I recently got the chance to talk to Eddie Gancos, vocalist of the Ohio-based post-hardcore act CityCop. CityCop just released the wonderful EP Seasons digitally back in December and are teaming up with Flannel Gurl records for a vinyl pressing this summer. I talked to Eddie about all things past, present, and future with CityCop and just how far they’ve come in the last few months.
SputnikMusic: So lets start off at the beginning — what’s the formation story of CityCop?
Eddie Gancos: Well one day at school Max (guitar) came up to me and said that he wanted to start up an acoustic/folk project and wanted me to sing for it. I never sang in my life. In fact I was kicked out of choir class. But I said sure. The reason he had asked me was because Cody, our current drummer, said that he wanted to take a break from music for a while because girls were more important. Max and Cody have been jamming together since junior high and I was in a terrible punk band called The Local Guns. It’s pretty funny to me that we were going to start an acoustic project because I have always been into Punk and Max at the time was a huge metal head. So we practiced a few shitty Folk/Indie songs in his garage, including a Bright Eyes cover, and decided they were good enough to record. We couldn’t think of a name so we went on bandnamegenerator.com and it was between City Cop and Black Apple. So we went with City Cop. Imagine if we were Black Apple. I knew that my friend Duncan had some recording equipment so we went there to record. When we layed the songs down (Which nobody outside of Jefferson, Ohio will ever hear.), Duncan asked if he could play bass on a few tracks and we said yes. We still did not consider him a member of the band. Then we went outside to take some dramatic band promos and Duncan decided to be in the shots. We were very confused because he was not in the band. Then we pretty much just said fuck it and said he was in. So now we were a 3 piece acoustic/folk band. Cody got word that we were jamming and he basically said we should see what it would be like if he layed down drums in a few songs. So he came over and used a shitty electric drumset and we wrote a few songs with him and then we decided that he would be a full time member as well, and that was how we came to be. We have all been best friends since junior high and I don’t see that changing until I’m in the ground. Duncan recently had to leave the band because he can’t handle the touring with his schedule so our good friend Todd Thompson is playing bass for us now and he is doing a fantastic job at it. He is writing great parts and there was instant chemistry. We still love Duncan though and we are still good friends with him and we will always consider him a member of CityCop whether he is active or not.
SputnikMusic: Acoustic guitar is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of post-hardcore, but you guys pull it off — and damn well at that!. Why did you choose to go that route?
Eddie: Like I said in the (answer to the) previous question, we never intended to be what we are now. We were playing upbeat folkish songs. We saw this band come through Ashtabula called Age Sixteen play and we were blown away. The music was so fucking powerful and emotional and in your face. They were a huge influence to us. We started getting into bands like Saetia, At The Drive-In, Algernon among many other great bands. Our writing process started getting more and more influenced by Post Hardcore and Emo/Screamo and we started experimenting with that. We did not want to get rid of the acoustic guitar at all. We tried going electric, but it sucked and we hated it. We wanted to just stick with our roots and not turn our back on the classical acoustic, the sound of it was so distinct and we can get such a different sound by using it instead of just going electric. We wrote 2 songs “Street Kings” and “White Roses” where we first experimenting with the idea of this kind of music played acoustically. We just knew that this is the music we wanted to make as soon as we recorded these songs. We were so fucking proud of them and proud of the music we were playing and we still are and we don’t plan on changing.
SputnikMusic: Lyrically your debut and Seasons are coming from very different places. What was the thought process going into both and how did you differ in approach when it came to Seasons over The Hope In Forgiving…?
Eddie: The Hope in Forgiving‘s lyrics were mostly old lyrics I had laying around that I wrote in high school. They mostly talked about Relationships and growing up. In Seasons I had a little more time and experience and understanding in life to put a little more thought into them. I get more into my family and how certain members of my family have made bad choices in life that effect me and how my mind tells me that I myself am falling into this trap of everything I hate. It talks about how I have grown apart from a lot of my friends and how the town that I grew up in is falling apart and how it really hurts me at times. It talks about my depression of working in a factory every day and becoming the person that I never wanted to be. I’ve just basically experienced a lot more in life since the first record and I feel like I expressed that on Seasons.
SputnikMusic: Musically there are a lot of competing influences in your sound, but
they all blend together into something cohesive. What is the songwriting process like for Citycop?
Eddie: The way the process has always worked is that Max, Cody and Duncan jammed for hours and had all these parts that they liked and parts that they didn’t like. We would keep all the parts that we liked and we would put them together, make a few transitions and make a song out of it. If we are satisfied with the song then I come in with my lyrics and vocal ideas and try to put all the pieces together and try to make something that sounds good to us. This is still how we write and like I said earlier, Todd is doing a great job at coming in and filling the void and he’s been a big part of the writing process of all the songs we have written at the moment. We try to bring as many of our influences as we can into play.
