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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

A Chat With: Native Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jake: Hi I’m Jake—

And you’re watching the Disney Channel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mauricio: Black Midi was super interesting also.

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

Danny: Those were the main ones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexis: We recorded at my house.

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

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

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

Danny: Not yet, hopefully soon!

Alexis: We’ve been doing demos by ourselves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny: Album!

Mauricio: It feels like its time.

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

Danny: Jake’s computer is the vault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny: Where’s that at?

Thalia Hall!

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

Varsity, Rookie and Pool Holograph!

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

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

Mauricio: Yeah they were fucking sick.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny: That’s why we love Chicago!

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

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

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

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

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

Mauricio: I held a knife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danny: He got that oil change.

Jake: My oil has been changed.

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

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

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

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

Get To Know: Liz Cooper & The Stampede

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

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

They Inherited Their Great Music Taste From Their Parents

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

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

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

They're Collaborative With Other Nashville Musicians

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

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

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

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

The New Album Was Recorded In Less Than a Week

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

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

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

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

They Plot Out Their Setlist Carefully

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

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

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

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

They All Have Hidden Talents

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

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

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

Liz Cooper & The Stampede at Audiotree Music Festival

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

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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

Shower Sex, Stripping On Stage, and Sheeran: Catching Up With Barns Courtney at Hangout Festival

Since the release of his single, "Fire," Barns Courtney has been everywhere...touring cross-country, opening for the likes of Fitz and the Tantrums and Tom Odell, playing radio shows and festivals...and he's not stopping any time soon. Released earlier this year, Barns Courtney's The Dull Drums EP combines his distinct vocals with infectious melodies and singalong choruses. His debut full length has been a long time coming, and when we caught up with the singer-songwriter at Hangout Fest last weekend, we talked about the recording process for the debut album, life on the road, what's next for him this year, and more. Get to know more about Barns in this candid interview, featuring a scandalous festival tale from his early days. 

Photo Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

Photo Courtesy of Hangout Music Festival

ANCHR Magazine: What do you consider your first musical memory, when you first got into playing your own music, or really falling in love with music in general.

Barns Courtney: I think just singing with my mom. My mom’s crazy. We'd always put on voices together, put on accents, sing little bits and bobs together, make up parodies.

AM: Any bands that she was into? My mom loved Michael Bolton.

BC: I love that, I love that you’re willing to admit that. She used to play Paul Simon’s Graceland. She did that everyday for a year. There’s a line in that song “my traveling companion is nine years old, he is the child of my first marriage”... which was true, for a year. I was a nine year old child of her first marriage.

AM: So you were born in England, then moved to Seattle...then went back to England. Where do you consider home now?

BC: Seattle for sure. That’s where I spent my formative years. That guy over there, Mikey, is my best friend from when I was in elementary school. All the people that I really love from childhood are in Seattle. And my mom loves there, and my brothers.

AM: Do you consider the traveling around to be a big influence on your songwriting?

BC: I think so. Because the way that I write music is very sporadic and I write in a lot of different genres. I was actually wondering if the album was too all over the place, stylistically. It’s different from the EP. I think it’ll be alright. I think the subject matter and the fact that it’s the same person singing on all the tracks will unify it. But I certainly think that the British Indie scene was a huge influence on me. The American pop punk scene when I was growing up in Seattle was a huge influence. I don’t think in the way that would expect. For instance when it comes to Nirvana, they were a big part of my young life. I just loved their throwaway confessional honesty of Kurt Cobain’s songwriting and lyricism. I love that he can fill an entire chorus with some balls and one word, like “Lithium” where he just sings “yeah” again and again and it sounds so good. That’s just inspired me to write music that’s an honest as possible. It’s more about the passion for me and the feel when I write a record than it is about the musicality. Which could be both a good and a bad thing.

AM: I think it’s always better to have passion than be perfectly technical.

BC: But I do love technical bands. I love bands like The Strokes where the guitar weaves so effortlessly with the bass and they have these little lovely intricate parts. I want to explore that on my next record. This one is very basic....basic chords, basic drum beats.

AM: Is the album done then?

BC: It’s done. It’s been done for a while.

AM: Is their a targeted release date?

BC: I think they want to go for around September, I’m not sure though. I just gotta keep my head down and keep writing songs because eventually something’s gotta give. 

AM: What else can you tell me about the album, like where’d you record it?

BC: It’s been a mad rush. I wasn’t expecting my first single “Fire” to be a single. I wrote this song. I was working in a computer store. Before I knew it I was getting calls from my buddy who had showed it to an agent who was a friend of his, and it just like spread around the industry like wildfire. I was signed before I knew it. And then it was in a movie. Then KNND [107.7 The End] in Seattle were playing it. They were playing it before my label even knew who I was. They were getting calls like this Barns Courtney guy, is he yours? And they’re like I don't know who this guy is. I’ve been on the road solidly since that tune picked up. A lot of the album was recorded on the road. My friend Sam from my last band, who’s like a mad genius. He does this project called Look Mum, No Computer where he makes like synthesizers out of bicycles. I took him on the road, we recorded backstage at festivals, in the car, in hotel rooms. Occasionally, like for the next single, we stopped off in a studio on the road in between promo and gigs. There’s definitely like a sense of urgency with the album. 

There’s just this tremendous sense of togetherness, and it’s not even about being a spectacle or having the attention or the adoration. It is about the fantastic ability to be a part of something together with other people around you.
— Barns on the thrill of performing

AM: So your set yesterday was great--

BC: It was an interesting set. I was not expecting to get naked.

AM:  Wow, I missed that! I saw the first half of the set, but then went to MGMT.

BC: It got progressively more and more intense.

AM: Well, I was going to say you seem to give 110% at every performance, so how do you refuel yourself on tour when you give so much during each performance? 

