American Heritage interview
TBR: American Heritage seems to be shrouded in mystery – the history and lore of the band not being widely available. The bio on your MS page is hilarious if not a little vague. Do you guys just not like talking about that stuff and find it tedious? Or is it more that the world just isn’t prepared to know that dark side of history?
Scott: I think we just don’t take ourselves as seriously as some of the people that have to deal with us would like. That’s not to say that we aren’t serious about writing music, because we are. We understand our place in the music world and realize no one gives a shit, and we’re fine with that. We’ve been around for close to 15 years at this point and have gotten to the point where we don’t expect anyone to give a fuck. If they do, that’s fucking great, but we’re doing this for us. We’re not trying to be secretive or create any kind of mystery or anything along those lines at all. We just don’t think anyone really cares so we write stuff that we find amusing about ourselves.
TBR; If it’s more the latter and you feel so inclined, please feel free to give a bit of history about how the band was formed, etc.
Scott: Adamn, Erik, and myself all knew each other from the Chicago suburban punk rock scene as youngsters. I was in a band playing drums with Erik and the original Heritage guitarist Andrei. Adamn was living in Madison at the time that we kicked Erik out of the band for being a total flake and needed a new bassist. I got Adamn to move down to Chicago in this big ass loft in the ghetto living with a gaggle of dudes and animals to start American Heritage.
We played one show with that line up and then I left to play drums in Ghosts And Vodka with Erik. They got Mike to play drums at that point. I came back as a vocalist briefly, then on guitar a few times. When Andrei quit for the umpteenth time, Mike and Adamn asked me to be a full time guitarist to replace Andrei. After that Andrei and I both played guitar for a while then he quit again.
At that point Adamn switched to guitar and we went through a string of bass players. We wrote some of the worst music in the AH catalog at that point. Like songs I’m embarrassed to listen to, to be honest. It took me and Adamn a long while to kind of figure it all out, but I think if you listen to the progression of our output you can very easily hear where we were headed and how we were striving to fix our mistakes.
TBR: You guys have been hailed as “Math Rock” here and there on the internet. Are you able to do long division in your head or do you still count on your hands sometimes? Have you ever gotten bored enough to calculate pi? Do you even like math at all?
Adamn: Well, I’d say that Math Rock is part of heritage. Our first few records attest to this quite well, if anyone’s heard them. We started off as a really angular instrumental band, where the arrangements were a big part of the tapestry of our aesthetic, to the point where to most it was probably quite opaque. This was entirely intentional. Me and Mike’s earlier band, Grout Villa as well as Tetsuo (Scott, Erik, and Andrei’s band) were both largely instrumental, complicated, and enjoyed an adverse relationship with our audience. We have for a long time been moving toward a more sympathetic relationship with the audience, probably because we see ourselves in it, and it reflects what we like most in music. We retain many of the tropes and tricks we’ve developed over the years in our songwriting and arrangements because to us, that’s what keeps shit interesting and unique. To us it’s not gimmickry, just habit and preference.
As for math itself, I like math. I use paper and pencil, calculators, and Wolfram Alpha if I need to know something complicated.