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A Chat With: Together Pangea

LA-based band Together Pangea has been crafting catchy garage rock since 2009, delivering four full-length albums and a handful of EPs that each explore different sounds and offer a little something for everyone. Over their years together, the band has also become known for their infectiously energetic live presence—no Together Pangea show is ever quite complete without a mosh pit or some crowd surfing. In the past, Together Pangea has shared the stage with acts like Alkaline Trio, Ty Segall, and The Black Lips, just to name a few.

Most recently, the group just wrapped up a headlining West Coast tour run in celebration of their EP Dispassionate, and they are now gearing up to embark on the East Coast run, which kicks off here in Chicago. Ahead of the kick-off show at Lincoln Hall, I spoke with Danny Bengston of the band, discussing their recording process of the latest EPs, their music video for “Dispassionate,” and how they plan to spend their time in Chicago. Tune into our chat with Together Pangea below!



Your new EP Dispassionate just came out about a month ago now, which was a quick follow up from the Non Stop Paranoia EP released last year. When working on the two EPs, which have been described as opposites of each other, did you already have that theme in mind and write them in tandem? Or was Dispassionate more of a reflection after the fact?

We went into the studio and we recorded nine songs, plus some acoustic songs that we put out before the EPs. So I guess in total we did about fourteen songs all at once. When we went in to do it, we weren’t sure what it was gonna end up being because we had enough songs technically to do a full length, if we wanted to. But it just sort of happened that once we got into it and started getting mixes back and seeing how things were shaping up, there were four songs that made sense together and five songs that made sense together. So that’s how that happened.

Totally, so they just ended up as two halves of a whole piece. 

Yeah, there was no intention going in to make two separate EPs that had separate vibes, we just had a group of songs that happened to have two distinct sounds so we split it up that way.

Nice, then the four songs on Dispassionate are definitely more laid-back compared to some earlier material and sort of have that 50’s, 60’s vibes. What were some factors that influenced that shift?

We made the decision specifically to sort of go ahead and put out songs that we felt really good about, not necessarily songs that were reflective of our previous catalog so much. I think with Non Stop Paranoia there’s definitely a little bit more recognizable aesthetic sounds that are in the vein of Badillac or some of the older stuff, but all in all I think it was more of a choice that we made this batch of songs that we felt really good about. I think that was it! Even if it sounded different than before, it’s still us. We felt they were solid songs.

Were there any influences you can pinpoint? Maybe other art forms, like films, or other music you were listening to around that time? 

I know that the song “Moonlight Lately” specifically I wrote that one, I was listening to a lot of 60’s girl groups like The Shangri-Las or The Crystals…The Ronnettes. I was listening to The Crystals a lot when I wrote that song, and I wanted to make a song that sounded like one of those old girl group classic songs. So that’s why that song sounds that way. We also had just never really done anything like that where we just sort of went for it that hard. Like chose a sort of genre or style and just went for it. It started out just guitar, drums, and bass and then we ended up having more time and resources. I was just like fuck it, we called Max Kuehn, he’s the drummer for Fidlar, and he came in and played. We had two drum kits in the studio and he and Erik played together. Our friend Killian from the band No Parents did a bunch of hand percussion. The percussion take is two drums and also a lot of hand percussion. I told Danny, the producer, what I was going for specifically and we just went for it. Somebody at our record label knew somebody who played saxophone, so the saxophone was on it and I was like I want to add some piano…some glockenspiel, you know. It just spiraled out of control.

Yeah, that sounds like a fun recording session with lots of guest appearances.

Yeah it was a lot of fun. It was the first time we’ve ever done anything like it, where we got two drum kits in the studio at once.

I also really liked the video for “Dispassionate,” the EP’s title track. And speaking of No Parents, I laughed at the part with their t-shirt in the video. So as far as this music video concept, did you all work together to come up with the idea, or did you work with a specific director who had this concept in mind?

For the music video that was our friend Derek Perlman, he’s a photographer based in Los Angeles. It was his idea and he’s actually a really close friend of mine, we hang out fairly often when I’m back home. I know that he had sort of dipped his feet in the idea of wanting to make more music videos, and he had started this music video for this friend, but it never came out for other reasons. We were just looking for someone to do a video, and we were like why don’t we see if Derek is interested in trying it? And he totally killed it.

Wow so this was his first official music video?

Yeah! It’s technically his second, but the first one wasn’t 100% finished and never came out.

Wow that’s still impressive though! Shifting gears to your live shows, I know you’re in the middle of a huge cross country tour at the moment. What have been some highlights of it so far, or some favorite places? Maybe some places you’re looking forward to hitting soon?

I’m still pretty excited that Chicago is the kick off of the east coast run. That’ll be great. This first half of the tour has been pretty amazing, like every show. There hasn’t been a bad show...LA is always good because it’s our hometown. Yesterday we played Sacramento, which was very fun, aside from it being no air conditioning and being extremely hot. Denver is an amazing place for us...another tour highlight. We’re definitely looking forward to Chicago, that’s the first one of the second leg.

So as far as Chicago, is there anything you guys have plans to do outside of the show? Anything on your Chicago list?

Well we toured with Twin Peaks a couple years ago and we’re still very good friends with those guys. I was talking to Cadien about hopefully going to swim in the lake. He was saying it might not be warm enough. We’re also on tour with another Chicago band, Dehd. I’m just excited cause we have a lot of friends out there like Twin Peaks, Dehd and Lala Lala. If it’s warm enough we’ll go swim in the lake!

Yeah I think that might work out now! It’s been like 80 degrees this week, although yesterday it hailed a bunch, but it was sunny about ten minutes later. So hopefully the lake plans will follow through.

Yeah I’ve always wanted to do that. 

Are there any new bands or any albums that have been on heavy rotation while you’re on tour at the moment?

The No Parents record, which isn’t out yet, that’ll be out in September. Been listening to that a bunch. Lala Lala...Dehd. There’s always a lot of really good Chicago stuff. The new White Reaper song is really good. 

Nice, lots of good stuff! Anything else you guys are looking forward to this year besides the tour and new EP? Anything else coming soon, like videos or potentially even more new material?

Probably! As of now we just have these tours to wrap up and then we go to Europe…and maybe some more touring throughout the year. We’ll probably get to recording at some point in the next year, I’d imagine. I have a feeling we’ll be hitting Chicago at least twice this year though.

Together Pangea makes their Lincoln Hall debut on Thursday, July 11th. Get your tickets here.

Keep up with Together Pangea on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Zuli

As a songwriter and creator, Zuli has never shied away from exploring different genres and styles with his music. His multi-faceted debut album On Human Freakout Mountain gave listeners glimpses of rock, pop, psych and folk textures back in 2017. Now, Zuli has returned this year with his first bit of music since his debut record, giving fans another taste of something new. Released June 21st, Zuli’s latest single “ur mistaken” contains the same rock and pop undertones of his older material, but it also twists in sprinkles of soul and R&B.

Drawing influence from some of his favorite music released by other artists during the past two years, Zuli was able to tap into a different side of his creativity and refresh his sound without straying too far from his roots. While there’s still plenty more to come as far as new material goes, I recently caught up with Zuli the week that “ur mistaken” dropped to talk about his current artistic inspiration, the growth in his writing process, and what he hopes to deliver with his live performances.  Tune into our chat with Zuli below!

Photos by Kimberly Young Sun

Photos by Kimberly Young Sun

What was your first musical memory?

There’s a lot! My mom is a singer, and when I was growing up she was always singing and playing gigs. I was always going with my dad. She’s a country singer. So that’s probably my first memory of music, just hearing her sing Dolly Parton and things like that. In terms of me being affected by any kind of music, I guess some of my earlier memories was I was a huge Stray Cats fan when I was a little kid. I really loved like Brian Setzer, I wanted to be Brian Setzer when I was a little kid. I also feel like when I heard “Tommy” by The Who for the first time I wanted to pick up a guitar and just start writing songs and doing my own thing. Those are the memories that come to mind firsthand. I grew up in a musical house though so it’s always been a big part of shaping who I am.

That’s awesome you have that connection with your family going way back! So now you have your new single out, which is your first release since 2017. How does it feel to have “ur mistaken” finally shared with the world?

It feels great, honestly. I was lucky enough...I don’t know if lucky is the right word, but I was testing out the song with some shows to see people’s reactions and people have been really positive about it. After it came out, the love and the output from people has been really inspiring. It’s just great to be back and have it out and I’m excited to keep the ball rolling. I’m glad people are feeling a new direction and this whole new chapter. 

Yeah it seems like a lot of good responses on social media so far! Lots of people were sharing on release day. Then as you mentioned, it definitely pulls in a new soulful sound and new approach compared to some of your older material. What was your process with “ur mistaken” and creating this song versus some of your earlier material?

I think that at its core, it shares some resemblances of the older material and that I still always try to do my best to write a song with the intention of one instrument and a vocal, and making it feel good at its core. Then once you put the production on top of it, you’ll only make the song better. I think that when this song came about, and when I was digging deeper and going in this new direction to express myself and create, it kind of just came from a place of a little bit of melancholy and feeling down about where I was in my relationship with everyone. It just kind of felt like a more longing type of approach. My voice didn’t feel the same. I just wasn’t expressing myself in the same kind of way. With On Human Freakout Mountain, as a record, it was my first experience recording and releasing a full length album. When I was finished with that I learned so much and I had all these new experiences that came along with it but also was tending to all of these experiences that led up to that point, and once I reflected on where I was going and where I’ve been, it just kind of felt like there’s certain aspects that I’m gonna take and I’m gonna expand upon and keep in my toolbox. But there’s this whole other side of me I feel like that hasn’t really seen the light yet. It wasn’t even an intentional thing but this new idea and new direction felt so right and like the best method for me to continue expressing myself.

Nice, it sounds like it’s an accumulation of everything you learned when approaching the new music. So between the time of your debut album coming out and now releasing this new single, what would you say is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself, either personally or as a musician? Anything you tried to apply from those experiences you had?

I think as a musician and as an artist, my main focus and a big part of what I do is going with your intuition and feeling. I think feeling goes a lot deeper than thought. However, I do feel that was such a big crux for me in a lot of ways, just the music feeling right to me and how it kind of came out. I think when I was approaching this stuff, I was coming from more of an introspective space where I was really reflecting on everything, and I feel like right now with my creating, I’m trying to find a balance of keeping my heart and my brain in the song. And letting the thought process behind the song help shape not only the narrative, but the direction and some aspects of the aesthetic, but then also not forgetting that at the end of the day, my intuition of how the song feels and how I feel about the structure...Say I want to write a song about this, but then I’m working on a melody, a string of words comes out that not only resonates with me but feels good, I shouldn't deny that because my intention was different. I feel like that was my biggest difference or growing moment between the two, was just learning ok like, I can take this part of me but I also want to be more concise with what I’m saying.

Yeah that’s a great way to look at it and approach it. Like making sure you still have the heart and soul behind the song and not losing that, but still focusing on your intention. I’d say that’s a good way to work.

I think so! I mean I tried to do that.

I think it came across with this song. So kind of along those lines, what were some albums or maybe other art forms that you consumed during that past couple of years that may have influenced you with the new material?

I kind of narrowed it down in my head because I thought about this a little bit. There’s been a multitude, there wasn’t just one thing that I was like oh man, this is what I have to do now…But I have to say, On Human Freakout Mountain came out, and it was maybe a week to a month after and I had heard Control by SZA for the first time. And yes it has the R&B and the soul, and that kind of flavor to it, but I feel like the thing that resinated with me so much was how deep and personal and unapologetically herself [it was]. It felt so refreshing. And plenty of different singers talk about sex and love and all of these things that are so relevant and relatable to everyone, but something about her take on it and just the way her music made me feel, it was like wow, this is special. This is something that really really made me feel so good. I’m so grateful for all of my experiences and the opportunities I’ve been given, but it just kind of gave me this feeling like wow there’s so much more I could be doing. Just how much I could improve. So that was huge, if I had to give it to one [influence], I’d say that. Then that kind of started the whole train of all this other stuff I started listening to and pulling from when I was creating.

