Jonathan Schneck , 2007

 

Written & Photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Well, Jon, how did some kids from Akron, Ohio do so well in the music business?
[Laughing] Uhh, you got me.

 

Last time we saw you was the Nintendo tour with Dayton's Hawthorne Heights. What was it like to spend some time with another Ohio band that also broke mold and made it in music? I mean, Ohio isn't known as the mega-scene of rock bands.
[Laughing] It's not? That is news to us. I mean they have numerous songs about that, like My Heart Is In Ohio and stuff like that, so there was a little bit of bonding going on because of that. But those guys are very cool, very cool guys.

You not only made it out of Ohio, but also somehow weathered the storm of bands like Good Charlotte and New Found Glory who made it huge but now have faded. Relient K seems to stay pretty steady with the fan base you have.
I honestly couldn't tell you what it is. We have been super fortunate to have that real dedicated fan base. I think a lot of it has to do with this band being very relatable with the content of our music. I don't know, but there is something upbeat about this band. That is kind of an infectious thing I think and especially in this day in age.

 

You talk about that upbeatness; Relient K doesn't seem to take themselves to seriously. When you played with Hawthorne Heights, you came out to the Super Mario Brothers theme and jumped off a trampoline. How do you guys get a record done when it seems like having fun ranks high up there in importance of being a band?
It is our favorite thing to do. We love touring and being on the road and playing shows. But for us, the best part of being in the band is making music and so whenever we get a chance to do that and be creative that way, you find yourself in a position where you want to be able to work long hours. Those are long days in the studio, but we want to be able to get things right and it is just a real blessing to be able to get to do that. So it is not hard at all.

You mentioned your music and lyrics are relatable. And over time, as the band has matured, so has the music. Are there ever lyrics that are written or parts of a song that are too personal or that someone opened themselves up too much or is that something the band never worries about?
I never really thought about it. But it is not exactly like Matt is wearing his heart on his sleeve but he does it to the extent that he can. But we get a lot of emails and people coming up to us telling their stories of things they are going through that are in our songs. But there are not too many specifics in the songs; they are sort of general, so I think that is actually why kids can relate to them so well, because they are not too specific. It is about emotion and that is what the kids can relate too so well, not necessarily the situation.

I remember talking to the guys in Underoath as not necessarily a Christian band, but a positive band. And when you are a band that puts yourself in the storefront like that, obviously there are going to be a lot of emails and conversations from fans about life. Has it taken time for you to realize you are that role model or did you expect to get this reaction from the beginning?
It definitely comes along with the territory. Because of our open-heartedness, fans feel that they have that connection with you even though you have never met them. I have definitely experienced that before listening to other bands songs. There is that moment of, "I definitely know what he is going through." I would feel a little weird going up to them telling them how I relate to their song, and they would be like, "And who are you?" But being on the other side of that is very flattering and humbling to us. That anything we would write about would be life changing to some people. Or to be able to give them strength to get through whatever they are going through. That is just an incredible thing that you wouldn't be able to do in any other profession.

 

Well, I come from a family that owned a Reliant K. The ol' K car is probably not the best automobile to name a band after. Did anyone in the band actually experience the excitement of riding in a K car?
It was Matt Hoopes' first car in high school and he got incredible amounts of flack for it.

 

I can understand why, ours was sweet.
I don't know the actual reasoning behind it, but it was just natural for us to name the band that.

 

You mentioned the band loving to make music and Five Score and Seven Years Ago is the new record. How long does it take the band to make a record? Are you in the studio with a lot of songs or do you like to write spur of the moment?
We had a majority of the songs is a pretty semi-rough form going into the studio. I think only two songs were finished in the studio. We all live in different areas of the country now, so we would get together a few times to kind of rehearse and to put the songs together in a rough form. So we had all the arrangements. So before actually going into the studio in Los Angeles, we got a practice space and hammered them all out, which took like two or three weeks. So by the time we got into the studio, we were really ready to record.

 

With all the excitement of creating new material, is there any comparison to actually playing the songs live?
It is totally different. We love to record and create music. But going out and having people sing along to your songs and just going crazy just gives you energy that you don't really get anywhere else. Especially when you get to play a song for the first time or a song you haven't played for five years. There is nothing else like it.

 

I have only seen the band in your home state of Ohio, so there may be a little bias attitude since you are somewhat of a local band for the fans here. But are you surprised at the reaction you get from people across the entire country?
Yea, every day. But of course you get used to things, like the amount of people coming to your shows. There becomes a sort of familiarity with that. But this band has never really expected anything. The hope has always been to be able to tour and make a living off of it. So any success the band has had have really come as a nice surprise and very much of a blessing because it was something we never really asked for. So anything like the success we are having is just awesome.

 

The other time I saw the band was with Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. So you have played with some heavier bands like Hawthorne and bands more similar in sound like Simple Plan and Good Charlotte. Do you prefer to tour with bands of a similar sound or who bring something new to the show?
Well, the thing about playing a show where bands have a similar style is the fans are usually coming for all the bands, where a show like with Hawthorne Heights, they were really just coming for one of the bands, whether is was us or Hawthorne Heights. Which we kind of ran into as the more metal and hard rock kids came to see Hawthorne Heights, so it was great for variety but there were a lot of kids who came to see one or two bands and then had to sit through the whole bill. So for us, it was kind of nice because we could switch it up and be exposed to kids who normally wouldn't come to one of our shows.

 

You mentioned the excitement of playing live and playing songs the band hasn't played in five years. How excited are you about getting out and playing songs from Five Score and Seven Years Ago?
Very much so. We actually just started rehearsing a couple of days ago. It is one of those things where you haven't played it before so you have to think of what parts you are going to play and what we are going to sing. We can't do everything note-for-note on what the album was, so we have to improvise a little bit. And on top of that, we have to think about how we will move during the song, so it is all new to us. It's great.