ANCHR Magazine

Holding you down with the best new music

Get To Know: Engine Summer

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

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

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

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


They All Used to Take Piano Lessons

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

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

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

They Recorded and Mixed Their Debut Album Themselves

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

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

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

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

They're Renaissance Men

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

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

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

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

They Take the Side Roads on Tour

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

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

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

They Can Connect to the City and Rural Scenes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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A Chat With: Night Riots

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Energetic, theatrical and transportive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Get To Know: Shame

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

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

 Photo by Holly Whitaker

Photo by Holly Whitaker


They Recorded in the Legendary Rockfield Studios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their Stage Presence is Just an Amplified Version of Themselves

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

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

Touring Has Taught Them Their Limits

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

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

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

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

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

They'll Always Use Their Platform in a Positive Way

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

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

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


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

PREMIERE: Music Video for "Velvet" By Calico Blue

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Twen’s Live Album

Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Sex & Food”

Alvvays “Antisocialites”

Leon Bridges “Good Thing”

Naked Giants “Sluff”

Spirit Ghost’s “Skeleton Surf Rider”

The Nude Party

Bane’s World

Babe Rainbow

John Mayer

Holy Wave

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Get To Know: Deeper

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

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

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

 Photo By Alexa Viscius

Photo By Alexa Viscius


Growing Up, They Had Split Opinions on The Strokes

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

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

The Group Completely Changed Up Their Sound Two Years Ago

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

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

They Used a Piecemeal Process When Recording

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

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

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

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

They Believe Exposure for Some is Exposure for All

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

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

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

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

Tour Horror Stories Won't Keep Them Down

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

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

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

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

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

Most of Their Favorite Music Sounds Nothing Like Theirs

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

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

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


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

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

A Chat With: Honduras

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other SXSW Survival tips or hacks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any other new music in the works?

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

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

Pat Phillips: We all work at bars at home.

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

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

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

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

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

This is a new segment called Drinks with Honduras now

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

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

Pat Phillips: Yeah, at Cafe Mustache!

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

All: It has been on this tour!

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

What are your go-to karaoke songs? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any new music that you’re into?

Tyson Moore: Deeper is pretty sick!

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

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

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

Pat Phillips:  It’s 16 hours long!

Any favorite NYC based bands?

Pat Phillips: Parquet Courts. Bodega. Sunflower Bean

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

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

Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

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


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

A Chat With: Mike Mains

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

 Photo by  Haley Scott

Photo by Haley Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A new album fall 2018 :)


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

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Slow Pulp

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

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

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

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

School of Rock Is The Reason They're Playing Music

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

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

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

Their Friendship with Post Animal Traces Back to Sixth Grade

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

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

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

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

They're Moving To....

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

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

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

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

Their Influences Range From St. Vincent to Thee Oh Sees

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

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

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

They're Also Visual Artists

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

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

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

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


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

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

A Chat With: Strange Foliage

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

 Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records


What was your first musical memory growing up?

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

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

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

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

Strange Foliage has only been around about a year right?

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

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

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

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

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

Then you recorded it all here at Treehouse?

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

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

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

SM: Yeah, it was smooth.

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

Any song or two that particularly stand out as favorites?

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

How did the relationship with Dark Matter come into play?

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

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

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

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

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

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

27174063_557550781250354_5601530560325026348_o.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any other hobbies as a band?

SM: Skateboarding!

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

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

Any plans for summer tour?

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

Any closing remarks?

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

SM: Drink water.

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


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

A Chicago City Guide by Ganser

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

 Photo by Samantha Lare

Photo by Samantha Lare

Bars

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

Record stores

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

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

Live Music

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

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

Other

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

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

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


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

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

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

4/26 - Pittsburgh, PA - Howlers %

4/27 - Brooklyn, NY - Alphaville %

4/28 - Philadelphia, PA - Mothership %

4/29 - Providence, RI - Alchemy %

5/01 - Brooklyn, NY - St. Vitus

5/02 - Baltimore, MD - Sidebar

5/03 - Richmond, VA - Flora

5/04 - Raleigh, NC - Slim's

5/05 - Atlanta, GA - 529

5/06 - Memphis, TN - Bar DKDC

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A Chat With: Allman Brown

 Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

Allman Brown at SXSW 2018

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ve seen a couple shows--

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other music video plans?

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Chat With: Chappell Roan

Hailing from Willard, Missouri, 19 year old singer-songwriter Chappell Roan possesses a raw, soulful voice and sings with a powerful sense of conviction that instantly hooks listeners. This past month, Roan hit the road with Declan McKenna, sharing her sweeping and personal narratives to audiences across the country. While out on the road, Roan took some time to chat about some of her newest music, touring with Declan, and what else is in the works for this year. Tune into our chat with Chappell Roan below! 

 Photo By Catie Laffoon

Photo By Catie Laffoon

What do you remember as your first musical memory?

I remember my mom getting me my first CD which was Pink Missundaztood, and I listened to it all the time. 
 

Who and what are some of your musical and non-musical (i.e film, literature) influences on your writing and vocal style?

Stevie Nicks and Caren Carpenter are my main vocal influences. When I was younger I would try to mimic their voices. Frida Kahlo is my favorite artist. I love the darkness and vulnerability of her paintings. 

 I’m loving your new song “School Nights” that you put out last week! What’s the story behind this track as far the writing and recording process?

"School Nights" is about the feeling of being young and staying up late on a school night when you know you should be asleep and the feeling of being in love for the first time. I wrote this when I was 17 and it was a time that I felt like I was growing up, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay 17. 
 

You’ve been steadily releasing songs recently, with “School Nights” coming a month after  “Bitter.” Can your fans expect a lot more music this year?

Yes! Right now I’m working on finishing up the album. I’m not sure exactly when, but sometime later this year. 
 

What has it been like sharing the stage with Declan McKenna on the current tour? Any favorite cities on the tour so far, or anywhere you’re looking forward to playing for the remainder of the tour?

This tour has been amazing. Declan and his band are so funny and nice and welcoming. They make this tour so much easier. I loved playing Lawrence, Kansas and Seattle because I had lost of friends and family at those shows. I’m very excited to play the Santa Ana show too, because I’ll get to see more friends there. 