As far as when you play live, I saw you at Schubas in 2017, and even two years later I still remember how intense your energy and stage presence was. Are there any performers that you look to for inspiration and influence in that sense?

Yeah definitely. There’s the classic ones, like you can throw in the David Bowies and Freddie Mercurys. I think at an early age I caught the music bug and saw a lot of performances that just really moved me. I feel like that’s another aspect to this whole artistic side of making music. There’s a lot of current’s hard to think on the spot, but I really love the new Tyler, the Creator album, and I feel like the whole performance element that he’s added to it is really clever and engaging. Fun to watch. I’ll go with one more...Even like BrockHampton. I don’t think that’s a perfect example in terms of who I am, but it’s being able to perform in a high energy type of way that can really grab people but also using elements of the stage space more than just room for a band. Like being able to explore it as a set. Something that really resinates with me and my background, but also being able to shape the world and make it more engaging for the audience.

I see the next show you have announced is at Elsewhere in September. Do you have any plans for a tour later this year, or anything else you can kind of tease?

Nothing definite to tease right away, but the agents are always looking out for me and letting me know some opportunities. For me, right now I’ve been super lucky that people respond to the music so well and love coming to the shows and get really into it, but I’m also still at the moment tweaking some of the songs for the record and getting that all ready. I’m hoping to be on the road as soon as possible, but for now I want to focus on the record. But the summer is still going, there’s still some time before the Elsewhere show. There’s a chance something might come in the fall, but the record is the priority. Once the live shows and tour start happening, it will be well worth the wait though.

Can fans expect some new material at the September show or any other potential upcoming gigs?

Yeah, I think the new show will be debuting a lot of new songs and a whole new structure. As well as some of the classics but with a little bit of a twist to keep everything in the same world. It will be a nice mix of a lot of new stuff as well as some of the songs that helped get me where I am today.

Nice! Then how would you sum up the newer material that we haven’t heard yet in three words, just to keep it vague and not give too much away? You can say more about it if you want, or keep it at three words. 

I guess if I had to say three words to explain the music...introspective, abrasive soul. That’s so like music-based.  I think that another direction is playing with the themes in terms of the songwriting. I think that’s the best because I want the record to speak for itself, and I want to have the whole body fully-formed and realized before I give anything else, but sonically, it will be some sort of avant soul that has a little aggression, but ultimately lies in this smooth world too. 

That’s a great one-sentence tease and should get people intrigued! Anything else you want to share that’s in the works?

Working on the record….there’s gonna be some more music coming out this summer. We’re getting some more visuals ready too. In the meantime, my whole creative collective that I associate with is also releasing new music, so just supporting them and ready to take over in 2020 I guess. To the best of my ability.

Keep up with all the Zuli news on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Black Belt Eagle Scout

Black Belt Eagle Scout is the creation of singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul. Paul first got into playing music at a young age as she grew up in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and experienced native drumming, singing, and arts. Now based in Portland, where she moved in 2007, Paul started writing music for her own project after becoming immersed in the city’s music scene by playing drums and guitar for numerous other bands.

As an indigenous, queer woman and self-proclaimed radical feminist, Katherine Paul has worked hard and paved her own path to share her voice and her journey with the world. Paul’s debut album Mother of My Children clearly paints a picture of her stories, remaining transparent and honest from start to finish, and her stage presence possesses the same authenticity and composed intensity as her songwriting. Paul’s genuine nature and boundless talent as a creator continues to connect with listeners from different corners of the world, and this month, she will be joining Julia Jacklin on a tour across the country.

A couple of weeks ago when the tour was just beginning, Paul took some time to chat with me over the phone during a drive through the east coast. We talked about her current sources of inspiration, her new single “Loss & Relax,” elevating the underdogs, and what we can expect from her show at Schubas this Wednesday, May 8th. Tune in below to my chat with Black Belt Eagle Scout.

Black Belt Eagle Scout is Katherine Paul // Photo by Jason Quigley

Black Belt Eagle Scout is Katherine Paul // Photo by Jason Quigley

I wanted to start off talking about your early days. I know that you grew up in a small Indian reservation and you’ve said “Indigenous music is the foundation for all of my music.” In addition to your background and the music you learned with your family, what are some other sources of inspiration that you look to when writing now?

I’m currently in a van and we’re driving to New York City, and we’re playing shows. So I feel like at the moment, I’m inspired by the people that I meet and I’m inspired by this life that I have, where I get to drive all over this beautiful country. Right now we’re in Maryland I think. It’s so green and there are these really beautiful purple flowers that kind of look like cherry blossoms, but they’re purple. It’s just so beautiful here and I think that having this life is an inspiring thing for me right now. I feel really happy on tour and sometimes that doesn’t always happen to people. I don’t always feel happy on tour, but right now I’m having a really great time being on the road. And I think that having a healthy and happy tour life is really important for your mental health, and being able to keep your creativity flowing.

Yeah totally. Then in April you just shared “Loss & Relax” from the forthcoming 7” [out April 26th]. What was that creative process and your frame of mind like for this single, and how does it compare to the songs your wrote on your debut album?

Well “Loss & Relax” was written during the time I was recording Mother of My Children. I started writing the first guitar riff, and I wanted to put it on the album, but I just felt like it wasn’t finished and it wasn’t to a point where I wanted to share it. So I kept it in my back pocket and throughout the next year after recording Mother of My Children, I started playing with people and having a live band. I played with a bunch of friends and they helped me realize what that song could be and its potential. It was really interesting being able to play and flesh out a song in a live capacity. In terms of the intensity— I feel like that’s why the song is so intense is because I was able to have that experience of playing it with people. The song also was about the journey home to record Mother of My Children. It’s kind of a perspective song about what that was like and why I needed to go record that album. I think that the way the song is now in its recorded version, I’m very proud of it. I put a lot of effort into figuring out what parts go where and what additions need to be. Basically producing the song.

Yeah, it sounds great now. I’m glad it’s getting a proper release in its own time.

Yeah and that’s kind of why it’s on the 7” It was a lingering element that I don’t know if it would fit on an album in itself.

The music video [for “Loss & Relax”] is a perfect visualization of returning home, and what you’re describing in the song. It’s very cool to see you return to Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and to see you in your element.

I talk about my home a lot and I talk about where I’m from. I feel like besides people who I grew up with there and maybe my close friends who have gone back to visit with me, you don’t really know what that looks like. I wanted to be able to share that and to give a face to the name.

Yeah I think it definitely does that! I also wanted to mention while we’re on the subject of recording Mother of My Children, you played every instrument on the record. What were some of those challenges that you felt while recording and wearing so many different hats during the process, and what motivated you to continue down that path of being a multi-instrumentalist?

Before Mother of My Children, I had done this little demo where I also played all of the instruments, but it was done pretty much in a couple of takes per instrument, and it was very demo-ish sounding. So I already had this idea of “If I can do this myself, I can create an album myself.” I had that mentality going into Mother of My Children that I want to be able to do this myself… I know how to play all these instruments. I know how to put together songs. It’s something that I have knowledge about. So I was like why not just do it? I’m gonna do it!

Yeah I’m sure it gave you complete creative control then, which is important with a first release. And each instrument will come across on the record how you wanted it to.

It definitely is, but it’s also hard because you don’t have someone who you can bounce ideas off. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and rather than feeling validated about an idea, which that sort of thing can be hard for me— Just being able to be like oh, I’m not sure about this part, and then not having anyone to have that conversation with. I don’t work with any producers, so it’s basically just me and a recording engineer. I would do it all myself if I knew how to record, mix and master, and have it sound nice. That’s definitely a goal of mine down the road. The way that I work is I like to record into the night and I like to take breaks, and that doesn’t always work when you’re paying for studio time and you have a time limit. That was one thing that was difficult— being on a budget and trying to record the instruments by yourself. I paid for the whole thing all by myself and went in every day and played every instrument all by myself. At the end of every day, I was exhausted. I was trying to get as much done as I could. It’s not cheap to record in the studio, so I had my little savings and was like this is as much as I can spend, so let’s try to get this done in this amount of time.  I was fortunate enough to stay with my parents because I recorded in Anacortes, WA, which is where I was born and then I grew up 15 minutes outside of there at Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. So my mom was really helpful and she fed me and gave me food to take to the studio, and then I came home and could relax. If I didn’t have that, it would have been a lot more difficult having to create that album from scratch.

So speaking of your hard earned savings, I saw that article in Vulture where artists talked about their side hustles. You’ve worked in Portland in music venues as a talent buyer and in production. What’s something you’ve learned from being on both ends of the business as a performer and someone who books talent, or advice you’d give to other musicians who maybe haven’t been on the other side of it?

I’ve been working there for a long time. I still work there but not in the same capacity that I did before I decided to embark on a really long tour. I started working at Mississippi Studios after I graduated college. It was my first job out of college and they liked me enough that I’ve worked there for seven and a half years. I’ve done so many jobs there...I was production manager, then I was box office, then I’ve done ticket managing. I was the talent buyer, and then I was just like an office manager. So I feel like I’ve sort of lived the life of being in music venue production, and having that experience and while also being a musician….One of the things with Mississippi Studios is that it was established by a musician, so I was able to go on tour in other bands that I was in, and they let people take time off of work to go on tour, and then come back and work. They’re very understanding of that. Being a musician and also working at a venue, it feels like you get to be some sort of superhuman musician at times. Like you know what’s going on for your job side, and also you know what to do for being in a band. Being on the road, I’ve been advancing all of my shows. I’m essentially like my own tour manager— I have been putting in a lot of work to make sure the whole project is going along the schedule. So it’s an interesting thing to have this knowledge. I think that some people when they get to a certain point in their music career, they go on to tour and they go on album cycles, so they understand what it’s like. But as a musician that’s first starting out, you might not always have that knowledge. I don’t know what sort of advice I’d give in terms of your question.

It’s interesting still to hear your take on the benefits of knowing what’s going on from both sides. It’s good to be knowledgeable.

Yeah it just takes a huge amount of work to be a musician. It’s also interesting going around to different music venues. Sometimes I realize that not every music venue is the best venue to work with. Some sound engineers suck to work with. Some isn’t always perfect. So it’s always an interesting thing to realize.

Totally, then talking about your stage presence, I actually got to see you at SXSW this year for the first time. I loved your set and how there would be more mellow moments followed by you just shredding on the guitar. Who are some performers that you admire their stage presence or maybe look to for inspiration?

That’s a hard question! These questions I always have to think about them for a while, and I feel like I’m gonna have a good answer in like an hour. But I will say this— I love energy. And if there’s something that has energy, no matter what it is…it’s a certain kind of energy though. It’s this intensity. It’s like this love and this passion. I’m so drawn to seeing somebody who’s performing and they’re just getting so immersed into their performance because they’re feeling what they’re putting  out there.

Yeah like a genuine energy, and you can really tell when someone has that genuine energy, versus them just trying to put on a show.

For sure, and that’s my most favorite kind of performer. Exactly that. Someone who’s genuine, who’s putting out passion and energy. I love intensity, especially I love intense drummers who just get into it. One person that pops into my head, when I brought up drumming, is Janet Weiss. Her drumming intensity is what I’m totally into… that sort of element. Sleater-Kinney was one of my favorite bands growing up, and they definitely had a very intense stage presence and performance. So bands like that, I’m super into. I get bored when I see bands that are just kind of standing there not really feeling it. Coming from my music venue side, I’ve seen a ton of shows, I’ve worked a ton of shows, so I feel like there are certain shows where I’m like eh, not really into it. But then some of them, I’m like this is really amazing.

