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Get To Know: Naked Giants

2018 has already been a whirlwind for the Seattle trio Naked GiantsBetween releasing their debut album, touring Europe with Car Seat Headrest, and playing new cities for the first time, it's certainly been a year of career landmarks, and things aren't slowing down for the band any time soon. 

Back in May, the group played Chicago for the first time, packing Schubas Tavern on a Saturday night. Just as the audience warmly welcomed Naked Giants to their city, the band made sure everyone in the crowd had a great time by periodically checking in to make sure everyone felt comfortable, promoting a completely safe space at their show. 

Before the show began that night, I had a chat with the band, talking everything from movie soundtracks, their bucket lists, starting a New West Records super group, and their proactive songwriting habits. For all that and more, get to know Naked Giants now. 

Naked Giants is Gianni Aiello, Grant Mullen, and Henry LaVallee

Naked Giants is Gianni Aiello, Grant Mullen, and Henry LaVallee


Their First Musical Memories Heavily Involve Movie Soundtracks

The three members of Naked Giants all remember getting into music at different ages, but there's a common thread in all of their introductions to music. Gianni Aiello says he remembers laying in his dad's bed with a green iPod listening to "Human" by The Killers, but adds "Before that I really liked the SpongeBob Movie soundtrack. That had some tunes on it. When I look back on it, it’s like Flaming Lips, Ween, Avril Lavigne, Wilco... It’s a pretty cool soundtrack." 

Drummer Henry LaVallee also had early memories of movie scores. "I remember this movie called Bedknobs and Broomsticks, with Angela Lansbury," LaVallee says, animatedly describing the film. "It’s like an old Disney movie from the 70’s, it took place in Britain during World War II. It was like a musical, but it was one of those trippy ones where the first act is all humans, and then at the start of the second act, they go into a cartoon world. So these humans are interacting with---it’s like Roger Rabbit. Then they get out of this cartoon world, but it follows this Medieval story book and it’s a really good movie honestly. These kids are orphaned from the war and then Angela Lansbury is like a witch and she takes them in." Aiello interjects at one point to ask if it's like Nanny McPhee, and LaVallee continues, "Little bit, little bit. Then the kids don’t believe in magic and they think Angela sucks, but then she’s actually badass. They also all sing together. And Angela doesn’t like the kids either, she’s forced to have them, but then they’re all really chummy by the end of it and they fight off the Nazis with magic at the very end and it’s really cool. But the music in that [inspired me]. So we used to watch that, it was a great summertime movie. Or Meatballs with Bill Murray and the songs in that!"

As for guitarist Grant Mullen's first musical memories, he recalls having a tiny Casio keyboard. "They’re really small and they sound really weird. I just remember playing really scary music, cause you know it’s really easy to play music like that when you have no idea what you’re doing. I was probably 4 or 5 when my parents got me that."

They've Played SXSW the Last Three Years

SXSW usually does quite the number on bands with schedules involving multiple shows a day all around town, but Naked Giants hasn't let that madness deter them from returning to Austin for the last three years in March. However, they all agree that this year had been the best by far, confirming that the third time really is a charm. "It was better in every way. We played better shows on average, there were people at the shows. We got to stay with our friends Ron Gallo. We had some good connections. We made some friends...The Do512 people who are all super nice. We’re actually gonna see one of them in New York cause their other coworkers [DoNYC] are there. Just in general it was a good vibe. Just like the flow and all of that," Aiello said. 

Mullen mentions that the group got to see their label-mate Caroline Rose for the first time at this past SXSW. "Meeting her was kind of like meeting a cousin. It was like oh, we’re probably gonna get along. You know? It weirdly reminded me of that. And we totally did, I thought," LaVallee added. 

They Want to Start a New West Records Super Group

Speaking of New West Records label-mates, if you've ever seen some of the label's artists like Naked Giants, Caroline Rose, and Ron Gallo perform live, you might have realized that they all have an unforgettable stage presence. Well, Naked Giants has also recognized that trait about themselves and their extended record label family too. "I realized after seeing Caroline, and after touring with Ron, that New West Records--what they really love is gimmicks. We have the whole smorgasbord of everything we do on stage. Ron’s got the whole trumpet thing and playing a guitar with a skateboard or whatever. Caroline and her band have the outfits and the end of her show where she pulls out the recorder. So New West wants something that people will remember," Aiello says. Mullen interjects to say, "People that don’t take themselves too seriously." Aiello continues, "Exactly, that. So I had this dream of forming a super group of all 3 of our bands. I don’t know what the music would sound like..."

While they may have no idea what it will sound like, they do have some idea of the band name, and how it could work. "What if the name was Mick and the Gimme Gimmes?" LaVallee suggests. "That’s good, gimme more! There’s this band called Superorganism and they’re like a collective thing, but they would send music across different countries. Like one of them lived in England and one of them lived in Greenland, I don’t know if anyone lives in Greenland... But I would imagine it would be something like that [where we send music to each other]," Aiello ponders about the structure of the group. 

Their Favorite Performers Range From The Lemon Twigs to Freddie Mercury

Speaking of memorable stage presence, the members of Naked Giants always seem to give 200 percent of their energy whenever they perform. So whose stage presence do they admire the most? "Freddie Mercury," LaVallee says, adding that he tries his best to be the "Freddie Mercury of the drum kit." 

"I was just talking to somebody yesterday about The Lemon Twigs," Aiello says. "I haven’t seen them live yet, but I’ve seen videos and that one kid’s got some really good kicks. So I started doing kicks after I saw that." 

Mullen adds, "I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this, but now that I think about it, early White Stripes, Jack White stage presence. Cause he just you know, looked so almost like, he had mixed emotions while he was playing. He didn't want the crowd to even look at him. Cause he didn’t like being there, but he really wanted to tell them something really important. Which was I’m a white guy singing the blues. Something about that, like he has this weird vibe that I remember thinking was really cool when I would watch them play. Now when I watch modern Jack White, I still like him, but it comes off as a little pretentious doing it twenty years." 

Aiello also mentions that the group caught [Thee] Oh Sees' set at Sasquatch festival and realized that’s where Grant gets all his stuff.  "[John Dwyer] looks like a lizard man too, but he surprisingly doesn’t move that much. He just does weird little gimmicks, like spits in the air and catches it in his mouth. Something I also steal from him is the mouth around the microphone. He really throats that thing," Mullen says. If you still have yet to see Naked Giants live, you can get a glimpse of their energetic stage presence from the photos below of their Schubas show.  

They're Not Procrastinators When it Comes to Album Writing

Naked Giants' debut album just came out in March this year, but despite their busy touring schedule, the band has already started working on new material. Rewinding back to the release of the first album, Mullen says, "It’s just good to get it out. So people can listen to twelve of our songs in a row now.... If they want to. They all sound pretty similar production wise...They’re all one package that you can experience our songs. Before everyone was like who is this band? Like I’ve heard of them, but they just have six songs on an EP, what’s the deal? And now we have an album." 

"The best response was a review on some online magazine, and it was a really nice review. They were like we really like this album, love all the tracks, and then they called the album Slush instead of Sluff," Aiello chimes in. While the group were happy to finally get out a cohesive catalog of their music that's been well received, rather than relishing in the debut, they're eager to get out even more material. "We actually just recorded nine demos in the week and a half we had off between tours. One actual song that’s gonna hopefully be a single in the fall or something like that," Aiello continues, highlighting the group's work ethic. 

Despite their eagerness to release new material, don't get too excited for their sophomore album just yet; Mullen disclaimed they potentially have sixteen months of promoting and touring backing their first record. "It’s never a bad idea to just have the next one done," Aiello says about their sophomore effort, mentioning that they're only that proactive when it comes to making music.  "In all other areas of life we are [procrastinators]. We like to make albums." 

Their Music Contains Easter Eggs 

The trio has even gone as far as constructing a loose common theme throughout the new material. "It’s secret though," Mullen says, but Aiello hints that their might be some clues in the last song of the first album. Going back to their love of film, the band admits they're fans of putting easter eggs in their work, which is a common factor in movie and tv series. "Once all the albums are out, if you really like our band, you’ll be able to find all these things and nerd out about [the Easter eggs]," Mullen reveals. At this point, LaVallee pointed to an Alfred Hitchcock book under the green room coffee table, saying the book was a good hint to their future work without using any words. Elaborating on the connection of film and their music, Mullen adds, "I feel like a lot of times I get inspired by the feeling I get from watching a movie. If it’s very dark, I might be in that place for a while. I don’t do it consciously." 

The group also says they've tossed around the idea of a TV show for the band. "Like a Naked Giants TV show, we're always thinking how to make that work. We might have to start it as a web series. Then for one of the future albums we have planned, we’re hoping to do a visual album."

They Perform Double Duty with Car Seat Headrest

This year, Naked Giants got the opportunity to not only open for Car Seat Headrest, but to join Will Toledo's live lineup during Car Seat's set on the tour. The gig has certainly added to the band's workload on tour, but it's also given them the opportunity to cross a lot of places and goals off their bucket list. This year, Naked Giants has already toured Europe and performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,  and they'll be continuing on another double duty tour this fall in The States. 

While the band is grateful for all the career-highlight opportunities they've had with Car Seat Headrest, they remain ambitious to achieve the same feats as Naked Giants too. This fall, they'll be playing their first major conventional festival when they return to Austin for Austin City Limits. "We’re doing this whole thing with Car Seat Headrest, going to Europe….but ACL is the kind of first big step that’s just Naked Giants. I mean of course we’ve done SX and that kind of stuff, but there’s a huge difference when you start doing the festival circuits. Then that gives me hope for next year, maybe in the summer, we’ll start doing Coachella, Lollapalooza, etc..." Aiello says. They're also keen to cross off all of the Seattle staples from their list, naming The Neptune and The Paramount Theatre as the ultimate goals. 


Check out Naked Giants' upcoming tour dates here (Chicago, they'll be at The Riviera on September 7th), and listen to Sluff in full below!

Get To Know: Engine Summer

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

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

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

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


They All Used to Take Piano Lessons

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

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

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

They Recorded and Mixed Their Debut Album Themselves

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

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

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

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

They're Renaissance Men

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

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

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

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

They Take the Side Roads on Tour

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

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

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

They Can Connect to the City and Rural Scenes

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Get To Know: The Aces

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

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

Photo By Alexander Bortz

Photo By Alexander Bortz

They've Been Making Music For Over 10 Years

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

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

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

Their Influences Range from Queen to The 1975

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

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

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

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

They Deliver Music The Same Way They Consume It

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

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

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

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

They're All About Leading By Action

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

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

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

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

Some Of Their Random Slang Inspires Their Songs

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

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

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

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

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


The Aces at HOB Chicago with COIN


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

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

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Get To Know: Blue Dream

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

They All Dabble With Other Bands and Side Projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They All Play Equal Part in the Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They're Chicken Nugget and Mozzarella Stick Connoisseurs  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Blue Dream:

Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

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

Get To Know: Acid Dad

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

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

Image Courtesy of Acid Dad


They Started Playing Music From Ages 3-18

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

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

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

They've Gone Through Lots of Bass Players

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

They'd Consider Moving To Chicago

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

Kevin Once Got Mugged On Halloween 

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

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

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

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

Acid Dad at Warble Daze

They Have a Lot of New Music on the Way

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

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

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


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

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

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

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

 

 

A Chat With: Dagny

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

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

Dagny outside of The House of Blues in Chicago

Dagny outside of The House of Blues in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM: Which venue did you play in Philly?

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

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

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

AM: Oh no, and then the moment passed?

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

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

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

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

Dagny: Yeah, I love playing here.

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

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

AM: Did you try deep dish pizza here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AM: Yeah, he’s also in town tonight! 

Dagny: Really?! What time?

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

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

AM: She's such a good songwriter!

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

 

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

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

AM: Will you be headlining in the states?

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

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


Dagny in Chicago October 20th, 2017


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

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

Dagny on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Marika Hackman

There's a point in almost every great artist's career where they reinvent their sound, branching out into unfamiliar territory and pushing past boundaries in the name of creativity. For Marika Hackman, that turning point came early on when she revamped and built up her songs for her sophomore album I'm Not Your Man, released June 2nd on Subpop Records. Teased by the lead single "Boyfriend," Hackman made it clear early on that this new record wouldn't be the same flowing folk tunes from her first record. With the backing of The Big Moon and its honest and direct lyrics, "Boyfriend" boosts a fuller and more candid attitude that set the tone for the whole album. Bolder and braver lyrics cut through on tracks like "My Lover Cindy" and "Violet," where Hackman maintains her direct focus, but the songs still drip with beautiful, metaphoric language. 

This past month, Marika Hackman has been on the road in America with The Big Moon, bringing the songs they recorded to life onstage each night. Before the supergroup took the stage at Schubas Tavern on Friday night, Hackman talked about the challenges she faced while creating this record, while also recognizing the joy she got from embracing that fear of the unknown. Also revealing the origin of her budding relationship with The Big Moon, Hackman discusses the tour, other influences, and even The Spice Girls. Get to know this evolving singer-songwriter now, in our chat with Marika Hackman. 

