It’s been a big year for Philadelphia-based rockers Restorations: a new album, LP2, a summer tour with The Menzingers, and now, a coast-to-coast fall tour as a headlining act. However, while the band has gained enough attention to field invites to festivals as diverse as Fest and Made In America, their current focus seems to be just keeping up their momentum. After the band’s September 18th show at Angry Mom Records in Ithaca, frontman Jon Loudon sat down for a Q&A to discuss Restorations’ busy year, laid-back approach and loyalty to their DIY roots in the face of growing recognition.
KM:What has it been like to transition from sticking around Philly to touring nationally?
JL: Really fun. We don’t really know what to expect anywhere we go, and it’s been kind of all over the place, from really overwhelmingly awesome to kind of strange and leading to good stories. We did a little bit of touring last year, then we went to Australia last year, and that was like the big point at which we were like, oh shit, we should do this more! It was a really good time. We did a tour with our friends The Menzingers, where it’s really big and everyone knows what’s going on and they all sing along, and then it’s kind of strange.
KM: What’s strange about that?
JL: Sometimes we’d play a VFW hall show to 10 people and it was weird, and [now] we’ll go out and see people who actually like us—it’s kind of neat, people have come out of the woodwork and offered to help us out with shows and take care of us, and a lot of this is so disconnected from what we used to do. It’s an interesting time. It’s exciting. We’re finding out a lot about how things are outside of Philadelphia.
KM: Do any moments stand out in your mind from the past year?
JL: We went to Australia—getting to go to Australia was a big one. And they asked us! There was a record label over there, and they said ‘hey, we’re doing this festival in September, and if you’re interested you guys should come. We’ll book a tour for you and it’ll be a good time. You won’t make a million dollars, but you’ll get to see some shit’. And we talked it over and it just kind of worked out really nicely. Probably one of the best tours we’ve ever done. Coming back from that and doing Fest was really big, it was a huge crazy show last year, and the little weekends we’ve done around that have been pretty good too. But those two were the big ones.
KM: How would you describe the sound that you guys are shooting for when you start writing songs?
JL: It’s whatever happens. We’re never aiming for anything, ever. It’s, one of us will come in with a calmer, quieter idea, a chord progression or a riff or something, and because there are so many of us and our amps are so loud, it just becomes this distorted version of something very quiet. Folk songs, or more traditional rock and roll or quieter indie rock, just put through this filter of loud amps and big drums and lots of vocals. That’s our trick, just putting our filter on whatever. We write as a group, everybody writes, everybody contributes, there’s lots of back and forth. It’s whatever sounds good. So we write a whole bunch and start to sound like some of those things don’t fit, and we’ll just be like ‘no, no, no, no’ until we find something, and then we put it together and call it a record. That’s why our records are so short. We usually throw out all of our songs.
KM: Restorations recently made AbsolutePunk’s 2013 Absolute 100 list. What did that recognition mean for you guys?
JL: AbsolutePunk is kind of this weird, tangential thing off of what I feel like we do and the bands we usually play with. I feel like we usually play with a little bit heavier bands, but the fact that they like us, it’s awesome. Really, this is one of those things where you start to see places that you don’t normally expect or associate with directly that just say ‘hey, you guys keep this up!’ and we’re like, ‘hey, how did you hear about us? What’s going on?’
KM: There aren’t too many punk bands that can say that they’ve played a music festival headlined by Beyoncé. What was Made In America like?
JL: It was really bizarre. It was just crazy. It’s a really long story, but it was a really good change of pace to play something big and goofy that we totally don’t belong on. Nobody that listens to our band went to that in Philly. It wasn’t like ‘oh, cool, Restorations is playing, we’ll pay a hundred dollars a ticket and go.’ But it was really cool to wrap up a set where the whole time we were playing there were skateboarders behind us, just smashing their skateboards on the ramp to the beat of the music. And as soon as we’re done, Public Enemy starts playing. We all just turned around and were like, are you kidding me? Really?
It’s one of those things where it’s a pretty odd situation. All the things you can imagine would be shitty about playing a giant corporate festival run by Jay-Z and Budweisr… it was all of those things. But then imagine all the things that would be awesome about playing a big giant festival run by Jay-Z and Budweiser.
It was just this surreal experience. And we were the only band from Philly that was asked to play, so that was really cool.
Again, there’s a lot of politics involved and it’s just one of those things where you’re kind of like, ‘let’s just do it.’ It’s cool because it seems like everyone knows our politics, knows our aesthetic. And they gave us maybe more of a pass than we deserved for playing that. But it was cool. It was interesting. It was wild.