The Everett Interpretation on influences, their brand new album, Tangerine Screams, and more influences

I recently spoke with three members of the local psych rock band, The Everett Interpretation (fka PTSTD): Joshua Wentland, Teagan Devoe, and Austin Lombardo. THEIR BRAND NEW ALBUM, Tangerine Screams, just came out on February 10th with a rock show listening party the following day. We shared a lot of laughs, and a lot of *record scratch* “Don’t put that in there!” moments, but overall their views on making music and living in the world are pretty chill. Here’s what they had to say:


Maia Jacobson: How long have each of you been making music?

Austin Lombardo: I’ve been making music since I was about ten, and making music with these two since I was seventeen.

Teagan Devoe: I started playing violin when I was five or six, and I started playing with these guys at the same time he [Lombardo] said. . .I mean it’s all connected!

Joshua Wentland: I started playing piano when I was. . .I wanna say like third grade or something. Then I was a drummer in seventh grade. . . ? Yeah! I was playing with you in that band for awhile freshman year!

Devoe: Oh yeah! That was so fun.

Wentland: That was so cool.

Devoe: what’d we cover like Beethoven symphonies, like kinda funky or something!

Wentland: and we played for that guy and he was like *some surprised gesture, inducing laughter from everyone* . . .But yeah, I’ve been playing with this band since I was eighteen actually, because I joined late.

Jacobson: What was the intentions of starting this band, The Everett Interpretation?

Wentland: I wasn’t there –

Devoe: Well, we started it junior year just because we wanted to make like a ska-punk band, I’m pretty sure.

Jacobson: really?

Lombardo: It’s gone through a lot of different phases. . .

Wentland: I remember when I joined, specifically, was when it started to become a psych rock band, right?

Devoe: that was when we were writing everything, and starting to put our songs together.

Lombardo: That was the biggest step forward, was when we decided to become a psych rock band. I was the drummer when we started writing the album, and then I stopped being the drummer, and Josh became the drummer. Then a few months later, right after they finished recording the album, I joined as the guitarist.

Jacobson: So, the shift from ska-punk to psych rock, what was the decision or motive behind that?

*laughter from band*

Devoe: I don’t think it was really a decision, we were just listening to a lot of psychedelic music. . .

Lombardo: I wasn’t in the band at the time, but I was all friends with these guys, we were all hanging out together. We started getting into The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Soft Machine

Devoe: all the oldies. Late sixties stuff.

Lombardo: The Pretty Things. . .All the stuff that will make you change your mind about music.

Wentland: And I had always been into that stuff, so when you guys asked me to be in a psych rock band, I was like, “yes!”

Lombardo: Yeah, Joshie was super excited.

Wentland: I was like, “that’s my jam, I can play those drums!”

Jacobson: What piqued the interest in psych rock to begin with? I mean, you [Wentland] were already interested in it, but it’s not something that a lot of young people nowadays listen to.

*laughter*

Devoe: probably. . .psychedelic. . .drugs. . .

*more laughter*

Wentland: that further influenced me!

*still more laughing*

Devoe: yeah, we just got into that and then were like, “oh, there’s all this music that goes along with it. That’s so helpful.” And then we were like, “This music sounds very good. We should make music that sounds like this.” And that’s all we’re trying to do!

Wentland: yeah, so goes the tale!

Jacobson: Tell me about writing the album.

Wentland: There were a lot of separate sections that got brought in

Devoe: People would write songs, and then contribute littler parts-

Wentland: Or like, wasn’t “Laniakea” one of Luca’s songs that he was like, “let’s make this one of these!”

Devoe: yeah, yeah.

Wentland: and “Farm Animals Scream and Chant” and “10,000 Leagues [Into my Seat]” those were old tunes, right?

Lombardo: People would write songs, and one of the songs was actually on one of Teagan’s albums that he released, probably like a year. . or six months before. . .

Devoe: – we even started writing it. We just kind of figured out how to make them fit together. Or find sound effects that would make them go together so that we could make it all one thing.

Wentland: And really we would just jam a lot on them [the songs]. I changed drum parts so much on every song –

Devoe: the way that we play it now, or live, is different than the way we play it on the album even.

Wentland: Honestly, it just keeps getting better, but it’s already recorded.

Lombardo: We wanted it to be as cohesive as possible, especially since it’s the side A, side B format.

Wentland: it’s kind of composed like songs with interludes, cause you can definitely tell when a theme that’s repeating ends and just becomes something that happens for a bit. It’s kind of like, I don’t know. . .I wanna say “Forever Dolphin Love” does that, where it’s just kind of guitar noises and then it suddenly fades in and it’s a new song.

Lombardo: it’s also a lot instrumental.

Devoe: yeah, it’s mostly instrumental.

Wentland: It’s like 90% instrumental!

Jacobson: So browsing the released singles, and the song titles, I noticed a theme of animals and animal noises. And then the dog and cat in the music video [for “Laniakea”], was that a purposeful theme?

Wentland: Oh wow. . .There’s nothing that correlates there.

Devoe: no, that dog just happened to be there when we filmed. Me and my girlfriend are fostering that dog. . .

Lombardo: could you tell what was happening in the music video?

Jacobson: well that was my next question, so why don’t you tell me.

Wentland: Me and Austin were wrastlin’!

Lombardo: It was me and Joshie wrestling!

Devoe: and then I gave them that clock to wrestle over. . .

Wentland: I like how it turned out, I like kaleidoscope-y things. Kinda trippy. . .