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

ANCHR Magazine:  So I first wanted to talk more about your album I’m Not Your Man. It’s quite a departure, and you’ve talked about that a bit before, saying you should be a bit afraid when creating art because otherwise you’re not growing and not challenging yourself. Can you elaborate on that process? 

Marika Hackman: Yeah, totally! Well, I knew I wanted to change the genre. It wasn’t that I was bored or fed up by writing kind of more sombre songs, I just felt like I was in a very different place mentally, and also the songs I really enjoyed playing live were the kind of like heavier stuff. So I was thinking a lot of the live show, and my recording process up until that point had always been sort of controlled. Sort of taking each layer and manipulating that each time and doing take after take after take. I thought recording something live and capturing the energy of something rather than trying to control it all the time would be a real challenge for me, personally. Cause I’ve never done that before. That’s kind of where the challenge lay. Being more honest and frank with my lyrics. That was kind of a scary thing to kind of process for me. There was moments of doubt, there was moments of fear during the process. Like you said, I embraced that. I think it’s a healthy thing. It ended up being so much fun. By the time we were actually in the studio recording it, it was so much more fun than being on my own.

AM: I love how it starts off with the laugh in “Boyfriend” and it goes right into that. You can just tell you’re having fun with the recording!

MH: Yeah, all of those 8 tracks with The Big Moon...they’re live tracks that we did. All of us playing at the same time, and adding little bits on that. The rest of it, I’d lost 4 musicians so I had to layer a bit, but stuff like “Round We Go,” me and Charlie still did the bass and the drums live together.

AM: I always like the live albums better. It’s more organic. I know you also said you avoid listening to new music when you’re writing. Do you find anything else that you can specifically pinpoint as inspiration for the album? Whether that be a movie, a friend, or anything else? 

MH: I don’t know what I was doing with my time- I think being stressed about recording, but I normally read a lot. I love reading books. I didn’t read any books for the whole of it, for that year. I find it really bad, but my concentration span was awful. There’s a direct influence from a friend on there, I have a friend called Gina, she’s one of my best friends. “Gina’s World” is about her and our friendship, how we’d kind of do anything for each other. So that was a direct influence. And entering into a new relationship, which I’ve now been in for like 2 and a half years, that was the beginning of that. Kind of falling in love, and like lust and exploring all that as well. It was kind of more like people around me and my life...I’ve been living in London now for like four years. I think that kind of fed into it. It was more of a media record, a lot less references to nature. 

AM: Cool, and then you obviously just mentioned recording with The Big Moon and they’re on tour with you now. How did that relationship first come around and what’s your favorite part of working with them?

MH: Oh it’s just so great! Me and my girlfriend went to one of their shows. It was November, maybe like a year and a half ago? Coming up on two years now. We watched them play and they had this amazing energy on stage. It was really exciting to watch. Me and my girlfriend were like, I wanna be their friend! We hung out with them that night after the show...went and got drunk and the pub, and kind of just became friends overnight. We saw each other like four times in the next week...it was one of those friend crush little moments. So then cut maybe 6 months later...maybe less even...I was talking with my label and my management about how I had said that I wanted this live sound, but I didn’t have any way to facilitate that because I didn’t have a band. We were throwing some ideas around and they said how do you feel about approaching The Big Moon cause your friends with them? It was one of those things where I wanted that, but I was too scared to kind of say it. When you have a friendship relationship with someone, it’s hard to bring work into that, like maybe they might feel like they have to. Anyways, I was like yeah that’s perfect. So I asked them over a pint one night, and I was really bright red and terrified. I was like don’t answer now, go away, talk about it, and thank god they said yes! We started like a month after that. Rehearsing and recording. It’s just nice, and this tour as well has just been...I don’t know what it is...Just being on the road with your friends. And playing music that you all really enjoy playing. It’s just so nice. This tour could have been horrendous because we haven’t had a day off. Our days off are considered 15 hour drives. So we’ve been in the van, and we’ve been playing shows. We haven’t been able to explore like any cities. That could be so horrendous and draining and shit if you’re on the road with people that you just don’t feel that you connect with. But actually, and I’m speaking for myself, but it feels like we’re having a nice time. We’ve only got like a week left now.

AM: So are they backing your set too?

MH: Yeah they’re doing a double shift every night! They’re playing their set and then we all play together. The fact that they’re playing two shows every night blows my mind. They’ve got stamina.

AM: So what have been some highlights overall of the tour? Any favorite cities, even though you haven’t seen much of the outside world?

MH: Last night in Milwaukee we had a really funny show. We all lost our minds onstage. Jules had a giggling fit, and we were all just going completely mad. It was really strange, but hilarious. Even just the views from the van. Seeing the landscape change. We’ve driven across the whole of America. That’s been incredible, and I think something not a lot of people actually get to do. Which is really cool. I just love hanging out, playing xbox, watching The OC in the back of the van. It’s kind of just felt like a sleepover during the day and then just hanging out and playing shows.

AM: What have been some favorite songs to translate into the live sense? I know it was tracked live so that must have been easier to carry over. 

MH: We’ve got the 8 that they played on in the record. Then we’ve got “BlahBlahBlah” which is one where I did everything myself cause they’d all gone off by that point. That’s been really fun playing that with them and the big wigout rock section at the end is really fun. Then we’ve also got “Ophelia” and “Cinnamon,” the two much older tracks we’ve rejigged to fit the set, and they’re kind of a lot heavier.

AM: Speaking of “BlahBlahBlah,” that’s the song you’ve mentioned kind of has an ode to The Spice Girls, right? So which Spice Girl do you identify with the most?

MH: Oh, that’s interesting! When I was a kid, I had bright blonde hair and everyone used to say I’d be Baby Spice, but I think I was a bit of a Sporty. I always just wanted to wear the tracksuit!

AM: What are your thoughts on a Spice Girls reunion?

MH: I think it’s maybe better if they just left it. It’s such a fond memory...at the time in my life, it was so iconic. I think if they tried to do it again, it might ruin that. 

AM: Tracking back to The Big Moon and the album, I interviewed Alex Lahey a little while ago, and she recommended “Boyfriend” when I asked what new songs she was listening to. She brought up the Pitchfork article that said something like "Marika Hackman is Out to Steal Your Boyfriend." So what’s another crazy interpretation you’ve heard of one of your songs?

MH: Oh, I’m trying to think... That was one that really pissed me off. That’s quite fresh, so that’s right at the front of my mind. With such a big publication as well! It really feels like there should be stuff with this record. My stuff before was so open to interpretation that I just didn’t mind. I kind of let that happen... It’s always funny seeing what people think the lyrics are. Particularly for older stuff, it’s so wrong. My mum always sends me stuff.

AM: On this record then, were you aiming to have a more specific interpretation of each song?

MH: Yeah! I don’t know if I felt that beforehand, but certainly when I was writing I was aware that I was being a bit more frank and a bit more direct. Sort of speaking normal language a bit more rather than like pushing the more poetic side, and doing metaphors and all that. I didn’t sit down and say I’m gonna be like this, but I think it started happening, and I thought it suits this music a lot more. If you’ve got like guitar lines that are punching, and heavy drums, you need to have lyrics that are gonna cut through that and just hit. Rather than floating above.

AM: So last month you released a video for your song with Toothless, and you've collaborated with The Big Moon a lot. Anybody else you’d love to work with?

MH: Yeah, I’d love to work with Kevin Parker. I’d love to work with Stella [Mozgawa] from Warpaint. Or any of Warpaint, but particularly Stella because her drumming style...everyone I know thinks she’s like the best drummer ever. And I think it’d be really interesting what would happen with that.

AM: Yeah I’d love to see that! Any other songs or bands that you’re really into at the moment that you’d recommend to your listeners?

MH: Yeah, there’s MUNA from LA which I love. I’ve been smashing that album since it came out. Constantly on!

AM: You had said you’re an avid reader, so any books you would recommend?

MH: I’m a huge Donna Tartt fan, and The Secret History and The Goldfinch are like two of favorite books. For this tour, I just bought The Little Friend. I finished it two days ago, and it’s fucking awesome. I just think she’s such an incredible novelist, and the way she writes-- the way she describes things is really beautiful and inspiring and dark.

AM: Nice, I’ll check that out! Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

MH: I’m looking forward to getting the first batch of songs done for the new record. And feeling like I’m making headway with it.


Keep up with all of the updates from Marika Hackman by liking her Facebook page, and listening to I'm Not Your Man in full below. 

Can't get enough Marika? Read our review of her show at Schuba's Tavern here. 

A Chat With: Izzy Bizu

The London based singer-songwriter Izzy Bizu may have toured and collaborated with some of your favorite bands, but one listen to her songs like "White Tiger" or "Lost Paradise" and there's no doubt she's got the vocal chops and the writing talent to stand out completely on her own. Influenced by a broad range of artists, from James Brown to Amy Winehouse, Bizu fuses together soulful pop music with a touch of the blues and funk to craft fresh and irresistible tunes. Bizu has continuously picked up steam and gained a following after supporting artists such as Sam Smith and Rudimental, some hype from Zane Lowe and Annie Mac, and performances at festivals like Glastonbury. Bizu also sings on the duet "Someone That Loves You" with HONNE, which has racked up over six million Spotify streams.

Before she hits the road with Coldplay for their massive stadium tour next month, Bizu took some time to talk about her plans for the tour, from stage set ups to skateboarding, as well as new music, from her writing process to her collaborations. Find out all that and more in our chat with Izzy Bizu! 

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR

Photo Courtesy of No Big Deal PR


ANCHR Magazine: I last saw you when you toured with Spring King and Sundara Karma in the States and played The Bottom Lounge. It was a really cool show, and I liked how it kind of mixed the different genres. So what were some highlights for you from that tour?

Izzy Bizu: I loved New York so much! Where did we end up? We ended up in Chicago! That was really fun. We had a really fun night. We actually got to know the bands really properly and really personally. We sort of went out together and had a bit of a dance, and that was really funny. That was really cool. It was so long ago!

AM: Yeah, it was ages ago now!

IB: It was a really cool experience, and I loved the music as well.

AM: Nice! So now you’re gearing up to tour with Coldplay on a massive stadium tour! What are you looking forward to on this tour coming up?

IB: I’m looking forward to meeting them all first of all! I’m looking forward to just getting to know everyone on tour. Just having the most amazing time onstage and losing ourselves. I’m really nervous as well. It’s such a big audience, but I think it’ll be okay.

AM: I’m sure you’ll do great!

IB: Yeah, hope so! I think it’ll be fine. It’s definitely going to be a new experience for me, but I think that everyone on the tour seems very loving and kind. I’ve got a few nice texts from people that are going and it’s really like chilled me out. I’m really looking forward to that!

AM: Are you planning any changes in your production then to fill such a big stage? Any new additions to the set? Or will it be just your same incredible show that you always put on?

IB: Thank you! That's so sweet! It’s actually gonna be a lot different. It’s gonna be smaller because the slot that we were given was an acoustic set. It’s gonna be quite electronic. It’s gonna be semi-acoustic and semi-electronic. I’ve got somebody doing beats and bass, and I’ve got my guitarist. I’m singing and sometimes I’ll be playing piano, and we swap around the instruments. It’s a little different, but it’s cool because I’ve been doing it the same for a couple years. It’s gonna be really exciting to do it in a different way. The songs have got a new spin on them now, which could be interesting.

AM: Oh that’ll be fun to see! It’s cool that you’ll be mixing electronic and acoustic settings. Are there any cities in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing? I’m sure there’s a lot more dates on this run than the tour last year in America [with Spring King and Sundara Karma].

IB: Yeah, absolutely! I can’t wait to go to obviously-- I can’t wait for New York! Canada! Oh my god, I can’t wait for that. I’ve never been to Canada in my life, ever. Miami should be funny. Where else? We’re going to Minneapolis as well. I haven’t really been to half these places so I don’t really know what to look forward to.

AM: New York you’re actually headlining your own show there. What’s the setup for that show then, and do you have anything special planned?

IB: That’s the same as well! There’s just three of us on stage. If you come, I guess you’ll see the setup, but it’ll be cool!

AM: Well I also heard that you love to skateboard in your free time whenever you have any. When did you get into that?

IB: I got into that when I was 17. Then I haven’t really stopped since. Me and my guitarist both skate, and we’re going to go in New York. The roads are so much better than our roads--our roads are so shit!

AM: Cool, so you’ll skate on tour. Anything else you do to stay entertained on the road?

IB: Probably read a book, play cards, make some music!

AM: So are you writing for the next record then already?

IB: Yeah, certainly finding some new sounds, that sort of thing.

AM: So for the new material do you have any plans to release anything soon?

IB: Not soon. Probably next year! Early next year. I’m gonna get back in September and sort of chill out and start writing before Christmas. That’s my plan.

AM: Nice! Well speaking of new music, I know you recently did that new collaboration with Milky Chance and I also love your collaboration with HONNE. Do you have any plans to collaborate with anybody else soon, or anyone else on your bucket list to work with?

IB: Yeah, I’d love to collaborate with Tyler, The Creator. I mean, it’d be nice to work with Drake one day but you know...it’s a big world!

AM: Manifest it into reality, right? Just keep talking about it and maybe one day it’ll happen!

IB: Yeah, maybe!

AM: Then you actually performed the collaboration with Milky Chance live at a festival, so how was that experience?

IB: That was super fun! I had the weekend off and they were like do you want to come? I was like yep! As simple as that. Yeah, it was really sweet. They’re so fun to hang out with. I’ve known them for a few years now.  I met them four years ago. I supported them on one of their headlines randomly. Then we kept in contact and we started writing together...They’re really, really sweet.

AM: Very cool! So what new music have you been listening to lately that you can recommend to your fans?

IB: I just listened to Mahalia. She’s great. I’ve just listened to... oh I love Glass Animals! They’re so good! I saw them live, and I was like AHHH why haven’t I heard this before? I love them so much! I also love Tyler, The Creator. He dropped his new album, it’s brilliant!

AM: Anything else you’re looking forward to this year, besides the tour with Coldplay?

IB: I’m looking forward to writing new music. I’m moving soon and I can’t wait to be in a cocoon and write some new music. I’m traveling abroad for some other shows. We’re going to Thailand, which I’m so excited about! It’s gonna be a fun period of writing and doing some gigs abroad.


Izzy Bizu will be performing her headline show at Baby's All Right in NYC tomorrow night. Grab tickets here. For her tour with Coldplay, see all of the tour dates on her Facebook page, and grab tickets to the show at Soldier Field in Chicago here

To get ready for the shows, listen to Izzy Bizu's debut album A Moment of Madness in full below!

Get to Know: DEM YUUT

It's a Friday night in July, and Chicago's trademark humidity hangs in the air as Minneapolis band Now, Now are set to take the stage in Chicago for one of their first performances in over three years. Supporting the duo, fellow Minnesotans DEM YUUT will take the stage first to perform their experimental, alt-electronic tunes. Although the members of the quartet are each seasoned veterans in the music business, the DEM YUUT project only kicked off last year.  "We’ve all been in a lot of bands," says lead singer and songwriter Danny O'Brien. Elaborating on the band's formation, O'Brien continues, "We’ve all been friends for a long time. It was just kind of--I had this thing that I was gonna do as a solo project. I wrote a bunch of songs while my kids were napping, and showed them to everybody. They were like yeah you should make a band out of this thing, so that’s the gist of it." O'Brien also reveals that the origin of his musical inclination dates all the way back to young age of eleven years old, remembering that his song-writing father gave him a guitar and a chord book for his birthday. The rest is history. 

Bandmate Jef Sundquist interjects with his memories of the band's creation, saying, "My favorite thing is [Danny was] like 'I don’t wanna play guitar', and I was like 'I don’t wanna play bass', and that kind of changed the organization of the band. To where he was just singing, and I was playing samples and synth." Sundquist and O'Brien further demonstrated their adaptability as musicians when they later took the stage again to back Now, Now after their support slot. 

DEM YUUT is Danny O'Brien, Don House, Jeremy Hanson, and Jef Sundquist   Photo courtesy of Middle West Management

DEM YUUT is Danny O'Brien, Don House, Jeremy Hanson, and Jef Sundquist 

Photo courtesy of Middle West Management

Although the band have traded hats so to speak for the DEM YUUT project, their years of experience came into the play when the band recorded their debut album, tracking a lot of it live. With only one song "Dawn/Sea" officially released, the band express their itch to release more of it, but they don't have a definite timeline in place. "It's done, done. Recorded and mastered," O'Brien confirms. Talking more about the recording process and live tracking, O'Brien says, "We did some of it at my place. I have a studio in my house. We live tracked a bunch of the record, which is pretty sweet, for this genre of music cause it’s not all sequenced. We kind of went about it as if we were still a rock band, as far as tracking goes. We were all in the room together, making it happen. So the only overdubs were a couple acoustic guitar parts and my vocals. Everything else was cut together." By playing the songs out live, rather than focusing on overdubs and splitting up their parts, the group managed to save some time. "It was pretty much 9 songs in 10 days. A song a day to kind of get the vibe," Sundquist recalls. 

The recording process that the band settled on has made for an easy transition when it comes to performing their songs live, O'Brien says. Sundquist agrees, adding, "A couple of them were tricky, but it was always just like 'make it work'. It doesn’t have to be like the demo. The demo is just the idea....we get to make it work in a live setting." Speaking of playing live, DEM YUUT recently got the chance to perform at a concert that kicked off Eaux Claires Festival at The Oxbow Hotel, headlined by The Shouting Matches (You can revisit our recap of the show here). Guitarist Don House says the opportunity popped up because their manager is good friends with festival curator Justin Vernon. Remembering their time at the festival, House says Sylvan Esso's set sticks out as a highlight, while Sundquist favors the John Prine Tribute that featured countless artists from Vernon to Jenny Lewis, This Is The Kit, and Prine himself. 

It's no secret that Eaux Claires Festival evokes a strong sense of collaboration and improvisation every year, and DEM YUUT fit in perfectly with that common thread, having recently remixed The Staves. A staple of the Eaux Claires lineup, The Staves also fit right into DEM YUUT's circle. "I guitar tech for them. They kind of lived at my house last summer, and we became friends. Through that, they asked us to remix it," House explains. "That whole remix thing was just to kill time cause the record was done and we were not doing anything," O'Brien adds. As far as potential future collaborations, O'Brien says he's open to working with anyone, while Sundquist throws out Twigs, Kendrick, and Sza as suggestions. 

DEM YUUT and Now, Now's tour wraps up this weekend in San Francisco on July 16th, but O'Brien and Sundquist seemed set out to make the most of our while we chatted--both from an artistic standpoint and a personal level. Artistically, the band reveal they are able to stay creative and working on new material, even while they are still mastering their current live roster of songs. "I feel like I can write kind of anywhere," O'Brien says, while Sundquist adds in that they were both writing in the van that afternoon. The Chicago show was only the second show of the tour, followed up by a hometown performance for both bands on the bill. Despite the hiccups that any "first of the tour" show usually contains, Sundquist says, "There was a great sports movie comeback moment, where a song fell apart and we had to get it back together. It came back together and it was amazing." On a personal level, O'Brien says, "We’ve got a day off in New York City that’s gonna be pretty fun. Then like a half day off in LA. We should be able to do some fun stuff. I wanna go to a beach, I don’t care which coast. I love the ocean," also revealing that he won't get caught swimming in Lake Michigan, though.


The remainder of 2017 is still a bit up in the air for this rookie project composed of music veterans, but hopefully a new tour announcement and new music releases are just around the corner. Stay up to date with DEM YUUT by following their Facebook page, and get ready for the new music by listening to their single "Dawn/Sea" below!

Can't get enough DEM YUUT? Also check out of photo galleries of their show in Chicago on 7/7 here. 

Juice Recipes and Life Philosophy: A Chat With Foreign Air at Hangout Fest

Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael of the buzzy duo Foreign Air have steadily been picking up traction with their layered, feel-good tunes like "In The Shadows" and "Call Off The Dogs." After releasing their debut EP, the pair have developed their live sound by touring with artists like The Strumbellas, Lewis Del Mar, Aurora, and Kevin Garrett. Their intricate songs encapsulate these irresistible melodies that will be sure to boost your mood and have you moving along, which is the perfect festival music. After hitting the stage at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Jesse and Jacob chatted with us about their developing sound, staying replenished on tour, their core principles, and more. 

Photo Courtesy of Foreign Air

Photo Courtesy of Foreign Air

ANCHR Magazine: How did you first get inspired to start making music? Do you have a first musical memory from when you were kids?

Jesse Clasen: I grew up with a piano in the house. I started taking piano lessons when I was 9 years old. I think I was always attracted to sound. I quit after about two years because I didn’t like learning other songs. I was so young I didn’t realize there’s probably different styles of teaching, and learning. So instead of thinking about that aspect and saying maybe this isn’t the teacher for me, I just quit. I kept playing cause I loved making sound. You know, creating more than playing music that was already written. So I started with the piano, and my parents got me a drum set cause I was really into drums. So I started playing drums around age 12 every day. My mom took me out of school, I was home schooled for a long time. That basically meant I played music and skateboarded all day. Then started learning guitar. While doing all that, singing and mimicking singers that I really liked to sort of learn different aspects of singing.

AM: Is there a certain singer or band that stood out as a particular influence?

JC: I mean, there were so many when I was young. There was Nirvana of course. As I got older, my mom turned me into Sade and Nina Simone. I really loved her voice. And then I fell in love with Jeff Buckley’s voice. Billie Holliday. I feel like that’s how I learned a lot about vibrato. Then I got into Nick Cave. Tom Waits. More theatrical, lower registers. In terms of music in general, I never really asked myself if it was something I wanted to do. It was just something I was drawn to and loved, and did it whenever I could, how I could. And here I am.

Jacob Michael: [I'm] kind of the same way. A friend taught me the basic chords on guitar, and I just started writing my own songs with those chords I had, then got a bunch of friends together. We kind of just started playing and met likeminded people through music and stuck with it. Music for me was a way to connect with likeminded people outside of my high school. I started taking the metro down to DC and fell into music there.

AM: So what’s next for you guys in terms of new music this year?

JC: We have a bunch of unreleased stuff to put together at the same time we’re working on a full length. We just wanna get it right. I think we’re still chasing that sound and not really rushing it. The full length is probably the next big release that we’re looking at.

AM: Have you noticed a theme in the full length? 

JC: I think we’re very drawn to big drums, and a lot of sampling. Sampling of my voice. A lot of playing instruments we grew up on…piano and bass and guitar. Writing and just resampling it to see how we can kind of flip it on its head. Emotion is very important. We feel that authenticity and trying to capture that. When we’re working on new songs, that’s very much what we’re chasing....the raw emotion and being in the moment.

AM: I saw you guys tweeted the other day, “What’s a principle that you live by?” so what would be your principle?

JM: I love the responses that we got. I’ve been asking a lot of people that.

JC: I’ve always been about honesty. Being upfront with people. Whether you’re in a relationship, in the music world.... You’ve gotta speak up. You don’t wanna be the person going home after a day in the studio feeling like man, I wish we would have done this, but I bit my tongue cause there’s other people around. You’ve gotta be you and be open to experiences.

JM: I was thinking that. Jesse’s one of those people. He keeps it real, probably more than anybody else I know.

AM: On the same subject of your Twitter, I saw your tweet about how your juicer is a tour essential. So if you were to make a Hangout Hangover juice, what would you put in it? And what would you name the recipe?

JC: I like the Hangout Hangover.

JM: You nailed it. It’d probably be like apples, celery-

JC:  Cucumber’s gotta be in there!

JM: Red pepper. And ginger.

JC: Maybe a touch of pineapple. I have a sweet tooth. And some coconut water for the hangover. And crushed up Ibuprofen!

AM: Do you have any other festival do’s and don’ts?

JC: This is our second festival with this project. We did Shaky Knees last week, our first festival. So far, it’s put on sunscreen and stay hydrated.

JM: And don’t stay out too late if you have a show that weekend. Go out, but just remember you have something to do the next day.

JC: So many friends and so much going on, it’s like easy to get lost in it.

AM: Do you have a crazy festival story?

JC: Last weekend, I ended up last minute hoping on the ferris wheel that was right next to the festival with some other friends. We got a bunch of champagne and finished up the night. [Champagne] flutes and everything on the ferris wheel. May or may not have been some other things going on. Not drug related. Some festival loving and dancing.

JM: I like people watching. People are wearing some crazy things at this festival.

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year?

JC: Looking forward to just progressing the sound, and exploring the sound that is Foreign Air. I don’t think we’ve found it yet and I’m excited to see how far we can take it. I want to make a record that comes from a real place. And just sonically new. I wanna challenge ourselves more.

JM: For me I’d say performing live with the new material.

AM: What are some of your new favorite bands?

JC: Bishop Briggs. Lewis Del Mar. 

JM: I like Little Dragon a lot, and GoldLink. I’m really into Jenny Hval from Norway.


Foreign Air are set to play Firefly Music Festival in June, but keep your eye out for more tour dates hereand listen to their debut EP below.

Get to Know: The Evening Attraction

One listen to The Evening Attraction, and it’s nearly impossible not to get instantly hooked. Between lead singer Miles Malin’s vocals, their strong, melodic riffs, and their subtle nods to an array of influences from country music to Beyonce (more on that later), TEA have managed to brew up the perfect balance. After releasing their debut album and several subsequent singles, the Chicago-based five piece are now back in the studio mixing their sophomore album. In honor of the new record and the band playing our ACLU benefit show with local legends Post Animal and Jude Shuma, The Evening Attraction chatted with me on Record Store Day before their set at Shuga Records. Here's what you need to know about The Evening Attraction, including more on their new music, their past highlights, and future plans.

TEA performing on Record Store Day 2017. The band is Miles Malin, Paul Ansani, Joey Abaroa, Nick Tumminello, and Vince Pimentel.

