ANCHR Magazine

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Filtering by Tag: The Hideout

Baring it All With Burr Oak: A Premiere of the New Single "Rosemary"

Sometimes your favorite songs have to grow on you, but the best songs are those that hook you during the first few seconds and after luring you in, the melody gets lodged in your head for hours after the song has ended. The debut single from Burr Oak, “Southsider,” had that effect on me the first time I listened— as soon as I heard Savanna Dickhut’s haunting, double-layered vocals, I knew this project was going to be something special.

I was first introduced to Savanna as one of the lead vocalists and songwriters of the local folk-rock group Elk Walking back in early 2018, and while that group has always given her a platform to shine, Burr Oak is an outlet that allows for listeners to absorb Savanna’s unapologetically honest musings in a way that fully belongs to her. Prior to forming Elk Walking with Julian Daniell, Savanna dabbled in collaborative writing with her band called Tigers and Tantrums during her freshman year of Columbia College, but long before that, she was writing songs just for herself. “I think the first song I wrote was probably before I even learned how to play guitar. I remember writing songs—this is so embarrassing, but I would write songs on the toilet when I was 7 or 8. They weren’t even really songs, but I would just sing on the toilet,” Savanna recalls.

Burr Oak photographed by Alexa Viscius

Burr Oak photographed by Alexa Viscius

When she was 11 years old, Savanna started playing drums, but after realizing she needed a way to write songs on an instrument, she asked for a guitar for her 8th grade graduation present. “So I was 14 and I just went on this streak of writing. I remember coming home from high school my freshman year and of course at the time I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift. Cause I’m 14 you know? I’m a 14 year old girl who just learned how to write and I remember hearing that one song on the radio— ‘Teardrops on My Guitar.’ It sounds cheesy but I was inspired by her and so I started writing songs and I would come home from high school every day and write a song,” Savanna says, adding that back then she was writing purely for the joy of it and to express herself in a no-pressure situation.

Essentially, these Burr Oak singles came about in the same way; They were inspired by feelings that Savanna had to get out for her own peace of mind, except this time she decided to share them with the world. “I started writing a lot of songs that weren’t working for Elk Walking,” she says, adding that they just weren’t the vibe of the band. “I was going through a breakup and some personal stuff, and I started writing these really sad songs. And was just listening to a lot of music that was in the sleep rock genre. When I wrote ‘Southsider,’ I knew that it just wasn’t gonna work [for Elk Walking]. So I either have this for myself and do nothing with it, or I start this new project.” Coincidentally the timing was right for Savanna to take on another project, and she also had the catalog to back it up. “It wasn’t like I just wrote that one song either...I had been writing songs for a while. I have probably an album’s worth of songs that I could put out that wouldn’t work for Elk Walking.” Ultimately, it was specifically “Southsider” that Savanna wrote that she felt like she needed to get out there, and the best way to share it would be starting her own side project. “I hit a wall creatively. I was going through depression with my breakup and I just needed to get this out there. It was selfish almost, it was for me, but also I do want to get it out there for people to listen to. I just didn’t want it to be another one of those songs that I wrote and it’s like ‘never gonna see the light of day.’ So that was really the main motivation for it,” Savanna added.

During her first experience of writing songs as a teenager, Savanna took influence from popstars like Taylor Swift, but nowadays she pulls inspiration from a more laid-back place. In addition to Julia Jacklin, Faye Webster and Weyes Blood, Savanna says she really connected to the latest album from Hand Habits, the project of Meg Duffy. “I was really inspired by Hand Habits. When their record came out, I was very inspired by that and I loved that doubling of their voice and the just kind of dreamy sound. Everything about it was just like I love this so much! So that inspired me to double my voice in pretty much all of those two tracks [“Southsider” and “Rosemary”]. I don’t know if I’m gonna keep doing that when I eventually record an EP and album, but it was something I experimented with because I just wanna have this kind of bigger sound.”

Like the haunting double vocals used on “Southsider,” Savanna’s second single “Rosemary” (which we’re premiering below) has that same ethereal effect. Fittingly, since these songs both have a dreamy quality to them, part of the melody for the second single came to Savanna in a dream. “Sometimes I’ll write from my dreams, but I never get a full song. Sometimes I do hear melodies and even lines in my dreams. So I had that dream and I kind of based the story I was telling about this person who is very consuming in your life. Somebody that I met recently that kind of just sucked all of the emotion and sucked the life out of me in a way and is with another person, but is very all-consuming of me. Obviously I knew it would be wrong to ever try to get invested in that cause I don’t need to be a part of that,” Savanna says about writing “Rosemary.” She chose to release this song and “Southsider” first because they’re the two newest of songs she’s written for Burr Oak, and songs that she currently connects with the most.

Going along with the theme of new beginnings, the live ensemble for Burr Oak is filled with some fresh faces for Savanna. Her friend Emily McDermott plays bass along with Jeff Sullivan from Elk Walking on lead guitar and Tony Mest on drums, who Savanna hadn’t worked with in the past. “It was perfect timing cause I was looking for a drummer to try to really get Burr Oak off the ground, and I wanted someone who I hadn’t really worked with before,” she says about Tony. You can catch the full band in action at our next showcase this week at The Hideout.

As far as what’s next for Burr Oak, the possibilities are endless. While the first two singles were very stripped back and very minimal (Savanna didn’t track to a metronome in order to keep the live feel), Burr Oak’s sound hasn’t been defined just yet. Talking about the recording process for “Southsider” and “Rosemary,” Savanna says, “I really just wanted it to be about my voice and the story I was telling. And not overproduced and not add too much. That’s not to say that my sound isn’t gonna develop, but at least for this debut, I wanted it to be pretty simple. I think that comes off that it’s gonna sound pretty much on the record as it does live.” Eventually, Savanna hopes to put out an EP within the year and continue to work with new people and branch out of her comfort zone. “I can’t say where or if it’s gonna be an album, but I will definitely be recording more in the next few months. I have all these songs and I really wanna get them out. But I also don’t want to overwhelm people with so much at once. People are digesting their music differently now.”

For now, dive into Burr Oak’s second single “Rosemary,” and get your tickets to the August 15th Hideout showcase here.

Keep up with Burr Oak on Instagram and Facebook

A Chat With: Flasher

Taylor Mulitz, Daniel Saperstein, and Emma Baker have known each other since they were teenagers, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the three got together to form Flasher. Since the trio’s inception they’ve released a self-titled EP in 2016 and followed up with debut full length, Constant Image, released June 8th of this year via Domino Records. With its mix of genres ranging from punk, shoegaze and pop, the diverse yet straightforward record has been very well received. Flasher has toured these songs relentlessly this past year, sharing stages with the likes of Ought and The Breeders throughout The States, and recently completing a European run.

This Tuesday, December 4th, Flasher will play The Hideout as one of their final tour stops of 2018, and before the show, the band took some time to chat about their debut album, their music video for “Material” and the DC music scene. Check out our chat with Flasher below, and go see them on Tuesday night.

Photo By Amy Breesman

Photo By Amy Breesman

Congratulations on the release of your debut album Constant Image earlier this year. What was the writing process like for this set of songs?

Thanks! We wrote almost every song on the record in the month leading up to our time in the studio. Out of the whole record we had only played one song (“Skim Milk”) live before going into recording.

How was it working with Nicolas Vernhes as the producer?

Traditionally we've strictly recorded ourselves with the help of our friend and collaborator Owen Wuerker- in Owen's and Daniel's DC studio, Lurch. We've never seen recording as a matter of transcription or a production of representation. Recording for us has always been approached as a process of writing and a production of new ideas. When searching for another engineer to collaborate with, we wanted someone whose records sounded like they appreciated a similar approach. We also wanted someone who was conveniently located (somewhere on the east coast). Out of a list of a handful of engineers Nicolas' records stood out to us. At once, his body of work is so eclectic in style and yet there's an attention to form across all of them that sounds as if the techniques of engineering and production are foregrounded in the songs themselves. We don't want to just make unique songs, we want to make unique sounding records and Nicolas was instrumental in helping us do that with Constant Image.

