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A Chat With: CYN

Singer songwriter CYN may not even have her debut EP out just yet, but with a handful of her first singles each reaching over 1 Million Spotify streams and a slot supporting Years & Years on their North American tour, she’s already got a lot of eager listeners and supporters hanging on for her next release of new music. Not to mention, among those supporters stands pop superstar Katy Perry, who signed CYN to her label Unsub Records. When you listen to CYN’s ethereal vocals and her catchy melodies, it’s easy to understand exactly why she’s garnered so much positive buzz early on.

Now based in LA, CYN grew up in Michigan before moving to Chicago to attend DePaul University, so when I met up with her ahead a sold out show at The Vic Theatre with Years & Years, she was getting ready to perform to a room that held some of her best friends and family members. During our chat, CYN talks about her full circle moment performing at The Vic, what she reads while on tour, what kind of direction she’s taking on her new music, and more. Tune in below!

Photo courtesy of CYN/ High Rise PR

Photo courtesy of CYN/ High Rise PR

What was your first musical memory?

I remember listening to Jewel on the radio. I was so young...I think her first album came out in 1995 and I was born in ‘93. So I must have been tiny, who knows! But I just remember singing [sings] Dreams last for so long… “You Were Meant For Me.” Sometimes I just have to sing it to remember the name of the song. And when I heard that, my parents were going through a divorce at the time so for whatever reason I always thought I was feeling emotions or going through something emotionally that was too much as a child, just because you know, not everyone handles those types of things in the most mature way. I think that I was kind of in some situations with certain adults, I was in situations that were too emotionally stimulating for a baby, I think. So I was basically feeling the heartbreak of my parents as a child.

Oh wow so you just had that sensitivity back then?

Exactly, but then back to the music, it was almost like Jewel was speaking about this heartbreak that I didn’t have the the words to speak about. So just listening to her, I just understood my feelings and my heartbreak over my parents’ divorce because she did it perfectly. And because I was better able to understand my own personal experience through music, I always from that point forward used it as a point of therapy and used it as way of getting through things.

Yeah and it’s cool how you can take a song and pinpoint it to a certain time in your life when you look back at it.

Exactly! I also think that people can aspire to be like songs. Like whereas we’re using songs in the present you can also think like...For example, Alicia Keys “If I Ain’t Got You.” That song I’m like oh my, oh my god, I want to have a love that incredible!

Like vision boarding but with a song?

Yeah! To me, that song is the epitome of knowing that you love someone. So I think you can like strive to be like songs too.

So you’re a Midwestern girl, growing up in Michigan and then you went to DePaul right?


So this is sort of like a homecoming show in a way!

Yeah, it is.

What are some of your favorite spots in Chicago then, like to see live music, to buy music, to shop, to eat, etc…?

It’s been some time since I’ve been here and I had all of my go to spots--

Oh yeah I’m sure there’s so many new places now.

Yeah a lot has changed! I’ve been gone for 2 years. I used to love to go to Wicker Park...what is that one venue there?

The Subterranean?

SubT. Yeah! That was awesome. I loved that venue. I just loved hanging out in Wicker Park in general. When I first came here from Michigan, I was really intrigued by like Lincoln Park and Lakeview, all of the basic girl stuff. Then you’re like ooh, I’m cool in Logan Square, like I know where I can get some local beer. But yeah Wicker Park, Logan Square. I was such a huge Chicago advocate when I first came to LA. I was like what am I doing here? It was not easy to adjust.

Anything special you’re planning for the show or is it mostly that you’ll just have your friends and some family here?

It’s more so just a feeling. I don’t have anything special planned for only Chicago. I will talk about how I came here [The Vic] as a fan and I saw Sam Smith and Kiesza.

Oh no way I was here!

You saw that show? I was here too! I was just like damn, I can do that.

That’s so cool you came here when Sam Smith was playing and now you’ll be on the stage yourself!

Yeah I was really like, I thought I could be like Kiesza. And now I’m at the point where I’m touring with Years & Years and I’m like I can be like them. I don’t always have to be the opener. I have a few hurdles to overcome first though.

So I really love the newest single “I’ll Still Have Me.” I love how it’s different from your usual dancey, bass heavy kind of sound. Is that kind of a sneak peek at what your debut is going to be or how are you approaching that EP?

So the producer who I wrote “I’ll Still Have Me” with, he is executive producing that whole EP. So just the emotion and the character in that song...even though I’m sad in “I’ll Still Have Me” it doesn’t really make an appearance in the EP because I’m in a happier place at the moment. It’s definitely like that richness in character and when you listen to it you can feel what I was feeling. There are moments on the EP where you can feel what I was feeling, in another light. But it’s all guitar driven. More alternative but still very pop.

Very true to your roots?

Yeah. Still “consumable”. Even though that’s not the most sexy word to use when you’re talking about your own music.

Yeah but you still gotta consider that and take care of the business side.

Exactly. It’s really a struggle finding that balance. And being aware of it. But I’m so excited about the EP. I feel like my truest version of myself so far, and I’m not paying too much attention to trends.

Nice, you’re doing you!

Yeah, I’m not like, this is what all the pop girls are doing. When we’re like putting a snap, I’m like maybe we shouldn’t. There’s so many out there! I’m really just trying to pave my own individual path

Ah well I think you already are! So the video for that song [‘I’ll Still Have Me”], how did that come together? Were you involved in the process of choosing it or did the director come to you with a story line?

Basically, to give you the most honest version of how that went...It started with me. We wrote a couple of treatments, which is when we write down all of the lyrics, we write down what we imagine happening during certain lyrics. I wrote one--actually I wrote a couple. My manager wrote one. We reached out to a few directors. We had a few come in...but we ended up going with my A&R’s idea for the video. She came up with interviewing elderly people.

Yeah they were all so cute!

It was really special because it was their version-- we didn’t script it. They came in, did their thing. They’re literally wearing the clothes they walked in wearing. We didn’t put any make up on them. It was a very authentic thing to match what I think is a very authentic song. Then one of my best friend’s mom said “Oh I really love this song, I listen to it all the time. I feel like the woman dancing alone is me.” Cause her husband recently passed away.

Oh no! But it’s kind of comforting in a way for her to have this song then, right?

Exactly! And that’s the most you can hope for with your music. Like what I said in the beginning, like going through an emotional experience and then understanding it more through someone else’s art. Like that’s all you can hope for.

Right, like you’ve done your part as an artist. So switching gears a little we talked about your music before this new EP is very dance driven. So what are some of your favorite songs that you like to put on and dance to? What’s on your dance soundtrack?

I recently have been getting back into Elvis. I went to the Rock‘n’Roll hall of fame yesterday and I was listening and just thinking I love how bluesy it is. You know?

Yeah it’s just got that groove to it.

Yeah that’s something that I’m gonna let influence me as I keep going forward. I really love soulful things. So Elvis...I like Stevie Wonder. I love Carol King. I love a lot of 90s, sweet girly pop. I love “Kiss Me” and “Love Fool” and like [sings] There She Goes… Basically, if it’s in an Amanda Bynes movie. Every time I get on a plane, I’m like there I go again [sings again]

Anything else that you’ve been listening to on this tour? Are you podcast people?

I’m not, but today I read the whole Wikipedia page of Ted Bundy. So there’s one thing I did while on tour. I don’t know why! People who lack empathy are fascinating to me. I’m like how can you not give a fuck about somebody else? That is the weirdest thing to me! It’s so crazy! So I was reading that.

