If you have not witnessed the glory that is Thunderpussy – live or otherwise – it’s time to wake up. We had a chance to glimpse their live performance tactics at this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival, and we were absolutely blown away as they upstaged the other performances going on around them. Seattle-based, this all-female band – expertly comprised of Molly Sides (Vocals), Whitney Petty (Guitar), Leah Julius (Bass), and Ruby Dunphy (Drums) – is taking their chops to the road, giving North America a taste of their high energy, brilliantly colored stage presence and gorgeous rock music. We’re about to join the party at Riot Room on Tuesday night, and we got the unique experience of asking guitar extraordinaire Whitney Petty some questions leading up to the tour. Check out the brief moment we got, as she explained finding her musical soulmate and creating tantalizing melodies.
Let’s get back to the basics. What was the first song or album you ever remember listening to, and do you think it has any impact on who you are as a performer today?
When I was 12 I bought my first Aerosmith CD, Nine Lives, it had just come out. I still know every word and nuance of each song on that record. I am still totally in love with Steven Tyler. Aerosmith are a huge influence on me.
While you’re busy “piercing the walls of Valhalla”, does anything about your conception story strike you as amazing? Was it a meet cute? Tell us about your beginnings!
Well, meeting Molly was an incredible event in my life. It’s a singular feeling when you meet your soulmate. And like I said, I love Aerosmith. I had always hoped that one day I meet my musical accomplice, like the Steven to my Joe. That’s Molly.
What is the recording process like?
It depends on the song, but there is usually always a melody first. Sometimes that melody is on the guitar, and sometimes it is with a lyric. Each song kind of has its own DNA.
You put out your s/t EP in May, and it’s absolutely captivating. Any personal or behind the scenes anecdotes from the recording process you’d like to share?
Working with Sylvia was a dream. Everyone learned so much about the process from her everyday. We should have had a film crew with us in the ‘Real World Ashland house’, as we called it. One of the highlights was recording Young and Pure very live and very stoned (as per Sylvia’s request) in the dark at the very end of the session. There is some magic on that track!
Anyone have a favorite song off of that EP, or something you prefer to perform?
There isn’t any song on there that we don’t like to perform, but some are more lively than others! Velvet Noose is always thrilling, and we all love to play Torpedo. With three distinct parts it’s always a journey…
We got the unique pleasure of witnessing you perform at Sasquatch earlier this year. How does festival life compare to your regular touring life? Is there something you prefer or dislike more?
CATERING. Is what’s up. Festivals are rad!! We love getting to meet artists and see big shows up close and personal.
And. Your OUTFITS. Are you always that bedazzled? What inspired that choice for Sasquatch? (We are in love.)
Yes!!! We love the glam;) Shout out to Pakio Galore out of Seattle, who makes a lot of our costumes. Molly is very instrumental in the vision of how we present ourselves onstage. And who doesn’t love a good color theme?!
When you need time to regroup – to conquer writer’s block or find your new sound or take a minute – where do you go? What’s your safe haven?
Molly and I love nature. We go to the mountains fairly often, in Idaho. And I love Kauai, when I can get there. But there is no place like our native Seattle!!!
Any fun pre-performance rituals?
Drink the blood of virgins, sacrifice a goat, that kind of thing…
Your rider list is probably pretty modest compared to, say, J.Lo. But if you could have anything on your rider list, what would you do?
Kittens and puppies in the green room, obv.
Something a little off-kilter… Do you believe in intuition and. the power of psychics? Why or why not?
Of course. I believe in the collective unconscious and synchronicity. I believe in Karma. I think there is a subtlety to life and events that many people perceive and many miss.
Don’t forget to head out to Riot Room on the 16th to enjoy the magic of Thunderpussy’s live performance, and keep up with them here.
We’ve had a blissful courtship with indie rock/folk duo Seasaw since before Imperfect Fifth ever existed. Having had the opportunity to review an album of theirs at a previous publication, my mailbox experienced an unexpected and happy surprise when they shipped me a vinyl copy of said album with a personalized thank you note. The music industry is incredibly rewarding in most ways, but to get a hand written note is rather rare anymore. That particular memory stayed with me, and then when I got a chance to peep the material for their new album Big Dogs, I was floored.
