sonny falls

We met up with Chicago rockers Sonny Falls last Thursday at the Rainbo Club to discuss their new album, Some Kind of Spectre; signing with local label Sooper records; and all the glories of Hamms beer. Guitarist and songwriter Ryan Ensley and lead guitarist Anthony Santoro rolled into the Rainbo Club, a regular hangout of theirs, ordered a couple PBR’s and ponied up in a booth with us to answer some questions. 

RE: Ryan Ensley
AS: Anthony Santoro

CCS:    So Sonny Falls, man, how’d you guys end up starting the band?

RE:     Well, I’ve been writing songs forever, and I’ve been playing with our drummer Calvin for about ten years. We were in another band that put out three records, but that was a co songwriting thing with me and another guy and I kind of realized I wanted to do something that was not reliant on another songwriter. So, I kind of took a year break trying to figure out what I wanted to do. After that Calvin and I started playing together and it was great and then I met Anthony through just going to shows and shit and our bass player Jeff ran another DIY space down the street. I used to live at this place called Young Camelot. I helped with the second space, the church on Hirsch and California. Jeff was running a spot a half a block down and we ended up just hanging out and jamming, and Anthony was hanging around and shredding, and I thought “That kid is fucking sick.” 

AS:     You guys were also the first local band I saw when I moved here, the old band. I saw you at Beat Kitchen a month after I moved here. His old band Shiloh was opening, and I remember being there with my friend, a drummer, and we were saying “Yeah, man, we have to work with songwriters like that someday.” And the next couple years the two of us wormed our way into all of their splinter projects. 

RE:     That show that you saw was probably the only sold out show that band ever played. Cause we were opening for Diarrhea Planet. Which is a weird thread because he played with Diarrhea Planet when you were what 16 or something. 

AS:     It was a week before my 18th birthday, I’d known about them for a while. My high school band covered “Ghost With A Boner” and we put it on You Tube. It was pretty wild. I think we were the first band to cover them and we were like “Hey guys we covered your song!” They were playing Great Scott in Boston, which is my favorite venue, and we wanted to get in but it was an 18 plus show. So I messaged them on facebook and asked if I could pretend to be their roadie. They were like “We saw you can play guitar, just come on down.” I got to play like five songs with them. It gave me my first taste of what it’s like to play a sick sold out show, I’m very grateful to them for that. 

RE:     Yeah, I feel like you would have been way less impressed with us if it wasn’t that night. That was a particularly good show for us. 

AS:     You guys were a good band. I bought the CD from you that night. I still want my money back. 

(all laugh) 

CCS:     So Anthony said you guys have been working on the album since last September? 

RE:     We started recording in September and we’ve been writing over a year before that. And Anthony started playing with us just last July. He just jumped in and we wrote a bunch of cool shit. Me and Jeff and Calvin had the bare bones written but he helped us structure it. We spent about six months recording it and then threw in all the strings and horns after the fact.

CCS:     Yeah, I definitely dug the production on the album. 

RE:     That’s Michael Macdonald. He was in a band called Oshwa for a long time and he’s a songwriter too. He has a studio in Bridgeport. We did a lot of the bare bones tracking at Shirk Studios. 

AS:     The Bridgeport studio is Pallet Sound. 

CCS:     How’d you guys get involved with Sooper? 

RE:     I’ve known Nnamdi (Ogbonnaya, half owner of Sooper Records, and local musician) since I was 15 or 16 and he’s always been the best at everything. 

CCS:     Yeah he is. I caught his set at Pitchfork. Damn good. 

RE:     Yeah I got to stand side stage for that. First time I’ve got to do that at a festival. It was super surreal and  it was particularly special cause I’ve known him since we were kids. Seeing him do that was reaffirming. People that I know can get there. 

CCS:     That could be you guys next year. 

RE:     Hopefully

(all agree and we knock on table) 

RE:     I used to go to shows at his house, just in his living room. His parents would let him just do that. He used to play in Math Rock bands and all kinds of projects. 
Anyway, Glenn ( the other owner of Sooper Records) is in a band called Longface with my friend Anthony and he told him “you should listen to this record.” Then I drunkenly gave Glenn, while we were hanging out, a super long spiel on sustainability as a songwriter, making a career trajectory plan. He’s also a lawyer and he was just like: “Alright, this kid, I’m gonna listen to his record, if only to find out how crazy he is, and how shitty his music is.” Then he liked it. (laughs) He got back to me and said let’s do this. Nnamdi was touring, and I was going to send him the album anyways but I saw Glenn first at that show. 

AS:     Dude, you remember when we met him at Cole’s? 

RE:     So he listened to my insane spiel and was like “Yeah I’m into it.” He msg me on facebook, and he mentioned it to Nnamdi who was like “yeah we’re buds.” and he dug it. So we went to Cole’s to meet Glenn.

AS:     Yeah, we showed up looking like this. (points out their short, t-shirt and ball cap with long hair wardrobe.) 

RE:     And Glen came to Cole’s in a suit. I’ve always wanted to be courted by a guy in a suit who’s offering me a record deal. And if fucking happened. For real. So crazy. 

AS:     We’re just sitting there in Cole’s, looking all fucking ragged and shit and across from us is this dude in a suit and briefcase. Everybody in the bar was probably like “Those guys are probably a band.” 

RE:     It was definitely like he runs a label and those guys are in a band.  

AS:     It was very cartoonish.

RE:     I’m so happy that happened like that, cause it was like a fucking cartoon. 

AS:     I want a nice oil painting of it I can hang above my fireplace. First I gotta get a fireplace. 

RE:     So he dug the record and we made a plan. We have a PR company helping us out. I had put out a ton of records that have flopped and I learned every time what I need to do to work on making the next one not flop. And slowly kind of piecemealed the equivalent of like, a music business degree of knowledge over the span of my twenties, which I think Glenn appreciated. And now I send him super long texts when I’m stressed out about things. We’re just good friends now. That’s one of the most exciting things about it, we made a new friend, you know. 

AS:     Glenn has relationships with so many people that are just good at what they do, and Sooper is willing to let us run wild and give artists a place to grow. To be involved with people like that is so cool. 

RE:     It’s awesome. Everyone’s close. I think a larger label, I don’t know for sure, but if a larger label asked I think I would say: “Eh, I think I’m going to stick with Sooper.” Why would I trade, in terms of sustainability, I would rather have a friendship that grows together. They’re two years old, this band is two years old. Growing together is much more satisfying, than someone saying here’s five grand, go make a record. I’d rather pay for it myself. 

CCS:     And with the growing Indie scene here I think they came about at the right time. 

