Interview with Jon Cattivera of Time Spent Driving
Their new album "Passed & Presence" is out on Cardigan Records
First record that changed your life?
That’s a really hard one. I’d have to reach back really far and say Black Flag’s “In My Head.” It’s by no means the best Black Flag record, but it’s the first one I heard and it just really caught my ear and got me more into punk rock. Before that I was into a lot of punk songs that would play on skateboard videos and what not, but the mainstream was full of hair metal bands so it was a good departure.
How did you get into emo?
For me it was a natural extension of punk rock—it was not something that I called emo at the time or consciously tried to get into. I was listening to Bad Religion one minute and Fugazi the next—I don’t think there were as many dividing lines in genres, I would just find whatever I could that I liked in the big spectrum of punk and hardcore. From Fugazi I found out about Kerosene 454, Shudder to Think and Jawbox. More locally I found out about Samiam, Jawbreaker and Knapsack. I loved punk-influenced bands that were mixing it up and doing something more layered both musically and lyrically like Lifetime, Hot Water Music and Chamberlain. All of that stuff led me to it.
How did you find out about bands?
Skateboard videos. Word of Mouth. Thank you lists in tapes and CDs that I had. Reviews in zines. Shows. Sometimes I’d see a sticker on a drum set or something inside of a CD’s artwork and go check out the band just for that reason.
First time you heard the word emo?
There was a little group of punks in town here called the “Santa Cruz Music Collective.” I must have been 16 at the time, and my first band was looking to play some shows so we went down to this little house down by the Boardwalk to one of their meetings because we heard they helped put on shows. While we were there, they were using the word “emo” to describe some bands that they were hearing about or trying to book. We weren’t sure what it was exactly, but we figured it was “emotional”. In the band we were playing in, we had tons of songs about girls and relationships and what not, so we walked away from that meeting saying “hey, maybe we’re emo?” We weren’t, we were more of a pop punk band but still it was funny, and we weren’t sure what it was exactly for quite a while after that.
Shows in SF at that time? Bands we may not know?
As for bands we played with in the area early on, there was a band called Streets and Avenues that was really cool. Some other smaller bands you may not have heard of were Cutlass Supreme, The Rum Diary, Andherson, Mercury, A Great Divide, Pocket for Corduroy, Keeping Ellis, Edaline, The Wunder Years. I feel like it was a super small scene.
How Emo Diaries 7 did that come about? Did you blindly submit?
Well I was not too keen on being on those comps at first because of the negative connotations associated with the term. But then our friends in Benton Falls signed to Deep Elm and threw a song on Vol. 6 so I got better acquainted with the idea and decided to send a song in. We actually recorded the song specifically to submit it to the comp because it was one of the only songs we had that we hadn’t recorded yet. I sent in a burned 1-song CD and just waited to hear back—which we did. I think it ended up being a good thing as quite a few people found out about us from it.
Early 2000s - can you give the listeners a peek into how emo was perceived as you roamed America playing shows. Who did you compare yourselves to?
I think it was rougher on the West Coast—it seemed like the east coast and the midwest were much more savvy to what we were trying to do. We’d compare ourselves to the likes of No Knife, Jimmy Eat World, Knapsack, Far, Sunny Day, American Football, Sense Field, Pedro the Lion, Chamberlain, Texas is the Reason and stuff like that. But I was also heavily influenced by a lot of other stuff that led to what we were playing.
Thoughts on what happened to emo? Did you feel the scene was losing something?
I had more of a connection with the music than the word. So in that case I definitely feel like we lost something. We had a San Francisco Warped Tour date in 2002—and I just remember all of a sudden every single band sounded like they had the Saves the Day singer on vocals, and I feel like that was the start of it. It basically just turned into pop punk and then it led to some sort of glam punk type situation. Most of the bands I knew and loved just disappeared at that point.
Any new bands you like that are doing the same thing?
Two new bands I love right now are This Town Needs Guns (TTNG) and Beach Slang.
Why is everyone reuniting?
I think everyone missed it and the timing was right because there seems to be a renewed interest. Social media also makes it quite a bit more realistic to get the word out there that you’re doing something again.
New music - what happened when you got back together? These come together easy?
Myself and a few of the other guys had already been playing very similar stuff in Gentlemen of Japan, which was the band I was playing in that broke up right before getting Time Spent Driving back going again. So it was easy to just pick it up from there and start playing shows. We literally reformed and had a show a month later. As for writing, we picked up on some ideas we already had started. Some came super easy, and others proved to be harder than I had anticipated. It all came together in the end though.
What are some of your favorites off the new record?
Weight of the Water, Blame the Valley and I’m Not Done With You are some favorites.
We’re going to play as many shows as we can, and since it took us so long this time, start writing for another record sooner than later! We also have a few extra songs recorded we didn’t include on the album so we’ll probably get those out there in some way as well.