Middle Class Rut is poised for great things. Their just released sophomore album, Pick Up Your Head, is an astounding sonic tour-de-force that expands greatly beyond the duo’s debut and they’re just about ready to embark upon this summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival which also features Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and Circa Survive. Recently, drummer Sean Stockham spoke to Pop!Blerd about why you should check out Middle Class Rut:
For the uninitiated, can you give a brief history of Middle Class Rut?
Me and Zack (Lopez) met when we were about 12 years old and pretty much started playing music right away. We were in another band called Leisure and lived down in L.A. for a few years. Once that all dissolved we took a little break and we met up again about four years ago and started writing some new songs and kinda kept it as a two-piece and called it “MC Rut”.
Your second album, Pick Up Your Head, is a vast departure sonically from your debut. What led to the change in sound and the addition of certain instruments?
You know, when we got together and kind of tried writing new music we tried the same old tricks really since we started playing music which was just to get into a room and jam with just me and Zack, drums and guitar, and see what happens. We’ve probably done it so much that I guess we felt like we kind of exhausted everything we were gonna get out of it at that time. Everything started to sound like different versions of stuff we had already done before. For everything that actually turns into a song there’s at least ten little riffs or little jams that didn’t make it so it all started to feel like rehash. We were sitting on this pile of demos actually, a good 10 or 15 songs that Zack was working on mostly for a year, year and a half prior to getting together to write this new record and we just decided to kind of fall back on it because we knew it was really good and we knew it sounded like nothing we had ever done before. We just decided to go with it and embrace it so most of the record came out of that pile of songs. A couple of songs we wrote at the 11th hour at the studio like “Dead Eye” and “No More” and “Police Man” which we kind of finished up in the last week or two of making the record.
It was recently announced that you’ll be playing on the upcoming Uproar Festival but do you have plans to headline at all after the release of the new album and what drew you to the festival?
We like the festival thing. We did Warped Tour a couple years ago and that wasn’t really the best experience for us. I just don’t think like we felt that we fit into that whole scene. You know, it’s a lot younger bands and younger people going to see younger bands so we just felt like the creepy old dudes lurking around (laughs). There’s something to say about those summer festivals/tours. They’re cool, y’know? It’s a big traveling circus and you make a lot of friends. It’s a lot of the same stuff everyday because you’re rolling from town to town, setting up your booth or whatever or your show but we like that kind of thing. Obviously with Uproar we felt like we fit in a little bit better. We’ve toured with Alice In Chains before. We’ve played with a lot of those bands on different radio festivals and stuff so it just seemed like the right thing.
We leave in a week and a half for Chicago I think and that’ll be the first of about two and a half/three weeks of headlining dates and we mixed in radio festival stuff and then we’ll do Uproar and then we’re hoping to get over to Europe in the fall.
Speaking of live shows: being a two-piece, is it difficult to recreate your songs live especially the newer material? Also, are there any songs that you just can’t play live (or haven’t attempted to)?
That’s a good question! Off the first record there was a lot we just couldn’t do or just didn’t feel right. Even a song like “New Low” is admittedly more like a studio track where we started out beating on tools and banging on this and that and by the end of it we had just layered all this stuff on it. We kind of looked at each other like “How the hell are we gonna do this?”. We basically had to just play to a track of all the percussion and then we played on top of it and that’s how we had to do the song. We got used to it but it never feels right, it never feels superhuman when you’re playing to a track like that. There were a lot of song like “Cornbread” and “I Guess You Could Say” off of the first record we basically couldn’t do and the only way we could do it was if there were other people around. For this record we knew were going to run into the same problems just about on every song because at some point during the making of this new record we forgot how many people are actually in this band and we just didn’t care. Sometimes you get going in the studio and you’re not really thinking about how you’re gonna be able to do it later or even if you’re gonna be able to do it later. You just wanna make a cool song. We just decided pretty early on that we were going to need to get other people to help us play most of the stuff on the new record. We actually found three guys: A couple of dudes we were friends with and then someone we had never actually met before and now we’ve got a little touring band that we’ll be rolling with for this new record.
Why should fans check you out on the Uproar festival and pick up the new album?
Good question. I guess if there’s nothing else happening at that moment like no reruns of M*A*S*H* are on or something (laughs). We’re pretty passionate about what we do and we’re brutally honest even if it doesn’t make for the most technically perfect show or right decision. We just feel how we feel, we feel strongly at that moment and we just kinda roll with it and let all the emotions out. I think people respect that and I know I respect other artists that live their lives that way so that’s what we bring to the table. This is one chapter in our life and we look forward to other albums that are probably going to be totally different than this one and the last one.
Pick Up Your Head is out now through Bright Antenna/ILG. Find out where you can catch them on tour and get a copy of the new album here.