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Self-Reflecting With Harvey Fox

In any circumstances, but especially within the creative industry, it’s often too easy to ignore the signs of your own body and mind telling you that you need a break; You’re conditioned to keep going, to continue pushing out content and keep performing. There was a point in time when Colin Fox of Chicago band Harvey Fox came face to face with this exact struggle, and he ultimately decided to trust his intuition and be honest with those around him about taking some time off from his passion project. “I realized that I just wasn’t enjoying anything about the band. I wasn’t enjoying anything about making music or performing or going out and talking to people. It was all like a chore for me,” Fox recalls, telling me about about his change of heart and battle with social anxiety over a cup of coffee last month. The epiphany occurred right after the band played a packed Lincoln Hall show last year, and it led Fox to post on social media about his current struggles with certain aspects of being a musician. “I just made a post about this and was like I’m mentally not in a good space, I’m not having a good time, and I need a break from this to reassess and find a way that I can make a more sustainable life. You have to be careful how much energy you invest and you have to be mindful of your state and when you’re working on something that hard.”

As it turns out, Fox says his break from the band allowed for him to approach their sophomore effort with a refreshed outlook and clean slate, but he does also admit that the whole process had its ups and downs. “The album gets a little meta… There’s a lot of songs about the struggles that [I’m experiencing] and then I’m struggling to finish the record. So it’s real cyclical,” he says. Most importantly though, the second album from Harvey Fox, called Lullabies for the Restless, signifies growth and introspection for the band, and Fox’s ability to call out his own struggles in a self-reflecting manner is maybe one of the biggest changes between this record and the band’s debut.

Photo By Edgar J. Lomeli

Photo By Edgar J. Lomeli

Harvey Fox’s current-day, four-man lineup consists of friends that Fox made as far back as middle school— 14 years ago. The first being the band’s keyboard and synth player, Drake Morey. “We met in middle school. I transferred to a new school. It was a private Christian school and I was not so into it. Drake was into Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and he was one of my first friends at the new school. I went over to his house and he just had like hundreds of recordings of electronic music that he made,” Fox recalls. In a way, Morey served as Fox’s musical guru, introducing him to classic rock music and the recording arts. After dabbling in making music with Morey, Fox eventually met bassist Tom Garvey at a White Elephant party, where Garvey received Fox’s gift of a monkey carved out of a coconut. “Then I found out that he liked Radiohead and we’ve been friends ever since,” Fox added. Eventually, Fox also connected with drummer Dario Velazquez in high school when they both joined the lacrosse team. “ I saw him play drums in the school band and he was amazing,” Fox says. “We started playing garage rock in Dario’s garage ten years ago. Just Tom, Dario and I. Then it grew larger, Drake joined. We had a ten piece band in high school...we were just trying to be Arcade Fire. We wanted to make the kind of music that inspired us to make music in the first place.”

The long-term friendship between all four band members meant they definitely had a similar goal in mind and connected through their influences, but Fox says, “When I listen back to the [first] record today, it sounds like two different records, there’s side A and side B. Side A is definitely more of the reckless side, like garage party music stuff we were doing before. Whereas the second half is much more self reflective and contemplative side. I think when you work on something long enough you just have to take a serious look at yourself. It seemed like a lot of that first record was done as a joke. They’re silly songs, joking songs.”

Nowadays, in addition to the more direct, cohesive theme of introspection Fox wanted their sophomore album to have, he also approached some of the songwriting with very specific intentions. For example, the lead single “Pictures of Herself” stemmed from one of Fox’s personal relationships, as well as his self-proclaimed love/hate relationship with Lana Del Rey. When he started to work on the debut single for Lullabies for the Restless, Fox said he had just listened to a Lana Del Rey B-side called “Never Let Me Know.” “I kind of dig her, but also it’s hard not to scoff at everything she does. That song ‘Never Let Me Go,’ I just felt like so irritated by it, so the first line of [‘Pictures of Herself’] is ‘She never says don’t let me go because she thinks I won’t.’ The idea of this was to make like an antithesis of a Lana Del Rey song. It was me responding to a Lana Del Rey Tumblr singer.” Fox says after the initial idea fell into place, the song took a very long time to piece together, mostly because it involved a storyline about current events in his life— sometimes events that hadn’t fully played out yet. “I wrote the first verse and then I didn’t know what to do, then I wrote the second verse, then once I had those two pieces I was like how do I merge these together? Part of this album is it’s written in the moment… it’s all very in the moment. A lot of these songs are hard to finish because I don’t know the end of the story. I’m living this story.” For the second part of the single, Fox says he was scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of his ex-girlfriend. "I saw a picture of her and that feeling of seeing somebody moved on with their life, while you’re just kind of stuck in your own anxiety and depression, that’s the feeling that I was capturing. With this song it’s like the first verse is attacking and antagonizing, then the second verse turns the mirror back on myself. Like you’re judging someone for taking pictures of themselves while you’re looking at the pictures and being annoyed and angry. It’s like you obviously have some of your own ego and headspace that you need to work on.” As for the final verse of the song, Fox leaves that one open-ended, saying that he prefers to keep a little bit to the imagination and allow listeners to have their own interpretations.

Along with a more thorough approach to the songwriting for this record, the band also stepped up their game with their recording process. “We met with a couple of different producers and there was one guy Caleb Harris, he runs SonWaves Studio out of his basement. I was at a party and I had heard one of the songs that he produced. I was like wow this sounds amazing, and I was telling him I wanted to make a lo-fi garage album. He was like ‘Well, go do it yourself then. If you want to make a lo-fi album, you’re not gonna do it with me. If you want to make something sound good, then record it with me.’ So he just like instantly started fighting with me,” Fox says, adding “That’s how I like to work with people. I like to butt heads!” Working with a seasoned producer with a strong vision not only allowed the band to challenge themselves as artists, but it also allowed for the band to take their time and work at a natural pace. In order to even afford recording in the studio, the band had to space out their sessions, and that lent to a more natural, fleshed out recording process that lasted for more than a year. “We recorded everything live initially with [Harris] in the basement studio, then did overdubs with him,” Fox says. “Then Drake and I recorded a lot of the synths and guitars and everything outside of the studio.” As a day job, Fox happens to work in the recording studio inside Hanover Park Library, which turned out to be very handy when recording the finishing touches on their own. “I recorded a bunch of cello and flute with one of the guys from our high school band. I also recorded our vocals in the library because there’s a soundproof booth.I work in the library all week and then on my days off I would come into the library and record.” Other finishing touches include sounds of trains, whispers, and random synth sounds Morey recorded on his phone. “We just combined that in a bunch of ways to make it sound cohesive. It was a very slow, organic process which I was very happy with,” Fox says.

Overall, Fox says that his hiatus and the steady pace of this record completely made the project more enjoyable, and produced something that he can be proud of. “After that [Lincoln Hall] show, I took a four month break from playing music. I didn’t even touch a guitar, and when I came back to it, I had a whole new life. I was able to finish the record, I was able to finish the title track of the album, the very last track on the record. It sort of serves as an epilogue to everything, and I had enough gear and experience from working as an audio engineer at that point to be able to not have to go to the studio, but to record it myself. The direction of the record after that time took a much more organic feel, and I think that if I would have stuck to my previous headspace and mindset, not only would I have totally burnt out, it would have been a much more angry and rigid record. As opposed to blossoming into this more much more positive and organic thing.”

The record Lullabies for the Restless will be released in October via Midwest Action, along with a record release show at Sleeping Village on Sunday, October 20th. Get your tickets here and keep up with Harvey Fox on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Chat With: BANNERS

Liverpool bred singer-songwriter and musician Michael Joseph Nelson, AKA BANNERS, boasts an impressively dynamic catalog. From sweeping, cinematic choruses, addictive melodies, and goosebump-inducing falsettos, his music carries it all. Music has been a huge part of Nelson's life for a long time, from his musically-inclined family to his participation in the Liverpool Cathedral Choir, his work as BANNERS has been a long time coming. We recently caught up with the life-long musician to chat about his latest EP Empires On Fire, his writing process, his upcoming appearances at some major festivals, and what else we can expect from him this year. Keep reading and get to know BANNERS now!

Photo courtesy of BANNERS

Photo courtesy of BANNERS

ANCHR Magazine: As I understand it, you come from a musical family and your dad has even worked with Coldplay! What was your first memory of wanting to play music yourself when you were younger?

BANNERS: I don’t ever remember it being a decision really. Just something I was always going to do. That sounds like a cliche but I think that’s how it works. There’s so many ups and downs to a career in music that I think you need that certainty, the lows would be unbearable otherwise. I grew up with music everywhere, my mum plays loads of instruments, my Dad is a record producer and I sang in choirs from a really young age. Music just gets in you until it’s just the thing you do. I remember going to see my Dad in the studio and him showing me how the desk worked, how you could isolate a vocal or bring a guitar up in a mix and it totally blowing my mind. I’ve always been fascinated by recording studios. The idea of spending a day recording and by the end of the day a thing that didn’t exist before now does. I always thought that was magical. Still do!

AM: Can you talk a little bit about the writing and recording process for your Empires on Fire EP? Do you have any specific musical or non-musical influences that you saw pull through in your writing for this project, or that you felt inspired the songs?

BANNERS: Well the different parts came together over quite a long period of time. The title track “Empires on Fire” has been done for about a year and a half. Which has been good because in that time I’ve been able to play it live and test it out on audiences. You really start to get a good understanding of the song that way I think. Then when it comes to mixing it you’ve got a much clearer vision of how it should sound. I really like that song so i’m really happy that people can finally hear it! I wrote “Someone to You” with a friend of mine called Sam Hollander. I’d been in LA doing a month of writing sessions with people. The session with Sam was the very last session before I flew back to Toronto and we wrote the best song of the whole lot. It’s always a massive relief when you get something good. Writing can be so hit and miss and when you’ve got a record label waiting to hear new songs there’s a lot of pressure.

AM: You’re from Liverpool, but currently live in Toronto, right? What are some of your favorite aspects of each city, and do you think both locations have influenced your songwriting and sound in a way?

BANNERS: Yeah I live in Toronto but Liverpool will always be home. Liverpool is a city with a real sense of itself, of it’s own identity. It’s confident and defiant. It has that mix of people and cultures that only port cities can really have. I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else in the world. And of course that informs you’re writing. Loads of my songs are about the sea! Really, your influences are a culmination of every experience you’ve ever had and nearly all of my life so far was spent in Liverpool. Toronto is great too and I’m so fortunate to have ended up here. It’s been so supportive of me and my music. Canadians are naturally quite self deprecating so they’d never admit it but Toronto has a claim to be one of the great music cities in North America, there’s so much great music being made here by so many talented people that it can’t help but rub off on you.

AM: In general do you have any sort of rituals or habits that you use to get into a songwriting flow?

BANNERS: I think it’s just a case of doing it regularly. It’s like a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it becomes. If you take a break from it, like if you go on tour or something, when you get back you feel really rusty. I like writing with other people that I trust and being totally open to their input. It’s easy to get stuck in your own little rut with songwriting so writing with other people keeps things fresh.

AM: I hear you’re big into football/soccer! Any other hobbies or interests of yours that your fans might be surprised about?

BANNERS: Liverpool Football Club are my darlings. I spend too much time agonising over those lads. Honestly their ability to shape how I feel for an entire week after a match is horrifying. I read a lot (god, so pretentious). Music is one of those professions where it can be really hard to give your brain a break. I suppose all creative endeavours are like that. You’re always thinking of melodies or lyrics, or stressing over a release or whatever, so I find reading a really good way to relax. I just finished “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac for the millionth time so I’m not sure what to start next. 1984 might be a good fit for the Orwellian nightmare we all seem to be inhabiting.

AM: Who are some of your favorite up and coming bands at the moment, or albums that you’ve had on repeat lately?

BANNERS: I’m heading out on tour soon and I’ve invested some money in some stage production stuff. I’ve spent the last few months programming lights so i’ve been watching a lot of live sets for inspiration. These are in no way up and coming but I’ve been watching a lot of Bon Iver live, there’s one gig on Youtube (I think it’s in Cork in Ireland if anyone wants to check it out) that I’ve honestly watched every day for the last month). I’ve been listening to The National a lot recently I’m a bit late to the party but I’ve really gotten into War on Drugs. The band, not the disastrous foreign policy.

AM: This year you’ll be performing at Firefly Festival and Hangout Fest, and the lineups are insane! Are you already planning any special surprises for your sets at the festivals?

BANNERS: Haha! Surprises? Like what? No, I’m just going to try to play my songs to the best of my ability. Maybe that’s a surprise. It doesn’t bode well for my general reputation if it is!

AM: Who else on the Firefly and Hangout lineups are you hoping you get the chance to watch?

BANNERS: I’m looking forward to seeing Arctic Monkeys, I believe they haven’t played live since 2014 so it’d be good to see what those lads have been up to. Man, I love festivals. They’re so much fun to play and then you get to hang out with loads of people that really like music. They’re a great opportunity to watch how other singers do it, how they act on stage and how other bands put their shows together. And then steal all the best ideas and pretend you came up with them!

AM: Besides the festivals, what are your tour plans this year?

BANNERS: I’ll be touring North America in the spring and then I’ll be announcing more stuff throughout the year.

AM: Any other goals for 2018?

BANNERS: Oh man, I just want to get to the end of it without the world imploding. Honestly I just want to get better and singing and playing and writing. Hopefully release a bunch more music and play live to a load more people!

Keep up with BANNERS on social media and listen to Empires on Fire in full below!

Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

A Track by Track with Tenderfoot

Yesterday, the bi-coastal four piece, Tenderfoot, who hail from Seattle and Brooklyn, put out their debut full length record. In celebration of their dream-folk album Break Apart, lead vocalist Adam Kendall Woods put together a track by track, detailing the story and process behind each song on the record. Hit play on each track and read what Woods has to say about them all below!