Have you heard of the podcast And That’s Why We Drink? Probably not if you’re not a podcast person, but there’s two hosts, and one of them does ghost stories and the other one does true crime. And their episode with Ted Bundy creeped me out! I just moved into a garden apartment, and he used to always break into basement/garden apartments, and I was so scared after hearing that one.

Yeah, it’s absolutely terrifying! So terrifying.

But yeah I would recommend that podcast if you are ever looking to get into them!

I can’t, I can only read those things. If I hear someone say them or watch it on a movie or TV, I can’t sleep at night. But then I’ve also been really into Rosalía. She’s a Spanish singer, she’s incredible.

Awesome! So wrapping up, anything else that you’re looking forward to this year? After this tour or anything else on this tour?

This show! And I just love meeting everyone but obviously this is like a full circle moment. I told you about coming here for that show. I’m just so excited to release another single. I’ve got another lined up like nearly right away. The art direction is insane!

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

A Chat With: Hudson Taylor

Hailing from Ireland, brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson Taylor have been garnering attention all over Europe since releasing their debut album in 2015. Earlier this year, the pair made their North American debut, touring with Gabrielle Aplin, and this month they'll be returning with singer-songwriter Hozier as he makes his long-awaited return to The States. Ahead of their show in Chicago on September 21st, get to know more about Hudson Taylor as they talk their early days of busking, their favorite fellow Irish musicians, and new music!

Photo Credit Brandon Harrell

Photo Credit Brandon Harrell

What do you remember as your first musical memory when you were younger? 

Our first musical memory was probably a nursery rhyme but can’t remember which one. What first came to mind when we read the question was traditional Irish dancing music from our years spent as young Irish dancers. 

You’ll be heading back to The States soon to support Hozier on tour this month. What are you most looking forward to during your time over here? Any cities you’re particularly excited about?

We are so excited altogether for the North American tour with Hozier! It’s a huge step up from anything we’ve done over there before and we’ll be playing in lots of new places supporting Hozier and on our own headline tour. We have fond memories of playing New York, Seattle and Chicago.  

What’s the biggest culture shock you experienced when first playing music in America?

There’s not much of a noticeable difference onstage or in venues but when you travel around you do notice things and how munch bigger a country it is to Ireland. 

How would you describe your live show in three words for anyone who might be coming to one of the shows? 

Energetic, eclectic, harmony. 

As I understand it, you used to busk a lot before you started touring. Where were some of your favorite spots to busk and do you have any interesting stories about your busking experience? 

We started busking on Grafton street in Dublin when we were 15 and 16. We grew up watching buskers there. Every Christmas Eve loads of Irish musicians make their way here to raise money for the homeless, it really inspired us. We used to stand up on street bollards, bins and signs with our guitars to catch people’s eyes whilst playing covers. We had and still have a lot of fun busking and met some wonderful people doing so. 

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned since releasing your debut album in 2015?

The biggest lesson was simply making and releasing the album. We had never done that before so everything was new to us and like most things it involves a lot of trial and error before you find out what you like or maybe don't like.

Following your latest EP “Feel It Again”, which you put out earlier this year, can we expect any more new music from you this year? 

Following our EP "Feel it Again" we’re releasing a new album called Bear Creek to Dame Street featuring four new tunes we recorded in Bear Creek studio in Seattle and four tunes we recorded live at our hometown gig at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin.

After selling out shows back home and getting to tour internationally, what else is on your bucket list to achieve as a band? Any certain venues you’re keen to perform in or any collaborations you’re hoping to make happen? 

When we started would have never imagined we would get to the level we are at now, of course we have dreams but overall we are very happy and grateful to be in the fortunate position to be touring, writing and doing music full time.

Lastly, who are some of your favorite new Irish bands or musicians that we should check out? 
So much great music coming out of Ireland a the moment. Would highly recommend checking out fellow Irish band The Academic. Lovely lads, great tunes and brilliant live show.

You can pre-order Hudson Taylor's new album Bear Creek to Dame Street here and keep up with them on Facebook + Instagram

A Chat With: Pretty City

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

Photo courtesy of Pretty City

Photo courtesy of Pretty City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else can we expect from Pretty City in 2018?

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

Keep up with Pretty City on Social Media below:

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: Spiritual Cramp

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

Photo: Tom O'Connell

Photo: Tom O'Connell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you guys usually stay entertained on the road?

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

What else can we expect from Spiritual Cramp in 2018?

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

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

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 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: Future Thieves

Nashville quartet Future Thieves have been turning heads since the release of their debut album Horizon Lines in 2015. One listen to their debut album's title track or their latest single "Sucker" and you'll find yourself struggling to get the song out of your head. The band have brought their indie rock tunes laced with sticky, pop melodies around the country this year, performing at major festivals and even venturing over to Europe at one point. When the band stopped in St. Louis last month to perform at Loufest, we sat down with lead singer Elliot Collett and guitarist Austin McCool to catch up with the group. Elliot and Austin talk everything from recording at Sonic Ranch to pizza preferences and their favorite things to do in Chicago. To hear about all that and to find out when we'll have new music from them, tune in now to our chat with Future Thieves!

Future Thieves  are  Elliot Collett  (vocals/Guitar ), Austin McCool  (Guitar),  Nick Goss  (Bassist), and  Gianni Gibson  (Drums). Photo Courtesy of Future Thieves

Future Thieves are Elliot Collett (vocals/Guitar), Austin McCool (Guitar), Nick Goss (Bassist), and Gianni Gibson (Drums). Photo Courtesy of Future Thieves

ANCHR Magazine: What do you guys remember as your first musical memory that inspired you to either start writing or playing an instrument?

Elliot Collett: Mine was, in like 2007, I went and saw Ryan Adams in Cleveland, Ohio. My mom took me and some friends, and I’d never seen any type of live music like that. He played for like three hours. After that show, I was like I’d love to play live music...make my own music.

Austin McCool: I’ve actually told this story recently...But when i was a kid, I think I was 10 years old, my neighbor was a drummer and he showed me a lot of cool music. He showed me like The Hives and The Vines and Brand New. We faked a concert in my garage. We had like soil bins where we were playing drums. I was playing a tennis racket as a fake guitar, plugged into a box. It was...I don’t know. Our parents and grandparents were watching us, and I was like ok, I wanna do this for real! Pick up something with strings...

AM: Very cool, so fast forwarding a bit... You guys played some new songs today and you’re working on a new album. How’s that going? Is it done being written and recorded?

Elliot Collett: It’s definitely written. It’s about 80% recorded. We’ve gotta do some vocals and some other stuff on it. We started back in March and we’ve toured a lot since then, so kind of had to put it off a bit. Now we’re back home for a bit so we’re gonna finish it up.

Austin McCool: We’ve toured on the songs though. We’ve played pretty much all of the songs live, so you kind of learn how to put it down.

AM: Where do you guys record? 

Elliot Collett: We recorded most of the record for two weeks down at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX. Which is close to El Paso.

AM: What made you guys decide on that space?

Austin McCool: It’s so awesome!

Elliot Collett: Yeah, it’s great. The largest residential recording studio in the world. Like you sleep there, and they feed you.

Austin McCool: It’s on a 300-no,3,0000 Acre pecan farm! Right next to the border of Mexico.

AM: Oh so did you get some pecan pie and all that?

Austin McCool: Oh my god, yes! We did! It’s super cool though.

Elliot Collett: Super vibey.

Austin McCool: They put you in a house, where you’re like staying by yourself. It’s just…The Head and the Heart did music there. Hippo Campus...

