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A Chat With: Stuyedeyed

With just one EP under their belt, Brooklyn’s Stuyedeyed has already made their message crystal clear; They’re not just here to make great music, they’re here to do it with intention and a strong sense of conviction. They’re here to use their voices and their platform along with their music to try to bring change to a society littered with systemic issues.

During the band’s Saturday afternoon set at Audiotree Music Festival back in September, they used their time onstage to talk about important issues. “Black lives matter,” lead singer Nelson Hernandez-Espinal addressed the crowd, also asking the audience to look out for each other at the start of their set, making it clear they wouldn’t tolerate anyone violating the safe space of the festival. Their song “Mr. Policeman” from 2017’s Funeral EP details the band’s stance on police brutality and misconduct, and when speaking with the group after their show, they say the brutal honesty in their music won’t be disappearing on their next projects. In their upcoming EP and eventual full length album, Stuyedeyed will continue to address the uncomfortable in order to find growth and change, and they say they aren’t afraid to start introspectively. Tune into our chat with the full band below to hear what else they have to say about using their platform for good, the TV show Sábado Gigante, Ozzfest, and more!

Stuyedeyed is Nelson, Humberto (Bert) Genao, George Ramirez , and Luis Ruelas

Stuyedeyed is Nelson, Humberto (Bert) Genao, George Ramirez , and Luis Ruelas

What were each of your first musical memories?

Nelson: My first musical memory is my cousin came home stoned one day and he was just blasting records, and he played “Whole Lotta Love” followed by “War Pigs.”

Luis: I guess my first musical memory was finding Pantera “Cowboys from Hell” on tape in my garage. It was my brother’s tape. I found a tape player and put it on, and I was like woah, this music! Yeah that was it.

Nelson: It’s all finding everything by accident you know?

George: I grew up with my parents watching this show Sábado Gigante. It was like this television variety show that was going on for a hella long time, hosted by a guy named Don Francisco and they would have like performers sing and do an audition. I was always impressed by the music, but what I loved the most was that for people who didn’t make the cut and got heckled the most, there was a guy named El Chacal, who was this like executioner who played a trumpet and he’d go [imitates horn] and yell “FUERA!” Then a lion would come out from behind the curtain—

Nelson: Out of context this is fucking ridiculous, but you have to go home and watch. Sábado Gigante…Saturday Giant.

Bert: I think my earliest memory of music was me finding a a James Brown tape where he goes and shows us how to dance. There’s a Youtube of it. When I was three, four years old, there’s an embarrassing video of me as a child dancing to James Brown and I just started playing around with drums. Then I picked up the snare as a kid at 8 years old. I never really developed much around that but then I picked up stringed instruments that derived from that genre, like James Brown, Marvin Gaye. I was living in Brazil at the time so like that music was just carrying through. If you think about American media, it has so much output. It has so much influence in other media. The Brazilian media caught on to a lot of the soul, Africana, you know all of that memorabilia. Marvin Gaye, Black Sabbath...etc...hence why you have all these different varieties of music that are parallel. So we were getting the James Brown, Marvin Gay when I was growing up, in a sense that I remember that was my first discovery.

You recently posted about having some days off and working on the new record. How far are you in that process?

Nelson: I think what we’re doing is...we got back from tour and we actually recorded most of our full length LP. What we recorded this past time was just a short EP, four songs. But we got back from a four month run, and we were like man, we’re saying something with like “Funeral” and “Believer,” the shit that we have put out, and then with the LP we’re saying something, so there needed to be something that bridged the gap. So the name for the whole thing is called “Moments of Terribleness” and it’s like, four less-than-two-and-a-half-minute long songs. Like Jesus Lizard kind of chilled out, like one-two-three-four just like a punk band.

Bert: The way that I like to attribute it, is the songs come about in a very unique way. All songs come about differently.

They all have their own journey?

Bert: Yeah, and these songs specifically, Nelson has been formulating, layering dynamic for the songs and themes. The lyrics. The theme essentially. But the way that we all perceive it is very important, and I think that at the end of the day, you know like the moments of terribleness are the things that we need to start hearing nowadays. It’s so easy to do the things that are safe, but it’s so hard to look introspectively. Whether you want it to be or not, we’re in a position where we have a platform now, and we’re gonna speak about it. And the things that need to be talked about. Like you’re in media, you understand how it’s very hard to feel as a woman to have your voice heard. We’re gonna speak about you in a song.

Thanks, guys! I appreciate that!

Bert: We’re gonna speak about moments of terribleness. Like oh fuck, I’m a woman and I have to stand in line now because some dude wants to take pictures. Like no! You need to have that moment of terribleness so that you can understand that all of this, the conversation needs to move forward.

Nelson: The biggest theme in the record I think is pretty much just like we’re all a Latino band. We grew up having been taught sort of “machismo.” Like thematically the record really explores like me tearing myself down. The opening lyrics to one of the songs is “I need to cut off my hair because I need to stop pretending.” Just doing that kind of’s a very introspective punk piece. But we’re just like saying--

Luis: It’s very much so a very raw, minimalistic version of ourselves where we’re trying to express ourselves in a way that this is us, stop being a fucking asshole. We’re all fucking people. We’re all in this together. We just want something to shove in people’s faces and be like yo, stop being an asshole.

Bert: The most important thing is like I said, it’s very hard to look introspectively. So writing these songs and experiencing the music naturally kind of gives you like a mirror to look at yourself. Like there’s a saying that’s like don’t judge unless you’re ready to be judged yourself. So in that sense it’s like writing these songs and saying society is fucking shit, we look at ourselves like oh my gosh, I’ve been shit so many times you know. Deconstruct it. Deconstructing every single thing that has caused pain, and working backwards. Like literally whatever it is that does it, that’s what applies.

Nelson: The songs speak for themselves. Like Bert’s not sitting there on the mic and breaking down these themes, but I mean we like in the most simple form, in 59 seconds of a song, you’re getting that it’s funny but it’s also ok to be wrong. That’s what the whole thing is about. Moments we all have experienced… moments of terribleness. But let’s talk about it, let’s talk about being a dude. Hold yourself accountable and what we’re expected as men. Like what’s expected of women.

I was reading your bio and one sentence that stood out to me was something like finding comfort in the uncomfortable

Nelson: Yeah there’s growth in the uncomfortable.

Yeah, so having to get uncomfortable to shake things up. You already kind of touched on this, but what are some of the challenges of being blunt like that with your writing?

Luis: I think it’s a constant thing of trying to improve yourself every step of the way. Because no matter what you’re never gonna be at a perfect point like ‘I fucking figured everything out.’

Nelson: That’s like to say you can never be wrong.

Luis: It’s something we’re always working on. Like how we were talking about the machismo thing, it’s like we’re all for the most part first generation or as far as how we grew up in that sense of like breaking down that old stereotype. No matter if it’s gender or race or someone being in power….I think this is a great EP for us to put out as far as getting our voice out a little more.

Bert: It’s so simple. As far as it goes, everyone has their own choices. And again the platform runs very deeply. You can choose to do what you wish with your platform but for us it’s very important that we do what we do. As we’re talking right now, we’re smoking a joint. We’re drinking a beer. All of these things are natural to us, but people don’t really see the other side of us or our dynamics. We’re just trying to push our mentality in a way that feels a little more natural. It shouldn’t be… it’s modest. There shouldn’t be like a manual. We’re not born with anything and here we are in society with no context on how to live. Given all of these scenarios that are not necessarily right and there’s these archetypes that we have come to agree with. And it’s not ok, but the best way to do it is like hey you make yourself feel uncomfortable so you can reach a point of truth.

Exactly, so stepping out of your comfort zone, right?

Bert: One of best things is finding that peace within yourself. Like no one can affirm that for you. Like yeah we can sit here and talk about oh yeah society this, society that, but we’re looking for ways to improve ourselves when we bring these conversations up. Nobody has the answers for anything but we’re here like hey look, Mr. Police Man go fuck yourself. But we understand we also do some things wrong. We have to deconstruct. Moments of terribleness are happening everywhere.

