Have a Good Season is a mathy emo rock band from Eatontown, New Jersey. They’ve been playing together for four years, and have two brilliant EPs to show for it, as well as a new project on the way. The boys from HAGS were kind enough to stop by WPRB for a live session and an interview, in which they discussed songwriting, Asbury Lanes, secret shows, hypothermia, and everything in between.
WPRB: I’m here with Have a Good Season from Eatontown. How are you guys doing?
Nic Palermo: I’m good.
Dan Sakumoto: I’m good as well.
Dan Stattner: Excellent.
WPRB: That’s awesome. So let’s start with some classic origin stories. How did you guys get together, what brings you from the dawn of time to now, all that good stuff?
Nic: The three of us have been playing in bands since middle school, just jamming and stuff like that. What year did we start?
Dan Stattner: 2012.
Nic: I guess it was the summer of 2012, Dan [Sakumoto] was playing drums, and he had played guitar in our past bands, but he was playing drums, I was playing guitar, and then Dan [Stattner] came and played bass, and that just sounded good. We had a good chemistry, and I think it worked. It worked better than our other bands.
WPRB: You guys just played a sweet session here, that’ll be airing next week. Is the latest thing that you guys have out the EP that you did last summer?
Nic: Yeah, that’s our latest EP.
WPRB: Cool. Do you guys have anything coming up? Working on stuff?
Dan Sakumoto: Yeah, we are working on stuff. We have written some new material. Definitely different from “Last Picture Day” and “Joseph”. It’s really cool that we’re all guitar players, all three of us, so we all bring guitar ideas to the table. A good chunk of our discography is all three of us all started out on guitar and all three of us wrote it, so that’s really cool. But yeah, we do have new material in the works.
WPRB: Nice, we’ll be on the lookout. So you mentioned writing, one thing that I’m always interested in is how the writing process plays out, you touched on it a little bit, but could you sort of elaborate on how you can get from a seed to the end of a song? Is there a specific set of motion or steps that you guys take or is it different every time?
Nic: When I write a song, I usually have just riffs or chords or whatever, and I’ll show it to them at practice and then they keep that in mind and write their own parts to it. Dan writes guitar parts too so I’ll bring a guitar part and be like, “Does this sound cool?” and Dan will be like “Do this,” and then that’ll sound cool too, so like he was saying, our songs are kind of a mish mash of things, but that’s usually how I go about writing.
Dan Sakumoto: I’m surprised that you didn’t go with lyrics. You don’t start with lyrics?
Nic: Oh, well yea.
Dan Sakumoto: As the singer and guitar player, he usually comes up with all the lyrics. But you never start with the lyrics, do you?
Nic: No, not really.
Dan Sakumoto: Like I said before, we’re all guitar players, and I start the same way that Nic starts, it usually comes out with a guitar part first. Very rarely will we be like, “I like this drum pattern,” maybe like one song, I can’t remember which. But yeah, usually guitars, and then we all kind of exchange riffs, and it works out that way. It’s worked out so far.
Dan Stattner: Usually he [Dan] brings the riffs to the table, or Nic. But mostly all of our songs are mainly written by him, he plays guitar – well, we all play guitar. Usually bass parts come up through trial and error, whatever sounds well with the songs and everything. Mostly we knock it out in one take, just whatever comes to my head usually works, but we always elaborate on every part and it works out.
WPRB: On this last EP that you guys did, did you find that there was a theme of what you were writing about, or I guess lyric-wise, was there something that you were going towards in all of the songs, or was it just a mish mash of ideas?
Nic: Well someone pointed out to me that, for our second EP, all of the songs are named after people. One song is about the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, the other one is about Shel Silverstein, the poet, and then one of them is about Franz Ferdinand. That wasn’t on purpose. [laughs] When I write lyrics, especially for this EP, I kind of wanted to get into the mindset of other people, so I think that’s why some of the lyrics are from the perspective of me pretending to be somebody else, if that makes sense.
Bobby: Nice. Do you guys have any cool shows coming up?
Nic: I never know what shows we have. But Dan does.
Dan Sakumoto: I usually take up booking duties I guess. This summer was really busy beforehand, but now it’s coming to late July, August, we don’t have too many shows. We’re playing at Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey, which is very close to us, this Thursday, tomorrow. Friday we’re hitting up a house show in Holmdel, kind of close to us. And then July 31st is going to be at this house show labeled The Barn in Red Bank, New Jersey. As of right now, that’s actually our last show for the summer, but we’ll probably be playing one or two in August. After that we hit school again, and then whenever we’re back for breaks, and then next summer we’ll just do it all over again.
WPRB: So you’re pretty much restricted to summer? Do you try to do shows during the school year?
Dan Sakumoto: Summer, most definitely, and then longer breaks like winter break, definitely, and then spring break and Thanksgiving break are a little hectic, they’re shorter breaks and we’re busy doing our own thing.
WPRB: Do you guys practice when you’re all at school?
Dan Sakumoto: Um, [laughs] we’re really bad with that. But we’ve been jamming long enough, I feel, that we kind of can just play shows without having to practice. We can go long periods of time without having to really practice, since we’ve been playing our material long enough. But in terms of writing new material, we would definitely like to get together and jam, but we also have the option of recording ourselves and then sending them online to Stattner and Nic, just to hear ideas and whatnot. Then when we are home to jam it out, we kind of have an idea of what we’re doing, kind of like getting a head start.
WPRB: Nice. You guys have played a lot of shows, you’ve been playing since 2012, could you tell me about a weird show that you’ve played, or something where the crowd was off-putting or something?
Nic: We’ve played a few weird shows. We played in a warehouse in the middle of winter, next to a prison. That was pretty bizarre. A lot of people came out which was weird, but it was freezing cold and we were all wearing winter jackets.
