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Filtering by Tag: Chicago Bands

Baring it All With Burr Oak: A Premiere of the New Single "Rosemary"

Sometimes your favorite songs have to grow on you, but the best songs are those that hook you during the first few seconds and after luring you in, the melody gets lodged in your head for hours after the song has ended. The debut single from Burr Oak, “Southsider,” had that effect on me the first time I listened— as soon as I heard Savanna Dickhut’s haunting, double-layered vocals, I knew this project was going to be something special.

I was first introduced to Savanna as one of the lead vocalists and songwriters of the local folk-rock group Elk Walking back in early 2018, and while that group has always given her a platform to shine, Burr Oak is an outlet that allows for listeners to absorb Savanna’s unapologetically honest musings in a way that fully belongs to her. Prior to forming Elk Walking with Julian Daniell, Savanna dabbled in collaborative writing with her band called Tigers and Tantrums during her freshman year of Columbia College, but long before that, she was writing songs just for herself. “I think the first song I wrote was probably before I even learned how to play guitar. I remember writing songs—this is so embarrassing, but I would write songs on the toilet when I was 7 or 8. They weren’t even really songs, but I would just sing on the toilet,” Savanna recalls.

Burr Oak photographed by Alexa Viscius

Burr Oak photographed by Alexa Viscius

When she was 11 years old, Savanna started playing drums, but after realizing she needed a way to write songs on an instrument, she asked for a guitar for her 8th grade graduation present. “So I was 14 and I just went on this streak of writing. I remember coming home from high school my freshman year and of course at the time I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift. Cause I’m 14 you know? I’m a 14 year old girl who just learned how to write and I remember hearing that one song on the radio— ‘Teardrops on My Guitar.’ It sounds cheesy but I was inspired by her and so I started writing songs and I would come home from high school every day and write a song,” Savanna says, adding that back then she was writing purely for the joy of it and to express herself in a no-pressure situation.

Essentially, these Burr Oak singles came about in the same way; They were inspired by feelings that Savanna had to get out for her own peace of mind, except this time she decided to share them with the world. “I started writing a lot of songs that weren’t working for Elk Walking,” she says, adding that they just weren’t the vibe of the band. “I was going through a breakup and some personal stuff, and I started writing these really sad songs. And was just listening to a lot of music that was in the sleep rock genre. When I wrote ‘Southsider,’ I knew that it just wasn’t gonna work [for Elk Walking]. So I either have this for myself and do nothing with it, or I start this new project.” Coincidentally the timing was right for Savanna to take on another project, and she also had the catalog to back it up. “It wasn’t like I just wrote that one song either...I had been writing songs for a while. I have probably an album’s worth of songs that I could put out that wouldn’t work for Elk Walking.” Ultimately, it was specifically “Southsider” that Savanna wrote that she felt like she needed to get out there, and the best way to share it would be starting her own side project. “I hit a wall creatively. I was going through depression with my breakup and I just needed to get this out there. It was selfish almost, it was for me, but also I do want to get it out there for people to listen to. I just didn’t want it to be another one of those songs that I wrote and it’s like ‘never gonna see the light of day.’ So that was really the main motivation for it,” Savanna added.

During her first experience of writing songs as a teenager, Savanna took influence from popstars like Taylor Swift, but nowadays she pulls inspiration from a more laid-back place. In addition to Julia Jacklin, Faye Webster and Weyes Blood, Savanna says she really connected to the latest album from Hand Habits, the project of Meg Duffy. “I was really inspired by Hand Habits. When their record came out, I was very inspired by that and I loved that doubling of their voice and the just kind of dreamy sound. Everything about it was just like I love this so much! So that inspired me to double my voice in pretty much all of those two tracks [“Southsider” and “Rosemary”]. I don’t know if I’m gonna keep doing that when I eventually record an EP and album, but it was something I experimented with because I just wanna have this kind of bigger sound.”

Like the haunting double vocals used on “Southsider,” Savanna’s second single “Rosemary” (which we’re premiering below) has that same ethereal effect. Fittingly, since these songs both have a dreamy quality to them, part of the melody for the second single came to Savanna in a dream. “Sometimes I’ll write from my dreams, but I never get a full song. Sometimes I do hear melodies and even lines in my dreams. So I had that dream and I kind of based the story I was telling about this person who is very consuming in your life. Somebody that I met recently that kind of just sucked all of the emotion and sucked the life out of me in a way and is with another person, but is very all-consuming of me. Obviously I knew it would be wrong to ever try to get invested in that cause I don’t need to be a part of that,” Savanna says about writing “Rosemary.” She chose to release this song and “Southsider” first because they’re the two newest of songs she’s written for Burr Oak, and songs that she currently connects with the most.

Going along with the theme of new beginnings, the live ensemble for Burr Oak is filled with some fresh faces for Savanna. Her friend Emily McDermott plays bass along with Jeff Sullivan from Elk Walking on lead guitar and Tony Mest on drums, who Savanna hadn’t worked with in the past. “It was perfect timing cause I was looking for a drummer to try to really get Burr Oak off the ground, and I wanted someone who I hadn’t really worked with before,” she says about Tony. You can catch the full band in action at our next showcase this week at The Hideout.

As far as what’s next for Burr Oak, the possibilities are endless. While the first two singles were very stripped back and very minimal (Savanna didn’t track to a metronome in order to keep the live feel), Burr Oak’s sound hasn’t been defined just yet. Talking about the recording process for “Southsider” and “Rosemary,” Savanna says, “I really just wanted it to be about my voice and the story I was telling. And not overproduced and not add too much. That’s not to say that my sound isn’t gonna develop, but at least for this debut, I wanted it to be pretty simple. I think that comes off that it’s gonna sound pretty much on the record as it does live.” Eventually, Savanna hopes to put out an EP within the year and continue to work with new people and branch out of her comfort zone. “I can’t say where or if it’s gonna be an album, but I will definitely be recording more in the next few months. I have all these songs and I really wanna get them out. But I also don’t want to overwhelm people with so much at once. People are digesting their music differently now.”

For now, dive into Burr Oak’s second single “Rosemary,” and get your tickets to the August 15th Hideout showcase here.

Keep up with Burr Oak on Instagram and Facebook

A Chat With: Clearance

Earlier this year, Chicago four piece Clearance followed up their 2015 debut with their sophomore full length: At Your Leisure. Released July 27th via Topshelf Records, the record combines bright, buoyant tones with easy-going melodies, creating the perfect laid back summer soundtrack. In recent years, the group has spent time touring around the country and even branching out to Brazil, all the while sharing stages with the likes of Widowspeak, Slowdive, and Alvvays. Although they’ve had their fair share of triumphs as a band, Clearance’s extensive history of DIY tours and the common hardships of being in an indie rock band trying to make sense of the industry is a subject that lead vocalist and principle songwriter Mike Bellis doesn’t shy away from in the songs of At Your Leisure.

The album’s release kicked off yet another tour for the band this past August, but now the band is back home and this week, they’ll play their first Chicago show since the album release show on August 3rd. Ahead of Wednesday’s show at Subterranean, where they’ll play with Hypoluxo, Goody Gel, and our pals Pool Holograph, Mike Bellis took some time to sit down and talk with me about the journey behind the album, Clearance’s place in the Chicago music scene, the metaphorical meaning to the band’s name, and more. Check it out in our chat with Clearance.

Clearance is Mike Bellis, Arthur Velez, Kevin Fairbairn, and Greg Obis // Photo courtesy of Clearance

Clearance is Mike Bellis, Arthur Velez, Kevin Fairbairn, and Greg Obis // Photo courtesy of Clearance

What was your first musical memory?

I grew up with The Beatles probably first and foremost. My parents had a lot of CDs around the house, but I think as young as three I was just kind of fixated on The Beatles, as many people are. I was very encyclopedic about it from an early age. By the time I was in first or second grade, some of my friends and I had actually made a fan zine about The Beatles, called The Beatles Hotline, which was fan lyrics and fan fiction. We were like six or seven. That was my first punk moment, making a zine.

Nice! Did you start playing music around that age too then?

Yeah I took piano lessons when I was five or six, but I started playing guitar when I was seven and just kind of stuck with that primarily ever since. There was an episode of The Wonder Years where he got an electric guitar and I finally got the nerve to be like mom, I’m getting an electric guitar. If Kevin can get a guitar, I can.

So when we first started talking about doing an interview, the Clearance record had just come out, and now it’s been a couple of months. Can you talk a little bit process behind the record, like the songwriting and where you recorded?

We recorded the record a little less than 2 years ago at this point. It’s our second LP at this point. We’ve been a band for five or six years at this point, and wee recorded with our friend Dave Vettraino.

Oh yeah, everybody works with Dave!

Yeah we’ve been working with Dave for four years now and he’s recorded the last three or four of our recordings. And he used to be roommates with our guitarist Kevin Fairbairn when Public House was still physically a thing in Logan Square. We’re comfortable recording with him because we did our last album with him and a couple singles. We recorded this record with him in a studio called Minbal, which is now called Jamdek near the West Side. We recorded at the end of 2016 and it took like a year and 9 months to come out after that. We went on tour a lot last year. We went to Brazil and supported our friends Widowspeak for 6 weeks and did a couple DIY tours. Playing it a lot, and looking for labels. Topshelf was looking to put it out this summer. It was kind of a long time coming, but sometimes you just kind of have to play the game, as it were.

I know you just did a tour in support of the album, but what have been some highlights generally of the last year or so of touring?

Brazil was certainly a highlight. We played a couple festivals. We opened for Slowdive in São Paulo, which was incredible. We’ve gotten to play-- when we book our own tours we just play with our friends in different cities. We’ve played with EZTV in New York City, our friends throughout the midwest. A lot of international bands when they come through Chicago, like Ultimate Painting and a lot of those Trouble in Mind bands. We’ve opened for maybe a dozen of their bands. Playing with Widowspeak for 6 weeks was really fun. We did a full US tour with them about a year ago now.

