Pompeii’s Dean Stafford Discusses Past, Future

OVRLD is proud to present a showcase on August 2nd featuring The Eastern Sea, future ACL band Roadkill Ghost Choir, and Pompeii. We knew little about Pompeii, since their last album, Nothing Happens for a Reason, was released before any of us moved here. So Carter Delloro took the time to send some e-mail questions to Pompeii frontman Dean Stafford, and he took the time to answer them. Get your tickets to the fantastic August 2nd show at The Parish, and get ready for the imminent release of their third full-length.

OVRLD: I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering, but…Five years is a long time between albums; what have you been up to?

DS: Five years is a long time. Our last tour to support the last album was Europe 2009. After that we basically took two years off before we started working on new music. Our cellist Caitlin left. Our record label went belly up. Such a long break was necessary for us to figure out what kind of music we really wanted to be making. We’re also very meticulous when it comes to how we write, which can be both a good thing as well as a bad thing.

OVRLD: Were you at any point worried about losing the momentum you had gained through increased press and TV coverage in 2008?

DS: Yes, we were absolutely worried about losing momentum. But we have some very supportive fans who have stuck it out with us. We were also lucky in that some of our biggest commercial success didn’t come until over three years after our last record came out (Giant Mechanical Man).

What is the best and worst thing that has happened to Austin since your last record came out?

DS: Best thing for me would be the addition of Car2Go to the city. I’ve seriously driven gear to shows in those things, and people get really confused.

Worst thing that comes to mind was the closing—sorry, relocating of Emo’s. That building on Red River was such a staple in my musical upbringing and Pompeii played some memorable shows there. We were all sad to see it go.

OVRLD: Earlier this year, y’all ran a Kickstarter that ultimately proved unsuccessful. Would you recommend crowdfunding to other artists? Is the new record still going to be able to come out? Are you able to cover the costs?

DS: There is a stigma around crowdfunding and I totally get it, so it can be scary to jump into headfirst, but yes we would recommend it as an option, because it works…okay, not for everyone (obviously), but there are still a lot of people out there who enjoy getting involved. It’s important not to get discouraged if things don’t work the first time around. Crowdfunding is a (somewhat) relatively new thing, so there are still lots of learning opportunities.

We were fortunate enough to have had a fair amount of income between licensing and merch to help us with the initial tracking. We’ve come too far for this record not to happen and we are in the final stretch.

OVRLD: Was St. Edward’s University a good place to go for aspiring musicians? Did you feel any difference from the many UT musicians that cut their teeth on West Campus house parties?

DS: I actually went to St. Ed’s on an acting scholarship, so I was pretty wrapped up in that scene for the bulk of my first year. Rob and myself would play “Hillfest” and I think we even played some late-night, pancake breakfast study event. Eventually, we had the best of both worlds, since Caitlin went to UT. St. Edward’s is undoubtedly smaller, so there’s definitely a sense of community that kind of reminds you of summer camp. Matt Hines [of The Eastern Sea] went to St. Edward’s and he’s one of my favorite songwriters in Austin, so there you have it.

OVRLD: In interviews, you have said that you want the new record to be the best thing y’all have done and you actively tried to push yourselves further in writing it. Do you think that you have accomplished these goals? How high should our expectations be?

DS: I do think we have accomplished these goals. “The best” of something is always going to be subjective to who is listening, but in terms of pushing ourselves, I believe we have gone outside the lines of our first two albums. It still sounds like Pompeii, but it’s not the same record we’ve written in the past and I think we honestly just can’t wait for everyone to have something new to listen to. A lot happens in the time that you’re 19 to 29 or 30 years old. Tastes change. Ideas change. People change. We really tried to raise the bar for ourselves, so if you are a fan of Pompeii, I think you’re really going to enjoy this record.

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-Ovrld Crew