Elliot Collett: Portugal the Man!

AM: Do they have in-house engineers there, or did you bring along a producer?

Elliot Collett: We had a guy helping us, but we have a producer. Chuck Tones was the engineer.

AM: Any good stories about the recording process then while you were there?

Elliot Collett: We went to an old water tower and recorded some stuff down inside of a water tower.

Austin McCool: Some vocals and guitar through an old abandoned water tower. A mic through the top!

AM: That’s so cool! So you said you’ve been playing most of these songs live then--

Austin McCool: 8 of the 12.

AM: Has it been easy to transcribe them all to the live sense then since recording them?

Elliot Collett: Yeah, for us. Sometimes no one’s heard em so we can change them around.

AM: What have been some of your favorites to play?

Austin McCool: "On the Run"!

Elliot Collett: Yeah “On the Run” is really fun to play live. All of them...we love moving on and playing the newest stuff so everything we play that’s new, we love it.

AM: So you guys have a live album too. What made you decide to release that between the two studio albums? Any other artists with a live album that might have inspired that?

Austin McCool: We really didn’t intend to put out a live album. It was a Youtube streaming thing with a studio, and the studio was so nice we were like, who cares! Let’s just throw this out there. It actually ends up being really cool because we didn’t know it at the time, but four of those songs that aren’t on Horizon Line are also not on the second studio record. So they’re only released on that live record.

AM: Cool, then speaking of playing live...You’ve toured a bunch in the summer, even coming to Chicago to play Township. What were some of the tour highlights? 

Elliot Collett: It was great! Most of it was awesome. We toured with our buddy Guthrie Brown. He lives in Nashville, is from Montana. That tour was great cause he is so good. Nick and Gianni played with him most of the tour. People came out, and Chicago is always great. It was packed!

Austin McCool: I’ve got a ton of friends in Chicago!

Elliot Collett: We had just gotten done touring in Europe so coming back and doing a tour in the states was something we were a little more familiar with, so it was a little easier.

AM: What are some of your favorite things to do in Chicago then?

Austin McCool: Portillo's! I went to school at Purdue University, so my junior and senior year, two of my three roommates were from Chicago/Glen Ellyn kind of area. So they knew about Portillo's. On a lazy Sunday, we’d just drive to Chicago to get Portillo's. But we also went to the Chicago Music Exchange. I’ve been there so many times...Giordanos was good too!

AM: Are you a deep dish person?

Elliot Collett: I’m not a deep dish person. I like New York Style.

AM: Do you have any favorite festival moments then from the couple you’ve done this summer?

Austin McCool: Today was awesome!

Elliot Collett: We got to play Bonnaroo and Forecastle.

AM: Any good festival stories?

Austin McCool: One of my favorite moments was standing side stage for Local Natives and Alabama Shakes.

Elliot Collett: There was like a massage tent at Kaboo festival in San Diego. There were two seats and Austin was next to Andrew McMahon, so got a massage with him. He loves Something Corporate.

Austin McCool: I’ve loved Andrew McMahon since Something Corporate, so it was really cool I got a massage next to him. We also met Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray that day.

Elliot Collett: He played at Kaboo Fest as Sugar Ray.

AM: That's amazing. So what would you say is your festival advice? 

Elliot Collett: Indulge in free drinks and use the air conditioned bathrooms when you can find them.

AM: As an artist that’s possible!

Austin McCool: Don’t die! Water, water, water.

Elliot Collett: I need water right now.

AM: What's something about the Nashville music scene that you guys really love? I talked to Ron Gallo yesterday about it a bit. Do you know him?

Austin McCool: Oh yeah! We had a taco with him the other day.

Elliot Collett: He’s super cool! The music scene in Nashville is just great. We don’t even see country music. We’re all in the same world of good music.

Austin McCool: There’s so many good places to go.

AM: Where would you recommend to go and see bands?

Elliot Collett: The Basement is a good place to go to see actual music. Basement East is great. 12th and Porter is great. There’s so many! 3rd and Lindsley is great.

Austin McCool: It’s all spread out, but you know what you’re looking for.

Elliot Collett: If our buddies are playing, we’ll go. If not we just stay home. Something good going on...that’s where we go.

AM: Any new albums out that you guys can’t stop listening to?

Austin McCool: The War on Drugs Record is incredible. The new Brand New record is unbelievable. The new National record that just came out.

Elliot Collett: Anderson Paak is what I throw on whenever I’m in my car

Austin McCool: There’s a new Boyz II Men Song. Big Boi has a new song called “Chocolate” which is our favorite song of 2017. It’s unbelievable. The new Hippo Campus record that came out this year is great!

AM: Do you guys do podcasts at all on the road?

Elliot Collett: We listen to podcasts a lot, yeah! We listened to S-Town. We love S-Town. We listen to Alec Baldwin’s podcast. It’s called Here’s the Thing.

Austin McCool:There’s a podcast called Tuesdays with Stories! It’s two comedians from New York, Mark Normand and Joe List. One of them opened for Louis CK and one of them opened for Amy Schumer, and they mentioned us on their podcast. We sent them a care package of t-shirts and stuff.

Elliot Collett: They’re super cool!

AM: So when can we expect to hear the new tunes from you?

Austin McCool: Early next year, Spring-ish. We're gonna skip the holiday rush. 

While you wait patiently for the new music, check out some photos of their Loufest set and follow them on social media for the latest updates!

Future Thieves: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Spotify // Apple Music

Get To Know: Sedgewick

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

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

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

Sedgewick backstage at SPACE

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

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

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

Their Influences Range From Bon Iver to Frank Ocean 

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

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

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

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

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

They Consider Chicago's Music Scene Eclectic and Collaborative

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

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

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

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

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

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

They Describe Their Live Show as Intentional Disorientation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Gallery of Sedgewick at SPACE

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

A Chat With SHAED

Last week, we caught an incredible live performance from the DC trio SHAED at The Bottom Lounge. Prior to their lively and energetic performance that evening, we caught up with Chelsea Lee and her bandmates, twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst. Together, the three craft catchy pop melodies that blend with Lee's soulful, powerful vocals and the clean production work of the Ernsts. After touring with acts like Bishop Briggs, Marian Hill, and playing festivals like Chicago's own Mamby on the Beach, Lee and the Ernst brothers are now back on the road with Sir Sly. Talking everything from Lee's go-to karaoke jam to new music and their favorite spots to eat on tour, get to know SHAED now!

SHAED for ANCHR Magazine 

SHAED for ANCHR Magazine 

ANCHR Magazine: So I wanted start off by talking a little bit about how you guys each individually got into writing music and eventually started producing it and making it together. 

Max Ernst: Two of us are twins, my brother and I. We got started playing music pretty young. Our mom got us taking piano lessons at a young age. From there we just fell in love with music and writing songs. We just kept doing it until now.

Chelsea Lee: For me, I kind of was always listening to music my parents love..alternative 80's. So I always jammed out to that. When I was in elementary school, I got a karaoke machine, so that became like my best friend. I would do that for hours and hours.

AM: What’s your go to karaoke song?

CL: The Carpenters were always a go to for me. I also loved doing the Christmas karaoke CD.

Spencer Ernst: Chelsea’s obsessed with Christmas to this day, so not surprised.

AM: So that started it all! So you guys have played a ton of live shows, even though you’re still working on the debut album. I saw you at Mamby on the Beach, you’ve toured with Marian Hill, Bishop Briggs....what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about each other being a band on the road so much?

ME: I’ve got one. When Chelsea’s asleep in the van, you don’t want to wake her up.