Nice, what would you say is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you started Clearance about five or six years ago? Either a life lesson or a music business lesson.

Don’t put too much stock in other people handling things for you. Because for better or worse, my experience has shown me that I’m gonna be the only one that really cares too much about it. So don’t wait for other people to validate what you’re making, just keeping moving forward. Be confident in what it is that you’re doing, and it’s a weird kind of moment with indie rock. It’s certainly not a big money maker to be playing guitar pop and guitar rock these days, but if it’s what you want to do, just kind of look to yourself and don’t put out too many external signifiers for validation. You’re not gonna get them, probably.

So how does the songwriting process between you an the band generally work? Is it you who does most of the writing?

Yeah, I write the songs and then I’ll demo them or whatever with a four track or on my own. When I bring them to the band we kind of interpret them as a group. This time around, I ended up playing a lot of the music on the record. I played the bass on the record and I played a lot of the guitar. We’ve done more live stuff in the past, but Greg Obis wasn’t in the band at the moment when we were recording this record because he was touring with another band at the moment. So I ended up doing bass. Usually when I’m bringing songs to the band, it’s just a matter of I have an idea of what the song should be, and then I bring it to them and they kind of color it in.

Basically you do the outline and they fill in the lines?

Yeah, I think especially in the last year and a half, since the time that we started recording this record and the time that we’ve spent putting it out, we played well over a hundred shows. We really sound like a four piece now in a way that we always hoped to.

Yeah, it’s evolved as you’ve played more together right?

It’s a little more automatic now and when we record again, it will be a little more reflective of that. I won’t be leaning so hard on my own ideas of how these songs should sound. Certainly when were making this one, the guys filled in the gaps of what I’d written.

I’m sure it’s different for each song, but as far as influences go, do you usually prefer not to listen to other music and kind of do it all as personal experiences, or do you ever go outside of yourself for inspiration?

I just went to New Zealand and Australia right before recording this record, and I’ve always been a fan of New Zealand indie rock from the 80s and 90s, the current crop of Australian indie rock bands, which I think is the ground zero of guitar pop at the moment. So many good bands coming out of Melbourne in particular. So I’ve always been influenced by that, and I think all of us in the band have, but I’m not…I’m certainly guilty of being influenced by the things that I listen to, but I also don’t let that weigh down too many things in the end. It’s always gonna end up sounding like you or the band anyways. You can get fixated aesthetically on some kinds of things and try to hit them, but I think in general we were more influenced by making a pretty straight forward guitar pop record. A couple of the songs are more straightforward like a band like Ultimate Painting or Omni that we’re friends with, something like White Fence and Tim Presley making more retro throwback, 60’s Brit Pop stuff. But a little bit off, like more influenced by Faust and interesting krautrock elements. It sounds very straight forward, but it’s influenced by more out there sounds.

Do you ever find yourself looking to books or films, where you read it or watch it and think oh I should write a song about that?

I think just in terms of like a mindset or an approach. I’m really influenced by Ray Davies and his skepticism not only towards the music industry, but just convention in general. His kind of irreverent attitude, no one’s really been better at doing that than him. But when we were writing this record, it was a lot about our experience of doing this as a band. Indie rock and touring and kind of like a dispatch from the DIY world we’ve been participating in and taking an irreverent look at that and star making machinery that the indie rock world is not immune to. I think Ray Davies has been someone I’ve always looked to. People like Stephen Malkmus are good at that too. Just kind of thumbing their nose at the pageantry of it all, even though you’re still beholden to all of the forces. But you can’t take it too seriously.

So I recently interviewed your friends Pool Holograph, and I asked them to compare their music to an inanimate object. They said Pool Holograph is a closed a Urban Outfitters store in 2008. What would Clearance’s music be?

That’s very specific! I don’t know, we kind of have a ready made capital image. Every time you see a sales rack, you see a clearance sign. That certainly was in mind when we came up with the band name, cause it’s pretty ubiquitous. It’s everywhere, but it’s also just like, it shows the absurdity of how we value things. Something that would have full price like a week ago is now 80% off so it’s kind of that contrast is something that resonated when I was thinking about that band. It’s all about context and what you bring to something. To answer the question directly, though, I would say literally any clearance section. There’s a negative capability there that you project value onto something you know. Or you’re beholden to the value that capitalism or the system gives it. So it’s like you know I think there’s a mirror going on there.

So talking more about the music scene then, there’s a specific conversation going on after The Orwells disbanding about making the scene safer in general. So what would you say are your goals as a band to make sure you play a part in that?

Yeah totally. Everybody that we’ve surrounded ourselves with have always been inclusive and progressive and everybody that we know and play with sort of has a zero tolerance for that shit. If you would have asked me four, five, six years ago what I thought about The Orwells, it probably wouldn’t have changed. I think most people had them pegged for what they were a long time ago. Obviously now that people are speaking out about it, they need to be heard and it’s pretty horrifying.

What would you like to see as a band here going forward or what do you think venues can do to make sure shows remain safe spaces?

Speaking personally, we always prefer to play bills that have women or non-binary people. It’s boring when it’s an all white male bill and it’s like you’re playing into an echo chamber at that point. It’s not as good of a show. There’s something to be said for having more voices on a bill every time. With the exception of maybe two or three bills in my memory of at least 100 shows that we’ve played, there have been women on the bill or trans individuals. It makes for a better show. It’s not a box we’re trying to check, it’s a better show. It’s objectively better when you are drawing upon a larger group of people. It includes more people in the audience, it gives the audience more people to listen to, and it’s a better experience for everyone. Performers and audiences. There’s no room for exclusivity.

Yeah, I put on ANCHR showcases occasionally, so that’s something I’ve been trying to be more conscious of. I’ve had so many all white male bills and I need to change that. Last night I had a showcase with Seasaw, a female duo from Madison, and it just felt so much better to have that diversity.

We deal with that very personally, cause we’re an all white, straight male band. Very cookie cutter, very traditional, and there’s more responsibility as someone that is like that. We embrace that responsibility. We absolutely should be people that are leading that change from within that traditional framework. This is what our band happened to be, fully realizing that’s not the most vital voice that needs to be heard right now. We’re just doing our thing and while we’re in this world, we’re gonna be extra conscious that we’re including as many voices as possible.

That’s awesome. While we’re on that subject, anyone that you want to shout out like any new artists you’d like to put the spotlight on that we should all check out?

Everyone in Chicago is doing really good stuff. Lillie from Lala Lala put out a great record yesterday. She’s phenomenally talented. OHMME just put out a new record. I’ve been friends with Sima for almost twenty years now, I grew up with her in Chicago. I think the Chicago music scene has become a little bit different in the past few years. It’s not quite as vibrant a house show scene as it was a few years ago, with some prominent places closing. But that’s just kind of the nature of it. It always changes and as people like us get older, we’re gonna get out of touch with what’s going on. There are great new houses that have been popping up. There continues to be incredible music being played everywhere. Marbled Eye from Oakland is a favorite of ours. Some Melbourne bands like School Damage… Trouble in Mind continues to put out great stuff. Nap Eyes...Omni. Ethers. They’re friends of ours! There’s tons of great bands on our label Topshelf, which is based on the west coast. Ratboys is a Chicago band on that label.

Lots of great recommendations there! Do you frequently DJ too? [Mike had just wrapped up a DJ set at Big Star]

It’s more like a side hustle.

What are some of your favorite records to spin?

It depends where I’m at. We’re at Big Star right now, full disclosure, so you play a little bit more country rock or country adjacent stuff. Like Arthur Russell or weird Neil Young records. I try to play like the obscure records from major artists. Like a weird 80s Dylan record or like 80s Neil Young. Just play things that I think are interesting. And then I throw in things like The Feelies or like a weird Alex Chilton single. I typically play all that stuff plus some early post punk, late 70’s stuff. Just the stuff that I listen to in general. Gang of Four. Wire. A lot of new records too. I’ve played some Omni here, a live Ultimate Painting record…

Where’s your favorite place to shop for records?

I used to live around here, so I would shop at Permanent when it was still Permanent Records. It is now Joyride Records. I live in Pilsen now. But Reckless is great. Any good mom and pop record store, and there are a lot in Chicago.

So wrapping up, what else are you looking forward to throughout the end of the year?

We have a couple of local shows in November and December. I’d like to start working on another LP. We’re not touring a lot at the moment cause we’ve done the DIY tour grind like 10 times now. It’s hard to keep pushing that boulder up the hill. So we’re gonna be a little bit more deliberate about when we tour and what opportunities we take. In the meantime, just working on new material and getting our shit together at home.

Cool, any last closing comments?

Support local artists. Believe survivors. This has been a weird week. I think that’s been on the mind of everyone. Speaking personally it’s just a matter of reaching out to those survivors in your life and take stock of all that, and value their voices.

Grab tickets to see Clearance on Wednesday night, October 24th here and keep up with them on Facebook + Twitter + 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, 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

Catching Up With: White Mystery

If you're at all familiar with the Chicago music scene, you've undoubtedly seen White Mystery out and about over the years. The sibling duo of Alex and Francis White still manage to pack a serious punch with all of their live performances, despite only being a two-piece band. In addition to developing a full live show between the two of them, Alex and Francis have remained completely hands on with all aspects of the band, from management to booking tours to sending press releases...they do it all. In between all of that hustle, the pair still find time to put out an album every year on April 20th. Their latest, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, marks their eighth studio album, and their ninth is on the way in 2018. In the midst of working on new music, playing shows, and gearing up for tour, the duo developed their own TV show called (you guessed it)... White Mystery TV! The show has featured artists from all corners of the local Chicago scene and just wrapped its first season (but more on that later). Before White Mystery start their tour along the east coast and midwest this Friday, we chatted with Miss Alex White after their set at The Slippery Slope Anniversary party last weekend. Here are six things you need to know to get caught up with White Mystery!

