American Grizzly – Instore Insight

Words and Photos By Alicia Maciel 

Good ole’ fashioned rock n roll band American Grizzly performed in-store Friday, October 6. From sharing a few beers together to talking about shows going on the same night, the Southsiders put on a cozy show that drew a lot of people in. With Matt Ladd on vocals, Jack Doyle and Dennis Wilson on guitars, Marty Funk on bass, and Anthony Perez on drums, American Grizzly is a fantastic local act worth listening to.

While “Love Somebody Else” is my pick from their noise rock twist on American folk music, I chatted with Dennis, Marty, and Jack to learn some more about the band.

How did you choose your band name?

Marty: I was listening to a My Morning Jacket album I just picked up called It Still Moves right around the time we first started playing together 3 or 4 years ago. I was listening to the record and admiring the album art, which has this really groovy bear wrapped in tinsel with geometric patterns all around the front and back covers and the name “American Grizzly” came to mind. We were throwing around band names at that time and I suggested American Grizzly and it kinda just stuck.    

Are you guys actually local? If so, what neighborhood are you from?

Dennis: We’re all local. We’re all originally from the Southwest Side and have been living in different neighborhoods throughout the city for a while. Our studio’s in Pilsen.

How did you guys get to know one another?

Dennis: We all met through a mutual friend group. Marty and I grew up down the street from each other and have been playing music together since 7th or 8th grade. Jack and I kind of knew each other from mutual friends then I saw him play some Black Keys songs at an open mic and called him up to jam a few days later (7 or so years ago). Jack knew Matt and Anthony from some other bands they played in. Once we all got together,  we realized how many friends we all had in common. It felt very natural for us all to hang out.

What gear do you have? If any of you are gear heads, what does your gear mean to you?

Dennis: Marty plays an Epiphone Thunderbird bass that looks super cool and always gets compliments on how it sounds. He’s currently in the market for a Fender Mustang bass. Jack plays a Fender Stratocaster and, on special occasions, Telecaster and has a few different Fender amps he plays (shoutout to his Fender Champion 600 which is a small tube amp that’s too small to gig with but sounds amazing). He also has a Waterloo acoustic that you’ll hear a lot on the next EP. I play a Gibson ES 390 hollow body electric guitar through a Vox amp. I also have a Musicvox Space Cadet 12 string electric guitar that’s made its way onto a few recordings and a Gretsch lap steel for when a bit of twang is required. Anthony will use anything he can get his hands on for drums/percussion. He once recorded a steak knife on a metal mesh screen and it was exactly the sound we were looking for. Matt has the good fortune of his instrument being his voice – pure and simple. I look at a nice instrument like a work of art. They’re so cool looking and have such personality. At least with guitars, the way they look and feel definitely influence how you play them.

What do you think about Chicago’s music scene?

Marty: Chicago has a great scene and a lot of cool venues and house shows to either play or catch a show. Since we moved into our studio in Pilsen a couple years ago, we’ve been catching a lot of shows at Thalia Hall and have been itching to play there.

If you can describe your music (genre, tone, etc.), how would you describe it?

Jack: The American Grizzly sound in most simple terms is good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, which gives us the luxury of pulling from a lot of different genres. Some of our tunes have heavy blues roots and others have a southern rock and/or country vibe. American Grizzly changes shape from show to show and album to album . We play folk songs, noise rock and pop tunes. We don’t really have a predetermined sound, so we can pretty much explore any area of music we want at any given moment and regularly do.

What’s your favorite song you’ve composed so far?

Jack: Favorite song we’ve composed so far is probably “Big City” because we got to collaborate with some awesome horn players and a great keyboard player here in Chicago. The song has a lot of energy and we enjoy playing it and listening to it. Anthony crashed his van the first time he heard the recording. That being said, our first album was recorded in Nashville, so any one of those songs could also take this slot.

Are you working on new music or touring soon?

Jack: We are going into the studio October 22nd to record a new EP. We are very excited. We are going to practice restraint.

What are your favorite Chicago bands?

Marty: We’ve all been diggin’ Lucille Furs album they put out a few weeks ago.

What are your influences?

Petty, Neil, Hendrix, Dylan, The Band, Auerbach, Aretha, Jim James, Dylan, Garcia, Petty, Lennon, Mic, Keith, Ray Charles, Natural Child, Brian Wilson, Allman Bros.,Freddie King, Jeff Tweedy, Pete Townshend, Clarence Carter, Denney and the Jets, John Prine, Stevie Wonder.


With their upcoming shows consisting of Lincoln Hall on November 2 and opening for Third Eye Blind December 1 at 115 Bourbon Street, make sure to catch American Grizzly before they hibernate in the studio to work on another EP.


