The first four songs on our list – “Good Times Bad Times” by Led Zeppelin, “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles, “With or Without You” by U2, and “Goodbye Stranger” by Supertramp – are collective choices. They’re also songs we covered on our recently released EP “Them.” We started playing music together in our family’s bluegrass band (we’re all brothers) when we were little kids. As we grew up and started playing electric instruments, we’ve had many influences, but the earliest were bands our parents turned us on to including Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Supertramp. We all kind of discovered U2 individually, but they’re a big part of our collective musical DNA. The idea of the EP was to strip the songs back and record them as if we’d written them ourselves.
We each chose a few songs individually:
Kurt Doerfel (Percussion)
“Lost Tonight” by Saje – When Ed & Ben first started going to Nashville, I’d stay behind and have mini vacations and just enjoy myself. One day I was out with a buddy shopping in Key West and we heard this song in a fishing store. The sound grabbed both of us and we immediately shazammed it. It’s such a simple and groovy tune, but sonically, something I never got tired of listening to. This song inspired me to get serious about producing & writing. I wanted to make something that sounded THAT good.
“Beautiful Escape” by Tom Misch – I hate to sound like that guy, but I was listening to Tom years ago when he had under 10k followers on Instagram. I knew he had something special just by his sound. The classic disco groove, the jazzy/unique melodies, modern hooks, and quality of his music really set him apart from everyone else. I was so eager for him to release music, which he does slowly, but it was always worth the wait. It has been amazing watching his status grow. I definitely think we can all learn something from him.
“Changes” by Mutemath – Mutemath has achieved the perfect balance of siiiick audio production and live performance. In pop these days, I am SICK AND TIRED of a snap sample driving the percussion in a tune. I have only found it to be acceptable and perfectly fit in this tune specifically. These guys have been around for a while but have adapted perfectly to how music is evolving whilst maintaining their roots.
“Way to Go” by Empire of the Sun – Okay, so apparently these guys have been around for a LONG time. My cousin would show me their songs every now and then and we’d just laugh over their music videos and how outrageous they were. I had no idea who they really were because we called them “Dragon Boys” for some reason. One day he told me their actual name, and I actually took time to listen to their most popular songs on Spotify and fell in love. I love everything about them. The simplicity, vocals, synth drums, classic but unique sound, the outfits…all of it! They’ve inspired me to not try too hard to mimic what’s in fashion right now and just let the creative process go where it truly calls, even if it may seem uncomfortable. Every time I’m sad I listen to these guys!
Joseph Doerfel (bass/vocals)
I don’t really have something specific to say about these songs to be honest. I’m more of an album guy. I don’t have favorite songs, I have favorite albums. When I listen to music, I can’t help but put my favorite bands’ tunes on and just spin the whole album and lose myself in the atmosphere it creates in my mind. These songs just happen to be my favorites on some of my favorite albums.
“Death and All His Friends” by Coldplay – The first time I heard a Coldplay song, I honestly did not like them at all. I had no idea who they were, or how long they’d been around for. By the time I gave them another chance, it was easy to see that there was something to their sound that kept bringing me back to listen again and again.
“Stay With Me” by Thrice – Thrice is my favorite band of all time. They’re the first band I ever listened to that made me really focus on what they were writing about and singing in their songs. That and the way they have evolved their sound is something that I always think about when trying to make new music.
“Of Mind – Nocturne” by TesseracT – TesseracT is pretty much my hype music. The melodies and push and pull feel they have are mesmerizing and so easy to listen to.
Ben Doerfel (guitar/vocals)
“Where I Belong” by Switchfoot – Switchfoot is an essential piece of my musical life. “Where I Belong” is my ultimate on-repeat-always-hard-hitting-slow-jam-of-destiny. From the beautiful melody to the fat drum sound and the grungy guitars comes a masterpiece that never leaves my head. Lyrically it helped me If I was ever down, it would remind me why and that its all good in the hood.
“Falling Out” by Relient K – Relient K introduced me to the amazing world of alt rock. I wore out their album “Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right” and more specifically, “Falling Out.” This was the first song I heard that I actually loved the singers voice. Matt Thiessen has been my favorite singer since my 1st listen of this song. The tight rock groove and again beautiful melody made me feel like listening to this song I could accomplish anything!
“Between Me And You” by Brandon Flowers – From a songwriter/producer stand point, this song is just incredible. There are so many aspects of this emotional pop crusher that it’s hard to find just a few talking points. This song made me want to be a great songwriter. Brandon’s lyrics are so unique. Simple yet complex lines that anyone would say but hardly anyone sings. Wrapping the verse around the chorus so it comes back around and falls right where he started, all the while slowly building the song into a massive thing of beauty.
Edward Doerfel (keys/mandolin/vocals)
“Ode to A Butterfly” by Nickel Creek – This is probably one of the most meaningful songs of my musical history. It was the song that really got me into the mandolin way back when I was around 9 years old. Early in my mandolin career I embarked on a musical journey to learn it note for note to play in a competition. 6 MONTHS later of non-stop practice I played it and took home 2nd place. It was an encouraging point in my young career.
“Needle And Haystack Life” by Switchfoot – This song “fueled my fire” in a big way. This was the opening track of the Switchfoot album that turned me into a fan for life! I always liked the band and casually listened to a few of their songs here and there, but growing up I was never a die-hard until the first time I played this song and album, saw them play live for the first time, and also met front man Jon Foreman! Switchfoot even said in an interview that this was a turning point for them musically as a band. It has inspired me both lyrically and musically.
“Forget And Not Slow Down” by Relient K – When I “forget and not slow down” I strive and make leaps in my creativity….just trying to be clever with the song title.. But in all seriousness, I listen to this song when I’m feeling down or uninspired about something. It’s a reminder to me that sometimes creativity doesn’t just come. You need to work for it.