AS:     Yeah their mission is to be Chicago centric, and be a hub for this city. They want to cultivate a dynamic mural of what the Chicago scene is. 

CCS:     You guys leave for tour soon, right?  

RE:     Yeah, man, we’re doing everywhere. We’re doing St. Louis, Tulsa, Texas then up the East Coast and back to the Midwest. It’s gonna be three weeks. It’s interesting to see how having label support changes the way people respond. I’ve booked a lot of tours, and there’s something about Sooper, people are aware of them and so they listen to it, you know. Can I get another beer? Can I do that? 

CCS:     Of course. You know what, I got it. (leaves table to go to bar) 

(Several seconds pass) 

AS:     What’s your favorite pinball machine? 

RE:     My favorite pinball machine . . . I don’t know . . . My grandpa had this Evel Knievel one... 

AS:     Fucking badass. 

(CCS returns with PBRs for both of them) 

RE:     Ah, thanks man. 

AS:     I like the Addams Family Pinball. Everytime I played that one I just smoked it. The Simpson’s one is
good too. 

CCS:     So you guys are swinging through Boston? You playing New York? 

RE:     Yeah, New York, Philly, Boston. 

CCS:     Brooklyn? 

RE:     I think we’re playing in Queens actually. Maybe it’s on the border. Trans-Pecos it’s called.

AS:     I think it’s technically in Brooklyn. It’s fairly new, but it seems like the spot right now. Lots of good bands playing there. 

(our conversation evolves into a bemoaning of the gentrification of Wicker Park) 

CCS:     Where do you guys work? 

RE:     I help run a dog walking company. Mainly in Hermosa and Logan Square. 
(conversation again moves to gentrification, this time of Logan Square and the unaffordability of buying property) 

CCS:    Let’s talk venues. What’s your favorite venues to play in Chicago? 

AS:     Empty Bottle forever. 

RE:     Empty Bottle is great. Our release show was fun, Empty Bottle is awesome. 

AS:     I like Beat Kitchen too. 

RE:     I love the DIY spots, but I’m not even that old and it seems like I’ve fallen out of touch. They happen so fast and I think maybe a lot of those kids are in art school or something. There’s a few that are run by people I know, and they’ve lasted a long time, cause they know how to soundproof shit. I love those spots. I’d like to play more of em. 

CCS:     You guys been to Sleeping Village yet? 

AS:     That place is cool. 

RE:     That place is sick. The sound was great. 

AS:     I played Fuck Fest (last month at SV) with the other band i play in, Harvery Dentures. We didn’t even play on the real stage and it was cool. Greg Obis is doing sound now there too. He’s a great sound guy. 

RE:    It’s not very often I’ll go to a new spot that is super new and I’m like fuck yeah I love this. But that place is a little hidden away. 

AS:     They have some good bookings already. Local H is playing there, Dirty Projectors . . .

CCS:     Yeah, Dirty Projectors is doing a three night run there. 

RE:    Really? 

AS:     Man, I’d go to that show for sure. 
In this interview can you insert an asterisk that says “Smoke On The Water” is playing in the background? 

(all laugh) 

CCS:     I will now. (asterisk not included.) 

CCS:     So our last question of every interview is what are some Chicago bands that you think are being overlooked? 

RE:    I feel like Nnamdi should be the most famous person on the planet. 

AS:     At this point I don’t think Nnamdi is overlooked, he’s kind of like the mayor. 

RE:     Longface is one. It’s not that I think they are overlooked I just think some people, they deserve more. 

RE:     Yeah, they’re incredible. Options, is another super good one, he’s Nnamdi’s drummer. He just put out a video today with the same people that did our first video. They’re called Low Moon Productions. They do great videos. But he’s great. He has five or six full lengths and he plays everything on them. He’s just super prolific, great heavy rock, song writer dude. 

AS:     There’s Squid. but they’re actually breaking up because their guitarist is moving to Boston. 

RE:     Are they actually breaking up though? 

AS:     I think it’s kind of up in the air cause Luke is going to grad school but they’re kind of heavy, I wouldn’t call it Mathy, but its really heavy, our kind of music, really moody. But they have a killer new record coming out either later this year or next year. 

RE:     Oh, Tragic Trip, formerly Teenage Rage. It’s this dude Will, who I’ve known forever, it’s super orchestrated and incredible. He’s been doing it for ten years. Has three or four full lengths. He has a new one coming out. 

AS:     He’s incredible. 

RE:     I think he’s the best songwriter in Chicago. Teenage Rage / Tragic Trip. Check it out. 

AS:     One more to throw out there is Bloom. They’re really solid musicians and Sam is such a great songwriter. They’ve been around forever, they’re a band I’d love to see hit that next step. 

CCS:     Anything you guys would like to add? 

RE:     Drink Hamms. 

AS:     Yeah man, drink Hamms! 

RE:     We’ve been aggressively tagging Hamms forever till they finally followed us and now they have started liking all our shit! 

AS:     We do have a video coming out in the next few weeks. It was shot by the guys at Emulsion. They shot the whole thing in 8 and 16mm film. It was cool as hell. 

CCS:     No one does that anymore. 

RE:     People don’t do it cause it’s insanely fucking expensive. We had five rolls and there wasn’t much leftover film. Then you’re just hoping that it’s not old as fuck and doesn’t turn out. But it did and it looks sick. 

CCS:   That’s awesome. 

RE:    You wanna go have a smoke and watch it? 

CCS:    Yeah man, let’s do it . . . 

And we did. It’s a great video. The release date is yet to be determined, but subscribe to them on YouTube for the latest releases and videos. There’s already a video for album opener “Easy to Lose” that is rather hilarious and fits their offbeat personalities perfectly. It was a joy to get to know these two and you should check em out at Beat Kitchen on September 22nd.  

 Back to ISSUE #25

Back to ISSUE #25

Totally Cashed

Totally Cashed; March 2 show at Burlingon / photo by JCB

Three members of Totally Cashed (TC) came to our home on short notice for their first Chicago interview, and LPL’s first CCS interview. We were fast friends and had to force ourselves to take on the roles of “the press” and “the talent”. It was hard to stay in these roles as we bonded, so please get yourself a beer from our fridge and join us on our adventure to Babeland!

TC wholeheartedly declined editing privileges. The conversation you read here is one of pure honesty as they skipped the self-censoring step and their responses instead flowed straight out of their mouths.

Members in attendance:

TS (Trash): guitar/vocals
MN (Max "The Kid" Niemann): guitar/vocals
RM (Rauol Moore): manager/promoter/advisor


TS: Sshh...the press is here. (laughter)

CCS: Where?!?