*laughter*

Wentland: but to answer your original question, we didn’t plan those themes

Lombardo: there’s musical themes, but not conceptual. . .

Devoe: well kind of. . .

Wentland: we were gonna make it a concept album, but. . .

Lombardo: the concept is young guys who like to do psychedelic drugs.

Wentland: yeah, but like anything that people pull out of it will be completely unintentional because we didn’t intend to put anything into it.

Jacobson: Do you have any hopes for the band?

Lombardo: Get. Trump. Impeached

Devoe: Yeah, getting Trump impeached, that’s our band goal.

Wentland: I mean personally I don’t think bands and politics should mix. . .

Jacobson: how would you feel about Pence being president then?

Devoe: Impeach him too. And impeach everybody. Or just man the barricades. We’re all about revolution.

Lombardo: you know, the VP along with eight cabinet members can overthrow the president, it’s true. That’s not fake news, that’s a real fact.

Wentland: good luck getting through to them all. Unfortunately, the American political system is corrupt and dangerous., and there’s not much I can do about it.

Lombardo: Just go to protests! Anyone who thinks – this is for the recording! – if anyone thinks that protesting doesn’t do any good it’s not true, it does do good, and at the very least, it makes people think! Protesting is the first step in changing things.

Jacobson: That’s all I have for questions, anything else you want to add?

Lombardo: make sure to put in the article that we are definitely against homophobia in the music industry and Migos can f*** off because they’re homophobic. . .And shout out to R. Stevie Moore.

*noises of mutual agreement*

Devoe: that guy rocks, everyone should listen to R. Stevie Moore. Go to your Bandcamp account-

Wentland: right when you read this and just find Phonography by R.Stevie Moore, and just listen to it.

Lombardo: Um…did we already talk about bands we like?

Wentland: yes, do you want to talk about bands you like some more?!

Lombardo: People should talk more about influences! . . .CAN

*noises of mutual agreement*

Devoe: CAN is good.

Lombardo: Everybody should go listen – I’m saying this to the recording – Everyone should go listen to the first album by Chick Corea, Return to Forever.

Wentland: Everyone should listen to The Elektric Band by Chick Corea cause –

Lombardo: hey, you’re giving them too much information [. . .] Let it be known that I have horrible stomach problems.

Devoe: yeah, he does. He’s got a problem.

Wentland: everyone, give your hearts to Austin’s stomach problems.

Devoe: Pray for him. . .


Below are random interview outtakes that are really funny both in and out of context.

[. . . random conversation. . .]

Devoe: Anything we say is a lie.

Wentland: anything I’ve ever said is probably a lie

Devoe: you can’t trust anything we say.

Lombardo: we’re not even in a band.

Devoe: I don’t even know these guys

Wentland: I don’t even exist

[. . . more random conversation. . .]

Lombardo: If anyone wants to view my club penguin videos, my YouTube name was Cirt89

Devoe: what does that even stand for?

Lombardo: nothing, I don’t know, it was my penguins name.


You can follow the band on Facebook, and listen, download, or buy a physical copy of their new album, Tangerine Screams via Subaquatic Records!

🙂

 

Advertisements

The Florists on their beginnings, influences, finding courage, and being baptized in glowsticks

I want to preface this by saying that The Florists are honestly just really great people and I love them and what they stand for. Also this interview was originally done for the December 2016 issue of Gamma Prince, where I also write words sometimes. Thanks to Jo, Jared, and Luke for their time and talent, this was a lot of fun.

Maia Jacobson: So, I know you [Jo Kellen] because you went to school in New Prague [MN] .

Jo Kellen: I did, that’s where I’m from.

MJ: yeah, but you didn’t graduate from New Prague High School, did you?

JK: No, I didn’t I went to an art school in St. Paul.

MJ: The Conservatory [St. Paul Conservatory for the Performing Artists]

JK: Yeah!

MJ: so, how did you meet the rest of these guys?

JK: Well, Jared and I did stand-up comedy together. He still does stand-up, I don’t really do stand-up anymore. Um but yeah, Jared and I met and I thought Jared was really cool and was afraid of him for a while and …

Jared Hemming: Our first conversation was about punk rock!

JK: *laughs* that’s true! I was sitting at galactic pizza in uptown where they have this really wonderful, horrible open mic. I was there with my friend Max and was very scared cause it was my first time doing stand-up, and Jared was joking about The Ramones and was like “yeah, Shhhh, Eena is a punk rocker!” and it was like about her trying to sleep. It was like some ridiculous bit and I was like “wow! Jared’s so cool!”

JH: I think that’s why we decided to become a punk band

JK: *laughs* just because “Sheena is a Punk Rocker”!

Luke Michaels: Me and Jared met at Radio K [U of M Twin Cities radio station] we were both DJs at the same time, we had shifts that butt ended each other and would talk music

JH: and butt heads

LM: Yeah and butt heads! And we got over butting heads and became friends

JK: were you really arch enemies before?

LM: yes. Arch enemies. But Jared always came in after so he always got the last word.

JK: that should happen more on radio K, there should be more rivalries of people openly bad talking others.

JH: “the previous dj played a lot of crap…”

*laughing*

LM: NO, but that’s not true, we were all fast friends

JK: So Jared and I decided that we were gonna play some music together because I found out through a mutual friend of ours that Jared played drums, and I played guitar and sung and had songs. So I asked him to come hang out at my house, and we jammed and then Jared was like, “Hey, I know this guy named Luke who is really great and who really wants to be in a band and is an awesome bassist and he’s just gonna come over to practice with us one day!” And then Luke came and practiced with us and it was really fun, and we gelled, and now we’re a band.