Lucky for me, I got the unique opportunity to meet up with Meg and Eve on a balmy September day in Kansas City while they were on tour. We sat down while they tried some tacos from Mission Taco, and chatted a bit about that new album and their progression as artists. Check out the words below!
What’s the first song or record you remember hearing, and does it have any bearing on who you are as a performer today?
Eve: The first thing I probably listened to would be the Beach Boys because my dad is a huge Beach Boys fan. He would make me mix tapes of the Beach Boys that I would play on my tiny kid cassette tape player. He made me lots and lots of music like that. And we would listen to it all the time in the car too when I would drive around with my dad. I don’t know that anyone could live up to the amazing harmonies and chord progression that the Beach Boys produced, but of course it’s always in the back of my mind to choose something even a fraction of the beauty that they were able to create sonically. They did such cool things in the studio too as their albums progressed.
My dad also made me a mix tape that had The Kinks and included “Lola”, which is one of my all-time favorite songs. As you know, it’s a song that has a very adult theme. But I brought it in for show and tell in 2nd grade and I think the teacher called my parents and was like, “Did you know that Eve** brought ‘Lola’ in?” Of course they loved it. It’s an amazing song.
Meg: I remember listening to Billy Joel’s The Stranger a lot with my dad and dancing around the living room to that. My mom would always play Carole King’s Tapestry. I was a dancer when I was little, so I would put those two songs on and kind of go for it. I don’t think they shaped anything besides the fact that I still listen to those records today.
My parents didn’t listen to a lot of music. Eve went to a lot of concerts growing up, but I didn’t really. I think the first concert I went to was when I was in high school with my brother. Music was there. I played instruments and stuff and I sang here and there. But I really remember Billy Joel and I still listen to it all the time. I have my dad’s copy of The Stranger vinyl. They would all write their social security numbers on their records so they were safe, but that was when social security numbers weren’t as protected so now it’s blacked out on the copy of the vinyl. In hindsight, a pretty poor choice but kind of cool.
The inspiration behind the title track from Big Dogs – and much of the album – was brought on when the duo played a festival slot recently. A band member from the act playing after them jumped on stage while they were wrapping up their equipment and harassed them about moving too slowly. “If you want to play with the big dogs, you need to get the fuck off the stage,” he yelled at them. This caused a verbal altercation, and the ladies didn’t have security or stagehands to help them out. The power imbalance was notable, and bred some of their most alluring new work.
So from the last album to this one, there is a little more edge, and that’s for a variety of reasons including subject matter. When the – actually heartbreaking – event happened that inspired “Big Dogs”, did you dive in and write a song, or did it take a second before you were able to process and create material around it?
Meg: It was mostly me that the interaction happened with, but Eve came to bat for me and we both had an interaction with the person. So we had talked about it together and had brainstormed a list of all of the things that were funny because we wanted to be able to process it somehow. So we wrote some of the funny things that were said — some of the words in the song are actual direct quotes. Then I would say it was maybe a month later that I sat down and hammered it out and wrote “Big Dogs”.
Some songs take me a long time to write, but that one kind of just poured out really fast. It was done within an hour or two and then Eve helped me make some revisions. It was pretty quick that it happened after the event.
Eve: So we were going to name the album Big Dogs before the song and then Meg wrote the song so we were like, “Oh, great. That’s even better.”
So when the theme of the music video for that song came up, how did you guys decide to go tongue-in-cheek?
Eve: I came up with the idea just after hearing what Meg had written. The image of a dog is kind of tricky in a song because of the language involved and we think the phrase is funny. So, we were trying to figure out a delicate way to be kind of cutting with the idea of what a big dog is. Because it is someone who is kind of a sad person who doesn’t have self confidence and is a bully and has to call themselves that to feel important. So we wanted to portray that in a more artistic and creative way so there wasn’t just dogs on everything.