TS: Can I go to the bathroom first?

CCS: Of course!

TS: I didn’t know if that was allowed in this scene. Rolling Stones would have left that in!

CCS:  A lot has happened for you in the week since your release party. Did you guys get a lot of feed back then? You guys sold it out right?

TS:  (grins) Yeah.

CCS: Congratulations!

TS: I expected like a little more afterwards. We booked the Burlington, we knew we could bring in a huge crowd, but we didn’t expect it to sell out right away. It was nuts, ya know.

CCS: What is capacity there?

TS: It was like 130 but they let in a few more.

RM: The Pylons show was where we learned the capacity because they were like you’re just under.

TS: There was not enough room for Chicago Crowd Surfing (all laugh).

TS: We bought like alligators and whales. Like inflatable ones.

MN: Loooong

TS: Like six feet long, to crowd surf on. But like those two specifically. That’s why we had the inflatables because it’s really a lot easier, to distribute the person.

CCS: That’s really smart. Did you have them inflated?

TS: We did. So there’s a skit in the beginning of the record, and we were going to have the guy who did it act it out. Instead he went up there and just threw all the inflatables off the stage. So when we came on the stage, we were just getting impaled with inflatables. Like they were all in the crowd and people went nuts. I got hit so hard in the face with several things, like alligators.

RM: Pylons is such like a good amp up band, like they rock. And so they opened up right before TC. They had people just ready to go, and they had all of these weapons.

RM: I literally had to stand up front and put my arms up to block the things from going on stage.

CCS: Who did the initial vocals on the opening skit, Calling All babes?

RM: That was Ried Martin.

TS: I wanted it to be like, not a pirate, but more of like a sailor.

CCS: That’s how I envisioned that person; a sea captain with his hat and seagulls flutting about him.

TS: and it’s a little British but it still works, you know. It’s kind of welcoming. That’s the thing. The voice he did was like, you want to go to Babeland! when you’re listening to it. The way I wanted to do it would probably have been funnier, but less inviting.

RM: It’s such a good contrast to the first song. Because it’s nice and smooth with the piano and his voice, and then we just jump right into it.

TS: ...and then at the last song I just wanted to throw ‘em all off.

MN: I was supposed to ride the alligator off into the sunset. Just go, with the guitar (all laugh).

TS: I got impaled so much it was like a concussive environment.

CCS: Your perception was altered.

RM: It still is.

CCS: In the Bandcamp bio for Babeland!, it was 2014 when the president invited you to write the rock record. Did you choose 2014? did you start in 2014?

TS: 2014 is when we started.

CCS: How did the process kind of come together?

TS: Yeah it was weird. We don’t know how they hit us up. Alright there was a few live videos on YouTube of us, and we did not see it coming. We were kinda like, the band was tearing apart. We got the call. At that time Max wasn’t in the band. We were just thinking about it and I called him up and I was like “dude, I mean like we’re the first people who got invited to Babeland. I mean this is nuts! You know.” And he joined the band pretty much immediately. I started a GoFundMe campaign.

RM: Yeah that part’s a little bit dirty.

TS: I did. I legitimately started a GoFundMe campaign to get him to drop out of school, and join a band. We call him “The Kid”. Max “The Kid” Niemann. I think that might have been something they saw, like funneling through the internet. They paid everything.

CCS: Wow.

TS: Yeah so he hasn’t graduated school.

RM: He’s not going to.

RM: Well it’s not like you guys went to Babeland the entire time.

TS: No we were traveling back and forth. It was crazy.

RM: Yeah it’s not like you can just leave your family.

TS: We went back a week each year.

RM: We racked up a whole lot of miles.

TS: And they have a lot going on too. It’s not like you can just fly in. I mean where are you going to land, you know? There’s a lot going on.

CCS: Was your recording space in the sky then? Did you ever land?

TS: It’s a top tier recording studio. If they landed in the city there’s like this tall tower kind of thing. It’s not as tall as skyscrapers in Chicago but like half as tall, three-fourths. And on the top floor is hte recording studio. Like the top floor was like the record label president, we’re like right under that. So like they can come down at any point. There’s one of those walkie-stairs…

CCS: ...walkie-stairs?

TS: spiral staircase. And they would walk down and start yelling at us.

RM: Well it’s less a studio and more a lab, too. So It’s like a studio that like in a lab. So it’s a lab with a studio inside it in order to study rock. From a scientific perspective.

TS: very small studio very large lab.

RM: So they brought in TC less because they needed help making a record, and more because TC is like the (TS/RM simultaneously) artistic vision.

RM: We are the embodiment of rock, that they are trying to use as a vehicle by which to determine how to create the world’s best rock record of all time.

TS: Yeah we had no say at all. They wrote the songs. It was nuts. At least we got to have our friend Austin Letter come and help mix, produce. But everything else was just out of our control.

CCS: Ok. Was that difficult then, as you’re trying to put a record together if you can’t make any decisions?

TS: Yeah. It was very uninspiring because we weren’t able to put any music in it.

RM: We couldn’t be inspired, which is why it was uninspiring.

CCS: And so, according to their research, were the people inspired?

TS: They were inspired. You know the record was sent to like focus groups. You know they had a lot of like study groups listen to it, before we even touched the songs. So they had a lot of like locals play. And they were like oh this kinda sounds good, let’s see what TC can do with it. Honestly, that was a total head game. ‘Cause the singer in Babeland! he looks just like me, but like skinnier, more put together, tealer. He was not losing any hair, he wasn’t stressed about anything.

CCS: What a nice way to be. So Babeland! Is a chill spot?

TS: It makes you feel like a babe. I think maybe one day we will be babes. But like being an American for so long and going to Babeland! As an outsider, it is very hard to adapt. It’s like “you guys are so chill, everything’s so cool, you believe in yourselves. As Americans we have that struggle.”

RM: Over the years we kind of let it go.

TS: They actually deleted a lot of my parts.Someone else recorded them.

CCS: Really?

TS: 100%

RM: Well that’s why people always ask, is that really him singing on the record?

TS: yeah, there’s like this 3 foot woman who’s 55, and she just crushed all the parts. She came in and I was like “I’m doing these drums” and she was like “no chance - I wrote those parts, I will be playing them.” I am very unrepresented on the record.

MN: Yeah I only made one song on the record. Shit.

TS: He played on all of them originally.

CCS: And she took them?

MN: Every one of them.

CCS: How much is a ticket to Babeland!?

TS: They paid.

CCS: Did you see an invoice anywhere? Like if if I want to go…

TS: You don’t even need to ask, you can just go there. Just pop in the CD - you don’t even need the CD. You sit down and start thinking about what you want to accomplish and you’re on your way. You’re on your way to being a Babe.