Photo By Noah Fecks

Photo By Noah Fecks

Break Apart

Break Apart starts with a heart-beating pulse of keys. Originally a quiet, slow song I penned quickly in a moment of emotional upheaval, Break Apart was fleshed out over a few months and eventually speeds up in the outro. This song is the cornerstone of the album. I think a song is “good” when it teaches you something about yourself while creating it. What started out as a break-up song became a slow realization that to ‘break apart’ is what we all do. It’s what will happen to every single bond, thought, job, relationship, joy, and part of your body. Life becomes one long hello blurring into one long goodbye. And that’s how the song ends, with the repetition of the word “goodbye”. We thought it was important to start the album with a song that succinctly said, “Hello, I am here, I am feeling pain after so much pleasure, and so are you, now it is time to say goodbye”. The rest of the album fleshes out this experience in more detail.

32 Years

I wrote this song a week before my 32nd birthday. The song is about the slow road to getting to know yourself, and looking back at the touchstones that changed you while acknowledging that “the sculpture of your face has changed”. As a queer man, I was very buttoned-up and conservative in love and pleasure in my twenties. After I turned 30, my feelings towards sex and love and abundance started to open up for the better. I was more experimental with my relationships, but still nostalgic for my past. I think that’s part of life: hovering over all of your past selves and feeling everything over and over. Being haunted by those feelings. Having the desire to reach down and move the selves of your past around for the better, while also trying to be “perfect” in your current life. I am slowly learning to let go and allow myself to be a vessel for what the universe has to offer, and know wholeheartedly that’s it’s a lot more than you think you deserve. The song ends in that realization of abundance, a release from the militaristic drum beat pervasive since the song’s beginning.

Give It A Rest

When I lived on the road for a year with my partner, we were traveling in a VW Rabbit pickup truck. Though adorable, and great on gas, it was over 30 years old and prone to break-downs and overheating. We would know there was about to be a problem because the air would get hot in the cab, and the gas pedal would push back against your foot. We were towing a vintage camper trailer behind us, and our truck really wasn’t keen on that. So, we would pull over on the side of the road and give it a rest. As my partner and I’s relationship started to deteriorate towards the end of our trip, it became clear to me the truck was a metaphor for us. In San Francisco, we decided to part ways and he headed back to our old home of Ann Arbor, MI. I kept the truck in the city for a while, but as most folks know, that city literally eats vehicles for breakfast, and I had to let it go. A few years later, I got to further explore the extended metaphor of the truck through this song. Give It A Rest rolls along in a repetitive and entwined way, with the drums building the mountain roads we travelled over. The keys are restrained here and offer little solace. Darcey Zoller’s cello really cuts in this song, becomes an emotional knife, and a second voice for me to tangle with. We worked on how our parts would interact for many sessions, looking to some of the obsessive tangles Philip Glass composed for strings in The Hours for inspiration.

Getting There

Getting There started as a stoned collaboration between myself and Gabriel Molinaro, our keyboard player. I asked him if he had ever listened to Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” and he had not. We listened to it together in our practice space and then started composing a melody inspired by the electronic flute pieces that flutter in and out in a repetitive and clinical way. From there we jammed and created all sorts of interlocking melodies that we gave to Darcey for inspiration for her cello pieces. It all came alive when Jude brought in her thunderous drums. Her intuition for rhythm is impeccable, and once we had that backbone to stick things to, everything fell into place. But what the fuck was it? We had never written a song like this before. We expanded it, we tailored it, we ran it over and over again. The song is a soaring landscape, an experimental and jazzy piece, with rivers of cello that flow in and out. After the piece was composed, I wrote a short abstract poem based on the work of multimedia artist Erin Frost and laid it over the song. This is my favorite piece to play live, because we all have to watch each other intensely for our dynamic cues. I usually end up with my back fully to the stage, since I don’t have much to sing, and it feels like we’re in our practice space, just with people watching.

Semiprecious Life

A few years ago I lived in an apartment above Eric Anderson, better known as Cataldo. He had a big house party one night and invited me down to have a few drinks. After a couple beers and some intense conversations, I started to have an existential moment that I needed to document immediately. I pulled out my journal and wrote more than half of the lyrics to Semiprecious Life right there in his house. “The salt in your wound, it feels so good” pretty much summed up my life back then. I live with depression and anxiety, and back then I didn’t address it. I take medication now and have an awesome therapist, but back then I would dwell on the saddest moments of life in a very intense way. I wouldn’t leave my room for days at a time. Those days can sometimes be great for songwriting, but when they stack up to you not being able to live your life, it’s time to get some help. I did, and I’m here. This song is about dealing with those moments of extreme depression. The atmospheric textures in this song were pulled from the bleed of construction noises during our recording session. Our engineer and producer Aaron Schroeder weaved them in instead of trying to mask them, or re-record. We wanted to document Seattle’s changing landscape, one marked mostly by new condo and apartment developments demolishing and pushing out older homes and businesses. Aaron’s studio is now a posh bar that caters to Seattle’s newest residents.


PALMS started out as a fun band jam to bliss out to between practicing more narrative material. We'd been listening to a lot of Lower Dens and loved how Jana's band would take a jam to an almost meditative place. Jude, our drummer, comes from a punk and garage rock background, and really led the charge on this one. After we felt we had some solid garage-y repetition happening, I started writing a lyrical poem about being young in the city. "Darling take it easy/ cause my garden doesn't feed me/ Like I want it, like I taught, like I ever could depend upon it...Something in the city/ takes advantage of your beauty/ All the moments, all your minutes, all the overwhelming golden ivy..." I'd been thinking a lot about my twenties and all the hooks and snares a person gets trapped in because they are young and yearn to be a part of something. Entire industrial empires run on that type of naïveté, and I think it takes some distance from that time period to really see it. Gabe started calling the tune PALMS because he thought it felt beachy. I dug the name because of the double-entendre of open hands asking for something, so it stuck.

Something Else

When I wrote this song, I was in the middle of a co-dependent relationship. I was beginning to really understand what this meant, and how similar it can feel to substance abuse. “I cannot be myself without a little something else” was the line that galvanized everything. Drugs, alcohol, fights, sex; it was all the “something else” I needed to exist, that made me feel like I was alive. I knew when I brought the song to the band that it was going to be a hard one to share and to flesh out. We decided to leave it mostly raw, adding in the rest of the instrumentation late in the song for a drastic sonic contrast and bombastic outro. The song feels unbalanced the way a life can, when you start to feel out-of-control. At Laundry Room studios, Aaron had us play all of our parts over and over again for the ending, so he could weave and stitch everything together. Darcey’s cello part dives into a harmonic minor scale that taps into the darkness of the lyrical content.

Other Side of Love

“Take me to the other side of love, and what you’re afraid of. The softening of bones until we’re gone, and all we are made of.” As I get older, I think more about the potential of the other side of a romantic relationship. When youth wanes, as the emotional and physical needs of you and your partner’s bodies become more and more pressing, how does this affect your happiness? Over the course of writing and recording the album, I had been teaching myself to play piano. This was the first full song I composed on keys. I decided it needed to be a solo piece, just myself and the grand piano in Hall of Justice, a recording studio in Seattle. Aaron and I worked on the production to make sure it evoked an equal amount of warmth and loneliness. The song was the last piece written for the album, and takes me into my late 30’s. We thought it was the  perfect piece to end on, as it closes a chapter of life and opens a new type of wondering.

Keep up with Tenderfoot on Social Media below:

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A Chat With: Modern Me

We recently caught up with San Diego's Modern Me to chat all about their brand new single "Dead To Me," which was released last week. The single, which was produced by The Colourist's Adam Castilla, is the first dose of the group's new material. The tune shows Modern Me diving into more emotional territory, putting their own spin on influence they pulled from some of our indie rock favorites like The Killers, Young The Giant, and Joywave. Tune into our chat with Modern Me now to find about more about their process, who they'd love to work with, and what they hope to get up to in 2018!

Photo Courtesy of Modern Me

Photo Courtesy of Modern Me

ANCHR Magazine: When did you guys all meet and decide to form Modern Me?

Modern Me: Some of us have known each other since Jr. High and some since high school. We have definitely done some life together.  We decided to form Modern Me because we love alternative rock and we want to play it together the rest of our lives.

AM: Who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences, both on your writing style and on your stage presence?

MM: We’re heavily influenced by band such as The Killers, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie and Young the Giant. We love the way Coldplay throws a show, so much energy and quality fall out of their shows.

AM: For your new material, I heard that you all tried to dive into more personal and vulnerable territory. Was it challenging to open up in that way? On the flip side, what have you found rewarding about getting more personal with your writing?

MM: A lot of people have challenges and diving into each others and trying to get a song out everyone is definitely not easy. We know each other really well considering we have been friends for so many years but writing sessions that go into depth about the dark places some of us go to and trying to capture on a page can get rough. The more personal these songs become, the more attached we become to them. It’s like melody incarnate.

AM: How would you sum up the sound of your new material in 3 words, for people who haven’t heard it?

MM: Dark, Rough and strong.

AM: How was it working with Adam Castilla, and what other producers would you love to work with in the future?

MM: Adam Castilla has become an amazing friend to us. Working with a producer is essentially hiring another band member to work on those songs and we’re proud to have worked with him. Throw us in a room with Rich Costey, Jack Antonoff or Rostam Batmanglij and we know some gold would rise out of that room.

AM: I also love the video for “Dead To Me.” How did you come up with the video concept, and how was the experience of making it? Any interesting stories from behind the scenes of the shoot?

MM: I’ve imagined disrupting the date of an ex-girlfriend and I thought let’s try to capture that and see what happens. Initially for this video we wanted to shoot gorilla style. Setting up all of our instruments in the front yards of band members past relationships, without any forewarning and playing "Dead To Me" until they walked out and said something so we could capture genuine responses. We thought we’d just play it safe and sit in beamers and rot in motel rooms together instead.

AM: Who are some of your favorite new bands at the moment?

MM: Hippo Campus, The War On Drugs, The Wombats, Bear Hands, Saint Motel, James Vincent McMorrow.

AM: Do you have any plans to hit the road this year, and which cities would you love to play in?

MM: We don’t have plans as of right now. We definitely want to hang out with some fans on Phoenix AZ.

AM: What are your goals for the rest of 2018? 

MM: To quit our day jobs.

There you have it. Keep up with Modern Me on social media below!

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A Chat With: Cut Worms

The brainchild of Max Clarke, Cut Worms combines a lo-fi process with timeless, harmonious vocals reminiscent of 1960's singer songwriters, the storytelling element of folk music, and a touch of psych rock. Following the October release of his debut EP Alien Sunset via Jagjaguwar Records, Clarke and his bandmates will be coming to Chicago next week to perform as part of the annual TNK Fest. The show acts as a homecoming of sorts, as Clarke attended Columbia College here in the city, but now resides in Brooklyn. For more on what you can expect from his set at Tomorrow Never Knows, what's in the books for 2018, the biggest lesson he learned at Columbia, and more, tune into our chat with Cut Worms now!

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

Photo Credit: Caroline Gohlke

ANCHR Magazine: So starting off, what was your first musical memory from when you first got into music?

Cut Worms: My first musical memory would probably be just singing along to stuff on the radio as a kid. Or listening to my dad’s CDs that I found, like his Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits.

AM: Did that then inspire you to want to make music yourself?

Cut Worms: Yeah, in a sort of subliminal way that I didn’t really recognize yet. But I didn’t really start thinking about that I wanted to try to make music until I was 12 probably. Two of my uncles played guitar, and at family gatherings I would see them play, and just wanted to be able to do that.

AM: Nice, so then you started making music as Cut Worms when you were at Columbia College right?

Cut Worms: Right, I’ve been writing my own stuff, or trying to, since I was in middle school or high school. I didn’t ever actually get my own band or anything together until the end of college.

AM: Nice, I went to Columbia too!

Cut Worms: What did  you go for?

AM: Music Business, what was your major?

Cut Worms: Mine was illustration.

AM: What do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned from going to Columbia? Did you take anything away about the music business, even though that wasn’t your major?

Cut Worms: Not really as far as music, but it did give me a sense of developing a process for my work, whether that was illustration or music. Imposing deadlines on yourself, and I had some good professors there in the illustration department who were illustrators or cartoonists....Especially in Chicago, they tend to be kind of dark people. They just like sit inside all the time and draw, but they have really good work ethic. So I always admired that and took that away from them.

AM: For sure. I was reading a little bit about your writing process and that you’d try to release two songs a month online, so it seems that you definitely took that process away. So what were some of your favorite responses after you released your debut EP, Alien Sunset?

Cut Worms: It was just nice to get responses from people all over the place. Especially since signing with Jagjaguwar and them putting it out, they have a much wider reach obviously. So getting like a message from somebody in Norway saying that they were into it, that’s pretty wild to me.

AM: So where did you pull influences from for the songs on that EP? Did you look to other art forms like visual arts or films and what not?

Cut Worms: Yeah, my girlfriend and I always watch a lot of movies and TV shows, so I’m sure a lot of that is in there. I don’t really know where anything comes from. It’s kind of like listening to the news and getting angry, and trying to deal with it.

AM: Do you have a particular story about any of the songs on the EP and the process behind how it came together?

Cut Worms: I kind of just did it as I went along. I didn’t think about it too much before hand. “Curious Man,” that song on there, was the only one that I kind of had an idea and kind of wanted it to be like a sci-fi ghost story thing. That’s kind of one of the only times I’ve tried to write a certain type of song.

AM: So you’re originally from Ohio, and now you’re based in Brooklyn after living in Chicago. Do you find yourself pulling influence from the location you’re based in, and does it affect your writing habits?