TEA performing on Record Store Day 2017. The band is Miles Malin, Paul Ansani, Joey Abaroa, Nick Tumminello, and Vince Pimentel.

Miles and Paul have been playing music together for a decade

Bassist Paul Ansani and lead singer/guitarist Miles Malin first started playing music together in middle school, just about a decade ago. "We played in a band called The Break, with Matt Gieser, who owns Treehouse Records," Miles says about the early days with Paul. Continuing on the subject of their first band, he says, "We had some mild success, for kids. We did like all the big venues around the city. Then we moved on into college. Paul went down to U of I, and we kind of spread out. I met Joe at Columbia, and then sophomore year when Matt opened the studio, we did a record there of like post-Break songs that I had, and basically labeled it The Evening Attraction."

The current day line up varies slightly from the first days of The Evening Attraction, though.  "We did the whole first Evening Attraction record...it was us three [Miles, Paul, and Joe], Matt Gieser on drums," Paul says. Miles interjects to add, "Then our drummer now, Nick, did like organs and shakers. Just an all-around auxiliary, good musician. Then we started playing gigs with The Evening Attraction." 

Paul picks the story back up, saying, "Nick eventually transitioned to drums, and then we added our friend Vince." Vince Pimentel joined the group last year to play keys and various percussion. 

Michael Shannon went to one of their gigs

Miles says they've worked on getting their sound down throughout the years as they've played more together. "We’ve been playing a lot. We’ve done a lot of shows since we’ve been together. I think our first show was April of 2013 or 2014," he says. 

While they've played many, many shows, one show in particular still sticks out to the band. "I think our biggest claim to fame is one time we played in front of Michael Shannon, the actor," Joey Abaroa says. Although Paul admits he hasn't seen any of Michael Shannon's movies, Joey's a huge fan of the Academy Award nominated actor. "We peaked, and Michael Shannon left our band," he jokes. 

The new album references influences ranging from The Monkees to Beyonce

The new record from The Evening Attraction is completely recorded and on the brink of release. "Right now we’re in mixing. We’ve got like two final mixes, and we’re gonna hopefully be done mixing at the end of May. Followed by shopping it around, hopefully getting someone to help us put it out...If we get lucky enough and we’re fortunate enough to get it in the right hands," Miles says, adding that he thinks there's something for everyone on the album. 

As far as what the record sounds like, Joey says, "I usually tell people it’s like The Monkees but if The Monkees smoked more reefer than the Monkees smoke reefer." As Miles elaborates on the new music, adding, "The album has 9 tracks, and there’s so many influences that we have. A lot of Jazz stuff, a lot of 60's rock 'n’ roll. Anything from The Zombies to Ty Segall," Joey chimes in again, citing Beyonce as an influence. (The Queen B influence will probably be very subtle if anything, but make sure you listen to the record thoroughly when it comes out).  

Paul also reflects on the new album, saying, "It goes a lot of places. I was listening to it today...we have some rough mixes in. They really kind of run the gamut of our influences. Individually every track kind of goes in a different direction." Paul and Miles also hint that the new music includes some jazzy undertones, horn arrangements, swing tracks, Latin flavor, and 1960's Brit Pop.

At the center of every TEA track, sits a strong melody, according to Paul. Miles also says their songs feature somewhat cinematic qualities, with Paul adding,"A lot of them do have some peaks and transitions, and [it] ends in some place it doesn’t start. A lot of jams. A lot of fades." 

Much like other Chicago bands, they're immersed in the local scene

Although Matt Gieser no longer plays in the band, the new The Evening Attraction record was still recorded at Treehouse Studios, located here in Chicago. In addition to being a recording studio, Treehouse also puts on shows with a lot of local acts. Just recently, TEA played a Treehouse gig with another ANCHR favorite, Joe Bordenaro + The Late Bloomers.  Joey gives Joe Bordenaro a shout out when talking about his favorite bands, also mentioning The Voluptuals and Red Francis.

Paul weighs in on being a part of the Chicago scene, saying, "Now that we feel like we’re kind of consistent and established, we really have a nice connection with a lot of our friends’ bands around here. It's always just nice to see our buddies' bands play. We share the same bill with a lot of the same groups, so it’s kind of good to see everyone hyping each other up." Speaking of sharing bills, don't forget that The Evening Attraction will be playing our benefit show with Post Animal, one of their personal favorites. During the interview Paul is wearing a Post Animal shirt, and both he and Miles say they've been hyping their friends' music for years. 

In addition to fellow local musicians Brandon Reed and Max Loebman, the band say they're huge fans of The Nude Party, Scott Walker, and The Beach Boys. Similar to their own dynamic range in their songs, their musical tastes rest all over the map. 

Rock'n'Roll runs in their family, from musician fathers and touring grandmas

Talking more about their individual inspiration to start playing music, Paul says,"My dad played in a 90's band called Material Issue, and they had their success in the scene. Growing up with that was always fun because you know, it was just always part of my life." 

Paul mentions that his mom is coming out to see them play at Shuga Records, and that Miles' grandma came to the last show. "She’s coming today. She’s gonna come to the next one...and then she’s gonna come on tour with us," Miles joked. 

Speaking of tour, the band say they'll likely tour in the summer after the album release. They've already played 7 out of the 9 new songs live, so make sure you head out to any upcoming shows to get a sneak preview. 

They're into collecting records

In the true spirit of Record Store Day, Joey says he got up bright and early to do some shopping before their show at Shuga Records. "I picked up that Cheap Trick Volume 1, which is a 1975-1979 double LP. I got the two Zombies 45s. You know what’s really crazy? Bamboo. The Dennis Wilson record on vinyl," he shares about his finds. 

Although he wasn't up at crazy hours shopping, Miles says he also collects his own records, in addition to the ones he's inherited from his parents. Miles says his favorites include old jazz records, especially a live compilation from Capitol Records. His absolute favorite, though? "The Casinos. 'I Still Love You.' It’s like this big band, doo wop-y, soul from the 1960s. It’s this track called 'I Still Love You.' It’s like total deep cut that nobody knows," Miles says. 

On the same subject of records, the band say they'll definitely release the new album on vinyl. "I’m looking forward to putting together some good album art," Paul adds. 


Stay up to date on all The Evening Attraction announcements on their well-rounded, diverse new record and upcoming tour dates by following them on Instagram. Make sure you get down to The Subterranean on July 10th to see them perform with Post Animal, Jude Shuma, and Condor & Jaybird. Grab tickets to that show here, and get ready for the gig by listening to the latest double single from the band below:

 

 

A Chat With: White Reaper

Louisville, Kentucky based band White Reaper are back with a new album and a massive tour to go along with it. With lyrics that get lodged in your brain and riffs that are perfect for rocking out with the windows down, White Reaper's The World's Best American Band puts a refreshing spin on some old school punk vibes. The must-listen rock album is available to pick up on tape, vinyl, CD and digitally here. While we've been listening to it nonstop since the release, we can't wait to see the songs performed live. Before White Reaper's tour swings through Chicago on May 5th, we chatted with the band about their recording process, summer festivals, and some other great American bands.  Get to know more about the world's best American band now...

White Reaper is Tony Esposito, Ryan Hater, Nick Wilkerson, and Sam Wilkerson.  Photo Credit: Jesse DeFlorio

White Reaper is Tony Esposito, Ryan Hater, Nick Wilkerson, and Sam Wilkerson.

Photo Credit: Jesse DeFlorio

ANCHR Magazine: Congratulations on the release of The World’s Best American Band! What was the writing and recording process like for the album, and how does it differ from your past work? 

White Reaper: I only had a few little recordings on my phone before we went in, they weren't finished songs, just little ideas. We basically wrote the record in the studio, which we had never done before.

ANCHR Magazine: Who do you consider your influences, both generally and specifically on the new music? 

White Reaper: Lately we've been listening to a lot of Deep Purple, The Monks, Todd Rundgren, and Bob Seger. We've always been listening to a lot of old school rock bands like that.

ANCHR Magazine: Which songs are your favorite from the album, and which ones are you most looking forward to playing at your upcoming shows?

White Reaper:  I'm really excited to play "Daisies" live. Also, "Judy French" is another favorite of mine.

ANCHR Magazine: Are there any cities in particular that you’re looking forward to playing on tour? 

White Reaper: Chicago and Nashville are always wonderful for us. We have tons of friends in both of those places.

ANCHR Magazine:What’s your favorite way to entertain yourself on long drives during tour? Any good podcast, book, or movie recommendations? 

White Reaper: Just recently we got a great big book of mad libs.

ANCHR Magazine: You’re also on The Bonnaroo and Hangout Fest lineups, which is awesome! What are some of your festival do’s and don’ts?

 White Reaper: Do drink water. Don't get dehydrated. Find some other way to party so you don't have to pay $8 for a god damned Miller Lite.

ANCHR Magazine: On the same subject of festivals, do you have any crazy festival stories, either from fests you’ve attended or played?

White Reaper: We had a pretty wild time at Primavera last year. We were up all night and we left the festival carrying all our gear and we just walked along the beach right as the sun came up around 6 in the morning. There was a really nice Spanish guy following us and talking to us but he was so wasted it was hard to understand. He was really cool though.

ANCHR Magazine: So clearly, based on your album name, you’re the World’s Best American band, but who would you consider to be runner ups in that category? Also, what some of your favorite bands from around the world? 

White Reaper: Sheer Mag is really good. Tom Petty is too.

ANCHR Magazine: It's no secret that you guys are great musicians, but what are some of your hidden talents? 

White Reaper: We're all pretty useless outside of our bands. We're a bunch of one trick ponies. I can't even blow a bubble with bubblegum.


Chicago, White Reaper will be at Beat Kitchen May 5th with No Parents. Grab your tickets here, and get ready for the show by blasting the new record:

You can check out all of White Reaper's upcoming gigs here. 

A Chat With: Coast Modern

Los Angeles duo Coleman Trapp and Luke Atlas, better known as Coast Modern, have been turning a lot of heads the past year with their feel-good indie-pop tracks, perfect for cruising with the windows down on a sunny day or dancing along to at a gig. They've been steadily picking up fans by touring with everyone from The Wombats to The Temper Trap, and they've even got Smash Mouth tweeting them compliments. With a new single "Pocket Full Of No" released recently and a debut album on the horizon, the pair are currently touring the country with other buzz bands Missio, 888, and Sundara Karma, as part of Alt Nation's Alternative Placement Tour. Before the tour hits Chicago next week, we chatted with Luke about everything from the aforementioned Smash Mouth compliment, Swiss Army Man, "Trojan Piñatas," and more. Get to know what's next for Coast Modern now!

Photo Credit: Maeghan Donohue

Photo Credit: Maeghan Donohue

ANCHR Magazine: How’s your day going?

Luke Atlas: Wonderful, hanging out in the Big Apple!

AM: Nice! So I wanted to start off by finding out what first got you interested in music, and what inspired you to start writing and playing an instrument. Do you have a first musical memory?

LA: Yeah, I got like a little keyboard drum machine when I was a kid. I just started messing around with it in my room, just realizing you can make full tracks yourself, you don’t need anybody else. That’s kind of still what I’m doing to this day. And Coleman as well. Just messing around on computers and trying to emulate stuff on the radio. We thought our first beats were amazing and could be on the radio, but we found out they were definitely garbage. It’s a long process getting to now.

AM: You have a debut album coming out at some point this year, but no exact date yet, right?

LA:  It’s a bit loose, but soon though!

AM: What can you tell me about the album as far as where you recorded it and where your headspace was when you guys were writing the songs? Any sort of inside knowledge you can let us in on?

LA: Yeah, it was all recorded in my little home studio, which is a literal studio apartment in Los Angeles. Just very minimal set up. It’s kind of a reflection of personal exploration that Coleman and I were going through. Just things we’re thinking about, existential questions and just trying to fit those in like a fun, pop format that feels real and feels exciting. It’s not heavy, even if some of the things we’re thinking about are a bit heavy. I think the album as a whole is a very wild ride. Very different. Different moods. Like wandering through a maze...landing upon different creatures.

AM: Very cool. So are there any artists, or even other art forms, like films, that you kind of took to as influences? Like, oh I kind of like how that band or that movie took kind of a heavy concept and kind of polished it off in a not-so-scary package?

LA: Yeah, we’re really inspired by everything. A lot more than just specific bands. We saw this movie called Swiss Army Man-

AM: Oh, I love that movie!

LA: It’s an interesting thing, cause it’s like very crude on one level and kind of very heartfelt on another level. That’s kind of something you haven’t really seen before. So that’s inspiring for us. It’s like, you can be kind of silly, but still deal with real topics. Discuss them, or slap them in where it’s more than it is on surface. We like to call it a Trojan Piñata.

AM: That’s a really good phrase! I’m gonna have to steal that! So generally, how are you feeling about releasing the record? Nervous…Excited…all of that?

LA: We’re super excited. We have six singles out right now and the feedback has just been incredible. People are latching on to something it feels like we’re…we have a lot of people that share similar feelings as us. They’re really understanding what we’re doing, which is super cool. We’re excited to release the whole package finally and it’s been a long time coming. We’re ready to keep doing tons of new music and videos.