So this might be kind of another question that’s difficult to answer on the fly, but I’ve seen you’ve been asked a lot in other interviews about your identity as a queer, indigenous woman, and you’ve said “Having this identity—radical indigenous queer feminist—keeps me going.” You’ve also said how important it is for you to use your platform to elevate other voices in a music space that still is predominately male and predominately white, which I think is great and very much needed. What are some actions that you would you like to see from maybe venues or other artists moving forward to also help elevate these voices that are still seen as the “minority?”

One thing that really annoys me is when white indie rock musicians just don’t realize the importance of people of color. I think that more people need to be lifting up indigenous voices and queer voices if they don’t identify that way-- if they’re like cis, white, heteronormative people, I think that’s really important. It’s something that should be done a lot more. However you can… in the most respectful way of course. One person who is actually on my label, who I really respect and who I consider an awesome ally and accomplice is Elizabeth from Land of Talk. She is constantly in support of indigenous people and is showing that on social media and at her shows. She’s the kind of person where I feel like white people can learn by example. They can see her and see what sort of things they need to do. I don’t know…pay us more money too I guess!

Totally, just being more aware. I think that there are definitely some people that would want to help and be an ally, but they might not be sure how to take the first step, so giving that example of Elizabeth is a great start.

I mean also, first and foremost, just educate yourself. Like if you don’t know any people of color musicians or queer musicians, get on that and support that. And help uplift those voices if you have a certain platform, and if you see somebody that is doing an amazing job at whatever, just help raise that up.

Yeah keep sharing and supporting. Wrapping up then, you’re currently on tour with Julia Jacklin, who is also great! There’s a lot of sold out shows on this run and I’m excited for the Chicago show. What can we expect as far as your live set up? Will there be any new songs?

Yeah so tonight is our first show with Julia Jacklin, and I am so excited! I’m very excited to meet her and her band and to embark on this really long tour together. We are gonna be playing a couple new songs. “Loss & Relax” will be on the setlist, then we have another song called “Half Colored Hair” that’s the b-side of the 7-inch. We’re incorporating that into the set as well. Then for this tour, I have a 4-piece band, we have two guitarists and a bass and drums, so it will sound a lot more full. I’m really excited about that.

Black Belt Eagle Scout’s show with Julia Jacklin at Schubas on May 8th is sold out— but check out the rest of the tour dates here.

Keep up with Black Belt Eagle Scout on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram and tune into Mother of My Children below!

A Chat With: Jungle Green

Originally the moniker for solo songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Smith, Jungle Green is now a six-piece collective that creates timeless and genre-fluid music. Listening through the more than twenty releases on Jungle Green’s Bandcamp page, it’s impossible to pinpoint a specific style for Smith and his bandmates’ sound. There are some songs that sound like they were plucked right off a 1960’s hits compilation, while others play upon more modern elements; Some songs have a hint of twang, while others have a trace of jazz. Some of the recordings are more layered with a full band sound, and some are lo-fi recordings of Smith and his piano. The members of Jungle Green are jacks-of-all-trades, and their discography definitely reflects that. The extensive catalog also gives an insight to Smith’s boundless creative energy as a songwriter.

While I’ve been seeing Jungle Green’s name on bills around town for months now, I finally got my first chance to see them live earlier this month, when they opened up for Shy Boys at the Beat Kitchen. After their set, they took some time to chat with me about their evolution as a full band, touring with The Lemon Twigs, recording with Jonathan Rado and what’s next for them. Tune into Jungle Green and check out our conversation below!

Jungle Green is Adam Miller, Adam Obermeier, Alex Heaney, Andrew Smith, Emma Collins and Vivian McCall // Photo by Mitch Mitchell

Jungle Green is Adam Miller, Adam Obermeier, Alex Heaney, Andrew Smith, Emma Collins and Vivian McCall // Photo by Mitch Mitchell

So I know Jungle Green originally started as a solo project of Andrew’s, and now it’s evolved into a big old collective of six people. Can you talk a little bit about how that evolved and how you all met?

Andrew: Yeah totally! I first met Alex in an acting class. We became great friends and started kind of picking up shows every now and then. He would play guitar and we would do comedy bits. It was really not very good, but it was fun. And that’s what it’s all about, having fun! Then I just gradually met everyone else through school and you know, in 2015 and 2016. I just wanted to get shows and have a fuller sound, so I recruited people who were cool and I thought were talented and fun to be around.

Adam O: I met Andrew at a party, the same night I met Adam M. We hit it off and I got his number, and we had plans to see Angry Birds the movie— the Summer 2016 blockbuster. Shout out Angry Birds. And yeah he blew me off, and then I didn’t see him again until September and we got tacos together. I had the large popcorn cause I thought we could share…

Andrew: That’s true, but now we’re friends. Now we live together. It’s funny how things can start one way and fate will turn it another way.

Then Andrew, I know you’re not from Chicago. Is anyone originally from here?

Andrew: Yeah, I’m from Massachusetts.

Vivian: I’m from Texas. Everyone’s from all around. Texas, St. Louis, Kentucky….

What would you say is your favorite part of creating music in Chicago, versus your hometowns?

Andrew: These guys right here!

Adam M: It’s nice to be in a city where there’s just lots of people who are into music and lots of venues.

Andrew: I like the amount of venues. It’s nice! I like that I’ve met these guys.

Definitely! Then in the Fall you toured with the Lemon Twigs. How was that experience?

Andrew: That was really fun! That was in October.

Adam M: It was just really amazing that they asked us to play. We have mutual friends, but we didn’t know them super well. And they kind of just took a risk.

Andrew: You’re taking a big risk asking a band you’ve never met to tour cause it’s like you’re stuck with them for a month, they could be assholes.

Adam M: But it ended up going really well, and they’re great people. It was just a good time.

Andrew: It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.

Adam O: It just kind of came out the blue too.

Andrew: Yeah and we got really tight too, on the tour. We got our stride.

Yeah, I wanted to ask about your live show, and how you all switch instruments at different points and mix it up. When you were putting together the live show, is that something you decided to do from the start or is that more recent?

Andrew: That kind of came about because--We switch instruments, and we do it a lot cause we kind of play multiple things and people want to have a take on an instrument. It spices things up and also makes everyone happy.

Alex: It started more almost because we were forced to. It started with us recording different things cause we just did different stuff. Then when we went to make it a live show, we were like how are we gonna do this? So we just had to switch every song. It was kind of fun to do.

Andrew: I really like it! It’s really fun, and it keeps every song really unique.

Adam O: When we arrange, it’s kind of just like Oh, I sat down at this instrument when we were arranging this, so I guess I’m just gonna play that. It’s a fun, organic way to arrange.

Vivian: Yeah, everybody has a really different take from everyone else on each instrument. If you just mess with those combinations, you don’t really have to try that hard to get something that doesn’t sound like what you’ve done before.

Will you ever mix it up from show to show, or is it pretty much set at the current rotation in your live show?

Andrew: It’s set every show.

Yeah I saw you play a solo set last week, but I haven’t seen the full band until today.

Andrew: This didn’t really directly influence it, but there’s a band I like called Palberta. They switch every song--granted there’s only three [of them] playing guitar, bass, and drums, but they’re switching every song. I saw them and I was like oh, this is really cool. That maybe had some play in it.

Adam M: It helps when everyone is a Jack of All Trades.

Adam O: We all put a lot of effort into the instruments we’re not as good at.

Yeah it’s kind of like a band buffet.

Andrew: Yeah, a continental breakfast.

Emma: I think it also helps Andrew’s persona as the frontman. It makes what he does more exciting. He’s able to nail the drums and be the lead singer kind of hanging back, and then he comes forward.

Yeah, it’s very dynamic and interactive! And it’s not like you’re just going through the motions.

Vivian: It used to be, in comparison to what we do now. We all used to stick to one instrument and never ever switch, and Andrew was always behind the drums.

Andrew: It’s kind of boring [to stick to the same instrument]. It’s boring the way we did it. It’s not boring for every band.

Vivian: It was just missing out on how Andrew is a really good frontman and brings a really cool energy up there. It was like a waste when he was just at the drums.

Andrew: I’m trying to get to the point eventually where I’m just not really playing drums.

Yeah your stage presence is great! When you came off the stage and you were wandering around, it’s very much in your face and breaks the fourth wall. It felt very present. Is there anyone else besides Palberta that influences your stage presence or that you admire?

Andrew: Sure, yeah! There’s a lot. I really like people like Sam France of Foxygen. My favorite guys are like Sam, and David Yow of Jesus Lizard, who’s like the best. I like a lot of punk frontmen, I feel bad I don’t know his name, but the guy from Bad Brains who does back flips. I don’t know the band too well but I love that. I think a lot of punk frontmen, which I guess makes it kind of interesting cause we’re not really punk music.

Adam M: We’re not very tough at all.

Andrew: I have straight up run away from someone who looked remotely scary.

Switching gears to your recorded music, you’ve recently worked with Jonathan Rado as a producer. How did that experience go?

Andrew: Yeah that was a year ago, that was great! It was really fun.

Adam M: It was amazing. This probably goes for everyone, but I feel like my life is sort of pre-recording with Rado and post-recording with Rado. Just the way he approaches recording and he just keeps a really good attitude the whole time. He’s very encouraging but also it was just really inspiring to see how he works a song up from the beginning.

Vivian: He did really keep a lot of positivity— cause it’s hard when you have six people and everybody has their own opinions. You have firm opinions when you’re making final decisions about the arrangements and how these songs are supposed to sound [on the record]. Then you’re doing it for 12 hours for a week and a half.

Andrew: It’s hard to do but I think it was as smooth as it could have been.

Cool, then the last thing I wanted to talk about was the music video that Vivian mentioned you were recording over the weekend. Can you talk about it a bit?

Andrew: It was really fun, Alex directed it and he did a great job.

Alex: I went to film school, and I did really lame projects, but everyone was nice enough to let me take some creative liberties with it.

Andrew: He did a great job and he’s available for hire!

Alex: We’re editing it now and it’s gonna come out pretty soon.

Vivian: We just had a lot of fun with it.  I think we kind of tried to do a little bit of what we do onstage and keep it fun.

Andrew: It’s for a song called “Cryin’”

Photos of Jungle Green at Beat Kitchen, April 2019

Catch Jungle Green at our first showcase of the Summer with Jude Shuma and Fran at Sleeping Village on 6/25— tickets are only $5 and the beer is just $1.

Keep up with Jungle Green on Facebook + Instagram

Feature: Glasgow's The Dunts Have Invested in Themselves, And You Should Too


In the weeks leading up to the annual SXSW festival this year, my inbox got inundated with emails upon emails of showcase recommendations and requests to feature or interview certain bands during the festival. While some emails certainly may have slipped through the cracks, I tried my best to listen to any of the bands that I heard from— and one of those emails just happened to be from a Glasgow band called The Dunts. The Dunts are still a relatively young band with just a couple of EPs under their belt, but they immediately jumped out from the hundreds of emails I got when I took my first listen of “Dimitri,” their most streamed track on Spotify.

The Dunts have a sound that’s familiar in a way you just can’t quite put your finger on; They remind you of so many of your favorite bands without sounding derivative of them. And since forming in 2016, they have garnered buzz with their authentic, rowdy stage presence and guitar-driven, sticky melodies. I got the chance to see The Dunts perform during the afternoon on my second day at SXSW, and when I arrived at the British Embassy venue to see a room packed to the brim, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one eager to experience their raved-about live show.

Following their SXSW debut, the four band members were buzzing from the successful show as they took some time to chat with me afterwards. Guitarist and vocalist Rab Smith tells me that so far, SXSW has been the best experience of his life— and at that point, they were only three or four days into the festival. For most of the band, it’s their first time in Austin (or America in general) and it was impossible not to sense their genuine gratitude for being able to perform over here. David McFarlane says he’d been to The States before, but not since he was about nine years old. “The whole experience so far has been half like a holiday, half like working. So far it’s been amazing. I’m enjoying every single second. Even the hangover,” he says.