Is there anyone whose stage presence you really admire that inspires you with your own stage presence and performance style?

Lady Gaga and Beyoncé really inspire me with their stage presence. They are both so confident and really own the stage and connect with the crowd so well. I hope to be like them one day. 
 

What’s your favorite way to stay entertained on the road between shows?

I like to do yoga, watch movies, read, and listen to podcasts in the hotel or van to pass the time on long drives. 

 What are some of your favorite new bands or favorite songs at the moment?

Beach House, Alt-J, London Grammar, and Sigrid are some artists I’m listening to now. 

What else is on the agenda for you in 2018?

As of right now, there isn’t much planned. I am very excited to go home and relax after this two month tour. We have done 41 shows and we only have 4 more to go. It’s bitter sweet, but I’m happy to go home! 


For all the latest news on Chappell Roan, make sure you're following her on Social Media:

Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

 

 

Get To Know: The Aces

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with some of Utah's finest talent, The Aces, in one of the lavish greenrooms at Chicago's historic House of Blues venue. Instantly, sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez, Katie Henderson, and McKenna Petty proved to be as welcoming and genuine offstage as they seem onstage, greeting me with hugs and offers of the Lou Malnati's pizza resting on their dressing room table. For anyone in the band's already large (and steadily increasing) fanbase, or anyone who follows The Aces on a social media platform, their warm personalities wouldn't come as a surprise at all. During their shows, lead singer Cristal Ramirez preaches positivity and keeps the entire crowd involved by charismatically working her way up and down the entire stage, while the rest of the band boast contagious smiles the whole show. One glance at their Twitter feed, there's no shortage of fan interaction happening there. One listen to "Lovin' Is Bible" from the group's upcoming album When My Heart Felt Volcanic, and it's clear the band have a mission of keeping love alive even in some of the most tumultuous times.

The Aces have already had a whirlwind of a year, embarking on their first ever tour only months ago, having since joined COIN on a nationwide tour and received endless positive feedback on recent singles. The band's steady success proves that you get back what you put out into the world, and their 2018 is set up to only get bigger and better with the approaching release date of their debut album. Before the album comes out April 6th via Red Bull Records, get to know The Aces a bit better with these five must-know facts. 

 Photo By Alexander Bortz

Photo By Alexander Bortz

They've Been Making Music For Over 10 Years

In addition to the infectious positivity that radiates from The Aces while they're onstage, there's an incredible sense of chemistry between all of the band members when they perform. Their natural chemistry comes from their years of knowing each other, growing up together, and making music together from a young age. The band traces back, or tries to trace back to their original moment of interest in music, with Alisa kicking off the conversation, saying, "Cristal and I always talk about this, we genuinely can’t pin down the exact moment that we started a band, just because we were so young--" Alisa's sister Cristal interjects to say that the two of them, as well as Katie, had musical families growing up. "Our older brother was always in metal and punk bands growing up. And that was really inspiring for me. I wanted to be him. Katie has older brothers, and Kenna has family in bands."

McKenna recalls when the band actually got serious, attributing the motivation to another musician. "We did have a time as a band, when we had already been doing the band for a while, and we decided this was the time to actually pursue it. I was probably 15, they were 17. It was the night that Lorde won all her Grammys," she said.  "I drove over to Cristal’s house and we all ended up there. We just knew we had to do it," Katie adds.

Prior to the switch flip where the band decided to focus on music, Cristal says the girls all had other interests as well. "We were all kind of teetering. I always knew I wanted to do music. They all kind of had a couple different interests. Katie’s an amazing athlete. [Mc]Kenna is super good with graphic design and Alisa was super studious at the time.  But basically, we just decided we have something too special to not have an actual go at a career. We didn’t want to let that go. We had been a band at the point for almost like 10 years. As we put our hearts into it and worked super hard, it kind of all turned out," she says.

Their Influences Range from Queen to The 1975

The Aces only embarked on their first ever tour towards the end of 2017 with Joywave, but despite their limited time playing to audiences across the country, the band all possess a completely captivating stage presence. They all give nods to other performers that inspire their live performances; Katie saying, "I have a lot of different inspirations. Some that aren’t even my role in the band. Someone who I think is so inspiring onstage is Freddie Mercury from Queen. I have a live DVD of them at Wembley Stadium that my dad used to watch all the time. I used to just sit there, and still today, I’ll watch it but [Freddie] just has such a power and control over the audience and he’s so fearless. You can tell that that’s where he’s most comfortable, and that’s so inspiring."

Alisa chimes in next, adding "I feel like honestly, for me, I don’t feel like there’s anyone that I mimic on stage. I feel like I just really genuinely try to dance as much as possible and have fun. Cause I just love doing it. But I think if there is a drummer that I really love, we went to a Twenty One Pilots' show a year ago. I honestly wasn’t very into Twenty One Pilots at the time, but when we went, it totally converted me. Josh was so dope. I love the way he performs. He’s amazing."

"I have a few, I try to really watch front-men and front-women," Cristal begins, before pausing to add "screw that term" about "front-women." "It’s just frontman," she continues, adding "Hailey Williams from Paramore is a huge one for me. I’ve always looked up to her for probably 10 years, since I was 13. Her... and then I really love feminine men onstage. Like Morrisey, Jonny Pierce from the Drums--" Katie interjects to suggest Matty Healy of The 1975 as another feminine frontman. "Matty Healy! I feel like I look at like Freddie Mercury, and Mick Jagger, and they’re really kind of feminine and cheeky, and I just love that," Cristal continues. 

McKenna rounds out the conversation, saying, "I think I’m kind of similar to Al, I don’t have one specific person that I look up to or try to mimic. But I think bassists get a rep for not really moving a lot, and not dancing. That’s something I’ve had, like people say 'oh, you dance so much!' That’s something that I want to do is dance and have fun, even if I am a bassist. I don’t know if that’s a stereotype or not. I love it when people are very free and dancing on stage so that’s what I try to do." If you've ever been to one of The Aces' shows, you know that bassists can indeed have fun too...thanks to McKenna. 

