Girls and Charms - A Chat With August Hotel

K.P. Peters | October 2017

A few weeks ago, I talked with Ryan Lammers, Cale Singleton and Dean Sinclair, 3/5 of August Hotel, about their recent release “Charms.” While they loosely described it as “a concept album about girls,” or “the best acid jazz album of 2017” I think of it as a collection of synth pop hits waiting to be discovered.

To start, Ryan discussed the original version of “Crystalize.” This track has gone through a lot of changes. “We felt like it could be better,” the guitarist stated in reference to the original version. “It was okay, but we felt we could do more with it. We liked what we had but we wanted to give it something extra. We took it back to practice and messed around with it.” Now with a new chorus and more synth, the band picked this dance tune to close the EP.

Dean also told the story of his date with a camp counselor. On this date he asked her, “what’s the craziest thing a child has ever said to you?” The answer was the title to the bands hit song “Can I be in Love With You?” This question sparked a lot of ideas in the drummer.

“The intro is when you first meet that person, in my case a party in my living room. The first verse is almost being upset with yourself for living 20-something years and just meeting them. You are jealous of them having memories before you. They have all these memories and stories that I’m not able to be a part of. It’s this weird bitterness toward that.”

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While they turned down dating a fan, the band said if asked “can I be in love with you?” the answer would be yes. “If love means hanging out with us and having a good time at our show it’s more than encouraged.”

To end the interview, I asked the band to discuss the charms of each other. They went around talking about the best qualities of each band member.

Cale started us off with a talk about Dean. “He’s got a nice beard. Dean is so funny he has altered my speech pattern. He’s made me stupider, haha.”

Dean said “Ryan has the best work ethic out of all of us. He provides the cow bones of the glue that keeps this band together. It’s his vision that keeps us on track and gives us something to aspire to.”

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Ryan comment on Cale, “He’s got an extremely large knowledge of random things. This makes him an entertaining person to be around. You learn stuff from him. He’s got a real dedication and passion for what he does.”

On Craig, the keyboardist, the band described him as “very quiet. But, when he wants to make a joke it’s something that will make the entire room cry laughing. The timing, what he says and how he says it; it’s just perfect.”

“Joe has a beautiful heart. Just being around him makes you reanalyze your outlook. He makes me want to be a better person,” said Dean.

After getting sentimental about the rest of the band, I suggested they rethink Dean. He’s got more great qualities than just his facial hair. “He’s so much more than just a drummer,” added Ryan. “He writes a bunch of our favorite songs to play. Everything he brings to us is so good. His ear for melody and talent as a musician is just incredible.”

Each of these guys brings something different to the band. Combined, they make August Hotel the success that it is. Check out “Charms” and get down to this local bands indie-pop hits

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Color and Sound Ft. Dead Lucid

K.P. Peters | May 2017

This week Color and Sound talked to Jon Grammer of Dead Lucid. Dead Lucid has described themselves as “the illegitimate love child of Jimi Hendrix and Joy Division.” They released an EP in October, and have been playing shows nonstop ever since. You can check out our interview with Jon below, and see an acoustic performance of one of their new songs here.

What is your favorite original song to perform live?

The combination of “Andromeda” and “Space Rock”. Those two together just have this really great vibe to them. I really love the bass lines on those, especially “Andromeda”, we really just go hard.

What is your favorite cover song to perform?

That’s a tough one. There are two that we play a lot that I’m a big fan of. One is “Purple Haze”. We do it a lot differently than Hendrix. We don’t slow down the tempo but we play it in a way that makes it feel like it’s dragging. It gives it a darker feel. Also Evil by Interpol, that’s just one of my favorite songs.

Can you name one venue you will never play again?

Liars. After our set they turned to me and said, “we had a lot of skinheads in here, but luckily you guys did really good.” What would have happened if we were bad?

You’re sound is very different from many other DIY bands. What inspired you to go in that direction?