Cut Worms: Oh yeah. Living in different places...I guess, since living in New York, I’ve started traveling a lot more than I ever did before. Even just to go home for holidays and stuff, just driving a lot. You kind of get more of a sense of the differences between different places and the atmosphere and the vibe. Just the pace of life. That was always kind of just like a meaningless cliche to me, but it really is kind of true.

AM: What are some of your favorite parts of the Brooklyn music scene, compared to Chicago?

Cut Worms: I don’t know. I’ve never really felt like I was part of a scene per se. In Chicago I guess I kind of was. There’s a garage rock scene there, at least there was...I think there still is. I was in a garage/punk band there and that kind of got me...that was the first band I was ever in. I’d never really experienced what it was to be in a scene before that. Since moving to New York, I don’t go out that much. I’ll go see my friends’ bands.

AM: Do you have any favorite NYC venues?

Cut Worms: To play at, yeah. Any of the bigger ones. It’s always good to play places with good sound, like Music Hall of Williamsburg. We got to open for The Growlers one time at Webster Hall. After spending years of just playing in shitty bars, not really being able to hear yourself, or when you could hear it, you know that it sounds’s just kind of depressing. So finally getting to play places where they know what they’re doing with sound, and they make you sound better. It’s more exciting to play, and I think it feeds off each other. Some of the places I like to go see shows are like Union Pool. Small rooms like that are cool.

AM: Nice, what about some of your favorite bands? You mentioned you like to go see your friends’ bands, so anyone you want to shout out?

Cut Worms: Yeah, EZTV. John Andrews and the Yawns. He actually plays in my band now. People from Woods. This band called Pavo Pavo. The guy Oliver is a good friend of mine who I met by playing shows with him. He moved out to LA, but when I met him he was a Brooklyn band.

AM: So speaking so playing live, you’ll be coming out to Chicago to play Tomorrow Never Knows Fest. What’s your live set up usually?

Cut Worms: So I play guitar, and then John Andrews plays keyboards and also sings harmonies. It’s really exciting for me to finally get someone to sing with, who’s good and gets it. Then Jarvis from Woods is gonna be playing bass with me, and my friend Noah Bond, he plays with a bunch of different people, he plays drums. It’ll be just a four piece, and that’s been the set up lately. Occasionally if I can pin him down, I’ll have my friend John, he plays in a ton of other bands, so he’s not always available. But it’s always good to have him when I can.

AM: For sure. Do you get to stick around and see any of the other bands playing TNK Fest?

Cut Worms: I’ll stick around for that night, but we’re flying back to New York the next day. The day after that we have a show at Brooklyn Steel with Allah Lahs. We need to get a rehearsal in since that’s a pretty big venue.

AM: Anyone on the line up that you’re into, if you got a chance to check it out?

Cut Worms: I’m getting to play with my friend, the band opening for us, Cafe Racer. One of the guys in the band used to play bass for me when I lived in Chicago. I know Sonny and the Sunsets are cool, so I’m pretty psyched on the show that I’m playing. I can’t remember, I know I was looking at the line up.

AM: Yeah your show is pretty stacked though, you have a good lineup! Do you have any other artists that you look up to in terms of stage presence, or anyone else you’d love to share the stage with?

Cut Worms: There’s a lot of people who I admire for their stage presence. I feel like I’ve never been that big of a...I don’t have that big of a presence. Or I don’t do a whole lot of moving around. I mean, The Lemon Twigs, who we’ve played with before, they have a pretty amazing stage presence. I admire that. I’ll probably never get there.

AM: What other goals do you have for 2018?

Cut Worms: I’m going to Europe for the first time in February so I’m excited about that. Then my record will be coming out in May. That will be like the first real release, and I’m excited to see what happens with that. I’m mainly trying to write new stuff.

AM: What can you tell us about the album?

Cut Worms: I just want it to speak for itself and for people to take what they want from it.

Grab your tickets here to Cut Worms show at TNK Fest to make sure you don't miss out...5 day passes are now sold out! Listen to Alien Sunset in full below to get ready for the show!

Liquidlight's Guitar Solo Guide

Portland four piece Liquidlight self-released their sophomore album Wicked Radio back in September, which blends together influences of shoegaze, grunge, and garage rock. In honor of their new album, we had the band put together a few of their favorite guitar solos that have shaped them both as musicians and music fans. From Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page, check out what Liquidlight has to say about legendary rockers and their guitar skills.  

Photo Courtesy of Liquidlight

Photo Courtesy of Liquidlight

Jimi Hendrix- "Machine Gun"

Jimi seems like an obvious choice for a list of great guitar solos. He absolutely changed the landscape for guitar playing even fifty years after the fact with great songwriting, innovative studio techniques, and unbelievable lead playing. Machine Gun sticks out as a favorite because it just comes soaring in like a rocket. He's obviously channeling from another place when he's going for it in this one. Sounds like a war zone captured live on stage. 

Frank Zappa- "Inca Roads"

Frank has always been a huge influence for us in everything he did, but much of the time it seems like he get's overlooked as a guitarist. The solo in Inca Roads is fantastic from start to finish with phrasing like no other, dynamic peaks and valleys, and not to mention a top notch rhythm section that can turn on a dime. Oh, did we mention that this was recorded live? What a player.

David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)- "Time"

Gilmour was an early influence to many and we're no exception here. He's got some of the best phrasing in the game and solos that are so memorable that even non-musicians can sing along note for note. The solo in Time is just monumentally awesome... And on a record where every single second is monumentally awesome! He just makes every note speak volumes. 

Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices)- "I am a Tree"

In a band like Guided by Voices that has great songs but isn't generally known for super technical musicianship, Doug Gillard brings a lot of flair to the table. He's a fantastic part writer of leads that fit behind and between vocal lines and really compliment the overall arrangement. Robert Pollard even liked his song "I am a Tree" so much that he elected to include it on Doug's first album with the band, which is a high honor for anybody. He shreds so hard on this one!!!

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)- "Good Times, Bad Times"

Although Jimmy Page was a in-demand session musician before and during his stint with the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin's self titled album would be his first album with a band as leader. The solo on this song has been a perennial favorite of ours with its screaming entrance and soaring Leslie speaker treatment. It always felt like some of these licks were a right of passage in younger years. If you could play this stuff then you were the shit. What a way to kick off a career!

Lastly, listen to Liquidlight's album in full below, and check out their Facebook page for all the latest updates!

A Chat With: Farebrother

If you're looking for your next favorite rock band, look no further than Farebrother. Hailing from Bath, England, the quartet combines driving guitar riffs, boisterous sing-a-long choruses, and dynamic drum beats to craft their own refreshing style. Composed of Tom Hunt, Michael Vowell, Matt Day, and Owen Stephens, the band have just released their new single "Rewind" earlier this month, which served as a follow up to 2016's Rapture EP. As the group are gearing up to release even more new tunes, we chatted with with Tom, Michael, and Owen about the direction they're headed, UK Festivals, their favorite new bands...and even their hidden talents. Get to know more about the band and what's next for them in our chat with Farebrother!

Photo Courtesy of Farebrother

Photo Courtesy of Farebrother

ANCHR Magazine: When did each of you first get into writing and playing music, and how did you all come together to form Farebrother?

Tom Hunt: Well, myself and Michael (Lead guitar) have been writing and playing together since we were about 13 or 14. Matt (Drums) and Owen (Bass) have also been playing from a very young age individually, but it was only until, through another band, that myself and Michael met Matt. From then, after that former band had dissolved, we created Farebrother. Then about a year or so down the line, we'd heard from Owen who then made Farebrother the four-piece that it is today.

AM: Who and what are some of your biggest influences, both musically and non-musically?

Michael Vowell: Musically, I've always been a massive fan of The Eagles. Aesthetically, I really Ken Loach's films.
Tom Hunt: I'm a big film enthusiast, so I get a lot of good inspiration from film dialogue and soundtracks in particular.
Owen Stephen: I love The Maccabees, also a fan of Twin Atlantic... I've always tried to emulate people I like listening to in whatever I do really.

AM: What’s a fun fact about each of you that not many people know? Could be a hidden talent, a hobby, etc...

OS: I've been on a West End stage in full body lycra suit hahaha!
TH: I used to be, and still technically am, a tennis coach haha! So if you need a few tips from anyone in the band, I'm your guy.
MV: I really wish I had something interesting about me... I'm struggling to think haha... I'm related to the drummer in Mott the Hoople? Is that good enough?

AM: You recently released new single “Rewind,” which I love! It’s the first release since your debut EP last year, so is this song just a preview of a lot more to come? What other teasers can you give about upcoming releases?

TH: It is definitely much more of a progressive step for us. And more music that is yet to be released is just a step forward from "Rewind", as "Rewind" was from the first EP. We're always striving to better ourselves, and we're very hard-working in that respect. The new music and tracks we've got lined up, hopefully to be released inside this year, are so much more developed than anything we've put out so far, in our eyes. We have a lot more up our sleeve and can't wait to show off our full potential.

AM: You recorded in Rockfield Studios, which has hosted some pretty legendary acts (Oasis, The Pixies, Royal Blood). How was it to work in that studio, and do you have any interesting stories from your time spent there?

TH: It was pretty incredible working there. All the history, all the stories... it was crazy. We had a great set of people there with us that really helped make the most of our time there, and you know, with all the mad things that you hear of coming from the studios there, in hindsight, we really contradicted that, haha! For the time that we spent there we really knuckled down and worked hard to get the most out of the track. I wish I could say that we had some crazy rock'n'roll stories to tell, but we were so taken by the place that we just wanted to get the most out of it we could really.

AM: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would you want to work with and why?

TH: That's a hard one... For us, it would have to be with someone who we'd want to be mates with afterwards, the collaboration would just be a means of getting to that point. Elton John maybe, he'd be a good guy to hang out with.

AM: Earlier in the month you shared a Spotify playlist of some of your favorite songs. Are there any other new bands or new albums out recently that you can’t stop listening to?

TH: A band called Neon Waltz have just released their debut album, I've watched them a couple times in the past, and yeah their record doesn't disappoint at all.
OS: Flyte's debut album is so great. Also the Queen's of the Stone Age's new album is amazing.
MV: Yeah I agree, Flyte's is a brilliant album for me.

AM: You’ve got a couple of gigs announced, but any plans for an upcoming tour?

TH: There's always opportunities and ideas in the pipeline for us, we like to be ahead of ourselves as much as we can. I can't really say whether or not we do, but I definitely wouldn't rule out another tour this year or early next year. It's just a matter of how things fall into place really, at the moment.

AM: Speaking of gigs, you’ve played a few festivals this summer, including Dot To Dot Festival. What were some highlights of the festivals you played?

TH: Yeah Dot to Dot was great this year, we had such a great crowd and it's definitely been one of out favorite gigs of the year so far, there was such a great energy on that day. Another good one for us was Tramlines in Sheffield. It was only our second gig in Sheffield and it's always ace to make our way up there. The venue we played was great and we were well received, more so than we could have imagined!

AM:If you could perform anywhere in the world, which venue or festival would be at the top of your list?

TH: For me, it has to be the Royal Albert Hall in London. It's such an extravagant and massive place. That would be incredible.
OS: Obviously it's Glastonbury for me, as it probably is for most. But also the Bristol Downs Festival, that would be great as it's such a huge one, and even more local than Glastonbury!
MV: Yeah definitely Pyramid Stage haha, might as well aim for the top!

Keep up with Farebrother on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

Listen to Farebrother's Looking To Friday playlist below!

A Chat With: Public

Public just wants to get to know you. In fact, even on their Facebook page, under the category "band interests," the only thing listed is "You." If you attended one of the trio's recent tour dates on their Sweet Lemonade Tour or follow them on other social media, you'll be quick to find out that's a genuine statement from them. 

As an unsigned band, Public have still managed to put out top quality recordings of their indie pop tunes over the years, full of sticky, sing-a-long choruses and upbeat melodies. They just have to work a lot harder to get those radio-ready songs out to their fans, old and new, but don't underestimate them. John Vaughn, Ben Lapps, and Matt Alvarado have never been more ready to roll up their sleeves and build their foundation from the ground up. After already opening for fellow Ohioans Twenty One Pilots and racking up more than a million Spotify plays on their song "Pretty Face," the band have already reaped some reward from their hard work, but their momentum only continues to grow. 

If you're looking for great music made by authentic musicians and even more genuine people, look no further than Public. In our chat with them last month, Vaughn, Lapps, and Alvarado have some fun revealing interesting facts about each other, but they also clearly communicate the message behind their music. In this interview, you'll not only find out Public's pet peeves and their last Google search, but you'll get an insider's perspective of their vision and their mission as a band. Get to know your new favorite band, Public, now. 


Public at Schubas Tavern last month

Public at Schubas Tavern last month

ANCHR Magazine: Let's start things off with some tour talk then. Since being in the van with each other, what have you learned are each others’ biggest pet peeves?

Matt Alvarado: Ben hates dabbing.

Ben Lapps: I don’t dab.

MA: So I dab just to bug him.

BL: Now it’s more of like a game between us. Matt dabs cause he knows I’ll roll my eyes, and then I roll my eyes cause he dabbed!

MA: I know for me, I hate when people put away my stuff.

John Vaughn: No, we’re supposed to say something for you!

Matt: Oh, you say for me?

JV: Matt hates when people move his stuff. Matt hates when something that he organized gets arranged a different way.

MA: Usually I’m very odd about where I put things. I could put my phone inside a refrigerator and I’d know exactly where it is. Someone could be like oh, this is Matt’s phone. In the fridge. I should give this to him, and then I’ll go back and be like where’s my phone?

BL: John identifies every single smell that he comes into contact with.

MA: That’s not a pet peeve!

BL: This is a very interesting thing.

MA: What annoys John?

BL: Smells, I think! 

