What I love about interviewing bands is the chance to get to know their personalities a little more. One of my favorite quotes is from The Wonder Years, “Growing up means watching my heroes turn human in front of me” and I feel like that’s what I get out of talking to musicians about their work. Sometimes it means getting really in depth about the lyrical process and finding out the inner workings of how the production process works…and other times I meet their grandmothers and laugh along with the members until I can’t breathe. I’ve never laughed and enjoyed myself more than getting to talk to Finch and Derv of Megosh. Their personalities spill over into their music, where you can find a smorgasbord of styles and theatrics, never knowing what the next track or turn will bring. I spoke with the guys of Megosh about the band, the story behind Hope Norwood and what the future holds for these dudes. Read on below;
I really loved your video for “Checkerboards and Cigarettes” and the story you told within the music video. Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind the song itself?
Finch : Yeah! I can tell you a bit about the story behind the song came about and how we kind of decided to do what we ended up doing in the video as well. Basically I found the files in an old abandoned mental institution, hanging out with my buddies we broke in, we had to be around 15, 16 17 at the time. We were ghost hunting, trying to find some creepy stuff and I ended up finding the files for a girl named Hope Norwood and it was about her whole life, she had a mental age of 9 even though she was like 35. It was really interesting to find and it always stuck with me, the song actually was titled “Hope Norwood” for a while. We always wanted the track to give off that really creepy psychotic feel.
Derv: Yeah that was the working title of the track even up and after we finished recording it.
Finch: Then we decided to change it, we ended up calling it checkerboards and cigarettes.
Derv: Finch had been wanting to write a song about Hope Norwood for the longest time..
Finch: Yeah it was awesome to finally get to do this song, the cool thing was that Josh had already written some lyrics for a song, it already had that mental institution feel to it. The original song is written about being in a mental institution. With the music video however, we didn’t have the resources to get that mental institution look like we wanted so we made the video more about a burnt down building. The story still works. We were looking for an old institution at first but it wasn’t coming together so we tweaked the plot of the video.
Derv: Johnathan Thorpe our director really helped us in that so the video would still work within the lyrics of the video.
Finch: So basically the girl in the video’s name was Hope Norwood, she used to work at the mill. It was a burnt down mill and she worked in the mill until it caught fire one day. The story was that she died trying to save everyone and get them out of the mill but that wasn’t the case.
Derv: Yeah the story was that she was trying to save them all but we learn from the ghosts that it was her that burned the building down.
Finch: We were really happy with the video, we wanted that goonies/stranger things kind of vibe with the video. We knew that the story wasn’t groundbreaking or anything but the cinematography was going to put you in that feel and that’s really what we wanted.
Derv: It also allowed us to have a lot of fun, we can get pretty goofy. There are elements in the video that allowed that…
Finch: Yeah we get yelled at a lot for being too goofy
Derv: What about that Michael Jackson Thriller Jacket that Finch has in the video? Pretty sweet right?
Finch: Yeah! That was my buddy Andy, we asked him if he had any 80s clothes and ended up looking through stuff for like an hour. Out of nowhere he’s like “well I might have a Thriller jacket..” and I was like DUDE why didn’t you pull that out like 2 days ago??? He was like “I didn’t think you’d even wear it!” I was trying to get Derv to wear it, though I might actually have to start wearing it now all the time.
Derv: I was going for more of the Marty McFly look myself, from Back to the Future.
Finch: What’s messed up is that it might have been our best looks to date. We’re just regular guys we don’t try to look like rock stars or anything but man we really looked good for that video!
I also want to mention that you guys put out your debut full length recently, congrats! The debut record is usually your first “statement” as a band. What kind of statement were you trying to put out there with Apostasy?
Finch: We finally got it out and it feels good! I think we were looking to really show people what we’re capable of, what we’re interested in, what we enjoy playing. We wanted to show people we can write songs.
Derv: We weren’t trying to make any broad, like political statement or change the world with this one record. We really wanted to put out good music.
Finch: We really just wanted to challenge ourselves to write a full length, like could we even do it? We used to always write our EPs in like a genre. Even in bands before I was in Megosh and I’m sure Derv would say the same. We didn’t want to write anything to exclude us from our little genre that we had chosen for ourselves. We wrote as broad as we could, but now with this record we took it even further. With 14 songs, each song is whatever we want. You can go from Checkerboards and Cigarettes and think, “Man they’re pretty heavy, prog rock” and then listen to I Stole From the Dead and think “oh wait they’re pretty poppy nevermind.” Then the next song there’s an acoustic intro and you’d think “man these guys are all over the place!” But that’s what we like to do, we’re musicians. We enjoy playing every aspect of it.
We’re fans of a lot of different music and we want that to influence our music. We don’t want to be restricted to just a prog rock band or just a pop punk band. I don’t want that to happen. I think this album was almost a conversion album for us. Next album we already want to make it more drastic! We want to bring you the heaviest song you’ve ever heard from Megosh and then bring you the softest song you’ve ever heard from Megosh. I want every one of our albums to be like that. Ice Melts is the softest song we’ve ever put out and like both Checkerboard and Cigarettes and War Drums are some of the heaviest tracks we’ve put together.
So you don’t think you could ever see yourselves down the line funneling your energy into say one heavy album and then a light one? You think it’ll always be more of a variety plate?
Derv: I think it’s in our nature that we’re all over the place as human beings. I think it would be really hard for us to say that we’re going to put out 10 softer songs for example when we all are always coming from a bunch of different angles simultaneously. It’s not to say it would never happen and I’m sure we could push ourselves to do something like that down the road but it would be extremely difficult for us. I think variety is in our blood.
Finch: We’re ADD man, we get bored. You tell us to write 10 songs in 1 genre I’d probably be over it by song 3. It ain’t gonna happen.
Derv: I’d be off in a corner like “Hey guys look at what I wrote on flute and viola!”
Finch: I mean that’s kind of how we wrote Apostasy. We’d get like 3 or 4 songs done, listen to them back and then it became “alright, what are we missing? What do we need now?” Then it’d be like oh we need to get that heavy one in, that’s how checkerboards and cigarettes came about. Out of nowhere I was like I have to go heavy as shit on it! (laughs) So we put it at the beginning to get that initial hit of chaos before we got into that groove.
Derv: And then we break into a groove, and then we break into a ¾ waltz for the chorus!
Finch: We actually had a few people say that we should take that out. Said it just didn’t make sense, and we were like it doesn’t but that’s how we are! (laughs) like you could tell us our music sucks and we’d just be like right? It totally does! But that’s just what we do and how we are!
Now I find it interesting that the title of the album is Apostasy, which by definition is pretty bold! Where did the idea for the title of Apostasy come from and how does that meaning, which can mean the abandonment of church or politics, tie into the record?
Finch: I think it ties in because where we wrote it on an Indian reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina. We were in a cabin up in the Smoky Mountains alone. There were wild dogs running around, no cell phone service, just the band. We forgot about everything!
Derv: We actually did leave everything behind
Finch: Yeah we abandoned everything to make this record. All that was on our mind was our music at the time. Really we abandoned everything but the music and it was such a great experience for us. I love talking about the title because I can tell you that it does have a meaning and here’s why. It’s really been pleasant. Some bands, even we don’t have a good reason sometimes when we name things. Sometimes we get lucky in an interview like this where it finally comes out in this cohesive explanation and we’re like YES! THIS IS WHY WE DID IT!
Derv: It’s rare that we make sense, honestly.
Finch: So yeah, we truly abandoned everything but the music on this record. No outside daily influence, no cell service. We’d wake up, we’d have breakfast together then we’d go off and write. We set it up so that we each had a room to write in with recording capabilites. Some days Derv would be tracking bass for one song while I was writing guitar parts for another song and Josh would be writing vocal parts, Jon-jon would be tracking drums for the song I was working on, etc. It was a lot going on but we had so much fun. We got 8 or 9 songs done in 2 weeks down there in Cherokee. Everything we wrote down there we got pre-production done and everything, tracked everything quickly.
There are some things in those pre-pro cuts that really sounded awesome. Some parts we like more than the actual record…I mean the actual record is way better as a whole. When you’re in the moment like that, you just wrote the part, you’re really trying to kill it, there’s a lot more passion that peeks through. Once you’ve gotten to those final takes you’ve played them a dozen times, sometimes you can’t even get back to that first take it’s like “How did I even do that the first time?” I’m sure some of the greatest performers of all time, the Freddie Mercuries and the Steve Perrys have experienced that before. Yeah they’re great but I’m sure there’s some parts on the records that you go back and think man I’m never going to be able to do that again.
Derv: You often hear artists that have said that they’ve even used those scratch tracks as the take on the record because it was so perfect the first time and they couldn’t recreate it.
Finch: Yeah exactly, sometimes they’re just in a groove, they lay out a scratch track and they’re so used to listening to it too it because it’s what they had to listen to over the drums. Then it’s time to actually record their part and they can’t do it. All the little imperfections are actually perfect and they can’t get in that groove again. It’s already perfect. You can’t practice an imperfection!
Derv: Alright Finch, let her ask another question! We were talking about the record title how did we get on tracking imperfections?? (laughs)
Alright, I’ve got a curve ball question for you guys, if you had a dollar for every time someone said the band’s name wrong, what would you do with that money?
Finch: Well it’s a big item! Honestly I really think I could speak for the whole band when I say it would be something giving back to the band. Anything that might help the band get a little further in our success, advertising music and…
Derv: Finch can speak for the band but I’m going to speak selfishly and say that I’d probably get a ton of beer.
Finch: I mean this is every musicians dream probably, but I think that having Rick Rubin as a producer would be awesome. If that’s even possible. Not only would the record sound great but the networking that would come with it, being able to say that Rick Rubin produced a record of ours. I just think it would open some doors. Or maybe advertising instead because I mean what’s a Rick Rubin produced record if nobody knows about it and nobody hears it?
Derv: I think the big thing with a producer would be that it would have to be somebody that everyone in the band respects going in. We’re all very particular, we’re very proud of what we do.
Finch: I want to tour in a Winnebago
Derv: But would you rather spend the money on a Winnebago or Rick Rubin?
Finch: I’d love to take my grandma out on tour, like I’m serious I’ve always wanted to do that. When I was younger I had these crazy ideas that one day my band will be big enough that I would be able to have a bus to myself and I could bring my grandma and whoever else on tour with me.
Final question! What can fans be on the lookout for in the coming months?
Finch: Hopefully tours! We’re fighting to tour right now, if it were up to us we’d constantly be on the road. I always hate opening up Facebook to see someone asking “Hey when are you gonna be around here?” and I can’t honestly tell them when because I don’t know. Like damn!
Derv: We want to tour a lot on this record so I hope we’ll be near you soon!
Finch: We are working on a video for the next single on Apostasy, I’m not going to say which song right now but we’ve been talking and planning and this is looking to be the coolest thing we’ve done to date so far. Compared to Checkerboards and Cigarettes I would say this is going to have more meaning behind the art. The song is really going to go with the video. I don’t think we’re even planning on being in this one.
Derv: We don’t want to ruin it with our faces.
Finch: Yeah man we don’t want people getting into it and then having me come up on screen and be like “aww mannn we thought they were gonna look cool!”
Remember that one time Derv? We were worried that our look was hurting us so we started our first song behind the curtains? We look out from the sides and they were going HARD dudes, crowd surfing and all. So then we came out with our instruments like “hey here we are!” and they LEFT! ……No we’re totally kidding (laughs)
Thanks so much to Derv and Finch for hanging out with me and for all the laughs and fun conversation. If you are looking for a little bit of everything look no further than Apostasy. It is out NOW so be sure to pick it up! To keep up to date with everything else Megosh, be sure to follow and like all the social medias down below! I promise you won’t regret it!