How were you all introduced to music, and why did you decide to go in the direction you did?
We have all been playing since high school, after we started going to local shows. We never planned on following any guidelines, and we never worried about what genre we belonged to. We just wanted to play shows with our friends’ bands. The pop-punk and metal scenes were burgeoning in the South Chicago suburbs at the time, around 2005, and the energy of that music and those live shows is at the core of what of our music is today.
How did the band come together?
Mike and Roger have been in bands since high school. One of those was Fell For The Static, which Roy played bass in. We met Angelo at a biker bar with LED palm trees during Karaoke Night. A friend told us he could shred, and we took his word for it. We met Ben at a different biker bar, lovingly referred to as O’Stabby’s, after his band, It’s Storming In Chicago, opened for us. It’s been a great relationship ever since.
You released your EP, House Of Mercury, in August. What were some of your inspirations behind the songs?
Distant memories. Things you thought you forgot, but that come rushing back when you read some old chicken-scratch. The sense of losing someone who isn’t really gone. The waves that compose the palette of emotions that washes over you as you rise and fall through each day. The seraphs and devils that poison or nourish your ambitions. Learning to let go of all that and chase your dreams.
How are the songs usually put together?
Sometimes it’s easy and we can start right at the beginning with a few words and just follow the emotion to wherever it takes us. Other times, it’s more difficult and involves more analysis and composition. We usually write while all playing together in the same room, so every time it’s something different—be it a hook, a guitar solo, a bass groove, a drum fill—that ends up being the missing piece to a song. Lately, we’ve been trying to find one feeling that highlights each piece, and arranging everything around that. The result has been a bunch of love songs, so go figure. Haha.
Were there any difficulties during the recording process?
I’d say the most difficult part is the formative process, and everyone just figuring out their parts and trying not to overshadow anyone else. We spend a lot of time on that part before we go to the recording studio. So when we get there, we can worry about things like tone and dynamics and all of the minor details that most people would never notice on the surface, but that really make a huge difference in having a well-produced song.
You recently went on your first tour in February. What was that experience like?
It was our very first tour, so we were honestly like kids going to Disneyworld. For some of us, it was the first time driving out to the East Coast, seeing mountains (shit is flat in Illinois), and living in a van for a week. We met some amazing people and got to play with some of our good friends. We really have been dreaming of this since Dookie came out in 1994. We also drove through like six different winter storm systems and didn’t die. That’s pretty good for cutting your teeth.
What is the most important thing you learned while out on the road?
Be cautious, but not too cautious. Sometimes it’s better to pull over in a storm than to get to the show on time. Other times maybe don’t judge every book by its cover, because some of the coolest people you meet will be in the sketchiest of places or situations. Just always, always lock the van and trailer and leave them in a safe spot. Too many bands have had their whole lives stolen in a few moments.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as an up-and-coming band? How are you guys working through them?
Definitely raising money. It’s incredibly expensive to record and tour, especially these days when Pay-to-Play is king. But by being smart about who you work with and the way you market your band, you can grow and be successful without begging your friends and family for donations. We make the majority of our income from merch at shows, and we’re grateful for the opportunity it gives us to connect with our fans.
What is your local music scene like? Is there anything you’d like to see change?
The scene in the south suburbs of Chicago is phenomenal—there are plenty of great shows at houses and bowling alleys every month. We’ve had some amazing bands that are doing great things come out of it, such as Real Friends, Knuckle Puck, Bonfires and Sleep On It. The city crowd usually has different tastes… In my opinion, they’re spoiled by too many choices in Chicago. There are also some promoters that take advantage of younger acts, and it’s difficult to get an all-ages show without having to pay for tickets. At the same time, there are plenty of promoters doing great things for bands. You just have be smart about who you work with, and be relentless in getting people to the show.
What are some things you’d like to accomplish this year?
We’d like to make it back to the East Coast… or Florida… or Austin, Texas…
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
We’ll have a new music video for our next single out soon and a new EP out this summer!
INTERVIEW: LINDSY CARRASQUILLO // @lindsy_carr