ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

A Chat With: Dream Wife

At first listen, Dream Wife will catch your ear with their high energy, anthemic rock music; Whether it be the explosive introduction to “Let’s Make Out,” the singalong chorus to “Hey Heartbreaker,” or the head-bobbing melody in “Somebody,” it’s the kind of music that instantly demands the listener’s attention. After diving past the surface level though, it becomes obvious that this band has a message, and they’re not afraid to get in your face to deliver it. Their lyrics tell their story— In “Somebody” they make it clear they won’t stand for objectification of women, saying “I am not my body, I’m somebody.” And in the gritty anthem “F.U.U.” they let it be known that they’re really not messing around.

The women behind these songs, Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go, and Bella Podpadec, have had a whirlwind of a year after releasing their debut, self-titled album in January, delivering their message across the globe. They’ve played countless festivals around the world, from Summersonic in Japan to Lollapalooza right here in Chicago, they’ve toured the US supporting Sunflower Bean, they’ve toured Europe with Garbage, and now they’re in the midst of their first US headline run. On this tour, the trio enlisted local female and non-binary artists to open up each show, and tonight they’re playing with Chicago’s own Girl K at Schubas. Before the tour kicked off though, I spoke with bassist Bella Podpadec to find out what Dream Wife has in store for us at these shows. To find out what you can expect tonight and to also hear more about the band’s accomplishments this year, their creative process, and what they’re doing to make the industry a safer space for women and non-binary people, check out my conversation with Podpadec below.

 Photo by Joanna Kiely

Photo by Joanna Kiely

Kicking things off, what was one of your first musical memories?

My first musical memory… Really honestly I think my first musical memory was grabbing my tambourine and dancing around as a really young child. When I was really small, like 3 maybe. My first memory of being in a band-- I met Alice, our guitarist, at Mid Somerset Battle of the Bands. So we lived in these little places in the countryside in England and there was this competition. Alice’s band played one year and my band played the next year, and we started playing shows together in Somerset. So that’s how we got to know each other.

Very cool, and then now since you’ve started Dream Wife together, this year has been huge for you. You released your debut album, you toured the States- I saw you with Sunflower Bean when you were in Chicago--

Oh cool!

Yeah, it was a great show! And then you came back for Lolla and you’ve played tons of festivals… you’re even touring with Garbage in Europe. With all of that going on, what have been some of your personal favorite moments or highlights from this year?

From this year? I think for all of us a number one lifelong sort of dream was going to Japan. We went and played Summersonic Festival in August and we managed to take a little holiday around it and explore. No one had been so that was really special. We’re so grateful just to play live shows cause that’s really what it’s all about for us. It’s been amazing to play so many shows to so many people.

Totally! So just from seeing you live or seeing your social media, it seems like you and Alice and Rakel are very close, and very good friends. What’s something you’d say that you’ve learned about each other from being on the road and touring so much?

I mean we’re all very different people and we all need very different things. It’s kind of allowing each other the different kinds of space that they need, as well as like the closeness. It’s understanding where you aren’t the same and learning best how to support each other on this whirlwind of a thing that we do together. It’s been a lot of understanding each other throughout the years.

One thing I really love about this tour you have coming up, you had female and non-binary artists submit their music and you picked a local artist to open the show in each city. What was that process like and how did you go through everybody, and were there any particular favorites that you remember listening to and loving their music?

It was super overwhelming! We got over 400 responses, it was so exciting to receive that kind of feedback from it. I’m really bad, I can’t remember the ones we picked from the US run. But we split up the bands between us, and yeah we kind of listened through a lot of them and gave them ratings. Then we went through the top rated ones together. It was a lot of figuring out where people were from and trying to fit them to where they need to be. A band called Bitchcraft was really cool. They were in LA.

So going off of that, what are some things you think venues, promoters, and other bands should be doing to use their platform to help artists who are maybe more marginalized in the industry and music scenes?


I think stuff like the venues making it known that sexual harassment will be spoken about with the people that work there. That there’s a line of communication and people are helping each other out. I think the main thing is everyone looking out for one another and questioning the standard. And elevating the voices of people who wouldn’t be heard otherwise.

Did you hear about what happened in Chicago with The Orwells recently? They had allegations made public about them and then ended up disbanding, so it’s been a big topic of conversation here.

Oh really? The Orwells? I don’t think I know that band at all. I’ll have to look into that.

Yeah, I actually just wrote about it…They had a Google Document that went public with sexual assault allegations, so it’s been a topic that’s very much being talked about here in Chicago at the moment. I appreciate you making sure that female and non-binary artists are a part of your show here and this tour. It’s very important to changing the culture. I also saw you had recently partnered with Girls Rock for a t-shirt, right?

Yeah!

Are there any other organizations that you’d like to work with?

We’ve been working with Girls Rock. We’ve been giving them some money from a t-shirt and also they’ve been helping work with the tour submission project as well. For our UK shows, we’re gonna do some kind of panels and conversations facilitated by Girls Rock. Having conversations with people there about what’s going on in the places they live in. It’d be really great to bring that out to America. There’s a group in the UK called Girls Against—

Oh I’ve heard of them

Yeah we’ve worked with them quite  a bit. They raise awareness of sexual harassment at gigs. They put posters out and send representatives out at gigs.

Yeah, we have a similar group here, they’re based in Chicago, but they travel around the US, called Our Music, My Body.

Oh let me write that down!

They’re actually partnered with the venue you’re playing in Chicago so they’ll have signs and information up there.

Oh yeah it’d be really good to get in touch with them. Thank you!

Of course! So backpedaling a little bit to another subject, you actually met Alice and Rakel when you were studying visual arts at university right?

Yeah!

So when you’re writing, and not even necessarily just songwriting, but when you’re working on stuff as a band, how do you utilize your visual arts skills? Do you find yourself ever envisioning the songs you write as visual artwork?

I think maybe from the artistic side it’s like seeing the whole project or the idea of a band being this very three dimensional, multi-faceted platform where there’s many different things within that and you can find ways to kind of elevate that. I think all of us are visual in different ways and it kind of feeds in. We talk about videos quite a lot and it’s like the music definitely comes first and the rest of it’s built around that. We’re a band first, but it’s understanding the myriad of things that a band is or could be. That’s way over the top.

Yeah, I get that! Then you kind of just touched on this a little bit, but this is your first US headline run in the States. So is there anything you’re planning as headliners that you might not have done when you were playing as the support band?

Oh for our show? It’s gonna be SO much better! I mean it was amazing playing with Sunflower Bean, and we got to play some shows with The Kills. But we’ve actually done some pre-production for the first time ever. We’ve been rehearsing new, much longer sets with loads more things that the US hasn’t seen yet. I think it’s gonna be really good. I’m really excited.

Are there any other bands or artists that you can pinpoint that you look up to from a stage presence aspect?

I think Sleigh Bells. Kind of seeing their work ethic...we played a couple of shows with them before. And they just treat it like such athletes. I think after seeing them play, we started looking after our bodies and the dedication to be able to provide a good show physically. Like their show is so high energy. It was really inspiring.

Yeah you already have such a high energy so I can’t wait to see the headline show. So then you’ve been to Chicago a few times now, playing with Sunflower Bean and coming back for Lolla.

Chicago is one of my favorite places!

Did you get to see much of the city when you were here?

Yeah! I was actually there for my birthday. We went to the Art Institute and spent almost all the time in the Medieval section.  

Is there anything on your list that you’re trying to do this time around?

Oh I don’t know! Do you have any must sees?

Did you go to The Bean and all that last time? If you did all the touristy things you should go to Chicago Music Exchange. A lot of bands go there when they play Schubas because it’s close by. Deep dish pizza is always a must if you’re in Chicago. It’s almost more of a cheese pie than pizza.

Yeah it’s completely like pie! But is it just a New York thing to say “pizza pie”? We find that very confusing when people say they’re gonna get a pie. But in Chicago it is like a pie!

It is! But there’s good food here, and if the weather is still nice, you can just walk around downtown and see all the architecture.

I wanna go up a really tall building!

Oh you should do the Skydeck and take a band photo up there! So wrapping things up on kind of a fun note, I saw in your KEXP performance, Rakel mentioned you all like collecting neon colored tape, which I thought was an interesting fact. Is there another random fact about the band or anything that fans could win you over instantly by bringing it to your shows, besides the tape.

I mean, neon colored anything to be honest!

Your shows will look like a rave now.

That’s the dream! We just want to bring it back! New Rave specifically. Did you have new rave in America? This was like when Indie and Rave met and flirted for a bit in 2006. In the UK specifically. We joke about that sometimes.

I think I missed out on that. I wish I had experienced it. But we’ll bring it back to be the newer wave. Anything else you want to share before we sign off? I know that’s a big open ended question to end on.

It is such a big open thing…So many things! I mean, I think live music is such an exciting thing because it brings people together in a real physical space. It’s just really great and the shows are really fun, and everyone should come!  


Get your tickets to see Dream Wife, Russo, and Girl K tonight here, and listen to Dream Wife in full below!

Get To Know: Pool Holograph

Initially founded as the bedroom-recorded brain child of Wyatt Grant, the now four-piece band Pool Holograph has been making waves in Chicago over the last few years with their carefully crafted mix of lo-fi, art rock, and post-punk elements.

After releasing their second full length album, Transparent World, in October 2017 and touring the east coast, the band has been consistently booked at Chicago staples like Schubas, Lincoln Hall, and The Empty Bottle, but this weekend they’ll be hitting the road to play Audiotree Music Festival in Kalamazoo, MI. Ahead of the festival’s kick off on Saturday, September, 22nd I met up with Wyatt Grant, Zach Stuckman and Paul and Jake Stolz of Pool Holograph. Get to know the band better as they discuss their creative process, 2008 Urban Outfitters, DJing a party with Kevin Parker and more.

 Pool Holograph // From left to right: Jake Stolz, Zach Stuckman, Wyatt Grant, and Paul Stolz

Pool Holograph // From left to right: Jake Stolz, Zach Stuckman, Wyatt Grant, and Paul Stolz

Loyola University Brought Them Together

Long before the current day lineup of Pool Holograph came to be, brothers Jake and Paul Stolz grew up listening and playing music together from a young age. “Paul showed me everything music-wise growing up. We grew up playing guitar together and listening to like Creed and all those legendary bands of the early 2000s, late 90’s,” Jake says, adding that they also played drums a lot as kids. “We both grew up playing other instruments that our parents would force us to play and then when I got into middle school, I started hanging out with kids who knew how to play guitar and I wanted to do that,” Paul says, explaining how they got into multiple different instruments early on. “Then I was too embarrassed to play guitar because my cousin played guitar and I didn’t wanna copy him. Then my friend Derrick played drums, so I didn’t wanna play drums either. So I learned how to play bass. We just learned how to play together.”

Paul says after that, he and Jake continued playing with bands in high school, both together and separately, but it wasn’t until Jake started attending college at Loyola University that they met the rest of Pool Holograph. “I met Wyatt [Grant] and Zach [Stuckman] cause they were both living in Rogers Park. We had mutual interests and started playing,” Jake says. From there, Jake invited Paul to join the lineup.

Unlike the Stolz siblings, Stuckman got into playing music later in life. “I played piano for two years when I was younger and then never touched music until Wyatt and I started living together, and I picked up bass through some friends I lived with one summer between years in college,” he says. Stuckman brought the bass back with him to Chicago to continue to pursue it, and from there everything just fell into place. “Wyatt taught me a bunch of bass lines to songs he was working on. It was really unexpected…I didn’t really anticipate being in a band or playing music at all. The circumstances were given to me and it was the right time. Now they can’t get rid of me.”

Grant grew up away from Chicago, in a suburb of Memphis, TN, so his path to musical discovery was much different from the other band members. “Music culture is very much dominated by what was on the radio. There was no like musical god at my high school,” he says. Grant recalls being in punk and hardcore bands in high school because he was so eager to get into music, but it wasn’t until he attended a show at The Buccaneer in Memphis that he found clear direction. “My friend Michael Peery (he’s in Ex-Cult) and I went to this garage rock show at the Buccaneer, and saw the Rat Traps and the Final Solutions, and it was the first time I ever stayed up all the night.” After witnessing the sense of community that night, Grant says he had a sense of navigation to pursue his own project. “It wasn’t even necessarily that I could do it, cause I hadn’t had that confidence until well after I met these guys. I was confident knowing Zach and having such a close friend back you up, but having navigation is a different feeling I guess.”

The Band Started as Wyatt’s Solo Project

Prior to the band coming together, Grant had started writing for Pool Holograph as more of a solo project recorded in his bedroom. The project eventually evolved from there to accommodate a full band with a live show in mind. Describing the transition into writing as a band, Grant says, “I would say when we started writing Town Quarry, it was after we had written Mortals. We had started to write songs together from scratch. A lot of those came from jams where we were kind of able to strut or express our own---basically be indulgent in our own musical curiosities.”

Since then, the band agrees that the creative process has remained collaborative. “Sometimes the seed will be planted by Wyatt, like he’ll have an idea and bring it to the group. Sometimes there’s a fully formed song, but there still room to reflect upon it from each of the band members,” Paul says. He adds that they recently had a voice memo recording of them doing a 12-minute long jam that they’ll now work on fine-tuning. “That was just spur of the moment and evolved naturally, so I don’t know what the next step is gonna be. But just to refine it. It depends on what we’re hoping for, what day it is, how we’re all feeling...”

Grant agrees that the current day process totally depends on the day. “There’s some eras when maybe they’re out of town or we go through a process of moving to different places. Where we’re separated geographically and can’t get together that often. If we’re apart for a while or I know we’re really busy, I’ll start writing by myself quite a bit,” he says. No matter where their writing sessions take them, Grant has noticed one common theme in the way the band works together. “What’s been really consistent is a drafting. Like a way of… not reducing necessarily, but just walking through the steps of it. Together. So that when we start it’s really elementary and then new concepts and new ideas start to bleed out from that. The writing process for me collectively has started to call for something more crude almost. Where I make a move that’s maybe more atypical, or outside of myself or outside of all of our comfort zones. Then it’s like I maybe know that it will throw one of us for a curve ball.”

Technology Helps Them Stay Collaborative

Speaking of their writing process, the band is currently writing and recording new material. Although they don’t know what form the follow up to 2017’s Transparent World will take just yet, the band says they continue to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and challenge themselves. Grant says the curveballs he throws out sometimes act as writing prompts for the rest of the band. “It’s a matter of knowing that you have vitality as a group. So it’s like fertilizer or whatever. It’s a matter of how I’ll do something that’s maybe seemingly wrong or uncomfortable but in the long run, digging out of that is a matter of like creating devices that you never had before. Not that I’m omniscient enough to know that. We’re cycling ideas into someone else’s wheelhouses or musical memory. Like Zach might have a bass line that I didn’t think of the song being that way or having this attitude, but it kind of actualizes things.” Pool Holograph songs continue to morph and mold into different places until it reaches a point that sits right with them. “It’s not a peak or a high point like a lot of people think. It’s just a matter of depth,” Grant adds.

Another way that the group maintains a certain level of collaboration is by having a place to pool together their ideas and voice memo demos. “We have this folder on a drive called ‘Revolving Door’ and we just throw them all in there. Sometimes you listen to them sometimes you don’t. It’s a matter of keeping that stream of consciousness, or keeping everyone in the know of our interests and stuff,” Grant says. As far as the subject for most of the new material, the band is trying to pull in more realism, rather than the Sci-Fi elements their last release had. “We like aesthetics and putting yourself in different scenery. That’s a really fun way to make music but I think it’s… recently I’ve been trying to speak from the first person and put words to the things that I’ve kind of struggled to say sometimes. Or even putting myself in someone else’s shoes.”

With this loose framework in mind, the band already has plans to start recording, even before having a solid arrangement of the new material. But they’re ok with that. “The longer it takes to actually nail down what you’re gonna do, the more rules tend to form subconsciously. Like the more conditions tend to pop up,” Grant says. Paul echoes that sentiment and adds, “The more bored you get. Even from a performative aspect… you record a song you’ve played 500 times, it doesn’t feel the same as one of those songs you’ve only played like 15 times before we recorded.”

The band also credits producer Dave Vettraino with guiding their recording process on Transparent World, and will be working with him on the next project. “He’s so patient. The way that he’s able to kind of guide you in the right direction. It’s the best form of musical diplomacy. Even if he knows what you’re doing is wrong, he can sit there with you to get the final project done,” Paul says.

“A lot of people talk about people they like to work with, saying they point us in the right way, like pointing in this solid direction, as in like a dictator. But I think of [Dave] more as like an extractor. Where he’s like a psychologist. He’s a therapist. He knows a lot more about me than I think my parents,” Grant says.

They Describe Their Sound as an Urban Outfitters Store Circa 2008

When discussing bands that they’re excited to see at Audiotree Music Festival next weekend, Grant brought up the band Lushh. “It kind of reminds me of the bath bomb store [Lush]! It’s soothing. They seem like it’s not in an aged way where it’s like ‘oh you know in decades from now it’s gonna sound like a bath bomb’.”

So if Pool Holograph’s music was to be compared to a store or an inanimate object (besides a bath bomb), what would the band members say? Jake says their music reminds him of a bowl of oil, while Stuckman picks an old, favorite t-shirt. “I don’t want to make a stupid pun, but it has the potential to get worn but not like worn on your body. But worn out over time. It has a sentimental value to it. I think through Wyatt’s lyrics there’s these sort of introspective narratives that happen. With a t-shirt you live out these narratives and have connections to it.”

Grant elaborates on that metaphor, adding “The narratives are kind of graphic elements on top of the song and it’s kind of like ‘oh shit I accidentally washed this on hot’ and it’s gone.”

“You can spill oil on it. And then that stain is there the whole time. Like when I joined the band, I poured my oil on it,” Jake jokes.

Grant goes one step further and paints a full picture of the band’s sound, combining the oil and old t-shirt. “Pool Holograph is an Urban Outfitters. A closed Urban Outfitters at night, in 2008. 2007. And the janitor is wearing a Rolling Stones distressed t-shirt and slips on some oil… and I feel bad now.”

