Human Parts

  • Pete Bataillon posted
  • Interviews

Human Parts - Andrew Seward

  • September 18th, 2013
  • Phone

After deciding it was time to end his tenure as part of Against Me!, bassist Andrew Seward went home to relax. Getting a job in a pizza kitchen, he spent time hanging out with friends and catching up with his family – taking a well deserved break from years on the road. But as it is with any musician, the music couldn’t rest. So whenever he had a moment of downtime, Seward would pick up his bass and start plucking along again. Slowly and surely he started forming new songs – recording the different instruments in a makeshift studio in his house in any spare time he had. These songs eventually became the ground work for Human Parts – Seward’s new band with Gainesville friends and family members.

Fresh off releasing the self titled debut, Pete Batillon called Seward to discuss how exactly Human Parts came to be.


With the new project, Human Parts, how did it all come together?

Human PartsHow do I make this not sound boring?  Basically I’ve always tried to make music in my off time.  I’ve said it before, I try to be very productive, whether it means making a video, or making a song, or just doing anything like making some kind of arts and crafts project with my daughter.  I try to do something not involving drinking or playing video games or anything that absolutely gets you nowhere. Even though I enjoy those things, let me say that first off.  I started just basically having a couple beers in this room I have sectioned off.  It could be the man cave, the music room, however you want to put it and basically just writing songs on bass and doing them to a click track knowing that later on maybe I could build a song off them.  I have a drum set at my house and guitar and guitar amps and I basically started building songs.  It was never something that I knew I was going to do until I decided it was time for me to leave Against Me! and then in my off time I started doing it full time.  That’s how it came about…in the most round about answer ever.

 You mentioned that you were doing the instrumentation at home.  Was that all you or were you collaborating with the other members that are playing live with you now?

No, it was all me.  I play drums and guitar.  There’s a little bit of guitar on the record from my buddy Dave, but everything else is just me recorded kind of when I could.  You know, say at night, I’d get home and put my kid to sleep, or when I got off work.  My wife and I take turns doing it.  I would basically sit down with the bass track and air drum along to it.  So the next time I had a chance to record drums, like I’d have my mics all set on the drums and stuff like that.  I would have the song in my head and drive around in my truck listening to just the bass line.  So whenever an hour became available, say my family went to the grocery store, they went to their cousin’s house, or something like that.  I was like “OK. Give me an hour and then I’ll meet you there.”  Then I would just be mentally prepared for the song and hit record and be able to play it because I had already had it in my head for so long.  So that’s how it was recorded.  Basically layer by layer, practiced, and then executed very quickly. 

But it’s weird because I never wanted to present this thing as like some kind of Andrew Seward vanity project cause let’s just face it, that just kinda sounds like total dick.  Like “Hey, check it out I played everything.”  That’s just the way it worked out.  We’re making some new songs right now and this morning I had the guy who’s play drums live, Sal, come over and we already recorded a song this morning with him playing drum and it felt really good to have a professional drummer to play the drums and not me do it. 

Is what’s on the record straight from what you recorded at home or did you do anything with a studio?

No no, it’s all home.  I don’t have the best of rigs.  I don’t have the worst of rigs.  It sounds weird, but I think it came out great.  I think it sounds full and it doesn’t sound like you recorded it in a bedroom.  It’s a weird thing; technology these days, I mean every year you can make a record on a laptop that sounds just as good as a full studio. It’s insane how technology is making the playing field level.  Recording engineers are probably cursing my name for saying that, but you know; it’s about microphones. 

Also, let me give credit where credit is due.  My old friend that I went to school with, Brad Boatright, he does Audiosiege in Portland Oregon.  He’s also the singer in From Ashes Rise, the crusty band.  He’ll be so mad I said the crusty band.  But we’ve known each other for 15 years and he masters a lot of the heavy stuff, like Southern Lord stuff.  He has an incredible ear.  He doesn’t really master stuff like Human Parts that often I think, but that’s why I wanted him to do it, cause I wanted him to make it sound like a fucking metal record but it’s not metal, if that makes any sense at all.  It sounds like I’m talking out my ass but I swear I’m not.

Speaking of styles, did you draw from any certain style and have things in mind or did you come from a completely raw, clean slate?

I would say completely raw.  It definitely wasn’t clean.  It was dirty.  My slate is very dirty.  I mean this could be bad or good, I didn’t edit myself that much.  It’s just kind of what came out.  I probably have 4 or 5 B-sides and some of the songs are too fucking weird to go on there.  But these 11 songs that made it; they’re the ones that I just felt were the most cohesive.  Like you have a song on there like “Tributary” where it’s just like the bass solo over and over again and then there’s real drums and a drum machine and then just analog synths of speakers blowing up.  Stuff like that stylistically I think it works completely, because it’s not supposed to.  Like I said, I don’t make much sense. But it makes sense in my head. 

Human PartsHow did you end up deciding on the name Human Parts?

Basically, when I was working at this pizza place Satchels I had the name in my head.  You know how when you name a band it’s THE hardest thing to do is naming the band because you’re like “Oh shit I’m going to have to live with this”.  There’s no back story on it; it kind of just sunk in and then I thought about it.  What I want the band to do; like for me right now I want everyone that’s in the band right now is to make it a cohesive band.  But for this LP it was just something I had to do.  I was working at this pizza place called Satchels and you know it’s a kitchen, and I don’t know if you’ve worked in kitchens, but kitchens are brutal.  Like the cursing and joking; everything is very up front.  I would name off some band names and all the kitchen guys would be like “Oh that fucking sucks”, and Human Parts they were like “Oh that’s OK”, so I ran with it.  “That’s OK”, meant it was good to me.