Photo Credit:  Diane Alexander White

Photo Credit: Diane Alexander White

Their Influences Provided "Permission By Example" 

While strolling down memory lane trying to pinpoint what first inspired her to pick up an instrument, Alex White describes two distinct childhood memories. "When I was pretty young, my mom would take me to the dollar store, called Amazing Savings. And they had discount tape cassettes of oldies music. Like all the great one hit wonders from the 60's, and I really really loved those songs," Alex recalls. She continues describing her journey to rock 'n'roll, saying, "As far as the moment that inspired me to start playing rock 'n' roll….And I’ve said this a couple times too because it was just that distinct of a moment that I remember... I was in fourth grade, and my parents were repurchasing their old record collections on CDs 'cause CDs were like a new invention, you know? I heard The Who for the first time, and the album was Who’s Next by The Who. It’s the classic song “Baba O'Riley,” which is like [singing] 'Teenage Wasteland...' And that song just really connected with me. Where I was like I need to play guitar, this is so cool!"

The inspiration continued through Alex's teen years, where she found influence in other bands. "If you flash forward a little bit...Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. I heard Sonic Youth and I was like I can do this! This is so great, this is so powerful. It’s a female singer, she’s playing guitar, it’s experimental...I really believe in permission by example. You see something and you’re like oh yeah, I could do that! Maybe better, or differently. And Sonic Youth really did that for me when I was about 14 or 15," Alex says. She also reveals that some of her artistic and musical talent stems from somewhere down her family tree. "My mom played piano as a very young person, but her job is being a photographer. My grandfather, who passed away when I was like 5, really young, he played mandolin. So he never showed me how to play, and I don’t even have memories of him playing...But, I’m convinced that I’m genetically predisposed to having really fast fingers and that kind of thing. So while I didn’t know him very well and he never taught me, I feel that the heritage lended to it," she says. 

They're Always Up for the DIY Hustle

In addition to rocking the stage all by themselves, Alex and Francis White know how to work the DIY system as a band...and man do they work hard! Talking about the benefits and challenges that they face being an independent band, taking on multiple roles, Alex says, "Well like anything there’s pros and cons to being DIY. The biggest pro is that when you take on multiple roles, like when you become the management, the licensing agent, the booking agent, and the art director... and the the creative force, you can make a career out of it." She continues to give major props to her brother Francis, saying it's very much a partnership. For any struggling musicians or music industry professionals, just remember Alex's "permission by example" principle and look at how she has earned a living with White Mystery. 

"This has been my job full time for 7 years. It’s a very bohemian lifestyle. I work really fucking hard and all day long, but in the comfort of my own home or on tour with a laptop," Alex continues, vouching for the DIY lifestyle.  However, she does also recognize the potential downfalls. "The disadvantage is that it can be very challenging to penetrate these very established systems. Something like Lollpalooza...While we play big ass shows in Chicago, we played in Japan, we’ve been in Sundance Film Festival movies. We’ve played with Patti Smith and The Stooges many times. We played Riot Fest...for some reason it’s been damn near impossible to get into Lolla, while we’ve put 8 albums out," Alex continues. She still manages to see the positive side of the situation and brace herself for the challenges, adding, "So there’s certain things, but I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges."

Video Games Inspired White Mystery TV

Well kind of...For the past month, White Mystery have invited different artists and musicians around Chicago over to talk, play music, and play video games. All while broadcasting live; hence the name White Mystery TV. Talking about the origin of this clever concept, Alex says, " I have to give my brother Francis credit for it. He plays a lot of video games, and there’s this network called Twitch. It seems like a lot of people in the rock scene aren’t very familiar with it...It’s the second largest streaming service on planet earth. World wide." Alex continues on to say that there's been times on tour where she and Francis wished they could share their view with friends and family back home. "Before Facebook Live and Instagram was more like us driving through the Swiss Alps thinking this is so crazy and so beautiful, I wish we could show people back home what this looks like," she says.

The inspiration to launch WTV also stemmed from their past work on a White Mystery film, called "That Was Awesome." Alex says their past work on that film coupled with their desire to share their experiences beyond their live concerts helped push the project forward. "We’re realizing wow, our worldwide audience is able to watch us. So while there might be 100 people at the show, there might be 1000 people watching," she continued. Talking more about the show itself, Alex says, "It took a long time to develop it because of the technology required to make the infrastructure. It’s not like 'Hey I have an iPhone..” let me hold it up to something. It’s a little more sophisticated. So when people are watching they’re getting a little more of the Wayne’s World basement thing, but what we’ve done is bring all of our favorite musicians on. So people are like wow, that’s so great you have so many cool local musicians. Like The Orwells...Mario [Cuomo] was one episode one. Twin Peaks are freakin’ huge!" The show has also had rappers like ShowYouSuck, Joseph Chilliams, Mykele Deville, as well as newer buzzy bands like Bunny and Post Animal. "We’ve been trying to represent the city of Chicago so that we can share what’s going on here with our audience in like Germany and Japan. It’s been a really cool thing and they’re all archived on YouTube so you can watch them again. They’re like each 3 hours long," Alex concluded. Make sure you tune into Season 2 when it starts!

They've Witnessed the Peaks and Valleys of the Chicago Scene

Speaking of representing the local Chicago scene on White Mystery TV, Alex and I also discussed some of her favorite parts of the scene at the moment, and how it has gone through cycles. "Chicago is a very special place. I’m born and raised here in the city. Having gone to New York and LA and San Francisco...Chicago is a very supportive, cooperative scene. There’s a lot of idea exchange and support," Alex says. 

"I guess what I love most is the mutual support people give each other, and that goes across the arts. That goes to comedians. DJs. Actors and Actresses. Everybody is like 'I’d love to help you with that.' It’s not this cut throat thing. There’s friendly competition where we push each other higher. But the community is full of support," she continued. 

This principle of helping each other out and lifting each other up can be seen just on White Mystery TV alone, when genres are mixed and collaborations extend to poets and performing artists, not just musicians. It's also demonstrated in Lollapalooza performances here, like when Joey Purp showed up for a song with Whitney. "It’s genre bending," Alex says before shouting out her favorite venues in the city. "I love the Empty Bottle. The DIY scene is very, very strong. There’s a new one every time. I’m kind of older than a lot of people in the scene. So how you were saying 'Wow, Chicago’s really popping right now…” I’ve seen several cycles take place. There was a point when I was younger when a place like The Empty Bottle would not book rock shows. They would only book very kind of indie stuff. I’ve seen it with highs and lows. And it’s always good, and there’s always stuff happening, but there’s definitely times where it’s thriving and that’s cool to watch," she says.

I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.
— Alex White on Being a DIY Musician

They Stay Entertained on the Road By Reading Wikipedia Pages

Since they're gearing up for tour (starting tonight), Alex and Francis discussed how they stay entertained on the road and what they're looking forward to on this particular run. Although Francis had been loading out for most of the interview with Alex, he jumped in for this question. 

"Reading Wikipedias is a very interesting way to observe a story of a person or place or event," Francis chimed in about their road trip habits. Off the back of that, Alex says, "I read books to him for hours at a time. I recently read the entire Mount Everest Into Thin Air book to him. I read the whole thing. We read Wikipedias...He drives, and I’ll read. Hours will go by. We’ll be like oh my gosh, you know that was 3 hours. Sometimes you read these biographies of like James Brown and you’re like crying at the end. You’ve started with the moment they were born and gone through their whole life, to the moment they died. It’s very emotional to go on that trek."

Although they educate themselves on the road by reading, the biggest lesson from touring and playing music is unrelated to Wikipedia and books. "I never really had to learn this lesson, it was just something we knew, but don’t leave your guitar or money in the car. Don’t leave your passports. Or the stuff you need. Ever," Francis says. Alex and Francis both emphasized the importance of knowing when to stick together and not splitting up while on the road. 

As far as where they're most excited to play on this run? "Meltasia," both of them said in unison when I asked. "I’m looking forward to Meltasia, but I’m mostly looking forward to the drive into Meltasia cause for my sister and I, it’s always a really special drive where we blast Led Zeppelin...we’re going deep into the woods, further and further and further away. Usually all we have is a case of beer and that’s it. No tents, no water, and we just know we’re gonna hang as long as we can, and shotgun as many beers as we can. The build up to it is one of my favorite feelings throughout the whole year," Francis elaborated. "It’s the anticipation of getting there. It’s the journey. A lot of people have told that to me in my life, and now I really, really believe that," Alex chimed in. 

Despite Her Vintage Style, Alex Admits She's Bad at Thrifting

Again, if you've seen White Mystery around, chances are you've noticed Miss Alex White's incredible retro inspired style, and no one pulls it off as well as she does! Fortunately for Alex, she's able to acquire most of her clothes, she says, admitting that she's not actually that great at thrifting. "A lot of my stuff just comes from my friends. I get a lot of custom made clothing now. When I went to The Grammys I had this amazing custom made jumpsuit. I was the Vice President of the Recording Academy for the Midwest. So I’d go to the Grammys and get to walk the red carpet with all these cool clothes," Alex reveals.

Alex also gave her mom props for being a great thrifter, even though that didn't pass down to Alex.  "What I love shopping for is shoes. These shoes, they’re just really practical and comfy, just wood platforms...I’ve had so many versions of this kind of shoe. We were in Beverly Hills and we played on late night television, The Carson Daly Show. After we were walking around Beverly Hills. I was like oh, a shoe store, cool! I go in there and find these, they’re made in Portugal, I was like oh, I like ‘em...once in awhile treat yourself. So I bought these shoes, I left the store, and I look at the storefront and see this is like an old lady shoe store. I just bought shoes from like an orthopedic shoe store," she recalled. 