I’m a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, but I also like a lot of bass driven music. I’m very into 80’s/70’s post-punk. I was very interested in combining those two, and having a sound that was very bass driven. We try to utilize bass guitar as a lead guitar. That was the main inspiration for Dead Lucid.

What is the best show you’ve ever played?

That’s a tough one. I really liked our show at The Mutiny that we played recently. They overbooked the show so there was a lot of confusion about what was going on. The band was a little angry before we played, so we let that out on stage.

How did you meet your band members?

I met them through Facebook, the Chicago Musicians Network. I was looking for a band, originally two guitars, bass, and drum. A friend’s band hit me up to play a show because he thought my old band still existed. So he hit me up and I didn’t have a band, I made a post on the Facebook group looking for a couple guys. That’s how I found Ryan, the bassist. The first time I played with him I knew it was going to work. He plays very different from other bass players, and it’s amazing. We found Andrew the same way, through a post. A few guys responded, but Andrew just got what we were trying to do musically.

What’s next for Dead Lucid?

Well, we just released an EP in October. We are trying to keep promoting that for a little while. We are writing new music and playing them at shows. One new song is called “Romance”. It’s very Joy Division style.

Changing The Thread

K.P. Peters | May 2017

If 2017 and classic rock & roll had a love child, it would be local band The Threads— a recent featured artist at Music Garage with exciting new music on SoundCloud. I recently had the honor of talking to them. Though the whole band couldn’t make it to the city for our chat, I got to speak with Sam Abboud, rhythm guitarist/singer, and Justin Bell, lead guitarist.

 Photography by Zach Hittie

Photography by Zach Hittie

With multiple recent releases, the musicians and I discussed the change in their sound. They accredited the change to their new bass player. As a music major, Duke Hiatt brings an exciting new edge to the band. His style of playing has brought The Threads to a more dance-based sound. Justin even commented that their first jam with Duke was when they wrote “Lo-Fi Baby.

Furthermore, Sam said their change in scene has influenced their change in sound. “We play more house shows now, where we played more rock clubs before. I think that had an impact subconsciously. It’s a different scene and a different mental state.”

 Photography by Zach Hittie

Photography by Zach Hittie

Justin says that the change in their sound has impacted the audience, too. Before, their crowds would stand and watch. He comments that while they were into it, they weren’t really dancing. Now that the band writes with more of a groove, Justin has noticed the crowd getting down.

While Someone Who Looks Like You was a great way for the band to start out, their new music takes on an interesting twist.

Color and Sound Ft. Mohit Mehta

K.P. Peters | May 2017

Welcome to the third Color and Sound! For this week we have a very unique artist, Mohit Mehta. Mohit has put his years of music experience to good work on this solo project which has released the album Luminosity.

Describe your music in 5 words or less.

A portrait of how life unfolds.

How did you get into making music?

I’m a classically trained pianist, and that taught me the ropes on a bunch of different instruments. I always wanted to be in a band. I came up as a drummer in high school and put those aspirations aside for college. I graduated at the crest of the recession with a degree in economic and finance, so like the worst majors you could have at the time. I decided to go back to music and see what I can do. I worked hard to be in a band but no one was doing the things that I wanted to do. I like really simple songs, and no one else was really doing that at the time. Everyone I knew didn’t want to go on tour, or put in the time it takes to record a record. So it was just left to me to make the music that I want to make.

You recorded all your tracks in Chicago. What was your experience with Chicago recording studios?

 I’ve recorded in a lot of recording studios; personally I don’t use any that have a day rate of more than $500. I also don’t go to any studio that doesn’t have a tape machine, because I adore the sound of recording on magnetic tape. I’m really pursing the perfect analogue sound. The first half of my record was recorded at Soap Box Music. That was good but we had different visions on where we wanted this record to go. I just had to keep him on track with what I wanted. The second half was recorded at Carterco. It was actually two EPs that I recorded there before they closed down. This recording studio basically just hit record and didn’t comment on anything, just adjusted however you told them to. That was very educational for me. I expected everything to just fit in, but having the responsibility of checking the levels and making it what I want was very eye opening for me. I say if the song came out good on recording then it was a good studio.

