Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

In March of this year, Chicago’s Textbook collaborated with Paper + Plastick for the release of their album called On the B-Side. Containing 16 tracks in total, the record features songs from Textbook’s entire catalog and serves as a celebration of the band’s 15th anniversary. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Dave Lysien and bassist Rick Uncapher to discuss the album in detail. We talked about how they teamed with Paper + Plastick, as well as the distinctive format that the record’s available on. We also conversed about the band’s experiences touring the UK, some of their favorite memories from the last 15 years, future plans and more. Be sure to check out a video for the song “Just One of Those Things” after the interview.

Bill – How did you guys go about partnering with Paper + Plastick for the release of this album?

Rick – Basically I had sent Vinnie, (label owner Vinnie Fiorello) our last record to see if Paper + Plastick might be interested in putting it out. He liked what he heard but nothing ever happened. So when we started putting together the On the B-Side collection, I sent it over to him and he suggested that we put it out as part of his new “Sound of the Skull” series. We liked the idea, especially the unique way they were approaching the release and it all worked out really well.

Bill – Tell me about the unique format that the record is available on.

Rick – Paper + Plastick puts out a lot of different stuff, from records and books to resin toys. So the idea was to package a USB key, (with the digital record formats, lyrics, liner notes, etc.) with a limited resin skull. The skulls are collectible art pieces that the label is sort of known for.

Bill – Very cool. How did you decide which songs to include on the album?

Rick – We asked people that liked the band and were familiar with the back catalog to vote on which songs should make it. Then we added a few songs that were remixed by Mike Haigler, (“Holden” and “Wasting All My Time”) and an unreleased acoustic version of “Dear You, Dear.”

Bill – Is there a song on the record that resonates with you more now as opposed to when it was originally released?

Dave – To me, each song has memories and feelings attached to them, that’s what makes them special…so in a sense they all have their own connection. “Dear You, Dear” is one that will always be very personal for several reasons, and it is an example of why music has always been such an important part of my life.

Bill – What do you like best about how the songs sound after they were re-mastered?

Rick – I think the mastering basically just smoothed it all over to make it more of a cohesive listen. The record contains stuff recorded by a lot of different and talented producers: Matt Allison, (Alkaline Trio) John Agnello, (Dinosaur Jr.) Mike Haigler, (Neko Case) Chris Cosgrove, (Blackpool Lights) Phil Bonnet, (Smoking Popes), so the quality was pretty good from the get go.

Bill – The album features guest spots by Jeff Pezzati, (Naked Raygun) and Dan Vapid, (Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales, The Methadones). What was it like collaborating with those guys?

Dave – Textbook has always been about being creative and making music with friends. Jeff and Dan are great guys, great friends and kindred musical spirits, so working with those guys is special for sure.

Rick – Like Dave said, those guys are friends of ours so it was super fun and super easy. They just came to the studio, had a listen to the tunes, got behind the mic and did their thing. We loved their ideas and we are very grateful to have those guys on the record.

Bill – Tell me about the video that you recently made for the song “Just One of Those Things.”

Rick – 2015 marked the 15th year of Textbook releasing records, so the video is just made up of clips we shot over the years. I did all the editing and my buddy Danny helped me out with some color correction and some effects. It was all very DIY but came out pretty cool.

Bill – You guys have previously toured the UK three times. What do you enjoy most about playing shows over there?

Dave – The best part of touring the UK is definitely the friendships we made. It’s really amazing how music can be such a connection between like-minded or like-hearted people. We’re definitely blessed to have made the friends we have made…friendships that go beyond just being in a band.

Rick – Yeah, we’ve made a lot of friends over there so it’s just nice to go over and reconnect with people. The music scene over there is also very welcoming, so the shows are always super fun. Our buddies put on an awesome festival in Leeds called “Out of Spite” that we have had the pleasure of playing a few times as well.

Bill – When you reflect on being a band for the last 15 years, what are some of the initial memories that come to mind?

Dave – The band has always been a savior to me. Writing and recording songs, playing shows and touring has definitely helped me get through some very bad times. I am thankful for my band mates/best friends that have kept this journey going. There have been some really amazing experiences over the last 15 years, but I think what comes to mind first is the creativity, hard work, dedication and commitment that has allowed us to continue for so long. Rick, in particular, has been the motor that has kept the band moving forward for a long time.

Rick – This band has always been a gang of friends and that is probably what has kept it going so long. Matt Allison has also been pretty essential to the longevity of the band as a producer and as a friend. We’ve been recording with Matt before the band even started and his production skills have only gotten better and hopefully we have gotten a little better too.

Bill – As you look ahead to this year and beyond, what are some of the things that you’re hoping to accomplish with Textbook?

Dave – Writing and recording more music, playing shows in new places and reconnecting with friends are good enough for me.

Rick – In the short term we are just finishing up a four-song EP that we are excited about. Otherwise just more songs and more shows. We don’t really look too far ahead. I think the goal is just to keep making music and keep having fun with it. So as long as the songs don’t dry up I think we are good.