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Inventing a Subgenre: A Q&A With Racecars

I had the privilege of listening to an early demo of “nascar dad” several months ago, a song which would end up becoming Nashville-based ‘y’allternative’ band Racecars’ first single. The song impressed me, and I knew I needed to get their name out there. I contacted the lead singer of the band, Tanner Hearren, and asked if he would let me do a Q&A about the band to get some insight into who they were and what they were about. He kindly agreed to do so, thus here is that Q&A in full and unedited. Please enjoy, and make sure to listen to ‘nascar dad’ out on all streaming services July 29!

Photo by @ciaranr.francis on Instagram

First off, introduce yourselves and tell me a little about the band (how you formed, what genre you consider it, what influenced you, etc.)

Tanner Hearren on vocals/guitar, Jake Martino on drums, Jonny Lumsden on bass, Andrew Pinson on guitar. Tanner moved to Murfreesboro from Houston, TX with the intention of finding like-minded individuals to make cool, loud music with, as well as pursue an Audio Production degree at MTSU. After a few months, Racecars was formed. In my mind, I (Tanner) categorize Racecars as straight pure “y’allternative.” I want Racecars to be the band that solidifies this vibe as a whole ass subgenre.

What are the band’s biggest influences?

Tanner: I am a bit of a musical sponge, I take influences from a lot of different places and I utilize them in a lot of different ways. My blanket statement biggest influences are Guided By Voices, Pixies, and Third Eye Blind. When I listen to those bands I want to make music. Guided By Voices has like a million songs and they’re all good and it just fascinates me. Pixies’ two best albums, Bossanova and Trompe le Monde, are these beautiful guitar driven masterpieces with beautiful haunting melodies and zany musical ideas, I love them. Third Eye Blind to me is one of the best rock bands of all time, I literally just wish I was them. From self-titled to Ursa Major you can’t go wrong. It’s just so fun and loud and EVERY song is catchy.

I guess for my guitar playing and songwriting style I am heavily influenced by the loud rock shit of the 90s (Superdrag, Hum, 12 RODS, early Weezer.) From stuff like that I have this intrinsic desire to make every song loud, heavy, catchy and something you can get down to. I think guitar music has a lot more it can do, and I want to make some cool shit that is loud, heavy and fun. I grew up on Pianos Become the Teeth, Touche Amore, stuff like that, so I do like a bit of that type of shit thrown in there too. There’s also this now broken up British band called Tubelord that I found at a young age, and they’ve always had a huge effect on me when it comes to guitar playing and how vocal melodies and the guitar part communicate.

I’ve always wanted to have thoughtful lyrics but I don’t like to be too on the nose or too confusing or vague. I like a nice middle ground. I wanna talk about real shit and I wanna talk about vague shit. Not too much of both though. When it comes to my singing I take a lot of influence from the country music greats of the 90s and early 00s(Joe Diffie RIP, Alan Jackson, The Chicks, Jo Dee Messina, Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Faith Hill, etc.) I don’t aim to make anything sound too country or southern, but I can’t help that I was in the womb listening to this shit. And proceeded to listen to it almost exclusively throughout my childhood. I can’t help but be influenced by it. I also love a lot of different pop music and a lot of my melodic sensibilities come from that (Carly Rae Jepsen, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Kesha, etc.)

I love pop music because first and foremost it is about the HOOK. If it doesn’t have a hook, why do it? I want to make some raw loud shit but have some fun ass hooks that people can sing along to. The post-grunge bands of the 90s/early 00s ran the world with that mentality, I want to bring that back and throw a bunch of other ingredients in the mix. Racecars is coming FOR YOU.

Jake (drummer): For my drumming I’m heavily influenced by Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, etc. I take a lot from their high energy style and their desire to just play hard and loud. Neil Peart has also always been a huge influence on my drumming. More broadly I’m very influenced by Jeff Rosenstoc and David Bowie. I also love math rock and noodly midwest emo. I also love Modest Mouse.

Andrew: “The big one is Weezer, they’re basically responsible for getting me into music and picking up the guitar.”

Jonny: For my bass playing I’m heavily influenced by Jack White, Bon Iver, and Radiohead. Nice and in the pocket.

What is your mission statement/long term goal with the group?

We want to make some cool rock music that everybody can get into.

Tell me about your upcoming song. When is it coming out, what is its name, and where did you get the name from?

“nascar dad” is our first single and will be released July 29th. I got the name when I wrote the song because it’s about being a nascar dad!

What inspired you to write it?

“nascar dad” is about a man who sees the way the world is going and laments on a life that he could have if he felt more secure. The obvious source of insecurity in the song is that we are existing in a world that is rapidly dying, or at the very least rapidly changing into something way less livable. However, the fears in the song can be more broadly applied to the overall lack of equality in our world. Many go in excess and spend more money than the average person can fathom, while many die of starvation. I guess in essence the song is sung from my standpoint, I kinda wish I had the life in the song. But because of our rapid observable decline I have to just do me.

Are there any lyrics/musical ideas that you’re particularly proud of/want to highlight?

“Profit margins are more valuable than people, why would I try to family when I know things will be even harder so soon?” I think says everything I’m trying to say in the song.

And finally, what other future releases and events can we look forward to in the future?

We’re currently focusing on recording our EP. We’ll be rolling out singles each month or so until that drops. We’ll also be playing more shows, please keep an eye out for that! Follow us on Twitter or Instagram @racecarsband to get updates!

Once again, I would love to thank the band for giving me this opportunity to speak with them, and I hope to do more on them in the future! They were so kind and gave such thoughtful answers! As Tanner said, please support them on social media and give them a follow! Stream “nascar dad” on July 29!

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