CL: Always make sure that I’m fed because I get hangry. We’ve learned that we don’t want to kill each other, which is amazing. It takes a special type of person to be stuck in a van for a really long time with each other.

ME: And we live together when we’re not on tour.

CL: It’s 100 percent.

AM: Nice! So what have been some of your favorite songs to play live then?

CL: We just released “Too Much” last week. That’s been really fun to play live. We actually started playing that live during the Bishop Briggs tour, which was a couple months ago. Everyone loved it so much and it got a really good response, and we decided that would be our next single. So that’s my favorite song to play out right now.

AM: I saw you did that cover of “Starboy,” too. What was it about that particular song that made you decide to cover it?

CL: Well we did Spotify sessions, and we needed a cover. We did one original and one cover. We were trying to think of a cool cover, and we immediately thought of “Starboy” cause that was such a jam.

AM: How is the debut album process going? Are you still working on writing it or is it mostly written and just needs to be recorded?

ME: I’d say that it’s going really well. We’ve got a lot of songs in the works right now. We’ve got a couple in the chamber that are closed to being released, but we’re still in the writing process right now. It’s definitely not totally done. We have a pretty good idea of where it’s going, and we have some singles ready to be released soon.

AM: How is it writing on the road then? Do you find that you get inspired?

CL: Yeah, these guys are constantly working on sessions in the car. I don’t know how they do it because I would barf if I looked at a computer screen for too long in a moving car. For them, they work on sessions in Ableton. We always want to be writing, honestly.

ME: There’s different ways that we write. When we’re in the van, it’s hard to like write as a collective group because of all the noise and people are doing different things. We work a lot on our own, just on beats and music on our laptops in the car. We also, when we have time...we’ll get a guitar out or piano and write stuff together too.

AM: So you guys are from DC, and the only thing I really know about the music scene there is 930 Club, which is a legendary venue. What are some of the best kept secrets from your hometown music scene?

ME: DC is definitely known for punk and rock, but there’s definitely a lot of really good R&B andd soul happening there. Marvin Gaye is from DC. There’s just a ton of really good soul music there too. The venues are really supportive, but there’s a really strong artist community. And really good house shows too. Some of the best shows are being put on by like a collective, that kind of thing.

AM: Do you have any particular DC bands you’re really into?

CL: Yeah we love...there’s a really cool band called April + Vista. There’s also a band called Dawkins. They’re also really cool, kind of experimental.

AM: What about in general, any bands you’re vibing with or you're influenced by?

CL: Right now we’re listening to Active Child a lot. Sigrid. We just got into this girl Chloe Howl, she just released a really awesome song. We always try to listen to new music, and each week, it’s kind of a different thing.

AM: Cool, how else do you guy stay entertained on tour besides making music and listening to it?

CL: We love to eat, so we’re always trying to find a good spot to get some grub. We also really like this game called Cribbage.

AM: Oh, what is that?

CL: It’s like an old sailor game, it’s a card game and it’s got a wood board. Love that game, so we play it a lot.

AM: Nice, keeping it old fashioned. So what’s been your favorite city to go to as far as the food goes then?

ME: Everything is kind of a blur.

CL: We have a special place in our heart when it comes to Wisconsin just because of the cheese.

SE: Actually, the last time we were in Chicago, we stayed in Chinatown, and we got some incredible dumplings there. We also had some Sake there.

CL: What was that place called?

SE: Imperial something-- After we had the food, we went to this little dive karaoke bar. It was actually a Korean karaoke bar right around the corner from Chinatown. We got our own private room and just like-

CL: Wailed for an hour!

SE: It was really fun!

AM: Then what else are you guys looking forward to this year? Besides touring a bunch...any particular shows you’re looking forward to?

CL: We’re doing the billboard hot 100 Festival in New York, which is gonna be fun. Plus we’re excited for new places on this tour. There’s a lot of places we haven’t been, like Colorado Springs. There’s a couple new spots we’re really excited to see!

Keep up with all of SHAED's updates, including any upcoming tour dates, by liking their Facebook page

Can't get enough SHAED? Also check out our review and photo gallery of their show last week. 

Catching Up With The Autumn Defense

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

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

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

They Were Shocked At Their Crowd Turnout

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

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

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

Their Collaboration Wish List is Endless

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

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

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

They Rely On Muscle Memory For Their Different Projects

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

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

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

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

They're Still In On The Chicago Scene

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

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

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

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

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

Family Values and The Nashville Music Scene: A Chat With The New Respects at Hangout Fest

Hangout Festival's lineup seemed to be loving the family bands this year...Mumford and Sons, Joseph, and of course the Nashville quartet The New Respects. Composed of twin sisters Zandy and Lexi, their brother Darius, and cousin Jasmine, The New Respects have crafted a unique, fun sound that melds together their pool of influences. Their debut EP Here Comes Trouble has a little something for everyone, whether you're a fan of rock, soul, R&B, or pop music, and their live show is sure to get the crowd grooving. After their early, yet energetic performance on Sunday at Hangout fest, the four piece chatted with us about their musical upbringing and their whirlwind of a year. Get to know The New Respects now!

Photos Courtesy of The New Respects / Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

Photos Courtesy of The New Respects / Thumbnail Image Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

ANCHR Magazine: Since you’re all there a musical gene that's been passed down in your family?

Jasmine Mullen: My Parents are both musicians. I never wanted to do music, so it’s kind of crazy.

AM: Do they sing?

JM: Yeah, my mom is a Christian singer and my dad's a songwriter mostly.

Lexi Fitzgerald: My mom can’t sing at all. She’s actually very bad. My dad was in a rap group.

AM: So it kind of skipped your parents?

LF: Exactly!

AM: Where else did you pick up influences?

Zandy Fitzgerald: Being born and raised in Nashville, it’s all around you. Maybe by osmosis or something. I think we just-- I always wanted to play guitar. One day I just kind of did it. I hear a lot that people have parents that are musicians and that wasn’t even like a thing for me. It’s always weird when they’re like you just randomly started? I’m like yeah, I thought everybody did.

AM: So since releasing your first EP, what have been some highlights?

LF: We just played in New York for the first time, that was really cool. Having the recognition in Rolling Stone was insane.

Darius Fitzgerald: The craziest thing for me was we played a show near DC, and seeing someone sing along. These songs, of course we know them, but to see someone I’ve never seen before know the lyrics, it’s wild.

AM: Yeah, I've heard that's always surreal, or hearing your song on the radio.

DF: We're still waiting on that.

JM: That might be a tearful moment.

AM: I saw you with Robert Randolph at Lincoln Hall, what were some highlights of that tour?

LF : That was a great show, Chicago was actually my favorite!

ZF: That was a great tour. We learned so much. Robert is like...their whole show is about playing in the moment, being passionate, and having fun. I remember in Kansas City, Robert called us up, and we got to play with him. I told him, put me in the back, you play guitar way better than I do! He said okay that’s fine, and I get onstage. He walks over to my amp and cranks it and goes “play for the people.” In that moment I just had to take what I learned from him - passion, have fun, and go for it. That proved to me that those things actually work. If you already have the practice behind you, just go for it in the moment. That’s gonna make a great show.

AM: So how do you stay entertained on the road?

LF: We sing a lot.

ZF: I think everyone’s favorite pastime is annoying to the other three in the band, and so those moments are endless.

AM: How do you cope with being a family and being around each other all of the time?

