Early Internet
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Early Internet

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
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"Pompeii isn't Falling. It's rising. Fast."

In high school, Dean Stafford's theater teacher told him he'd have to choose between acting and playing music. "I was like, 'That's not necessarily true.' I was friends with other musicians and actors who were doing both," he recalls. "It so happened I got burned out. I just related more to the music world."

But while Stafford gave up theater years ago, the singer, songwriter and guitarist still manages to do both: His 10-year-old band, Pompeii, plays the kind of sweeping, ethereal rock music that sounds more like a movie soundtrack than an arena concert. Pompeii has placed songs on TV (MTV's "Teen Mom"), ads (Toyota) and movies ("The Great Mechanical Man," via personal invitation from producer Jenna Fischer of "The Office").

"The marriage of music and film together — the older I get, I'm kind of influenced by that. There's always been this connection in performance," says Stafford, 30, by phone while driving to his home in Austin, Texas. "There's no accident that Erik (Johnson), our guitar player, has chosen to be in film — he works in an editing bay doing film projects or TV shows. The moment he joined the band, he helped shape where I would go musically."

Pompeii's "LOOM," which came out in mid-October, opens softly, like a road-trip movie, building from piano, strings and Stafford's repeated murmur of "for once in your lifetime" into a Nirvana-style crescendo. The album swings between Sigur Ros-style atmospheric music ("Celtic Mist") to U2-style guitar rock ("Drift"). Its best song, "Blueprint," has an aerobic energy that matches Stafford's lyric about "climbing up your staircase."

"We went in specifically to write a song that was to the point and energetic," Stafford says of "Blueprint." "It was great because it was fast — not in the sense of tempo, but fast in the sense of the process. ... Whatever you're going in to record, or be inspired about, that day, it'll either hit you right there, in big, broad strokes — or (you) spend a bunch of hours trying to shape something that wasn't that inspired to begin with."

Pompeii's method for writing and recording songs can be laborious — one reason the band took six years to put out "LOOM" as the follow-up to "Nothing Happens for a Reason." The band records long jams, then Stafford labors over the tapes at home, stripping down portions into what he has called "basic blocks on a guitar," then expands the bits he likes into lyrics and melodies. "You certainly don't want to slap a song together — you want to spend time on it," he says. "But you also don't want to take forever, either."

Stafford's performing career began with music. Riding the bus to school, he memorized tunes from cartoons and concocted melodies in his head. He received a guitar for his sixth birthday, and when he was 10, a friend sold him an electric. Stafford learned Nirvana songs from the radio; with Rob Davidson, who would become Pompeii's drummer, he played talent shows and pool parties.

In high school, he shifted temporarily to theater, landing an acting scholarship from St. Edward's University, intending to perhaps be a professor. He performed in Pompeii on the side, and after a 2005 South by Southwest show, a small label, Eyeball, offered a record deal. So he drifted away from acting: "I was more preoccupied with going on tour and making a record. I got into the idea of taking your music to the audience — you represent yourself, entirely, in a way you can't, pretending to be anyone else."

After two albums, Pompeii split with its label and became engrossed with international touring. The band wrote a couple of songs for a new album, but never seemed quite finished. It wasn't until the band split the long "Celtic Mist" into three separate tracks that Stafford felt it had hit on the proper tone for what would become "LOOM." "It is crazy, the amount of time it's spanned to work on this," Stafford says. "You think about it in terms of your life, and what you've experienced from the time it started to the time you finished. We were getting older at the same time, so things that I was influenced by when I was 19 weren't necessarily as applicable to where I was at when I was 26."

With "LOOM" out of the way, Pompeii can focus on less laborious pursuits — like blowing up a car for the upcoming "Blueprint" video. The car was not, in fact, a Car2Go, in which the singer spent years puttering around Austin, until the rent-by-the-hour company's prices went up and he bought a used Toyota. "We'd probably never be able to ride Car2Go again if that was the case!" he says. "It was an awesome old Honda Accord where we cut off the metal on the top and turned it into a convertible and spray-painted the whole car. There's all these BMX kids doing tricks around it. I'm really excited."

onthetown@tribune.com

Twitter @chitribent

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave.

