Interviews

Interview: The Glow-Ups Embark on Debut Record and Talk Music in Their Lives

The Glow-Ups laugh in rehearsal. Michael J. Kocourek

It’s pretty surreal writing this piece amid our situation in the world. I believe that timing is everything and spending the two hours I did with, Chicago-based, punk rock trio, The Glow-Ups, at a recent rehearsal in early March, seems like a light year ago, now. There’s a down-to-earth nature about this band as they enjoy this project’s autonomy. It allows them to “control their own destiny,” and not be at the demands of a music label or contract. While they plan to launch their debut album at the end of April, here is what I chatted about with the The Glow-Ups guys, Mike Licari (Bass/Vocals), Kevin De Leon (Drums), and Brian Perfect (Guitar/Vocals).

Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke?

Mike: Diet Coke absolutely. Nothing Pepsi.

Shamrock shake or McFlurry?

Brian: McFlurry with shamrock, they make them that way. It’s 2020 man. You can do both! Have it your way (smiling).

The name, The Glow Ups, who came up with it?

M: So, it’s really cool. I came up with it, the name, The Glow Up, no ‘s.’ The way we chose the name was very cool and unique. Unique in that I have never heard anyone else ever do it. We did it in the form of a playoff bracket. I brought 6 names, Brian and Kevin brought 3 names, and then we faced them against each other and narrowed it down, narrowed it down until it was between Hello Newman and The Glow Up. So, we picked The Glow Up, and then we went home that night and I told my best friend we picked The Glow Up. He said, ‘is it The Glow Up,” or “The Glow Ups?’ It would be more punk if it was The Glow Ups. And I ran it past the guys and that’s how we got the name.

What’s the most valued possession you own?

Kevin: *Raises his steel water bottle with a Jurassic Park white decal he bought at C2E2 with a full-blown smile.*

B: I think it would probably be one of my toys. One of the collectibles I have. I have a lot from Star Wars – I couldn’t pick which one right now, but probably something with that.

K: Mine would be a toy, too. (Everyone chuckles) It’s one of those vinyl toys. It’s like Kidrobot, the vinyl toys. (searches it on his phone)

B: Wait, is Kid Robot a rapper?

K: Not the Pops toys, but different. This one is special because it was from my cousin who passed away. So that’s why, it’s one of those cool pieces. It has some important meaning behind it.

M: If my house was burning down, the first thing I would grab would be my dog. If we aren’t going with living creatures, I would say my purple drum set. That or the Tom DeLonge guitar. If I needed to take something from the drum set, I would take the bass drum, because I could put that bass drum on anything else. it is a really nice bass drum. I’ve got a lot of things, though.

I almost ran over the Tom DeLonge guitar last week. I ran over the case, the case is destroyed, but the guitar is okay.

B: And that’s why we buy the case! (smiling and stated sarcastically)

M: I only ran over the corner, and it just missed the headstock. Almost just snapped the thing. Insane. Who does that? What an idiot, let’s move on.

What’s the most thing for anyone to know about your band? What is your band about?

M: It’s about going with your heart. It’s not about impressing anybody, for the first time in a long time.”

Mike K.: You were talking about it earlier, Mike. Oh, we have to do this for the label!

M: Exactly, that mentality, for instance, oh this is what State Champs is doing this right now, so we should have a part like that. With this one, it’s totally not like that. I told Brian if you don’t want to write leads, then don’t. If you have to play them, then you’ll be happy. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a second verse, so I am going to repeat the first one. What does it even matter? It worked out great, too. This band in one word is minimalism.

B: It’s about all dudes having a good time.

K: FSSL.

If there was a band or musician you could collaborate with on a song, and they knock on the door, who would it be?

B: Damn, anybody? This is rough. Well, I’m not going to pick someone from the past, because I’m not that good, and our writing styles would clash. Well, I’m not going to sit down with Neil Pert and write some garbage riff as he shreds it up.

I would probably go, Intruder Blue, Pat has been writing some dope songs. He’s the singer. I think it would be cool because they have that pop sound.

K: I’m so simple. I would just do Derek Grant from Alkaline Trio. I would never try to do something with Skiba (he says very timidly) Derek is my man.