SputnikMusic: Post-hardcore seems to be at a rebirth right now with the underground coming to the forefront in a backlash to the warped tour commercialism of the genre over the last few years. Where do you see the scene going in the next few years?
Eddie: The way I see post-hardcore or whatever you want to call it is that it is something that means a lot to me and is a huge influence on me. From a certain standpoint, I guess you could say that it is good that certain bands are “making it big”. But another part of me doesn’t see that as a good thing. I have a feeling that it will become what every genre becomes. People will get bored and find a new thing that they can get into. But that’s how it is. If you are playing music to be popular then you should stop playing music right now. If people put some heart into what they are creating then it will not matter if everybody is into you, you will still care about your music and there will still be some people that care as well.
SputnikMusic: You guys take a very hands on approach to things. How does the DIY mindset come into play in CityCop?
Eddie: It plays a huge role for us. When we started we would play these shows where the promoters did not care about the music and would just use us to sell tickets. They would have us sell tickets, and they knew that we could sell them because we had a lot of friends that came out and supported us. We would play way after the headliner and get kicked off stage because it was too late and the venue couldn’t be open that late. We also played this one show where this cover band played before us for three hours while we waited there. We played to 3 people and one of them told us to play a Godsmack cover. You can partially blame us because we were young and stupid and would say yes to anything. But then we started playing shows in basements and houses and finding out about all these small labels and this was a real eye opening experience for us. We have never seen such a crazy sense of togetherness and people actually caring about the music that’s being played. The DIY scene has introduced us to some of our best friends and some great bands and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It really changed our outlook on the music scene as well as who we are as human beings.
SputnikMusic: North-east Ohio isn’t the first place most people would think there would be a vibrant hardcore scene, but you guys seem to be part of something bigger in the area. How would you describe your local music scene?
Eddie: The local music scene at the moment is incredible. The Cleveland hardcore scene has always been great. There are a lot of venues like Now That’s Class and Tower 2012 that have always hosted great shows that have great turnouts and it’s always a fun time. Recently, some of my good friends opened a DIY venue in our small town of Ashtabula called West End 2153. Right from the start it has always been an awesome place hosting a lot of great shows, and it is still growing. A lot of bands from around the world come through, and it’s crazy to me because it’s such a small town and a lot of kids still come out to these shows and show support. West End actually raised over 2,000 dollars in donations recently to fix the roof. Just that alone shows you how important that this venue is for this town and how it should not got away anytime soon. A lot of of great bands are coming out of Northeast Ohio as well, a few being Homewrecker, Ages, Vice, Light Years, Signals Midwest, Setbacks, and a lot more that are really doing great things. Everybody knows each other and every show is like one huge hangout with all of your friends. It’s a great thing that just keeps getting better.
SputnikMusic: You recently completed your spring tour. How has the reaction been to you all on the road?
Eddie: This recent tour was awesome. We met a ton of great people and bands and every show was fantastic reaction wise. People were really into it at every show and there was a lot of positive energy. Everybody treated us with kindness and hospitality. It’s still insane for me to see people at shows outside of Ohio, if not more, know the words to our songs. People have told me on this recent tour that we are their favorite band and to hear people say that makes me so happy that I cannot describe it. The fact that my band has impacted somebody’s life is an amazing feeling and it’s what drives me at every show we play.
SputnikMusic: How did you become involved with Flannel Gurl records?
Eddie: Well, Mayfly Records and Melotov Records were originally going to co-release Seasons. But they had a lot and their plate at the time and could not give it a proper release, but we do not hold any grudges with either label. Bob and Melanie are awesome people that have always supported us and we completely understood their decision. So I was at a show in Cleveland and I saw Bob from Mayfly and talked to him for a while. He suggested a few labels that would be interested in releasing Seasons and the first one he mentioned was Flannel Gurl. I contacted them and they got back to me very quickly and we very stoked about it and I could already tell from one email that we found the right label to do this. Since we’ve been on Flannel Gurl, it’s been fucking awesome. They are doing everything they can to make the Seasons vinyl be the best record it can possibly be. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jon and Kimmi, who started the label, at a show we played in Virginia and they were honestly some of the most kind, sincere people we’ve ever met and we immediately had a connection. We played Get Better Fest recently and got to meet a lot of the bands on Flannel Gurl, Dads Weak Teeth, My Fictions and Trust Fall, and they are all equally hilarious and just super friendly people. We even snuck into a Marriot Suite with our dudes in Trust Fall and had a sleepover for the ages and ate at some diner that Barack Obama ate at. Be on the lookout for the new Dads record, and the new Sohns release. They are going to rule. We are very proud to be a part of the Flannel Gurl Family.
SputnikMusic: You are preparing for a summer tour across the US. Any secrets you can let us in to what you’ve been planning for it?
Eddie: The only secrets are that we play some new songs you’ve never heard and we will have the Seasons vinyl with us. But if you let us stay at your house after the shows then we will also tell you secrets about other members of the band and secrets about our childhood