JV: I’m very very descriptive. I really, really dissect a smell. I shout it to the band...

AM: You guys just did a tour diary video, part one. John you had said in it that you want people to come to the show and find something of value in the live show that you don’t have on the record. How do you arrange the songs then, or format the set? Is there anything you consciously do to add that value?

JV: I think from my perspective, we have a lot of little moments either in the beginning of a song, or in the middle of a song, or after the song where there’s space to add something that we think will highlight that song. I think it’s cool when someone does like a weird intro and then it goes into that song that you know. I think this is one of the first times where we’re crafting and building a set where we’ve tried to do a lot of that. We’ve got some instrumental jamming that we do that we haven’t done since we started. We kind of brought that back. Personally I love when a band can sound like their record, but I also like to go to a show and be surprised by the things they do. That’s the way I would describe it.

AM: Is there an artist that you think can do that really well? Like a show you’ve been to recently where you could pinpoint that?

BL: In my experience lately, the guy who’s doing that best is Jon Bellion. His live show is SO different than what’s on the record, just in like the most fun way. Have you seen his live show?

AM: Yes!

BL: His band is like just this incredible group of musicians and they just play, and they kill it. That’s my vote!

MA: I was just gonna say about the live set...a lot of the people who initially started liking us and our music is because we had fun onstage. I think that’s something that we can like really, really do onstage. We’re musicians first and foremost. A lot of what’s on the record is kind of compressed into a more pop format, where everything sounds a certain way and has a certain space. When we’re doing it live, John is a great guitarist, Ben is a great drummer, I’m a very okay bass player--

BL: He’s very good!

MA: We just have so much fun playing our instruments the way we want to play them. People resonate with that. They see we’re having fun and they wanna have fun too!

JV: Not to get too in depth on this one question, but just to add on what [Matt's] saying….On this tour, we’re musicians first. That’s how we were trained. We get a lot of joy from jamming and feeding off each other. Now what we’re really adding to this set is just engaging with the crowd a lot more. Even just these first few shows, it’s been a blast. That’s something you maybe get from our album, but it’s a nice change. It feels like the whole event is just collaborative with everybody. It’s like if we’re gonna have fun, we gotta all have fun! We’re gonna force you to have fun.

AM: Ok so shifting gears a little bit...If you could be stuck in a elevator with anybody, they could be famous, dead or alive, who would you pick?

MA: How long are you stuck?

AM: A couple hours, maybe. 

BL: Are you stuck just to have a conversation and then we get out, or do we want someone that can help us get out?

JV: I would say the guy who invented the elevator cause he’d probably know how to get out.

MA: Maybe Tom Cruise cause he’s in a lot of action movies.

AM: It could be someone you’d just want to have a conversation with too!

J: I might have a different answer later, but probably J. R. R. Tolkien. I just watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies again. All of them, they’re amazing. I hadn’t watched them in a while, and being older I think I took a lot more from them this time. I read into them a lot more. So I would love to just talk to the person who wrote all of that, and pick his brain.

MA: I think I’d pick my brother.

BL: I was gonna say my mom!

MA: We’ve been calling back and forth every two, three weeks, but it’d be nice to sit down and just talk. He’s also small so he wouldn’t take up a lot of space.

AM: So you guys are working hard as an unsigned band. I know a lot of bands now are gearing more towards being independent so they can have more control over their artistry. What do you guys see the pros and cons of being an unsigned artists, and the struggles and rewards come with it?

MA: I think our mindset has changed drastically from when we were first starting as a band. We just started working with new management. We have a new team. A lot of the cons I saw being an unsigned band are kind of pros. Just the organic growth that we’re going through now seems so much more up our alley as ways we want to grow as a band, than if we just got signed to a label and got funneled money. This tour that we’re doing is a perfect example, we’re doing all these stops that we haven’t hit or we haven’t hit in three years. We’re just seeing who enjoys our music, who’s heard of us before from maybe radio or Spotify. Then just growing through them instead of just having a song on a radio promotion. It just feels so much more genuine. To see these people face to face.

JV: I agree. Early on, I think with every band, the Golden Carrot is to get signed. When you’re young, sure whatever. You don’t even know what that means... You’re like heck yeah! I think Matt’s right. The past 6 months we’ve had a rebirth of the band. Building a completely new team that we’re super happy with, and the new music as well... it’s really given us a respect and a hunger to get to know the people that like our music. It’s not many people right now. So grinding like we are on the Sweet Lemonade’s really fun cause like every person that comes out it’s like man, that person said yes tonight. They like that one song that they like however much to pay $10 to come see us in Chicago. That’s huge! It’s an opportunity now to let them know that. We make it a point to thank them. Also to what Matt said, if we had gotten signed early, and I’m not saying there’s only one way to do things once you get signed...but if we had been given an advance early, and they just shoved our songs on the radio, and we didn’t have to go through that trial by fire… it’d be like oh you have a song on radio, people are gonna hear you just because they’re in their cars. We didn’t get that. So we kind of had to find different and interesting ways to do that. It’s kind of like it builds character. It’s almost like when you’re a kid and your parents make you do a job or chores...there’s a reason you do that. I feel like that’s what it’s like.

AM: Yeah that’s exactly what I like about having my own blog! So on the same track of new music, Ben I saw on Twitter you had asked fans for new music recommendations. What are some of the favorite recommendations from your followers, or just songs you guys are already into at the moment?

BL: We listened to the new Sir Sly record. Especially like the first few tracks. That was really dope. Let me check what else…

MA: Someone brought up Skott!

JV: I’ve had a music crush on her for a while!

BL: Who’s the British guy everyone brought up?

JV: Simon Cowell?

BL: Young guy!

JV: Declan McKenna! It’s cool to see him doing well.

BL: Besides that...who else? I tried to listen to at least one song from everyone that recommended something.

AM: Yeah, that’s great you guys are open to that!

BL: Absolutely, I love swapping music recommendations. Everyone’s got a little bit of different taste, but odds are if you like our music, we’re gonna overlap at some point. You probably like the same things as us.

AM: While you have your phones out, what’s the last thing you Googled?

JV: I usually have weird stuff!

BL: “Video Juegos”-- Video Games in Spanish! Matt and I were talking about it, we couldn’t remember what the Spanish word for video games was!

JV: How did you do it so fast?

BL: I have the Google app!

JV: Oh- what the word “SKRT” means in Urban Dictionary...SKRT.

MA: Mine is Quincy Jones! It goes Rashida Jones...Rashida Jones' Dad...Quincy Jones.

BL: Really? They’re related? I didn’t know that!

AM: So if you guys formed a cover band, which band would you exclusively cover and what would you call it?

JV: I bet we could actually---and I don’t want to bring this up because I think it’s such an oversaturated thing with musicians to bring this up and laugh about it, but I think we could actually kill as a Nickelback cover band. I mean that seriously.

BL: He does a really funny-- it’s funny cause it’s so accurate-- Chad Kroeger impression.

JV: I think we would actually kill it

MA: What would our name be?

AM: Some pun on nickels or change?

JV: Pennyfront?

BL & MA (in unison): Pennyfront!

AM: Forget Nickelback, it’s all about Pennyfront! So if you weren’t making music, what would your dream job be?

BL: Baseball player.

JV: Acting!

BL: No wait, chef! Baseball chef. The chef for the Cincinnati Reds, and sometimes they’d let me play!

MA: I don’t know… I haven’t really thought about that. It used to be the other way around. I went to school for engineering and I wanted to be a musician. Now I’m a musician and I want to to go back to school for engineering. I’ve never thought about that! Probably some sort of athlete, but my body is broken so that dream died a long time ago.

AM: So what else are you guys looking forward to this year?

JV: I’m just excited to do more of exactly what we’re doing tonight. I just wanna keep touring. Because every show, there’s just something different--this is our first headlining tour, maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s just that simple, but it just really feels like we’re playing for keeps now. We’re really going for it and it’s really cool. I’m excited to literally keep going. I want to release new music and go tour off it again. I’m not looking for any shortcuts, or like a song to go viral. I just want to go meet the people that listen to us.

BL: And make like friend fans.

JV: Yeah, like make them feel like they want to really get behind what’s happening. We want to recognize that we can’t do it without them.

MA: I’m excited to see what comes out of the rest of these shows. Who comes to what many people. How many we’ve seen before, how many people are new. Stay off, recuperate for a month, then go right back on and see if the same people come out. See if anything grows, if anybody resonates with it. I think that’s gonna be our new route for a while now. Just headline a bunch of shows. I could not be more excited.

JV: It’s just like an adventure. It hasn’t necessarily felt like that in the past. There’s just something in the air.

Public still has one more date of their Sweet Lemonade Tour, but keep up with all future tour dates hereand listen to their EP Sweet Lemonade in full below!

Can't get enough of Public? Check out our review and photo gallery of their show at Schuba's last month here. 

A Chat With: RÓSA

The indie pop group RÓSA have been turning heads left and right lately, including that of another ANCHR favorite, Bishop Briggs. Based in Orange County, the trio have just released their sophomore EP in June, following their debut EP Gypsy Queen. For fans of LANY, MUNA, and Nightly, the Wasteful EP is full of guitar riffs and synth melodies that will be sure to get you grooving. We got to know more about the band by chatting with frontman Will Winters, including their dream collaboration and what's to come for them in the next year. Tune in and get to know your new favorite band now!

Photo Courtesy of RÓSA

Photo Courtesy of RÓSA

ANCHR Magazine: When did you first get into writing and making music individually, and then how did the band form and start working together?

RÓSA:  I started writing in High School when I began learning the guitar. I was never interested in learning other people's songs, so instead I started writing my own. The band got together after meeting at a religious conference in college and we immediately connected and decided to work on stuff together. 

AM: I’m loving the new EP, Wasteful! I know it was recorded at HUM Studios in Santa Monica (which funnily enough, I’ve been there even though I live in Chicago!), but can you talk a little bit more about the songwriting and recording process?

RÓSA: Well, as it turns out, HUM doesn't exist anymore! Our producer has a studio in Malibu now. Working with Thrice Noble was very fun--we love him. I wrote our first EP on an acoustic guitar, but this time I wrote on tracks the guys sent me, as well as stuff I did independently. It was a very different process. Noble is also extremely meticulous, which only helped us learn more from working with him.

AM: Last year you guys also had a residency at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa. How did that opportunity come around, and what were some highlights of the residency?

RÓSA: That came about after we showed Eric, the talent buyer, our music. We opened one show so he would be sure we didn't suck or something, and then we did it. The residency was a great way to introduce the band to our community. We had all our friends play with us on the bill show to show. That was the highlight, for sure. As we move forward with our music and business, looking back at the residency at The Wayfarer will always feel like our "start".

AM: What do you consider to be some of the pros and cons of being a band on the rise in such a saturated city like Los Angeles? Any advice for new musicians trying to stand out?

RÓSA: That's a hard question. The main pro is that there is always another band to be challenged by. But that's also a con, I suppose. I think LA is incredibly inspiring and we feel lucky to be here. My advice is to do and be exactly who you want to be. You will want to be like this band or that band and everyone will try to make money off you, telling you to sound like whatever is hitting at the time. Or they will ask you for songs that sound more like "singles". Bottom line: Just make whatever you want and act and dress however you want and hope a large enough number of people connect with it to make you rich. 

AM: Who are some of your favorite new bands coming out of LA at the moment?

RÓSA: That's hard, too. I don't know anything new. But there's a band called Ruby Haunt that is amazing. A band called Midnight Faces put out an amazing record called Blue Haze recently. We have friends in a band called LA Qoolside and they are the future. Our pals in Roah Summit are absolutely amazing and their writing inspires and pushes us to be better. That's all I got. 

AM: What’s another hobby or hidden talent that each of you have?

RÓSA:  We have no hidden talents. I'm sorry to disappoint on this question. We all love basketball? I think it would surprise some people how much game we got. But I think people with game don't refer to it as "game" anymore, so you can't trust me. 

AM: Bishop Briggs just tweeted about you guys which is amazing! What was your reaction to seeing that tweet?

RÓSA:  She's incredible. It was very nice of her. She's gunna be the biggest pop star out there in a few years, so it was validating. 

AM: If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you like to work with?

RÓSA:  There are so many! Probably an older artist like Paul McCartney or Stevie Nicks or Neil Finn of Crowded House. But if forced to choose someone recent, we'd choose Devonté Hynes, Frank Ocean, or Bon Iver or something. Are we cliché enough? 

AM: What else is RÓSA looking forward to this year? Any plans for a tour?

RÓSA: We are going to release more music within the next few months so that's the most immediate thing! But yes, we will be touring in 2018 and are hoping to have a full length record for everyone by then! 

While you patiently wait for a RÓSA tour and more music from the trio, listen to their latest EP Wasteful below, and keep up with them on Facebook!

A Chat With: Upright Man

Blending elements of 1960's rock and roll and more modern alternative music, NYC rockers and college buddies Upright Man name everyone from Pink Floyd to Radiohead as influences. Listening to both the first and the newest singles "Upright Man" and "Animals," you can pinpoint snapshots of these influences threaded throughout their songs. Prior to the release of their self-titled debut album, the New York City trio chatted with us about the inspiration behind their creativity, their new music, and the best spots to catch music in NYC. The 10 track album is expected to arrive mid-August, and you can get ready by pre-ordering it and getting to know the upright men Aidan Dolan (guitar/vocals), Nick Katz (bass/vocals) and Max Yassky (percussion/background vocals) now!



ANCHR Magazine: You three actually met while studying classical composition at New York University. How do you feel that your background in classical music has shaped you as a songwriter and musician?

Max Yassky: It mostly helps us know what not to do. Not all classical music does this, but a lot of it focuses on expanding and developing ideas until they couldn’t possibly hold any more water. But in a songwriting context that kind of soundscape can sound cluttered. So we use what we learned to avoid landmines like over-development and brain-masturbation.

