Interview: Sponge

SPONGELOGO

When it comes to bands who rose to meteoric fame in the mid-90s, people today don’t seem to really care about what new music these bands are putting out. Some just enjoy the band’s hits and never truly want to discover anything new that can’t be put on a playlist or mix tape. Others roll their eyes at new music, condemning with a frustrated roll of the eyes, wanting the band to “cut the shit and play the hit” when they see them in concert.

Yet, with Sponge’s new record, Stop the Bleeding, which is being released nationwide on No End Records (the home of Danzig and H.I.M.) on September 17; fans of the Detroit Rocky City-born band should take notice. Their new music is just as raw, rockin’ and relevant as their catalog of post-grunge hits. The band has immersed themselves in the now — embracing today’s inescapable electro/synth sound that permeates the alternative scene, giving them a fresh, modern sound. Don’t fret old school Spongers, the group hasn’t gone all dubstep on us; there is still a healthy sense of in your face hard rock and soulful balladry on the record. You know, vintage Sponge.

Sponge will roll into the Jersey Shore on Thursday September 5th when they take the stage at one of the state’s premier punk rock clubs — The Brighton Bar in Long Branch. Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin caught up with Sponge singer Vinnie Dombrowski to talk about their new record, their new electro influence and of course, “Plowed.”

Sponge

Pop-Break: Stop the Bleeding comes out nationwide this month yet it was released earlier this summer exclusively on the Summerland tour. What was the initial reaction to the record from those core Sponge fans who picked the record up at those shows?

Vinnie Dombrowski: The reaction to the new songs performed live was amazing!

PB: This is your first full length record since 2007’s Galore Galore. What’s changed in the band, in terms of 1.) your sound and 2.) your songwriting from that last record to today?

VD: Not much has changed in the process since then with the exception of production and co writer Tim Patalan coming on board.

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PB: Sponge has gone through a number of line-up incarnations throughout its run. What does this version of the band bring to the table that stands out from all the others?

VD: This lineup has been solid for 10 years with the exception of Tim Patalan taking over bass duties in 2010.

PB: If you had to choose two songs off Stop the Bleeding that you think really captures the essence of Sponge in 2013 — both in terms of sound and songwriting, which would they be?

VD: “Come in From the Rain” and “Fade From View.”

PB: Stop the Bleeding really has two distinct feels to it — a straight up rock ‘n’ roll sound and a danceable electronically influenced indie pop sound. Can you talk about why you decided to take this route and were there any fears that melding these two sounds on one album just wouldn’t mesh for your audience?

VD: The electronic influence was infused due to our collective work in TV and film projects. We love some of the new production elements available to us. At the end of the day no matter what production we use the vocals still sound like Sponge.

PB: I mentioned the Summerland Tour earlier. How does it feel to be a part of what is in essence a traveling festival? Does it take the pressure off you that you’re not the headliner but sharing the bill with a number of other bands? What was your favorite experience from it?

VD: The pressure is always there to perform well especially because you have other bands bringing it every night and putting the fire under our asses.

PB: “Plowed” is such a fantastic song and it’s still in heavy rotation on rock radio today. How does that make you feel that a song you put out nearly 20 years ago is still getting the same love it did when it was first released?

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VD: We feel very fortunate to have a song that is still part of the rock radio
landscape.

PB: You’re currently heading out on a nationwide tour which stops in New Jersey on September 5th at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch. You guys always seem to make New Jersey a stop every time you tour — what has been your favorite New Jersey experience in all your years of visiting the state?

VD: It’s always the fans that make it a great experience in New Jersey. [It] feels like home to me. Got a feeling our favorite experience in Jersey is gonna be at the next show.

PB: What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

VD: Rock our collective asses off!

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites