Seven Questions In Heaven With Mixtapes

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Mixtapes' Even On The Worst Nights. I had never heard of the band, but something told me to give it a listen and I'm so glad I did. What I found was thirty-nine minutes of pure pop punk perfection, painting a perfect picture of teenage small town suburban life. Since then, I've played it damn near nonstop and it has become my favorite album of 2012. Today, I'm happy to be spending Seven Questions In Heaven with Ryan Rockwell from Mixtapes.

Describe your music for our readers who may not be familiar with you.
Well we are a four-piece band who plays rock music. When we started, I wanted us to find some mix of being a Midwestern punk band along the lines of Dillinger Four, Rivethead, etc. and a '90s indie rock pop band a la Gin Blossoms, Promise Ring, etc. I'd like to think we have kind of accomplished that!

Who are your musical influences and idols?
My musical influences would be Screeching Weasel, Dillinger Four, Suicide Machines, Hold Steady, The Weakerthans, Counting Crows, Promise Ring, Wheatus, Gin Blossoms, Less Than Jake, etc. Those are the bands that made me want to write the stuff I am writing.

What was the first album, cassette, or CD you bought with your own money?
Counting Crows' August And Everything After and they are still my favorite band of all time. I have a stomach tattoo from that record, it still holds up! My second one, however, was Ace of Base's The Sign. Oh yeahhhhh.

I'll be personally honest: a week ago, I had never heard of Mixtapes. But for the last week, Even On The Worst Nights has been pretty much all I've been listening to. I sincerely love the album. For new fans like myself, can you describe your live shows? How do you go about writing new songs? From what I've read, you guys have released a lot of material in the past. After I've thoroughly digested this album, which Mixtapes releases should be next?
Well thank you very much! When we write, we just kind of write a tune or an idea and we get together and just make it with all four of us. It's really natural and fun. We don't stress over a lot of stuff. Our live shows I feel are very energetic, kind of chaotic and fun. Our songwriting is serious and deals with a lot of different issues, but live I think we bring a party. After Even On The Worst Nights, I would check out the Companions EP!

You guys have a unique sound, partially due to the male and female lead vocals. How do you decide who sings what part? Do you ever find yourself diplomatically approaching songs like, "Well, Ryan (or Maura) sang lead on the past two songs we wrote, so it's time to change gears?"
We just started writing together and it happened naturally. I can honestly say no, I don't think we've ever had a conversation like that. We just work on songs and do whatever makes the most sense, and luckily it's always kind of worked that way.

In "Always," you sing that "everybody I know is a critic these days" and then later, "everyone I know is an artist these days." Do you think the Internet is responsible for making everyone think they can be both? If so, have we lessened the effect of both artists and critics? Do you read your critics?
I do think that and I absolutely read our critics. I love the blogs, good or bad. A good review is nice and can be cool to read and a terrible review can be way more awesome! That stuff doesn't get me down like some bands, though. We're Mixtapes, not The Beatles, I get that everyone isn't going to love our band and that's fine, but if I can annoy a few people on a message board somewhere along the way, I am happy.

Finally, you're the opening act of a music festival. You can get any five artists, living or dead, to perform on the bill with you. Which five do you choose and what song do you all perform as the final jam?
Hmm. The Beach Boys, Counting Crows, Hold Steady, Cam'ron, and Rivethead. They all perform "Wouldn't It Be Nice" as the encore!

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