AM: So speaking of responses, I saw a couple weeks back that Smash Mouth tweeted about your song “Comb My Hair,” so what was your reaction to that? Were you like "Hey now, I’m an all star?"

LA: Yes, I mean that was super surreal! I remember being a kid like hearing that song and like flipping out. I went and bought it immediately. Even now they’re DM-ing us on Twitter.

AM: Really? You guys going to tour together?

LA: Yeah, who knows! Those are the things you just can’t expect. It’s too weird. It does seem like a dream.

AM: So then speaking of tour, I know you’re in New York and then you’re doing the East Coast this week. So what have been some highlights, whether that be crowd responses being amazing, or even touristy things you’ve gotten to do?

LA: We started in New Orleans, which is cool. I’ve never been there, but it’s such a big music town that people were surprisingly excited and crazy. All of the responses so far down the south...people go off. Even in New York last night, it was popping. We try to like, in New Orleans we got the classic Beignets. We try to get out and do the classics in all the cities. We love to explore.

AM: Yeah and you guys have toured around a little bit so you have some of that under your belt! I saw you guys with The Wombats at The Metro so you’ve been here. Anything else you’re looking forward to hitting up this tour?

LA: Ah man...everywhere! You’re Chicago, right?

AM: Yeah!

LA: Have you had Ipsento, the coffee? 

AM: I have not, actually. I’m more of a tea person.

LA: It’s this crazy thing we had there, and we always have like certain foods we latch on to in certain cities and we’re like oh, we have to go back! So that’ll be cool! We’re just excited to keep meeting different people. Every city is different and has got a different vibe, and it’s fun to push people’s buttons.

AM: Yeah for sure! So I’m bummed that I’m missing this show, it should be a good one! I’m flying out tonight to go to LA, and since you’re based in LA, are there any bands in the LA scene that you guys are big fans of?

LA: Oh yea, there’s a band that we’re really into called Dessert! They’re kind of a mysterious LA band, but their music is sort of future-pop...very inserting song structures. It’s very cool stuff, really inspiring. 

AM: Nice! So coming from LA, that’s obviously a big music industry capital. Do you find it beneficial to be there with all the opportunities, or do you kind of find it a bit of a struggle with it being oversaturated with bands and artists?

LA: No, we love it. And there’s just like endless opportunity for collaboration, which is really cool. Like we’ll hit someone up on Instagram that we really like and be like hey do you wanna just come over, come to the studio and jam out? It just seems like everybody’s there and you can have chance encounters like that. That’s kind of where magic comes from. Like things you didn’t expect happen. We love it. It’s a really creative energy, if you can tap into it.

AM: Any other bands that you want to shout out that you might be listening to on the long drives during tour?

LA: Oh man, I don’t know. We try to listen to podcasts in the van--

AM: Oh have you listened to S-Town?

LA: Yeah we just did all of S-Town

AM: Yeah, it’s crazy right?

LA: Very insane, yeah!

AM: Any other podcasts?

LA: We’re into this one called Duncan Trussell Family Hour. It’s kind of a— he’s like a cosmonaut. He explores the mind and wacky, psychedelic stuff.

AM: Nice, I’ll have to check it out. So the next question actually came from a fan on Twitter. They wanted to know what your favorite childhood movie was.

LA: Ooh man, that’s tough! One that comes to mind, I think now cause we’re in New York, is the second Home Alone…Lost in New York. We’ve done some videos on our Instagram with that movie cause it’s amazing. Finding Nemo also. Wait-- Little Nemo, not Finding Nemo. The one where’s riding his bed around!

AM: Finding Nemo is still a good one! Lastly, anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

LA: Yeah, we have a video coming soon. We’re really excited about it. It’s with a guy we found on Instagram, and we’ve got some drones shots. And Dancing. 

AM: Nice, I’ll look forward to that!


Chicago, join in on the dance party by catching Coast Modern at the SubT on 4/18! Grab tickets for the show here. For all tour dates, head here. 

Get To Know: Two Feet

It's been quite the year for Bill Dess, AKA Two Feet. His breakout single "Go Fuck Yourself" has stacked up close to 20 million Spotify plays in less than a year since its release, he's currently nearing the tail end of his first tour, he's just played SXSW and has been announced on the Bonnaroo Lineup. Oh, and he's got new music on the horizon. While there's quite a lot of buzz and a lot going on for Dess, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer.  Lucky for you, we chatted with Dess earlier this week, after he played his first show in Chicago in support of Jain. Get to know more about Two Feet now!

First Steps  EP Artwork

First Steps EP Artwork

He got his start in music working as a producer for other artists

Talking about his life prior to becoming Two Feet, Bill says, "I had a normal day job, and I was just kind of producing for random people. [I'd] produce a beat. Then that lead into doing actual pop production for people. One of my friends works at Atlantic [Records], so I started getting into more of the pop production level and that started going really well."

Although things went well at first, Bill does reveal that it sometimes got frustrating working for other people. Continuing his narrative, he says, "So I just kind of made my own project. [I] didn’t really think too much about it and just uploaded it online. 10 months later I’m doing this now. It’s kinda crazy what the internet can do. If you make something that strikes a nerve."

He'd like to collaborate with...

Speaking of striking a nerve, the song "Go Fuck Yourself" did just that with producer and musician Martin Garrix, who tipped off his fans about the Two Feet track in a video interview. Dess says Garrix's shout out gained him listeners and added traction to the song. 

If given the opportunity, Dess would love to work with Garrix too. "I’d like to collab with him. We'll see if we can set something up. He has his own label, but it’s under Republic too. My A&R is over there, [and] trying to set that up. Other than that, I’m sort of slowly setting up my collaboration list for the album. I’m definitely saving those collaborations for the album."

Dess also mentions other artists he admires while talking about his influences. "I really like the Bob Moses guys...they’re really cool. I like the XX or Chet Faker...Chet Baker, even. My dad showed me him when I was a kid. Other than that, a lot of it comes from electronic producers, like Mura Masa. It’s kind of like a mix of everything, and I kind of try to forget about other producers and other people and just kind of do my own thing." While we wait patiently for the Two Feet record and possible future collaborations, check out this collaboration with Melvv...

Lots of new music is on the way

During the set this tour, Dess and his bandmate Huff played a few unreleased tracks from the upcoming EP. Talking about the difference between the new music and the debut EP First Steps, Dess says, "I guess the first EP was a little more beat oriented. I was more focused on more of the production. This one is more songwritery and developed. So it’s a transition in that sense. It’s more flushed out. More information in all of [the songs]...They’re just a little wider is a good way to put it." 

As far as how he'll release the diverse EP (which should be coming in a couple of weeks), he says, "I think I’m doing double singles at a time. Instead of just one song, it’s gonna be two songs and then another couple of songs a few weeks later. To mix up the EP a bit more."

So we've got a new EP on the horizon, but what about a debut album?  "I signed with Republic Records," Dess revealed. Continuing, he says, "This EP is still going to be released basically independently, through Majestic Casual, which is like an Indie Label. The next four songs will be through them. Then after that, I officially start working with Republic Records. I’ll have a 10 track album and that will be released with them in either late 2017 or early 2018. But there’ll be singles leading up to it. I’ll probably have my first single released with them some time in the summer. I’m just really excited for the next 10, 12 months." 

He's a taco enthusiast 

While Dess and his bandmate were at SXSW, he admits they dedicated a lot of time to learning and just playing their own shows, saying, "On the days we had shows, it felt like the whole day was dedicated to just getting that show done, and then packing everything up and taking notes. We figured out what went wrong with the live set. I didn’t really have time to go out and see too many people." Luckily, the experience of playing multiple showcases in odd places gave them some pointers for the current tour. 

However, when there was any free time at SXSW, Dess says, "I just kinda would walk around and eat tacos and go to bars," adding that he did manage to catch a few sets from his friends playing the festival. 

This tour has turned him into a traveler

Much like SXSW, Dess says that most of this first tour has been dedicated to the shows with minimal sight seeing. However, they did get up to some additional fun in Austin and on the west coast. "We went to the river [in Austin]. Which was really cool. Honestly that’s kind of the only touristy thing we did," Dess says. "Oh--right. My tour manager just reminded me when we were driving up the coast of California we saw the Redwoods, which was really cool. We took a route that drove up next to the ocean. Which was really cool, really beautiful. That was probably the most beautiful drive I’ve been on my whole life. It felt like a dream, you know," he continued.

Although so much of the tour is spent driving and setting up for shows, Dess says he's really grateful for this opportunity in general. "I’d never really traveled much before this. So either way, it’s still like I’m seeing a whole bunch of the country that I never thought I’d have the chance to see," he admits. 

In addition to a summer tour in the works and his upcoming appearance at festivals like Bonnaroo and Lightning in a Bottle, Dess says, "I’d really like to play some shows in Europe and go to Japan. My band member is Japanese and he’ll show me around!"


Keep your eyes out for the upcoming show announcements by checking on Two Feet's Facebook page, and listen to the fill First Steps EP below...

Get To Know: Condor & Jaybird

While I was out at Daytrotter Downs earlier this month, I caught an incredible, impromptu set by The Golden Jaybird, who filled in for Kississippi at the last minute. The Golden Jaybird is actually a hybrid, collaborative project, comprised of The Golden Fleece and Condor & JaybirdAbout a week later, the latter of the two groups headed out on the road for a month-long tour. When Condor & Jaybird rolled through Chicago, we met up to chat about everything from strange sleeping arrangements on tour, Hanson, and which company they'd want to sponsor them. Get to know this psych rock group from Rock Island, Condor & Jaybird now!

Condor & Jaybird is Jeramie Anderson, Connor Lyle, Jake Lyle, and Bryson Foster.

Condor & Jaybird is Jeramie Anderson, Connor Lyle, Jake Lyle, and Bryson Foster.


Their songwriting process is evolving and collaborative

Talking about the undefined and unrestricted songwriting process of Condor & Jaybird, Jeramie says, "The best part about being in a band where we’re all kind of writing, is that we’re all allowed to develop our own style. There’s never a point where we’re like, 'Oh that’s not indie rock enough..that’s not psychedelia enough, we need more break downy metal parts...'  We’re just feeling out our own style."

Bryson chimes in that they don't have any sort of super formula, with Jake adding, "It’s easy to get stale when you stick to a formula."  (See, they're even collaborative in their interviewing process).  

Speaking of working together, in addition to their hybrid band with The Golden Fleece, which Bryson describes as another project with cool goals, the guys in Condor & Jaybird are all super supportive of other local bands. One of the bands they're closest to is Mountain Swallower, (who also gave a shout out to Condor & Jaybird in our interview from Daytrotter Downs). Besides being friends and having a mutual love for each other's music, Jake shared that the connection between Condor & Jaybird and Mountain Swallower runs even deeper, saying, "Connor plays drums sometimes in the drummer of Mountain Swallower’s other band, called Grandfather Confusion." Jeramie added, "Our scene is pretty cohesive. We just kind of jam around and kinda do weird stuff together. It’s all pretty tight knit." 

Their influences range from metal to The Beatles

Part of the band's ever-changing and evolving songwriting process comes back to their wide array of influences. Jake shares some of his inspiration and influences, saying, "I was really into MxPx when I was 12. I was like I wanna play bass, and I got a bass. Connor and I are brothers, and in our immediate family, our mom plays music, and our grandma plays music. So it was kind of just a natural occurrence for us. [Connor and Jeramie] went to high school together and played in bands together back then.

Jeramie elaborates on how the band met and started working together, chiming in, "We’ve been playing together since we were 15. It just kind of all worked out. Like Bryson had moved away to California for a year or two, then he was down in Nashville for a while. We had been cycling through drummers, and he had moved back when we were just starting to look for somebody else. It just worked out perfectly." Continuing on the subject on influences, Jeramie says, "Our sound kind of comes from a place of fogginess with our individual interests. We like The Beatles, we like Queen. We all come from metal. We were playing metal before this band, and when this band started...you can definitely hear it in some of the first records."

For his influences, Bryson says, "Inspiration comes from so many different areas for me. When I started playing music, it just kind of started as oh, cool, how do I play this instrument? Then it turned into how do I draw inspiration to find out how to play this instrument. So early inspiration for me were like metal music, hardcore music. That was just like what the music scene was to me at the time. That was my immediate inspiration. Then I moved away and I started to look at all of music. So I went from primary colors to all the colors, and I was just overwhelmed. Then I came back and joined up with these guys and it was awesome. I was like, now I can focus everything I’ve learned and have been listening to, have been drawing inspiration from, and focal it into the band."

The highlight of their SXSW experience was meeting Hanson

Although Jeramie admits their time at SXSW was a bit challenging, saying, "Being kind of an unknown band at South By trying to jump on showcases is pretty hard," he also says they got the chance to see some great performances from other bands. Jake mentioned a set from Meat Bodies, and the entire band all agreed on loving the set they saw from Mastodon. Jeramie also added, "Chastity Belt opened for Mastodon and they were so great....so amazing!" 