Since your first scheduled show is for The Fest, you’ve mentioned that you might have a show as kind of a warm up before hand.  Any update on that?
No, there have been a couple talks about doing shows.  There’s been talk of maybe doing a show at Loosey’s or something like that.  But I really don’t know.  I don’t even like want to advertise.  I just want to maybe do a house show or warehouse show.  I don’t know.  No progress.  Still undecided.

What are your thoughts on playing The Fest with a new band?

Well, number one I’m really glad where Tony or Sarah, or whoever did the schedule, put us; and that’s in the Palomino, on the floor, inside, at like 6:30 at night.  I don’t want to the debut of the band to be at the Florida Theater or The Wooly or something like that.  Let’s keep it nice and small and hopefully packed.  The other thing is that Andy, the other singer in the band, has never been in a band before so in a way this is a start over but it’s great because it has that youthful energy of someone who’s never really been in a band before and it’s like  “Oh, let’s do this or….”.  You know they’re just really excited and I’ve missed that.  That’s not a knock on anything, I’ve just been in a band forever and that’s really refreshing. 

Yeah, it seems nice to have the mix of new and veteran people working together.

Yeah I know.  We’ve been practicing, and we practiced on Monday night and it’s going great.  Our buddy Matt Walker is playing guitar and he’s a hell of a guitarist and he’s got everything nailed down.  Andy’s singing and I’m singing, and Andy is learning to play second guitar as well.  Like he’s learning how to play guitar to be in this band. 

Wow.

Yeah, it’s raw and it’s good.  This isn’t gonna be some kind of slick pro job, you know what I mean.  It’s going to be raw and in your face. 

Since you did the first album essentially solo or directly from your brain, in the future do you see more collaboration or do you think you’ll continue along the original lines of the way you did it the first time?

I am very much a fan of collaborating.  Matt just sent me a wav file of a guitar part he had and I’m already like “OK yeah that’s great.  That’ll be a song.” So we’ll make that song.  We have another one that we’re going to do the drums for tomorrow morning before we all have to go to work.  It’s a weird adult life now.  I wrote the bass line and put an acoustic guitar part on it and I was like “That’s it, that’s what I’m going to do and I’m going to present it to everyone else and then they can grow off it.”  So it’s very much into collaboration now.  I don’t want this to continue as some like Andrew Seward vanity project.  I want it to be a real band and fun. 

You’ve obviously been working, you have a family, and you’re doing the band now, but you also find time to do the video work that you’ve been working on lately.  How did that all start coming about?

Well, I started doing videos I think 2 years ago.  I did an Against Me! video for “Spanish Moss”, but that was more me dicking around on tour with a Flip cam and iMovie and stuff like that.  Then I did one for Ninja Gun in the same style.  Then I really got into it so I plunked down the credit card and got a Canon 7D and luckily my neighbor is a wedding photographer so he’ll let me borrow nice lenses and the thing shoots 1080p.  So basically I assembled a pro rig with very little money.  So I just started doing it.  The whole idea with Human Parts before the record came out; my whole grandiose plan, which I don’t know if I’m going to be able to execute just because  time is scarce, is to do a video for each song.  So the video for the “The Rumble” I filmed that in May so I’ve had that done for a long time.  My beard has already grown back and been shaved off two times since then.  That’s how I do time.  Not by the clock, but by facial hair growth. 

That’s actually a question I was going to ask.  It was kind of strange seeing you without the beard.  I wondered if you did it for the video or if it was just time.

For the video; and to be fair it was starting to get really hot in Florida.  I might not be the prettiest person but god having a shaved head and no beard feels really good.  It feels amazing,

But basically I got four videos done before the record came out last Tuesday.  I’ve done three of them and I have another one coming out for the song “Cliff and Eli” in about maybe a week or two weeks or so.  I don’t know where it’s going to come out yet but that’s what I’m working on.  I gotta make more.  Basically I gotta get on it. 

Human PartsWith Human Parts I imagine you have ideas for how you want to do the videos.  But when you’re doing videos for other bands are you coming up with the treatments, do they come to you with treatments, or do you work on it together?

Always together.  I want to go with whatever the best idea is.  It doesn’t have to be mine.  It can be anybody’s.  I think I’m very easy going when it comes to that.  Like Teenage Bottlerocket, they came to me and Fat’s publicist Vanessa came to me asking if I wanted to do it and of course I did.  Teenage Bottlerocket is a great band.  I was like “what song do you want to do?”  “Freak Out”.  I pull out my CD (I still get the free CD’s from Fat Wreck Chords, which is awesome).  I was like “OK” and I was like “oh yeah I know this song” and I was like “you know this song is 42 seconds right?” and they were like “yep, that’s the one we want to do.”  “Alright” So we spent the money on breakaway glass.  They were coming through town on that Face to Face tour and we just put them in the back of a carpentry studio that a friend of ours has.  We busted that out in 3 hours.  The whole idea was “Hey Ray, we’re just going to film it and break bottles over your head with fake blood and you’re going to die one by one and you’re going to die at the end.”  “OK, let’s do it.”  And that was our production meeting. 

Everything is supposed to be fun and loose and I think that shows; whether to people’s chagrin or not.  Like doing the Andrew Jackson Jihad for “Fuck the Devil” where we were just in a Comfort Inn in Medford, Oregon.  We just went to the costume shop and the gas station and bought so much shitty beer and food and costumes and we just made a video in like 6 hours that night and I edited that in like 2 days on tour and said “OK, here’s your video”.  It’s about not over thinking things.  If you’re like “oh that’s really good” then fuck it, just go for it.

Good words to live by.