In Their Words – Jim Ivins Band/Fun Size
Welcome to the latest and greatest idea at WORDKRAPHT. In Their Words is an opportunity for independent artists to interview/review other musicians that they are into. The questions and critiques come from a different point of view and gives us the chance to feature not one, but two bands at a time.
We asked Jim Ivins of the Jim Ivins Band to be our first writer for this project. One of the first Daily Kraphts, JIB is known for creating “the kind of infectious pop tunes that remind you of why pop music, if done correctly can be a great thing.” His choice to interview was James Menefee of the Richmond, VA band Fun Size. They were tearing up the scene in the 90’s but then went their separate ways…
So you went from Fun Size to River City High to Race The Sun to Long Arms (which in many ways is about as far from Fun Size as you can get) and now you’ve gone back to Fun Size. Why the return?
For me it was just a progression of life, ha ha. Fun Size was the band I started with my childhood best friends, and then River City High was the band that I made as my career when I was in my twenties, and then Long Arms was the direct response to both of those experiences. Musically, it was just what happens. Now that I am in my thirties, I missed playing in a band with my childhood best friends, and I still have a love for pop/punk that never died.
Tell me about the new album Since We Last Spoke. It’s been a very long time since the last Fun Size outing, what was different this time around? What did Pedro’s (Aida – guitar/vocals) newly added presence in the band bring to the process that wasn’t there before?
Well it’s been fifteen years since we were last in the studio. There was absolutely no pressure this time around. It was so much fun making this record. I likened it to being a painter that returns to an earlier work and adds on to it. It was a great opportunity for all of us to revisit and add on to the small little legacy we left years ago. Pedro just helped streamline the whole effort. He was a fan of the band growing up, and he also listened to all the same music as we did and that we do, so he was referencing the same stuff culturally. And we’re all friends, so it made plenty of sense.
Fun Size seemed to be gaining real momentum the first time out. Why did the band call it quits when it did?
We were to quote an adage “young and stupid.” We stopped playing because there were time commitments that weren’t being addressed, and appeared to be insurmountable at the time because we were all too close to the problem to really figure it out. We came from a scene where bands didn’t swap members, so instead of asking someone to leave or taking a break we just called it quits. We were 19, 20, 21 and 22. We had no clarity. We should’ve had an impresario, or manager, or old sage, or band shrink guide us. A pop/punk jedi master.
What is your writing process like? Is there a difference between writing a song for Fun Size and writing a song for Long Arms?
Yeah there is a huge difference. Brian wrote three songs on the new record and sings on them, so there is that. And his songs are great. In addition, I write all the Long Arms material on my old Martin acoustic, and while that is always my go to, I love writing Fun Size songs standing in front of a Marshall stack, and playing loud.
I want to say that “End Of The Road” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in the last 10-15 years. No joke. I also am in love with “Try Not To Care.” Can you tell me a little about those songs in particular and what is your favorite track off of the album?
The lyric material on this record far outreaches earlier Fun Size lyrics, ha ha. I mean, writing songs when you are sixteen is simple because most of us only know one thing: relationships. Now there are myriad problems we get to experience! I always like the deep cuts on every record, so my favorite is a track called “Everything You Need.” “End of The Road” is a song about moving forward with your life, and putting the past in the rear-view, and all the second guessing and sadness that goes along with that. I tend to have difficulties focusing on the happier parts of these decisions ha ha. “Try Not To Care” is your good old-fashioned love song a la vintage Fun Size.
You have easily one of the biggest mastering engineers in the game working on this album – Howie Weinberg. How did you get him involved?
Howie is the man, pure and simple. It’s funny. After all my years in music Howie’s name on the Fun Size record is probably my most notable collaboration.
Are there plans to tour on this record?
Nothing would make me happier than to play shows with my best friends. I just don’t know where we would play and if people would know where to go ha ha. We haven’t played a show out of Richmond since 1998. I’d still love the opportunity.
As a fellow Richmond guy I have to ask are you happy with the RVA music scene today? (I am aware that depending on how you answer this it could get you into hot water but I am a hard hitting rock journalist and I ask the tough questions) What do you think needs to be done to improve the indie scene as a whole?
This town has so much talent. Things are just more different now than ever. I think there was more unity when I was a kid. Everyone went to each other’s shows a little more, everyone was in it together, I felt like I was part of something. I am willing to say that I am wrong, that it could have been youth, and the strong desire to belong that kids have. But I just feel like the times have changed so much, and things are so impersonal now, and things are also so much bigger. The biggest punk bands drew maximum 1000 kids back then. And there were fewer bands.
Fun Size was one of the first bands signed to Fueled By Ramen. What is your current relationship with them, if at all? I happened to catch you tweeting at them – any chance of a Fun Size/Fueled By Ramen reunion? If not, how do you plan on getting yourselves out there as independent artists?
I am so proud of our association with Fueled By Ramen. I felt like part of the family when our record came out, and they were such a nascent thing then. John and I spoke daily, and now it’s just amazing to hear that John is like a veritable record mogul. I would say there is always a chance, but I think that they may have moved on from our style of pop/punk; however, if that’s not the case, I would love to be wrong. I don’t even know what we are going to do to get out there. I just want to get this record into the hands of those who still remember our band. That will make me happy.
Will there be another Long Arms album or is your focus strictly on Fun Size right now?
I have no problem doing both. They are so diametrically opposed that there is not a problem with the two of them existing simultaneously. Long Arms is my soul and Fun Size is my heart. I know that sounds ridiculous and self-absorbed but it’s the truth (and you asked!). I am proud of Long Arms and I love those guys and hope we can keep playing. Yes there will for sure be another album. We have written our best songs yet.
Between your time in Fun Size and River City High you’ve toured the world with some of the hugest names in pop punk, you’ve been signed to multiple labels (including getting caught up in a major label debacle) and gotten on MTV – what is left for you to prove with this album?
I always felt that Fun Size left off when things were getting really good. We ended so prematurely. I want to prove that the energy that the four of us have when we write songs is real, that our friendship and respect for each other can still yield the same type of music we grew up with. We have no one to really prove anything to, except ourselves, and since we are our biggest critics, we think that other people will be happy when they hear the new record once it gets past us. It is impossible to overstate the perspective one gains with age with life, music, everything.
Artist Name: Jim Ivins Band
Location: New York, NY
Genre: Pop, Rock
Band Members: Jim Ivins, Jack Ivins, Drew Martin, Bobby Gary
Artist Name: Fun Size
Location: Richmond, VA
Genre: Pop, Punk, Power Pop
Band Members: James Menefee, Brian Owen, Allen Skillman, Orice Collins, Pedro Aida
The video for “End of the Road”