So then you have the full length done already you said?

Nelson: Yeah we have to revisit, we just got done recording. Now I think the LP is definitely gonna take a little bit of a different shape. Now the bridge is formed and we’re like ok cool so we can now do all of these other things. Just different avenues.

Luis: I think as far as time wise we’re trying to put this EP out by the end of November, December.

This run of shows is just like an end of Summer stretch for you right?

Nelson: Yeah we’re gonna take time off I think the next couple shows are gonna be like our release or a Halloween show. Then we’ll tour for another three weeks after the release. Probably east of the Mississippi.

How do you stay entertained on the road? Are you podcast people? Or mostly listen to music?

George: We listen to music.

Bert: It kinda shifts each tour. It’s all contextual. Like we did this tour around two festivals. So essentially pretty much we’ve been pretty easy riding this tour. Nobody’s driving, we’re all kind of like hanging back doing the Nelson will be doing the business stuff on the backend . All of us like doing individual things. There are other tours that involve just having fun or buckling back and doing your work. It all kind of comes down to figuring out where you gotta be and how you’re gonna show up. Sometimes it’s cool to get drunk and sometimes it’s cool to do the job.

Nelson: For me it’s music. And writing. Listening to a lot of fucking music.

While we’re at a festival, do you have any best or worst festival memories?

Nelson: I don’t really go to festivals…

Luis: I remember Ozzfest when I was like 14. I got trampled in the mosh pit. No one picked me up.

Bert: The craziest shit that I’ve ever seen at a festival— Do y’all know Rock in Rio? So that’s like 100,000 people festival back in Brazil. But like Brazil doesn’t have a lot of festivals, so obviously like 100,000 people show up… everyone from the country goes. Black Sabbath was playing and my brother Phil snuck me in. There was a whole fucking mosh and Phil was just like yeah it’s about time you learned, you’re 13 and he throws me into the mosh. I’m like 4’11 in a fucking mosh...but after that, I knew what I wanted to do.

Stuyedeyed at Audiotree Music Festival

Stuyedeyed at Audiotree Music Festival

Wrapping this up, anything else you’re working on this year?

Luis: We’re working on a little video series for the EP coming out. They’re so short, the songs, so we made them specifically like bangers. We wanna do like a four video thing.

Nelson: Jonny Kapps….When we did the LP we documented everything, just like gathered some film. He’s the dude. He does good work. Shout out to Jonny Kapps. Great work, great human.

Anything else you want to mention. You had some good wisdom during your set!

Luis: 311. Never forget

George: Black Lives Matter.

Yeah, I loved that you said that in the beginning of your set and said to look out for each other.

Bert: There’s a lot of dumb things going on. Just read a little, listen a little bit, hug each other. You know. These bros right here put in hard work for the things that are right. Ain’t nobody trying to do things in the way that it’s perfect. It’s just you gotta reach for excellence. Nobody’s perfect but you can reach excellence for sure.

Keep up with Stuyedeyed on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Pool Holograph

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

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

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

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

Loyola University Brought Them Together

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

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

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

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

The Band Started as Wyatt’s Solo Project

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

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

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

Technology Helps Them Stay Collaborative

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

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

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

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

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

They Describe Their Sound as an Urban Outfitters Store Circa 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re Fans of Visual Artists Who Also Make Music

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

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

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

Kevin Parker Attended One of Their DJ Sets

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

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

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

Follow Pool Holograph on Twitter + Instagram + Facebook

A Chat With: Active Bird Community

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

Active Bird Community at Audiotree Festival 

Active Bird Community at Audiotree Festival 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TD: It makes no sense...

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

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

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

TD: Yes! A lot of moms taking photos…

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

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

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

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

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

Get To Know: Liz Cooper & The Stampede

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

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

They Inherited Their Great Music Taste From Their Parents

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

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

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

They're Collaborative With Other Nashville Musicians

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

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

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

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

The New Album Was Recorded In Less Than a Week

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

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

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

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

They Plot Out Their Setlist Carefully

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

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

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

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

They All Have Hidden Talents

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

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

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

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

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

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