A couple weeks ago, we got a glimpse of Act As If with the remix of ‘All The Girls’ . Since then, these guys are picking up quite the attention across the web. With a genre crossing sound and purely a purely unique concept ep in ‘Lovers Online’ leading the charge, we caught up with Act As If’s lead vocalist Peter Verdell to get a little more of the story behind the band and their latest EP.
EQ: Since you guys are new to our EQ readers; we have to start out with the basics. Can you tell us a little about how Act As If came about? What really inspired the sound you produce?
PETER: Our band started about 6 years ago; I had been playing drums in local bands but always had an interest in writing & singing so I decided to self-record a bunch of songs. They turned out a lot better than I expected, so I made them into an album called Act As If “There’s A Light.” That became the jumping off point for me. Our sound (and talent) has evolved a lot since then. I think our new EP took a lot of cues from The Cure and maybe some Vampire Weekend.
EQ: It’s been about a year and a half since your last full release of the Steady Album. How do you feel your new sound has either matured or evolved since that album? What kind of surprises can we expect this go ‘round?
PETER: I think the biggest surprise–and a big stretch for me–is there aren’t any slow songs. That’s my default setting, but there aren’t any downers on this EP. In a way, that feels like maturity. I think our confidence has increased, and definitely mine has, to the point where we didn’t spend 100 hours in the studio getting everything perfect and autotuned or whatever, to feel like the songs were well represented. We probably spent 30 hours total in the studio. And this is our favorite stuff yet.
EQ: For Lovers Online, you take a bit of an unorthodox approach in theme. It is open that you took a look at Peter’s online dating experiences as the driving theme. What in the world inspired using that experience in particular? How do you feel about the final product of the EP theme wise?
PETER: All my friends are married or in relationships, so I’ve been a bit of a lone wolf in the dating game…and it can become kind of all-consuming…in good ways and bad ways. Writing about it came really naturally, and I love that the EP has a theme to it.
EQ: Continuing on the writing process, how did the rest of the guys in the band feel when you came up with such personal songs? How do you think this will affect your song writing in the future?
PETER: When I first sent them demos they were a bit surprised at the direction–both lyrically and sonically–but it wasn’t in a bad way. I think they were like, “Ok…this is a bit of a new direction…but hell yeah.”
EQ: We have to talk about this remix of ‘All The Girls’ done by AJ of the band Saint Motel. How in the world did this collaboration come about? How do you feel when someone else takes a hold of your song and flips it like AJ has done?
PETER: I love this remix so much; it’s so different than anything I would’ve ever come up with. I met AJ a few years ago at “It’s a School Night” in LA, and we live 6 blocks away from each other downtown so we became quick friends. We’ve sent some demos back and forth over the years, but this is the first time we’ve collaborated on anything. I’m so impressed by the Saint Motel stuff, and he definitely killed it with this remix.
EQ: For the final track on the EP ‘I Will Keep You’ seems to be the “sweetest” track of them all. What story was the driving story behind this song? Does this mean there is a happy ending to Lovers Online?
PETER: I think it’s the sweetest of the 5 songs as well. There’s no real life “I lived happily ever” kind of thing, but I did write that about a girl that I was really into, and I still love the song even though it didn’t work out. I love the lyric “time is always taking something”…so what the hell are we waiting for? Sort of a song about courage.
EQ: We know you’re no stranger to the music video game. Can we expect any videos upcoming off this EP? Any little secret you can let us in on?
PETER: I’ve been chatting with a couple directors about a couple different songs, and I’m hoping to do videos for “All the Girls” and “Not Falling.” It’s always a challenge but also so much fun; I’m hoping we can make it happen soon.
EQ: Since a little bit of the sound has transformed into something as you say is “more commercially viable.” How do you feel this evolution may affect your live shows? Speaking of live shows could we expect any touring to come out in conjunction with the release of Lovers Online? If so, when?
PETER: Maybe an obvious element that we’ve added back in, at least for the time being, is some light backing tracks. We used to play with them a few years ago, but then we decided it was super lame that everybody was doing it; now we’re playing around with them again. It’s nice to be able to replicate some of the synth sounds without adding another person into the mix of things. I really, really want to tour, but nothing is lined up at this point.
EQ: Peter, you’ve said that this EP is the first time you’ve shed the pressure of “we need to have a hit and make it huge.” What do you think really caused that clearing moment for you? What advice would you give your readers in order to eliminate that possible heavy pressure in their lives?
PETER: I’ve seen so many friends get signed and then dropped without netting any money. I’ve seen a few friends who have gotten signed and had a high enough level of success where they are still making their sole living from music. Whatever ends up being Act As If’s story…I’ve realized that I need to make music first and foremost for myself. It’s the only way I can stay sane. It’s not like I’m cured of caring what people think; I still want people (lots of people, actually) to like and relate-to and buy our music. But I’ve realized that I need to take care of my art, and not put the pressure on my art to take care of me. (I’d recommend any interested musician to read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert)
EQ: so online dating? Is it worth it or is it just a great source of inspiration for the songwriters of the world? What is the greatest lesson you want us to get out of your experience?
PETER: If nothing else, it will jump-start some adventure and risk-taking into your life. But I do think it becomes a vicious cycle; it’s easy to forget about a good date you had when 10 new messages or matches come in the next day. I think a lot of people get stuck perpetually online dating. “Lovers Online” focuses on the fun and adventure of it…maybe the next EP will be a different story.
“Lovers Online” is currently available on iTunes worldwide.