What is your favorite song to perform live?

The ninth track, under the gun. That was the first song I wrote for this project. I had this delay pedal that I had never really experimented with before, and I turned it up. It was like this waterfall coming out of my amp. It’s just a nice summer song about a girl.

So what’s next for this project?

 Probably just touring a ton. Playing music wherever I can get a gig and maybe recording another record.

August Hotel Takes the Stage and the Audience

K.P. Peters | April 2017

On April 26, 2017, August Hotel performed spectacularly at Subterranean. The ever-growing indie pop band concurred the stage with their hit, “12am,” and more. Lead singer Joe Padilla and guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lammers made a habit of leaving the stage behind and performing in the crowd or just about anywhere they could get. Their cover of “Green Light” left my voice sore from singing along and my feet sore from dancing too much. All of their original songs were structured with amazing vocals, fun synth lines, and a beat that everyone couldn’t help but dance to. Though drummer Dean Sinclair couldn’t make it, keyboardist/vocalist Craig Schwartz Jr., bassist/vocalist Cale Singleton, Joe Padilla and Ryan Lammers sat with me for a humorous talk about the band’s journey and what’s next for them.

Wikipedia calls you guys rock, iTunes alternative, and the Chicago Tribune indie pop. How would you describe your music?

CS: I would say indie pop or synth pop. We threw around dance rock for a while.

J: Floral indie, haha.

R: It’s hard to pin it down, I guess.

CS: Yeah, because some of our songs have that stereotypical synth pop kind of feel, some of our songs just rock really hard, and others just have a really chilled out groove. So yeah, it’s really hard to pin it down.

Ryan and Dean, who’s not here, started this band to win a battle of the bands contest. Now, you are on the radio and have over 70,000 plays on Spotify. What does that success feel like?

R: It’s kind of weird. Like, we started in a church basement. I feel like we’ve come a long way, but it hasn’t come far enough to feel super wild. Our first show was me, Dean, and this other guy who hasn’t been in the band for a while. We just got together in a church basement and came up with covers right before we went on stage. It’s cool, but we are still growing.

What is your favorite show you have ever played?

J: I really enjoyed this one, but best and favorite show based on performance would probably be at the Space in Evanston in August 2016. This was the first show with Cale back in the band. I had joined a few months before that, and Cale had just returned to the band, so that was the first show I had ever played with Cale.

R: That was our first headliner of Space, too. I would say our second show at Space in January of this year. I really liked the earlier one, but I would say we were still figuring everything out. I liked being able to feel like we were more solid.

CS: I’m with that, but I also think Hillsdale. It’s always a jam.

R: Every time we play Hillsdale, it’s just wild. Shout out to Hillsdale.

CS:  Mine is in exact tie with the second Space show that we headlined. My god, we meet Ember Oceans, our new band best friends. That has just been a beautiful thing. I think the one that tops it, just because it was so unique and so out there, was our Sofar show. It was acoustic, at Bucketfeet. The doors opened, and within 15 minutes, the whole place was packed. Everyone who performed was amazing. We finished it out, and everyone reacted so well to everything. It was just beautiful.

What is your favorite song to perform live?

CSJ: Mine can change from show to show.

CS: I like “Michigan Again.” That’s probably my favorite.

R: I always have a lot of fun with “Valentine.”

J: The one that I love to play the most but also hate to play the most live is “Can I Be in Love with You” because it absolutely shreds my vocal chords. I get wild on that one.

Can you tell me an embarrassing fact or story about the band member to your right?

CS: This is the only one that needs to be said, haha.

R: It was our first ever photo shoot, and Craig shows up in shorts and flip-flops. We are all in black skinny jeans and boots.

CS: Like, we went out of our way to look good, and Craig walks up and we’re like, “what the fuck?”