Dan Stattner: I thought my fingers were going to fall off.
Nic: Yeah, Dan’s fingers actually fell off that night. It was insane.
WPRB: It was outside?
Nic: It was indoors but just not heated.
Dan Stattner: We were promised a heater, but…
Nic: I remember another show, we played at an Elk’s lodge, and it was decent, a few people were there, but weird vibe. There were little kids with soundproof headphones running around. It was one of those shows where you don’t know what to expect, and you see very elderly people or very very young people, like little kids running around, and then you’re like, “Okay, this is going to be weird.”
WPRB: Yeah, that’s not who you’re targeting.
Nic: Exactly. But yeah, any other weird shows?
Dan Stattner: The first GameChanger show was pretty weird.
Nic: GameChanger [in Howell] is a cool venue when a lot of people are there and big bands are playing, but when we played it was not too many people and it sounded like we were playing in a submarine.
WPRB: Is this the little wooden stage in the corner?
Dan Sakumoto: No, that’s the lab.
Nic: It was the big stage,
WPRB: Whoa, okay.
Dan Stattner: You would think playing it is cool and all.
WPRB: That’s the one with the fence in front of you so no one comes up and mauls you?
Nic: Yeah, shout out to GameChanger, you guys do your thing, but don’t put us on that big stage anymore.
WPRB: Nice. Was there then a really good show that you guys have played that sticks in your mind as the show that you enjoyed most?
Dan Sakumoto: We like playing Red Bank Rehearsal a lot. It’s a rehearsal space in Red Bank, but they do run shows out of there, and really good ones, actually. For our past two EPs, we’ve released them and had a release show at Red Bank Rehearsal, and they have turned out really well. A lot of people, and then just the vibe, everyone is going crazy for all the bands, and they stick out for the whole lineup, crowd surfing galore, moshing, Nic always finds a time to stage dive into the crowd with his guitar. They were just really fun shows, and the turnout was great, so those shows are really awesome. All shows at Red Bank Rehearsal are usually really good, but those two shows that we had, release shows for “Last Picture Day” and “Joseph” were probably our best. Oh, and you should talk about Asbury Lanes.
Nic: Oh yeah, Asbury Lanes, rest in peace, is where we played our favorite shows, I would say. Even if not too many people were there, the people there were just so great. It always sounded good, and there’s art on the walls that you can look. You can bring you parents there, you know what I mean? Some shows we play, my parents will be there, and I’m appreciative of that, but I can tell it’s a little awkward because kids are pushing each other and being a little chaotic.
Dan Sakumoto: The Lanes are like the middle ground.
Nic: Yeah, the Lanes, you can stand in the back and chill and just watch, or you could do your thing and go crazy. Some of the best shows, not even of us playing, just other bands, touring bands, some of the best shows were at the Lanes, so shout out to the Lanes, thank you for everything, we miss you dearly.
WPRB: Final thing, what have you guys been listening to lately?
Dan Stattner: I listen to a lot of things, mostly indie rock, alternative. I’m a huge Modest Mouse fan, we’re all huge Modest Mouse fans. Built to Spill. I pretty much just have those on repeat.
WPRB: Which is your favorite Modest Mouse album?
Dan Stattner: Probably The Lonesome Crowded West, that’s the masterpiece of the 90s. That’s pretty much it, I don’t know any new bands specifically, [Nic] knows everything.
Nic: You’re into Alex G lately, right?
Dan Stattner: Uh, not lately, since Beach Music came out last September. But yeah he’s great, he’s a great songwriter.
Nic: Hm. In terms of new music I’ve listened to? Or just anything in general?
WPRB: Yeah, newer stuff.
Nic: We listened to Rival Schools on the way here. They’re pretty cool, early 2000’s, post harcore, emo kinda thing. We also had a Dinosaur Jr. CD in the car. I’m still listening to the new Kanye record, #TeamKimye. What else… I’ve been revisiting My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless here and there. Pinegrove is the best band, Forth Wanderers. I think that’s about it right now.
Dan Sakumoto: I’ve listen to a lot of the same bands as Nic and Stat as well. Some of my personal favorites right now, I’ve been really into Porches, if you know them, they toured with Alex G. I’m also a huge metal guy, I like prog metal. Bands like Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Intervals, just to name a few. I also like Kendrick a lot, I’ve been listening to Kendrick a lot.
WPRB: Who doesn’t like Kendrick?
Dan Sakumoto: Yeah. And then a couple of math rock bands. I checked out TTNG’s new album. It was really nice.
WPRB: I just played that on my show.
Dan Sakumoto: Oh really? Nice.
WPRB: Yeah, it’s a dope album.
Dan Sakumoto: And then this band Fish Tank, they’re kinda small, but I really like them. And then, I don’t know, I also really like the Wombats as of late. And of course, Pinegrove. I have yet to see them live full band. I did end up seeing just Evan in someone’s basement for a crowd of maybe 25 people.
WPRB: How recently was this?
Dan Sakumoto: Like two weeks ago.
WPRB: That’s so cool.
Nic: Yeah, the next day, Dan was like, “Why weren’t you there?” and I was like, “Dude, why didn’t you tell me?” It was a secret show, tell me about these things. I was mad. [laughs]
Dan Sakumoto: You weren’t the only one. My friends were really pissed at me.
WPRB: There were probably like thousands of people that wanted to be there.
Dan Sakumoto: I didn’t go by myself though, it was my good friend Max. He literally just picked me and a couple other friends up, and he didn’t even tell me where we were going. And then on the car ride there, he was like, “Evan’s playing a secret show in a basement.” I was just surprised. Sorry Nic. But yeah, that’s a mish mash of some of the bands that we listen to.
WPRB: Cool. Thanks for coming in, guys.
Dan Sakumoto: Thanks for having us.