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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Stew: I was a big athlete as a child, and that was my first love. But I didn’t really choose that path, it was chosen for me. Music was the first thing that I identified with. I remember the first time I picked up a guitar, I wrote a song. It felt effortless and natural - pure bliss. Whenever I am struggling in music, I think back to the 13 year old kid, and how proud he would be to see how far he went.
Side note: I had absolutely no idea I could sing… I just joined choir in junior high because I had a crush on a girl. The teacher found out I could sing and entered me into a contest. I ended up winning and I have been singing ever since!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Dave: One of my favorite things to do is cook, which in some ways feels similarly creative to writing and playing music. I like to open the fridge to see what's in there, and then I'll try to think of a style, region, or type of cuisine to bring them all together - I still use recipes for guidance, but I'm often making substitutions, or combining ideas, depending on what I have on hand. I feel like it's similar to the same way I write music, taking and borrowing ideas and inspirations from lots of different sources depending on the context or mood I'm in.
How long has music been your career?
Henry: That’s a tricky question to answer actually. I’ve been playing since I was a kid, so I guess you could say it’s been my career for as long as I’ve been able to be legally compensated for it haha! We started the band about three years ago, but have all been heavily involved in other musical endeavors beforehand.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Nate: I'm from Sidney IL. It's a great little quiet town, and I have a lot of fond memories there. I would say the people influenced me more than the area itself. I had a lot of adults in my life that loved blues music, my dad in particular. I started off as an angsty teen playing metal in my bedroom and gradually refined my taste into blues. I started playing a couple bars with my science teacher’s band when I was in high school, which was always a blast (although I did step on a few toes every now and then, I'm sure). It was a great area to grow up in!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Mike: The best show I’ve ever played, wow, that’s a tough one. There’s a few that come to mind. Our show at Cubby Bear back on August 7th was unforgettable, definitely in the running. a 3-hour set, over 200 people came out, one of the coolest venues in Chicago… Another show that comes to mind is Bitter Jester Music Festival on the 4th of July in Highland Park IL. Nearly 2,000 people come out, and the talent level there is insane every year! Best part, I’m from Highland Park myself, so I had so many friends and family members there to support. My worst show, no question about it, was at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago back in 2014. We were 15 and 16 years old at the time, and we performed to a crowd of 8 people, all of whom were our parents. We also didn’t have our lead guitarist with us that day, and we struggled to remember the hour-long set we rehearsed once prior to the show. A truly unforgettable experience!
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Tony: So far my favorite venue we have played is Cubby Bear in Chicago. The location is excellent being right across from Wrigley Field and there is tons of history with incredibly talented acts coming through, including Foo Fighters, the Airborne Toxic Event and Walk the Moon. I think it’s really incredible to have played on the same stage as these bands I look up to! Cubby Bear was also our first gig in Chicago before we even moved up, so it holds a very special place in my heart. Every show that we play there seems to get better and better.
Locally it would be great to play at the Metro! They have also hosted some of my favorite bands growing up and the venue itself is just really well put together. We went to see Michigander and Band of Horses at a Lolla after-show this summer and had a really great time. I think the Metro is a great combination of intimate and also larger-than-life.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Henry: Depends on the kind of show! I love a good blend of atmosphere when it comes to live shows, so there would have to be a variety of pace. Right now the dream lineup would be (in no particular order) The Band CAMINO, Foo Fighters, NIGHT TRAVELER, ZORILA, Alabama Shakes, & The Killers!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Dave: In the music teaching I've done, I love working with beginners. Exploring an instrument for the first time, making a sound, playing a note, these are super exciting moments in a person's life. For someone just getting started, my advice is to listen to as much music as possible, sing along, and work to develop your "inner voice" - how you hear, react to, comprehend, and give meaning to music. It's like learning a language. The technical side of music will come with practice, but too often new people just getting into music only worry about the physical aspect of playing an instrument without also developing skills in what we call "audiation".
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Mike: No matter how good you get, no matter what the activity or skill, there’s always someone that’s better than you. At a certain point, and at a certain level of talent, attitude and work ethic are far more important than actual talent. Be humble, be kind, and be selfless!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Henry: One that will always mean a lot to me would be the song “Clearwater” off of our first album. While having a couple obvious meanings to it lyrically, something I’ve always taken away from the song and experienced while playing live is the idea of letting go of those things in life that are just simply out of your control. Not to open the “fate” can of worms, but it always allows me to find a headspace that’s consistently optimistic about things in life holding me down. Everyone needs a “Clearwater”!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Tony: Ahhhhhhhhh I don’t like to play favorites! I love all of our songs equally, but I think I had the most fun writing drum parts for “Clearwater” and “Holding On” off of our first record. On “Holding On,” I do this thing where I turn the snares off during the pre-choruses which makes the drum sound really lo-fi and underwater. I feel like not too many drummers do that, so it feels unique to me. Clearwater has a couple of neat drum parts in the verses and the ending, but I just like how that one came together on all fronts. I REALLY like the drum parts on some of our new, unreleased material, but you’ll have to wait for those ;)
Hard to say which songs get requested the most since we typically play them all at shows, but I would say people really enjoy “Grapefruit”, “Promenade” and “10” when we’re live. There’s also a segment of our fans/friends that REALLY enjoys “Stars”, which might be the band’s least favorite song to play live, hahaha… It’s still a good song though!
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Nate: Often when I'm writing, I fish around for certain moments in my memories. Whenever I write something I consider to be "good", it usually comes from me writing the music to fit those moments. It's a great process because it allows me to process events in my life, and I get to create something that stems from moments that are important to me. The band has a very collaborative process now, and it is very fun. Everybody brings in snippets of ideas they've written themselves and we all just brainstorm together. Usually while trying our best not to bulldoze each other with the excitement of our ideas.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Stew: While I don’t set out to get specific messages across through my writing, I find that my stories naturally revolve around love and mental health - two things that I am very passionate about. However, I try to keep the lyrics impersonally personal. Everything I do in my writing is for the listener, so I leave the stories vague enough that they can be interpreted differently but personal enough that the listener connects with my emotion within the song.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Stew: All the time, but that is the splendor in writing music - artistic contrast is a beautiful thing! The best way to solve creative differences and disagreements is to find common ground, which is simple. We are a team and everyone wants the same thing - a killer song. Everyone knows their role, and we have some rules set in place that really help, like whoever plays the instrument has the final say on what they play. It also helps that two lyricists within the band (myself and Henry) are also the singers, so that makes life a little easier.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
ZORILA: Going into the fall/winter we have some shows booked in Chicago that we are really excited about! Our upcoming show is at SubT on September 18th and it will be our first show we have ever played there. Moving more into the winter we are planning to write and record a ton of brand new material and hopefully be able to release during the spring of next year if everything lines up! We are planning to get away to a cabin or somewhere far away from Chicago for a weekend to just relax and write music together. No solid plans there yet, but we are very eager to get back to writing after playing a lot of shows in and around Chicago all summer.
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