Cleveland, Ohio’s Public Squares are fun punk tsunami delivered by skilled and seasoned musicians who hope to resurrect real rock and roll. Fans of The Who, The Wipers, The Boys and Elvis Costello will get an undeniable charge of satisfaction from the trio, whose members have had a hand in Sidecar, Integrity other northern Ohio punk and rock staples for years.
Though the band only releases three songs at a time, they’ve managed to get a handful of powerful EPs under their belts, and to nail down a solid lineup. EP 3 is currently on the streets and it is a ball-buster.
Ghettoblaster recently spoke with Brandon Abate about the new EP, letting fate lead them, and his vision for the project.
When did you begin playing together as Public Squares?
In the Summer of 2014 I was frustrated, musically. I hadn’t played a gig in months and the band I was in didn’t feel like a band anymore. Everyone was either distracted or had their own ideas of what we should be doing, and all I wanted to do was create music, and play that music. So I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands and just start writing and recording songs by myself, and figure it out from there.
I wrote the three songs that would become EP1 and recorded demos. I knew that I could put them out as-is and they’d be ok, but I still wanted it to feel like a band. A band with a name, and band members … I’m not a solo project kinda guy … I’d feel awfully silly calling it that.
So a few very talented friends heard the songs and were willing to lend their time. We recorded EP1 and played four or five gigs, but the whole time I knew they were still just a few friends doing me a favor, and that’s not a dynamic that can last very long. So recently I let them both off the hook and sought out more permanent band members.
As of today, and hopefully for the long run, Public Squares is now Brandon, Jeff Deasy, and Matt Mulichak. I know this is a long answer to a simple question, but I guess Public Squares began as “my thing” in the Summer of 2014, and became a “real band” in the Summer of 2015.
What would you say the band’s most predominant influences are?
On day one I said to myself “I want to make fun punk.” Punk rock can mean so many different things, and that’s awesome. It can mean anger and rebellion and mohawks and middle fingers and stinky kids begging for change. It can also simply be the resurrection of real rock and roll. We are the latter. The Undertones. The Boys. The Who. Elvis Costello. Ramones. The Wipers. It’s punk rock before the metal influence crept its way in.
How does it differ from your previous musical projects?
This is the first time I’m the sole songwriter, and have a very clear vision for the sound of the band. Everyone else brings in their own energy, their style, etc. but before playing one note, I gave them the full rundown of the sound I wanted, all the way down to the amp sounds, etc.
When did you begin writing the new EP?
I’m always writing. So I’ll sometimes have loose or unfinished ideas, or voice memos recorded into my phone … I had the songs for EP2 written already when EP1 was finished, but because of the non-permanent nature of the lineup at the time, it took way too long to get that one done.
I’m very happy with the end result, but it took longer than I wanted. I started recording EP3 within a week or so of EP2 coming out. Our plan is to pretty much always be working on the next release. Recording three songs at a time is awesome … any more than that, unless you have the luxury of a big professional studio, engineers, etc. becomes a pain in the balls.
I love recording at home, having the control, and the freedom to create whenever we feel like it, without a clock running. But more than three songs at a time, and it starts to take too long and by the time you’re done, you hate it.
Who engineered the record and why did you choose them to work on it with you?
Me! I’ve been recording at home for a long time and within the last year I think I’ve gotten better at it than I ever was before. Don Depew, the bass player on the first two EPs, is a very talented musician, and also ran his own studio for a long time. He recorded the first New Bomb Turks record on Epitaph, he helped start Cobra Verde and recorded most of their stuff.
I was struggling with the mix of EP1 and he said to me what is probably the most important thing anyone has ever told me regarding the production of music; “Don’t let dogma drive the bus.” So while I’ve done all the actual engineering, knob turning, mic moving, etc., having Don as my “spiritual guide” was incredibly valuable and influential to the process.
Was there a theme you were hoping to capture with the effort?
I’m not sure I’d call it a theme … but I want keep things relatable and youthful. Not immature … youthful. There’s a huge difference. Grown men singing about teenage heartbreak is fucking embarrassing to listen to. But so far I’ve written songs about sneaking into clubs, seeing bands, disregard for sleep, realizing that all my friends are fucking nuts, feeling out of place in public … Relatable ideas to anyone, of any age, whose spirit hasn’t died. EP3 will have a song called “Hiding Underground” about the passionate collecting of music, and how upsetting it can be when the masses catch on and water it down.
Do you have any tour plans in support of the record?
Not currently, as it’s all still very new, but where the universe leads us, we will follow.
Do you do all the artwork associated with the band?
Yes, though so far I’ve kept it very minimal.
Is there a proudest moment or achievement you’ve had with the band to date?
I’m proud, in general, that I feel like we’re doing things “the right way.” We’re playing music we love, whether or not it’s the cool thing to be doing. Is there an audience for 1979 style punk rock? I have no fucking clue, and I really don’t care. Good songs are good songs, and damn it, we’ve got good songs!
(Visit the band here: https://www.facebook.com/publicsquaresband.)