You definitely have a versatile sound that blends different genres together, so who and what are some of your influences from a writing standpoint, and who inspires you as a performer?

Some touchstones for the writing of a Constant Image were My Bloody Valentine, The B52s, Juana Molina, Broadcast, Stereolab, and Blood Orange. Some of the most inspiring live shows I saw this year were by US Girls, The Breeders, The Funs, and Beach House. Beach House do an amazing job of getting a huge sound with just 3 musicians on stage (with the help of their FOH engineer and samples, of course). Figuring out a creative way to introduce some of those elements into our live set on a much smaller scale is a goal moving forward.

Although your first release as Flasher was only in 2016, you all had known each other and been into music since you were teenagers. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about each other since you started playing music together?

It’s been a steep learning curve of trying how to be more sensitive with one another. Feeling safe and understood by each other can feel like a moving target, but communication and checking in with one another is key.

When it comes to the band’s visuals and your music videos, how hands-on are you all with the concepts? Specifically with the “Material” video that came out earlier in November, who came up with the YouTube parody/videos-inside-videos idea, and what was the experience like filming all the different clips used in it?

So far, Taylor has handled most of the artwork and design for the records, t-shirts, and posters. Music videos have been much more collaborative and often begin with a director submitting a treatment and then workshopping it with us. For the Material video, the entire concept came from the mind of the director, Nick Roney. Filming it was intense but really fun and well organized. It was shot over two 14 hours days in LA, which began the morning after we had driven from DC to LA in 4 days. When Nick first submitted the treatment we were all like, “This is brilliant but I don’t know how the fuck we’re going to pull it off,” but we decided to go for it anyway. Nick was super organized, had a strong concept and vision, and had a great team of people working with him, so things went surprisingly smoothly.

What were some of your favorite moments or highlights of your November European tour?

In terms of the shows we played, Glasgow and Paris were standouts. We had days off in both Hamburg and Amsterdam and it was such a treat to have extra time to explore those cities. In a dream world we’d have a day off in every town.

Do you have anything special in store for your last few shows on the year?

Why yes, I’m glad you asked! From December 1st - 7th we will be touring the east coast and Midwest with two incredible bands, Public Practice from New York and Gong Gong Gong from Beijing. In honor of this super tour we will be selling a tour-exclusive 3-way flexi split featuring a previously unreleased track from each group.

What are some of the best things about the DC music scene, and who are some local bands you’d recommend?

Growing up in DC we really took for granted having access to all ages shows all the time. It was much easier for us to get involved in the music scene at a young age because of the all ages culture in DC, and it’s a huge bummer that it isn’t the standard everywhere. There is a ton of exciting music coming out of DC. It’s hard to narrow it down but just to name a few: Clear Channel (new project of Mary from Downtown Boys, Carson from Merchandise, and Ahmad from Vasillus), Knife Wife, Mock Identity, Bad Moves, Des Desmonas, and - *shameless plug* - everything on Sister Polygon, a label Taylor runs with his former bandmates in Priests.

What are your goals for 2019?

Write more music , make more art, spend more time with friends and family.

Grab your tickets to see Flasher at The Hideout on December 4th here and keep up with them on Facebook + Instagram

Get To Know: Post Animal

This past Friday night, I caught up with the boys in Post Animal before they headlined night one of Chicago’s Psych Fest at The Hideout. Although the band was down one member, with this weekend being one of the first times they’ve played without guitarist Joe Keery, the remaining five members still had plenty to talk about. Throughout the conversation, I found out all you need to know about this up and coming Chicago band, including news on their upcoming album and tour, stories about their haunted recording space, their influences, and their feelings on a certain Netflix show (which, if you didn’t already know, one of them happens to star in). There’s no doubt about it, 2017 will be an incredible year for Post Animal, so get familiar with them now. 

Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo and Matt Williams. Photo by  Kristina Pedersen . 

