Based out of the Cincinnati, Ohio music scene, Close To Home has toured all across the nation, and could very well be on the road as you are reading this. At press time, the band was in the midst of tearing up stages with Dance Gavin Dance and Iwrestledabearonce. Now signed to Artery Recordings, their debut for the label is entitled Never Back Down, and it’s surely a triumph for Close To Home.
Mixing in both melodic punk and hardcore into their music, there is something for everyone on their Tom Denney (ex-A Day To Remember) produced recording. Here is a recent interview we conducted with one of the members to find out more about the days of their lives…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Close To Home, and how long the band has been together.
JJ Cooper, I play guitar and didgeridoo. The band has been together for a few years now.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
CTH is based out of Cincinnati, OH. The music scene here is pretty eclectic. We have friends in hip hop bands, hardcore bands, pop punk bands and even Nickelback cover bands. A lot of people from here are into a pretty wide variety of music.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Never Back Down?
We wrote this album about the experiences we’ve had in our lives as members of this band. Some being bad, some funny, some about love, A LOT about drinking beer and just an overall look into what we’ve had to go through to get to this point.
Where did you get some of the ideas for the lyrics on the new CD. Select two songs in particular and tell me what inspired you to write the lyrics.
“These are the days we won’t forget” – Track 1 – ‘Days of Our Lives‘
We wanted to let people know that we weren’t going to forget any experience we have in this band whether they be good or bad.
“Here we stand, together this is all we know, (we’ll never back down), our feet sit firmly to the ground” – Track 3 – ‘All We Know‘
This is our ways of basically letting everyone know that our band and this music is one of the most important things in our lives, behind our family, friends, beer and my life size cardboard cutout poster of David Hasselhoff.
How did you wind up on Razor & Tie/ Artery Recordings?
They found us on the ‘Men Seeking Men’ section of Craig’s List… JOKE!
We were signed to another label prior to our current label and had actually recorded this entire album before being signed to Razor & Tie/ Artery Recordings. We have a great management team at Outerloop Management (Matt Stewart and Mike Mowery) and also amazing booking over at The Agency Group aka ‘TAG’ with Dave Shapiro and JJ Cassiere and I think they had a lot to do with getting our name out to different labels and finally landing Razor & Tie/ Artery Recordings.
What did Tom Denney of A Day To Remember contribute to the overall recording process and what was it like working with him?
Tom was the producer and co-wrote the music with us. We immediately clicked, so it was a really easy process. He was having dreams about me by the end of the 5 weeks, and I don’t think he wanted us to leave haha.
What is a Close To Home show like for those of us who have yet to see you play?
It’s a bunch of people who feel the same way about music as we do. Everyone in the band agrees that we need to put everything we have into the 30 minutes or so that we have to play every night.
What did you think of the Hollywood area when you played out here and are there any touring plans for Southern California in the future?
Hollywood is definitely a different experience from Cincinnati but we love it. Lots of leather haha! I hope we play every venue in Hollywood at some point! We’ll be in LA at the El Rey Theatre on March 10 with Dance Gavin Dance, I wrestled a Bear Once, In Fear & Faith. I’m not sure if that’s technically considered “Hollywood” though.
How did the Scream It Like You Mean It tour with Silverstein go and what were some of the highlights?
That tour was amazing. We played at some of my favorite venues and the crowds at every show were awesome. Playing Hollywood House of Blues was definitely a highlight because of the history behind the venue and how many other awesome bands that have played there.
Any strange or horrific road stories you could with us?
There are so many stories that I would never be able to tell them all haha. I think we attract strange experiences haha. I can tell you one scary driving story though. I was driving at 7 in the morning while everyone was asleep, the rear left tire completely flew off the van, saw the trailer jack knife behind me and almost flipped, but wrestled the steering wheel long enough to be able to get things under control, slow down and get off the road (Everyone still owes me for that one!). We missed our next show in Denver on the Scream It Like You Mean It Tour, but made it in time to sell our old EP outside of the venue, so it ended decent.
Who did the artwork for Never Back Down and how much input did you have on it?
A guy named Mike C who has done artwork for A Day To Remember, VEARA and tons of other bands. We all sent in naked photos of ourselves and wanted him to make the album cover kind of like a portrait, but he wouldn’t do it, so instead we just went with the robot and little boy getting ready to battle. We wanted an image that would describe “Never Back Down” to everyone how we imaged it. We had an idea about a little boy in an alley getting confronted by a giant monster or robot and having to stand up for himself. I think Mike C did an awesome job.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Never Back Down for the first time?
I hope they remember to spread the word to their friends haha! But, hopefully they can remember to put their lives into perspective. Everyone has good days and bad days. Just make the best of what you have. But don’t forget to party.
Any final words of wisdom?
BUY OUR NEW ALBUM ‘NEVER BACK DOWN‘ PLEASE!!
Don’t eat 4 day old left over sushi. I started eating it at the beginning of this interview and now I’m starting to feel the consequences.
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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