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The Ongoing Concept

Shortly after the release of their latest album, Handmade, The Ongoing Concept's Dawson Scholz sat down with's Michael Weaver at the Backbooth in Orlando, FL while on their summer tour. Michael and Dawson talked about the new album, the band making their own instruments, and what actually is "the ongoing concept"...
This interview took place on: June 28, 2015

Click here for The Ongoing Concept's Artist Profile page.

  • JFH (Michael Weaver): Handmade is out now and is receiving really great reviews. How rewarding is it to know that all your hard work has paid off and that people are loving the record right now?

    Dawson Scholz: It's awesome because we spent six or eight months just making it. It sucked so much making the album because it was a lot of hard work and just a very stressful time for us. So, to see that all of that paid off -- it's just like a breath of fresh air finally. I feel like I kinda have a day off after eight months of working. It's been great; it's really good to hear that.

  • JFH (Michael): How long did you guys spend building all of the instruments?

    Album Cover

    Dawson: I would roughly say like between three and four months. Mainly because we'd be building and then we'd be writing new music. We had to do one or the other, so a lot of the building would be held off for a few days while we'd write music. So, it would've taken a lot less time if we would've been just straight focusing on building, but we weren't able to do that. So it took, I would say, three to four months.

  • JFH (Michael): Personally, I really love that western feel to Saloon, but the greater level of diversity here on Handmade brings a different flavor to it. Do all of the sounds and genres present kinda reflect each member's musical taste, or influences? How did that work out? Like with "Ammends," the first thing I hear is Michael Jackson, and then there are other sections that are more bluesy or more southern…

    Dawson: Yeah. When it came to Saloon, we were much more into [the] Let Live, Chariot, like Emery style of music at the time. From then until now we've become fans of a lot more poppier rock music. So I feel like that has translated to a lot of Handmade being much more of like a pop/rock album, even though it's heavy in a lot of aspects. I feel like a lot of the choruses -- like even with our song "Feel;" it has kind of a Bruno Mars type sound. We've become really big fans of bands like Bad Rabbits, or Dirty Loops, or Don Broco. A lot of groovy bands these days. I feel like a lot of our music in Handmade is translated a lot to that style.

  • JFH (Michael): That makes sense. What you do musically -- with all the stuff you're throwing in and all the things you're doing -- I think it has the potential for people to kinda put you in a corner as some type of novelty band because, "They do all this off-the-wall stuff." I think if they truly listened to the music and the talent that's shining through, they would see through that. How would you pitch The Ongoing Concept to someone who's trying to put you into that small corner; into that little box?

    Dawson: Like we're a joke of band -- kinda in a way?

  • JFH (Michael): Yeah. Kind of like Gwar. You know? They're a band, but their kinda like a "jokey" band. You know what I'm saying?

    Dawson: I would definitely tell them that we're a band that isn't afraid to think outside of the box. Some of our stuff may seem like a gimmick.

  • JFH (Michael): That's the word I should've used. That's what I was looking for.

    Dawson: Yeah. A lot our stuff kinda seems like gimmick, but in all reality, we just like making music that we like to listen to. If it's different, it's only because we don't like listening to the same genre of music for an entire record. I have a hard time listening to so many albums from front to back because it's literally like the same song just with alternative chords, or alternate break downs and nothing is different. It's like listening to one entire song for like forty minutes [JFH (Michael) - Absolutely. Yes!] I have a hard time doing that, so I usually just tell people, "If you want to have a break and fresh air, that's all that we're trying to do is bring about something that is constantly changing and not staying exactly the same all that time." That gets boring after a while. As pretentious as that might sound, we just like creating music that we like to listen to and that isn't always the same type of music, so we just change it all the time.

  • JFH (Michael): That's not pretentious at all, man. That's THE reason to do it. You have to play what you love and if you love a bunch of things, it's going to shine through.

    Dawson: Yeah, for sure. I know that some people think that me saying some of those things are like, "Oh man!" It might just sound like we're egotistical, or we think we're better than everyone else, but… I just know people. I see the comments on the Facebook page and YouTube page. People think that if we go about it the wrong way, we can seem like a pretentious, gimmicky band, so… It's whatever, but…

  • JFH (Michael): I don't think that. I wanted to give you a chance to speak out to some of the people that might say that; why you're not that.

    Dawson: That's cool. That's good. Yeah.

  • JFH (Michael): Since we're talking about the sound… I've seen a lot of people, myself included, that you have compared a little bit to Showbread. Obviously, you guys don't sound alike, but the idea of not being nailed down to any particular genre of music -- changing all the time -- is very, very similar. What are your thoughts on that?