It came about after trying to be very thoughtful about how to portray that idea. And then I came up with the invisible dog and it fits. We a kind of tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic with everything we do, and I like how it makes you have to think about it a little harder so it’s not as obvious. Even the front cover to the back cover forces the listener to wonder who the Big Dogs are. Is it the women on the cover or the image of the dog on the back? I like how it makes people try to figure it out and dig a little deeper to understand the meaning. That’s wha we did with the video too.
How did your recording process differ this time than with the last album?
Eve: There’s definitely a big difference. With the last album we did everything ourselves. I engineered everything so I couldn’t put my whole mind into the playing piece of it because there was still that hindrance of about 10% brain energy. This time we had a friend engineer the whole thing for us so we really got to go all-in. We also spent a lot of time demoing the songs. It was probably about a month before we started recording so we were able to go through many iterations of the pieces to get them to a more full state. We didn’t have as much time to do that with the last record. I think that really helped inspired a lot of the full and different sounds you hear. We were able to have fun with it.
As for your live performance, you guys do such a wonderful job. Was that something that just came naturally to you? How did your performance style come to be?
Eve: Well, we’ve been working on our presentation for as long as we’ve been recording. We’d start sitting on two chairs and Meg would play the bongos and I would quietly cower near the guitar. So we just had to grow into the confidence to do things that are more thoughtfully laid out for the audience’s sake and for the flow of the music that we’re performing. So there is a lot of thought that goes behind the flow of what we’re doing. We’re constantly tweaking things and trying to make it better because it’s just the two of us in the moment so anything can go right or wrong and throw something off. So there’s a lot of energy in our performances because we can only rely on each other to make the music. So I think that pressure gives us the reason to act the way we do.
There’s a lot of thought that goes into our social media and the esthetic on our stage and the esthetic in our album and the fact that it’s blue. Every little piece has been made cohesive to grow into this more thought out and developed product that you’re going to hear on this album, all the way from the recorded version to the final piece to the performance.
In these 8 years that we’ve been together, we’ve been stepping towards something we can stand behind. Each piece is more 100% than we could in the past because we just didn’t have the experience at that time.
When you were here in June, did you get a chance to experience KC at all? I know it was a pretty quick trip.
Eve: No, and there’s a lot to see. It looks beautiful and we need a tour guide to show us the inside scoop. (wink)
Is there anything specific that you have planned for the rest of this tour for your off time?
Meg: We only have like one off day but it will be in D.C. so we’re hoping to hit some art museums. We’re meeting some friends in Baltimore so that’s what we will be doing as well. I think we are going to the restaurant at the top of The Revival there too. This tour is going to be a lot of fun.
Brooklyn-based power-punk collective Turkuaz – comprised of Dave Brandwein, Taylor Shell, Craig Brodhead, Michelangelo Carubba, Greg Sanderson, Joshua Schwartz, Chris Brouwers, Sammi Garett, and Shira Elias – doesn’t have much time on their hands nowadays, especially with the upcoming release of their 9-track stunner Life In The City. From the first energetic chords of the title track in first position, through the funky underbelly of “The One And Lonely”, all the way through the end of groovy mid tempo dance track “Fight The Fire” in slot 9, Turkuaz dazzles with their impressive musicianship and flare for inventive and fun lyrical content. Don’t just trust us, get your listen to the new album when it drops on Friday! But until then, check out our exclusive interview with the act below.
Based on your new album that talks about the highs and lows of life, what did each of you do to achieve happiness in your own life?
Wow! What a first question! I don’t know if I can definitely say that any or all of us have “achieved” happiness, though we do we quite enjoy a life of making and playing music for people. I think the best you can do is try to do what makes you happy, and put a lot of care and love into it. If you do that, I believe it tends to come back to you in more ways than one. But as discussed on the album, finding happiness in a fast-paced life, surrounded by an often scary world with seemingly diminishing hope sometimes can be very difficult.
That struggle is a lot of what the album is about, but we’ve set it to an energetic and upbeat musical soundtrack to keep it fun and in line with Turkuaz music, which we always want to be uplifting in nature. The lyrics vs. music juxtaposition on the album could perhaps describe an approach to staying happy in life. Even when things seem to be going wrong, an underlying love and appreciation for life can lessen the blow and keep you moving forward. When bad things happen, which they will, a negative attitude will tend to worsen them, but if the underlying soundtrack in your life is that of love and positivity it will make the bad times not so bad, and the good times even better. This more easily said than done of course, but I think can be a helpful guide.