Aidan Dolan: I think the biggest influence that studying classical music has had on my and our writing styles is the use of mixed time signatures. I called up Nick and Max my senior year of college to play in my modern classical prog rock fusion trio, which was a result of the studies with my composition teacher at NYU, Ezequiel Vinao. The rhythmic difficulty of the pieces I was writing made us all feel like we could count anything and 7/8 became the new 4/4.

Nick Katz: I’ve been playing in rock bands since I was 11 - the classical thing was more of a formalization of what I’d been doing my whole life. I feel like people have this impression that we came to rock from classical music. That’s not really what happened, we all play rock and jazz and whatever else and have played that music, then we went to classical music as a bit of extra study and, yeah, it affected us as musicians, but it’s not our sole foundation.

ANCHR: Before meeting, what first got you into studying music in general? Was it a certain band or a family member/friend that inspired you?

MY: I wanted to go to Boca Raton to be a private investigator / high value transporter but my mother said she’d break my legs if I got shot in Florida so I went to music school instead.

AD: Music was always a hobby for my dad when I was a kid, so there were guitars lying around and a basic home studio to mess around in. My brother ended forming a band called TAUK with his three friends that is still around and doing well today. I always wanted to try playing, but when I finally heard The Beatles at age 11, I became obsessed. After taking an educational journey from The Beatles and classic rock to blues and jazz, I ended up at NYU for classical composition and sort of came full circle back to my roots with Upright Man.

NK: My father is a professional bassist with a list of credits longer and more prestigious than I could ever hope to come remotely close to. I’ve been studying music since I was four. It’s my life.

ANCHR: What can you tell us about Upright Man’s debut album due out August 18th? How did the writing and recording process for the record go?

MY: Well we didn’t have to threaten each other with Sarin gas so I’d say it went alright.

AD: We just kept on playing, writing and recording over 2 years until we felt like we had the right songs. Our most recent recording sessions leading up to the album release were a lot more focused and we felt a stronger sense of identity in our sound as a band.

NK: I don’t have much to add there, Aidan really hit the nail on the head with that one.

ANCHR: Which songs are you most looking forward to transcribing into the live setting?

MY: “Animals" is a lot of fun to play live; I’ve just got to work on my impression of a cockatoo.

AD: “Upright" Man”, the song, is probably the most fun song to play. We always play it at the end of our set and it can make you want to smash things.

NK: "Say What You Mean" is a real challenge. I like a good challenge.

ANCHR: Who are some artists that you’d love to share the stage with once you hit the road?

MY:  Robert Randolph and The Family Band and NRBQ were awesome stage-mates. It was a blast playing with them. In a perfect world I’d love to open for a late 90’s Beck at Sessions At West 54th.

AD: Though it could be a stretch to put us on the same bill, I’d love to share the stage with TAUK. My brother is the bassist and I’ve known those dudes a long time, so it’s somewhat of a guilty desire to share some road time with those dudes.

NK: I would do terrible things to get an opening slot with Dr. Dog.

ANCHR: Are there any up and coming NYC bands that we should all know about?

MY: I heard this dink band Upright Man is pretty alright. Not too Berny but not too savage either.

AD: Nick plays in another band called Dirty Bird that has some great songs and vocal harmonies.

NK: JIL, Uni, The World All Around - all great friends and great musicians. Well worth a listen.

ANCHR: Where are some of your favorite spots in NYC to see live music?

MY: You can’t go wrong with Rockwood. Goldsounds in Brooklyn is also rad.

AD: Irving Plaza was awesome last time I went. I’ve enjoyed a lot of shows at Rockwood Music Hall. There are so many great venues in the city.

NK: I really like Rough Trade in Brooklyn. Also Mercury Lounge is a really great room.

ANCHR: What else is Upright Man looking forward to in 2017?

AD: I’m really looking forward to releasing the music video for our unreleased song, “Ecstasy”. All I can say is we built a giant spaceship set in an old barn and Nick and Max were inhaling a whole lot of silver face paint and hairspray fumes.

NK: Yeah, I definitely lost some brain cells on that one. Art necessitates sacrifice.

See all of Upright Man's upcoming tour dates below, and keep up with them on Facebook here. 

7/22 Boston, MA @Cabot Theatre (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)

7/23 Long Island, NY @Amityville Music (w/ Bad Rabbits)

8/17 Ocean City, MD @Fager’s Island

8/23 New York, NY @Bowery Electric

8/24 Sellersville, PA @Sellersville Theater (w/ The Fabulous Thunderbirds)

Get To Know: The Sometimes Island

In Austin, Texas, there's a manmade lake called Lake Travis, and sometimes, depending on the fluctuating tide, small islands can be seen poking out of the lake. These part-time islands are the inspiration behind the Los-Angeles based (via Austin) multi-instrumentalist and producer Matt Blankenship Jr's moniker. "I thought it was a good metaphor for sometimes it’s just a one-man band, and sometimes I have a bunch of people with me," Blankenship explains about the meaning behind his latest endeavor, an indie electro-pop project, threaded with summer vibes. While we recently chatted with the well-versed musician, we heard about his upcoming EP, his journey as a musician, his tour survival tips, and more. Get to know The Sometimes Island now!

Photo Courtesy of The Sometimes Island

Photo Courtesy of The Sometimes Island

He Decided To Do Music As A Profession at 14 Years Old

Blankenship’s musical journey stretches all the way back to the age of 7 or 8, when he says he asked his dad to let him play drums. “My dad was pretty smart. He was like well, I’ll get you this little drum practice pad and as soon as you can do a drum roll, I’ll think about getting you a drum set and getting you drum lessons. I was like 7 or 8 and I had no idea how to do a drum roll,” Blankenship recalls. As the story continues, his dad then offered him piano lessons, which he continued to learn for about seven years. Blankenship reveals that he’s since been dedicated to music 100 percent for more than half his life, saying, “I think I was around 14 when I was like ok, I think I’m just gonna do this for the rest of my life, as a profession. I’m 30 now.”

It's been a winding road since then, with other bands and past projects, but Blankenship describes the formation of The Sometimes Island as a natural progression. "These songs...this project in general has been something that I started working on about three years ago. I was in another group at the time, that was much more electronic leaning. This was my way to have an outlet to make this beachy kind of catchy music. I have bubble gum in my veins. I love a good pop song, so I was writing these [songs] and they weren’t a good fit for the band I was in. It came down to that band breaking up and me focusing on this full time for the last year," he says. 

He's Focused On The Community Around His Music

Having played music in the buzzing scene that is Los Angeles for more than 11 years, Blankenship says he's learned a thing or two about the business side of things. "I spend more time marketing myself than making music. Which to make enough music just means that I do this constantly," he confesses. He continues to share his wisdom, adding, "The biggest lesson I’ve learned is you can make a Facebook event and invite people to a concert, but if you just do stuff that works on a small scale, like calling a friend and saying 'Hey, I have this show. Would you like to come?' That’s the kind of hustle that you have to do to get people to actually go." Blankenship emphasizes the overflowing market in Los Angeles, saying you really have to go above and beyond to create something unique and memorable. "In this town especially there’s no shortage of really talented musicians, and they’re all playing shows and you have to create an environment where people want to go to your show not just because the music but because there’s like a comradery. And the other people who come see you play kind of create a little scene, and that’s how you get something going. Rather than just being like hey this is a really good song, listen to it! People will listen to it and forget about it. But if you create a community, then you have something going," Blankenship advises. 

He Hoards and Repurposes Old Material 

So while Blankenship may have started writing material for The Sometimes Island years ago, it doesn't mean he's released all of it. In fact, Blankenship reveals that he obsessed over the songs on the upcoming EP, called Bad People. He elaborates on the EP songs, saying "I spent way too long on these songs. They’ve been around for so long and I didn’t have anyone to bounce musical feedback off at the time. I obsessed over them, and they’re good for it, but I learned a lot about just writing off the cuff and improvising. Just because I worked on something for 10 hours doesn’t make it better than something that came from maybe 15 minutes. I’m really hard on my music and I’m actually proud of these songs, which is saying a lot for me." 

Blankenship also reveals that he saves the material that he hasn't deemed as ready for release. "There’s also a huge value in tying a bow on something and saying this is done and listening to it objectively. If a song isn’t good, then you don’t have to release it. But if it’s pretty good, you might have worked all the good out of it had you kept going. If you make a crappy song that has a really good part, I’m very into cannibalizing my old material for a new song. There’s some parts of songs where I’ve been like this would work really well, and I never released that old song...," he says.

African Funk Music Is His Jam

Blankenship talks about his influences, saying, "I spend a lot of time looking back on the past. There’s a lot of great music out right now, but The Beach Boys are a huge inspiration to me. I’ve been putting a lot of harmonies and vocal soundscapes into my music. I love the sound of chillwave from around 2009."

As far as his favorite music just to listen to and absorb, Blankenship gives props to the genre of African Funk music. "As far as new stuff that’s coming out...I don’t even really know what’s new anymore with Spotify. If a song is new to me I’m like did it come out a week ago? A year ago? I’ve been really into trying to get out of my pop music space, so I’ve been listening to a lot of African Funk. Which is great music to have on. The songs are extremely long, really jammy. It’s great music to just sort of have on while you’re doing other things, but it’s also great to listen to directly. African Funk, man, that’s been my jam." 

He Stays Tame During Tour

Blankenship will be hitting the road at the end of July and early August, but he admits the tour won't be all that wild. "I’d love to do the whole rock’n’roll party all the time thing, but I gotta make sure I’m not drinking too much, I’m getting enough sleep. Because this tour is particularly packed. It’s one gig after another. And if I’m tired for one, chances are I’ll be tired for the next one. I have all the time in the world to party when I’m not on tour. So I’m very regimented about it." As far as which cities he's most excited to play in, he says, "I’m definitely excited for all of them. I don’t want to sell anyone short. I’m particularly excited for the Seattle gig because I’ll get to play a show with my  good friend Claire George. So I’d say that one I’m particularly excited about."

Blankenship also gives a teaser about some of the songs that will be included in the setlist this tour, saying, "I think 'Bad People' is a lot of fun. That’s gonna come out as a single in a couple weeks, and it’s the namesake of the EP.  It allows me to go off on a bunch of crazy vocal stuff. And I really enjoy playing a quieter song that will come out on the EP that’s called 'Mornings Are The Worst,' that’s just sort of very acoustic. I don’t really believe that mornings are the worst. I wrote it on a morning where I hadn’t slept at all, so the sun rising was a bit of a bummer. That’s a song that just sort of wrote itself. It became sort of a critique of who I was at that time, in retrospect."


Keep up with tour updates and new tunes from The Sometimes Island here, and listen to the newest single "Can't Move On" below!

Get To Know: Island Apollo

Los Angeles-based band Island Apollo made their return last month with the brand new single "Hold It Down,' their first music release since 2015. After having a string of success with their debut EP, from their songs being used on major television networks to winning an OC Music Award, the band have recorded an entire new EP in Seattle with producer Eric Lilavois. While we eagerly await the release of this new music, get to know even more about the guys behind these infectious and unique indie tunes. We chatted with guitarist Heath Farmer to get the scoop on everything from their recording process up in Seattle to Mickey Mouse and his take on the LA music scene. Tune in now...

The Band Took Their First Guitar Lesson Together

Taking it was back to his days as a 10 year old, Heath Farmer kicks off with some backstory of the band's formation. "I started playing guitar for the first time probably when I was around 10 years old. My brothers and I, who are in the band, and Ryan our lead vocalist...all four of us took our first guitar lesson together. So there’s like a long history and connection between when we first started playing music and our band that we have today," Farmer recalls. 

Shifting towards his journey into creating his own music with the band, Farmer gives some insight on his influences, continuing, "I don’t think I really got interested in making music until I entered middle school. Once you become a teenager, music becomes like the most important thing in the world to you. I went through a couple different stages of musical epiphanies I guess. The first song that I heard that made me go 'wow, I didn’t know you could do that with music' was 'Clint Eastwood' by The Gorillaz. I remember hearing that and going 'I had no idea that you could work a beat like that along with a melody and still have a story that’s really relatable.' Then I went to Blink 182 then to Thrice. Then threw it way back to The Beach Boys... and then Muse. I had another big one when I discovered Arcade Fire. That’s kind of where I’m at right now." He and the band have pulled from this wide range of influences to craft their own refreshing sound.

Missing a Flight Took a Positive Spin During Recording

While the band were recording the brand new and still unreleased EP up in Seattle with Eric Lilavois, Farmer says the band explored a new sound by stepping out of their comfort zone. "It seemed like an opportunity that would help inspire us. We went up there and spent a whole week recording these songs and living together in Seattle. Really going from one end of The US West Coast to the other. It’s funny, it’s almost like a parallel dimension from Southern California because it’s got a lot of the same cultural vibes, but in a completely different setting. Everything is just a little bit different. Enough to where it’s a completely different experience. I think that helped us explore things musically that I don’t know if we would have necessarily done had we been in our comfort zone. So I think it was a good opportunity that we seized. There’s a very big possibility that we might do something like that again," he mused. 

Speaking of being out of their comfort zone, Farmer recalls one particular experience that caused some mayhem during their final day of recording. "There was one moment where I actually had to leave earlier than the rest of the band to go back to Southern California, and I missed my plane. So they came back to pick me up, and drove me back to the studio. There was this weird sense of confusion and frustration from me. Because it was the last day, we split everybody up in the studio so we had a couple different stations. We had the control room as the main recording live room, where we had people doing various different parts. We had another station set up in the lounge where we were recording a lot of the extra instruments, whether it was percussion or some synth lines. So just because my mind was completely scrambled at that point, I started hearing things in the music that everybody else wasn’t hearing. Sometimes that ended up being a good thing and sometimes that ended up being a really really bad thing. To the point where I honestly think I was having auditory delusions. Everything was just so frantic for me that day. Initially it was very--inefficient. As the day went on and I started to calm down, I had this creative perspective that I don’t think I would have had had I not gone through such a weird day. That translated to a lot of different ideas with the unreleased songs. It was a really, really weird experience," Farmed recalled. "For the record, completely sober. I think as a musician I should make that clear. It was this frenzy that I was in that really lead to that," he immediately followed up. 

