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That Philly Attitude: Restorations Making Up For Lost Time On UK Bow

Wednesday, 16 April 2014 Written by Huw Baines

Pulling the mic stand towards him and pointing into the crowd, Jon Loudon yelled: “I have no interest in that kind of competition.” Restorations were a few minutes into D, the first song of their first ever UK show, and it was a fitting sentiment from a band that have learned to take things in their stride, out of both design and necessity.

Formed in Philadelphia a few years ago, the group was initially an antidote of sorts after the dissolution of Jena Berlin, an intense, interesting post-hardcore band that nevertheless left its members, Loudon and Restorations’ Ben Pierce and Dave Klyman included, exhausted and seeking respite after years sleeping on floors and playing basement shows.

Sat in the bar of Bristol’s Exchange, jet-lagged and fresh from soundcheck, Loudon still expressed wide-eyed surprise at the way in which Restorations have tipped over from being a personal concern to a local concern and now, given that we’re sat an ocean away from Pennsylvania, an international one.

“It’s been really fast too, which is the thing,” he said. “We were like: ‘I’m never touring again, I swear to god.’ And here we are, I guess. It’s really cool because we’re just nerds about it. To get the reception we’ve got for it has just been wonderful. We’re just so happy. It’s interesting; some of the more tedious aspects of being a band a while ago, we’re experiencing in a whole new light.”

Just over a year ago the band put out their second full-length, the suitably-titled ‘LP2’, on Side One Dummy, and they’ve recently wrapped recording on its follow up with producer and old friend Jonathan Low. It is, as you might have guessed, called ‘LP3’ and is currently enjoying a brief stay on the shelf as the band get to grips with a long-awaited bout of touring.

“We put horns on the new record, so we’re waiting on one horn part to come in next week and then we’re basically done,” Loudon said. “I haven’t listened to it, we finished it and got on a plane. We finished Friday, left Saturday. It’s good to step away from it for a couple of days, get acquainted over here and then when I have a couple of minutes to myself I can sit in the park and listen to it. We all had a really good time doing it. We just went and cranked it out.

“The first record we recorded as Paper + Plastick was totally screwing us, so we were like: ‘This is the last record we’re going to make.’ It's a super bummed out, hazy, crushed record. ‘LP2’ was like: “Everything’s going great, everything’s fine!’ I feel like we’ve mellowed out a little bit and it’s maybe a mix of the two.”

The collapse of the band’s relationship with Paper + Plastick is one of a number of hurdles they have crossed - this UK stop is part of their third attempted European tour - since opting to pick up tools again. It’s tempting to see them as being just too good to stay down for long, even if Loudon good-naturedly laughs off the suggestion and puts their success down to a bit of luck and a helping hand from Tony Weinbender, organiser of The Fest, Gainesville’s annual punk pilgrimage.

“Ah! There’s lots of bands like that in Philly, though,” he said. “It’s just the town. You hear about a new band from Philly every week. It’s incredible. We just had a really good support system. Philly is really good at exporting their bands out into the world. We got a little bit of a luckier break than I think most bands get.

“It was total luck that got us out at all. We really owe a lot to Tony Weinbender at The Fest, for just being like: ‘Guys, come down and play a show. It’ll be fun, I promise.’ We did a week tour and we were like: ‘Ah, fuck it. We’ve got to rent a van, I don’t know how we’re going to get down there, we’re not going to make any money...’ Which seems hilarious now, but at the time it’s like this big, tremendous thing.

“I think that’s how it happened. We were doing a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more. And it ended up being fun. We’ll do six weeks in Europe and the UK and it doesn’t seem terribly long or that difficult to do, for me and Dave in particular.”

Philadelphia is a recurring theme when Loudon discusses the band’s development. To say that the city’s punk scene is in decent shape right now is a gross understatement, with Restorations jostling for space alongside the Menzingers, the Wonder Years, Hop Along, Modern Baseball, veterans like Paint It Black and newcomers like Cayetana.

This current crop owes plenty to a generation of bands who slipped between the cracks a little, though. Loudon is quick to note the importance of the scene being kept afloat in the last decade, just as he’s excited to cross paths with former tourmates who are making dents of their own.

There’s a familial air to things, even from an outsider’s perspective, and that extends to this tour. Restorations are on the road with the Smith Street Band and Astpai, with both bands counted as close friends. In Bristol, meanwhile, Laura Stevenson, formerly of Bomb! The Music Industry and currently fronting her own band, the Cans, dropped in to play a quite brilliant acoustic set.

“A lot of bands are very good in Philly now, but we owe a lot to all the bands that came before us that didn’t stop putting on shows and running spaces, staying in touch,” he said. “There’s always work that goes into it from all the old hands that stuck around, which I think doesn’t really happen in a lot of places.

“A lot of those people we remember from touring back in the early 2000s are coming back around and having much better success now. Evan [Weiss] from Into It. Over It, Laura...there’s tons. We keep running into people, overseas even, and you’re like: ‘This is great, everybody made it!’ It took a decade, but we all did it. That’s been so cool to watch. It’s so much bigger than just our little project. It’s all the labels and other bands. It’s a very privileged time.”

With ‘LP3’, Restorations will naturally carry on being a going concern, perhaps even taking another step up in terms of the time required to maintain the band. As all five members, with Loudon, Pierce and Klyman joined by drummer Carlin Brown and bassist Dan Zimmerman, work full-time jobs, plenty of understanding is required. That, and a bit more Philly attitude.

“It’s getting to the point now where a few of us are having to shift jobs and juggle some things around,” Loudon said. “Ben owns a house, a few of us have pretty serious jobs. We’ve had to put a few things on hold and move some things around to get it to work. It’s definitely starting to come to a head with how much we’ve been doing now that our band has a little bit more of a clear focus of what we want to do and how we can do it. The mechanics of it are all kind of there.

“It’s not like: “I don’t know how we’re going to get the money to record, I don’t know where we’re going to record, I don’t think we can tour this record.’ All those things have kind of gone away for us and it’s more like: ‘Cool, we’ll make a record. We can do a steady month of touring during the year.’ Just book everything up and relax. That’s been, well, it kind of helps you keep going.

“We’re pretty lucky with work, man, a lot of us have got the blessing from jobs: ‘Enjoy this while you can, we’ll have a job for you in a couple years when this all goes to shit.’ It’s been cool and, again, it’s a lot more of the Philly attitude. Everybody’s self made, everybody’s built their own thing. It’s very much small shops, small businesses, that kind of thing.”

After a brilliant bow in Bristol, where their dense, often anthemic songs were brought to life in thrilling fashion, Restorations will head to London for a couple of shows in the next few weeks, along with dates in Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newport, Cambridge, Kingston and Southampton. Thoroughly recommended if you enjoy things like good songs and loud guitars.

Restorations Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed April 16 2014 - LONDON Windmill
Thu April 17 2014 - MANCHESTER Star And Garter
Fri April 18 2014 - GLASGOW Audio
Sat April 19 2014 - LIVERPOOL Korova Lounge
Sun April 20 2014 - NEWPORT Le Pub
Mon April 21 2014 - CAMBRIDGE Portland Arms
Tue April 22 2014 - KINGSTON Fighting Cocks
Wed April 23 2014 - LONDON Old Blue Last
Thu April 24 2014 - SOUTHAMPTON Joiners

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