The Downtown Fiction is an American pop/punk band based from Fairfax Virginia. The band consists of four members; Cameron Leahy, David Pavluk, Wes Dimonds, and Kyle Rodgers. I recently got to chat with lead vocalist, Cameron, about their new album “Alligator Tears” (which is available now on iTunes!), his writing process, the teamwork within the band, and what he’s nerdy about! To find out more, read our interview with him below:
You just recently released a new album called ‘Alligator Tears’, can you tell us a little bit about it?
We wanted to make an EP and we had some songs that we’d been working on. We wanted to do something exciting and different and this progression was a step forward in a creative direction for us. Each song has it’s own personality. We self-produced this record, so we gave it a different approach. We worked on it a lot in a home studio and had a lot of late hour sessions and I think it definitely gave it a certain vibe, a sort of experimental vibe but maybe like a surreal quality to it as well. Ultimately, we just wanted to do something that excited us and I think having the opportunity to uwork at all hours made that possible. The record itself is based around that time schedule, that time frame so it came out of this feeling of disconnect from people and at a time when we’re reportedly so connected. And of course, you can never set out to have a theme too early on when you’re just writing songs, but I think looking back at it now it certainly has a theme to it. There is a vibe about the record that I think sort of relates to that.
Do you have a track on the album that you personally like for yourself?
Yeah, we have a lot of different vibes on this, so it depends on my mood which was intentional because there are only 5 songs we wanted it to have. We didn’t mind it because we wanted it to just shift gears throughout. Sometimes when I’m feeling a little funky, it comes out as a song like Van Gogh Colors. We’re actually working on a video this week for a song called Hepburn Shades, I really like that one. It’s the last song on the album and I think it represents our growth and the band’s desire to push forward and push the boundaries of what we can be. Stretch the definition of who we are. I like it for being a confident song in a non-classically confident way, it’s not a rocker but it kind of rocks anyway. I think that confidence comes from us just working and honing our skills. It feels like this album was a little bit of a breakthrough for us in a way. It pushed us through a threshold where I don’t think we feel as bound to a genre as we once did.
What helps you and the band write new songs? Do you have a musical inspiration?
Honestly, I think that it’s gotten to the point where if you really are musical you can make a lot of stuff on your own. What really inspires me is having the ability to male music on your own time, in your own home studio. I think that’s just, it’s so much fun you know? At the end of the day, it’s just that it’s what we like to do, it just feels natural, it just feels like an urge. I don’t ever feel like it’s something we have to consciously keep giving it’s more about retaining that mentality which you originally have. The mentality of making music because it’s fun and you don’t think about it too much. Especially the certain type of music we’re making, over thinking is one of the most dangerous things. So I’m constantly trying to revert back to a younger mindset and remind myself that at the end of the day it has to come from a place of honesty and a humble desire. Instead of it being about trying to write a song for this person or that person, it’s gotta be for you.
Would you like to collaborate with any other artist or band anytime soon?
Yeah, definitely! I’ve written with a lot of cool friends and talented musicians that I’ve never met before because of the way cowrites work. You’ll meet up with someone you’ve never written with before and you’ll end up writing a song. A few years ago, it was completely a novel idea to me to meet with someone and writing a song (laughs). We do it all the time now and it’s great, I think that’s what’s cool in living in this city, or any city where there are a lot of studios and a lot of musical people; you’ll just fall into sessions. I love to collaborate. It’s about getting the opportunity to get them to hear your music and recognize what you’re doing too.
Do you have any plans of touring in the near future?
Yeah, that’s something we’ve been planning, but it’s continually getting changed or rescheduled. (Laughs). Those plans have been bounced back and forth and we’ve had a few things we’ve wanted to do that didn’t work out with coordination issues. But we definitely want to get to everyone as soon as possible. We’re so happy that we finally put this new music out and it really reinvigorates our desire to play live shows and make that happen. Especially some of these songs, I’m excited to hear live because they’re gonna have a cool vibe about them because of the way that we recorded it. We’ve become more of a rhythm band and I think that’s definitely brought out that beat side of us. And that’s something too we’ve developed with this record.
What’s one of your favorite parts of being in a band? And are there any obstacles you face in being in one?
It’s just the only thing I’ve ever really felt like I had a good perspective on that was worthy of being paid attention to and the only area, the only field where it felt right. All of the inconveniences or all the challenges, I don’t even think those come up in my mind consciously much. I think those sort of things just come and go and when you really love what you do, everything just sort of whether it’s unnecessary evil, whatever extra work you have to put into in order to do the thing you like to do, that’s okay with me, you know? (Laughs). So there aren’t any specific challenges that really come to mind, I think it’s just like any other profession, it’s just about remembering why you do it. I think not enough people focus on the fact that you just have to do things and find things that you love and that isn’t gonna need constant defense. I don’t need to defend why I make music, I just want to have that compulsion. I think the hardest thing is just continuing to remind yourself that you can’t be replaced. If anything, that’s want this record taught me. I never wanted to be the same thing twice. We’re just always trying to excite ourselves, and staying in that mindset of on an experimentation.
How are your interactions with your fans on social media? Do you feel like it has helped you all as a band grow?
Oh yeah, without a doubt. We wouldn’t be a band in the same respect, had it not been for social media. I think that it allows people to make music in a more democratic way, us included. There are a lot of musicians that owe a great deal to the internet and to being visible in a way. Two years ago, without the internet, certain people wouldn’t know us. We get to hear from people in the Philippines now, it’s wild! And in a way, it’s been very inspiring because I’m sure on the flip side, 20 years ago you also didn’t get to hear in addition to being able to put your things out, you also didn’t get that back. I think that really influences artists to keep going. To get that feedback from people, in real-time is a gift to an artist now. I think we take for granted just how much it’s worth being able to hear from fans because it validates what you do.
Since we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us, what are you most nerdy about?
(Laughs). That’s a good question! I love talking music. I call it “nerding out”. I love nerding out about music and about film. I talk about them in the same breath most of the time. I’m constantly forcing friends when we’re hanging out to put on an album as opposed to watching TV. If I have a TV on, it’s usually connected to the music and the album cover is up on the TV, which is what I prefer to do most of the time. I love listening to music and the nerding out part of that is analyzing the history of it. I mean, when I nerd out about music, I’m nerding out about it the same way Quentin Tarantino nerds out about who produces this or did the lighting for this, or directed that.
I think that all those connections and those things that tie music together to history and the people who are most influential, that drives me up the wall in a good way. You start to see all of the right strings that tie together, the great music and the great work that have been done over the years. You start to see it and you start to analyze the history more and more and I love to do that. It inspires me, ano urges me to make music or urges me to connect and get that music out to people. I have that urge to understand where all of this is coming from, the roots of what you’re doing. That really excites me, because even right now today, all of this is in an effort to do something that is worthy of all of the other groups that have done great stuff out there.
I think that nerding out gets to put everything into context. I love doing that, it really puts things into perspective and makes me want to try harder. It raises the bar and there is so much stuff still out there I don’t know. I’m shocked by the amount of good music I have not heard and again, it’s probably better to keep yourself in that mindset of I don’t know much. I love digging deeper and learning more about the craft and about the people that made a huge impact that didn’t get enough recognition, I think those are the people that you have to dig for and keep searching for inspiration that way.
You can follow Cameron Leahy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cameronleahy
Follow The Downton Fiction’s band’s official Twitter: https://twitter.com/DowntownFiction