Post Animal is: Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Joe Keery, Javi Reyes, Wes Toledo
and Matt Williams. Photo by Kristina Pedersen

Their Influences Include Bands like Black Sabbath and The Police, Their Parents... and Mel Gibson

One of the first things I always want to know about musicians is how they got into playing music.  Matt Williams, Javi Reyes, and Wes Toledo all credit their parents for getting them into music at a young age.  “I started playing music when I was like four,” Wes says. “My dad was a musician too, so he just kind of started me at an early age. I started listening to the Police and bands like that, like the Beatles liking of music came from that," he continued on. Matt adds, “My mom was a musician so she kinda forced me to take guitar lessons. She’s a bass player, but she was like ‘you need to learn how to play guitar,’ and then I kinda got forced to…” Javi says his mom also had guitars laying around, and he first started playing the guitar that his brother was given for Christmas one year. “I  learned how to play the James Bond theme,” he recalls.

Dalton Allison says that other bands, like Black Sabbath, inspired him to start making music, while Jake Hirshland admits that his inspiration stems from just wanting to be in a band, saying, “I just wanted to be in a band so bad dude, that I like picked up a guitar and tried to get good enough.” All of the guys also agree that films scores played a big part in influencing them, with Dalton deeming the Jurassic Park score as his favorite.

Oh, and the part about Mel Gibson? That came up while Matt chatted about the early days of guitar lessons, revealing, “The very first lesson I took was so awkward. There’s like these guitar books, I think they’re called Mel Gibson, wait! Not Mel Gibson...those learning books...”  It turns out he was actually talking about Mel Bay guitar books, which we quickly figured out, thanks to a member of another band playing that night.

All Of The Band Members Are Multi-Instrumentalists

If you’ve ever seen Post Animal live, you know they’ve got a lot of guitars on one stage (they also have a lot of hair on one stage, but that’s besides the point). The reason for so many bandmates stems from a few of them originally being substitutes who just never left. Dalton and Matt grew up together as self-proclaimed “bad boys of Danville,” first starting a band in sixth grade. As for the rest of the guys, Matt says,“We just kinda met people through friends and through work, and then someone was like ‘Hey I know this guy who’s a really good drummer, Wes. You should play with him.’ Then we did, and someone was out of town and Javi had just moved into town. So we were like ‘Javi wanna play these couple shows with us?’ And he just never stopped playing with us.”  

“We’ve pretty much just been tacking people on. I moved to Chicago and started playing with these dudes. It was a lot of people going out of town for a while, so we were just subbing people,” Jake chimes in.  The rest of band agreed that they just can’t let anyone go.

Dalton also gives credit to the adaptability of his bandmates, saying “We’re really lucky to have a mutli-talented group. Like Javi can pretty much play anything, Matt can pretty much play anything, Jake can play anything. Wes is one of the best drummers that I’ve ever played with.”  

The Lakehouse They Recorded in Is Haunted

It’s been a minute since Post Animal released their 6 track EP called The Garden Series, but lucky for us, the next album is just about ready. How is this new full-length different than the band’s previous releases? Other than the location where they recorded it, Dalton says,“It’s the first one with all 6 of us on it, so this is the most exciting for sure,” adding on that it should be between 10 and 13 songs. He also says that this new record is more collaborative than their past work, crediting each band member with writing their own parts.  

“Yeah we’re all pumped. Recordings are done and Dalton’s in the cave doing [post] production on it. We’re hoping the spring time,” Jake adds about the progress and planned release of the record.  Continuing on about their recording process, he adds, “I feel like the way we recorded is also...we did a lot of stuff at the same time and we never really used the rooms we were in. Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space. I think you can tell [it was recorded live].”