How did the band as a whole, come up with the unique rock/R&B sound?
With 9 band members all with their own musical backgrounds and influences, we’re naturally drawing from an eclectic pool. I think many of us first grew up in bands playing rock music of the 60’s and 70’s, and as we got older we melded that with a style leaning more into funk and R&B. But with an awareness of everything from punk to jazz, we try to remain open minded as far as not limiting where we can go with our writing and playing. Rather than being something we came up with, it’s really something that’s evolved over a long period of time.
While creating new music, who are some of your biggest influences (whether it be actors, musicians, or just important people in your life)?
In the exact moment of creating or writing it, it’s hard to single out an influence that inspires you specifically. Similar to the last question, I do feel like it’s an evolution over time and it’s the culmination of creativity pulling from a wide swath of influences. In addition to some of our collective favorites (Sly and the Family Stone, Talking Heads, Zapp and Roger, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Prince, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, James Brown – I could go on forever) we also influence one another through our musical process, and we derive a lot of inspiration from family, friends and musical peers in our lives, as you alluded to in the question.
When writing new music, what sort of songwriting process do you go through? Is it an easy process, or is it difficult to get the whole band on track?
It generally will start with a demo from either myself or a couple other band members. The demo will usually just involve a groove with some changes of some sort. From that point I’ll usually write over it, and more recently that process has opened up to some more collaboration with other members too. For our recent song “If I Ever Fall Asleep,” I made an instrumental demo and Josh wrote most of the song over it. For “Lady Lovely,” Craig sampled a rehearsal recording we had of some of us (Josh, Taylor, Michelangelo) jamming, and then made a groove and song form out of it, which I then wrote lyrics over, and completed with Sammi and Shira. So it really can come together in any number of ways.
After a demo has vocals put on it, we’ll all start to just play the song as a group, which involves a lot of people making each instrument or vocal part their own and putting their own spin on it. That’s where the most collaboration comes in, in the arrangement process. There are occasional disagreements or divergences of opinions, but all in all for a large group like this of strong personalities, we tend to have a really good time doing it and it’s an enjoyable process from beginning to end.
What are you goals, or what do you want to see happen by the end of this year?
I think it can sometimes be counterproductive to get too fixated on one really specific goal, because it can side track you from looking at the big picture and being ready for other opportunities that may present themselves. Some things come up in a way that differs from the narrative you pictured unfolding, and it’s important to be able to adapt and react throughout that process. All that said, of course we set goals week to week, month to month, etc. — but on an annual or big picture basis, I think the goal is to keep making music that we love and tour the world playing it. Speaking of which, more international touring would be really cool. Let’s go with that!
How does it feel knowing that you have a growing fan base and people who relate to your music all around the world?
It feels really amazing, and it makes any and all discouraging moments and frustration we face not only tolerable, but well worth it, knowing that what we do brings people joy and increases the quality of their life in some way. If making music is a purely selfish act for someone, I don’t believe they’ll have staying power as a musician, because that path leads to a bad place, and the second something throws you off, you’ll be done and no sacrifice will be worth it. Doing it for the sake of spreading joy to others makes it a more honorable endeavor and creates a longer lasting motivation in my experience. It’s the greatest honor we have in what we do.
In the future, what is your dream venue to perform at?
We’ve had the privilege of crossing a few of these off the list already (Red Rocks, The Fillmore, to name just a couple). We’ve even gotten to play at MSG, though it was during a Knicks game… As New Yorkers we certainly hope to do a Turkuaz show there one day. That would be a very big deal. We’d also really love to play at The Gorge Amphitheater!
Who in your musical career helped you to get the place you are at now?