JM: I think part of it is because of growing up together, we know how to push each other’s buttons. Which is a blessing and a curse. You can use that to your advantage, but I think we’ve done a really good job recently. Because we know each other’s buttons, we know how to love each other.

ZF: Just beauty in the balance. There’s times where we joke with each other, but there also has to be times where we encourage each other. Otherwise it could get ugly.

AM: What’s one thing that you each do that annoys the others?

ZF: I don’t like being touched unnecessarily. Lexi and Jasmine like to jump on me in bed.

LF: I don’t like being told what to do. Darius doesn’t like being up early.

DF: Not a morning person. At all.

ZF: Jasmine, what’s yours?

LF: She doesn’t like being told what to do either.

AM:  So now that you’re playing festivals, do you have some festival dos and don'ts? 

ZF: I think the biggest thing is it’s very different than your own show where you have all your own gear. This is so much easier, traveling wise. You have a lot of stuff backlined. So you just have to prepare yourself, this is not my own amp, it’s not gonna sound the exact same, but I’m gonna play a good show.

LF: Be flexible, the schedule is all over the place.

DF: I feel like too, enjoy as much as the rest of the festival as you can. This is like, very special because we’re on the freaking beach with all these great acts.

LF: Chance the Rapper is playing today, so that’s perfect. 

AM: I’m from Chicago so I've got that Chicago pride for Chance! He's played Lincoln Hall, actually, the same venue you played with Robert Randolph. 

DF: Was this a while ago?

AM: Yeah it was at least 5 years ago.

ZF: One day you’ll be saying "They played Lincoln Hall!"

AM: Anyone else you’re excited to see?

All: Mumford and sons!

DF: When we started the band, we were convinced we were going to be a black version of Mumford and Sons. In hindsight that’s not really gonna work. I’m happy we found our own beat.

AM: Any other bands or albums you’re really into at the moment?

LF: Harry Styles' album. It’s actually really good. John Mayer’s newest album. John Legend's album is great.

DF: I’ve been listening to Sign, Sealed, & Delivered by Stevie Wonder. That record...I knew like the singles or whatever. But the whole record is amazing.

ZF: The new Kendrick. We’re always listening to music. Jasmine has a playlist on her Spotify that’s like 6 hours long. We’re always like add this to the playlist. It’s like Brandon Flowers, Harry Styles, John Legend, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder...all the bands that inspire us.

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year. Any new music?

JF: We’re writing right now for a new record that will be out sometime next year. We’re coming around to songs we’re really proud of.

AM: Are you going to record it all in Nashville?

DF: We’re open to wherever. Wherever they’re making good music.

AM: Cool! Any inside trade secrets as far as being in the Nashville scene that you can let us in on?

ZF: Stay creative. Get with people in Nashville who like don’t want to sound like Nashville. Stay open, stay creative. Listen to a ton of music. Make great music.

LF: The further we get away from Nashville the more we realize how much of a bubble it is. The thing for me, explore other things. I love Nashville and I love living there. It’s filled with so many creative people, but create there and also other places as much as you can too.

Keep up with all the latest news from The New Respects here, and listen to their debut EP below!

A Chat With: Nightlands

While he may be best known for being the bassist in The War On Drugs and collaborating with many well-known musicians, the multitalented Philadelphian Dave Hartley released his third record under the Nightlands alias earlier this month. The album, I Can Feel The Night Around Me, embraces and enchants listeners with Hartley's layered vocals and soothing synths. Since the May 5th release of the album, Hartley has been on tour playing the new songs to venues around the country. Before the tour makes a stop at Schubas this Thursday, Hartley gave us some insight on the process behind the third album and chatted with us about his experience scoring a film soundtrack, how he balances being in multiple bands, his dream collaboration, and more. 

Photo Credit: Dustin Condren 

Photo Credit: Dustin Condren 

ANCHR Magazine: I’m loving the new album that came out earlier this month! Can you talk a little bit about the process behind writing and recording the record?

Dave Hartley: I write and record simultaneously, pretty much. I just devote a lot of time to... sonic exploration, for lack of a better term. I tinker with drum machines or loops or synths until I find something that feels like a mysterious path, and I'll follow that and try to work our a chord progression. Writing "Lost Moon" felt like the breakthrough, when I really hit a vein. I had been listening to Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman on repeat for days, and I sat down with my Roland TR-8 drum machine and just sort of put together a chord progression that I thought gave me that same melancholy feeling as Jimmy Webb's classic. Even though it came out sounding more CSN than Glen Campbell, Wichita Lineman was the inspiration. Once I had that song, it felt like my thesis statement had been written and I could finish the album.

AM: How is I Can Feel The Night Around Me different than your first two records, both from your songwriting standpoint and what differences do you notice sonically?

DH: Forget the Mantra was an aesthetic statement more than an exercise in songwriting, even though "300 Clouds" is a strong tune, in my impartial estimation. Oak Island sort of took that aesthetic out of the bedroom and into the outside world, a little bit... still some experimenting but starting to think in terms of songwriting, song craft, etc. I Can Feel the Night Around Me feels like the completion of a trilogy -- seeing the aesthetic vision of Forget the Mantra through to it's conclusion: harmonies, vocal layers, drum machines, dreamlike imagery, etc... but sort of stepping out of the mist a little bit. I came to terms with my voice more on this album, was more deliberate.

AM: What have been some of your favorite songs to play live from the new record, and what can we expect from the set at Schubas later this month? Will it be a mix of old and new material?

DH: I think "Only You Know" and "Depending on You" really take on a new life live... also some of my earlier songs have really morphed with the band. "So it Goes" is probably my favorite song... it's become radically, unrecognizably different than the album version. I should re-record it. At Schubas you'll see some old songs, some new songs... maybe a cover?

AM: Speaking of playing live, I saw you've got a show later on this month at The Andy Warhol museum, which is awesome! Do you find that other art forms ever influence your songwriting, and if so, what artists have inspired you?

DH: Very excited about that Warhol show... have been wanting to play there for a while. I'm 100% inspired by other media... maybe more than other music. I tend to insulate myself from music while I'm deep in the recording mode. I don't want to be influenced, I want to try to create in a vacuum. But I'll read a lot, find myself gravitating towards certain imagery. "This image makes me feel the way I want to feel." .... You're always looking for signposts to follow, you know? It could be something as simple as a photograph, or a book cover, or a phrase you read in a novel.

AM: What other gigs are you looking forward to on this tour? Any cities you're particularly excited for?

DH: Chicago is always a highlight--my sister lives there and it's one of my favorite cities in the US. Asheville is another that I'm pumped for--who can explain why certain geographic locations loom large in our legends? Of course Philadelphia, where I live, where my life is based. I'm excited to play in Philadelphia.

AM: Since you're also in The War On Drugs and there's new material coming out this year from that project, how do you balance being in two active bands at the same time?

DH: Well I don't really overlap the two.. The Drugs has always had a long gestation-release cycle... the albums take a while to make, and then we tour hard for years on them. So really I'll have downtime, and when I have downtime my idle hands gravitate towards the recording studio. But I don't think I'd be able to balance the two concurrently. Being in the Drugs is a full-time job. And vice versa, while Nightlands is a cottage-industry, so to speak, my obsession with recording my albums isn't proportional to my listening-base, if you get my drift. I go deep and long.

AM: How did the opportunity to score 2001: A Space Odyssey come around, and how was the experience of creating a score? Was your process a lot different than when you approach writing for Nightlands?

