Sianvar (members of Dance Gavin Dance, A Lot Like Birds, Hail The Sun, and Stolas) have released their debut EP via AbsolutePunk. Stream it here and check out their tour dates with A Lot Like Birds below after the jump.
Monday means BandsOnBands, and we’re excited to be posting the new PropertyOfZack features today with guitarist Ben Wiacek of A Lot Like Birds. The band’s new album, No Place, is out tomorrow via Equal Vision Records, so make sure to pre-order it here.
In this week’s feature, Ben talks about his love for The Velvet Teen. Listen to songs by The Velvet Teen here check out what Ben had to say about one of his biggest influences below!
From Ben Wiacek:
There is a band I’ve been listening to since my first year in college, I can remember the first song I heard by them, where I was when I heard it, who I was with, what I was wearing, and why I had even been interested in hearing them in the first place.
The Velvet Teen is that band. They hail from Santa Rosa, CA, so I had the luxury of hearing about them through word of mouth due to their close proximity to the college I had been attending. The drummer in the first band I was ever involved in introduced me to their album “Elysium” and it was the first music I had ever heard that moved me in such a way. Before that I was in to primarily heavier music, and a lot of classic rock. Being a young 18-year-old dude causes a lot if reservations about showing anything other than your toughness, so luckily The Velvet Teen showed me that I didn’t need to be afraid of my emotional side.
There was something about the way Judah Nagler’s voice sounded and the lyrical content that spoke volumes to me. I had never been in to “emo” music before then (for lack of a better qualification), and I think it was because most of the singers I heard sounded too concerned with sounding pretty. To me, it seemed that Nagler wasn’t worried about disguising his perfectly unique croon with that of your typical run-of-the-mill prettyboy voice. I loved that about him. The addition of solid songwriting, an excellent band surrounding him, and one of my favorite albums of all time, “Cum Laude!” really cemented their place in my heart as one of the most influential bands in my life.
Senior Writer Jesse Richman had the chance to catch up with Kurt Travis at SXSW this past March for a fantastic interview. Jesse and Kurt discussed his new solo EP, touring with Jonny Craig, A Lot Like Birds, Equal Vision Records, touring, and much more. Check it all out below!
So the solo EP just came out.
Tell me a little bit about it.
Well, it’s kind of a concept record. I was reading the The Silmarillion and just became inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s creating of Middle Earth. Apparently he wrote all of the languages before he created the story, so all the words, they mean something. He uses different words like, “Ilúvatar” means father of all. “Ilúvatar” was just there. Then he thought up these children of Ainur and they started playing a song, and the song created Middle Earth. That’s pretty much what it’s about.
So I take it you are a big Tolkien fan?
What did you think of The Hobbit? Or, Part 1 of The Hobbit.
It was good… You know, everybody’s a critic. I think Peter Jackson is fucking amazing. I don’t think anybody could have done a better job. How about that?
I know a lot of people aren’t thrilled that he stretched such a short story into four hours worth of movie.
Right. Right. Right. It’s never going to compare to the movie in your head, but he does a great job.
So were you planning on writing a solo EP, or were you just reading Tolkien and decided to start writing?
I heard about this tour with Jonny Craig, Hail The Sun, and The Seeking about two months before it happened. I was like, “Shit. I’ve got to get another record!” Because I feel like going on tour without a record is kind of pointless. And as a musician, you should be continually creating. So…
How has touring with Jonny been so far?
It’s been great! Jonny and I go way back. I play a song with him; we share our backup band Hail The Sun, which is an amazing band.
So they’re opening and then they’re backing you guys as well?
How do you separate between a solo song, an A Lot Like Birds song… where do you draw those lines in your head?
My solo stuff is more for me, you know what I mean? It’s something that I can’t do in A Lot Like Birds. So that’s why it happened.
[Kris Crummett walks by and joins us for a minute]
KT: Shoutout to Kris Crummett at Interlace [Audio] Studios.
KC: We’re making a record together!
KT: We’re making the new A Lot Like Birds record in Portland like it’s supposed to be.
KC: It’s gonna be fuckin’ badass.
Have you started working on that at all?
KT: The band has five or six songs in the works; they just keep sending them to me, and I keep listening to them over and over.
KC: It’s gonna be amazing, they’re so insane!
KT: [to KC] Have they sent you some of the songs?
KC: Yeah, I’ve got some of the demos! “Balcony”, and…
KT: “Balcony” and “Joe’s Room”…
KC: Yep, really good stuff!
KT: These are all tentative titles!
What direction is it headed so far?
KT: Dude, OK. So we’re basically capitalizing on our crazy chaotic Blood Brothers, Mars Volta kind of shit, and then our more ambient, melodic shit; we’re getting even trippier and outer space. So… very pretty, very dirty and spooky and crazy, so we’re just capitalizing on those two elements. Then kind of fusing them together.
KC: It’s gonna be great. Sorry to interrupt. That show [which Travis had just played] was beautiful! It was so good!
[Kris Crummett leaves]
KT: Sorry about that. That’s my producer. Two Dance Gavin Dance records and now two A Lot Like Birds records. He’s a good dude.