While we’re on the subject of the lakehouse, Wes drops the bomb that the place was haunted. Javi and Dalton both attest to strange glitches appearing on their recordings from the lakehouse, while Jake, Wes, and Matt admit to having to sleep in the same room eventually after several scares. Jake recalls one night in which a nightstand flipped over in the room they were sharing, after already being woken up by a ghost. “These old, wrinkly leather hands just tugged me awake. It was bizarre,” Jake says. The rest of the band add that they’re not big on embellishment or really into paranormal activity, with Jake continuing, “Yeah we’re rational at heart, but it was bizarre, I had no explanations for some of the stuff I was feeling and seeing. The table flying over…”

In addition to the ghost scares, coffee got spilled on their computer halfway through recording, causing the band to worry they’d lost all of their work. Despite all of these scares, the band say they still had the time of their lives recording in the house adjoining Paw Paw Lake.

Rather than recording it in Dalton’s bedroom like we’ve been doing for the last couple, we actually went to this lakehouse of our good friend and just squatted in the living room and played everything loud...getting all the sound of the space
— Jake on the band's recording process

They’re Really Excited to Play Daytrotter Downs Festival In March

At the moment, the Post Animal boys have only got a string of live dates announced for this year, including some shows in Michigan with Twin Peaks and a slot at Daytrotter Downs Festival in Davenport, IA. However, they let on that they’ve just locked in the first two weeks of an upcoming tour, with Wes adding on that they’ll be out on the road all summer.

Talking more about Daytrotter, Dalton says,“I think that’s the first time that any of us were kinda shocked that someone asked us to play. We really respect what they’ve got going on.” They’re also all excited to check out some of the other bands on the line up, with Jake shouting out NE-HI and Wes and Matt giving nods to Joan of Arc and Gaelynn Lea.  

Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

Daydrotter Downs Lineup Poster

They’re Also Really Excited To See The Country

Before the interview, I noticed that a fan had commented “come to Brazil!” on one of Post Animal’s recent Facebook posts. To me, the summoning to Brazil is a sign you’ve made it. Bringing up this comment, I asked the band where in the world they’d like to tour.  

“South America would be a dream. It’s gonna be dream to even…. like I’ve never even been to New York City in my life. Every single place we go is gonna be a new place that I’ve never been, so that’s pretty crazy,” Dalton admits.  

Javi agrees with South America, saying “I’ve got family down there, so... Just so you know my name is Javier.” Jake agrees with Dalton’s point that it’ll be crazy to see the country, while Matt says he’s particularly excited to play in the states he hasn’t been to, like the Southeast. “Speaking of the south,” Jake adds,“We might be playing SXSW, but nothing is locked in.”  

They’d also love to eventually play some European dates, so keep your eyes out for that.

They’ve Got a Lot of Love for Fellow Chicago Musicians, Especially Jude Shuma

Post Animal recently headlined The Empty Bottle, with support coming from fellow Chicagoans Lucille Furs and Jude Shuma. Not only was the show entirely epic, but it turns out the Post Animal members all love the other two bands. Wes started the love fest for Jude and also gave props to Lucille Furs by saying,“[Twin] Peaks rocks, Joe Bordernaro. Lucille Furs obviously. Jude Shuma!” Jake recommended also interviewing Jude, with Javi attesting to his great interview skills, calling him a charismatic guy.  (So Jude, if you're reading this, let's set up an interview?) 

The guys have also got a lot of love for Chicago venues, including The Empty Bottle, The Hideout and Thalia Hall. “It was a bit of a dream playing Thalia with Twin Peaks. That was scary,” Jake says about the latter. “I’ve just never even been on a stage like that[with a barrier], but in the crowd it doesn’t look like there’s that much space. But when you’re up there, it’s like a good eight feet of space. It’s just like intimidating being that far away from people,”  he continued.

Dalton agrees that it’s more intimidating being separated, saying “You have to like really try to see how the audience feels when they’re not crammed against the stage.”  

They’re Big Fans of King Gizzard, Ty Segall, The Nude Party...and Dire Straits

Not only are the Post Animal members really into fellow Chicago bands, they’re big music fans in general. When asked what they’re listening to at the moment, Javi says, “This new Ty Segall album that just came out, or it comes out today. It’s been streaming the past week.” Jake says, “Mild High Club has such a special place in my heart,” while also mentioning that the entire band loves King Gizzard [& The Lizard Wizard].  