However, the real highlight of their first time at SXSW was meeting the supergroup of brothers, Hanson. Describing the experience, Bryson says, "It brought one part of my life to a full circle," and Jeramie recalled the experience as being a pivotable "made it" moment in life. The lucky meeting happened while the band were hanging out at Daytrotter's base camp at SXSW, and Hanson happened to be in to record a session. Jake confirmed they still play "MMMBop," and Jeramie chimed in, "And still loving it! [Daytrotter] said are you tired of playing that song and they said 'No, you know, you’re not tired of it, you just. It takes on a different flavor.'"  

They've survived sleeping in Fear Factor-esque environments

It turns out that meeting Hanson isn't the only crazy story from this tour. Jeramie tells the tale of an interesting venue in Houston, saying, "I thought about writing a story/song-esque thing about the Super Happy Fun experience. This venue in Houston, called Super Happy Fun Land....Man, it was crazy." Jake jumps in to say the venue is indescribable and ambiguous, adding that they couldn't tell if it was a business or a commune. 

Picking back up with the story, Jeramie says, "We walked in and it looked like pop culture apocalypse. There was like a big mountain of Raggedy Ann dolls and psychedelic graffiti. And there was always like ambient like flashes of light in this dark warehouse!"

Jake continued the story, "You know Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where like- I can’t remember the terminology, but like where all the kids who worked for The Foot Clan?" Connor jumps in to say the place is called Shredder's Hangout. "So basically that place was like Shredder’s Hangout, but like after it go busted. After the cops cleared it out," Jake continued. 

Bryson interjects to say that they had very good vegan chili at the venue, but after the band recalled there were cats, rats, and roaches running around the venue at night, he added, "It felt like Fear Factor at one point. Like ah, a briefcase of 50,000 dollars will be at the end of this sleep...Joe Rogan’s like 'YOU DID IT!'"  

Despite those strange sleeping conditions, the band say this actually isn't the worst place they've had to sleep. The actual worst? The van, which Bryson says they can all sleep uncomfortably in once you factor in all their gear. Give them a couch, and they won't complain!

They want to be sponsored by Taco Bell and Hanes

In addition to the sometimes strange and uncomfortable sleeping conditions on tour, the band admit there's not a lot of showering options while touring in their van. While Jake gives a shout out to Good Wipes, Jeramie says if they could be sponsored by anyone, he'd love to be sponsored by Axe Body Spray.  

"We’re sponsored by a pizza company called Mama Bosso Pizza Company," Jake says, as the rest of the band endorse the fresh crust and Connor showed off his Mama Bosso Pizza t-shirt. Although they seem more than content with the pizza sponsorship, Connor also says he'd love to be sponsored by Pepsi because "they own so many things. Shampoo companies...Taco Bell." 

Jake says he'd also be thrilled to be sponsored by Hanes to be hooked up with some Hanes Basics. (So...if you're reading this, Pepsi and Hanes, help a band out?)

Their 2017 goals include another new album and more tour

As far as new music and touring this year, Jeramie says, "We put out a full length on New Years Eve and a full length in September, and we’re gonna write another one this year. The pace is kind of picking up for everything. This year we still wanna do another two month tour and have another record at least written."

Elaborating on balancing touring and writing new material, Bryson says, "We haven’t been [touring] too much. This is only our second tour. But I am drawing inspiration from every band we see, every place we go. There’s just so many different things going on and stimulating us that we don’t get in the Quad Cities. Even though the Quad Cities is super accommodating and inspiring...going out and playing with other bands and meeting new people just inspires me to keep doing it." 

Jeramie added, "We just had our show last night in Rock Island, [that] was our stopping point like half way through the tour, and all I really wanted to do was write music when I was home. It's really something to be around that much talent at SXSW, " continuing to say he couldn't wait to get back and get started on new material. 


Stay tuned for some festival announcements from Condor & Jaybird, as well as a potential extended tour in the winter. Stay up to date on all upcoming tour dates and other news here. For now, listen to their latest album God Wants Us To Do What God Wants Us To Do:

Get To Know: The Pinkerton Raid

Last week, I chatted with Jesse James DeConto of the Durham, NC indie rock band The Pinkerton Raid, while they stopped in Chicago during a short Midwest tour. We're only a few months into the year, but it's already been a busy one for The Pinkerton Raid, who released their third studio album called Tolerance Ends, Love Begins on February 7th. While catching up with Jesse, I found out the highlights since the record's release, which classic rock band he used to cover with his family, the best spots in North Carolina for live music, and much more. Tune in and get to know The Pinkerton Raid now...

The DeConto siblings of The Pinkerton Raid

The DeConto siblings of The Pinkerton Raid

Daytrotter and Dayton have been tour highlights

Right before our chat, Jesse and the band had been out in Davenport, IA, recording a session with our friends at Daytrotter. Jesse mentioned the session went really well, adding, "It was great. It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do for a while, so I was really excited. I’m looking forward to hearing the mix when it comes back!" 

As far as other highlights, Jesse brought up an epic night in Dayton, OH.  "We had a great time the other night in Dayton. There’s a place called South Park Tavern. They have this weekly open mic night, and the guys who kind of curate that, they met up just going there to play their own stuff, and eventually formed a band called Old News....Based on just jamming with each other at this open mic. So they’ve been doing that for years, and now they’ve built this great community of people coming out weekly to hear what’s going on. So, they basically booked us as a featured artist for what’s normally an open mic night, and it was just fantastic. The people were really so hospitable and we sold a ton of records and t-shirts. Just a lot more than on your average show, so that’s always encouraging," Jesse recalled. 

While Dayton might have been one of the most special shows this tour, it seems like the band have genuinely enjoyed the whole tour. "Last night we got out and played with our friends, The Sharrows. We played with them on our first Midwestern tour four years ago. One of the guys in that band has this old farmhouse about half hour outside of Madison. We crashed with him when we played that show back then. They’ve got a studio out in the barn, and it’s always good to see them. He and his cousin, Phil Sharrow, whose last name is the name of the band, they’ve become friends and we always have a good time with them. It’s been fun hanging out with friends," Jesse added. 

Jesse's dad was performing Simon and Garfunkel when his mom went into labor

A lot of musicians come from musical families, but few have this exciting of a birth story..."We kind of grew up watching our dad play. He actually supported my mom and me when I was just a baby," Jesse says, starting the story. "On the night I was born, he was playing at a bar in Somerville, Massachusetts. He was in the middle of playing Simon and Garfunkel "Cecilia,” and the bartender got a call and told the waitress. So she comes up and kind of whispered to him while he’s playing and singing, you know, that my mom had gone to the hospital...So he stands up and knocks the microphone over and the whole bar fills with feedback. He picks it up and says 'I gotta go, my wife is having a baby,'" he continued. 

The whole family is musical, and used to play in cover bands together

While it's clear music has been instilled in the DeConto family blood since birth, Jesse revealed he hadn't always been into writing original music. Talking about his start with playing music, he says, "I came home from college after my freshman year, and [my dad] and my other brother were playing a lot together. My younger brother. They were playing a lot of Led Zeppelin and Beatles stuff from the 60’s and 70’s. My brother was learning guitar. Nobody was playing bass. So I picked up bass. I had been singing for quite a while and touring with that in high school and college, but I kind of picked up that bass the summer after my freshman year of college. Started playing bass and played with my family. My uncle played drums so we had a full band. Mainly just playing those cover songs, and we’d just play for weddings or parties."

While he enjoyed playing other people's music, he also admits that it was challenging at times. "[Zeppelin] stuff is really intense. I was doing a lot of the singing. I really had to work at it. So I felt like I’d enjoy it more if I was actually writing my own songs. And so, that’s kind of when it started. I was probably 23...then it just went from there." Jesse also talks about how pretty much the whole family ended up following him and his daughters from New Hampshire to North Carolina, which is where they formed their first original band. Eventually, The Pinkerton Raid formed, and the rest is history...

Jesse's job as a crime reporter had an impact on the third record

As the story goes, Jesse began writing down lyrics for the third album while he was working as a crime reporter. When I asked about some of most intense stories he covered, Jesse says, "There are a lot of intense stories. The student body president of UNC Chapel Hill in the area where I was working, got murdered. It was like a robbery, they kidnapped her and took her to an ATM to get money out, and then ended up shooting her. Eve Carson. That was a really rough story to cover," he recalled. "Then I covered a trial of a young kid, a teenager, he'd graduated. I think he was 18 or 19, but he went back to his high school in Orange County, NC, and shot up the building. Nobody died, but a couple people got injured. There’s a couple of stories like that. Another guy drove an SUV into the campus at UNC Chapel Hill and injured a bunch of people. So you know, it’s just like, people sort of losing touch with reality and doing some really harmful stuff to other people. When you cover those trials, you get a window into human psychology. It can get pretty intense," Jesse continued. 

As far as how much those stories affected the album, Jesse says, "It’s interesting. I don’t know that it inspired the album, so much as that I was going through my own stuff personally, and kind of like watching other people deal with the worst stuff they might have to deal with in their entire lives. That just kind of got me thinking about what was going on for myself. The album title actually comes from this commute that I would have to do, going up there to cover these cases at the courthouse. There’s a traffic sign that says 'Tolerence Ends,' and it just means that truckers are supposed to get off the back roads and drive on the highway, but I found it so provocative, that language. I just started thinking about how it applied to my own life." 

They come from a budding music community 

"Our area is really great, we have a really great scene," Jesse says, mentioning some of their favorite local acts include The Old Ceremony, Mount Moriah, His Golden Messenger, The Dead Tongues, Brett Harris, and Skylar Gudasz. (Their producer for the third record, Mark Simonsen, also plays in The Dead Tounges.)

Although their list of local recommendations already seems endless, Jesse added, "People probably know about Sylvan Esso, they’re a pretty big deal. There’s a lot of connection with Bon Iver and some of his old friends...like Phil and Brad Cook. He formed Megafaun. They’re involved now with His Golden Messenger. So there’s kind of  a big community around those guys." 

As far as local venues, Jesse also mentions a fair share. Elaborating on the best places to play, he says, "We play at Motorco a lot in Durham, so that’s been kind of our home venue. There’s a lot of good ones. We love the Pinhook. Cat’s Cradle, of course, in Carrborro. That’s probably the best known. That’s 20 minutes away, and they opened a back room with a smaller space a couple years ago. Which has been really good because The Cat’s Cradle main room is 700-800 capacity, which most bands can’t fill. The backroom is good for us locals to play in."  Jesse also shouts out Local 506, The Station, The Cave, and The ArtsCenter, to name a few, confirming that there's lots of awesome venues in their area. 


It might be a while until The Pinkerton Raid make their way back to the Midwest, but if you're in North Carolina, it sounds like the band have plenty of gigs lined up! While talking about what's next for the band this year, Jesse mentions, "We’ve got some festival stuff we’re starting to line up. We’re gonna open up this photography festival called Eyes on Main Street in Wilson, which is like an hour east of where we live. We always like to be involved in something that’s celebrating another art form. We've played the past 5 years at a festival called Wild Goose, which is in western North Carolina, and that’s always a highlight. We love that and we end up making really cool connections. A couple of the places we’re stopping on this tour are because of people that we’ve met at this festival. So that’s always good."  He also mentioned Shakori Hills Grass Roots Music Festival, saying "It’s really well-curated and draws a lot of great bands from all over the country. They put it on twice a year. It’s kind of one of the highlights of the central North Carolina scene. That will be our first time doing that." Make sure you stay in the loop by signing up for the band's mailing list here. 

In the meantime, you can listen to Tolerance Ends, Love Begins below, or buy a physical copy here

Get to Know: Joe Bordenaro

After his support slot last week for the Orwells at the legendary Metro, we chatted with the Chicago singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Bordenaro, who is probably best known for playing around town with his band The Late Bloomers. Joe and his band recently tested out some new songs at The Virgin Hotel, and they've got a show at Schuba's coming up next month with The Evening Attraction that you don't want to miss! Before that show, find out five things you need to know about Joe, including how he got his start in music, what we can expect from his album, and which local band he thinks everyone needs to look out for (we'll give you a hint...it's one that we've interviewed). 

He started playing music on a forgotten drum set

Talking about the first time he ever picked up an instrument, Joe says, "One of my parents’ friends left a drum set at my house when I was really little. I just started playing it, that was pretty much the first time I remember getting into playing an instrument. I think that happened when I was like 7 or 8."

From there, Joe recalls venturing into songwriting when he was in high school. "I was in a band, but I was playing drums. Then that band ended up ending and I started writing my own songs," he continued. 

He plans on releasing new music for the first time since 2015

Last month, Joe and The Late Bloomers performed at The Virgin Hotel with American Grizzly and Lucille Furs. Before playing some of his new material at that show, Joe mentioned the next song was new, but joked that all of his songs were probably "new" to this particular crowd. 