They Deliver Music The Same Way They Consume It

One trademark of The Aces that you might have noticed if you've been following them is the pattern in which they release music. Leading up to the album, the band has been drip-feeding a new song to their eager fans just about every two weeks. The band credits their team behind them with helping their true vision come to light, and that includes letting them release music the same way in which they consume it. "I feel like our first experience signing to a label and making a full length debut and touring for the first time, we’re just learning. The most beautiful thing about being with Red Bull is it’s a small team, so we’re very hands on. We have full creative control of everything, so we’re just learning every element of every single part of it. From making the record to marketing it, to every little detail. We’re literally just learning how to run our business. It’s been amazing honestly," Alisa says. 

"It’s very much about choosing the right people to be on your team. Who you let in to be close. Also who you want to work with. We’ve been building our team, like our manager and people at our label, and that’s been really awesome. We’ve always felt really good about Red Bull," McKenna says, and Alisa chimes back in to mention that the band didn't sign the first deal they were offered. They instead stuck it out until they found to right fit and the right team to carry out the band's plans and their visions. 

"I think that we are very just conscious of how people digest music now. And how we digest music. We still are holding back more than half the album. It will come out when the whole album comes out. We just really didn’t want to put out like one single and then drop the entire album. It’s better to feed fans in a way that they can digest. So they get one song and have it for a couple weeks. Then they get one more and have it for a couple weeks, and then they almost have half the album. Then six more songs doesn’t feel like that much more to really get into. I feel like sometimes when people throw albums out, just a 14 song album, people are like it’s overwhelming. It’s just in our day and age we don’t digest music like that. Just get them into it and ease them into it. I mean we’re a new--we’re not new cause we’ve been around a while in our hometown and stuff, but we’re a relatively new band. This is our first record. It was a very conscious decision on our part, and sitting with our label, being like how do we digest music? We’re 22 and 20," Cristal muses, touching on the way that they have decided to release new music. 

"We’re the age of our demographic," Katie adds. Being the age of their own demographic allows for The Aces to be that much more relatable.  "It’s just so fun to put a song out, get everyone really excited, then within two weeks later, they get something else. They’re kind of starting to catch on that it’s like this quick thing and we kind of took that example from other artists that did really quick, steady roll outs like that. And just how exciting it was from a fan perspective to get that. So we wanted to do that for our fans as well," Alisa says.

They're All About Leading By Action

Just like a lot of their demographic, the ladies of The Aces are very conscious of using their platform to promote safe spaces and a powerful message. They've already touched on the subject of being an all-female band and often getting pegged a "girl band" a few times," even retweeting a tweet sarcastically calling out the fact that all male groups are not usually seen as rare, but The Aces continue to encourage their female fans with leading by a great example. "We always say that it’s leading by action. You know, so we just do it every day. We just get up on stage and we do it every single night. And we have a lot of people come up to us and be like holy shit, you guys are a great band! And it’s not always--I think when we were younger it was a lot like 'Oh my gosh, you guys are such a great girl band! I’ve never seen all girls!' We really take a lot of pride in that. We love that we’re all women. That’s a strength of ours and we don’t see it as a weakness, but at the same time, we do want to push that we are just a band. Even though we are women and we are very proud of that. [We] just normalize it. Cause we want more women in the industry. We want more all girl bands. We love girl bands. We just wanna see more women," Cristal says. In addition to getting up onstage each night, the fact that Cristal paused after saying the term "frontwomen" to correct it to just "frontman" when talking about her stage presence inspiration, shows that she continuously works to push for gender equality in the entertainment world. 

The Aces also work to keep that same inspiring presence in their fans' lives offstage, by being interactive with fans online. "We kind of just want to set a good example. We always try to engage with our fans in a really positive way. If ever fans have come to use with a bullying situation or anything negative, we’re always there for them. We just try to spread positivity through our platform," Alisa says. 

Katie also adds that their single "Lovin' is Bible" touches on that positivity. "It’s okay to love each other through the differences. It’s not hard to agree to disagree. Love is the most important thing. Always." 

"No matter what you believe. And I think us four all have---we have different views on a lot of things. But we’re best friends and it doesn’t matter. It’s okay that we disagree on certain things. Everyone’s different and that’s a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. You should learn to respect other people and love them for who they are," Cristal adds. 

Some Of Their Random Slang Inspires Their Songs

Speaking of their track "Lovin Is Bible," the tune actually came together after the girls noticed some potential in one of their own slang terms. "We always just use the phrase...to describe something as Bible," Alisa says. "Like, that shit's Bible," Cristal interjects.  "We were just being funny one night with our friends and we said that. And we were like that should be a song lyric, sarcastically almost. Then I remember I wrote it down in my notes, and then when Cristal and I went into a writing session, we were just like we really like that," Alisa continues. And the rest is history; Alisa and Cristal showed it to their producer and they decided to run with it from there. 

Although that single came together really naturally in an unexpected way, the band says their process varies drastically depending on the day. They do keep it natural and continuously bounce ideas around with each other, though. "I think we just write about a lot of things. The whole record is about tons of stuff. Just personal experiences. Like what it is to be a young adult and to be in your early 20s, and we’re going through a lot of stuff that a lot of people don’t go through. Like we’re traveling and touring all over. But also just exploring what it is to be young, and all those concepts are universal," Cristal says. 

"Every day is different. A lot of the songs we walked in day of, nothing in mind, just jammed out and let the day tell us what we were gonna write. Then there were other times when we came in and it’s like oh one of us might have had a voice memo fleshed out in our demos for melody, or we might have had a concept or poem written out. We’ve had a couple of songs where one of us has come in with a poem and gone off that. It’s just different every time," Alisa adds. 

The band also says they've learned a ton from the entire process behind their first album.  "We just learned so much about next time around. How we can make things more concise. Work a little smoother. I feel like the first time is always the learning process, and we’ve been working on this album for so long, and finally finishing up working on making it a concise, cohesive package has been such a process and journey. But it’s also been so amazing to discover our aesthetic and get to be creative that way," Katie says. 

You can hear for yourself all of The Aces' combined efforts in putting their debut record out by pre-ordering the upcoming album When My Heart Felt Volcanic from the band's website.


The Aces at HOB Chicago with COIN


There you have it! It's already been a busy year of live shows for The Aces, but there's plenty more chances to see them. Check out their upcoming tour dates here.

