Much the Same…or are they?

Almost three years were up, the case of writer’s block was still severe and the release of a new record looked like a hell of a task. Over the past year, Illinois-based band Much The Same signed to a new record label and dove head first into the production of a follow-up to their 2003 release Quitters Never Win.

Much The Same formed in 1999 and after a number of lineup changes, consisted of Gunner McGrath on vocals and guitar, Dan O’ Gorman on guitar, Franky Tsoukalas on bass and vocals and ex-drummer “Mook” by late 2001. Mook was later replaced with the band’s current drummer Jevin Kaye.

On August 29, Much The Same will release their newest record Survive, their first album on Nitro records. They were approached by Nitro to sign with them late last year.

“We were not looking (to switch labels), we were on A-F Records, we had already talked to them, they were going to put out the next record and the Nitro thing was kind of a surprise,” said McGrath. “A-F was awesome and let us do our thing.”

Survive features eleven straight punk tracks possessing much more diversity than Much The Sames’s older material.

“The biggest complaint that we and other people had was that [Quitters Never Win] was all very similar, it was Much The Same,” said McGrath with a chuckle. “It was a conscious decision to not pigeonhole ourselves the same way we did the first time around.”

Survive features a variation of music. There was no one direction Much The Same wanted to head in though; whatever they wrote that was good was kept.

“We had a lot more ideas that were thrown out,” said Kaye. “Everything that was written and thought of as good was kept, regardless of style.”

Survive opens with “The Greatest Betrayal,” the first track to be released to the public on the band’s website and Myspace. Right off the bat, it is apparent that Much The Same is heavier, the vocal pitches have more variation and the overall sound is cleaner.

This record is “far more diverse, heavier, softer, poppier, a little bit of everything for everyone,” said Kaye.

One reason for the diversity in the album may be the band’s ability to compromise songs.

“I was just really adamant on not letting myself say when someone else would bring in music, ‘Uh, that’s a little too emo’ or ‘I don’t want to have to yell.’ I used to throw out a lot of ideas because they did not fit exactly what I wanted to sound like. This time (while making the new record) I made the … decision not to argue,” said McGrath.

“If I thought [a song] was good, even if I didn’t necessarily think it was good for us, I went with it. I think about half the songs I probably wouldn’t have let anybody continue writing on the first record, I would of complained about them, but now that we have them, I am really happy that we did because they are a lot better than a lot of the stuff I wrote the first time around. Apparently I am very stubborn, but I try to step back. I have three very talented musicians to work with and I appreciate that I got lucky that way. I don’t want to exert control.”

There would also be times where one member may just be outvoted in their opposition to a song. “Democracy rules in Much The Same,” said Kaye.

Much The Same plans to set out on tour this fall following the release of the record.

“This is the first time we’re going on tour full time,” said Tsoukalas.

“Touring is probably the reason why I do this. I love meeting new people, going to some place you’ve never been to before and seeing some kid singing your song you wrote, it’s pretty amazing,” said O’Gorman.

The studio lacks the instant gratification of playing a show, Kaye said.

“Touring is fun because you receive the reward for your work, in the studio you don’t have anything to listen to at the end of the day when you’re done. I can hope what I did is awesome, but with touring you actually see how your music affects people and that keeps you going,” said Kaye.

Survive is a marker of how Much The Same has progressed and came together as a band. “It’s a very personal, real record,” said O’Gorman. “This is all we do and that’s what this record is about.”

“We all got together and made a better record, I think that’s the goal, write better songs than before,” said Tsoukalas.

There’s diversity, the heart of the band members survive in the lyrics and the Much The Same is a good band; this is a good record, easily enjoyable to most fans of punk music.

“I think there’s something for everybody. I looked into the lyrics of this record and anyone can relate to anyone of those songs [lyrically],” said O’Gorman.

Even though the popularity of Much The Same is still on a semi-low-key level they want you to know that, “we exist and we’re a band. We write songs about what we do everyday of our lives and go through, just give it a listen,” said Tsoukalas.

Much The Same are just “trying to survive as individuals living in a world where no one wants to hear you,” said Kaye.

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