Conditions

Conditions are poised to take over the post-hardcore scene whether they know it or not. The band's latest full-length effort, Fluorescent Youth, finds the Virginian quintet displaying unmatched lyrical depth in what truly could be a strong contender for the best post-hardcore release of the year. We were recently given the opportunity to talk with front-man Brandon Roundtree regarding the inner-workings of the band's epic release as well as some insight into the lyrical genius within.

 

[email protected]: Please state your name, and tell us what you do in Conditions?

Brandon Roundtree: My name is Brandon and I sing for Conditions.

[email protected]: First off, I'd like to congratulate you on the completion and pending release of your fantastic debut full-length, Fluorescent Youth. One of the record's best qualities, in my opinion, is the lyrics. With that said, guide us through the writing process for the record.

Brandon Roundtree: Thank you very much for the kind words about the record and the lyrics! A Conditions song usually starts with a riff idea from our lead guitarist Jason [Marshall]. He brings it to practice and we all mold it into a full song together. I then listen to the song, gather the mood and feeling from the music itself, and fuse a topic for the lyrics that I feel really come alive with the sound. We wrote Fluorescent Youth just like that; like we always have.

[email protected]: What about the recording process? You worked with Paul Leavitt - how was that?

Brandon Roundtree: We returned to Baltimore with Paul Leavitt because we love him and we wanted to see what a month with him would bring. In the past, we never really got to spend more than a week working with him, so when it came time to choose who the record would be done with he was the obvious choice. We've done 2 previous EPs with him and we always came into the studio... let's just say "less than prepared"... we wrote a lot in the studio... with what would come to be known as Fluorescent Youth, we were the most prepared we've ever been when seeing his shining face, haha. The recording process was actually quite enjoyable this time.

[email protected]: The album was originally scheduled for a late June release - what was the reasoning behind pushing the album back to September 14th?

Brandon Roundtree: We pushed the record back because we started working with a new manager, Mr. Larry Mazer. We REALLY didn't want to push it back because we are all excited little children with this record haha, but Larry had so many great ideas. That, plus his undeniable track record of greatness, lead to the decision being made. Finally we are down to less than a month for the release, and we all couldn't be happier. We are finally where we are

supposed to be.

[email protected]: I have a feeling that you're trying to make a statement with the album title and artwork. What does 'Fluorescent Youth' mean?

Brandon Roundtree: I had a dream one night in the studio that I was holding this light in my hand. Bright like the light that is supposed to surround God. I knew in my head I was staring at my "youth"... and when I woke, I knew I had the album title. To me, "youth" is the most valuable thing ever owned. Everything on this planet, one way or another has a "youth"... we all share it... it is the time in which we are being built... it is the time that will decide ultimately who we become... and what makes it so bright, so valuable, so fluorescent, is that it is both hopeful and tragic... it is always paradoxical... you see young people wishing to speed up growth while you see older people long for their youth again. Every song on the record, lyrically, is the most honest I've ever written and its all pulled from my own unfolding youth. 'Fluorescent Youth' was the perfect choice to sum up everything I wanted to say. When I saw the art, I couldn't have been more pleased... though it is a photograph of something completely different, it looks like what I saw in my dream... and that too reflects my belief that everything is connected one way or another. Like the youth we all share.

[email protected]: The album's single is "Better Life". Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the song, and why you chose it to represent the album as the first single?

Brandon Roundtree: "Better Life" is about the bright side of mistakes. Using your failures as lessons, and learning from them to ultimately become a stronger, better person. The lyrics are real... for example, I really did drink myself to the hospital once. This song represents Fluorescent Youth because when you're young and inexperienced with the world you will make mistakes... but mistakes make you... if you drink to much, drive to fast, if you kiss the wrong girls, make the wrong friends, etc, you will eventually learn as you grow... showcasing, again, the value of your youth... it is there so you eventually move on smarter. "Better Life" was also the first song we completed for the record. We just like it haha.

[email protected]: You recorded a video for "Better Life". Tell us about the creation of and concept behind the video.

Brandon Roundtree: We did the video with a great friend from home, Mr. Matt Petock, who moved up to New York City and is doing amazing things. We received a bunch of treatments for the video and his stood out immediately. We all read it once and we knew. So we went up to Brooklyn and filmed in this awesome soundstage called The Factory. We shot a performance piece with a very intimate feel and some awesome light play. We then went to other locations to build the story part of the video, which will be photography driven. I am leery describing this video because I believe words will not do it justice. I will say however, that it looked better than our wildest dreams. It should be done rather soon, and you will have all your questions properly answered.

[email protected]: The album covers a range of themes, perhaps covering subjects that wouldn't usually be expected from such a young band.  Two specific themes that catch my eye are the insignificance of material possessions ("When It Won't Save You") and the obsession with artificial beauty ("Miss America"). Can you expand on the meaning of these topics, and explain why you decided to cover these topics?

Brandon Roundtree: Absolutely. "When It Won't Save You," lyrically, was written to such a catchy song because I want people to sing along... and sing along fast. This world is out of control, monetarily speaking. Everybody is doing everything for all the wrong reasons, and I really want people to stop and think about how really the only thing you're guaranteed in life is death. And that is not a negative thing... it should be a positive thing... the people around you, the people you grow to like and possibly love will one day disappear and shouldn't you want to spend as much time with them as you can? Though money supports life, it is people that make life worth living. "Miss America" is blatantly about all these famous females who believe they are just "living their lives" while they inadvertently rob young girls who idolize them of their proper moral development. Paris Hilton prototypes haha.... famous for burning cash and accidental nudity... come on ladies? It's classy and intelligent that makes a woman sexy... not slurred speech and lack of clothing. Both of these topics can be tied into music today too. All these young kids starting bands and refusing to play a show until they have "management and/or a label" is stupid and the fact that the general public listens to music with their eyes and crotches rather than their ears and hearts is even worse. I guess I just have a lot of problems with the current world haha, and I strive to make music that battles these problems.

[email protected]: On the other hand, songs like "Make Them Remember" and "Keeping Pace With Planes" seem to be about "making it" and your struggles to get your name known. Is if fair to say the inspiration for those songs, and indeed for many of your songs, lies there?

Brandon Roundtree: I'm not really concerned with making it, as much as I am making something real. "Make Them Remember" is actually, to me, about coming into your own as a human being. About how the fact that you are born into this world with your own name, makes you unique and special. You are already somebody. "Keeping Pace With Planes",t o me, is about how frustrating it is to see someone take advantage of things that you so rightfully deserve and don't have. In my case it was love. I lived on the East Coast, and she on the West Coast. I try to write as ambiguous as i can at times to make sure anyone can take what they need to from my words at any time. Use as you see fit haha... I love when people come up to me and tell me what they think I meant by a lyric, and its completely different from what I thought at the time. That connection is what I love about music.

[email protected]: Speaking of "Keeping Pace With Planes", why did you decide to re-record it, after it appeared on your debut EP, back in 2008?

Brandon Roundtree: Because we could do it so much better haha... and it my opinion we did. We've grown up so much in just 2 years and we wanted to make Fluorescent Youth, and everything associated with it, a rebirth of Conditions.

[email protected]: With reference to the last two questions, how have Conditions developed and grown as a band, since starting in 2008?

Brandon Roundtree: Well, we made a bunch of mistakes and we learned from them all. We had a lot of strange stuff happen to us behind the scenes, that I'm actually not allowed to talk about haha... but it all made us frustrated and tired and angry... and we used all that to better ourselves. When you see Conditions live now, you can see that we play angrier... the lyrics are more genuine... and offstage you will find that we are all very personable and genuinely happy to meet everyone... because when you are in the music business, it is ALWAYS good to come across nice, genuine people.

[email protected]: How would you describe your sound? You're very often compared to Saosin - how do you feel about that? Is that something you're trying to achieve?

Brandon Roundtree: If you ever want a sure-shot way to see someone stumble over their words and become totally uncomfortable, this is the question to ask haha... I like to think that we play fast paced minor keyed rock with substance haha... or psychological rock haha... being compared to Saosin is flattering, because we are all fans... it doesn't really bother us... everyone, if they are indeed a human being, will have an opinion. We just set out to make music we love to play, music we are proud of, and if you're listening to it, we are just honored that you're listening to it.

[email protected]: After a few years of being unsigned, you penned with Good Fight Music. How did the signing come about?

Brandon Roundtree: I was actually in a band on Carl Severson's previous label Ferret Music. I received an email from Carl saying how he has been keeping up with what I was doing with Conditions and that he was up to some new stuff himself. We got to talking and we made it so. That was the sparknotes version. Knowing Carl and seeing how he ran his label like family made it  a shoe-in when he approached us about Conditions because we set out this band swearing not to let anyone in for anything other than the right reasons.

[email protected]: Were you anxious about signing with a newly established label, with no previous releases or track record?

Brandon Roundtree: Not at all! Its the gamble we wanted and love to take. Conditions has always been a band that explores many many firsts... for example the "Better Life" video will be the first music video Matt Petock ever shot. We appreciate how beneficial it is to work with new people and to feed off their desire to make a good first name for themselves, while we strive to do the very same thing.

[email protected]: You scheduled a tour earlier this year, but you had to cancel it due to money issues. How financially straining is being a musician in 2010?

Brandon Roundtree: It's horrible... especially being our age... we are a little older... we're not 16 year olds who live with mommy and daddy and to whom "problem" is just a word... we have day jobs... we have girlfriends... we have made sacrifices and put things on hold and lost things all because we genuinely love and believe in the music we play... it's tough... but again, come see us live and hang out with us, and see how these struggles have made us all such grateful and genuine people... we wouldn't be able to feel how amazing things can be until we feel how bad things can get.

[email protected]: But with the release of your debut album, you'll surely be on the road more, right?

Brandon Roundtree: Absolutely! With the record and our new booking agent Mr. Nick Storch, we will be touring more places more frequently.

[email protected]: With that said, what are Conditions' plans for the remainder of 2010 and beyond?

Brandon Roundtree: Stay tuned for lots of tour dates and lots of stupid videos of us being ourselves haha... we have big things planned and they will all be known very very soon.

[email protected]: Tell us a crazy/amusing tour story. Don't be shy...

Brandon Roundtree: One time I lost my voice in front of 5000+ people... haha ... I wanted to quit music.

[email protected]: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Is there anything you'd like to add?

Brandon Roundtree: Thank you for asking such amazing questions! I'd also like to add that Conditions knows it is all of our amazing fans that put us where we are... and that we will never ever forget that. Come out and see us and tour and never EVER be afraid to say hello. Welcome to the family

Fluorescent Youth is online and in stores now courtesy of Good Fight Records. Our review of the album can be found here.

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