While you wait for The Aces to come to a city near you, keep up with them on social media:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Pale Houses

Nashville's Pale Houses is gearing up to release their next EP, called Songs of the Isolation, on March 30th. The band has been teasing the six-song EP by slowly drip-feeding some of the tracks. Last month, Pale Houses announced their return with the lead single "The Ocean Bed," a building narrative with hazy guitars that was followed by "Hideaway" a couple of weeks later. This week, they've graced us with the third single "Who Will I Be For You?" to hold us over until the EP comes out next week. While you wait patiently for the second half of the EP, get to know Pale Houses a little bit better by checking out our Q&A. We chat everything from the band's beginnings, their hobbies, their favorite record shops and venues in Nashville, and the process behind the EP. Tune in now!

Starting off, how did the band all meet and come to be Pale Houses?

Aaron: Ryan and I were in a band in the early-mid 00’s called Imaginary Baseball League. We had a good run (and a few heated disagreements) and we eventually split. He and I stayed friends but did our own things in other musical projects. After I got really disillusioned with trying to be a solo artist in Nashville – seriously… don’t do it - we started communicating musically again mostly through email. It didn’t really take long for us to find a way to make music together again despite the fact that we were living several hours apart. I ran into our guitarist, Josh, who mentioned he’d be into playing with us. I was thrilled because his old band The Charter Oak was always one of my local favorites. Aaron Yung, our bassist, is a great multi-instrumentalist from the same music scene we all came up in, and he just so happens to be Ryan’s brother-in-law. It all came together really easily and it’s been a blast. It’s the best balance I’ve ever felt in a band in terms of how we communicate and what we all bring to the table.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about yourselves and as a band since you first started playing music together?

Ryan: Tough question. Since Aaron and I have been playing together since I was 19, lots has changed. We’ve gotten married and had kids. I think that's made the approach for this band a little different than the other bands I've been in. Before it was always about how to build momentum, tour more, and turn music into my whole identity, my whole life. This one isn't like that. I'd love this band to be successful because I'd love people to hear these songs, but I mostly am doing this simply because I love being a part of the music.

Aaron: I would add that given mine and Ryan’s history, I think it’s been important for us both to learn to pick our battles. Neither of us are control freaks in the traditional sense, but we do tend to try and steer the ships we are on, and I think that over many years we’ve found a way to co-pilot. We’ve always wanted and chased something really similar musically in terms of the sound and the end goals. Our egos are pretty tame at this point. Like Ryan said, we just want to play in this band and get our songs heard.

Who and what do you consider to be some of your strongest influences on your writing and on your stage presence?

Aaron: I’ve always been obsessed with the San Francisco bay area troubadours that emerged in the 80’s and 90’s, most notably Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) and Mark Eitzel (American Music Club). They’ve written the best lyrics of the last 30 years or so, along with David Bazan. Melodically, my approach has always been a bit more pop, which explains my obsession with 80’s hits by people Bruce Hornsby, Suzanne Vega, and Cyndi Lauper. As for the stage, I grew up having this dream of being a songwriting front man who wasn’t saddled with an instrument and who could walk all over the place and get in folks’ faces like an evangelist or something. I never had that luxury, and over time I’ve become more interested in becoming more than just a functional guitarist. So I don’t really have a great handle on what my stage presence is these days. I love the guitar-playing front man though. Adam Granduciel is great. I love John Davis from Superdrag and I’ve recently gotten really into the late great Tommy Keene. Ryan, however, has always been like a really minimalist Animal from The Muppets. He used to have his foot hovering off the floor for like 40% of our set back in the old days. Age may have lowered that percentage a bit, but he’s still a spectacle. Josh and Aaron are just great musicians with a real quiet confidence.

What can you tell us about your new EP Songs Of Isolation? What was the writing and the recording process like?

Ryan: Since I live in Atlanta and the rest of the guys are in Nashville, practices are at a premium. That impacts the writing process. For most of our songs, Robinson will send out some kind of demo. Occasionally it's pretty full featured and close to a complete song with a lot of the lyrics figured out, but more often it's just an idea or a guitar line and a melody. We'll all listen to them and comment back with suggestions until the next time we get together to practice. When we do practice, we'll run the songs or work on the idea for a while, and then towards the end of practice we'll record it. Then between practices we have something to play along with and try out different ideas. For Songs Of The Isolation we had all the songs pretty well figured out before we went into the studio, with the exception of "Who Will I Be For You". Aaron had the song down, but most of the additional instrumentation we figured out in the studio. We recorded the base tracks in early 2017 and then did overdubs and mixed throughout the spring and early summer. For my part, I had the chance to do a cross country trip to a lot of the national parks this spring, and so was listening to mixes on the road and next to a campfire many nights. It was likely frustrating for the rest of the band because it would take me days to get back with any feedback since I wouldn't have cell service to download the mixes.


What’s your favorite song on the EP, and what’s the story behind it?


Aaron: Since our first EP was released, three of us have become parents for the first time. I’ve learned that can be simultaneously the most beautiful and most destabilizing experience. I think all my fears related to making sure this new person turns out better than I did were all dumped into “Who Will I Be For You?” I love that song because I’m just trying to honestly process all the self-doubt that comes with the innate desire to protect the innocence of your kid.

Ryan: When I was younger I would always ask my mom which kid was her favorite and I always got the same answer; "I love you both the same". Such a cop out. Nevertheless, I'm glad all these songs are on the record for different reasons:


1. The Ocean Bed: Aaron wrote a great song here, and I think we as a band each added parts that come together really nicely. I've listened to the earlier demo of this song and it's a great example of how a good song can become even better with the right treatment. It's also a lot of
fun to play.


2. Tenderfoot: This song came together in one legendary practice. We wrote three other songs in that same practice, but this one we figured out from start to finish, which is a rarity for us.


3. Who Will I Be For You: I've always loved this song, but I was a little worried about recording it since we didn't have much more than Aaron's guitar when we went into the studio. We'd tried a number of treatments to the song over the years and none of them were right. Building this song up in the studio...it went from one I was worried about to one of my favorite recordings we've done.


4. Ring Around The Moon: This is the oldest song on the record. So many things I like about it: the build of intensity, the shimmering guitars, the lack of snare drum. It's one where Aaron had a full demo before we started working on it, and I think we were true to the original vision, but also evolved it a little as we went.