The band also admits there’s definitely been some culture shock coming over here, mostly in the form of huge meal portions and free pours of alcohol at the bars, but for the most part the trip has exceeded their expectations in every way. “It’s so refreshing to be here. Like with Glasgow, it’s not that people aren’t friendly, but you don’t really go around the street talking to random people. So it’s refreshing to be here. Feels kind of good for the soul,” Smith says.

Leading up to their first SXSW gig at the British Embassy, Smith says they’d all been able to check out some shows there in the days prior. “We saw how good the sound system was and I think we were all excited,” he says, but he and the band also admit there were some nerves as well. As a spectator of the show, I was impressed by how quickly The Dunts commanded the room in an unfamiliar setting; everyone listened intently, either dancing or nodding their head along to the melodic anthems. The band looked right at home as they thrashed around the stage and drummer Kyle McGhee let loose on the drum kit, and at one point, Smith even hopped off the stage to sing amongst the audience members. Despite being so far from Glasgow, The Dunts fit right in. I ask what bands have stage presence that they admire, or what kind of frontmen inspire them, and they mention another band from Glasgow, called Gallus. “He doesn’t play guitar, it’s just him singing. He’s crazy, running around,” McFarlane says of Gallus’ frontman Barry Dolan, and Smith compares him to the likes of Freddie Mercury. Smith says he also admires the frontman of Ireland’s Fontaines D.C., who played their first SXSW this year as well.

Back on the subject of the Glasgow music scene, I mentioned an article from Noisey with the tagline that Glasgow isn’t all just electronic music, which The Dunts had tweeted about. The article discusses the pub/venue called the Priory, which all of the members of The Dunts say is an absolute staple in their music scene. There’s a PA, but the Priory has no stage and it’s a dive bar frequented by musicians that have bit of grit about them, but that’s what makes it perfect, Smith says. “If it wasn’t for the Priory, we wouldn’t have met all the people that we’ve met that are best friends with us, and we wouldn’t have gotten some of the opportunities we’ve got,” Colin McGachy adds. “The guy that runs The Priory is a good friend of ours as well now. There’s a lot of UK promoters that use pay to play, but John Jokey is anti that. He’s the antithesis of that, he wants to pay bands fairly and he loves the music. It’s because of guys like him and the pubs like The Priory… It’s guys like that that make all the difference,” McFarlane says. While the Priory is a place primarily for new bands to cut their teeth, it’s mainly about the sense of community for Glasgow musicians. “You get a feeling that it’s this big fucking connected thing and everyone looks out for everyone. It’s amazing that new bands want to be a part of that community and it’s amazing to go and see them,” Smith says about their music scene.


Another place in Glasgow that The Dunts rave about is the recording studio 7West, which the band had been working in a few weeks prior to SXSW, recording their next single, slated for release this Spring. “Bands will go to 7West and pay the money that it costs, cause it costs a lot but it’s worth it,” they say about the studio, which is run by Chris Marshall (Marshall and Johnny Madden from Baby Strange also produce The Dunts’ music). While they admit it can be pricey to record in the Glasgow staple, they all agree that any band worth their salt in the UK will go to 7West. “You have to invest. I think that’s what we do well in the industry. You really do get what you pay for,” Smith says. And as a listener, you can definitely tell that the band doesn’t skimp on their presentation when you listen to their first two EPs. There’s a cheeky, punk attitude embedded into The Dunts’ music, but it’s presented in a meticulously polished fashion that tells you about the time and investment that went into the final product.

And ultimately it’s that determination and their willingness to put in the effort and hard work that has gotten The Dunts the opportunities they’d had so far, and will continue to get. The Dunts played Reading and Leeds Fest last year and they’re slated for other UK festivals like TRNSMT and Camden Rocks Fest this summer, but they’ve got their sights set for even more in the future, like playing the famous Barrowland Ballroom venue in Glasgow and the coveted BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury. They’ve got the work cut out for them, but they’re ready to take it on, says Smith. “If there’s any wee children that are listening to this, that have music instruments and are worried about not being able to do it or don’t believe in themselves, just believe in yourself. Work hard. We’ve all come from fucking nothing. We are the proof if you keep going, keep plugging, it doesn’t matter who says no. It doesn’t matter who ignores you, if you believe in yourself, you’ll do it,” he adds.

The Dunts have invested in themselves—now invest in them too by keeping up with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and listening to their latest EP.

A Chat With: Native Sun

NYC’s Native Sun promises to play every show like it’s their last. A weighted promise, especially for a band who signed on to play more than seven shows over the course of a few days at this year’s SXSW, but one that they not only live up to, but exceed. If you’ve ever seen Danny Gomez, Jake Pflum, Alexis Castro and Mauricio Martinez play a show together, then you’ve undoubtedly felt the surge of energy that they release each and every time they get on a stage, and you’ve walked away knowing that they just poured everything they had into that performance. At least, that was my experience when I saw Native Sun play to a packed house at Cheer Up Charlie’s indoor venue on the final Saturday night of SXSW. It was a performance that inspired a crowd surfer (despite the venue’s low ceilings) and ended with Gomez on the floor of the stage.

Despite the exertion of Saturday night’s show and all those prior, when I met up with Native Sun the following afternoon, the band seemed anything but worn down as they got ready to play their final show of the festival. Perhaps it was the spiritual awakening of Austin, Texas that Pflum experienced that kept their spirits high (more on that later), but when talking to Native Sun, I got an immediate sense of their gratitude and appreciation for being able to create, play, and share their music. If you’re not yet familiar with Native Sun, get to know them more as we discuss their favorite musical discoveries of SXSW, their place in the NYC arts scene, a wild night in Nashville, and more!

Native Sun is Mauricio Martinez, Jake Pflum, Danny Gomez, and Alexis Castro (Left to Right)

Native Sun is Mauricio Martinez, Jake Pflum, Danny Gomez, and Alexis Castro (Left to Right)

Now that we’re on the final day of SXSW, and it’s been a long week with lots of shows, what has been a personal favorite memory or highlight from one of your shows this week?

Danny: We played Spider House yesterday after this ridiculous band called The Sloths. They had a lot of moves. They covered “Gloria” at the end. But after the show, we stole a Link Wray poster that they had from the venue. We thought that was kind of very part of our DNA to do that. I don’t regret it. We did it for the love of rock’n’roll.

Alexis: Yesterday we played at Cheer Up Charlie’s and there was someone in the crowd that knew lyrics to a song that we haven’t put out yet. We’ve only played it live maybe four times. They were singing along and I was confused.

That’s amazing. They came to all the shows this week so they know it now!

Mauricio: I feel like that’s the same [highlight] for me. I was confused—I don’t even know those lyrics! Someone was singing them. So that was different and cool.

Jake: Hi I’m Jake—

And you’re watching the Disney Channel?

Jake: And you’re watching the Disney Channel! I’m a huge fan of Fugazi and their refusal to use a setlist and how they just kind of call it based on feel every time that they play. That’s something that I had hoped to get to with this band some day, and we had just been playing so much leading up to SXSW and during SXSW, and the last couple shows we didn’t have enough time to write a set list. So finally we were just locked in and sharing the heart beat. Calling songs out during the show. We all look at each other like “what are we doing?” and we just launch into it. That was a personal victory.

Nice! Were there any new bands that you discovered this week?

Danny: Yeah, I liked the Fontaines D.C. guys. We got to hang out with them and play pool and see some of their shows. They were really nice.

Jake: We’re gonna have a shared answer [himself and Mauricio].

Mauricio: We saw Haiku Hands. They were so fire.

Jake: I’ve never seen a band that loud. Ever.

Mauricio: They’re like Beastie Boys meets Missy Elliott.

Jake: It was a really great experience. I loved their performance. Not to mention that every bass hit was like shaking my entire skeleton.

Mauricio: Black Midi was super interesting also.

Alexis: I didn’t even have time to focus on any other sets. We were just running around for our shows.

Danny: Those were the main ones.

Your stage presence was really great at the Cheer Up Charlie’s show I got to see yesterday. People were vibing and crowd surfing—

Danny: People really react at our shows, which is something we’re thankful for. Cause you never know, sometimes where you’re doing something more intense, it doesn’t get the same reaction.

So as far as stage presence, is there anyone you look up to or really admire in that sense? Or anyone that inspires you when you’re performing?

Jake: I love Jimmy Page. I don’t think I’m as sexy, but that’s definitely maybe a starting point. I think for my own personal stage presence, the inspiration comes more from outside of music. Just life in general and what it’s like to live and how it can be frustrating and emotional and there’s a lot of pent up feelings: positive, negative, neutral, that go from when you wake up to before you can play. It’s definitely…I’ve said once before, that when I play, it’s like my body is trying to jump outside of itself.

Danny: That’s the best way to put it. Locking into the ethereal spirit of it all. Those are the entertainers that I like.

Mauricio: We’re lucky because we’re doing what we actually love doing.

Danny: Yeah, we have to fight for it so we’re gonna give it our all.

Mauricio: Exactly! If there’s two people in the show, we play like there’s a thousand.

Jake: We play like it’s not gonna happen again.

Mauricio: It’s my favorite thing to do in the world.

Danny: We’re always gonna give it 200 no matter what show you come to.

Nice! Then as far as your music, you had an EP come out at the end of last year. What can you tell me about the process behind those songs?

Jake: [The EP] was written a while before it was released. We started recording that right after the one before it came out. So our first EP was done, and we were already working the day after on recording. So they had been written a while. We kind of took our time to slowly build it from the ground up from a recording standpoint. And you know, New York City band, it’s like who’s got their basement free for two hours? How much can we get done?

Alexis: We recorded at my house.

Jake: We recorded at his house...we jumped around a bunch of different studios. We recorded saxophone in one studio, keyboards in someone else’s apartment, that sort of thing.

Danny: It was interesting, out of those six songs, four of them we went in dead set, and then “Sweet V” and “Modern Music” we kind of just decided on the spot. We had just written those maybe a couple weeks before that and just decided to go for it. So like those takes you hear of “Sweet V,” that’s the first time we made it through. It’s a very live experience in that sense. You hear him [Alexis] say “Fuck” at the end of it.

Do you guys do your own producing too or do you work with somebody else?

Danny: Not yet, hopefully soon!

Alexis: We’ve been doing demos by ourselves.

Jake: I think from like the technical definition of producing, a lot of it does land on our shoulders. We definitely have people engineering for us, and as far as like the ownership of the equipment. But it’s not like we’ve gone into a studio and we’re like here’s our song and someone’s going “I’m actually thinking we should restructure it.” None of that. We’re definitely owning it.

Danny: We’ve been working with this dude upstate called Kevin McMahon, who’s like a guru. He’s worked on a lot of records we like, like Fat White Family. Swans. He’s a weirdo. We love that.

As far as your collaboration as a band, how do you handle times when you might disagree? Or do you typically just agree to each handle your own parts?

Danny: I think we state our opinion and if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

Alexis: Most things instinctually kinda work out. It just kind of works.

Mauricio: Now after a moment of playing together for a year and a half, we know how we should play for the sound we want to do. So I play the bass and I’m not gonna try to be super technical. I know how the song should sound, and what I should do. We now know our strategy.

Jake: There’s plenty of times where an idea will come into the practice space or the writing room or wherever we’re working on something, and someone will float an idea, and maybe it doesn’t land 100 percent. So yeah there’s disagreement, but just because it doesn’t make sense or it’s not a fully formed idea yet, it’s when we all figure it out together. There’s a song, ”Oedipus”…

Alexis: I used to hate that fucking song. Now it’s my favorite.