MJ: And this was how long ago?

LM: Last March, so about a year and a half ago

JH: nononononono it was march of 2014

JK: No it wasn’t!?

JH: no, it was 2015, but that’s not last march, that the march prior.

LM: oh, yeah! Isn’t that what I said?

JK: *laughs* Whatever. Time, linearity, I don’t care about it.

MJ: Did ya’ll have any specific intent or purpose when you created what is now The Florists?

JH: We wanted to be curators of beautiful things, like a true florist

*laughter*

JK: I think the real answer to that question is that Jared and I were like, “wow, we really like Pavement” and then we were like, “yeah, this is cool. Let’s play shows” …

LM: you, you excluded me…

JH: Yeah, Luke also loves Pavement!

*loud, jumbly commotion*

JK: well to be fair, when you started, I didn’t know for a fact that you loved Pavement. But then it became very clear. In a good way, that’s a great thing!

MJ: What are some of your influences, besides Pavement?

*laughter*

JH: yeah, so we’ve actually made a band pact to never listen to anybody but Pavement.

JK: Favorite band forever is the mountain goats, I very much just want to be a big, queer, John Darnell.

MJ: how would you describe your sound?

JH: When I talk to old people at my work, like people who grew up listening to music in the eighties and haven’t really branched out beyond that, I usually describe our sound as “Encyclopedic Punk”

JK: *laughs* that’s funny! I don’t know, I’ve described us as Funk Punk, Noise pop…I don’t I think noise pop is specific enough but still just as vague as post punk

MJ: So tell me about your song writing process and writing Can You Feel The Stasis?

JK: Oh man,

JH: We just thought, “Hey can we feel the stasis?!”

JK: And then we did! No, but for the songwriting I think we all contribute very equally, but I usually come up in with lyrics, a vocal melody, and a guitar part. Then we get together in the rehearsal space and just jam. I’m like alright, here you guys, here’s this thing” and the I just loop the guitar part over and over again, and Jared and Luke are pretty remarkably adept and usually develop something that is really mind-blowing right away, or at least it is to me. But eah, I don’t know…what uh, how did we put the record together? How would you guys describe that process?

JH: Well, I feel like the more important thing for us was to start playing shows in the twin cities area so we could sort of feel like a part of that scene before we did anything really serious. I feel like it really just started by playing shows and our first shows were house shows, we played a lot of Kitty Kat Club to start, and we still do…

LM: Yeah and we recorded the demos, and I think after we got sick of that being the only recorded version of our band….

JH: yeah, and we were also really big fans of Ali Jafar, the engineer we worked with who recorded, mixed, and mastered Can You Feel the Stasis? We were really big fans of his because he’s done a lot of really big, really awesome albums in the local scene

JK: Yeah he did Lunch Duchess, Strange Relations, just fantastic. He helped create a lot of the really cool sounds on Can You Feel the Stasis? Like literally, and also cool suggestions to tweak even just a couple musical phrases within a song and he was really fantastic.

MJ: Going back to the MPLS scene, what has been getting into that been like, and what are your thoughts on Minneapolis’ DIY scene?

JK: people like gin and tonic a lot. *laughter* A lot of people, myself included!

LM: I feel like if you just give someone your drink ticket *laughter* like I gave someone a drink ticket of mine once and I feel like ever since then, we’ve been tight.

JK: I’m sorry I interrupted, what were you gonna say, Jared?

JH: oh it’s okay, I was just going to say that now that we’ve been a part of the community for a while I feel like we are recognized by our peers and we recognize our peers and it’s just kinda cool to be a part of a wave of local bands who are doing things that are really exciting right now. And one of our favorite bands to play with right now is this band called Tony Peachka,

MJ: I love Tony Peachka

JK: She wrote the review, she knows what’s up

JH: And just what Melissa Jones does as a singer and a songwriter is just spectacular

JK: Yeah, how about Wetter [Melissa’s other band] right?!

JH: Wetter is soooo good. And all three of us are just really excited about that, and we pretty much just latch ourselves onto that like a parasite.

JK: I don’t know if that’s true

JH: I don’t know, I just feel like, recognizing the other super awesome, talented bands here and getting to play shows with them feels like the most extraordinary privilege.

JK: My friend Noah, is a trumpet player who makes really cool, Avant Garde jazz music, and he’s in this group of musicians who are in a bunch or different bands and also themselves are called six families. I was talking to him at this thing he was DJing at the other week and he was like “Dude, there are so many post punk bands in Minneapolis” and I thought this was so strange because there is a weird proliferation of weird rock, and I love that. What I think is really fun is that a lot of the bands that I encounter and that we play with, are also a lot of people we hang out with and have fun with and I feel like I have a lot of friendships within the community; it’s where the majority of my friendships are right now. What I think is advantageous about that, in an artistic sense, is that there’s a weird, I wouldn’t even call it competition, there’s not a careerism to it, at least I hope not always, but there’s something kind of fun about seeing if you can get your friend to be like “what the fuck?!” in the audience. I think there’s something really fun about that, and really satisfying to see how you can fool people or how you can take expectations about your band and subvert them in some fun way. And that at least fuels me.

LM: I feel like we strive to do that on more of our songs now in a way that didn’t necessarily happen on the demos. I think we’re trying to be, well not trying to be necessarily, but becoming smarter.

