Dubbing your debut full-length Greatest Hits might be a bit of a misnomer—or, at worst, signs of a serious superiority complex—but there’s no bravado when it comes to REMO DRIVE. Instead, the Minnesota-based duo’s first album for Epitaph Records serves as the pinnacle of their four-plus years as a band up until now.
Brothers Erik and Stephen Paulson formed Remo Drive in high school in 2013, inspired by “older kids who smoked weed and listened to Title Fight.” The pair of wide-eye musicians would find their legs in the emo world, but the songs on Greatest Hits—enveloped in themes of suburban malaise and self-reflection—shape-shift throughout all aspects of alternative rock, paying tribute not only to Midwestern emo heavyweights like American Football and The Promise Ring, but also to ’90s grunge and classic rock, among others.
“It’s always going to be about loud guitars and big drums,” Erik Paulson says of Remo Drive’s sound. “The best thing for us to do is not worry so much about aesthetic and focus on whatever feels natural with the overarching idea of being a rock ’n’ roll band.”
That innate honesty permeates every area of the band’s frenetic, spazzy music, from Erik’s lyrics (“I just want to be as honest and straight to the point as possible rather than trying to appear smarter than I actually am”) to the charming DIY video for “Yer Killing Me” that features the band sprinting down the streets of their hometown, instruments and all.
It’s like Remo Drive—unlike many bands under their same genre umbrella—haven’t forgotten that writing and playing music is supposed to be fun. “We try to do things with a lot of energy and gusto,” Paulson says. “I think people can tell that we care a lot. I think our best quality is that we care.”
But at the same time, the Paulson brothers share a deep passion and desire for improvement. Erik is 20, Stephen 22; they’ve got their entire musical lives ahead of them. So while the exuberance and irreverence stands as a hallmark of the music they make now, deep down they’re driven to continue progressing as musicians and songwriters.
“Intentionally not wanting to do better is dumb,” Erik says. “There was a thing for a while where emo bands didn’t try that hard. We’re trying to bring back some of the technique with it. If someone’s doing your taxes, you’d hope they know what they’re doing. If I’m making music, I think people listening want me to know what I’m doing.”
So while Greatest Hits serves as the perfect entryway to Remo Drive’s particular brand of rock, it’s ultimately a stepping stone to the Paulsons’ next evolution. But no matter how much things change, the non-negotiable aspects of Remo Drive that have turned heads until now are definitely not going to change.
“I feel like we don’t really have a voice,” Erik says. “We’re always going to end up being different every single album. Our tastes change so much. We’re not too concerned about pleasing any one group of people. The things that will be consistent are the energy and the passion. As long as it sounds awesome to us and the songs are good enough, it’ll be Remo Drive.” XX