Alicia Maciel is a junior at DePaul University studying marketing, music business, public relations, and advertising. Immersing in photography, promotion, interviews, interning at Metro and Notion Presents, managing The Chicago Vibe, curating live music, and plenty more – she hopes to bring innovation to the music scene. “A Chicagoan gal making music personnel personal.”

Engine Summer – Revved Up

Words and Photos By Alicia Maciel 

At first listen, up and coming Elmhurst trio Engine Summer resonates rock music like that of Parquet Courts, Omni, and their biggest inspiration – Wire.

With a name that appears to have come from a mad lib, it turns out that the band got their name from a novel titled Engine Summer. As Jeremy Marsan, guitarist and vocalist, read the book in college and was fascinated by the plot line of society 3,000 years into the future – it’s no wonder he chose a band name that emphasizes the importance of time and motion.

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Engine Summer’s most recent lineup consists of Jeremy (mentioned above) with Ben Kostecki on bass and Ryan Ohm on drums. Being friends since high school with the possibility of being MySpace enemies at one point or another, they’ve all grown closer over the past few years. While Jeremy makes fun at Ben for his hands being “too small” to play bass way back when to simply goofing off with one another, the guys are more than ecstatic to be in a band together.

The group formed collectively after having had jammed for a while and narrowed down members to be the trio they are today. Starting to have played plenty of shows in 2014 and having had played 30-40 shows to date, they finally decided it’s time to make a record together as Engine Summer – titled Trophy Kids and self-engineered by Jeremy.

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While garnering influence from bands like Creedence Clearwater, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Spoon, and any other krautrock bands – Jeremy, Ben, and Ryan bring some of those stylistic elements when composing songs. Recording the bass and drums together for their upcoming album release ensured that the rhythm carrying each track would bring adrenaline to any listener.

Attending concerts regularly and being active in the local scene is important for the suburban group. With their favorite local bands including Luke Henry, Twin Peaks, and Knox Fortune – it’s obvious that their taste delves into more than just rock music.

When asked what their ideal lineup would be, throwing names like Wire,Van Halen, Iggy Pop, and Ben’s dad performing slam poetry were no hesitation to the guys. While some merch they have coming out will include Elmhurst’s tree, you’ll see Engine Summer in the city more than you’d expect.

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With a top-secret release show followed by a benefit show at Tonic Room the same weekend, Engine Summer is bringing a limited run to their show Sunday, October 29. You can buy tickets here and who knows – maybe a record or two will end up at Shuga.

If Ben’s dad loves Engine Summer more than any of the other groups he’s been in, I’m pretty sure you’ll love ‘em too.


Alicia Maciel is a junior at DePaul University studying marketing, music business, public relations, and advertising. Immersing in photography, promotion, interviews, interning at Metro and Notion Presents, managing The Chicago Vibe, curating live music, and plenty more – she hopes to bring innovation to the music scene. “A Chicagoan gal making music personnel personal.”

Bulls and Roosters – A Chat with Danny of together PANGEA

Words By Alicia Maciel 

LA rock quartet together PANGEA is driving across the nation, touring in support of their latest full-length album Bulls and Roosters, via Nettwerk. The Bulls and Roosters Tour kicked off on September 14th in San Diego, CA and is wrapping up on October 22nd, and feature support from Tall Juan and  Daddy Issues.

Releasing a 1-minute-40-second gimmicky, nostalgic music video via Stereogum for the album’s mosh inducing lead single “Better Find Out”, directed by Steele O’Neal, heightened expectations of fans everywhere. The video can be seen HERE. “Better Find Out” is available to download/stream now HERE.

Co-produced by together PANGEA and longtime collaborator Andrew Schubert, and mixed by Chris Coady (TV On The Radio, Beach House, The Black Lips), Bulls and Roosters was recorded to two-inch tape at Golden Beat studios in Los Angeles and showcases a more matured sound than prior efforts.

We wanted to try new things and experiment with making music that wasn’t so aggressive or fast,” said singer/guitarist William Keegan. “Rather than worrying about any expectations, we were like, ‘Fuck all that. Let’s be as honest as we can possibly be.’ Sure, it’s growth, but there’s still a brattiness to it.”

Together Pangea have continually challenged themselves with each subsequent offering. Jelly Jam [2010] poured the gasoline, Living Dummy [2011] struck the match, and Badillac [2014] lit the fire with its revved-up nineties rock-inspired flames. Along the way, fan favorites like “Sick Shit,” “Badillac,” and “Offer” would rack up millions of Spotify streams. “Snakedog” became a plot point in a bonkers episode of NCIS and “Sick Shit” soundtracked a trailer for HBO’s Animals, while the group received support from Consequence of Sound, Pitchfork, MTV, Stereogum, and more. Following the 2015 release of The Phage EP, produced by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, the boys independently embarked on the journey to what would become Bulls and Roosters.