Alex's once last piece of style advice? "I don’t buy vintage shoes...vintage clothes, but never vintage shoes. I was crossing the street once in a vintage pair of shoes, and my heel broke, and I wiped out on the street. I was like never again!"

Check out all of White Mystery's tour dates below and keep up with them on social media.

White Mystery: Facebook. Twitter. Instagram

09/01/17   Experimental Procedures Chelsea, MI Details
09/02/17   Happy Dog Euclid Tavern Cleveland, OH Details
09/03/17   Arsenal Lanes Pittsburgh, PA Details
09/04/17   The Pharmacy Philadelphia, PA Details
09/07/17   St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY Details
09/10/17   Meltasia Fest East Durham, NY Details
09/11/17   Bug Jar Rochester, NY Details
09/13/17   State Street Pub Indianapolis, IN Details
09/15/17   Trumpet Blossom Iowa City, IA Details 
09/16/17   Farnam Fest Omaha, NE Details
09/22/17   Ingenuity Fest Cleveland, OH Details

Also- Listen to White Mystery's 8th album Fuck Your Mouth Shut below!

Get To Know: Sedgewick

The three members of Chicago's own Sedgewick have been through quite the journey since they first released their debut EP Gardens in 2015. First off, the group expanded when Jake Hawrylak joined founding members Sam Brownson and Oliver Horton. Secondly, the group has worked to broaden and reinvent their style of music. Cumulating influences from all different corners of R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, and Alternative genres and sub-genres, the trio have built a sound that's completely their own. With this distinct new sound comes a rebirth of sorts and a fresh slate for the group to take their music to different venues around their hometown and on tour. 

Last month before Brownson, Hawrylak, and Horton took the stage at SPACE in Evanston to support Family and Friends, I met up with them to talk not only about their new album, but the journey leading up to it. Find out which groundbreaking albums inspired them, what challenges they faced, what they love about the Chicago scene and more in our talk with Sedgewick. 

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

The New Album Hasn't Gone According To Plan...

But not in a bad way, the band say. While the album that the three members of Sedgwick set out to make may have been left behind long ago, the band are all extremely proud and happy with how their finished product has come out, even though it's far from what they first envisioned. Oliver Horton shared his take on the recording process saying, "It’s been really exhausting. It’s a lot of hard work. But it’s gratifying work. It feels really good to get these in some sort of place where we can send them off to people and be really proud about it. I’m super proud of it. I really think it’s gonna accomplish what we want it to. A lot of planning for this has just all sort of fallen by the wayside. What we planned to do with it." Horton continued on to reflect about the effect on the band that this change in route had, saying, "That alone has created a bond between the three of us that we’ve never had before. Sort of dealing with that, dealing with that totally unexpected has caused us to grow deeper together. I think that’s really starting to show up in the record. It’s been really interesting. Just rolling with the punches and seeing what we can come up with."

Jake Hawrylak echoed that sentiment on the recording process, adding, "It’s been very eye opening. It’s been very enlightening in a lot of ways. Hands down the biggest thing any of us have been a part of, not just in terms of budget, but in terms of scope. In terms of sounds… I think where we’re at on a personal level too." Sam Brownson weighed in on the biggest challenges of the process, saying for him the mixing proved to be the most difficult. "The hardest thing is to draw the line for yourself and as a group and saying this expresses what we want it to. And also being ok with saying if it doesn’t we can’t control how it’s gonna affect someone that listens to it. It’s a lot of trusting instincts. I’ve learned how to sit down over the course of recording and just do what feels good," Brownson said. 

Their Influences Range From Bon Iver to Frank Ocean 

In addition to the departure from Plan A, the band have also had a departure from the strictly folk sound of their EP. Their live set opening up for Family and Friends incorporated so many layers and took so many twists and turns. Before they performed, the band gave a little bit of insight as to where that influence stems from. 

Brownson shared his influences, saying, "When the Dirty Projectors record came out, I....that changed how I thought about mixing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of hip hop music lately... Like SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s new record. From a mixing perspective, the space that those records create are very influential."

Hawrylak also found some specific influence from Kendrick Lamar and other artists. He shared his insight on specific records that made his year, adding, "It’s been interesting to me to watch a lot of the bands we play with and a lot of Chicago industry people who keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something like Damn. comes along. Or A Seat at the Table or Blond and they’re very much---[they] needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative. Or on the non-hip hop side, the new Fleet Foxes that just came out is very much a record. The songs exist in their own framework, or one thing at a time. But there’s this specific arc that I think it captures. Which is so much of what was enjoyable when I really started to get into music. The records and getting lost in the world it creates. 22, A Million, the Bon Iver record, huge one for me last year." 

Brownson interjected to say that they listened to that Bon Iver record a lot while making their record. Hawrylak continues, "'Creeks' was one of the more frustrating songs I’ve ever heard. That was a sound that we wanted on the record. Then that came out and we were like that’s exactly what we were trying to do." Tying back into the change in path for the album, Brownson says, "It’s also a credit to how much space this record has spanned for us. Cause we were in the studio when 22 A Million came out. Since then, Dirty Projectors. Damn. I just remember seeing like all that stuff came out and saying wow, this has been a journey."

Hawrylak says the band are also able to measure their own personal growth through these records and how they've evolved for him as a listener. "Blond is a great example. That record meant something very different to me when it came out to like a year later. Particularly to that album, half of the songs I loved and half of them were like ah whatever. Then in that year, I’ve come around to see what was brilliant about those other songs," he said. Brownson echoed that, saying, "I think that over the course of the year...the advantage of making a record over the course of a long time is that you internalize what’s going on around you. You can’t help but be influenced by the trends, or the energy and culture going around. I feel like that was very--initially you think you want to get it out right away. Which, I think there’s merit to that, but I also think there’s something about sitting and letting it marinate and you as a creator, listen and try to understand its relevance. So that’s been very cool."

They Consider Chicago's Music Scene Eclectic and Collaborative

Although Hawrylak disagrees with some fellow Chicago musicians who think the record is dead, the band are all very appreciative of the collaborative scene that Chicago is known for. As far as his favorite musicians, he says, " Astro Samurai is like one of the coolest bands I’ve seen. They call themselves 'Third Eye R&B.' They’re working on something special." After Brownson interjected to show his appreciation for NoName, who they don't know personally but very much admire, Hawrylak eagerly agreed that the Chicago poet and rapper is one of his favorites as well. 

Hawrylak continued on to say, "Saba is another one. We did a Sofar Sounds with David Ashley. He was the MC. He was really cool. For me so much of what’s cool is it’s rooted in poetry in a very particular way. NoName came up in the local After School Matters program. There’s a very distinct cadence to her flow that comes from that. It’s casual and maybe that’s what I like about the Chicago scene. It’s casual and eclectic. Like NoName is casually rattling off this fucking rapid fire, weird twist of images, then she starts singing and then she goes back. Jamila Woods is another one! Good god!"

Brownson then called attention to the spirit behind so many of these up and coming artists in Chicago, saying, "I think for me, the collaborative spirit and friendship. From what I read about NoName, she’s got a lot of people and this music community where they all look out for each other and help each other out. That’s just not the way I was brought up to think about the music industry. Just a group of friends getting together making good music? It was always like, sell your soul so you can continue to do this. Instead of saying no I want to have deep relationships with people. That’s part of the reason why I connect so deeply with her music, and Chance and Saba and all those people because they invite you in. It’s just this spirit of friendship."

Horton concurred with his bandmates observations on the city's spirit, saying, "It’s a small city! Especially considering the music scene." Bouncing off that small city sentiment, Hawrylak said, "Look at like the people on Acid Rap. It’s all Chicago people. It’s the whole record. That was my first exposure to the scene. I was playing bass with a guy named Brendan Forrest, he goes by B. Forrest. He’s friends with a lot of the Sidewalk Chalk people, who connected me to Jude [Shuma]. When I met Brendan, he needed a bass player, and we got connected. He started showing me his tunes and first record he came out with, was every other track was with somebody. Now he’s working on a new one, and every track is about collaboration."

Brownson wrapped up his take on the Chicago scene saying, "If you just are a good person, it pays off. Even if you don’t make big bucks, you’re gonna be happy with your relationships. If you decide I just want to make good art for the right reasons... I want people to hear it, but I’m not gonna fight and shove it down people's throats to make a dollar."

Horton chimed in with an influence of his who holds similar values, saying, "Another musician for me, is Jamie Chamberlin. He’s been a huge mentor to me. He has exemplified exactly what an old guy on the scene needs to be doing. I’ve seen a lot of musicians treat each other really poorly. It’s amazing to see a dog as old as him and how frequent he’s been on the scene, how lovely he is to be around. You can tell he’s an amazing human being. He honestly cares about you when you show up to a gig. Seeing that has made me realize what’s so amazing about music. Treating people with respect. Giving them integrity when you speak to them. Making sure everybody is held accountable for what needs to be said. I feel like that has really taken a ramp up at least in our band, as far as accountability and integrity. Seeing that roll around all these really cool scenes in Chicago is really interesting to me."

They Describe Their Live Show as Intentional Disorientation

At the Friends and Family show, the band performed the entirety of the new album to the crowd. Talking more about the set, Hawrylak said, "We’re kind of doing the whole record backwards, which is funny. I think. I’m really liking the ones that sound bigger than they should. I like the ones that take people by surprise when we have a lot of other loops and stuff going on. We were just on tour back home where I’m from, in New Mexico. One of the cooler things that one of my friends said was that she didn’t know where anything was coming from after a while. It was hard to tell who was creating what sound. I think I like getting in that space of intentional disorientation." 

Although they managed to create this layered and intense live set now, Hawrylak admits it's quite challenging to get there at times. "The way we play the songs live is a little different.  For better or for worse. We’ve been running into a lot of problems with sound guys when we pull out this upright, these synthesizers, all this gear...they’re like what the hell? And they’re immediately mad. Then after check, they start to kind of get that it’s supposed to be a little different. With the record we’re kind of trying to balance how do we make it it’s own thing that’s still a faithful representation in the live set. Cause we have strings and a choir and all this other stuff on the record. Live, it’s just the three of us," he said.

Brownson mentions some highlights of their recent live shows. Talking about their recent tour, he said, "We got to see Jake’s hometown. The music was incredible. The shows were incredible. But I think we all kind of had time to just spend time together as people and talk more about what and why we do music. Why we love and respect ourselves. Why it’s important to do that. In the process getting to know Jake and also Oliver who was going through some stuff. We were all going through stuff together. That relationship is a huge part of why this record feels so good and it’s a huge part of why the show is how it is because of this energy."

Industry people keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something like ‘Damn.’ comes along. Or ‘A Seat at the Table’ or ‘Blond’ and they’re very much—-needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative.
— Jake Hawrylak on making a proper record

There's a Lot More to Come in 2017 for Sedgewick 

The band is obviously ready to get the record out to listeners, but they're also ready for what goes along with a proper album release. Hawrylak elaborates, saying, "I am excited about putting out the record. It’s been a long time coming and it’ll be good to have it out in whatever form. I’m most excited about the new perception we can give people of ourselves. A lot of the songs on the EP were just completely different from where we are going with the record. I wasn’t in this band for the EP, so I can’t say much more than I like the songs. But I’m really proud of what this record has become. I’m really proud of a lot of the journey that became of it. I want to share it! We did three different tours to wet our feelers in the name of this record. I’m kind of ready to start going out and bringing it to people."

Horton reveals what he's most excited for with the upcoming release, and even afterwards saying, "I’m really psyched for scheduling and doing the PR and making sure we’re really super ready to have a huge release show. We’re really looking forward to cultivating something that nobody has ever seen before. Maybe more importantly, I’m getting super stoked to get back in the creative process with these people. Whenever that is, I think the next whatever it is, it’s gonna be much more webbed together. It’s gonna feel really good to create something again. These songs at this point are like...we’ve recreated them so many times. One of the tunes is four or five years old. We’re ready to just wipe the slate and start over." 

The band continue on to say they're currently performing songs that have been around for over three years, but they still feel fresh thanks to arrangements they're worked out. They also admit they're at peace with the process taking as long as they need, saying, "We’re no longer at the point where we just want to put out the record when it’s done. We kind of want to raise some interest. And do it right. Put it in the right hands."

The trio don't have a definite release date, but they're just enjoying the process. "That’s really important. I’m looking forward to having a fresh ear for new things and I feel like this record has been--what’s great about it is, this whole thing is a process. [The record] reflects the process. The process has led us to some really cool things for the next project as well. That’s what this record is-- it encapsulates an evolution in itself. I’m excited to share that," Brownson concluded. 

Photo Gallery of Sedgewick at SPACE

Sedgewick will performing at The Beat Kitchen this Sunday, August 6th to celebrate the release of their single "To Fold" from the upcoming album. Tickets start at $10 and you can grab them here

Catching Up With The Autumn Defense

It's rare that you'll find a festival that has the same artists perform multiple times in one weekend, while still providing completely unique and once in a lifetime performances. Enter Eaux Claires, Pat Sansone, and John Stirratt. Sansone and Stirratt performed twice on Friday as The Autumn Defense, before closing out Saturday with Wilco's headlining slot. In the early evening on Saturday before Wilco battled the oncoming storm for the final set of TROIX, the Chicago music veterans talked about their Eaux Claires experience, balancing multiple music projects, and working with other artists. Here are five things we learned while catching up with The Autumn Defense. 

Patrick Sansone and John Stirratt of The Autumn Defense at Eaux Claires 2017

Patrick Sansone and John Stirratt of The Autumn Defense at Eaux Claires 2017

They Were Shocked At Their Crowd Turnout

The Autumn Defense got cozy with the crowd in the woods twice during the festival's first day, playing The Oxbeaux Stage, which sits in the middle of the forest as a hidden gem. The pair discuss their favorite part of their two sets. "I enjoyed the fact that there were a lot more people there than I expected. I knew we were gonna be playing on a small stage in the woods. It was very much how I pictured it, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many people came and listened to us. It was a great crowd...a beautiful setting," Pat Sansone reflected. 

John Stirratt adds his praise of the festival in general and how great they've done on setting the scene, saying, "I think they’ve done a better job, much like a lot of the smaller European festivals that seem to be more of the trend now. What they do is they really focus on the spaces where people are and try to make some kind of gear or nighttime lighting in the woods. You see that at Green Man in England. I think just really concentrating on the spaces and how it looks in the daytime and the nighttime...There’s a magic quality to that, especially in the woods here." 

Sansone says he 100 percent agrees with Stiratt's observation, adding, "Yeah, curating such a good feeling, it takes care and it takes vision. The immediate feel of those things when you come here..." 

Their Collaboration Wish List is Endless

In addition to the magical and beautiful setting that the team behind Eaux Claires curates, there is a strong focus on collaboration and improvisation between bands on the line up. Wilco alone had multiple spin off groups at Eaux addition to Stirratt and Sansone performing as The Autumn Defense, there were also sets from Tweedy and cup, featuring Wilco members. Sansone and Stirratt discuss other possible collaborations between musicians on the lineup and themselves. 

"I’ve never played with Jenny Lewis. That would be fun to do something with her," Stirratt says, mentioning that they're friends so it's weird they have yet to collaborate.  "I just ran into Leslie Feist, and we worked with her on a Wilco song...she sings on Wilco song. It’d be great to do something with her again. So many great people. Justin [Vernon]," Sansone chimes in. Stirratt also suggests playing with Aaron Dessner before Sansone throws out the possibility of working with Chance. "I think Autumn Defense and Chance The Rapper could really find some common ground. I think we could kind of give him the bump that he needs to get out there, on a bigger platform," he joked. Funnily enough, after the interview, I stopped by the merch booth and noticed they had separated headliners Wilco and Chance The Rapper merch from the rest of the artists' and festival merchandise. Maybe that's a sign that something could work out between the Chicago musicians. After all, anything's possible at Eaux Claires. 

Speaking of epic collaborations, Sansone and Stirratt gave their suggestion of a cross between some of the other musicians on the 2017 line up. "It’d be cool to see Paul Simon and John Prine link up. That’d be pretty historic," Sansone says. 

They Rely On Muscle Memory For Their Different Projects

Working in multiple active projects has got to be tough to keep up with, but Stirratt says they've got the routines down. "It’s kind of, at least for me, it’s kind of like we’ve played with both entities for so long, there’s a lot of muscle memory there. We bring in the Autumn Defense guys, and really, we’ve played long enough with them, all it takes is one short jam and they’re right back. It’s really wonderful, and quite economical too. So you can do these things without really dedicated rehearsal days and rehearsal spaces. You can make it kind of informal. Wilco sort of does that as well. It’s definitely great to have that history with all those folks," he says. 

They're "Looking Towards Looking Towards" A New Album

It's been a minute since the 2014 of The Autumn Defense's fifth album, appropriately titled Fifth, but it might not be too long before a sixth LP is in the works.  Sansone talks more about the current status of new music from The Autumn Defense, saying, "We haven’t really started looking towards a new album yet. We’re looking towards looking towards a new album right now. It’s been a busy couple years since we put out our last one. With Wilco, and John and I have other projects that we’ve been consumed with. It’s definitely something that’s close to us, and we’re looking forward to when we can carve out that time." So while the process of the new album isn't really in motion yet, at least it's at the front of Sansone and Stirratt's minds. 

As far as their writing process when inspiration does hit, Stirratt says, "I tend to write really for Autumn Defense only. I used to contribute songs for Wilco over time and I realized it wasn’t the best use of my time. For a long time it’s been for The Autumn Defense. That’s the main writing outlet that I have. I personally can’t delineate where it goes." 

They're Still In On The Chicago Scene

Although Sansone and Stirratt have been touring the world with Wilco, they still manage to keep up with some hometown musicians. While talking about some of their favorite newer or up and coming Chicago artists, Stirratt says, "Well Whitney is way beyond up and coming, but that record [Light Upon the Lake] was a big record for me last year."

Sansone shares his new local favorites, saying, "There’s a guy named, well the project is named Jagged Jaw, and it’s one guy. His name is Bobby Lord, and he had a record that came out last year. He does everything himself. Self released. It’s really great. I produced a record for his previous band which was called Future Monarchs, and he kind of went off in secret and made this record. I was just completely blown away. I hear he’s working on a new record. He’s keeping it very under the radar." 

Although Sansone and Stirratt have been making music professionally for years, they say that newer artists probably have a leg up on them despite all their experience. "It’s a whole new world. I kind of feel like a lot of these musicians and younger bands probably have stuff to teach me," Sansone admits. 

Stirratt agrees, saying, "I feel the same way! I feel like things were way easier. Getting a deal was easier back then. It was just--," he pauses before adding, "There’s people with all these different disciplines, you know. The ability to record and produce and arrange and do it all on a really high level."

Keep up with The Autumn Defense here, and listen to their last record Fifth below. 

Catching Up With NE-HI

This past weekend I headed out to Davenport, IA to catch an amazing line up at Daytrotter Downs festival, featuring one of my favorite Chicago bands, NE-HI. The band have just released their sophomore album Offers on February 24th, but in the past few months, they've been all over the place.  Not only did NE-HI play a sold out album release show at The Empty Bottle, but they've recently performed on the legendary JBTV stage, they've done in-store performances at record stores, and they're booked to play SXSW in the middle of cross-country tour. Prior to their 10PM slot on the Daytrotter stage, they sat down to talk about the craziness that accompanied the album release and what's next for them. Here are five things I learned when I caught up with NE-HI: 

NE-HI is Jason Balla, Alex Otake, Michael Wells, James Weir  Photo Credit: Bryan Allen Lamb

NE-HI is Jason Balla, Alex Otake, Michael Wells, James Weir

Photo Credit: Bryan Allen Lamb

Nothing gives them more joy than just playing shows

When asked how their week has been since Offers dropped, drummer Alex Otake says, "It's been really good. We had a release show at The Empty Bottle the day it came out and it was awesome. We had one of our friends make visuals for it...he did like a TV installation."  

Although they've gotten to do lots of sessions and other forms of promo for the album, Jason Balla echoed Alex by agreeing that there's just something about playing a good live show that's impossible to top. "The show [at Empty Bottle] is pretty hard to beat. It was this amazing time. So many people that we knew and so many people we didn’t know. The Empty Bottle has a place in all of our hearts, so that’s pretty hard to beat. Playing the Audiotree thing was really fun. We also played a Chirp session in this warehouse that they have. That stuff is  always fun, but playing shows is where the joy is for me," Jason says. 

James Weir chimed in that his favorite part of the record release has been "people giving their respect in the music world and family giving praise and showing love," also adding, "We worked so hard on that record and it’s been a beautiful experience." 

Their least favorite part of releasing and promoting an album? Alex says taking pictures, while James says waking up early. Jason agrees, saying "Waking up early is actually the hardest part of it. You could get away with getting to bed early, but we don’t seem to have figured out how to do that. We were in Omaha yesterday and if you go to Omaha, you have to go to Brothers Lounge afterwards!"  The waking up early seemed to really affect Michael Wells, who was a man of very few words during the interview. 

They recorded Offers in two installments

The two installments took place between January and March of last year, but James reveals they scraped most of what they recorded in January because of "self-imposed pressure".  Jason agreed, saying, "Yeah we got signed....I don’t even know exactly like when that all went down, but for that first batch of stuff we were working on, we were kind of like overthinking a little too much. We were like 'Oh now we have like this label deal, we gotta really do some good shit.' That kind of mentality winds up making doing good shit impossible. So we kind of noticed [that] once we did those first songs in the studio." 

Alex also agreed, saying that on the first batch of material they were "just overthinking and then overwriting." He adds, "[We were] not writing like how it came naturally like when we wrote our first record."  Luckily, they were able to overcome their self-inflicted pressure for their recording sessions it March. Jason revealed, "It kinda took a little bit to shock us out of that mentality. Once we started having fun, it started coming really fast and like through this one, the big difference is that we got a lot better at editing and being critical of ourselves. We would like have a lot of fun and write the songs, and then when we had the songs written we would be like OK what actually is necessary for it to exist basically."  

Offers  Album Cover

Offers Album Cover

They'd like to score Hot Tub Time Machine 3

The group originally got together to score a friend's film, which unfortunately never even got released. However, James has requested it be known that they'd really like to do the score for the third installment of Hot Tub Time Machine, should it ever be made. Jason adds, "That would be great. And we also want Cusack back. Bring back the Cusack. We’ll only do it if he’s on board."  The band's love for Hot Tub Time Machine runs so deep that Alex even revealed that they tried to start a rumor that Offers syncs up to the film, saying, "We had this idea for when this record was coming out to say that like you know when you watch Wizard of Oz and you put on Dark Side of the Moon? We were going to say that our record would line up with Hot Tub Time Machine perfectly."  

On a more serious note, the band revealed some of their other favorite film scores. "The score for Moonlight was really good. I just listened to this interview about it and it talked about how the movie is set up in three acts basically. For each act the tone got a little bit darker, so the composer like dropped it an octave. It’s pretty cool," James said. Alex says he's a fan of Italian horror films from the 1970's and anything John Carpenter, while Jason gets a kick out of Chef's Table. "Have you ever seen the show Chef’s Table? It’s like a food documentary, but it’s set to classical music," he says, continuing, "It’s the most epic shit. It’s like someone is just putting an oyster on a plate and it’s like [dramatic music]."  

They stay entertained on their van by making up alien alter egos

Since the band are touring cross country in a van, naturally they've got to come up with unique ways of staying entertained. Besides listening to true crime podcasts, which Alex revealed are his favorite, they also put their imaginations to the test. "We have a lot of jokes in the van," Jason says. "I just got these sunglasses and they kind of like acquired an alter ego. I mostly annoy everyone in the van. So you’d have to ask them how they put up with me more than anything. There’s not really any name for that guy. He’s like an undercover sort of alien robot. Basically it’s like this character who is undercover trying to pass as a human, but he’s like always making mistakes."  

As far as their favorite places that they're traveling to this tour, Jason says, "North Hampton is one of my personal favorites. I used to hate New York but I like it a lot now. There's ones that are obviously fun cities to go to, but my favorites are like the sneaky ones. Like North Hampton is so sick and like Pittsburgh is one of our favorite places to go."  

They're supporters of the Chicago music scene 

NE-HI are really excited to be heading down to Austin to play some SXSW shows, but they're also excited to catch some fellow Chicagoans perform at the festival.  "We’re actually playing a really tight show with Wand and my friends White Reaper, and another Chicago band, Post Animal," Jason says, also shouting out NoName, a rapper from Chicago. 

As for other Chicago bands that they're into at the moment, Alex says, "Cafe Racer, Deeper. Both of those bands we got to play with at our release show. They’re amazing. There’s tons of stuff."  He added "We’ve talked about it a lot, but it’s really awesome, healthy competition. Because so many people are making really amazing music, so we don’t want to be the one band making shitty music. Like 'we like you, but your band’s not that great.'"  

While they've got love for Chicago musicians, they also have a great relationship with the independent record store, Shuga Records. Offers is currently available on clear vinyl, exclusively at Shuga. When I asked how that deal came about, Jason says, "I like their vibe a lot, but they’ve been incredibly supportive of NE-HI and other projects that we play in. So I would just go over there to sell them records of our first record and I’d always get to talking with the people that work there. They actually did an exclusive of our first record and that one was going well, so they were like we wanna do one for this one. It’s really cool to be able to do something special. And it’s really neat when it’s exclusive to one store. We played an in store with them too which was really fun!"  

There you have it.  Make sure you go see NE-HI and their alien alter egos on can check out all of their tour dates here. Listen to their sophomore album Offers here:

Get to Know: Jude Shuma

A couple of weeks ago, I finally caught up with Chicago musician Jude Shuma, after being impressed with his set at The Empty Bottle back in December and hearing good things about him from other local bands. We first met up on a Thursday evening at Sip coffee shop, but decided to move to the bar across the street, where we ended up chatting over a different type of brew. While hanging out with Jude, I not only got the scoop on his creative process, his influences, and news about his upcoming release, but things also got a little philosophical and weird (in the best possible way).  Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the charismatic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and part-time exterminator that is Jude Shuma.

The Renaissance man himself,  Jude Shuma.  

The Renaissance man himself, Jude Shuma. 

His grandma's guitar and his parents' records got him into music

"I found my grandma's guitar under my mom’s bed... started playing it, had a few lessons and then I bought a little 8-track recorder. From there, I just kinda… I wanted to write songs, so I started writing songs and kinda laid down one track, and then laid down the next," Jude explains when I asked what got him into music. Now, more than 15 years later, Jude says he's collected more than enough instruments and gear to start his own home studio, saying, "It’s kind of been like a ball and chain, cause you have all this gear and you need the space and the studio to record. Living in an urban area like Chicago, it’s really hard to find a space…you can get a rehearsal space with other bands, but then you’ve got fucking metal bands next door to you and you can’t record an acoustic guitar. So it’s been kinda like, the past four years I’ve been bouncing around and finding new spots."  More to come on his home studio later...

As far as his sound, Jude credits records from the 60's and 70's with influencing him, saying, "I’ve inherited like 700 vinyl from my mom, dad, and my aunt and uncle. All those records, it’s all like the 60's. I’ve been listening to a lot of T. Rex. Anything out of the 60's and 70's and like that whole movement. Music was a lot simpler and more melodically driven those days."  

His next album focuses on the bittersweet, the baritone, and Boogie Nights

Right now, Jude is working away in his home studio trying to wrap up a new album, with a targeted release date in the spring. Talking more about the new material, he says, "I started singing in a lower register, where a lot of the other stuff I sing in a higher register, it’s more of a falsetto. Now I’m kinda starting to embrace my baritone."  In addition to his shift in vocal range, Jude says he's adding in horns, violin, and synthesizers to these new songs, but he's still trying to stay true to the indie, low-fi sound.  "I’m using a tape machine, doing everything on tape. Everything is analog so it has that white noise and saturation to it," Jude added about the recording process. 

Talking more about the album's theme, Jude says, "I’m gonna name the album Sugar Mountain. [That's] not released yet, but that’s gonna be the name. I’m pretty stoked on it. I’m obsessed with sugar…My mom had diabetes when she was pregnant with me, so I feel like there might be a correlation between how much sugar I intake every day. It’s more just that we live in a world of vices and turmoil and chaos every day. And sugar or whatever your sweetness... it’s bittersweet…"  

Jude also confirmed that although he's written and recorded about 20 songs, only 6 of them have made the final cut so far, including tracks called "Lemonade" and "Cosmic Feeling." "There’s one called 'Boogie Nights,' Jude continues.  "You seen Boogie Nights? It’s an ode to that film and the ridiculousness of that film," saying he imagines his tune "Boogie Nights" to be the song that was supposed to play after the final scene of the film, as the end credits roll in. 