    Dawson: *laughs* I… This is going right back to the pretentious thing. Every time that people say that we sound like a band, almost nine times out of ten, I have never heard any music from that band. I have never heard a song from Showbread. People say Showbread all the time and I'm like, "What band is that? I don't know who you're talking about." Or, people will say, "You sound like mewithoutyou," or "You sound like -- I don't know -- some other band." I literally have never listened to that band before. That's not me saying, "Oh, how dare you compare us to them," as in I'm taking offense to it, so I'm saying quote-unquote "I have never listened to them." I have legitimately never listened to those bands before. So, if we sound like Showbread, or something, that's just a coincidence.

  • JFH (Michael): It's not that you "sound" like them. It's that idea -- that evolving sound. For them, album to album it's completely different; it's not the same sound.

    Dawson: Ok. That's cool

  • JFH (Michael): You guys don't sound like them, but it's that idea of what they bring to the table -- like what you bring to the table. That evolving sound.

    Dawson: Ok. Personally, I think that my biggest influence in the way that our band has shaped over the past few years, is actually more with Bring Me the Horizon because they have changed consistently for like six or seven years straight. Every album is completely different. They used to be like a death metal band, but now they're like a pop/rock band. I love that because they're a band that has gone from something that's a very specific niche-y type genre and have evolved into something that's extremely marketable and radio [friendly] and makes them a lot more money than it did back in the day. Which I love that because anyone that's growing up -- anyone that becomes a bigger band... They are obviously getting older and older. They get married and they start having kids and they have to start writing music that is going to pay the bills. They have been good enough at writing music that's still really good and music that is, in my opinion, not selling out yet, but it's progressing and maturing and becoming more marketable. I look at that as something that I want our band to be. Something that makes us money. Something that still sounds good and is not selling out, but is also marketable and profitable for us.

  • JFH (Michael): Exactly. And as you said… If you are growing and maturing, your life is changing, you're getting married and having kids. You're outlook on life is going to change. It's going to affect your life and it's going to bleed into your music.

    Dawson: Yeah. Honestly, the older you get… Well, it's seems like most people, the older they get, the less heavy music they listen to. I was listening to a lot of heavier music two years ago when I wrote Saloon than I had been when I wrote Handmade. That's going to probably continue on the older I get. Like who knows, maybe our next album will be a folk album. You never know. It just depends.

  • JFH (Michael): *laughs* Going away from the music. I dig the Chevy on the album cover. I love that body style. Is that yours or one of the band member's?

    Dawson: That's actually Kyle's -- Kyle just got married and it's his wife's dad's truck that we borrowed just for that picture. It's really classic. That thing is so sweet.

  • JFH (Michael): It looks pretty recently restored.

    Dawson: Oh, it's super restored. When I pictured my brother telling me about it, I pictured that old country-type Ford pickup that's all beaten up and kinda rusty. Then he pulled up in that thing and I'm like, "Holy crap. This thing literally looks like it left the dealership back whenever it was made."

  • JFH (Michael): It's really cool. I think the focus was probably supposed to have been on the tree, but I kept being drawn to the truck, personally.

    Dawson: I'm drawn to the truck definitely. It's pretty cool looking.

  • JFH (Michael): So what was it like doing everything, setting everything up, building the set, and shooting your own music video? I think it turned out really great.

    Dawson: It was a lot of hard work. We didn't have a very long time to make it because Kyle was getting married at the time. We started building the set exactly a week before he got married. So that Saturday, we built the set. Sunday, we were still building it and Sunday night we started filming it. Monday morning, we filmed straight the whole day. Finished it Wednesday. Got it edited and sent off by Thursday. He got married that following Saturday. So it was a lot of work and on top of that, we spent like five or six thousand dollars on the set. The mirrors were like three thousand dollars for that whole room of mirrors. There were ten 5' x 8' panels of mirrors and they were like three hundred dollars apiece. There was ten of them so that was three thousand dollars plus all of the framing costs of like five or six hundred dollars. Plus the camera rental was like another fifteen hundred dollars. After all was said and done, there was just a lot of money and it was very scary. You had to be safe about it because the last thing you want is a hundred and fifty pound mirror falling on someone's head. Those things were extremely heavy and it took like two or three of us to lift them. At the same time, going into a set of mirrors like that, you have no idea what it's going to look like because you can't really fathom being in a four-walled, enclosed room of reflecting mirrors. So, as soon as I got into the room, I had to instantly make up all of my shots and think of everything I had to do all within a very short amount of time because we had such a short time frame. All that I can say is that "Unwanted" was very stressful. That sums it up *laughing*.