Jake: We just put it out on a 7 Inch, which we just put out here [during SXSW]. We just couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t get on the same page, the tempo didn’t feel right. It’s not that anyone was playing incorrectly, it’s just that we were like out of sync. Then one day--

Danny: Oh, we did this kind of like art experiment, where they had us play for eight hours straight without stopping. And they documented the whole thing. On the breaks, they wanted us to jam. We started jamming on that song, and I remember Jake took a dump and came back and was like I got it! I figured out what was missing. We jumped into it and you see the process of how it all evolves.

Jake: Definitely a come to Jesus moment on the toilet.

As far as more new music, you mentioned there’s a newer unreleased song you’ve been playing here. What else have you guys got cooking for release this year?

Danny: Album!

Mauricio: It feels like its time.

Jake: We’ve got the two song 7”. Those songs will likely be on the final product of a full record. We recorded a bunch of songs with Kevin McMahon a few months ago, which we figured would maybe be like the starting point for that album, and we have a bunch of songs that we’ve been demo-ing ourselves.

Danny: Jake’s computer is the vault.

Jake: Exactly, I’ve got to lock it up. Alexis has the back up. So now we’re demoing the remainder of the songs we have and we’re just trying to fit the pieces together and see what makes the most sense as a complete project

Danny: We want something that’s a cohesive body of songs.

Nice, so you’re definitely more into full albums that sort of have a theme?

Danny: This could go there! It’s not gonna be like a wizard theme or anything like that. But we want it to feel like a body the whole way through. The records that I think we really love, be it from all different genres, are bodies of work that you know in their own respective rights.

Jake: 100 percent an album guy, start to finish, no shuffle. An album that’s ten singles that don’t really fit together has never been my sort of thing. So a cohesive piece-- sequencing is really important to me.

Danny: We want it to sound timeless. Like this record could have been from twenty years ago or that band still could be making this music in twenty years.

Cool, and then as far as the New York music scene, we were chatting a little bit earlier about bands like Gnarrcicists and Stuyedeyed—which they’re actually playing an ANCHR showcase on Friday back in Chicago.

Danny: Where’s that at?

Thalia Hall!

Danny: Nice that’s a big one! Hell yeah. Who else is playing?

Varsity, Rookie and Pool Holograph!

Danny: Oh sick, we love Rookie! We played with them—

Jake: Oh my god! I’m so glad you brought them up! Haiku Hands, I love you! Like next time I’m in Australia, I will find you, but Rookie was the best band that I have seen! God I love them!

Mauricio: Yeah they were fucking sick.

Jake: You know how South By goes, you play at 3PM and maybe that’s just not where everyone’s at right now. They played to like I think me and Rachel, our friend. And they were just SO good. They brought it, just like their energy. They brought it like they were playing to a huge crowd.

Yeah they played the ANCHR showcase here too and people were coming in off the street cause they heard them outside.

Jake: I think that like we’re purists and appreciators of classic rock-- those are classic rock students. Those are dudes that like Rock n’ Roll!

Ok so, we’ll have to do a show with you two in Chicago at some point is what I’m hearing! As far as the New York scene, though, what are some of the best and worst parts of the scene at the moment, in your opinion?

Danny: I think it’s very privilege and image obsessed. You know what I mean, some of these bands put on a front of this griminess, but once you really know them, that’s not really them. So we try to be honest about who we are cause we’ve had to struggle for it. So that’s my biggest thing with people in New York.

Jake: The best part of New York for me is that there’s so many opportunities to play, there’s so many venues to perform at. I’ve lived in a smaller town. I grew up in South Florida where there’s one venue and you can’t play at the one venue with the same three bands every week. It’s just like at some point people aren’t gonna come. So [In New York] you’ve got so many different places you can go. There’s so many different scenes that exist and I’m on a constant personal journey of trying to figure out what’s happening that I don’t know. Cause I know the world I run in, but what’s happening somewhere else, there’s all these other different bands. I see the SXSW list of all the bands coming from New York that I’ve never heard of, and it’s like who are they? What are they doing?

Danny: Actually a great band that we really like from New York is called Yaasss.

Jake: I really like Miranda and The Beat. There’s a lot of soul in those songs.

Danny: We played with them when they did a full Shangri-Las set at this fake prom show we did at Baby’s All Right.

Jake: There’s a lot of non-musical things that sort of revolve in our world that are really cool and make it a really fulfilling place to be and to be working on music and art. We’ve got friends who are unbelievable film makers and unbelievable photographers and poets. Our friends Rachel and Natalie run POND Magazine, which is an institution. There’s so many different things that are multimedia happening that it’s really inspiring to be around.

Danny: I’d get bored if I was hanging out with musicians all day, I like stimulation from other art.

Jake: From people making zines...there’s just stuff happening all the time!

Danny: That’s why we love Chicago!

Yeah that’s very similar in that sense. Then last thing I wanted to mention, Danny you said earlier that the ride down from NYC to Austin was interesting. What were some top moments from the road trip?

Mauricio: Yeah yeah, it was fun! We stopped in Nashville to sleep there. So we went out just because we’re in Nashville, so we’re like let’s have a beer at least. We go to this dive bar/trucker bar. We played some pool, had some disgusting tequila shots.

Jake: Grossest tequila I’ve had in my life. Why does Nashville have sweet tequila?

Mauricio: It was intense. So we went back to our hotel and wanted a little more. So we got to the hotel bar and they were closed, but the lady was like I’ll open the bar for you if you play a few songs.

Danny: So we got up there and did a few songs acoustic, but then she opened up the bar. Then she liked it so she invited us on this country tour bus, and we chilled with a bunch of different people that we don’t usually get to. It was great! You get to see all different paths of life when you’re sitting there with a kid with no teeth.

Mauricio: I held a knife.

Danny: He held a knife! This woman wanted him to hold her knife. I think that’s a sign of affection.

Jake: That’s really just how you say hello in Nashville I think!

D: Me and [Mauricio] did another song and that kid was like “Is that The Stooges?” And he smiles and you just see no teeth.

Mauricio: We didn’t think they were into that shit.

Danny: Yeah he was playing like “Wagon Wheel” and then he’s like I love The Stooges! Us too, dude.

Anything else you want to shout out, or let the world know as we wrap up?

Jake: I’d like to shout out the city of Austin, TX. I’d never been here before. This is both my first time at SXSW and in the state of Texas and the city of Austin. That being said I feel like I’ve had a personal spiritual awakening while being here. There’s been a door of a room shut inside my soul and the door has been kicked open and the lights been flicked on. And I feel like I am now me again. A me that I forgot that I was. I’m not being tongue and cheek. I feel like the keys are back in the ignition and I am revved. I’m ready.

Danny: He got that oil change.

Jake: My oil has been changed.

Alexis: The van’s oil has not been changed.

Jake: I got new windshield wipers. I got new headlights, I can see!

Danny: I just want everyone to pay attention to this year. It’s a crucial time, there’s a lot of people in this country that are being disserviced right now. I just want everyone to keep their eyes open and not shut off the doors. Right now is the time to do something.

Keep up with Native Sun on Instagram and Facebook, and listen to their latest EP below!

Feature: High School Band Why Not is No Question

Photo By Johnny Nguyen

Photo By Johnny Nguyen

After being sent an incredibly enthusiastic email, I find myself sitting down with genre-refusing teen band, Why Not. The band is following up their 2018 album Spring Cleaning with EP, EP, out today, February 15th. Drummer Josh MacGregor has promised me that this is their “most captivating, interesting, and professional release so far.” So at the very least, Why Not is confident. Opening track “Ready 4 the World” backs that up on title alone, the band telling me that it’s the only song on Spotify titled “Ready 4 the World” using the number instead of the word.

Why Not thinks of themselves as a new step beyond punk and emo and math rock. And they aren’t wrong. EP layers autotune over a cacophony of guitar and fits a ten minute track into a four song release. Why Not, as a whole, are unique in their audacity. Singer, Henry Breen is articulate and soft spoken when I speak with him about the album. Which is a rare skill for a high schooler to possess. And it bleeds through EP. He sings about maturity, growth, and self-awareness over layered tracks. On “Thud. Dead.” he repeatedly slurs “I’m turning into ashes” as the track drifts away with a train chug. But there are no sad songs on EP. Even the feelings of being lost in your own mind and unable to properly convey yourself are undermined with energy. Why Not are cautious not to delve into the despair and self-pity of the three pieces of yore. They’re young, but just old enough to know they should care. Guitarist Isaac Dell tells me “we love our buds” while Josh chimes in “we’re wholesome people.” Part of what differentiates EP is its lack of edge. It’s not trying to be anything it isn’t, it’s refreshingly earnest. Why Not doesn’t posture themselves as the cool kids in school, and that’s what makes them so endearing. EP thinks self-righteous head nods are passe and encourages audiences to dance instead. This release is sonic; you can feel the band’s excitement of coming into their own. When asked about “Why Not” versus “Why Not?” they eagerly tell me that it’s a statement. Sans question mark is “exciting.” Isaac perks up and tells me that it’s also aesthetically better while handing me a handful of band stickers. But question mark aside, EP does stand on its own.

Photo By Johnny Nguyen

Photo By Johnny Nguyen

Sitting with the band we discuss Spongebob, Ariana Grande, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and it becomes clear why they vie for positivity. They know their truth and they’re optimistic about it. Why Not isn’t emo, they’re not pop punk, they don’t swear in front of me. The peace and joy they find in expressing their more negative feelings is a punk mentality all its own. EP is the product of people who don’t want you to associate their music with sadness. Which may be naive, but it’s what differentiates EP from the rest. This EP is made for themselves, and if it resonates with others, then Why Not is happy. Their idealism seems young. But their desire to grow as people is wiser. Why Not is three teens making music because they love doing it and because they care for each other. And the world is definitely ready for that.

Why Not will be having their release party for EP on March 2nd at the Fall Out Arts Initiative in Minneapolis.

Keep up with the band on Facebook + Instagram

A Chat With: Roman Lewis

Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando// Courtesy of Fancy PR

Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando// Courtesy of Fancy PR

London based singer-songwriter Roman Lewis just released his debut EP on January 25th, via Bright Antenna Records. In honor of the release, we chatted with Lewis about his favorite moment recording the seven tracks, selfies with celebrities, the London music scene and more! Tune in below.

Congrats on releasing your debut EP Heartbreak (for now)! What’s your favorite memory or moment from the writing and recording process of these songs?

Thank you! Yeah I’m just happy it’s finally out. My favorite memory from the recording process was definitely playing the tambourine on "Heartbreak.“ I had the best time playing that goddamn tambourine… you have no idea. Catherine Marks produced the EP and she’s a genius and just the biggest joy to record with, so we had a lot a fun with this. From the writing process it was probably writing "Midnight in Paris.” It was one of those songs I was just really really really proud of, and I still am. Any time someone asked me to play a song, I would play that one, which rarely happens with me for a new song. It was just one of those things I wanted to say and that song did it just right. 

You’ve said that your song “Rose” from this EP was inspired by William Blake's 1794 poem "A Poison Tree.” What was it about this particular poem that inspired you, and what are some of your other favorite poems or poets?

I just really liked how Blake used a tree to symbolize his hatred and wanted to do the same with a rose and a girl. I would love to say I know a lot about poetry but I really don’t. We studied that poem in English class, that’s the only reason I know it. 

Besides writing a song about it, what’s your go-to activity for getting over heartbreak?

[Laughs] Writing a song about it. Not the biggest fan of wallowing in my own sadness, so writing a song gets it out and creates something beautiful with it. Thankfully it doesn’t happen on a daily basis so I don’t really have a ritual or anything else I do. 

Who are some of your biggest influences when it comes to your stage presence?

 Damien Rice was one of the first singer-songwriters I really got into and he plays acoustically so I when I first started performing I took some inspiration from him I guess. The energy of Jack White when The White Stripes would play live would always amaze me, so him too I reckon. 

You’re based in London and there’s always so much great talent coming out of London. Who are some of your favorite fellow London musicians and favorite places to see live music in the city?

