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Get To Know: The Aces

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

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

Photo By Alexander Bortz

Photo By Alexander Bortz

They've Been Making Music For Over 10 Years

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

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

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

Their Influences Range from Queen to The 1975

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

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

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

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

They Deliver Music The Same Way They Consume It

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

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

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

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

They're All About Leading By Action

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

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

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

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

Some Of Their Random Slang Inspires Their Songs

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

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

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

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

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


The Aces at HOB Chicago with COIN


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

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

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A Chat With: Oil Boom

In just over a week, Dallas's Oil Boom will release their new album, Terribility via Dreamy Life Records. Leading up to the October 20th release date, the group unleashed the album's lead single "Earful"....which is a total earful of goodness that emulates the sound of some of your favorite rock bands; think a hybrid of The Black Keys, Silversun Pickups and a dash of Beck. To celebrate the new music, we talked to vocalist and guitarist of the group, Ryan Taylor. In our Q&A, Taylor hilariously talks about the creative process behind the new album, the long and winding backstory of the band's origin, their favorite new artists, and even some personal milestones. If you want to know what part Chili's menus, bongos, and Craigslist played in the band's history and songwriting style, then tune in below and get to know Oil Boom!

Photo Courtesy of Oil Boom

Photo Courtesy of Oil Boom

ANCHR Magazine: When did you all start making music individually, and what brought you all together eventually?

Ryan Taylor: It’d probably take a Ken Burns length miniseries to accurately map out our weird band trajectory. But suffice it to say, it’s been a long and at times, hilarious chronology. Our situation is a bit unique in that none of us (save Zach, our new guitar player) are from Texas originally. I’m from Oklahoma City, Dugan is from St. Louis area, and Steve is from Lodi, California (zinfandel capital of the US). Dugan and I first met through Craigslist at the start of 2010. Yes, you read that correctly. Craigslist. In the "Musicians Wanted" section or "Casual Encounters", who can say really? When the group started it was just guitar and drums and we had another dude Brian that just sang. But Brian left after our first EP, at which point we enlisted Steve to play bass and I took over the vocal duties. It’s more or less been the same since about a year and a half ago when we added another guitar, first with Jordan Richardson (who engineered our album) and then Zach, starting in September of last year. You could also say FATE brought us together. And by FATE, I’m referring of course to Foghat Appreciation Team Exercises.

AM: What was the process like for writing and recording your new album Terribility?

RT: This is the longest amount of time we’ve ever spent recording an album, but that’s almost misleading, since it was spread out over basically three different periods of time, so just the amount of time involved was notable I guess... and boy I just used the word time a lot. We also tried a few new things in terms of the writing and “fleshing out of the songs.” Everyone was given a pair of bongos and a notecard and asked to come to practice with at least one hummable melody.

AM: How does Terribility differ from your last album Red Metal, in terms of songwriting and sonic structure? 

RT: I wouldn’t say it’s been all that much different of an approach. There are definitely some heavier songs on this album, which is a little bit of departure from our previous releases. Our engineer, the aforementioned Jordan Richardson, did a great job at pointing us in different directions if we landed on a particularly cool sound by accident. Just as an example, at some point during the recording, Steve purchased an 80's BC Rich Warlock bass and its tone proved to be particularly inspiring. We used it on a track called “By Degrees” and it definitely changed the whole framework of the song. Maybe not for the better, but it changed it.

AM: Where did you find yourselves drawing musical and nonmusical influences from for the newer songs? 

RT: We drew upon a lot of musical influences for this album, but I would argue that it was actually the non-musical influences that were more important. A Chili’s menu, a Facebook advertisement for Ninja Dating, a piece of gum stuck to another piece of gum. That sort of stuff is what fueled our obsession with Terribility. 

AM: What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned about each other and yourselves in your years of being in a band?

RT: That’s a really great question. I’d say we’ve learned how to hold each other accountable without completely being overbearing assholes about it, or at least, this week we have anyways. I think most people tend to view bands as some sort of non-stop beer-fueled concert party train that doesn’t have to adhere to the structure/demands imposed by other non-creative pursuits, when the reality is, it’s no different than any other office environment. You’re going to have moments that make communication next to impossible, but you just have to fight through that in order to get things done. We all make each other mad because that’s what humans do when confined in close spaces for long periods of time, but we also love each other and root for each other and laugh at each other’s bad jokes and bad haircuts. 

AM: What are some of the best kept secrets of the Dallas music scene? Any bands or venues we should all know about? 