R: So, we started calling him Craig Shorts after that. The next practice we had, he showed up in black jeans.

CS: It was relentless after that. You called him that at a show once.

J: More than once! Then, I started changing it to Craig Pants because he actually wore pants to a photo shoot. We were so relieved. All the pictures from that photo shoot have a distinct flavor because they are all cropped from the knee up.

CSJ: There was the time Cale almost knocked over my keyboard.

CS: Oh yeah. That was our first show at Space, my first performance back. I remember the moment so vividly: I jumped during “Crystalized,” right when it stops. I jumped back a little bit and hit Craig’s keyboard. I whipped around and saw it falling forward-- he caught it right before it hit the ground. And I said into the mic, “Craig, I promise not to kill your keyboard in our next song.”

J: I was a camp counselor over the summer. This kid said she was from Cary, Illinois. I said, “The only person I know from Cary is my band mate, Ryan Lammers.” She goes, “Oh, I know Ryan.”

CS: With murder in her eyes.

J: Her older sister is actually the person that “Valentine” is written about.

So what can you tell the Vibe about your upcoming EP?

R: We finished mixing it yesterday; it’s getting mastered tomorrow. It’s got four songs on it.

CS: It’s got a cover. It’s got credits.

R: It’ll be out eventually.

J: There is a 56-string ensemble on one of the songs.

R: It’s a techno country orchestral mix. Craig has a rap verse on one of the songs.

CS: In all seriousness, I’d like to point out that Ryan finished mixing it yesterday. Ryan has been working his ass off. He’s been burning three candles, all at both ends.

R: I just don’t sleep ever.

Do you have any advice for other college students who want to be as successful as you have been?

R: Work, just do it. None of us even go to the same school and we do it.

J: Dean doesn’t even live in the same state and we do it.

CS: I would recommend you leave enough time to do music, schoolwork, volunteer in your community, and practice self-care.

R: Work hard, but take a day off every now and then.
CS: Speaking of self-care, I quit the band for about a year. I just wasn’t in a good place mentally. A few weeks before, we played a show where I just snapped on stage. So I left for a little while and was just not good. But you guys put out “12AM,” and I just thought I had to go back. My love for it came rushing back. I came back to do a musical, and Ryan called me and said, “if you want to come back and play bass for us, we would love to have you.” I remember having this conversation with him, and then I hung up the phone and just started bawling. It was the best thing I could have possibly heard in that moment. If you want to be in a band, be with people you love, and take care of yourself.

 

 

Color and Sound Ft. Interdependence

K.P. Peters | April 2017

Interdependence is a Chicago Goth/Punk band composed of three of the world’s funniest guys. Their unique sound comes from China White’s lead vocals, bassist Ruben Salcedo, and drummer Ben Russell. With a new single out, an upcoming album, and music videos in the works, I’m glad to feature them as our next guest on Color and Sound.  Check out more of their music here or on Spotify and iTunes, and see their performance of “Human”.

 Interdependence by Lauren Stufflebeam

Interdependence by Lauren Stufflebeam

Describe your sound in 5 words or less.

C: Punk rock ballad, post punk, Goth, Emo.

B: You’re out of words.

R: I got this! Tasty, crunchy, scrumptious, alternative beats.

C: That completely clicked on every level, haha.

All your social media says this is a new era for Interdependence. Can you comment on what the new era is, and how that compares to the old?

C: The old era was when we first started. The band was brand new, completely different members. We were a four piece at the time and we wrote the Self Destructive EP and released that on Halloween 2015. Now, a lot has changed, like the sound, style, and members. We are a trio now.

B: Yeah, one dude ran away.

R: We got a lot tighter, too. Our sound earlier was quickly formulated ideas that we just threw together. This era is much different in that we took more time to think through song structure.

B: I can’t speak to the old era, but we have been playing the new songs every week at every practice for like 8 or 9 months, really 6 or 7, before we went into the studio. We still play those songs the way we had them in November.