DH: A local promoter was doing a series where bands would play live and then screen their favorite film. They asked me to participate and I audaciously one-upped him and asked if I could write and perform a live score to 2001, the greatest film ever made. I profoundly regret not recording the evening.. I was scared. It was improvised, in part, and I was just worried it would be a train wreck and didn't allow it to be recorded. There were only 40 people there, or something, and I remember it as being really special. That could be rose-colored hindsight but I'm going with it. I enjoyed the process because it was structured, rigidly, in some ways and completely open in others. I used a massive house organ that I lugged to the venue, a sampler, and my acoustic guitar. Producer/synth-wizard Jeff Ziegler accompanied me. It was great. It can never be recreated.

AM: You also collaborate and work with so many other artists. Who’s another artist you'd love to work with that you haven't already?

DH: Cass McCombs. I'm a huge fan and he always plays with shit-tight musicians. I'd welcome the challenge of living up to his body of work.

AM: What other bands or artists have you been listening to recently?

DH: Andy Shauf's latest album stunned me. The Dove and the Wolf, from Paris-via-Philadelphia. Daniel Lanois' latest album is fucking amazing--next level ambient compositions.

Grab your tickets to Nightlands show at Schubas this Thursday, May 25th here, and listen to their new album I Can Feel The Night Around Me below.



A Chat With: Julia Jacklin

Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin has had a year as incredible as the songs she writes...releasing her debut album, touring nonstop, and being announced on massive festival lineups all over the world, like Glastonbury and Spendour In The Grass. Her music blends her rich and haunting vocals with retro-tinged folk music, and a pinch of twang. In the midst of her current North American tour, Julia took some time to chat with us about her first album and what's in store for her this year. Get to know Julia Jacklin now before she takes summer 2017 by a storm.

Thumbnail Photo Credit: Scarlett Mckee

Photo Credit: Nick McKinley

Photo Credit: Nick McKinley

ANCHR Magazine: Congrats on releasing your debut album last year... it’s a big accomplishment! What have been some highlights for you since you’ve released it?

Julia Jacklin:  I’ve kind of been on tour since I released it. So I’ve done a lot of things. Playing music festivals has been cool. We’s a pretty big bill back home, it’s a festival called Laneway Festival. We got to do that, which was like a teenage dream come true. We did Tiny Desk two days ago, which was also on the list of dreams.

AM: Cool! Talking more about your music, you wrote, starred in, and directed the video for “Leadlight." Was that your first experience directing?

JJ: The first one I did was “Pool Party” actually. I released that quite a long time before I released the record. That was my first experience, just kind of coming from having to make it work. I needed a music video and had to make it happen.

AM: Do you have any interest or background with films, or was it really that you just needed someone to direct it and stepped into that role yourself?

JJ: I definitely have an interest...I definitely have a lot to learn in that regards. I’m a person who has grown up watching many things. It’s something that I ended up really enjoying, but honestly it wasn’t like an “Oh, I really want to do this all on my own.” It was like I just had to do it.

AM: Do you have any all-time favorite music videos that you were inspired by when you were planning what you were going to do for your own music videos?

JJ: Probably my favorite is a Grimes clip, called “Oblivion.” Have you seen that one, where she’s in like a football field? It’s really cool. I wish it was my music video.

AM: Cool! So then as far as the live show, what have been some of your favorite songs from the album to play live since you’ve played a bunch of shows since the release? Are there any that have sort of changed and transformed in the live sense?

JJ: Yeah, they’ve all kind of changed over time. They’re quite a lot bigger than on the record now. I’ve kind of had a few---just cause I’m touring a lot in many different places, I’ve had a few line up changes in the band. That’s always changing the songs in a way. I definitely hated a couple of songs a few months ago and now I’m enjoying them. It kind of changes all the time. I’ve been really enjoying playing “Leadlight” lately. Which I was always really scared of for some reason. It was always the one song in the set that I was thinking I was gonna screw up.

AM: So you’ve had a few different line up changes with touring different countries. What’s the current set up on this tour?

JJ: I’ve got Eddie from back home. He’s played with me the whole time. Then I have Ian and Ben from Toronto, who joined a couple of weeks ago. They are fantastic. We’ve been really getting to know each other.

AM: Nice! Any random outings or fun stories from this tour so far?

JJ: It's been a very chill tour so far. The whole first part was driving up the west coast of America, and getting to see the Red Woods. Like staying in really secluded Air BnBs, and just feeling like a real tourist for once. Instead of like a really tired musician just coming in and out of cities and never really seeing anything. I felt like I really got to see some of America this time.

AM: Any cities coming up that you’re excited to go to on this tour?

JJ: We’re going to a few places on this tour we’ve never been to, like Raleigh and Atlanta. So I’m just keen to see what the deal is, what’s going on. I’m pretty excited about playing in New Orleans. I’ve been there a few times as a backpacker, just wandering around, soaking it all in. It’s a nice turn of life events that I’m gonna play there.

AM: That should be great. I hear a lot of musicians say they like playing there because the crowd is really receptive.

JJ: Totally, yeah.

AM: Have there been any culture shocks for you playing in America? It sounds like you’ve been here before even as a backpacker, but anything being a musician that is completely different here than back home?

JJ: It's very different to back home, as there’s so many more cities and venues to play. In Australia it’s like you tour for a week and you’ve pretty much covered it. Really long distances between places as well, and you have to fly. That’s super different- being in a new place every four hours that seems to have a pretty different culture, like food-wise and the music scene seems to change a lot between each state. It’s a completely different experience than back home. It kind of feels like you’re in different countries every couple of days.

AM: What’s been the most surprising show, like where the crowd or city was different to what you thought it would be like?

JJ: We just played in Montreal actually, and that was quite different to what I was expecting. Just a very a vocally appreciative crowd. They were yelling a lot at me, but nice things. Kind of throughout the whole set. They were really into it.

AM: So kind of circling back, do you have anyone who inspired you to start making music? Both musical and nonmusical, what first inspired you to start writing and playing an instrument?

JJ: I guess my friend to be honest. My friend Liz, who I got to know when I was 18. She was a massive fan of like Annie DiFranco and she had a classical guitar. She used to do really cool finger picking, and I was like I really want to be just like you. So I bought a classical guitar and started doing exactly what she was doing. We still play music together. She’s been the biggest thing for me in the beginning. The first band I was in was with her, and she’s just someone I really looked up to.

AM: Very cool. So are there any new albums or bands that you’re listening to a lot?

JJ: I’ve been listening to Mitski’s new record a lot. That’s been a big favorite. I’ve just discovered Cass McCombs. I’m very late to the bandwagon on that, but I’ve been enjoying listening.

AM: So then last thing, you’re on the Splendour in the Grass line up. It’s a big Australian festival and your first time playing it right?

JJ: Yeah the first time, it feels really good.

AM: Awesome, so anyone else on the line up you’re hoping to check out?

JJ: Well we have to fly straight to LA to play FYF Fest. So it’s one of those things where it’s like oh cool there’s all these great people playing, but we have to play and leave straight away to get to the airport. Which is usually the case it seems with music festivals once you start playing them. So I’m choosing not to look at the lineup and when people play so I don’t get disappointed.

AM: Anything else you’re looking forward to this year?

JJ: We’re moving to Spain in a month, doing the European Festival circuit, doing like Green Man, Glastonbury, and Primavera. So I’m really looking forward to that. Summer time festival life.

AM: Very cool. Are you writing new material on tour?

JJ: Yeah I have been. We had quite a lot of down time at the beginning of this tour, so hopefully I’ll have something new soon.