The band jokes that they might start selling oil-stained t-shirts at the merch table to go along with this; “Wait this is covered in oil! Want your money back? Too bad… all of them have oil.”

They’re Fans of Visual Artists Who Also Make Music

While you most likely won’t actually be picking up an oil-stained, homemade t-shirt from Pool Holograph’s merch table any time soon, Grant does design and print their band shirts (they’ll be selling ‘em at ATMF). Naturally, Grant mentions other bands who are also into visual art when talking about some of his other favorite Chicago artists. “We really like Bunny. As artists making music, Courtesy is another example of that. My friend Drew is a really inspiring graphic designer. I think those bands give me a lot of motivation to continue as an artist/musician. Sonnenzimmer is a really good example of like an art/musician duo. They make posters and they make art all over the place. They’re legendary poster-makers and also musicians inherently.”

Without getting specific, Stuckman agrees that they’re fortunate to be surrounded by great friends and artists; “The people that we play with already I think are great, and in my mind, we only have room to encounter newer people along the way. We’ve been really fortunate to have a solid group of friends and bands that we’ve played with.” The Stolz brothers also give shout outs to the likes of Pixel Grip, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, The Hecks, Deeper, and Charlie Reed- just to name a few.

After reflecting on some of their favorite creative Chicagoans, Grant adds that being a part of “the scene” isn’t something that they necessarily strive to do as an end goal. “I don’t like to paint a static image of what ‘a scene’ is. I know there are like cumulations or like things kind of congeal in a certain shape for a little bit. Chicago has been a good example of that for all forms of music. I think it’s significant, historically speaking, to notice that like ‘now it’s this’ or ‘now it’s that’, I think at best Chicago has been a place where bands you don’t know about or people that you don’t get to hear from get to step forward and contribute to the conversation. There are a lot of ears and a lot of eyes and people listening and people breaking the mold constantly.”

Kevin Parker Attended One of Their DJ Sets

Imagine having the Kevin Parker of Tame Impala attend one of your DJ sets and not even knowing he was in attendance until weeks later. Well, that’s what happened when I brought up the fact that Parker had been in the crowd for the Pitchfork Music Festival after show in July that included DJ sets from Pool Holograph, Knox Fortune, Whitney, and NE-HI.

While Grant may not have noticed that members of Tame Impala had been present that night (in his defense, the place was packed), he says he’s got big plans for any future Pool Holograph DJ sets. “The thing is it’s about dictating the consciousness of the club,” he says, mentioning he just added some Bo Diddley and Rolling Stones albums to his collection. Pool Holograph has also recently DJed events at Crown Liquors and The Whistler, but be sure to keep your eye on their social media for future events.


You can catch Pool Holograph on Saturday night at the official ATMF after show at Old Dog Tavern, and on Sunday at 4:30PM at the festival. Get your tickets to the festival here.

Follow Pool Holograph on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook


A Chat With: Hudson Taylor

Hailing from Ireland, brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson Taylor have been garnering attention all over Europe since releasing their debut album in 2015. Earlier this year, the pair made their North American debut, touring with Gabrielle Aplin, and this month they'll be returning with singer-songwriter Hozier as he makes his long-awaited return to The States. Ahead of their show in Chicago on September 21st, get to know more about Hudson Taylor as they talk their early days of busking, their favorite fellow Irish musicians, and new music!

 Photo Credit Brandon Harrell

Photo Credit Brandon Harrell

What do you remember as your first musical memory when you were younger? 

Our first musical memory was probably a nursery rhyme but can’t remember which one. What first came to mind when we read the question was traditional Irish dancing music from our years spent as young Irish dancers. 

You’ll be heading back to The States soon to support Hozier on tour this month. What are you most looking forward to during your time over here? Any cities you’re particularly excited about?

We are so excited altogether for the North American tour with Hozier! It’s a huge step up from anything we’ve done over there before and we’ll be playing in lots of new places supporting Hozier and on our own headline tour. We have fond memories of playing New York, Seattle and Chicago.  

What’s the biggest culture shock you experienced when first playing music in America?

There’s not much of a noticeable difference onstage or in venues but when you travel around you do notice things and how munch bigger a country it is to Ireland. 

How would you describe your live show in three words for anyone who might be coming to one of the shows? 

Energetic, eclectic, harmony. 

As I understand it, you used to busk a lot before you started touring. Where were some of your favorite spots to busk and do you have any interesting stories about your busking experience? 

We started busking on Grafton street in Dublin when we were 15 and 16. We grew up watching buskers there. Every Christmas Eve loads of Irish musicians make their way here to raise money for the homeless, it really inspired us. We used to stand up on street bollards, bins and signs with our guitars to catch people’s eyes whilst playing covers. We had and still have a lot of fun busking and met some wonderful people doing so. 

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since releasing your debut album in 2015?

The biggest lesson was simply making and releasing the album. We had never done that before so everything was new to us and like most things it involves a lot of trial and error before you find out what you like or maybe don't like.

Following your latest EP “Feel It Again”, which you put out earlier this year, can we expect any more new music from you this year? 

Following our EP "Feel it Again" we’re releasing a new album called Bear Creek to Dame Street featuring four new tunes we recorded in Bear Creek studio in Seattle and four tunes we recorded live at our hometown gig at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

After selling out shows back home and getting to tour internationally, what else is on your bucket list to achieve as a band? Any certain venues you’re keen to perform in or any collaborations you’re hoping to make happen? 

When we started would have never imagined we would get to the level we are at now, of course we have dreams but overall we are very happy and grateful to be in the fortunate position to be touring, writing and doing music full time.

Lastly, who are some of your favorite new Irish bands or musicians that we should check out? 
So much great music coming out of Ireland a the moment. Would highly recommend checking out fellow Irish band The Academic. Lovely lads, great tunes and brilliant live show.


You can pre-order Hudson Taylor's new album Bear Creek to Dame Street here and keep up with them on Facebook + Instagram

Get To Know: OHMME

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"It’s really exciting because I feel like we’ve both been producing a lot of work in the last few years, and we’ve been working a lot on music, but there’s nothing that’s been out tangibly. It’s very satisfying to have something coming out that feels representative to us and where we’re at in our lives," Macie Stewart says about OHMME's debut album, Parts, which is out today via Joyful Noise Recordings. Since 2014, Stewart and her counterpart Sima Cunningham have endeavored to create a new sound together, following their years of experience playing music that fell into different sonic territory. 

While the pair continues to split their musical talent into multiple projects, OHMME has remained Stewart and Cunningham's main focus over the past few years, which saw them put out a self-titled EP last year and tour nationally. With so much experience already under their belt, the release of their debut full length marks the beginning of bigger and brighter things on the horizon for OHMME. Ahead of the record release show at Thalia Hall tomorrow, tune into Parts and dive into these six facts I learned while chatting with Stewart and Cunningham earlier this month. 


They're Both Classically Trained Musicians

If you live in Chicago and haven't seen Stewart and Cunningham perform as OHMME, chances are you've probably still seen them on the stage. Whether they're singing backup vocals for Twin Peaks, performing in the strings section at Whitney's show, or collaborating with Chance The Rapper, there's no shortage of ways to see the duo putting their musical talent to use throughout the city. Both Stewart and Cunningham are classically trained musicians and wear multiple hats in the music scene, experimenting with different genres, but they still recall their early days of first getting into music. 

"I remember going to my mom’s work," Stewart recalled. "Going to pick her up, cause she’s a musician too. She plays piano in restaurants around Chicago. I remember being really little and getting to sit on the piano bench with her and being like this is really fun," she continued. 

"I can kind of remember doing really, really early Suzuki violin, which I did not stay with," Cunningham pondered. Stewart chimes in that she understands that, as a former Suzuki violin teacher herself. Cunningham added, "I think one of my earliest memories was probably my dad would play the Boogie Woogie a lot on the piano and would just kind of like let us bang along or sing along with him on the piano. And do a lot of making up lyrics. A lot of just playing the blues. I think playing the blues with my dad, just singing with him..." 

They're Pros at Time Management

With all of the projects that Stewart and Cunningham have going on outside of OHMME, they don't have much free time to spare, but they're quickly learning how to manage their time. Cunningham credits coffee with keeping them going through their busy schedule, while Stewart says, "That’s a difficult question cause I’m not sure that we’ve exactly figured it out. I think we’re really good at managing our time and when we have an hour free just by ourselves, we’re able to get stuff done that needs to get done. Probably what I’m learning is that I have to schedule time to be free. Instead of scheduling time to do things. I have to schedule time to be productive in that sense. It’s really impossible when your brain is flying through so many thoughts. Not even just working on music, just working in general, just life in general. You gotta make sure that you make time for your own brain space in order to be creative. That’s the thing that I’ve learned over the last year."

For Cunningham, putting one project as the number one priority has helped her manage her overall schedule; "I think in a partnership like we have with OHMME, both of us, kind of a year and a half ago, made the commitment to each other that [this] would be number one. That has made a lot of things easier for me in my life as far as making decisions and figuring that out," she says. 

Their New Material Focuses More on Live Creation

After dedicating their priorities to OHMME, the pair set aside some time last year to knock out writing the album, and they set to work to record it with a loose plan in place. "I think it’s good to create loose perimeters for yourself for whatever you’re doing and then mess with those. That’s kind of a life mantra in general, for whatever you’re doing," Stewart says about their outline for the album work. Tracing back to the beginning of the process a couple of years ago, Cunningham says, "It's kind of interesting... there’s a little bit of a ping pong effect of like where the audience hears the music at because if you were in Chicago, some people might have seen us when we first started playing these songs. Some of the songs were about two years old, some of them are just a year old and we finished them right before we put them on the record. It was just kind of like we had this window and we knew we had to get the record done cause we’re gonna be on the road and we’re both really always busy and always doing stuff. So we had this nice window of time where we knew we had to finish the record," adding that they also didn't want to draw out the process. "We just wanted to put it out, record it and then get to work on making it come out and come to fruition. So a lot of that was bringing ideas to each other and kind of improvising on those ideas." She described plotting out the core of the melodies, harmonies, and arrangements with Stewart before bringing in their live band. 

"Yeah, we kind of had a loose conceptual idea of what we wanted it to be, which was that we wanted it to capture what we sound like live more than the last EP. The EP that we put out was a lot of layering and just me and Sima. Kind of stacking all these things on top of each other. Not necessarily playing at the same time. Doing a lot of overdubs and writing things that way. We wanted this record to be more capturing this moment in time where we’re all playing together in a room, getting the energy of the songs and how they sound when we’re all communicating with each other. So that was kind of like the loose concept of the record," Stewart elaborated. 

Prior to the studio time spent on the album, Cunningham and Stewart played a show at The Hungry Brain to test it in a true live setting. "I feel like playing a live show is worth ten rehearsals. It tells you a lot about the songs that you’re playing and where they’re at and about what works and what doesn’t. So that was really helpful to play a marathon show where we just played every single song. It was like a last minute thing at our favorite bar," Stewart recalled about the show, adding that they did gauge the crowd responses to the album, but they mostly judged their own reactions. 

They're Bookworms

Talking outside subjects that inspired the writing on the album, Cunningham and Stewart credit books as the main medium that influences their writing tactics, but even then it's a faint influence. Stewart recently tweeted about the task of moving her massive book collection, but she says, "For this record, at least for the lyrical content that I created, it was mostly drawing from my introverted experiences in the world and how I am perceiving things around me. A lot of the time, we draw inspiration from books. I think that’s something we have in common. When we’re reading, it kind of sparks all these different ideas and sets us off when we’re writing. For this record specifically, I wouldn’t say that-- I mean I’m always inspired by that cause I’m around it all the time, but far as something that was purposely inspired by that, that wasn't what I contributed."

Cunningham agrees, adding, "Yeah I don’t really know if I can point to anything specific, but I would say that a lot of the lyricism of the album is drawn from thinking about things in a very tactile way, and thinking about little clips, little image clips and kind of trying to dissect them and peel layers back. I’m trying to think of what I’ve been reading a lot over the past year. I’ve been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood and I feel like I always love the way that she describes scenes. Parts of the album I think are very landscape-like."

Sheryl Crow, Sigur Ros, and Sofia Jernberg are all on Their Collaboration Bucket List

While they may not rely on other art forms as inspiration, the pair says they are inspired by working with other people. Reflecting on the biggest lessons they've learned, Stewart says, "I’ve definitely learned that I love collaboration. That’s my most ideal method of creating, is in a collaborative environment with someone. I’ve also learned that I need to get out of my comfort zone in order to get something that’s actually viable or that’s actually interesting. We recorded this record in Sima’s basement studio that she has, and it was really great. We recorded the first project there too so it was nice to record there because we knew how it worked there. It was also a different method of recording than we’re used to with this band... On the other hand it was like now that we’ve recorded this record there, I think for whatever happens next we need to get into a new environment to really push forward and make something that’s not the same that we’ve been through."

As far as their dream collaborations they'd like to be a part of in the future, Cunningham says, "I’d love to work with David Byrne, I think that’d be super fun. He just did that whole project that was really cool except that there were no women on it. His live show also looked really incredible. I just feel like he’s very much into putting on large performances."

Stewart adds, "I personally love Deerhoof a lot. They’re an awesome band, and I know that they also dabble in the free improvisational scene. We’re also label mates with them," before excitedly throwing in, "I wanna work with Yoko Ono!" A Le Tigre song came on in the a cafe where I'd met up with Stewart and Cunningham and both agree they'd love to collaborate with that band, while the latter also adds, "There’s a singer and composer named Sofia Jernberg who is in Norway. I’d love to collaborate with her sometime." 

It's clear that the duo really does love collaborating and experimenting with other genres because they also mention Sheryl Crow ("St. Vincent just collaborated with Sheryl Crow!") and Sigur Rós as artists they'd love to work with before changing subjects.

Their Favorite Artists are Also Multi-taskers 

As demonstrated by their endless involvement in the Chicago music scene and their massive nation-wide tour coming up after the release of Parts, it's obvious that Stewart and Cunningham are no strangers of multi-tasking, but as it turns out, many of the local artists that inspire them are also jacks-of-all-trades.

"I really admire Ken Vandermark actually. He’s someone who is in a bunch of different projects and is constantly doing a million things but he’s able to make things that are different from each other and still remain interesting and new. That’s someone that I look to for inspiration to keep moving forward," Stewart says. 

"We have a lot of amazing friends around us. Our friend Alex Grelle...he’s a really talented theater performer and has been doing these amazing variety shows that I think influenced us but also everyone in our very close proximity into falling back in love with the idea of true performance," Cunningham added. 

The pair has no trouble listing plenty of other local artists with work ethics that they admire, like Crystal Zapata and Maren Celest, who both assisted with their album art. Talking about the latter, Stewart says, "She shot our album cover but she’s also a musician and just released her own record. She does stuff with Manual Cinema, which is this amazing theatre, shadow puppet, multi-disciplinary company in Chicago. She works with them and she used to have a vintage shop in Chicago and she was doing all these things at the same time. But doing them all really well, it’s not even like she was just putting limited attention towards everything. She’s definitely an inspiration cause her work is always so unique and inspired. She’s constantly working and just trying to figure out new ways to do things." Zapata, who did the design of their record, works with The Normal Studio and creates other art. 

"There’s a lot of inspiring people in Chicago. I feel like it’s an endless list, which is why we stay here," Stewart wrapped up the topic. While the two love Chicago and find infinite inspiration here, Cunningham mentioned they'd love to do residencies outside of the city. "Both of us are really craving to go do residencies in places. When we’re in Chicago, it’s hard for us to not be working all the time. I mean, whether it’s on OHMME or just music, it’s very exciting cause our lives are full of music and we’re busy, but in Chicago it feels like every minute of our time gets swallowed up sometimes. So I think giving ourselves an opportunity to go spend time away and just be with our own creativity, cause it can be hard to set time aside for it."


OHMME will begin their biggest tour yet this weekend, kicking things off with a hometown show at Thalia Hall with V.V. Lightbody and The Hecks-- get tickets here, and check out the rest of their tour dates here (They'll be playing in Vancouver for the first time, making their first non-SXSW appearance in Austin, and performing at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.)

To get ready for the show tomorrow, listen to Parts in full below.

Follow OHMME on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook

A Chat With: Bob Schneider

This weekend, we'll be out in Waynesville, Ohio covering Bellwether Festival. The festival lineup includes the Austin-based singer-songwriter and visual artist Bob Schneider, who just released his seventh studio album Blood & Bones on June 8th. Ahead of his 5PM set on Friday, get to know Bob a bit better by checking out our chat below.

 Photo Credit: Charles Reagan

Photo Credit: Charles Reagan

You recently put out your seventh studio album Blood and Bones earlier this summer. What would you say is the main difference between this album and your past work?

All of these songs were written after the birth of my daughter. I've noticed that since she's been born, there's been a bit of a shift in how I approach romantic songs. Before this album, the songs were basically, 'you're hot and I'd like to get together with you'. Now they're more like, 'I love you and I want to take care of you.' So I tend to write sweeter songs than I did before. 

Going back to your early days, I read that you were born in Michigan, and grew up in Germany before moving to Texas. Do you think that your time in Germany has shaped you as a songwriter and musician?

For sure. Mainly, I ended up hearing a lot of early new wave music overseas. I listened to a lot of British, German and American music, but the British and German stuff I probably wouldn't have been exposed to if I was living in the states. It doesn't necessarily show in terms of what I end up putting out, but I really do love quirky, strange-sounding music.

How do you usually split your time between creating music and your visual art? Is it sometimes difficult to find time to balance both passions in your busy schedule?

I love doing both. I've found myself devoting more time to art than to music the last couple of years, mainly because it takes more time to make art than to write songs. You can write a song in a few hours, but sometimes it takes days or weeks to make a single piece of art. I don't think i'll ever stop making music though. I really love writing songs and getting the chance to play them live is the most exciting thing I get to do.

