Monday, March 26, 2012

In The Spotlight--Somebody's Something

Galaxy faves Somebody's Something
Somebody's Something, like more than a few things in this world, started off in a Starbucks.  Zach Starkie said that he and Chelsy, "met through some people we knew and talked infrequently until we happened to run into each other," at the ubiquitous coffee house.  A conversation led to the formation of the duo that has played the Galaxy numerous times over the last year.  

"I'd been writing and recording songs for a few years and wanted to play out, so I asked Chelsy if she would want to play a set of her songs and we'd put a show together.  She told me she'd rather play songs together, so we started learning my songs and a few covers," says Zach.  Unbeknownst apparently to Zach, it was a perfect fit for Chelsy.  "Here's the thing," she says, "I couldn't write a song to save my life.  In my many years of musical experience, I've written a million 30-second blips, but nothing substantial.  When Zach came along and I realized he writes his own stuff, I was pretty excited about the prospect of being in a band with him."  

While Chelsy has her million short blips, anyone who knows Zach is aware that he has probably as many notebooks, filled with songs he's written over the years.  "When I write a song, it's generally a sort of organic process where lyrics and music happen a the same time, at least the bones of it.  I'll have a progression I like and I might just start singing nonsense, or maybe something coherent and I just let it grow from there.  Lyrics are important, and the music should be a reflection of them.  Even though I would love them to have a popular appeal, in the end they're just stories about me most of the time.  The good ones are anyway."  

Those initial structures serve as the framework for the final songs, which are definitely a collaborative effort.  "The songs were skeletons before, and Chelsy brings a lot of ideas to flesh them out.  They may have had harmonies, but she's really good at finding harmonies that sound natural for her voice.  On "The Distance Never Decreased," I played the chorus for her one time and she had come up with a part to sing with it.  The same thing happens with bass parts and the drum machine.  She's a talented musician who can hear what she wants and then either play it or sing it.  It makes the rehearsal time pretty easy, and it's rare that her ideas don't fit with a particular song."

Zach is right to point out that Chelsy is talented.  She pointed out that, "Another interesting effect that our band has had on my life is that I am now considered a "bassist". That's funny to me because I've played acoustic guitar and drums for 13 years.  Throughout those years, I sporadically picked up a bass guitar here and there, but never learned anything challenging or technically demanding.  Being in this band has greatly improved my bass-playing abilities, for which I'm grateful."

Chelsy cites Regina Spektor, Florence & The Machine, and The XX among her influences, which for what it's worth scores major points with me as I love all three of them!  Zach is clearly a child of the 90's, and follows in a long line of pop songwriters.  "My biggest influences are Elvis Costello and the Smashing Pumpkins.  I take a lot of lyrical inspiration from Elvis, he's got some clever lines that surprise me when I listen, and some playful rhyme schemes that I like.  I dig his straightforward aesthetic as well, especially in the 70s, but I also like how he's not afraid just to let a song be the song it should be.  He's hard to categorize," he says.

"Similarly", he continued, "the Pumpkins do similar things.  Billy Corgan knows how to write a song that appeals to people but seems to carry some real meaning, and I admire that.  It's great that the pumpkins have songs that are all over the map, but they're all connected.  The 90s in general had that.  So many people were writing music that was non-genre specific, so they just called it alternative or modern rock or whatever.  The same thing is going on with indie rock, but some bands kind of corner themselves with a genre, so you can tell the music is all by the same band, but just because it all sounds the same, not because it's all joined by some intangible connective musical tissue.  Sometimes the songs I write are punkish, sometimes they're grungy, sometimes they're folky," he concludes.

Anyone who has seen them can hear those different influences, though the band clearly has a vibe of their own.  They're not imitating their inspiration, they're crafting really great pop songs of their own from the space those pioneering artists help create.  The sets are varied, and include inspired and well done covers that showcase the duo's sound while fitting well within the context of their own writing.  If you didn't know the song you'd easily attribute it to them, a testament to their ability to not only craft songs worthy of being played along side those covers, but to work them seamlessly into the flow of their shows.  

As for their larger goals as a group, Zach says that, "the music thing is mostly based on having fun, but I also don't want to keep my creative output a secret.  The teacher in me would love it if someone were "helped" by one of our songs, like it cheered them up, or pumped them up, or made them not feel so alone or whatever.  I read once about a kid who didn't kill himself because "Everybody Hurts" came on his walkman on his way home from school.  I don't know that I want suicidal fans, but I'd like to think that something I felt and wrote about helped someone else through something similar."

