Interview with Not Tonight Josephine
The Tampa, Florida band Not Tonight Josephine have spent the last few years becoming one of the most notable bands in the Tampa music scene. Having been voted Tampa’s Most Buzz-Worthy Rock Band in 2009, the band has been performing at music festivals opening for acts such as Anberlin, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Sick Puppies, Framing Hanley and Drowning Pool. Recently the band has received a great deal of attention over their cover of the Ace of Base single “All That She Wants”; the track has received more than 20,000 views on YouTube. In April 2011, Not Tonight Josephine launched the “All On The Horizon Tour” that spans 14 states and 21 stops. St. Louis Music Press contributor Ricky Sherman had the opportunity to sit down with vocalist David Easlick, bassist Evan Foley and guitarist Adam Aungst during their visit to St Louis to perform at Lemmon’s on May 15, 2011, to discuss their newfound notoriety and more…
Ricky: How was your trip to St. Louis? Last night you were in Tennessee, correct?
David: Yes. Oh wait…Where were we last night? We were in Tennessee last night.
Evan: Yes, in Nashville. The trip has been pretty fun.
David: The trip has been great! It has been bumpy.
Evan: We’re from Florida, and we complain about the roads in Florida all the time. I’m not going to say I’ll never complain about the roads in Florida again, but I will complain less because the rest of the country has some of the worst interstates and patchwork jobs I have ever seen!
David: We’re from Tampa, Florida and we always complain about traffic there as well! But, we had a show over in New York City, right down town, and I don’t think I’ll ever complain about traffic in Tampa again. It was ridiculous.
Ricky: How was that show?
David: Actually, it was pretty good. We had a really good time. We found out that in most of the northern states, every bar you play, you have to lug your gear all the way down stairs, which is not fun. So night after night, we are like, “I bet there is going to be stairs here!” We show up and there are stairs [sighs]. And the north, Illinois, and Ohio, the tolls are ridiculous. We had to pay $28.00. We are going to get the E-Pass.
Evan: We are going to start to tailgating truckers, is what we are going to do.
David: Make them pay for it!
Evan: We are thinking that the next tour we do, we are going to fill our van up with every kind of E-Pass EZPass.
Ricky: All on the Horizon was just released in April. How have the fans responded to the album?
David: So far, pretty good!
Evan: We have been keeping up with our trending reports and stuff like that.
David: Sales have been a little higher than we anticipated.
Evan: It’s our debut album. In reality, this is the first time we’ve gotten out of the South East. Even without canvassing in a lot of different markets, we’ve seen sales all across the country and overseas already. It’s crazy to think how broad the internet takes everything. And we have not begun to really go and get out there and hit the ground ourselves.
David: We are just now just making a national push for ourselves. For being an independent band without having a label to call home, I think our sales are doing pretty well. Hopefully, we don’t end up having to sign. If something great comes along, then awesome. If not, we aren’t going to let that hold us back.
Evan: The whole DYI aspect, its daunting, because there is a lot if you can get under the wing of anything corporate. Being corporate, be it a label, management, they take care of things for you or help you facilitate a lot of stuff. It’s more of a task. But, I think it’s a lot more rewarding to say everything we are doing, we are doing completely on our own. It is a give and take. Sooner or later we’ll end up doing the right thing one way or another. Right now, it is just a daunting thing, but at the end of the day, it is really rewarding.
David: Well, the fans are the ones that are doing it for us. We may put in the days and the time, but if it weren’t for the people buying the album or showing up to the shows, we would just be wasting money. We have them to thank for it.
Ricky: What is the inspiration for the new record?
David: There is a track on there called “We Will Never Be The Same.” It is our battlecry. It’s about releasing this album. We released an EP, This Orphan Heart, which were some of the very first songs that we ever wrote. This new album is more mature. The writing has gotten much better musically and lyrically. We knew we were going to go on the road with this album, so everything we could possibly reach was “All On The Horizon.”
Evan: It was a declaration. It really was. It’s daunting to look out and everything…
David: Our next album will be called daunting.
