Cymbals Eat Guitars followed a trajectory all too familiar in the pop music scene. They released a hugely popular first album, suffered through some changes in lineup and a sophomore album that didn’t connect with fans in quite the same way. But frontman Joseph D’Agostino didn’t give up on the band, and came back with a third album, “Lose,” that was tremendously personal, reflecting his feelings on the death of his best friend, and the group seems poised to reestablish itself.
A new sound
“’Lose’ felt like a first record in a lot of ways," says D'Agostino. "We had a bunch of fake success on the first record, and it was fun and real in a way because we got to go around the world and play our songs, but it was fake in that once we released a second album that wasn’t super hot, there was virtually no one at the shows. We retained like 10 percent of the people. So just rebuilding and seeing this immediate jump in people’s attention and how they engage with ‘Lose’ was really gratifying."
Though the album has been out for a year now, the material remains as fresh as ever to perform. “I think it’s gotten more enjoyable to play,” he says. “I think the first few months, it was more emotionally taxing to do. It may sound weird, but it lessens a little bit over time and it’s just more fun. The songs are more fun, compositionally. The lyrics are heavy and everything, but I think getting the record out there and making it was something I had to do.”
While pouring his heart out onstage can be a little scary, D’Agostino says he thinks he’ll stay in that more personal track going forward. “I like mystery and poetry and lyrics that are cryptic, that you have to unpack, but I also like lyrics that hit you in a very visceral way, so I’m kind of leaning on that side of things more and more.”
It’s not just his own preference that’s influencing that, though — the group’s recent tourmates have also made him appreciate a more personal songwriting style as well. “We toured with Bob Mould a lot in September and Brand New in October,” he says. “You see the way their fans react to that and identify with it and can place their own experiences on it and relate to it, and that’s something I want to do more and more. You can see the difference in our crowds when we play songs from ‘Lose.’”
The group looks a little different now than it did when it was first starting out, but D’Agostino says he feels good about the current lineup. “At this point, if anyone were to leave, I wouldn’t feel like it was the same band, which I never felt before. It was always sort of, well, if I’m here, if I’m still doing it, I’m the only constant, that’s the way it is.”
That’s not to say they aren’t without their conflicts. “There are some strong personalities in our band. Mainly me,” D’Agostino allows. “We all are kind of crazy in our own ways.”
Despite that, he’s hopeful that nothing changes. “It’s definitely the cemented, solidified lineup. So hopefully everyone stays involved, or it would be a different band, I think.”