In the Studio \

In the Studio: The Starting Line

Exclusive! The pop-punk quartet's Ken Vasoli gives SPIN.com a sneak peek at the recording of their third LP.

The Starting Line may have entered a Southern California studio to record their new album, but the Bucks County, PA lads are hardly going Hollywood while recording their third album, tentatively titled Directions. “We live in this cabin-type house we share with a fuck-load of spiders,” frontman Ken Vasoli told SPIN.com. “There was a shooting a couple of blocks away. I hope we make it out okay.”

So far, things are going smoothly for the pop-punk band, which is rounded out by guitarist Mike Golla, guitarist Matt Watts, and drummer Tom Gryskiewicz. “It’s sounding the best the earliest of our other records,” Vasoli gushed about the record, which they’re working on with producer Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, the Used). “We’re recording with really good gear, everything’s vintage. We’re doing something right this time.”

While that something remains to be seen, the album might be taking a step forward courtesy of how Vasoli now approaches writing songs. The Starting Line’s 2005 album, Based on a True Story, also produced by Benson, found the singer obsessing over liking and lacking girls, but now, the frontman is embracing the storytelling aspect of his craft. Vasoli revealed one upcoming track, “Need to Love,” is full of “visualizations from riding a New York City train to Philadelphia.” The song, which was the first track written for the new album, revolves around love, but not the lusty kind when eyeing a fleeing girl, or the promising-forever kind they explore sometimes on True Story. “‘Do you need to love someone?’ is repeated a million times,” Valsoi revealed. “It’s about love for your neighbor and even a stranger.”

If this sounds dangerously cheesy, consider the more personal themes Vasoli explores in “What You Want,” which finds the singer emoting about his music, and “21,” on which he reflects on that landmark age, questioning how much responsibility to tackle.

And with this more mature take on crafting lyrics, Vasoli said creating the sonic structures fell into place easily. “We get into more of a grooviness now, whereas before, we tried to chug through songs really fast and get kids moshing,” he explained. “Now we’re more concerned with finding something you can bop your head to.”

The Starting Line might have James Brown to thank for their new, more straightforward sound. “He really got me listening to grooves, Valosi said of the seminal soul singer. “His musicianship is so simple — basically one part repeated the whole time — but it keeps you moving. Listening to Brown, I realized I don’t have to make these super complicated, fast songs.”

And though Vasoli revealed he thinks his band has matured, which fans will witness when they nab Directions sometime next summer, they’re still up to some adolescent antics. “At Matt’s birthday, everyone returned from the bar a little drunk,” Vasoli recalled. “Now we have a crater-sized dent in the side of our rental car. It was some Motley Crue action.” Vasoli brushed off the mishap, though, saying when living in Van Nuys, “you gotta adapt.”

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On SPIN.com:
The Starting Line Play Annual Holiday Gig

On the Web:
startinglinerock.com

>> Listen to the Starting Line on Napster