Foozle! Is one of Maryland’s premier DIY outfits – made up of close-knit buddies (and pizza pop punks) Jake Lazovick, Joanna Smith, and Ryan Witt. Together, the band harks back to the vocal styling of D. Boone and the production quality of other late 80s SST Records artists; while pulling earnestly and honestly from the creative punk scene that surrounds them. The band currently has two separate recordings available – Making Memories from August 2011 and Summer Demos, recorded in June of this year.
Fresh off a summer long tour, RASCAL spoke with the band to talk pizza, Paul McCartney, and why R&B is the only useful music on the radio. Cementing our pop punk obsession, one band at a time.
RASCAL: Where did you guys meet? How did you meet?
Ryan Witt: Uh, I dunno
Joanna Smith: Through me.
Jake Lazovick: We can get really into it…
JL: Alright, I was in a band called TFA when I was 13. And she (Joanna) was really good friends with our bass player, she came to a lot of shows. And then we hit it off!
JS: He was in eighth grade, I was in tenth grade. – while artfully dissecting and eating Oreos –
JL: Yeah, I was pretty young—
JS: You were SO cool.
JL: But then I was in another band, called Brace Face Mini Punks, and she joined for the last two or three months. And then our drummer quit, and Ryan was going to join that band –
RW: Hold on, hold on. So I met Jake for the first time at a skate park punk show, and I didn’t—
JL: You didn’t like me
RW: like you. But I didn’t dislike you! You were just a little too hyper for me, and I was too young. But then, I played the snare drum –
JL: We only did that for like two practices.
RW: And then we were like ‘I don’t wanna do this,’.
JL: So then a couple of months later we were just like let’s start a new band under a new name and play all electric.
JL: And we all went to high school together, that’s another thing. I guess that’s how we met.
JS: I knew both of them. And Jake used to only eat pizza and drink orange soda.
JL: Oh yeah!
JS: He was pretty hyper.
JL: Now it’s only root beer.
JS: And pizza.
JL: And pizza! And pasta!
JS: Yeah, you got a little more sophisticated with that.
JL: Rootbeer pasta!
RASCAL: Do you all listen to the same kind of music?
JS: Kind of.
RW: Well, at first I really wasn’t a part of the punk scene before I met them. And they’ve always been going to shows, throughout high school. And when I started in the band, I think I was a junior in high school, and Jake had just gotten into high school and they kinda introduced me to that scene. So, really, I didn’t play music much before. Actually, I didn’t play drums at all before this band.
JS: I didn’t play bass at all. I played guitar though. Somewhat.
JL: I played guitar. I don’t know. I would say that now we have very similar music tastes.
JS: But it goes off sometimes.
JL: She’s really into R&B.
JL: That’s like all she listens to on the radio!
JS: Okay, whatever. You guys like it too!
JL: I do like it!
RW: We travel a lot of places with nothing to play in the car, so it’s a lot of radio.
JS: Well, if you are going to listen to the radio, why are you going to listen to anything that’s not R&B?
RASCAL: Good point.
RW: Yeah, but right now we all definitely have the same core tastes.
RASCAL: But what makes up that base?
JL: I think that a lot of artists in the DIY scene that we’re a part of, and then like, I really like Paul McCartney. I mean, it’s not a thing, I’m not obsessed, but Ram is really good.
RASCAL: It’s the greatest album ever, but, you know, that’s another issue. Did you get the reissue? It’s pretty great.
JL: Yeah, it has like that documentary about the making of Ram, and I was really interested in that. But I haven’t gotten it.
RW: But, basically, there’s Planet X records, and they don’t necessarily put out a lot of music, but we just played a festival with basically all the bands that we’re really inspired by. And it really effects what we do with our attitude. Bands like Good Luck, and The Way…
JL: I think that it is really cool that there are a lot of bands, that are either my friends or acquaintances, and it’s amazing to be in a community where there are bands in the same kind of scene that you are in. So you end up playing a festival with your favorite band and it’s not like –
RW: It’s not like a band-crowd mentality. It’s like a community, and half the people play music and half the people watch. But everyone mingles together. And I think that is more of the influence aspect for us, because we don’t really listen to a band and say like ‘I want to sound like that’, it more like ‘hey, they’re really cool and they have a great attitude and we want to hang out with them’. Kind of more inspired that influenced, I guess.
JL: Yeah! YEAH!
JS: YEAH! I like that!
RASCAL: What kind of places do you guys play at?
JL: Uh, tonight we are playing at a bar, I think. Usually we play a lot of house shows –
JS: But we really haven’t been recently –
JL: We’ve played at a couple bars.
RW: We have a couple house shows over the last couple days of the tour. Yeah, like basically, a lot of small cafes, or restaurants or bars or houses.
JS: We played a café?
RASCAL: How does your sound work in a café, like a coffee shop?
RW: It’s really loud!
JS: But it’s really cool because a lot of pop in and it’s really interesting.
JS: It makes for a really high level of energy because there is not a lot of space, and you don’t have to turn anything up very loud.
RW: Yeah, one thing that I sort of had a problem with, during this tour, was at the beginning of the tour, we played on a really big stage and I was super uncomfortable, and I felt weird about it. But when you are at level with everyone, like in a café or coffee shop, it just makes for a really great energy. And, like we were talking about that community, it makes it more of that than we’re a band that people are coming to see.
JL: Yeah, and I think that as a band our sound is really intimate, so when you have the separation between the performer and the audience it doesn’t work as well.
RASCAL: What are you playing at your shows? Are you playing any of the demos or just stuff that you have already released?
JS: We’ve been playing a lot of stuff that we haven’t recorded yet. And we’ve even changed a couple of songs.
JL: Yeah, right now we’ve recorded a lot of demos – and we’re playing all those songs, but we’re planning on, this winter, we’re gonna start recording a full length, with some of the demos we’ve done over the past two summers.
RW: Basically, everything that we have recorded so far we’ve recorded so that when we do go on tour, we have something to sell to people, and to get out there, but it’s pretty much, it’s like we kind of play the songs a little differently. The songs are maturing, so this album is going to be the more mature, advanced versions of those songs.
JL: I think it’s more of a natural progression of a song.
RASCAL: How do you guys work together to write songs?
RW: Well, usually Jake comes up with a riff and lyrics, and we kind of start playing to it. We’ve been playing together for so long it just sort of comes together.
JS: Usually I like to work together separately with Jake at first when we are writing the songs –
RW: Because all I’m doing is banging on the drums.
JL: It almost seems like I write the songs on a very basic level and then we jam, and come up with ideas.
RW: And when we all come together, we fine tune and finish it.
RASCAL: On a closing note, what do you guys have coming up?
JL: I’m going to college in Baltimore, in like 13, 14 days. It’s only like an hour away, so we’re not breaking up – that would be ridiculous – but we are definitely taking a break.
JS: I think that we all have school and work coming up and once we get in the flow of that we’ll be able to practice more.
JL: But in the spring things will pick up again. And next summer we’ll probably do a lot of touring.
Foozle! at Plan It X Fest 2012
Interviewed by Emily Votaw.