King Krule, Wolf Alice, Blaenavon, Marika Hackman, Matt Maltese, Shame and Idles are some of my current faves from the UK, but I couldn’t tell you whether they’re from London or not if I’m honest. Omeara and Koko are probably my two favorite venues in London. I was lucky enough to support Blaenavon at Omeara recently which was great fun!

I love your music video for “Ways,” and you’ve mentioned it was inspired by the video for "Once In A Lifetime" by the Talking Heads. What was the experience like filming in front of a green screen for it and working with director Matt Robertson?

 I just saw David Byrne dancing and I thought to myself I just wanna do that. The song’s about the aftermath of a good time so I just wanted to dance and have a good time. Filming it was great fun! None of the dancing was choreographed obviously so I had no idea what was coming out but enjoyed witnessing the madness of it all, and dragging my brother into it was fun too. Post-production on the other hand made me want quit music altogether. Matt is a talented guy, but we were on very different pages with the green screen so I ended up just taking the footage off this stock video website I found. It ended up looking great though so I can put the trauma behind me. 

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you want to work with?

 Doing something with Snail Mail would be cool. Her music is great!

What are three songs that you can’t stop listening to lately?

 Going through a big Elliot Smith phase right now and can’t get enough of “Say Yes.” Also loving Fleet Foxes, especially “Helplessness Blues,” and Pavement “Gold Soundz” and “The Spark That Bled” The Flaming Lips. Loving all four albums those songs come from.  

 Besides your EP, what else can fans expect this year, whether it be touring or more new music?

Another EP! Going into the studio to record the next one and it’s very much a continuation of "Heartbreak (for now).”

Your Instagram bio mentions that your mum got 11,000 likes on a photo of your sister with Selena Gomez. If you could take a selfie with any celebrity, who would you want it to be and why?

Great question! I would also get one with Selena Gomez and I would get 12,000 likes and rub it right in her face.

Keep up with Roman Lewis on Twitter + Facebook + Instagram

A Chat With: Welles

From playing major festivals like Bonnaroo and ACL and sharing stages with the likes of Greta Van Fleet, Royal Blood, and The Regrettes to releasing his debut album Red Trees and White Trashes, Jesse Wells (AKA Welles) has been on a roll for the past couple of years. With his addictively gritty and emotive sound that’s reminiscent of 90’s grunge and classic rock’n’roll, while also refreshing and revitalizing at the same time, it’s no surprise that Welles continues to garner the attention of new listeners.

This month, Welles will head out on yet another tour, headlining shows across the country— including a stop at Schubas on February 20th. Ahead of the show, get to know more about the songwriter as he discusses his move to Nashville, covering The Cure, his tour essentials and more.

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR/ By Mafalda Millies

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR/ By Mafalda Millies

What was your first musical memory?

In the first grade I was walking down the sidewalk with the class singing Don McLean’s “American Pie.” I remember grabbing classmates on either side of me and getting ‘em to sing the chorus with me until the teacher finally came and asked me to not sing that. Picture of bunch of 6 year olds singing ‘them good ole boys were drinking whisky and rye,’ arm in arm, rolling down the sidewalk.

Congratulations on releasing your debut album Red Trees and White Trashes in June last year! What was your favorite moment during the writing and recording process of these songs?

I enjoyed writing them back on space mountain in AR. I used to stay out late, wake up and go and get coffee with my mom in the mornings. Then I’d go back to the apartment and write. Salad days for sure.

Since moving to Nashville from your hometown in Arkansas, what would you say is the biggest growth you’ve seen in your songwriting and artistry, or the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve written a few songs folks like, but I’ve gotten mostly negative feedback otherwise. I’ve stayed productive aside from being on tour 7-8 months out of the year. The most profound lesson, or at least just a consistent thing I’ve been aware of since coming to Nashville and touring the states is that everywhere is relatively the same. When I first moved up I found myself saying ‘oh just like Arkansas’ a lot. The more I traveled the more I found that everywhere is just like everywhere else.

Your sound has been compared to legends like Kurt Cobain and the more modern Ty Segall, but who are some musicians who have influenced you that people might not expect?

I grew up with a lot of CSNY and Simon and Garfunkel. I spent a lot of time with Dylan, still do. I like a guy who calls himself ‘Little Wings.’ Check out ‘Light Brang’ or ‘Boom’. Guy’s a poet.

I love the cover of “Lovesong” you recently did for Spotify Singles. What made you pick that song for your cover?

A buddy of mine reckoned I oughta give that Cure tune a try. I recorded a version down in my basement, folks agreed, and we went into the studio and did that. It was honestly my first encounter with new wave. I missed the 80’s. The aesthetic always seemed so inorganic to me. I’ve come around though.

When you’re writing, do you ever look to other art mediums like movies, books or visual art for inspiration? If so, what are some recent works that have inspired you?

There was a period of time that Apocalypse Now! was pretty much on repeat in my apartment. I want to capture the horror. I read some Ginsberg and Salinger too. Visual art is a bit frustrating for me, there’s a disconnect but I’ve got plenty of years to come around.

Who would you love to work with in the future (either touring with or collaborating on a song)?

I’d love to tour or to write with Ty Segall. He’s brilliant. I think Mac Demarco is the tops.

You’ve spent a lot of time on the road, playing music festivals and touring with bands like The Regrettes and Greta Van Fleet. What are the three things you can’t live without on tour?

I don’t roll nowhere without my off-white BPA- free walmart thermos. I hate the idea of using so much plastic all the time, it’s gross. I like to have Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, I keep a little thing of it. And a lot of kombucha. I like the GTS gingerade brand.

Which cities or shows on your upcoming February/March tour are you most looking forward to, and how would you describe your live show in three words?

I’m stoked to be back on the west coast! And the east coast! Honestly when I’m in the van, I’m equally excited every day. It’s a wonderful life.




If you were entered into a talent show and couldn’t pick music as your talent, what would your special talent be?

I would tell em jokes till I lost.

There you have it! Welles will be down at SXSW this year, or if you’re in Chicago, catch him at Schubas Tavern February 20th. Tickets here.

Welles on: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Gully Boys

Based out of Minneapolis, Gully Boys are a neo-emo band blazing the way for non-male bands in the DIY scene. I sat down with drummer, Nadirah McGill to discuss boy bands, “diversity,” and shifting the dialogue on local music.

Photo courtesy of Gully Boys

Photo courtesy of Gully Boys

Tell me a little about how you got started.

I started playing the drums about two and a half years ago. My ex-boyfriend had a drumkit and I would just fuck around on it. I finally saw these two drummers, Ben and Drew from POLICA. I saw them live and I was just like.. deceased. And it inspired me to start drumming. I always wanted to drum but my mom wouldn’t let me, she said it was too loud. So as soon as I was old enough, I got one, and it kind of happened like fate. My ex-boyfriend broke my TV and so he gifted me the drumset as payment.

Wait. Your ex broke your TV?

He was like “you can have this drum set, I was gonna sell it but I broke your TV. So.” And I was like “that’s fine”.”

Ok, Continue.

And so that’s kind of how Gully Boys started. Kathy came over and we covered “Boyfriend” by Best Coast. And then she showed me one of the songs she had and it was called “Hymen Honey.” She invited her best friend Natalie, and we jammed together one time and we became a band. It was nice because none of us had really played our instruments before so there wasn’t a level of power difference or hierarchy. We all learned our instruments and grew together. We all have a musical background in different things, so it’s really fun to kind of take that and smash it into a different instrument. Our first gig was in 2016, and we had started playing like maybe a month before that. We said we wanted to be a band, and came up with a name, and then just never practiced because we were like “we know how to do this.” And then we booked our first gig and we were like “oh shit we need to figure this out.” We pulled it together. And it’s really funny because my friend brought my mom, and I didn’t know but she recorded our first gig. My drumset was next to the stage, it was so awkward. We were so nervous and were just shaky little babies in the video. It’s kind of embarrassing that it’s on the web. My sister was actually at our second gig where we covered ‘Burning Up’ by the Jonas Brothers and she posted it on Facebook. Now it’s always there.

Music is undoubtedly dominated by men. The drums are especially an instrument we don’t often see non-men play. What’s that like for you?

So when I was on tour in Chicago this last New Years Eve, this guy walked up to me and he was like “you’re actually a good girl drummer! I see all these good girl drummers online, but when I see women drum in person they’re never that good. You’re actually amazing!” And I know he meant that as a compliment but it was so fucking rude because I know that people don’t say that to men. It sucks. If you’re femme-presenting or just not a dude and you play the drums, or are just in a band in a predominantly white male setting, it’s hard. But with my drums people patronize me in small ways. They don’t assume I know what a drum kit is or how to set it up. Someone told me once, when we were backlining the drum kit, I was like “oh what do I need to bring? My pedals and my breakables?” and they were like “oh you know what breakables are? Usually we have to say cymbals and snare.” I’m not an idiot. It sucks so hard to exist in this space and to just have to not take it personally. I know I have to have tough skin because. I had a girl come up to me and tell me that she wanted to start a band because of our band, and she had never played an instrument before. And that’s all I want to do. Because I never had female rockers to look up to, especially queer rockers of color. And I don’t play the drums to show off, I do it for me. Drummers were always my favorite in bands. And Katherine from Lunch Dutchess is like, my idol. Every time I see her band play I’m so inspired. It’s just so good to see women drumming, and she’s such a badass, so when men do question her about stupid shit she can just tell ‘em to go fuck off.

Have you ever had that chance?

Yeah! It was so funny. So we had a gig at this space, and right before I was shooting a music video for someone else and I was playing the drums in it. And in this one part of the music videos I was purposely getting frustrated with one part on the drums. And this guy walks up to me and goes “if you just raise your snare stand, just a quarter of an inch you’d get it every time.” And I just looked at him and said “you fucking asshole, I’m doing this on purpose, I know how to play the drums. Thanks even though I didn’t ask.” He was so confused, and I’m like dude, nobody asked. Why do men think they can just insert themselves and give me unsolicited advice?

Do you get that “advice” a lot?

All the time. And it’s so annoying. It feels like they’re trying to hold my hand and go “oh, silly girl you don’t know what you’re doing.” But, I love when they do that before I actually play and then I play and they’re like wow, you know what’s up.

You recently posted a meme on Instagram with you and other non-male bands in the Twin Cities as the Breakfast Club. Which was hilarious. But do you find that you all get lumped into one category?

I just ranted about this recently. As non-men bands, we get compared to each other All. The. Time. Especially in write ups. Like, when we played the main room we got compared to Scrunchies. And we don’t even play the same genre of music. In write ups, if there’s another girl band on the bill we get compared to them. Whereas there will be like eight boy bands and none of them ever get compared to each other. But there is some solidarity because when we [other non-male bands] do play with each other, we’re all like fuck all this, it’s ridiculous. We get tokenized, guys literally ask us to come on the bill and open so they could check their diversity quota of being diverse like “we have one girl band.”

Is that tokenizing or belittling behavior is pretty blatant?

A lot of it is micro-aggressions. Just small little pokes. Like when people say we’re so good for a girl band and not just… a band. Boy bands don’t get that. Or after our sets they’ll be so surprised that we make music that men like. It’s stuff like that.

I notice you’re using the term “boy bands”, which is great. Is that a term that comes up or do you consciously categorize all male bands as boy bands?

That’s what’s really funny. I don’t know when we started doing that ‘cuz everyone’s like “all male bands” and we’re like, no they’re boy bands. They’re not grown men. They’re boy bands. But, we also want to fit in that space too. We’re boy bands. We make different kind of boy band music, and we’re actually girls, but we’re a boy band. Also all of us were fucking weird tomboys when we were kids. And now we’re all hyper femme and reclaiming that aspect of our dirty, reckless childhood in boy bands. But all the local male bands are boy bands to us. They would be offended if we said that, I’m sure.