Tickets: $8; 773-276-3600 or emptybottle.com

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune
Music Movies Film Festivals The Office (tv program) Entertainment Jenna Fischer MTV - Chicago Tribune


"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. - OVRLD


"CMJ Music Marathon"

This annual New York showcase has returned with over 1,000 club sets. There are too many shows to list, but here are some that are worth checking out. Gringo Star plays a set at the downtown watering hole Niagara on Oct. 22 at 11 p.m. Despite the Beatles nod, this young quartet from Atlanta takes its influences from the Kinks and the Rolling Stones. With four shows, on Oct. 22, 23 and 24, the Chicago garage-rockers Twin Peaks will be busy playing tracks from their new record, “Wild Onion,” which surfs the same wave of brash three-chord zeal as Thee Oh Sees and Parquet Courts, and includes the unsubtle Beach Boys tribute “Sloop Jay D.” On Oct. 23 at the Bowery Ballroom, the most sexually charged and reliably great duo in blues-rock, the Kills, celebrate a decade together. On their 2011 album, “Blood Pressures,” they revealed a newfound vulnerability, especially on the sepia-tinged waltz “The Last Goodbye.” The band’s follow-up does not have a release date yet. The New Wave pop ensemble Pompeii, a staple on college radio, shares the glossy, echoing melodicism of Death Cab for Cutie or a-Ha. This Texas band performs on Oct. 23 at the Delancey, and its new release, “Loom,” has the decade-old Pompeii brewing fresh buzz. The Scottish power-pop ensemble Paws traffic in the ringing, clean guitar riffs of Weezer and Pavement, but top them off with more garrulous hardcore punk-inspired chants; they perform at the Knitting Factory on Saturday. The drawling, tempestuous post-punks Protomartyr support their intriguing record “Under Color of Official Right” at Baby’s All Right on Friday afternoon; they’d make a solidly brooding prologue for one of the marathon’s most anticipated shows, a reunion of the ’90s shoegaze rockers Slowdive, on Saturday at Terminal 5. — STACEY ANDERSON
Oct. 21-25 at various times and locations

New York, NY
a limited number of badges are available for $140; prices for individual shows vary
http://cmj.com/marathon - The New York Times


"Your Austin Summer Playlist, Picked by Local Musicians"

EARLY INTERNET
A new-ish endeavor from Dean Stafford of established Austin band Pompeii, Early Internet specializes in ”quiet pop gems.” Expect an EP later this year. (Listen now!)

Early Internet’s pick: "The Fool" by The Eastern Sea
“While this song may not sound traditionally summer-ish, I can see its reflective nature being conducive to listening while drinking / floating a river or chilling on a porch swing,” Dean Stafford (aka Early Internet) says. And that’s an apt description. You can almost hear the breeze in “The Fool,” and the tune's mellow nature belies the more serious, contemplative lyrics. “Its slow-burn hits hard,” Stafford says, “and I love the lyrics in the chorus: ‘Don't say you didn't see it / if you hear the truth, but don't believe it / if you lose your mind and can't retrieve it.’

This may not be the kind of song you’re pounding shots to on a summer Saturday, but it’s a beautiful song, and vocalist Matt Hines’ voice is one that's sure to stick with you. - Thrillist


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Early Internet is the new project of Dean Stafford and a variety of other Austin based performers. A veteran of the Austin music scene, Stafford was a member of Pompeii for over ten years, releasing three albums, including 2014's post rock masterpiece 'Loom.' After going on a hiatus with Pompeii. Stafford returned his focus to steadily writing and arranging his own songs. 


As Early Internet, Stafford writes quiet pop gems in line with influences like Nada Surf and  Ben Gibbard as well as contemporaries such as Frightened Rabbit and Mitski; songs tinged with nostalgia and crafted with a careful eye for heartbreaking lyrics and arresting musical details. Since late 2015, he has been performing with a variety of musicians from fellow local bands like Football etc, A. Sinclair and more to bring the songs to life. The first Early Internet EP is set for release later this year. 


Band Members