Final Round is a Rock/Punk/Pop band from Chicago formed in 2003. Members include Dan Lowes, Matt Hampson, Andy Lowes, and Jake Smith. The second full-length album from Final Round, "It Ends With Us Both Right Here," arrived in September 2014. It is a pop rock/punk album rich with vocal harmonies and guitar leads resonating influences from early work by Weezer, The Ataris, Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, and others. Their first full length album "None of Us Will Ever Leave a Legacy" was recorded in 2006 by Dan Precision at the Bombshelter Recording Studio in Chicago, IL.
- First things first: who is Final Round and what's the story of the band? How did you all meet and happen to work together?
Matt: Hi, I’m Matt. I’m one of the singers, I play guitar, and I write the music. I guess I’ll tell the story of Final Round as I remember it. Before Final Round Dan and I were in a band called The Bruce Chi Affair with our friends Kevin and Caleb. It was the fastest, dirtiest, most fun pop-punk band you can imagine. Our songs were about things like mullets and trying to sleep with our friends’ sisters and heavily influenced by the Fat Wreck Chords compilation records at the time. When I started really getting into bands like Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, The Ataris, and Unwritten Law I decided it was time to start writing music in a new direction. It would still be fast and high-energy, but more guitar-rock driven. Thus, Final Round was born. We started with Kevin on guitar, who is a great guitar player and songwriter, but when he left the band to become a grown-up we got Andy, Dan’s brother, who is an amazing guitar player. On drums is Jake Smith, a great drummer who we've known since high school.
Dan: Hey I'm Dan, the bassist and singer; Matt and I both do lead vocals. We were friends in separate bands, one thing led to another and here we are!
- You are a 100% punk-rock band. Can you tell us who your musical tastes and influences are?
M: The fast tempo and high energy of our songs I can definitely attribute to my pop-punk roots with bands like Alkaline Trio, Blink-182, NoFX, MxPx, Nerfherder, and so many more. My guitar leads and song structure are definitely influenced by Weezer and Foo Fighters. However, I personally consider The Ataris album “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits” and Unwritten Law’s self-titled album to be the holy grails of the rock/pop-punk genre.
D: Listening to MxPx, NOFX, and Blink 182 really got me into music. After I started my first band and actually learned to sing decently, Jimmy Eat World had a pretty big influenece on my vocal styling. I also love Millencolin, Slick Shoes, New Found Glory, and Yellowcard.
How is the work divided between the four of you? Who writes the lyrics, the music, who takes care of the recording, the production etc?
M: I write the music, the lyrics, and get a good idea of what guitar leads I would like and then work them out with Andy. I do the same with Dan’s bass lines. For recording, there’s no one I would trust more than Dan Precision. He really cares about getting a good product out of his studio and has an ear for detail that I wouldn’t have believed possible if I didn’t know him. Not to mention the fact that we have so much fun in the studio with him! All of us are nerds about Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and video games. We all respect each other, joke around like old friends, and are always comfortable shouting out whatever crazy ideas we have during the recording process.
- Your music is impeccably catchy. These amazing guitar riffs, drum sections and harmonies are on point. How do you come up with such an efficient cocktail? Do you work a lot on that (adjusting and tweaking) or does it all come together naturally?
M: I would say that every good catchy song starts with a hook, be it a lyrical phrase or a guitar lead, and the rest of the song is built from there. Once you have that great chorus you can start building upon it with other parts to make it that much better. As far as the instruments are concerned, I consider myself very lucky. I’ll show Andy, Jake and Dan some ideas and they’ll build upon them in ways I never dreamed. I would say the most time is spent on the vocal harmonies. For each harmony you hear, Dan and I have probably tried 5 or more other versions of it before settling on that. That’s a lot of loud a capella singing while the 2 of us are driving! We’re pretty fun to go on car rides with, as you can imagine.
- Is there a particular theme behind the lyrics of your songs? Where do you get the inspiration?
M: I think a general theme in my lyrics is to be as truthful and passionate as you can about your life experiences. Feeling everything that you can and expressing that makes for a great song. As far as inspiration goes, I’d have to quote the last song of our new album and say you should “take a year to get inspired, come back with guts and eyes of fire.” If you have nothing to write about, then you aren’t doing enough. Go out, travel, get involved in a terrible relationship, (good ones are too boring to write about), anything that you can be passionate about. So yeah, I write songs about my personal experiences, but at the same time I’m pretty jealous of those who can write amazing fictional songs.
