This Saturday, May 28, is Michigan's annual alternative rock festival, BLED Fest. We are so excited to be attending this year, and in anticipation, we've been featuring bands and musicians who will be performing at BLED Fest on the Punk Out Blog and Artist Corner. Check out yesterday's piece by Joshua Hammond on the acts he's most excited to see and be sure to catch The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die on Saturday as well. Oh! And stop by our booth to pick up some FREEEEEEE Sir Richard's condoms!
By Emillie Marvel
It’s intimidating, giving guitarist/vocalist Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak a call. Their band, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP), is one that throws around lines like “next darkness is the backseat of my dead best friend’s sister’s car” and thoughts such as “the way a ghost becomes a part of you”, so they’re probably pretty in tune with the highs and lows of human existence, and all that’s deep in the world. But as I settle into my conversation with the musician, it quickly feels like catching up with a friend rather than speaking with one part of an intense musical collective.
We kick things off by talking about their upcoming appearance at Michigan’s BLED Fest. TWIABP has played the annual event before, and the environment is a little different from what’s usually expected at shows. “It’s such a weird place, because you’re literally just walking around a high school and there’s some shows in classrooms. The few times we’ve played, we’ve played in a weird lobby with a stage in it,” Derrick explains. This doesn’t stop the fest from being home to some of the band’s best sets ever, though, as they also tell me it’s one of the places fans get most excited. This year, Derrick isn’t only excited for the performance, but for the cuisine as well. “A friend of mine in recent years opened a food truck in Flint called Vehicle City Tacos. And I think he’s supposed to be there, so I’m excited to have his tacos because I’ve never had one.”
Food seems to be a principle of the band, because it’s not long after we talk about BLED Fest that I ask them about the most beautiful place in the world to their band, sentimentally. “There’s a hotdog place in Rochester, New York that’s probably our favorite place in the whole world, called DogTown.” The band’s love for the restaurant could be likened to Ted & the rest of the HIMYM gangs love for MacLaren’s. They’ve even booked a tour just to visit again. “We had like, no reason to tour. It was just like ‘Hey, we’re not doing anything, we should tour so we could go to DogTown,” Derrick tells me, before explaining the hot dog they created for the restaurant. The dog was named after the band, and then sold until nothing was left. If you’d like to recreate that experience, you’ll want to pick up macaroni and cheese, potato chips, brown mustard, and celery salt before your next cook-out.
So if that’s the most beautiful place to the band’s heart, what’s the most beautiful place to their eyes? They’ve certainly seen it all, from walking down the streets of Prague to taking in the sights of Germany. “Most of Europe is pretty beautiful,” Shanholtzer-Dvorak says. “I kind of wish we all lived in Germany.” But still, the band’s favorite stop lays right here in the US. “Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is one of our favorite places to go. It feels like you’re on another planet, it’s really bizarre.”
TWIABP has certainly been to some stunning places, but my next question is to see how Derrick thinks we can spruce the world up further. “Stop trying to make decisions for other people, based on your own fears or beliefs or whatever,” they lead in. “I think there’s a lot of that at the forefront of the social chain right now. I think that that would be a step in the right direction, just to leave everyone alone. Let people live their lives.”
When I ask what the most beautiful thing the band has offered the world so far, Derrick’s answer confirms this is one of the most fun interviews I’ve had. They’re funny, without even meaning to be, just by telling the stories of their career. “Oh god, I have no idea”, they start, before deciding on the plastic forks the band released as merch awhile back. “They brought a lot of people joy.”
Of course, another of the band’s contributions to the grace of the planet is their music. Most recently, they’ve released a two part EP. “I think they were all supposed to be for splits, and that kind of fell apart. So we decided to put together this two part EP,” Derrick explains. More new material is on its way as well, with the band dedicating the week after BledFest to writing and creating. The result will be a two song album, with each track clocking in at about twenty minutes, along with a split with Sorority Noise.
But this is only the beginning for the band, whose goal is to keep making art—and avoiding the real world—for as long as possible. “We decided that we’re gonna win a Grammy,” Derrick starts as we near the end of our conversation. “We just decided it’s gonna happen so, I guess we have to work on that for a little bit.”
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed on our Artist Corner are exclusively of the author or interviewee and do not reflect the views and opinions of Punk Out as an organization. If you're a musician or an industry insider and would like to participate in our Artist Corner, email us at email@example.com.