You can catch up with them on facebook, where they're working to cross the 100 "like" threshold in conjunction with a demo they've been working on.  "This demo that's going to be unleashed is a 4 song (maybe 5, fandom depending) collection that we've been working on this year.  We're planning on selling physical copies, but making them special somehow.  We'd like them to come with a button and some sort of agreement that if you buy the demo you're privy to some secret stuff or a discount on the album it leads to.  If you get in at the ground floor, then you get a privilege of some sort.  I'd love to have "special" physical releases in the future like vinyl, but that's a way off.  We recorded in my apartment, despite neighbors who apparently like to go to sleep at 7 pm.  We're pretty amazed at how well it's turned out, considering how little we both know about recording/mixing/mastering."

You can next see Somebody's Something at Galaxy CDS as part of our Record Store Day evening bash on April 21st.  Once you've cleaned out the bins of collectible goodies at area independent record stores, spend your night with us.  We'll be featuring Auto Defiance, the student artists from Options Academy, and art by Christy Conrad.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Rebuilt Machine

The Rebuilt Machine will rock the Galaxy March 24th
The guys in The Rebuilt Machine are an eclectic bunch, in a number of ways.  Musically they cite individual inspirations ranging from We Came As Romans, to Incubus, and Atmosphere.  In the working-to-pay-the-bills world they run the gamut from smoothie maker to government contractor.  But when you mix all this disparate stuff together, you get a cohesive high energy band that knows where they want to go.  "Our core goals are simple.  We want to connect with each other and with fans on an intimate level, and we want to maintain a level of professionalism that will set us apart.  We do this by making sure that our performance and personality at every show are unforgettable.  We aim to make friends everywhere we go," they told us.  

All of the members we spoke with were clear that they'd pursue music full time if it were possible. Nick, the bassist and smoothie shop assistant manager, said that while he appreciates his boss being supportive of his music career, "I wouldn’t say there’s a balance at all.  One is a job, the other is my passion.  If one had to go, I would have no problem picking."  Chase, the keyboard player is a retail inventory specialist, and agrees, saying, "That’s my primary source of income, and balancing that with the band takes a lot of planning and forethought.  It can be hard at times.  My dedication and passion towards the band is what keeps me balanced."  Sam plays guitar and is a lot manager at a Chevy dealer in the 'real world', "doing oil changes and tire rotations and that kind of thing.  I want this band and this lifestyle more than anything else, and my dedication to this artform is what keeps me going."  Government contractor and vocalist Josh says plainly that,  "I see my job now as a means to an end--it pays the bills so I can focus my real passion and creativity on the band."

The current tour with Galaxy repeat offender My Name Is Drew started to take shape after a joint show in January.  "We’ve always talked about touring together.  Zach (from MNID) is a logistics mastermind, and he took the lead in booking the shows.  Lately, the shows have been coming in left and right.  We’ve been using our connections and friendships to get shows, and it’s been much easier than it used to be now that we’ve proven that we can do the work.  We can sell the tickets, we can engage the crowd, and people are starting to notice."  That ability to engage a crowd has served the band well when things have not gone according to plan. 

"We had a house show here in Virginia when MNID was in town last.  It was totally free, and we invited a few of our close friends and fans as a way of saying thanks for all the support we’ve received. One of our favorite local bands, First & Main, played the show with us.  About an hour before our set, our drummer at the time called us to say that his car broke down and he wasn’t coming.  Nick, our bassist, had to learn the drums in a flash!  We’d never played with that lineup and we were missing a lot of gear, so we were sloppy and uncoordinated to say the least.  Still, we sold the performance with our energy and connection with the fans.  The place was packed, everyone was screaming along, and we all had a blast.  That was probably one of the most rewarding shows we’ve ever played, and it had nothing to do with how well (or horribly) we played our instruments."  We're still hoping the whole band shows up for the Galaxy show!

The band mixes their individual influences with some style setting artists that have led the way over the years when writing, and have been lucky enough to get to play recently with one of them.  "All Time Low, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, The Used, UnderOath, Hawthorne Heights, and all those other timeless bands that defined the genre when we were in high school.  To be a good writer you have to be a good listener.  We take what we love about the stuff we all listen to and try to put our own spin on it—the energy, the emotional connection, the relevance of the music.  The Rebuilt Machine is one of those bands we want you to be able to scream along with in the car.  We actually had the chance to play with Hawthorne Heights in Richmond at The Kingdom this February.  It was an unforgettable show, packed with energy and passion—a dream come true!"

The band says that even out of town shows can "feel like a hometown show if you go into it with a positive attitude."  Give the guys a Hamilton hometown welcome on March 24th, along with Role Models, My Name Is Drew, Wringer, & Memorials, on a show brought to you by our partners at Wings On Brookwood!  Thanks to the guys for chatting with us, and we'll see you at the show!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In The Spotlight--Legend Has It

Legend Has It will rock the Galaxy March 21st
Travelling all the way to our lovely city from Bangor, Maine as part of a spring tour will be pop punk masters Legend Has It.  The tour was set up with their good friends and compatriots in Too Late The Hero, and hits a blistering nine cities in ten days.  Coming together because the groups wanted to "tour together and hang out", the band was able to set up this trek smoothly.  "Shows have been pretty easy to get, a few bumps along the way, but it always comes together, we have a lot of really helpful and awesome friends that help us get things pulled together," said bassist Matt Humphrey.

Visiting a new town is always an unknown adventure, but sometimes leads to memorable nights.  The guys hope for what most bands would desire.  Matt says, "Basically what any band wants when they go to a new city is a well promoted show. Its nice to see flyers hanging up in local stores and stuff, lets you know the promoter cares about you at least a little bit.  One of my favorites was showing up to this shack in Melbourne, Florida, called Jaycee's. We had no idea what to expect, we played 2nd to last I think and throughout the whole show most kids seemed to stay outside, so we thought no one would care when we played, but everyone came in and it was one of the best and most sweatiest times of my life."

The band has a strong home base, where they stay very active, playing a lot of mixed genre shows, as well as community based events.  "Our hometown is rad, they have really been a strong support system for us as a band. They give every band a chance that comes to play," he says. "As a band we have played community events such as a fest called "Skate Against Drugs" It's a skate competition with a bunch of awesome bands playing, tons of kids go. Things like that help keep kids busy and away from doing stupid things."  Despite being that active, and touring, the band still hold down real jobs as well. "We all work jobs while we are at home, music isn't paying many people's bills these days, we do it because its fun and we love it."

While falling loosely under the pop punk heading, the group is hesitant to nail down a label for themselves and their sound.  The members cite diverse influences that work their way into the music. "Each one of us takes from different influences, Jay would tell you his main influence as a drummer are the Deftones, Ryan's favorite bands are prog metal bands like Meshuggah, Anthony loves R&B which I know nothing about but I know he likes Marvin Gaye haha, and my influences come from hardcore bands like No Warning. Basically we aim for playing aggressive and groovy riffs in a positive tonality with a lot of pop punk influence, we try not to limit ourselves."

Staying focused and getting their name out are the primary goals of the band at the moment.  "The more we do this the more we learn, I think setting realistic goals works," Matt concludes.  You should set the goal of seeing the band as they bring the noise along with Too Late The Hero, The Monument, and Vice Versa on a killer Galaxy lineup on March 21st.  As always, thanks to the guys for taking some time to chat with us, and we'll see you at the show!

Friday, March 2, 2012

In The Spotlight--The Kemps

The Kemps bring this rock action to the Galaxy on 3/18

The Kemps, a garage pop band from Fountain Square, Indianapolis will be bringing their trio to the Galaxy as part of a fantastic line-up on March 18th.  Featuring Jared Birden on vocals/guitar, Tyler Bowman on bass/vocals, and Geoff Albertson on drums, the group is focused squarely on getting their name out to the public.  "Jared and I made a decision to switch the line-up to a three-piece, so in a sense we’ve kinda had to rebuild “The Kemps”. All new songs, new gear, etc.  The original lineup restricted us from ever being able to tour longer than a week or two. Other than a few trips northwest and south and a few shows in surrounding states, we’ve never been able to reach as many peeps as we’d like to," says Tyler.

That work begins at home, where they are focused on bringing attention not to just themselves but the Indianapolis area as a whole.  "We work pretty close with our label, GloryHole Records, in efforts to bring attention to Indy, primarily Fountain Square. There’s hot shit going down, we want the whole world to know!"  They indicate that the scene has advanced in tandem with the city.  "Indianapolis has really grown in the last ten years and the music scene along with it. VACATION CLUB, Learner Dancer, Marmoset are just a few great Fountain Square bands on GloryHole records. Our neighborhood also puts on a annual music/art festival called Cataracts in which we turn a bunch of houses on our street into venues for a day."

Check em!

The band told us they, "really just wanna make badass pop songs," and they draw on a wildly diverse range of musical influences to do so, while also using their surroundings for inspiration.  "The Bay City Rollers, Danzig and The Easybeats are a few major influences.  We take in a lot of influence from our surroundings. We are fortunate to live in close contact with some of our favorite local musicians and that has really helped us learn from our peers and find ourselves.  Jared usually has an idea, whether it is a riff, lyrics, etc. The three of us will sit down and write it out. No crazy technique-type approach, we just write parts that make us smile."

The guys also share a job in common, telling us "All three members deliver subs on our bikes in downtown Indianapolis to support our financial needs."  The Kemps will be delivering their delicious brand of rock to the Galaxy along with Take One Car, Army Coach, Frontier Folk Nebraska, and Sam Banta and the Fantastics in what promises to be one killer show.  Thanks to the guys for taking some time out from delivering subs to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!