Although it seemed like a stressful experience, Farmer put an optimistic spin on the story, concluding with, "It was amazing what that amounted to at the end of the day, and it was a very a positive experience." 

I think that helped us explore things musically that I don’t know if we would have necessarily done had we been in our comfort zone.
— Guitarist Heath Farmer on recording in Seattle

They're Big Disney Fans, Especially Mickey Mouse

As mentioned, Island Apollo have had their music featured on major TV networks from VH1 to CBS and used in ads for the likes of Sprint and SoBe. So with new music on the horizon, what product would the band like to associate their music to? "That’s a great question. I saw that Mickey Mouse had a summer playlist this year on Spotify, which is hilarious. That would be pretty cool if we were listed as one of Mickey’s summer jams," Farmer revealed. Wise move on his choice, since Disney opens such a huge door to other opportunities. 

Elaborating further on the new music and when fans can expect to hear it, Farmer continued, "We should have a new song coming out within the next couple weeks. It’s a total dance party song. Not in the sense that it’s EDM. This is actually like---the best way I can describe it is Surf Funk. There’s a lot of stuff in the song and instrumentation that we’ve never tried before."  Stay tuned for news on this unchartered territory with Island Apollo!

They Care About Their Live Show

As far as an upcoming tour to pair with the new music, Farmer says, "We’re in talks about a few different things regarding touring. We just want to make sure it’s done in the right way for us. We’re not exactly sure where we’ll end up, but we’re hoping to be on the road soon." He does promise that when they do tour, he and his bandmates will give their all for the live show. 

Talking more on being a part of the live music scene in LA, Farmer shares his insight on the oversaturated market. "To tell you the truth I’m kind of--" he begins before pausing. "I want to say the right thing, but at the same time I want to say the truth," he continued. "I’m pretty disappointed with what a lot of new artists are doing today. We’ve played shows with guys who will straight up just push a button on their keyboard and then hold one guitar to play one line in the song, and then sing everything else over their pre-recorded tracks. I greatly appreciate the music, but it’s a pretty boring thing to watch. That’s my unadulterated observation on that. Especially in the local music scene where there aren’t big budgets to have sets and and lights. I feel like that’s watered down the rest of the scene. Because people look at that and go ‘wow that’s all I have to do?’ And then some people get inspired by that and then everyone’s just half-assing put it bluntly."

Farmer concludes his take on the LA scene with a very important point about live performances, saying, "I look at that and just think wow, you guys wrote a lot of great songs, why are you half-assing your live show? That’s the difference between going to the show and listening to the recording. There’s this intimate experience of watching the creator create. If they’re not doing that for you, you kind of think like what’s the point? That’s not to say that the community that’s at a live concert scene is not important. That’s very important to it all. But at the same time you have to give a reason for why the community wants to come and see you. You still have to put on a show. There are a lot of great bands that we’re friends with that we love, but at the same time, there’s a lot of people not impressing anybody."

There's An Unbreakable Bond Between The Band

Playing on the bands name, I wrapped up the interview asking Farmer if he could be trapped on an island with one member of the band, who would be pick and why. After pondering briefly, Farmer confirmed the tight-knit nature of the group by answering, "I don’t know if I can answer that question to be honest. I don’t find anybody in the band to be dispensable. I’m not saying that to be politically correct-- I mean it," he says. "Everybody in the band is incredibly integral to what we have been able to manifest, and I would never take anybody’s contribution for granted. I would just be like alright well if I have to be stranded on a deserted island, then I’ll swim to shore to be with everybody. I’ll probably die along the way," Farmer concluded. 

Get ready for the new music and a possible tour from Island Apollo by listening to "Hold It Down" and following their Facebook Page.

Catching Up With: Alex Napping

It's been a little over a week since the NYC/Austin-based band Alex Napping released their sophomore album, Mise En Place, full of honest narratives driven by grooving melodic riffs and lead singer Alex Cohen's ethereal vocals. Since the May 5th release, the quartet have been on the road in support of the new songs, playing album release shows in both of their base cities, NYC and Austin, as well as a handful of new cities. Prior to the tour kickoff, the leading lady of Alex Napping caught up with ANCHR to chat about the process behind the album, from her songwriting to recording, as well as some of her influences and favorite artists. Before the tour hits Chicago's Subterranean this Saturday night, check out these 5 things we learned while catching up with Alex Cohen. 

Photo by HELMUT Studio  Alex Napping is: Alex Cohen, Adrian Sebastian Haynes, Tomás Garcia-olano, and Andrew Stevens. 

Photo by HELMUT Studio

Alex Napping is: Alex Cohen, Adrian Sebastian Haynes, Tomás Garcia-olano, and Andrew Stevens. 

The Album Was Recorded More Than A Year Before The Release

While chatting with Cohen the day before Mise En Place's release, Cohen describes her excitement to finally release the album, saying, "We’ve had this record finished since March of 2016. So it’s been a while coming. I’m very happy to finally be putting it out into the world."

Cohen also reveals the group divided the recording into several different blocks, the first session going all the way back to 2015. Telling the tale of their recording process, Cohen begins, "We recorded at a studio in Austin called Cacophony Recorders, with Erik Wofford, who is the owner of the studio. He produced the record. We did a couple of one-off singles about a year before going in to make this record, just to see if he was someone we wanted to make a whole record with. We made these two songs, “Trembles Part I” and “Trembles Part II,” and just loved working with him and loved his space. [We] decided that when we were ready to do our full length, we’d do it with him."  As far as the span of different recording sessions, she says, "We recorded the record in three chunks. There were four days in November 2015, two days in December, and then four more days in January of 2016, where we tracked the record. And we just kind of broke it up based on like who needed to be there." Cohen continues on to say that "Wife and Kidz" and "Heart Swells 2.0" have minimal bass and drums, so they were able to knock those out in the two days in December 2015. 

There's a New Sense of Maturity In The New Album

Discussing the difference from debut album to the sophomore record, Cohen muses, "I like to think that the themes have matured as I’ve grown older, and kind of have a different perspective on conflict." She continues to confess she actually went back to listen to their first record shortly before Mise En Place's release, revealing, "It was really weird. It wasn’t painful. I was like 'I think this still holds up'...But it definitely sounds like a young record,  and a lot of the feelings that I had that felt so important and grand definitely have a naivety to [them]."

Because of how personal Cohen gets with her songwriting, she says her age definitely plays a factor in the song themes. Elaborating, Cohen says, "I was 21 when I wrote those songs [on the first album], versus being 23, 24 when I wrote this record. I feel like those first few years out of college, being a real adult are pretty big. A lot of stuff happens. A lot of this record is kind of like dealing with being an adult and figuring out how to realistically handle situations. Where things that felt like the end of the world when I was like 20, you’re just like 'this is part of life'. Just kind of figuring out how it all fits into life, like balance and security. Like what do those even mean?" 

Cohen says the themes of her songs aren't the only difference this time around, revealing that her and the band built up the arrangements while they were in the studio this time. "It was kind of fun because we’ve never really gotten to do that as a band before. 'Wife and Kidz' had the melody and that kind of delayed bass part, but other than that we just came up with a bunch of stuff in the studio. It's kind of like the most fun part about the studio....When you have a structure for a song, but figuring out how you want to fill in the spaces. I enjoy working on the fly like that. I think that a lot of really cool, creative things happen when you’re locking yourself in a studio setting for like 10 hours a day," she continued. 

A lot of this record is kind of like dealing with being an adult and figuring out how to realistically handle situations. Where things that felt like the end of the world when I was like 20, you’re just like ‘this is part of life.’
— Alex Cohen on her maturing songwriting

Land Of Talk and Chairlift Acted As Influences

Being able to freely create and collaborate in the studio also meant that Cohen and her bandmates were able to soak up influence from other bands during the recording and writing process. "When I was writing I was going through a really big Land Of Talk phase. They’re the best. It’s really cool because they hadn’t put a record out since 2012, and they have a record coming out in June for the first time in years. But I was listening to a lot of their music, and I think that that definitely comes through in my songwriting...and even guitar chords and voicing, Cohen says. Continuing, she reveals, "Actually what’s funny is in 'Temperamental Bed', I play in an alternate guitar tuning, and that tuning I learned from looking up tabs from a Land Of Talk song. It’s one of my favorite tuning styles, but I wouldn’t have found it if I hadn’t been like 'How do I play this song that I love so much?'" 

Cohen credits another band for inspiring her during their time in the studio, saying, "Right as I was going into the studio, I started listening to a lot of Chairlift. I don’t think [they] musically influenced this record, but I do just really love the way that Caroline Polachek from Chairlift sings and how she uses her voice. How she can be really playful with it. I think aspects of that, I was interested in incorporating into some of the vocal performances on the record. I think that will be way more apparent on the next one." 

Each Song Acts as a Snapshot of a Moment 

The songs on Mise En Place were recorded a while before the release, but Cohen still find them to be accurate portrayals of herself. Talking more about the relevance of these songs as they age, Cohen says, "I think they’re still relevant in that they’re accurate portrayals of how I felt in specific moments in the year that I wrote those songs. That’s what a lot of them are. I wrote them as certain things were happening..These cool little snapshots of exactly how I was feeling when something happened."

On the contrary to that point, Cohen continues, "At the same time I feel really far removed from that time in my life. It’s weird because it’s like 'Oh, I remember feeling that way, but it feels like a lifetime ago.' Even by the time we were in the studio, I had written a lot of the songs six months to a year prior to going into the studio. I was starting to feel quite distanced from the subject matter."

Although Cohen feels distance from the song subjects, she's still really excited to play them all on tour. She talks more about the live show, revealing which new song she's most excited to play live. "We’ve actually just worked out how to play 'Wife and Kidz' live and we’ll be unveiling that for the first time live, and I’m actually really excited about that, cause I’m just gonna sing on it. I’m not gonna play guitar or any instrument, which I love doing 'cause it’s just nice to have moments where I just get to focus on only doing one thing. I think that we’ve worked up a pretty cool version of it, all things considered and our gear on stage."

As far as the cities they're most excited to hit up? "I’m always excited about New York shows. I actually live in New York now. it’s kind of like a second hometown. We’re playing some places in the northeast like Providence, RI and Bloomfield, CT. I’ve never really been to some of those small town northeaster states before. Our midwest shows in Chicago and Minneapolis because those are just really cool cities. I have friends there that I’m excited to see, and both of those shows have really awesome line ups," Cohen says.

Other Artists That Alex Is Into Include...

It's always great to find out who your favorite new bands are listening to, which keeps your music library from getting stale, so naturally we asked Alex what some of her current favorites are. Besides Chairlift and Land Of Talk, Cohen mentions a couple other badass female artists that have been in frequent rotation on her playlist. "I'm really in love with the Tei Shi album that came out a month ago. She’s so good and so cool,  and I just think that that’s one of the best like, kind of weird pop records of the year," she says.

"Half Waif put out a record this year, which I love. I saw them play live for the first time during South By [South West], which was incredible. Nandi, who fronts that project, is amazing. She also plays with Pinegrove, but I really love the record that she put out this year," Cohen added.

Tickets for Alex Napping's show at The Subterranean this Saturday, May 20, start at $10. Snag your ticket here, and listen to their new album below. 

A Springtime Guide to Los Angeles with Toyko

On the rise LA-based duo Toyko just released their third single "Like What I Like" earlier this month in advance of their debut EP. To celebrate the new song about relentlessly staying true to yourself and being into what you're into, regardless of what other people think, the duo have put together a guide to their favorite local spots. Whether you're based in Los Angeles, planning a trip there soon, or need something to add to a vision board, check out Toyko's guide to what they like in LA.

"Like What I Like" artwork

"Like What I Like" artwork

Rooftop Bars

Rooftop bars are always amazing! Perfect for day drinking with friends in the sun. Some of our favorites are:

  • The Onyx Bar at Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica
  • High Rooftop at Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach
  • E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood
  • The rooftop at Mama Shelter in Hollywood
  • The Rooftop at The Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A.


Japanese Cuisine

We absolutely love Japanese cuisine, especially sushi and ramen.  Some of these places don’t take reservations, and the line will go out the door.  Pro tip: Try visiting for off-hour meals to avoid the wait.  Some of our favorite Japanese Restaurants are:

  • Sugarfish. Locations all around Los Angeles…(trust me)
  • Tatsu Ramen on Sawtelle and Melrose
  • Daikokuya on Sawtelle and in Little Tokyo
  • Chibiscus (ramen) located in Hollywood...this is one of the most underrated ramen joints in the city
  • Izaka-ya on 3rd St. in West Hollywood.  Try the honey hand rolls and seared albacore & truffle roll. 


The Broad Museum in Downtown L.A.  This place has an absolutely amazing contemporary art collection.  Plus, it’s free to the public! Lines can get crazy though so reserve a spot in advance, or try and go on a week day if you can.  The Takashi Murakami room is a favorite exhibit of ours. 

Health and Fitness

Aroma Spa & Sports is a great place to go in Koreatown. We usually skip the spas because they have an amazing multi-story driving range for when you just need to crush some golf balls.

More Eats

Farmers Markets are an awesome place to try out on random weekends. A great benefit is that you can find one no matter where in LA you’re waking up. Our favorites are the Larchmont Market and the Original Market on 3rd and Fairfax.