That’s a difficult answer to pin down. Of course we owe so much to the managers, booking agents and promoters who believed in us before (and after) we were better known, and have helped to get us to where we are. We also have an important group of people on the road with us who do a lot off the stage. There are too many people to mention without leaving someone out and we owe so much of what we have to people behind the scenes. But I think ultimately the fans who support us are the ones who decide our fate at the end of the day, and they are the ones who sustain what we do. Not to mention that this band has 9 really dedicated musicians who have sacrificed endless amounts of time and energy into this project, long before anyone knew who we were. There is a still a lot of work to be done, so I don’t feel that we’ve “arrived” so to speak in any way. But it’s important to find people that you like working with throughout the process, because the process at the end of the day is the experience that you live. Results can be gratifying, but ultimately you’re gonna always want more, and day to day, you want to do what you love with people that you love. That dynamic is what I believe will create a sustainable and enjoyable career in music that’s poised for growth.
How did you all meet each other?
Most of us were friends up at Berklee in Boston during college. We moved down to New York after school and over the next several years, we played shows in clubs around the Northeast and our lineup solidified into the 9 people we are today. We’re all really good friends and act a lot more like a family, which I think is a key ingredient in our ability to spend nearly all of our time making music together.
What do you do in your free time that helps contribute to the songwriting process?
I’m sad to say I don’t personally have a ton of free time these days. If I’m not on the road, I’m in the studio working on Turkuaz, or producing other bands. That can actually become a real difficulty for writing songs, because you have to let some inspiration come in in order to have something to put out. For the first time in the last few years I’ve had to specifically dedicate days for writing material, but of course inspiration doesn’t always like to come on schedule. Luckily, I think my mind is always looking for patterns, catch phrases or fun ideas, and often I’ll wake up in the morning with a musical idea buzzing around. So much of it comes from that intangible place, and I look back after an album is done and I can’t specifically remember where any of it came from. I really like that mystery being part of it, and continually feeling like there’s some creative energy pouring through that isn’t coming from me, but I’m more of a vehicle for it to deliver itself. Some days or even years I feel more of that happening than others, but I think that’s when the best work comes through.
It’s not very often that you end an interview feeling elated, energy coursing through your veins like you are an unstoppable force. It can be difficult to find that depth, honestly, more often than not. That wasn’t the case on a warm summer’s day in August, when I stepped off the deck and into the air conditioning after getting off the phone with Andrew W.K. After all, this is a man who has been working tirelessly for decades to bring his brand of party to the world – a man whose music has brought fans of all ages and demographics to his shows, just to let loose and let go of their every day lives for a couple of hours.
But perhaps what’s so unique about Andrew is his level of empathy. It’s something that is palpable in his music, as he urges people to feel good constantly, both with the energy and tempo of the instrumentals, the very specific party-inducing lyrics, and his own brand of infectious stage presence. His show at recordBar in Kansas City, MO last year brought a handful of excitable fans up on stage to dance, sing, and stage dive into a room packed tight with sweat and happiness.
There is something about Andrew W.K.’s level of empathy, however, that makes the man stick out like a single glitter crayon mixed in with normal colors. Speaking to us about his first record purchase, he admits that USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” – released in 1985 – was the first song he ever expressed an interest in owning as a child. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie with arrangements by John Barnes and conducted by Quincy Jones, the track features over 40 well-known singers (i.e. Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Kenny Loggins, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, etc.) and an additional several phenomenal instrumentalists.
Andrew’s reasoning for being so attracted to this song in particular? “So many great musicians had gathered into one space to work on something that benefitted other people. That type of thing hadn’t been done before, and hasn’t really been done at that capacity since. It was eye opening, and the song was really good.”
Even without “We Are The World” as an all-inclusive, empathic track, Andrew W.K. tells us that his sense of empathy is something he believes he has always had.
I think we’re all born with some level of empathy. But it can take a lot to keep it close to your heart. A lot of bad things can happen, and it can really close you off to the world. But music is such a big thing and I want to use what I create to help people keep that part of themselves open and partying.
Part of the party includes Andrew’s all white performance attire, which he has become known for over the years. When asked about the specific detergent he uses to keep his completely white stage ensemble white during tour, he admits:
I don’t really pay attention to that. I just wash them, but when they start collecting stains and different markings I just kind of let it happen. It’s like a scrapbook of tour. There are sweat stains, markings, sometimes holes. Sometimes my outfits start to smell really bad too, and I feel bad for the people who have to be around me a lot but you get used to it. I always have a backup white t-shirt and pants just in case the ones I’m wearing see their last day.
