Praise are a melodic hardcore band from Maryland and Virginia. The band is made up by members Andy Norton (vocals), Anthony Dye (guitars), Austin Stemper (guitars), Chris Bavaria (bass) and Daniel Fang (also of Turnstile... on drums). They have been at it for well over a decade now and their latest is called "All In A Dream" which came out on Revelation Records back in May. When I saw them rolling through Long Island back in June I got together with Chris Williams from Change to put some questions together in hopes of grabbing one of their members for a quick chat. Guitarist Anthony Dye was that member and after they played their set I asked him these questions in the parking lot of the VFW in Massapequa. Sorry this took so long to post! Lead photo by: Farrah Sheiky with graphics by Paul Turano.
IE: Hey Anthony, Praise is currently out on a Northeast weekend run of shows. Can you tell us about how the weekend is going so far? Praise doesn’t play out all that often and I just wanted to get an idea of how much of an undertaking it is to put something like this weekend together?
Anthony: It is definitely very hard for us to get together. We are spread out all over the Mid-Atlantic area… we have some people in Virginia, some people in Maryland. We all had to take off from work on Friday and we did have to find a fill in drummer kind of like last minute. Our regular drummer Daniel had a family thing come up this weekend… an unfortunate event with his family that he had to stay home for. We had to fly our friend Blake in from Oregon. He is in Slow Fire Pistol which is based out of Atlanta and also Memory Screen, also out of Atlanta but he moved to Portland recently. Both bands are going to continue even though he has moved. We had never played with Blake before so he and I got together on Thursday night to practice the songs and he killed it. Like hit for hit, he knew the songs and then we all practiced as a full band on Friday before we left for the Philly show. The Philly show was cool. We played with Contention, Wreckage and Envision. It was a really good show, our friend Bob put it on and he has been booking Praise for a long time. Today’s show was really cool. We played with some other melodic hardcore bands. It is not easy to find bands that have that melodic sensibility that we try to have so it is great to kind of feel like as one with some of the other bands. Tomorrow we are going to Connecticut and we are playing with Almighty Watching, Soul Blind and Drowning Man… and then the long drive back home.
IE: “All In A Dream” has been out for about a month now, and from our Praise insider (aka Chris Williams from Change) the record was about 75% done in 2020 when the pandemic really took grip of our lives. If this is correct how did this impact the creative process when you jumped back in to finish things up? Was it a situation where you had second thoughts and maybe want to change some things when things restarted?
Anthony: That definitely happened. We didn’t go back in and really chop and screw the music but we did change a couple of instrumental things that were already tracked. Some of them were significant. It did give us a lot of time to work on the vocals, work on lyrics. We sat on the recording for a long time before we went back to finish all of that stuff. The pandemic, as awful as it was that it happened… it did give us time to really be intentional with how we finished the record and then how we chose to roll it out.
PRAISE COLLAGE PHOTOS TAKEN @ MASSAPEQUA VFW JUNE, 2022. PHOTOS BY: MICHELLE MENNONA
IE: Many bands we have come across had situations where their members had a lot of free time due to quarantines and in most or all the cases it was a huge positive in regards to their writing process. Has the thought or idea of “how are we going to duplicate this process next time” come up yet amongst you all?
Anthony: That is tricky because we thought this was going to be our last record at the time. I don’t know if we feel that way now because we had so much fun finishing it up. It is very hard for us to make music and find the time to do it.
IE: What kinds of things in your personal lives are behind the band’s current situation of trying to find more time to do things like this weekend of shows, writing/recording etc?
Anthony: I was in graduate school when we made this record, everyone else has jobs, two of the guys live in Richmond, so in some cases were like hours away from each other. Our drummer is a full time musician at this point. He is on tour a lot and it is very hard to schedule him with us. Were weekend guys and have to do stuff on the weekends and his band is killing it right now and they need to take a lot of the great opportunities that come their way.
IE: “All In A Dream” seems to have a more positive feel about it as compared to “Leave It All Behind” which seemed to be a bit more dark with a gloomier type of vibe. Can you talk about the band’s mindset going into the creation of both the music and lyrics for the new one?
Anthony: That’s kind of a funny situation because a lot of the new album was written pre-pandemic and I think there was a lot of hopefulness that we had with maybe certain world political events that we might have been inspired by at the time. Like genuinely optimistic about a few things. Obviously there is a lot to not be optimistic about but we saw some bright spots at the time we started writing the record and then obviously shit got real dark pretty quick after that. We still wanted to put something bright out there into the world. We love doing the band, we love doing music. It is a bright spot for us and hopefully it can be as well for people who like the band. Shows are happening again and numbers rise and dip with the Covid stuff. Hopefully we are still going to push through this like it has been lately.
CLICK BELOW TO STREAM OR DOWNLOAD "ALL IN A DREAM" BY PRAISE
IE: Can you talk about the video for “All In A Dream”? Where it was shot, who the two aliens were and how the video may or may not tie in with the song’s lyrics?