In all your years of creating both music and art, what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

The best thing you can do when you're making any kind of art, whether it's visual, music or anything creative really, is to not try to make anything that's 'the best.' Nothing stops you from creating faster than the critical part of your brain. If you're trying to make the best song ever, or the greatest piece of art in the world, you'll never get anywhere, because that voice in your head will constantly be telling you, 'it's not good enough.' The creative part of your brain is like a little kid that wants to play and have fun. If you can get the critical part of your brain to leave that part of your brain alone, you'll never have any problem writing and creating. You can always go back afterwards and figure out if the thing that you made is good or not, but that shouldn't be part of the creative process.

What are some of your favorite aspects of the Austin music scene at the moment, from the best bands to the best venues?

I don't really know. I'm sort of out of the scene. I used to go out all the time and see music, when I was younger and single. Mainly, just to get laid, but also to see live music. Nowadays, though, I don't go out at all. I'm either playing or staying home and hanging out with my family. It's much more interesting and fun for me than to go out and see stuff. Of course, there's always SXSW every year, as well as the 150-200 shows I play throughout the year where I get to see and hear music and meet other songwriters, but I guess that's about it. I do have a favorite Austin songwriter, Danny Malone. Just an amazing songwriter. Max Frost is also doing great work here as well.

I like that on your website, you have a section called “Some of My Favorite Things” where you shout out everything from your favorite books, movies, food, etc… I noticed most of the posts were made in 2015, so do you have any more recent favorites that you’d like to shout out now?

I was talked into hosting an online magazine three years ago and they wanted me to interview my favorite artists and talk about my favorite things, so that's where that came from. It was weird contacting people that I didn't know very well - or at all, in some cases - and asking them questions about their art. I would never do anything like that, and probably won't be doing that again anytime soon. I do have some recommendations though: in film - 8th GradeFirst ReformedGhost StoryDen of ThievesBlockers (this list can go on and on). Books - The Overstory by Richard Powers, The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmins. Poetry - Ted Kooser and Frank Stanford. Graphic novels - The Saga series. Podcasts - Philosophize This. TV - The Great British Baking ShowScott and BaileyBarry (this list could go on as well).

This weekend you’ll be playing at Bellwether Music Festival, and the lineup is incredible! Are there any other sets at the festival you’re hoping to catch?

There are some incredible bands playing. Two of my all time favorites included, The Flaming Lips and Psychedelic Furs, but I'll miss both of them, because I have a gig the next day...

What can we expect from your show at the festival? Will you mostly be playing the new songs or a mix of your discography?

It'll be mostly new songs with a few of the older songs thrown in for any fans of mine that might be in attendance.

Lastly, what else are you looking forward to this year?

GOMFT! (that stands for "Game of Mother Fucking Thrones"), but I think that's actually not coming out till next year, for some reason. Either way, Im looking forward to it!


There's still time to get tickets for Bellwether Festival. Head here to snag yours, starting at only $65 for single day. Bob plays Friday at 5PM on the Sunset Stage. 

 

A Chat With: Taylor Janzen

In a time where "fake news" is a thing, there's something particularly refreshing about music that's honest, raw, and vulnerable; especially when those authentic narratives are told with the uncomplicated delivery of an acoustic guitar and a sole vocalist. Enter Taylor Janzen, the 19 year old singer songwriter from Winnipeg who sings about topics as serious as mental health or emotional abuse, but fills her social media with more lighthearted musings (like her love of Dennis Quaid). 

Janzen just released her debut single "Stations" at the end of June, but in just a few short days, she's gracing us with her debut EP--called "Interpersonal." If you're looking for a new artist whose tweets are just as relatable as her lyrics, look no further and dive into our conversation with Janzen below. We discuss her songwriting approach, having Hayley Williams as a fan, her favorite Dennis Quaid movie and so much more. 

 Get to know your new favorite singer-songwriter, Taylor Janzen. For fans of: Julia Jacklin, Phoebe Bridgers, and Soccer Mommy

Get to know your new favorite singer-songwriter, Taylor Janzen. For fans of: Julia Jacklin, Phoebe Bridgers, and Soccer Mommy

What do you consider to be your first music memory...Either what really got you into music or what got you interested in playing it?

My first musical memory was when I was 5 or 6, my mom had bought me the first two Avril Lavigne records...I think the second album had just come out. She bought me the first two, and I was in love with her. I thought she was the coolest person. I wanted to be her. I just remember thinking she was the coolest ever.

I went through that Avril phase too so I can relate! So your debut EP is coming out this month, and you co-produced it. What can you tell me about the whole process behind it and working as a co-producer?

When I wrote it--I didn’t really sit down and write it. I pulled from different songs and tried to make it as thematic as possible, and cohesive. I wrote them over a year. It was a very interesting process to work with someone else. I’ve never done that before, but I worked with my friend Shane. He is brilliant and we did it out of his house, but he actually knew what he was doing as opposed to me making weird stuff in my basement. He was so cool to work with. He’s a great friend and great musician, and he helped make them sound a lot better than I think they originally did. It was interesting to work with someone else cause I’d never done that, but it was a really cool experience to have someone else’s perspective and someone else’s ears on it.

As far as your two singles that you’ve released...You have “The Waiting Room” which tackles the subject of mental health, and a lot of people find it taboo to talk about and it really shouldn’t be. Then with “Stations," you talk about emotional abuse. Did you find it challenging to open up about subjects like that, which are so personal, or is it more rewarding for you to be able to let that out?

I think the first moment that these are shared is always the scary moment. Actually the scariest moment is when I played them live for the first time. One of the songs on the EP called “Colourblind"--that one was probably the scariest song I’ve written. I would put it on my set list and then take it off right before I was supposed to play it. I would just switch it out with a cover, and be like I’m not playing this song! People are gonna think that it’s too much. Now it’s one of the songs that gets the most reaction out of people. That one and “The Waiting Room.” It’s the one that I’m most proud of, and it’s really interesting how the ones that you’re usually most scared of are the ones that people like the most or connect to the most. Cause they’re honest. And they’re transparent. So it’s scary at first, but I think once you can get into it, it is less scary.

Yeah, there's that reward that comes with the risk. Then I know Hayley Williams has voiced her love for your music, and I know you’ve done Paramore covers in the past. So how does that feel to have her support?

That is so crazy. She’s so cool. She’s one of the first artists, or Paramore is one of the first bands that I ever fell in love with in a real or personal way. I remember basically watching Hayley Williams be able to stand up there and be a woman and not be afraid of her loudness. I think sometimes as women, we’re told to tone ourselves down so much and just to watch someone embrace those parts of herself and not be scared of herself, that was the most empowering thing and that’s always been something that inspired me. The fact that she would listen to anything that I would ever write, is crazy to me. She’s one of the reasons why I feel comfortable being myself.

Are there any other women in music that you find to be great role models or inspire you?

Oh man yeah! I’m just always so inspired by women who are not afraid of themselves. Like Torres I always say is one of my favorite artists. As a songwriter she’s so open and honest and smart about the delivery. Then I’m always super inspired by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Like Karen is just so cool and so herself. She doesn’t focus on like...I love the way her voice is. She doesn’t try to make it sound pretty, it’s more emotive and expressive and I love that. Or you know, I could go on, but Brandi Carlile. I love the dynamic of her music.

Yeah, I love how those women are examples of completely different types of music, but they’re all so inspiring. So kind of switching gears a little bit, I saw your tweet the other day from when you were in LA. You took a picture in front of Dennis Quaid’s star on the walk of fame and you referenced his bit that he does with Ellen yelling “Dennis Quaid is here!” So what is your favorite bit he does with her, cause he’s done a few.

He has! I think the original one was so iconic. I think would be my favorite, but I love the one where he goes to like that massage therapist and she makes him eat the tomato. He suffers for his art. Truly! I love Dennis Quaid. I just want to talk to him. I feel like he’s just so calming. I have a song named after him.

I saw that when I researched! You really do love him.

Yeah, when I was in LA I wasn’t there for a long time, so I only had time to do one cool thing that wasn’t related to the industry. So I wanted to see Dennis Quaid’s star.

Priorities! What would say is your favorite Dennis Quaid movie?

Oh, Parent Trap! 100 %. Why is he so cool? He just seems like the cool dad.

So I was going to ask, and you just kind of mentioned it, but was this your first time in LA when you had that show there?

Yeah! I’d never been to LA yet.

What else is on your bucket list in LA, or anywhere else in the states?

I would love to see all these cities in America. I was recently in Nashville and that was really cool. I want to go to New York. I’m easily impressed by things since I’m from Winnipeg. I love Winnipeg...but when I was flying into LA I was so impressed by like how not-flat it is. I’m very intimidated by big cities, but I’m also really fascinated by them. I really want to go to New York one day and also go back to LA.

Did you have any culture shock moments in LA?

Everyone really likes avocados. Also my manager got his burger lettuce wrapped when we went out for dinner.

It’s such a health freak city!

I’m just kind of blown away by the people and how busy and huge and spread out [the city] was.

Besides LA, you also played the Winnipeg Folk Fest and The Real Love fest recently. So how did those go? Any highlights?

Yeah so my show in LA was the first real show I played out of Manitoba. I’m excited to do more of that! Winnipeg Folk Fest went so well, then Real Love Fest was out in Teulon, Manitoba and I had to drive a lot for it. It was really fun. I was really tired from LA, but the atmosphere was so chill that it did not bother me at all.

Any other plans to tour once the EP is out?

Yeah, I’m for sure working on getting something. It takes a lot of planning!

Any other local bands that you’re really into that I should check out?

Yes! I love the local scene so much, I have like an embarrassing amount of pride for it. I think my favorites right now are Boniface... it’s actually named after the neighborhood they grew up in and which I grew up in, called Saint Boniface, so it’s like extra local for me. There’s also Olivia Lunny, she’s an incredible singer songwriter. She’s really feel good, I love listening to her when I drive everywhere. Then my friend Cassidy Mann also just released a single. It’s incredible. There’s a lot of really really good music here. I think because it’s so secluded people don’t really hear about it?

Awesome, I will check them out! Any last closing comments? 

I never know what to say at this part. My EP comes out on August 10th and I’m really excited and hope people like it.

And support Dennis Quaid?

Yeah! Show him some love!


Make sure you listen to "Interpersonal" this Friday, August 10th, and keep up with Taylor on Twitter + Instagram

A Chat With: BODEGA

 Photo By Mert Gafuroglu

Photo By Mert Gafuroglu

Brooklyn's BODEGA combines the thoughtfulness and wit of lead songwriters Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio's lyrics with a cheeky attitude and an array of influences on their full length debut. The album, called Endless Scroll, released via What’s Your Rupture? records last week, and the band has been out on the road for the better part of this year playing songs from the record. 

They're currently overseas on a UK and European tour, but Ben Hozie recently took some time to chat with us about his songwriting approach, their touring essentials, their favorite fellow Brooklyn bands and more. 

 


Congratulations on having your debut album out this week! The writing on this record has such an authentic and thoughtful quality to it-- is it sometimes difficult to get into that space when you’re in the writing process? If so, how do you get around that challenge? 

It is difficult to get into the proper headspace to create — the most important thing is to stay away from the internet to avoid distraction. I am old school - I write best with pen, paper, and acoustic guitar.

As far as the inspiration behind the songs, you obviously have some pop culture references, like with “Jack in Titanic.” Did you find yourselves drawing inspiration from other mediums like film or TV on other songs? 

I’m also a filmmaker so I am always thinking about cinema. When it comes to music, you listen with your eyes and see with your ears.

How was it working with Austin Brown as the producer, and what was the recording process like? 

Austin Brown is a very hands-off producer. He set up an 8 track tape machine (the same one Parquet Courts recorded Light Up Gold on) in their practice space and had us play all of the songs live. We did the whole record in four days. I kept wanting to embellish the arrangements but he was very adamant about keeping the recording as simple and honest as possible. I am a big fan of his band —- I became a peacock internally to show off the songs.

I love the 360/VR video you put out for “How Did This Happen !?” Who came up with the idea, and do you have any plans for more VR videos in the future? 

The VR vid was Nikki’s idea. We wanted to fake a live show recording which would mock the trope of super hype ‘live’ videos. Honestly, I’m not crazy about virtual reality. I find it very limiting - the art of cinema is ‘framing’ and ‘cutting.’ VR removes human agency from the medium. It was a fun experiment but i’d be surprised if we did it again anytime soon.

I caught your recent set in Chicago at The Empty Bottle and you guys all had such a fun and energetic stage presence. Who inspires you as a performer?

I have a lot of heroes of the stage (ones you might not suspect from our music) : Bruce Springsteen, Perry Farrell, Public Enemy, and the Grateful Dead. 

Speaking of playing live, you’ve toured a ton this year; from playing SXSW to traveling to the UK and Europe. What have been some of your favorite shows or highlights of tour? 

Some of our best shows have happened in unlikely places. We played at a library in Birkenhead and a batting cage in Philadelphia. Every show is different——- we try to make every show unique. 

When you’re traveling, what are some of your favorite ways to stay entertained on the road? Any podcast or album recommendations?

Good books are the best. We are pretty obsessed with the 33 and 1/3 book series. I’m trying to read them all. Right now i’m going back and forth between ‘Trouble Boys: The Story of the Replacements’ and ‘Bubliminal’ by Leonard Mlodinow. 

What are your go-to snacks or drinks that you’d pick up at a bodega? 

The two essential liquids : coffee and beer.

Who are some of your favorite bands fellow Brooklyn bands that you think everyone should check out? 

Milk Dick, Parlor Walls, GUSTAF, Eaters, Pill, Public Practice, Operator Music Band, Straw Pipes, Shilpa Ray, and The Consumables.


Keep up with BODEGA on Instagram + Facebook, and listen to Endless Scroll in full below.

A Chat With: Matt Maeson

Considering he grew up playing music in prisons and at biker rallies with his parents, you could say singer songwriter Matt Maeson has quite the interesting backstory...But ultimately, it's his dynamic vocals, piercing lyrics, and knack for storytelling that hooks listeners and fosters the growing buzz surrounding his music. With millions of streams racking up on Spotify and appearances booked at major festivals around the country, the momentum surrounding Maeson just keeps building, and he hasn't even released a debut full length yet. 

The music Maeson has released so far remains sonically multifaceted, with each song on his two EPs having a distinct sound of their own. Most of his songs tend to cover serious subject matters, but to juxtapose the heaviness that comes with some of his music, Maeson keeps the mood lighthearted on his social media, often cracking jokes on his Twitter. (Go follow him if you're not already, trust me.) That same personality transfers over to his live show, so if you're heading to Lolla this year, make sure you catch Matt Maeson on Friday, 8/3 at noon...but first get to know him a bit better. I recently caught up with him after his set at Bonnaroo last month, talking his favorite festival moments, his love of Chicago food, Johnny Cash selfies and more. 

 Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer

Photo Credit: Matthew Reamer


So I know you grew up with a musical family, but when do you remember wanting to start making music on your own?

I was, like you said, raised in a very musical family, so from the time I was able to consciously receive music, I loved it. I started on drums when I was really young. I was like 3 or 4 and my uncle passed away and he left me a drum set. I just drummed away until I was 13 or 14 and then I picked up a guitar around 15, and that’s when I started writing songs. My dad would teach me chords. So 15, around that age was when I started writing, and I started performing live when I was 17. The rest is history.

When you started performing live, is there anyone you looked up to, or whose stage presence you admired?

That’s tough cause there’s different aspects. Vocals, Britney Howard from Alabama Shakes is insanely talented. Jeff Buckley is one of my all time favorite artists. Then Manchester Orchestra is a huge one for me.

Oh were you around yesterday when they played?

No I wasn’t I missed it! I missed them at Bottle Rock when they played the day after.

Oh no! One day you'll get to see them! Anyone else who inspires you?

I love Johnny Cash. I love the way he performs... and I played in a lot of prisons growing up.

I caught your set earlier and before you played “Cringe” you said “This is the one everyone has been waiting for.” How does that feel since releasing that song to have such a viral response to it? What has been a highlight?

It’s sick! “Cringe” is my most streamed song so I know every show that’s what everyone wants to hear. I’d say that the really dope thing was I played this show at The Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon. That was the first show that I ever heard people singing the lyrics with me, and that was to “Cringe.”

Then you just mentioned you played Bottle Rock, you’re playing 'Roo now, then playing Forecastle and Lolla too. What is your favorite festival moment and your worst festival experience that you’ve ever had?

I’d say my favorite festival moment would probably be the time I played this festival in Houston called In Bloom. It’s a smaller one, but it was my first festival. My girlfriend was there, I just played solo acoustic. And people were singing along. It was just the first big crowd at a festival I saw and played in front of. The least favorite was I went to this festival called Beach Goth in Orange County. It’s cool and the line up was amazing...it had three of my favorite artists; King Krule, James Blake, and Bon Iver were all headlining. The stages were so close together and it was so packed that if you were trying to see King Krule you were hearing like TLC play. And then if you were trying to see Bon Iver you heard this, and there was just so many people that I was like I don’t want to see any of my favorite artists like this. I’d rather wait to catch them in smaller shows. 

What made you come up with the idea to release stripped versions of songs like "The Hearse" and "Cringe"?

[It was] mainly cause this is my first tour doing a full band thing. So everything before that was just acoustic. So that’s what people who have seen me live have grown to love. That’s when I think the songwriting really shines, when there’s not all this big production behind it, but it’s just this simple thing where people can really focus on the melody and lyrics. We put a couple out and people loved it.

My mom loves the stripped version of “Cringe!”

Yeah that song is streaming extremely well! It’s streaming better than the regular one.

What about new music? Are you working on that on the road at all or just focusing on touring these songs?

I mean, both. I don’t really try and force myself to write too often because I think that’s when the writing feels like it’s a job or something. It gets a little less sincere when you’re trying to force something out. Typically what happens is I’ll go on tour, I’ll get so drained and so exhausted, and then I’ll get home and write an amazing song. We’re definitely writing for the album right now.

So you’re coming to play Lolla, and I’m based in Chicago--

Yeah I love Chicago!

So what are you looking forward to about Lolla and coming to Chicago in general? Are you sticking around at all?

I will be because I’m doing a Lolla set and then I’m doing an after show, and then I’m doing another show...I think it’s just acoustic. So I’m doing the acoustic show and then I’m opening up for Gang of Youths, they’re awesome and I’ve done a couple shows with them! Then I do the actual Lolla set, so I think I’ll be there for three or four days.