At the time of our interview, in fact, he had been going strong in the same pair of Levi’s and same shirt on tour for over a year. “I normally go through my outfits faster. I don’t know why, but this specific pair of Levi’s is stitched together really well in sensitive areas, so I haven’t split my pants or gotten a rip or a hole anywhere where it matters yet.”
We respect his approach to fashion while on the road, as we’re all about keeping things around that remind us of adventures we’ve been on. Why be any different with your clothing, especially when your white on white is so well known after 22 years of performing your optimistic messages around the world?
When we asked him about how he keeps his mind focused on the positive when the world around us is filled with so many mixed messages, especially now, he admits that there isn’t just one thing he does.
I don’t really have a pre-show ritual or anything to get my head in the game. I tried to do that for a while but each show and each day on tour is so different. Sometimes I get pumped up by doing warmups with the band, but sometimes we don’t even see each other that much before a performance. Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I meditate. I can’t rely on any one thing because it’s always changing. So I guess the music itself and being on stage is really the way I get excited about the show.
This news isn’t exactly surprising, since Andrew’s music has that therapeutic facet to it that we touched on earlier. 2018’s You’re Not Alone boasts 17 tracks, including gems like “The Power of Partying”, “Music Is Worth Living For”, “The Feeling of Being Alive” (spoken word), “Keep on Going”, “In Your Darkest Moments” (spoken word), and “You’re Not Alone”, among others. The lyrical content blends seamlessly with his overall message, and is the way he reaches out to heal the world. The vulnerability in the lyrics – and in his self-help and spoken word work – is some of the most cathartic we’ve witnessed, something of clear note especially during Suicide Prevention Month.
Lucky for us, Andrew W.K. is out on the road all month. As someone who spent the majority of his formative years in the midwest – Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier was born in Stanford, but raised in Michigan, where he developed his songwriting and performing talents with several bands before heading to New York to pursue his career under the Andrew W.K. moniker – Andrew admits that he looks forward to coming back when his schedule allows, whether it’s on tour or not. In fact, over the years, Kansas City has begun to hold a soft spot in his heart specifically.
Getting off the bus at the venue last year, the food we’ve had in Kansas City in the past, the barbecue, memories of trees that I’ve seen and streets that I’ve been on. Kansas City does that for me. There are so many good memories there, and it’s the friendly people and the great shows we’ve had that keep us coming back!
Andrew and the rest of his band of talent will get their next shot at creating those memories when they bring their “You’re Not Alone” tour to Kansas City next Wednesday, September 19th, at recordBar. The show starts at 8pm, with a special performance by Drop a Grand before Andrew W.K. takes the stage. Tickets start at $18 and are available here. We can’t guarantee he won’t sell out, so make sure to nab them quickly!
Keep up with Andrew W.K. and his shenanigans – and message of peace, really, – here!
Johnson City, Tennessee-based self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” trio Achy – comprised of Achy (Samuel B.) (songwriter, composer) and his cohorts Mahto Bowder (bass), and Sam Love (drums) – just unleashed their seven track stunner Friendly Animals unto the world. Laced with a psychedelic, garage rock feel, the trio somehow pulls off a brit-pop soundscape above it all. Each track is refreshing, and honestly something we would enjoy at an outdoor barbecue. (You know… IF the heat ever dies down anywhere close by!)
Feel free to check out Friendly Animals below, and then check out our quick interview with the trio, where we get deep into their production process and – of course – superheroes.
What was your first musical memory, or the first album or song you heard? Do you think that has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?
Samuel: My absolute first musical memory is sitting in the living room of my folks old apartment, and my dad had this little record player set up and was playing Money by Pink Floyd on it. And that memory has always stuck with me super strong. My dad and my mom showing me their music growing up definitely impacted the way I make music though.
Sam Love: My first musical memory that really really made me love music was Pink Floyd. Particularly the Syd Barrett era, which was a more spastic and creative-sounding time for Pink Floyd in my opinion. However Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse was the most influential album on my drum playing.
