ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

A Chat With: Cut Worms

The brainchild of Max Clarke, Cut Worms combines a lo-fi process with timeless, harmonious vocals reminiscent of 1960's singer songwriters, the storytelling element of folk music, and a touch of psych rock. Following the October release of his debut EP Alien Sunset via Jagjaguwar Records, Clarke and his bandmates will be coming to Chicago next week to perform as part of the annual TNK Fest. The show acts as a homecoming of sorts, as Clarke attended Columbia College here in the city, but now resides in Brooklyn. For more on what you can expect from his set at Tomorrow Never Knows, what's in the books for 2018, the biggest lesson he learned at Columbia, and more, tune into our chat with Cut Worms now!

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

ANCHR Magazine: So starting off, what was your first musical memory from when you first got into music?

Cut Worms: My first musical memory would probably be just singing along to stuff on the radio as a kid. Or listening to my dad’s CDs that I found, like his Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits.

AM: Did that then inspire you to want to make music yourself?

Cut Worms: Yeah, in a sort of subliminal way that I didn’t really recognize yet. But I didn’t really start thinking about that I wanted to try to make music until I was 12 probably. Two of my uncles played guitar, and at family gatherings I would see them play, and just wanted to be able to do that.

AM: Nice, so then you started making music as Cut Worms when you were at Columbia College right?

Cut Worms: Right, I’ve been writing my own stuff, or trying to, since I was in middle school or high school. I didn’t ever actually get my own band or anything together until the end of college.

AM: Nice, I went to Columbia too!

Cut Worms: What did  you go for?

AM: Music Business, what was your major?

Cut Worms: Mine was illustration.

AM: What do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned from going to Columbia? Did you take anything away about the music business, even though that wasn’t your major?

Cut Worms: Not really as far as music, but it did give me a sense of developing a process for my work, whether that was illustration or music. Imposing deadlines on yourself, and I had some good professors there in the illustration department who were illustrators or cartoonists....Especially in Chicago, they tend to be kind of dark people. They just like sit inside all the time and draw, but they have really good work ethic. So I always admired that and took that away from them.

AM: For sure. I was reading a little bit about your writing process and that you’d try to release two songs a month online, so it seems that you definitely took that process away. So what were some of your favorite responses after you released your debut EP, Alien Sunset?

Cut Worms: It was just nice to get responses from people all over the place. Especially since signing with Jagjaguwar and them putting it out, they have a much wider reach obviously. So getting like a message from somebody in Norway saying that they were into it, that’s pretty wild to me.

AM: So where did you pull influences from for the songs on that EP? Did you look to other art forms like visual arts or films and what not?

Cut Worms: Yeah, my girlfriend and I always watch a lot of movies and TV shows, so I’m sure a lot of that is in there. I don’t really know where anything comes from. It’s kind of like listening to the news and getting angry, and trying to deal with it.

AM: Do you have a particular story about any of the songs on the EP and the process behind how it came together?

Cut Worms: I kind of just did it as I went along. I didn’t think about it too much before hand. “Curious Man,” that song on there, was the only one that I kind of had an idea and kind of wanted it to be like a sci-fi ghost story thing. That’s kind of one of the only times I’ve tried to write a certain type of song.

AM: So you’re originally from Ohio, and now you’re based in Brooklyn after living in Chicago. Do you find yourself pulling influence from the location you’re based in, and does it affect your writing habits?

Cut Worms: Oh yeah. Living in different places...I guess, since living in New York, I’ve started traveling a lot more than I ever did before. Even just to go home for holidays and stuff, just driving a lot. You kind of get more of a sense of the differences between different places and the atmosphere and the vibe. Just the pace of life. That was always kind of just like a meaningless cliche to me, but it really is kind of true.

AM: What are some of your favorite parts of the Brooklyn music scene, compared to Chicago?

Cut Worms: I don’t know. I’ve never really felt like I was part of a scene per se. In Chicago I guess I kind of was. There’s a garage rock scene there, at least there was...I think there still is. I was in a garage/punk band there and that kind of got me...that was the first band I was ever in. I’d never really experienced what it was to be in a scene before that. Since moving to New York, I don’t go out that much. I’ll go see my friends’ bands.

AM: Do you have any favorite NYC venues?

Cut Worms: To play at, yeah. Any of the bigger ones. It’s always good to play places with good sound, like Music Hall of Williamsburg. We got to open for The Growlers one time at Webster Hall. After spending years of just playing in shitty bars, not really being able to hear yourself, or when you could hear it, you know that it sounds’s just kind of depressing. So finally getting to play places where they know what they’re doing with sound, and they make you sound better. It’s more exciting to play, and I think it feeds off each other. Some of the places I like to go see shows are like Union Pool. Small rooms like that are cool.

AM: Nice, what about some of your favorite bands? You mentioned you like to go see your friends’ bands, so anyone you want to shout out?

Cut Worms: Yeah, EZTV. John Andrews and the Yawns. He actually plays in my band now. People from Woods. This band called Pavo Pavo. The guy Oliver is a good friend of mine who I met by playing shows with him. He moved out to LA, but when I met him he was a Brooklyn band.

AM: So speaking so playing live, you’ll be coming out to Chicago to play Tomorrow Never Knows Fest. What’s your live set up usually?

Cut Worms: So I play guitar, and then John Andrews plays keyboards and also sings harmonies. It’s really exciting for me to finally get someone to sing with, who’s good and gets it. Then Jarvis from Woods is gonna be playing bass with me, and my friend Noah Bond, he plays with a bunch of different people, he plays drums. It’ll be just a four piece, and that’s been the set up lately. Occasionally if I can pin him down, I’ll have my friend John, he plays in a ton of other bands, so he’s not always available. But it’s always good to have him when I can.

AM: For sure. Do you get to stick around and see any of the other bands playing TNK Fest?

Cut Worms: I’ll stick around for that night, but we’re flying back to New York the next day. The day after that we have a show at Brooklyn Steel with Allah Lahs. We need to get a rehearsal in since that’s a pretty big venue.

AM: Anyone on the line up that you’re into, if you got a chance to check it out?

Cut Worms: I’m getting to play with my friend, the band opening for us, Cafe Racer. One of the guys in the band used to play bass for me when I lived in Chicago. I know Sonny and the Sunsets are cool, so I’m pretty psyched on the show that I’m playing. I can’t remember, I know I was looking at the line up.

AM: Yeah your show is pretty stacked though, you have a good lineup! Do you have any other artists that you look up to in terms of stage presence, or anyone else you’d love to share the stage with?

Cut Worms: There’s a lot of people who I admire for their stage presence. I feel like I’ve never been that big of a...I don’t have that big of a presence. Or I don’t do a whole lot of moving around. I mean, The Lemon Twigs, who we’ve played with before, they have a pretty amazing stage presence. I admire that. I’ll probably never get there.

AM: What other goals do you have for 2018?

Cut Worms: I’m going to Europe for the first time in February so I’m excited about that. Then my record will be coming out in May. That will be like the first real release, and I’m excited to see what happens with that. I’m mainly trying to write new stuff.

AM: What can you tell us about the album?

Cut Worms: I just want it to speak for itself and for people to take what they want from it.

Grab your tickets here to Cut Worms show at TNK Fest to make sure you don't miss out...5 day passes are now sold out! Listen to Alien Sunset in full below to get ready for the show!

A Chat With: Soft Glas

If you're like me, you might have first seen Joao Gonzalez on stage this year with Overcoats. Gonzalez has spent the better part of 2017 on the road, playing drums for the electro-folk Brooklyn based duo, all while also mixing his own sophomore album. Under the moniker Soft Glas, Gonzalez crafted Orange Earth; a dreamy, nostalgic haze of an album that contains both groovy and tranquil melodies which he wrote, recorded, and produced himself. It's a record full of candid narratives and hometown memories, and one that vividly paints colors with its emotions and tones. 

Last week, I met up with Gonzalez before the final Soft Glas show of the year, following a nearly month long stint with Sports, during which he learned to perform his songs as a one-man band. During his set, Gonzalez explained some of his inspiration and the nostalgic nods behind certain songs, saying "The past is rose colored and romanticized." This presence of hues in his stories weaves throughout Orange Earth as a common theme, as does Gonzalez's willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with his lyrics. To find about more about the journey behind Orange Earth, the story of Soft Glas collaborators, what's next in 2018 for the project, and even how Gonzalez prefers to spend his New Years Eves, tune into our chat with Soft Glas now!

Soft Glas at Schubas Tavern 12.18

Soft Glas at Schubas Tavern 12.18

ANCHR Magazine: Do you remember what your first musical memory was, and what made you fall in love with music?

Soft Glas: My family is extremely musical. My dad plays piano, his dad played piano...I remember being three and my dad getting me this baby drum set, and just being extremely drawn to the drums. I remember playing a beat or something and just knowing this is what I want to do.

AM: Wow, from age three! So you had your sophomore album out this year. What was the process behind it, how long did it take to write, and where did you record?

Soft Glas: So I actually started conceptualizing it almost exactly a year from now. I was home for the holidays in south Florida where I grew up, and I remember just being overcome by all this nostalgia. Being in my hometown...A year ago I started working on it. I did most of it in my bedroom, my home studio. Then the last couple sessions were with my audio engineer named Adam Straus , and we housed ourselves in this old church in Boston, and made this impromptu studio. We recorded a lot of the live instrumentation, so the strings, and the drums, and all the orchestral stuff and the piano. It was like an 8 month long process cause after that... I had to mix it and master it.

AM: Oh wow, so you did all that yourself?

Soft Glas: Yeah, I was actually on tour with Overcoats at the time. So we would mix in hotel rooms after the show. We’d come back to the hotel and mix.

AM: So how do you balance being your own artist, working on your own material, and then touring with Overcoats so much? Besides mixing in hotel rooms…

Soft Glas: It actually almost helps, as weird as that sounds. It’s like having a lot to do makes you appreciate what you’re doing in the moment. So I never got bored of working on the album, or frustrated because whenever I did come back to it...whether it was mixing or recording or writing, it was always really exciting. Cause it was like I have x amount of time to work on it. Having a lot to do helped me focus a lot more.

AM: Cool, and then you also have a a few collaborations on the album, like "Glass House" with Sunni Colon.  How did those collaborators come around...was it just friendships, or how did you decide who to work with?

Soft Glas: I think every collaboration I’ve ever done is with a friend of some sort. So I always love to have an actual relationship with people before sending ideas and stuff. With Sunni specifically it was funny, cause I had just put out my first project. This album called Late Bloom, and he had randomly reached out and was like “Hey man, I really liked this album, I’m Sunni!” It was like through Twitter or something. Then literally the day after he messaged me, a mutual friend of ours asked if I wanted to help him shoot Sunni. So the following day we were like what’s up, guess we’re friends now! Then that was just how it usually goes. I have a friendship with people and it just becomes a given that we’re eventually going to work together on something.

AM: Is there anyone on the top of your list to collaborate with next? Whether it be more realistic, or a fantasy Beyonce collaboration?

Soft Glas: It’s funny that you say Beyonce because top of my list is Solange. I’d say Solange and Frank Ocean. 

AM: I was gonna say, I pick up some Blonde vibes in Orange Earth. 

Soft Glas: Oh my gosh, Blonde is my favorite album! It’s incredible! Also, Radiohead [is on my list] to work with. 

AM: Yeah, it’s cool that you pull from different genres, and I can definitely pick up on a little bit of overlap. So, now talking about playing live, you’ve been on this tour with Sports for a few weeks. How did you translate something that you recorded and mixed and produced yourself into a live show? Was it a challenge?

Soft Glas: Yeah, it was so daunting. Just because while I was working on the album, I was simultaneously learning how to play guitar. I taught myself so that I could record guitar.

AM: Oh wow, so rather than get someone else you decided to do it yourself?

Soft Glas: Exactly, which is most of process. I don’t want to wait on people, so I just learn myself. When I’m recording though, I have unlimited takes. The biggest thing for me, especially with guitar and my voice, was I have one shot to get it on stage. That’s been kind of a crazy adjustment. Having that focus...and I’ve had to practice a lot.

AM: Has it been okay so far on the tour?

Soft Glas: I think so! I’m having fun, but I’m my biggest critic by far. So I come off the stage every night just like ahh, I missed that one note on that one song, or I messed up the timing on this.

AM: Everyone’s in the moment though so they probably don’t even notice! If you’re having a good time that’s always better than a perfect, rigid musician. So what about tour highlights with Overcoats? Any favorite moments?

Soft Glas: Touring with Overcoats has been the most absurd experience of my life. The touring itself was so intense. Literally we would do a 4 week run and have a total of 3 off days. It was so intense, and as a result we’re all stuck in this van together for the entire day.

AM: Yeah, I see their Instagram stories. They’re pretty entertaining...

Soft Glas: Yeah, you kind of lose touch with reality and how to interact with people. I’d say the whole thing was a crazy experience. It’s one big haze.

AM: So we’re coming up on New Years Eve. Do you have any best and worst NYE experiences you want to share?

Soft Glas: It’s actually--So best New Years moments, my family is very family-centric. We value family a lot. So New Years in my household has always been a very intimate event, where we want to bring in the new year together. So I don’t have too many crazy stories, since I’m usually with my parents, chilling at home and counting down together. There have been a couple times, like New Years in New York 4 years ago, where it was kind of crazy. I remember just seeing this DJ... It was the most ridiculous night because everyone was like let’s see how absurd we can make tonight. People were wearing the craziest stuff, we were in Bushwick in Brooklyn. I barely remember it.

AM: So that would be the craziest one?

Soft Glas: Yeah, I’m boring by the way! I’m so boring.

AM: That’s cool though, just hanging out. Do you have any advice about how to have a safe NYE?

Soft Glas: I would never tell anyone to be boring like me, but I would say ring it in with people you love. Do whatever you want to do, but just make sure you’re surrounded by people you love.

AM: What are your goals for next year then?

Soft Glas: I think I want to tour this album a lot more. I’m just now kind of scratching the surface of what the show could be. I could get my band together and have a bigger ensemble on stage, rather than just be me myself.

AM: Oh wow, so it’s currently a one man band? So hopefully you can get some touring members together.

Soft Glas: For sure. Also, I’m working on new stuff, so I’m sure I’ll record an album at some point next year.

AM: Last question, I always like to hear what my favorite new artists are listening to as their new favorites, so what are some of your recommendations on what to listen to?

Soft Glas: I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Hakim. Nick Hakim was probably one of my favorite albums of the year. Moses Sumney is incredible.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They’re inspiring. A lot of my friends, like Zack Villere, you should check out. Alex Szotak. Cheryl. J'Von. Mulherin. Check all these people out! Honestly, they make my favorite music right now.

AM: Cool, any last closing remarks?

Soft Glas: I’m very happy to be in Chicago! It’s one of my favorite cities!

There you have it! Check out photos from Soft Glas's show at Schubas, featuring Dream Version and Sports as well. 

Keep up with Soft Glas on social media and listen to Orange Earth in full below.

Soft Glas: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Blue Dream

Chicago's Blue Dream is coming in hot this month with their official debut single "Freedom Eyes," which Treehouse Records will put out as their first label release. "Freedom Eyes" cranks up the volume, demanding attention from listeners, but it's only a teaser of what is to come for the four piece. Blue Dream also have their full length debut primed and ready to go, and they'll be performing most of those songs at Treehouse Records' showcase at Schubas Tavern this Thursday night. Before the show, get to know more about the band from our chat with lead singer Justin Sanetra and guitarist Anthony Cook. We talk everything ranging from their beginnings as musicians, their work with Treehouse Records, David Lynch, and McDonald's chicken nuggets. For all of the important details and the random musings of Blue Dream, keep reading to find out these 7 must-know facts about the band!

Blue Dream is  Justin Sanetra, Anthony Cook, Jimmy Russell, and Danny Awisha (not pictured)

Blue Dream is  Justin Sanetra, Anthony Cook, Jimmy Russell, and Danny Awisha (not pictured)

Jimi Hendrix and an ABC Family TV Show Inspired Them To Play Music

Justin Sanetra says he started getting into making his own music as soon as he started learning to play it. "It was kind of immediate for me. I started playing my first year of high school, and then within the span of starting, I wanted to be in bands and write songs. It’s my outlet for that," he recalled. As far as what inspired him to start playing? "Seeing Jimi Hendrix play the guitar," Sanetra says. 

Anthony Cook, or just Cook, as people call him, says his original motive behind wanting to play music is a little more shallow than that. "Honestly when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, my first experience with trying to play music was I was watching some show on ABC Family or something like that. There was this character on the show that was this high school douchebag guy, but he had a guitar and all the chicks were around him, and I was like 'damn, I wanna get a guitar.' So I tried to learn guitar when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, but I didn’t have the discipline to do it." Cook continues on to say he bought a guitar in 8th grade and finally took it seriously.  "I took it from there, practicing a lot. Especially playing with these guys and playing with other musicians is what really made me realize this is what I want to do with my life," he adds. 

Cook and Sanetra also mention that they'd played music with other people in high school, but they joined forces as they graduated and haven't looked back since. It's now been 6 or 7 years that the members of Blue Dream have played together. 

They All Dabble With Other Bands and Side Projects

Although Blue Dream is the main priority of Sanetra, Cook, and their bandmates, Cook says they also have side projects that they work on. "My other group that I play in is called St. Marlboro. We’re gonna be recording [at Treehouse] next week, so I don’t know when that’s gonna come out. The road is long ahead of us, but we’re gonna record here and we’ve had all the songs for a while," he says. 

Sanetra also plays in the live lineup for Strange Foliage, who open up the Treehouse show this Thursday. "It’s a newer project. It’s more of a solo project from a guy Joey Cantacessi and he found some friends to play live with him," Sanetra adds.

Both Cook and Sanetra also say how much they love being a part of the collaborative Chicago scene. "Just how into it everyone is. The energy of it. There’s so many bands, so many different types of bands," Sanetra adds to his list of pros to the Chicago scene. Cook echoes that sentiment, adding, "There’s a lot of diversity in it, but I think my favorite thing about it is the fact that it’s so big that there has to be bands that are taking it seriously. In a small town there might be like one band that’s really taking it seriously. There’s so much competition here it’s driving everyone to be better." Lastly, they name Zoofunkyou, Post Animal, and Groovy Louie & the Time Capsules as some of their favorite local bands. 

They Became Treehouse's First Label Release In a "Right Place Right Time" Moment

As Cook mentioned, his other band St. Marlboro will record at Treehouse, as does Strange Foliage and of course Blue Dream. The list of Chicago bands recording at Treehouse goes on and on, and Blue Dream have the honor of being the first release on Treehouse's Record's label.

Talking about the chance to work with Treehouse, Sanetra says, "It happened kind of spontaneously. We always had friends that recorded here and we kind of took forever to get our shit together and get stuff recorded. We finally booked time here and we ended up talking to Matt [Gieser] about how they wanted to start a label. It just worked out with the timing, with us releasing our first single besides a demo we did a few years ago. Also there’s an album too that’s been about 4 or 5 years in the making."

Cook can't say enough positive things about the studio, adding, "The main reason I wanted to record here...first of all, it’s been recommended to me by friends and other local musicians. One thing I noticed is that all their records, every band I knew that made a record here, it sounded like how they sound live. They capture their sound the way it’s supposed to be. They didn’t totally-- it’s never over produced, it’s all analog. It’s all tape. I thought that was really cool." 

As far as the actual 7" that will be released this Thursday, Cook says, "The song that’s the A side of the single ["Freedom Eyes"] came together pretty much right before we recorded. Some of the songs that are gonna be on the full length are older ones from a couple years ago, but the single was fresh."

