Every once in a while, a band comes along – seemingly from out of nowhere – and releases an album that obnoxiously barges its way into your holy sect of favourite records. When I first heard Bearable by Timeshares, that exact thing happened – and the CD didn’t leave my car stereo for a good few months.
The band appear to have an innate ability to combine aggression with melody in the company of four distinctive vocals. Their resulting output is catchy, frank and emotive. We spoke to guitarist and singer Jonathan Hernandez about the band’s influences, downloading music for free and touring across two continents.
How did the band start up?
The four of us played in a band called The Knockdown; that was essentially the same band but with a standalone singer. I joined that band in the last year of its existence. That band ended when the aforementioned singer decided he wanted to stop, and had one last show booked at Fest 8. The remaining four of us recorded a three-song demo under the name Timeshares, and handed it to everyone we knew in Gainesville as a gesture of “we’re not done sleeping on your floors yet”. Things have been rolling ever since.
How did you develop your sound? How did you end up choosing the style of music you play?
This is a tough question to answer because I’m not sure we’ve even figured it out yet. When we first started writing Timeshares songs we just wanted to make sure we were playing things that skewed more towards the records we wanted to be listening to. There was never anything like a discussion about how we wanted to things to sound until after the first record was done, I think. Now we’ve written a second record that in a lot of ways doesn’t really sound like the first one. We wanted to be a band that played punk rock in some capacity; that’s what we’d always done together. I think the most important part was making sure the influences we all wanted to tap into, that were less expected of a band like us, were always represented. I still don’t know how much we’ve succeeded at that.
Every band member plays a part in singing the vocals. How do you choose who sings what?
Usually whoever wrote that particular part is the guy singing it, but there are a lot of exceptions. I wrote a couple of parts that Mike and Eric sing, Eric wrote parts that Mike sings, Mike wrote a part or two that Jay sings. In situations like that it was usually just a quick “I think this part would sound better if you sing it”, or someone else had to sing it to make a particular harmony idea work.
What bands do you see as main influences?
I couldn’t even begin to tell you without writing you a novella. I can only name with 100% certainty maybe three ‘bigger’ bands that I’m positive all four of us love. Hot Water Music, Lucero and MAYBE Drive By Truckers. There are others that we’ve met and become friends with that we love and have maybe borrowed an idea or two from. Superchunk’s come up a few times lately. One time Jay said his favourite band of all time was Bear vs. Shark. I never knew that. So y’know, I’m not sure who the band’s biggest influences are. Natoli and I have done the majority of the writing I guess, but even he and I come from different places in that regard. I like Elvis Costello and Paul Simon a lot.
How important are merch sales to the band? And what are your thoughts on downloading music for free?
I’m not entirely sure where the lines between “right” and “wrong” or “cool” and “lame” are on this kind of topic. Being in an active touring band is such a financially draining thing (for most of us) anyway, that it probably should be a real priority for a band to be making as much money on things like merch as they can. You gotta sell crap – it’s the difference between “I don’t make money when the band’s on the road” and “I hemorrhage money when the band’s on the road”. Being in a band and saying the wrong thing about pirating music sounds like a great way to make enemies, so I’m not going to touch that. I will say though, that our record has been available for free online since it came out, and I have zero doubt it’s done nothing but benefit us, not only as far as who’s heard it, but how many people have purchased physical copies from us. The reality is that everybody’s broke, and all of us have gotten into tons of bands because they didn’t make us pay to hear them the first time.
What are the pros and cons of touring in both the US and Europe?
It’s not really fair for me to answer this, because we tour the states all the time, and we’ve only done one European tour where we spent the whole time just being stoked stupid tourists. That said, the best way I can think of to sum it all up is to say the pros of touring the US are “We live here”, and the pros of touring Europe are “everything else”.
How do you pass the time while on tour?
I actually bought my very first iPod recently – it’s made touring a breeze. I didn’t even know what a podcast was a couple of months ago. I think some part of me also didn’t understand you can just listen to whatever you want if you own one. This is a brand new world to me. I’ve listened to like half of the entire run of WTF, Marc Maron’s podcast. The drives are the only boring part for me though, and that’s only when they’re exceptionally long. I think the four of us (and our buddy Jarad, when he’s with us) are really good at entertaining ourselves, and we’re usually very anxious to meet new people and let them guide us to where there’s something stupid to do.
How does a band of your ‘size’ juggle touring and keeping down jobs?
Well, sometimes we don’t. I’ve lost a couple and I’m fairly sure Jay and Eric have lost one a piece. I try not to speak too much about touring anymore, because it’s weird to complain about getting to go play your music with your friends in different cities for weeks at a time. That part about it is incredible and fulfilling and everything you think it’s gonna be as kid, but a lot of it is difficult, and only becomes more so as you get older. I’ve watched myself and each of the other three get berated by important people in our lives at different times for “going on vacation”, or y’know, things about their “dumb hobby”. I don’t know if that ever really goes away. And boy, oh boy does it make money go away fast. I think all of us are in a pretty good place as far as work and stuff goes to get back out on the road when we need to, though. I’m excited.
What are your plans for 2014?
We finished writing our second record earlier this month. We’re finishing demoing it two days from when I’m typing this, and spending February trying to figure out what we’re doing with it as far as a release and things like that because we currently have no idea. It does a lot of things that Bearable didn’t really touch on at all, and lets a lot of our more natural influences breathe a little more. It’s different, it’s exciting and I’m extremely proud of the tunes we wrote over the past year for this thing. I can’t wait for people to hear it whenever it’s done, and especially can’t wait to take it on the road and overseas.
Check out Bearable here: http://timeshares.bandcamp.com/album/bearable