  • JFH (Michael): I can imagine. All of the hard work and money, I think, have paid off. It was a really good looking video.

    Dawson: I'm glad that it paid off because it was really tough and it was a lot of long hours of editing and stuff. I'm stoked that it worked out.

  • JFH (Michael): You kinda touched on it a little bit earlier, but when I first heard your band name a couple of years ago, I thought it was a pretty cool name. After hearing a couple of album's worth of material with Solid State, "The Ongoing Concept" almost feels more like a band motto as you are continually growing and moving. Would you agree with that?

    Dawson: It kinda just formed into what it is now. I love concept albums and I feel like our band -- our name and style -- has kinda formed into something that is a concept in itself. I feel like it's open-ended because the "ongoing" concept could mean literally anything that you can imagine it be. I feel like that kinda keeps us conformed into having to be something, but at the same time, no one can really guess our next move. I like that because I don't like bands that are just so predictable that you know exactly what their next record is going to sound like, or you know exactly what they are going to do. I love bands that are just unpredictable in every one. I feel like our band has kinda been able to keep that sort of vibe, or idea. You know? I don't really know what I'm trying to say.

  • JFH (Michael): *laughs* I get what where you're going.

    Dawson: I just feel like our band name kinda suits what we do and what we've done in the past, but I also feel like it leaves it very open for something to change and it actually make sense -- just because we're The Ongoing Concept.

  • JFH (Michael): Exactly. What's next? No matter what comes out, I'm really not going to be surprised in a sense because I expect it to be different. So when it's different, I'm not going to be blown away that it's different.

    Dawson: Yeah! I love that. I feel bad for bands who try to do something different and then they get a huge backlash from fans being like, "Oh my gosh! This band totally changed their sound. They're just a bunch of sellouts." Or they're just a bunch of copycats who are trying to blend in with some type of genre. And they're just like, "We wanted to write something different. Sorry." I could be wrong, maybe we'll get a huge backlash with our next album, but I feel like we've kinda left it where people don't know what to expect and that kind of leaves a bit of mystery in our band, which is always cool to have.

  • JFH (Michael): Absolutely! How is the tour going?

    Dawson: Actually, it's going really good. It's been going a lot better than I actually thought. For our first headliner, I didn't think we'd be having as many people come out to our shows as they have. We've had quite a few people come out every night. Everyone on our team: label, management, booking agents are just super stoked by how it's going. It's been really fun. And on top of that, we have some really cool bands. Outlands and Dayseeker are on it with us and they are super cool guys, so it's been really, really fun.

  • JFH (Michael): I'm looking forward to checking it out later. Are you guys using any of the handmade instruments on tour, or are you back to your regular instruments.

    Dawson: We actually brought everything on tour with us; we have drums and guitars.

  • JFH (Michael): Nice! I can imagine "Soul" being a song that translates really well live. Do you have a favorite right now that you're playing live?

    Dawson: "Soul," actually, we're playing live and it's my favorite to play live. We are playing "Amends" and "Unwanted" right now, but out of all the songs we play, I would say "Soul" is by far the most fun. Just because it's rock 'n' roll and it's relatively not that hard to play. So I've just been able to captivate on that and have a fun time playing it.

  • JFH (Michael): Any plans right now after the tour, or are you just going to take it easy?

    Dawson: I'm going to get home and just lay low for a while and just relax. Like I said, Kyle just got married and he literally left like four days after his honeymoon. So, he hasn't really spent a lot time with his wife. So we're going to take some time and hang out at home for a while. Maybe shoot another music video or so. We have a small little run that we're doing -- a west coast run like at the beginning of August. And then September/October we have really cool tour that we're going to be going that hasn't been announced so I can't really say much. I don't really know much about it yet, but we're definitely on it and it's going to be really cool. We've got that and we've got just a couple of international plans coming up at the end of the year. So…

  • JFH (Michael): Cool! I don't want to hold you up anymore, but do you want to leave any final notes or thoughts with the readers and fans?

    Dawson: Check out Handmade. I would say, if anything, that this record is one of those records that you should definitely purchase the whole thing and listen to it front to back. I feel like that portrays our band the best way. If not, that's cool. Definitely come out to a live show because we brought all of our handmade gear with us and if you want to see it in person, it's always a cool thing to see. We're super proud of it and we're not going to have it on tour forever because it's like nostalgic for us to have and we don't want to break it. After a certain amount of time, like maybe after this tour or the next tour, we might just put them in storage not take them out on tour anymore. Now's your chance to come out and see it and enjoy our set.

    The Ongoing Concept's latest album, Handmade is available now wherever music is sold!

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