How did each of you get into music?

R: I fiddled with guitar years ago when I got this shitty little one, and I was never good at it. I think my mom gave it away. It resurfaced in high school when I went to Whitney Young; they have a really fantastic music program. Shout out to Jeffery Peak, he was my teacher and my mentor. We did everything from making recordings to studying music theory.

C: When I was a kid I started playing guitar when I listened to Green Day’s American Idiot. I remember I was using a water bottle cap as the pick and my mom was like, “Okay I better get you some lessons.” So I took lessons for a while, and started song writing in high school.

B: I moved into middle school and didn’t know anyone. I made one friend who was like a guitar prodigy; he started showing me all kinds of music. Turns out I hate sports, so I quit everything I was doing and started singing with this band he was in. Then we made a separate band. I was still doing vocals, but I started learning guitar. I did that for a few years, then the band broke up and I was trying to find a new band. No band needed guitar or vocals, all they needed were drummers. So I got a crappy drum set at a garage sale and started teaching myself.

C: He kicks ass at drums though.

  Interdependence by Lauren Stufflebeam

Interdependence by Lauren Stufflebeam

What is your best band memory?

C: The second show we ever played was TB fest. I remember I dressed all fancy and our drummer dressed all fancy and Ruben showed up wearing Ninja Turtle pants and a Disturbed t-shirt.

R: As you can see I have a history of missing the memo. My bandmates wore black, leather, and denim and I showed up in a purple shirt and cargo shorts. Ben wasn’t in the band yet, but a great memory we have was when we played Reggie’s nightclub. We were a newer band really trying to make a name, and we played with a more established band called The Run Around. So we promoted the hell out of that show, we ended up getting $400 in ticket sales. There were probably over 300 people there that night. It was magic.

B: We played The Drunken Donut, and I had this really shitty cymbal stand. Things were coming unscrewed as I was playing them. About half way through our six minute song, the cymbal came off the stand and landed in my lap. I had to play the rest of the song trying not to let it fall or fuck it up.

C: You pulled it off pretty well.

B: Yeah, some dude tried to come and help, but there wasn’t much to do.

What can you tell us about the music video you have coming out?

C: It’s going to be fun. We start filming soon. It’s for the new single “Let Your Demons Out and Play”. This single is more upbeat than “Human”, which was more of a ballad.

B: I think this song gets more of the feel of this album. “Human” gets a lot of the themes, but “Let Your Demons Out” gets more of the vibe.

R: “Human” was more of an experimentation. China came with an idea, a riff, and in the studio I tried to take that into a late 60’s doo-wop type sound.

B: I tried to take that on too. I was very minimalistic till the end. It was us trying new sounds.

R: Yes, but this new track is a lot closer to our roots, way more aggressive. We go a little crazy and it’s going to show in the video. We are going to be smashing stuff, very angry.

C: Shhhh, you can’t give it all away.

Wait, how many music videos are you working on?

C: Two. We are doing “Human”, “Let Your Demons Out” with a video and then the “Human” music video.

R:  We were looking for a dancer for “Human”, but the concept has changed. We have a little more story to it and a little less ballerina.

What can our readers expect from Interdependence in the future?

 C: The music video, coming very soon, with the new single.

R: Some good ass live shows.

B: Have your ass kicked at a punk rock show!

R: Come out to our live shows. Our live shows capture an essence you can’t find anywhere else.

Interdependence by Lauren Stufflebeam

DIY Dan and the Party Vibe

K.P. Peters | April 2017

DePaul students sure know how to throw a good party, and a vital part of that is the music. The right DJ can make or break the vibe, so we sat down with popular DJ DIY Dan to talk about his music and the party scene.

Describe your music in 5 words.

 Strange, upbeat, bass heavy, space.

Space is a weird one, haha.

Yeah, I like to get the weird samples. If you’ve ever listened to Space Jesus or any kind of rhythm dubstep, they use really cool samples. I want to do that but with house music.