“I’ve been listening to this fucking sick rapper named Denzel Curry, who is so good,” Wes adds, while Dalton shouts out Vince Staples. Javi calls the band’s music taste eclectic, while Jake admits that they listen to a lot of older material as well. Similarly to the love expressed to Jude Shuma, the band also gushed for a few minutes about their admiration of The Nude Party, a band they recently played with in Milwaukee.  They also went to see NYC band The Lemon Twigs the night before at The Empty Bottle. 

Lastly, Wes chimes in, “Dire Straits is a good band,” joking,“They fucking rock. That better be in the interview by the way. Dire Straits fucking rocks.”  

They’re Happy For Joe’s Success As an Actor, But Please Get Their Name Right

If you weren’t aware, the sixth band member, Joe Keery, was MIA for this interview because he stars in a little known Netflix show called Stranger Things.  Naturally, the insane amount of success that the show has had has brought some new attention to the band over the past several months.  So, are Joe and his bandmates sick of the Stranger Things-driven attention? Not at all, but it does make things a bit more challenging at times.

“It’s hilarious that he’s not here right now,” Dalton says when I asked the question.  “It’s just weird cause there’s like this last year, Matt would be gone so Javi would fill in for Matt. Or like Wes would be gone so Joe would play drums. So originally Wes came into replace Joe. So now it’s like weird cause we wouldn’t really hesitate to play without anyone, but we kind of like have to hesitate to play without Joe. That’s been like the weirdest part... kinda feeling detached from our own project because of all the fame that got brought to it, not necessarily for the wrong reason, but for a different reason.”  

Jake chimes in, “We sort of just decided, actually it was a pretty recent decision, but we decided the only way to do this properly from here on out is to play doing exactly what we would have done before. Like tonight is a great example of a show that Joe couldn’t be at, and we’re just playing a damn show.”  

Dalton does admit that it breaks their heart to play without him, but he credits Joe with doing a great job of handling it all, and coming back when he can. “His life has gone from kinda 0 to 60, so it’s a little hectic. So here and there it’s gonna be without him. [Joe] just flies...he’s so committed to flying back day of," Jake says.  

The band also take all of the attention in a positive light, with Jake saying, “Even the people who come mostly to just meet or be in the presence of Joe, they end up being pretty cool audience members. I think a year ago we would have done almost anything to play these types of shows.”  

With so many band members, the guys also comment that they’re still able to deliver their best performance, but Matt contributes, “People can learn each other’s parts. The big difference is like the presence of a body. The nuances of how they play.” “No one can replace Joe’s stage banter,” Dalton adds in. Luckily, Joe is willing to do all he can to be there for shows, so the crowd won’t miss out on too much banter.  For their recent show at The Empty Bottle, Joe told the crowd he took two planes to get there.

All the guys really ask, is that you get their band name right, and don’t call Joe “Steve.” Javi recalls a time when someone said “give it up for Stranger Things” right after Post Animal performed. While something like that is clearly disrespectful to the entire band, no one was more upset about it than Joe himself.  “It’s kinda like exploitative of him personally. Like when people call him’s just like, you don’t even take the time to...They don’t think about the fact that he’s a real person and not the character. We’ve all had these crazy experiences of how people interact with him when we go to a bar or something like that. That’s been like the most hilarious and most disgusting part of it,” Dalton says in defense of his friend.

It’s clear that the guys in Post Animal are all great friends and they’re all supportive of Joe, but they’ve also got a great sense of humor. Wes joked, “Fuck that guy. Off the record, he’s one of my best friends, but on the record, fuck that guy," about Joe.  

Later on Friday evening, the guys did exactly as they'd promised and delivered a killer performance. Seriously, I picked a terrible night to leave my earplugs at home because they don't hold anything back during their shows.  Throughout the set, they also seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, which always makes a show more enjoyable from the audience.  Keep up with all of the Post Animal news by checking out their Facebook page.  You can also listen to The Garden Series below: