October 19, 2021

New Fury Media

Music. Film. Media.

Interview: Actor|Observer

Photo by Jamie Wallace Photography

Drawing influences from bands such as Underoath, Therefore I Am, and The Receiving End of Sirens post-hardcore band Actor|Observer are out to take the scene by storm by almost effortlessly combining melody with aggression. Recently releasing their No Sleep records debut ‘Pareidolia’ which was produced Gates‘ Kevin Dye, the band played their record release show in their hometown of Boston and are diligently working on setting up some tours for the near future. Vocalist Greg Marquis took the time to discuss a multitude of topics with me, which you can read about below.  Show the guys some love on Facebook, purchase the album off Bandcamp, or if physicals/merch are your thing check out their Merchnow!

Where did the name of the band end up coming from?

Our name comes from a defunct psychology term called “the actor-observer bias” in which one perceives the world as if they are the lead “actor” at the center of a play but merely an “observer” of others as the protagonists in their own plays. It serves as a reminder to not be so self-absorbed and hypocritical but instead be more empathetic and accountable for your actions and your impact on others. We also like how it represents both the band and the audience as two equal parts in the same name because that relationship and support is what makes all of this possible.

What made you want to form a band in the first place? What made you decide to stick to the post-hardcore genre?

We grew up with local bands that helped us find ourselves and find others we could relate to. We found unity, community, support and catharsis in the Boston hardcore scene back in the early 2000’s and it always made sense to us to stay a part of it and keep that culture alive for ourselves and others. We of course love so many different types of music and try to bring those influences into our sound for a more dynamic blend, but it’s so important for us to keep that passionate expression and sense of urgency from the hardcore sound we grew up with because it feels the most unapologetically honest and therapeutic to us.

What kind of lyrical themes or meanings behind some of the songs?

Overall, the common theme tying the songs of “Pareidolia” together is a hopeful/nihilistic dichotomy. My lyrics tend to be self-critical and existential in nature, constantly battling between a pointed sense of morality and a crippling sense of meaninglessness. This album focuses on the empowering freedom and looming responsibility that comes with realizing that our perception largely defines our reality.

A lot of people have made comparisons of your sound to Underoath. Who would you say are some of your biggest influences?

They’ve certainly had a major impact on members of this band, but our influences span across too many genres and bands to count. The feeling we want to invoke is largely influenced by the local bands we grew up with like Therefore I Am, The Receiving End of Sirens and Vanna, along with so many other musically and emotionally powerful acts like Thrice, Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, The Chariot, Converge, Pianos Become The Teeth, La Dispute, Alexisonfire, Glassjaw… god the list goes on and on.

What were some of your most listened to albums while writing/recording the album?

I’d say a lot of Norma Jean, Thrice, Circa Survive, Pianos Become The Teeth, and Touché Amoré. Oh and Gallant. Tons of Gallant.

Who did you work with as a producer? What kind of experience did you have with them?

We worked with Kevin Dye from Gates who was an absolute champion in the studio. He was referred to us by our friend and manager Anthony Gesa from Gatherers and Party Smasher Inc. We were already fans of Kevin’s band, but once we started to work with him we knew we were developing a long-lasting friendship. He cared and believed in us and these songs so much that he was willing to pull 13-16 hour days tracking, drum editing, and perfecting everything so that we could get it done in the time we planned without cutting any corners. Every day we checked in on him like, “hey man… you alright?” and he’d reply with “no I feel fucking awful, but we gotta do this right.” He’s a masochist for sure, but definitely someone who lives for his craft.

What kind of experience are you having with No Sleep putting the release out and supporting you guys as opposed to having to do it yourselves?

No Sleep has been one of our favorite labels for years, so it’s like a dream to be signed to them. Chris Hansen has been so awesome and supportive to work with. He comes from a real DIY background that we can relate to but with way more years of experience and on such a greater scale, so there’s a mutual excitement and hunger about really putting out the best art we can. It feels like a real team where we still get to have a hand on the wheel but with the support and guidance of someone who has a broader reach and knows what we’re going for.

What’s your favorite touring memory or experience?

My personal favorite so far was spending an off day in Nashville where, without any set plans, Kyle and I ended up eating great creole food, hot chicken and cupcakes, went through two whisky tours and tastings, a beer tasting, a wine tasting, walked through broadway street on a Friday night which was bursting with music at every turn, and then hung out at five different bars with our good friend Kevin Garcia from Free Throw. We really felt like we did Nashville right that day.

Any plans to tour to support the release?

We just had our record release show in our hometown in Boston the day the record came out which was absolutely incredible, and we have a series of weekends lined up right now around the northeast. Our next show is on Saturday 9/8 at Alchemy in Providence, RI which is like a second home to us. There are a few other tours we’re working on now but nothing we can share at the moment. Soon though.

Any words of advice that you might want to give to up and coming bands that look up to you all?

Be patient, but also know when to cut the cord. Our patience and determination are what have kept us going for so many years. But it has also gotten the best of us at times, setting us back when we were too prideful, trusting, stubborn, or scared to bail on a failing plan or a deal gone bad. People always say “never give up,” but you still have to know when to course correct, even if it means abandoning an idea or project.

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