Vocalist Connie Sgarbossa details a new split, a new full length album, and a year of refocus that maintains the band’s outlook on art – “Make weird shit, get catharsis”
SeeYouSpaceCowboy… arrived to the broader heavy music scene in 2019 with two releases, the ‘Songs for the Firing Squad’ compilation of all their earlier EPs and then their full-length debut album ‘The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds’, that marked them out as one of the most viscerally exciting new bands in hardcore but equally one still settling on an identity. A certain tension existed between their revival of the wild, unpredictable stylings of sasscore and a desire to pursue more serious and emotive material on that debut album, and you will certainly find fans of theirs who would argue the superiority of one over the other.
A year of no touring has given vocalist Connie Sgarbossa a lot of time to mull it over. With the announcement of a new split with close peers If I Die First, a more fluid SeeYouSpaceCowboy… mark their arrival encompassing everything you might want their band to be. As she tells us, Connie is ready to even the scales.
2019 was a big year for your band, putting out two releases including your full-length debut which combined put your name out there into the heavy music world. In 2020, the world changed, so how was your last year after putting out those important records the year before?
It was really disappointing that we couldn’t do any touring because we had a lot planned for this year. We only got to do one or two tours with ‘Correlations’ so it’s definitely slowed down a lot, but we put our energy into writing and figuring out what we’re able to do when we can get together. We have an LP we’re writing right now, and it’s been a lot of that. For me personally, I’m a freelance artist for bands, so I’ve been continuing with that all through COVID. It impeded keeping momentum going but it has been nice to take a year to spend on writing, and we’ve been really able to figure out in that time what we want to sound like and which experiments we wanted to play with.
For people introduced to your band on the EPs to then receive a few months later the debut album, many were struck by the alteration in sound between those releases. With taking this time you mention, in what way is that something continuing on the new material?
When it came to writing that album, there was definitely an attitude in the band of being a little bored with what we were doing beforehand. We’d done it for two years at that point and didn’t think we wanted to keep writing the same screechy chords and sass stuff, being weird and playing disco beats, and it felt more right to do a more emotional, melodic album. It fit really well with what was going on in my personal life, facing drug addiction and grief from someone who I loved’s recent suicide, so it aligned and it was a product of the older stuff not really doing it for me at that point in time. We did something new and I really love that album, but with the current stuff we’re trying to find a way to merge the two worlds. We’re bringing the melody and a good amount of clean singing into the new record, but we’re bringing back that psycho, mathcore wipe-out. When we started the band it was just all about doing what we wanted to do, and throwing everything that we liked into a blender saying “Hey, this will be fun”. We’re kinda doing that again and taking in a little more focus, really fine-tuning it and looking for that place where we’re able to combine melodic stuff and emotion with really zany, sassy weirdness and punishing breakdowns.
It’s quite a different kind of personality in the music of the debut album compared to the in-your-face playful femininity of the early material. Is this just an attempt to balance these different sides of your personality?
Yeah, because the way I was doing ‘Correlations’ was it fitting perfectly for that time in my life, but I’m not just that person. I’m farther along now, I’ve dealt with the trauma and the grief, I’ve been dealing with my personal mental issues, and so it feels right to ease back into that sound and re-embrace that part of myself and of what SpaceCowboy is. I’m not really in that beyond dark and depressing place anymore so I wouldn’t want to write a direct follow-up to Correlations. The way I’ve described it to people is if the album was called ‘The Correlation Between Entrance and Exit Wounds’, this is the exit wound. I am at the end of the day after all the work I’ve done the person you hear in this material.
It’s interesting that in the press around the release of ‘Correlations’ there was a lot of talk of leaving behind the tags that circled you originally like MySpace and sasscore and now you’re talking of bringing that back in a little bit. With those kind of labels existing on and off in relation to SeeYouSpaceCowboy…, are you particularly community-minded in the sense of aligning yourself with a particular scene or movement, or are you more artistically individualist?
It’s definitely a strange thing because when we first started this band, there weren’t many other bands around doing what we were doing. Nowadays I definitely feel a strong camaraderie with bands like If I Die First and Static Dress, who have taken on this kinda post-hardcore revival. Not that we necessarily sound like them, because we do the sassier and darker side while they do theirs, but I definitely feel that it’s really nice to have other bands around that we’re really good friends who are in this with us. Now it’s not just like there’s SpaceCowboy and whitebelt revival, there’s post-hardcore in the mix, old school emo, everything coming together. I like that spectrum more than just a bunch of bands doing screechy chords and sasscore vocals with this zany scenecore revival that’s existed for a few years, it’s a broader mix of sounds from similar eras.
Do you feel like having those bands around you is pushing you and challenging you to improve?
Definitely, especially with clean vocals and stuff like that. I’ve known about If I Die First since its inception because Ned was talking to me about forming that band on my couch. When it came out though because we’d had this idea to put more clean vocals in SpaceCowboy, but their EP made us realize that we had to push hard and make sure it was great to stand up to what they did. They’re all amazing musicians and amazing singers, so we almost had to play catch-up.
With the upcoming split between SeeYouSpaceCowboy… and If I Die First, what’s the connection like there, and with one of the songs being a collaborative track between you, what was the process and feeling like for creating that track?
We’re all really good friends, like I said I’ve known them since before that band started, so when they started that band we definitely wanted to do a split but immediately we wanted to pursue the idea of doing a collaborative track. That’s something I feel like bands don’t really do so much and it’s more interesting to me than having just a feature here or a feature there. We wanted to properly sit down together and write a song that mixes both bands. It was really fun even though it was a really disjointed process. All of us came down to my apartment and all stayed there for like four days, and just cranked out a song whenever we felt like writing. It was a crazy time but it came together well, and after I saw how that song came out it made everything else kinda fall into place. That was the biggest hurdle, asking if we can pull off this collab song with so many vocalists going at once, three guitars going, and so it was really fun to achieve. There were a lot of scrapped versions of that song, things that we wrote that didn’t work, but I think it turned out really cool and I’m really glad that we made that decision to do more than just the usual with the split.
That process certainly seems more natural than how many collaborative processes have had to work during the pandemic over Zoom and the like. How do you think the hardcore scene in general has coped with something stripping away real world contact like it has?
Everybody has found ways to make it work for them. It’s created a lot of bands I think, people taking the time to come together and do things, which is sick. Any project you ever wanted to do, here’s the time to do it. When everything comes back I think there’s gonna be a new wave of bands coming out from it which I’m looking forward to, and in my opinion I think it’s gonna something of a reset button for how booking and things work. A lot of bands are used to playing big venues will go back to smaller rooms. I’m excited about that because I love small shows, it’s cool to be on big stages with big huge crowds but I would take a 200 cap room sold out going crazy over a huge place where you’re playing on a stage that’s six feet tall. I come from the DIY screamo and hardcore scene so that’s my thing.
With the split being released soon and writing for the new album underway, how much importance do you put onto split material versus what ends up on the album?
The split is a big hint towards what the album will be. The split songs were songs that were written for the LP, and when the split came up we wanted to actually choose songs that were going to stand out and show that evolution that we’re going through well. We took a song that’s got the crazier stuff going on but has the melodic choruses, and then we chose a song that’s very zany SpaceCowboy but still has a chorus in it too to show how we’re really merging those worlds together. I’m hoping that fusion will sound fairly exclusive to us, because I want to create a sound that’s unique again, not just us playing old revival stuff.
How close are you with the album then?
We’re almost done with writing. We’re out in an undisclosed location finishing up that right now, and then we’re hopping into the studio very soon. It won’t be coming out immediately soon, I hope people don’t get their hopes up that we’re gonna be dropping an album in two months or something, but we’re definitely getting towards the end of at least the writing and recording side of it. I’d hope it’d be out in 2021, but I do want to wait until touring is back because we got to do so little touring for ‘Correlations’. With this being such an important album to us I really want to put it out and then tour as much as we can on it. There’s no hard date for anything right now and we’re still in that uncertain COVID schedule.
How much emphasis is there on patience in the writing of this new music compared to the past?
It’s very delicate. We’ve spent like eight months to a year working on this, and that’s the longest we’ve ever spent on anything. ‘Correlations’ was written in two and a half weeks. This is the first time we’ve really sat down and intensely figured out what we’re going to do, instead of just writing a bunch of songs and hoping they fit together. We’re working with a producer for the first time in this band’s life, which is a really cool process to have someone as that outside voice helping to tighten things up. It’s been a mix of very methodical but also throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. I hope that that pays off and this comes out as our most well thought-out and well executed record.
Do you guys ever consider what or if you have some kind of ceiling? A lot of hardcore bands often has a very independent and community spirit and might not particularly care about how their band are perceived outside of those walls.
I believe in band evolution, I’m totally okay if at some point we move out of the hardcore sound, but I’m also very comfortable here. People ask me all the time how we got big in hardcore terms and if we had these goals of what SpaceCowboy would do, and I never thought we’d do anything. We did these big tours as a DIY band and did it for fun. I don’t really think about the ceiling or what we could do to be bigger. I’m in this to play music and gain catharsis, it’s really not about being consumer friendly. I very much align myself with that ethic of hardcore. San Diego where I grew up has this pedigree of weirdo art and punk, and I’ve aligned myself with that since I was in high school. Make weird shit, get catharsis, and that’s what art is about.
Do you feel at all that gatekeeping from people is in any way more or less prominent in how people contact and access a band like yours?
I don’t think for us currently, but back in the day sure. I come from the screamo scene where there are kids who are too young to be around when OG screamo like Orchid was around but like it now and want to tell everyone what is or isn’t screamo. That was very much a thing that I dealt with and I always hated it, because I don’t care what people call it, I don’t care what deep cut OG metalcore band you listen or how obscure they are or what seven-inches you have, and that’s why SpaceCowboy has been about not making a big fuss about what scene it is. As long as you’re not a piece of shit, you can listen to SpaceCowboy and I don’t care. Some people think we’re elitist and gatekeeping because of our song “Stop Calling Us Screamo”, but that was a joke and a $uicideboy$ reference to “Stop Calling Us Horrorcore”, and not to be taken too seriously. I think that people don’t come into scenes or music communities knowing everything about it. They need to get into that scene and then learn and explore, so instead of slamming them for not knowing X, Y and Z from 1994, you should just help them explore it and just be nicer.
In a broader sense hardcore is arguably more prominent than it’s ever been in terms of people looking to it for the exciting new bands, and for a band like yourselves, there are so many people who would never have heard the term “sasscore” who have heard of your band. Is that comfortable for you as someone coming from that scene background?
That was definitely a thing that we spoke about with this album, because bringing back some of those things we used to can be a way for a bunch of new kids to hear stuff they’ve never heard before. Mathcore, whitebelt, sass stuff, these are niche underground things and I want people to go and discover those things because they’re genres that I love. The dancy, feminine and quirky side of sass, if people hear that in us and go and check that sound out that can be an introduction to something that they love. The Red Light Sting, Hot Hot Heat, Test Icicles, The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower, An Albatross, a lot of people know The Blood Brothers but there’s such a wealth of underground and interesting artists that not a lot of people know about, and I would love for them to hear about it.
SeeYouSpaceCowboy X If I Die First split EP ‘A Sure Disaster’ arrives May 14th via Pure Noise Records. Pre order the split – HERE