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Format lead singer digs Tucson, flip-flops

By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
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Arizona may not be proud of its never-ending, blistering heat or lack of funding for education, but one thing it can boast about is the huge success of local bands like Jimmy Eat World and The Format. Nate Ruess, lead singer for The Format, spoke with the Arizona Daily Wildcat before the performance tonight in Centennial Hall about where he thinks tuition money goes and why talking in code is key to the band's success.

Wildcat: Are you guys recording any time soon?

Ruess: We're going to record next week.

Wildcat: How did the mini college tour get set up?

Ruess: I don't know, I guess our booking agents came to us, said that the local colleges in Arizona were asking if we wanted to play. So we figured, why not put together College Tour 2005?

Wildcat: With the Snails EP, is that a precursor to the new album?

Ruess: It was something just to tide us over creatively and too for people who are interested in listening to us. It'd been in a while since we had released something so we wanted to give a preview of what's to come. We did it really quickly so we didn't get to do everything we wanted, but it was good to introduce a couple new songs.

Wildcat: Are you guys recording in Arizona?

Ruess: No

Wildcat: California?

Ruess: Yeah, unfortunately. ... If I could record anywhere, it would be Tucson - the studio called Wavelab, where Calexico does all their stuff.

Wildcat: When is the new album due out?

Ruess: Some time in the spring.

Wildcat: How are you guys going about writing this album differently than the last one?

Ruess: Well, with the last record we mostly wrote together. This album we've written a lot separately. And we'll come together and then sort of work it out, as opposed to just sitting there and going over stuff. If I've got something stuck in my head I'll show Sam, and he'll do the exact same thing and then we'll sort of build the song from there.

Wildcat: How does the close friendship improve writing and performing together?

Ruess: I just think it makes everything easy case we're on the same page most of the time in regards to music. So I think we share a lot of the same influences and we both have a complete understanding on what direction we want the songs to go in and how we want the stuff to work. And we just have this sort of relationship where I can speak in some weird code and he can understand.

Wildcat: Some code that no one else can understand?

Ruess: Yeah, I don't do it intentionally. I'm just not very good at talking.

Wildcat: Do you think the local Arizona music scene has improved in the past few years?

Ruess: No, I think it's gotten a lot worse. I think it's gotten drastically worse. It's just gotten terrible. Because back when we were kids there was always a place to go see concerts. I'm speaking for Phoenix or Tempe, that area specifically. I don't know about Tucson. All the music that's come out of Tucson for the most part is great. But in regards to Phoenix, I don't know what it is, there's not any places for bands to play and playing live is just the best way to develop as a live artist.

Wildcat: Do you think you have some pretty awesome fans?

Ruess: Actually I think our fans are pretty rad.

Wildcat: Why do you always perform with the rug on stage and usually barefoot?

Ruess: Those rugs are something that we got in San Francisco. I don't know. I love the rug. It's now in my house. It didn't make the trip for this tour because I just moved and I don't really know where it's at, but I think it's a lucky rug. It really feels good under my feet because I'm barefoot for the most part. Why do I play barefoot? Cause shoes are a hassle. Yeah. I mean I don't know. As a kid I used to always walk around barefoot even in the summer time. I guess that's just the redneck in me, and playing barefoot just seems more natural. I have flip-flops, so I just flop my flops off.

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