CCS: do you see that it is still relevant today? Do you see any changes that happened along the way with things that have happened in the last 4 years?

TS: The way they wrote it was really like their BPM was like their key focus, like the chord progressions. The lyrics are so vague that I think they might stand the test of time, but the music definitely does.

MN: Kinda like a testimate to the rock and roll that came before it.

CCS: What does - uh, I have to rephrase this all now - what did Babeland! hope to inspire as a message to impart to people as they listen to this record?

TS: There was no message. Their goal was to create Babeland Mania. They just wanted people to start rioting. They wanted people to start going out buying little lunch boxes of us, just like action figures, lunch boxes.

CCS: They just wanted the residents of Babeland! to lose their minds.

TS: Right, they just wanted to make money off of us, to use us.

LPL: Who are the girls who did the voices of the Babeland! Taskforce?

TS: It’s Gretchen and Karen of Pylons.

CCS: Good!

RM: They did a really good job.

TS: Oh, my god so good. And also Megan Posedel, she cuts mine and Gretchen Hannum's hair. Oh and, well, one of my best friend’s moms.

CCS: Really? She’s like the agent - “calling Babeland taskforce!”

TS: Yeah, like the dispatcher. I went and hit up my friend and was like “dude, can you ask your mom to do it?” And we had her on the mic and she killed it. She was like yelling into the mic, and I got the recording and I was like “oh my god”.

CCS: What do you do to get amped up before a show?

RM: We have a small ritual. Whenever we are about to do anything, we play Andrew W.K. We see him every year at Riot Fest and he is a huge inspiration of ours.

CCS: How did you guys get to the pearl button shirts?

RM: Oh, that was more Trash.

TS: It got to the point where we were considering wardrobe options and there really was only one option. It was a non-option.

CCS: Did you own the shirt?

TS: I own one shirt. (laughter) When we finished Babeland!, like recording, tracking, it was all mixed and everything. I am going on vacation. I went to New Mexico because that’s the greatest place in the world besides Mexico. Same great place, new look! So I went there and everyone wore bolo ties. It was like, if I don’t do that I am not living to my full potential. I am not living my best life.

RM: You literally came back obsessed with bolo ties.

TS: I love them.

CCS: I like them. KPL wore one to our wedding.

TS: Did he? What a keeper! No cold feet, you are wearing a bolo. You should have had a bolo tie on. That review of the Pylons release party was so good. My glasses had broke since then, or had broken at that point. I went to get new ones, and I was like Mom I have to buy thick rimmed glasses. They wrote that in, and I have to wear a bolo now.

MN: You guys are the first [press]. If we didn’t have this Babe ego then, we definitely do now.

RM: We really enjoyed that article. That really made all these guys rock.

CCS: Thank you. I really enjoyed doing it. That was the first show I ever wrote about.

TS: It’s like the only venue we care about is the Burlington, and the only press that cares about us is Chicago Crowd Surfer. So it worked really well.

RM: We didn’t even know press was going to be there or whatever. If I had known press was going to be there, I maybe wouldn’t have taken my shirt off.

CCS: Tell me about Something In The Water. That is your festival?

MN: There’s a quote that Tom Morello said. He was talking about Ike Reilly who is another musician from Libertyville. He said “There’s something in the water in my home town of Libertyville, IL that makes great musicians.” Adam Jones of Tool is from Libertyville. The  majority of the bill is Libertyville bands, a lot of bands from high school. Like we have Pylons, they are kind of an old Libertyville band, and then us.

RM: We really appreciate young rock. So we wanted to celebrate that. We booked all these younger Libertyville bands like Poyo, The Headlights, Moonwaves, Bad Idea. We told them, you know, hey come play. We want to plug you and promote you, that’s something that we’re good at.

CCS: How did you choose the location for Something In The Water - Morgan’s Bar?

RM: That was almost no brainer. That is our favorite bar. We could have played a place that has shows, but that’s not the coolest spot we like to go to.

TS: They don’t have a sound system, they usually don’t have these kind of events.

MN: It is very unprecedented.

CCS: How could the audience as spectators enhance your experience as the performer?

TS: If you guys could find a way to help me get over my fear of contacts, or laser treatment, then I could see you guys. I have to take off my glasses to really rock out. The only thing I can see is Gretchen’s red hair bobbing. That’s when I know we’re doing alright and we’re rocking.

CCS: When i see someone rocking out I love it because they are truly moved by the music.

TS: When I’m in the crowd at Pylons, Sam will look at me. If I could do that it would be so great. Being able to single people out and rock with you guys would be so great.

CCS: For sure. You would get actual feedback. Well, knowing now that you can’t see you do pretty well. Just so you know.

RM: To a degree, your answer is “rage”. You can help us by raging.

CCS: How do you decompress?

TS: I think the honest answer for this, really, is we don’t have time to decompress. 

CCS: You guys are all in and you are in the front scenes and behind the scenes.

TS: That’s what I don’t understand. How can you do these things without giving up everything, without giving this everything you have.

TS: Right now is the first thing that doesn't feel like work (LPL gasps). You guys are so cool and we like you so much we just want to be best friends and hang out.

CCS: I was just about to say I think I am done with my legitimate questions, now we can be friends.

TS: Yessss!

Totally Cashed is headlining and hosting Something In The Water Festival Sunday June 24 at Morgan's Bar in Libertyville, IL. Tickets are $10.

 Back to ISSUE #16

Back to ISSUE #16

Jess McIntosh of Joybird

Jess McIntosh of Joybird / photo by KPL

Jess McIntosh is a singer/songwriter and accomplished fiddle player who heads up a project known as Joybird.
She welcomed us into her home recently for a short conversation about her work, Chicago bands she loves, and Maypole Fest which is this Saturday at the Empty Bottle from 2pm to close. It’s only $15 dollars and the lineup of eight local acts runs the gamut of what the folk genre has to offer.

JM: Jess McIntosh of Joybird

CCS: Can you tell me a bit about Maypole Festival?

JM: Maypole is a folk fest in the heart of the city - it was founded a few years back. I'm not positive how many, but started with a committee of young people. Now I think it's run by a lot of the same people. John Huber, Sara Leginsky, and Rob Jenson, with help from Dan MacDonald and Heather Malyuk.

CCS: Have you played the fest before?

JM: This is my first actually. I’ve been to it a couple times, but this year I’m playing in two bands. Joybird is playing at 3 (pm) and Al (Al Scorch and the Country Soul Ensemble) is playing second to last. (Jess plays fiddle in the Country Soul Ensemble.)  