5. Hideaway: I probably see the influences of what I've been listening to the last few years in this song more than any of the others. The drums are really fun to play. Plus, Aaron holds that last note out forever. It's superhuman! 

6. Olivia and Courage: Such a sad and beautiful song. Every time I start playing the ending I never want to stop, I want it to go on forever.


Who are some of your favorite fellow Nashville bands coming up at the moment?

Ryan: Yon Ort. I've known Eric Wilson for a long time and each time he reinvents himself he gets even better. Yon Ort is the best reincarnation yet.


Aaron: There are a lot of great established artists here that I still feel are up and coming on a national level. I love the really singular artistic visions of Tristen, Kyle Andrews, Dave Paulson, and Patrick Damphier (who recorded our first EP). Some really new artists that I think you could hear more about in time are Krista Glover’s project Fluorescent Half Dome and, like Ryan said, Yon Ort. Eric is stupid talented.

What about some of your other favorite parts of the music scene there, like favorite venues
or record shops?


Aaron: I just went to Grimey’s record shop today. For a long time, it’s been sort of the epicenter of the part of Nashville’s music culture that I love. The whole thing started as a DIY venture with the owner Mike Grimes opening up a little store and stocking it with his own record collection. Now, it’s one of the great record shops in the world and has helped to birth two great music venues, The Basement and The Basement East. I also really love The 5 Spot in East Nashville. It has the best local music-friendly bar vibe in town by a mile and the first place I take out-of-town visitors for a non-touristy true Nashville experience.


What are some of your other hobbies outside of playing music?


Aaron: Hah, nothing! Being a dad, maybe? I’m not paid for it, so I guess that makes it a hobby? I’m a volunteer semi-professional dad and I love it. Between music and jobs and dad-life, there is no time for hobbies. However, our bassist Aaron Yung is a great photographer and graphic designer and he helped with the artwork for the vinyl version of our EP and a couple of our single covers.

 Lastly, what else is on the agenda for Pale Houses this year?


Ryan: In addition to the EP and the Vinyl, we are working on a video or two for the songs off therecord. We also have a few shows planned in Nashville, and I'm sure we will be playing more throughout the year


You can pre-order a copy of Songs of the Isolation here, and keep up with Pale Houses on social media here.

A Chat With: Pretty City

Melbourne's Pretty City combines the sounds of your favorite Aussie psych rock bands with bits of Britpop and shoegaze influence. Next week, Pretty City will be bringing their unique sound all the way to SXSW to play songs off their upcoming album Cancel The Future. As they gear up to take on Austin, the band took some time to chat with us about their latest single "Flying," their festival and touring survival tips, what's next for them and more. Tune into our chat with Pretty City below!

 Photo courtesy of Pretty City

Photo courtesy of Pretty City


What can you tell us about the writing and recording process behind your new album Cancel The Future?

It's a really interesting journey behind the album. After a great SXSW in 2016 we came home and jumped straight in the studio. What we created we weren't 100 percent happy with. It was a very balls to the wall album and we kind of over-cooked the playing and lost something. We shelved the record for a while and began writing again. After some serious personal upheaval including relationship breakdowns, unemployment, illness, and some serious distress, our lead singer Hugh went into overdrive and basically wrote an entire new album. What we ended up with on this record is some older songs, and some brand new ones living cohesively together. I guess we decided to split the albums into themes rather than chronology. Hopefully people enjoy that aspect of it.


Where do you notice yourselves drawing influence from, both on your sound and on your stage presence?

Our influences are really diverse. Hugh draws a lot of influence from non-musical sources. He's really into architecture and listens to a lot of architecture podcasts. You can hear how well he structures songs, and I think that's a huge part of it. He kind of designs songs around feelings and has a great ear for melody. Johnny loves up-tempo anything. He's our energy machine and is really influenced by Australian bands like You Am I. Ken, our bass player grew up on punk and rock and roll, but is also heavily influenced by the Beatles, so he has a great mix of melody and energy. Myself, (Drew - drums), I'm a Pink Floyd tragic from way back, but also am really into classical music, funk and hard rock. So it's a pretty interesting mix where we kind of meet in the 90s sounds of the Smashing Pumpkins, Brian Jonestown Massacre and explore our influences from there. In terms of stage presence, we just get right into what we're doing and go with that. We don't consciously try and emulate anyone but we all love performers like Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan and David Bowie.


Speaking of stage presence, you’ll soon be over in America playing SXSW. How would you describe your show for anyone who hasn’t seen you?

Yeah, we're really excited to be heading back to Austin for SXSW, can't wait! I guess our shows can be summed up as fun, exciting, energetic, melodic psychedelic rock. Sometimes it gets heavy but there's light and shade. There's heaps of hair and usually cool jackets too.


What are you most looking forward to during your time in the US? Any other bands you’re hoping to see at SXSW?

I just can't wait to get back to Austin. It's such a great city and SXSW is really just like musician heaven. Music and ice cold beers! What's not to love about it?! In terms of bands, I'm really excited to see Girl Skin and Blonde Maze, both of whom are playing the Glamglare showcase with us. I've seen some clips of them and I can't wait check them out.


What are some of your music festival survival tips, or any essentials that you need for touring in general?

I think drinking plenty of water and sunscreen are my tips for surviving any festival. Having said that, it can be pretty hard to get enough sleep at SXSW, so I think there's a bit of an ethos of go hard then go home and collapse - haha.


In addition to SXSW, you also have an upcoming European tour...which cities are you most looking forward to playing in and visiting?

Yeah, we're off to Europe in mid April for our biggest tour yet. We're really excited to be playing all the cities we're headed to, but I think Hamburg, Vienna and Graz are the ones we're most looking forward to. They're wonderful cities and so full of culture and history. Can't wait. 


What are some other bands from Melbourne that we should be all be listening to now?

My favourite Melbourne band is called Destrends. They are incredible musicians and put on amazing shows, definitely check them out. A band called Plotz are also another favourite. They're heavily influenced by Radiohead, but make music in a more overtly psychy way. They have some amazing songs. Also a band called Moody Beaches. They're really fun, engaging and hooky psych/surf/punk rock. It's a winning combination.  


What else can we expect from Pretty City in 2018?

We're actually recording our 3rd album in Portland in March, so you can probably expect a single or two from that later in the year.