What inspires you when you are making a beat?

I listen to a lot of artists that inspire me. Ever since I saw Disclosure do a DJ set, I knew I wanted to do that. Also, you have to have something you are writing about, a feeling you want to ignite. I usually go for a feeling, like what kind of vibe I want.

What’s it like performing at DePaul parties?

You have to do a little bit for yourself and a little bit for them. People like different music than what I like, so I can’t just play all my tunes. You have to read the crowd for what they want and what you think they want. You can’t just put on all experimental beats before they are ready for it; you have to work up to it. It is fun to see people’s reactions to a song. I love doing it.

What is your funniest story from performing at a DePaul party?

There are always people trying to request songs, and like, that’s fine. But there was this mob of girls all trying to request a Beyoncé song, I don’t even know what it was. I was like, “I’m sorry, I don’t have it on my computer, I’m sorry.” They really wanted it, so I had to download it on my computer in the moment. I haven’t seen anything too crazy yet in terms of crowds.

How can people book you for future gigs?

On my SoundCloud there is an email address, DJThomas9@yahoo.com. I’m free to do events on the weekends, and I’d love to do more parties.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Right now, I’ve been pretty busy with school, but over the summer I’m going to really dive in. I’m still brainstorming, but I know I want a cohesive collection of songs. It’s going to be high passed dance music. I think I’m going to collaborate with a few vocalists and rappers too.

After that talk, we did a series of rapid-fire questions. I asked short and easy questions, and DIY Dan had four seconds to answer each. I hope you enjoyed getting to know your local DJ and catch him at a party near you.

Favorite song?

Disclosure – When a Fire Starts to Burn

Cats or dogs?

Dogs.

If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavor would you be?

Chocolate swirl.

Boxers or briefs?

Briefs.

Best brand of mac and cheese?

The golden one. Velveeta!

One thing you would eat at the stu?

 Chicken creaser wrap. I just had it and I would have it again.

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Color and Sound Ft. Victor Orozco

K.P. Peters | April 2017

Welcome to Color and Sound! For this project, we’ve scoured The Dojo, SoundCloud, and private Facebook pages to bring you some talented POCs on a biweekly basis. I’ve had the honor of sitting down with these musicians and discussing their musical history, their experiences in Chicago, and the exciting places they are going. For the first interview, I talked with Victor Orozco, a local singer-songwriter. Though he just recently moved to the city from Michigan, I believe his talent is definitely worth noticing. Check out our talk below along with a private performance here.

 Victor Orozco by Star Swink

Victor Orozco by Star Swink

Describe your music in 4 words?

Blues with a soul.

How did you first get into making music?

I got a guitar at 11 for Christmas. There was a big present under the tree a week before. I asked my dad, “Whose is this?” because there was no tag on it. He said, “it’s an exercise machine for your mom.” Then Christmas came around, and all the presents were opened. They called me over to the tree and told me to unwrap it. I fought them for, like, 15 minutes saying it wasn’t mine. Eventually, I ripped it open and lost my shit. I had been asking for a guitar for years.

I started learning to play for a worship team at my church only to realize later in life that that’s not what I want to do. In the past two years, my writing has changed significantly. I was convinced I had to write Christian songs because of the church I went to. Then, I stopped. That’s when I realized I could write songs I want to write. It kind of renewed my passion for music. Something just clicked where I wanted to take this seriously, and the progression I’ve made just from last January to now just blows my mind.

The last song you put out was titled Paramount Castle. Can you comment on that a bit?

I wrote that with a friend. It’s the only co-written song I’ve done. We spent two months on it. I wrote the first verse; he wrote the second. We would sit down and just play, play, play, then freeze up, get upset, and just walk away from it. We were supposed to play it at our college talent show, but he had to go to Iowa. What the hell is in Iowa?! Instead, I did another song, The Wizard in my Tree. Every time I play with this guy, he shows me something new, and this time, he showed me this chord progression. It eventually turned into the fastest song I’ve ever written, along with the longest song. I wrote that in ten minutes flat.