RT: There are so many rad bands in Dallas/Ft. Worth, I can’t even start naming them or I’ll never stop. That might seem like a copout and it totally is, but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night without the fear of some misguided local musician hurling a Squier Stratocaster through my window.

In terms of venues, there is a new one in Ft. Worth called MASS that Steve, our bass player, is part owner of. It’s a great venue that genuinely caters to musicians. And not just as an afterthought. They actually have a spot for you to load in your gear! It seems like there are fewer and fewer of those places around anymore. And in no way was I forced to write any of this.

Maybe the best-kept secret just in general is that Dallas is not Austin, but Austin is really close, so you can have it both ways or your way or whatever that Burger Hut slogan is.

We all make each other mad because that’s what humans do when confined in close spaces for long periods of time, but we also love each other and root for each other and laugh at each other’s bad jokes and bad haircuts.
— Ryan Taylor on the band's dynamic

AM: What are some of your favorite songs and albums of the year so far?

RT: The World’s Greatest American Band by White Reaper and Need To Feel Your Love by Sheer Mag are two incredibly good rock albums that came out this year. We all seem to be into those and feel some kinship with those groups because you can tell they also have probably listened to “The Boys Are Back In Town” probably more times than Thin Lizzy has. 

For a song, let’s go with “Get In My Car” by BRONCHO.  

AM: You’ve got a few Texas concerts coming up, but any plans for a tour once the record is out? 

RT: Yes indeed! We’ll be out there in a non-descript white rental van in front of various American Waffle Houses/Guitar Centers at some point in the very near future. Stay tuned! 

AM: You’ve had your music in some pretty big name films and TV shows. If you could have another song placed in any TV show, which show would you pick and why? 

RT: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure how feasible it is, but I would be majorly stoked to have one of our songs in Master of None or Atlanta. The music supervision on those shows is incredible.

I’ll approach this from another angle though; what show in history we would like to have our music featured in? If that was possible, I’d have to say ALF would be a top contender. I imagine a plot line in which ALF eats what he thinks is the Tanner family cat but what is actually a stuffed animal decoy. Slowly he realizes he’s been duped so he tricks the Tanners by pretending he’s been paralyzed by eating the decoy. Gradually, the Tanners figure out he’s faking and at the end, over one of our songs, Willy explains that deceiving people is wrong, even if you were deceived first. ALF owns up to his mistake and promises never to eat another cat, real or fake. The last thing you hear before the credits though is young Brian Tanner asking from the hallway, “Hey, has anyone seen the cat?” Was that too specific?

AM: What else are you looking forward to this year besides the new record?

RT: I just had a daughter so I’m pretty pumped about that, mainly because, I finally have someone to indoctrinate with Thin Lizzy lyrics and ZZ Top inside jokes. She was born on Madonna’s birthday though, which means she’ll probably have a Madonna phase at some point, and Madonna will be 75 by then and it will just be weird for all of us.

Other than that, we’re just looking forward to still being able to play music at this age. Collectively, we’re 144. That’s older than Madonna!


Pre-Order Terribility here and keep up with the latest updates by giving Oil Boom's Facebook Page a like. 

Slum Sociable's Melbourne Mood Boosting Guide

Melbourne based duo Edward Quinn and Miller Upchurch of Slum Sociable are on the brink of releasing their self-titled LP on November 24th. Dripping with melancholy, the twelve mellow and textured tracks blend together elements of electronic and indie music. To celebrate the release, the pair put together a guide to some of their favorite places to go to boost their mood. While you await the new album, check out Slum Sociable's mood-boosting guide to Melbourne. 

Photo Courtesy of Slum Sociable

Photo Courtesy of Slum Sociable


Vinyl Solution, Cheltenham

I grew up going to Vinyl Solution every weekend and crate-digging through everyone from Can to Miles Davis. It’s still my go-to store for vinyl in Melbourne. Owner Glen has an inimitable knowledge twice the size of this vinyl collection about so much great music and will be more than happy to lend a helping hand if you’re struggling for inspiration. 

Prudence, North Melbourne

I’m going to go on record here and say that Prudence is Melbourne’s best bar. It’s got a really nice, relaxed crowd and spins vinyl well into the early morning. We first discussed the recording of our debut album with producer Russell Fawcuss at Prudence, so it holds a dear place in our heart. If you’re hitting a wall in the studio, having a beer at Prudence is a nice way to replenish your creativity. 


