On the eve of the release of Equipment’s third extended play (EP), lead singer and driving force of the band Nick Zander sat down with The Phoenix on Zoom from his Toledo, Ohio home to discuss the group and their excitement for “All You Admire” — the band’s newest EP that debuted Nov. 13.
Reflecting back on the origins of the Toledo-trio, Zander admitted that Equipment existed as a personal desire well before they began releasing music.
“It’s been my personal project since mid-2015,” Zander said. “Back then it wasn’t really anything. I just graduated high school, and I was making music in my room. Now we have our drummer Jake Pachasa and our bassist Jacob Scott.”
Since the 2015 origins of Equipment, the group has released three EP and one long play (LP) project, along with a handful of singles. Accompanying an established discography, the band has completed several tours — with their first one almost resulting in matching kangaroo tattoos. Most notably, the band made a trip last winter to Sled Fest, a DIY music festival in the northwest suburb of Mount Prospect, which Zander recalled as his favorite Chicago show.
Recalling the past, Zander confessed the road to their level of success didn’t arrive without doubts.
“We were almost ready to start tempering our expectations,” Zander said. “We went on a few tours in summer 2019 that were really fun, but growing any larger as a band seemed impossible at the time. We released our ambitions and put out that [Madrigal] EP not expecting anything and then it took it completely by surprise that thousands and thousands of more people were into us after that.”
After the positive reception of the October 2019 “Madrigal” EP, particularly with aggressive, lively cuts like “Rapture Trax Pt.2” and “Wet Mulch,” the band felt themselves painted into a corner. Upon the recording of “All You Admire,” the young group with a newfound following felt themselves at a crossroads.
“I think a lot of people have seen our goofier, wild side, and I didn’t really like being known for that as a band because we have songs that are on our quieter spectrum as well,” Zander said. “I think leading into this EP with a quieter song was really exciting because it can prove to people we aren’t a one-trick pony.”
To flex their versatility as a band and expand their sound, “Coat Tails” was released just days before the EP on Nov. 6. The song serves as a simultaneous foreshadow of new direction and catchy single
“We’re really known for our pop punk riffs and really energetic melodies,” Zander said. “Coat Tails is just such the opposite of what we’re known for up to this point and we really wanted to communicate that.”
The hopes to deliver a refreshing sound to their discography were exceeded by “Coat Tails.” The track ensues with a low-profile guitar riff and a solemn vocal performance.
“As if things could worsen / You’re hardly a person / Instead, a culmination / Of all you admire,” Zander sings.
The back half of the track momentarily erupts into a sound from a former past, but it closes out neatly to indicate the EP’s unique tone: somber, yet passionately energized.
Rhythmically, “Surer/Steady” offers the most entertaining fluctuation of energy levels from guitar plucks to full-band crescendos as the sticky, repetitious hook arrives. Over a demanding culmination of sounds, Zander illustrates a pathetic coming-of-age involving alcoholism and an obsession with one’s past life.
“Leave It” delivers an unapologetic, unregretful remembrance of a past relationship. Zander’s vocals are packed with emotion and grit, and the hyperactive guitar and drums in company make for a mature punk anthem.
Equipment wraps things up with a beautifully poetic and, at times, hilarious love song. Between working retail, feeling like a highway landmark and faking injuries to be with a loved one, “Non-Transfer” offers self-deprecating humor, amusing metaphors and a hook that is bound to pull on anyone’s heart strings.
“I’ve been dying a little less lately / I didn’t think you could resuscitate me / But now my mouth is completely plastered / You said your lipstick was non-transfer,” he sings.
When asked where the band is headed next musically — whether it be goofy, wild ragers or heartbroken, reflective tracks — it sounded like somewhere in between extremes.
“We think whatever comes next will be a healthy mix of the two noises, the quieter, somber, more contemplative and the more wild energy,” Zander said. “We’ve treated this EP as a testament to the music we do like, but we aren’t necessarily trying to ditch our old influences.”
“All You Admire” is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.