D: Most of the songs are actual stories that happened in our lives. Matt just finds a way to put a great hook to it and create that moment in time in song form, we polish it up, and there you have it. I've always been a sucker for songs that tell stories, so I think we do a pretty good job in that department.
- Let's talk about your first record, None Of Us WIll Ever Leave A Legacy. How was the process of putting this piece altogether? Was it more of an easy ride or a bumpy road?
M: Definitely a bumpy road. Our inexperience made it take longer than expected and left no budget for advertising. Thankfully the songs turned out exactly how I wanted them to, which as a songwriter is the best thing possible.
D: It was definitely a learning experience. Although we had recorded many songs before, this was our first real professionally-recorded album. I think with everything, we just had a lot to learn about being in a studio with someone as professional as Dan Precision. But it was an amazing time, and we learned so much. I'm glad it turned out the way it did. I also think if we had an advertising budget it would have been heard an awful lot more.
- This is an energetic record, with mostly uptempos. I bet your jam sessions must be quite a thing! Do you also have some slower songs?
M: Yes, we definitely love to keep things upbeat no matter what! Our jam sessions consist mostly of playing a song twice and then getting distracted by playing old NoFX, Weezer, and MxPx songs. On “None of Us…” aren’t That Right One and One Last Time pretty slow songs? Maybe those are just slow to me!
D: I'm sure we'll eventually get to writing a slow song here or there, but we like to rock. I love watching people dance around and sing to our music.
- Is "Leaving a Legacy" part of your musical ambition? What would you like to achieve through your music?
M: The title track “None of Us Will Ever Leave a Legacy” sounds very depressing by name alone, but it is actually about how much we should treasure the period in time that we live in. The birth of pop-punk is something that I was a part of. It will be reborn decade after decade long after I’m gone, but it won’t be the same thing. Just as future generations mimicked hippies, greasers, and now even 90’s grunge, they’ll try to recreate it. But just like I say in the last lyrics of that song, “they’ll never have what we had during our days.” If my music doesn’t live on forever I’m perfectly fine with that because I’ve seen how it has affected people already.
D: This is where I disgaree with Matt. I hope to make it famous enough to have a large bronze statue of me flipping the bird erected in my home town. Although, I'd settle for a plague saying that I was a pretty cool guy...
- Can you present us your new album "It Ends with Us Both Right Here"? What can we find in it? Could you tell us more about its story, its creation, recording process, etc.
M: Our new album “It Ends with Us Both Right Here” is a collection of songs we’ve been working on for years since the release of our last album. Things slowed down when I went away to college, but I never stopped writing. This album really represents my entire songwriting career and I believe the songs really show that. The opening track has lyrics I wrote when I was still in high school, other stuff is from our early punk days and still more was written while I was in college. The result is a great variety of songs and there’s definitely something for everyone on our album. And for recording, of course I’d choose none other than Dan Precision! We have a blast and make awesome music whenever we work together.
D: You'll find we pretty much picked up from where we left off with "None of us..." It;s full of catchy Harmonies, guitar harmonies, leads...and Jake Smith's excellent drum stylings, Before going in to record, Matt and I heavily focused on the vocals and harmonies, instead of winging it in studio like we did last time... We had probably 95% of the songs ready to go this time as well. There were still a lot of times where we'd record what we thought we liked, then Matt or I would just switch something up for fun and it'd sound great. I think that's my favorite part of being in the studio... you never know what is going to pop out of nowhere and make a song you thought was already good even better.
- Do you have any live performances scheduled in the future? Speaking of live, let's say you have the opportunity to chose a venue, anywhere in the world, and a singer or band to perform with, where and who would you chose to do it with?
D: Actually, we'll be playing in October as Weezer in Chicago. After that we'll start focusing on booking up the next tour
M: Our goal for now is to make our music available to as many people as possible, get the word out, then start playing these new songs once all that is established. I can’t wait!
Anything to add?
D: Please be sure to check us out on facebook, bandcamp, or whatever you prefer. We love talking to our fans and hearing about how they feel about the new album, and all of that. I think social media gives us such a unique and amazing opportunity to interact with fans, and we do our best to get back to everyone that sends a message.
Thanks a lot !