Anthony: The lyrics and the video’s meaning is something that we would probably rather leave to interpretation. It is not something that we have down to the letter as far as how we interpret it. It is definitely about finding a connection which is something we find through playing music and our connection with other people. It was shot in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC and was directed by our friend Robin Zeijlon who is also the drummer of Truth Cult, a great band… anyone who is reading this interview should definitely check them out. The aliens in the video are our friends Zech and Russell. Zech is in a really cool band called Demand out of Washington DC. Zech and Russell were aliens 1 and 2 in that video. That was a fun day. It was really cold and apparently the paint that they were wearing in the video made their hands even colder. They suffered to make that video. John Scharbach who we also like to call Crucial John brought in these stuffed animals which is like this art thing he has going on. You can see the very same stuffed animals in the Turnstile NPR Tiny Desk concert video. John is a good friend of the band and artist who also used to sing in Give. Click HERE to check out the video.
IE: Andy’s lyrics are a big part of the Praise package. Obviously they are coming from Andy’s thoughts and he probably gets the bulk of the questions about them. From working with him for a while now how does he approach the lyric process and is anyone else in the band in on helping with ideas? Consulted at all? Does he come with a book of lyrics he fits to songs, or does he feel out the vibe and then write them?
Anthony: His process involves a few different things. He does have a bunch of ideas that he keeps together and when a song is nearing instrumental completion he will sort of figure out which idea he wants to work into the song. And yeah, it can be collaborative. Andy and I worked together on lyrics a good bit. I like help him flesh out some of his thoughts I think. There is one song on the new record and a couple of songs in the band’s back catalog that were sort of the inverse where I came in with a lot of the stuff and he helped me finish it up. The song on the new record that fits into that category is “Peace Of Mine”. I would say on that song I wrote a bunch of it and he helped me finish the stuff I couldn’t figure out. Every other song on the new record is mostly Andy and then me helping him put a shine on things. Other members of the band in the past have helped out too. On “Leave It All Behind” Daniel helped a lot with lyrics in the final stages. Sort of like a song being 90% done and then in the studio everyone coming together to finish it up.
PRAISE @ SOUND & FURY FEST LOS ANGELES, CA, JULY 30, 2022. PHOTO BY: DANIELLE PARSONS
IE: Is there a lyric or message on the new album that really stands out to you where you took notice right away when you first heard it?
Anthony: Two things come to mind. One is on the song that I helped write, “Peace of Mine”… the idea behind the lyrics is loving someone in your life who is mentally ill and how it can affect you. That song means a lot to me because that is a big part of my life. As far as how Andy’s lyrics go, I will just say generally it’s been a true joy for me to see him do the lyrics on this record because I feel his artistic growth is a reflection of the growth in his personal life that he has gone through. Since the last record he has made some progress on some things and he is writing better music I think because of that and it has just been really cool to see that.
IE: I wanted to bring up the name Brian McTernan from Be Well and Salad Days Studios who helped record the new album. Can you talk about what kind of stamp he had on “All In A Dream”.
Anthony: Brian is a great friend of the band and we are a fan of his too. It’s been great to work with him. He lives in Baltimore. He helped with arrangements and song writing and in the early stages of the record he helped us make some demos. He was actually going to record the album but he had stuff in his life come in and he couldn’t make it happen at the time we needed to do it so we ended up tracking the songs with Kevin Bernsten who is awesome and because of the delay with the pandemic Kevin couldn’t record the vocals so Brian came back into the fold and not only recorded the vocals but helped out a lot with how Andy wanted to sing. Brian is a great guy, shout out to Be Well, shout out to Battery, we love Brian McTernan.
IE: Your last two albums ended with cover songs that were in the punk rock realm of music. Do you guys have your eyes on other songs that you feel you can make into a cool cover?
Anthony: I don’t know if we will record another cover just because we don’t want that to become like our gimmick. We have done it twice now. We love covers but we would have to talk about that. We always do live covers. I don’t know if we have ever played a show and not covered something. Dag Nasty is one of my favorite bands and we have done “Circles”. A cool one we were just talking about the other day, was Government Issue “Time To Escape”… nobody knew it but we love playing that song. We have also covered “Out Of Step” a bunch. We never even had to practice it cause everyone knows how to play “Out of Step”.
IE: You have the Sound And Fury Fest coming up next in California in late July. Besides that what else is Praise looking to do in the upcoming months?
Anthony: We are looking at the late summer/fall for some more shows, like another weekend in a different part of the country. We have Sound And Fury coming up and we will see if we can make some other shows happen while were out there. It is probably pretty hectic as every band probably has that same idea. We definitely want to do some more extensive West Coast stuff at some point and hopefully we can get back to see some of our friends in Europe too.
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