"There’s a good mix of songs that we’ve been working on for a while. Then there’s songs that we’ve never played live and wrote in the studio," Sanetra says about the upcoming album. 

They All Play Equal Part in the Process

As with most bands, Blue Dream says their writing process varies per song. However, Cook says, "It’s largely hinged upon Justin’s songwriting. He usually brings in the idea and then the rest of us fill in the spaces and lay out the song." "I go out and hunt the food," Sanetra continues, with Cook interjecting to say, "And we cook it. I put on the seasoning. Danny hammers out the meat. Jimmy fries it..."

Sanetra discusses the particular process for "Freedom Eyes," saying, "It was kind of scattered lyrics over just so many things going on in our world right now. So many people have different opinions. We get caught up on there’s a right and wrong." Cook picks it up here, adding, "It’s all arbitrary. There’s no such thing as right and wrong. We invented that. That makes me think of the fact how connected the world is right now. Everyone is always looking at their phones and always connected to everybody else. It’s definitely got some pros...there’s a lot of conveniences that come out of that, but at the same time, I feel like it’s pushing people further and further away from each other. It’s dividing people. I think it especially has an impact on the music industry. It’s very different these days. It used to be if you didn’t get on a major label, you had no chance of anyone hearing your shit. But now, anybody with a computer in their bedroom can make an album. That makes a lot more competition, a lot more good music, and a lot more bad music. It’s all relative. There’s no good or bad expect what’s relative to each person. The average of society is what’s considered right and wrong." After this reflection, Cook lightens to the mood, joking, "We’re getting a little too metaphysical right now. Let’s talk sports!"

Their Album Features the Sound of a Toilet Smashing and a Chicago Traffic Jam

There's still no official word on when we'll get the full length debut from Blue Dream, but they were even considering dropping it digitally the day of their release show, or on New Years Eve for the last album of the year. While the timing still isn't decided, one thing the band knows is that one of their favorite tracks is called "Battle of Cicero." 

"That’s a tough one. I’m most excited for...we have a 15 minute song. It's an adventure of a song," Sanetra says about the tune when he was trying to pick out his favorite song on the album. 

Cook agrees, adding, "It’s interesting, it features a drum solo from our drummer Danny. All done live...almost everything we did on that song was done live. Other than the fact that we threw a toilet off a balcony and mic'd that up. We smashed an acoustic guitar. We were trying to create an ambience of destruction and violence." Sanetra chimes in" [It's] pretty much what Chicago sounds like."

Although throwing a toilet off a balcony sounds like the most extreme thing you could do for abstract recordings, Blue Dream didn't stop at that. "I caused a traffic jam. I parked at the green light at Cicero and Wrightwood. I just parked at the green light for two green lights so people would honk at me and scream at me. Like 'Fucking Move!!' and all that, and just had a mic hanging out the window," Cook continues. 

The band definitely thought outside the box to create a diverse and cinematic album. "I think we were trying to keep a bit of a variety but with a cohesive sound. A lot of it’s heavier stuff, but there’s some moments where it’s more melodic. There’s dynamics in it. We were trying to---I don’t want to say showcase our different sounds, but the songs we have tend to be pretty different from one another. You can tell they’re all Blue Dream songs, but they’re all pretty unique. We’re trying to make a record where the songs are far enough apart that it stays fresh the whole time. You don’t get locked in one sound. It’s like, you get the general aesthetic of the band," Cook says. Just like a movie, he adds, "Each scene might have different lighting or a different kind of ambience to it, but they’re all parts of the same movie." 

(Oh, and the toilet was found in an alley and in clean condition they say, if you were wondering...)

They're Chicken Nugget and Mozzarella Stick Connoisseurs  

While they're on the subject of the band's identity, Cook says, "Blue Dream can be boiled down to marijuana, electric guitars...LSD, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets. And Signature Sauce!" He adds, "I’d like to plug Signature Sauce. It’s the best sauce you can get at McDonald's for your chicken nuggets. Don’t get the strips. The nuggets are the way to go. They have the new Buttermilk sounded so good, I tried it. The only time I tried it, I was on my way to record here. They were alright, but I wish I would have gotten nuggets."

Sanetra mentions he misses the mozzarella sticks from McDonald's, and it turns out Cook also has the local mozz stick wisdom and expertise. "If we’re talking mozz sticks, you’ve got the breaded kind with the bread crumbs, and you’ve got the Italian bread crumbs on it. The ones where it’s like deep fried and flakier, those are the ones that I like," Cook says before plugging Snappy Dog as having the absolute best cheese sticks, which they call Snappy Stix. "It’s like an eggroll. It’s like the casing of it is what an eggroll looks like. But instead of vegetables and rice, it’s cheese," he says. 

There you have it...Make sure you pick up some Snappy Stix when you're listening to Blue Dream's album for the first time to get an authentic Blue Dream listening experience.

I think we were trying to keep a bit of a variety but with a cohesive sound. A lot of it’s heavier stuff, but there’s some moments where it’s more melodic. There’s dynamics in it.
— Cook on the theme of the upcoming Blue Dream album

They Like Twin Peaks the Band, But Like The TV Show Even More

As a supporter of the local music scene and just good art in general, Cook brings up Twin Peaks....both the TV show and the Chicago band.  "I like Twin Peaks the band, but Twin Peaks the TV show changed my life," he says. 

Cook has watched the entire series, including the recent reboot, or third season as it's been considered by many. If you watched the show yourself, make sure you talk to him on Thursday night about his take on the series ending. If you didn't watch it, we'll avoid any spoilers, but seriously, just go watch it. 

Cook also says that David Lynch and Twin Peaks have influenced the music and direction of Blue Dream. "That program definitely influenced our music video I would say. David Lynch is probably my favorite director of all time," he says. 

As far as his favorite character on the new season, Cook says, "I really liked Jim Belushi in the new season. I didn’t know much about his acting career prior to that, other than According to Jim, and I thought that was fucking stupid. He was amazing in Twin Peaks. Blown away by Jim Belushi’s acting...."

There you have it! Don't forget, Blue Dream play their release show at Schubas THIS Thursday, December 7th. Grab your tickets here. If the idea of them playing their entire album isn't enticing enough, Cook says, "We’re having a hologram of John Lennon performing "Imagine" in the middle of our set!" Whether or not that's true, it looks like you'll have to go to the show to find out.  

As for next year, Blue Dream will be touring across the Southeast, so make sure you follow their social media to stay informed on all things tour.

Blue Dream:

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

You can also pre-order the 7" single here. 

Get To Know: Acid Dad

NYC's Acid Dad has made waves in the rock scene for the last couple of years with their catchy blend of psych and punk rock. In addition to releasing their debut EP Let's Plan a Robbery in 2016, they've toured across the country, sharing the stage with bands like White Reaper, Diarrhea Planet, and Meatbodies. After shredding it at Tomorrow Never Knows Festival in January, Acid Dad returned to Chicago to play another rock festival in town...Warble Daze. Now on the brink of releasing their debut album, the band has dropped a brand new 7" single this week via Greenway Records

Back in October, before their Warble Daze set at Logan Square Auditorium, we got the chance to chat with them about everything from the new single to their start in music. Check out the five things we learned while chatting with Acid Dad, and get to know them now! 

Image Courtesy of Acid Dad

They Started Playing Music From Ages 3-18

When it comes to the current day lineup of Acid Dad, they all have very different starting points in music. If you ask guitarist Sean Fahey, he's been playing since his toddler days. "I got a guitar when I was like three. I like ran around the house with it, and apparently I wrote my first song with it when I was like 4. It was called “The Swan Song.” No relation to Led Zeppelin," he says, adding that this was so long ago it wasn't even recorded, since nothing was digital then. 

Drummer Kevin Walker also started at a really young age. He tells his story, saying, "I started playing drums when I was like 8. And my older brother played guitar. Pretty much every day after school from like 3PM to dinner time we just played music and our parents didn’t mind. It was loud as fuck!" The newest addition to the band, JP Basileo, was much more of a late bloomer however. "I started playing bass when I was like 18. Late bloomer. A friend of mine had [a bass] for a while and I saw him not playing it, so I picked it up and just started playing. Then I eventually got one for myself and I never stopped playing. That’s the way it went with guitar. My dad started having a mid life crisis and instead of buying a car, he bought a really nice Fender telecaster thinking he was gonna learn. He didn’t learn shit and I picked it up. But I’m left handed and I play it righty, so my skills on guitar are a little more limited," JP says. 

Guitarist and singer Vaughn Hunt falls in the middle of that spectrum, picking up piano at age 13 before eventually making his way to guitar only about 4 years ago. Vaughn also tells the story of the band forming, saying, "Kevin and I had a band before this and we would play every day. So you get really good if you practice every day. Playing with a drummer is the best way to get really good really quick. Kevin’s brother is really good, I started playing with him..." Kevin picks up the story adding, "Vaughn replaced my brother. We went to college and we were in a dorm and I didn’t play drums for like a year. Then we joined a really shitty band, but we met each other and started Acid Dad. We left that project and it’s been 3 and a half years. We started jamming in August 2014."

They've Gone Through Lots of Bass Players

Speaking of replacing people in the band, Acid Dad as it stands has had many different bass players come through the rotation. Vaughn says, "We found Sean two years ago. JP is number 10 in bass players, Sean was bass player number 6? 7?" DIIV's current bass player had actually been number 9 before JP came along, Sean says. While it's definitely been a high turnover in the bass department over the last few years, the entire band said they feel confident in the current day line up, and they won't allow JP to quit anytime soon. They even made a pact with cigarette burns, so, next time you see Acid Dad this lineup should hopefully be in good condition. 

They'd Consider Moving To Chicago

The last time Acid Dad played in Chicago, prior to Warble Daze, they'd played at Schubas with Honduras, and JP actually hadn't been in the band yet. Surprisingly, JP's first ever visit to Chicago occurred during Warble Daze, but the band all say they love Chicago. "We’re thinking about moving to Chicago. We’ve talked about it," Vaughn added. Both Sean and Vaughn recall coming to Chicago as kids, but they also recollect Kevin being banned from a bar here (no one remembers which one). On a more positive note, Vaughn says he loves The California Clipper, and they all like Chicago pizza. Finally, based on the positive and warm reception of Acid Dad' set at Warble Daze, they'd definitely be welcomed into the scene here with open arms.

Kevin Once Got Mugged On Halloween 

After talking through some of their best and worst Chicago moments, the band recalled their best and worst Halloween moments. "I got mugged when I was a kid. By the older high school kids. It was sketchy... not a good part of town. They took my wallet and my phone. I was in 6th grade probably," Kevin said, adding that they also took his candy. 

It turns out that most of the band actually met on Halloween, though. "The first time I met Kevin and Vaughn was on Halloween. It was their first show. I don’t know what you guys dressed up as, but I was supposed to be a werewolf and I got the whole kit. I was playing with my other band and my drummer saw me come out of the bathroom and was like no you can’t do that because I essentially just had blackface. So I went to the Deli and bought a bunch of toilet paper to wrap myself with as a mummy," Sean recalled. 

Since JP wasn't in the band at that time, he also chimed in with his take on the spooky holiday. "I have my good Halloween memories, but for the most part I hate it. Everyone is like 'let’s be wild and crazy and put on lipstick and dress up', but that’s like a normal Tuesday for me. I’m wild and crazy all the time," he says. 

Also, if Acid Dad were to do an all band costume and cover one artist, they narrowed it down to The Replacements, The Stone Roses, and Pavement. 

Acid Dad at Warble Daze

They Have a Lot of New Music on the Way

Acid Dad have yet to put out a full length record, but they assured us that it's well on the way...and soon. "It’s pretty much done. A 7 inch is coming out in November, on Greenway. Greenway Records," Vaughn says. 

Sean says their connection to Greenway came from knowing the right people, who put them in touch with the record label's owner, Harry Portnof.  "Our now friend Harry was friends with my roommate Devon, Devon hooked it up. Hi Devon! Harry’s a really sick dude and runs the label by himself. He has this vinyl manufacturing plant in Jersey nailed down, and pretty much has it to himself," he says. "It’s a faster turn around than any other label I’ve seen," Kevin chimed in, also adding " Dan Curran also kind of-- he had done a bunch of poster work and what do you call it? Woodblock screen printing! And he ended up doing our EP release poster artwork. He does most of Greenway’s artwork. He did the logo. So it was kind of like, meet my friend who runs this label. So he’s been wanting to do a record with us. A year and a half he’s been bugging us." 

While the 7 inch is finally released, they've taken their time with the album since you only put out a debut once. "We’ve redone it a few times. We’re redoing it right now," Kevin says. "I'm trying to get on it," JP joked, since he had joined the band after they did the original recordings last year. The band also say that the album should be about 11 tracks long, and their Warble Daze set consisted of mostly new material which will be on the record. 

Finally, make sure you pre-order your psychical copy of "Die Hard"/"Bodies" here because it's a rarity.  "One funny thing is on the 7 inch, the single on the A side, is called 'Die Hard.' It’s also gonna be on the album. But the album one is the re-recorded one, so they’re the same song but version 1 and 2. Then the B Side is not gonna be on the album at all. And there’s only a few hundred of those that we’re making," Kevin says. 

In the meantime, listen to both "Die Hard" and "Bodies" in digital format below, and keep up with Acid Dad on Social Media:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Psst- NYC, Acid Dad are having a release show on 12/5 for the single. Grab tickets here!



A Chat With: Molly Parden

Nashville based singer songwriter Molly Parden has perfected her craft of harmony-heavy folk songs throughout the years, taking her time on follow ups to her 2011 debut album Time Is Medicine, which include the 2016 EP With Me In The Summer and the brand new single "Sail on the Water." When she's not carefully finessing and honing in on her own music, the multitalented Parden also lends her stunning vocals to fellow Nashville musicians, or takes her skills on the road, recently touring as part of Faye Webster's band. On December 2nd, Molly Parden will return to Schubas (where she just played with Faye Webster) to support David Ramirez with her own material. Before the show, we chatted to Parden about everything from growing up with eight siblings, her favorite studio projects, and her 2018 goals. Tune in and get to know Molly Parden now!

Photo by Mark Cluney

Photo by Mark Cluney

ANCHR Magazine: As I understand it, you grew up with 8 other siblings and didn’t have much exposure to music at a young age. Do you remember what it was that sparked your interest to start playing music, and who some of your first influences were?

Molly Parden: Honestly I don’t remember what it was that sparked my interest in music, except that my life has always had a soundtrack. There was music every Sunday at church, a CD of worship music playing in our living room every day, and we listened to the radio as a family any time we piled into the van. Growing up in the church, Hillsong was a huge influence at first. When I began listening to secular music, it was Coldplay that led me to Radiohead that led me to Björk that led me to Feist. Feist (and probably Radiohead) played a large role in shaping my penchant for delicate vocals and jazz-flavored chords. 

AM: Speaking of all of your siblings, what’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from growing up with so many siblings? 

Molly Parden Biggest lesson: life is meant to be shared. Not that I always operate in that fashion, but when I sense that someone is freely giving me their time, talent or just something of theirs that means a lot to them, I am just undone. I try to remind myself that every little thing that I “own” is a gift.  Sure I work hard, but things are just things; they can easily be lost. I feel freedom when I loosen my grip on life; on possessions, on relationships. Growing up surrounded by people helped me understand this. 

AM: What are some of your favorite projects that you worked on as a studio vocalist when you first moved to Nashville?

Molly Parden: Two months after moving to town, I was invited to record harmony vocals on Caleb Groh’s record “Ocelot” and later on Joseph LeMay’s “Seventeen Acres”. I have listened to these records so many times. Chad Wahlbrink engineered both projects in (what was at the time) his home studio in Sylvan Park at The Pink Mailbox. 

AM: Can you talk a little bit about your transition into the spotlight when you started working on your own music, instead of being a studio vocalist? What were some of the challenges and what have been some of the biggest rewards? 

Molly Parden: I was stuck in a writing rut when I moved to Nashville. I had no idea what to write about. I would invent song ideas, record them on my iPhone, and try later to chip away at them ... to no avail. It was awful; I felt like maybe I had lost my knack for making songs. Singing harmony on records and at live shows was nice. I didn’t have the pressure of being the face of the band, but I was definitely being heard. I met so many artists and songwriters this way, by being a supporting vocalist. This role lent itself well to my very supportive personality. I truly don’t mind being beside the spotlight. 

I’ve played small shows regularly (once every 2 months) from the time I moved to Nashville in 2013, but I’ve never cared much for recording my own music. The pressure of time and money can feel harsh, making me want to wrap things up in the studio maybe too quickly. Being my own label, manager, lawyer and agent, I make my own timelines... and that’s probably why there was a 5 year gap between my first record Time Is Medicine to my 2016 EP With Me in the Summer

AM: What are some of your favorite aspects of the Nashville music scene right now, from venues to other artists and just the overall vibe?

Molly Parden: Hmm. I’ve been here just over four years. One of the things I love about Nashville is how many different people can rotate in and out of bands. I’ve played shows with 8 different electric guitar players, 3 bassists, and 2 drummers. It is pretty awesome to have 4 backups in case your #1 and #2 are both booked. I love the variety of club sizes here in town and I will always love playing Grimey’s dingy little precious venue underneath his record store, The Basement. Always. 

AM: You’ve been on tour this month, and you’ll be out throughout the first half of December. What have been some highlights, and what other cities are you looking forward to?

Molly Parden: I’ve been a David Ramirez fan ever since he beat me at an open mic contest at Eddie’s Attic back in 2010, so the fact that I get to share a stage with him for 45 shows is a rather wonderful thing to me. I had a great time in NYC at Mercury Lounge, Toronto at The Drake and in LA at Bootleg. New York is always so dreamy, in an exhausting way. We stayed in Montana on the way to Spokane, and I really enjoyed waking up to a mountainous backdrop. I’m really pumped about playing my tunes at Schuba's and 7th Street in Minneapolis. I played bass with Faye Webster at Schuba's on November 17th; it sounds so great in that room. And you know, I’m kind of excited about touring Florida. I don’t know why, but I am. 

AM: What are some of your favorite ways to stay entertained on the road during long drives? 

Molly Parden: I have one really boring one: the ABC game where you find (and shout) a word 4-or-more-letters outside of the car that begins with each letter of the Roman alphabet in sequential order. My sister Hannah and I are really good at it. My van BFF Matt (David’s keys player) played with me one time and hasn’t suggested we play since, so... I’m going to assume he’s not a fan. I don’t have any other good activities. If any of your readers have some, please. Email me. 

AM: I love your latest single, “Sail on the Water.” Where are you in the process of your next album, and when can we expect more new music?

Molly Parden: Thank you! I love it too. Took me about 18 months to write that bugger. Juan Solorzano (the producer and multi-instrumentalist) really breathed life into it. 

I am 3 songs in to creating a full-length record. 10 songs? 11? I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, after David’s tour ends in mid-December. I’ll hop back in the studio with Juan, Zachary Dyke, our drummer Tommy, Ben on strings and hopefully Matt Wright on keys for four or five days and knock out the rest of the record in Madison, TN. I’ve no clue when this one can be expected. Crossing my fingers for 2018. My fans are patient, as we’ve established earlier (re: five-year recording hiatus). Perhaps I’ll test their patience, make this five-year thing a trend.

AM: What else are you looking forward to in 2018?

