I took a writing class in the second semester of my freshman year at Emerson College that focused on local Boston-area pop culture. Our 3 month-long assignment was to choose a local entertainer and profile them in various formats over the course of the semester, one of which was an in-depth interview looking at our subject’s career as an entertainer in Boston. Matt Arsenault, the front man of A Loss For Words, allowed me to profile him for my project. We discussed the local scene, his involvement, and both of his musical endeavors’ most recent work. The entire interview lasted almost a half-hour, so not every question made it to the final project. Check out the unreleased questions and answers from our interview below!
Q: You’ve had some major opportunities for both A Loss For Words and Class of 92 outside of Abington. Do you think having that foundation at home helped you earn those opportunities?
A: Yeah, it still blows my mind. When we started the band in 2000, I never thought I’d leave even Massachusetts. Then we did an east coast tour, which turned into a U.S. tour, then we got offered a Japanese tour, then the U.K., then a little later I started this side project and I hadn’t even released any music and I got a U.K. tour with Johnny Craig. It’s cool. I’ve never really made any money off of this, I work another job to pay my bills and to survive.
Q: So what is it that you do to make money when you’re not playing music?
A: I am in Local 104, which is a union, and I fix power lines.
Q: I know you manage Paris, who you’re going on tour with, but what other bands or artists do you manage?
A: I manage a band called We Built The Moon. They’re from the Providence area, and they have a Copeland/Mae sound. Really good guys but a brand new band. They’ve only played probably a half a dozen shows. I help manage Wind In Sails, which is Evan who used to be in Vanna. I help him out. I also manage a band called Light You Up. They’re from the U.K. They’re kind of like a pop rock band. They have a new record that they’re recording so I’m stoked to hear that. I should be getting a copy next week. I also manage a band called Bad Luck. They’re on Tragic Hero Records and they’re from down in Florida. They’re cool, they’re kind of like a punky Taking Back Sunday.
Q: Now, I’ve noticed that even as a veteran to the local music scene, you’re still going out and supporting either local bands or touring bands that come through Boston. So what do you think is the best way for either a fan or artist to support a thriving up-and-coming scene like this?
A: I think it’s just going to the shows and checking out the new bands that you haven’t heard before, and just buying tshirts or CDs or whatever. Whatever you can. Or just go up to them and be like ‘yo you guys killed it tonight,’ it’s so easy. But for some reason I feel like now, from back in the day, when I started going to shows, we didn’t have cell phones and stuff. We just went there and you had to be social and talk to people and be a person, and I feel like cell phones and the internet have ruined our community in the worst way. I know it helps to hear new bands and stuff like that, but I just feel like people lost the pride. There are still people that are cool, but I just feel like overall the scene used to be so secret and special and everyone was together, and now it’s like everyone’s out for themselves, and I don’t really care for that too much. But it’s still civil, and there are the kids out there that even come up to us and are like ‘yo I’ve never heard of you guys before, let’s pick up a shirt and CD,’ or like ‘dude I’m definitely coming next time,’ and those kids are some of my best friends to this day from other states and other countries that have supported us and came out. We’d just have beers and talk and now we stay at their houses and visit on vacations and stuff. It’s cool.
Q: I want to get into some specifics here. A Loss For Words is about to celebrate the 5th anniversary of The Kids Can’t Lose with a tour, and then there’s a show where you’re playing the whole album front to back. What about that album makes it so important to the band? Since most bands will wait until the 10th anniversary to do something like this.
A: It’s a big deal for us that we’ve been a band for 14 years, and it took us that long to make our first full length. The Kids Can’t Lose was our first and we did it on our own with no record label, and it’s the CD that kind of got us out to everybody and started giving us a name and made us become not just a local band, but become an international touring band. We just wanted to repress it with our friends on vinyl because the vinyl’s been sold out for years, and just do a tour because we’ve got a festival in New York and a festival in Florida and it seemed like it would be a fun thing to do.
Q: Since you mentioned the vinyl pressing – what do you think of the whole vinyl revival thing?
