“Indie, indie rock, post hardcore, rock, Scranton” — those are the tags for the debut EP, “No Exits,” by Give Up, streaming on their Bandcamp page. While that just about sums it up, the band says there is evolution taking place behind the scenes.
Give Up will release their first LP, entitled “Pretend You’re Here” on Sept. 15. It was recorded by Cliff Evans, Scranton audio engineer. The lyrics on the record detail the experience of pretending to conform to myriad societal standards, the band said.
“I just went through a lot of things in the past few months, and it just kind of came out in the music. The first release was from different points of view, but this one … it’s just mine,” explained Ed Zaleski, the band’s guitarist, vocalist and lyricist.
“We’re not putting it out on a label, but we’re sending it to lots of (labels),” said the band’s bassist, Gerardo Barone. Barone recorded the vocals and mixed the tracks on the record. Zaleski said that while they’re shopping the record around they will aim as high as Epitaph.
Without a label, Barone said, the members needed to take on different responsibilities.
“There’s pros and cons to a label. I definitely like to be a big part of it, but at the same time it’s pretty difficult to separate myself from things,” Barone explained. “Being the person who’s mixing and editing is different from the person who plays the bass.”
Zaleski has essentially taken on the role of public relations.
“I’m more so trying to get shows and talk to people,” Zaleski said. “(The separation of duties) is almost unspoken, too. It just kind of happened that way.”
What is the job of the band’s soft-spoken and humble drummer, Titus Thompson? According to Barone and Zaleski, it’s been to drive the band’s progress.
Thompson was not the drummer on the first EP, and the two credit him with changing their sound for the better — the new record is a lot more intense and heavy than its predecessor, closer to the post-hardcore facet of their sound.
When asked about the shift, Barone said, “We have Titus. That’s the main thing.”
Barone met Thompson when they were both working at Giant. Thompson suggested that they hang out and work on some hip-hop beats together, and Thompson ended up playing a broken down drum-set that Barone had at his house.
“I immediately thought, ‘I need him in my band,’” Barone recalled. When things didn’t work out with their previous drummer, they invited Thompson to jam — and he blew them away.
“You can’t really understand what Titus means to the band until you hear it. The only reason that we’re as good as we are now is because of Titus. He won’t tell you that, but it’s the truth,” Barone said.
Zaleski also said that the songs on the new record are more eclectic, but still make sense together.
“That’s what’s weird about this album. A lot of the songs are aggressive, kind of in your face, fast paced and emotional … and then there’s other songs that are … kind of a little experimental at times, almost folky,” Zaleski said.
Another thing that is “weird,” one might say, is the vast array of influences among members of the band.
Zaleski said that he draws most of his influence from bands like post-hardcore band Thursday and emo band Saves The Day.
Barone prefers mainstream classic rock from the ’70s, in the vein of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
Thompson said the only “rock band” he listens to is Avenged Sevenfold, and his background mostly consists of hip-hop.
Zaleski likes obscurity; Barone likes things to be repetitive and catchy.
“The writing process is … tense,” Zaleski said.
“But whenever we finish something, it’s golden,” Thompson chimed in.
They have only been playing shows since the beginning of the year. Since then, they’ve played bars like The Keys and the V-Spot in Scranton, which are their favorites, with a couple of notable experiences.
The band’s first show with their current line-up took place at Andy Gavin’s Eatery and Pub in Scranton, which they described as interesting.
“It’s kind of funny because it’s not really a place for a band like us,” said Zaleski.
“It was a good show, but it was pretty disastrous,” Barone added. “I forgot my bass, and the kick drum only had one leg, so I had to put my foot in front of it the entire time.”
“People were trying to eat, but all of our friends came … our friends were what made it OK for us,” Zaleski laughed.
Reach Toni Pennello at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts.
IF YOU GO
What: Give Up at the Electric City Music Conference
Where: The Keys, 244 Penn Ave., Scranton
When: 9 p.m. Sept. 15
Additional information: More performances from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. by Crimzn, Alma Mater, Larewaves, Settle Your Scores, Centerfolds and Stay Loud