Can you tell us what that song is about?

A girl, haha. It’s about a girl that won’t let you in. The line goes, “tell me all your secrets that I know are there,” trying to get her to talk to the guy. Then it goes, “let me be your hero break right through,” going with, like, a comic book theme. The second verse is actually my favorite: “been stuck in these dreary halls for too long.” It’s the idea that we are stuck in a lonely castle, and the girl reminds us of better days. It’s a little basic, haha.

How would you describe being a part of the DIY Chicago scene?

A friend of mine suggested it to me. I just moved back to Chicago about two months ago and happened to go to Refuge Live. They have a cool open mic scene on Wednesday nights, mostly hip-hop. It was really cool because with a lot of the open mics I go to, you walk in and immediately see, like, 15 guitars. It’s like a bunch of guys trying to be Bob Dylan. So, I happened to go to Refuge Live and did a set there. Then, I ran into an old friend from high school who is in a band called Attack the Sound. He gave me a lot of suggestions. He told me I’d have to do a lot of free shows out here the first few months, told me to network, and then showed me the DIY page.

Any memorable moments?

Back when I was living in Michigan, I was involved with the open mic community and the art community. One of the ones I regularly attend was doing an award thing. I didn’t expect it, but they gave me an award for best singer-songwriter. It’s this little plastic trophy with a crooked tag on it. I still have it, haha. Out here, I haven’t played as much yet. The last show I played only had two people in the crowd. I don’t have a lot of friends yet.

What can our readers expect from you in the future?

I have radio interviews coming up-- one with Wardens Midwest Radio/UIC Radio on April 21st at 9. Where I work, there is a local DJ that comes in all the time, and we are working on a radio interview for August. I have a show at RPM Music Chicago on the 22nd for Record Day. It’ll be all original material. I’m also working on an EP as every artist is. I’m dropping my mix tape soon. It’ll be seven songs; I’m just not sure which songs. I’m also collaborating with a lot of rap artists in the area. Nothing super solid, but a lot is coming in the next two months. This is very much the baby phase of everything for me, but I’m starting to turn it up a notch.

 Victor Orozco by Star Swink

Victor Orozco by Star Swink

A Chat with Corral

K.P. Peters | March 2017

Recently, I sat down with two-thirds of Corral, a young alternative band, to talk about their upcoming album, Leche, tattoos, and their story so far. It would have been the full band, but unfortunately, drummer JP was busy drunkenly rapping with a homeless man on the streets of Chicago. Regardless, lead singer/guitarist Danny Kulaski and bassist Michael Thomas had a lot to say. You can check out the interview below, photos on our photography page, and a private performance on our YouTube channel. Corral can be found on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and any social media (@corraltheband).

You guys worked together before in a band called Captain Hates the Sea. Talk about the difference between that project and Corral.
D: Night and day.
M: We all have different experiences with that band because Danny was an original member. I joined when the bass player moved because my cousin, Joe, was in the band. That’s how me and Danny met. For me it was like “we just need a bass player, you just need to show up.” So that’s what my investment was, and my intention was just to have fun. And it was very fun, but I wasn’t very involved in the writing process.
D: It was very different for me. I was the youngest member of the group. We started it when I was 17. It was like a screamo/electronica band, riding that whole wave. It was a lot of fun, but it was very serious. Our goal was to expand and be a touring group. With that came a lot of self imposed pressure. After working on that for a while, I just kind of started growing out of it. We broke off, and I started working on these songs that would eventually become Corral in total opposition of that. We used to play to a click track with in-ear monitors and all these synced up synthesizers, and there were like 6 of us. There were a lot of schedules to maintain and a lot of technical things that could go wrong, so with Corral, we cut the size of the band in half, no click tracks, totally raw, more free form, rough around the edges type of feel. Not to say that I didn’t love playing in that band-- it’s all of my best friends, but we were young trying to figure it out.