Keep up with Pretty City on Social Media below:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Spiritual Cramp

Spiritual Cramp from The Bay Area recently took some time to chat with us while out on the road. The band has been garnering all sorts of buzz back home, and just recently  hit the stage at The Bottom Lounge with American Nightmare & No Warning, in honor of their Mass Hysteria EP. Their sound combines influence from some of our favorite genres of the past, while also exuding a refreshing sense of originality. Tune into our chat with the band below to get to know more about the band's beginnings, the process behind their EP, and what's next for them in 2018!

  Photo: Tom O'Connell

Photo: Tom O'Connell

First things first, what’s your backstory of how you all got into making music, and how did the band come together?

Mike Fenton (Bass) and I have been playing music together for close to ten years now. He's definitely someone I trust when making art so it was natural that we did this. I met our guitar player, Stewart, on the street in San Francisco, a little while back (October of '16) and we thought it would be cool to start a band. Max joined the band randomly when we asked him to play tambourine at a one off gig after we'd already started. Blaine and I have known each other for a long time playing in seperate bands but came together on this one. Jacob plays in a band called World Smasher and reached out after a gig together to say hello.. As far as how I got into making music, Its just something Im inclined to do.

Can you talk a little bit about the story behind your EP Mass Hysteria? Where did you record it, and what was the band’s writing process for those songs?

Yeah. We recorded on 19th in between Mission and Valencia in SF at Different Fur Studios. It’s a pretty legendary spot. Our friend Grace Coleman engineered and produced the session. She does a bunch of sick records from homies in the bay. Mike Fenton wrote all the tracks and I wrote the lyrics. Pretty straight forward.

Your sound is definitely reminiscent of the past, but who are some of your biggest musical influences from both the past and present?

There’s tons of people. Obviously people have been comparing us to the Clash and The Talking Heads and I think that’s pretty easy to see. When we play live I try to bring some hardcore vibes. Light shit up with heavy vibes for sure. Jonathan Richman is pretty funny to watch and I hate when people take themselves too seriously. I can't think of any contemporary bands I jock. Maybe the Templars or Rival Mob. I like that band Battle Ruins a lot too. Dude can sing. Pearse slays too.

As I understand it you’re getting a lot of buzz back home in the Bay Area. What are some insider secrets to the music scene there? Any other Bay Area bands or venues that we should all know about?

I think insider secrets that it seems like a lot of people don't know(shocking I know) : Don't be a weirdo creep. Don't burn/talk shit about your friends to people. Write hot tracks. Treat people the way you want to be treated. Be nice to people even when you can't gain anything from them. Don't do hard drugs around people you don't know it makes you act stupid.

What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming tour? Any cities that you’re most excited about playing?

Chillin with Wes at the Wythe Hotel in New York. Eating secret Chinese food with Adam Whites and Whammy Bar Willy.

Any teasers you can give about your set on this tour?

No teasers. 17 minutes of heaters to quench thirst and fill the void.

How do you guys usually stay entertained on the road?

I'm a graphic designer so I try to work from the road when I'm not feeling super burnt out (which is never). Our van on this tour has a Xbox 360 so playing some nba2k. Listening to music. Reading...etc etc

What else can we expect from Spiritual Cramp in 2018?

Doing a new 7" in May coming out on XXXXXged records. Going to south by southwest. Playing some fests. Trying to keep busy. Doing whatever comes our way.

Listen to Mass Hysteria in full, and keep up with Spiritual Cramp on Bandcamp here.

A Chat With: Mauno

Hailing from Novia Scotia, Mauno combines relaxed tones and soothing, harmonious vocals with melodies that'll keep you on your toes on their latest album Tuning. The sophomore record, which follows up 2016's Rough Master, threads 14 tracks together in one succinct package; each track existing in its own pocket, but working best when listened through in order. Following Tuning's October release date, Mauno are gearing up to hit the road next week, stopping by Chicago to play Schubas en route to SXSW. In advance of next Tuesday's show, we chatted with Nick Everett of the band to talk tour, SXSW, the process behind their record and more. Tune in below to our chat with Mauno!

 Photo By Levi Manchak

Photo By Levi Manchak

Starting off, how did you all meet and decide to form Mauno?

Eliza and I met in the spring of 2014 and quickly started play music together, she on cello and me on guitar. We both nerded out about our love of The Books, but then the music we started playing asked to be taken in anther direction entirely, no matter what we wanted it to be. We expanded the sound when we brought in a drummer, Eliza moved to bass, and then we did a much needed lineup change to be where we're at now with Adam and Scott on guitar and drums. They're good guys who've been playing together for almost decades with an s.

Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your album Tuning? What was the writing and recording process like for the band?

We just try to make the noises. We try not to think about what it sounds like, so much as what the sounds are and what they need to be, to be more themselves. We don't come at it from a musicological perspective, so the usual references don't jive. The balance is a lot more pop-oriented than Rough Master, much more carefully crafted (we recorded the whole thing twice), and a lot more cohesive. Rough Master was about conflict and the clash of opposing ideas, and this one is much more about talking through the problems that arise in any creative project and then working together to make a whole. I think it sounds a lot more mature, but then I've listened to it about 10 thousand fucking times so I don't know anything about it anymore.  

Who and what are some musical and non-musical influences that inspire your writing? What about influences on your stage presence?

Definitely the work of R. Murray Schafer changed my life (Nick) and relationship to sound over the past couple of years. I read Soundscapes and moving through the world has never quite been the same since. The title is a reference to the subtitle of that book (The Tuning of the World). The background of the record is full of soundscapes, pieces from around Halifax, from around the house we recorded in there, and a couple Eliza recorded in Heidelberg and Berlin while she was living there last summer. They are little pieces of the places we lived in that have had an enormous effect on our sonic understanding and our sonic relationship to our environments. The collage of soundscapes on the record encapsulates this theme, as well as displacement-- ideas of associating home with aural landscapes and the cyclical return to them. There's a whole second soundscape record buried in there somewhere.

Other than that, the world of Christopher Small, especially Musicking has been really influential in the way we've talked about playing together and our relationship with the other people in the room while we're playing. To not think of music as a thing in itself, as not actually existing, but rather a series of dance steps-- an action performed in a room-has been really liberating.