JH: yeah and we really make an effort to challenge ourselves as musicians and performers, and I think that lends itself to doing really crazy shit like giving away a dvd of Casper at our show [alluding to their 11/5 show where they did, indeed, give away a dvd of Casper in the middle of their set].

MJ: yeah I brought my friend, and it was their first time seeing you and they were like, “what the fuck?!” and I was like “exactly!!”

JK: Oh really! In a good way?

MJ: yeah!

JH: that seems to be a common reaction and I don’t know how to take that all the time.

JK: I don’t know, I just like surrealism, and I know I definitely like to try to push that just because I think it’s a very interesting aesthetic choice. I just think there’s so much opportunity in it frankly. And it’s honestly indiscernible from reality a lot of the times, especially these days…

MJ: Were any of ya’ll involved in the DIY scene before you started making music, is that something you were into before all this? And how was it then, versus not being a physical part of it now?

JK: oh yeah, I very much was, and Jared was as well. We became good friends because we both worked at this school’s [U of M Twin Cities] newspaper, Minnesota Daily, I was the editor for arts and entertainment and Jared was a reporter and then assistant editor. I mean, I was going to house shows as a reporter, I was going to them very much as an outsider, deliberately. I think I was like pals with those people, but I also did theater and was going to other shows and hanging out with my friends bands and stuff but would never feel like a participant.

JH: Yeah, I certainly always felt like a student to the local scene, I always kept a lot of tabs on it, even as a freshman. I caught a Hollow Boys show once, and it just totally blew my mind. And It’s just cool to think that that was my impression as just a dweeby 18 year old and ten like by the time I was 22 I was working with those guys

LM: you two had an extra year to become acquainted with the Minneapolis scene because when we were stating The Florists, I was a sophomore. I felt like my beginning in The Florists happened coincided with my self-discovery of the Minneapolis music scene, whereas you were already well acquainted with it, but it helped me feel more personally connected to it.

MJ: tell me about how the internet has helped you all in your successes and how you think it influences the Minneapolis music scene.

JK: oh I think it’s just how everyone finds out about shows now. And it’s also this hilarious point of anxiety about what to write, it’s like, “alright, should I use an asterisk, and now a tilde, and all caps. Will we have a little joke here about music, and we’ll have some self-deprecating thing and a funny image and then everybody is like ‘Herrrrr, reaction!’”

*laughter*

JK: I mean really if anything, it’s just a lot of circulation, I mean that’s how you get info out.

JH: I would say a really big thing, and it’s worked really well to our advantage, but I think it goes for the entirety of Minneapolis’ music scene. I’m sure you’re familiar with the YouTube page, Undercurrents MPLS. They do stellar work, and I think that when your own band gets one of those videos, it feels like a little, nice little, I don’t know… like a nice little pat on the back. It’s validating. It’s just really easy now for people to get a sense of who are band is without a lot of effort, but then they come to our shows and I think it’s a lot more intense than what they were expecting.

MJ: How has The Florists, or even just Minneapolis’s music scene, allowed you all to explore your own personal identities?

JH: I think we all kinda look to Jo….

*laughter*

JK: *laughter* I came out in the middle of this band! Uh before our release show [July 2016], right before we went on stage, I came out to both my parents which was very exciting and that went great! And I think for me that Identity is a fickle thing, and also people often try to make it some kind of – there’s some kind of general rule to legislating identity or talking about identity. I think that in my opinion, it’s a very personal thing and I think the fluidity is at the heart of the concept of identity. With The Florists, I think that has allowed me to go on stage and work those things out. I don’t think there’s any kind of complete Jo on stage when The Florists are happening. I think what is really exciting is that we get to have that sort of human collage moment where-and that comes out in the weird genre bending too, is that like different parts of us are being expressed simultaneously on stage and that’s what makes it so weird to look at when I like lean back and I’m like drenched and have my mouth wide open. You know what I mean, like it’s not really something I feel I can articulate, but having a space on a stage, with people who are supportive, getting to make and share art that I’ve worked on with people that really mean a lot to me, is a just part of my identity. Now, The Florists have become a place where I expand and contract.

JH: Yeah, and to speak for my own sake, I feel like one thing that’s been really exciting about Jo’s fluidity is I think it has really freed up me and Luke to play with gender roles as well, and I feel like neither of us step into traditionally masculine roles. Especially in the way we present on stage – and you know not to say, I mean I identify as a male, but I think there’s something to be said for being open to expressing yourself in a different way. And then just intersectionality wise, we’re just bringing a bunch of different identities to the plate here, I mean I’m a person of color and there aren’t that many POC in the Minneapolis post punk scene especially and that’s pretty difficult, but it feels good to give some voice to that, putting a spotlight on that and bringing that perspective to the stage.

LM: I think challenging masculinity is something that we’ve all sort of done, even before shows, and maybe that skews the way that people will interpret our version of challenging masculinity, but I think that that was always something that was very important to us, and interesting to us as the very least.

JK: Yeah. I hate— Nobody like macho shit. Actually Danielle from Tony Peachka and Bruise Violet shared a video, uh Screaming Females were just in town at Triple Rock, I wasn’t there but Undercurrent had taken a video of her [Marissa Paternoster] on stage, and they’re a rockin rock band and of course as rollicking rock bands go, there’s a bunch of macho shit that comes along with that and people want to like windmill their arms around all these people. I mean, moshing is wonderful and can be a friendly unifying thing, but it can also be a violent, powerful thing; and expression of power and domination. What’s really exciting is that rock in 2016 is becoming more and more welcoming to women, it’s getting gayer and gayer, which is really exciting. There’s sort of this overwhelming queerness and pacifism to it even though the music is aggressive. And she on the stage just did this like really amazing speech for like three minutes, just very articulately requesting these people to calm down, essentially expressing the same kind of idea that moshing can be cool, but not when you’re an asshole about it. And I love that. I love that! Some of the best rock bands right now are fronted by queer folks and really fierce fucking women.

