The Format no longer leashed to a major label

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Format

BE VERY CAREFUL. EITHER OF THESE ANIMALS COULD PISS ON US AT ANY MOMENT. DON’T EVEN BLINK. Arizona’s The Format is dealing with its own Dog Problems, its recent independent release.

“We’re really nervous!” said The Format’s frontman Nate Ruess the day before the Arizona-based band embarked on its first Japanese tour.

“I was talking to Jim [Adkins] from Jimmy Eat World today, and he told me that it’s customary to bring gifts to the Japanese people. So we bought them hot sauce and dried scorpions, some of Arizona’s tackiest souvenirs!”

Ruess attributed The Format’s growing popularity to the Internet, word-of-mouth and its strong live show.

“We really pride ourselves on being a good live band,” Ruess said. “I think we stand out because we’re unconventional with everything we do, from touring to writing, and it crosses over well to the crowd and they like that.”

The Format’s sound is also unconventional. The band continually reinvents its style; its first full-length release, Interventions and Lullabies, was pop-driven where as its latest album, Dog Problems, features a variety of instruments, inspirations and innovative sounds.

“It would be really nice to think that the progression was natural, but we really wanted to challenge ourselves,” Ruess said.

“It was really easy for us to write pop songs like those on Interventions, so we wanted to try harder to experiment by bringing in new sounds like horns and trying to pay homage to the bands that inspired us. We always want to be different with each album we put out.”

The Format, which was spearheaded by Ruess and multi-instrumentalist Sam Means, also includes Mike Schey, Don Raymond, Marko Buzard and Sean McCall. Although the band was dropped by Atlantic Records before recording Dog Problems, Ruess said he and Means weren’t upset.

“We really wanted to be dropped,” he said. “[Means] and I were signed at such a young age thinking [being signed] was the be all end all, but we got really bitter working with that record company because they wanted us to be a certain way.”

The band decided to release the album on the newly created Vanity Label.

“Now we are in control, working with great people who respect us and aren’t just looking for dollar signs,” Ruess said. “We’d always be interested in hearing offers from major labels if the deal was beneficial for us and we had creative control, but right now we have surpassed all of our expectations and are happy.”

Just like its sound, the bands The Format has toured with differ drastically. The band has opened for everyone from pop-punk act Taking Back Sunday to reggae/roots-rock band O.A.R.

However, Ruess said some of the bands don’t mesh well with The Format’s style.

“I can’t lie, it kind of bugs me,” he said. “We’re really grateful to have a lot of bands take us out, and they’re all really great to the kids, but I don’t know 90 per cent of them and it sucks.

“If we want to play a slower set or a dynamic show, sometimes we get heckled and it just sucks. We really just want to move on and do our own thing.”

Although he and Means are working on new songs, Ruess said they’re in no rush to release a new full-length.

“We’re recording a kids’ song for a compilation that is coming out on Nettwerk [Records] that was quick to write, but a lot of fun, and we’re going to put out a live DVD,” he said.

“I’m really proud of the material that both [Means] and I are writing right now, but we’re not working on a new album yet. I really want the next album to be a full band collaboration.”

Ruess promised The Format will tour full force in 2007.

“I promise with all my heart that we will be back to Canada " for sure this summer!”

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