Follow along with all things tour and other updates from Julia here.  Chicago, you can see Julia Jacklin with Andy Shauf this Saturday, May 13th. Grab tickets to their show at Lincoln Hall here, and get ready for the show by listening to Julia's debut album 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 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:



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 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:

Catching Up With NE-HI

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Bryan Allen Lamb

Nothing gives them more joy than just playing shows

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

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

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

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

They recorded Offers in two installments

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

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

Offers  Album Cover

Offers Album Cover

They'd like to score Hot Tub Time Machine 3

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

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

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

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

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

They're supporters of the Chicago music scene 

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

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

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

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

Get to Know: Jude Shuma

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

The Renaissance man himself,  Jude Shuma.  

The Renaissance man himself, Jude Shuma. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He prefers producing and recording to playing live

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

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

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

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

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

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

He doesn't have a back up plan

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

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

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

 He's got the gift of gab

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

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

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

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

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


A Chat With: Shadowgraphs

This past weekend, we chatted to Bryan Olson and Charles Glade (aka Wils), who make up one half of the Charlotte, NC band Shadowgraphs.  Psychedelic rock bands with heavy 60's influence seem to be popping up all over the scene, and Shadowgraphs is one of the groups that has perfectly honed in on this sweet retro sound.  With EPs Return To Zero and Midnight Tea already under their belt, the band have recorded and mixed their first full length, Venomous Blossoms, set to be released in April this year.  Prior to the album release, we talked to Bryan and Wils about their start as a band, their recording techniques, album artwork, and some of their favorite bands.

Shadowgraphs is Charles "Wils" Glade, Bryan Olson, Ethan Ricks, and Cody Hare

Shadowgraphs is Charles "Wils" Glade, Bryan Olson, Ethan Ricks, and Cody Hare

ANCHR Magazine:  I read that you were introduced by a mutual friend because you had similar music taste, so can you talk a little bit about how you got into making music and eventually formed the band?

Wils: Bryan used to be in a band called Cement Stars, and I was in a band called Blank Ocean and we kind of, we were just at a point when we were doing our own things. Bryan was really getting into analog gear and starting to collect a bunch of tape machines and mixers and stuff. I was starting, like via the internet, to get into the same kinda shit, but I didn't have it laying around like he did. Then one day one of our friends was like you guys totally need to meet because you both have like a knack for recording styles.  So he came over and I think we worked on an art project, Bryan does collage art. We were working in Photoshop together and then kind of hit it off with music.

Bryan: I think Melody's Echo Chamber was the clicking point. We were both like "I love that record" and that was kind of the click right there.

Wils: And it’s funny cause we have a lot of friends that play music and whatnot around here, and listen to a lot of the same stuff, but I felt and Bryan aren’t originally from Charlotte. It’s very rare to find someone who’s into the exact kind of like music you’re into, even that point in a song when you’re like “oh I love that part.”

AM: Yeah, so you guys just had that connection?

Wils: Yeah it was like Stepbrothers when they found out that they were best friends. 

AM: [laughs] Nice, that’s a good reference! Cool, so who else would you consider to be some of your musical influences? Who did you hear growing up that made you want to make music?

Bryan: I didn’t pick up an instrument until I was 21 years old.  I loved music growing up and my brother’s been drumming since he was 7 years old, so I’d been exposed to music and bands. I definitely think the turning point was obviously getting Beatles records from my stepdad, and just listening to that and loving that. You know, Pink Floyd, all the big bands from the 60s.  When I was in junior high, I didn’t know if I wanted to do anything with [music], but I appreciated it. I would say Bjork, The Beatles, of course a bunch of bands that came up around that time...those are some of my big influences.

Wils: I kind of got into music, and I wanna say Bryan was the same way...we used to skateboard all the time before we got into music, and a lot of those old skateboard videos would have sick soundtracks. I remember always waiting til the end for the credits to see what band it was, and there was one point where it kept happening. I was like “who is this fucking band?” and it ended up being The Beatles. I was probably about 16 or 17. I have a lot of thanking to do to the Skateboard community for introducing me to a lot of great bands at an early age.  

AM: As far as the recording process, I know you mentioned you both have a knack for that and that’s how you hit it off. I read that you have your full length coming out at some point this year, so what was that process like?

Wils: We started writing...we wrote and recorded an EP two years ago now, and we kinda banged that out really quickly over the course of 6 months. We wrote everything and recorded and had it mastered. I think it was right after we put the EP out, in August of 2015, we really were focusing on writing the full length. We had already been writing songs, and ideas were really tossed around for a couple months. So I’d say the beginning of 2016 was when we said hey we need to start recording, and I just kinda fixed up a 24-track analog tape machine for the studio. We were like we’re gonna record to 2" 24 track tape and do this whole analog thing. And we took some songs, I think we started with “Scarlet Tunic.” It’s a song we had been playing out live and we hadn’t recorded at all. We kinda did a piecemeal thing, where we were writing and recording at the same time. Yeah, probably over a 4 month period. So we were just doing everything as we recorded it. We recorded everything here at my house to tape. And then we went down to Athens, GA and had the record mixed at Chase Park Transduction. The guy that mixes, his name is Drew Vandenberg.  He did a bunch of cool records, he did Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine. He was an assistant engineer for Deerhunter, just a bunch of really cool stuff...Of Montreal. We really like his work and what he contributed to those records and felt like it would be a really good fit. So we went down there for about a week and a half, or a week, and mixed with him. We clicked, and it was a really great experience. We’re super happy with how it all turned out. We kinda did this full analog thing. It was cool this time getting someone else to mix it. We could have mixed it ourselves, but it probably would have taken a lot longer.  It’s also cool having someone who we agree with, with other things that they worked on kinda seeing what they can do with it. Also in terms of a deadline. For the third record that we’ve already kind of started writing, we definitely wanna have a little more time, but it was definitely kinda cool. In December I hit up Drew and made an appointment like alright, here’s what’s happening, we’re gonna be mixing in the summer, we have 4 months, the clock is ticking. Once we did that it was like alright, we’ve gotta finish recording these songs and then come up with these songs. I think the last week before we brought it down, we completely wrote and recorded the last song on the album “Bossa Supernova,” which was a really fun experience. We got a bunch of friends to come out and just kind of improvised. We incorporated instrumentation that we’ve never, either of us, have ever recorded. Like a saxophone, clarinet, and a lot of cool percussion instruments on that last track. It was this cool improvised thing, and it turned out really great. It was a great ending for the recording sessions.  For the next record, we’re definitely shooting to have a little more space and focus a little bit more.

AM: That sounds really cool though. Then you’re pressing it to vinyl, in Portland right?

Wils: Yeah so we took the tapes and it was mastered in Portland, from tape, at Telegraph Mastering. But then the label we’re on, Golden Brown, they’re handling the vinyl pressing through A&Z. I believe that A&Z is in Portland. I don’t know if they’re pressing in Portland, but I know that the whole set up is there.

AM: So did you collaborate yourselves on the album artwork, and then as far as the vinyl itself, will it just be black vinyl?

Wils: Yeah, well I’m a full time graphic designer at an ad agency, and Bryan does a bunch of commissions and collage art. He actually did the album cover to S U R V I V E, they did the score to Stranger Things. So he’s been blowing up a bunch on the art side, outside of music, with his collages. So when it comes down to like art or making band posters, we usually handle most of that. Then the vinyl is actually gonna be like a cream and orange mixture, if you go to the Bandcamp page, we have a preview of the album cover and what it’s gonna look like.

AM: Cool, definitely will do. So, how is it transitioning your recorded music to the live sense? How do you take what you wrote in the studio and make it translate to the stage?

