Inside Breakup Shoes' Tiny Tempe Practice Space

From Left to Right: Derrick Lafforthun, Matthew Witsoe, John Macleod, and Nick Zawisa
From Left to Right: Derrick Lafforthun, Matthew Witsoe, John Macleod, and Nick Zawisa Lindsay Roberts
Welcome to Bandspace, the month series where New Times visits a Phoenix band's practice space.

If you’ve never seen a band practice space come together inside a Tempe bedroom, it looks a little something like this: four vintage Levi-clad guys cursing as they attempt to fit a kick drum through the doorway as New Order plays in the background. Meet Breakup Shoes, a Phoenix band that's been cranking a cool surf rock sound since 2014.

Located in the Daley Park neighborhood, the space showcases Breakup Shoes' creative influences. Walls are covered with ephemera like the art of Frida Kahlo, small plants, movie stills, and an old guitar. The multiple vape pens, cigarette packs, and ashtrays hint at one of band's favorite topics besides unrequited love —  nicotine.

The band comprises frontman/songwriter Nick Zawisa, guitarist John Macleod, bassist Derrick Lafforthun, and drummer Matthew Witsoe.

The foursome formed the band after all deciding to leave the church. Oddly enough, the first song that they produced was created for a school project. "It's been almost two years, since we released 'She's All I Need,' which we only recorded it because we had a friend who needed a project, so we just through the song together," says Zawisa. "Even the name was thrown together, it was like: We are playing a show, and I guess we need a name."

click to enlarge Breakup Shoes in their Tempe practice space. - LINDSAY ROBERTS
Breakup Shoes in their Tempe practice space.
Lindsay Roberts
In 2016, the band released the five-track EP Nicotine Dream. It reached a wider audience after popular Australian YouTuber Cartia Mallan featured it in one of her videos. "She featured Nicotine Dream in one of her videos, which was basically a compilation of her just looking super hip in Venice Beach. That actually really spurred our Spotify popularity," Zawisa says.

Breakup Shoes has also produced Tuba, released last January, and the single "Breakup Shoes," off of their newly completed album which is due for release this fall.

Zawisa, Macleod, Lafforthun, Witsoe answered a few of New Times' questions.

Describe your band space in five words.
Matthew Witsoe: Beer.
Nick Zawisa: In my bedroom with booze.
John Macleod: Warm, sweaty, small, hot, drunk.
Derrick Lafforthun: Nick's drunk.

What are you working on right now?
Zawisa: We finished a record in May, and we are waiting for the right time to release it. We've worked on three new songs since then, but none of them are super thought-through. Yeah, we are just working on the release of the record and our new single.
Macleod: The new single is an emotional roller coaster
Zawisa: Yeah, it starts out happy, things change, it's bad, but it ends on a hopeful note.
Lafforthun: So it's actually a really bad roller coaster.

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Zawisa: Brian Wilson, in his prime.
Macleod: Paul McCartney.
Witsoe: Probably Weezer.
Lafforthun: Rush.

What's the best show you ever played?
Macleod: I think that Rebel show that we played with Hazel English was pretty solid.
Zawisa: Rebel Lounge, Hazel English, that was earlier this year.
Witsoe: That sweaty-ass house show that we played. That was just the best on a fun level. There were like 50 people packed in this house. And we were just soaked. That was the best show, memories-wise.
Lafforthun: What about the house show that we played in Anthem? On Halloween?
Zawisa: We played a rager in Anthem.
Macleod: That was fun.

How about the worst?
Macleod: Oh, Yucca Tap Room, 100 percent. Anytime we've ever played at Yucca.
Zawisa: We don't do so well with the 21-and-up audience. So there were like four people there, and they were like all old men that didn't have a choice but to listen to us.
Witsoe: There was that time we played at Valley Bar and there was like two people on a Tuesday night.
Zawisa: There was a show that we had recently that was at Lost Leaf. That one, I was just really drunk. That is the worst that I have personally ever played. We've now set a two-drink limit for me.
Lafforthun: Nick was like crying because he didn't want to do an encore; he just wanted to go home. That was the first encore we ever got, and Nick just kept saying, "I just want to go home" onstage and into the mic.

What's one thing missing from the Phoenix music scene?
Zawisa: It seems pretty dense with punk music at the moment, at least around Tempe. I think some lighter indie might be missing.
Witsoe: Light-hearted indie.
Zawisa: Because everyone is so angry, and you can't just listen to angry music all the time.
Macleod: The Phoenix rap scene is pretty weak, too. Also, jazz. Jazz is needed, too.

Breakup Shoes are scheduled to perform August 27 at The Rebel Lounge. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $8 at the door.
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