CCS: It’s an eclectic lineup.

JM: Yeah, it seems like it’s really important to them to not just represent white dudes playing folk music. Chicago has so many amazing different folk music scenes. The term "folk" these days can mislead people to think folk music is less than what has always been the music of the real people...everywhere. And we all live here, so that's something to get together behind.

CCS: You said you moved here in ‘13. What brought you to Chicago?

JM: Teaching at the Old Town School. I got the job while I was still living in Wisconsin - a mutual friend had recommended me for a teaching job, and knew I was thinking about moving to Chicago. The program manager called and asked if I would come and audition and interview and I got this super part time job teaching at Old Town School. And I was, like...that place is awesome. Like, how do I get to work there? So I took the job and then was like, cool, okay now I've gotta find another job. So I full time nannied and did all the hustles for a bunch of years. But now I’m at a point where I can teach there minimally and play the rest of the time for my living.
That whole community (Old Town) is amazing, and the reason I have any work as an artist. That core, and being able to walk into that place...those people are your friends? That’s a pretty good start in a big city.

CCS: So you said Wisconsin, are you from there?

JM: Yeah, I grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee and went to school in Eau Claire before I moved here. But I went to school for a year in Tennessee too, at East Tennessee State and studied Bluegrass and Appalachian history and the history of American pop music. Learned how to be in a band and take bluegrass solos, sing in harmony and shit like that. Of course I wasn’t really absorbing it all while I was there at 19 or 20 years old. Some of it stuck around though! I still have all the textbooks and I still look through them every once in awhile. It’s amazing stuff. I was living a lot of it, getting to sit in at jams with people who really knew the traditional tunes, figuring out what and where the music was outside of my midwest understanding of it.

CCS: You had mentioned that Old Town is a great support system. I know there is a rather large roots / bluegrass / americana scene in Chicago. But it stays under the surface and a lot of people don’t know about it. Can you speak a little about how the scene is and where a lot of these shows take place outside of Old Town?

JM: Yeah, from the outside looking in at the city of Chicago you might not see that, but it's lurking. It isn't huge, but definitely the people I have gotten to know who make music, from the Old Town School and outside of it, it’s all been so welcoming and loving. People just want to share it. There is a folk music collective called Old Lazarus Harp, a younger group of people all around my age who have become some of my deepest friends. Some of them ran into me at a fiddle contest the first year I lived here, and one came up to me afterwards and was like, Who are you? (Laughs) They exist because they are just interested in playing this music as much as they can, together and with others - we all gig together often. There is a wide and murky circle but there are smaller scenes, too, like Cajun or Irish. Like a lot of the Irish circles take place at the Galway Arms, but as far as the places that support folk music: Beat Kitchen has been really supportive recently, definitely. The Hideout...there are quite a lot of house shows, living room shows, but I guess that doesn’t help people that aren’t part of it. That is my favorite kind of show to play, a living room show. The Empty Bottle obviously. There is a huge country dance / Honky Tonk scene that's kind of rooted at The Empty Bottle. The Inner Town Pub, every other Tuesday, Old Lazarus Harp hosts a traditional jam there. People can go and it’s somewhat open if you want to bring an instrument. It’s a half curated, half not, jam situation. And Lilly’s Pub also hosts some jams and the Grafton Pub near the Old Town School has jams almost every night of the week. Hungry Brain also.

CCS: Oh, I love Hungry Brain.

JM: They got really good stuff going on there.

CCS: Yeah I’ve been looking at their calendar.

JM: Yeah, I may want to release my new album there.

CCS: Oh yeah?

JM:  It’s a little smaller than the Hideout and I like the idea of it just feeling packed, you know. It is good vibes there.

CCS: How long have you been going under Joybird?

JM: Not even a year. I sort of put heads together with one of my number one collaborators Aaron, and we did a little fall tour. It was my first time putting a tour together and I knew we couldn’t just book ourselves as Jess McIntosh and Aaron Smith. I thought, if I’m going to the trouble to book this shit we should have a band name. So last September we started the change over to Joybird to kind of simplify things.

CCS: You do play in a lot of bands.

JM: Yeah, I’m like ten handed. Not that that means anything about me personally, I feel super lucky. I think it’s more fun, in some ways, to just play in someone else's band than to lead a band. But there is something really special about writing a song and sharing it. That power of giving people the opportunity to relate to an experience and process their own through it has been a cool new thing in being confident enough to play out my own stuff. It’s only been a year and a half or two that I’ve been playing shows of my own, compared to ten playing other peoples music. I kind of feel like a toddler about it.

CCS: Speaking of writing a song. Do you normally come up with the lyrics first or the tune or is it a mix?

JM: I just had a breakthrough yesterday, I hadn’t written in a long time and I wrote a whole song yesterday. It was rejuvenating and it helped me to remember the way all that falls into place.  I mean, I was so amped afterward my legs wouldn't stop shaking, but usually it starts with a word idea that comes to me first. Or often it’s one little phrase of melody and some mumbo jumbo, just a word that sounds like something that feels good to say. And maybe I’ll accidentally say a word that triggers something that I was writing about, but usually there has to be at least a little bit of a melody for me to feel inspired. I have to pick up an instrument. And it’s usually the guitar - violin is my first instrument but I think guitar feels like the thing you’re going to grab if you’re going to write some words. It requires less thinking. Then that leads me to more words and then that leads me back to the music. So I guess it is simultaneous.
I don’t think I could write a whole song without having some sort of instrument in my hand. To me, I write poems and that is what that would feel like. Because when you write a poem, it can read very well, but you try singing it and it’s like cheesy as fuck. Or the words you write for a song, if you read them without music, it feels like something is missing.

CCS: So, say one of my favorite tunes of yours is “Clarity” So that tune, for instance, feels like a poem. And I was just wondering on that one in particular, what was the process?

JM: That was such a fluke of a song. Until the last second it wasn’t going to be on the record. And we recorded it at the last second, too. I was like “Bill I got this one other thing, I woke up the other day singing it” and I was kind of in the throes of a breakup and had smoked half a pack of cigarettes the night before and so I had this really gravelly voice. I had just killed my lungs and I woke up and recorded it on my iphone and it came out exactly like that. I didn’t write any of it down, I just had this iphone recording and I listened to it for a few days and I was like “this is sad as hell, but I like it.” And I showed it to Bill (Harris, her audio engineer and drummer)  and he said we should record that. It was a last minute addition. It’s just a little meditation, a poem about feeling stuck in that moment. It was a total word salad. It just spewed out. I think that’s so cool that it’s your favorite. We have never played that song out. We have never even arranged it. I think the band has played it with me once, at a practice.