BC: I just love being onstage. I love that unspoken connection between the audience and myself. I think all anybody wants to life, ultimately... is connect. When you’re up there, you’re all singing and dancing, hearts beating in unison. Glory Hallelujah. There’s just this tremendous sense of togetherness, and it’s not even about being a spectacle or having the attention or the adoration. It is about the fantastic ability to be a part of something together with other people around you. You come offstage and people want to continue that, they want to talk to you and continue that feeling. The sad thing is, as soon as you leave the stage and the audience, you become two strangers again. There isn’t that magical feeling of togetherness anymore. And that’s what really fuels all my performances. I love that. It’s cathartic and it’s meditative. I’m plugged into something bigger than myself. Really the only times where I don’t do that are when I’m too caught up in my own head or too self conscious. It is the most giving and energizing thing that I personally can experience. It provides me with my force, as opposed to the other way around.

AM: So since we're at a festival, do you have any crazy festival stories?

BC: Whenever people ask me these questions, I know in my mind somewhere there’s something, but I have to think of exactly what it is. I’ve done some messed up stuff at festivals. I remember once, I grew up in the same rough area as Ed Sheeran. So he would come to gigs in this place called the Steam Boat Tavern because they do little clubs shows in there. We played to like 10 people...[Ed] was always a phenomenal performer. I took my first band to see him at this little place, and I introduced was a big deal. I said ‘"Hey this is Ed,’" you know, he’s phenomenal, he’s gonna do great things one day. Bass player walks straight up to him, bites him as hard as he can on the shoulder. Draws blood. Ed starts freaking out, walks off. I don’t see him again for like two years. At this point we’re both playing this festival called Wakestock. Ed’s started to gain traction. He’s playing to a tent of like 5,000 people. I see him backstage, he’s like "Hey what’s up Barns." I’m like "Dude, it’s so nice to see you, I'm so sorry about that thing last time--" Mid sentence, bass player appears out of nowhere, bites him on the shoulder again. Bleeding! He’s like oh my god....goes off. He has to do his set.  Then later that night, we went to a roller skating rink. This is where Ed leaves the story.  We’ve all got roller skates on, and I was so drunk, me and the band, we just left this roller rink with the skates on. We’re trying drunkenly to get back to the van on roller skates through a muddy field. I meet this girl. She starts chewing my face off and she’s obviously on ecstasy, and I realize halfway through, the water that she gave me, is just full of drugs. New Found Glory is playing, we’re like going at- I mean like, Tyrannosaurus Rex going at each other’s faces. Like, it’s not pretty. All the music stops, and we look up and New Found Glory is looking at us, and they say, "I didn’t realize that our music was romantic, but fuck, you guys are really macking on each other!" No word of a lie, everyone is looking at us. We end up backstage in the shower room. Next thing I know this girl and I are getting intimate, I’ve still got my roller skates on. I’m soaking wet. It’s freezing cold, I’m wet through, making sweet love to this girl in a pair of roller skates. I’m shivering my ass off, and the two of us climb into this van. I look behind me, the bass player that just bit Ed Sheeran is making out with this girl that I literally just got with.

AM: That is crazy, I don’t even think you can make that up. So, still on the subject of festivals, you’ve got Lolla coming up, is there anything else you’re really looking forward to? Hopefully nothing as crazy as that festival story! 

BC: I hate having relations with women wearing roller skates. I hope that never happens again. It’s awkward. It doesn’t work.

AM: Would that be your festival "don’t?"?

BC: Do not have sex wearing roller skates. Especially when it’s freezing outside.

AM: Do you have a "do" in relation to that?

BC: A sexual do? Ecstasy is a glorious drug to make love on. You just wanna love everyone. You just wanna touch everyone. I remember being with this girl, and I just sat on my bed and I just looked at her for four hours. It was phenomenal. Just gazing deep within each other’s souls. Then when we finally got around to it, it was just this incredible, visceral experience. Must try that. I insist upon it. It’s got the Barnsy seal of approval.

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

BC: I just love playing festivals. I love playing gigs. Hangout Festival was so much fun. The crowd were just so present. When they told me to take my clothes off, I took my shirt off. They just kept asking. I basically made a deal with them. I was like look, if you guys go fucking crazy, I’ll take the rest of my clothes off. It was the end of the set, I brought two girls up on stage to be my hype ladies. I made a big ceremony, I got a drum beat going. I got the crowd chanting "take it off!"

AM: Wow, I included you in my highlights, but I think I need to revise it to include you getting naked. 

BC: I think Hangout put it on their snapchat. They said “He Did: That" and “Barns Courtney: No Shirt No Problem." 

AM: So moving on from being naked, are there any bands you’re really into at the moment?

BC: Yeah, Bishop Briggs. Phenomenal. I’ve seen her at a couple of festivals. Really into Band Of Skulls. Fidlar. Temples' new album is sick. Harry Styles’ new single is amazing! It's like Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. I don’t care about One Direction. Objectively, those are great pop songs. They’re not for me. They’re for teenage girls, but all music has its place. I would never discredit that. His new record is very credible, and very well done. The production is great. Nobody’s lyrics are ever gonna touch Bowie, but the lyrics are solid. They’re not teeny bopper One Direction lyrics. This is like when Justin Timberlake went to do a solo thing, but even more dramatic of a change. 

AM: Any last shout outs or advice? 

BC: Shout out to my mom. Shout out to my buddies The Struts. I saw them in LA recently, they’re gentlemen. Shout out to my friend, my lover, my coproducer, Look Mum No Computer...his shit’s amazing.

Chicago, Barns will be in town this August for Lollapalooza. You can check out all of his tour dates here, and listen to his full EP below.