Molly Parden: Every year you learn something new. Same goes for each tour, and I’m ready for the next one. A couple are in the works already for spring...can’t wait to see where the wind will blow me. I’m excited for baseball season; Nashville has a minor league team, the Sounds, which is cute, but I didn’t make it to a single Braves game in 2017 and I hope to change that next year. 

Chicago! Grab tickets to see Molly Parden at Schubas on 12/2 right here, and follow her on social media below!

Molly Parden: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Isador

There are songs that grow on you over time, and then there are songs that immediately hook you, instantly finding their way to the top of your recently played list on Spotify. Take "Falling" for example, the debut single of 300 Entertainment signee Isador (real name Warren Heller). The song, which dropped in early October, features a building and stacked arrangement, a haunting melody, and relatable message. Along with the song, which has already been getting tons of recognition, Isador dropped a music video, which he co-directed with his brother. While this is only the start for the 22 year old singer songwriter, 2018 will inevitably be a huge year for Isador. Before he takes off, get to know more about his songwriting process, his favorite albums of the year, how he deals with anxiety, and what he hopes to accomplish by sharing his music. Find out all that and more in our chat with Isador! 

Photo Credit: Yael Malka

Photo Credit: Yael Malka

ANCHR Magazine: When did you first get into playing and writing your own music?

Isador: I really started writing my own music when I was 13, after I'd gotten a copy of Ableton from my brother. After that I spent all my time after school on the computer totally transfixed.

AM: What were some of the first bands or artists that inspired you, and what are some current inspirations?

Isador: My parents always kept music on around the house and in the car, so really early on I remember loving Stax stuff, like Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes, also The Beatles are very deeply ingrained in my subconscious...

I was really lucky to live near an amazing record store growing up in New Jersey, when I was bored I'd go over and kind of just get lost in the place... thats when I started listening to Grizzly Bear and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and bands of that ilk. DJ Shadow, Just Blaze, Nujabes, Hans Zimmer, Q-tip, Jamie XX, Radiohead, Grimes, Portishead all have huge influences on me to name a few. Understanding sample based production totally changed my life.

I think my favorite music kind of takes me to the breaking point emotionally. I'm listening to Frank Ocean's Blonde a ton... it KILLS me. It makes me feel a giant range of emotion, from anger to total depression to absolute bliss. So good! 

AM: Do you also look to non musical influences when writing (like books, films, stories from friends, etc..)? What's an example of a time you've pulled inspiration from something like that?

Isador: Yes definitely, I think an idea can really be expressed in any medium. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint exactly what or where inspiration is coming from, I'll write a song and not really understand what it means until much later in the process. When I was 17 I tried this songwriting exercise for a while where I'd pick my favorite images or stills from movies and make a songs out of each of them. Some really weird stuff came out of that, the best came out of this really great still of Sigourney Weaver in the last third of Alien.

AM: Your debut single “Falling” has been getting a lot of great reception from fans. What have been some of your favorite responses?

Isador: Yes, its been really amazing. Someone said the song "Makes my heart eager to sing loudly and never stop dancing again." So great!

AM: The song is your response to dealing with anxiety and self doubt. What advice would you give to fellow young artists or your fans also struggling with anxiety? 

Isador: Believe in yourself and trust your gut. You and your work have value and it shouldn't feel like you need to be validated by anyone else. I was living on the validation of others for so long and I think it's really dangerous.

I think my favorite music kind of takes me to the breaking point emotionally.
— Isador on the type of music that inspires him

AM: I love the video for “Falling,” too, which you directed, right? How did you come up with the concept and was this your first time directing?

Isador: Thank you! I did direct it, with my brother. For the concept we took the themes of the song (powerlessness and fear) and turned them into narrative. The video comes out of my upbringing where I felt a ton of pressure to follow a path already set for me and my life.

When we were kids I made tons videos with my brother, we dragged our friends all over town and had them act. We got support from some local film festivals and it was always a great experience. "Falling" was the first time we made something like that in a long time. Directing this video which was an extension of something I felt so strongly was pretty intense emotionally and physically. We had rigged up this crazy padding so I could be dragged without rocks cutting me up. I would have to watch takes on the ground covered in mud and figure out direction because we didn’t really have enough time for me to get up and reset.

AM: Is there an EP or full length in the works as well?

Isador: An EP is done and the LP is in the works. The next song thats coming out I'm very excited for, I worked on it with my friend Andrew Maury, also theres a video for that song we are working on thats maybe the craziest thing I've ever done.

AM: Do you have any songwriting rituals or process that you tend to follow when writing?

Isador: Hmm, my space and where I am effect what I write so much. I generally go back home to my parents' house to work on music, something about being removed from everything in my life while still living in the memory of so much formative experience makes for very intense and true expression of myself. What I write in New York is so much different, I think pressures of New York make can make it really hard to write anything great, at least thats how I'm feeling right now.

 AM: Do you have any plans to tour soon? 

Isador: TBA ;)

AM: What are some of your favorite albums of 2017?

Isador: In no particular order...

Big Thief- Capacity

Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins

Kendrick Lamar - Damn.

Aldous Harding - Party

Tyler, The Creator - Flower Boy

Young Thug - Beautiful Thugger Girls

Perfume Genius - No Shape

Sampha - Process

AM: Since we’re nearing the end of the year, what are some of your goals for 2018?

Isador: I want to make and release way more music and videos, I feel like I have a lot in me that needs to come out. I also want to be of service to others I want people going through what I'm going and have gone through to be able to listen to my music and have it help them feel like they are not alone.

Stay tune for more from Isador in 2018! While you wait, make sure you follow him on Soundcloud

A Chat With: Active Bird Community

It's rare to find a band like Active Bird Community; a band made up of recent college graduates who have already been playing together for more than ten years. At such a young age, the group has learned so much about their collective sound and the way that each of them work, just by remaining friends and continuing to play music together. Now based in Brooklyn, the four piece create indie rock music with relaxed vibes and relatable lyrics that has increasingly been turning heads. After garnering attention from Chicago based tastemakers, Audiotree, Active Bird Community was asked to perform at the annual Audiotree Music Festival out in Kalamazoo. While there, they took some time to catch up with ANCHR, talking all about their long and winding past together and what's next for them. The band touches on some of their most surreal moments as a band and talk about the decision to record their next album across the country. Tune in below to get the scoop on all that and more, in our chat with Active Bird Community!

Active Bird Community at Audiotree Festival 

Active Bird Community at Audiotree Festival 

ANCHR Magazine: Let's kick things off by talking about your newest album, which came out in January. How was the writing and recording process for that album? How did it all come together?

Tom D'Agustino: Well, I think we wrote most of it throughout most of college. Mostly senior year of college, which should have been about a little over a year ago. I think the writing process for that...we’d been playing around with them the last couple of years, but it really came together when we went to upstate New York and we worked with a producer, Chris Daly. He works on our records, and he’s a long time friend. It was a really good process. It was pretty quick, I think we knocked it out in like 5 days or something. It was good, and I think it shows on the record, in a good way.  It doesn’t sound thrown together, but it definitely has like a raw quality to it that I really enjoy. I think that was something I really enjoyed, just getting in there and getting out.

Andrew Wolfson: I think that the fact that we were about to graduate school, we’d been together for almost felt like it was our last chance to say something. I think that’s why some of the songs came together the way that they came together. A few of the songs that were on the record, we wrote right before we went into the studio. At the end of the day we were really happy with those.

AM: You mentioned you’ve been together for years, starting when you were in middle school. What made you guys get into music so young? Was there a band or family member that inspired you?

Zach Slater: It was very--I don’t wanna say coincidental, but we were all just growing up in the same town and we were all friends. At one point, we had the same guitar teacher. So it all just kind of overlapped and made sense, and it was all something we wanted to do. So it’s been really good for us just having that background, and working together for so long. Experiencing these things, and keeping in mind the hard work we put in, it’s also kind of hilarious that we were playing together in middle school. Some of our biggest shows were at 8th grade recognition night and graduation.

TD: Sold out show! I think also, it started as just little kids fucking around and stuff and going through high school together. Learning how to be a band, and then finally when we all got to school, we went to different colleges, across the country, we kind of kept it going in a way. I was really happy cause that could have been a moment where we all just started new bands or didn’t really want to do it anymore. But throughout the whole time, we were constantly in contact, being like this is something like right when we graduate we’re just gonna fucking go for it. I’m glad that we chose to do that.

Quinn McGovern: I went to college with Tom, that’s how I met Tom. He introduced me to Zach and Andrew through the years as we were playing shows together in the Bronx. I became the new drummer about a year ago in September. September 10th, I got a nice little message in my inbox, asking if I wanted to do it. It’s just been such a blast for me, playing with these guys. I feel like I say that all the time, but it’s so true. Every time I say it and every day goes by, it feels even more true.

AM: You have known each other for a long time, and went to different colleges, and came back together. So it seems like you all just work really well together. What have you learned throughout the years of being a band, about each other and the band as a whole?

AW: I think the biggest lesson is how important this is to us, and we never let go of it. Because it was just this music, and this project, and these of the best things to ever kind of happen to us. And we’ve recognized that through the years. It’s hard not to do what we’re doing cause we love it so much.

TD: I think also going off that, the level of like certainty we’ve had about how much we should be playing together….not in the certainty like a level of success, but it feels so right. That feeling never really wavered since we were children. To me that’s like crazy, I’ve never felt that way about anything else. So to literally grow up and go through life and that feeling with these people, and watch their songwriting grow...and how they approach their art of whatever, it’s nuts. Cause it’s like, I obviously have a personal connection to the band based off of what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling, but being able to be up on a stage like that and look around and being like “that’s fucking Andrew, I remember doing this with him when we were like 13!” You know what I mean, it’s a crazy feeling and something very unique to us as growing up together.

AM: How do you think that your working together and writing together has evolved as you’ve grown up?

TD:  I think a big part of that, obviously the more we grow up we sort of develop our own relationships outside of the band and outside of the friend group, but to see that translate into a very familiar and comfortable Andrew will write a line or Slater [Zach] will write a bass part, like oh wow I still am surprised every time they bring something new to the table. But I can still be like, oh that’s totally them! Like that’s totally genuine. I think another huge part is when Quinn joined the band a year ago. That development that we’ve gotten over the past year, still kind of like honing in our sound and figuring out who we are, but having this completely new artistic voice and presence, has just given us so much more energy and life in the writing and performing.

AM: Have you guys started writing for a new album?

ZS: We’re going to San Diego next weekend to record our next record. It’s written, it exists on our phones.

AM: So you recorded the last record in upstate New York, and then you’re doing this one in San Diego?

ZS: We’re bringing our producer with us. We’re gonna be recording at Lost Ark Studio, and it’s gonna be engineered by Mark Butler.

AM: Nice! What made you decide to go all the way out there?

ZS: I think we felt like...I had a running joke with [our producer] that I wanted to record it in Hawaii, which is obviously never gonna happen, but he hit us up one day like guys, I found the closest thing we can get to Hawaii...this awesome studio in San Diego! We figured out the logistics, and I think for this record it was all really important to us to get out of the Northeast, like out of Brooklyn wherever we are, and really like be out of that headspace, musically and mentally, so that we can really focus on what we’re creating and not being distracted by anything else in our lives. Being thrown in a completely different environment and seeing how that pushes us.

AM: So how do you think growing up around New York City influenced you when you started writing?

AW: I think the fact there were a million bands playing shows in the city, when we got old enough our parents let us go see those shows. We didn’t even realize it, but we were in the middle of this amazing scene. It was inspiring! I can look back at certain shows and those artists completely influenced the way that I play and the way that I write. We were together at those shows, so it was a big--

TD: Yeah we were all kind of getting influenced and inspired at the same time. At the same moment of our lives. We had this cozy cute little town where we could just write songs and break shit, but it was cool to go in the city and be like this is how musicians actually do it. To be exposed to that at a young age, it was amazing.

AM: Do you have specific shows that you remember that influenced you?

AW: The one show whenever I think about it, it was King Krule, Real Estate, and Girls, all in one night. That was life changing for us. I saw Animal Collective during the Merriweather tour. We don’t sound like Animal Collective, but that was awesome. Just to see somebody up there, it was really amazing.

AM: I feel like everyone has artists that influence their sound, and then there are those that influence your stage presence, so I get what you mean! 

TD: I remember I went and saw a Panda Bear show on like Randall’s Island or something. A long time ago, I think my brother was a senior in high school and I was a freshman in high school. He invited me to come with him and all this friends, and I was like this is the coolest thing that’s ever happened. I remember just being there and getting to experience that at that big stage, and being surrounded by people older than me and more experienced with music and stuff, and just having that rub off but still feeling comfortable being there...that was a big part of it. I think we were all obsessed with Animal Collective in high school, though.

AW: Yeah, that was a really big thing for us.

AM: Very cool! Then talking about taking your music on the road, you spent the summer with Cymbals Eat Guitars and The Rocket Summer, right? How did those tours go?

TD: They were great! Cymbals Eat Guitars, when we got offered to do that with them...that was one of the bands, when we first started smoking weed and listening to music in high school, we were just like oh my god this is fucking nuts. So getting to meet them and play with them and learn from them, was crazy. To feel like you’re supposed to be there, and not just like little high school fanboys on feel like wow, I’m actually part of this was amazing. Rocket Summer was great too! I never really listened to them when I was younger, but it’s definitely one of those bands that were huge when we were in middle school.

AW: He put out a record when we were 12 years old, did a 10 year anniversary tour, and he asked us to be on it. There were tons of people there. 10 years later! That’s inspiring, the fact that somebody can put out an album and 10 years later people are like hell yeah! We’re just like “here’s some songs you don’t know…” It was a lot of fun, though!

AM: So speaking of festivals and all that, you’re here and played Panorama Festival this summer, too. How did that go?

ZS: Panorama was absolutely unreal. We got thrown on that bill fairly last minute, and we actually had to cancel a date on our tour to get back to New York and do it. That was probably one of the most surreal shows we played. There are artists that are doing well and then there are artists on this other level that you can’t even believe exist. Like Tame Impala, or even like Vince Staples. Any of these huge names, and you just see your name next to those names and you’re like how did that happen?

TD: It makes no sense...

ZS: You play like Northside or South By Southwest, and those are much busier festivals where you feel like you’re part of thousands or millions of bands, you know what I mean? But you play one of those stages, and you’re like wow...I remember halfway through the set...I think we had played like two songs. I was just shaking. My knees were shaking, but I looked out in the crowd and the front row were just my friends and family, it was just like we hit a crazy note and I was like “we belong here!”

AW: He even said that! That was the weirdest part. I have a line in one of my songs where I say “and you’re up on the screen,” and I pointed at the screen and I didn’t know it at the time, but the screen was my face.

AM: Nice, did someone get a photo of that?

TD: Yes! A lot of moms taking photos…

AW: Overall, Panorama, the lineup was insane. When it comes to festivals in general, a festival has to have a good brand. You’re walking’re in that world, and Panorama had that. It’s so nice and refreshing when it’s not only the artists, it’s the festival too. It all works.

AM: What do you guys like about this festival [Audiotree Festival]? What are you looking forward to while you're here?

TD: This lineup today...when we got invited we all just collectively like shat ourselves. Because it’s all of our favorite bands. Bands that we’ve been listening to for a while, bands that we just started listening to, and everywhere in between. To get to share a stage with that, especially with the crowd so into it...they’re just like standing and baking in the sun. They’re just so into it, it’s amazing. We’re backstage right now with all my favorite bands walking around and I’m trying to find the way to not seem like a total weirdo and just play it cool. It’s unreal, and I can’t ever imagine that feeling going away. 

The band are now back out on the road for a few shows, following their recording session for their upcoming album. They'll actually be at Lincoln Hall this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving...So Chicago! Go rock out with them and bring em some leftovers! You can grab guaranteed tickets here, OR head over to our Twitter and Retweet this to enter to win a pair. Winners will be picked Thursday, so get to it!

Get ready for the show by listening to Active Bird Community's latest album Stick Around below!

A Chat With: TEST

"Dont' be afraid to rock." If you wanted to sum up the core principle behind the Los Angeles band TEST and their new album Brain In/Brain Out, that's it. The trio of rockers pulled together their own style that blends sounds and emotions from old school punk, the 00's New York rock scene, Brit pop, and other alternative genres to craft the aforementioned album, which came out last Friday. The layered and dynamic debut full length quickly followed the October release of their debut single, "Entertainment Tonight," which was only a teaser of what TEST has to offer. Just before the November 10th release of the album, lead singer Blake Stokes took some time to talk through the band's process, the biggest factors that influence his writing style, what's next for the three piece, and of course, good ol' fashioned rock and roll. Tune in now and get to know TEST!

TEST is Blake Stokes (vocals, guitar), Wayne Meza (bass), and Morgan Ponder (drums)

TEST is Blake Stokes (vocals, guitar), Wayne Meza (bass), and Morgan Ponder (drums)

ANCHR Magazine: How did you personally first get into making music?

Blake Stokes: I had my first band band maybe when I was 18, like right at the end of high school. But before then, my dad was really--he’s still really big into what’s new. He always had the radio on in the car. I’m 32 so when I was like young and he was driving me to school or driving me around, he’d have on whatever the popular rock station was at the time. My earliest car music memories were stuff like INXS, U2, Depeche Mode. Just dope stuff like that, but we’d also listen to the Top 40 station so it’d be shit like C+C Music Factory, and En Vogue and dope stuff like that. That was my first, me actually being aware of music and stuff like that. As a kid I was just super into it. I was a child actor though, I did acting stuff for a long time. So I wasn’t really thinking about learning to play an instrument. I loved music, I loved records, but I got to a point right at the end of high school where I’d been a child actor for a long time. From the age of 3 up through high school. I was just burnt on acting and I loved music, so I was like maybe I can do this. So the first band I didn’t play anything in. I just sang, and then right when I graduated high school, I wanted to play drums. My parents bought me a drum kit to surprise me. I took a year off between high school and college and just played drums every day in my room, and went out and saw shows and played shows in my little band. That’s how I started and it’s evolved rapidly from that.

AM: Very cool! How did you end up meeting the rest of the guys in TEST and starting up this band?

Blake Stokes: So Wayne, the bass player, I’ve known for a long time and he’s--I’m from Texas originally and so is he, and we met in Texas when we were both in other bands. His band members and my band members, when we’d be on the bill together, it always seem to be like he and I were closing the bar down. So we just started up a friendship and then my band needed a bass player for a summer. I asked him to do it, he said yes. It started as hey we need a dude for like 2,3 months. And we’ve been working together in different bands forever. I’ve known Wayne for like 10 years now. I met him bands and bands ago. Then Morgan, the drummer we met out here in Los Angeles. We’ve known him for 5, 5 and a half years now. We met him through just mutual friends and stuff out here. The band that Wayne and I had had just kind of fallen apart, and we just hit reset and weren’t really doing anything for like a month or two. We were like we just wanna be a three piece cause I’d learned how to play guitar at that point. He was a drummer looking to get down, and that’s how we all came together.

AM: Cool, so it was like a right place right time?

Blake Stokes: Yeah, absolutely!

AM: So I was going to ask if you guys have always been LA based, but you just mentioned being from Texas. Did you live in LA when you were doing the acting thing?