CCS: Yeah, there is something about just your voice and the spare guitar . . .

JM: It felt super revealing to me.

CCS: So, wrapping up, I ask all of our interviews: What are some Chicago acts that you are really excited about right now?

JM: I feel really excited about this duo I met at this festival called Postock. They are called Date Stuff. It’s some sort of delightfully complex math rock, with raw and unafraid voices. They are hitting it really hard right now, traveling a lot and playing all over.
There are some fantastic songwriters. My friend Gia Margaret blossomed this year. She just got signed by a small label and she is touring with The Weepies right now. She just played Thalia Hall with them.
We used to play together, I played fiddle on her songs a couple times and we worked together at the school. She is a great human and is writing some really evocative, cool shit.
All the people I collaborate with, I wish there were more band names for people to follow, but there are some amazing traditional artists. People who are interested in Maypole should also check out the Midwest Sing and Stomp that happens in the fall. Last year it was at Beat Kitchen. They took over both floors, it was great. It’s music made for dancing. That’s definitely a cool Chicago thing to check out.

CCS: You got anything else?

JM: Support my GoFundMe. We just recorded our second album and we are in the middle of mixing. We are hoping to achieve our goal of $6000 by June 1st. (Click here to support Joybird’s GoFundMe!)

CCS: Well good luck and it was wonderful to see you. Thanks for talking with us.  

JM: Was great to see you too. See you next Saturday at Maypole!  

 back to ISSUE #8

back to ISSUE #8

In tall buildings

Photo credit: Aleks Eva via High Road Touring

In Tall Buildings is the one man indie-rock project by Chicago’s Erik Hall. His latest album, Akinetic, is a bit of a shake up, as Erik allowed someone else into his process. We loved the end result, as you can see in our review. Before his return to Chicago’s stage this weekend, he took a call with us while on the road to pick up a band member from the airport. We talked about the new record, his approach to playing songs live and where to grab a bite to eat if you’re coming off a great show. Before reading what Erik has to say, get the new album here.

ITB: Erik Hall of In Tall Buildings

Chicago Crowd Surfer: Let’s start off with the inspiration and the process of making the new album, Akinetic.

In Tall Buildings: It was kind of the right record to make at the time. I was contacted by Brian Deck, who produced the record with me. He’s a guy, who at the time I hadn’t crossed paths with, but was an admirer of his work. He’s done a bunch of records for Califone that I love and the earlier Iron and Wine records that I listened to a lot of when they came out. Anyway, he reached out and said he really liked what I’m doing and that we share a sonic sensibility. He said if I ever wanted to have someone in a producer role, he’d love it. He said he felt like he could help me heighten and hone the songs and help them reach the most people. And honestly, I was totally down. I immediately said yes. I said ‘Yes, let’s do that. I wanna make that kind of record.’ I was really willing to try that and excited to let somebody in on the process.

CCS: So, was it kind of fate that you were ready to let someone in and then he reaches out?

ITB: I wasn’t really leaning heavily one way or the other. I had been kicking around a handful of new songs and as I always do, they’re in the works for months or even years, just sitting on my hard drive. I’m tinkering with them, so when he reached out it seemed like the perfect time to just get it happening. It was the right collaboration and motivation to get the record made in a way that was really appealing to me.

CCS: You know, I remember reading a few years back you had described your songwriting style like painting, where you would let songs marinate while you decided which brush stroke to make next. Do you think that Brian Deck comes in and he’s like the photographer, capturing the song when he thinks it’s the right time?

ITB: That’s a great way of putting it. You know, with Brian being there – it forced me to be much more decisive and less precious about each little decision. So it’s a little bit of a plunge and taking a leap to decide when a song is done and just executing it. Luckily, he and I had a lot of the same impulses and we agreed on most decisions. A lot of times, we had the same ideas which was really cool. And we became good friends over the course of making the record. It was a lot of fun and it worked really well. And then the whole mixing process was entirely different this time, in that Brian did it. Well… it’s been different every time though. The first record I did literally by myself, sitting at home. The second record I mixed with an engineer, Benjamin Balcom, but I still made all the executive decisions. When we were mixing Driver (2015), Benjamin did kind of urge me to do things like “turn up the vocals” or “turn down the reverb.” He only had so much sway over me, and ultimately, I think that record ended up with the appropriate level of mix that it had.  This new record I left entirely in the hands of Brian. He took all the songs and one by one sent me mixed songs. And, of course, there were revisions – he didn’t force anything on me. We made all the changes that I wanted to make but I really allowed myself to succumb to his style. It was really exciting, but always a little bit scary at first. Inevitably, every time I came around and was like “no, no. this is great.”

CCS: How does this adjust how you prep for a live show? Do you come in differently knowing that someone else helped with creating the record?

ITB: That’s an ongoing art in and of itself. I’m getting the band together. I’m actually going right now to pick up my bass player. Over the next few days, the band will come over and work out these new songs at my house. It’s a balancing act. Sometimes, the inclination is to really be faithful to the recording because the songs’ essences exist in all those layers. But the other side of that coin is, letting the song stand on its own, letting it be completely different and be stripped down. I’ve done shows as a trio and I’ve done shows by myself, and just let myself just totally reinvent the songs. And that’s gone with mixed results, if you ask me – I’m my own worst critic. This time around, it’s somewhere in the middle. I’ve got three guys joining me, so four of us on stage. I do have a dedicated keyboard player which I’m excited about because there are so many keyboards on this record. Ultimately, what I’m really happy about at this stage is letting go of the recording and just letting the band become a new format for these songs to exist in. I’m lucky to play with incredible musicians that are also my closest friends. It’s just such a joy. I like to bring in people who I trust to bring their musicality to the song and in doing so, inevitably, there’s new life breathed into the music that I wouldn’t have planned for.

CCS: Sidestepping a bit, some of your lyrics kind of dive into the current state of technology. What kind of advice do you have with bands in the age of Spotify where there’s a new song every week, and people lose interest quickly.

ITB: (chuckles) I don’t know what advice I have. That’s a good question. I am very much in the school of making records. I like albums, and I like to make albums. I do agree that the industry looks very different from even five years ago. If a band is trying to use Spotify to its greatest capacity to advance their platform… I’m not being very eloquent here and keep cutting myself off, but it’s honestly what you make of it. I’m not on some soapbox championing one format over another. They’re all good and all important. If it weren’t for Spotify, I’d probably be reaching far fewer people and it’s a great way to listen to full length records. Singles, obviously, are at the top of the page. They’re broken out from their tracklisting and in ranking of popularity, which is cool as a frame of reference. Sometimes, I’m looking up a band and I need to know what they’re known for. But I like to go down and experience an album the way they intended.