JH: I think it’s really important to us that people go crazy at our shows, but that they also stay safe.

JK: Exactly. What I don’t get is that people are like, “well what do you expect, it’s rock music” and it’s just stupid because it’s so easy to have fun and not hurt people, it’s so easy! And I’m like 6’5” and I could very easily hurt people, but I don’t…And there are opportunities as a band to be proactive about it. The example that immediately comes to mind is Speedy Ortiz, they have a hotline that you can call or text at their shows and that’s fucking great.

LM: We all like love, love, G.L.O.S.S. They’ve been extremely influential to us and they’re a band that really vocally criticized that and that’s really inspiring to us.

MJ: Where do you find courage?

JH: The three of us, the three of us together always gives me courage

JK: I totally agree with that.

JH: I feel like it’s really easy to not feel confident about your life and it’s really easy when you go through life and you’ve got so many endeavors to do alone, and it’s really hard to feel truly confident and it may always feel like you’re competing with someone else, or anything. Since day one, The Florists have always been the three of us together and that has always filled me with courage, and it also gives me confidence because I believe in these two more than anybody and that also makes me believe in myself more than anybody.

JK: I think what Jared said is exactly the response that I would give and I think to be an artist we all have in our heart of hearts think that we each have, as individuals, interesting things to say. And you have this, I wouldn’t call it arrogance, just this confidence in that you have an interesting expression whether somebody gave us at whatever age some kind of praise, that stuck with us maybe? I feel like, Jared and Luke obviously, but I am lucky to have a lot of people who are vocally supportive in my life that has helped me, even though my psychology would love to stomp that down, has helped me feel comfortable expressing myself.

MJ: alright so that’s the last question I had, is there anything you want to add?

JH: Alright, so here’s a list of people we hate.

*laughter*

JK: yeah, here’s a list of people who rock, and these are the people who suck!

JH: Yeah so I don’t even know how to make this like relevant, but Bric-A-Brac records is awesome.

JK: Yeah, Bric-A-Brac is so cool, we played an in store there and it was so fun! We had a blast. You can include this as an audio clip, this is out shout out section: Uh, I also really like Ought and Deerhoof. Deerhoof has the best drummer in rock. It’s true, I’ll say it.

LM: We all love Death Grips

JK: Oh yeah, we all love Death Grips, so much. We really do.

*laughter*

JH: Is there a good story we could give her to really hook people in? Is there anything that has happened to us recently?

JK: We took a band trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza to see LCD Soundsystem, and Luke got-

LM: This is the hook!

JK: Luke got glow stick fluid in his eye!

*laughter*

JK: So we make this sonic pilgrimage to see LCD Soundsystem, this band we all love a lot. And this woman behind us was cracking open glow sticks and rubbing them all over her body and she was glowing and we were like, “That’s so cool!” And so, she gives us glow sticks

JH: No, she was like just pouring them all over, like regardless of our choice!

JK: So we were like alright, got to accept it, this is fun.

LM: Baptized in glow sticks. So, I have one in my hand, and I literally so excited abou this show with glow sticks in either had and go like this *makes wild, dancing, arm movement* and shoot glow stick goo into my eye. I was so embarrassed, I really didn’t want anybody to see that anything was wrong, but literally could not physically open my eye and could see purple glow inside my eye. And I had to watch the rest of the show with one eye.

*more laughter*

Stay tuned for more updates on new music from The Florists, they tell me they’re getting to work on a full-length album due out sometime early 2017!

 

 

 

 

Diet Cig on their music, touring, crafting, and corn chips

I spoke with Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman of Diet Cig after their Ft. Lauderdale show last week. The young band talked about their music and collaborative writing process, Tuscan, Arizona, crafting while not on tour, and how plain corn chips are the best. 

Maia Jacobson: How long have you guys been making music? You know, where did you start?

Alex Luciano: Um we’ve been making music as Diet Cig together since August 2014. So a little over a year, about a year and a half now, and we started playing together in upstate New York.

MJ: I saw that you guys met in college, correct?

AL: Yeah, oh, I was in college and Noah actually wasn’t anymore. His band was traveling up to my college to play a show, and so we actually met at a show that Noah’s other band was playing at my friend’s house.

MJ: And did you have any background in music, did you grow up playing or anything?

AL: Um, Noah did!

Noah Bowman: Yeah I played in bands a lot, and my dad was a drummer and I kind of grew up in a musical family and so I kind of had some background before Diet Cig was a thing.

MJ: Okay, that’s cool. Do you think the music your parents played while you were growing up, or what you listened to growing up has influenced what you’re writing now?

NB: Um…yeah I guess so, I’m trying to think, like what pops up in my head is my dad is a big jazz fan and my mom likes Cat Stevens, so…

AL: *laughs*

NB: So I guess, a little bit. I appreciated it growing up because it gave me a wider range of music in different genres. I’m going to say yes, but it’s not like exactly what they were listening to when I was growing up.

AL: I haven’t really been in any bands before this one though, so this is all new for me.