Blake Stokes: I’ve been coming out to LA since ‘91. That was my first trip out here to work on something. I went to UCLA out here. Basically I was in that other band I mentioned, and it was all Texas guys at the point so we’d really only be doing it on Summer vacations and Christmas breaks, when we’d all be back in town. So when I was graduating college and the other guy in the band was graduating, we just sort of said you know, if we’re gonna do this, we need to do this. Are we serious or not? So financially it made the most sense to reconvene in Houston, save up some dough, and then either go to New York or LA. I love Houston, my parents are still in Houston, everything I love about Houston except for the rock scene in Houston. If we were rap, hip hop, or DJs we would still be there, but we’re not so I was like we need to go to New York or LA. I have experience in LA, I know people in LA, so we’re not going completely blind into it. It was between those two and we chose LA. TEST has always been an LA thing though. 

AM: Cool! And then you guys have the debut record out on November 10th. What can you tell me about that? How long did it take you guys to write it, what was the recording process like, and how collaborative is your writing process?

Blake Stokes: So it’s our first full length...we put out an EP early 2016. This is the first full length. There’s 10 songs on it, and we recorded the bulk of it over the summer. We did it with this producer named Joseph Calleiro. He’s dope! He’s got a mobile studio. We have our HQ, Headquarters, our own little demo, rehearsal space near downtown Los Angeles. He came out and we did it here, and dude we knocked it out in like 3 or 4 different weekend sessions. Where we would just work Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning. And just done! There’s 10 songs on there. Some of them are older. Some of them were written maybe right after that first EP came out, but there’s two on there that were written right as we were making it. We needed two more, and I had some demos. There’s chronologically maybe a year and a half to two years worth of stuff sitting on there, which is cool. Some things are 3 months old and we’ve never played live before. Some of them we’ve been playing live for a minute. In terms of it being collaborative and stuff...Our songs are written one of two ways. Either I do like a home demo myself and kind of play some rough drums, and play some rough bass lines and build a skeleton and bring it to Wayne and Morgan and we flesh it out and arrange it and stuff. The other half we all write together in the room. So someone brings an idea or we just start jamming and then go back and dissect the jamming. All in all, all three of us are very much on the songs for sure.

AM: Any songs you’re most excited for people to hear or to play live?

Blake Stokes: Yeah, there’s some stuff on there that I think, especially written towards the end, which I think is the direction we’re going. There’s a song on there called “Know Your Servant,” which is track 5 and the cool thing about that, I think that was the very last song written for the record. It kind of gets into some stuff that I’d always wanted to dive into, but we never really had, which was more instrumental noisey parts of a song. Like, I have a tendency to write really “Entertainment Tonight,” it’s very super structured. It’s a verse, it’s a chorus, it’s a verse, it’s a solo, it’s a drum solo, it’s the chorus twice, we’re done. Those songs are fun and my favorite songs from some other artists, but I just wanted to get fucking noisier and weirder and get into it. So “Know Your Servant” is long...I think it’s like 5 [minutes] and something and it’s got like 3 distinct noise passages, and they’re not defined. They’re sort of defined length-wise, like we know how long we’re gonna go, but in terms of what I’m doing, it kind of changes show to show, which is really fun. I love Primal Scream and one of my favorite records by them is called XTRMNTR and they do a lot of that where they just establish a groove. It can be real menacing but they ride that. It gives you kind of time to get hypnotized and overwhelmed by it. So “Know Your Servant” kind of does that, and it’s really fun to play live. Another song I think I’m really happy with, and I love the whole record, but I’m really happy with a song called “Bleached Hands,” and that’s the second single. Some people are calling it a ballad and it’s definitely the slowest thing on the record, but it’s kind of a different flavor for us. It’s got a bunch of whammy bar, bendy, hypnotic-y kind of stuff. It’s a different kind of thing for us, and it works really well in the set cause it’s a breather. A lot of our stuff when we first started was very down stroke, punky, and as we’ve gotten better, we can kind of expand. I think those two are new ground for us and kind of pointing to where we might head.

AM: Nice, very cool! You just mentioned Primal Scream as a band you look up to, but are there any other artists or even books, films, or other art forms that you pulled influence from for the sound on the record?

Blake Stokes: Yes, a couple things. “Know Your Servant” and “You Are Painful”--that’s another one with some noise passages I really like. But I love Blur as well, and Graham Coxon he’s the guitar player in Blur, and he’s one of my favorite guitar players, period. I think he’s fantastic. One of the things I love about him is how nasty he can get. A lot of people think of Blur as very poppy, and Damon can get super cheeky and stuff, but he’s just like this nasty, atonal noisey thing happening over there. There were definitely times where I was thinking about what [Graham] would do. Then speaking of books, bizarrely enough, the last song on the record, “Museum Piece” was the second to last song I wrote for the record. It came super super quick. It came after Lizzy Goodman just put out that book Meet Me in The Bathroom, which has been getting a lot of press, and it’s about the New York rock scene to 2001-2011. Which was right in my wheelhouse of stuff that turned me onto music when I was a teenager and what not. The first Strokes record came out when I was 16. For me, it was all these cool 90’s bands were breaking up or dying or kind of releasing crappy records. Then other than that, it was Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, or Korn and Limp Bizkit and POD and shit. It’s like to see a band like The Strokes when you’re 16 it’s like...They’re so big now and it’s so beyond that. But it’s easy to forget how, especially for a kid in Houston, how that was like what the fuck these guys look awesome, they’re playing aggressive stuff, but they don’t look like boneheads. So I was reading that book and it chronicles through interviews with The Strokes, and Interpol and Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and a lot of the people who were journalists and managers, and that whole scene...And I don’t listen to a ton of that stuff anymore cause I drove it into the ground when I was 16-20...but it reminded me, just one, how much I love that particular stuff, but more importantly how exciting and it felt like the whole world was in front of me in terms of like, just the possibilities of being young and being in a band. It seemed like there was a new cool band every week. Here’s The Hives, here’s The Vines. It kind of reminded me of that really youthful, naivety, super pumped to play music live. It was very regenerative wholesome kind of fucking cool positive energy that I was reminded of by that. I woke up after reading it the next day, and I have a little practice amp at the apartment, and I just started playing these chords for this other song that was a different thing. I was just thinking about that stuff, and it sounds kind of like that, but the feeling of that was really inspired by that book. I think the more you do this and get into the business side of things, you become more professional and all that, you can kind of forget the sheer pleasure of just plugging in and being loud, and having fun. It’s exciting and that book reminded me of that energy. That inspired the last song, for sure.

AM: Very cool! So it awoke your teenage spirit.

Blake Stokes: It totally did! And not in like a nostalgic way, like "oh man music was so much better when I was a kid." I don’t think that at all. There’s great shit everywhere all the time, but it just reminded me of this feeling. It just sort of was like getting gas in the tank again. Really good, high end, good to go unleaded premium gas. It just sort of put that back in my tank, and it was awesome.

AM: Yeah, I know what you mean. I have to check that book that out though! Are there any other albums that came out this year that not necessarily that influenced you, but that you’ve been enjoying?

Blake Stokes: Yeah, I love the new Sleaford Mods record, I think they’re finally getting a little bit of buzz in America. It’s these two dudes that are pushing 50, and their set up is one guy makes all the music on his laptop. It’s really sort of stripped down, post punk, industrial hip hoppy kind of tracks. And the other guy just rants. It’s singing, it’s rapping, it’s ranting. It’s this really cool amalgamation. Hyper English. And the dude who does all the music live basically comes out with his laptop and hits the spacebar to start the track. They did their first US tour back in April, and they played LA and I went and saw it. It was one of the best shows ever. That record is called English Tapas. And it’s awesome, I don’t think anyone is kind of doing it like them. Then there’s a band called Idles. That’s also an English band. They’re dope. There’s this thing happening in England right now..there’s a few bands that are doing very socially influenced, socially conscious, politically conscious but not politicized kind of music. It’s not love songs. It’s no let’s go get fucked up. It’s nothing like that. It’s just really sort of interesting. Sleaford Mods do it. Idles definitely do it. Their record is called Brutalism, that’s a dope record. And Slaves! They’re younger and they’re a little more cartoonish. The new Protomartyr record is really good, Relatives in Descent. They’re American at least!

AM: Very cool. Then do you guys have any plans for tour then once the record gets released?

Blake Stokes: Yeah, we just did a release show a little bit early. We wanted this band we really like, an LA band called Facial. They’re just fucking great, They’re another 3 piece. If I didn’t know them and someone just gave me their record, I would just enjoy listening to the album. Which is always a pleasure to say about bands you play with. Like I genuinely like your shit. But yeah we did it a little bit early cause we wanted them on the bill with us, and that’s what worked with their schedule, and we had two singles out by then. So we did that, and then we played Long Beach with them. Then just this morning, the three of us were in here working on the next thing. It looks like we’re probably going to do an EP early next year. There’ll be some shows later this month or even December. In terms of touring, we haven’t toured as TEST at all. It’s really been about staying here in LA, playing LA, playing Orange County. And writing and stuff, but we’re talking about doing a small San Francisco down to Tijuana thing maybe beginning of the year.

AM: Anything else you’re looking forward to coming up? Maybe a music can test out your acting again!

Blake Stokes: Yeah, what I learned about that, I can always go back to that. My mom said, years ago when I was in this different band, “you know this music stuff is great, but I just wish you would get back to something more stable, like acting.” It’s like yeah, not accounting or engineering, but go back to that. Yeah, we plan to try to do videos for a while. This record comes out November 10th, and I say we’re working on an EP. I don’t see that coming out til maybe the summer. So all of fall, winter, and spring will definitely be about this. So we’ll definitely do more videos and definitely be playing. It’s looking like we’re gonna do a small little tour.

AM: Very cool! Any last closing comments before I let you go?

Blake Stokes: know a reviewer somewhere wrote that we write “unapologetic things” and I didn’t really know what they meant by that. But a band like us, or a band like Facial...there’s another band we like out here called True Rules. I think at least in America, maybe people are afraid to rock a little bit sometimes. I think that the indie world, the art rock world should maybe be a little less afraid of the rock part of that phrase. We definitely are into that. So don’t be afraid to put a distortion pedal on--

AM: Don’t be afraid to rock?

Blake Stokes: That’s right! Don’t be afraid to rock. You can still be smart and you can rock. Rock doesn’t mean dumb, it means fucking awesome.

AM: Very true.

Blake Stokes: You see video footage from England, or South America, or Japan and people go apeshit... like they sing the riffs in those countries. Then those bands come to America and people are standing around...I think Americans are afraid to let loose. They’re too worried about looking cool. You can love The Velvet Underground, but you can also jump and move. You have hips, you have a chest, you have feet, you can move!

AM: You should come to Chicago! We have a buzzing rock scene here!

Blake Stokes: Our old band played Chicago fucking forever ago...where did we play? We played Red Line Tap and some gallery in Boystown. We used to play Chicago a lot!

AM: There’s a lot of rock bands popping up over here that really let loose. 

Blake Stokes: Yeah, and it’s fun, you know. It’s fucking fun to rock. Let loose a little bit, it’s good for you.

There you have it! Keep up with TEST on social media, and listen to Brain In / Brain Out in full below!

TEST: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram 

A Chat With: Dagny

Hailing from a small town in northern Norway, the now London-based pop singer Dagny has come a long way as an artist, and as a person too. In the past few years, she has developed a unique style and sound as a songwriter, which has garnered attention from the likes of Zane Lowe, Elton John (no big deal), and BØRNS. Between her viral collaboration with the latter and her breakout single "Backbeat," Dagny's songs are laced with an eagerness and authenticity that will only make you adore her catchy and clever pop hooks even more. 

While Dagny stopped in Chicago for her debut performance here during her first ever US tour with LANY, we got a chance to get to know her better. From her move to London, her background in music, her songwriting style, tour life and so much more...keep reading to get to know your new favorite artist, Dagny!  

Dagny outside of The House of Blues in Chicago

Dagny outside of The House of Blues in Chicago

ANCHR Magazine: What was your first musical memory or pivotal moment when you first got into music? 

Dagny: Yeah, I guess I always felt like I should have had a very great proper first memory---like I have friends that are like 'oh my god, I remember my first concert, it was this, and this and this.' But I grew up with musical parents, so we’ve had...we’ve been going to shows since we were babies. We’ve been taken on tour since we were kids. And you know, it was certainly not the kind of music that I play now, or the music that I was into. It was like jazz or Brazilian music, but at the same time I also lived in northern Norway so there was never a band that would stop by there, like a pop band. So I guess I just remember from very early on going to our parents shows. My first pop concert myself, I have no idea...

AM: Yeah, so your parents influenced you then? How do you think that their taste in music has influenced your sound, even though you make pop music now? Do you pull in any traces of that Brazilian and jazz music?

Dagny: Yeah, I always thought that I was gonna wake up at 19 or something and be like oh my god, I love jazz! But that didn’t happen. But I do love the Brazilian music. I think that when I write, and when I listen to music, it’s very--I care a lot about the rhythm of the music. I always start my sessions with like the groove of the drums. I think that probably comes from the Brazilian music. It’s lots of drums and fun. I get very bored when a song is this [motions a flat line with her hands] the whole way through.

AM: Yeah, totally. Do you find yourself drawing from any non-musical influences in your writing? Maybe like a book you’ve read or a movie?

Dagny: Oh definitely. Movies especially. I’m not particularly dramatic myself, so I kind of have to get inspired by not just music and films, but also like my friends. I think I draw a lot of inspiration from other people’s stories. Sometimes it’s easier to write about that because it can get so personal when you write about your own experiences. I have to let some things really digest for a long time before I manage to put words on it. But when like a friend or family member will tell you something, it’s easier to kind of see it from the outside and get some other perspective on it.

AM: Do you have a specific example of a song that came around from doing that?

Dagny: Yeah I have a song about when my drummer, who is also my best friend, started dating my sister. [Her sister is on tour with her.] I think-- there was a lot of songs that came out of that. At the beginning I was like holy shit, I cannot have my best friend and my sister date because he’s also my drummer. If this fucks up, I will be screwed. But luckily it turned out well. So a lot of music came out of that. Also with “Wearing Nothing” and “Love You Like That,” it’s stories that I feel are very much personal, but it also comes from conversations that we’ve had in the studio. So we come in and we’ll talk about something that’s happened, or we’ll talk about certain emotions or something you’ve been reflecting on lately. Then that conversation would kind of make the foundation of the song. That’s the way that I like to do it. Everyone’s different. It’s not always the right atmosphere to come in and be like today I want to write this sad love song, and everyone is happy. You kind of have to feel the vibe as well. There’s always a time for that particular song.

AM: Totally! So you grew up in a small town and now you’re based in London right? How do you think that moving and touring inspires you or has shaped you as an artist?

Dagny: Oh it’s shaped me a lot! I think I’m a very different person now than I was from moving to London. Not very different, I mean I’m still the same me. I grew up in a small town, I didn’t know how to make my way around a big city. I was limited, but coming to London you realize how many people play music, and how much I’ve learned about not just being a musician, but the whole industry around it. Again, I think that being able to live in a city where you can go to shows...your favorite band will always stop by London. They would never stop by Tromsø. To be able to go to shows and get so much inspiration from big concerts. Like I love singer songwriter concerts, like up and coming artists. I love going to that, but that’s also probably because that was what was available. So moving to London, I just got a broader perspective. I’ve grown a lot. I think I’m pretty independent and not as scared of everything as I used to be. Growing up in a small town, something like getting on the tube is such a scary thing. Now we travel the world.

AM: Yeah, and this is your first tour over in the states, right? What have been some of your favorite cities?

Dagny: Philadelphia I liked a lot! It was a really vibey area. Pittsburgh I love!

AM: Which venue did you play in Philly?

Dagny: I don’t remember the name, I remember what it looked like.

Juna [Dagny's sister]: Philadelphia was Theatre of the Living Arts. It was a super cool area!

Dagny: Super vibey! Pittsburgh was really lovely, and we had a day off there. I also loved the day we wandered around Washington D.C. I was gonna get a tattoo, but it didn’t happen. I was sitting on the bus and one of the guys on the bus drew a skull on my foot. I thought, you know what, this tour is the best tour ever, and I feel so pumped today. I’m just gonna get what he drew. So I nearly got a skull on my foot.

AM: Oh no, and then the moment passed?

Dagny: Yeah, the moment passed. I kind of wish I’d done it!

AM: So what would you say has been the biggest culture shock of being on tour over here for the first time? How has the crowd reaction been with Americans versus European?

Dagny: I mean, I’m from like Norway where everyone is very reserved and it’s very like….everybody behaves themselves. Not behaves, but they’re very like-- they would never go to the gig and just scream. Here they’re so loud and communicative. They’re never shy to be like can we take a picture?! I’ve never been to a show in Norway like that.

AM:  Totally, then it’s good to get the word out about your music over here!

Dagny: Yeah, I love playing here.

AM: What about food-wise? Has there been anything shocking to you?

Dagny: Your portions are so big! Fucking hell, I can order like the smallest starter and be fed for the rest of the day. It’s crazy! It’s really a big difference. But I have to say, I like a lot of the food. Fish tacos are my new favorite thing.

AM: Did you try deep dish pizza here?

Dagny: Haven’t done it yet, but we’re gonna do it tomorrow! That was like on my list of what we’re gonna do here.

AM: You should try Portillo’s too! It’s not far from here and they have Chicago dogs and all that.

Dagny: Oh yeah, Scott [Dagny's bandmate} was telling me about that today. I’ve been here before, once properly and the other time I was here for like four hours. I really, really enjoyed it. The first 24 hours were terrifying though. There was a guy on the train that was fixing his girlfriend’s teeth with like a massive knife. It was insane, and then it ended up being one of my favorite cities.

AM: Oh wow, well I’m glad that didn’t leave a bad first impression of Chicago! So I also wanted to mention I love the song that you did with BØRNS, “Fool’s Gold.” How did that opportunity to connect with him come around?

Dagny: That was actually because we-- I wish there was a great story behind this. But it was just that I was working with BØRNS’ producer. We wrote “Fool’s Gold” and the next day he came in he heard the song and was like, "I really love this! I would love to write a part for this." So he wrote it, and it was meant for me to sing it. I heard it with his voice, and I was like you have to sing on it! I never thought it was actually gonna happen, but I love his vocals and I love his songwriting. I just think his music is so good. I was so happy about that.

AM: If you could collaborate with anyone else then, who would be at the top of your list?

Dagny: That’s a good question! I would say MØ. She’s super cool. I think we could make a really cool punchy song together. Also, there’s so many. Ryan Adams, I always say that, but I love him. Everyone is probably saying Drake or someone cool like that. I would love to do a nice duet with Ryan Adams.

AM: Maybe one day! Keep saying it and manifest it!

Dagny: I’ve said it for two years and nothing has changed, but you never know.

AM: Yeah, you’re touring the states now, making yourself known over here. Then you’ve also had Zane Lowe as a big supporter early on in your career. How did that relationship come around, or was it just from him premiering your music on Beats 1? 

Dagny: Yeah that was kind of how “Backbeat” broke out, when he played it on Beats 1. It’s weird, but he’s the only celebrity I’ve ever met, where I just blushed my way through the whole meeting. I literally saw him and was like oh my god, he’s right there. And obviously with him having such a big impact on my career-- I went up to him to chat, and I literally could barely talk. I was just blushing and blushing and blushing, but he was really great. They’ve been so supportive.

AM: I don’t blame you, he’s my idol because he’s such a great tastemaker. He has such a good ear! So speaking of new music, I think you tweeted recently that you were recording in Pittsburgh, so how did that go? Will that work be released soon? 

Dagny: We’re definitely putting out new music soon. That was actually something that was kind of linked up to the latest single “Love You Like That,” but we’re releasing more music over the next four of five months.

AM: Do you have a plan for a full album?

