Fresh off the heels of their UK tour, Terry Corso of the mighty Alien Ant Farm took the time to catch up with us about his influences, plans for the future and how he looks back on his time with AAF.
S] How are things going?
T] “It’s been pretty eventful, I’ve been riding in the van. It’s good. It’s the second day since we’ve been over here that the sun’s been shining so that’s nice. We’re used to that.”
S] How has it been doing bigger shows like Manchester and Sheffield and putting in smaller dates like York?
T] “It’s a lot of fun being that we haven’t hit those spots before and being that those are probably spots that don’t get a lot of entertainment or rock shows or any kind of shows for that matter. It makes for a really fun show because you can just feel the excitement. People are a little more gracious and happy that they get the opportunity to go to a show in their hometown when it doesn’t happen that often.”
S] You guys have been touring for years and playing tracks from ‘ANThology’ mixed in with tracks from your other records. What’s it like to go back to the record in full and play it back for everybody?
T] “It’s definitely special for us. We’ve been integrating three, four records for the last couple of years on the road, but with this record there’s a lot of excitement just from a nostalgia point which is really cool, but it’s not just for the crowd, it’s us as well. This record was really big for us, it was our first record, it did well and we had a solid label behind us. Everything about it was simply a pleasure. Although we do integrate a handful of songs from that record into our set it’s really cool to go back and visit some of those album tracks that haven’t seen the light of day in a long time. Speaking for myself, I worked on a lot of those songs when I was young and living in my bachelor pad. They say you have your whole life to write your first record and three to six months to write your second record. A lot of those songs were simply heartfelt songs. It was when we were struggling to be somebody and to make it and break the surface. That being said, those songs have a lot of meaning for us and it’s cool to revisit them and play them.”
S] How do you look back on the success that hit you guys when tracks like ‘Attitude’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ were coming out?
T] “When I look back on it now it’s funny, a lot of it seems dreamlike in a way. It’s just so long now. It was an extremely accelerated process for us and we experienced a lot in a very small amount of time. Within the two years beyond that record we went straight to the top and we had a bus wreck and the label shut its doors and it was an emotional roller coaster. It felt good to be alive. It was an exciting time.”
S] How would you say you’ve changed and developed both musically and as a person through the music you’ve been making?
T] “So much has changed. I was in my late twenties when we made that record and I’m forty-four now. It was good going through that actually, a lot of the travel that we did and making lifelong friends and experiencing culture and going on to make other records where we worked with really incredible musicians and producers that taught us a lot about song writing and being musicians. A lot of that translates into how you carry yourself as a person. You learn how to be a better person and you learn about patience and you learn how to tumble and roll with the punches. There’s a lot to it. I think music is so generally influential that it really influences your life in a lot of ways you don’t realise.”
S] It’s a very different time we’re in now with respect to releasing music. After everything you’ve been through as a band, what was it like putting out a record and getting back to basics?
T] “It’s a lot different. The atmosphere has completely changed and it’s all about adapting to that. We’ve learned a lot. It was the first time we ever worked with topline writers who co-wrote songs which was really fun because it was kind of getting outside of our comfort zone and experiencing things outside of our box. It’s a bit tougher these days and it’s harder to get the attention you’d like to get. Anybody’s attention span these days only goes as far as the next link. It’s really easy to just hit a link on the computer and move onto the next thing so no one’s really absorbing as much as the old days when you used to buy a CD and sit down and listen to it from the beginning to the end and it’s just not that world anymore and that’s fine. We’re into technology. Making Always & Forever, we toured a lot into that. I had been out of the band for about five years and that was my first opportunity to write more Alien Ant Farm music and I was excited. It was fun to lay down demos for that, me and Dryden [Mitchell] working very closely on music and lyrics together and going in with the top liners and writing songs, it was a fun experience all around. I wish that we could have gotten the record out a little faster. We hit a lot of road blocks and hang-ups with the record label we were working with because they turned out to not really be what we thought they were and they just weren’t a very experienced company in the world and we didn’t know that at the time and it kind of turned into the releasing of the album being a fiasco. That was our only obligation to them. As much as we love that record we’re excited to move on.”