You guys have been working together for 7 years, that’s crazy. Can you comment on the progression you have gone through as a band?
M: Danny pretty much started Corral while we were still in the Captain, so he’s the seed. Alex Rodriguez was like the first water to hit the seed. That early on stuff is a lot more lo-fi, both how we recorded it and how it sounded.
D: It was more invested in emo rock sensibilities. Alex has a very particular rolling melody kind of feel. I think that it’s shifted gears into a more experimental rock place rather than an emo rock, but still a part of that tradition.
M: You have a box you create. At a certain point, you are pushing that box to see how far you can go, but you need to go the other way and start honing in on it. I think now we’re honing in on a heavier sound, a little bit more of an aggressive sound but still coming from that emo place.
D: Our whole thing is about dynamics, simplicity, and rhythms. I listen to mostly hip-hop music to be honest, but I grew up listening to a bunch of other stuff. So it’s just bringing that flavor into what we’re doing.

Your last release was called Rain Dance. What was your favorite track to perform off of that album?
M: I think mine is Trouble because that was the first song where I was like, “hey, look, I can just do this bass line.” And it’s like a minute and a half, and I think that’s awesome.
D: Probably “Rain Dance” because it’s really hard. When we really hit it I’m like fuck yeah. It’s really satisfying.

What song means the most to you from that album?
M: Mine is “Bad News.” That one just really hits the feels.
D: “Bad News” was really just embarrassingly honest for me. A couple of the songs off that album are pretty directly about a few people. They expressed discontent with that.
M: I think “Bad News” is just relatable. I’ll always be going through life wanting to talk to Danny about writing a song about what I’m feeling, then he’ll come and say he’s got a new song. It’s like he can vocalize my thoughts without even having those conversations. The last two records have just been lining up with my life perfectly.

This spring, you guys are set to release Leche. That’s very exciting. How would you describe this new album?
D: Leche is definitely a growth point for Corral. I like it because it feels like a cohesive musical thought. It definitely was a collision of two periods of Corral. It was recorded in two parts, like the first five songs and the second five songs.
M: I think it’s the best version of Corral yet, and I’ve loved all the previous versions of it.
D: It’s a harder version of Corral. It’s a little less ‘sing-songy.’ I often describe Corral, and I would describe Leche more specifically, as upset. It’s not mad, it’s not sad, we aren’t screaming we are kind of yelling; it’s upset.

What’s your favorite song on Leche?
D: It changes like everyday. Probably “Slang,” it’s a really hard rocking, upbeat, choppy song. It’s kind of fun because it has a very american rock feel in the choruses but a very british feel in the verses. And I like the lyrics as well, especially at the end.
M: I think “Slang” is mine too. It’s just catchy, it just grooves. The verse just has this really good groove to it. But I mean I’m pumped on all of them.

Art and music tend to go together? I see you guys try to do that with tattoos. Can you talk about the tattoos you have?
M: I think I stopped counting at 15 or 20 because I knew what my intentions were, to cover myself in them. My right arm (The black and grey arm) is linked up to family members and loved ones, and my colored arm is basically things that I like.
D: Well your back is all Japanese
M: Yeah, my back is all Japanese and my chest is American traditional. I feel like there is a pretty good connection between the tattoo world and the music world.
D: JP, who isn’t here right now, he’s covered in all sorts of wonderful tattoos. Most of his work is done by Josh over by Mayday. I go to Miles at Great Lakes. I just have a couple. Actually, I just made an appointment for a third. I’m getting an apple on a woman’s head, blindfolded.

You guys are really great guys, you must have some funny stories. 
D: We’re pretty juvenile. We are just idiots, lots of talking about dicks.
M: Haha, yeah lots of dick jokes.
D: Michael throws up a lot after we play.
M: I’ve gotten better about it.
D: He’ll just rock the fuck out and then be talking and be all “ughh,” and then keep talking. He’s a very physically expressive bass player.