Did you check out the rest of the line up at all?

The line up is insane. So good. I’m pumped. There’s definitely people I want to see, but I’ll know in about a month and a half from now.

Anything else you're looking forward to doing in the city while you’re there?

I love Chicago. I would 100 percent live there if it didn’t get so cold. It's brutal. I’ve been there in the winter and it’s so brutal. But Nando’s, I love Nando’s and it’s one of the only states that has them. Au Cheval, the burger spot. It’s insane. I love food. I still haven’t been yet, but my buddy works at the restaurant called Alinea. It’s insanely expensive. I just love Chicago, I love the people there.

Also your Twitter can be really hilarious, and I saw the other day you posted about people DM-ing you selfies. So if anyone in the world were to DM you a selfie, who would you want to slide into those DMs? We can even do dead or alive.

I would say Johnny Cash. Cause not only would that be amazing to receive a selfie, it would also be hilarious just to see a selfie of Johnny Cash.

Yeah, those don’t exist. Then last thing, do you have any unknown facts or something that you’ve always wanted to talk about that no one has brought up yet in an interview?

That’s a hard one! I skate...nobody ever asks me about that! If you look at my Instagram or something everyone I follow is pro skaters. I never get starstruck and the only people I get starstruck by are pro skaters. Which is funny cause they’re usually the chillest dudes.

When did you get into skating?

When I was super young, around 7. I’m not like great. I was better when I was 16, but I still love it. Love the culture.

Anything else you’re looking forward to or any last closing comments?

Looking forward to getting this album done. We don’t know when it’s gonna come out. It’ll either be late this year or early next year. Then we’re gonna do a fall tour that I’m pumped about. We’re still figuring it out if it will be a headlining or support tour.


Chicago, if you're not going to Lolla this year, you can still catch Maeson at his aftershow--snag those tickets here, and listen to The Hearse EP in full below. 

Get To Know: Naked Giants

2018 has already been a whirlwind for the Seattle trio Naked GiantsBetween releasing their debut album, touring Europe with Car Seat Headrest, and playing new cities for the first time, it's certainly been a year of career landmarks, and things aren't slowing down for the band any time soon. 

Back in May, the group played Chicago for the first time, packing Schubas Tavern on a Saturday night. Just as the audience warmly welcomed Naked Giants to their city, the band made sure everyone in the crowd had a great time by periodically checking in to make sure everyone felt comfortable, promoting a completely safe space at their show. 

Before the show began that night, I had a chat with the band, talking everything from movie soundtracks, their bucket lists, starting a New West Records super group, and their proactive songwriting habits. For all that and more, get to know Naked Giants now. 

 Naked Giants is Gianni Aiello, Grant Mullen, and Henry LaVallee

Naked Giants is Gianni Aiello, Grant Mullen, and Henry LaVallee


Their First Musical Memories Heavily Involve Movie Soundtracks

The three members of Naked Giants all remember getting into music at different ages, but there's a common thread in all of their introductions to music. Gianni Aiello says he remembers laying in his dad's bed with a green iPod listening to "Human" by The Killers, but adds "Before that I really liked the SpongeBob Movie soundtrack. That had some tunes on it. When I look back on it, it’s like Flaming Lips, Ween, Avril Lavigne, Wilco... It’s a pretty cool soundtrack." 

Drummer Henry LaVallee also had early memories of movie scores. "I remember this movie called Bedknobs and Broomsticks, with Angela Lansbury," LaVallee says, animatedly describing the film. "It’s like an old Disney movie from the 70’s, it took place in Britain during World War II. It was like a musical, but it was one of those trippy ones where the first act is all humans, and then at the start of the second act, they go into a cartoon world. So these humans are interacting with---it’s like Roger Rabbit. Then they get out of this cartoon world, but it follows this Medieval story book and it’s a really good movie honestly. These kids are orphaned from the war and then Angela Lansbury is like a witch and she takes them in." Aiello interjects at one point to ask if it's like Nanny McPhee, and LaVallee continues, "Little bit, little bit. Then the kids don’t believe in magic and they think Angela sucks, but then she’s actually badass. They also all sing together. And Angela doesn’t like the kids either, she’s forced to have them, but then they’re all really chummy by the end of it and they fight off the Nazis with magic at the very end and it’s really cool. But the music in that [inspired me]. So we used to watch that, it was a great summertime movie. Or Meatballs with Bill Murray and the songs in that!"

As for guitarist Grant Mullen's first musical memories, he recalls having a tiny Casio keyboard. "They’re really small and they sound really weird. I just remember playing really scary music, cause you know it’s really easy to play music like that when you have no idea what you’re doing. I was probably 4 or 5 when my parents got me that."

They've Played SXSW the Last Three Years

SXSW usually does quite the number on bands with schedules involving multiple shows a day all around town, but Naked Giants hasn't let that madness deter them from returning to Austin for the last three years in March. However, they all agree that this year had been the best by far, confirming that the third time really is a charm. "It was better in every way. We played better shows on average, there were people at the shows. We got to stay with our friends Ron Gallo. We had some good connections. We made some friends...The Do512 people who are all super nice. We’re actually gonna see one of them in New York cause their other coworkers [DoNYC] are there. Just in general it was a good vibe. Just like the flow and all of that," Aiello said. 

Mullen mentions that the group got to see their label-mate Caroline Rose for the first time at this past SXSW. "Meeting her was kind of like meeting a cousin. It was like oh, we’re probably gonna get along. You know? It weirdly reminded me of that. And we totally did, I thought," LaVallee added. 

They Want to Start a New West Records Super Group

Speaking of New West Records label-mates, if you've ever seen some of the label's artists like Naked Giants, Caroline Rose, and Ron Gallo perform live, you might have realized that they all have an unforgettable stage presence. Well, Naked Giants has also recognized that trait about themselves and their extended record label family too. "I realized after seeing Caroline, and after touring with Ron, that New West Records--what they really love is gimmicks. We have the whole smorgasbord of everything we do on stage. Ron’s got the whole trumpet thing and playing a guitar with a skateboard or whatever. Caroline and her band have the outfits and the end of her show where she pulls out the recorder. So New West wants something that people will remember," Aiello says. Mullen interjects to say, "People that don’t take themselves too seriously." Aiello continues, "Exactly, that. So I had this dream of forming a super group of all 3 of our bands. I don’t know what the music would sound like..."

While they may have no idea what it will sound like, they do have some idea of the band name, and how it could work. "What if the name was Mick and the Gimme Gimmes?" LaVallee suggests. "That’s good, gimme more! There’s this band called Superorganism and they’re like a collective thing, but they would send music across different countries. Like one of them lived in England and one of them lived in Greenland, I don’t know if anyone lives in Greenland... But I would imagine it would be something like that [where we send music to each other]," Aiello ponders about the structure of the group. 

Their Favorite Performers Range From The Lemon Twigs to Freddie Mercury

Speaking of memorable stage presence, the members of Naked Giants always seem to give 200 percent of their energy whenever they perform. So whose stage presence do they admire the most? "Freddie Mercury," LaVallee says, adding that he tries his best to be the "Freddie Mercury of the drum kit." 

"I was just talking to somebody yesterday about The Lemon Twigs," Aiello says. "I haven’t seen them live yet, but I’ve seen videos and that one kid’s got some really good kicks. So I started doing kicks after I saw that." 

Mullen adds, "I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this, but now that I think about it, early White Stripes, Jack White stage presence. Cause he just you know, looked so almost like, he had mixed emotions while he was playing. He didn't want the crowd to even look at him. Cause he didn’t like being there, but he really wanted to tell them something really important. Which was I’m a white guy singing the blues. Something about that, like he has this weird vibe that I remember thinking was really cool when I would watch them play. Now when I watch modern Jack White, I still like him, but it comes off as a little pretentious doing it twenty years." 

Aiello also mentions that the group caught [Thee] Oh Sees' set at Sasquatch festival and realized that’s where Grant gets all his stuff.  "[John Dwyer] looks like a lizard man too, but he surprisingly doesn’t move that much. He just does weird little gimmicks, like spits in the air and catches it in his mouth. Something I also steal from him is the mouth around the microphone. He really throats that thing," Mullen says. If you still have yet to see Naked Giants live, you can get a glimpse of their energetic stage presence from the photos below of their Schubas show.  

They're Not Procrastinators When it Comes to Album Writing

Naked Giants' debut album just came out in March this year, but despite their busy touring schedule, the band has already started working on new material. Rewinding back to the release of the first album, Mullen says, "It’s just good to get it out. So people can listen to twelve of our songs in a row now.... If they want to. They all sound pretty similar production wise...They’re all one package that you can experience our songs. Before everyone was like who is this band? Like I’ve heard of them, but they just have six songs on an EP, what’s the deal? And now we have an album." 

"The best response was a review on some online magazine, and it was a really nice review. They were like we really like this album, love all the tracks, and then they called the album Slush instead of Sluff," Aiello chimes in. While the group were happy to finally get out a cohesive catalog of their music that's been well received, rather than relishing in the debut, they're eager to get out even more material. "We actually just recorded nine demos in the week and a half we had off between tours. One actual song that’s gonna hopefully be a single in the fall or something like that," Aiello continues, highlighting the group's work ethic. 

Despite their eagerness to release new material, don't get too excited for their sophomore album just yet; Mullen disclaimed they potentially have sixteen months of promoting and touring backing their first record. "It’s never a bad idea to just have the next one done," Aiello says about their sophomore effort, mentioning that they're only that proactive when it comes to making music.  "In all other areas of life we are [procrastinators]. We like to make albums." 

Their Music Contains Easter Eggs 

The trio has even gone as far as constructing a loose common theme throughout the new material. "It’s secret though," Mullen says, but Aiello hints that their might be some clues in the last song of the first album. Going back to their love of film, the band admits they're fans of putting easter eggs in their work, which is a common factor in movie and tv series. "Once all the albums are out, if you really like our band, you’ll be able to find all these things and nerd out about [the Easter eggs]," Mullen reveals. At this point, LaVallee pointed to an Alfred Hitchcock book under the green room coffee table, saying the book was a good hint to their future work without using any words. Elaborating on the connection of film and their music, Mullen adds, "I feel like a lot of times I get inspired by the feeling I get from watching a movie. If it’s very dark, I might be in that place for a while. I don’t do it consciously." 

The group also says they've tossed around the idea of a TV show for the band. "Like a Naked Giants TV show, we're always thinking how to make that work. We might have to start it as a web series. Then for one of the future albums we have planned, we’re hoping to do a visual album."

They Perform Double Duty with Car Seat Headrest

This year, Naked Giants got the opportunity to not only open for Car Seat Headrest, but to join Will Toledo's live lineup during Car Seat's set on the tour. The gig has certainly added to the band's workload on tour, but it's also given them the opportunity to cross a lot of places and goals off their bucket list. This year, Naked Giants has already toured Europe and performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,  and they'll be continuing on another double duty tour this fall in The States. 

While the band is grateful for all the career-highlight opportunities they've had with Car Seat Headrest, they remain ambitious to achieve the same feats as Naked Giants too. This fall, they'll be playing their first major conventional festival when they return to Austin for Austin City Limits. "We’re doing this whole thing with Car Seat Headrest, going to Europe….but ACL is the kind of first big step that’s just Naked Giants. I mean of course we’ve done SX and that kind of stuff, but there’s a huge difference when you start doing the festival circuits. Then that gives me hope for next year, maybe in the summer, we’ll start doing Coachella, Lollapalooza, etc..." Aiello says. They're also keen to cross off all of the Seattle staples from their list, naming The Neptune and The Paramount Theatre as the ultimate goals. 


Check out Naked Giants' upcoming tour dates here (Chicago, they'll be at The Riviera on September 7th), and listen to Sluff in full below!

Get To Know: Engine Summer

Back in April, we first got acquainted with Engine Summer when they played our ANCHR Magazine showcase with Blue Dream and Faux Furrs.  With their catchy mix of lo-fi, garage and post punk tones, Engine Summer has drawn comparisons to Wire, Omni, and NE-HI. That sound coupled with an uninhibited stage presence has been landing them on more and more bills around the city; from our show at Sleeping Village to Schubas and from Coles to house shows, there's no shortage of venue stages and DIY spots that the group has graced so far.

Tonight, the trio returns to the Empty Bottle stage to warm up the crowd for Brooklyn band Bodega. Ahead of the show, get to know more about Engine Summer by checking out these five facts we learned when we caught up with them before they departed on their most recent tour.

 Engine Summer is Jeremy Marsan, Ben Kostecki, and Ryan Ohm. The trio is joined by their part-time member Kubrick here.

Engine Summer is Jeremy Marsan, Ben Kostecki, and Ryan Ohm. The trio is joined by their part-time member Kubrick here.


They All Used to Take Piano Lessons

The three members of Engine Summer, Jeremy Marsan, Ben Kostecki, and Ryan Ohm, have all been playing in bands for about ten years now, but before that, they all coincidentally started out learning the piano, which is something they hadn't even realized about each other until this interview. Kostecki describes when he got into making music in early high school, "What first got me into music, band-wise, I was just kind of hanging out with some friends and I knew how to play piano. I took piano lessons for a long time. I think just playing music and having fun with my friends...I was like 'oh this is awesome.' Writing songs, and just developing from there."

Ohm says he also grew up playing piano, and joined bands to put a purpose behind hanging out and making music. "I think I liked being in bands in a way because it was something to do. It was a reason to hang out. That’s why I like it now... You can go out and party but now you have kind of a purpose. So it’s like I’m not just gonna go get drunk, I’m gonna go get drunk and play a show," he says.  "And you form bonds," he continues. "That’s what I really like. And from the beginning I was playing with some of my best friends. I played with Ben ten years ago."

Marsan says he grew up in a musical family, and also played piano as a kid before moving onto learn saxophone in the school band.  Elaborating on their history of being in bands, Marsan chimes in, "That’s the ironic thing. We’re still a young band. We’re 25, 26, but we don’t feel like that at all. It feels like we’ve been doing it for a while." Although they've all got a decade of experience under their belts, they say they're still excited just to have a green room at some of their shows. 

They Recorded and Mixed Their Debut Album Themselves

Like many great bands starting out, Engine Summer is still very much DIY when it comes to their creative process and their band business. For their debut Trophy Kids, the trio worked together to write, record, and mix the 15 track album, only getting assistance on the mastering from Dave Vettraino. Taking about the completely immersive process of their album, Marsan says, "We took our time so it wasn’t really overwhelming. But we spent a lot of time on it...Basically 30 hours a week for 6 months or so." 

The band says at the start of the long process, they took a long weekend and just spent three or four days straight working on tracking. "It was nonstop. We’d be up til 4 AM tracking....It was definitely memorable. It was really eye opening to do that all yourself, cause it was all the opportunity to experiment and like fuck around and not have somebody be like no, with engineering," Ohm says, also mentioning they might go in the direction of using an engineer for their next EP or album to try something new. Marsan agrees, adding "So it only takes a week versus six months. I preferred [recording on our own] for sure since I’m basically a control freak. The guitars sound just right, the vocals have just the right amount of distortion." 

"It’s lo-fi in sound," Ohm says, "Not where we didn’t care about the quality and sound, but purposeful lo-fi where we had all these orchestrated elements. The aesthetic was in that range of slightly garage-y, but it’s not like a four track, basement recording."

As far as the theme of the record, Marsan says, "The fact that we named it 'Trophy Kids'...there was a little bit of a theme, cause it was a bit about us thinking about our generation," also mentioning that their newer materials sees the band thinking in terms of a storyline and style. 

They're Renaissance Men

As if producing and mixing their own record isn't enough, the three members of Engine Summer all have additional creative talents. Kostecki admits he used to be into theater before moving towards music in high school, but as it turns out, he still has a prop from his theatre days which is tied to a lot of memories. "It’s a tunic. It’s felt. It doesn’t fit him anymore," Ohm says. "It never really fit anyone. I stole it from the theater department in our high school. It was this cool dungeon-y area," Kostecki says, mentioning he also took a spear, which has since been thrown away. While the spear might be gone now, Marsan says Ben used to sit on their porch with the spear...and that may or may not have led to some drinking tickets. 

On a related note (to acting, not to spears), Ohm also has a film production company outside of his work with the band. Talking about his filmmaking skills, Ohm says, "Jerry and I just finished a feature film that we’ve been working on for like the last two years, that's in about five festivals now. He was one of the stars, Ben has some cameos. That was a good side creative project while we were making the album, to do a day of filming. We’re all just friends first of all, so we do a bunch of shit. Usually it comes back to music, but we just hang out a lot."

The band members also admit they're creative with the most random of outlets when they want to be, saying they once procrastinated recording to build some furniture. "One of the first days we got together to record, we spent two hours building a chair. We attached a boating chair to a swivel piece. It’s still in the garage," Marsan says. 

That's not all, folks; all three work together to do the band's artwork, press, and marketing. "Jerry built a sick website. Our tour poster, our album art, it’s a photo, but the design and layout...We’ve done most of the music videos ourselves," Ohm says. 

They Take the Side Roads on Tour

Speaking of press and marketing, Engine Summer recently returned home from an East Coast tour they booked themselves. Talking about the process of booking the tour, Marsan says the playing ends up being the easiest part. "Trying to book is that slow build up. Before we booked, we weren’t a well enough known band where people were excited about booking us and taking a chance. Now that we have it booked, now we can get on all these cool shows in Chicago. Before that, it almost feels like a scam. How many people can we sucker into booking us? Not in a negative way, but it feels like that a little bit. We’re not on a  label, we don’t know anyone in your city...will you book us?" Ohm agrees, mentioning that they're getting booking inquiries now that they have a tour booked. 

As far as their favorite part of hitting the road? Ohm says he's definitely a side road guy, opting to take the winding detours rather than a direct route so that they can explore, while Kostecki says he'd rather get where they're going to be able to hang out there. As they discuss the excitement of heading out on their longest consecutive run as a trio, the band recalled some memories of past travel dates. 