Mahto: There was always stuff like the Grateful Dead, Augustus Pablo, Bad Brains, Neil Young playing at the house. My folks had a fairly wide taste. My first cd was Help by the Beatles. I feel like the set me up pretty well. I do remember going to see a stage production of beauty and the beast and suddenly being much more interested in the piano at the the house. All that said I’m sure it must be why I act in the way I do now.
What is this self-proclaimed “giggle-pop” genre you’ve come up with on Facebook? Where did that term come from? Don’t necessarily disagree — just SUPER curious.
Samuel: It’s to describe that lil giggle you let out when a pop hook sounds real good. And we found it just online I can’t remember where or who but some beautiful stranger described us with the perfect genre! We also crack a lot of jokes at the live gigs.
Sam Love: Our term “giggle pop” comes from how much fun we having playing and learning music together; I think Samuel and Mahto have great senses of humor and we always make each other laugh in between songs! Although we take the music we make seriously I think it’s important to also have fun with it and they are great fellas to have around for that!
Mahto: I think someone else called us that in a Facebook event. It’s pretty accurate though. We get pretty giggly pretty often.
Friendly Animals is so refreshing and upbeat. We hear it all happened in 2 days. (AMAZING!) Any fun anecdotes?
Samuel: Thank you! It was the most exhausting two days I’ve ever had, we as a group literally rehearsed the songs one day before recording them and a lot of the parts were actually written as we recorded. By the end of recording I couldn’t even redo guitar takes cause my fingers hurt so bad!
Sam Love: The recording process for our EP Friendly Animals was a blast! It’s was a lot of work, but working with Henry of Taped Records in Knoxville was absolutely amazing. He has done a great job setting up an environment where work and productivity explode like a volcano, but in a way that doesn’t stifle the creative process. I feel like it was refreshing for all of us.
Mahto: It was very hot. And very hard on the hands. I thought the improv jam was the most fun though. After spending all day trying to get the songs right, after learning them the day before, it was really nice to be able to turn the brain off and slip into the rhythm off this new thing.
Do any of you have a favorite track from the album, or perhaps a song you prefer to perform live? Why? What makes it something to look forward to for you?
Samuel: Mine would have to be “Breakfast w/ You”, seeing people smile and get excited that we’re playing it just makes me so happy. That or “Telephone P’lease”!
Sam Love: My personal favorite song from Friendly Animals is “Summer Sweater” because I really like how the grooves kind of take on a funkier sound. I always look forward to playing it live!
Mahto: I rather like playing “Telephone P’lease”. It makes me feel like a rockstar.
How do you want fans to feel after listening to the album in its entirety?
Samuel: That they feel like they know us! By the end of the record I’d love it if people felt a little closer to what we’re doing and like they could come up after a show and talk like old friends.
Sam Love: Ideally, after listening to Friendly Animals for the first time, I would like the listeners to feel like they just heard something different in an interesting “fresh” way.
Mahto: I want listeners to feel like Samuel for a minute.
On a broader spectrum, what drives your passion to create music?
Samuel: The people and connections I make everyday doing it, the strongest and funnest connections you can make are when you become besties with another band or artist, that’s true love right there.
Sam Love: I always find myself in and around musical environments, and being able to play music with good friends and musicians like Samuel Bowman and Mahto Browder really helps drive my passion to create music. I also love how music can bring so many different people together, and even serve as a sort-of medicine.
Mahto: It just something I have to do. I think there is something primal that makes people want music.
If you could be any superhero – “existing” or made up – who would you be and why?
Samuel: Definitely Hellboy, coolest hero ever! Also the best graphic novel hands down.
Sam Love: If I could be any superhero, pre-existing or otherwise, I firmly believe I would be Father Captain Doctor Love. The man who, of course, had humble roots in a church eventually becoming a Priest. After seeing the ugly underbelly of religion and understanding religion’s sinister and corrupt nature in his town he quit the church to join the army. He quickly became a Captain, but after seeing the unjust conflicts and unspeakable horrors of war he left to further his academic career and reflect on his experiences. He decided to become a heart surgeon, and graduated at the top of his class successfully becoming a doctor. It was then he learned he could just also read minds and become temporarily invisible for 10-15 minute intervals on Thursdays.