La Poubelle is a great little bistro/ restaurant in Franklin Village. It’s a great spot for a spring date on the patio, however the night life is even better. We’ve enjoyed many nights hanging and drinking the house lager with no shortage of great company.

There you have it! Toyko's springtime guide to the city of stars. Get ready for their upcoming debut EP by listening to their first two singles here. 

Get To Know: Stef Chura

Detroit-based musician Stef Chura stands out with her distinctive, quirky vocal style and personal lyrics. Chura released her debut album Messes on January 27th, and has spent her time since touring around the country, including a stop at SXSW. Before her one-off show at The Empty Bottle in Chicago on May 4th, Chura chatted candidly with me about life since the release of her first album. The singer exuded her eager and authentic energy as she talked about her influences, accidentally seeing her friends' bands at SXSW, podcasts, and cover songs. Get to know more about Stef Chura now!

Photo Credit: Zak Bratto 

Photo Credit: Zak Bratto 

Her influences include Buffy Sainte Marie and Kristin Hersh

Talking about her influences specifically for Messes, Stef says, "I’d never made a record before, and it wasn’t very derivative for me. I hadn’t thought out song arrangements at all, and I didn’t say like 'I want it to sound like this, I want it to sound like that.'" She continues on to reveal she has mixed feelings about it and that she wants to be more precise with her references for the next album.  Elaborating on her general influences, Chura says, "More vaguely, I’ve been really into Buffy Sainte Marie...I love PJ Harvey and Kristin Hersch. There’s a lot a stuff that I feel like melds together to sound like what the record sounds like." 

As far as her favorite songs on the record, Chura says she really likes playing "Thin." She pauses for a second before excitedly recalling another favorite, saying "You know what? This is something we didn’t used to play, 'Human Being.' Cause it’s all feel, and we didn’t have a bass player, so it wasn’t working. Now we have a bass player, and that has become my favorite one to play again. I used to like playing that when I was playing solo."  

She appreciates fan art

I asked Stef about some of her favorite fan reactions to her music since the release of Messes, and she recalled some amazing art that one of her fans sent her. "Someone sculpted a picture of my face and painted it pink. That probably tops all. Then they sent it to me. I was like I don’t know what I’m going to do with this, but it’s actually amazing. So that was a good one."

Although she loves the fan art, Stef is just appreciative for her enthusiastic listeners. Continuing, she says, "I don’t know how many people have really heard the album, but I’m really glad that it seems like the people I do get response from are like wow, I really love this album. Like you know, they’re pretty into it, which is a compliment to hear that they like the whole thing."

She supported her friends at SXSW

A common theme when recalling SXSW experiences with artists seems to be that any and all plans completely change and shift throughout the festival. Stef recalled a similar experience, saying, "Ok, I was on tour with Sad13, and I ended up seeing them again a few times on accident. I feel like I ended up seeing my friends' bands again over and over on accident." She also says she was originally bummed she thought she couldn't fit Girlpool into her schedule, but it ended up working out that she saw them three times. Continuing her story about impromptu SXSW shows, Stef says, "We ended up playing a couple shows with Downtown Boys, and I ended up seeing them four times at SXSW. And playing with them once. And Sneaks. We played a couple shows with them. We saw them at South By. I really wanted to see Weaves, and they were amazing. I was really really into their set." Stef also mentioned Jay Som, Allison Crutchfield, and PWR BTTM as SXSW highlights. 

True crime podcasts keep her entertained on the road

Throughout the entire interview, Stef's tone remained very friendly and laid back, especially when we chatted about how she spends her downtime on tour. "I’m very into like, murder podcasts," Stef revealed about how she entertains herself on tour. "Actually I’ve gotten into this real nasty one, called 'Serial Killers'. Have you listened to that? It’s really gross," She continued.  Elaborating more on 'Serial Killers,' Stef said, "It’s definitely NC-17 at times. Wait, is that the porn rating? It’s not pornographic. I would definitely recommend it. It’s just really gruesome. I have this issue where if I turn on a podcast, I have to hear the end of it, even if they’re talking about something super messed up, like rape. They talk about some kind of insane murders that went down that I didn’t know anything about. That’s the one I’ve been the most loyal to going on. I got really into 'Serial', that first story on 'Serial.'" 

Next up on the podcast agenda for Stef? She says she's started 'S-Town,' but still needs to fully commit to it. 

Her biggest lesson learned is...

Stef started out learning firsthand about playing music by setting up a lot of her own DIY shows. As far as trade secrets for the Detroit DIY scene, she says, "Detroit is totally a dive bar scene as far as DIY stuff goes. In Chicago there is a huge house show scene that is always sustained. Michigan has a hard time. Cool dive bars to see shows at would be like Donovan’s. UFO Factory is a really... it’s a venue, but it’s great to see shows. They have a karaoke night on Sundays. It’s bigger, but El Club, I think they’re bringing a lot of really good stuff in now. I think if you’re in Detroit, you probably know about El Club."

After talking about learning the ins and outs of the Detroit music scene, I asked Stef about other life lessons she's learned from mistakes or from trial and error by doing something the wrong way at first. "Maybe there’s something about that just like...realizes your selfishness in a certain way. It’s kind of like not being able to help yourself when you have a really bad idea. I worked at a strip club, and I was like 'don’t do that'... then I was like I’m kind of curious about that, I’m gonna do it. Or my boyfriend’s roommate was into me and I was like, I probably shouldn’t sleep with him, and I did anyway. That was a long time ago, don’t judge me...Little things like that. Like maybe you wouldn’t even tell someone you did that, but you were kind of learning that maybe you should trust your intuition."

She used to be in a Liz Phair cover band

A little known fact about Stef is that she used to be in a Liz Phair cover band. While we know the Stef can play covers herself, I asked about some of her favorite covers by other artists. 

Stef is stumped by the the on-the-spot question, saying "That’s a hard one! I feel like there are some covers I really like. There is something that I prefer. What is it? I like deep cuts...Oh! This is really corny. The White Stripes do a cover of “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” that I actually do prefer. That’s a good one!"

Chicago, you can grab tickets to Stef's show at The Empty Bottle here. She'll also be playing the Detroit festival Mo Pop with lots of other great artists this summer, or as Stef says, she's opening for Solange, since she plays earlier on the same day. Keep up with future tour announcements from Stef on her Facebook page, and listen to Messes here:

A Chat With: Moon Duo

Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada (AKA Moon Duo) released Volume 1 of their fourth studio album Occult Architecture earlier this year, and they're on the brink of releasing the second, lighter part of the album, Occult Architecture Vol. 2. After the release of the first part, the Portland-hailing pair toured around Europe playing the new songs live, and they're gearing up to do the same in America. Kicking off at the Chicago at The Empty Bottle this Friday, April 21st, Johnson says their set will feature more new songs than any of their past tours. Read on to find out more about the recording process, the purpose behind the two part album, their live show, and the Portland music scene in our chat with Moon Duo!

Photo Credit: Eleonora Collini

Photo Credit: Eleonora Collini

ANCHR Magazine: So I wanted to start off by talking about Occult Architecture Vo1. 1, which you just released in February. Can you talk a little bit about why you decided to split up the songs into two volumes, and what is it about the songs that keeps them connected, yet separated?

Ripley Johnson: Basically, when we started out recording we had a lot of material. Usually we just end up pulling stuff that doesn’t work out or stuff that doesn’t fit right. Either we don’t use it or it ends up as a single...but when we were doing this record, a lot of the material just naturally started bunching up in two different parts. Some of it was lighter and some of it was darker, so that’s where we came up with the idea of separating them thematically, based on tone. We came up with the idea of releasing one in the winter and one in the spring or summer. That came about really early on in the process, so once we realized we were going to do that, we just started naturally pushing the songs in those directions when we were recording.

AM: Very cool. And you recording in Berlin and in Portland for the two parts?

RJ:  We recorded everything in Portland, but we mixed one in Berlin and one in Portland.

AM: Cool. So do you think that mixing one in a completely different location like Berlin kind of trickled into the vibe and sonically affected the album?

RJ: Yeah. We’ve mixed all of our records in Berlin before this...although we have done some mixing in California, but then ended up remixing it in Berlin. So we knew what the vibe was like there. Part of it was just to separate the sessions, so we mixed one of them in spring and then we mixed the lighter one in the summer in Portland, where we knew it was going to be really sunny and hot. We used the same engineer. The setting was important, but primarily it was just separating the sessions, so that they could have their own identity. But we’ve worked in Berlin before and Berlin has a pretty heavy vibe. It’s a fun city, but there’s a darkness to it. It’s a night time city. It could be cold there, it can be sort of uncomfortable sometimes. It’s very urban...everyone smokes all the time there. So we knew what that was like and the engineer we like to use lives in Berlin. We’d never mixed with him outside of Berlin so it ended up sort of an experiment, but it worked really well.

AM: Cool! How did you end up working with that engineer?

RJ: It started with our record Mazes, where we mixed it and then wanted to start over again. We record a lot of our stuff at home, and we don’t really know what we’re doing. A lot of it needs to be fixed and massaged in the studio. We’ve gotten better as we’ve gone along, but we met this guy through a friend of ours in Berlin who also does all of our tour managing in Europe. We just started back then working with him and we have a really good working relationship so we just keep going back to him. He does a lot of pop, and there’s a real sort of electronic bend to everything in Europe. So he has more of that perspective, whereas our natural inclination is more rock’n’roll...American rock...garage. We don’t have a lot of experience with electronic music, but we like to experiment with it. He can just enhance things in a way because he’s worked on a lot of polished electro-pop kind of stuff. So it’s a good balance because he pushes it in one direction and we just pull him back. It creates a unique working relationship.

AM: So then did you pull influence or inspiration from any other bands for this record, or was it mostly personal experience that influenced the new songs?

R: I think thematically, part of the reason we called it Occult Architecture is that I was reading this biography of Aleister Crowley when I was writing the songs. And it was winter in Portland and I started reading all this occult stuff after that, and that just started feeding into the themes of the songs. Again, the dark and the light, once that became a thing we were working with...just the seasons in Portland are so strong. I’m sure it’s the same in Chicago. So you feel it. You feel nature, even in a city. It pulls you down in the winter. So we were exploring the whole idea of darkness and light.

AM: So then talking about playing these songs in the live setting, are there any particularly you’re looking forward to playing when you start tour?

RJ: We just came back from a month in Europe and we’ve been playing a lot of the stuff. Whenever we release a record, we always think let’s play all of the songs, cause we’re excited to play new material. Then you realize that some of it works and some of it doesn’t, in the live setting or just as far as the flow of the set. But for this tour, we’re actually playing more new songs than we ever have. From volume 1, we’re playing every song except for two, and that’s mostly because we want to play a few old songs for people who want to hear something older. I feel like there’s a tone to the set that works really well.

AM: Nice! Are there any cities that you’re particularly excited to play in?

RJ: All of them...we always look forward to going to Chicago, because Chicago is always great to us and we have some family there. Detroit is amazing, always. New York. All of it’s really great. We’re looking forward to doing the tour with Jackie Lynn. She’s from Chicago and her band is from Chicago, and we don’t often get to do a tour with another band and we’re huge fans, so we’re really looking forward to that.

AM: So talking more about where you’re from, you mentioned the seasons in Portland, but can you talk about the local scene in Portland? Are there any other bands that you’re really into or venues that you’d recommend?

RJ: We really like a place called The Know. It just closed and reopened in a new neighborhood, so we’re looking forward to that. Unfortunately we’re on the road so much that we don’t get to see that many shows here, but there’s a great music scene. It’s such a small city, but we get so many touring bands that come through. We’re kind of spoiled. People here get to see so much music for such a tiny city, it’s kind of unusual.

AM: Any other bands that you’re really into at the moment or albums that you’re listening to a lot?

RJ: The new Jackie Lynn record. There’s a band called Nest Egg that we’re really into. Kikagaku Moyo are friends of ours from Tokyo.

AM: Very cool. So circling back to when you first got into music, do you have a first musical memory of when you first picked up an instrument or first wrote your first song?

RJ: The first instrument I picked up was my mom’s classical guitar, which was probably the worst thing to learn on. When I was a kid me and my friends would pretend we were playing. We had these pretend guitars that someone’s dad made out of plywood and we painted them. We would just pretend to play, so my sort of musical aspirations started before I even knew what a guitar was. We just wanted to get up on stage and dance around, which is really weird to me.

AM: Nice! I always like to hear how people first got into music. So anything else for you guys this year besides Volume 2 and more touring?

RJ: That’s pretty much it. Lots of touring. New record, that’s about it.

You can grab tickets to Moon Duo's show with Jackie Lynn in Chicago tomorrow, April 21st, here. Get ready for the show by listening to Vol. 1 of Occult Architecture here:



A Chat With: White Reaper

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Jesse DeFlorio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get To Know: Two Feet

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

First Steps  EP Artwork

First Steps EP Artwork

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

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

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

He'd like to collaborate with...

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

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

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

Lots of new music is on the way

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

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

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

He's a taco enthusiast 

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

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

This tour has turned him into a traveler

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

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

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

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

A Chat With: Little Cub

Electro-indie pop trio Little Cub are less than a month away from the release of their debut album, Still Life. Band members Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse now reside in South London, but they went through a period of time working as a long distance group, when Duncan relocated to New York. Through the years together, they were able to overcome those challenges and produce an 11-track diverse and dynamic album. Before the April 28th release date of said album, we chatted about everything from their influences, their struggles as a long distance band, and what's next for them this year. Get to know the up and coming group Little Cub now! 

Little Cub is Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse  Photo Credit: Megan Eagles 

Little Cub is Dominic Gore, Duncan Tootill, and Ady Acolatse

Photo Credit: Megan Eagles 

ANCHR Magazine: What first got each of you inspired to pick up an instrument and start making music?

