Now/It's: An Interview with *repeat repeat (Jared and Kristyn Corder)

If ever there were a State of the Union of rock music, it could quite possibly cause a larger schism within its constituency than we’ve come to expect of a “regular” State of the Union. There’s an utter hodge podge of sub-genres within rock music, many of which champion a certain progressiveness and consciousness that many demand from the arts, which is great. But at the same time, there are (forgive the cliche) two sides to every coin. Where progressiveness and consciousness in rock have made great strides, there’s a heightened level of ubermachismo and misogyny which has long set the genre back. While it would be easy to say “to each their own,” this is far from an easy resolution. While there is no easy fix for ameliorating tired tropes within rock music, there are those making admirable efforts to flip the script. Take Jared and Kristyn Corder, otherwise known as *repeat repeat, an indie rock duo primed to make a jump into the larger arena of rock in general. As rock music grows increasingly segmented, they’ve set out to express a desire for inclusivity and warmth with their music, no matter the individual’s sub-genre of rock music preference. Their latest LP, Glazed, is set to release tomorrow, and serves a conscious and credible achievement in ushering in a more constructive direction for rock in the modern age.

Now/It’s met with Jared and Kristyn Corder at White Buffalo in The Nations neighborhood of Nashville, TN.

N/I - Hey guys!

Jared - Hey! So sorry, I told you the wrong place. The album comes out in a week, so it’s been….

N/I - I’d imagine you’re kind of all over the place with last minute details.

Jared - Right.

Kristyn - It’s nice to meet you!

Jared - Yes! Nice to meet you!

N/I - Nice to meet you guys as well!

Kristyn - Also, we now live an hour away, so we feel sort of lost in our own city because everything is changing so much that we’re like “Wait. What is this area now called?”

N/I - Well and with these White Bison places, it seems like there’s a new one in almost every neighborhood.

Kristyn - Right! I was talking to Jared and he said “What is this area called?” and I said, “Maybe The Nations?” [laughs]

Jared - There’s so many areas!

N/I - Well I read Germantown, and I couldn’t think of one of these places here, but at the same time, I know part of Charlotte Avenue eventually runs into Germantown - or at least what I know as Germantown -  so it wouldn’t have been out of the question.

Jared - Well it worked out. I’m just glad you weren’t at the 12 South one. I was just like “Fuck.” I guess I thought this area was Germantown…. Well actually, I knew it’s not Germantown, but I thought it was something. A lot of emails, a lot of correspondence….

Kristyn - It’s a lot of juggling. A lot of being pulled in nine hundred directions a day. We’re just not all there for any one of them quite yet.

N/I - So is that a new experience with this album in particular?

Jared - Yes. It’s new with this. It’s new with a lot of things. We also leave in two weeks to go on tour….

N/I - And you’re doing like a month and a half, right?

Jared - We’re doing thirty-three dates between June and July. And at our level, most bands…. We’re doing as many dates in June and July as The Black Keys are doing in a year. Their whole tour is like thirty dates. And at our level, you’re not playing a lot of Monday and Tuesday nights. So we’re gone pretty much both entire months, because we’re taking off Monday and Tuesday since you can’t really sell tickets n a ton of markets on those days as a medium sized band, so you play out Wednesday through Sunday. Even though it’s thirty-three dates, it’s actually almost fifty days on the road….

Kristyn - Are we officially a “medium sized” band?

Jared - I think we’re a medium sized band.

Kristyn - [Laughs] I don’t know! We’re playing small-ish to medium rooms.

Jared - Would you say Shannon and the Clams is a medium sized band?

Kristyn - Yeah!

Jared - Well I think we’re a medium sized band.

N/I - What do you think constitutes a medium sized band versus a small on the verge of a medium sized band?

Jared - Signed to a label….

Kristyn - The levels are so funny….

Jared - Right? None of it has anything to do with money….

Kristyn - [Laughs]

N/I - Well that’s why I ask - it’s so indeterminate.

Jared - It’s who are you playing shows with? What shows are you playing? And your team. It’s not Spotify playlists, because I know people who don’t play any shows at all and have millions of Spotify plays.

Kristyn - And then there’s the opposite….

Jared - And it’s also not how many tickets you can sell either, because I know tribute bands and jam bands that can sell a boatload of tickets.

N/I - That’s right. Like what’s that Ned Flanders band?

Jared - The Ned Flanders band, oh it’s…. Okilly Dokilly. Or there’s Mac Sabbath. But we have a full team. We’re touring a fuck ton this summer, and then we’re touring with The Black Keys. So I think that constitutes medium. And we played Bonnaroo last year.

Kristyn - Those are the things [laughs].

N/I - I’d say that’s a pretty good barometer. Or a stepping stone.

Jared - It’s crazy what you have to do just to get to “medium.” Like when people ask us when we’re playing in town, we have a show at 3rd & Lindsley next week, and then they ask for the next Nashville date, and that’s going to be Bridgestone with The Black Keys, and people are like “Oh, that’s cool.” It’s funny, because if only they knew just how many years and years of the band all leading up to this moment, and then that moment is going to end, and then there will be years and years until the next moment.

Kristyn - Also, because it’s the two of us, it’s our money, and our time, and our house, and all these things felt multiplied. Or times two. But our name has nothing to do with that.

Jared - Sorry, by the way if we’re talking a lot.

N/I - No need to apologize! I invite it.

Kristyn - We can talk to you forever [laughs].

N/I - It’s all good.

Jared - Normally, if we’re doing this, it’s at a festival, where we have a tour manager pulling us from thing to thing…

Kristyn - And now that we live about an hour out of town, when we are in town, we’re pulled from thing to thing.

N/I - I understand. I’ve been on the other end of the festival thing, where I’d like to think I’m pretty cognizant of the fact that someone’s trying to get as much press into an hour, two hours for the entire festival, because they might only be there for a day. So I don’t try to milk a short interview into thirty minutes out of my vanity, if I can. But at the same time, I’ve seen other people who have spent forty-five minutes talking someone’s ear off, and they’re too nice to say they have to bounce.

Jared - To be fair, with us, it’s usually not anyone else’s fault but ours, because we could just talk and talk and talk for hours.

Kristyn - We like to go down rabbit holes.

Jared - So it’s usually our fault. Even when people are tearing through an interview, we’re still going on about something.

Kristyn - Somehow it becomes “Oh! We have the same birthday!” [laughs] Then shit is on.

Jared - “Do you have any cats?”

N/I - Well I’ll try and keep it reigned in one way or another [laughs].

Jared - It’s cool. It’s all rock n roll. Kanye West didn’t even show up to his Bonnaroo set, so we can show up late to whatever the next thing is….

Kristyn - Wait, he didn’t?

Jared - Well he showed up hours late.

N/I - Wasn’t it like three hours late?

Jared - And did like two songs, or something like that. And then they had him back five years later. It was fine.

N/I - That’s the power of Kanye, one way or another.

Jared - [Laughs] One way or another. That’s true.

N/I - So being roughly a week away from the album coming out, is there anything else left for you guys to do?

Jared - No.

N/I - Just ride the wave into it?
Jared - There’s nothing left for us to do before the album comes out. Frankly, I have to keep reminding myself of our last record. Our last record came out….

Kristyn - September 15th, 2017.

Jared - 2017 in September, and then we became a two-piece. There were internal changeups we had to deal with, and that halted everything for three months. And we also didn’t have a tour, so the album came out and it was like “Yay!” And the next day…

Kristyn - We were off the road….

Jared - And we were doing damage control. We didn’t have a tour lined up or anything. So that was a whole other thing, we were trying to figure out why we didn’t have a tour lined up and so we spent the next three months dealing with all of that, and doing some press, so “Yeah, the album’s coming out, what’s next?” And we’re just having to bullshit - “Big stuff in the works! Can’t talk about it now!”

Kristyn - Which was what was happening underneath all of those things, but it was going to be a minute [laughs].

Jared - Right before Christmas, a lot of this stuff got sorted out. It was right before Christmas, and we were like, let go for a minute….

Kristyn - And it’s not an ideal time to tour.

N/I - For safety reasons and people’s musical preferences….

Kristyn - Plus, we’re like a summery band. Nobody wants to sing our stuff in the dead of winter.

Jared - And I think it was January 3rd that we got a phone call confirming Shaky Knees, Bonnaroo, and a week later, Slossfest and I think three weeks later, we found out Patrick [Carney] was interested in working with us. So it was just one of those things. And even then, we couldn’t announce it for another six weeks. So we ended up having our biggest year to date, the year after the album came out. The album came out in 2017, and then 2018, starting in April, it was our biggest year. So there’s all this stuff leading up to the record coming out, where you try to alleviate stresses and set markers. Sometimes you hit them, and sometimes you miss them. I’m trying to aim high, and if you don’t hit it, just keep working at it. We didn’t even hit our stride with the last record until months after, so keeping that in mind, we’re doing pretty good now, a week in advance of the record. I can’t even imagine four months after the record is out where it could take us. I actually feel less stressed now in the week leading up, because it’s just going to come out.

N/I - You’re about to see some version of the fruits of your labor.

Kristyn - I will say that on the side that everyone loves to forget, I do all the graphics and the website and the email marketing - I still have some stuff to do before the record comes out [laughs].

Jared - And we have lots of posting and stuff like that.

Kristyn - Right. I do the stuff that makes it looks like the band still has stuff coming out, which a lot of bands don’t do for themselves. That’s what I’ve always done for work, so that’s what I’ve always done for the band, so that just adds an extra layer at this stage. We’re just doing all the little things and preparing. We did all the artwork in house so there hasn’t really been any waiting for the record to come out, it’s all been some version of work.

N/I - A lot of self-imposed deadlines and things like that?

Kristyn - Exactly.

Jared - Very much self-imposed. Six weeks ago, we didn’t have a tour lined up for the summer, and now we have all of the summer booked. I think we’re about to add more dates too. How fast things can change is crazy. We just have to watch it grow. It’s like planting a plant. You don’t plant it and the next day it’s bloomed. So that part is hard with music and the way things work right now, and how Nashville works. Everything’s super fast. It’s hot and then it’s not hot. Everything is the coolest fucking thing ever, and then it’s not. The other day, I was talking to someone about some band we were playing with, like Neon Trees or somebody, and they were like “Oh, they’re still around?” and it’s like “Yeah!” They spent years building their career, and now they have a sustainable music career, but it’s funny when it’s not the most trending thing on Twitter or on the biggest Spotify playlist, it’s not relevant in some people’s minds.

Kristyn - They’re headlining Nashville Pride. That comes with a hefty price tag. A lot of factors. They’re absolutely a big band. Still active.

N/I - I understand that completely. In my world - media - the media member at large is kind of forced to decide “Hey, is this person or group still a thing?” I’m not really one for that type of thinking, as I hope people arrive at things on their own, because they know what they’re looking for - either soundwise or spiritually. It’ll activate something within them. But at the same time, in the world of media, you do have to kind of purvey “This is cool.” But sometimes things are cool only because they’re a proven commodity. I look at Lil Nas X….

Jared - [Laughs] Yeah! I think about him a lot, lately.

N/I - Exactly. I love him. I think he’s great.

Jared - I like the song a lot, too.

N/I - Same here. I think he’s figured something out that very few people have. He’s got one song, literally one song, and then rough demos of some second song that he dangles in front of people. And somehow, he’s doing Boston Calling, CMA Fest, he’s doing more varietal festivals than most anybody else on one song. And now you know he’s just going to do that one song.

Jared - He’s not going to have this wild discography or deep cuts. Remember - I can’t remember I’m even saying “remember” - but it was like a year ago, Mason Ramsey? The cowboy kid. That’s not a viable, sustainable, long career. It can be if he works with the right people and makes the right career moves…

Kristyn - But his niche. There’s only so many young yodelers. Yodeling is a thing. He’s got that on lock.

Jared - You know who’s done it well? I’m going to say it right now - Carly Rae Jepsen. Because she’s not the number, biggest thing, but she’s maintained a solid career thanks to a solid and committed fanbase.

N/I - And she’s been writing other people’s songs. Again, to you point of Neon Trees and building and fostering a career just to get to a certain point, Carly Rae Jepsen is past her thirties….

Kristyn - She’s thirty-three. I wouldn’t normally know that, but she just had a birthday, and we’ve been talking about her a lot lately [laughs].

N/I - Right! And a lot of people still think she’s some bubble-gum pop artist who has got to be maximum twenty-two years old. And it’s weird how that perception is conveyed to people. I do think it’s a combination of what’s laid out in front of them, like you guys playing Bridgestone, some people might be like “Cool. Jared and Kristyn are on that level now.” But after that point, you got to figure out what else you’re going to do. It’s not like you play Bridgestone once, in any capacity, and then it’s all rainbows and daisies from there.

Kristyn - This has all been weighing on Jared’s mind….

N/I - I don’t mean to bring up troubling thoughts….

Jared - No, not at all. Not as much lately. But one thing that makes me sad about the Lil Nas X thing - I was listening to the Rolling Stone podcast, and they were talk about him and Billie Eilish and how Billie Eilish had this thing where her first record came out, but she’s been in the world for a while now.

Kristyn - They’ve been grooming this for a minute.

Jared - And our manager, Max, tells us this story about Gwen Stefani where when she signed with Geffen or whatever, she was like “Cool, I’m ready to make a record,” and they told her “Great. We’ll talk about that in four years.” They were going to spend the next four years building her up, getting her career ready, and then they’ll release a record. And maybe that’s why she still has a career now, I guess? But the Lil Nas X thing makes me a little bit disappointed because I like him, I like the song, I like how he outsmarted Billboard, but now everyone’s going to try and copy that. Labels, and anyone out in the industry trying to make money and not build a career is going to be like “We don’t need someone whose been plugging away. We want someone with a hot Soundcloud track.” and a kitschy story that gets tweeted a bunch and shared. It was Mason Ramsey last year, and now it’s Lil Nas X, and it’s going to be something in six months.

