Having been in numerous bands over the years (108, You & I, The Judas Factor), it was inevitable that the paths of Robert Fisch and Tom Schlatter would cross at some point. With a friendship that stretches back nine years, the pair have teamed up under the name Every Scar Has A Story.
Having just put out their self-titled EP through Equal Vision Records, V13 sat down with the pair to chat about their friendship, recording during quarantine and how Robert uses the music to help navigate his own mental health issues.
Thanks for your time, you’ve just put out your debut EP, how does the release feel?
Tom: “It’s a strange feeling to release a record without ever having played a show, or for that matter, the songs in the same room yet. The release is a complete consequence of creating during a global pandemic and an effort to make the best out of the situation. In that regard the record has that different feel than the conventional model of song writing in person. That said, if I listen objectively, outside of the circumstances, the release feels refreshing for me as a musician because it’s a style I’ve always wanted to delve into. Working with Rob was unexpected, though, his voice really turned the music into something unique that I never would have foresaw.”
Robert: “I am excited about the record and, most importantly, eventually getting the opportunity to play the songs live together and for others.”
You met nine years ago, how would you describe your friendship and what brought about that connection?
Tom: “I grew up in New Jersey and had followed Rob’s bands since the 90’s. We played a show together years ago and I was happy that our initial conversation went past the usual “hey, good set!”. At the time I was playing in a band called Black Kites, that I can openly say was very much inspired by the music and lyrics of 108. It was clear that Rob was a thoughtful person who was passionate about his music and ethics. The context of hardcore and punk allows us the ability to make friendships and connections that go well past the superficial small talk that we find prevalent in other parts of life.”
Robert: “Having had the opportunity to play and interact with Tom over the years has always been a positive for me. Years ago he shared some songs with me for a potential project and while I LOVED the songs I wasn’t in a place where I was inspired to write. Still, from that point forward, I watched what Tom was working on and when I saw him post about writing some songs while in quarantine I hit him up. Musically it felt like a departure from what I have done before without it being completely foreign and that was that. I appreciate Tom’s thoughtfulness, as both a musician and a person, which is important to me and I am excited for us to make music together.”
You recorded the EP during quarantine, how challenging did you find it working in those conditions? Have you kept creating together during lockdown?
Tom: “Pre-pandemic my band (Hundreds of AU) was playing about 3-5 shows a month, I was working full time and I’m also married. There was a lot of other music I wanted to write but just couldn’t carve out the time to do it. When the lockdown started in New York I had a lot of free time at home. The songs just started out as an experiment to write some music that was influenced by some of the 80s alternative bands that I grew up listening to like The Cure, Midnight Oil, The Smiths, etc. I found myself going into a creative overdrive and just writing a ton of music. I started collaborating with some other musicians who will be joining Every Scar Has A Story and we have 3 new songs done so far.”
Rob, you write from what you’re experiencing emotionally at that particular moment. What was your mindset creating the lyrics for the EP and what do you hope people get out of listening to the music of Every Scar Has A Story? The lyrics are relatable to the recent race injustice issues and the pandemic, what do you hope that people learn from the experiences described in your songs?
Robert: “For me song writing is simple, listen to the music and write based on whatever emotions/inspiration each song inspires. I don’t ever set out to write on a subject, rather if I connect with a song I write about whatever it is the song inspired. In the case of this record, we went from our first message about doing something together to having recorded and mixed the record in a 3-week period. It was very natural.”
“The first song we wrote was “Price of Admission”. As a father of a kid who had just turned 18 and was about to graduate HS and enter the world on their own I was struck by how volatile the world is at this time. More than ever, everything feels politicized and people seem more fixated on themselves and what different situations mean to them than thinking about what it means to their families, communities, and our world. Whether it is a discussion on wearing a face mask or about racial inequality, many seem to think that their experience and worldview is THE experience and worldview. The song was inspired by my own determination to, more now than ever, think about what is best for the world around me and not just fixated on myself. Being more thoughtful with respect to the words I speak/don’t speak, and actions I take/don’t take.”
“Every Scar Has A Story was written about my own struggles to navigate my past. It was about seeing all of the events in my life as a gift and understanding that even the most horrid experiences have given me a perspective and experiences that have shaped who I am and the world I have built for myself which is pretty damn fantastic.”
“Move On was an emotional song for me in that we all have the person we aspire to be and what we are. At least for me, there is a large gulf at times between the two. It was about being determined to bridge that gap no matter how difficult and no matter what others have to say about that journey.”
The proceeds of the EP are going to The Bail Project and Brennan Center for Justice. Could you explain why you chose those two organizations?
Tom: “Growing up in the hardcore scene in the 90’s influenced me from a political perspective in a large way. It’s hard for me to see music without a connection to the larger existence of our lives which are inherently, as people who participate in society, political. The moment we’re seeing right now where systemic racism is being confronted, hard conversations are being had and the opportunity for a substantive change is a real possibility can’t be overlooked. With that said, Rob suggested we make this release a full on fundraiser. The two organizations were chosen because we wanted one that was addressing an immediate need (The Bail Project) and another that would address a more long term attention to policy change (Brennan Center For Justice).”
How has your local scene been affected and what do you think live music will look like on the other side of the pandemic?
Tom: “A huge part of my participation in the hardcore scene is to be exposed to and learn about the experiences of people who are coming from a different perspective. Sure, I miss playing shows, but what I really miss is the conversations and connection that was so routine for me. I’ve taken to calling friend on the phone, checking up on them, etc, but I really miss meeting up at a show or going out for a late night dinner after a show and just shooting on current events with friends. I don’t foresee live music coming back the way that I’ve been accustomed to. I don’t see basement shows being a safe option anymore. I’m interested to see how midsize venues will establish social distancing, contact tracing, etc while providing spaces for music.”
Robert: “Had a lot of shows set up for the summer and fall which had to be postponed. The disappointment is that I don’t get the opportunity to see friends from all over the world. I am on a bit of an island these days living in Scottsdale, AZ in that I don’t have day to day experiences with the scene here. I am older and when I attend shows I do so as a fan of the music and let the younger generations create a scene that reflects their needs and interests. As far as what things look like, post-pandemic, I don’t know what to expect but I look forward to it!”
Just to finish, what we can expect from ESHAS during the rest of 2020 and into 2021?
Robert: “More songs. Was supposed to head out for three shows on the east coast with some other new bands made up of old geezers in November that will most likely have to be cancelled but we are still holding out some hope that maybe it can happen. Otherwise, when things open up a bit we plan to play the songs as much as feasible.”
Every Scar Has A Story is out now through Equal Vision Records and you can pick up your copy here