Abandoned Malls of America is a band with roots deep in the Cincinnati music scene. From the times when Post Hardcore, Metalcore, and Pop Punk were king and the Mad Hatter was the place to see the best live shows both local and national, the members of AMOA have been writing, collaborating, and playing gigs across the city and beyond in countless different projects (I Am the Messenger, Sleep Star Ignition, Spectrvms, Eyes to the Throne, and more).
AMOA have released the second single, "Fancy Words for Failure" from their upcoming EP, Brushed Gold!
We got the chance to get to know Abandoned Malls of America!
Tell us how Abandoned Malls of America came to be…
I spent most of the pandemic writing songs, learning new guitar techniques, watching YouTube tutorials on how to improve my singing. I tried to be as creatively active as possible. There was this meme amongst musicians about writing a bedroom EP during the pandemic and the joke is about how the project never gets finished and apathy always prevails. Hopefully AMOA is proof that at least some people broke through that wall and followed through. When I was finally ready to begin putting a lineup together for this band, I had something like 30 song ideas (at various levels of polish) to work from.
As far as forming the lineup, I have to credit Zack Preston, our drummer, with reaching out to me. We had been in a band previously for a short time and I knew how talented he was as a musician and kind he was as a person, so his involvement was a no-brainer. Once I knew I had a talented drummer on board, I reached out to another former bandmate Chris Shafer, my guitar-soulmate and longtime friend. He’d been with me to the bitter end of our previous project and had been a force of creativity and encouragement for me from beginning to end. There was no way I was going to do this project without him. The three of us met at a local brewery and reconnected about the goings on in our lives, our goals and aspirations as musicians, and a lot more. That was the true starting point for the band.
Subsequently, I approached our bassist Zach Madden, whom I’ve known for over 12 years and played in multiple projects with. Funny enough, I walked up to him during he and his wife’s baby shower and thankfully, he was open to making the project work with new fatherhood and 3 dogs at home. We’re incredibly lucky to have him and I’d like to publicly thank his wife Steph for loaning him out to us for a few hours a week. And I’ll be a new father here come December!
I'm obsessed with your band name - how was that reached?
All the credit on this one goes to our bassist Zach. I had been all-in on a different name for a while, and during the discussion he sort of blurted out “Abandoned Malls of America” in our group chat. I was completely floored and instantly knew that was it. The name so perfectly fits the themes I explore in my lyrics of being an emo kid past his prime, toiling around in a music genre that was once so loved but had all but been abandoned. It was too good to be true and like a weird lightning bolt out of nowhere. Big thanks to Zach on that!
Tell us a little about the writing and recording process of "Fancy Words for Failure” and the upcoming EP!
Much like the process of forming the lineup for the band, the recording process very much fit the theme of “recruiting an old friend”. This time that friend was Eric Tuffendsam at Moonlight Studios, whom I’ve been recording with in various projects since as early as 2009. He’s an incredible producer and an even more incredible person. I always joke that we’re paying him more just to hang out than to produce or engineer the record. He basically turned into our 5th member during the recording process and deserves a ton of credit for making this project as professional and well-produced as it is. He really is a wizard for this style of music. We tracked Fancy Words for Failure in the same recording sessions as our first single “Spring Grove” and just had a blast. Tons of ideas. Tons of layering. Lots of laughs. I love being in his studio.
We then went on to shoot the music video for "Fancy Words for Failure" ourselves – Zach Madden being a longtime pro videographer and editor was another ace in the hole for us. The other big help on the shoot was Chris’ wife Heather who graciously helped with camerawork. We really couldn’t have done it without her.
Additionally, I want to mention that Zack Preston, our drummer, is also a very talented designer. He graciously did the single artwork for “Fancy…” and has designed our most recent social media banners, etc. He's really come in clutch on the visual side.
Chris himself has done a few visualizer videos for our promotion as well, so I’m basically the only one lacking on the visual aspect of our band. We truly have some multi-talented people in this group and I'm proud of all of them.
The EP - Brushed Gold - is 5 songs and will be released on Friday September 8th, 2023. We’re beyond hyped to let people hear the three unreleased songs, as we believe they are as good if not better than the two we’ve already put out. It’s going to be exciting to see the reaction because the songs are all very different from each other. I'll be interested to hear people's takes on each song.
What is next for Abandoned Malls of America beyond the single and EP release?
We plan to make live performances more of a focus after the full release of the EP, that’s for sure. Beyond playing live, I feel like the biggest struggle is just getting the music out to as many ears as possible – we’ve got our social media sites growing slowly but surely, but we're still fairly small. However, we’re extremely encouraged by the early response to this band from those who've bought in.
We want to show that we truly see some big potential in our sound and believe there’s a market for what they call “elder emos”; people like us that have a strong bond with the classic bands of the early 2000s like Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, and on-and-on. This music wasn’t just a phase. It’s not at all like how in the 90s everyone was embarrassed by the hair metal phase of the 80s. Emo has had multiple revivals and phases for a reason, and we think we’re good representatives to (at least help) carry that flag.
Lastly, we have plenty of material to work on for our follow-up to Brushed Gold, so this debut EP should not be on its own for long. We plan to give people plenty of music and content to enjoy for as long as we can make this fun and people continue to…enjoy...it. Being in our 30s with wives and families, we have no delusions about touring hard or anything,; but we truly do have a passion for this and will continue to grow our fanbase, record new and (hopefully) even better songs, and play live in a smart and selective kind of way.