After a brief time on a major label and a huge show in the Philippines, pop-rock Arizona quartet This Century returns to North America with The Endless Summer tour with frequent tourmate, indie rocker Austin Gibbs. With a new album on the horizon, Misunderrated sits down with lead singer Joel Kanitz to talk about the band’s post-label growth and how it feeds into their new sound.
How’s the new album coming along?
We just wrapped the recording up, and it was a great process. ‘Cause we only had one shot to do our last record, Sound of Fire. We went to California and it was like, okay, you’re in California for two months, you’re in the studio, and that’s pretty much all the time you get. But for the new album, we had a lot more time to write songs and narrow down what we actually liked, and what we felt was very cohesive, so it’s been great. And I’m excited to finally get it out.
For the last record, you guys were on Warner Bros. Records, so there was someone to tell you what to do. But this time, you guys make all the decisions. Was that harder or easier in terms of narrowing things down?
I think, honestly, I feel like it’s easier this go just because… It was great being on the record label and learning from that experience. But there were definitely people who were not telling you what to do, but strongly suggested what songs they think should be on the record and what not, and that influences you. Not to say that it wasn’t true to who we were, but with this record, we aren’t signed, so we’re independent, we did everything on our own. It was a lot of freedom. We could write whatever we wanted; we could choose whatever songs we wanted; we could spend as much time as we wanted; and we could scrap whatever songs. So again, I think it’s just truer to who we are as a band just because it’s been just us.
Does that mentality feed into what you’re thinking when making the new album? For example, when you’re choosing a song, would you base it on whether it would sound good on the radio? Was that part of the decision process in narrowing down the album?
Yeah, absolutely. I think, again, we learned from that process. We’ve kind of gained an ear for what we think… sounds like a bigger song or whatever. So it was like we were our own A&Rs in that sense. But again, there were songs in the record that we wrote that we really loved but someone at the record label was kind of opposing it. It was a bummer you know what I mean. There was none of that this time.
Were there any songs that didn’t make into Sound of Fire end up in the new album?
[Long pause] Um… I’m thinking… I’m trying to think of all the songs. We recorded quite a few. There’s one that we had as a demo before we did Sound of Fire, but it was one of those things which not everyone was 100% on it, so we just ended up not doing it. But we did record that song that I’m talking about for this new record. I’m not sure if it’s actually gonna make it yet. We haven’t completely confirmed the tracklisting.
I’m assuming, you’re not going to play any new songs other than “Beach Blond” on this tour? It’s still all under wrapped?
Yeah, it will be “Beach Blond” and that’s it from that record. And we’ll do “Someone For Everyone”, which is with Austin Gibbs.
You guys went to the Philippines in June. Was that the first time you guys were in Southeast Asia?
Yeah. First time.
Did you guys only visit the Philippines, just to play one day?
Yeah, we just went and played one show, for the Philippines. [Laughs] It was a crazy thing. It was a pretty big production. It’s crazy to think flying halfway across the world to do one show. But it was a show that this guy was doing and he wanted us to be on it. He had already been doing a lot of promoting. It just made sense. I mean we were on radio over there, I think we were no.1 at that time when we booked the show. So all that stuff was kind of going on.
It was amazing. We went over there and did radio, interviews and acoustic performance, and then the show along with a few other things. It was definitely worth it. Hopefully the next time when we go to Philippines, it will be a couple more shows. We’ll probably do Indonesia.
Do you know how the radio hit happen in the Philippines?
The radio thing is crazy. It was a girl, who I think was interning or works at the station, she got hold of our record Sound of Fire. She happened to really like it and gave it to one of the DJs. He played it and I guess it just kind of caught on with people. And then we realized that was a great opportunity to grab hold of, so we kind of had a street team put together. They were more doing it on their own though, which was awesome. So then they started promoting and calling in the radio station and requesting and requesting until we hit no.1. I don’t know, it just kind of snowballed from there. And then it was the right time to go.
It was pretty incredible. But at that time, you guys were not with Warner?
Yeah, by then we were off the label. That was another thing, we were very proud of that too. Just the fact that we were able to do that on our own with our Filipino street team.
Do you have a favorite venue to play at?
[Looks around] This one’s up there. I really do like Sneaky Dee’s. We’ve played here once before last year, and that was a really good show. Just Toronto in general, we like. This is one of ‘em. And Chain Reaction is always good, that’s in Anaheim, California. That’s a good one. Wherever there’s fans that go crazy hearing our music.
Do you guys have creative outlets other than songwriting and music?
We all have our thing ‘cause it gets boring when you’re at home not doing anything. Ryan has this project that he just started, called Stop Dead. Alex and Sean kind of do producing; Alex is more into that. When I’m at home, I do worship-leading at my church, and I also write songs for that. We’re gonna put out music pretty soon at my church. So yeah, we all have our thing.
Photography and interview by Jessie Lau