MJ: You do most of the writing, correct?

AL: Um, I mean I write the lyrics and I write the chord progressions and stuff, but like the song structures and the drums and everything…Our songs are very collaborative. It’s a lot of writing together and figuring out the songs together, and like we’ll come together to write with an idea or some parts we have written, but like it’s a very collaborative thing for us.

DSC_0707

MJ: So New York, are you guys both from New York originally?

AL and NB in unison: Yep!

NB: We grew up in the same area, upstate New York but in different places.

MJ: What’s the music scene like there? I’m from Minnesota, and our music scene there is a very supportive community, I don’t know what it’s like in New York.

AL: Oh Yeah, there’s a crazy scene in New York! There are so many emerging bands, everyone’s keeping their ears out for the next emerging bands, and so I think in that way it’s a good, nurturing place for up and coming bands.

NB: Yeah, yeah. And it’s cool because there’s a lot of colleges that are very close together, and you’re so close to the city too, and you kinda just can, in a couple of hours be at any one of those and there’s always a new band or a new thing forming and everyone’s just in the know at all times, it’s pretty cool.

MJ: The name Diet Cig, is there a story behind that?

NB: Um, we needed a name to put on a poster, and we threw that out there because we had a show booked before we even knew we were going to be a band. So we were kinda like “Alright, uh let’s just put that on there and just, you know, figure it out” I mean we didn’t think we were gonna play another show. And then we just started playing more and more, and the name kind of just stuck.

MJ: And Over Easy; is there a story behind that?

AL: That’s like the only thing I named. Like I write the lyrics for our songs, but Noah is a lot better at naming the songs because I just think too much about them. I have in my head like all these things that the songs are about, so I don’t usually name anything, but I named Over Easy and I was very proud of that one.

MJ: I like that one; I think it’s a good one.

AL: Thanks!

MJ: So, I’m just curious about the photos of the kids you have as the cover art for “Sleep Talk” and “Dinner Date.” Is there a story? Are they you guys as kids?

diet_cig_records

AL: They’re not us, everyone thinks they’re us! *laughs* my sister is on the front, and my brother is on the back. I took those pictures right when the 7 inch came out, like they’re still kids. My sister is 12, and my brother is 9, and they were really excited to be on the album art. My sister went into middle school that year and told all her friends, and it was really cool. It was really cool to be able to like include them in some way.

MJ: I was at your show this past week and your music makes me want to dance around, but it was kind of extremely packed so there wasn’t a lot of room to move. But is there something you try to evoke in people with your music? Is dancing and just letting loose something you try and get people to do?

AL: We just want people to have fun! Like dancing and just not thinking about anything for a little while is just so cathartic, and we want people to be excited and just dance around and to be happy to be with their friends at our show. That’s like the most amazing thing, because life is hard and it sucks, but if you can take the time to have fun for no reason and dance around to a short song that makes you feel energized, then that’s great. That’s what we’re trying to do.

MJ: Now this one’s for Alex. I’ve talked to other bands that have a female lead and they’ve said this a lot too, but do you ever get compared to other bands with female leads just because you’re a female, whether or not the music is similar or even in the same genre?DSC_0651

AL: Oh yeah, people come up to me all the time and say “oh my g-d, you remind me so much of so-and-so!” or “you remind me a lot of so-and-so!” and I’m like that’s only because I’m a small girl. It is irritating, and I also think that promoters for shows, like when we were first starting, they would book other two piece bands, or other bands that had women in it just because they thought that would make the bill fit together. A lot of times like the genres and sounds didn’t mesh together well at all, but they just put us together because there was another girl or they were also a two piece. So, yeah I think a lot of people do compare me to other girls, just because we are girls in the indie rock scene, but honestly, a lot of times it’s women that I admire. So even though sometimes it’s kind of annoying, I’m also like “hell yeah!” cause these are also badass women.

MJ: That’s a good take on it.

AL: Yeah.

MJ: So, switching gears, how has the tour been so far? Has there been any place that you haven’t been, or that surprised you?

NB: Um, I think Tuscan, Arizona is the first thing that popped into my head. We’d like never been there at all and that show was great! We had a really good time, we had a really good response from the crowd and it’s kind of a cool little area. It’s kind of the last place we ever expected to be in this country, and we were there, and it was great!

AL: Yeah, that was really fun, and we had three dates in Texas and all three of them were so much fun. We just like to have a blast in Texas and it was so hot, and I think everyone just gets really weird, so yeah, it was really great in Texas.

MJ: Right on! Are you guys working on anything right now? Do you have any plans for the future, or are you just kinda playing it by ear?

NB: We, we’re working on it. It’s just that being on the road and trying to complete a record isn’t like difficult, but just kind of like, not easy. So as soon as this tour is done, and the UK little run, we have pretty much June and July where we are just gonna actually sit down and get in the studio and finish the full length and hopefully have it out by the beginning of next year.

AL: We played three songs off our upcoming album at the Ft. Lauderdale show. So we have a couple that we’re really already stoked on and just still trying to finish writing the rest.

MJ: So another tour after that album comes out?!

Both in unison: Yeah!

NB: definitely, definitely gonna tour in the summer and them um we’re gonna do a little run with Joyce Manor towards the end of the summer down to Wrecking Ball. Our whole thing is we’re just kinda getting up and seeing where we’re going the next day.

MJ: Cool! Okay, now here are a few questions just for fun! What’s the last concert you’ve been to, but didn’t play?

