Words by David C. Obenour
Supergroups can be a tricky proposition. What’s good on paper doesn’t always translate in music. Plus the mounting expectations for an initial project when considering stacked back-catalogs of previous bands can be daunting to say the least.
Fortunately for The Sad Tomorrows, whose members have spent time in The Ergs!, Night Birds, Black Wine, and Hunchback, the results are much more natural, effortless, and somehow still stand up to the other projects’ releases. Less loud and angular than the punk sounds that proceeded it, the new group’s self-titled debut EP skews and shimmers with more power pop hooks and choruses.
Off Shelf: The last few years have been unlike any other, so I’m wondering – how has the start of Sad Tomorrows been affected by the pandemic and isolation?
Jeff Schroeck: The pandemic wasn’t too big of an impediment to the band. We started up in mid-2021, after we’d all had our shots, so we were able to get together to write, rehearse, and eventually record without worry. Occasionally we’d have to postpone a practice if one of us had been in contact with a COVID positive person, but we didn’t have any deadlines so it was as big of a deal as it could’ve been. We didn’t have to cancel anything.
OS: How did you all start playing together? Are there any moments that you can think of when it was apparent that this would “become a band”?
JS: We’d all played together in combinations before and so I think we’re all just kind of on each others’ mental lists when we’re thinking of people to play with. I had talked to Brian and J about doing a band at the same time Mike had talked to Brian [Gorsegner] and J [Nixon] about doing a band so we just smooshed both things together.
OS: You’ve been in a number of bands to date, what excites you about Sad Tomorrows? How do you think the band relates to the music you want to make now?
JS: I don’t want to speak for the other three but what I’m excited about with the band is that it’s more expressly power-pop than any other band that I’ve done, so I’m not doing the blasting guitar I usually do, especially with The Ergs!. It’s also the first band I’ve done with two guitars where we’ve tried to construct parts instead of grafting something new onto an existing part or playing the same thing at the same time the whole time.
OS: How is it easier to get into a band having played with so many people? In terms of writing and recording?
JS: It’s easier in that we don’t have to guess about what we each like and don’t like about what works in a song, though that also makes it harder sometimes because the strong sense we all have about what can work isn’t always the same thing. And we’re all older now so we are less inclined to go along with something we don’t like just to keep the peace.
OS: Is there anything you think gets lost now that you’re more familiar with the whole process of writing, recording, touring? Is there anything that comes with experience that you wish you could undo?
JS: No. I think that if you have a creative brain then the weirdness that comes out when you are first starting to make music and don’t know what you are doing will still be there later, even after you’ve learned more about how to write or play or sing, etc. Where those things get lost is if you start trying to create primarily for other people but that’s not something I’ve ever done. The only thing I miss now is having the time to mess around with silly projects but that’s a product of being a busy adult and not to do with knowing more about making music.
OS: The self-titled EP is a short and captivating four songs, how much more do you have ready to record? Is the writing coming quickly?
JS: We have squishy, nebulous plans for recording an LP sometime within the next year, which we have about half of written so far.
OS: You talked about it before and the songs also play a little more power-pop than pop-punk, what distinction do you see there?
JS: It’s intentional, for me at least. The main bands I’ve done before this have all been high intensity trios, and I wanted to try something more chilled out. Not totally mellow, but not screaming noise either.
OS: When do you expect a full length? What will have evolved since you recorded and released these initial four songs?
JS: Hopefully we can have the first one out by next summer. I don’t know if there’s anything different between the first batch of songs and the newer ones. The tape recording didn’t have any extra instrument overdubs or anything on it, and I figure we’ll do a little more texturing on an LP.
OS: I imagine that your fanbase has aged right along with you. How are shows different from when you started? What’s better and worse?
JS: There have only been two so far and they’ve both been fun. They’ve both been in Brooklyn, though, so we haven’t yet gotten a sense of how it feels to do the new thing at home.
OS: Do you have touring plans lined up? What excites you about getting back out and performing live?
JS: No plans yet. We all work and some of us are parents so it’s hard to go on the road. We do have a couple shows booked or in the works, but we’re more of a one, maybe two, a month kind of band. What’s exciting about playing shows again, with this band and with The Ergs! – we have a few shows this year – is that it’s still as fun to play as it was when I was 16 and I’m glad I get to keep doing it!