Interview: Time Spent Driving

by Deanna Chapman

We recently had the chance to see what Time Spent Driving has been up to since they reformed and recently released a new album. We also get a bit of history on the band and why they reformed in 2012. Check out the interview with singer Jon Cattivera below.

Can you give us a quick history of the band (how you guys met, why you broke up)?

Derek, the other guitar player, and I had been going to school together since 5th grade, but we never really became friends until about sophomore year in high school. We were actually in the same P.E. class where we were the undisputed champions in badminton! My dad had bought me a guitar for Christmas the year prior I believe, without me asking for one. His older brother is/was the guitar player from Good Riddance, so he had some of his old equipment and had been playing guitar for a while. When he found out I had a guitar, we started hanging out and he taught me how to play a few songs like “Sanity” (Bad Religion), “Come as You Are” (Nirvana), etc, and before you knew it we started a punk rock band and got better together little by little. We played in a few bands together, and when our band Reliance broke up in about 98 or 99, we immediately started focusing on a new project which ultimately became Time Spent Driving. The original incarnation included our friend Todd on bass who also went to high school with us, along with Rich the original drummer of Good Riddance. We also played for a while with the current drummer of Good Riddance, Sean, because I lived with him, and the band room was in the garage at our house. It took quite some time to get it going full force, and we were originally looking for a separate singer. (We actually have a 6 song demo of instrumental unreleased songs without any vocals laying around on 1-inch tape in my garage). When we couldn’t find someone, I started singing and we went with it. Then we added our current drummer Kem on drums, named the band, and started recording and playing shows.

We broke up for a lot of reasons, the main one being that we had trouble finding a permanent bass player once Todd left. We had 3 or 4 guys, but nothing stuck, and they never really recorded anything with us. It really slowed down the band’s progress in the sense that it stunted our ability to tour more, play more shows, finish writing more songs. We were always either trying people out or getting the new guy up to snuff. That being said we still worked super hard and burned out from touring and things not falling into the right place. There wasn’t a big blow up or anything, it was basically just the other guys saying “hey man, I don’t really think I want to do this anymore.” and I wasn’t going to push it at that point.

What ultimately led to the decision to reform in 2012?

Kem and I had started playing in a band called Gentlemen of Japan in about 2009 I believe, which was much more in the direction of TSD but with a 2nd singer singing/writing half of the songs. We ended up parting ways with the other singer in mid 2011 and we tried to keep it going with just me on vocals, but at that point it was basically more like Time Spent Driving than anything else, so we decided we wanted to revisit our back catalog and write a new record as Time Spent Driving. We also eventually coaxed our original guitar player to rejoin the band in about late 2013, and that really helped everything come together much more quickly once that happened.

A lot has changed in the industry since your last release. What changes have surprised you the most?

It’s a completely different beast. Bands work differently. Labels work differently. Promotion in general works differently. Everything is more instant, and I don’t necessarily think that’s always a good thing. It can be overload. I mean, when we were originally active, Myspace didn’t even exist, so we really missed out on most of the original social media boom. You really have to self promote more regularly all of the time, which can be counterintuitive at times. It seems pretty hard for lesser known bands to get people off of their couches and out to shows.

How did those changes factor into this new release?

Well, we could’ve literally released our new album online the minute we were doing mastering it, but we put so much time, effort and money into it that we felt it should have a proper release. That ended up delaying it for over a year and that’s not something we were too stoked on because we didn’t want to drag things on for fans, but at the same time what’s the hurry? In the end I think it ended up working out because we ended up signing with Cardigan and putting it out with more promotion behind it which has been really cool.

Santa Cruz must be a great place to live, do you find a lot of inspiration being right on the coast?

I think it’s probably impossible not to be inspired living here, but at the same time, this is my home and I’ve been in the area for my entire life. In other words, I love it here and very much appreciate it, but I don’t feel the need to draw too much from it lyrically speaking. In fact, I actually find it annoying when bands do that. I’m not going to write about the ocean all the time just cause it’s there—however I’m all about being inspired by anything and everything, and location can’t be taken lightly. I just wouldn’t forcefully go there.

What can we look forward to from the band with this release? Will you be touring and have plans to keep the band going?

No immediate touring plans but we are not ruling it out if opportunities present themselves. We’re looking to do as many shows as possible without burning anyone out—and while I’d love to drop everything and go on a huge multi-month tour, it’s just not realistic for us at this point. At the very least we’d like to try to go up to Seattle and back, and down to LA and back—stuff like that. The way we look at it, we want to keep playing, keep writing and keep recording. It’s a quality not quantity thing. We don’t want stress and have members leave because they were bummed on a 14 hour drive in 110 degree heat to play for 15 people. These days, we could probably get more traction playing locally and putting it on youtube. I’m not saying I necessarily think that’s a great thing, but it’s the world we live in and we’re going to play it by ear.

Any final words for our readers?

Thank you for the interview! And always, just want to thank all of our loyal fans for sticking with us and showing support. Oh and of course, check out our new record Passed & Presence!