Out In Style is a South American sound of skate punk and with new album Letters Never Sent hitting the world right in the middle of these weird times, we decided to have a chat with main man João Xavier to find out more.
We like trawling around rabbit holes, digging and digging, searching around.
We spoke to Too Loud Records the other day and we were taken with the breadth of their line up. So, where better to start exploring than having a word with Brazilian punk rabble rousers, Out In Style.
Recent album, Letters Never Sent is an intelligent, classy, piece of work. There’s lot to like about it and a lot to dig into as deep as you like. There are thought provoking lyrics and banging tunes. Take away from it what you will. We love it.
We fired up Zoom with vocalist and bass player João. He was early. That’s not normal for a musician.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
João: I’m watching Liverpool FC right now, playing Chelsea.
P3dro: Yeah: 2-0 at the moment.
João: And just [earlier] I watched Tottenham v Southampton. I really like the Premier League. I watch it every weekend. Just watching football. I have nothing else to do. Although, I’m actually working on a new acoustic album.
P3dro: Tell us a bit about Out In Style. How did the band form? How did you get together?
João: The band started around 2016. I was kind of alone with a project – I didn’t have any drummer or guitar player. I’m a singer and bass player. I was playing in some bands at the time, but I wasn’t really happy. I had a lot of songs that I wasn’t using, so I decided to start this project. There’s a friend of mine – Ricardo, he’s now our drummer.
We had met before, here in Curitiba and played in some bands. Then he moved to Canada, but we kept in touch. I showed the songs to him and he really liked them. He said I had to record them – “the songs are solid”. And then I asked him if he wanted to be our drummer, even though he was, like, miles from here. He was pretty happy about it, so when I got some time off from my job, I flew to Canada and stayed at his place for a few weeks, we rehearsed a lot. Then we got in his car, drove to Saginaw, Michigan, and recorded our first EP – “Coffee Beer and a Movie” at Oneder Studios, mixed and engineered by Nick Diener from The Swellers.
That band was a pretty huge influence on me. I’d first met Nick in 2013 when they came to South America to tour, supporting Story of the Year. I met him at their show here in Curitiba and we talked a lot and then kept in touch. In 2015 I went to Chicago on vacation and [saw a show] where Nick opened with an acoustic set. He told me his band had split up , but he wanted to keep working with music, so he had opened his own recording studio. In 2016, after I had started this band, we went there to record our first EP.
P3dro: That’s quite some story.
João: Yeah. Then the following year we went to Europe. We got a guitar player (because at first it was only me and Ricardo). On the first EP I had to record both guitar and bass, as well as sing. A friend from here, Marlos, then joined the band. In 2017 we recorded [first album] “Broken Dreams” with the label Too Loud Records from Italy. Then we recorded our second full length album [Letters Never Sent] which was released this year, 2020.
When we recorded this album, we also had a little tour in Europe.
P3dro: With Too Loud Records being based in Italy, how did you end up signing with them? How did that come about?
João: When we recorded our first EP, we sent the songs to a lot of different labels. Too Loud was interested. We had been talking about doing a full length with a label, because [the EP] had been done independently. It was a pretty easy negotiation.
P3dro: [Too Loud] have bands from all over the world.
João: Yeah. They have bands from Sweden and France.
P3dro: And Brazil!
P3dro: Tell us a bit more about the Letters Never Sent album and the video for Save Me. That’s quite a sad, emotional, title for an album and some of the lyrics on Save Me seem to address mental health issues and personal troubles. Is that being fair?
João: Yeah, you’re pretty accurate, actually. I’ve suffered from depression for many years. I’m kind of shy to talk about it, but I write the songs thinking about it. My life is like an open book if you read my lyrics. Since I don’t talk about it too much, I write it.
“Letters Never Sent” is a really personal album. “Save Me” has two explanations. One of them is that I have a double personality, maybe, where I ask myself “Can you save me from myself?” I’m asking my other personality about it. For many years I suffered from a broken relationship with a girl and I was thinking a lot of times that she was the answer for all my mental health and personal problems. This song is kind of about that. But, maybe the answer was not [about] her, but it was about me all the time.
P3dro: It’s quite brave to be so open about this type of thing.
João: Yeah, I think if there are some people who can relate to the lyrics, then I’m really happy about it.
P3dro: The Letters Never Sent album came out in June, right in the middle of lockdown.
João: Yeah, we recorded it [October] last year when we were in Italy, so it was safe back then. It always takes a long time to release – the production, the mixing, the mastering. And then there’s the artwork and the bureaucratic stuff with the label, that kind of thing.
We were supposed to release it with a video for the song “Time Is Passing By”. We wanted to go to different cities in Brazil to make a story about [ the song], but that would have involved a lot of people, so [we couldn’t do that].
So the only thing we could do was release a lyric video featuring footage from our tour last year. It wasn’t really what we wanted to do, but that was all we could do at the time.
P3dro: Clearly, it must be pretty tricky trying to promote an album that was released in June this year.
João: Yes. That sucks, but hopefully next year we will be able to release the video we wanted to do.
P3dro: When you were able to play gigs, what does an Out In Style gig look Like?
João: It’s a little bit different from the album because we only have the one guitar player. But he uses different kinds of pedals and he plays with two guitar amplifiers, so you don’t even notice it’s just the one guitarist. I have a lot of fun in all our shows and people seem to like it, too.
I miss it. I miss being on the road. I can’t wait to be on the road again. To go to Europe again.
P3dro: What do you prefer? A large stage, or a small basement stage in a bar?
João: Definitely, a small club. It suits me better. I like to be close to people when I’m playing.
P3dro: How’s the live music scene in Brazil at the moment, because in the UK there are quite a few venues that have closed down because they haven’t been able to survive for 6 months?
João: Yeah, here, it’s the same thing. There are [plans] to do some drive in shows, but I’m not sure if I like that idea. That’s the best they can do right now, but it seems kind of depressing. I’d prefer to be on my couch, watching a show on YouTube, with a beer.
P3dro: Are you a punk band? Do you like that word?
João: I don’t really like labelling our style, but, maybe punk, skate punk, pop punk, I don’t know. EMO, maybe?
It’s a very sincere, emotional music. With a lot of feeling.
P3dro: If you could go to a gig right now, which band and which venue?
João: Silverstein. From Canada. It’s kind of post hardcore, but with good melodies.
P3dro: What are the plans for next year? A new album? Gigs?
João: A new album is unlikely next year, because we released “Letters Never Sent” 3 months ago, so we still need to promote it and we need to tour. We definitely wanna hit the road next year [if we can] and tour in Brazil, maybe other countries, too. Maybe North America and we have a good number of fans in Canada. And, maybe go to Europe again, but perhaps in 2022.
A new album also in 2022 or three yeas from now. Who knows? We already have a lot of new songs.
P3dro: Recommend a band that you think we should check out right now.
João: I’m listening to Over It a lot. The band doesn’t exist anymore. They were from California. Pretty fast pop punk from the 2000s with pretty solid guitars. The lyrics are great – I relate to them.
P3dro: Nice one, man. Thanks. Anything else?
João: If we do come to England we’ll have to meet up and have some pints. I’ve always wanted to try some pints in England.
P3dro: Well, your Brazilian beer’s not bad!
João: Yeah, we have some pretty good craft beers over here, but I’m really into beer and I really wanna try some English beers.
P3dro: I’m sure we can arrange that.