Mahto: Batman. He just does what he wants. No powers or anything.
On July 12th, Austin-based indie pop act Carry Illinois – comprised of Lizzy Lehman (Lead Singer/ Rhythm Guitar), Andrew Pressman (Bass), Rudy Villarreal (Drums), Darwin Smith (Guitar), and Benjamin Rowe Violet (Keys) – will make a much anticipated appearance The Rino in Kansas City, MO. But before we head out to celebrate the summertime with this impressive quintet, we wanted to ask brainchild and front woman Lizzy Lehman some questions. Below, she delves into her inspiration and the development of the band.
What was your first musical memory? Do you think that memory has any bearing on how you create music now?
My first musical memories are of watching The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Maurice Sendak’s cartoon musical “Really Rosie” (with music sung by Carole King). Hearing the music from both artists absolutely inspired my love of singing and a deep desire to create truthful, emotional, and relatable music that reflects the journey of navigating the challenges and triumphs of life.
What unique flare do you think performing and creating in Austin, TX has given to your music?
Austin is a very accepting and supportive city where it is ok, and even encouraged, to be different and loud and proud about being yourself. Performing and creating here has made it possible for my music to fully represent my awkward, wonderful, painful, scary, and hopeful personal experience without fear of being judged.
Music lovers in Austin want to see artists expressing themselves in the most authentic way possible. My music has been embraced by people from all walks of life, even by those I would never expect to connect to it, and that is truly rewarding and validating.
What’s the story of how the musical project started and expanded? Was it a meet cute?
After the break up of a previous band, I knew I did not want to go back to playing solo. I had grown to love the power that comes with having a full band behind me. I set to work recruiting some of my favorite musicians- some old friends, and some new friends of friends. Darwin and Rudy have been with me from the beginning, through all the experiments, and the ups and downs. I am so grateful for their love and support. Following the painful loss of our bass player and dear friend John, we brought on Andrew, who has been a good friend and part of my chosen family for a long time. We lost our former keys player to the domestic life, but it made us think more about the sounds we want to hear, and we were very lucky to find Benjamin. He has added depth and sparkle to our sound in all the right places, with his array of synths and keys. We’ve made some changes to our sound over the years, with me “going electric” and accepting my love of pop and rock music. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive and creative group of guys. It wasn’t exactly a meet cute but the love is strong!
Your new EP Work in Progress is so vulnerable and honestly provides such a kaleidoscope soundscape. What was it like, making that EP?
Making the new EP was a highly creative, visceral, and fully collaborative experience. It was amazing to have several days to build up the instrumentation, allow my band members to flex their creative muscles by experimenting with different sounds, and then record my vocals with a fully realized and rich musical context already in place. I was able to engage my emotions in a much deeper and connected manner while recording this EP because I was singing my most revealing and brutally honest lyrics to date.
How do you feel your music has progressed since you started?
My music has become much more personal, honest, and revealing. It has also gone from having a very rootsy/folk feel to fully embracing my unabashed love for pop music. While the subject matter of the songs has become more earnest, the music itself has gained a more driving, catchy, and relatable feel. I have gone from making up songs about things I have never experienced, to confronting my most painful insecurities and challenging life experiences. I have become a truth-teller who is no longer afraid to tell my story.
What is your favorite part about live performance?
I love getting to belt my heart out, and in doing so I am able to share my true voice with the audience. Singing is my first instrument and my greatest musical passion. When I sing live I feel alive, and it is extremely fulfilling to see people engage in both the intimate and dramatic moments throughout our set.
What do you hope people take away from your music, and from seeing you live?
I want people to know that we are all connected by a need for love, support, and understanding. I want them to know that it is ok to feel their feelings and process their own pain. I hope that they feel comfortable enough to come up to me and let me know that they share a common experience, and that my music helps them to not feel alone in the struggle for self-acceptance.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
I would be Wonder Woman because she is strong, powerful, confident, and can face any challenge that comes her way! I would love to be able to stand tall even when I am having a difficult time maintaining stamina to get through my toughest moments.
I’m looking forward to meeting you in Kansas City! Please come say hello!