Dominic Gore: I grew up in a musical family, both my parents were classical musicians and, even after they broke up, so much of my youth was spent listening to them. It was always the part of their lives where they best expressed themselves and even though their struggles should have been enough to put me off I was too young to appreciate how difficult their lives must have been until I'd been hooked myself. We always had good records around and even before I could really play, my friends and I used to collect and listen to CDs so it was kind of inevitable. 

Combined with good teachers and lots of opportunities to play, I was pretty lucky... Though I didn't really feel any desire to write songs until my Mum passed away, and then it became the sort of central focus of my life after that. 

Duncan Tootill: When I was little, I apparently used to appropriate my toys to use as musical instruments, no matter what it was; so after that (age 6) my Grandad brought a trumpet ‘round and I was instantly obsessed.

Ady Acolatse: I started on cello in primary school. There was this government scheme where everyone in my year at school could play an instrument if they wanted to and get a free instrument loan and lessons. Cello was the only instrument on the list I didn’t know and I remember asking my friend who was sat next to me in class what it was. He told it was a big wooden thing with a spike in it so I was instantly sold. I then moved on to double bass and piano. Bass guitar actually came a lot later for me.

AM: How are you feeling now that you’ve finished a debut album that will be heard by the world soon? 

DG:  Just excited really. These songs are very much snapshots of moments from the last few years of our lives and because a lot of the subject matter deals with our experiences of issues that are going on right now, it'll be interesting to see how people connect with them. We've been lucky so far that people who've heard the album seem to have a lot to say on it.

AM: In your bio, it’s stated: “Too Much Love", and much of the album is loosely thematically based on the Oscar Wilde quote "I represent all the sins you will never have the courage to commit.” What was it about that quote that inspired you, and where else did you pull inspiration from for the album’s theme?

DG: Yes definitely. I like the Dorian thing (and Will Self's retelling of a few years ago) because I think that feeling of seeing your emotional response corrupted as Dorian's is very much correlates to our experience of going through your twenties...particularly living in London. Be it through relationships, bereavement, partying, politics, pop culture or religion. A lot of pop music is by its nature self aggrandizing, but we're not really like that as people. I like the idea that Dorian is constantly trying to be outrageous and devoid of emotion, but at the same time he is sad and kind of ridiculous, so that seemed sort of fitting. That film The Comedy pretty much sums up the idea of seeing the absurd and grotesque elements of the whole thing, but still not being able to totally separate yourself from it. As the themes on the record all link to us dealing with real life situations, there are obviously references to people who helped us deal with those situations. We've commented a bit on poets and writers (Auden, Larkin, Ballard, Greene, Fisher) that influenced us, but one of the things I loved about being into bands when I was younger was all the influences [like] books, films, and artists, that you could discover just by being fans of a band. So a lot of our influences come from other musicians in that sense. 

AM: When you were working as a long-distance band with Duncan being in New York, what were some of the biggest challenges?

DG: Not being able to play live and having to wait on the time difference. We learned a lot about Ableton, production, and recording over the course of the process, and as we're all quite thoughtful and like to really put something through the mill before we sign off on it. Perhaps it's better that sometimes things took a bit longer. That being said, now that we're discovering how great playing live is, I can't believe we weren't doing this sooner.

AM: What are some of your favorite songs on the album, or the songs that you’re most excited to share with your fans?

DG: "October" and "Snow." "Snow" is the most personal thing we've written and we're hugely proud of that one. ‘October’ reminds me of a lot of the pop music that I loved as a kid and it's a very thinly veiled jab at the previous leader of the UK Conservative party so it works on both levels for me.

AA: I think for me, at the moment it might be "Mulberry". I think maybe because of how it's been connecting people when we play the song live has given it a whole new meaning to me and changed how I hear it. We wrote the song to start almost as a ballad that draws you in and then let the song build towards a way more upbeat, emotional and hopefully satisfying chorus at the end. All the shows we've being doing recently we've managed to get the whole room dancing by the end which when you're playing to people who have never heard our music before is a great feeling.

A lot of pop music is by its nature self aggrandizing, but we’re not really like that as people. I like the idea that Dorian is constantly trying to be outrageous and devoid of emotion, but at the same time he is sad and kind of ridiculous, so that seemed sort of fitting.
— Dominic Gore on the theme of "Still Life"

AM: I saw you recently released a remix for Wild Beasts, how did that opportunity come up? Are there any other bands or artists you’d really like to either work with or remix?

DG: Well, they're on the same label and we know their managers a bit. We've actually met them a few times, but I'm a big fan so I've probably embarrassed myself to the point of erasing it from my memory. As we make a lot of more club friendly music too, we really enjoy and believe in the remix as an art form so any opportunity to remix an artist always appeals. We really like Dan Snaith’s remixes even though they often end up sounding more like new caribou songs than remixes. Working on John Grant,Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Jon Hopkins, Pepe Braddock or Leon Vynehall would be pretty special.

AM: You’ve got an album release show in the books, but are there any plans to tour more when the record comes out? Anywhere in the world particularly that you’d really like to play?

DT: Absolutely, we're hoping to sort out a tour with Rhythm Method soon as we love those guys. The album's out on April 28th so we'll definitely be out on the road round then. Right now, I think playing Berlin is on the top of our list.

AM: If you could curate a music festival, who are 3-5 acts (dead or alive) that you would you pick to headline?

Little Cub: Kraftwerk, Nick Cave, Peter Gabriel's Genesis....Would probably be a pretty fitting selection

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

LC: Hudson Scott, Leon Vynehall, [and] Boxed In. Sam and Oli are both good friends and artists we've worked with a lot so they definitely make the list. Leon Vynehall is a hero so....

AM: What are some of your favorite venues in London?

LC: Electrowerkz & the Lexington are favorites. Then Rye Wax, The Nines and all that Peckham's got to offer!

Little Cub have their newest single “Hypnotise” out today. Check out the video and get hyped for Still Life, which you can preorder here

A Chat With: Blonder

We recently chatted with Constantine Anastasakis, the man behind the new Brooklyn based act Blonder. Mixing 80's inspired synths and sticky melodies, Blonder have created an irresistible sound that's perfect for driving with the windows down on a sunny day. Speaking of driving, Blonder will be out on the road next month trying out their live show on new crowds, and they've also got a debut EP on the cusp of release. Prior to the tour, we talked to Constantine about his start in music, how an ex-girlfriend inspired his band name, his collaborative songwriting methods, the best spots to eat in NYC, and more. Get to know Blonder now...

ANCHR Magazine: What inspired you to pick up an instrument and start writing songs?

Constantine: Well, the very first thing was this guy who lived on my block who I always thought was really cool when I was a kid. He used to skateboard, and he was into indie music. He used to skate with a bunch of guys from Supreme in the early 90's. He’s kind of like this cool, older figure. He ended up being a school teacher, and he had like a small skate company that he ran out of his basement. He had a bunch of gear and stuff. He showed me some rock’n’roll and then some jazz. I was more into nerdy music when I was younger, like jazz.

AM: Do you have any musical influences, like other acts that inspired you to keep creating music yourself?

Constantine: I feel like I have really weird listening habits with music. I get into like different time periods way later. Like I only really got into the Strokes and Interpol and that stuff like literally four years ago. Like so long after it happened. I just wasn’t even in that mindset when it was going on in 2000. I was pretty young too so I didn’t really get it. I guess, my friend Aaron Maine from Porches, we’ve been friends for the last 5 or 6 years. We just kind of remained consistent friends, like hanging out a few times a week when he wasn’t on tour. We were just talking the other night about how crazy it was that we’re still friends after so much has changed around us. His band had always been pretty inspiring to me.

AM: I was actually going to ask about your residency that you had with Aaron, alongside Dev Hynes too. How did that opportunity come up, and how was the experience?

Constantine: The residency was also along Frankie Cosmos as well. It was the three of them. Basically, I had been working on a record for like a really long time, but didn’t even have an Instagram account, or a Twitter. I actually didn’t even have a band name. It was pretty crazy, I actually mixed and mastered my entire album without a band name. It was really nuts, but I had been working on something for a really long time, and I would play it for Aaron and Greta [Frankie Cosmos], and even Dev sometimes. I see him less, but I still see him a bunch, and they were just always super supportive. Like “you have to release this, this is so sick.” I finally figured out what I wanted it to be, then I got a band together. I wanted to play some shows to bring attention to the band, and I said hey, I’m gonna play this residency at Elvis, do you guys wanna play? They were like “definitely!” It’s pretty much just on a super friend-level. Greta actually guested with me that night on my song “Lean.” It was so beautiful. We rehearsed a harmony for it.

AM: So when did you finally settle on the name Blonder then?

Constantine: I was actually dating a girl and the relationship was falling apart, as the story goes. We were getting older, and we’d known each other since childhood. There was a lot of pressure to have it be like the end all, be all type of relationship. It kind of just wasn’t working anymore. Anyway, while we were breaking up, we were still kind of seeing each other every once in awhile. It was not that much of a clean break. My whole record is kind of about that time in my life, and the romance and breakup. Basically all the songs were about this one relationship, and this girl knew that I didn’t have a band name. She called me really late one night and she was like ‘I’m with my friends, and I think you need to name your band ‘Blonder’.” I think her and her friends were having a few drinks, and she’s blonde, I feel like it was maybe some kind of joke. I just felt like the record was kind of about her and she’s an important person in my life, but it was super apt with the whole clubby, 80's sound of the record too.

AM: So it sounds like you have the whole album done then? Any plans to release it this year?

Constantine: I’m technically in the middle of my roll out. I recorded 10 songs at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys. And then cut 5 of them because I wanted the EP to be super like, every song was really, really good. I go back and forth with my record label a lot trying to figure out what the best way to go about it is. It’s kind of hectic sometimes. The next song is supposed to come out in April.

AM: So definitely new music soon then?

Constantine: Definitely, yes!

AM: So what is your songwriting process like then?

Constantine: The way I work is pretty...I would say a little collage-y. I’ll sit on a song and I’m not afraid to change a song way after the point of it being written. I also like to work with songwriters. I like to have sessions with people and work on music, like trading ideas. Rather than staying in my room alone. Some people are really amazing at making stuff alone. I found that it winds up being really counterproductive to do it all myself, so I would work with a bunch of people. I wrote a bunch of songs on the record with Aaron [Maine].  I also wrote a bunch of songs with some dudes out in California that I’m friends with, that kind of do that type of thing for a living. They have publishing deals and they basically write songs all day. I was kind of on the left-leaning indie side of it cause they’re my friends and we weren’t ever doing it for more than “let’s make some music together.”

AM: So talking more about your live show, I know you’re doing some dates in April. Is that your first tour with Blonder?

Constantine: Yeah, it’s the first tour for Blonder. There’s a 3 day stint with WET, and then an 8 day run with Methyl Ethel.

AM: Are there any cities you’re particularly excited for?

Constantine: Honestly, all of the dates are really cool. I’m really excited that we’re doing 7th Street in Minneapolis and The Empty Bottle in Chicago. We’re playing in Toronto. Randomly, a couple people in Toronto have hit me up like “I really like your music,” so I think it will be really cool to play there. Then the rest of the Methyl thing is basically Boston, DC, and Philly, so back home-ish.

AM: What are some of your favorite spots in Brooklyn for music, or just for going out? Any recommendations?

Constantine: Yeah, I usually I tend to hang out in Manhattan more because that’s where a lot of my friends are basically. I just kind of live in Brooklyn. My girlfriend lives like 5 blocks away from me in Brooklyn, so I’ll see her there, and everyone else is basically in the city. I’ve been eating this crazy, super cheap Chinese food for dinner called Spicy Village, it’s in Chinatown and it’s crazy good. Spots in New York, there are a few that are kind of always going to be there. Like that bar Sophie’s in East Village. That’s a good spot to just go an have a drink, it’s unpretentious and easy. I also go to this restaurant called The Smile a lot because my guitarist is the manager there. So I like to go there, they have good drinks and really good food and I basically know every single person that works there.

AM: So talking more about the tour again, how would you describe the live show? I’m sure you’re rehearsing now, so are there any songs you’re particularly excited to test out on the road?

Constantine: Yeah, we’ve been rehearsing. We were just in there til really late last night and it’s sounding amazing. I’m really excited. There’s this song that I don’t think is even going to come out on the EP. It was a b-side from the recordings and we last minute wanted to throw that one in. So we’re playing a 7 song set. It’s at like 30 minutes flat. It’s called “Just Because”, and it’s the first song that we open the set with, and it just feels really good. It feels really like punky, and wirey. They’re all feeling really amazing. We’re gonna close with “Lean” every night because that’s everyone’s favorite song right now.

AM: Cool! So last question, are there any other newer bands that you’re really into at the moment?

Constantine:I have a Spotify playlist, called $5 Playlist, which is actually the name of my EP. I kind of update it every once 2-3 weeks with songs that I’m super into. I’m trying to think of what might be a new band that I’m genuinely listening to. Let’s do two, the newest Methyl Ethyl single, I actually really love. You know, it’s crazy because I feel like bands are pressured to like other bands because they’re going on tour with them. They released this song and I was like oh my god, and I listened to it on my own free will. It’s amazing. It’s got a French title, it’s like the something something of sorcery in French. It’s so amazing, and then I really got obsessed with this one song called “The Woman That Loves You” by Japanese Breakfast. It’s such a great song, it’s off their record that came out last year. There’s that. Alex G just dropped two new songs today, I just listened to those before this interview and they’re really beautiful. Also Lorde! I’m such a huge Lorde fan. I thought Heroine was just the smartest pop record.

Blonder's $5 Playlist

Make sure you go check out Blonder's set on tour with Methyl Ethyl (dates below), and follow up with all other news on Blonder's Facebook page.