I like that. So Metallica is a boy band, Led Zeppelin is a boy band? Big Black is a boy band?

Yup, we call ‘em boy bands who make “butt rock”. Butt rock music. We have a boy band butt rock song. But we look at Led Zeppelin and we’re like yeah, that’s butt rock. It’s a genre of music.

Has Women Bands(™) become a genre?

Yes, and it sucks. That’s why I feel we get compared to other bands. Because even though we make music that’s completely different from Scrunchies and other local bands, we get compared to them because Women Bands is a genre now. It’s baloney sandwich and I hate it. Because we’re girls we get pinned against each other, and you can feel that misogyny in the music scene. And then it gets kind of fucked up because I’ll be honest, I find myself comparing myself to other female bands because of my own internalized misogyny. But then I’m like, “why?”— I want them to succeed and I want them to have good things, and I want to support them as much as I can and as much as I want them to support me. But we’re lumped into one genre; if we’re women and a three piece, we’re a “Punk Woman Band.”

Do you feel safer or more confident when you’re on bills like tha-

Yes. When we get to play bills of just non-boys, it’s so good. It’s definitely just more safe and more fun hanging out backstage, and just naturally clicking. We both do this really hard thing for this thing that we love and have to go through more B.S. than boy bands do.  

You just played First Ave, a big historic venue. So there’s no denying that we’re seeing a shift in who makes music. Do you feel like we’re seeing an influx of more non-men in the scene?

Yeah! In some aspects, yeah. Recently I’ve been seeing more calls for non-men. There’s a DIY festival for non-men that we’re playing in Fargo, North Dakota. But I feel like we’re also very supported in this scene. During our tour we talked with other women and their DIY spaces. It’s hard for a lot of people to find their space and acclimate. A lot of spaces are male heavy. But there is definitely is a wave of non-men coming. Stephanie Jo Murck [a musician in the Twin Cities] is kicking down doors and making space for women in DIY spaces. We’re seeing non-men take up space they should have and not be confined to being a Girl Band Playing in a Basement. There’s so many DIY bands now that are comprised of mostly women, or at least fronted by them. It’s becoming more normalized and more accessible. And it feels good and welcoming, like we’re moving away from tokenization because it’s not something unnatural. It’s not super groundbreaking anymore to have women in music and rocking. There’s also so many non-binary artists. There is space for non-men musicians to just exist and do what they do best, and get supported!

If you were dictator of a venue, what would the rules be, what would it look like?

It would be a mixture of touring bands and baby bands. Bands who just started and want to make music, and just picked up instruments for the first time. I’d want space for them to open up for bands on main stages, just making space for young people of She Rock. There would be a lot of space for non-binary folks too. I feel like there’s a lot of space for women. But queer and trans folks, especially trans women, get the short end of the stick when it comes to DIY and that doesn’t sit well with me. There’s so much space and so much room for everyone to succeed and everyone to do well and support each other. I wouldn’t have it be a competition. It would be more of a collective, co-op type thing. I would like more of this. We’re like thinking of opening up our own space in a friend of ours’ house. And that space would be run by musicians with disabilities, and musicians of color, and non-male musicians. It’s in the works. There might be that utopian space coming soon.

What kind of conversations do we need to have to create more inclusivity in the DIY scene?

One thing I don’t like is people who claim to be woke and have all these inclusive thoughts and then just take up space from the people they claim they’re fighting for, that’s what drives me absolutely insane. It’s the well intended white people. They inadvertently take up space they talk about giving back. I’m black, and queer, and in punk music, and making music that is predominantly run by white males. We need to remember that that music came from black people. Inclusivity for that would be having those conversations and realizing where you stand and how much space you take up. You need to ask yourself if what you’re doing is uplifting and making room for more people or if it’s self serving. I would just like a space where I could feel safe at all times and make music at all times. It’s, y’know, simple things.

Is Minneapolis an especially white city to play in?

Oh yeah. When we went down to New Orleans it was cool to see that space because everywhere there were just black musicians owning that city. But here it’s… really white, yeah. I have to tell my brothers that sometimes I do struggle being in a band with two white people, because sometimes small microaggressions will happen and they don’t notice it. Like on tour we went to Birmingham, Alabama and I was a little nervous being a queer black woman in the south, and Trump is the president right now, so it’s dangerous to exist. And I was trying to explain that to them and they just hadn’t considered it. There’s those times where I can feel that their bubble is only so big. And sometimes my realities exist outside of their bubbles. And that’s within the whole scene as well. But I am starting to see POC come into the scene too. And when I see them it’s like, I’ve been waiting for this. It’s good to see people who look like me playing this kind of music.

Re: creeping on your Instagram, I notice you hashtag “women in music.” Is that for irony? Just in case people search that tag? Or is it how you would describe yourself?

I do that because it’s how I found bands on tour. I mostly do it so other women bands can find us. I go on it and reach out to bands on tour and make friends with other women in music and find solidarity. Sometimes I do do it as a joke, but I’ve just found that tag to be useful for networking with other women. And of course it’s ironic too because we do call ourselves a boy band- we’re all brothers.

Do you feel like this wave of non-male bands is paving the way for the baby bands out there?

I feel like that bit of credit is true for most female bands. Any non-male bands have had to go through some bullshit so the next wave of musicians can have a smoother ride into the space. One of the things I always try to say at our shows, to whoever needs it, is to just start a band if you wanna start a band. Just pick up and instrument, because we need it. There are so many non-men and POC who have such amazing things to say but nobody has pushed them to say it or made them feel safe enough to just step into it. And I know I needed that. If I hadn’t have seen Tony Peachka, I don’t know if I would’ve been inspired to just do it. All of these bands kick down a door so someone else can walk through it.

Keep up with Gully Boys on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

A Chat With: Caroline Rose

With her monochrome outfits, quirky stage props, and straightforward stage banter, it’s impossible to forget a Caroline Rose show. Rose’s latest album Loner, released in February of this year via New West Records, creates its own little world in which Rose feeds listeners pop hooks and personal stories in an outlandish fashion. With this record, Rose establishes herself as an all around artist, not just another singer songwriter. It’s this passion, vision, and authenticity that has continued to catch the ears and eyes of music fans and led Rose to be on the road touring for the majority of this year. From playing multiple showcases a day back at SXSW in March to headline runs and support stints for Maggie Rogers and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, it’s been a whirlwind of a year for Caroline Rose.

Now, Rose is in the midst of another headlining national tour, and she’s stopping in Chicago tonight, November 8th, with And The Kids. Ahead of the show, she took some time to chat with me about finding her sound for Loner, her favorite movie directors, Kanye West’s mental breakdown, writing songs for Lana Del Rey and more. Turn on the record, tune into the full conversation with Caroline Rose below, and get to the gig tonight!

Photo Credit: CJ Harvey

Photo Credit: CJ Harvey

What do you remember as your first musical memory?

Oh that’s a good question! Well…ok yeah yeah yeah here’s a good one. When I was four or five, my funcle Randy, my fake uncle, he brought me a little acoustic guitar, and I remember jamming with him. He was playing piano and I was playing guitar to Dave Brubeck Quartet “Take Five” and that’s still one of my favorite songs. Of all time.

That’s awesome! So fast forwarding from that, you’ve since put out a few records, most recently Loner, in February of this year. I just love how straightforward and fearless you are on this album with satirical lyrics. I’ve seen you live too and when you talk about the songs, you just say it how it is. So what were some challenges you’ve faced with being so transparent and fearless with your writing? And then on the flip side, what do you find rewarding about not holding back at all and being honest?

I think being personal in music is something I’m trying to push even more. A lot of times I’ll use personification or blend stories together to make something new, but I’m always inspired by other artists who are even more personal in their music. It’s definitely something I’m continuing to push further. But I do think that the more personal the music is, the easier it is to relate to it, so that’s something that I find rewarding. When I’m listening to other artists, it’s the first thing that I gravitate towards, if someone’s being really open and upfront about what they’re trying to say. And at times being vulnerable. I think there’s a line to be drawn with being vulnerable, especially as a female songwriter. I think there’s a lot of stereotypes about female songwriters with guitars that are using their songs as a diary. It’s a stereotype I’m trying to break down a bit.

I definitely think you do a good job at keeping it fun and not sounding like it’s just another singer songwriter. You put a different spin on it. I’m sure that you find people voice their appreciation more when you’re honest in your songs.

Yeah and I think the more honest you can be, it pays off in the end. So it seems scary at first, but it does kind of pay off. It’s like if you’re being honest about who you are as a person even if you’re afraid of opening up, I think once you do it, you quickly realize that more people are gravitating towards it.

So I’m sure you’re somewhat sick of this kind of question, but there was a shift in your sound between your past albums and Loner. What growth did you see personally or what experiences did you have that helped you explore a different sound?

Well you’re right, I am sick of this question, but I also see why it’s important to bring it up. I think the first thing is five years passed between me making that album and this one, which is a long time. I was 21 when I made that last one, and it’s just been a long time. I think over the course of those years, I have just grown musically and my tastes have changed. I’ve kind of become more honest with myself, with what I want and what makes me happy. I think that kind of takes some time to figure out what you want and for me personally when I first started I really just wanted to write songs for other people. And be free and not be so much in the limelight. I just wanted to write a good song. Period. And I think once I started in that realm I realized that’s definitely not all I want to do. I have this boundless creative energy sometimes. I think that would be really limiting to me to just do that. It’s more challenging to me--I’ve realized over the year it’s way more challenging and I enjoy the challenge of creating my own world. Rather than creating a song, you can you know create the visuals and try to do something new. Instead of just trying something good. It’s just more interesting to me to maybe push the boundaries a little more. It’s definitely something I’m gonna do on the next record. I’m not gonna let that much time pass again, and a lot of that was really out of my control. I just hit a lot of roadblocks trying to get this album out. There’s a lot of material that never even came out because of label issues and switching my management and all the stuff that people don’t really know, or care about.

Yeah, all that behind the scenes stuff. I also read that for Loner, you met with a lot of different producers before ultimately deciding to co-produce it. What was the experience like producing your own work?

When I first started I had just signed with a new label and I wanted to get in the studio immediately and I had a short list of producers that I really wanted to work with. I was just gonna let them do it because at that point, I had all these songs but I didn’t really have the direction that I wanted to go in. Then I had all these kind of setbacks with producers and there was just so many setbacks and failed opportunities and not quite getting the songs right, or the label not liking what we did. Eventually a year passed and cause it takes so much time to schedule everything—it just takes months and months to schedule stuff—and by the end of the year I had really developed what I wanted to do, like a voice and narrative and the kind of direction I wanted to take it in. I’d gotten a lot better at using software and I was pretty well versed in Pro Tools so I was just teaching myself different formats to write and create string arrangements and all this stuff. By the time I found another producer, I was pretty much already producing a lot of it myself and all I really needed was help with a very specific set of things. That ended up being very useful to me because now I feel like I can do all that stuff that I once didn’t have as much confidence in. But now I’m pretty solid on all of those voids I’d had starting this record.

Circling back to your creative vision, you wear a monochrome wardrobe and your stage set up isn’t just you on a stage; You have that cat on your keyboard, you’ve had piñatas and flowers everywhere…Is there anybody that you found inspiring when you were trying to come up with your vision, or anyone else you think does visuals really well as an artist?

Oh yeah! I think most of the aesthetic is inspired by films, and I have a handful of directors that I’m obsessed with. Pedro Almodóvar is probably one of my favorite directors ever. And I’m inspired by his writing as well and you can kind of sense a lot of it in my own writing because there’s an element of whimsy in it, but all of his films are really serious. It’s very serious stories that are 9 times out of 10 really violent or there’s some sort of trauma that is experienced by the characters. But it’s also filled with these really bright, fun colors and the characters are very quirky and whimsical but they have a dark side to them, and I am hugely influenced by stuff like that. And David Lynch and a lot of the Coen brothers using drama and comedy, blending drama and comedy.