Evan: Our next album will not be called “Daunting”, for the record.
Evan: It really is. There is a lot going on, but there is nothing left. There really is not nothing left, but everything we can do at home has been done to this point. So, everything else is just “All On The Horizon.” That is where that song and the title of the album came from.
David: A lot of the record is relationship based, too. They [the songs] can go hand in hand with you leaving something behind, and do not tread on the past, because everything is out on the horizon. There are greener pastures.
Evan: What he said.
Ricky: The meaning of the name Not Tonight Josephine has to do with Napoleon Bonaparte telling his wife “Not Tonight, Josephine”. Why did the band choose this as the band name? Is someone a history buff?
Evan: I was a history major at Florida State. But that’s not why reason we came up with it. Just doing the background on it.
David: We have found out way before the meaning of the name.
Ricky: Is it relationship-wise, why you came up with it?
Evan: The whole thing was supposedly, while he was away from home, he would write letters to his wife. He would end them by saying, ”I love you, but not tonight, Josephine”. It was kind of his way of saying, “Love you, wish I were home, I wish I could do all these fun things with you, but I can’t. What I need to do is keep me here, away from you, so not tonight Josephine.” We always look at the band as a serious thing. It was never, “Ehh, it is just a thing on the weekends”. We always knew what we were going to do with it.
David: We have already been in bands where things were on the weekends. There is probably, in every band, one or two people who want to make it an active career and not to be weekend warriors. I think this band took the best of all previous bands and hard workers from that. So, we knew we were not going to just play locally. We said from the very start of this band that we were going to go national. We were going to do it, regardless of what steps we have to take to get there.
Evan: We knew there would be a lot of leaving comforts of home behind. That is kind of where the name came from.
Ricky: Who does the band credit for most of it success besides yourselves? Relationships? Parents?
Evan: I think if our success is based on anyone, it is our fans. That has been from day one. We started seeing the response from them, and they drive us to keep on going. If there is anybody we could blame for making us want to get out and play and record albums, it’s for them. At the end of the day, that is why we do it.
David: That and any other band we have shared the stage with. If it was not for them drawing people to shows, there wouldn’t be new faces we could play in front of every night. And anyone who has ever given us a chance.
Ricky: What does the band enjoy the most about touring?
David: Seeing different roads besides the same damn ones in Florida all the time.
Adam: Seeing new faces to play in front of. It’s just nice.
David: The money! [laughs] We don’t make any money.
Evan: It is not the showers either. The best thing about touring is that you get to see new things every day. It is a little weird when we wake up in the morning and go, “What state are we in today?”
David: What day of the week is it? I actually kind of feel bad sometimes, or feel like a prick. We go to some places and they go, “Where were you guys last night?” I go, “Oh, we were…”. Sometimes I really have to think about it. I feel like I am coming off as that we are so cool that we have played all these places. It’s not that. You genially forget where you were the night before. You can play some place two nights ago, and it feels like a week ago. It’s because your sleep schedule is so off . Its like, “What day did I fall asleep? I don’t even know.”
Evan: It’s cool to just see new stuff. Most of the states we have been in I may have passed through at one point. The other day we were in New York. I’ve never been to New York. I may have seen pictures, and the other day we were standing in Times Square. It was really cool.
Ricky: Was the Naked Cowboy in Times Square?
David: No, he wasn’t.
Evan: We missed Naked Cowboy and free hugs guy. I was thoroughly depressed about both of those. We were there on a Sunday night; it was Mother’s Day. I think Naked Cowboy was home with Naked Cowboy’s mom.
Ricky: Do you have any advice for other bands that are working to have success?
Evan: Just do it!
David: Not to quote Nike, but !
Evan: If your heart is in it, if you really want to do this, and you really want to make a name for yourself, throw all your gear in the back of somebody’s van and just hit the road. Touring is what is going to make you or break you. That is what we are learning now. We have been a band for two years, and this is the first time we really have left the Southeast. We should have done this a year ago.
David: For the most part, I think we are doing everything. There is a certain timeline you have to do. Unless you have that “one” song, and you are at the right time and right place, and there is someone who can put $200,000 behind you, then you have to have a timeline. You have to say in one year you want to be here. And that next year, we want to be here. And then here, here and here. Try to go with a five-year plan. I think the biggest thing for any band is to decide from day one what you want to see yourself ultimately doing and where you want to take it. If you just want to play on the weekends, there is nothing wrong with that. There are some people who are great musicians, but they love their daytime job, and they don’t want to leave it. You do exactly[what] it is that you want to do. That’s my advice, from day one, just figure it out.
Ricky: Does the band have a favorite show that you have done on the tour so far?
Evan: I had fun in Clarksville! Clarksville, Tennessee was a lot of fun because it was just a hole in the wall venue. It just had a cool, ominous feel to it. We just had fun that night. It’s not based upon how many people showed up to a show, how much money we don’t make; it’s based upon how much fun we have on stage and people just hanging out with us.
David: We haven’t played it yet, but I can tell you what show will be the funnest. It’s going to be our Home Coming show when we go back to Saint Pete, Florida. We are going to be playing in the State Theatre. It is our CD Release. There are already a couple hundred RSVPs for the show. And these are the people who actually aren’t lazy when they take the time to RSVP. I can imagine that place will be sold out.
Evan: I’m not even worried about numbers. We are going to be going home. We are going to be excited to get home anyways. There could be 500 people, there could be 50 people; it is still going to be one of the best feelings. It’s going to be, “Dude, we are just back from tour! We are going to do it again in three weeks.”
David: I care, everybody had better be there.
Evan: I heard Obama just RSVP’d for it. [chuckles] Everybody is going to be there.
Ricky: What do you believe has made your band stand out in the Tampa music scene?
David: Judging by venues that we have worked with and other bands, other writers for magazines… they say we are one of the most hard working bands they have worked with. I think that helps us stand out. To us, we don’t look at ourselves as any better than anybody else. We’ve just been told that we work very hard. I think it makes a difference. We are very fan oriented. If someone leaves a comment, talks to us, or tries to get ahold of us, we get back to them and make sure everything is taken care of.
Ricky: What song off the new album are you the most fond of?
Evan: “We Will Never Be the Same“.
David: That is definitely a great song. One of the songs I’m most fond of is a track called “Why Can’t You Stay“. It is because it goes hand in hand with the name of the band. I wrote that about my wife. It’s written from both perspectives, of going on tour. The verse is saying, “This is what we are doing”, and the chorus is her asking, “Why can’t you stay?”
Ricky: Everyone talks about how you covered the Ace of Base song “All that She Wants”. Have you ever considered that the title is exactly the opposite of the name Not Tonight Josephine?
Evan: No. That actually is a new one.
David: It is a good song. Who cares?
Evan: That song was just discovered by mistake. We were in practice one night, and the little lead line comes out. Everybody goes, “What song is that?” That’s “Maneater” by Hall and Oats. And we were messing around with it, and we didn’t know why we kept messing around with it. We don’t know why we kept messing around with it. The next thing we know it is “All That She Wants.” Later we were jamming on the whole idea of the song. Pretty much at the end of practice that night we were done putting that song together. And this is 95% identical to what you hear on the album. We didn’t do a whole lot, but the first time we played it, we just got a response. It is a fun song.
David: I wonder if Ace of Base has heard it yet?
Ricky: How has success impacted the band?
Evan: We are all still very level headed. There is still a lot of work to be done. It is about pounding the pavement. There is no room to be getting a big head.
David: Even when you do make it. You can look at any band [and see that] you can “make it”, and the very next album be right where you started from, playing little venues again. Because if you don’t put out a second album better than the first, or just as good, people forget about you quick. I think if you stay humble, you stay true to the fans. It helps your success longer.
Find out more about Not Tonight Josephine with this LINK: http://www.reverbnation.com/nottonightjosephine