S] After all of the challenges that you faced as a band, where do you find motivation to keep going?
T] “We’ve all been friends since we were very young and we started this band so long ago and got to go through the things that we experienced in the early days. We’re very much a family and we make up like family members. I think that this being an institution for us is what gave us the inspiration and how well we actually work together and the music that we make together stylistically is our own. We’ve always prided ourselves on not really sounding like any other bands and having our own sound and Dryden’s voice being very unique and being the common thread between our genre straddling styles. That to me is very exciting. I could be in any band that has a ton of dark tracks that sound the same, but that would just get boring after a while. We went through a lot of bad things that other bands haven’t been through, but we went through a lot of good things and its all life experience and I think it bonded us together. When I was out of the band I can’t say I didn’t miss it and miss those guys, when I came back it was very exciting for me.”
S] Do you have any particular good memories that stand out from when you were making ANThology?
T] “Just throwing the record together was very exciting stuff. Thanks to Papa Roach we just got a major record deal after struggling for years and getting overlooked because people don’t come off the fence unless someone else does. Making that record, we were so excited. We made that record out of a studio called NRG in North Hollywood, California and it’s one of the most beautiful studios in Southern California. Everyone that works there is very family oriented and it was just a nice place to be and we were excited to go there. When we were in pre-production we worked at a rehearsal hall across the street and we just kind of bounced back and forth hanging out and working and we were so excited about it. We were writing songs like ‘Sticks and Stones’ or ‘Attitude’ at this place and it was exciting times. We couldn’t believe some of the stuff that was coming out of us and it was a good time to be alive.”
S] What advice would you give to younger fans who look up to you and how would you tell them to deal with the negative side of being in the industry?
T] “As far as the negative side of things this is an instance where you need to say ‘you can’t give up’. Keep your nose to the grindstone. If you really believe just keep going and fight fight fight tooth and nail because you will hit more roadblocks than you’d like. It’s going to be a tough challenge and it might be fruitless, let’s be honest. As far as advice, I’d almost more pose it as a request from myself. I don’t think there’s enough uniqueness in the world anymore. There’s a lot of cookie cutter stuff going on and it’s all right to be into the bands that you love and want to be like them, but it’s more beneficial in the long run to take those influences away and create your own thing. Like I said, we need more bands that are doing their own thing and not just following the crowd. Be wise with your influences. Always dig your influences and apply them, but I fee like it’s better to try and derive your own style out of all that.”
S] What is inspiring you in 2016? What can you tell us about the future for Alien Ant Farm?
T] “The plan is to not have such a gap this time. Like I said that label gave us a huge hiccup and put a lot of time in between our releases. Having said about what’s going on in the industry today, it’s kind of caused me to regress and go backwards and get retro with my influences. I’m listening to a lot of old stuff from my youth whether it be punk rock or metal or even just like prog stuff that I used to be into or classic rock. We just lost Glenn Frey and David Bowie and both artists were insanely influential to me. I’m sure I’m going to be listening the crap out of them. I’ve just been falling back to the music that I used to love and that was the stuff that inspired me to dig deep for ANThology and I dug really deep for ‘Always & Forever’ as well. We put our heart into all of these records. It’s going to be really fun to go home and start demoing some new music and me and Dryden will get together and have these ideas. I like to come up with something and see what his answer is to it or what his application is to it. These shows here in the UK have been very inspirational. They make me feel very anxious to get at it.”
S] Do you find yourself being inspired by people or things?
T] “Even when we got to do our second record, we worked with the DeLeo brothers from Stone Temple Pilots and we looked up to those guys so much. They taught us a lot about being musicians and being good people. You meet a lot of people like that along the way.”