The Submarines

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Sometimes a breakup doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a relationship. That was definitely the case between the members of The Submarines, Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti, who discovered how much they missed each other through their post-breakup songs. Their first album—Declare a New State, which is made up of songs that would lead them back to each other—was even mastered as a wedding gift. The two took some time to tell us about the breakup, their reunion and how it affects their music.

Paste: Tell us the story of how you met.
Blake Hazard: John and I were introduced by a mutual friend and then-bandmate, Joe Klompus (bass player). Joe gave a charmingly sarcastic toast at our rehearsal dinner about how our wedding was “all his fault.” It’s true! Originally, I’d asked him to introduce us because I loved John’s record, Aviating, and really wanted to work together. So, it all started in the studio.

Paste: Describe your first date.
Hazard: I s’pose we never really dated formally: John produced some songs of mine and our romance sparked while we were working on what became my first record. I thought he was still in a relationship at the time, which had actually recently ended, so, it was all quite professional at the start. The closest thing we had to a first date was, after finishing up in the studio for the day, going to a show together at the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. one fateful April evening. I don’t even remember what the band was—I was more than a little distracted.

Paste: What was it like when you started making music together?
Hazard: At first, you know, we were just really excited about what was happening musically and our plan of working on a few songs expanded into making a whole record together. Once we opened up to each other, it was the most romantic time I could imagine—it sounds silly, but, being artistically inspired like that and falling in love at the same time was pretty dazzling.

Paste: Talk about a song that means something special to you as a couple?
Hazard: “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was a mutual heartbreaker when we broke up, before we made Declare A New State. “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem was another one like that — just something that just feels amazing even as it’s killing you emotionally. Probably the first record we bonded over was Aphex Twin’s Richard [D.] James Album — it’s just so strange and mind-blowing. If you both like that one, it means something deep is shared in the musical weirdness department. At the moment, we’re both very into the Drake record.

Paste: What is the biggest challenge of being married to a fellow artist?
Hazard: Oh, the many moods! We try not to brood simultaneously, but, it happens.

Paste: What’s the greatest thing about being married to an artist?
Hazard: We’ve shared so many things that wouldn’t bear explanation to someone who wasn’t in music. It’s just a weird life—lots of strange experiences—and there are so many nights when I’m grateful to have a partner who gets what I’m going through in a real way. I think we both respect each other’s work in a way that might be more removed if we weren’t working in the same world. Sometimes, we each long for some perspective, though. We think we should’ve married lawyers!

Paste: Any advice you got from other couples who worked together in the same field?
Hazard:I admire Aimee Mann and Michael Penn in their relationship—two extremely talented musicians and frankly, intimidatingly bright minds. I can’t think of any particular I received from advice from Aimee, at the moment, but it’s very cool to have a relationship like theirs to pin a few hopes to.

Paste: What advice would you give to a couple working together or in the same field?
Blake Hazard: I’m in no position to give advice. We struggle. But we respect each other, and that’s a seriously important aspect of any relationship. It’s a vulnerable business, music, and supporting each other is just massively important. You really do need to be each other’s greatest champion. Competing with each other undermines everything—although it seems some couples thrive on competition. I think I’d find that draining.

Paste: How long have you been together?
Hazard: It’ll be 12 years in April.

Paste: Tell us about a project that you guys are working on right now?
Hazard: We just released The Shoelaces EP, based around a song from our last album. I’ve been recording a solo album in New York, which I hope will come out sometime this Spring, and John has just composed some awesome music for a fascinating new documentary, We Are Legion, and is scoring music for a new AMC’s new series. It’s been great to focus on separate projects for a while, after lots of touring behind Love Notes/Letter Bombs last year.