"There was one time Ryan convinced us to drive along the Mississippi River," Marsan says, "It was Winona, Minnesota--which Winona Ryder was named after this town. It was gorgeous. At one point, the sun was coming down, there were no lights, the road was icy, it was 15 degrees out...I was just kind of shook driving." Ohm agrees it was a crazy drive-- "Again, cause I was like 'let’s take the side roads'," but the experience remains one the three piece won't forget. "I was so relieved when we made it out. I couldn’t believe we were within five hours of home cause it felt so out there," Marsan says.

They Can Connect to the City and Rural Scenes

Marsan, Kostecki, and Ohm all have nothing but positive takes on the Chicago music scene. From the venues to fellow bands, the three have an appreciation for it all.

"We thought Sleeping Village was really cool," Ohm says, continuing, "Empty Bottle, to me, felt like one of the coolest shows we’ve played. It was almost full and that was so much fun. This little bar Archie's, which is in Ukrainian Village, they have shows there. It was sick. They stopped letting people in cause it was at capacity."

As far as other Chicago bands, the group shout out Torch Room, Pointers, Luke Henry, L.Martin, Girl K, Modern Vices ["We all played tons of shows with them in high school. Kind of fell out of contact a little bit"], and Rookie. "There’s just a lot of bands around, and the more we play bigger shows, the more people we run into. Small links like that...you just need a reason to talk, and then everybody is buds," Ohm says. 

The band is also game to continue playing DIY spots around the city, even as they continue to take on more venue shows. "I feel like we always wrote our songs knowing they could sound good in a venue or at a DIY show. We can totally pull it off. We’re doing a couple shows on tour that are gonna be backyard, minimal PA stuff. We’re totally fine with it and it’ll be fun. I don’t really notice a difference. I don’t feel different if we’re playing a basement or a venue. We meet just as many people. We drink just as much," Marsan says. "If we booked another tour and we got signed, it would be sick if it was three venue shows, one DIY,  three venue shows, one DIY. Spice it up, get sweaty," Ohm says. 

So while they're more than acquainted with the Chicago scene now, the band says they may take things outside of the city for their next album. Marsan says the second album may be loosely based around an old road map of Indiana that they found. "It’s very 80's and it’s trying to show Indiana as this tech hub, industry center. Just something that we’re toying with, it’s not really set in stone...We’re thinking about writing our songs from the perspective of somebody from Indiana. Which is not very much represented, especially in the Chicago scene," he says. "Like someone 'from the sticks,' per se," Ohm continues. 

"I don’t know if this is dumb to say, but I feel like we as a band can fit in more with a rural scene than the city scene. Not that we feel left out of the city scene or something," Marsan says, mentioning they always try to stop at old dive bars in smaller towns on tour. 


Grab tickets to see Engine Summer with Bodega and Daysee here and keep up with them on social media below. 

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A Chat With: Night Riots

Over the past few years, Night Riots has toured relentlessly; from supporting the likes of The Maine and Andrew McMahon to their own headline runs, it seems like the five piece is constantly up on stage, engaging crowds in cities across the country. Night Riots' discography showcases a wide range of different musical styles, but their contagiously catchy melodies remain consistent, as does lead singer Travis Hawley's signature vocals, which have drawn frequent comparisons to The Cure's Robert Smith. Hawley's timeless vocals translate even more powerfully when he's up on the stage, charismatically commanding the room's attention with his magnetic stage presence and bond with the entire band. While their recorded music has this quality that makes it instantly like-able, Night Riots' live show only amplifies that quality, making their concerts a must see. 

If you still haven't found your way to one of their gigs, make sure you change that this month as they tour nationwide with Silent Rival and courtship. The tour swings through Chicago on Friday, June 22nd, but before they hit the Subterranean stage, get to know them as they discuss their ideal companion in an elevator outage, their favorite Ewoks, how they stay entertained on the road and more. 

 Night Riots is Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Matt DePauw and Rico Rodriguez

Night Riots is Travis Hawley, Nick Fotinakes, Mikel Van Kranenburg, Matt DePauw and Rico Rodriguez


You’ve been on tour with courtship. and Silent Rival since the start of the month. What’s your favorite part of touring with each of these bands?

It’s been awesome to be with bands that are good people.  It’s not always the case that you get along with everyone you tour with but both bands are awesome and really talented.  

Speaking of tour, you’ll be in Chicago again on June 22nd, and you’ve played in Chicago several times in the past. What are some of your favorite things to do here?

We try to make a point to stop by the Chicago Music Exchange.  That place is amazing...has so many guitars and synths and just rad music gear.  Also always gotta hit up a Pequod’s Pizza for that deep dish.

How would you describe your live show on this tour in 3 words?

Energetic, theatrical and transportive.

Your song “Breaking Free” was recently featured in the show 13 Reasons Why...If you could pick any other TV show to have your music on, what show would you pick and why?

I’d want to go back in time and get a song on Star Trek TNG.  Maybe even have us be like a holodeck band or something.

You’ve had a couple new singles out this year, which are both great! What other plans for new releases do you have this year?

We’ve kinda been releasing unconventionally.  We aren’t necessarily releasing songs as legit singles.  We just want to get new music out there...maybe we will compile it into an album this year.  

What are some of your favorite songs or albums from this year so far?

J. Cole’s new album KOD is rad.  Vacationer is putting out an album we are stoked for.  The new Kid Cudi/Kanye West album that just dropped is pretty tight too.

I saw your tweet the other day about the Gunslinger Series by Stephen King. What are some other books you’ve been into recently?

The Dark Tower series has been one of the best series I’ve read in a long time.  The scope and storytelling in it is remarkable. I think almost the whole band has read it at this point.  I just read The Stranger by Camus. I felt weird for a week.

Even though it seems like you’re constantly on tour and consistently working on new material, you guys are still really great with engaging fans on social media. What are some tips you have for managing your time with crazy tour schedules and how do you make sure to prioritize fan interaction?

At the end of the day the only reason we can continue what we do is because of the fans.  So I think it’s important to remember that. You need to be true to yourself and make art that is real but you also need to remember why you do it.  It’s fun and another way to be creative and think of new interesting ways to engage, entertain and help transport people out of their everyday lives... at least for a minute. Sticking to a schedule and consistency is key.

If you were stuck in an elevator with someone for a few hours, who would you want to be stuck with and why? (It could be anyone in the world.)

Probably Shaq because 1) He’d probably cradle you like a baby and calm you down 2) He could just rip the doors off and save you and 3) If it all goes to shit and you’re stuck, you could live off eating his body for like 6 months.

What’s one thing you’ve never been asked in an interview, but you’ve always wanted to talk about?

Who my five favorite Ewoks are.  Not in particular order they are: Chief Chirpa, Paploo, Teebo, Wicket, and Logray.


There you have it! Grab your tickets to see Night Riots at The SubT this Friday, June 22nd here, and follow them on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram. 

Can't get enough Night Riots? Check out our past coverage of them here

Get To Know: Shame

If you've ever attended SXSW, you know that it's not like any ol' regular music festival with set stages and scheduled performance times; There's super official secret shows with big name artists, last minute pop up shows, unofficial showcases by new artists in the most random places around town, and multiple sets by the same artists in a single day. This past March, I finally attended my first ever SXSW and quickly learned just how unconventional this festival can be when I found myself interviewing Charlie Steen of the British punk band Shame at 1 AM after my friend had just cut his hair (as well as his bandmates' hair) into a mullet. 

Easily one of the buzziest bands at the festival, Shame has been soaring high since the January release of their debut album Songs of Praise, which has in fact been receiving endless praise from listeners around the world. This summer, Shame will return to The States to play a handful of dates, including a show at Chicago's Empty Bottle as well as the annual West Fest street fest. Before they return to Chicago in July, get to know the band better by checking out these six facts I learned while chatting with Steen earlier this year. 

 Photo by Holly Whitaker

Photo by Holly Whitaker


They Recorded in the Legendary Rockfield Studios

With the amount of buzz they've garnered and the sheer amount of gigs and festivals Shame has played, you might be surprised to find out that the members of Shame are only 20 and 21 years old. Before they started touring heavily, the band worked on writing their debut album for a few years, starting at the ages of 16 and 17. "We were still in school, and we recorded the album when we were 20," Steen says.

Talking about the process behind writing the album, Steen continues, "Lyrically, it was about personal sort of things you experience in that time as well social observations. Musically, it was influenced by what we were exposed to in that period. All the different bands we discovered through just being that age and being into music." Once they had written the album, the band took a trip to the iconic Rockfield Studios in Wales to record the tracks. "It was kind of like rehab," Steen says about the middle-of-nowhere location of the studio, where they resided for ten days. "We’re quite bad at distractions. So, we were on a farm, and this place is like a historic studio. Oasis, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Led Zeppelin, all these people recorded there. Not many people go there now...Because everyone seems to just record with their laptop or a studio in London," he says, pausing to describe the scene. "You have like a farm, and then you have a house up top. That’s where we stayed, we each had our own room. Then you walk past the stables and stuff like that and there’s a recording studio. I was up at the house, and I did all of my vocals in my bedroom with a bed sheet over me, onto an Apple Mac. The rest of the band, they did everything to a click [in the studio]." 

Prior to their work at Rockfield Studios, Steen recalls working their way through several different producers in order to finally get the right fit with Dan Foat and Nathan Boddy. "I’m not a musician, so I don’t want to put my foot in a shoe that won’t fit, but before that, we’d worked with eight different producers. They all had done the same method of 'you’re a live band, let’s try to make you sound like some punk band from the 80's where you record it live.' That wasn’t how it worked best. Dan and Nathan are from an electronic background, techno producers...They did it a completely unique and different way. Like Charlie, our drummer, he recorded his drum kit individually, each song. They saw it in the same way that fits our music, where the bass and the drums are the pulse and that was very important," Steen says. "We then realized through trial and error that the best way to approach it for us, was to try to create something completely different to our live sound. So they’re two different things. Sometimes people say it sounds like it does live, but to us it’s a great difference than how it sounds on the record. It’s a lot more concise," he continues. 

They Admit Their Music is Derivative, But They Still Enjoy It

One of the most compelling features of Shame's music is the incredibly raw, honest quality of their songwriting. Reflecting on their style of writing, Steen says, "With the type of music we’re doing...we’re a guitar punk band in 2018. We’re very aware it’s very derivative. There’s no way we could ever deny that. I think with us--I’ve said this before, with bands and artists we might be compared to, and those that might have heavily influenced us, we’ll never have been able to experience it. That’s amazing for us. When we get to see bands like Goat Girl and Sorry and stuff, it’s amazing that we can experience it. For us, it does feel new and refreshing." Ultimately, they were never trying to be someone else when they started writing, and they're still just trying to stick to their own vision. "At the end of the day, we never did this with dreams of like having 5-star hotels. It wasn’t ever manufactured. It was all just part of the process. We are just very passionate about music and we know that it’s been done before, but we enjoy doing it. I think the main thing is we don’t write music for anyone other than ourselves. At the end of the day, this is entertainment and we really enjoy it. We’re having a laugh," Steen adds.

In addition to being authentic, Shame strives to keep their sound and vision multifaceted. "I think one of the preconceptions of a punk guitar band is aggression. Which you know could be lost in translation from energy or passion, or humor at times. That’s something we want to separate. Of course there are issues we’re angry about, but we don’t want to be a band that just conveys one emotion. That’s not human. We want to be able to express humor and melancholy," Steen says. As they keep pushing to diversify their sound, they also keep pushing themselves to grow and adapt. "We’re very self aware. When we did that album we were teenage boys...that was when we wrote that album. We know now that a lot has changed in our personal lives, which also reflects in the general absurdity of being in a band. It’s just a weird life to live. You feel very temporary. At all times. We basically just want to adapt and evolve. We don’t wanna write the same songs we did before," he says, adding that their constantly changing environment deeply affects them as a band and as people. 

We know that it’s been done before, but we enjoy doing it. I think the main thing is we don’t write music for anyone other than ourselves.
— Charlie Steen on being in a punk band in 2018

Their Rehearsal Space Led Them to Discover Music in a New Light

In addition to recording in a legendary music space, Shame also first formed in the rehearsal space of the legendary Queen's Head in Brixton, which is where the likes of Fat White Family rehearsed as well. 

Steen attributes their early rehearsal space to some of their current habits as music fans, saying, "When we started in the Queen’s Head...This is one of the differences; Before, we’d grown up going to venues like Brixton Academy, really large venues like that and seeing bands who had already established themselves in a position of accomplishment. When we went to go to the Queen's Head, personally I was able to discover bands who were playing a lot more intimate settings. Not known world wide. The realization that great music exists with an accessibility to a more intimate setting is a sort of relief."

"These were bands who, you say what you want them about personalities, but they were characters. It wasn’t just some pop culture. When you grow up and you’ve only ever seen the bands who perform on a platform of success, you can sometimes overlook the reality of a lot of situations. Of course everyone grew up listening to The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers. So we knew about these bands, but to get to know them. You realize they’re people. And I think their intentions to do whatever the fuck they wanted...they’d gone past the point of remorse. Which was the best thing about it," Steen continues. 

Their Stage Presence is Just an Amplified Version of Themselves

The same sense of authenticity that Shame's music has transfers over into their live shows; at SXSW, Steen often told their audiences to loosen up and smile, saying "this is entertainment." Steen says he never feels intimidated to get up onstage and deliver such a transparent show. "When I was younger, and I say younger as in like a year ago, I definitely had idolized a lot of people. Then I found that to be quite damaging because you gain this obsession and sort of like--" Steen pauses and snaps his fingers, trying to think of the best way to phrase it. "It’s unattainable identity. At that period, when we play, it’s definitely to an extent a persona. It’s who I am, but amplified," he continues. 

Essentially, their stage presence will continue to remain an extension of themselves. Steen muses further on the concept of immense stage personalities, saying, "When I would look up to all these people like Iggy Pop or Lou Reed or whatever like, it was always...if you’re constantly comparing yourself, that’s what I found damaging. I think like I was saying, I don’t believe anything can be separated from context. At this age as well, you’re in the middle of this identity crisis, so you want to absorb all of these different personalities and be these people you obsess over. Then it got to the point where I’d just rather be myself. I was just this chubby, shy stoner as a teenager. When we used to play, that was the whole point: If you’ve been insulted so much your whole life, what have you got to lose?"

Touring Has Taught Them Their Limits

Shame just finished another UK and European tour after returning from a North American run, which saw them playing upwards of five shows in a day at this year's SXSW, but believe it or not their recent touring schedule is nothing compared to the previous year. "Last year we did like 140 gigs and 57 festivals in 3 months, like whilst recording an album and doing 5 tours. By the end I got a bit broken mentally," Steen says. "It’s hereditary but I suffer from anxiety so now I can only speak for myself...On the road, I don’t drink as much and don’t do drugs as much as we used to. Every night used to be a party. I sound like an old man," he laughs. "I feel like an old man. So that’s how I kind of deal with it."

Their intense past experiences ended up acting as a learning experience, where Steen personally discovered where his breaking point is. "The period of what I went through in December, where we ended up having to cancel this tour in Germany, I learned a lot more about myself than I have in my entire life. So I know when is too much. I know when I need a good night's sleep. Like I need a good night's sleep now, but it’s a celebration. I know what I need to do. I guess I sort of learned the value of responsibility a bit more. As a person, and this is a little bit hypocritical of me to say after saying that, but I can’t do moderation. I can’t do it at all. So I know that if I have one drink, I won’t drink until I fall asleep. And I can’t do one line. I’ll do it until it runs out. I can’t do that. If I’m not doing that, I can’t do anything. So it’s either one or the other, but that’s me as a person," he says. 

While Steen may have personally learned to rein in his limits, he also realizes as a band they have to compromise sometimes. "We’ve known each other since we were kids. Sean has been my best mate since we were 8. We understand each other very well. I don’t particularly like playing a lot of shows, for my own personal reasons. If the rest of the band wants to do it, you have to find a middle ground. After what happened we're looking through a sharper lens about how many gigs we do. So like this festival season we slashed loads of festivals cause it’s not worth flying from Poland to play to 40 people in Kent to fly back to the Ukraine the next day."

As far as the biggest lesson that Steen has learned about the band through the years, besides learning his limits, he says, "You kind of lose a lot--this might sound very dramatic, but you kind of lose a lot of human rights. And by that, I don’t mean like I’m shackled in chains in a 4x4 room. I mean, in terms of you kind of lose the things that make you feel human. Eating a meal with your mum and dad or like going for a drink with your friends. You lose people you love, your friends and family. It sort of disappears. Familiarity becomes an abstract ideology. I still don’t think I know a lot about myself. I think as people we know each other so well, we [the band] went beyond friendship about 2 years ago. It’s almost like a cult. I guess, I don’t know, you have to deal with everything you deal within a normal life, like breaking up with someone, moving out of home... you have to do that through the band. The biggest amount of privacy I get is when I go to the toilet. Fact. For 6 and a half weeks. So I think you lose privacy. But you know I’m saying all this and we fucking enjoy it and we love it. Whatever we have to lose at this particular moment in time, personally, I feel is because we want to do this. I want to do this. We want to do this to the best of our ability."

At the end of the day, it’s the biggest bullshit that a person could say ‘I’m not political.’ Everyone has politics, it’s just whether or not they choose to share them.
— Steen on using their platform as a band

They'll Always Use Their Platform in a Positive Way

Through their music, social media, and even past interviews, the members of Shame have made it clear that they'll never shy away from standing up for what's right. At one of their shows at SXSW, Steen jumped off stage mid-show to tell off an audience member who had gotten aggressive with some of the other crowd members. Touching on their habit to speak out, Steen says, "As a person, and a white man, we don’t want to...I don’t want to be the spokesperson for any problem or any inequalities with girls, or race, or religion. But as a human being, I don’t understand how you could not want to support all these people and fight against any inequality. I think we all feel it’s disgusting for anyone who has any sort of platform to not [use it]."