Music was a lot simpler I feel like and more melodically driven those days. Now a days I feel like if you have a fat beat, it doesn’t matter.
— Jude on the evolution of songwriting

He splits his time between recording and killing rats... in Billy Corgan's old house

"It's Billy Corgan's old house, totally’s in the garage, they built a room inside the garage. There’s two doors and it’s completely isolated. So like it’s 4 in the morning…I’ll stay up til 5:00 AM, smoking cigarettes, and there’s no circulation in there...there’s no windows. I’m just baking it in there, smoking weed, and just recording. The tape machine is all fucking cracked out, all the microphones are just saturated in smoke…it’s good," Jude revealed about his home studio.  

"The studio is called Rat House studio, because I have rats," he continues, admitting he's had to get a pellet gun and live trap to keep the rats out of the studio.  "If you wanna put it in a nutshell, my time is split between recording music, and then killing rats," Jude admits, while also adding that his growing tally of rat exterminations does get to him sometimes.  "I don’t eat meat, but this is different…I don’t want a rat walking in my house. I feel like there shouldn’t be a difference, like you should cherish the fact that it’s got a heartbeat, but I have the conscious thought before I shoot it," he says.  Jude joked that he may write a song called "Rat King" as an ode to all of the fallen rats of his studio. "I feel like it’d have to be a Leonard Cohen style song. You know like, spoken word," he added. 

He prefers producing and recording to playing live

"I find more pleasure in…and I like touring and playing live, but I find a lot of pleasure in recording and producing. Like sitting in the studio for hours...I kind of like look at myself as more of a Harry Nilsson. Check him out, that’s one of my possibly all-time favorite artists. He did the same thing The Beatles did. The Beatles hustled their ass and played live for how many years, and then they just cut it and just recorded records. I feel like I get more out of sitting in the studio, being creative," Jude gushed while chatting about his love of producing.  

While he loves producing, at the moment he acknowledges that he can't really take on production work for other artists, although he wouldn't rule it out in the future. "I think once I finish this record, I’ll be more in control. People open studios, and then they can’t chose who they get to record there because they need to accept business to keep the money flowing. I wanna be able to be a little picky.  I want to work on music I like. I’ve had homies hit me up and it’s like I dig their music, but it’s time," he says.  Although he plays live shows with three musicians called Blaze, Blade, and Church, Jude currently plays everything from drums to bass by himself in the studio, saying that he often finds himself running back and forth between instruments.  

Jude also chatted about challenging himself as his own producer. "You ever heard of Brian Eno? He had a deck of cards for the recording studio, and whenever you hit a rut, you pull out a card and flip it.  And it will tell you something to do, like one of them that I pulled once was like 'be extravagant' in your vocal performance.  So I’ve been doing that too.  I’ve been a little more extravagant and obnoxious…super obnoxious.  I'll start singing in different voices,"  he revealed.  

He's been on HBO, ABC, and the CW

Or at least, his songs have been used on TV shows on those networks. Nowadays, it's very difficult for an artist to make money off of their recorded music, with the rise of streaming services. Sync licenses for TV shows and movies are one of the best ways for musicians to get paid for their recorded work, and luckily for Jude, his music has appeared in a handful of new shows.  "I got three licenses, in the last month, which is dope and came out of nowhere.  It’s a show on ABC called Quantico, this show on the CW called Riverdale, and then an indie film called Can’t Say No. So that kind of helped boost me back up, like OK, I’m making money off music now and I can eat beyond bread.  I live off bread and avocado," Jude revealed about his recent success.  

He also talked about his first ever license, for a show on HBO, admitting he thought he was being catfished at first. "I thought it was a joke. The girl hit me up on Soundcloud. I was like for real? You’re a music consultant for HBO? But it turned out to be legit. It’s gone to show that it’s working, like whatever’s happening is working. I didn't have a lot of publicity on the last release, and now between those two shows that already aired, I’ve seen jumps in [plays]," Jude said. 

He doesn't have a back up plan

Speaking of success, Jude has dedicated everything he has into making his career in music take off, even if that means getting shit from his family members.  "I had a conversation with my dad…I’ve had this conversation with multiple people. A lot of people don’t want you to be where you are. They want to glorify you and support you like 'wow, I’m stuck at a 9-5 hating my life.'  Fuck 9-5, but those same people don’t want to see you succeed to a certain extent because then they’re really questioning themselves.  They wanna put you into the 9-5 world so then it justifies their own life and their own existence. Like 'do what I’m doing so then I feel better about what I’m doing.'  My dad and I sat down and talked and he was like yeah you know, do you have a plan B? I was like no, there is no plan b," Jude says about the struggles of being a musician in a corporate-driven country.  He adds, "If I take two eggs out of my basket, instead of having twelve, I now have ten.  Those two eggs are gonna go to something else. I need to give my 100 percent to one thing and I’ll succeed. I’ll do it. It might not happen overnight, but I’m gonna go all in. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right. Cause if you half-ass it, you’re not gonna succeed. Then it’s a hobby."  

He continues on to say how much it bothers him that society only seems to correlate worth with wealth. "It sucks that in America that we sort of have a direct correlation between somebody’s worth and the size of their wallets. Like if somebody’s making more money we hold them in a higher light or higher tier than other people. Like you see someone super poor…maybe he made the conscious decision to be poor and live on the street, but if you discredit that human being immediately... I’ve sat down with homeless people across the country. I’ll sit there and I’ll smoke a cigarette with them. You can hear a crazy story about somebody, and your life can just get a little more enriched."

Diving even further into the subject of choosing to make a living in an artistic industry, Jude says, "Life without art would be really boring. And if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. One of my homies from back home just like stopped doing music. Friends that I really thought had more talent than anybody I knew, they’d write amazing songs…they’d be like 'yeah, I don’t wanna do it.'  The music industry kinda sucks, and you’ve gotta play the game, you know. You have to be somewhat chauvinistic."  

 He's got the gift of gab

Throughout our chat, the topics sometimes strayed off to completely random topics, including the Georgian language and Mark Wahlberg's dick (to be fair, that came up while talking about Boogie Nights). While we talked about a slightly less scandalous subject like our favorite Chicago venues, the eviction of the legendary Double Door came up.  Jude mentioned he heard rumors that Double Door's space will be turning into a Baby Gap, continuing, "If that does become a Gap Baby, or whatever it's called, that’s just a red flag that gentrification has ended, that point…it has started and it has ended. Ukrainian Village is coming into pretty hard gentrification right now. The crime is skyrocketing too. You're not safe anywhere in this city. Doesn't matter where you go. I don’t know, everything’s fucked." 

Jude also brought up technology and the global market that we have at our fingertips as entrepreneurs and consumers, saying, "I think our lives have been so pivotal. Like the span of time in human life. If you look at like the coming of the internet and globalization, and the way everything has now become a global market and the way in which everything and everybody is now intertwined. We can communicate…there are no borders now. It used to be super limited. Your news would be your newspaper or word of mouth. Now you can go on the internet and check news for every single country, every single place in the world. We are like hitting a place in human history. What a time to be alive."  

Jude acknowledged these tangents, saying , "Yeah, I'm a talker. I feel like that’s one gift I have. Music is maybe number one...actually number one might be the gift of gab. My girlfriend gives me shit about that all of the time. I’ll walk up to a coffee shop counter. I’ll be like how’s your day and it just opens up." 

Oh, if you're wondering, Jude officially broke the record for longest interview in ANCHR history, with a running time around an hour. 

As he mentioned, Jude is currently spending most of his time in the studio for the upcoming record, Sugar Mountain, but he says he'll move onto album artwork and booking a summer tour as soon as it's finished. Stay up to date with all of the Jude news by liking his Facebook page, and listen to his latest EP, Biggest Hits, here


Get To Know: Post Animal

This past Friday night, I caught up with the boys in Post Animal before they headlined night one of Chicago’s Psych Fest at The Hideout. Although the band was down one member, with this weekend being one of the first times they’ve played without guitarist Joe Keery, the remaining five members still had plenty to talk about. Throughout the conversation, I found out all you need to know about this up and coming Chicago band, including news on their upcoming album and tour, stories about their haunted recording space, their influences, and their feelings on a certain Netflix show (which, if you didn’t already know, one of them happens to star in). There’s no doubt about it, 2017 will be an incredible year for Post Animal, so get familiar with them now. 

Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo and Matt Williams. Photo by  Kristina Pedersen . 

Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo
and Matt Williams. Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Their Influences Include Bands like Black Sabbath and The Police, Their Parents... and Mel Gibson

One of the first things I always want to know about musicians is how they got into playing music.  Matt Williams, Javi Reyes, and Wes Toledo all credit their parents for getting them into music at a young age.  “I started playing music when I was like four,” Wes says. “My dad was a musician too, so he just kind of started me at an early age. I started listening to the Police and bands like that, like the Beatles liking of music came from that," he continued on. Matt adds, “My mom was a musician so she kinda forced me to take guitar lessons. She’s a bass player, but she was like ‘you need to learn how to play guitar,’ and then I kinda got forced to…” Javi says his mom also had guitars laying around, and he first started playing the guitar that his brother was given for Christmas one year. “I  learned how to play the James Bond theme,” he recalls.

Dalton Allison says that other bands, like Black Sabbath, inspired him to start making music, while Jake Hirshland admits that his inspiration stems from just wanting to be in a band, saying, “I just wanted to be in a band so bad dude, that I like picked up a guitar and tried to get good enough.” All of the guys also agree that films scores played a big part in influencing them, with Dalton deeming the Jurassic Park score as his favorite.

Oh, and the part about Mel Gibson? That came up while Matt chatted about the early days of guitar lessons, revealing, “The very first lesson I took was so awkward. There’s like these guitar books, I think they’re called Mel Gibson, wait! Not Mel Gibson...those learning books...”  It turns out he was actually talking about Mel Bay guitar books, which we quickly figured out, thanks to a member of another band playing that night.

All Of The Band Members Are Multi-Instrumentalists

If you’ve ever seen Post Animal live, you know they’ve got a lot of guitars on one stage (they also have a lot of hair on one stage, but that’s besides the point). The reason for so many bandmates stems from a few of them originally being substitutes who just never left. Dalton and Matt grew up together as self-proclaimed “bad boys of Danville,” first starting a band in sixth grade. As for the rest of the guys, Matt says,“We just kinda met people through friends and through work, and then someone was like ‘Hey I know this guy who’s a really good drummer, Wes. You should play with him.’ Then we did, and someone was out of town and Javi had just moved into town. So we were like ‘Javi wanna play these couple shows with us?’ And he just never stopped playing with us.”  

“We’ve pretty much just been tacking people on. I moved to Chicago and started playing with these dudes. It was a lot of people going out of town for a while, so we were just subbing people,” Jake chimes in.  The rest of band agreed that they just can’t let anyone go.

Dalton also gives credit to the adaptability of his bandmates, saying “We’re really lucky to have a mutli-talented group. Like Javi can pretty much play anything, Matt can pretty much play anything, Jake can play anything. Wes is one of the best drummers that I’ve ever played with.”  

The Lakehouse They Recorded in Is Haunted

It’s been a minute since Post Animal released their 6 track EP called The Garden Series, but lucky for us, the next album is just about ready. How is this new full-length different than the band’s previous releases? Other than the location where they recorded it, Dalton says,“It’s the first one with all 6 of us on it, so this is the most exciting for sure,” adding on that it should be between 10 and 13 songs. He also says that this new record is more collaborative than their past work, crediting each band member with writing their own parts.  

“Yeah we’re all pumped. Recordings are done and Dalton’s in the cave doing [post] production on it. We’re hoping the spring time,” Jake adds about the progress and planned release of the record.  Continuing on about their recording process, he adds, “I feel like the way we recorded is also...we did a lot of stuff at the same time and we never really used the rooms we were in. Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space. I think you can tell [it was recorded live].”

While we’re on the subject of the lakehouse, Wes drops the bomb that the place was haunted. Javi and Dalton both attest to strange glitches appearing on their recordings from the lakehouse, while Jake, Wes, and Matt admit to having to sleep in the same room eventually after several scares. Jake recalls one night in which a nightstand flipped over in the room they were sharing, after already being woken up by a ghost. “These old, wrinkly leather hands just tugged me awake. It was bizarre,” Jake says. The rest of the band add that they’re not big on embellishment or really into paranormal activity, with Jake continuing, “Yeah we’re rational at heart, but it was bizarre, I had no explanations for some of the stuff I was feeling and seeing. The table flying over…”

In addition to the ghost scares, coffee got spilled on their computer halfway through recording, causing the band to worry they’d lost all of their work. Despite all of these scares, the band say they still had the time of their lives recording in the house adjoining Paw Paw Lake.

Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space
— Jake on the band's recording process

They’re Really Excited to Play Daytrotter Downs Festival In March

At the moment, the Post Animal boys have only got a string of live dates announced for this year, including some shows in Michigan with Twin Peaks and a slot at Daytrotter Downs Festival in Davenport, IA. However, they let on that they’ve just locked in the first two weeks of an upcoming tour, with Wes adding on that they’ll be out on the road all summer.

Talking more about Daytrotter, Dalton says,“I think that’s the first time that any of us were kinda shocked that someone asked us to play. We really respect what they’ve got going on.” They’re also all excited to check out some of the other bands on the line up, with Jake shouting out NE-HI and Wes and Matt giving nods to Joan of Arc and Gaelynn Lea.  

Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

They’re Also Really Excited To See The Country

Before the interview, I noticed that a fan had commented “come to Brazil!” on one of Post Animal’s recent Facebook posts. To me, the summoning to Brazil is a sign you’ve made it. Bringing up this comment, I asked the band where in the world they’d like to tour.  

“South America would be a dream. It’s gonna be dream to even…. like I’ve never even been to New York City in my life. Every single place we go is gonna be a new place that I’ve never been, so that’s pretty crazy,” Dalton admits.  

Javi agrees with South America, saying “I’ve got family down there, so... Just so you know my name is Javier.” Jake agrees with Dalton’s point that it’ll be crazy to see the country, while Matt says he’s particularly excited to play in the states he hasn’t been to, like the Southeast. “Speaking of the south,” Jake adds,“We might be playing SXSW, but nothing is locked in.”  

They’d also love to eventually play some European dates, so keep your eyes out for that.

They’ve Got a Lot of Love for Fellow Chicago Musicians, Especially Jude Shuma

Post Animal recently headlined The Empty Bottle, with support coming from fellow Chicagoans Lucille Furs and Jude Shuma. Not only was the show entirely epic, but it turns out the Post Animal members all love the other two bands. Wes started the love fest for Jude and also gave props to Lucille Furs by saying,“[Twin] Peaks rocks, Joe Bordernaro. Lucille Furs obviously. Jude Shuma!” Jake recommended also interviewing Jude, with Javi attesting to his great interview skills, calling him a charismatic guy.  (So Jude, if you're reading this, let's set up an interview?) 

The guys have also got a lot of love for Chicago venues, including The Empty Bottle, The Hideout and Thalia Hall. “It was a bit of a dream playing Thalia with Twin Peaks. That was scary,” Jake says about the latter. “I’ve just never even been on a stage like that[with a barrier], but in the crowd it doesn’t look like there’s that much space. But when you’re up there, it’s like a good eight feet of space. It’s just like intimidating being that far away from people,”  he continued.

Dalton agrees that it’s more intimidating being separated, saying “You have to like really try to see how the audience feels when they’re not crammed against the stage.”  

They’re Big Fans of King Gizzard, Ty Segall, The Nude Party...and Dire Straits

Not only are the Post Animal members really into fellow Chicago bands, they’re big music fans in general. When asked what they’re listening to at the moment, Javi says, “This new Ty Segall album that just came out, or it comes out today. It’s been streaming the past week.” Jake says, “Mild High Club has such a special place in my heart,” while also mentioning that the entire band loves King Gizzard [& The Lizard Wizard].  

“I’ve been listening to this fucking sick rapper named Denzel Curry, who is so good,” Wes adds, while Dalton shouts out Vince Staples. Javi calls the band’s music taste eclectic, while Jake admits that they listen to a lot of older material as well. Similarly to the love expressed to Jude Shuma, the band also gushed for a few minutes about their admiration of The Nude Party, a band they recently played with in Milwaukee.  They also went to see NYC band The Lemon Twigs the night before at The Empty Bottle. 

Lastly, Wes chimes in, “Dire Straits is a good band,” joking,“They fucking rock. That better be in the interview by the way. Dire Straits fucking rocks.”  

They’re Happy For Joe’s Success As an Actor, But Please Get Their Name Right

If you weren’t aware, the sixth band member, Joe Keery, was MIA for this interview because he stars in a little known Netflix show called Stranger Things.  Naturally, the insane amount of success that the show has had has brought some new attention to the band over the past several months.  So, are Joe and his bandmates sick of the Stranger Things-driven attention? Not at all, but it does make things a bit more challenging at times.

“It’s hilarious that he’s not here right now,” Dalton says when I asked the question.  “It’s just weird cause there’s like this last year, Matt would be gone so Javi would fill in for Matt. Or like Wes would be gone so Joe would play drums. So originally Wes came into replace Joe. So now it’s like weird cause we wouldn’t really hesitate to play without anyone, but we kind of like have to hesitate to play without Joe. That’s been like the weirdest part... kinda feeling detached from our own project because of all the fame that got brought to it, not necessarily for the wrong reason, but for a different reason.”  

Jake chimes in, “We sort of just decided, actually it was a pretty recent decision, but we decided the only way to do this properly from here on out is to play doing exactly what we would have done before. Like tonight is a great example of a show that Joe couldn’t be at, and we’re just playing a damn show.”  

Dalton does admit that it breaks their heart to play without him, but he credits Joe with doing a great job of handling it all, and coming back when he can. “His life has gone from kinda 0 to 60, so it’s a little hectic. So here and there it’s gonna be without him. [Joe] just flies...he’s so committed to flying back day of," Jake says.  

The band also take all of the attention in a positive light, with Jake saying, “Even the people who come mostly to just meet or be in the presence of Joe, they end up being pretty cool audience members. I think a year ago we would have done almost anything to play these types of shows.”  

With so many band members, the guys also comment that they’re still able to deliver their best performance, but Matt contributes, “People can learn each other’s parts. The big difference is like the presence of a body. The nuances of how they play.” “No one can replace Joe’s stage banter,” Dalton adds in. Luckily, Joe is willing to do all he can to be there for shows, so the crowd won’t miss out on too much banter.  For their recent show at The Empty Bottle, Joe told the crowd he took two planes to get there.

All the guys really ask, is that you get their band name right, and don’t call Joe “Steve.” Javi recalls a time when someone said “give it up for Stranger Things” right after Post Animal performed. While something like that is clearly disrespectful to the entire band, no one was more upset about it than Joe himself.  “It’s kinda like exploitative of him personally. Like when people call him’s just like, you don’t even take the time to...They don’t think about the fact that he’s a real person and not the character. We’ve all had these crazy experiences of how people interact with him when we go to a bar or something like that. That’s been like the most hilarious and most disgusting part of it,” Dalton says in defense of his friend.

It’s clear that the guys in Post Animal are all great friends and they’re all supportive of Joe, but they’ve also got a great sense of humor. Wes joked, “Fuck that guy. Off the record, he’s one of my best friends, but on the record, fuck that guy," about Joe.  

Later on Friday evening, the guys did exactly as they'd promised and delivered a killer performance. Seriously, I picked a terrible night to leave my earplugs at home because they don't hold anything back during their shows.  Throughout the set, they also seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, which always makes a show more enjoyable from the audience.  Keep up with all of the Post Animal news by checking out their Facebook page.  You can also listen to The Garden Series below: