reppin: nola, usa // 2010 - present
featuring: nora Patterson // thomas onebane // gary larsen // josh hefner
last album drop: amateurs EP (nov 2016)
These four awesome humans formed down south and have carefully crafted their indie-pop, electronic sound over the past few years. They’ve been around the block too as they played major festivals and supported acts like Fitz and The Tantrums and Walk the Moon. They’re artistic range is visible on their past albums. Their lyrics can relate to those trying to find themselves using a mixture of cheerful and dark music. I got to sit down with these kids on the first night of their tour with SafetySuit and talk about music, life and what is to come.
Gary: After moving on from Elektra Records, they had songs ready to go and were just ready to get in the studio and record...we felt good in the moment, which has led us to the wonderful release of Amateurs...
Something cool I noticed is the change in sound and vibe from flow to amateurs….went from this mix of dark/uplifting to purely energy and positive vibes. Growth or the current situation? Explain yourselves:
G: I think we definitely continuously put more energy into Amateurs as opposed to Glow where we had this smooth layer to it, not really as exposed as we come across live. When we play live, people respond to our energy, we are really high energy. Looking back at Glow, that got a little bit lost in the studio energy, which was fine.
Josh: Also, Amateurs was less songs and we went with all the more in your face stuff.
G: From a lyrical standpoint, It’s definitely not as sad as Glow, but it is a little more aggressive. There is definitely a little more frustration hidden in the energy. Even if its an undertone of being in a situation, getting out of it, figuring out how to move on and turn it into a positive, which we did.
Words....i get a lot exploring, finding yourself sort of vibe...what do hope your fans take away from your stories? How do you capture that moment as i read in a previous story?
G: I do think people carry their environment with them, I mean on some level you're sitting down and just writing a song...you don’t want to think too much. Trying to write some lyrics, a vibe that works. No matter what, once it’s really rolling in the studio and the songs are kind of coming out so you do adapt to what is happening. More at the beginning people picked up on the early sense of adventure, especially cause we were on the road all the time. We were newly signed. That’s what that song was about, leaving your life behind and starting this new adventure. We all had quit our jobs and were becoming full time musicians for the first time. I do think naturally when you fast forward to amateurs there is a sense of like, the honeymoon is over, life is real. We are trying to sustain a career as we are growing up, it really isn’t as easy as we thought it would be. There are a lot of ups and downs. How do we keep that same inspiration that started this thing? Nora writes a lot more too now, so that was a big change.
Nora: Yea, I did write a lot more on this than I had ever before. I had never really written before. This is technically my first band so it took me awhile to learn, feel comfortable and have my own voice in the music. I felt like I could sing at that is it, but definitely more comfortable now.
Was it more of a fear or just being patient?
N: It was more of a fear because I never had before. I was nervous about showing anything. I usually don’t show anything until I’m ready to do it
G: I stole music ideas from her phone (laughs).
N: I did not know this
Thomas: There was one I heard in the background...and was like she is gonna be pisseddddd!
G: (Inaudible impersonation of Nora singing) I think this is good though...as a band voices need to come from different places. I think if you understand where everyone is coming from, that makes for a great dynamic instead of being one dimensional. It’s not systematic and every song we write is done in a different way. It could be two in the morning at one of our houses and it just happens. Another came from Nora’s phone, another came from my end. Keeps it fresh and fun. We need to believe it...we are not just trying to mix things in, you have to have everyone passionate about it.
You guys have spent some time supporting bands in bigger venues, how do you work on gaining your fans in that situation. In the same sense of injecting something into your fans, what do you want them to experience during your live set?
G: For me, a lot of people go to shows, I go to shows and I get home and forget who the opener was. My goal is what can we do to make them remember us. There has to be a human connection when you see something you really like. It’s more than standing up and sounding good. We try not to be too much of a shtick, if we do have one, there is a lot of energy that goes into our show. It is like there is barrier between the audience...they can clap, they may back off. I try to do whatever I can to make that go away. People that want to dance won’t feel that weird about it. Maybe if I express my goofiness, others will feel more comfortable. I’m not as outgoing in public as I am onstage. We hang out after shows at the merch and really get to know the people and our fans. When it comes time for us to actually headline a tour, I want these people to know their money is well spent on the experience.
How to you look to positively impact music through a lot of the bullshit out there?
J: I would like to say, when the world gets like it is now, music tends to step up too. Music always gets insane, especially in America.
T: As a band, we kind of stay out of it. It is not because we don’t have opinions. I don’t know if its just where we are at now, just not wanting to deal with the controversy. IF you want to listen to us, we’ll be that band you want us to be. I totally respect bands that take that political route and use their platform.
J: I don’t want it to be a forced thing, trying to be political now. I think if something comes up in the moment, that's fine. But we aren’t going to make a song or a statement just because everyone else is doing it. We are from LA, we are a bunch of liberal kids from conservative families. We’ve learned how to co-exist in an environment that is not really ours. We try not to be confrontational.
R: We all have our personal opinions, but for us as a band, so far it just hasn’t made sense to do it. We have made decisions for certain organizations not to use our music, even though they used our song without asking. We’re not just some piece of property. If it goes against something we actually believe in, then we’ll speak up. I do hate the term, “oh if you’re a musician, keep your mouth shut and stay in entertainment.” If you have a voice, use it.
G: We’ve done a show for planned parenthood once, so we aren’t going to run away from it.
I always use funny metaphors to describe bands and artists i write about, what would you use?
Literally 3 minutes of cheerful bickering back and forth, talks of marshmallows, new boots, laughs and a bit of joyous yelling until we landed on: “IF EMMA STONE WERE WALKING AWAY FROM A BURNING HOUSE WHILE EATING A S'MORE IN SLOW MOTION”