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Their / They’re / There at the First Unitarian Church, 12/20

No, it’s not a third grader’s grammatical nightmare. Their / They’re / There are three guys taking a break from their mainstays to come together for something new. Friday marks their Philadelphia debut, and it is going to be a show not to miss.

Separately, Mike, Evan, and Matt have already left, and are continuing to leave, a huge, influential mark on the emo scene. They each have played in a number of different bands, and each have played in numerous cities multiple times across the country and beyond. But recently, Mike Kinsella, Evan Weiss, and Matthew Frank decided to start writing music together to see where it would take them. Two EPs later, they are embarking on their first tour together as Their / They’re / There.

On Friday, December 20, the trio of emo vets will play their first show together in Philadelphia in the infamous basement of The First Unitarian Church. Joining them for the night are Mansions, Birthmark (which features Mike’s cousin Tim Kinsella), and Marge. In a time where every music website has written an article on the “emo revival,” this tour has packaged the best of the past, present, and future in the scene all in one nice, little present. And we here in Philly get to unwrap it on Friday!

Mike and Matt make up the past. Mike Kinsella has played in a number of influential bands, including American Football and Cap’n Jazz. Matt was a part of Loose Lips Sink Ships. Mike and Evan make up the present. Mike currently plays in Owen and Joan of Arc. Evan is Into It. Over It. And together, Mike, Matt, and Evan have made the future in Their / They’re / There.

In between the busy holiday season and after a hectic shopping trip, I was able to catch up with Evan to chat a little about the short history of Their / They’re / There, collectibles of certain releases from certain bands, and their own personal vinyl fandom.

Which version of “their / they’re / there” is your favorite?

Probably t-h-e-r-e. Personally speaking, I’d have to go with that one. (laughs) Actually, that’s a good question. People have been asking certain questions about Their / They’re / There, but I’ve never gotten that one.

How did you come together with Mike and Matt to form Their / They’re / There?

After touring on Proper, which was the last Into It. Over It. record, I had some down time, and at the time I didn’t really want to think about Into It. Over It. stuff before starting to write the next record. So rather than sit around, I thought it would be cool to start a couple new bands. So there were a couple of guitar players in the city of Chicago that I really liked, Matt being one of them. I approached him about starting a band because I just loved his guitar playing. It’s really off-the-wall, really not how I play guitar and not at all how Mike plays guitar either.

Maybe a week before I asked Matt if he wanted to start a band, I played the Ghost Town record release (which was Mike’s record before his most recent one). Mike and I were talking during the show, and he was talking about how much he missed playing drums. So him and I were talking, and I explained how I wanted to start a new band. I then asked him if he wanted to play drums, and he said “Yeah, sure.” So when I asked Matt about starting Their / They’re / There, which at the time didn’t have a name, he asked if I had anyone in mind to play the drums. I said, “Well, actually, Mike Kinsella mentioned it.”

So from there it was just pretty organic. Matt and I got together and wrote a few songs. Then we sent Mike some re-recordings that Matt and I made, and then all got together. It was funny, Mike didn’t realize Matt was playing guitar. Mike thought I was going to be playing guitar. When he shows up to practice and I picked up a bass he was like “Oh god…” (laughs)

When we started playing, it clicked really well. What I think is cool about the band is that all three of us are so comfortable with our instruments, so comfortable writing music together and in general. We all bring our own style together, and it’s just really cool.

Has your writing style changed any from being in Their / They’re / There?

Not really. I mean I don’t really write the music for Their / They’re / There. That’s kind of what was fun for me. I didn’t have to write the songs or come up with the ideas. My role in Their / They’re / There was more about taking this guitar playing that Matt does, which is so crazy, and turning it into something catchy. It’s something that I think we have achieved.

Having such a passive role writing music in a band, it’s nice just to get to help arrange and try to produce, but also take a back seat when it comes to the initial creativity. I don’t think my writing style has changed. I’d say it’s more of just an outlet for a style of music that I don’t normally get to do on my own anymore.

With each of you already in many other bands, what was/is the goal for the band?

I think the goal for this band was to do something that isn’t something that any of us have to take seriously. (laughs) It’ something that we can all do and is fun. It’s something that we do not have to think too hard about it; we can just write songs and have a good time.

We don’t have to concern ourselves with what I think a lot of other bands concern themselves with. We don’t have to worry about playing shows or not. We don’t have to worry about writing songs or not. There’s no practice schedule. There’s no pressure. and I think that was the goal at the start. We write songs on our own time and because we want to, not because we feel like there is pressure to do so.

A quick search on your older albums, both Their / They’re / There and Into It. Over It., brings up people selling their copies for pretty high prices. How does it make you feel to see your albums hold such value with your fans?

I think it’s cool. I mean everything that we’ve done was in pretty limited numbers. Most of everything that both Into It. Over It. and Their / They’re / There have done is still in print so for people to find copies of the older records or anything like that is pretty easy to do so. But for some people, we have become a “collector band.” It’s cool that there’s “complete-ists,” especially with Into It. Over It. just because there’s been so many vinyl releases.

We’re pretty big vinyl geeks ourselves, so it’s cool to see that translate for our own bands. I’m the kind of guy that if I wanted a particular record or variant of a record, I would go out and by it.

So what are some of your most prized pieces in your record collection?

Oh man… (laughs) My collection is pretty absurd. Vinyl’s really the only thing I spend a lot of money on. Everybody’s got their “thing,” whether it’s clothes, gear, or just something else that they collect and hold value to, and mine is records. With the cost of living and with other things that I’m interested in, it’s made it pretty easy to produce an extensive collection. I’ve been buying stuff since I was in my teens, going back to going to hardcore or punk shows, and that’s 14 to 15 years ago. So I’ve amassed a pretty good collection since then.

You know, that’s an interesting question. I’ve never really stopped to think about it. There’s so many. I think it’s the collection in its whole is what’s valuable. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer. I could tell you what I’ve spent the most money on, but I don’t think that dictates what’s the most valuable.

I was going for what’s your most personally valuable record. What is the one that is your No. 1 record? Well, my favorite record is How It Feels To Be On Something by Sunny Day Real Estate. That’s actually my favorite record of all time. I have a nice Pearl Jam collection. I was really into Pearl Jam when I was growing up. I have a lot of the Ten singles and all of the LPs. I’m definitely an “originals” guy. I don’t really play the represses game at all, so all the stuff that I have is original, first pressing stuff. Or at least I try to find that before all else.

How important is it now for a band to offer their releases on vinyl?

That’s a pretty subjective question. I mean for me, it’s really the best way to enjoy a record. It’s not just because I think vinyl sounds the best—I mean I do—but I appreciate the routine. Like how you take the record out of the sleeve, you smell it, you pull the insert out, you put the record on, you read the insert while you’re listening to it, you enjoy the artwork. It’s the whole process.

I feel the it’s best way to enjoy a band’s record, which is ultimately art. They’re giving it to you in a full package. I think to download music or listen to MP3s kind of cheapens that experience. It started for me listening to my parents’ records on my turntable at home when I was really young. And then getting attached to the bands you really like through reading and seeing what they’re about, just from listening to the records or reading the liner notes. It creates a whole experience, and I think that’s what gets people really attached to certain records, to be able to place them along the timespan of life.

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