Yeah like that sense of dark humor.

Yeah, sometimes even blending horror with comedy. I love horror movies, like B horror movies that are one second terrifying and the next second they’re hilarious. I’m really inspired by stuff like that. I think you can tell when you go to see the show, especially our headlining show where we can decorate the stage however we want and I like that there’s kind of like a seedy porno vibe to it, but it’s also fun. I want people to walk away feeling like they experienced something special and you know blending that drama with whimsy is important I think.

Yeah totally, and I actually planned on bringing up David Lynch if you didn’t because I saw another interview when you talked about him and Wes Anderson specifically. Going off of that, what are some of your favorite films from either of those directors or other ones you’ve mentioned?

Well I think one of my favorite Almodóvar films, it translates as The Skin I Live In, and there’s another really great one called Bad Education. Volver is another one that people are probably familiar with. All of those include some sort of just like bizarre story line, just completely bizarre. The Skin I Live In is probably my favorite because it is just grotesque and completely unique, but the story is about this plastic surgeon whose daughter is allegedly raped by this boy. And he gets back at the boy by kidnapping him--this is like an insane story, but by kidnapping him and surgically altering him so he looks like his deceased wife. So the boy transforms into this plastic surgeon’s dead wife, and it turns out he didn’t actually do anything to the surgeon’s daughter. So it’s all this crazy fucking story, it’s an insane story, and it’s obviously really serious, but it’s whimsical. It’s so bizarre, so unique. So is David Lynch…Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive. It’s like these really serious horror stories, but then there’s always this goofy character that comes out of nowhere for no apparent reason and is like wearing a cowboy hat in a casino. I think Tom Waits is a big influence too for that same kind of reason.

Yeah, just throwing in absurd references in a very serious plot line. I can see that connection for sure. Is there anything recent, like any new films or anything else as of late that’s inspired some new material?

Yeah! I’m really inspired by Kanye West’s mental breakdown in the public eye. It’s extremely inspiring.

Well I’ll be on the look out for the song or songs about that.

I’m also inspired by Britney Spears’ mental breakdown.

You should do like a parallel between the two!

I should! That’s a good idea.

Well I’d love to see what you’d do with it. So talking the headline tour, you mentioned you’ll have more control of the stage. Past times I’ve seen you, you’ve had a piñata and you’ve busted out a recorder to play some tunes. What kind of shenanigans can audiences expect this time around?

We’re gonna be playing some new songs! I may or may not have a new instrument on my pedal board next to my recorder. I actually broke my recorder yesterday so I have a new one.

Oh good, I was gonna say we’d have to bring one to you if not! So a little while back I interviewed Naked Giants and they were saying it’d be fun to start a New West Records super group with you and Ron Gallo…Besides your label mates, is there anyone you’d love to form a collaborative group with?

Oh man! Well besides Lana Del Rey or can I say Lana Del Rey?

You can say Lana!

I’m obsessed with her. I think she’s a genius.

Nice! Anyone else? Let’s say you had to pick at least two people for your hypothetical super group…

I can’t say that. Ok, I just wanna write a song for Lana Del Rey. I actually have written songs for her, but she hasn’t heard them yet. I haven’t sent them to anyone.

But they’re ready and waiting?

They’re ready! They’re pretty good though. So I might use them, but I would love to write a song for her one day. Supergroup though...that’s hard to say! That’s like putting myself on the same level as a lot of the people I admire.

Oh yeah, well don’t even think about it like that, it can be your dream collaboration!

I would say definitely Mitski and St. Vincent.

Oh, that would be amazing.

They really create their own little universe when you see them live, it’s very uniquely their thing.

Very true! So just wrapping up, anything else you’d like to share about the tour coming up or anything else you have planned for the rest of the year?

If there are people who have seen us--we’re just finishing up an opening tour this month--I guess I’d say if anybody hasn’t seen our headlining set, it’s a different experience. We add a lot to it. I’d encourage people to come to the headlining show if they haven’t seen it yet.

There you have it! Keep up with Caroline Rose on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram and snag tickets to the show at Lincoln Hall tonight here.

Catching Up With Skela: Project 10

Rachel Turley, Zoe Kraft, and Skela (Left to Right)

Rachel Turley, Zoe Kraft, and Skela (Left to Right)

Last year, we introduced you to NYC based singer-songwriter Skela, and now, we’re catching up with her in the midst of her latest release: Project 10.

As an artist, Skela catches the ears of listeners with her powerhouse pop vocals, but her DIY spirt and indie approach really connects her to her community. Whether it be a poetry zine, the photo series called “Be Your Own Indie Boy” that Skela collaborated with photographer Rachel Turley on, or the frequent behind-the-scenes updates that she posts on her social media, Skela is all about staying connected with her community via different art mediums that accompany her music.

This year, Skela amplified the level of creative content she produces along with her music when she set out to do a ten part music video project with her friends Rachel Turley and Zoe Kraft. As we catch up with the singer and artist, see what Skela, Turley, and Kraft have to say about the process behind the project.

In a nutshell, what exactly is Project 10?

Skela: Project 10 is 10 songs and 10 music videos released over the course of 20 weeks. Everything was made with friends. The project is about building together. It’s a countdown. When the 10th song and music video are released - I’m going to unveil a “secret” but it’s really a secret project I’ve been working on.

Can you describe the moment when you came up with this idea and what inspired you to start the project?

Skela: Everyone knows it’s really fucking hard being an artist - but I was making it hard on myself by putting limits on myself. I came up with Project 10 because I wanted to put music out, I wanted to run around New York City making cool shit with my friends, I wanted all the good parts of being an artist - doing, creating, putting something out into the world. I know I’m a multifaceted artist, but no one else did. I came up with 10 because at the end of the countdown - it’s going to bring on the next phase of my life.

Once you had the idea for the project, how did you decide to enlist Rachel and Zoe for help? Was there anyone else you considered asking to help or did you always know it would be you three?

Skela: Well they’re my friends so that’s how I initially thought to ask them, but I also respect them both immensely as creative minds. Rachel helps me with the creative behind Skela so that was a natural fit, but Zoe lives in Chicago. I actually flew her out to work on this project. She creates genuinely and it shows through her work.

We actually did have to pull a couple of favors from friends to make this project happen, but it was always just us three at the drawing board. I wanted this project to be as much mine as it is theirs. I might be Skela, but I would be no one with out my friends. I think it’s so weird when artists try to take credit for everything - like there weren’t so many people who contributed their intellectual property. I recognize what a sacrifice that is - how being creative isn’t just whimsical, it’s hard work and sacrifice. By it being the three of us behind these music videos - I hoped it would help bring their talents to light as well.

What were some challenges you faced working on this project?

Zoe: Even with the amount of planning that we put into the project, there was so much that we had to do on the fly. The hardest part was letting things go that were out of our hands. Sometimes we couldn’t get a shot we wanted or we didn’t have time to try alt takes.

Rachel: Finding enough time to sleep.

On the flip side, what were some of your favorite moments working on the project?

Zoe: Without a doubt, my favorite part of Project 10 was getting to work with such creative ladies. Skela and Rachel both have unique visions. It’s refreshing to get to work with people willing to do things that are different and so genuine. The atmosphere was very important in making this project come together. If we hadn’t gotten along as well as we did, especially with the pressure that we had put ourselves under, there is no way we could have accomplished what we did.

Rachel: The whole thing was honestly unbelievably fun. I worked with my best friends everyday, being purely, uninhibitedly creative. A stand out moment to me had to be when we built a “sailboat” in the middle of a field at 5 in the morning while the sun rose. I’ll never forget how happy I was I got to experience that.

Who are some filmmakers, photographers, or directors who inspire each of you?

Skela: Tim Burton everything and always. I love his brain.

I love this one photographer who goes by Earthly Cruel Photos… she’s really good. I heard she’s horrible to work with though…. just kidding. It’s Rachel [Turley]. Go follow her.

Zoe: Jean-Luc Godard

Rachel: Super into Daniel Arnold’s street photography. I am so enamored with his eye and the amusing way he captures New York; he makes it look like a playground of oddities, a museum of all the moments in the city worth seeing that you missed.

How would each of you sum up your artistic vision and/or aesthetic in three words?

Skela: DIY, Latina-Gaga, Red.

Zoe: Abstract, Dark (in concept), Colorful (visually)

Rachel: Unprofessional, pseudo-grunge, and fake bougie.

Having done this project now with such a time crunch in place, what is some advice you'd give other artists wanting to do something like this?

Skela: Work with people who care about making something genuine - not perfect. There will be a time and place for perfection - but the now is more interesting.

Zoe: 1. Make sure you are working with people you want to create with.

2. Sometimes you have to let go of the things that you planned for, but don’t let that discourage you.

3. If you don’t haveeee to rush it, don’t. Because we are all working artists, this was the most feasible way we could accomplish getting the work done.

Rachel: Know what you’re signing up for! It’s so hard so make sure you’re doing it with people you really get along with that share your vision and work pace. It’s like an intensive art summer camp. You have to show up excited, ready to work hard and be down for anything. That’s how you end up making the greatest bonds and walking away with the best experience. Just know what you’re signing up for and you’ll walk away with art you’re proud of.

Make sure you subscribe to Skela’s Vevo to see the rest of the videos as they’re released, and keep up with Skela on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram

Get To Know: Engine Summer

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

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

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

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

They All Used to Take Piano Lessons

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

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

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

They Recorded and Mixed Their Debut Album Themselves

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

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

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

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

They're Renaissance Men

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

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

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

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

They Take the Side Roads on Tour

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

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

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

They Can Connect to the City and Rural Scenes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Chat With: Night Riots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Energetic, theatrical and transportive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Chat With: Honduras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any other SXSW Survival tips or hacks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any other new music in the works?

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

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

Pat Phillips: We all work at bars at home.

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

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

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

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

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

This is a new segment called Drinks with Honduras now

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

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

Pat Phillips: Yeah, at Cafe Mustache!

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

All: It has been on this tour!

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

What are your go-to karaoke songs? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any new music that you’re into?

Tyson Moore: Deeper is pretty sick!

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

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

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

Pat Phillips:  It’s 16 hours long!

Any favorite NYC based bands?

Pat Phillips: Parquet Courts. Bodega. Sunflower Bean

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

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

Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

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

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

A Chat With: Mike Mains

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

Photo by  Haley Scott

Photo by Haley Scott

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new album fall 2018 :)

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

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Slow Pulp

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

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

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

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

School of Rock Is The Reason They're Playing Music

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

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

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

Their Friendship with Post Animal Traces Back to Sixth Grade

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

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

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

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

They're Moving To....

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

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

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

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

Their Influences Range From St. Vincent to Thee Oh Sees

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

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

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

They're Also Visual Artists

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Chat With: Strange Foliage

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

Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

Joey Cantacessi at Treehouse Records

What was your first musical memory growing up?

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

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

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

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

Strange Foliage has only been around about a year right?

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

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

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

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

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

Then you recorded it all here at Treehouse?

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

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

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

SM: Yeah, it was smooth.

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

Any song or two that particularly stand out as favorites?

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

How did the relationship with Dark Matter come into play?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any other hobbies as a band?

SM: Skateboarding!

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

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

Any plans for summer tour?

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

Any closing remarks?

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

SM: Drink water.

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

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

Get To Know: The Aces

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

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

Photo By Alexander Bortz

Photo By Alexander Bortz

They've Been Making Music For Over 10 Years

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

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

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

Their Influences Range from Queen to The 1975

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

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

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

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

They Deliver Music The Same Way They Consume It

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

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

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

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

They're All About Leading By Action

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

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

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

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

Some Of Their Random Slang Inspires Their Songs

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

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

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

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

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

The Aces at HOB Chicago with COIN

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

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

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Pale Houses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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