As for stage presence, we just try to listen and look like a group of people listening.

What do you hope that an audience takes away from your live show?

Our album?

Which cities on your upcoming tour are you looking forward to playing in and visiting the most?

I have no idea! We've never traveled or played in the states, so we have no expectations. Excited to be in Chicago! We've driven by it a few times on our way to western Canada. American cities hold a huge place in our imaginations for sure.

What are three things you have to have with you on tour?

Instant coffee, free wifi, extra strings.  

You guys will also be down at SXSW next month...what are some of your best music festival survival tips?

Oh my god, skip whatever you think you need to go to and go to bed instead. Take care of yourself -- you've only got one.  

Are there any other bands you’re hoping to catch a show from while you’re down at SXSW?

Yes definitely! Look Vibrant and Girl Ray and Fenster are good pals who rule.

What else is on the horizon for Mauno in 2018?

Making a new record and more horizons.



Mauno will be at Schubas on March 6th and the show is FREE. Check out details here and get ready for the show by listening to Tuning in full below!

A Chat With: Billy Raffoul

Singer-songwriter Billy Raffoul has been turning heads and garnering attention with his music that combines soulful and passionate vocals with a raw sense of storytelling. Inspired by his musical family, as well classic rock and timeless songwriters like Jeff Buckley and Neil Young, Raffoul puts a new twist on deep-rooted influences. This month, Raffoul has been out on the road with ZZ Ward, and he took some time to catch up with us in the midst of the six week run. For more on how his creative background and nomadic lifestyle influences his sound, what we can expect from his debut full length album, his take on the Nashville music scene and more, check out our chat with Billy Raffoul!

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You’ve been out on the road with ZZ Ward for a few weeks now! How has the tour been going so far, and which cities are you looking forward to for the rest of the tour?

I'm really looking forward to the West Coast portion of this tour. It's been a while since I've performed in Seattle and Portland. Can't wait to get back out there.

What do you usually do to entertain yourself on the road? Any podcasts, shows, or books that are your go-to's?

The band and I are pretty balanced…whoever is driving controls the radio. Could be a Beatles record, an Eminem album, or a podcast. We're all over the place. 

While on the subject of traveling and tour, as I understand it, you now split time between Nashville and LA, but you grew up in Canada. Do you find yourself pulling influence from each of those cities when you're writing?

I feel like I am very influenced by where I come from, my family in southern Ontario and the people I grew up with. Los Angeles and Nashville however are very exciting cities and I am definitely inspired to create there as well. 

What are some of your favorite parts of the Nashville music scene at the moment, from the venues to other artists?

There is so many great local artists in Nashville that it is actually hard to keep track. Then you have legendary venues like the Ryman Auditorium, The smaller but characterful Basement, etc. I have been lucky enough to play these stages a couple times.

Circling back to your start in music, I know you grew up with your dad playing music for a living. What's the biggest lesson your dad has taught you about a career in music?

My dad has really taught me by example what it takes to have a career in music and support a family. He taught me to work hard at it everyday and continues to do so. 

I hear you're also working on a debut album at the moment. Any teasers you can give about some of the songs that will be on it?

I can tell you that some of these songs have been with me for years.. and maybe some I wrote yesterday. It's overused but sometimes you can honestly say your first album you have been working on your whole life.. It feels that way for me. 

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you like to work with on a future project?

Dan Auerbach is somebody who's music I grew up listening to. I think he also calls Nashville home now. A bit of a pipe dream but I would love to work on something with him.


 In general, who are some of your favorite new artists at the moment, or albums you've had on repeat lately?

I've been listening to Jessie Reyez. Her Album Kiddo.


  What else can we expect from you in 2018?

Definitely new music and hopefully a lot of touring! 


There you have it! Keep up with Billy Raffoul on social media below, and check out the rest of his upcoming tour dates here!

Billy Raffoul: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Derrival

Vancouver's Derrival have steadily gained traction recently with their incredibly catchy singles like "Ice Cream" and "Ghosts of our Past." Last week, the buzzed about band released their self-titled debut full length, laden with dreamy and upbeat pop melodies and addictive hooks. In celebration of the album release, we chatted with the band to get to know more about them; from their influences to the stories behind their music videos and what we can expect from Derrival in 2018, tune in below!

 Derrival is Adam Mah, Glen Jackson, Dan Kozlowski, Deven Azevedo, and Shane Stephenson

Derrival is Adam Mah, Glen Jackson, Dan Kozlowski, Deven Azevedo, and Shane Stephenson


Congrats on your album coming out last week! How does it feel to finally have it out into the world? 

Thank you! It feels like this huge weight has been lifted off of us in a way. We’ve had it done and under wraps for so long that it’s exciting to finally share it with everyone and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which is great. Every band only has so many albums and this is our debut so it’s a milestone for us. 

How was the process of writing and recording your debut? Any songs particularly that were your favorite to write or record? 

The process was different than our past recordings in a good way. In the past, most of our songs were jammed out in a traditional garage band sort of way. With this record we were very conscious of the sound we wanted to achieve, which was more polished and clean and pop forward. So I spent a lot of time working on skeletons of songs with Shane (keyboardist) in Ableton and then we would bring the ideas to the rest of the guys to create parts separately. One of my favourite songs on the record is Hollywood, Shane stuck this quote from Audrey Hepburn in the middle of the song that just fit perfectly so we had an actress friend of ours named Carmen who spoke the part overtop for us and she nailed it. 

I love that the album starts with a David Bowie quote. Besides Bowie and that quote, where else did you find yourself drawing influence from when writing the record, both musically and non-musically? 

I found myself drawing influence from other art I was consuming at the time, mostly films and books, many of which took place in the 1950’s/60’s and centered around old Hollywood. That’s why the record is so heavily immersed in it. I think a lot of people romanticize that time, myself included. 

I also love the duet with Sarah Jeffery on “Ghosts of our Past.” How did that opportunity come up to work with her, and how was it working with her?

A couple of us went to high school with Sarah for a bit and sung in choir with her. We needed some female vocals for some harmonies on a handful of songs from the album so I was looking through my Facebook friends list and she came up. We had her come in and she nailed all the harmonies. I was blown away and wished we had a song that featured her on the record but we were nearing the end of recording. Me and Shane wrote the basis for Ghosts of Our Past over the next couple days, sent it her way and then recorded it. Sarah has been amazing to work with, she’s so talented. 

