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Labour Of Love

(An interview with Josh Partington - Taken from Black Velvet 36 - May 2003)


Something Corporate are a five-piece band from Southern California with a beautifully constructed and sounding album out on Drive Thru/MCA entitled 'Leaving Through The Window'. It's not your typical rock record - far from it, the boys, who are in their early twenties, leave your ears feeling as if they're living in luxury, with a mixture of velvet textured gems starting off with the gorgeous 'I Want To Save You' and ending with ultra spacious and soothing, piano-prominent 'Globes & Maps'. Black Velvet was so impressed with the album that we gave it 5/5 and requested an interview…



Above: Josh Partington @ Birmingham Academy 2 - Photo By Shari Black Velvet


We speak to Josh Partington, who plays guitar for the band, the day after a show in London. He begins by telling us how it went.
"It was amazing, having all those people there. It's so rad going overseas and people knowing your band. I think no matter how big you ever get it will always be something that will blow you away. It reminds you what home's like. Beginning as a band, those are where your best shows are and that's where you're very familiar with having great shows. So it gives you a taste of home some days. Even when we're homesick, playing shows especially like last night are probably the best shows."
The band have not just picked up fans from England, as well as of course their home country, America, but from all over Europe and elsewhere in the world. It must be an incredible feeling to know that kids who don't even speak the same language as they do have been won over by the lyrics they write and the music they play.
"It's kinda weird really. The record company will kill me for saying this but it's really just the power of the internet, especially with something like when our album had only been out in Paris for a week and a half. To have all those people there and have them all knowing the words and stuff like that I would wager that they may have bought the album, but a big reason why we did that well that night is because people were surfing the net and finding our band. That's kinda like one of the positives to what internet music has done."

A Something Corporate gig is something (no pun intended) that has to be experienced. You can listen to the album, but you should also go out and see the band live. Josh says, "To me, if I were in the audience to see our band, I'd be very confused. I don't think we necessarily give people any cues on how to act, which is probably refreshing for a lot of people because we don't go one way or the other. Some people are jumping around and moshing while other times people are just sitting and listening intently. You go to a lot of shows nowadays and it's a little bit different. It's either a really hard show with people moshing the whole time or something like Coldplay where people are watching intently. We're really lucky that we have both sides of that because I think we get the best of both worlds. I think we've always tried to be a multi-faceted band. Thus far, knock on wood, it's worked for us."
The band have been to Britain a few times. They were over here last September although the first time they came to the UK was in March 2002, playing a show at London Dingwalls.
"Dingwalls was the first time we'd ever been to Europe as a band. It was really cool. It was a lot of fun. But even then it was kinda weird having people there. We were like 'how do you even know about our band? We don't even have an album out here'. It's kinda cool to see the progression of things. It's ten months later and we've multiplied that audience by four or five times. But then again it wasn't that huge of an audience so it's not this amazing feat," he laughs. "But I think we're more than happy with the people that are into our band. We're so blessed to have so many great fans, not only in our own country but over here as well.

On 21st November Josh made an entry on the band's official website tour diary, noting 'I doubt any tour after this will be this much fun'. He was talking about the band's tour as support to New Found Glory.
"The New Found Glory tour was so special because we knew all of the bands on it. Well, New Found Glory and Finch, we'd known them for a very long time. Sometimes when you start touring with bands a lot of times they're bands that you don't really know very well, so you have to learn to get to know them and that's part of the whole touring thing, but we went into it as already friends so the work was already done. The guys in Further Seems Forever we had never met before but the guys in Finch had and the guys in New Found Glory had known them and they were super awesome guys. We're all so alike, all four of the bands. It was so much fun because at any given moment you would see any guy for each of the four given bands all hanging out. It wasn't like there were big rowdy parties every night or anything like that, it was just that we would all hang out every night. Everybody was on everybody else's bus. It was just a really good thing. I think we all just had a really good time. I'm a huge fan of every one of those bands. Finch's 'What It Is To Burn' is one of my favourite albums in the world; it's one of the coolest albums that I own. I think Further Seems Forever's album is just amazing, and their new album with Jason singing on it is so awesome. I just have a whole lot of respect for that band. And to top it off the guys in New Found have just been so good to us over the years. Taking us out when we were over here in Europe and taking us out in the US. We couldn't have been happier with how things turned out."

When some people perform on stage their personalities change into something entirely different. Mild-mannered men can become animals in front of a crowd. Josh says he becomes a lot more rowdy onstage too.
"I think it's not necessarily our personalities but definitely our musical tastes that come out when we play. I think Bill and I being the guitarists in the band, you can look at Bill and tell he likes a whole lot of classic rock from watching him play and you can tell before the show Bill was probably listening to a Beatles album and you can watch me and probably tell that I was listening to a Thrice album or a Glassjaw album. I think you can tell it by looking at us. Not just by looking at us but by watching how we act. I think that is where our personalities come across. I'm a whole lot more of a hard rock guy than the other guys in the band. But I think that that's part of what we are.
"Clutch is kind of quiet. He's like the bass player for The Who, just kinda there, omnipresent. He's kinda like watching over all of us. But Clutch is very cool. Clutch and I have a lot of fun on stage too because there's a lot of times that Clutch and I will just look over at each other and just laugh. There's a part in the song, 'Cavanaugh Park', the end part of the chorus, the chorus devils at the end and goes 'dun-dun-dun-dun' and me and Clutch meet right in the middle of the stage and get on our knee and are full on metal 'dun-dun-dun-yeah'. It totally doesn't fit the song but it's so funny to us. We do it all the time, at every single show, whenever we play that song."
While on the subject of personalities, I ask Josh, if Something Corporate's music or 'Leaving Through The Window' in particular was a person, what sort of person who it be?
"It would seriously be a split personality. Andrew and I do all the writing for the albums and stuff, we're getting ready to do another album pretty soon. We talked a lot about what we think of the next album. We talked a lot in retrospect about 'Leaving Through The Window'. 'Leaving Through The Window' is very much a summer album to us, but in many ways we made it in a time where we weren't completely sure of what the band was. And I think that's always been a good thing for us. We've always known, especially when we write, that there's no boundary to it. We can do whatever the fuck we want. It doesn't matter to us. I think when it came to this album we talked a lot about how we wanted to have an idea and finish the idea, whereas with the last album it was all over the place. On this album we don't want to have a song like 'Not What It Seems' and a song like 'Drunk Girl' on the same album. We'd rather finish a complete thought. I don't necessarily think that makes 'Leaving Through The Window' a bad album or anything. I think it was very much an introduction and it was very much a growing part of our band, but it's definitely something we think about."

In a past interview, Andrew stated that with the album achieved what the band were hoping for.
"Yeah, very much so. We made the album we wanted to make. I don't think any of us were ever worried about that. I'd have to say we were probably a whole lot more worried about it not sounding good than about it not feeling right at the time. I have to be honest, I'm a lot more excited about the next album. Just because I think we've grown a whole lot as people. We just recently went into the studio to do a couple of tracks for some compilations. I think we've really learned a whole lot about what it means to be a band. You go on the road… We've been on the road for eight months after this since the release of that album, and eight months on the road straight is a lot of time. From the inception of that album we've learned so much about what we are as a band and what we are trying to accomplish as a band. I think that we are going to be able to walk into this album really being able to not only see our goals, because I think we met our goals on this album but our goals definitely weren't as clear to us, so we were still trying to work out what they were at times.
One of the tracks the band recorded was a cover of Björk's 'Unravelled' for a compilation.
"It was more of kind of like how we worked in the studio where we just noticed that we are a whole lot more comfortable not only in the studio but with each other in the studio. Nobody is ever looking at all over their own shoulder to see 'What are they doing? What are they doing?' It's like everybody knows, not what their place is in the band, but everybody is very comfortable with what we're doing within the band, because we've found our roles.

Growing up, Josh had other aspirations than being in a band. He was a very academic child, studying hard at school. Believe it or not, he was still at college when the band took off.
"I didn't leave college until we got signed. I was in the band and in college. To me being in a successful band was like winning the lottery - what are the chances? Come on! So I stayed in college. I was a political science major. I wanted to go to law school and work in politics. I'm not as active just because I'm so busy with what I'm doing in music, but I think that I was always very focused on doing the obvious thing, the safe route. Because it was like 'yeah sure, I'm sure the band will do well, whatever'. I'm not saying that I never had faith in our band, but it's kinda like having faith in winning the lottery. It's hard to do."
Would he choose a political career in the future - when the time comes to give up the music biz?
"I don't know if I ever would. I'm sure I'll come to the crossroad in my life where I have to figure out what I'm going to end up doing, but I'm not there yet and I'm only 22. I can always go back to college. I'll go back to college and figure that out. I still have a year, almost two years left at college to do in order to graduate. If I'm going to end up doing something like that, I'm going to have to go back to school. And I'll go back to school and figure it out. I don't need to know now. "
Josh's parents were, like most, concerned for their child and his well being.
"They were very wary. They were never unsupportive, but they were very wary. And that's kind of a lot of the reason that I was the way I was. It's really tough. The music industry is a sucky industry. It's very hard to become successful. A lot of it is based on luck. I think that they never wanted me to put all of my faith into something based so much on luck. I'm a pretty bright guy at the end of the day. I don't need to rely on luck. It sounds kind of conceited but I was always raised to go out and make your own place in the world, and use your head… not that being in a band isn't something that smart people would do. Still, go out and use your head and work for it. That's where I was always coming from. When we got signed I went to the dean of my school and said 'listen, I have the opportunity for the next year or so to really see the world' and stuff like that. I still have acceptance into college. If I wanted to go back to school I could do it tomorrow. I think now they see how beneficial it is. At the end of the day, even if it all ended tomorrow, I've seen most of Europe, Japan, all of America. I've seen more of the world than I probably would have in my entire lifetime had I not done it, so I have no regrets.
One member of the original line-up had opposite thoughts though. Before William Tell joined the band as guitarist, Something Corporate consisted of Josh, Andrew, Brian, Clutch and a guy named Reuben. But Reuben decided to concentrate on his academic studies - so the band brought in William to take his place.
Josh says of Reuben, "He is about to graduate from college. That's actually why it all came down… I was really into college and so was Reuben, but Reuben went ahead and was like 'I really want to travel and go and study abroad. It's something I really want to do' so he made his choice. It was kind of indicative of, not like he never cared about the band, but that was his thing. I don't think he ever regretted it. All of us have talked about it. We were saying we don't think he would have been happy doing this. We think he probably would have left and gone back to school."

Josh definitely sees both sides to the rock n' roll coin. Being in the music business definitely has its pluses but it also has its minuses.
"Don't do it unless you absolutely love the music you play. If you don't love the music you play it's the shittiest job you could have. It seriously is. There are so many days that walking on stage is the only saving grace to the day. And it's the only thing that makes it seem like it's worth it. And if you don't like the music you're playing you'll go mad. There are some days, don't get me wrong - it's one of the raddest jobs you could ever do, because if you really believe in it, it's the most rewarding thing in the world. An example is what we were just talking about. Coming overseas and playing a show to 900 kids in London, 6000 miles from my home, that's surreal. To really sit and contemplate that is scary. It's like 'what? I don't get it!' I think the pluses are that you're doing something that you totally believe in. The downside is that, I think, you probably have to ask all the guys, but everybody has their own downsides. To me, I think the biggest downside is that it completely takes over your life. It has nothing to do with the fame thing or anything like that, 'cause none of us are even close to famous, y'know. But I was just on tour for seven months straight and then came home for three weeks and we're about to go back out on the road for four months, come home to do an album which we're going to be gone for, for another month, so that's five months gone, come home for like three weeks and then go out on the road for another six months. I don't have a girlfriend. I'll come home and go out on dates with girls and it's like 'this is pointless, how am I ever going to get to know anybody?' And that's more of a personal thing. To me that's the hardest thing about it.
"I remember reading an interview before I was ever close to being successful with this band, and it was with Adam Duritz and he said 'everybody envies rockstars so much… you can get any woman you want but what if the one woman you want is in medical school in Boston?' He's like 'that doesn't really help anybody, so it's not that great'. It's totally true. Don't get me wrong, the positives completely outweigh the negatives in so many forms. It's not even just relationships with the opposite sex. Your relationships with your friends suffer 'cause you're not around. There's this thing I used to do with my friends all the time where we would go to Palm Springs which is a vacationing spot. We'd go for a weekend in the summer. Just me and my guy friends. It's like 120 degrees out there. We'd go to the pool and hang out. There's almost nothing to do out there, so it's just all of us staying indoors playing cards, drinking, hanging out, playing tennis, and jumping in the pool, just being idiots. We used to do it every year for three or four years. This year I got a call, I was in Philadelphia and they were like 'hey man, we're in Palm Springs, we just wanted to say hi' and it's really tough. Then again I don't get resentful or anything because I made my choice and I think it was the right choice. But that's kinda tough because that's something I wish I could really do.
"You know you're doing well… and not like we're doing amazingly well but I guess we're in London with 900 people seeing us so it's not bad, but I think you know you're doing well when it really starts taking over your life."
Josh... this is just the beginning…
"Yeah, that's what's scary! But again, it's a labour of love."
Let's hope Something Corporate don't feel the need to go leaving through the window just yet.

For more information on Something Corporate visit www.somethingcorporate.com





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