Dagny: Yeah, I love the album, like the format of full albums. So I’m always working towards that. But I think for now, I’m still learning a lot about my sound and having a really good time writing. Doing it like this, and touring...So I think for now I will just be focusing on getting more singles out. But I’m hoping that 2018 will be the year.

AM: Have you been recording a lot on tour or was Pittsburgh a one off?

Dagny: No, not while I’ve been on tour. You always think that you’re gonna get so much done on tour. I’m very impressed with artists that go on tour and manage to record a full album. It’s very impressive. I don’t know how they do it.

AM: What do you do to stay entertained on tour? Do you listen to podcasts or read a lot while you’re on the long drives?

Dagny: Most of the time we get into the city every morning. So we’ll be leaving one city around 2 or 3 in the morning, and we get to the next city when we wake up. So except for when we have some parties on the bus, or chill and drink and play cards...or dance, or whatever we do, we’ll have some of those. Most of the time we’re not even awake when we’re driving. So that’s the only thing that’s a shame. It’s really nice to wake up in a new city every day though.

AM: Yeah, that’ the perks of a bus tour instead of driving in a van overnight.

Dagny: I did actually cross America one time in a car, from New York to LA. When I was 20, so I’ve had a chance to see a lot of the country. It’s great, you can cross it so many ways and see so many different things.

AM: Yeah for sure! So when you’re hanging out at the venues, are there any new albums that you’re into and listen to before shows?

Dagny: Yeah, there’s this guy, Max Frost-- he played right next door to one of the venues we did on this tour-

AM: Yeah, he’s also in town tonight! 

Dagny: Really?! What time?

AM: I think like 8 or 9...but he’s headlining.

Dagny: I need to go! I like him a lot, though. I love him and his song “White Lies.” So good. Then Skott, there’s a Swedish girl Skott. I knew about her a while ago, but she has a song called “Wolf” that I’ve had on repeat. Then for the last month or so, I’ve been obsessing over Julia Michaels.

AM: She's such a good songwriter!

Dagny: Yeah, I knew about her as a songwriter for ages, but now she has her own material.


AM: Last question, anything else you’re looking forward to in the new year, besides new songs and touring?

Dagny: Releasing, definitely. Touring! Headlining in February.

AM: Will you be headlining in the states?

Dagny: Not in February, but I’m hoping to come back next Autumn, or maybe summer.

AM: It’d be nice if you could come to Lollapalooza! At the rate you’re going, it’s definitely possible!

Dagny in Chicago October 20th, 2017

During our chat, Dagny also asked me to make a playlist of some of my favorite music, so here's a compilation of some of my favorite songs by my favorite Chicagoans. 

There you have it! If you can't get enough Dagny, though, check out our gallery of her live show with LANY last month, and keep up with her on social media below!

Dagny on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: The Nude Party

During Warble Daze last month, Alec Castillo and Shaun Couture of The Nude Party took some time to quickly catch up with ANCHR about their new music and what's next for them in 2018. Although the six piece have yet to put out a full length debut and they hadn't played Chicago since January of this year, they remained one of the most anticipated and buzzy bands of the two day DIY showcase. Based on the energy they stirred up during Warble Daze with their gritty blend of garage, surf, and psych rock, their set surpassed the high expectations. Prior to their rambunctious set, we caught up with Castillo and Couture to talk everything from the process behind their upcoming full length to their best and worst Halloween moments. The two also recalled their early days of getting naked at parties and filled us in on their favorite bands at the moment...Tune in now to our chat with The Nude Party! 

Photo By Devon Bristol Shaw.

ANCHR Magazine: What do you guys remember as your first musical memory, or what inspired you to first start playing?

Shaun Couture: My older brother got an acoustic guitar. I remember the first song I ever learned was this Linkin Park song. 

Alec Castillo: I played drums when I was younger but I never really stuck with it. I didn’t really have anyone to teach me or anything. So I just stopped music until I met Shaun and the rest of the band members in college. We’ve known each other since high school.

ANCHR Magazine: Who initiated the band starting then after you met?

Shaun Couture [To Alec]: Probably you, cause you had a lake house.

Alec Castillo: Yeah, I had a lake house and we all went there one summer.

Shaun Couture: We tried to play music during that summer.

ANCHR Magazine: Do you have any good stories from the time at the house?

Alec Castillo: Uhh one time we sunk the canoe when we were all naked.

ANCHR Magazine: Is that where you got the name from?

Alec Castillo:  I guess so. We had nude parties.

Shaun Couture: We joked around what if you have parties where you had to be nude to get into. Then we just realized it was only us at our parties that were all naked.

Alec Castillo:  One time we waxed Shaun’s ass.

ANCHR Magazine: Waxed Asshole could have been a good band name...Are you working on new music then? I saw you guys were recording on your Instagram.

Alec Castillo: Yeah we just finished recording our like first full length record.

ANCHR Magazine: Right the last one was more of a long EP with 7 tracks. What can you tell me about the recording process?

Shaun Couture: We recorded it at this studio outside of Woodstock. It’s called Dreamland. It’s an old Church. It’s got like a house connected to it, so we lived there for four days while we were recording. We did a bunch of pre production stuff beforehand, but we did 14 songs in 4 days, so we were pretty busy. 

Alec Castillo:  Our roommate Oakley Munson produced the record and Matthew Cullen engineered it. 

ANCHR Magazine: Have you been playing the new record live?

Shaun Couture: Yeah the songs we’re playing tonight are mostly off the new album. We usually play one or two off the last one. But they’re pretty much all new songs.

ANCHR Magazine: Which songs are some of your favorite?

Shaun Couture: We got one called "Chevrolet Van" that we all really like.

Alec Castillo: We’ll play most of the new ones. I like "Chevy Van" too. It’s one of my favorites.

Shaun Couture: We have a slower one called "Astro Man." It’s about a spaceman...It’s about space and shit. That one’s really fun to play.

ANCHR Magazine: You just played yesterday with The Evening Attraction in Carbondale, IL. How did that show go?

Shaun Couture: It was fun!

Alec Castillo: It brought us back, or at least reminded me of the first shows we ever played. Which were all in basements. People are getting down and dancing and having fun. You don’t see a lot of that in venues. People are just arm folded and don’t care, but at parties like that, everyone is getting down.

ANCHR Magazine:  So you toured a bunch this year, playing SXSW, etc...What have been some highlights?

Shaun Couture: I think we all really like San Francisco.

Alec Castillo: I liked San Diego!

Shaun Couture: San Diego was cool. Salem, Oregon was really cool...

Alec Castillo: Yeah, Salem was very cool.

ANCHR Magazine: Yeah, I love that part of the country.

Shaun Couture: We met some long time friends there.

ANCHR Magazine: What albums have you guys been listening to? Or other bands you’re really into? I know, it’s always hard to think on the spot.

Shaun Couture: We have to look on our Spotify! Oh, I really like this band from San Francisco called Mapache . They’re like a West Coast Flying Burrito Brothers... Cosmic Americana.

Alec Castillo: We’re really into the Allah Las right now.

Shaun Couture: I think both of us have been into Drugdealer.

Alec Castillo: I think I saw Drugdealer filming a music video on the beach actually a couple weeks ago. 

ANCHR Magazine: What are some good bands from your local scene?

Alec Castillo: We don’t have one where we actually live right now. There’s not a scene at all.

Shaun Couture: Acid Dad is from New York!

Alec Castillo: Yeah, the city...we live upstate now. 

Shaun Couture: New York City is like our scene now. White Lighters is really cool. BOYTOY! Ghost Funk Orchestra.

ANCHR Magazine: What are your best and worst Halloween moments, either as a band or individually? 

Shaun Couture: Remember that time we played--so we used to live in Boone, North Carolina. Which is like a college town in the mountains up there. There’s a venue called Black Cat and it’s a burrito place but they move all the tables and the bands just play on the ground. Those shows were basically house parties. We played there one Halloween and Connor had to piss, so he fucking jammed the top of a PBR Tallboy and pissed in it. And I drank his piss.

ANCHR Magazine: That was the worst I’m guessing?

Alec Castillo: Definitely the worst. One Halloween, Don got beat up by a fraternity.

Shaun Couture: Those are two really bad ones.

Alec Castillo: It ended up being really funny. He was dressed up as a nun.

Shaun Couture: I was Alan Jackson the last two years in a row, so I was pretty happy about that.

ANCHR Magazine: Nice, anything else you’re looking forward to in the next year, besides the new album? Do you have a timeframe for the release?

Alec Castillo: It’s not really up to us. We’re looking forward to getting it out, though. We like to make music videos. We’re starting to plan some stuff. We don’t know which song yet...

Shaun Couture: We have chickens at our house now, so I’m looking forward to eating their eggs!

The Nude Party at Warble Daze

There you have it! Stay tuned for some new tunes and tales about their new chickens from The Nude Party. You can connect with them on Social Media below, and listen to their EP in full below!

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Levitation Room

Los Angeles psych rockers Levitation Room released their debut album, Ethos, in 2016, and have since toured the country on those songs; performing at SXSW, recording a Daytrotter session, and even venturing into Europe at one point. On Friday the 13th, the group stopped in Chicago to perform at the annual Warble Daze festival, and I got the chance to get to know them a bit. After winning over the Chicago crowd with a mix of their old and new tracks, Levitation Room talked to me about their new music, aliens and paranormal sightings, Chicago deep dish pizza...and a few other topics. If you want to know what you can expect from the band in 2018 and what they get up to on tour, here are seven facts you need to know to get to know Levitation Room now!

Photo Courtesy of Levitation Room. Levitation Room is Julian Porte, Gabriel Fernandez, Johnathan Martin, and Chris Mercado

Photo Courtesy of Levitation Room. Levitation Room is Julian Porte, Gabriel Fernandez, Johnathan Martin, and Chris Mercado

They Almost Got Abducted by a UFO Once

If you ask Levitation Room if they believe in extraterrestrial life, their answer will most definitely be a yes. In fact, the band have even had an alien encounter themselves. Lead singer Julian Porte recalled said encounter with aliens during a past tour, saying, "We saw UFOs in Arizona. Like straight up. We were coming from San Diego and we were gonna play a show in Phoenix. We were passing through this really flat terrain, really desolate land, you know. It was getting late because we were having van trouble, and we were late to our gig. So we’re hauling ass through the desert, and then our drummer’s girlfriend was like 'Hey what’s that light in the sky?' And we looked over to our right, and there were these orbs of light just suspended in the sky. A few of them would appear and they would just kind of hoover and do these formations or whatever and then disappear. Then we were kind of freaking out about it, but they disappeared and then all of the sudden this huge mothership started blinking all the way around." While Julian says they were all screaming and hysterical after witnessing a mysterious sphere light up like that, he also said some of the locals made them doubt their story a little bit. "We can’t say for sure," he says.  "Afterwards we stopped in this gas station and there were some locals standing there. I was like 'Hey guys do you know what those lights were?' They were like 'Those lights? Those were just flares!' Flares don’t do that shit man…" This supposed alien sighting happened a little over two years ago when the band were on their way to SXSW Festival for the first time, and the band members all remain confident that something strange went down, regardless of what the locals said. 

They're Prone to Ghost Attacks, Too

Believe it or not, the alien encounter isn't the only strange experience that the group has had while on tour. Prior to the interview officially being on the record, the band divulged a bit about their evening the night before Warble Daze. It's all just hearsay, but it seems that the Friday the 13th date of Warble Daze lived up its spooky expectations, when the band's bassist Chris Mercado experienced a spiritual sighting in Springfield, IL. The band had been staying there overnight after playing a show on their way up from Chicago, and Chris described a sensation of being dragged out of bed by a ghostly figure. Chris also described the sensation as being "punched in the face by a ghost." 

While on the subject of ghosts and being scared, the band discussed some of their favorite scary movies.  Guitarist Gabe Fernandez says, "I like ones that revolve around mental asylums. People being tortured and shit. House on the Haunted Hill...It’s cheesy and starts getting scary towards the end." Julian also chimed in, saying, "I like ones where it’s not far fetched. Like someone breaking and entering into your house and slitting your throat. Cause that’s realistic. That’s totally plausible."

Lead Singer Julian Porte Never Planned on Singing

Although Julian is and always has been the lead singer of Levitation Room, he says he never wanted to sing in a band when he first got interested in music. He recalls the early days of playing music with Gabe, saying they've known each other since freshman year of high school. "We actually started a band together. We were really into punk rock, so we started with this punk- Iggy Pop- Stooges-New York Dolls kind of sound, " he continued. The band, called The Hits, broke up eventually when Gabe quit because he didn't want to play punk forever. Down the line, both Gabe and Julian got into different styles of rock music, including psych rock, and started working together again. 

"I met up with [Julian] randomly, and I was like I’m still trying to start a band, and he was like well actually I’m starting a band," Gabe says. Julian also reminisces about the early days, saying, "At first all I wanted to do was play a guitar. I didn’t want to sing. I didn’t pick up guitar until way later. Even when we were in a band when we were younger, I just sang. I didn’t know any instruments, but I eventually learned how to play harmonica and then guitar followed. Then I started busking and being a street musician, doing a kind of Bob Dylan act on the street. Then I was like I need to get to a broader audience, and play electric guitar. I was trying to think bigger. That’s when we started talking like yeah, we wanna start a band, let’s get together." Gabe also mentioned that they had auditioned several other singers, but none of them seemed to be the right fit except Julian. 

Their Keyboardist is in Multiple Bands

The band also say that while their sophomore album is well on the way, they still need to finish up recording. Glenn Brigman, who usually tours with the Levitation Room as a keyboardist, also does their recording. Glenn also happens to be in a few different bands, including Frankie and The Witch Fingers, who he was on tour with during Warble Daze. Gabe talks about what's next for the band and the album, saying, "We’re gonna get pretty far out for it. We’re gonna do a lot of planning for that. Hopefully once Glenn gets back by December or November, we’ll really just jump on recording. We’re gonna try to gig but maybe not too much. Just try to get more things done for the album." 

The band also played a couple of the new songs live at Warble Daze, which they've had in the set for awhile, but they won't be giving too much more away before the album is done. "We’ve had [the new songs] in the set for a while. Sometimes we can’t contain ourselves and we just wanna start playing new stuff because you get bored of the old stuff. A lot of other bands or band managers will tell you to refrain from doing that because you want to keep people guessing what your next step is. Or what your next work will sound like...People will start putting stuff on Youtube even when a  song isn’t done yet but it’s like you just can’t wait," Julian says. 

They Want To Make a Living, But They Don't Care About Fame

Gabe and Julian say that the balance between new and old songs in their set isn't the only perfect balance of the group. Talking about the lessons they're learned in their years together, Gabe says, "There’s a fine balance. I would say I know a lot of people try to take me for it. I try to be the organized one in the band. Getting our ducks in order. Julian’s very good at trying to bring in a very free flowing environment and creativity. That’s just been a good balance. The Yin and the Yang. At the same time we could both carry each other’s weight if we had to. We help each other out. There is no head of state. [Julian and I] started the band, but these guys are just as involved and part of it."

Echoing off of that sentiment, Julian adds, "Everyone is really chill. We’re not out of this world eccentric and trying to do loads of drugs you know? We’re serious about this and we love what we do. This is passion. This is the strongest conviction we have. We want to..." he pauses before adding, "We don’t really care about getting fame, we just want to make this a living. If we can do that, then we’ve reached our goal."

Our Favorite Bands Are Their Favorite Bands, Too

Levitation Room put on one of the best shows at Warble Daze, so it's no surprise that they also have a great taste in music. The band admit they have "iPod Wars" sometimes while driving, but they all generally dig the music one another plays. "Usually whoever’s driving is allowed to take over the music," Gabe says. He also says that one of his personal favorites of 2017 is the collaboration between King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and Mild High Club. "That album was really good. I haven’t really kept up... I try to keep up with little nuggets of modern time, but as of lately I’ve just dropped the ball on that. So that’s probably the only one," Gabe continued. 

Julian also expressed his fondness for King Gizzard, saying, "King Gizzard blew my mind live. We played with them in Austin for this Psych Fest. I kind of dismissed them cause I didn’t know who they were. Everyone kept talking about them, and I dismissed them cause they had a stupid name. I thought it was a stupid name, so I right away was being judgmental. But just by chance, I was outside tripping on mushrooms and-" Gabe interjects to say they walked into the show late, but they were still just blown away. "They do this thing where they break down their set and do a really cool jazzy thing with flutes," Julian continued. 

The band also shout out Babe Rainbow and our pals Post Animal, both of which have played with Levitation Room this year. Talking about the West Coast run they did with the latter,  Gabe says, "They were stoked to be in LA. They had a lot of friends. And they just went super freaking hard.  We were like this is day two for us… But they had all their friends so it was like of course they’re celebrating that they made it into LA. That was a really fun night. After that it was like good shows but we were just kind of taking it easy. Then it was cool to drive through the West Coast and show them the ropes."

They Didn't Come Up With Their Name on a Trip

Just kidding... Although it took them a while to come up with the name, Levitation Room got their name almost exactly how you'd expect if you've listened to their music. Starting the story, Julian says, "I think a lot of great ideas derive from altered mental states. I don’t think you can really deny that. A lot of great people who wrote some great fucking books or have done amazing fucking things... It may sound cliche, especially in this psychedelic rock and roll world, but I mean, that’s how the name came about. We had a mushroom trip and we were in our studio. In our studio we had this little platform. It wasn’t very big, just something to stand on. I was standing on it, and I was in the middle of tripping and I felt like I was floating. It just kind of clicked. At at first I thought the word Levitation, and someone already had the name. From the 90's, there was a shoegaze band called Levitation." Since that moment of realization came to Julian while he was levitating in a room, they decided to add Room to the name, and the rest is history. 

Photos of Levitation Room at Warble Daze

There you have it! Keep up with all of the updates on Levitation Room on their Facebook Page, and listen to Levitation Room's debut album in full below!

Get To Know: Liz Cooper & The Stampede

The Nashville based trio Liz Cooper & The Stampede blend multiple genres together to create a recognizable yet refreshing sound. Fronted by a nomadic Liz Cooper, the group's folk rock melodies mesh perfectly with Cooper's soulful and raspy vocals, formulating a sound that's caught the eye of many, including Audiotree. After recording two Audiotree sessions, it only makes sense that they’d be asked to perform at the annual music festival put on by the Chicago based tastemakers who create audiovisual sessions of the best up and coming artists around. While at Audiotree Music Festival last month, we caught up with Liz Cooper and her stampede (Ky Baker and Grant Prettyman) to talk everything from the Nashville music scene to their hidden talents. The trio have been all over the place lately, performing new music at Austin City Limits Festival, touring with Desert Noises this past summer, and even recording their full length record. It's only a matter of time before they take over the world, so here are five facts to help you get to know them now!

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

They Inherited Their Great Music Taste From Their Parents

Liz, Ky, and Grant all got started in music at different stages in their life, but each of their parents played in a role in their first musical memories. Liz talks about her experience growing up with the rock and roll staples, saying, "For me, my dad was always really the one to introduce me to new music that was...not crappy. I’d be like I want to listen to--" she pauses, before continuing, "Not Beyonce, because I freaking love Beyonce, but like Nelly or something. And my dad would be like, 'No. Here’s Bob Dylan. Here’s The Grateful Dead.' So we always just went to concerts like The Allman Brothers and that festival type of thing. All those songs just bring back memories for me of summers as a kid doing that. So that’s always just been a magical thing."

Ky echoed that sentiment, adding, "For me, my dad has always had pretty great musical tastes. Even being in a crib I just remember going to sleep to Beatles and Springsteen records. Beach Boys, Elton John, and Tom Petty...So it’s been ingrained in me forever."

Grant says he didn't grow up on the classics like Liz and Ky, but his parents still played a major role in his musical development.  "When I was really young, my parents started me playing piano. Whatever musical instrument I wanted to play...they would force me to at least try. Eventually I found my dad’s old Gibson ES 330 from the 60's in the basement under a broken couch in this random room. I was just like what is this? He was just like, 'Here let me show you. I think I remember Puff the Magic Dragon.' So eventually I started playing guitar. That was kind of when it started...finding that guitar. I had always liked music, but the guitar was really different from playing the piano or saxophone," Grant recalled. 

They're Collaborative With Other Nashville Musicians

Liz also talks about how her parents unintentionally got her prepared for tour at a young age, by always moving around and living a nomadic lifestyle. After growing up just North of Baltimore, Liz says they moved around a ton. "I lived in Indiana. All throughout the east coast. My parents always moved around a lot and kind of had the wanderlust thing about them. I’m an only child so it’s pretty easy to just pick up and move around. That’s probably influenced a lot of just me. I was always around older people as a kid. I’ve just always had to kind of adapt into situations and meet new people," she reflected. 

Now, though, Liz has been in Nashville for just about five years, and the band have become very comfortable in their newest home. "It’s been amazing This year, maybe year and a half, the community there has felt so strong. Like anywhere--with anything, it takes a long time to build relationships with people. Just to make solid friends. I feel like everyone who’s moved there maybe around the same time I have, or just in general who’s playing music that’s our age, we’re all kind of doing it together. It feels very communal this past year especially. It’s really inspiring and very cool," she says. 

When I asked which fellow Nashville musicians the group would like to collaborate with, Ky says it would take a couple of days to list of his bucket list. Liz mentions that she's written a little bit with Okey Dokey, a band that the group has played with and become friends with, adding, "I’m actually gonna play guitar with Ron Gallo. He asked me in studio, so I’m gonna play guitar on a song. I’m not sure what the song is, but I'm gonna do it. He came up to me and he seemed really nervous about it."

Although Ron Gallo was a bit nervous to ask Liz to help him out on his recording, it turns out he came to the rescue recently when the band needed him at a festival. "During Americana Fest Liz lost her voice and we had a show. So she came up with this idea to have different people sing our songs, and we still played. Ron came in and sang “Dalai Lama” with us," Ky says. In addition to Ron Gallo, a few other Nashville bands added their hand to the set in order for the show to go on, all in the name of camaraderie. "That was so much fun! I mean, I didn’t feel well. But it was for Americana Fest. I needed to do something about it and I didn’t wanna cancel the show, so I had all these Nashville people sing a song," Liz concluded. 

The New Album Was Recorded In Less Than a Week

While Liz Cooper and her Stampede have been playing a lot of their new music live, they also have new recorded versions on the way. "We were in the studio last fall and we recorded a full length. It’s all been this year of like getting it together, and it takes so much planning. This is all a new experience for me so we’re just trying to figure out what to do to make the right moves and decisions. We have a full length that we’re just waiting to do something with," Liz says. 

Talking a little more about the process behind this upcoming record, Liz adds, "Well we recorded it at Welcome to 1979, which is like... you walk into this big warehouse. On the outside it’s kind of just--" Liz paused and Ky interjected, "Very conspicuous. Looks like an old, nothing special to it...Then you go in there and it’s vibey as hell." Liz continued her story about the studio, saying, it was indeed like walking into the 1970's as the studio's name implies. "It was intense, but not at all. It was really cool to see how it all worked together," she added. 

"It was intense in that we had 5 days in there to record 10 or 12 songs. But it was a very relaxed atmosphere. It was intense cause it was like we can’t just sit here and take our time. We have to really stay on schedule and crank this out. Our producer did a really good job of milking new ideas out of us we didn’t know we had in there," Grant chimes in. 

As far as how similar the new songs will sound on the record versus on the road, Liz says, "For people who have been seeing us, they’ll recognize the songs. We recorded them in a different way. So what we do live is a different interpretation. But for everybody’s ears it will be a fresh thing and something we can keep touring on."

They Plot Out Their Setlist Carefully

Liz also lists "Hey Man" and "Dalai Lama" as some of her favorites to play live. "That’s the one that people usually just go nuts on," Ky says of the latter. "You can see a usual shift. Usually 'Dalai Lama' is the third or fourth song in the set. When we play it, people have been receptive up until that point, but when we play it, all of the sudden after that, they’re a little bit louder. It just seems like people are more engaged. So it’s really fun for us not only because it’s fun to play, but it also gets everyone a little bit more into what we’re doing," Grant adds. "That song’s pretty crazy and everyone will go nuts and we’re doing everything we know how to do at once. Then we’ll come back in with the next song and it’s really chill. So everyone is like 'WHOA What?!' So now they’re paying attention. They’re like 'They might go somewhere now,'" Ky says, echoing off of Grant. 

Liz says the placement of "Dalai Lama" is intentional. "I like to plan it out--it’s all part of the journey. Really planning out your set. I mean it’s fun to just feel it and do random things sometimes. But to really plan something out, you start paying attention to how people react. It’s just like painting or something. You figure out what to do and how to do it," she says about the set list. "40% of the time we write down a setlist. 60% of the time it’s 'Oh yeah let’s go to this one next,'" Ky adds. 

The band also mentioned that one of their touring highlights of the year included playing with their friends in Desert Noises. "I played guitar in Desert Noises, and we went on tour with them and opened up. I did double duty and that was a whole new experience for me and that’s kind of been something I’ve been doing this year to just absorb as much as I can and keep learning. To just keep getting better. How I learned to play guitar was just sitting down and learning from guitar tabs and you kind of keep progressing to whatever you’re gonna do. But I was learning from other people so that was a really cool thing for me," Liz recalls.

Ky elaborates on that tour, saying, "I was such a fan of Desert Noises before they took a break for a couple of years. I was a giant fan. They eventually moved to Nashville, I got to become friends with them, and they decide to make some music again and ask Liz to play with them and have us open. For me it was this whole like holy crap, one of my favorite bands and favorite human playing together and I get to open for them. Now we’re having a blast out on the road. It was really cool for me personally. Absolutely fantastic. A huge highlight of my whole music career. Getting to see my favorite band with one of my favorite humans."

They All Have Hidden Talents

Ky says when he's not on tour he works at a pizza place and he can make a mean pizza. He's even an expert at twirling the dough around, but that's not the only hidden talents the band members hide up their sleeves. "I grew up playing golf...that was basically my life until I moved down to Nashville. My dad and my grandpa played, and whenever I would go visit my grandpa in North Carolina--I don’t remember much of anything, but they’d give me a driving club and it was just like a natural thing," Liz says, adding that she thinks the hand eye coordination of playing golf transferred into learning guitar. 

Ky also mentions that he can put his legs over his head on a good day, but his pants were too tight on the day of the festival to be able to demonstrate. "Grant can catch things in his mouth from quite a distance and from different angles. You can just throw things and he’s gonna catch it in his mouth," Ky continued. 

While they might have a killer golf swing and a knack for catching grapes with their mouth, the band say they're thrilled to just keep doing what they do best in the music scene. Liz mentions how excited they were to be part of the Austin City Limits Festival this year, especially the same day that Jay Z played.  The band is also infinitely grateful for Audiotree and the festival they put on. "We love Audiotree. This festival is awesome. Anyone we’ve ever interacted with at Audiotree has been awesome and taken us in with open arms," Liz says. 

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

There you have it! Keep up with Liz Cooper & The Stampede on social media for any updates on the album and upcoming tour dates.

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Liquidlight's Guitar Solo Guide

Portland four piece Liquidlight self-released their sophomore album Wicked Radio back in September, which blends together influences of shoegaze, grunge, and garage rock. In honor of their new album, we had the band put together a few of their favorite guitar solos that have shaped them both as musicians and music fans. From Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page, check out what Liquidlight has to say about legendary rockers and their guitar skills.  

Photo Courtesy of Liquidlight

Photo Courtesy of Liquidlight

Jimi Hendrix- "Machine Gun"

Jimi seems like an obvious choice for a list of great guitar solos. He absolutely changed the landscape for guitar playing even fifty years after the fact with great songwriting, innovative studio techniques, and unbelievable lead playing. Machine Gun sticks out as a favorite because it just comes soaring in like a rocket. He's obviously channeling from another place when he's going for it in this one. Sounds like a war zone captured live on stage. 

Frank Zappa- "Inca Roads"

Frank has always been a huge influence for us in everything he did, but much of the time it seems like he get's overlooked as a guitarist. The solo in Inca Roads is fantastic from start to finish with phrasing like no other, dynamic peaks and valleys, and not to mention a top notch rhythm section that can turn on a dime. Oh, did we mention that this was recorded live? What a player.

David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)- "Time"

Gilmour was an early influence to many and we're no exception here. He's got some of the best phrasing in the game and solos that are so memorable that even non-musicians can sing along note for note. The solo in Time is just monumentally awesome... And on a record where every single second is monumentally awesome! He just makes every note speak volumes. 

Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices)- "I am a Tree"

In a band like Guided by Voices that has great songs but isn't generally known for super technical musicianship, Doug Gillard brings a lot of flair to the table. He's a fantastic part writer of leads that fit behind and between vocal lines and really compliment the overall arrangement. Robert Pollard even liked his song "I am a Tree" so much that he elected to include it on Doug's first album with the band, which is a high honor for anybody. He shreds so hard on this one!!!

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)- "Good Times, Bad Times"

Although Jimmy Page was a in-demand session musician before and during his stint with the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin's self titled album would be his first album with a band as leader. The solo on this song has been a perennial favorite of ours with its screaming entrance and soaring Leslie speaker treatment. It always felt like some of these licks were a right of passage in younger years. If you could play this stuff then you were the shit. What a way to kick off a career!

Lastly, listen to Liquidlight's album in full below, and check out their Facebook page for all the latest updates!

A Chat With: Oil Boom

In just over a week, Dallas's Oil Boom will release their new album, Terribility via Dreamy Life Records. Leading up to the October 20th release date, the group unleashed the album's lead single "Earful"....which is a total earful of goodness that emulates the sound of some of your favorite rock bands; think a hybrid of The Black Keys, Silversun Pickups and a dash of Beck. To celebrate the new music, we talked to vocalist and guitarist of the group, Ryan Taylor. In our Q&A, Taylor hilariously talks about the creative process behind the new album, the long and winding backstory of the band's origin, their favorite new artists, and even some personal milestones. If you want to know what part Chili's menus, bongos, and Craigslist played in the band's history and songwriting style, then tune in below and get to know Oil Boom!

Photo Courtesy of Oil Boom

Photo Courtesy of Oil Boom

ANCHR Magazine: When did you all start making music individually, and what brought you all together eventually?

Ryan Taylor: It’d probably take a Ken Burns length miniseries to accurately map out our weird band trajectory. But suffice it to say, it’s been a long and at times, hilarious chronology. Our situation is a bit unique in that none of us (save Zach, our new guitar player) are from Texas originally. I’m from Oklahoma City, Dugan is from St. Louis area, and Steve is from Lodi, California (zinfandel capital of the US). Dugan and I first met through Craigslist at the start of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. Craigslist. In the "Musicians Wanted" section or "Casual Encounters", who can say really? When the group started it was just guitar and drums and we had another dude Brian that just sang. But Brian left after our first EP, at which point we enlisted Steve to play bass and I took over the vocal duties. It’s more or less been the same since about a year and a half ago when we added another guitar, first with Jordan Richardson (who engineered our album) and then Zach, starting in September of last year. You could also say FATE brought us together. And by FATE, I’m referring of course to Foghat Appreciation Team Exercises.

AM: What was the process like for writing and recording your new album Terribility?

RT: This is the longest amount of time we’ve ever spent recording an album, but that’s almost misleading, since it was spread out over basically three different periods of time, so just the amount of time involved was notable I guess... and boy I just used the word time a lot. We also tried a few new things in terms of the writing and “fleshing out of the songs.” Everyone was given a pair of bongos and a notecard and asked to come to practice with at least one hummable melody.

AM: How does Terribility differ from your last album Red Metal, in terms of songwriting and sonic structure? 

RT: I wouldn’t say it’s been all that much different of an approach. There are definitely some heavier songs on this album, which is a little bit of departure from our previous releases. Our engineer, the aforementioned Jordan Richardson, did a great job at pointing us in different directions if we landed on a particularly cool sound by accident. Just as an example, at some point during the recording, Steve purchased an 80's BC Rich Warlock bass and its tone proved to be particularly inspiring. We used it on a track called “By Degrees” and it definitely changed the whole framework of the song. Maybe not for the better, but it changed it.

AM: Where did you find yourselves drawing musical and nonmusical influences from for the newer songs? 

RT: We drew upon a lot of musical influences for this album, but I would argue that it was actually the non-musical influences that were more important. A Chili’s menu, a Facebook advertisement for Ninja Dating, a piece of gum stuck to another piece of gum. That sort of stuff is what fueled our obsession with Terribility. 

AM: What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned about each other and yourselves in your years of being in a band?

RT: That’s a really great question. I’d say we’ve learned how to hold each other accountable without completely being overbearing assholes about it, or at least, this week we have anyways. I think most people tend to view bands as some sort of non-stop beer-fueled concert party train that doesn’t have to adhere to the structure/demands imposed by other non-creative pursuits, when the reality is, it’s no different than any other office environment. You’re going to have moments that make communication next to impossible, but you just have to fight through that in order to get things done. We all make each other mad because that’s what humans do when confined in close spaces for long periods of time, but we also love each other and root for each other and laugh at each other’s bad jokes and bad haircuts. 

AM: What are some of the best kept secrets of the Dallas music scene? Any bands or venues we should all know about? 

RT: There are so many rad bands in Dallas/Ft. Worth, I can’t even start naming them or I’ll never stop. That might seem like a copout and it totally is, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night without the fear of some misguided local musician hurling a Squier Stratocaster through my window.

In terms of venues, there is a new one in Ft. Worth called MASS that Steve, our bass player, is part owner of. It’s a great venue that genuinely caters to musicians. And not just as an afterthought. They actually have a spot for you to load in your gear! It seems like there are fewer and fewer of those places around anymore. And in no way was I forced to write any of this.

Maybe the best-kept secret just in general is that Dallas is not Austin, but Austin is really close, so you can have it both ways or your way or whatever that Burger Hut slogan is.

We all make each other mad because that’s what humans do when confined in close spaces for long periods of time, but we also love each other and root for each other and laugh at each other’s bad jokes and bad haircuts.
— Ryan Taylor on the band's dynamic

AM: What are some of your favorite songs and albums of the year so far?

RT: The World’s Greatest American Band by White Reaper and Need To Feel Your Love by Sheer Mag are two incredibly good rock albums that came out this year. We all seem to be into those and feel some kinship with those groups because you can tell they also have probably listened to “The Boys Are Back In Town” probably more times than Thin Lizzy has. 

For a song, let’s go with “Get In My Car” by BRONCHO.  

AM: You’ve got a few Texas concerts coming up, but any plans for a tour once the record is out? 

RT: Yes indeed! We’ll be out there in a non-descript white rental van in front of various American Waffle Houses/Guitar Centers at some point in the very near future. Stay tuned! 

AM: You’ve had your music in some pretty big name films and TV shows. If you could have another song placed in any TV show, which show would you pick and why? 

RT: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I would be majorly stoked to have one of our songs in Master of None or Atlanta. The music supervision on those shows is incredible.

I’ll approach this from another angle though; what show in history we would like to have our music featured in? If that was possible, I’d have to say ALF would be a top contender. I imagine a plot line in which ALF eats what he thinks is the Tanner family cat but what is actually a stuffed animal decoy. Slowly he realizes he’s been duped so he tricks the Tanners by pretending he’s been paralyzed by eating the decoy. Gradually, the Tanners figure out he’s faking and at the end, over one of our songs, Willy explains that deceiving people is wrong, even if you were deceived first. ALF owns up to his mistake and promises never to eat another cat, real or fake. The last thing you hear before the credits though is young Brian Tanner asking from the hallway, “Hey, has anyone seen the cat?” Was that too specific?

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year besides the new record?

RT: I just had a daughter so I’m pretty pumped about that, mainly because, I finally have someone to indoctrinate with Thin Lizzy lyrics and ZZ Top inside jokes. She was born on Madonna’s birthday though, which means she’ll probably have a Madonna phase at some point, and Madonna will be 75 by then and it will just be weird for all of us.

Other than that, we’re just looking forward to still being able to play music at this age. Collectively, we’re 144. That’s older than Madonna!

Pre-Order Terribility here and keep up with the latest updates by giving Oil Boom's Facebook Page a like. 

A Chat With: Future Thieves

Nashville quartet Future Thieves have been turning heads since the release of their debut album Horizon Lines in 2015. One listen to their debut album's title track or their latest single "Sucker" and you'll find yourself struggling to get the song out of your head. The band have brought their indie rock tunes laced with sticky, pop melodies around the country this year, performing at major festivals and even venturing over to Europe at one point. When the band stopped in St. Louis last month to perform at Loufest, we sat down with lead singer Elliot Collett and guitarist Austin McCool to catch up with the group. Elliot and Austin talk everything from recording at Sonic Ranch to pizza preferences and their favorite things to do in Chicago. To hear about all that and to find out when we'll have new music from them, tune in now to our chat with Future Thieves!

Future Thieves are Elliot Collett (vocals/Guitar), Austin McCool (Guitar), Nick Goss (Bassist), and Gianni Gibson (Drums). Photo Courtesy of Future Thieves

Future Thieves are Elliot Collett (vocals/Guitar), Austin McCool (Guitar), Nick Goss (Bassist), and Gianni Gibson (Drums). Photo Courtesy of Future Thieves

ANCHR Magazine: What do you guys remember as your first musical memory that inspired you to either start writing or playing an instrument?

Elliot Collett: Mine was, in like 2007, I went and saw Ryan Adams in Cleveland, Ohio. My mom took me and some friends, and I’d never seen any type of live music like that. He played for like three hours. After that show, I was like I’d love to play live music...make my own music.

Austin McCool: I’ve actually told this story recently...But when i was a kid, I think I was 10 years old, my neighbor was a drummer and he showed me a lot of cool music. He showed me like The Hives and The Vines and Brand New. We faked a concert in my garage. We had like soil bins where we were playing drums. I was playing a tennis racket as a fake guitar, plugged into a box. It was...I don’t know. Our parents and grandparents were watching us, and I was like ok, I wanna do this for real! Pick up something with strings...

AM: Very cool, so fast forwarding a bit... You guys played some new songs today and you’re working on a new album. How’s that going? Is it done being written and recorded?

Elliot Collett: It’s definitely written. It’s about 80% recorded. We’ve gotta do some vocals and some other stuff on it. We started back in March and we’ve toured a lot since then, so kind of had to put it off a bit. Now we’re back home for a bit so we’re gonna finish it up.

Austin McCool: We’ve toured on the songs though. We’ve played pretty much all of the songs live, so you kind of learn how to put it down.

AM: Where do you guys record? 

Elliot Collett: We recorded most of the record for two weeks down at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX. Which is close to El Paso.

AM: What made you guys decide on that space?

Austin McCool: It’s so awesome!

Elliot Collett: Yeah, it’s great. The largest residential recording studio in the world. Like you sleep there, and they feed you.

Austin McCool: It’s on a 300-no,3,0000 Acre pecan farm! Right next to the border of Mexico.

AM: Oh so did you get some pecan pie and all that?

Austin McCool: Oh my god, yes! We did! It’s super cool though.

Elliot Collett: Super vibey.

Austin McCool: They put you in a house, where you’re like staying by yourself. It’s just…The Head and the Heart did music there. Hippo Campus...

Elliot Collett: Portugal the Man!

AM: Do they have in-house engineers there, or did you bring along a producer?

Elliot Collett: We had a guy helping us, but we have a producer. Chuck Tones was the engineer.

AM: Any good stories about the recording process then while you were there?

Elliot Collett: We went to an old water tower and recorded some stuff down inside of a water tower.

Austin McCool: Some vocals and guitar through an old abandoned water tower. A mic through the top!

AM: That’s so cool! So you said you’ve been playing most of these songs live then--

Austin McCool: 8 of the 12.

AM: Has it been easy to transcribe them all to the live sense then since recording them?

Elliot Collett: Yeah, for us. Sometimes no one’s heard em so we can change them around.

AM: What have been some of your favorites to play?

Austin McCool: "On the Run"!

Elliot Collett: Yeah “On the Run” is really fun to play live. All of them...we love moving on and playing the newest stuff so everything we play that’s new, we love it.

AM: So you guys have a live album too. What made you decide to release that between the two studio albums? Any other artists with a live album that might have inspired that?

Austin McCool: We really didn’t intend to put out a live album. It was a Youtube streaming thing with a studio, and the studio was so nice we were like, who cares! Let’s just throw this out there. It actually ends up being really cool because we didn’t know it at the time, but four of those songs that aren’t on Horizon Line are also not on the second studio record. So they’re only released on that live record.

AM: Cool, then speaking of playing live...You’ve toured a bunch in the summer, even coming to Chicago to play Township. What were some of the tour highlights? 

Elliot Collett: It was great! Most of it was awesome. We toured with our buddy Guthrie Brown. He lives in Nashville, is from Montana. That tour was great cause he is so good. Nick and Gianni played with him most of the tour. People came out, and Chicago is always great. It was packed!

Austin McCool: I’ve got a ton of friends in Chicago!

Elliot Collett: We had just gotten done touring in Europe so coming back and doing a tour in the states was something we were a little more familiar with, so it was a little easier.

AM: What are some of your favorite things to do in Chicago then?

Austin McCool: Portillo's! I went to school at Purdue University, so my junior and senior year, two of my three roommates were from Chicago/Glen Ellyn kind of area. So they knew about Portillo's. On a lazy Sunday, we’d just drive to Chicago to get Portillo's. But we also went to the Chicago Music Exchange. I’ve been there so many times...Giordanos was good too!

AM: Are you a deep dish person?

Elliot Collett: I’m not a deep dish person. I like New York Style.

AM: Do you have any favorite festival moments then from the couple you’ve done this summer?

Austin McCool: Today was awesome!

Elliot Collett: We got to play Bonnaroo and Forecastle.

AM: Any good festival stories?

Austin McCool: One of my favorite moments was standing side stage for Local Natives and Alabama Shakes.

Elliot Collett: There was like a massage tent at Kaboo festival in San Diego. There were two seats and Austin was next to Andrew McMahon, so got a massage with him. He loves Something Corporate.

Austin McCool: I’ve loved Andrew McMahon since Something Corporate, so it was really cool I got a massage next to him. We also met Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray that day.

Elliot Collett: He played at Kaboo Fest as Sugar Ray.

AM: That's amazing. So what would you say is your festival advice? 

Elliot Collett: Indulge in free drinks and use the air conditioned bathrooms when you can find them.

AM: As an artist that’s possible!

Austin McCool: Don’t die! Water, water, water.

Elliot Collett: I need water right now.

AM: What's something about the Nashville music scene that you guys really love? I talked to Ron Gallo yesterday about it a bit. Do you know him?

Austin McCool: Oh yeah! We had a taco with him the other day.

Elliot Collett: He’s super cool! The music scene in Nashville is just great. We don’t even see country music. We’re all in the same world of good music.

Austin McCool: There’s so many good places to go.

AM: Where would you recommend to go and see bands?

Elliot Collett: The Basement is a good place to go to see actual music. Basement East is great. 12th and Porter is great. There’s so many! 3rd and Lindsley is great.

Austin McCool: It’s all spread out, but you know what you’re looking for.

Elliot Collett: If our buddies are playing, we’ll go. If not we just stay home. Something good going on...that’s where we go.

AM: Any new albums out that you guys can’t stop listening to?

Austin McCool: The War on Drugs Record is incredible. The new Brand New record is unbelievable. The new National record that just came out.

Elliot Collett: Anderson Paak is what I throw on whenever I’m in my car

Austin McCool: There’s a new Boyz II Men Song. Big Boi has a new song called “Chocolate” which is our favorite song of 2017. It’s unbelievable. The new Hippo Campus record that came out this year is great!

AM: Do you guys do podcasts at all on the road?

Elliot Collett: We listen to podcasts a lot, yeah! We listened to S-Town. We love S-Town. We listen to Alec Baldwin’s podcast. It’s called Here’s the Thing.

Austin McCool:There’s a podcast called Tuesdays with Stories! It’s two comedians from New York, Mark Normand and Joe List. One of them opened for Louis CK and one of them opened for Amy Schumer, and they mentioned us on their podcast. We sent them a care package of t-shirts and stuff.

Elliot Collett: They’re super cool!

AM: So when can we expect to hear the new tunes from you?

Austin McCool: Early next year, Spring-ish. We're gonna skip the holiday rush. 

While you wait patiently for the new music, check out some photos of their Loufest set and follow them on social media for the latest updates!

Future Thieves: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Spotify // Apple Music

Get To Know: Yoke Lore

Singer-songwriter, dancer, yogi, artist, and just all around creative person Adrian Galvin (known professionally by his moniker Yoke Lore) has had quite the year so far, and he's only getting started. In addition to releasing his Goodpain EP, Galvin has toured all over the country, recorded an Audiotree session, and had his songs placed in some of your favorite TV shows. He just completed another run with Overcoats after touring with them in the spring, and on Tuesday he'll be at Lincoln Hall with the mellow British duo Aquilo. Before the show, we chatted with Galvin about everything from the process behind his EP, his core beliefs and values, pirates, bookstores, and more! Get familiar with Yoke Lore with these six facts you need to know!

Photo Courtesy of Yoke Lore

Photo Courtesy of Yoke Lore

He's Always Writing

Yoke Lore released a sophomore EP in June this year, as a follow up to 2016's Far Shore EP, but Galvin says his songwriting never really has a set plan. "I'm always writing. It’s a constant process for me, so there isn’t really a time where I’m like 'I’m gonna write an EP' or like 'I’m gonna write an album now.' It’s just kind of what’s happening. [Good Pain] just came together...those are the songs that felt the most...that fit most naturally next to and within one another. It was kind of like a set of ideas that I had for awhile that I wanted to elaborate on and really have to deal with. It was probably a couple months long process, but again the process is kind of on going," he says. 

As far as the recording process, Galvin reveals he went a bit off the grid to knock these songs out. "So we recorded it in Connecticut in this--" he pauses before saying, "It sounds so like dumb and hipster when I say this, but it’s this converted barn. It’s really beautiful, in the middle of nowhere. The middle of the woods. It’s just a really good place to go. When we made Good Pain we didn’t have any internet hooked up yet. We were there for maybe like a week, and we would get internet and phone service when we drove into town, but other than that, we were just in this beautiful studio with an amazing array of instruments. Silly pedals. All kinds of drums and stuff." The huge selection of instruments came into play to help deliver the diverse puzzle pieces on Good Pain; each song weaves its own story with a unique tone and sonic structure, but the individual narratives come together to form a story. 

He Practices Taoism

As fas as what inspires the constant flow of writing from Galvin, he gives some insight on that as well. "I get really inspired by books that I’m reading. I’m a big practitioner of the I-Ching. I'm using a lot of weird words there, but I’m a student of taoism, and I focus on the I-Ching a lot," he begins. "What is’s kind of like the taoist equivalent of like tarot cards or something. You can look it’s an Oracle, is what they call it. It’s a navigation tool. You use it to ask questions. The taoists believe that all life is constant flux. All life is constant change," Galvin continued. "In order to feel okay in an environment of constant flux, you have to be changing as well. So they came up with like 64 different transitions that you could possibly be going through at any different moment, and they like mapped them out. So they wrote them all down, and you throw these coins and you build a hexagram with these coin throws, and you end up with one of these 64 transitions. Then you look it up and read about it and figure out where you’re going," he added. 

Galvin also says that while he uses these beliefs to guide him in life, he also uses them to guide his art. "I use it to really like find and map out and follow movements in myself and in my writing. I think the ideas that it contains really inspire me. The idea of constant flux and figuring that out...I’m pretty sure that’s where every belief system begins. With the idea that 'this sucks, how do we figure it out?' I know that’s where Buddhism starts. The first noble truth of Buddhism is that all life is suffering. They’re like 'this sucks'. They don’t hold back. Even if you think about it, the same thing as’s original sin. Blanket statement: 'This sucks, where do we go from here'?" he says. 

Although one of Galvin's biggest outpour of creativity comes in the form of song, he's also creative in other ways, and still pulls from his beliefs to be inspired in that work. Talking more about his passion for visual art as well, Galvin says, "I think I’ve always kind of been into it all. I’m a dancer. I have a dance company. I’m a yoga teacher. Obviously I play music, but I think that this is where music schools go wrong. And they try to make musicians by only focusing on music. To me that’s like the opposite of the point. The opposite of what we’re trying to do here. Everything else enriches everything else. If I want to be a better musician, I’m not just gonna try to be really good at playing chords. I’m going to find out the things that inspire me, and go figure those things out. The dance that I do and the movement with my body really helps me navigate my body onstage and makes me a better performer. The drawing kind of gives me these little like maps to follow that kind of like help me being to figure out where I am and where these songs are going for me. I think it all enriches every other part of it. I don’t think I could do just the one thing. It would feel incomplete, whatever it was." 

Bookstores Are His Favorite Tour Pitstops

While Galvin's art is inspired by his other art, he also looks for other sources of enlightenment. Since he recently stopped over during the summer after performing with Overcoats in May, I asked Galvin to share some of his favorite spots around our city. "I do love Chicago. What’s that bookstore? Myopic Books! It’s a really great place. I spent a couple hours in that place last time I was in Chicago, after our Audiotree session, which was at like 10 in the morning. After an all night drive we parked ourselves in this bookstore and zoned out for a couple hours. I always try to find a really good bookstore in a lot of cities. It’s one of my favorite things to do," he says. 

As far as his other favorite stops in Chicago, Galvin says, "I went to the Carhartt store, which is down the road from that, which I fucking loved. It’s rare to find a whole store. I’m a big fan of Carhartt, which is this kind of industrial clothing brand. A lot of constructions workers wear it, but they make the best stuff because it wears so well. It breaks apart so nicely!"

He's A History Buff

In addition to reading books on the road, Galvin enriches his mind by listening to podcasts that are equal parts entertaining and educational. In the realm of educational podcasts, Galvin loves learning about history. "We don’t really listen to music at all. I guess I listen to music if I’m like in a venue or before a show by myself, but in the car on these long drives, we’ve gotten really into these long form history podcasts. There’s this dude Dan Carlin, who is the godfather of history podcasting. One of the most brilliant dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. He goes into such fanatical detail about historical events that you could just listen to for hours on end," he says. "We’ve gone through his entire catalog at this point, so we’ve used him up. We’re on episode 90 of the "History of Rome" right now, which we’re gonna continue on from our last tour. We’re just getting into it...the History of Rome is like 300 episodes or something, so we’re just getting through the Caesars and it’s just about to get good," Galvin continues.

While most people might get that "tour brain" when everything sort of becomes autopilot for them, Galvin seizes the opportunity to stay on his toes. "I love making tour into an intellectual experience. When I can make these long drives into history lessons, it makes tour so much nicer. It keeps me stimulated. It keeps me guessing," he adds. By listening to so many history podcasts, Galvin has also been able to throw out random facts and trivia knowledge...especially about Pirate vernacular. "We were listening to the History of Pirates actually. There’s this vernacular that you find in the English language that’s just like Pirate Speak. They used to whip sailors who were not obeying their orders. They used this whip called the "Cat of 9 Tails", which was a whip with 9 strings, with either little knots or rocks or a piece of metals at the edge or their strings. Really terrible thing. You didn’t want to get whipped with the Cat of 9 Tails. So the Captain or the First Mate who would do the whipping, would leave the whip in a bloody bag on the deck. Everyone was like don’t fuck up, don’t let the cat out of the bag. There’s so many things like that," he revealed. The more you know...

Most of His Songs Have Two Sides to Them

Some of the best songs that can stand the test of time are those that can stand out even when they're completely stripped back. On the recorded version of Yoke Lore's Goodpain EP, there's layers and layers that come together to form the finished product, but the songs Galvin writes always begin with the bare bones. However, some lucky fans get the chance to absorb that first step of the process depending on the live setting they catch Yoke Lore. Talking about his recent stop in Chicago this summer to do an Audiotree session and a Sofar Sounds show, Galvin says, "Audiotree was a full set, but we had to drive through the night to make it to that. We were driving from Denver the night before. Then we played a Sofar in Philly too." For the Sofar Sounds performances in Chicago and Philadelphia, Galvin performed a solo set with just his banjo. "I really like the acoustic thing because it’ music is very big and expansive sounding. There’s a lot of like synths and sweeps and stuff, and it’s nice to just pair it down and really give people what I wrote in my bedroom like a year ago. I like that I can offer both iterations, and I think that both iterations are meaningful and have value in their own way," he adds. 

Being able to have a strong acoustic and raw version of a song, in addition to an organic sounding song that's been fully produced actually proves to be quite rare these days. "I think it’s like a test of a good performer who can perform without any bullshit. And I think it’s a test of a good song that you can play it with just one instrument and it can still be a good song," Galvin concurred. However, it still surprises people to see a Yoke Lore song done with just a banjo. Laughing, Galvin says,"I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten up there and people are like 'whoa you play the banjo?!'"

He's Friends With Tourmates, Overcoats

Besides educating himself and being a multidimensional performer, Galvin admits his tour mates are also a huge part of being out of the road. Talking about the best friend pairing behind Overcoats, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, Gavin gushes, "I fucking love those girls so much my gosh. They’re the best. We toured with them whenever it was earlier this year. We had an amazing time with them!" 

Thinking back on his first run with Overcoats, Galvin added, "I love their music so much. We had a great time with them. We had a little bit of a rough tour the first leg cause we did a leg in the midwest, and a leg on the west coast. It was just spring...seasons were changing, and we were just sick. We were all just dying. Then we all started getting injured. This one morning I had this cough I couldn’t shake, and I was like fuck it, let’s go to Urgent Care and get me some antibiotics so I can kick this thing. So we get to the Urgent Care, we get the antibiotics and we call the girls to meet up for brunch, and they were like 'Actually we can’t we’re at Urgent Care, Hannah hurt her foot last night!' We were like what?! We’re at Urgent Care!" Even through the rough times, Galvin says he and the Overcoats crew had a great time in general.

There you have it! To witness the magic of a Yoke Lore performance, find information on all upcoming tour dates here, and grab tickets to Tuesday's Lincoln Hall show here. Get ready for the show by listening to Goodpain in full below!

Slum Sociable's Melbourne Mood Boosting Guide

Melbourne based duo Edward Quinn and Miller Upchurch of Slum Sociable are on the brink of releasing their self-titled LP on November 24th. Dripping with melancholy, the twelve mellow and textured tracks blend together elements of electronic and indie music. To celebrate the release, the pair put together a guide to some of their favorite places to go to boost their mood. While you await the new album, check out Slum Sociable's mood-boosting guide to Melbourne. 

Photo Courtesy of Slum Sociable

Photo Courtesy of Slum Sociable

Vinyl Solution, Cheltenham

I grew up going to Vinyl Solution every weekend and crate-digging through everyone from Can to Miles Davis. It’s still my go-to store for vinyl in Melbourne. Owner Glen has an inimitable knowledge twice the size of this vinyl collection about so much great music and will be more than happy to lend a helping hand if you’re struggling for inspiration. 

Prudence, North Melbourne

I’m going to go on record here and say that Prudence is Melbourne’s best bar. It’s got a really nice, relaxed crowd and spins vinyl well into the early morning. We first discussed the recording of our debut album with producer Russell Fawcuss at Prudence, so it holds a dear place in our heart. If you’re hitting a wall in the studio, having a beer at Prudence is a nice way to replenish your creativity. 

Howler Bar, Brunswick

Howler’s my favorite place to go and check out live music. I caught Whitney there earlier this year and truly agree with them when they say that Howler is one of their top three favorite venues in the world. Acts that are quite established overseas and are about to break here usually play Howler before they come back and play far bigger shows, so it’s pretty motivating to catch them in an intimate setting. 

Fairhaven Beach, Fairhaven

We really enjoy getting away from the city and heading down the coast for writing sessions, especially at the start of Slum Sociable. I’m not going to be pretentious and insinuate that the air down there brings out a special lil something, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I guess it’s a lot easier to turn your phone off and really concentrate on what you want to achieve when the reception is terrible, and that’s exactly what we do in Fairhaven. 

Found Sound, Carlton

If you’re lacking inspiration, sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself to a new toy. Found Sound is great for second hand music gear that’s been restored back to impeccable quality. The staff know a heap about what you’re looking for too, and if they don’t have it, they can usually point you in the right direction.

Preorder the self-titled album from Slum Sociable here, and keep up with them on social media.

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Get To Know: Ron Gallo

The Nashville via Philadelphia rocker Ron Gallo has had quite the year in 2017; Releasing his debut solo album called Heavy Meta, playing major festivals across the country, touring across the pond, and befriending some of our other favorite bands like White Reaper and Twin Peaks on the road. In the always evolving and ever fickle music industry, it's been a year of textbook success for someone on their first album cycle, but it's also been a year of personal growth for Gallo. 

 I met up with Gallo before he played Loufest in St. Louis's Forrest Park earlier this month to talk through his newfound sense of clarity and how he transcended into new musical territory.  Gallo's songwriting style on Heavy Meta takes on a goofy, laidback tone while tackling serious subjects both in his personal life and with issues that affect the world. Our Loufest conversation spanned topics from Gallo's favorite author to David Lynch and the weight of social media in today's society.

If you haven't yet heard of Ron Gallo, allow us to introduce you with these eight things you need to know.

Ron Gallo at Loufest 2017

Ron Gallo at Loufest 2017

His departure into solo music involves self realization

For several years before Gallo ventured on this solo endeavor to produce the quirky, yet thought-provoking garage rock on Heavy Meta, he had been in the Philadelphia based band, Toy Soldiers. Sonically the music is quite a departure from the work he put out with Toy Soldiers, so how did that come around?  "The story is I made music under the Toy Soldiers name for many, many years. I don’t even know if it really scratched the surface of what I wanted to do with music and what I view as the role of it in my life," Gallo began. 

"I think it’s when I kind of started getting a little more real with myself in what I was writing about, talking about… [I] realized that music for me is really a vehicle for what I need to say to the world and to myself. It’s not like a vanity thing or it’s not even necessarily a fun thing. I mean there are elements of fun, but it’s bigger than that to me. It’s more important. When I started to realize that, I felt like it was me coming into myself a bit. I identified less and less with what my old band is doing and I felt like I wanted to be--I wanted to shed all of the hiding, and I wanted to be exposed and start a project that was just like whatever I am at any given moment. That can keep the whole thing honest and fun, and it can always reinvent itself. That’s kind of when I started making Heavy Meta," Gallo continued. 

To go along with the shift in the purpose behind his music, Gallo also changed his surroundings during the time period of working on his solo debut. After recording all of Heavy Meta in Philadelphia, he packed up and moved to Nashville. Although the scene and the sound of Nashville contrasts with that of Philadelphia, Gallo says his work doesn't feel heavily influenced by either locations. "I think sonically and stylistically where I was going I was kind of just figuring that out on my own...Not necessarily influenced too much by the Philly scene or the Nashville scene, but moving to Nashville, I felt like I identify a lot more with people in the scene. There’s just so many great bands there right now. Especially in the weirdo, rock and roll, garage, psych punk rock whatever scene. It just felt very at home. When I moved there I was like I don’t even really care about going to this place to like make things happen or be a part of the scene. It was just that I liked the city, I needed change, and it all made sense. I just wanted to go somewhere and do my thing," he says. 

He passes time by skateboarding and [crowd] surfing on tour

In addition to the many Summer festivals that Gallo has played, he's been on tour nearly non-stop across America, even venturing over to Europe this year. While on these many tours, Gallo often passes the time with some PG activities, like skateboarding. "We don’t really party. I don’t really drink or rage, as per say. So nothing involving that, but we skateboarded a lot when we weren’t playing," he says. 

What's the best city for a touring band to skate around? "[In] Vancouver there was actually a skatepark right around the corner from the venue, so we went over there. I ended up making a really bad skate compilation video from that [White Reaper] tour," Gallo vouches. 

In addition to skating, surfing also stuck out as a memory of the White Reaper tour for Gallo...crowd surfing that is. While talking about tour highlights, Gallo says, "The West Coast was great. Seattle was a really great show, and our first time really playing out there. I crowd surfed for the second time in my life to White Reaper in Seattle. So that was kind of  a pinnacle moment. The first time was actually earlier this year to Fidlar in Atlanta. It’s just funny that age 29, my first two stage dives were this year. I’m just reverting back to being a kid again."

Geographically, one of Gallos favorite tour memories involved his band's run in Europe. "We got to Norway. Tromsø, Norway, where it’s sunlight 24 hours and we got in at midnight. Still light out. We stayed at this really, really nice hotel on the water. One of my favorite moments was getting to the room--we each had our own room, and looking at the view and sitting down. That was a really nice moment," he recalled. Gallo also mentions he enjoyed his time on the road with Hurray for the Riff Raff, humbly adding, "We’ve been really lucky this year to be surrounded by great bands and great people, and seeing way too many places in a small amount of time. It’s all been’s a blur!"

Comedians influence his stage presence

While Gallo talked me through his transition into solo music, he mentioned that he finds certain aspects of making music fun, but his motive behind creating music is much bigger than that. Prior to Loufest, I had seen Gallo perform at Lollapalooza, where a sense of humor laced his set, and he added an element of weirdness by playing guitar with a fire extinguisher. Gallo explains that comedic undertone in his personality and stage presence stems from a few places, saying, "That kind of comes from---it makes dealing with serious topics in songs and having a certain level of intensity in what we makes it way more tolerable and helps me deal with myself by letting the other side shine through. I don’t really take myself too seriously. Humor and lightness are so important. It’s all about that balance to me. So as intense or heavy as it can be, to kind of like mess with people or make people uncomfortable, or do weird stuff that’s off the cuff, make people laugh...I’ll laugh at myself, make people laugh at themselves….It’s like two forces working together. I love people that do that."

He attributes comedians with some influence on that approach, adding, "I am actually in certain ways influenced by certain comedians. Andy Kauffman….somebody that really tampered with reality and being really confrontational with the audience. No one really even know what was real and what wasn’t real. I love that and I think it’s hilarious. Louis CK and like Hannibal Buress. Steven Wright and George Carlin...there’s a fearlessness to what those guys do. There’s nothing cool about it. It’s like get up there a be real and be laughed at, be laughed with. But you have this ability to convey truth and you’re not afraid of it. I love that. There’s an element to music sometimes where there’s characters or there’s this element of trying to put a wall between audience and band members, an element of cool to it...Fuck all that. It’s about trying to do something real. Be yourself. I just love anybody that does that." 

Humor and lightness are so important. It’s all about that balance to me. So as intense or heavy as it can be, to kind of like mess with people or make people uncomfortable, or do weird stuff that’s off the cuff, make people laugh. It’s like two forces working together.
— Ron Gallo on his stage presence

He also finds Dougie Jones Inspiring

Gallo has posted on his social media about David Lynch's cult classic Twin Peaks. While Lynch has never backed down from venturing completely into bizarre and uncomfortable territory, his work with Twin Peaks has created an entire universe within itself...One which Gallo admires and respects immensely.  "I love David Lynch so much. Really everything that he’s done. His films, and in Philly he had an art gallery. Especially with like his meditation practices and how outspoken he is about that and the role that it can play in creativity. It’s amazing and I think he’s an incredible real deal artist and everything an artist should aspire to be. I mean Twin Peaks is just the greatest...everything about it is’s created a world that you want to live in. As soon as I found out it was coming back I, like most people, was freaking out," Gallo says. 

Talking about his favorite characters in both the reboot and original series of Twin Peaks, Gallo says, "I think Agent Cooper is an obvious lovable character. I know we only got to see him for the brief part of that one episode [in the reboot], but even when he was Dougie, I really loved that character because I think that was sort of the embodiment of a fully present, aware, enlightened being. All he ever really did was repeat the last word that somebody else would say, and it was amazing how he got people to look at themselves or he fixed situations just by inaction. I think David Lynch was going that direction with that character. It’s like he doesn’t care about the material world. He’s kind of in a different dimension, yet he thrives in it because he’s not all worried about it. Everything just kind of works out...he fixes it all. I thought that was a really cool alternative to Agent Cooper. I had a huge crush on Audrey Horne in the first season. Also, David Lynch, his character in the show...Gordon Cole is like the best!"

He believes in social responsibility on social media

Similarly to the balance of lightness and darkness that is present in Gallo's songwriting and stage presence, he uses his social media platforms to bring lightness to his followers, but he also makes sure he takes a stance on world wide issues. While some people challenge musicians or performers in the public eye taking a "political" stance, Gallo has stated it's not just a political stance, it's a human stance. "We have this opportunity now to reach mass amounts of people. There’s like a collective consciousness with the internet that’s like tangible now. You can reach people from all over the world in an instant. Whether we like it or not, we are so influenced mostly in a negative way by the internet and social media. I think everyone is very, very addicted to the thing. It’s so normalized that people aren’t willing to look at it as a problem. I guess that’s where I come in with that is that things like Charlottesville, where there’s these very open acts of hatred and ideas that you don’t like to think exist in this society and country. That we’ve evolved past it and grown to realize that thinking about human beings and the world that way is insanity and it’s sickness and you think it’s gone. Then something like that comes up and you’re like oh yeah, no it’s very, very present still," Gallo says. 

Although there can be a negative side to so much social media and such a quick, global connection, Gallo elaborates, "I think if we’re using the internet to post selfies for vanity, especially for artists, to further their career or to promote their music and their shows...I think it’s their responsibility, especially when your livelihood is based on humanity and people enjoying what you do and support from human beings. The more successful you are, it’s your duty to kind of take a stance. Say something in support of humanity and in support of human beings. That’s gotta be the balance. We have access to people all the time. Don’t just use it for your own gain. Use it to create a better good. Go and put something positive out there that is universal. And nobody can say “Well I disagree with that stance”... What does that mean? It’s means you’re being lazy. Get on your fucking Twitter, even if it’s just like “I love all of you” and “We accept all of you,” you have to combat darkness with the light. I think people that get complacent and don’t use their platform are just lazy. Let’s make the world a better place, not just sit on our asses and wait for things to happen."

Eckhart Tolle Helped Shape His Way of Thinking

Throughout our conversation, Gallo's wisdom and positive way of thinking came across with a certain sense of ease in nearly every answer, and he was also kind enough to share where some of mindset stems from. Gallo shared that he would chose to be stuck with Eckhart Tolle if he got stranded in an elevator for two hours with only one other person. Gallo explains his decision saying, "He’s sort of like a spiritual teacher, and he wrote a book called The Power of Now that was super popular. He’s written a couple of books that have sincerely changed my life and the way that I view the world. I could talk to that guy forever because just reading his words has had such a major impact on my life." 

There is new music on the way

In the recent weeks, Gallo has shared some photos of himself and his bandmates recording new music to follow up Heavy Meta, and he says we can expect a lot of it soon. "So we’re actually gonna put out two new things before the year is over, which is exciting. We recorded one song, a new single that was sort of a response to the whole Charlottesville thing. In early November, we’re doing a tour with Naked Giants so we’re gonna release a split EP with them. Then right before Christmas we’re gonna release an EP that we recorded. The second album should be out middle of next year," Gallo says. 

His hair styling advice is...

In addition to his clever song titles, Gallo's curly mop of hair has become one of his signatures. Gallo's tips for his voluminous hairstyle? Do your thing and be proud of what you've got. "Don’t do anything, just let it be. This is what happens. This is just how it is for me. I didn’t choose this. Guys, whatever you got, just let it go. Learn to love it," he says.

As the interview wrapped up, Gallo also shared one last bit of advice, unrelated to hair styling. "I would always just encourage people to maybe question themselves, question the world a bit. Don’t be afraid to maybe think that how something is, is maybe not how it should be. And have a good time, be happy. It’s your choice," he says. 

Photos of Ron Gallo at Loufest 2017

Get ready for the plethora of new Ron Gallo music coming our way by revisiting the debut, Heavy Meta, in full below. For tour dates, updates on new music, and Gallo's wise words, follow him on social media. 

Ron Gallo: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Wand

Los Angeles psych rockers Wand hit the ground running after forming in 2013; releasing their first full length in 2014, followed by two albums in 2015...all while touring consistently. The original three piece consisting of frontman Cory Hanson, bassist Lee Landey, and drummer Evan Burrows took their time between 2015 and 2017 to craft their newest record Plum, out last week on Drag City Records. The trio also expanded in 2016 to include two new band members,  Robbie Cody and Sofia Arreguin. The newly expanded group just kicked off a cross country tour to celebrate the new songs from Plum. Before the tour rolls through Chicago tonight, stopping at Lincoln Hall, Cory Hanson took some time to discuss the approach and influences behind the new album, his hand in their music videos, which podcasts they listen to, and what's next for them. Find out all that and more in our chat with Wand!

Photo Credit: Abby Banks

Photo Credit: Abby Banks

ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on having your new album Plum done and out this month! What differences did you notice with the writing and recording process for this record, compared to your first few albums?

Cory Hanson: Thank you!  The writing and recording process was pretty different.  We kind of invented our own process together.  We holed up in our own studio in Glassell Park, CA and recorded everything we did.  Mostly jams, hours of improvisations that we did for a couple months straight.  We then refined these jams into songs.  We took them on tour in Europe for 3 weeks, recording every show and playing the songs differently every night.  Then we went and recorded Plum in 8 days up in Grass Valley, CA with Tim Green.  We mixed up in Woodstock with DJ Goodwin, and mastered it in Ventura CA with JJ Golden.

AM: Where did you draw influence (musical and nonmusical) from for the songs on Plum, for both subject matter and the sonic and production aspects of the album?

CH: We each come from different musical backgrounds, so we all brought our influences together.  I got really into electric Miles Davis while making this record, which was the result of playing and hanging with Robbie [Cody].  I was also listening to a lot of This Heat, Spiritualized, Joni Mitchell, Townes Van Zandt, Grateful Dead.  Definitely was interested in music that had its roots in the songwriting tradition, but skewed it into something freakier. 

AM: Last month you also released a video for the song “Bee Karma.” How involved are you in the video concepts and where did the idea for the clown come in?

CH: I made that video [for "Bee Karma"], so I was about as involved as you could be in a project.  The clown was the only initial idea.  I wanted to drive a clown around, so that’s what I did.

AM: Which of the new songs are you most excited to play on the upcoming tour, and have you worked out any new arrangements for the set on this run?

CH: We are having a lot of fun playing "Charles de Gaulle" on this tour.  It’s a really great example of how we breathe in and out as a band organism.  There’s so many moving parts, but they’re not wound like a clock; instead they are muscular, based in memory.  Human machines are fascinating.

AM: You’re playing The Troubadour for your hometown show, which is a pretty legendary place, but where else on the tour are you most excited to play?

CH: We were very happy to play there.  I’ve been going there to play shows since I was 15 or so.  It’s my favorite place to see bands.  It’s got great sound, and it’s very intimate.  I saw Dinosaur JR there when they reunited and stood right in front of J’s stack.  I lost a lot of hearing that day, but it was totally worth it.  I don’t know if I’d be here today if it wasn’t for that show.  I’m just excited to bring these songs across the country. We’ve been gifted with some lovely venues on this tour: Lincoln Hall, Bowery, The Chapel in SF.  Very happy and humbled to be invited to play these places.

AM: How do you stay entertained on the road? Do you have any favorite podcasts, books, or games that you play as a band?

CH: Oh my God.  We just finished S-Town on tour.  I nearly cried.  It’s like one of the greatest stories I’ve ever heard told expertly, passionately.  Now we are listening to Ear Hustle, which is all interviews with convicts at San Quentin Prison in California.  It’s very heavy.  We are on the episode about solitary confinement. 

AM: Who are some of your favorite fellow LA bands at the moment? Any new bands we all should check out?

CH: Darto is from Seattle, they’re amazing.  Dreamdecay is also a very good band.  Gun Outfit is one of our favorite bands. 

AM: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you like to work with?

CH: I’d love to collaborate with Stevie Wonder.  To work on a track with Stevie would be a dream come true.

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year besides the album and tour?

CH: A whole bunch of stuff that nobody even knows about yet!  But soon will.

Chicago, grab tickets to Wand's show at Lincoln Hall here. See the rest of Wand's tour dates here, and grab your own copy of Plum below. 

A Chat With: The Dig

You might best know New York's The Dig by their relaxed rock tune "I Already Forgot Everything You Said" off their 2012 album Midnight Flowers, but the quartet made up of two singers and three songwriters have a dynamic and expansive music catalog under their belt, including the 2017 album Bloodshot Tokyo. The latest album stays true to their laid back and grooving melodies, but also explores different moods and tones to deliver diversity across the 11 tracks. Band members David Baldwin, Emile Mosseri, Erick Eiser, and Mark Demiglio are currently out on the road in support of the newest album, and they'll be in Chicago this Friday. Before the tour stops at Lincoln Hall, we chatted with one of the band's singers and songwriters David Baldwin, all about the tour, new music and more! If you want to know about The Dig's collaborative writing process, which books they're reading, how they feel about pumpkin spiced drinks and pineapple on pizza, check out our chat with The Dig!

Photo Credit: Olivia McManus

Photo Credit: Olivia McManus

ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on the newest album Bloodshot Tokyo, which you released earlier this year! How was this album different from past work, in terms of the writing and recording scope?

David Baldwin: Thanks, we appreciate that.  Probably the biggest difference between this album and our past work was our overall approach.  We went into this one with way more songs to choose from than we ever had before.  In the past we'd always had to balance writing the music with booking tours, self-managing, etc.  This time around we decided to put all of that on hold and do nothing but write songs for a couple of years.  I think we grew a lot as songwriters in that time and naturally a new kind of sound evolved.

AM: What challenges do you encounter with having multiple songwriters in the band? On the flip side, what do you find rewarding about being able to collaborate on the writing rather than having one person do it all? 

DB: The biggest challenge we face having multiple songwriters in the band is allowing space for a singular vision to find its way onto a record.  You always know that every idea, every lyric is going to have to make it through the committee, and we've talked about how we always have each other in our heads while we're writing.  One of us might be alone writing a song and think, oh so and so won't like this because it leans to heavily toward one style or another.  So keeping the edges of a singular vision from being shaved off can be a challenge.  

On the flip side, because we've been writing songs together for so long, we speak the same musical language.  I think this helps the most in finishing songs that one person may have started but couldn't quite see all the way through on their own.  If you feel like you're stuck with a song but you're excited about what's there, you know you can bring it in to the rest of the band and someone will come up with something cool that you never would have thought of.  We've also noticed that the songs of ours that people seem to respond to the most are usually the ones that were the most collaborative.

AM: Which songs from the new record are you most excited about playing when you’re on the road in the fall?

DB: We have a hoot playing all the songs, but some live favorites in no particular order are "Pool of Rotting Water", "Jet Black Hair", "Bleeding Heart", and "Self Made Man."

AM: How do you guys usually pass time when you’re on the road? What are your favorite podcasts, books, and other ways to stay entertained? 

DB: We usually just blab away at each other and make Instagram stories.  But a good Marc Maron will get you clear through Nebraska.  Some Norm Macdonald standup will do ya.  We all try to read on the road from keeping Tour Brain from setting in.  Notes From The Underground, Tortilla Flat, Ta-Nehisi Coates' new piece The First White President have made up some of the recent tour readings.

AM: In the past you’ve thrown black wigs out at your shows before you played “Jet Black Hair.” Do you have anything special like that up your sleeves for the upcoming tour?

DB: We do have a little something up our sleeves.  It's called our Total Request Hotline.  The number is 347-422-6434, and you can call it to request a song all throughout the tour.  Doesn't necessarily mean we'll play it, but you can still give it a shot.  In fact, a nice gentlemen named Harrison called it today to make a request for our Chicago show. 

AM: Since you’ve been a band for several years now, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned a musician?  

DB: To make what you want to hear and not worry about the stuff you can't control.  But that's easier said than done. 

AM: What have you learned about each other from knowing each other and working together for so long? 

DB: We learned that when one person makes a joke and it gets a laugh, everyone in the band has to go around and repeat it at least once.

AM: I heard that you and Emile used to play in a Rage Against The Machine Cover band back in the day. If you were to form a new cover band today, which band/artist would you cover exclusively and what would the band name be?  

DB: Would have to go with a surf-rock band that does instrumental versions of C.C.R. songs.  We would name it The Loose Screws.  

AM: Who are some of your favorite new artists at the moment, or new music from more established artists that you can’t stop listening to?

DB: Kendrick Lamar, Queens of The Stone Age,  Angel Olsen to name a few.  

AM: Besides the tour, what else are you looking forward to for the remainder of the year?

DB: We're looking forward to keeping the writing going when we get home, and also to some new things we have coming out in the near future.  

AM: Also, as a bonus question, I thought we could play  “Dig or Ditch,” a cheesy game I made up that’s a lightning round of a few polarizing topics/items. If you like it, say dig, or if you hate it, say ditch. 

  • Pineapple on pizza: dig or ditch? Dig
  • Cilantro: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Watching the previews at the movies: dig or ditch?  When thinking about it, Ditch.  But when it's happening, Dig.
  • Coffee: dig or ditch? Dig but fantasize about ditching.
  • Scary movies: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Pumpkin flavored food/beverages: dig or ditch?  Dig
  • Nutella: dig or ditch?  Ditch
  • Country music: dig or ditch?  Dig.
  • Spicy food: dig or ditch?   Dig
  • Snowy days: dig or ditch?  Dig

Now that you know more about the band, go see The Dig with Dan Croll at Lincoln Hall this Friday...grab your tickets here before they sell out. Make sure to also call their Total Request Hotline to request your favorite song!

If you're not in Chicago, you can also check out all of The Dig's upcoming tour dates here, and get ready for the show by listening to Bloodshot Tokyo in full below!