel like a lot of people don’t realize there’s a handful of vocalists as well.
Clay: Yeah, there’s four people who sing on different songs.
Jack: And so far it’s been like, whoever writes most of the song will just sing it, ya know. That’s kinda how it works out.
*The Suffers start warming up in the green room – loud female vocals and trombone*
Jack: I love hearing people warm up. I’ve never done that before.
Aggie Radio: You guys don’t warm up?
Clay: We don’t do that, no. We don’t go out of our range or anything.
Jack: We don’t really acknowledge too heavily that we’re about to go on. We are just kinda like, alright it’s time, let’s go.
Aggie Radio: Do you find that having multiple writers helps diversify your songs? Does everyone contribute their own style?
Clay: Yeah, yeah. It definitely allows us to switch things up at any given moment on a record, but also live as well.
Jack: It’s nice also because we hang out a lot, but you don’t always know where someone is gonna come from with a song. So you could be listening to a certain kind of music and write in that style. Then someone else could come with a song that’s like, ya know, of course it makes sense I mean it’s just rock n’ roll but like, it’ll come from somewhere else so it’ll make the record interesting to listen to. It’s not all from the same vein.
Aggie Radio: What was your reasoning in releasing the Sweet ‘17 Singles?
Jack: We were releasing them physically on a 7-inch, so traditionally that’s two songs back in the day. Traditionally there’s one song and then you flip it over and there’s a B-side to it. The whole reason we started doing it is because we had a lot of songs we were writing and not a whole lot of time to record them. We didn’t want to just stop touring and make a whole new record. So we just did it when we were home in the times between tours, and it didn’t feel like enough to release a full record. It was just something fun to do.
Clay: It was us trying to give fans as much as we can while we’re on the road all the time. And it was fun, people got excited about it every month. And now we have the compilation record of sorts, which is really sick.
Aggie Radio: You guys started the band when you were in high school. I personally didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life when I was in high school, but did you guys always want to be musicians? Did you always envision yourselves here or did one of you want to be, like, a lawyer or something? Or do you still wanna be a lawyer I mean it’s not too late.
Clay: I think at the time we definitely wanted to do a tour…our ambitions weren’t crazy high, because obviously it doesn’t work out for everyone so you have to have your expectations in check. It started just for fun, and it’s still fun, and that’s why we keep doing it.
Jack: In high school we really just wanted to play good shows in Chicago that were fun. That was the goal. Somewhere in there we wanted someone to put out the record, and we just wanted to do a tour, which is what we did right when we got to college so. We got that done. We all thought it was pretty much over then, because we were all going to school. Then, timing-wise, like two weeks into college this small label hit us up that wanted to put out the first record, so we’re like ok, maybe this is not completely dead.
Aggie Radio: Good timing, at least you weren’t further into college.
Jack: Yeah at least it wasn’t like the third year in.
Aggie Radio: Do you really go to high school with Chance the Rapper?
*Jack burps* Excuse me.
Aggie Radio: I’m not cutting that part out.
Clay: Yeah, me and Cadien went to school with him. And got in trouble with him for smoking weed before school…we’ve stayed in contact with him.
Jack: Tell ’em, though.
Clay: Oh yeah, when we got in trouble he got the 10-day. That’s why his first mixtape is called 10-day, that was the incident that sparked it. I see him a lot still in Chicago, he still lives there. He didn’t move to L.A. or New York or anything like that. And he’s still really cool, he’s a dope-ass dude.
Aggie Radio: So I was reading your Wikipedia…
Jack: I’ve never read it. I’m curious about what’s on there, how much they know.
Clay: I actually went on recently because I read on some different band’s Wikipedia, I don’t even remember who’s, but it had a start date for them. And I was like, I wonder what ours says…and I went and looked and it said 2009…and I was like, thaaaat’s pretty steep.
Jack: Yeah I don’t know about that. At least not for me. I didn’t start hanging with you guys until junior year, really.
Clay: So that needs to be amended.
Aggie Radio: Right. So you guys have never gotten on and written stuff about yourself?
Clay: No, definitely not.
Jack: Probably could, though. Like I was pursuing a modeling career or something.
Clay: People do all sorts of crazy shit on the internet. For God knows what reason.
Jack: Yeah, people have showed me Instagrams that people have made pretending it’s me. Which is just bizarre. It’ll just say my name and have a picture of me. You’d be surprised. I’m always surprised.
Clay: There’s like a lot of fake Twin Peaks band accounts and stuff like that. It’s funny.
Aggie Radio: Does your reputation of having wild shows intimidate you at all?
Jack: I remember kinda worrying about it when we started having slower songs…we’ve always had slower songs but we usually have just stuck to the fast ones live. But we’ve been starting to play some slower songs that we’ve written….you’d be surprised at what people can get wild to. It’s very bizarre. We could play the slowest song we have…
Clay: And there’s kids like throwing each other around…
Jack: It just doesn’t matter. I don’t know what it is.
Jack: That girl has some cool boots.
Aggie Radio: Festival fashion is always on point. What’s the most eclectic festival you guys have been to or played? As far as outfits go?
Clay: Desert Days is pretty crazy. It’s like Mad Max meets Coachella. That’s in Joshua Tree. It’s a really cool festival, but the people who go…some of them are whack. Also Sasquatch is pretty out there too.
Jack: They’re all doin’ that hippie dance, man, you know the *sways back and forth with eyes closed*
Aggie Radio: Well that’s it for me. Anything else you wanna say?
Clay: The Loyola Chicago Ramblers just got into the Elite 8, go Ramblers baby, LUC, we on that!