Sunday 31st December 2017
Just when you think the past 12 months of music discovery are coming to a close, and as I’m sat here wondering what bands, artists and releases really peaked for me this year, another contender races in to firmly add their place in my ones to watch for 2018. Bassist and Vocalist Mike Mule of San Diego band Alive & Well recently contacted me with their latest single “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit” and with its tremendous intro and relatable lyrics, it instantly reminded me of why pop-punk still holds a special place in my heart. Along with the hardcore elements thrown in too, I can’t deny that I’m already hooked! Having released their debut EP “From Basements to Beaches” in 2016, they have since gone on to play at the Vans Warped Tour and opened up for the likes of The Ataris and Dashboard Confessional, so not only am I hoping that a new release is on the cards soon, I’m certain that bigger things are coming.
Let’s start things off with an introduction and some history behind the band. Where and how did you all meet, have you been in bands previously, and what made you decide to form Alive & Well?
Alive & Well has a real fun story actually. Matt had the songs and the idea of the band formed back in New Jersey roughly 2012 ish and then moved out here to San Diego. We actually met at Ramen Spot new years day over a conversation about a band hoodie I was wearing. At the time I was playing in a hardcore band and invited Matt to our next show. The guy who formed the band left and I ended up asking Matt to fill in. When I sent him an email with all the songs and band info, a thread from 2 years prior popped up. Turned out that we actually attempted to get together before and it never worked out with schedules and what not. After a few months, the hardcore band started to fizzle out and Matt informed me that he had a pop punk band he was working on and just needed a bassist. I came to one practice and now here we are. Alive & Well.
You class yourselves as a pop-punk band, but there are definitely noticeable hardcore elements to your sound, and it works really well. What has drawn you to these genres?
Growing up on the east coast there was a ton of awesome hardcore bands it was almost hard to not get into it. Those basement, house, VFW Hall, and small club shows are such an insanely fun time and the energy and unity that hardcore shows bring are unlike any other musical experience. Matt and I definitely have more of a hardcore background and try to keep some of the elements in our songs.
You released your debut EP ‘From Basements to Beaches’ in June. What’s the story behind the release, and how are you finding the response to your music so far?
We had such a fun time with the making of the EP, from recording to the EP album cover. The whole idea behind the name is just about the changes from east coast to west coast. We (Matt and myself) grew up hanging out in basements, now we’re on beaches. We recorded with Beau Burchell of Saosin at his studio in LA. From there we made the video for ‘No Winter in the West’ with our buddy Alejandro Miyashiro who was in school in New York. Luckily Matt was back there to visit family and Alejandro came back to San Diego for a school break a few months later, so what should have been a logistical nightmare worked out fairly well and we were able to have parts of the video on both coasts. As for the EP cover, we literally built a basement on the beach. The tide came in quick and almost brought it all crashing down. It was nuts. Being an unsigned band and all transplants to a new city, we’re thrilled with the traction this EP has picked up.
Are you looking to follow up with another EP or album in the near future?
We’re hoping to have something out early 2018.
Your single ‘You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit’ is such a solid track! What was your process of putting the song together and was it written through personal experiences?
First off thank you so much! That song was actually planned to be on the FBTB EP but it didn’t work out that way. We recorded with our good friend Peter Duff at his studio Grey Brick and decided to release it as a single. We’ve all had those jobs that we fully despise and know how it feels to just get stuck in a position you hate so yes, there are definitely personal experiences in that one!
Will there be a video release for the single?
We’re hoping to have a video for that one in the near future.
Who are your musical influences, and are there any bands in particular that you model yourselves on?
Our influences range from Bruce Springsteen to Every Time I Die and everything in between. I wouldn’t say we model ourselves off of one band in particular or even genre. We try to look at everything in the music industry and see what little pieces we can pick out and use for ourselves.
There’s a huge pop-punk scene in the States and it’s a genre that is standing the test of time; bands like New Found Glory and Yellowcard recently made it to their 20th year anniversary. Is this something you also hope to achieve as a band, and where do you feel you currently fit amongst the current wave?
We’re excited enough that we’re going in to our 4th year as a full band. 20 years would be a dream come true! Matt and I were actually at the NFG 20th anniversary show here in San Diego and it was like their first year as a band as far as energy goes. They were so pumped, the crowd was pumped. That’s what it’s all about. When the fun is over, the band is over.
What’s the music scene like in San Diego for DIY bands like yourselves?
San Diego actually actually has a really great music scene that is overlooked sometimes. There’s tons of great bands and everyone has great things going on it’s almost too hard to pay attention to it all. When DIY bands team up and support each other, they all move forward together. We’re all on the same team so it’s really awesome to see your friends progress and succeed.
Looking back over the past 12 months, what would you say have been your biggest highlights, and where do you hope to take the band in 2018?
Every show is the greatest day for Alive & Well but there are definitely some huge highlights. We got to open for Dashboard in a tiny secret show, play Van’s Warped Tour, and open for The Ataris and The Queers all in a year. Our goal for 2018 is to be on the road more and keep the dream alive one show at a time.