A: I think it’s amazing. I think if it’s actually getting people to buy music from the bands, I think it’s an amazing thing. It’s become so easy to just download anything you want, and say ‘yeah that’s my favorite band.’ Cool, do you have any of their CDs or records? ‘No, I don’t.” Have you been to any of their shows? ‘No, but I love this band, they’re so sick, I watch them live on YouTube all the time.’ So, I think a lot of people say stuff like that, but how are they ever helping that band they love so much? That doesn’t help them at all. It’s fine that they’re enjoying the music because that’s the main thing, but people are out there busting their asses, and they’re really not being supported at all. So it does really affect the band and the chances of them breaking up gets higher.
Q: How would you say A Loss For Words has evolved stylistically since The Kids Can’t Lose was released five years ago? Because Before It Caves is very different.
A: Yeah, it’s weird, I guess we were younger and more aggressive. We don’t really write a certain song to fit certain criteria. When we get together we just grab a few beers and just play music. Everyone likes different songs or different styles with different emotions from different places in their life at the time. Literally all three of our full length records have been whatever we’re feeling. But then we do acoustic CDs, and we do the Motown cover record. We just do whatever we want to do. We’re not trying to be a professional band with a strategy. We just play music that we love to do, and if kids dig it, then cool, but if not, fuck it, we love it.
Q: You guys changed it up a big with three guest performers on this record. Can you tell me about why you chose each guest and what it was like to work with them?
A: On the last record, we didn’t have any guest vocals, and even on The Kids Can’t Lose we only had one, the front man of a hardcore band called In My Eyes, but on this new record we thought we’d get some friends involved on it, that it’d be cool. We’ve got Soupy from The Wonder Years, who we’ve done so many tours with over the years, since both of us were just small bands drawing 20 kids around our local areas. So we’ve got him on the track, and the whole band actually came in and did all the lows and stuff for that song, so that was pretty tight. Then, we had our friend Jimmy from a band called Polar Bear Club, who we toured with twice. We love that band and they’re good dudes and Jimmy’s got such an amazing voice and it fit so well for the song, attitude wise and theatrics wise. So that was cool, he came down all the way from New York to sing on the record and wouldn’t accept our gas money because he’s a punk. Then I manage a band called Paris, and their singer Lindsey is such an amazing person with a beautiful voice, and she actually plays guitar for us sometimes. She’ll be playing on this next tour with us. We definitely wanted her to be part of the record since she’s been playing with our band for the last year and a half off and on, so we definitely love her, and that band will do big things I’m damn sure.
Q: How has the response to the album been?
A: It hasn’t been as good as I wanted it to be, honestly. Not from so much the people. I think some people really love it, some people don’t really know what to think about it. But I just think that it didn’t get promoted very well, and that was kind of a bummer. I think that a lot of things got overlooked for this record, and that kind of hurt us, and hurt our momentum that we had coming from the last record. So that’s tough, and for an artist, I live and die for this band so this was tough to see from my perspective. But now we have to go back and write another record and hopefully we can get the right exposure and promotional tours we need.
Q: What are the band’s plans for the summer?
A: We’re going to the U.K. with The Wonder Years and State Champs. So we’ll soon be playing England, Germany, places like that. So that’ll be cool, then we’re playing Slam Dunk Festival in the U.K., and then we’re home for a while. We’re just going to write a new record and just chill. We have a few shows here and there for the summer, but nothing too crazy. The U.K. tour is a little wrap-up for what we have going on so far.
Q: I know there’s talk of a Class of 92 EP coming up, but do you have any other plans for your solo project?
A: Yeah, I’ve been so busy with my band and managing bands and everything so I don’t have time to finish the product. So I’m going to go in and try to record a few more songs and then take the best six and then release a D.I.Y. release. I already did one music video, so maybe do some more videos and just have fun and play shows when I can. I’ll probably go to different shows and try to push the record at different pop shows to try to get some new younger generation kids into the music. .