M: I knew you were going to say one of them, just not which one. It’s not very inventive, but I would say Dan or Alan from Four Year Strong. Number one!

B: Oh no, I am changing my answer!

M: That’s one of my dreams, not necessarily for this band, but it would be fine for this band.  If I could ever have Dan or Alan produce a record I was a part of, that would be the number one dream.

B: Alright, Intruder Blue and I are going to write a song and Parker (lead vocal, The Story So Far), is going to sing it (laughter).

What got you into music?

K: It’s horrible. Yanni, you know Yanni, a Greek composer from the ’90s. My parents have this VHS of Yanni live at the Acropolis, and the drummer was fantastic. He was from Chicago. My parents were sick of me turning over pots and pans and banging on them. So, they just bought me a set of drums and then that’s what actually got me into music.

M: The first thing that got me into music was my older cousin. He bought the Third Eye Blind red record and then The Wallflowers. So, that was my first type of thing. After that, I got into rap. So, I enjoyed Tupac, and I thought I was going to be a thug in sixth grade. We would download all of those tracks on Kazaa, similar to LimeWire. What got me into this type of music was the movie Clockstoppers and the promotional song with it was ‘First Date’ by Blink 182. And I remember thinking that song was super good. So then, I knew my cousin liked Blink 182 and I asked her to burn a copy of Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and then it turned all into this.

B: Mine’s just easy, it’s from my dad. I grew up around music. It was meant to be.

How did you feel after your first show at The Basement?

M: It was great. I think that felt great. It was the best of our two thus far.

B: The Brixie’s show was cool, but it would be cooler once people know the lyrics and join the song.

What’s a piece of advice you’d give to younger musicians who are trying to get into a band?

M: It’s super important. I don’t think kids are doing it enough anymore.

B: Don’t be afraid of anyone’s opinion. If you are proud of the music you are making, then that means you are doing a great job.

M: I think my main thing is that there isn’t a shortage, but people are afraid to meet up. No one is connecting. You have more means than ever to connect with people, but they are afraid of playing with different genres or random people. You just have to say yes and give it a shot before knowing what is possible.

K: It’s actually funny because the only reason it’s been 11 years since I’ve been in a band was because I didn’t know anyone! Guilty! It got back to me.

M: It wasn’t a burden to Kevin, I knew it would be exciting for him. And that’s why he was such a great choice for this group.

Is there a central theme or message to the album?

M: Not at all!

B: Have a good time.

M: A big part of my life is to preach being positive. My other project, Taco Shock, is about positivity and having a good mental attitude. Rise above with things bringing you down. With this one, I just went with the reality that life can suck, lean into it, and we have to be able to roll with it. Almost every song I wrote about in this album is about dead stuff. I am very fortunate and do not have a lot of death in my life, but people around me have experienced that first-hand. And I wrote a lot of songs about those people and their tough times. It’s a lot of memorials for people – ironically, they are not 100% directly connected to me, but connected to people I do know.”

‘Hey Allyson,’ our lead single is about a co-worker of mine, whose brother-in-law committed suicide this past year. ‘RIP’ is about things being dead. ‘Depression & Me’ is about one of my friends. ‘The Dream is Dead’ is about my hopes and dreams of being a famous musician being dead. ‘Blister Brain’ is about my life can be monotonous and boring. ‘Apocalypse’ is about the world ending. And something I think about on a weekly basis, with variations of how the world can potentially end.

The chorus goes, ‘Either way I think I’ll take my chances, let’s go party with our friends. Either way I think I’ll take my chances, won’t give up until the very end.’

What’s the first music video going to be?

M: We have a lyric video we are doing on the fly. The idea is to write on poster boards and write the lyrics down, with people doing funny stuff and making funny gestures, with a two-minute song.

B: Maybe something with dogs for our first actual music video. People want a dog video. We should just find every dog we can and have your mom, Mike, walk them, to our song.


Together, we share a moment where none of us talk in the room. Mike tells me, “you can head out now that you’re done, but you’re more than welcome to stay for another run-through of the setlist.”

I smiled and responded, “of course I’ll stay for another listen.” MJK

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