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A few months ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Mike Kinsella, the front man of projects like Owen and American Football along with the drummer of Cap’n Jazz. If you don’t know who Mike Kinsella is, then you are missing out on a really important part of the 90s: emo. People now consider emo bands to be like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, and other bands like these. FOLKS, THAT IS NOT EMO. Emo is something so different from what people consider it now and it all really started back in the 80s and 90s when bands like Cap’n Jazz, Jawbreaker, Texas Is The Reason, Rites of Spring, Sunny Day Real Estate, and more began playing their music. It’s a subgenre of hardcore, known as emotional hardcore, and later a subgenre of screamo. Yes, emo has confessional and depressing lyrics, but it’s so much more than that.
My favorite type of emo is Midwestern emo, which is exactly where American Football fits in. During the 90s, there was an influx of emo bands that came out of the Midwest area, which brought about Midwestern emo. I don’t really know exactly how to describe this Midwestern sound, I guess a lot of it has to do with angular and complex guitars, a lot of the time sounding twinkly and resembling math rock, with dissonant tones and obviously, emotional and heartfelt lyrics. If you don’t really understand what I mean from just seeing this written out, then I suggest you go and listen to “Never Meant” by American Football, which goes down as, one of the best emo songs ever created – at least in my book.
So one of the problems with emo bands is that they break up… like really fast. Generally emo bands only last a year—two if us emo-lovers are lucky! American Football only came out with one LP, a self-titled album along with an EP called American Football EP (original names, right?). Even though they only have an EP and LP worth of material, it is some of the most heart wrenching music you will ever hear, in a good way. In the most perfect emo anthem “Never Meant”, Kinsella sings, “you can’t miss what you forget” and then follows it up with “so let’s just pretend, everything and anything between you and me was never meant.” Seriously, these are the most honest, raw, realistic lyrics and a perfect rhythmically complex melody to match the emo lyrics. I remember the first time I heard this song I cried because the lyrics were so relatable and true to me at that specific time in my life. If that’s not emo, then what is? In a lot of their other songs they also incorporate trumpets, which adds a whole new layer to their sound. Some other songs to note of American Football’s are “Honestly,” “The One With The Wurlitzer” and “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional.” Their whole LP is spotless, there’s not a track I don’t recommend.
When I interviewed Mike Kinsella back in December, I had to ask him about the potential of an American Football reunion just for my own sanity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is huge chance of a reunion show in the near future but maybe, oh, maybe the emo gods will answer my prayers and make it happen. He told me that the other two members of American Football are all scattered around the US with families of their own, so chances are slim. But a girl can dream, right?
Though there may never be a reunion, American Football have really left quite a mark in the emo scene. There are many bands so clearly influenced by AF’s sound like Algernon Cadwallader, Midwest Pen Pals, Snowing, Grown Ups, Empire! Empire!, and so many more. American Football is the band that got me into emo and I can’t thank them enough for that because it’s awakened a whole new part of who I am. Truly one of the greatest bands to ever come into the world. Give them a listen – you won’t be disappointed.