Elaborating on the new songs, Joe says, "We just started working on recording for an album. The next thing we put out is gonna be a [full length] album." As far as how many songs the record will be, that's still up in the air, but Joe continued to say, "I just have a lot of music since the last thing I put out was in 2015. I’ve been writing the whole time."  Talking more about his songwriting process, Joe adds, "It’s pretty random. Usually I’ll just listen to a lot of music and learn how they structure it. [With] songs I like, I’ll pay attention to how they’re structured and the keys, and all that, and then try to learn from that." Joe also says he's worked on writing longer songs, but the theme still tends to come back to love. "I write a lot about love. I tend to not have a set theme before I write. I’ll think of a line and base it off that. It’s really like I come up with the theme after the lyrics are written," Joe revealed. 

His influences include Electric Light Orchestra and Fleetwood Mac

Joe says he can pinpoint Fleetwood Mac and Electric Light Orchestra as influences, but he also mentions a couple of other legends while talking about what he listens to. "I listen to Jackson Brown, Tom Petty...I really listen to Chicago bands and Tom Petty. And Electric Light Orchestra. I’ve been getting into the Eagles a lot. I love them," Joe says. 

His love for ELO also includes a love for their production style. At the moment, Joe is working on the record as his own producer, but as far as producers he admires, he says, "I’m super into Jeff Lynne, and 70’s super dry drums," emphasizing he's really into the dry drums sound. He's learned to record his own music through trial and error, but Joe says his advice to other musicians would be to not overthink. "I tend to overthink a lot when it comes to making music. You just gotta do it and it will flesh itself out. I spend half the time thinking about how I want it to go instead of doing it and seeing how it goes. Don’t overthink, just do it," he added. 

A deli platter is the way to his heart

Earlier this year, Joe played Schubas with Wand as part of Tomorrow Never Knows Festival. Talking more about the TNK experience, Joe says, "Yeah, that was the first 'festival' we played. It was really cool, the other bands that were playing. Wand was like, nuts. It’s all people who play with Ty Segall, and they had crazy fuzz pedals. As far as show experiences, every time we’ve played Schubas it’s been amazing, and they’re really nice to us." 

So while Joe loves Schubas, he also shouted out Metro and Chop Shop, both of which he's played in support of The Orwells. "We opened for the Orwells when they played at Chop Shop. That was like the other big show...these are the two biggest we've played. Chop Shop is super nice, they gave us a deli platter," he recalled. There you have it...an easy way to win over a band: a deli platter. 

The local band he thinks you should look out for is....

While we were on the subject of the best local venues, I asked Joe about his favorite local bands, and noticed that he had a Post Animal button on his jacket. "Oh, I love Post Animal. They’re my favorite band. I mean, I love all the bands we’re playing with tonight. But I think everyone needs to look out for Post Animal because they’re like the best musicians," Joe said.

Joe also recommends Max and The Mild Ones, saying "[Max is] a really, really good songwriter. Everyone should listen to him!" When he's not playing with his own band, Joe also plays with The Max and The Mild Ones. 


In addition to the upcoming show at Schubas with The Evening Attraction, it's rumored that Joe Bordenaro will be performing at a Sofar Sounds show in April as well. Grab your tickets to the Treehouse Studio sponsored Schubas show here for only $5, and keep up with everything else new with Joe on his Facebook page. Keep your eyes (and ears) out for new music before the end of the year, and a tour to follow!

 

Get to Know: Off Bloom

We recently chatted with Mette Mortensen, Alex Flockhart, and Mads Christensen of the Anglo-Danish trio Off Bloom. The three have recently released their new single "Falcon Eye," which seamlessly blends their love of electronic and pop music. The group just wrapped up some tour dates supporting indie-pop group LANY in the UK, and they'll be touring Europe next month with Dua Lipa. During our interview, we chatted about their live show, what's next in terms of their music, their start as a band, and more. Get to know Off Bloom now...

Off Bloom is Mette Mortensen, Alex Flockhart, and Mads Christensen

Off Bloom is Mette Mortensen, Alex Flockhart, and Mads Christensen

They met in acting school 

Well, Mads and Mette did. As for Alex and Mette, Alex talks about their start in music, saying, "Mette and I actually met quite a few years ago, we were making music together. We were in a band together, and we quickly found out that we maybe got along better just the two of us, more so than everyone else in the band. So that band kind of broke up and we just kept going. Then Mette and Mads met at an acting school."

Mette picks up the story at that point, adding, "I used to be all about doing acting. We did some different voice and singing stuff. After we finished the course, we went back to making music again." Alex adds, "We had finished up with all the other things we were doing and we had kind of decided that now is actually the time that we’re gonna go for music for real," before saying that their new project was inspired by a mix of influences, including the Glasgow-based LuckyMe crew, 1970s rock from Berlin, and pop music. "We just sort of started writing together and it just fit together, it was so natural. We just started writing loads and loads of songs and then it dawned on us that we were actually a band, so we might as well pursue that," he continued. 

They won't release an album until they're ready

Off Bloom released their debut EP Love To Hate It last year, which has been getting lots of great reception and responses from listeners. The band also say their first release has given them incredible opportunities. "We started off playing our first show at the biggest TV show on Danish television, for music at least. Our guy that we worked with at our label had been to the radio and played the song, and showed the video that was about to come out. And they just fell completely in love with it and wanted us to perform at the show," Mette says. Although they say they were nervous for that performance, Mads says, "It was fucking awesome. It was a really nice step of the way. We’d been preparing all this for such a long time and we knew exactly what we wanted to do, and we have a clear vision of what we want to achieve. So in that sense it was pretty much straight forward." 

Although the first EP went well, the band say they don't want to release an album until the time is right. "There will be a lot of songs coming out at one point. There’s a lot of music and we’re excited to release it all. Whether it’s gonna be an album form, we don’t really know. It doesn’t make sense to release an album until it feels right and like people are actually gonna listen to it. You can say a lot of good things about streaming, but people rarely listen to albums unless you’re really a fully established artist, like Beyonce or something. It needs to be the right time. If we put an album together we want to tell a story. We want people to listen to the full story and not just the first three songs," Alex elaborates. Mette adds, "We have so much new material and probably for like the next few months, it’s gonna come out boom, boom, boom! We want to really get a lot of music out there because we have so much great stuff that we really can’t wait to show people." 

So although we don't have any promises for an album this year, the material is definitely there...make sure you keep your eyes and ears out for new music from Off Bloom soon. 

They have no rules when it comes to writing songs

On the same subject of new music, Off Bloom say they don't like to stick to structure when it comes to creating it. Mads talks about their process saying, "The only rule that we really have is that we always do everything together. Sometimes Alex starts out with something, or sometimes I do and we kind of mix it up. If I’ve made a beat then I will send it to Alex, and then Alex will send it back and forth. Mette will listen. Sometimes we make it on the piano. It depends on the mood, but the only real constant thing in our process is that we go into the room being honest with the energy that’s in the room. Then we try and do whatever feels right and feels good, what feels exciting or interesting. Whether that feeling or that energy might come from a really bad place, that doesn’t matter as long as it’s honest and straightforward. It can be brutally sad."  He continues on to add, "We’re here to learn together. I think that is the thing, being together and being honest towards what and how we feel and what’s going down. Cause it’s so much stronger than trying to make a formula for it. But then at the same time it’s also just because we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing. So the only thing we really can do is just be honest about what is going down in that specific moment." 

It depends on the mood, but the only real constant thing in our process is that we go into the room being honest with the energy that’s in the room.
— Mads on the band's writing process

They used to send out thousands of emails a day with their music

Off Bloom have already worked with some notable names in music, including Two Inch Punch and AlunaGeorge. It turns out these opportunities first came around by just sending emails...thousands of emails. Mette describes their first encounter with Two Inch Punch, saying, "In the beginning when we didn’t have management, we didn’t have a label...we didn't have anything. We just had a lot of songs. And a lot of friends. The guys had been sending maybe 4,000 emails a day with the music. Just sending it to everybody, like idols and people in the industry and whatever. One night I had kind of the email “shift." It was my turn to write, kind of systematically. We went by Luke at the time and we just wrote ‘Hey, I am Luke, here is my music’ One of the people we sent it to was Two Inch Punch, and then the next morning, we got one response from all the hundreds of emails. It was from him. He was like, 'Fuck, this is fucking insanely good, who the fuck are you?' I didn’t really know who he was at that point, but I had heard the guys talk about him. I called Mads and said this guy Two Inch Punch answered, is he really cool or something?" Alex and Mads chime in that they both consider Two Inch Punch to be an idol and an inspiration on their music. 

Alex continues on the subject, saying,"The week after, we were in the studio working together [with Two Inch Punch]. Which was amazing and now we’ve become close friends, which is an even more sort of precious thing to get out of it, through contacting people through music. And working with him has also been great." Mads weighs in on working with Two Inch Punch, saying, "It’s also funny. I think a lot of people do that. Like 'ok, so if we get this really big guy who’s made a lot of records and sounds really professional to help us out with production, then it’s gonna sound perfect'. And then you go in there and it’s like oh, you can’t help us that much. It’s our mission....he can only point us in the right direction. For me, the main thing was having him believing in us because I believe so much in him."  They add that he's also been a great mentor on the business side of things. 

They're very involved with their music videos

As the band mentioned, they were very involved with promoting their music and getting it out to listeners in the early days. The trio released the video for "Falcon Eye" on February 28th, which they say they worked hard on, being heavily involved in the concept. "We’re very, very highly involved in everything that we do," Mette says. 

Mads adds, "I guess it’s good, but it’s also a control issue kind of thing. We just get frustrated cause there’s so much to do. But that’s why we pick really passionate and extremely talented people like Nadia who’s the director [for "Falcon Eye"]. Who almost becomes a part of our team. That’s what we want all the time, people who can inspire us to think even more creatively than we already do. And vice versa. Basically we can learn from each other. That’s basically the end goal with everything."

They give their all in their live shows 

While the three were discussing their plans for new music, Mette adds, "We’re gonna really start playing concerts. We’re doing a small European tour where we’re supporting Dua Lip and LANY. Then we’re going to the US hopefully soon, to start to play concerts over there as well. I think putting out a lot new music and playing a lot of concerts, that’s our goal for the next couple of months."

As for what the live shows will be like, Alex describes it as "raw energy." Elaborating on performing live, Mads says, "We feel so good, so alive. We want to create an experience with the audience. It’s not only for us, it’s not only for them, we do it together with them. It’s gonna be so much fun. We’ve been preparing for it already." 

Based on some Twitter responses, it seems like the LANY crowds were absolutely loving the raw energy provided by Off Bloom. If you get the chance to catch Off Bloom with Dua Lipa next month, it sounds like you're in for a treat. Londoners, you can also catch this energetic trio at The Pickle Factory in May. Check out all of Off Bloom's announced dates below:

Stay up to date with any new tour dates and music by checking Off Bloom's Facebook pageand get ready for their new material by getting familiar with their debut EP now:

 

 

 

Get To Know: Seasaw

Harmonies. Sparkles. Friendship. Those three words come to mind when I think of the folk-pop duo Seasaw. After their wonderful and quirky set on the Daytrotter stage on day 1 of Daytrotter Downs, I sat down with Meg Golz and Eve Wilczewski to find out more about these Madison-based musicians with a magnetic stage presence. The pair released their third album last summer and they are currently on tour for the next two weeks, playing in major cities like DC, Chicago, and New York. During our interview, we chatted about their fateful meeting, the process behind the album, their love for Karen O, choreographed dancing, and more.  Get to know Seasaw now...

Photo:  Scotify

Photo: Scotify


They come from a music-saturated background

"I grew up in a musical family," Meg Golz says about her start in music. "I started playing piano in grade school, and I just couldn’t focus on it. I started the cello in 5th grade. I played that until I was a junior in high school...I was just never very good at it, I decided to try choir for a year," Meg continues. She even went on to take a percussion course after she didn't make varsity choir, which got you out of gym class. Luckily, she made the drum line and that got her out of gym class. "That’s where I learned to play the drums," she says. In addition to piano, cello, and drums, Meg says she eventually picked up the guitar when she went away to college. 

As for Eve Wilczewski, her family wasn't as into creating music, but they were always very appreciative of it. "My mom did play piano, my dad did play the accordion, but they both let it dwindle and didn’t really follow through. They both are like huge music fans and took me to shows and concerts all throughout my childhood," Eve says. She continues on to say that her mom got her into playing music at a young age. "I've played violin since 2nd grade. That was really awesome cause I had a head start before the regular public school, which starts usually at 5th grade. I did violin all throughout high school. I still play, but I don’t take lessons anymore. I also did guitar in high school and continue to play that. Guitar was kind of just because I was tired of playing classical music and wanted to learn the things that I listened to. I love the violin but all the teachers I had wanted to only do classical and I wanted to do gypsy music, or jazz music, or bluegrass...," Eve recalls. "I wanted to do that so I could incorporate more of the stuff that I love," she says about playing guitar. 

An Italian restaurant brought them together

As Eve and Meg tell the story about how they get together, I can tell it's one that's been told many times, but they tell it in a very authentic, genuine way. Meg starts the story, saying, "I went away to college, but I hated it. So I came back after a semester to try to figure out where else I wanted to go. I started working at an Italian restaurant that I had worked in while I was in high school, and they took me back." Eve interjected the story to say, "We’re 6 years apart. So we never met in middle or high school. I was with Meg’s brother and sister, but I never met her. So it was lucky that we met at this restaurant. We met by chance."  As fate would have it, they both had started working at the restaurant, often on the same shift. "We kind of got to talking and realized that we listened to the same type of music, and we had the same sense of humor. We knew we both played music cause I knew [Eve] was in orchestra with my brother and sister," Meg says. 

"We would just be talking and laughing and almost be getting fired our entire shift because we were secretly making fun of stuff and laughing. There would be no one there on our shift," Eve recalled. Despite the good times they had working together, Meg says she had to court a friendship out of Eve for months. "I kept asking if she wanted to hang out with me and she’d be like 'hmm I gotta hang out with my mom'. I always thought she was like joking...She was actually hanging out with her mom. I realized as I became her friend that she wasn’t actually playing me that whole time," Meg reminisced. 

They recorded and produced their third album themselves

Seasaw's record Too Much of a Good Thing was the first one they were able to fully take their time on. "Meg recorded it in the basement studio that we have in Madison. Meg mixed a lot of it, and engineered it, and we were able to spend as much time as we possibly could. Before this album, I was living far away in La Crosse, WI. So the other two albums that we’ve done have been basically nickled and dimed on weekends. This is the first one where we actually got to be engrossed in the product from start to finish without relying on other people," Eve says. 

Meg picked up her craft of engineering and producing when she went away to the Madison Media Institute. Fate also played a hand in this record's production when Eve moved into a house that coincidentally had a basement studio. "We just insulated it ourselves and did the recording in there," Meg says about the basement studio. Continuing to talk about recording experience, she says, "It was an awesome learning experience all around and allowed us to have the product we were really passionate and happy with. Also we were able to really study what we were creating, and build the concept of what songs we were including." 

Eve's artistic background plays a hand in their style

During their performance, Meg and Eve were rocking some amazing, coordinated outfits. And they had a bedazzled drum kit, so naturally I had to ask them where they get their style inspiration. "Eve is really into fashion," Meg says. After Eve interjected to say she's not that into fashion in "normal life" and it's more for the stage, Meg continues, "She has a painting degree so she has the most amazing eye for color. So she puts things together that I normally wouldn’t and then I’m able to like match my outfit to go with that. I don’t love dressing myself and it’s good when she takes the lead."

Eve elaborates on their stage style, saying, "I think part of it for me, is when I go see a performance, as an audience member, it takes a lot of effort for me to get my body in the building. Like I put in effort to look nice because it’s a special thing and I’m spending my money and time to go see something. And I think as a performer, because we were both trained as dancers and musicians in orchestra and choir...you always want to create that whole package, like I’m putting in effort and I look nice for you. Or like I’m looking at least interesting or thought-provoking. Also bands have been doing this forever, like The Beatles and The Beach Boys all coordinate. I think it goes along with my painting degree, like the aesthetic of what we’re putting together. It’s important to me. And also when I go out and see bands, it’s a choice to look one way or the other. And I think [Meg's] right because I am a painting major that I notice that. It’s very forefront for me." 

Meg and Eve also channel their creativity and unique style into their music videos. Their most recent video for "Into the White" features dancing and balloons, and it was shot in all one take. Meg and Eve also came up with the concept themselves. Talking more about the video (which you need to watch), Meg says, "I [had] been dying to do a dancing video. That’s one of the things I love most about Eve. I can do the worst and most awful dancing in any scenario and it will always make her laugh. It’s just the best sound in the world and it encourages me to do this thing I’m not very good at."  

Karen O and diverse artists inspire them

As far as their style (and sound) influences, both Meg and Eve agree that Karen O (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) has inspired them. Meg says what she loves about Karen O is "her power on stage as a performer and the things that she’s passionate about, and what she does for the general community as well as the music community." Eve says they also appreciate her diversity, and Meg mentions that they were in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover band. Continuing the discussion about diversity, Eve says, "We don’t really like to have two songs that sound the same.I just get bored really easily. We are attracted to artists who do diverse things. Cause like even The Beatles almost every song is completely different."

Eve also gives a nod to another artist for inspiring her. "Someone that I really love is an artist named Buffy Sainte-Marie. She’s an artist that was an activist and a folk musician back in the 60's.  Her music was very anti-Vietnam War and pro American-Indian movement, so she got blacklisted and a lot of people don’t know about her music. She’s made music though the whole time, she’s still making music... and she’s 70. She’s really into fashion, she’s got a beautiful figure. She’s a visual artist, she’s gorgeous and she keeps creating relevant things about like the oil industry and XYZ," Eve gushes. "Buffy has this like amazing voice and very diverse work, cause she does all these social songs, but there’s love songs or it’s like rock or folk. So both of these women [Karen O and Buffy Sainte-Marie] are like very powerful women and prolific. They both haven’t stopped making. We both also love the White Stripes. And I think all these artists have a rawness. I don’t like it sounding too polished," Eve continued.

They love the Madison music scene

While talking to Meg and Eve, they just radiated vibes of love and positivity between each other, and it quickly became clear that friendship makes up the foundation of their band.  In addition to the bond between them as a band, they also have a lot of love for their home-town music scene. 

"Madison is a very nice community, like the musicians there are very nice and welcoming. Like I didn’t know anyone in Madison and some of the first people I met were bands that invited us to play. So I don’t know, it’s unique because everyone just wants everyone to succeed instead of being competitive. Like everybody lifts each other up. We had four or five local musicians from all different bands play with us [at our record release show]," Eve says. 

"We premiered our video that night and we also had all the guests who had played on the album come join us and we played with a full band. We don’t usually do that, that’s the first time we’ve ever had a full band on stage," Meg chimed in about the album release show. "We come from a community where there really was no music scene so it’s really just unique to be now put into that and being in such a welcoming spot," Eve adds. 

Meg and Eve also shouted out some of their fellow Madison musicians playing Daytrotter Downs, like The Hussy and Vanishing Kids. 


As far as what's next for the dynamic duo, Meg and Eve say they plan on doing a couple more videos for this album, and they're even releasing an exclusive track on a compilation LP for Record Store Day. "[It's] called the Wisconsin Vinyl Collective. So this LP is gonna be a collective of all Wisconsin artists.  The standout ones is the BoDeans and Emperors of Wyoming," Eve says. They also hope to be playing festivals throughout the summer, but for now, check them out on tour. Chicago, Seasaw plays The Beat Kitchen on March 15th. Grab tickets here.

Stream Too Much of a Good Thing below:

Get To Know: Mountain Swallower

One of the greatest things about Daytrotter Downs Festival was the amount of local and regional acts on the line up. While most of the 47 bands on the line up are based somewhere in the Midwest, so many talented bands from the heart of the Quad Cities took part in the two day event in Davenport. One of those bands, Mountain Swallower, even had a headlining slot on Day 1...or as they put it, they were just playing last. Hours before their midnight set (which had the craziest crowd response of the night), the guys sat down with me to talk about their start as musicians, their goals, and the local music scene. Get to know Mountain Swallower now...

Mountain Swallower is Garrin Jost, Mark Leveling, Steve Maule, and Kirby Calamari

Mountain Swallower is Garrin Jost, Mark Leveling, Steve Maule, and Kirby Calamari


Community College and Craigslist brought them together

Talking about their start as a band, Garrin Jost says, "Steve and I used to play together in a band like 8 years ago. At that point, I wasn’t really writing songs much at all. We were in a band and neither of us really wrote for that band. I kinda got the bug from there and then started writing and did like open mic stuff for a long time with loop pedals. Then finally just started the band. We craigslisted up Kirby." 

Kirby Calamari first start playing guitar in 6th grade back in Danville, IL, where he's originally from. While Mark Leveling is originally from Aurora, IL, Garrin and drummer Steve Maule are native to the Quad Cities.  "That was the best part of community college. I found Garrin," Steve said. Garrin credits the years after community college as one of his most creative periods, saying, "I worked, but didn’t really work that hard. So I had a bunch of time to write. Lots of times I just try to consume a bunch of bands that I like and map out songs and just kind of regurgitate that form. It’s a lot of just ripping off bands that I like and listening to weird things and finding a middle ground." 

They structure their songs on influences like Nirvana, but say they've topped Nirvana in one aspect...

When I asked who their influences are, Garrin says, "A bunch of bands that are way better than us. Like Jeff Buckley and Nirvana." When he talks about his song writing process, Garrin credits those bands for inspiring the structure of his songs, saying, "I’m not a super educated guitar player. I used to play trombone a lot so that’s like my background. But as far as guitar is concerned and writing, I’ll just like think 'How can I touch this guitar in a way I’m not used to doing' and then I’ll find something that’s like oh that’s cool and pull on that thread until something comes out of it. Then form-wise, just ripping off Nirvana and Bob Dylan. Like a bunch of people I really like." 

Garrin also sees another similarity between his band and one of their influences, Nirvana. "We’re like a shitty meta-Nirvana," he says. "Their big thing was like total nihilism, like whatever, nevermind... we don’t care, but we’re really good actually. Whereas like we don’t care and we’re actually not good. We got one more step on your, Nirvana!"  Despite what they say about not being good, the crowd at Daytrotter Downs definitely didn't agree with that, so they're even more similar to Nirvana than they think. 

They're fans of Australian bands and bands that promote unity 

While the band were discussing their influences, Steve says their tastes are varied, but there's a common theme. "We’ve got a wide range. We like bands that are always changing. They might have a weird edge or something unique about them, but at the end of the day I feel like the common thread for the bands we like...they’re bands that bring people together. They’re bands that make you feel better after you see them, hopefully. They have a message that promotes togetherness and unity."  

Garrin says they'd love to play in Australia one day because they "have a crush on all these Australian bands." Kirby says his favorite bands include The Dune Rats and Stick Fingers, while Garrin mentions Tame Impala and Pond. Steve also mentions Wolf Alice, saying, "They’re not Australian, but that’s a shared band that we all really like." Steve also credits their location for bringing them lots of great new music, saying, "That’s a good part of the Midwest. You get stuff from both coasts." 

They're short-sighted, but they've come a long way

"We’re really short sighted as a band in a lot of ways. We’re just like when’s our next show, how do we get ready for it?" Garrin says while talking about their plans for playing live this year. Although they don't have any plans to tour across the country any time soon, Mark says, "The good thing is the phone calls keep coming [to play local shows], so we’ve never really gotten to a point where it’s like OK we’re not playing for the next couple of months."  

The band do notice that the reception of their audiences have been growing though. Steve talks more on this subject, saying, "We’ve all had bands where no one would come. There were many years where the reception wasn’t as good, but we had a blast still. So no matter what, we still do it. Now considering the response has been better, it put fire under our butts. We’re really thinking of the goals to improve and get better." Garrin adds, "It’s cool. We’ve played in bands before and we’re finally reaching this point where we’re like equally authentic and relatable. So we’re not having to give up anything and people still seem to like it so it’s like as long as we can do that, we’re good to go." 

Throughout their years of playing music, they've also learned some important lessons. "You have to be vocal," Garrin says. "I feel like we’re fairly democratic. Even though the songwriting stuff is dictatorial, I feel like we’re all vocal about how we feel. We don’t ever leave the stage ticked off. Definitely in other bands there were times when I was like 'I did not enjoy this.' There’s nothing worse when you’re halfway through a set and you’re like 'I am not digging this,'" he continued. Steve elaborates on the process of being vocal with Garrin's songwriting, saying, "I feel like we shape the songs as a unit and add our own stank to them." Steve also says that they've learned to be more aware of what they're getting into, after having a weird experience playing at a benefit show. The most important lesson that Steve has learned, though, is that friendship comes first. "At the end of the day, I feel like we’re friends. We might not be the best band in terms of playing or we might not have some strengths that some bands have, but that stuff doesn’t really matter considering our goal is to learn and grow," he says. 

We might not be the best band in terms of playing or we might not have some strengths that some bands have, but that stuff doesn’t really matter considering our goal is to learn and grow,
— Steve on the importance of being friends with his bandmates

They're proud of the QC music scene

Since Daytrotter Downs was actually my first time taking a trip to Quad Cities, I asked Mountain Swallower for the inside scoop on the best bands and venues.  "We gotta rep Condor &Jaybird. They’re the band closest to us as far as bands we’ve played with the most," Garrin says, while Kirby shouts out local venue Rozz Tox as being the best place to play. 

"I’ve heard it called a renaissance for Quad Cities lately," Steve says. Continuing on that subject, he says, "There really is a big upswing of creative people coming together. Years back when Garrin and I played and before that there were peaks and valleys for a while... it didn’t seem as cohesive or connected as now. But with Daytrotter and Rozz Tox, there’s so many bands that have snowballed into a community now. There’s a band called Closet Witch, they’re playing tomorrow. There’s so many...Archeress. All of these bands are worlds apart as far as how they sound, but it doesn’t matter because we’re all a community. We all do what we love to do."

Get to know the band even better by listening to their two releases, both self-titled. (I asked if there was a story behind having two self-titled albums, but they say a lack of a story got them there). 

Also make sure to catch a live set from Mountain Swallower if you can!

Also make sure to catch a live set from Mountain Swallower if you can!