Howler Bar, Brunswick

Howler’s my favorite place to go and check out live music. I caught Whitney there earlier this year and truly agree with them when they say that Howler is one of their top three favorite venues in the world. Acts that are quite established overseas and are about to break here usually play Howler before they come back and play far bigger shows, so it’s pretty motivating to catch them in an intimate setting. 

Fairhaven Beach, Fairhaven

We really enjoy getting away from the city and heading down the coast for writing sessions, especially at the start of Slum Sociable. I’m not going to be pretentious and insinuate that the air down there brings out a special lil something, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I guess it’s a lot easier to turn your phone off and really concentrate on what you want to achieve when the reception is terrible, and that’s exactly what we do in Fairhaven. 

Found Sound, Carlton

If you’re lacking inspiration, sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself to a new toy. Found Sound is great for second hand music gear that’s been restored back to impeccable quality. The staff know a heap about what you’re looking for too, and if they don’t have it, they can usually point you in the right direction.


Preorder the self-titled album from Slum Sociable here, and keep up with them on social media.

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A Chat With: Lola Marsh

Israeli duo Gil Landau and Yael Shoshana Cohen of Lola Marsh have just released their debut album Remember Roses on June 9th, and they'll soon be touring in America, bringing the new songs to life on the stage. The album contains a wide range of layered, dreamy indie tunes combining Cohen's lush vocals with retro vibes and addicting melodies. Prior to their show in Chicago on June 29th, we chatted with the pair about the music scene in Tel Aviv, their upcoming tour, their party playlists and more. Get to know them now in our chat with Lola Marsh. 


Photo Courtesy of Lola Marsh

Photo Courtesy of Lola Marsh


ANCHR Magazine: Your debut album is out now! What can you tell us about the writing and recording process behind it?

Lola Marsh: Well it was a long journey. The process of recording the album, for us, brought about so many mixed feelings. It was exciting, frustrating, emotional, and stressful... and we learned so much along the way. Most of the songs were written a few years ago when we just met each other. Some on the road, and some of them were written actually during the recordings, and the last minute we decided to add them to the album.

AM: Where did you pull inspiration from for the album? Are you mostly inspired by other musical influences, or do you look to other art forms too?

LM: We get inspired by artists such as Elvis Presley, Edith Piaf, the moody blues, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Pink Floyd and many more. We love soundtracks from old and new movies, such as For a Few Dollars More, Star Track, Amelie, and all the Wes Anderson movies.

Also places, people, instruments, and new experiences are inspirations. 

AM: Which of the new songs are you most excited to play live, and have you worked out any new arrangements for the upcoming tour?

LM: A few months ago we added a new keyboard player to the band, and we made a few changes in the arrangements, so actually almost every song has a new part/sound/vibe, we're very happy about it! Also we'll play some new songs that are in the album that have never been played before. 

AM: Are there any cities on this tour that you’re most excited to play in?

LM: This tour is kinda intense! Every day we're performing in a different city in Europe and The States! We're looking forward to all of our shows! It will be our second time in the US, so we are super excited about that! 

AM: What can you tell us about the music scene in Tel Aviv? Any bands that we all need to check out?

LM: The music scene in Tel Aviv is very broad. You have everything! Folk, electronic, hip hop, pop, rock...all combine east and west colors and vibes. We really love an Israeli singer-songwriter named Evyatar Banai, his songs are deep, beautiful, and edgy. Also you should check out Israeli bands like Less Acrobats, Tzlil Danin, and Daniela Spector.

AM: Since you two met at a party, what are some tunes that are a must-have for your party playlist?

LM:  Tunes that are a must-have for our party playlist..hmm

  • Tame impala: "Let It Happen"
  • Electric Guests: "Troubleman"
  • Kanye West: "No Church in the Wild"
  • Temples:  "Move With The Seasons" 
  • Chance The Rapper/ Francis and the Lights:  "May I Have This Dance"

AM: How do you stay entertained on the road? Any new books, podcasts, or shows that you’re into?

LM: Sometimes Gil likes to make new tracks on his laptop. Yaeli likes to document funny moments on the road and sometimes writes a journal. We read books, listen to music, play cards, and watch movies.

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

LM: We're looking forward to our new album Remember Roses! It took us some time to create it and we're thrilled that our fans can finally hold it in their hands


Check out Lola Marsh's debut album Remember Roses below and go see them on tour in a city near you! Chicago, they'll be Schubas on 6/29. Grab tickets here