AL: Oh, that’s a hard one.

NB: That is a hard one…

AL: Well, we saw a bunch of shows at south by [SXSW]. We saw PWR BTTM at south by and they’re like some of our best friends, so it kinda felt like we were just hanging out with our friends.

MJ: They’re on the same label as you, correct?

AL: Yeah!

NB: I don’t know it’s just been hard because we’ve been touring so much, it’s hard to get to a show.

AL: We’ve been on tour since January, and the longest we’ve been home is like ten days, and in the ten days that I’m home, that’s like the last thing I want to do! *laughs* But yeah, the one band I’ve seen twice in 2016 is PWR BTTM because they’re our friends and I like to go and see them when I’m not playing.

MJ: Have any authors or books that inspire creativity or your own writing?

AL: I don’t know that I’m too inspired by too many authors, but we did just watch Harry Potter in the van and I love those books, I’m pretty sure everyone does. Um, but we’re inspired by a lot of other artists like Hop Along and Bully and other song writers, for sure.

MJ: Do either of you dabble in any other art forms in your free time?

NB: I used to paint more, but not so much anymore. *laughs* Um, we’re doing so much now, it’s just really hard.

AL: Yeah! I do a lot of sewing and embroidering

MJ: That’s a little bit random, but very cool!

AL: Yeah! It’s really fun and I do it a lot more when I’m not on tour. I bring all my stuff with me on tour and I always tell myself I’m gonna do it, but I just like never have the energy to put like a whole ton of effort into a project on the road. It’s kind of a fun thing I like to do when we’re back from tour. We like crafts and stuff, and we like to cook, so yeah!

DSC_0544
pretty crafty !

MJ: For my last and favorite, and favorite question to ask, what’s one thing your fans don’t know about you?

In unison: Uhhhhh…..*laughs*

NB: I feel like we’re pretty open about everything we do…um I have a twin.

AL: Oooo!

NB: He actually flew down to Ft. Lauderdale show so he could ride with us back to New York.

AL: I don’t know what my fans don’t know about me! They don’t know that I’m only 20 years old, so when people are like “Let me buy you a drink!!!” I’m like “Okay, but it’s at your own risk!” Or um…

NB: I like dogs.

AL: Everybody likes dogs!

NB: I don’t know, nothing too secret, I guess.

AL: Everything I’m thinking of is probably too weird, nobody wants to know it. *laughs*

NB: I don’t know, we really like pickles.

AL: Yeah, our favorite foods are pickles and corn chips.

MJ: I think I heard a reference to the corn chips in your Q&A video you posted the other day!

AL: YES! *laughs*

NB: yeah!

AL: Plain corn chips…nothing on them…

You can catch Diet Cig on the tail end of their tour with The Front Bottoms on the east coast before they head across the pond, but don’t worry they’ll be back!

 

Swimm

I spoke with Swimm’s Chris Hess and Adam Winn, the latter of whom slept through much of the interview so this is more just an interview with Chris. We sat down a few hours after the up and coming psychedelic, indie rock band’s set at Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival and talked about their music, LA versus small-town Florida, and Zines featuring Tom Cruise and Gloria Estefan. You can catch them at Austin’s SXSW, and be on the look out for their full length album in the next 6-8 months that they recorded in January.
Maia Jacobson: What’s the story behind the name Swimm, with two M’s?
Chris Hess: We were starting a band, kind of restarting another project together because we were in another band together and it was just the two of us like more of a rock-and-roll, simple, meat and potatoes kinda setup, and we started writing music a little more expensive that had to be played by a full band and we were like alright this feels like a totally different thing so we were trying to think of names and there was like three months of trying to think of names and we always liked Swimm, but it was like there was a band in london who was also like just starting as Swimm, but we went back and forth and eventually were just like F it, we’re just doing it, and we’ll add an ‘M’. And it felt like, from a purely symmetrical aesthetic, it’s kinda nice to have an ‘I’ with two letters on each side, so we get kinda geeky about that stuff as well. And I mean it feels nice to have a name that we really like and actually makes sense for the music because we also kinda want to have music that makes you feel weightless in certain areas of songs, so I think that maybe that’s growing up in Florida and near the ocean, you grow up learning to love that feeling of floating, and so yeah I think it fits.
MJ: Tell me about the decision you guys made to move to LA.
CH: Yeah well, we had always talked about moving to New York because we were always doing tours up the coast to NY, and every time we almost did, it was just too expensive and we’d be sharing a room for so much money, and we’d never get to practice and what not. We just ended up in a tour, and the guys who we were on the tour with, the guys who were playing with us, had a warehouse in downtown LA and a spot had opened up in the warehouse and we were on tour for two months and we ended it near California, and we were like okay let’s just stay. So Adam and I shared a bed for like six months and then another spot opened up and we didn’t have to share a bed anymore, and yeah we’ve been there for like two and a half years.
MJ: Was adjusting to LA hard? The band SWMRS, from Oakland, say it’s a very exclusive scene.
CH: Um I don’t know, I have like a weird sense of LA pride now even in the two years I’ve lived here cause I loved it from the moment we got here. I feel like it gets a really bad rap, and I think I’m just used to being in places that get a bad rap being from Florida obviously. Some people around the country think I’m gonna eat their face when I say I’m from Florida, so I don’t know, but I do really, really, really love LA and I was lucky enough to like move into a warehouse in the eastside and immediately meet really great friends that ushered us in the direction of really, really creative and being immersed in a wonderful music scene that we’ve never had in our home town, which was a sleepy beach town, so it was a culture burst which was so, so nice to have that. I don’t mind if people are like “oh you’re an LA band” because I think of all the great bands who are from LA that I think are amazing and it’s pretty cool that we’re involved in that, but I also like do love it if people are like “oh you’re from florida!” because like that feels nice, but I don’t have a stigma about it.
12829389_988042541285659_3595785058975543836_o
MJ: How long have you been making music, you guys have worked together in the past before, but was there a defining moment that you were like, “this is what I want to do” or did you start really young and just grow up with it.
CH: Neither of us started super young and we both grew up surfing and kind of in my late teens, like 16, I started playing guitar and you [Adam] started playing drums around then?
Adam Winn: Yeah, about 19, or 20.
CH: Okay so even later, and I don’t know, it wasn’t like “I’m supposed to be in a band” and I was not a music guy at all and I would not play any songs for anybody for so long. Like sing to the walls of my bedroom and any second I’d hear a door open I’d like turn everything off.

