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Good Acoustics: A Talk with On The Cinder

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Fresh off their Spring tour which took them through 10 states in the south and Midwest, On The Cinder’s guitarist Jason Wright and bassist Mike Jacobs played a rare, somewhat unexpected, acoustic set in Rochester. The guys talk with 1120 Press about the gig, the tour and what’s next for the band. — All images provided)

1120 Press: So you guys just got back from a pretty demanding tour and then you two did a rare acoustic set in Rochester opening for Chuck Ragan. You guys seemed to have a pretty self-deprecating perspective in your social media posts on being unplugged. How did it go, and what was behind the decision to perform a set like that?

JAY: It went well... though it wasn't really a "decision" in the most traditional sense. We certainly wanted to play with Chuck, but we didn't know they wanted specifically acoustic acts. Then one day, our name just showed up on the flyer with "Acoustic" written next to it. I think it went well enough

1120: We’re trying to imagine unplugged versions of ‘Past, Present, No Future’ or ‘Sticks and Stones.’ What’s an acoustic set by you guys like?

JAY: Ha! Those ones didn't make the cut for the reasons you might guess. We try to strip out some of the more technical stuff, or if the song suffers from losing it, we just won't play that song. We try to lighten up on the vocals a little for the acoustic version, but for some songs, old habits die hard. Otherwise it's about what you'd think... maybe a little more ad-libbed than our normal performance.

MIKE: Naturally singing along to acoustic guitars you'll tend to sing lower and smoother, though to try to get our vocal delivery up we screamed "Sink Florida Sink" by Against Me! during acoustic practice. It really opened us up to wailing.

1120: The band just wrapped up a tour April 30 that took you through ten states in the south and Midwest, including a number of shows in Texas. How’d the tour go overall, and was there anything in particular that stood out for you guys?

MIKE: This was our first time back to Texas since 2020, when we completed a national tour just before the world shut down. There were some challenges booking this run since a lot has changed with contacts we previously worked with: venues changing or shutting down, friends not being as active or starting new projects, etc. There was a lot of playing catch up, but even still there was fantastic support from the folks at every show. There are Texans we'll always consider family, and that family grows each time we head to the Lone Star State.

1120: Just before the tour in late March, the band played a show at Mohawk Place marking its 10-year anniversary. As veterans of the road now, so to speak, is touring any different for you guys? Are there still things you’re learning or even finding out about yourselves after all this time?

JAY: I like to think that we're always learning. I think the band shares a healthy fear of being stagnant and that applies to all aspects of being in a band (tour, writing, merch, etc..). Although, the pandemic certainly scribbled a few pages out of our "How-to-tour" handbook, but sometimes you learn more the second go-about anyway. I can say for sure that we party a lot less these days than when we first started out, but each tour always has a few wild nights no matter what.

MIKE: We've been the same three guys playing music together 10-plus years. We can sense what each other are feeling and understand what we all need to make touring work. Life definitely demands more from us at this point, but we have built our lives around being in this band and always find ways to make things work for everyone. Things I try to keep in mind while on tour are to call home every day, try the local whatever all the locals rave about, and be creative with your fun rather than relying on booze alone to fuel the party.

1120: Can we expect more acoustic sets? And if so, how about full-band acoustic?

MIKE: Should the opportunity present itself, that sort of set does allow us to be more flexible opening for great shows like Chuck Ragan. Our priority is to play full-band and keep refining and writing music for our upcoming releases. Tyler (Tyler Rzemek, drums) may be interested in doing some sort of percussion for acoustic sets in the future, but full band is what we'd really rather be doing.

1120: What’s next for On The Cinder?

MIKE: June 7th we're opening for Bad Cop Bad Cop at Bug Jar in Rochester. We've also got a run through New England around 4th of July weekend, and a show in Syracuse August 12th at Funk n' Waffles. Beyond that, the only Buffalo date we have on the books is we're bringing the Canadian Skatepunk band, Belvedere, to Mohawk Place September 4th. We also have a ton of music recorded and are working out the release plan for that, while we continue to write more songs. So a busy summer and new music coming.

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