Wils: So I feel like for the most part, like some of the songs we recorded after we’d been playing them out, so those ones transitioned very well.  The other ones, we have taken a little bit of time, like maybe it’s not going to sound exactly like the recording, but we can do something different and make it even better in the live sense. We’ve definitely gotten to a point where we enjoy doing improvisational transitions between songs, and like extending parts. I know that Bryan and I really loved a lot of Tame Impala live stuff, like they put out a live album with Pitchfork. There was almost like a lot of songs in between a song, where the transition kind of takes on this whole new life live. The last thing we wanna do is be on stage playing the same songs how they were recorded.

Bryan: Yeah, I’d get bored. I’ll play around with even different lyrics and you know people haven’t heard the record yet. When they do, they’ll be like wait this sounds a little bit different, but I always thought that was cool when bands did that. You kinda throw people for a loop, not too much, but you know, get them thinking. There’s instruments that are on the record that we can’t really do live. We’re gonna try for our release show, we’re probably gonna get a couple people up there to play. I would say we translate about 75% of the record.

AM: Very cool, so are there any shows you’re looking forward to doing? Any plans to tour in support of the record?

Wils: We’re looking to play as much as we can as soon as this record’s out. Coming up to the record, we have a couple shows here and there. We’re trying to work out a couple more New York shows...Atlanta, Nashville...Hit a couple of cities on the way before the record releases. Hopefully after the record releases, we’ll hit up as many cities as we can go to. We have some friends on the label that are actually in Montreal that wanna play some shows with us, so we might even hit up Canada this summer.  It’s just little shows in between right now until we really get momentum with the album release. Getting a booking agent and all that is the next step, but I would say we’re pretty dedicated and are really looking forward to getting out and playing, especially the west coast too.

AM: Try to come to Chicago too, that’s where I’m based!

Bryan: I’m actually from Chicago. I moved here when I was 21. I was just up there this September, and it was like perfect weather. I will definitely not be going back during the winter, but I would love to get up there and play too. We will eventually get up there for sure.

AM: Cool, and then what other bands are you listening to at the moment?

Bryan: I really like this band called Vanishing Twin, I think they’re from London. They’re really cool, I really like their visual side as well. Allah-Las, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. There’s so many. Broncho, I really got into Broncho last year.

Wils: Definitely Chris Cohen. He’s an amazing songwriter. I remember when me and Bryan listened to that recent record that he put out, on repeat. Just some of his transitions and the way he handles verses and choruses, and kinda spins them around is really cool. Sugar Candy Mountain, they just put out a new record, 666, that’s really cool. I mean, we also find ourselves listening to old records. 

Bryan: There’s a really cool website called Office Naps, it’s all rare 45s and 7"s that this guy collects. It’s a lot of really cool 60's and 70's stuff. I’ll get kind of lost on that website, and just get inspired by a lot of this 60's stuff. That too is a big influence as well.

Venomous Blossoms by Shadowgraphs releases on April 7th.  You can preview the album artwork and preorder it here. Listen to the EP Return to Zero below to get ready for the release, and keep up with all things Shadowgraphs on their Facebook page!

A Chat With: Deaf Havana

English rock band Deaf Havana chat about the new album All These Countless Nights

After a wildly successful 2013 album Old Souls, The UK rock band Deaf Havana are back this month with the album All These Countless Nights. The new album stems from a songwriting stint from lead singer James Veck-Gilodi that happened when the band was close to calling it quits.  Prior to the album's release on January 27th, we chatted with lead guitarist and James’ brother Matt Veck-Gilodi about the writing and recording process of the new album, their influences, and touring.

ANCHR Magazine: How did you all meet and get into making music together?

Matt Veck-Gilodi: Well James and Lee met at High School and then they met Tom and Chris (our ex-guitarist) at college. To be honest it all started because we come from Norfolk in England and there really isn’t a lot to do growing up around there and getting together and playing in a band was a way to have fun, hang out and get drunk with each other.

AM: How did the writing and recording process for All These Countless Nights vary from your past albums? What are some of the biggest thematic and sonic differences you notice between this album and others?

MVG: It was different in that we were allowed a lot of time to gather together demos and refine them into album worthy songs. With our previous records we’d pretty much get the 12 or so demos written that could fill an album and then just rush straight into the studio to record them, without doing any pre-production or changing the songs very much at all. Whereas with this record we worked very closely with our producer Adam Noble (who’s absolutely excellent) and he really honed the songs, helped us rewrite and rethink them and turn them into the best songs they could possibly be. He also got us to record the basis of every song together as a live band, whereas we would’ve previously recorded the drums and then add the bass and then some guitars etc., but this album came together very organically as a result. Well soniclally I’d say it’s a much more expansive record than we’ve had before. It’s not so thick as Old Souls is throughout, it ebbs and flows and is much more diverse - which artistically is very gratifying. Thematically the lyrics are relatively similar to James’ previous work in that they’re very personal and introspective, but on this record there’s a lot more positivity and hope present - even if it’s not obvious at first. 

Album Artwork for  All These Countless Nights

Album Artwork for All These Countless Nights

Thematically the lyrics are relatively similar to James’ previous work in that they’re very personal and introspective, but on this record there’s a lot more positivity and hope present - even if it’s not obvious at first.

AM: What can your fans expect from the live shows this year? Will the sets be mostly new material or a good mix of both old and new?

MVG: They can expect a set full of bangers and a great time - we can’t wait to get back out on the road playing shows! Well with a new record we obviously love playing the new songs as they feel more exciting because they’re fresher, but it’s important to have a real mix between the old and the new I think. I’m personally really excited to tour because now we’ll have a pretty substantial back catalogue to craft a set from so we’ll really think about it and make something very special for our audiences.

AM:  What’s your favorite way to pass time on the road?

MVG: I’d have to say having a few beers, listening to or playing music and then watching The Office. We’re all such good friends we tend to do all of these things together rather than go in our own separate ways.

AM: James has mentioned Bruce Springsteen as a musical influence, but who are some of your other musical influences?

MVG: We have a few to be honest. To give a selection I’d have to say Kings of Leon, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Placebo, Oasis, Ryan Adams - we like a lot!

AM: Do you draw songwriting inspiration from any other mediums (i.e films, art, etc..)?

MVG: For sure. I know that James takes a lot of inspiration in his lyrics from the author Charles Bukowski - for his straight up and uncompromising approach to writing literature. It’s never wrapped in metaphor, it’s honest and straightforward, which is something that seems to chime with the way James writes songs.

Video for "Trigger" from the upcoming album 

AM: What other bands and artists are you listening to at the moment?

MVG: We all listen to quite a varied mix but for me personally I can’t stop listening to anything Mark Kozelek does. I’m also hammering the new Nine Inch Nails EP but as well as that the new Strand of Oaks song “Radio Kids” is one of the finest from last year,  and of course the new Ryan Adams stuff sounds incredible. I also absolutely love this band called Pinegrove, give them a listen!

AM: Have you guys got any New Year's resolutions for 2017?

MVG: Just to get out and play as many shows as possible, to as many people as possible. To be a proper touring band again and to have a hell of a lot of fun.

Deaf Havana will tour the UK and Europe from February- April of this year. Check out the dates and grab tickets here.  You can also pre-order the album on iTunes and instantly get the tracks “Trigger,” “St. Paul’s,” “Sing,” and “Cassiopeia.”  You can also grab the physical album here.  

Lastly get ready for the release by watching the video for "Sing."