The video for that track is also really great and cinematic. How involved are you in the concepts for your videos, and what’s the story behind this one?

I got inspired after writing the track and started thinking about music video concepts. I came up with a rough concept for the video and then we approached Nelson and Graham Talbot, who we’d also gone to high school with and they took the concept and fleshed it out. I was really excited and we weren’t sure if it was going to happen because Sarah was in the middle of shooting the X-Files but we did it over the course of a couple days. I think it’s my favorite video we’ve done so far. 

If you could collaborate with anyone else, who would you pick?

It’d be really cool to collaborate with Kimbra, she’s got such a unique sound and is an amazing writer. 

What are some of your favorite parts of the music scene in Vancouver? Any insider secrets you can give about the best venues and maybe the best local bands?

I feel like it’s a very tight-nit community in Vancouver, it’s like every band knows each other. One of our favourite local bands is We Are the City, we’ve been long-time fans and they’re always doing crazy/unique things. Check out the film Violent that they made if you haven’t yet. 

What are some albums you’ve had on repeat lately? 

I started digging into the new Son Lux record “Brighter Wounds”. It’s pretty great, also the Black Panther Soundtrack. 

 Do you have any plans to tour soon in support of the album?

We are in the midst of working on it as we speak! Our album release show in Vancouver is March 17th at the Biltmore Cabaret. 

What else do you have planned for 2018?

We’ll be playing JUNOFest in Vancouver, releasing more music videos and lots more. Stay tuned.


There you have it! Keep up with Derrival on social media, and listen to their self-titled debut LP below!

Derrival: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: The Safes

The Safes is the Chicago-based project of brothers Frankie, Patrick, and Michael O'Malley; who craft feel-good, irresistibly catchy rock'n'roll music with their band. Throughout their years as a band, The Safes have garnered attention not only around the city, but across the nation, recently touring extensively in support of 2017's album Tasty Waves. Their reach has now gone as far as Japan, where The Safes will be heading this week for the first time to partake in a 5-day tour. Before the band takes off on the long haul to Japan, get to know them a bit better as they talk the process behind Tasty Waves, tour highlights, and what's next for them! 

 Photo Courtesy of The Safes

Photo Courtesy of The Safes

ANCHR Magazine: What was your first musical memory growing up, and when did you know you wanted to play music?

Frankie O’Malley: My first musical memory?  Hmmm.... that is a tough one!  I do remember being mesmerized a number of times at an unbelievably young age by hearing live music at Irish ceili's, my Dad playing the the accordian in our house and my Mom listening to music all the time!    As for playing music that's a funny story, I grew up in a house full of musical instruments, guitars, drums, bass, piano etc.... but it wasn't until a grade-school friend got a guitar for his birthday that I started to play and then we started a band.

AM: Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your latest album Tasty Waves? Where did you record it, and what was like writing process like?

Frankie O’Malley: Well, we recording the basic tracks and vocals at IV Labs in Chicago with our good friend and highly respected record producer Brian Deck.  Knocked out the whole thing in two days with the help of our bassist Curt Schmelz and drummer Dexter Fontaine.  Then Patrick and I took it home to StudiO’Malley for all the electric guitars, keyboards, precussions, backing vocals and mixing! Then to Brian Deck’s home studio for a day of final mix tweaks.

The writing process, well when it comes to songwriting I’m always writing and had 9 complete songs that Patrick really wanted to put together for this release.  He made a playlist of my demos and played it for me and told me to finish another song I had only lyrics for but I couldn’t come up with anything.  So Patrick took my lyrics and wrote all the music for “Streets and Sanitation”.  It’s the best song on the record; thanks Patrick!

AM: Where do you see some of the biggest differences and development in your sound on this album, compared to 2014’s Record Heat?

Frankie O’Malley: Tasty Waves is The Safes first album that all the rhythm guitars are acoustic and this was just an organic coincidence as we were going for the sound of my personal recordings; when I record,  I don’t fuss over things like tuning, timing, quality of takes it’s just getting the ideas out of my head.  So I will play an acoustic guitar and sing, then do the drums, then the bass etc.   On previous records, we’d learn the songs as a band and play them out live a bunch; however, that was not the case with this album.  Patrick set out to capture something he heard in those recordings when he was producing Tasty Waves and he not only captured that but he improved upon it!

AM: You went out on the road for about 3 months in support of Tasty Waves...what were some highlights of the tour, including favorite new cities or the best shows?

Frankie O’Malley: Every night of tour is my favorite!  Each night: a new city, new friends and fans, new adventures! And memories beyond dreams, no way I could pick just one!  All 3 months!

AM: Speaking of touring, you mentioned you’ll be heading to Japan this month for a 5-show run. What are you most looking forward to during your time out there?

Frankie O’Malley: Well I’ve never been to Japan, so I’m looking forward to this new adventure! Seeing all the beauty and wonder that Japan and its people have to offer! Patrick and Curt have been there before.  But this will be the first time any of us are there to play rock n roll shows every night! So I think it’s just going to blow my mind!

AM: Besides Japan, what cities and countries are on your bucket list to perform in as a band?

Frankie O’Malley: Well, The Safes are immortal vampires, so we have no bucket list!  But we do look forward to playing all the cities and countries on all the planets of this solar system and if we’re lucky beyond!

AM: Circling back to the local scene, what are some of your favorite aspects of Chicago's music scene? Who are some of your favorite bands and venues in the city?

Frankie O’Malley: Chicago is #1.  There is a seemingly unending list of amazing bands here in Chicago it’s unfair to mention any in the event of leaving one out!    Same goes for venues, record stores, media outlets that still cover local music, radio stations that still play local music! And most importantly the people of Chicago who support live music!

AM: What else are your goals as a band for 2018?

Frankie O’Malley: We have some cool recording projects on the horizon!  Other than that, continue as always, writing, recording, playing live, making videos, just keep having fun being The Safes!

 The Safes Japanese Tour Poster

The Safes Japanese Tour Poster


Keep up with The Safes on social media below, and listen to Tasty Waves in full below!

The Safes: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram