From The Horse's Mouth: Mike Hansen (Pentimento) on I, No Longer

In art, a pentimento is an alteration in a painting, evidence that the artist has changed his or her mind during the creative process – a bit like a do-over. And while the untrained eye might not notice this alteration, the artist is keenly aware of its existence, physical proof that great art takes course-correction, as well as the resolve to push through when things aren’t perfect.  
For Buffalo, NY quartet , there’s perhaps no better moniker to encapsulate their career. The hard-working indie-punk band have virtually experienced the totality of the music industry in just a few short years: from the highs of touring alongside idols to facing legal threats from a former label that endangered the release of their debut album. But while lesser bands would be quick to point fingers at the external factors that once threatened to derail their livelihoods, Pentimento maintain the lumps they’ve taken have only made them stronger.  
Marrying the kinetic energy of early Taking Back Sunday and nuance of ‘90s emo forefathers like Braid with the lyrical maturity of bands such as The Wonder Years, Pentimento is the kind of band skilled and sage enough to satisfy both listeners looking for pit-ready punk and those searching for subject matter with a little more heft.   
Pentimento released I, No Longer on October 23 via Bad Timing Records and Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Mike Hansen to talk about it, and working with Brian McTernan and James Dewess . This is what he told us.
When did you begin writing the material for I, No Longer?  
The first track for I, No Longer was “Sink Or Swim.” which was written and demoed in June of 2013. By the time we got to Valencia Studios, we’d written and demoed about 25 tracks to potentially be used for LP2. We eventually worked that number down to under a dozen, and then also produced material while in the studio. “Stuck Forever” was the last song we’d finished for the LP, which was written while we were in the studio bouncing ideas off one another.
What would you say the predominant artistic catalysts were for this record?
A lot of life happens to you in the short time between records. We’re all growing up and growing into what some might consider “people” – so that would be the most major source of inspiration or an artistic jolt that I could imagine. The bands we tour with, the things we listen to, the everyday stuff – it’s all relative to the creation or writing experience.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing?  Why was it so troublesome?
I think “Gateway” went through the ringer more than a few times. The original version of that song is so far from the end result, it’s like two different tracks entirely. However, I wouldn’t say it was troublesome to have the experience of building up and breaking down a song over and over. It was actually extremely productive and I think we all learned a lot about taking a close look at a song to realize the potential, and then try to push it until it is fully realized. Brian McTernan helped us out with this particular song, which was also a crazy experience for us – seeing as he’s recorded some of our favorite records of all time.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
Again, I think “Gateway” is quite a departure from the original version, but in a way that we were all excited and surprised about.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
That’s not really our thing.
Who produced the record?  What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
Paul Leavitt produced I, No Longer and definitely had some valuable input. I can’t say for certain that his work changed the face of our record, as these songs were ready to go before we hit the studio – but he certainly helped us smooth out ideas and play with arrangements and add little riffs or harmonies or something that gave the song a new reason to enjoy listening.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Yes. I, No Longer is meant to be a singular piece that ties in everything from the artwork, to the colors of the records, to the lyrical content, to the icons meant to represent each track. It is entirely built for the listener to take their own conclusions away from what’s happening musically and artistically. We wanted to create something to engage others, which is partly the purpose behind titling the record something that kind of requires you to fill in the blank.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We are currently on our first headlining tour with Better Off, A Will Away, and Caleb And Carolyn where we have been playing five tracks from I, No Longer. it’s been really fun to see the response from people – with the record being so fresh still. Watching people sing along is a wild experience so far. We’re very excited to continue to learn about what people are taking away from the record and working on translating these songs for a live setting.
Do you guys also work with James on Reggie and The Full Effect?  What is that like?
We are currently the backing band for James Dewees’ project Reggie And The Full Effect. It’s an invaluable experience that has shown us a different side of the people who play music for a living. James is someone who’s got 20+ years of band and touring experience but instead of playing to the typical jaded and burnt-out stereotype of musicians who have been in the game for that long – James has shown us how to be content and consistent with your work and that pushing forward toward success for your project is about believing in it. James has more fun than anyone I know on tour. It was really great to be around that for so long and see that it’s possible to endure the hardships of the music industry while keeping a positive and optimistic attitude.
(Catch the band live here:
10/28 – Winston-Salem, NC – Ziggy’s
10/29 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
10/30 – New York, NY – Webster Hall
10/31 – Philadelphia, PA – Voltage
11/01 – Howell, NJ – Game Changer
11/02 – Long Island, NY – AMH
11/03 – Boston, MA – Middle East
11/04 – Hamden, CT – The Space
11/05 – Syracuse, NY – Gorham Bros
11/06 – Toronto, ON – Sneaky Dees)