Artist Interview: Equipment Discuss Their New EP and Surviving 2020

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Last year’s Madrigal EP brought Equipment some success with its more immediately gripping pop-punk style. Just over a year later, the band is back with a new EP, All You Admire, made up of their four best songs yet. I chatted with bandleader Nick Stoup about the EP-writing process.

How have you been staying sane during the pandemic? 

I’ve been spending almost all of my time quarantining with my girlfriend, going through our backlog of TV shows and video games. I’ve been writing here and there, mostly just in my head. I haven’t really played that many Instagram gigs because they make me feel really anxious, like unnatural. The three of us in Equipment have just been finding ways to keep things interesting for the people who listen to us. We did our first vinyl run, released debut EPs for our side projects Waving and Loser Camp, and have just been heathens on social media, like many have. I also got really good at shipping merch orders from home, which has personally been very rewarding. It’s been pretty disappointing not being able to play gigs, of course, but I’ve been able to keep myself busy with work, school, and prepping for the release of this new EP.

What have you been listening to during quarantine? 

So much music. I feel like so many good releases have come out these past 8 months or so, almost like years worth of music. I find myself mostly coming back to the new music by Jeff Rosenstock, Illuminati Hotties, Mat Kerekes, Guitar Fight From Fooly Cooly, Teenage Halloween, Sufjan Stevens, Bartees Strange, I Love Your Lifestyle, and probably so many more. I’ve also been diving back into music that brings me back to better times like early Sufjan, Elliott Smith, Slaughter Beach, Dog, Japanese Breakfast, and Crying. Sorry that was a lot!

Compared to Madrigal, All You Admire is a bit more subdued. Why is that? 

A good chunk of these songs were actually written during the same time period as the songs from Madrigal. Originally, all of the Madrigal and All You Admire songs were supposed to be on an LP, but they differed from each other so much that we decided to split them up and make them their own pieces of music. Madrigal definitely leans into our punkier influences, and was sort of our take on no-holds-barred kind of music. We were like, “Is this riff too over-the-top? Yes? Perfect!” which resulted in songs like “Rapured Trax, pt. 2” and “Wet Mulch.” These new songs, however, sound nothing like that. The songs on All You Admire touch on topics like early-onset alcoholism, begging for forgiveness, and making yourself completely vulnerable, so I basically just transcribed how I felt those topics should sound into the instrument parts and tones. I guess we just wanted it to sound really cold, introspective, and sometimes really angry. However, we don’t see this as a “progression” from Madrigal; we’ve been doing these EPs to show our appreciation for all corners of the punk spectrum. We’ll probably unite our “Dr. Jekyll” and “Mr. Hyde” someday, for an LP or something.

I know some of the songs from Madrigal were written years ago – “Wet Mulch” was from 2015. Were any of these songs older too, or were they all written for All You Admire

I mentioned that most of the songs were written alongside Madrigal, which means we finished up hese songs weeks and even days before recording them with Chris Teti. This EP, All You Admire, actually got tracked before Madrigal did, which was during March of 2019. It’s weird putting these out almost a year and a half later, but we just wanted to wait until it felt right. As for the songwriting, I was trying to make the pieces fit together during the six months leading up to us recording them, but I couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted to say until right before we left to record in Connecticut. I think the songs came off very raw because of that, in a good way.

Do you have a favorite song on the EP? 

It’s so tough to pick, I think we really did something new for Equipment with all of these songs. However, we usually lean somewhere between “Coat Tails” or “Surer/Steady.” Both have my favorite lyrics I’ve ever written, and the finished products surprised us with how they both walk the tightrope between pop and punk. However, I think the payoff at the end of “Surer/Steady” seals the deal for me. That song brought out the best in all of us. Hearing that last drum fill that Jake does gives me goosebumps every time.

What’s next for Equipment? 

We have no clue! Last year we did not plan for Madrigal to bring us as much attention as it did, so that was kind of scary. We have zero expectations in terms of how this release will go, but we’re hoping people dig this new side of us. As for the future, we simply can’t stop ourselves from writing and recording for some reason. We just finished tracking a new release with our side project Waving, and I’ll probably write and home-record a new EP through the project I have with my girlfriend Sam, Loser Camp, and we are sitting on a lot of songwriting ideas for new Equipment, so I guess we’ll just keep doing our thing and land wherever this awful COVID-laced wind takes us. I feel like by the time we have our next gig, we’ll have 100 new minutes of music to slice into a setlist.

You can order All You Admire now on vinyl or tape via Equipment’s merch store.

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

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