The Please & Thank Yous, from Chicago, released their full length At Your Merci this summer after a long process of writing, recording, member changes, and even a hiatus around the middle of 2011. The record is a unique mix of pop-punk and emo that TPATY seem to have mastered after spending so long working on their sound and dealing with a “revolving door of bassists and 2nd guitar players,” as frontman Geoff Schott puts it. With influences like Alkaline Trio, Homegrown, The Lawrence Arms, and Jawbreaker, TPATY manage to keep their sound fairly mature while still writing catchy songs, something that many pop-punk bands struggle with.
The band has plans to release At Your Merci on vinyl and cassette in the near future, but for now the record is available on their bandcamp page as a pay-what-you-want download. I interviewed the band about their place in the scene, their record, and a few other things.
Chicago has a really vibrant scene at the moment. How do you fit in to the scene?
The scene here has been pretty grand since we were old enough to be aware of it, but I still feel like we’re outsiders to the whole thing. We’re not really a part of any clique or niche of bands that exists here. We’ve witnessed so many waves of bands form, run their course, wear out a specific genre and burn out in a matter of months without ever having had any involvement in it. At the very least it’s instilled in us a sense of longevity, that we’re in this for the long haul. We’ve been through so much shit and managed to stick through it in hopes that one day we will finally feel at home here. It’s a strange phenomenon that we’ve always felt more at home in almost every other place we’ve played but here. It’s weird to feel like an outsider in your hometown. Since coming back from hiatus we have played a number of great shows, which suggests that there are people here who believe in us and what we’re doing. Realizing that has been very rewarding because we’ve been pouring our hearts and souls into this for quite a while.
You guys have been around since 2006, but you went on hiatus in 2011 and came back this year. What’s different now? What’s stayed the same?
We experienced some flux in our lineup when our bassist and 2nd guitarist left the band after our West Coast tour at the end of summer 2011. That put us on hiatus for a few months because it was a week before I started student teaching for my final semester of college. With little free time at that point, Marcus (our drummer) and I decided it would be best to put the band on hold. Being on hiatus did allow me time to focus on finishing the new record, though.
When I get done with school in December 2011, two new members basically fell into our laps, and it’s been a perfect fit. Up until now it had always felt like Marcus on drums and me singing and playing guitar accompanied by what was essentially a revolving door of bassists and 2nd guitar players who didn’t ever feel enough ownership with the music to contribute songs or lyrics. The new guys––Tim Crisp (guitar, vocals) and Vince Aguilar (bass, vocals)––have completely changed the dynamic of the band. They had been playing together in another band that was fizzling out when TPATY was starting up again, so they were already comfortable playing with each other. I thought this was perfect because I know how it can feel to join an established band as “the new guy,” you’re prone to going through culture shock trying to adjust to this preexisting dynamic. Marcus and I have definitely developed a dynamic over the years––he’s a really unique and talented drummer––but we were both open to the idea of starting from scratch.
After taking 20 months to record our second record, I was looking for people to collaborate with on songwriting. Vince and Tim expressed interest in taking on the task of joining a band with two records of original material and moving it forward as a group. I’ve always enjoyed writing in a group setting more than in isolation, but I beat myself up writing those first two records mostly by myself. Now there are three other people for each of us to bounce ideas off of for feedback or to collaborate with. This is the environment I do best in, and with it I am providing an outlet for other voices to be heard. I always wanted this to be more of a democracy and we’ve finally reached that point.
At Your Merci is available as a pay-what-you-want download on your Bandcamp page. Are there plans to release this album on vinyl or CD?
We are going to be pressing it to vinyl and doing a cassette as well. There’s even going to be a limited edition cassette pressed in Russia by a fan of ours who runs a label called All The Sad Young Men. He reached out to us and wants to do his own version of the release for his fans in Russia. We’re really excited about that.
We’re just about ready to press the record to vinyl. It’s been a painfully slow process finishing the artwork and album insert and all that stuff. I think it was really a combination of the fun part (for me, at least) of writing and recording the music being over, and working to establish myself in the real world the way I wanted to out of college that has made the release of this record so painstakingly slow.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any new music coming out? Any tour plans?
In the future, we’re going to make sure we put things out in a timely manner. We’re hoping to create some momentum with the vinyl release of At Your Merci and keep it going by releasing an EP of new material and some updated versions of songs we’re playing differently now, and you know, a Goo Goo Dolls cover or something. There’s also another record’s worth of songs that we did in tandem with At Your Merci that I plan to finish up and put out there in the meantime while we accumulate material for another full-length. I think that’s our main focus right now: writing a full-length together. We’re building up to that point and it’s the big goal. What we’ve been coming up with in practice is really exciting, so we’re not only anxious to have enough material, but we’re also working hard to make sure it happens.
As for touring, we don’t have any plans to tour right now. We are going to set up a weekend in January probably, but with all of us either being completely done with college or just about done with it, I think we’re all mostly focused on achieving some stability first before we start that up again. Like I said, we’re in this for the long haul. This is a lifelong venture for us so we’ve got to have our lives in order to do it right.