Steen also reflects on the tendency of the press to label them as a political band, but says they never saw it like that; they just realize it's something that directly effects them. "At the end of the day, it’s the biggest bullshit that a person could say 'I’m not political.' Everyone has politics, it’s just whether or not they choose to share them. How could you not talk about it? I don’t know, it doesn’t really make sense to me. There are a lot of great bands who will speak on these issues, and I think particularly in the current climate, in the music industry, and every industry, but this is the one we’re most absorbed in because this is our life." He continues, shouting out people like Princess Nokia who speak out on all these issues, adding, "As a guy, like who is constantly surrounded by the music industry all the time, it is without a doubt and without question, majority middle class, white men. That’s how it’s been for probably just under 100 years. With the birth of pop culture, all of these unforgivable acts of discrimination were erupted that weren’t extinguished. They shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but they should have been addressed and destroyed when it came out." 

Lastly, Steen asks that everyone remains respectful of others when they come to shows, especially one of their gigs. "At a guitar gig, like a mosh pit, it’s mainly like male aggression taken out. We don’t fucking want that at our shows. Like it’s a safe environment. I’ve never won a fight, I’ve only ever been beaten up. Honestly. We’re not the jocks, we’re not the cool kids, we’re the people who just want to enjoy ourselves and we want everyone else to enjoy themselves as well. It’s not fucking hard, it’s not a lot to ask. If you’re an asshole, don’t come to our show."


Make sure you grab your tickets to Shame's show at The Empty Bottle here and keep up with them on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram.

PREMIERE: Music Video for "Velvet" By Calico Blue

We're giving you an exclusive first look at Calico Blue's new video for "Velvet," a track off their 2017 album 15 Sunrise. Before you dive into the video below, first get to know the band a little bit better by reading through our Q&A with members of the band. John Bergin, Sarah Addi, and Billy Hickey talked us through the process behind the video, which Addi directed and filmed, plus so much more. Check it all out below!


Kicking things off, can you talk a little bit about how the band first formed and started working together?

John Bergin: Billy and I grew up together and both ended up at UMass, while Sarah and Eli met at UMass and started writing the songs that made up most of our first self titled record. Fall 2014 rolls around, it’s my birthday (happy birthday idiot!). I invite Eli who I’ve become friends with, he brings Sarah with him, we all meet in my tiny bedroom and hang. The next week we all meet up again and jam, like the vibes, and keep em going til this moment right now.

Who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences and inspiration from a songwriting standpoint? What about influences on your stage presence?

Billy Hickey: I take influence from folks like Buddy Rich, Mitch Mitchell, Josh Block, and Animal from The Muppets. Stage presence is all about convincing the crowd that it’s okay to have fun at a show, like they can smile and dance and not feel bad about it because that’s the whole point, silly!

JB: My core influences come from bassists like Thundercat, Chester Hansen of Badbadnotgood, Esperanza Spalding, Paul Bender of Hiatus Kaiyote - these folks who trip and spit all over the fretboard like those notes owe ‘em something precious. I always want my stage presence to exude an effortless catharsis, something that I’ve seen in a lot of jazz, King Krule, Frank Ocean; you are an active participant in a type of struggle and ending that struggle with smiles or yells or falling over or silence - it all has weight. I want to show people that they can carry themselves when they think they’re too much.

Sarah Addi: For me It all breaks down to tone, writing and stage presence. For my tone I used to sing along to a lot of the male singers I grew up listening to: Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson. So I think I developed a lower tone for a female singer. I really got inspired when I found Beach House when I got older. I feel like I totally try and emulate her tone; just peppier I guess. For writing I’ve found that it’s more stream of consciousness. I rarely sit down and try to write anything specific; I always just blurt stuff out and it ends up being the things I think about but just can’t usually put into words. For the performance, I’ve always loved Blondie. Debbie Harry has such a captivating presence; she’s a badass.

For the music video for “Velvet” that we’re premiering today, Sarah Addi of the band directed, filmed, and edited it. What were some of the challenges of being so invested in the project, and on the flip side, what did you find rewarding about taking such a DIY approach on the video?

SA: When you’re so involved it’s hard not to want to make everything perfect. I knew from the start I wasn’t going to have the time, technology or budget to really make what I wanted so I had to keep telling myself that however it turns out, it’ll be cool. Something I found super rewarding was working with a bunch of friends. Everyone was really down to help me and deal with me just giving directions which was super cool of them. We have always been a DIY band so this video is really a reflection of the heart we put into everything and the support from all our friends.

When coming up with the concept for the music video, were there any specific movies, other music videos, or other visual art that you looked to for inspiration?

SA: The main idea came from the “Master of None” Beach House music video. I just liked the whole feel of it looking like a high school play. I also got inspired from the early videos of bands like MGMT or The Growlers where they produced their own home music videos and ya know, some of them weren’t great but look where they are now; and I’m sure they’re really happy that some of those early videos exist.

This single comes from your 2017 album...have you guys already started writing the next album yet?

JB: We have a handful of songs being polished, and another (much larger) handful of ideas that we’re sitting with. Something’s coming!

BH: The tunes all live in the ether, we just gotta pluck a few more outta there and it’ll be done.

Who are some of your favorite new bands or what are some new albums you all have been listening to lately?


Twen’s Live Album

Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Sex & Food”

Alvvays “Antisocialites”

Leon Bridges “Good Thing”

Naked Giants “Sluff”

Spirit Ghost’s “Skeleton Surf Rider”

The Nude Party

Bane’s World

Babe Rainbow

John Mayer

Holy Wave

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Do you have any shows or plans for tour this summer?

JB: Not this summer - Billy and Sarah are in Austin, I’m in Chicago, Eli’s in Massachusetts; it’s gonna take a little bit longer (but not too long) for us to all be back in the same time zone and then we’ll start scheming.

Anything else coming up this year for Calico Blue that we should look forward to?

BH: I’m gonna see how fast I can chug a gallon of water!

JB: A single?! In the works?! If not that, I just got a new film camera and think I took a really tasteful nude on my first roll, excited to see if that pans out.

SA: Solo projects! I think most of us are independently writing and performing while we wait to reunite!


Get your first look at the video for "Velvet" by Calico Blue below, and keep up with them on Twitter + Facebook + Instagram

Get To Know: Deeper

In a major city like Chicago, there's always ample opportunities to catch local bands playing live music every night of the week. Especially with venues like The Empty Bottle, Schubas, and Lincoln Hall, you can often discover a new favorite hometown band by just getting to the show early enough to catch the opener. I first discovered Deeper by doing just that; showing up early to Twin Peaks' ACLU benefit show held at The Empty Bottle back in March of 2017.

Since that show, Deeper has continued playing all around the city, from bars shows at The Whistler to a support slot at Whitney's Valentine's Day show at Thalia Hall. The band's four members, Nic Gohl, Drew McBride, Mike Clawson, and Shiraz Bhatti, have also been hard at work putting the finishing touches on their debut record, which will finally be out on May 25th via Fire Talk Records. Around the release, Deeper has put out three singles; "Pink Showers," "Pavement," and "Feels," all of which have garnered buzz and kept the momentum surrounding the album in full swing.

Just ahead of the album release, I met up with Nic Gohl and Drew McBride to get to know more about the band. Check out these six things I learned about Deeper so that you can also be in the know before their release show featuring Earring and Pool Holograph, at (you guessed it) The Empty Bottle. At the show, you'll get to hear songs from the new record played live and you can even snag a copy of the album early, so tune in and get to know Deeper. 

 Photo By Alexa Viscius

Photo By Alexa Viscius


Growing Up, They Had Split Opinions on The Strokes

"I hated The Strokes," said no one ever...except for Deeper vocalist and guitarist Nic Gohl. "I like them now!" Gohl continues. "I had this vendetta against MTV and all that shit. I think I had a really shitty taste in music. I was into Ska bands at one point..." Unlike his bandmate, bassist Drew McBride talks about a fascination with The Strokes while discussing his early influences. "I think for me, the moment I was like wow I wanna play music, I was 12 or 13. I was a total nerd loser kid, so I would check out a ton of CDs from the library. I didn’t know much about indie rock before this, but I checked out The Strokes Is This It and-- it almost sounds cliche looking back on it, but I listened to that and I was like oh my god, this is the coolest thing ever.  That was sort of it for me," McBride says.

Despite Gohl's self-proclaimed questionable taste in music growing up, he still managed to get into making music at an early age. "I think it was like second or third grade and my best friend had gotten one of those Squier starter packs. I was super jealous and really wanted to start playing music because they were, so I played my brother’s shitty guitar through his practice amp, and put the distortion on, and just started kinda hitting it," he recalls about his early days of playing. 

The Group Completely Changed Up Their Sound Two Years Ago

Gohl's music taste isn't the only evolution the band has had over the years, it turns out. The original lineup that formed in 2014 actually had completely different songs and contrasted with the signature sound that the present-day Deeper has honed in on. For the group's self-titled debut that's out May 25th, the process only dates back to 2016, a couple of years after the start of Deeper. "It kinda started in 2016 when Drew joined the band. The name has been around for four years but before that, we were approaching music and trying to make something different," Gohl says. "It's essentially a different project, but the name stayed through," McBride chimes in, Gohl joking that they basically didn't feel like making a new Facebook page for the rebirth of the band. 

"When Drew came on we basically got rid of every song we had before. So none of the stuff we were playing in the earlier form of Deeper came on. It’s different, completely. We were just starting from scratch. We would have a few and be like fuck it, we should get them down on paper before we forget them," Gohl says about the writing process. "I think there’s some more guitar pop songs, and also some punkier songs that are a result of like when we recorded them. We were in a phase of writing songs that were a little more straight forward."

They Used a Piecemeal Process When Recording

Since the band first started writing for Deeper 2.0 in 2016, their recording process has been an ongoing journey. "We started slowly recording with Dave Vettraino, who recorded the whole album and was also Drew’s roommate. They used to live in a place called Public House, where numerous records....the first NE-HI--" Gohl recalls, and McBride tosses in the names of Melkbelly, The Hecks, and Pool Holograph, just to name a few of the fellow Chicagoans who have recorded with Dave. "Everyone has recorded with Dave," he says. 

"Yeah, Dave’s the best. We basically started recording tracks down there. We’d do like two days, one weekend, and then we’d maybe get back together a month or two later and record another one. Slowly we had all the bones after about a year and a half. It was a long process," Gohl adds, admitting it wasn't the most efficient process.

About halfway through the recording of the tracks on the debut, Dave moved out of Public House and started working in other studios, which Deeper couldn't afford at the time. "So we just had him come to our practice space and we recorded the rest of it there. So there’s definitely some differences in some of the songs you can hear," the band says. While there is that difference in tone that comes from the multiple recording locations and sessions, the band also sees a positive side to piecing everything together. "The tones are a little bit different from song to song cause it’s not like all the drums were tracked at the same time and mic'd in the same way. It creates a wider range of sounds," McBride says. 

"The nice part about it, for a long period of time when putting the record together, I was kind of afraid of it sounding super piecemeal. That element makes it better for the listener. It evolves throughout the record, and kind of brings you in the different mind sets we were at when we wrote and recorded those songs," Gohl reflects. 

They Believe Exposure for Some is Exposure for All

If you're a fan of music in this city, you've obviously noticed the growing buzz around the current scene, which has sent more and more bands out on national tours. In the past few years or so, we've seen bands like Whitney, Twin Peaks, NE-HI, Post Animal and more start to regularly tour the country and drastically grow their audiences. With bands popping up over night, between either new musicians just starting up and established bands kicking up side projects, it can seem daunting to try to stand out among the masses. However, as Deeper points out, it's more about camaraderie in Chicago, not competition. 

"I forget who I was talking to, someone...it might have been Drew actually," Gohl says, "But, it’s not like there’s a limit on opportunities. You know? I guess city wise, you’re fighting to get the bigger shows from bands coming from out of town. As far as getting on a record label or booking agency, if you’re gonna get on it, you’re gonna get on it. You’re not fighting those people necessarily. Focusing on that, you’re never gonna be able to do this. There’s no fucking point. I think I would never call each other competition. It helps out each other. Having like Twin Peaks and NE-HI definitely have helped us out a lot. Those are some of our closest friends. We got to watch them go through becoming a national act. Being able to see what they had to go through kind of helped us figure out how we want to attack this and make sure it can be as successful as possible."

Elaborating on the communal spirit in the city, McBride says, "When people like Whitney or Twin Peaks are successful, then people start looking at what else is going on in Chicago, so I never think yeah it’s this competitive thing. Exposure for some is exposure for everyone. If someone is like 'Oh man, Twin Peaks are cool. Who else is from Chicago?' Oh you also like NE-HI? Check out Deeper!"

All in all, the band just want to keep their focus on their work and moving forward in their own time. "We really enjoy playing together, and we’re really happy to finally get a piece of music out. I feel like we’ve definitely been humbled through the process and with that, we have no set expectations of where...we definitely want to shoot for as far as we can go, but I think we know what we’re doing more and I think that we have an honest approach. I just want it to stay fun, and keep on progressing and be able to reach more people," Gohl says. 

Tour Horror Stories Won't Keep Them Down

Every band, especially those just starting out, tend to have some battle wounds when they return from a tour. As Deeper get ready to hit the road after the album release, they recall some eventful shows in both Nashville and NYC. 

Starting off with the scarier of both tales, the band describes the time they played a Halloween show at Fond Object in Nashville, which is a record store with a performance space outside of a house. "We played with Jack White’s girlfriend at the time, who was on Third Man Records. I forget her name. We also played with these guys called the Boo Dudes. They were a Halloween cover band. They covered a bunch of songs and changed all the words to Halloween themes. Then they all wore costumes onstage. So the drummer was the Headless Horseman so it looked like he was drumming with no head," McBride says. Gohl says they hung around with the Boo Dudes afterwards and had a great time, but the night had started off rocky when they found out the promoter had double booked, and they didn't have the night. Despite the double booking fiasco, they got added onto the spooky bill and the night went from a dud to a great time. 

The last time Deeper performed on the east coast, they also had an epic comeback while in NYC. "We’re having an album release show in New York as well because that’s where Fire Talk, our record label, is based," McBride says. "To me, I’m excited for New York so that we have a little bit of redemption. Last time we played New York, we played two shows on a Friday and Saturday. As we were leaving the show on Friday- I didn’t realize it- but the car keys for our van fell out of my pocket and I didn’t realize until mid way through the next day. We’re about to go to load in and I’m like, oh my god, the keys!" McBride says they looked everywhere for the keys to the van they had rented through a service that's the car equivalent to Air BnB, but they were nowhere to be found. After even checking with the Brooklyn precinct to see if anyone had turned the keys in, the band had to let the van owner know what had happened, and Uber their gear to their Saturday show. Just as they were about to give up hope of continuing their east coast tour, McBride says Gohl convinced him to check with the police station one more time. McBride recalls, "So I go in and check again and he’s like these? And pulls out the keys. I remember sprinting out of the precinct as he was filling out the discharge forms. I kicked open the door and I was yelling THEY HAVE THEM!" Gohl remembers the band members all going crazy with excitement over the return of the keys, mentioning they all went out all night in Chinatown to celebrate.

Hopefully when Deeper plays in NYC this time, they'll only be celebrating a successful album release show, not the return of any more lost items. 

I think also to evolve the sound, you can’t just listen to the things that sound the same as you. Otherwise the album is going to be similar to what you’re already doing or what your peers are already doing. By listening to like other genres, it allows us to find what we think is cool in music that’s not the same as us.
— Drew McBride on the process of growing Deeper's sound

Most of Their Favorite Music Sounds Nothing Like Theirs

When shouting out other Chicago bands that they like to support, Gohl's and McBride's lists include the likes of Bunny, Pool Holograph, Clearance, The Hecks, The Knees, and so many more...a lot of bands that exist under the same Chicago rock umbrella. However, when it comes to listening to music from outside of the city, their picks come from all different genres. 

"I am obsessed with this band from Philly- they’re a part of the 80's post punk scene-called Crash Course In Science. They’re playing the Bottle for Cold Waves Fest, so I’m really excited to see them play. Besides that, honestly, I’m just obsessed with listening to DAMN. still. I think that will be my forever album," Gohl says. "I’ve been listening to a lot more electronic music. I’m really into synthesizers and drum machines, which is definitely something we’ve been pursuing with some of the newer stuff," he continues. 

McBride agrees, adding,"I honestly have been listening to a lot of electronic or experimental electronic music instead of solely just indie rock. Like Nicolas Jaar and Jon Hopkins and things like that. I feel like all the other music that we listen to allows us to not get burnt out on what we’re doing. If I was only listening to the same kind of music that we’re making, I just don’t think I would enjoy it as much. I think also to evolve the sound, you can’t just listen to the things that sound the same as you. Otherwise the album is going to be similar to what you’re already doing or what your peers are already doing. By listening to like other genres, or electronic music, I think it allows us to find what we think is cool in music that’s not the same as us. Then bring that back. If these other artists did something cool in this way, I don’t wanna do that same thing, but I like the concept of how they did that."


There you have it! Do not miss out on Deeper's record release show at The Empty Bottle. The band promise there will be some special surprises to set this show apart from the rest, so don't snooze!

Grab tickets to Deeper's release show here, and keep up with them on Facebook + Instagram + Twitter

A Chat With: Honduras

 Honduras is Pat Phillips, Tyson Moore, Josh Wehle, and Paul Lizarraga

Honduras is Pat Phillips, Tyson Moore, Josh Wehle, and Paul Lizarraga

Brooklyn's Honduras has been garnering buzz over the past few years with their fuzzy, lo-fi punk sound, which has seen them play festivals across the country, tour with the likes of Acid Dad and Public Access T.V., and even catch the attention of Tony Hawk. The band will soon be taking a little break from the road to finalize the follow up to their 2015 debut album, Rituals. 

While on their most recent national tour with Public Access T.V. last month, the band took some time to chat with us before their show at Schubas Tavern. Catch up with Honduras as they discuss their most recent SXSW experience, their go-to karaoke songs, their bartending skills and more! 


What was your first music memory from when you were younger?

Tyson Moore: My first thing was on road trips, like family trips, my parents had this Beach Boys live double album. We would just play that thing over and over. So I've loved the Beach Boys for forever. 

Pat Phillips: My parents divorced when I was like a baby, so they had split custody. My earliest memories of music are when I would visit my dad, just listening to the CDs he would have. It was like Tom Petty, The Cure, and Sonic Youth...those are like the three that I really remember hearing as a small kid. 

Paul Lizarraga: For me, my dad had all these records that he collected in high school. He’s a big music lover. So like David Bowie, The Cure, Pink Floyd. He had all kinds of music. Earth, Wind, and Fire…

Josh Wehle: I’m the youngest of four. Everyone in my family is very musical. So I just remember being in diapers and being on the drum set.

Pat PhillipsHe was always sneaking into shows at like Mercury Lounge when he was 13. He was that kid.

So basically your parents all had great taste in music! Fast forwarding to the present, you guys just played a bunch of shows down at SXSW. What were some of your favorite showcases? 

Tyson Moore: Yeah, it was intense. I think we all agree our hottest show was the AdHoc official show. We played with a bunch of really cool, fresh diverse artists. You could just be there all night and see every type of music.

Pat Phillips: Yeah, I agree that was the best one. Ten shows is a lot in four days though. So if you’re gonna do it you gotta be prepared to just like call it quits as early as you possibly can.

Any other SXSW Survival tips or hacks?

Pat Phillips: If you’re fortunate enough to have an aunt that has a condo in Downtown Austin, stay there. That’s where we stayed.

Then on this tour you’ve had the limited edition 7 inch record for "Need The Sun" and "Water Sign."  Can you tell me about those songs, and how it came together? 

Pat Phillips: They were just demos we recorded in our practice space. But then we had a friend who started his own record label and wanted to put it out on vinyl and wanted to do all the artwork and package it in a really unique way. Also, they came out sounding really better than we expected. Tyson recorded everything himself.

Do  you usually do the recordings yourself? [To Tyson]

Tyson Moore: Not in this band I haven’t. But this process, it was just demos, so we were like let’s just get these songs done. Then mixing them, they turned out pretty good. We were like these are worthy of release, and it’s vinyl only right now.

Pat Phillips: Those songs will be out soon. After this tour we’re gonna release it on Spotify and stuff. We just wanted this little run of only vinyl.

Do you have any other new music in the works?

Pat Phillips: Yeah, we got a records worth of material. We’re just waiting on the right opportunity. 

John Eatherly from Public Access T.V. is in green room and the band ask what he's drinking

Pat Phillips: We all work at bars at home.

What’s your favorite drink to make? You're all bartenders? 

Pat Phillips: Yeah we work at venues in New York where everyone just gets beers and shots though. So we don’t really make drinks...

You should create and name a drink after one of your songs

Pat Phillips: I had one drink I made, I forgot what it was called. It was Jameson, grapefruit juice and lime juice. I called it something...I call it Paulie’s backyard.

Paul Lizarraga: I enjoy an old fashion. Tyson makes really good cocktails...Gotta have the rye, gotta have the orange wedge, muddled with sugar cubes.

This is a new segment called Drinks with Honduras now

Pat Phillips: That would be a good segment cause we’re all bartenders!

Speaking of going out and having a good time, I saw you guys went out and did karaoke last night

Pat Phillips: Yeah, at Cafe Mustache!

Oh I didn’t recognize that’s where that was! Is this a regular occurrence to do karaoke on tour?

All: It has been on this tour!

Tyson Moore: There’s this place-- we were staying in Temecula, which is in Southern California, for a couple weeks. There’s this kind of locals, blue-collar dive bar...but they have karaoke every night. Except for one night. So we went there a couple times. It was a weird scene, really fun.

What are your go-to karaoke songs? 

Pat Phillips: I sang The Smiths last night, but I usually like The Strokes or Rolling Stones.

Paul Lizarraga: The Doors...Depeche Mode. More baritone vibes.

Tyson Moore: I didn’t do it this tour yet, but in the past I’ve done Johnny Cash.

Josh Wehle: I couldn’t figure it out last night. There was a moment of weakness, where it came into conversation [to do Smash Mouth "All Star"]. We did The Strokes in California. That was a nice one. I’m not really a karaoke guy, but I want to be. I need to find my song. I really do think Smash Mouth is the one. I’ve never done it, but I need to just break the seal and then I can be known as that guy.

What else do you guys like to do when you’re in Chicago?

Pat Phillips: We have friends here. We got here yesterday. So we had this really fun night out, with some friends’ bands that we’ve toured with. Like the band NE-HI, we were hanging out with the drummer [Alex Otake] today. Tyson also lived here for a bit.

Tyson Moore: Yeah, I lived here for like four years. I went to Columbia College. I only went for two years, for the last two and then I lived here for two more. I was gonna go there [for music business] when I was a freshman, but I decided not to. Then I got into the recording side of things, so then I went for audio engineering.

Nice! Anything else you guys like to do while out on the road? Are you podcast people?

Pat Phillips: We love podcasts! We love The Daily, the New York Times podcast. 

Tyson Moore:  We’ve been on the Pod Save America political stuff. Marc Maron, 99% Invisible. That’s a really cool podcast. 20,000 Hertz is a really cool podcast. It’s audio based.

Any new music that you’re into?

Tyson Moore: Deeper is pretty sick!

Paul Lizarraga: The new Total Control album is pretty good. 

Pat Phillips: I really like the band Sextile. We saw them in LA and listen to their record nonstop. They’re an LA kind of post-punk kind of band. I love that band, they’re really rad. I listen to a lot of Deerhunter. Total Control. We did a lot of Rolling Stones earlier in the tour. Just kind of revisiting all those records! We always love Beach House. Then we listen to a lot of Afro Soul kind of music too.

Tyson MooreWe’ve been listening to the Kanye podcast. Not hosted by Kanye. It’s this podcast called Dissect and the dude breaks down My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy like he talks about the samples and the notes…

Pat Phillips:  It’s 16 hours long!

Any favorite NYC based bands?

Pat Phillips: Parquet Courts. Bodega. Sunflower Bean

Paul Lizarraga: I really like Haram, a punk band coming out of New York, they’re friends of ours.

Josh Wehle: There is a sick rapper named SAMMUS that we discovered down in Austin.

Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

Pat Phillips: Yeah, this was the long tour. We have some cool shows in New York coming up and some things on the horizon. We had two days of recording out in LA where we recorded two or three new songs and it really inspired us to complete this new material that’s been floating around. So I feel like that’s really what we’re gonna be focusing on the next couple months. Hopefully try to record that by the end of the year. 


 You can now grab your own copy of "Need The Sun" and "Water Sign" online here, and keep up with Honduras on Facebook and Instagram. 

A Chat With: Mike Mains

Singer songwriter Mike Mains will play Chicago's Elbo Room this Friday night, May 4th. Before the show, Mains discussed his upcoming album, his creative lifestyle, and some of his biggest influences with us. Check out our full chat below!

 Photo by  Haley Scott

Photo by Haley Scott

What is your first musical memory of when you first became interested in creating music?

I'd have to say watching Michael Jackson music videos on the TV as a child. I'd try to replicate his dance moves. Early on I knew I wanted to entertain people.

Who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences and inspiration, both from a songwriting standpoint and as a live performer?

The Holy Grail for me is Tom Petty. Ben Gibbard, Brandon Flowers... Lately I've really enjoyed Big Thief's most recent LP, as well as Day Wave.

For this upcoming tour, you’ve mentioned you’ll be playing some new songs during these shows. What can you tell us about the new songs and do you have a particular favorite new one that you’re most excited to share?

I'm really excited to play the song "Live Forever" on this tour.

With the new songs, what was the writing process like and is there a common theme among the new material?


The new songs all share a theme of damaged love. My wife and I went through a brutal season during the writing and recording of this album, and there where times I wasn't sure if we were going to make it. The songs document the wounds I carried into our marriage and my best attempt at pulling myself together through therapy. It's a window into our lives to a degree I'm nervous about sharing with people. But I'm proud of it.


The writing process was a combination of my usual method of writing on an acoustic guitar with a notebook and demoing on some studio gear I invested in. As I started the deep dive of this album I knew I needed to change things up and wanted to explore engineering and producing. So I bought some microphones and recording gear and carried a lot of those demos to pre-production. The last big batch of songs were written with my producer in the studio during the winter at one of my lowest points. I'm extremely grateful to him for helping me figure out how to put everything I was feeling inside into a song.
 


I also saw that you recently posted about starting a Sunday blog...what has the response been like so far and what are some other topics you’re hoping to touch on soon?

I did! I've been a little lazy at maintaining that! I'd like to dive more into mental illness, spirituality, phycology and travel.

Another really cool thing I saw you’ve been doing is offering creative lessons ranging from life coaching to songwriting. Where did that idea for these lessons stem from, and how has the experience been so far?

It's been wonderful. I've got a small roster of folks I truly enjoy working with. It's been one of the greatest personal growth engines for me. When you're responsible for helping others grow in any area, you will loose steam fast if you don't keep yourself filled up. As I help others grow in songwriting and the art of creative living, I learn a lot and feel sharper. It's satisfying to see someone who's afraid to sing a song they wrote to be out on tour playing shows. Inspiring others to get out there and do it is the reward for me.

Which cities are you most excited to visit and play in on the upcoming tour?

Ludington, Michigan as we have some wonderful family there. I'm looking forward to playing Syracuse, New York as well.
 


Anything else coming up that you’re excited to share with fans?

A new album fall 2018 :)


Grab your tickets to see Mike Mains at the Elbo Room on Friday here, and keep up with Mike on social media below!

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Get To Know: Slow Pulp

The four members of Madison-based outfit Slow Pulp craft memorable songs with their ability to seamlessly blend dreamy vocals with psychedelic tones, pop melodies, and a dash of cheeky, punk attitude. Since the band self-released EP2 last March, the songs on the EP have made their way onto curated Spotify playlists and collectively racked up over 200,000 plays, standing out among the masses of young, indie bands. And rightfully so; there's something about Slow Pulp that instantly clicks with listeners and fans of live music alike. Their live show captivatingly translates their recorded music to the stage, giving them a magnetic presence. 

This weekend and on select dates in the summer, Slow Pulp with warm up the stage for their friends Post Animal, and it's only a matter of time before they're playing even bigger shows to new audiences across the country. Before they blow up, get to know Slow Pulp first with these five facts we learned while chatting to them at Daytrotter last month!

 Slow Pulp is Teddy Matthews, Emily Massey, Henry Stoehr, and Alex Leeds 

Slow Pulp is Teddy Matthews, Emily Massey, Henry Stoehr, and Alex Leeds 

School of Rock Is The Reason They're Playing Music

Well, one of them anyways. Lead singer Emily Massey admits that the Jack Black film is the reason she started taking guitar lessons, but says her past with music stems back to a very early age. "My dad is a musician so I have been playing music and performing for pretty much my whole life," Massey says.  "The first time I sang onstage, I was like one and a half....I don’t remember that. I remember doing a talent show in kindergarten. I really didn’t want to do it, my parents made me do it. I was crying before I went and sang. I sang 'This Little Light of Mine'," she recalls, adding that her dad produced a hip-hop, R&B instrumental track of the song for her to sing along to. Although she initially dreaded it, Massey learned to love performing during that experience. "This was at Emerson Elementary school in Madison, WI. Talent show. Kindergarten. I was five and I had the time of my life playing onstage." 

Guitarist Henry Stoehr says his venture into playing music started a little later than that. "Alex [Leeds] and I were just talking about this earlier actually, but I think it was 6th grade for me. We went to see Modest Mouse in Madison, and this band called Man Man opened for them. I feel like that was the first really strange music I heard, or at least saw live. I don’t know exactly what it did, but I felt like it--I started caring about things I didn’t care about that before," he says. 

Bassist Alex Leeds chimes in, saying the Man Man show created an existential moment for him as well. "It was better than Modest Mouse, it was crazy. I don’t think it made me want to play music... It changed the kind of music that I wanted to make." Leeds continued on, shouting out School of Rock. "I was playing cello in the strings program in my elementary school, and when Jack Black said 'Cello, you’ve got a bass,' I was like that’s what I’m gonna do! Then I got a 2x4 and I put some front marks on it and started practicing some Beatles songs and played in the school show that year on the bass." 

Their Friendship with Post Animal Traces Back to Sixth Grade

Slow Pulp and Post Animal have shared the stage many times, but the friendship roots between some of the band members dig deep. Throughout the course of my talk with Slow Pulp after their show at Daytrotter, members of Post Animal would pop by to chime in. "Six grade chemistry," Post Animal guitarist Javi Reyes interjects; explaining that Leeds, Stoehr, and drummer Teddy Matthews have so much chemistry as a group because they've been playing together since sixth grade. 

That same sense of chemistry transfers to a strong bond with Post Animal, too. "Jake [Hirshland] actually played with one of Henry, Alex and I’s band in high school," Matthews says. Besides playing in bands with each other, the members of both bands also share an instrumental bond. "I gotta give a shout out to my dad...He made Jake Hirshland and Emily’s guitars...and the bass that I play," Leeds says. 

Despite all the history, the current day line up of Slow Pulp actually hasn't been around that long, with Emily Massey being the most recent addition. "It’s been about a year and a half," says Stoehr. "We took this trip to Philly and just played two shows. That was the end of 2016."   

"[After those shows,] they were like wait, Emily is okay. She can stay. I started in this band as rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist. Then it evolved. Now I’m a lead guitarist and vocalist," Massey adds.   

They're Moving To....

Just like their lineup has changed over time, Slow Pulp's home base will soon change. Although they're currently based in Madison, Slow Pulp has already garnered buzz in Chicago by playing shows ranging from DIY gigs at Observatory to support slots at staples around the city, like Beat Kitchen and Lincoln Hall. It won't be long until the group continues to tick off more and more Chicago venues from their list, though, since they're moving here!

"There’s a rumor flying around," says Massey. "It is true. We are moving to Chicago. Over Summer/Fall/Winter," she continues. At the moment, Massey, Matthews, and Stoehr are currently Madison based, while Leeds lives in Minneapolis. Come September, the band will still be somewhat divided, but not for long. "The three of them, Emily, Henry and Alex, are moving to Chicago in September...then I’m still in school til January," says Matthews. 

The band members say they're all excited to be based in one place again by the end of the year, but they still have a lot of love for the Madison music scene. "One thing I was talking about on the way down here about the Madison scene... we were noticing differences between the Madison scene and the Minneapolis scene specifically, but I think it might apply more broadly than that... People, when they come out to shows, in my experience, realize that they’re also performers in that situation. And give a lot to the bands. In Madison," Leeds says. "I love playing in Madison for that reason. It’s a very responsive crowd and we feed off that and off each other. I don’t experience that anywhere else," he continues. 

"It can also change very drastically very fast. It’s like, most of the young people are there for a few years for school. It definitely feels like the music scene changes every few years," Stoehr adds. 

Their Influences Range From St. Vincent to Thee Oh Sees

Slow Pulp possesses a refreshingly unique aura onstage, but they have an array of artists whose stage presence they admire and get inspired by. The group all simultaneously agree on loving the stage presence of TOPS. "I've loved their music for a long time, and when I went to go see them live, I was unsure what to expect, but I was blown away. They have a really cool way of presenting chill music in an exciting way," Leeds says.

"I think mine are maybe Thee Oh Sees cause they’re so nuts. Then Omni because they’re so controlled," Stoehr says. The group also all agree on Omni and Khruangbin as huge inspirations, calling the latter the "psychedelic Preatures."

Lastly, Massey throws out some more inspiration from all across the genre-sphere, starting off with her old pals. "Post Animal! Javier Reyes is my favorite onstage live performer. He goes hard," she says, continuing, "I've seen St. Vincent play, and that was a life changing show. It was so theatrical." She pauses, adding "David Bowie forever!" to round things out. 

They're Also Visual Artists

While making their music, Slow Pulp is usually heavily influenced by tones, colors, and visual art. The link to visual art inspiring their sonic scapes comes from the band members all dabbling in art themselves, and that also comes across clearly in the vision behind their "Preoccupied" music video. 

"We were very involved with it," Massey says about conceptualizing the video, and the band members all explain that they had a fleshed out concept, but the process remained flexible and fluid throughout the day. "We kept coming up with ideas as we were filming," Massey adds, also shouting out their friend and director Damien Blue for helping with vision. 

The band's artistic vision and flexibility to work through ideas transfers into their writing process as well. "I think we definitely talk about music in a visual way, and use visual art that we like as reference points for emotions," Stoehr says. "I think especially with colors. We talk about colors a lot in that way-- And I think we usually get it, in terms of colors...We’ll be like 'I want this song to be brown'," Massey elaborates. 

"I think the way I think of songwriting is pretty similar to painting. At least for me they’re very problem-solving oriented and reacting to what you’ve just done. In a really immediate sense. You kind of just make decisions," Stoehr adds. Even with their somewhat long-distance writing situation, with Leeds residing in Minneapolis, the band say they focus on writing music with their live show in mind. "Even in our current situation, we’re still trying to write songs that are live songs," they say. 


There you have it! As for the new music and material that the band have been working on, they say they still aren't exactly sure when it will be released. At the moment they're working through the different pieces they've created, trying to thread them together in a way that makes the most sense. 

While you wait for this new content, make sure you catch Slow Pulp in concert this summer. See all of their tour dates here, and listen to EP2 in full below! Tickets to their Lincoln Hall show tonight are sold out, but if you got one, get there early for their set!

A Chat With: Strange Foliage

The brainchild of Joey Cantacessi, Strange Foliage, released its debut track "Take Care" in April 2017. In the year following the initial single release, Cantacessi and his bandmates have been on a roll; playing shows around the city and recording a debut album. Called Settle, the record releases via Dark Matter's record label in just a few short days. To celebrate the record release, Strange Foliage headlines the Subterranean on Thursday night, accompanied by fellow up and comers in the Chicago scene: Easy Habits, Town Criers, and Rookie. Ahead of the show, I met up with Cantacessi and his bandmate Stuart MacFadyen at Treehouse Records to chat all about the band's beginning and the album process.  

 Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records


What was your first musical memory growing up?

Joey Cantacessi: Honestly, it was probably something lame like Blink 182. Watching music videos growing up, I was always like it’d be so cool to be in a rock band. I feel like I used to tell people I played guitar, even though I didn’t play guitar when I was growing up. Then I was like, I gotta do it to live up to what I’ve been saying.

Stuart MacFadyen: Our high school variety show always had a band at the end. I would see that and wanna do that. It was just our high school local band, but then I did it. I made it!

Do you have anybody specifically that you feel influenced your sound?

JC:  We’ve been in multiple different bands, so we had a phase of like jam bandy stuff. Our last band Marmaletta was more jammy, so I was kind of listening to a lot of Tame Impala, Temples kind of stuff. With Strange Foliage, I feel like we were influenced a lot by Fidlar, Queens of the Stone Age, The Misfits...kind of bands like that. I feel like I got into heavier rock in the past year or so. Just more of a punk sound. Also, it kind of blew up in Chicago. So it was easy to find people to play that kind of stuff with.

Strange Foliage has only been around about a year right?

JC: Yeah, we were just saying we recorded our first song in October of 2016, but we didn’t do anything until June of this past year, 2017. I basically just started Strange Foliage as my music. Once our past band broke up, I was like I’m just gonna do this solo thing and have people play with me. I was kind of trying to have all these different musicians on all the tracks. Then we got asked to open for Meat Bodies at the Empty Bottle, and I was like I should probably get a band going. Stu has always been with me, I went to high school with Justin so I kind of just cherry picked him. And I worked at Music Garage with Goose [Andrew "Goose" Giese], he’s our drummer. I just picked a little all star line up, and they enjoyed it, so they’ve kind of just stuck around.

So as far as the songwriting, it’s pretty much just you, and the band comes in to collaborate on the live show?

JC: I write all the songs for sure, then usually go to Stuart and we almost rewrite it. Then we go to practice and we show them the songs and [Justin and Goose] make their own parts.

As far as the songwriting on the record, is there a common theme? 

JC: Yeah, I guess it’s like discontent. It’s kind of heavier, more aggressive sounds. I think the original idea with every band I’ve been in the past, we’re always fighting or stressing and I just wanted to have this outlet that I kind of had control of and can kind of do whatever I wanted with and have all these songs already written. So it was kind of just an outlet for my own music.  To not have to be arguing with band members, it was more of a personal kind of journey that shaped into its own band. It wasn’t really planned.

Then you recorded it all here at Treehouse?

JC: Yeah. Everything was recorded here. This is the last day we’re gonna be at Treehouse.

Any interesting recording stories? Like Blue Dream told me they threw a toilet off a balcony....

JC: Nothing too wild, just...it helped getting closer to Barrett [The engineer]. I feel like it was a more friendly process than the past recording I’ve done.

SM: Yeah, it was smooth.

JC: It was really smooth. It took a long time. We were here a lot, and it’s only like 6, 7 songs. But nothing crazy or wild stories, just a lot of beers, joints… I don’t want to name any names or anything, but we did have one weird experience. We had a friend come in that really wanted to play on the record, and it was at the time when I didn’t have these guys. It was just us bringing in people to record. He wouldn’t play anything we told him to, and it was just a waste of hours of our time and money.

Any song or two that particularly stand out as favorites?

JC:I’m really excited for the song called “Well Kept," that is my favorite song on the record. It’s literally only two lyrics, but I think it bangs. I like it...that would be the one I’m most excited about.

How did the relationship with Dark Matter come into play?

JC: That’s been pretty cool. I was just happy that someone was interested. [Stu] works there so that was the first point of contact, but that wasn’t why it happened. That’s just kind of how they heard of us--

SM: They came to me actually. It wasn’t like us asking them to put it out. They were like get an album and we’ll put it out. They’re super excited too. 

JC: They were just like we’re trying to integrate more of a music aspect into what they do. They started this label called Press Pot Recordings. The whole process has been cool cause they’re not like telling us what to do. They’re promoting us, they’re gonna put out the record, and they’ve helped us a lot along the way. 

SM: They’ve had some other releases... they’ve been around for like a year or so.

JC: They’ve done a couple cool ones. You know that show Metalocalypse on Adult Swim? It’s this weird animated show about stereotypes in metal. The producer of that just did a record for Dark Matter. So we’re just excited. They also do a coffee release with every release...it comes out on 4/20 so it’s their yearly April blend.

As far as the release show, do you have anything special you’re planning? Any special guests?

27174063_557550781250354_5601530560325026348_o.jpg

JC: We have some things planned for sure, I don’t know about any special guests yet. If there are, I don’t wanna say, but we’re just really excited for that. We picked the lineup by hand, we picked the venue….We haven’t--as Strange Foliage--we haven’t headlined any shows yet. We really like all the bands that are opening. I’m excited to have Easy Habits. They’re a good band, they’re in their own kind of scene. I feel like there’s such over saturation in Chicago with similar line ups.

Who are some of your favorite other bands in the Chicago music scene that you want to shout out?

SM: We don’t know them, but Meat Wave.

JC: They’re one of our favorite bands, so good. All the bands that are playing with us at the release show [Town Criers, Easy Habits, Rookie]... Post Animal...they’re pretty tight. They’re putting out a record the next day. Pretty sweet! Who else? Blue Dream! Justin plays in that band. Goose Corp. Our drummer plays in another band called Goose Corp., they’re really tight. There’s so many bands in Chicago right now, it’s hard to choose.

You mentioned the over-saturation of similar lineups, what are some of the pros and cons to having a buzzing scene like ours?

JC: I think Chicago is just booming right now. It’s fun to be a part of it, and all of our friends are--while there is that over saturation, it’s also kind of fun to be able to go to a show and see everyone you know kind of thing. I’m a really big fan of the DIY scene in Chicago. In terms of venues, I love the Empty Bottle. It’s my favorite venue. I used to work there. SubT is cool. I’m not a huge venue goer. I like DIY spots. I was just at Observatory the other day, I like that place a lot.

One other thing I wanted to touch on, do you ever notice yourself pulling from non musical influences...like movies or visual artists?

JC: I don’t know about directly, but I’m really into Twin Peaks the show. A lot. I feel like I love the dark aspect of it. That’s kind of a tough question. I think just living in Chicago...the general vibe of like the scene is an influence. 

Do you have any other hobbies as a band?

SM: Skateboarding!

JC: I feel like that’s had a big influence on [my sound]. Just the skateboarding scene.

SM: Going back to one of the last questions...speaking of skateboarding, there’s this place in Pilsen called The Fallout. It’s a DIY venue/space/skate park. 

Any plans for summer tour?

JC: I'd like to! It’s one of those things that we’ll probably do like multiple 3 or 4-day tours, locally. For the time being, just cause we’ve done longer tours in the past and it’s a ton of work if you’re not at the point where you can bring people out in like, Nashville. I don’t know if anyone knows us across the border. We’re probably gonna be opening for some touring bands, like some local bands from Chicago that are touring. 

Any closing remarks?

JC: Just listen to the record, you’re gonna hate it

SM: Drink water.

JC: Support local music, drink water. Shop local. 


Grab your advance tickets to the Strange Foliage release show on April 19th here. 

A Chicago City Guide by Ganser

From our very own city of Chicago, post-punk outfit Ganser is set to release their debut album Odd Talk in just a few short days on April 20th. To celebrate the release, Ganser will hit the Empty Bottle stage tonight, April 16th to perform songs from the new album in one of the city's most legendary music venues. Ahead of the show, the band took some time to put together a guide of some of the other best spots in town. The best bars, resturaunts, venues, record shops...even the best car repair shops; you name it, Ganser didn't miss it on their guide. Get the scoop on Ganser's free show tonight here, and tune into their Chicago guide below to get to know the band a bit better!

 Photo by Samantha Lare

Photo by Samantha Lare

Bars

If there’s one thing we know how to do in Chicago, it’s drink. From high end cocktails to neighborhood dives, we’ve got you covered.

Charlie Landsman: One of the best places to drink in the city is probably Longman and Eagle. You can drop $50 bucks on scotch or $1 on PBR, also they play sweet tunes.

Brian Cundiff: Rainbo Club is one of our favorites for sure. They have some of the cheapest drinks around, play top tunes and they have a vintage photo booth to commemorate your debauchery. They also regularly feature the work of local artists on their walls. 

Nadia Garofalo: I’m not a big drinker, so I’m a fan of Logan Arcade. Barcades have popped up around the city in the last few years and Logan Arcade is by far my favorite. They have three rooms of vintage (and some newer) games, along with a full bar serving fair priced drinks. Bonus, they also have an awesome record store down the block called Logan Hardware. 

Alicia Gaines: We also wanted to mention Late Bar, a great late night spot with a darker ethos. You can dance to your favorite goth/post punk/ new wave etc. tunes until 4am! 

Food

Food is a big part of culture in Chicago, here are a few of our favorite places. 

Charlie Landsman: My favorite place to eat is a tiny 10 seater in Rogers Park called Noon Hour Grill. It's super far north, so I don't get there very often anymore but I've probably been there (and this is no exaggeration) upwards of 200 times. I grew up pretty close to it and have been going since high school. I've had probably everything on the menu and now just usually get bulgogi, bee bim bop, or kimchee bulgogi fried rice. Miss you Susie.

Nadia Garofalo: For my vegan folk, you can’t beat Chicago Diner, offering comfort classics as well as contemporary dishes at both their Boystown and Logan Square locations. They carry gluten-free options too, which I’m pretty excited about. If you go, be sure to save room for one of the best vegan milkshakes around. 

Record stores

Brian Cundiff: Slightly outside the city proper, Hip Cat Records in Wilmette is a favorite of mine. They’ve had the same owner since the 80's, he's right on in his grading of used vinyl and the prices are the best around.

Alicia Gaines: I’m a fan of Bric-A-Brac Records, it’s a really cool little shop that has a good selection of local and hard to find music as well as the basics. They also have a ton of vintage/nostalgic toys and memorabilia to peruse. 

Live Music

Charlie Landsman: The Empty Bottle is probably my favorite place. I've seen some of my favorite shows there for cheap and it always sounds at the very least decent no matter where you stand. They keep their intimate rock venue atmosphere with a low stage and no barrier which is great, and they let people go pretty nuts within reason).

Alicia Gaines: I always look forward to seeing shows at Thalia Hall. It's equally great seeing shows from the floor or sitting in the balcony. It's a great stage to play, too. Charlie and I saw Xiu Xiu perform their Twin Peaks cover album there recently, my favorite show of the year so far.

Other

Brian Cundiff: Favorite Car Repair- Warren's Shell, Evanston. Warren is a straight shooter who does fantastic work and will do whatever he can to save you money.

Nadia Garofalo: Favorite coffee shop-Star Lounge, serving delicious local coffee from Dark Matter. Local art on the walls, good vibes, good music and a patio in the summer. Chicago is home to a lot of local gems, my favorite is Space Oddities, a book store/ oddities/ local handmade shop and more. Just an all-around cool place to browse. It's also near some good vintage stores.

Alicia Gaines: The Music Box theater deserves a shout-out for consistently wonderful programming in one of the most beautiful places in the city. We've always been a group that's really interested in film, so it's a frequent haunt. 


There you have it! Check out Ganser's upcoming tour dates and follow them on social media below!

4/16 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle (Record Release Show) 

4/25 - Detroit, MI - Outer Limits Lounge %

4/26 - Pittsburgh, PA - Howlers %

4/27 - Brooklyn, NY - Alphaville %

4/28 - Philadelphia, PA - Mothership %

4/29 - Providence, RI - Alchemy %

5/01 - Brooklyn, NY - St. Vitus

5/02 - Baltimore, MD - Sidebar

5/03 - Richmond, VA - Flora

5/04 - Raleigh, NC - Slim's

5/05 - Atlanta, GA - 529

5/06 - Memphis, TN - Bar DKDC

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A Chat With: Allman Brown

 Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

While at SXSW last month, we caught up London-based singer songwriter Allman Brown before one of his showcases.

Following the success of his debut album 1000 Years, Brown released his new EP Bury My Heart during the Austin festival. Tune into our chat with Allman Brown below for the backstory of the EP, his SXSW survival tips, a teaser of his upcoming North American tour and more!


What do you remember as your first musical memory, whether it was playing it or listening to it?

I grew up in Hong Kong. My mother listened to Lionel Richie a lot, so one of my first musical memories is “Dancing on the Ceiling." It inspired me to listen to a lot of pop music. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson. So I watched "Bad" a lot...a lot. A particular music video that was really cool. I used to dance like Michael Jackson. My mother once made me dance for her tea party, in the style of Michael Jackson.

How are you feeling about releasing your Bury My Heart EP [out March 16th]?

I’m very excited, just because the album came out last year. This is just the first release where I’ve been doing full time music. These songs have been ready for quite a while and I’m pretty psyched for them to get some life and to be released. I’m thrilled. Then, I’m thinking about the next one. Just trying to get that next one lined up, get the momentum going.

Can you talk a little bit about the process behind the EP?

I went in with my friend Liz Lawrence who I did “Sons and Daughters” with way back when, and she also produced “Palms” which is on the album. I just love working with her, she’s a really good friend of mine. So we went in, and I wanted to...I wanted to do a little more electronic stuff this time. Push the dial a little bit further into the realm of electric guitar, and quite synth-heavy, reverb-heavy drums. Just to get that atmosphere. It’s not all totally like that, there’s a track on there called “Wild,” which is a bit more folky and guitar driven. But I was interested in getting that vibe done. So kind of early morning, nighttime vibes.

Taking that into the live sense, is there anyone you look up to as far as stage presence?

I just saw Bon Iver for the 6th time, and I’m not anywhere close to the amount of technology that he uses-- I saw him support Iron and Wine, and then I’ve seen him play every single album on every single tour, and it’s just kind of incredible the sheer amount of gear he has onstage now. And how he has managed to accumulate the really kind of organic, beautiful melodies that everyone loves about him with this like crazy,  I don’t know what’s going on, electric circus. I’m inspired by that. I’m kind of nervous to do that...my live setup, I try to peel the layers away. I tend to think the less that can go wrong technologically speaking, the better. Which is why--it’s not crazy simple--but I’m comfortable with it. I haven’t been playing with a full band for that long, but now I’m really enjoying that.

What has been the biggest culture shock, either onstage or offstage when coming to America?

I’ve been to America a bunch of times and I think the biggest culture shock in terms of crowds is American crowds are so enthusiastic and lovely, and they wear their hearts on their sleeves. Crowds are great everywhere, not saying that American crowds are better, but my music is quite sentimental. I think that American audiences are quite sentimental as well. They’re happy to come up to me afterwards and talk about lyrics, and they’re really engaged, which is lovely.

Anything from just traveling around, that's a culture shock to you? 

I’m European, so I like to walk. But in America, if you walk you’re either crazy or an outcast, cause it’s a country built for cars. So Austin’s quite nice cause there’s a place you can amble about. And the food. The food is just crazy. I recently burst--it sounds very dramatic, but I burst a blood vessel in my chest, so I was coughing up blood. It happened three weeks ago and it was pretty horrible. If you’d seen me in a film, you’d be like that guy’s dead. So I can’t have rich food. So being in Texas...that’s a bit upsetting I can’t have spicy food.

Oh no! What’s your favorite food that you’ve had over here though?

I’m recently getting into the Mexican food. My wife has always loved Mexican food, and she worked in Mexico for a whole year, so I’m getting into tacos in a big way. But I now have to like check myself, cause I can’t have any hot sauce. I love hot sauce. 

 What else are you looking forward to while you’re at SXSW?

We’ve seen a couple shows--

 I saw you were at Shame earlier right? I was there too!

I did see Shame earlier, they were nuts! It’s just nice the sheer quantity of acts. I’m looking forward to seeing Jade Bird, she’s playing all over. She’s been quite pushed by the industry. I shared a bill with her once in Amsterdam, but I never met her. I’m keen to check her out. There’s so much to choose from. My manager just takes me from place to place and I just follow.

Any SXSW survival tips that you’ve picked up from your short time here?

Go to South Congress. Go across the bridge, get out of the central bit, and go to South Congress Avenue. It’s just lovely restaurants, lovely shops and it’s really beautiful. It’s quite chilled out and relaxed. And comfy shoes. That’s about it.

What else are you looking forward to the rest of tour? Any cities you’re looking forward to?

I’m playing Chicago on the 6th of May at The Beat Kitchen! The May tour-- I’m just doing SXSW and then coming back in May, and I’m just really excited to get to do a proper tour. We’ve been trying to do it for about 3 years. We have such a nice audience here, but it’s just trying to arrange the visas and the funding. Now for the first time, we’re in a position where we can do it, so I’m just excited to finally get it done and be to cities that I’ve never been to as well. To see Chicago and San Francisco as well, and hopefully soak up a bit of atmosphere between shows.

Yeah sometimes tour is so busy you can’t do anything besides go from show to show, so hopefully you get to explore a bit. 

We try to make a point to go and see something cultural, one thing at least.

Cool, and recently you released a live music video for “Moonlight.” How did that come together?

I love that way that a track can sound one way on a record and totally different live, so my friend Mary plays the cello in the live version, and it’s just amazing. So I wanted to have that counterpoint. We might release that on Spotify at some point this year as well.

Any other music video plans?

None yet, I find them really tough. I find music videos really hard. Just to get something good, cause there’s so many of them now. Unless you have a ton of money, it’s quite hard to get an ambitious idea across. I’ll do another live session for sure, but an actual music video, I haven’t done one for ages.

Do you find that you ever draw any inspiration from visual artists or anything visual (i.e films) that inspires your sound?

I don’t watch music videos any more, but a lot from films, just from cinema. That’s my big thing. For me, songwriting is you try to take a feeling, and then try to smash it and shape it and encapsulate it into a song, so whether you’ve seen a sculpture or a painting or a great film, you come out thinking oh wow I want to write a song about that. A lot of cinema does that for me.

Wrapping up, anything else besides the tour over here that you’re looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to playing with my band again. I had a lot of fun with that, so I’m hoping to sort out more dates before the end of the year. 


Chicago, don't miss Allman Brown at Beat Kitchen on Sunday, May 6th. Grab tickets here, and check out the rest of his North American tour dates here. Get ready for the show by listening to the Bury My Heart EP in full below!