Los Angeles’ rock collective New Language – comprised of Matt Cohen (bass), Sebastien Betley (guitar), Tyler Demorest (vocals, guitar), and Martin Dovali (drums) – has been kicking ass at live performances since April of this year. Because their first live show was in April of this year. But don’t let that fact fool you, these guys are no newbies to the industry. The majority of them met during their time at USC, studying topics like music composition and live performance. They’re well-read, well-rounded, and well-suited to captivate a large audience.
And that’s what they’ve been doing this summer, opening for The Used on their fifteenth anniversary tour. The magic of it all is that these guys have been able to grace the stage of each venue across the United States not one, but two nights in a row. Because The Used arranged it so that they would play their self-titled album on night one and then In Love and Death in its entirety on night two.
What a flippin’ gnarly tour to be a part of.
I met up with New Language on a street corner in downtown Kansas City before they took the stage for night two at The Midland. We took some portraits down the street and at the venue, and then had time for a quick interview. We had to stay close, as they were set for sound check any minute. But The Used was playing their sound check, so we had to find a quiet place to conduct the interview.
That all being said, we met in a bathroom. It was just quiet enough in the second floor men’s bathroom to hear each other, and there were a couple of very plush throne-like chairs in the entryway to allow the guys to sit like kings while we spoke. It was interesting, to say the least, but I had so much fun that it kind of felt like I’d known these guys already.
If you don’t believe me, check out the interview below.
If you could introduce yourselves to our audience in any way, how would you do so?
This entire tour has kind of been an introduction to the band. Live concerts have kind of been a thing. And we would also play a house party.
What is the New Language origin story?
Matt: This project started as Tyler and I. We were working with a friend of ours named Tony Hajjar, who plays drums for At The Drive-In. It was last April. We started writing songs for an older band and then halfway through the process we realized that it sounded and felt like a new band. Then and there, we decided to keep our efforts separate from that. We started writing new songs, wanted to write an EP. It felt good. We were meeting for writing sessions about three times a week. By the end of April we had about ten songs done. In May, we started getting demos down. In June we started tracking and we tracked until about August. We were done by then. Got everything together, solidified the name, and launched in April of 2016. We have been writing and putting everything together for about a year.
So you’re touring with The Used after the short amount of time as New Language. How does that feel?
Tyler: It was less of a connection thing and more that I think they’re paying it forward as a band. [The Used] listened to about fourteen bands and they liked the tracks that we submitted. So it did feel pretty good, obviously, to get that phone call. We had actually had a call with our manager on Friday, about ten minutes before we found out [we were going on tour with them], and he explained we would find out Monday. We got an email like ten minutes later, though. It was really exciting.
How would you classify your music?
Tyler: It falls in a heavy rock kind of category. But I think what we try to do is just exert our own energy while we play and let people feel it when they see it and hear the recordings. A lot of records are recorded perfectly and this one isn’t perfect at all. The timing isn’t perfect, it’s real. It’s music. It’s heavy, energetic, real shit.
“Wake Up” is a pretty great song. How did you choose that one to go out first?
Matt: That was the first day we got in a room and started playing together. Tyler played that riff and that was the first song we wrote for New Language. It was the first song we recorded, we recorded them in order too. The way we created the album was just write it, record it, write it, record it. We didn’t want to overthink anything. “Wake Up” just felt exciting psychologically, it was new. It was the start of everything. So it was the first one we wanted out there.
Your first live performance together was in April. That’s a short window of time. How has it been?
Tyler: It’s been awesome. We’ve been playing with Martin and Sebastien since then. We had a couple of shows before we left, but nothing really. The first show on this tour was our fifth show together. But we’ve been practicing and we’re very diligent about getting things together so we feel like a band and have a specific energy.
Matt: And we’ve all known each other for years. Martin and I have been playing heavy music since we were twelve years old. Sebastien, we’ve known for about eight or nine years now from school. The chemistry was there. Every night, it continues to grow. The set’s already changed since we started tour a couple of weeks ago. We’re adding parts, adding songs, changing things. The live show is just continuing to grow every night.
Sebastien: The whole thing that’s been developing, I think, is the non-verbal communication factor. That is what happened really quickly. As one of the latter pieces that got added on to this thing, I have been able to look at it a bit differently. There are moments – you might even see it tonight – where it’s just like, “Yeah, we might do it this way now!” I’ve done a lot of different projects over the years. A lot of them – especially recently – have been hindered by too much thinking. And this is not that. This is more feeling than thinking, which is really exciting.
Cheyne Smith (Tour Manager): It kind of taps on what Tyler was saying too. The recordings aren’t perfect, it’s not completely timed out on the ones and threes. Everything’s there to the outside ear, but there are little things you can pick apart with it. And it’s that – as the outsider watching them – it’s a lot of that. They’re not talking about it anymore they’re just doing it. They know that if they slip a note, it’s fine. It’s part of the music. It’s not supposed to be perfect. It’s organic and raw.
You have gotten the chance to be everywhere for two nights. What’s that been like?
Tyler: This is the kind of schedule that you wish you could have on your fifteenth anniversary tour. Everyone thinks touring is this glamorous, crazy thing. Most of the time you get to the city, unload, you might go to a coffee shop for a few hours and answer emails, and then you go to the show and you leave right after it to drive to the next city. Don’t get me wrong, I love that part. But it’s still fun having the ability to hang out. Today, we got some Kansas City barbecue and it was really cool.
Plus we’ve been fortunate enough to stay with friends and family in every city so far. So they’ve been showing us around and we’ve been having a good time.
Matt: I think as a new band, too, it’s been really nice playing two nights in each city because we only have one song out. A lot of these fans are coming out for both nights. So the first night is a total introduction, and the second night they kind of know what to expect. So the reception has been so great, especially that second night.
If your band were a donut, what kind of donut would it be and why?
Cheyne: Cronut. Half croissant, half donut.
Tyler: What about a cronut burger?
Sebastien: Like a double patty with bacon?
Cheyne: With avo on the donut.
Martin: I don’t know. If the band was a donut? I don’t think there would be a hole in the middle of this donut though.
(Then everyone threw out ideas. “Jelly filled?” “Lemon filled?” It got weird.)
What does that taste like?
Sebastien: It tastes like success.
Tyler: Yeah. A cronut burger with avocado.
OK. I’ve lived in California. But what is up with everyone being so obsessed with avocado?
Cheyne: What’s up with the rest of the country not understanding how good for you avocado is? It’s why we have perfect skin and perfect hair in California. Because we pay for it.
Tyler: And perfect lives.
Are you all from California?
Sebastien: I’m from Boston. School (USC) took me to California. I was sick of winter. I just wanted to get the fuck out of there. But then I became a wimp. I go back home and I’m like, “Oh no. Where’s my winter jacket?”
What do you guys like to do in your free time?
Martin: Drink beer.
What’s your favorite?
Tyler: Whiskey beer.
Martin: I don’t have a favorite beer right now. I drink a variety right now.
Tyler: We’ve got music rolling out week by week. There will be more to come and more to have fun with.
Keep up with the guys at newlanguageband.com.