Kristyn - In some ways, it feels like not a good time to be a guitar band or an indie rock band, but at the same time, it feels like this is going to be a big year for rock, because of what The Black Keys are doing, and Modest Mouse has a new record, and The Strokes, and there’s The Raconteurs, Cage the Elephant….

N/I - The National just put out a record…

Kristyn - Right! So on one hand, we feel like - especially with festivals - man, sometimes guitar rock bands are a small part of a lineup.

N/I - It’s funny. It seems like that’s more of what people would like at most festivals. Now, there are exceptions, like Bonnaroo has changed a lot in the past year, two years since it switched hands and who they bring onto the bill and what they want. But at the same time, there’s this festival in Louisville called Bourbon and something and it’s all rock bands…

Jared - Shaky Knees is another one where it’s pretty much all rock bands because then they have Shaky Beats. You know why though? That would never stop us, but with Spotify, rock bands still have an outlet. When I was growing up, I liked punk rock music, and a new record came out, all I could afford was buying the new record, because it was twenty bucks. So you stayed in your lane. But with Spotify, I wish I had it as a kid, I would have discovered so much more cool stuff. I find so much cool classical and other genres. I don’t think people think of themselves as strictly rock people or hip hop, but they like all different kinds of music for different settings, which frankly, I think the only people to blame for any sort of “rock isn’t relevant” argument are the people in rock. I feel like there’s this reckoning now with U2 and the woke-ness of everything that rock n roll stuck in this misogynistic, all white dudes trying to wear leather and chains and singing about fucking girls, because that’s not relevant anymore. Of course it’s going to fall by the wayside, because that’s not what people want to listen to these days. That unfortunately makes me sad about the genre in a lot of ways, because I grew up listening to AC/DC and while some of that was very much that, a lot of it was also being a dude in a band and traveling around the country. Creedence Clearwater was a band of the people - “I’m not some fortunate son.” I’m not some rich kid. They’re just a working man’s band. Now you get bands that… There are indie rock bands like The National who are more sensitive and I think that’s why they’re so big.

N/I - I would agree.

Jared - And then The Black keys are no frills and don’t seem to take themselves too seriously and that’s why I think they’re so big. The ones who are doing it right are doing it right for a reason. But there are so many rock bands right now that don’t get it.

Kristyn - Like they haven’t gotten the memo or something.

N/I - Totally. There’s something to be said for figuring out what it is that distinguishes you from the larger pool of “rock” bands. The National are sensitive, The Black Keys, who are self-deprecating….

Jared - There’s The Raconteurs, who make music for the music nerd. They’re for people who hang out at record stores, they figured out that niche. But none of them are singing about things that Motley Crue sang about. So that frustrates me, because it doesn’t help us when bands in our genre come out with things like that.

N/I - So when you guys were working on the record, would you guys talk about these things with Pat and with Marc [Whitmore]? Or did they even come up? Was it inherently understood? Because it seems like you guys and Pat are already on that same plane, and Marc for that matter too.

Jared - It was discussed a little bit - what we did do was listen to Weezer’s Blue album when we started working on the record, not because we wanted to sound like that, but because we wanted to capture the sentiment of that record. We wanted to try to make people feel the way a lot of people felt when they first listened to that particular album. I don’t know what that means, really, but I just know it just feels really genuine.

N/I - It’s a huge reference point for a lot of people.

Jared - Rivers is a guy who I feel like I could relate to. He was this small, dorky kid in college and he was making these big guitar rock songs. So there was a lot of that, but Patrick did say something too, because I made some off handed comment about some band, and he was like “You have got to stay really humble, and you’ve got to not let those other bands infiltrate your mind.”

Kristyn - He was like “You need to be too busy to even really know who that is. You’ve got to stay one hundred percent humble. That’s the only way you can do it.” He was like “Trust me, I learned the hard way.” [Laughs]

Jared - So I try not to make too many comments shitting on a band or things like that during interviews or whatever after that, because, one, it only makes me seem and feel kind of pretentious, and two, it only draws attention to that band. If that band is not making good music, I want to draw attention to bands who I think are.

N/I - That’s a good point.

Jared - So rather than putting negativity out, I should put positivity towards music that I enjoy. I feel like Patrick did that a lot with us by taking us under his wing. He believed in us. He sat us down on the first day and was like “Your music is cool, but I think I can help make it cooler.” I think that because of that, I want to be the same way. There’s so much vitriol in the world, so we might as well put out stuff that we feel is good.