CCS: It makes sense, though. Someone like you makes a great record and then has a single like Curtain that people will see at the top of your page - they’ll go in and listen to the rest of the album.

ITB: Yeah, you know it’s funny. Right now, the title track is at the top of the page which is awesome because we didn’t push that as a single and didn’t make a video. Part of me was worried that not as many people would hear it. Somehow that one has risen to the top, which is really cool. And honestly, these days, what is a single when you’re not talking Top 40 radio? When you’re existing in the major label paradigm, singles are a very specific thing and you have a team that is pushing a song hard to the radio. Outside of that model, we choose singles so they can exist on their own and make videos for them. But once the record is out, there are so many ways in which people can access different songs on the record and how other songs are highlighted. Once the record is out, all bets are off. It’s weird and cool.

CCS: I also wanted to get your thoughts on the different types of venues you go to. You’ve played with Wild Belle at places like Aragon and Metro, and it seems like when you’re doing In Tall Buildings – you seem to really enjoy playing the smaller venues like Hideout or Schubas. Do you approach shows differently based on the size of the audience?

ITB: It’s really no different in terms of the show we’re putting on, but it feels very different to play smaller rooms. Especially in Chicago, where I come from, you’re playing at The Hideout or Schubas, as a Chicago band – you’re playing to your friends. It’s like having a big party and having your own band play, which is really fun but can also be an odd social experiment to put yourself through. When you get up on stage at the Aragon, opening for Band of Horses, you may have all those same friends in the room, but you’re not really aware. You’re much more detached, and in a sense it’s very comfortable actually. It seems counter-intuitive, but the audience and the band exist in much more separate realms on a very large stage or at a festival. There’s something about playing at The Hideout or at Schubas. There’s no hiding. There’s no escaping whatever vibe has been created in the room that’s sitting in the air. You’re creating it, and the audience is creating it, and everyone is in it together. I love that, but that’s very much like an emotional thing. It’s how it feels. But in terms of the approach to show, it’s really the same show. It ought to be.

CCS: Alright, last question. Real quick. Since you’re a Chicago guy and you’re playing Chicago on Saturday. What’s the best pre-show meal?

ITB: In Chicago? Oh my goodness. Honestly, it’s venue dependent. There’s never really that much time to get whatever dinner you want. So, for Schubas, we always used to eat at Harmony Grill but there’s this beautiful new restaurant at Schubas which I’m really excited to try. But, theoretically, we can go anywhere and time is of no concern… I’m gonna tell you the best post show meal, which is Avec. No better place to go, later for dinner, when you’re feeling good and coming down off a show.


In Tall Buildings plays Schubas on Saturday, March 24th, with Gia Margaret and The Father Costume opening. Tickets are only $12, and you can find them here.

 back to ISSUE #3

back to ISSUE #3


Pylons / photos by JB

I think this interview speaks for itself. Pylons is a band with personality. It comes through in their music and as a group of friends. Listen to Macro Eye Close Up, read this interview, and go see them live. That’s all you have to do….
(S) Sam Fadness: Guitar and Vocals
(K) Karen Mooney: Bass
(G) Gretchen Hannum: Guitar and Vocals
(J) Jon Pardo: Drums

CCS: What’s the back history of Pylons?

G: Karen, Sam and I all grew up in the same town. I was introduced to Sam through my brother, and he was like “this kid likes punk rock, you should hang out.” I sent him a facebook message, and then met Karen through Sam; then we had three drummers before we met Jon. Karen and Sam met him at a mutual friend’s party.

J: A going away party. Her last gift to me.

(they all laugh)

J: I was lucky enough to jump in with these guys a little over a year ago. I’m super proud of the new record they have-

K: That WE have….

J: That WE have, but there’s a lot of stuff we play now, it’s my favorite stuff to play, and they all wrote it before I was a member of the band.

CCS: What town were you all from?

G: Libertyville, Illinois.

K: John’s from Miami.

CCS: What brought you to Chicago? 

J: School. I went to Loyola. I teach, that’s all. I teach English.

CCS: What about the rest of you. Day jobs?

K: We all have day jobs.

G: Yeah. I work in an office, as long as nights and weekends are off, I’ll do whatever

K: Same. 

CCS: So Karen does the artwork and stuff for the albums?

K: It’s fun, it’s great that I get to do whatever I want and they just like deal with it. I’m like, “I drew this thing, I get to put it on a shirt.” 

S: It is a platform for whatever she wants.

K: It’s a scheme.

S: People should know the visual aspect of the band is her vision. When you see a t-shirt design or an album cover or a poster for our band, it’s her authentic point-of-view.

CCS: So what drives you guys as a band? What’s the ultimate goal here, to start touring, get signed, to stay independent … ?

J: I can’t wait to hear what our ultimate goal is.

G: Yeah, I feel like it’s kind of different for each person.

S: Yeah, we might want to be successful in different ways, but just we love playing music together.

J: Are we going around the horn on this?

S: Well, you asked what the history of the band is, and like Gretchen said we’re just all friends, we’d be hanging out anyways, we’d have nothing better to do.

K: Yeah at least . . .

S: It’s just a productive thing to do, ‘cause if we weren’t doing this we would just be hanging out at each others houses. Even if there is no success, no glory or anything. We’d be doing it anyway. Cause we just like gear, and music, and records.

J: A really close friend told me a band needed a drummer and then I made three really good friends.

K and G: Ah…

J: And I’m super happy about that, and that friend has come back to visit and I’ve thanked her every time. It was at her going away party.… And we make dope ass music.

CCS: And you can tell when you’re back there drumming, man,

J: Was I looking stupid?

CCS: Naw, man, you look like you’re having the time of your life.  

J: That was one of my favorite shows we’ve ever played [with So Pretty and Bash Bang at Schubas] I was genuinely ecstatic.

G: I don’t know if you could tell, but he was giggling to himself.  

J: I often feel out of breath, as a former smoker, and someone that doesn’t exercise a bunch, but I was on an endorphin high, there was just something about that show.

K: To circle back, I think everybody’s goal, ultimately, wouldn’t it be sick, if we were Rolling Stone’s famous . . .(All laugh) We can all just quit our day jobs and just be musicians.

G: That’s the goal for me, whether its too ambitious or not, I just don’t want to have a job.

S: We all got day jobs simply because it leaves nights open for rehearsals and shows. It’s a means to an end. It would be awesome to have the end.