MJ: What did you listen to growing up, do you think any of that music affected what you’re making now?
CH: Um it’s tough to know if Sarah Mclachlan works her way into every song… but I mean my mom and I, she would always have qutie the array of things from like Michael Jackson, to Toni Braxton, to weird spoken-word poetry stuff, and like my dad has really good music taste. So I don’t know, in our little town in florida there wasn’t a ton of good influence so you kinda had to go off of instinct of like “something about this feels wrong” [laughs] and I’m just not gonna dive in. I was lucky enough to have friends, older friends, that I surfed with who invited me over to like jam along and stuff?
MJ: What do you think your music is saying, or what do you want it to say?
CH: I think, especially after moving to LA and it was like culture just slapping you right in the face, I feel like I care way more about what it says as opposed to just a sonic vibe, you know? I feel like it would be nice if people got a little interest to be introspective, and just went “huh? Is anything about like the way we live? Is it really all great? Should we reevaluated it every once in awhile?”
MJ: moving a bit off topic, do you have any current favorite artists, or anyone you’re excited to see here?
CH: [laughs] Um I’m like the, I’m such a huge Kendrick Lamar fan, like we’re pretty much teething at just waiting. I really do want to try to catch a bit of Deertick, and maybe some Dr. Dog because we got to play with them and they’re always just amazing live…and that’s all I really know of today, But really more than anything, I cannot wait to see Kendrick Lamar, that album [To Pimp a Butterfly] was like the coolest thing I think in the last ten years.
12829012_988042624618984_1889648592015146186_o
MJ: Current favorite artists that aren’t here?
CH: Well we’re lucky enough to be roommates with a band called Sego, and I hear them all the time, cause they practice all the time, they’re amazing. And like I said, living in LA is so cool to me because there are so many bands that aren’t like huge or anything but I see and am just like “oh my god, that’s insane” and even when we come home to Florida, like FayRoy, and Someday River. These are guys that play with us everytime we come home to Florida, and everytime I see them I’m like freaking out too. So like a lot of our friend’s bands are honestly the ones that get my engine running.
MJ: Favorite song on your ‘Beverly Hells’ EP?
CH: Oh geez! my own favorite song? oh geez….Adam what’s your favorite song on Beverly Hells?
AW: Um probably ‘Shoulda Coulda’
CH: yeah I usually would say one of those two, but lately ‘Beverly Hells’ has been really doin it for me
MJ: I saw you have a Swimm zine, what is it, how long have you been doing it?
CH: Oh yeah, so when we moved to LA, I started making them, there’s three volumes now and I have everything for the fourth one I just haven’t formatted it or anything yet. But basically we started doing shows at the warehouse, it’s called The Cube, and for every show we’d do, like once every four months, we’d always try to make it crazy and weird and redecorate the whole place, like hang mylar strips everywhere so the whole place looks like a reflective space bubble. I kinda wanted something to go along with them, so I started making them to couple with our home shows at our warehouse, so it kinda started from that and I would collaborate with whatever artist I was really into. So I just started collaborating with them so it wasn’t just all my own shit and basically it’s just essays and stuff that I would write for our blog and some little sketches I would do, but they actually have some really amazing visual art by a different painter. That’s been the thing with each one, there’s been a different painter until the last one, it’s going to be more of like a fake fan mail zine, with little sketches of fake people, some of them real like Tom Cruise and Gloria Estefan are people who are like huge Swimm fans in my imagination and I write little synopsis of how they became huge fans.

MJ: Do you have any books, magazines, or any other publications that really inspire some of the writing you do?
CH: Yeah, I‘m like a huge Tom Robbins fan and I eat up anything he does. My mom is like an amazing writer and she’s just now releasing her second book, and it’s going to be called’The Butterfly Book’ and it’s going to be her writing letters to an imaginary life partner-to-be and then through like manifesting that and finding him, now he’s my stepdad and they’re amazing, I love them. So really I get it from all angles.
MJ: Here’s a couple quick little fun-fact type questions: what’s something nobody knows about you?
CH: Haha uh we’re moving quick…
MJ: let me rephrase, how about something your fans don’t know about you?
CH: I looooooove Ace ventura.
MJ: Really?
CH: Like I could pretty much base anything I ever needed to do, or think, or act around the character of Ace Ventura and I would be very okay with it. And I feel like I’d be pretty successful.
MJ: What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
CH: Probably writing a novel. Probably drinking a lot more.
MJ: What would the title be?
CH: Memoirs of a lilith fairy.