Interview with Taylor Eby and Brandon Pagano of Handguns

I had the chance to catch up with two of the awesome dudes from Handguns on the first night of the Pure Noise Tour in Albany, NY to see how things have been going for them since the release of Life Lessons over the summer and what’s in store for them on this tour and going forward! Check out what they’re up to and be sure to catch the Pure Noise Tour when it hits your city!

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What’s the most exciting thing for you guys about kicking off the Pure Noise Tour?
Brandon: It starts off on the East Coast really strong and State Champs are primarily from here, east coast. The first three shows, well the first two are pretty much sold out. Night one here in Albany is sold out, tomorrow on Long Island is getting there, and the next night is sold out. Kicking it off really strong, I’m really excited.

 

What band are you most excited to see every night on this tour?
Taylor: Me personally I’m really excited for that band Brigades. They’re pretty new to the label, they’re sort of like a sped up post hardcore I guess. They actually played a show in Baltimore two nights ago where I live, got to see them play and they fucking killed it. They’re one of the tightest bands I’ve seen in awhile.

Brandon: I’m excited to see Heart to Heart because I know they like to go wild and do different things every night and that’s something I’m really into. I like that kind of energy; that’s something I’m really into when bands give off that sort of sporadic energy. I’m excited to watch them every night because I know Zic’s going to come up with something exciting!

Taylor: Yeah, he’ll drink anti-freeze on stage.

Brandon: That’s something he’s actually done; not on stage, he wasn’t that cool.

 

You guys were on the Common Vision Tour over the summer and you were middle of the lineup in venues about this size; how does it feel to be headlining them now?
Taylor: It’s cool, we haven’t really done a headliner this year. I think this is probably the most legit headliner we’ve ever done. It’s cool to be headlining these shows and have four gigs sold out already which is something I never expect and pretty renowned venues. It’s cool we get to play longer, we get to play a plethora of songs; kids are stoked.

Brandon: You pretty much hit the nail on the head. I like headlining because we have to the time, we get to chill out during the day and play for longer at night which is something I really like. We all like to get on stage and we have a way longer set time than usual. I’m excited to be co-headlining with State Champs because I know that they’re coming up right now too. It’s cool to be touring with a bunch of bands that have momentum right now and we’re all related through Pure Noise.

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How’s it for you Brandon being in Albany tonight since you’re from the area for the first night of tour?
Brandon: I’m excited! I grew up here with State Champs here and we played shows together. We opened up every show here (Bogies) with my old band for years. It’s cool to finally be playing and headlining with all of the people here to see us. It’s really exciting!

 

How did you come up with your setlist?
Taylor: I think what we wanted to do, what we always want to do when we play a headliner is to just put out songs, as many as we can fit into 45 minutes just to please everybody. I think it’s important to keep it mixed new and old stuff. I really do enjoy playing a lot of the old stuff but it’s really cool that we’re playing some new stuff off of the record that we haven’t played yet that we’re pumped to play.

 

Which one is your personal favorite?
Taylor: That’s such a hard question. Favorite live song…?

 

Which song gets you the most amped up on stage?
Taylor: I like playing “Sleep Deprived”. I think it goes over well, it’s a fun song to sing and move around to.

Brandon: I actually really like playing “Queens” live. It’s a different vibey song, there’s no punk beats in it or anything. We kind of get to jam a little bit more while we’re playing, we get to improvise a little bit on that song which is kind of cool. We get to mess with our effects pedals a little bit more.

 

How has reaction been to your record Life Lessons now that you’ve had the time to tour and for fans to really get to know the songs?
Taylor: I think it’s been super positive, I think it’s going really well. From the beginning everyone knows we’ve had member changes; people thought this is going to suck now that blah blah blah… isn’t in the band we knew that would happen but I think since the records been out its always been super positive. I’ve had a lot of people coming up and telling me personally we didn’t like your last record but this one’s sick!

Brandon: I just like playing new songs because we were playing the same songs and same records for like two years. It’s cool to finally be out here and playing all the new stuff, it’s refreshing and keeps the live show more entertaining for us because we’re more excited. We kind of actually have to focus and challenge ourselves and make them sound good.

 

Has it been everything you expected it to be?
Taylor: I think so, yeah!

Brandon: I love it, the whole thing. The record came out and everything was positive. People we’re talking about it and were so proud of how the record came out. It made me feel proud of being a part of it.

Taylor: I think everyone in the band is super proud of the record. We all put a lot of time and effort into it. It was something that needed to be done after the member changes. It’s nice to be able to play songs off the record where Brandon, Kyle, CJ, and Ryan played on. It’s feels like a tighter knit unit now.

 

What goals did you have when you started and how have they changed?
Taylor: I think we just wanted to prove to people that we could still do this even with member changes.

Brandon: I really liked the challenge. This band is a completely new band as far as the people who play instruments on it from the last record. Taylor’s the only one on Life Lessons from past records. It’s was go out and wing it on your first record as a band. It was our first record as this band. To go in the studio and wing it, and go these are the songs we want to write this is how it’s going to go, and have people saying this is better, this is a really good direction that you guys are moving in is all I’ve ever really wanted to hear. Even if we didn’t hear that I’d still have been so proud of the record but hearing that reinforces my want to be touring on this and working hard at it so it’s cool.

 

What should fans expect from you guys going forward?
Taylor: Lot’s of touring hopefully!

Brandon: Yeah, we’re planning to be on the road a lot this year and next year. We’re exciting to ride out this Life Lessons album cycle for real! We’re already thinking about jamming up ideas for a new record in November and December. We want to keep fresh and keep writing because we know we haven’t written a lot of songs together.

Taylor: We want to solidify the dynamic.

Brandon: Just keep writing, revising and making stuff sound the way it should.

 

What do you have in mind for when you start writing again?
Taylor: It’s going to sound like GWAR.

Are you going to go for the same onstage looks too!?
Taylor: Yeah, fuck yeah!

But not lose any of your jumps or antics?!
Taylor: Absolutely!!

Brandon: I heard a lot of people liked our faster, more aggressive approach to Life Lessons. so I think we’re going to hone in on that and really focus on the fast parts being aggressive and fast; like those cool tempo change bridges we throw in every now and then and hit as hard as possible. We really want it to be as hard hitting and fun as possible because that’s Handgun’s thing. We just want to write a really cool record that hones in on the best parts of Life Lessons and really tries to make them better.

 

Was there anything from that record that wasn’t necessarily your favorite that you know, I’m going to fix that next time?
Taylor: We had an acoustic song that we tracked that we didn’t like and scrapped.

Brandon: There were songs that were supposed to be on the record that we didn’t like and didn’t make it because we felt like it wasn’t the right feel. Even if it was supposed to be a 10 song record which it is and it clocks in just under 30 minutes we wanted it to be a great 30 minutes instead of a good 35 with some filler that you’ll skip through. We don’t want any songs on the record that people are going to skip. We wanted 10 solid songs that people always want to listen to.

 

Anything you guys want to say to fans at the end?
Taylor: Thanks for the ongoing support! It means a lot.

Brandon: I know every band says that but we’ve gone through a lot of shit and people had every reason to stop caring or not give a shit because the band is different. People stuck with it and I’m so appreciative that people are willing to see what can happen to a band they liked when a lot of changes can go down. It’s cool that people were around to be a part of the new record; we’re happy people are here to listen and here to stay. Thank you guys!!!

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