Interview: Andrew Sclafani of Withholder

Posted: by The Editor

Withholder are a self described indie and emo four-piece, but they veer towards shoegaze as well. Comparable to Foxing and Turnover, they effectively mesh precise, whispering vocals with wavy, extended instrumental pieces. Withholder and I share a hometown, which led lead vocalist and songwriter Andrew Sclafani and me to discussing Fresno, California—but we also got into the band’s creative process and its future.

The Alternative: What in particular do you like about Fresno’s scene? 

Andrew Sclafani: Fresno’s scene is really intimate. If you start going to shows regularly, people are so cool about coming up to talk to you. Band members go to shows to support each other, which is not how it always is. Fresno’s music scene is connected to its art scene. Bands often perform on that same evening as [Fresno-based art showcase] Art Hop in nearby venues.

What are some of your favorite Fresno-based bands?

Light Thieves is really great. The members of Worst Of It are close friends of mine. I’m in a Dungeons and Dragons group with one of them.

I’ve noticed that a lot of your lyrics are narrative and from a first person perspective. What is your writing process? 

I come from an English-influenced background. I’d like to teach English at a high school level one day. I’m very deep into literature and composition. That’s kind of where I draw inspiration from. I like to make things as narrative and as visual as possible. I’m trying to be more selective in my word choice so I can say more in a short amount of time. The great thing about songwriting is that it’s just like a book, where you have multiple chapters. You don’t have to say everything in one song. You can split that up.

How does what Withholder has already released compare to what you’ve yet to release?

We’re working with audio engineer Dryw Owens, who has worked with From Indian Lakes Dance Gavin Dance. There’s a lot of softer, jazzier parts and there’s also a lot of high energy, high octane, emotive sounds. I think artists definitely have the whole thought in the back of their mind that they don’t want to alienate their fan base by releasing something that’s not similar to something they’ve released in the past. But at the same time, I think it’s very it’s liberating to free yourself from that and create what you want to create. 

You told me that you’ve felt a strong inclination to write music lately. What pushed you?

I don’t just write when I’m sad. I write whenever I feel strong emotions, whether that’s positive or negative. Some of the new stuff is not so sad. Sometimes, certain situations can stifle your creative energy. Once you come out of that, you have so much to write about.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Cheesecake. And my favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip. I was never into it in the past, but once you can palate more adult flavors—it becomes the best thing ever.

Bineet Kaur | @hellobineet

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