K: Like, ultimately, magic genie wishing on a lamp goals, being really big would be awesome. But personally, I’m just really excited to see the band grow at all, and it has, but it’s a slow grow. And it’s cool that we can track it out: we started playing gigs at this venue, and now we don’t cause we’ve moved on to these kind of venues. And we’ve now we’ve maybe outgrown these venues, and it’s just a slow but steady, I don’t know . . . it’s fun.

G: It’s something to show for your time, you know.

K: It would be cool to someday, do small tours, soonish.

S: That’s very reasonable.

K: If that’s ok with the band.

J: I deny your request . . . (they all laugh)

S: We’ve all been in bands that have never done anything. So, that was the thing with this band. We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna get a rehearsal studio and we’re gonna make a record. And I don’t care if it’s the greatest record ever made. I just want to do it.

J: It might be the greatest record ever made …. (they all laugh)

S: Once you kind of let go of that and you just do it instead. That’s what this is. Let’s just do it cause we are friends and not just because there is something to attain.

G: Really that’s all it is. I started playing guitar cause I got in a band. You just have to over simplify things.

S: Yeah, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s just fucking do it. Don’t just talk about it, cause we’ve been in bands where all you do it talk about it.

CCS:  Where did the name Pylons come from?

K: I remember when the band name happened. We were all practicing in Mystery Street which is, you pay by the hour, and really good people work there, and we were all just still learning our instruments and then we were eager to start playing shows and we didn’t have a band name. It started as NASA but that’s probably illegal. (we all laugh)

CCS: Yeah you probably could have gotten away with it till you started posting on bandcamp.

K: So we basically sat down with a legal pad and we wrote down a bunch of words.

S: A lot of words. We had a band name meeting.

K: It was fun though. There was some good ones on there, we need to find that.

S: For song titles.

G: There was some really ridiculous ones.

K: But in our meeting we couldn’t think of anything, so we all went home and continued in a text thread, we were just spitting words back and forth, and there is this game called Starcraft that I played a lot as a kid and there is a lot of really cool words in it. That I don’t know what they mean, but one of them was Pylons, and that’s the one everybody liked. O.G. Starcraft.

S: And it’s awesome when people are like: “ You guys play Starcraft?”

K: The people who know are like “Starcraft!” and the people who don’t are like “Cool name!”

J: When I found out that’s where the band name came from, I was so excited. I never would have suspected.

K: It’s also a really vague word that could mean so many things. There’s lots of different kinds of Pylons in the world.

CCS: So do you guys write as a band?

G: It’s kind of split. I’ll come up with something that I like and I’ll show it to Sam and he’ll come up with something to play with it and vice versa, but usually if I write a song I’ll write the lyrics to it and same for him. So the majority of it happens individually and then we bring it to the band.

K: I think that it’s like that too because we don’t have a huge library of songs as well. Once we start writing more songs it might be a different dynamic entirely.

S: Every song is different. There’s no formula.

K: It just kind of happens.

S: Every song is it’s own puzzle. But if you look at a song like “Lost Cause” off the new album, which is the new single, that one was super fun to write Because G had the basis for that song and we had been jamming on it and I had this other song that was in the same key, but it really sucked, but there was that one good part and so we took that good part of my shitty song and made it the bridge on it. And so we took these three parts and made a song out of it. It was cool to take the one good thing from a broken song and add it to one we were jamming on. It was super natural . . . not like Supernatural . . .

CCS: How old are all of you?

G: No idea.

J: How rude.

S: Never ask a woman her age.

CCS: You can not answer, of course.

K: I’m 26.

J: Why’d you only point at them?

CCS: You can not answer too.

J: Well alright.

CCS: I’ll share, I’m 38.

K: I’m 26

S: I have to think really hard about this. 

G: I’m 27, but I’lll be 28 soon.

CCS: Are there any Chicago bands you guys dig right now?

S: Tons

G: There’s a handful of bands that we play with a lot.

S: Let’s make a rule, it can’t be a band that we play with or are friends with.

J: I’m not friends with Haymarket Riot, I liked Haymarket before I knew you guys.

K: But they’re so good.

J: I happen to love Haymarket.

K: That’s not fair to say we can’t name bands we play with.

S: I just hate when someone does that in an interview…

K: And you feel obligated to call out your friend.

J: I wish that was the point of interviews. (we all laugh)

S: (indicating Gretchen) You’re like a big Chicago indie record label nerd, right?

G: Well anything that was at Touch And Go or influenced. And some bands that I really like, like Ribbon Head has a really good sound, and Salvation.   

J: Are we only talking local bands right now?

CCS: You can name any band you want.

J: Uh, Car Seat Headrest is the shit. The variety of that band, in terms of how eclectic this rerun of their old album, it kind of sums up music for me. And I’m good, I got nothing else to say.

CCS: Yeah, Will Toledo is a god.

S: There is a song on the new Pylons record that I wrote when I was 18 and we brought it back, kind of a new version of it.

CCS: Which track is it?

S: Nuclear Horizon

K: There’s several songs on the new record that were old songs from when we first started playing together, pre-Jon.

J: Is Nuclear the oldest song that you’ve written?

S: No, but it’s been recorded before. It was rearranged for this band and this album.

G: I’m pretty sure you recorded that at my Dad’s house.

S: Yeah! It’s really rad to listen to that first version, and then listen to this one, cause my… well my voice is lower.

J: If you have it I want to hear it!

G: Well when we started the band and we didn’t really have many songs,  we played a lot of Pixies covers and a lot of Ramones covers.

K: And Wire.

J: We haven’t covered a song since I joined this band. This is the biggest difference between all the other bands I’ve played with in my whole life and this band. I’ve never covered a single song with

K: It’s kind of a waste of time, cause we need to write more music.

S: We’re really creative, we’re always coming up with stuff.

J: In every band I’ve played with except Pylons, I’ve always felt like we need to have at least one cover we can throw out so the masses will be like “ahhh, yes!”

G: Well you guys don’t like any of my cover suggestions.

(a playful banter ensues where they all talk over each other)

G: We definitely joke about doing covers.

S: We’ll cover things in rehearsal. Like whatever I was listening to in the car on the way. But live there’s stuff we want to say with our own songs. It would be cool to cover something and make it different. That would be fun.

K: It’s not a bad idea.

S: Like to cover a Daniel Johnston song, and to really make it our own, that would be cool.

CCS: Well, that’s all I had. Anything you all would like to add?

S: All the bands we are playing with at the release show are all bands that either took us under their wing or have been our friends for a very long time, it’s all about community and including everyone.

G: My brother is in Totally Cashed. Just so that is out there.

J: Chicago, it’s community based. 

S: I would say we are as inclusive as we can be.

It was a great time meeting these four. Hope to them again at the show. 


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