Bringing matured rock brattiness along with minimalistic, portrait album art – Bulls and Roosters represents together PANGEA’s growth and determinacy of “never making the same album twice”. Other than the album art alone standing out compared to their previous album artworks, Bulls and Roosters is a tame yet brash rock n’ roll earworm that’ll stay in listeners’ minds for years to come.

While on the road heading to their Nashville gig at noon central time, bassist Danny Bengston took some time to chat with me on the phone.

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Photo credit: Derek Perlman

Hey Danny, how are you?

Pretty good – it’s been a nice day, not too long of a drive. We’re driving to Nashville from Atlanta right now. We just played in Orlando yesterday. It was awesome, never played there before. The show was beyond our expectations!

That’s sick – was the show close to capacity?

The room was pretty big, a lot more people were there than we thought there would be.

To start off, I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your gear. What you got, any pedals?

I have two basses I take on the road, one’s a Rickenbacker maple wood and the other’s a Fender P bass. I play them through a 1978 Peavy Mark III bass amp head. 410115 bass cabinet and a chewing pedal.

What tones did you find in your equipment that resonates with your sound?

I’ve always liked my very first bass amp. It has a great, shitty sound so I just looked around until I got another Peavy.

When recording your bass tracks, do you record along with the drummer live or are the drums overdubbed?

Most of the time, we record drums, guitar, and bass altogether live. I think it really adds to the sound and it’s always better to play together. On this album, there’s one or two songs without everyone recording together.

Are the bass parts planned or is it more improvisation?

The bass parts are planned ahead. We tend to write a month in advance. So, we’d learn a new song and I’ll go into working on bass parts.

What’s the songwriting process like for the band?

Usually, William or I bring ideas to the table.

It seems you guys have taken a different approach to songwriting, less garage rock influenced and more honky-tonk, 60s/70s country rock. What drew you to this change other than simply bringing different sounds to your audience?

As a band, we decided collectively to keep writing music we enjoy and we take influence from the music we’re listening to during the recording process. During this album, we were listening to a lot of Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Neil Young.

I recognized you guys recorded Bulls and Roosters on tape. Is there a reason together PANGEA took the analog route?

We chose to go in that direction since it would fit the mood of the songs a lot better.

 

What’s your favorite track on the album?

After making the album and having some time away from it, “Gold Moon” is my favorite. I really like the vibe of the song, the guitar playing, and everything else about it.

Why did you choose to name the album after the track Bulls and Roosters?

It’s a reference to a painting by John Baldessari. It’s about selling artwork and we thought it fit well.

With Bulls and Roosters being a more minimalistic take compared to your previous, more aggressive works – do you feel it’s the best work of the band so far?

Definitely – I think it’s the best stuff we’ve done so far.

While you’re on the road, I figure you guys are already working on some stuff.

Yeah, we’re working on some things right now and are trying to get in the studio soon enough to get a demo done.

Is the Bulls and Roosters tour your first big, national headlining tour?

No, I think it’s our third or fourth American headlining tour. We did one for Badillac and The Phase.

I’m excited for your show here in Chicago on the 6th – are there any other cities you’re looking forward to hit?

We LOVE Chicago, it’s one of our favorite places to play. The crowd’s always really good, so are the people and the food. New York is always a spot to look forward to as well as Toronto. We’re looking forward to heading back to the west coast, too.

Check out together PANGEA on tour! Hope to see some fellow Chicagoans at Bottom Lounge Friday, October 6!

September 26 – Nashville, TN @ The End

September 27 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle – Back Room

September 28 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery

September 29 – Philadelphia, PA @ Voltage Lounge

September 30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg*

October 01 – Boston, MA @ Sonia’s Nightclub

October 03 – Montreal, QC @ L’Escogriffe

October 04 – Toronto, ON @ The Hard Luck

October 05 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s

October 06 – Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge

October 07 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency

October 08 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry

October 10 – St. Louis, MO @ Firebird

October 11 – Ames, IA @ Iowa State University – The Maintenance Shop

October 12 – Omaha, NE @ Showdown

October 13 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge

October 14 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

October 16 – Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project

October 17 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret

October 18 – Portland, OR @ Analog Theater

October 20 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s Night Club

October 21 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel

October 22 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst – Atrium

Tickets for the tour are available now HERE.

Alicia Maciel is a junior at DePaul University studying marketing, music business, public relations, and advertising. Immersing in photography, promotion, interviews, interning at Metro and Notion Presents, managing The Chicago Vibe, curating live music, and plenty more – she hopes to bring innovation to the music scene. “A Chicagoan gal making music personnel personal.”

A Chat With: Widowspeak

Indie rock group Widowspeak just released their fourth studio album Expect The Best on August 25th. The Brooklyn-based duo of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas have been making music together since 2010, but this latest album brings their fullest and most developed sound to date. In support of the new record, the pair and their live band will kick off an extensive North American tour this week, followed by a UK tour. Before the tour hits Chicago, we chatted with Molly Hamilton all about the new album and upcoming tour. Check our chat with Widowspeak now to find out the biggest lesson they’ve learned in their years of making music, what makes this new record different, their ideal night out in NYC, how they prep for tour and more!

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Photo Credit: Shawn Brackbill

Rachel Zyzda: So your new album Expect The Best just came out last month! How did the writing and recording process for this album vary from your previous records?

Widowspeak: For this one, I still wrote the songs separate, from voice memos and notebooks and random ideas pieced together, knowing we would then expand on that and make them more intricate eventually. In the past, it has mostly been Rob figuring the latter part out, but this time we played with the regular touring band in the studio.

RZ: After releasing a few albums and being a band for several years, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a musician?

Widowspeak: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is just to be kind to people, which seems obvious, but… We are really laid-back as a band and always super appreciative of people we meet on tour, whether that’s the people running the shows or going to them. We’ve heard stories about other bands, whether ones we know personally or are fans of, being jerks or just generally difficult to work with, and that is a total bummer.  It’s so important to be good to people.

RZ: Where did you find yourself drawing inspiration from for the new songs, whether it be musical or non-musical influences?

Widowspeak: The new songs I wrote sort of in a big batch of them all at once, and I think they are all sort of about feeling stuck in various feelings or states of mind. It’s not uncommon at all to have those sorts of thoughts, but for me personally I wanted to write these songs more directly about that because it was getting increasingly hard to do anything, let alone music. Some of them are more concerned with the symptoms of those feelings, like being unproductive, or looking at social media, and others are about trying to figure out “why.”

RZ: I really love the cover art too, and the limited edition vinyl you put together with the purple lava lamp splatter. How involved are you with the visuals that the band puts out, and how does the cover tie in with the theme of the record?

Widowspeak: I’m usually really involved in the visuals, if not doing everything except the technical layout myself (sometimes, as with our last record, we use someone else’s art). This time, I took the cover photo and all the other photos in my apartment in Tacoma. The lava lamp is actually my stepmom’s that I borrowed (and that broke!) I had this weird feeling that the corner of my apartment, with a lava lamp, should be the record cover and had no idea why, ha.

RZ: Are there any songs from the new record that you’re particularly excited about performing live? Any spoilers you can give about the set for the upcoming tour?

Widowspeak: I’m excited to play all of them, honestly. I feel like because these songs were originally recorded with the band, they are already really full of that energy. Sometimes we have to try to figure out how to play a song live that was more sparse, or where the instruments aren’t represented by the four of us. This time everything feels more natural, also more high-energy. For tour surprises, I will say we are trying to figure out a new cover… hope we get it figured out in time!

RZ: Are there any cities you’re especially looking forward to playing?

Widowspeak: We love playing our respective hometown cities (Seattle/Tacoma, Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit) as well as our new hometowns, NYC and Kingston, NY (upstate), because so many of our friends are there. But it’s also great to play shows anywhere and to be surprised by the people you meet there, or how cool a venue or their staff are. Tour is crazy and full of things you didn’t expect, so I’m just going into it excited to play the songs and hoping the van doesn’t break down.

RZ: Speaking of touring, I saw you recently posted on Facebook about a taking a roadtrip (and tour is essentially one big roadtrip itself), so what are your go-to road trip activities, tunes, and essential snacks?

Widowspeak: Yeah, we got a new tour van which is also a great camper van, and we’re excited to bring it on the road! Generally we listen to a lot of podcasts, especially comedy or science ones, because they tend to be things people can all agree on (but also tune out if they want to). Music-wise, the van has a tape player so I’m excited to bust out the old cassette collection and go foraging in the bins at thrift stores. When we’re on tour we like to research ahead of time to see if there is a must-try local restaurant/food truck/etc. that is around, because no one wants to be figuring out how to eat breakfast from the things they have at a gas station. We try to plan ahead. So we definitely sometimes will go through a National Park or something, if it’s sort of on the way, or we’ll go swimming or thrifting or play pinball.

RZ: Since the album is called Expect The Best and you’re based in Brooklyn, describe what you would consider your best night out in NYC?

Widowspeak: I would say the best night out in NYC definitely involves knowing where to go so you don’t spend too much money, because the city is crazy expensive and it takes finesse and skill to do it right and not be broke. First, getting some snacks somewhere where there is happy hour food. I really love dollar oysters, and there are a bunch of places in Brooklyn that have them. Or honestly just grabbing something from a deli and finding a good spot in the park or something to people-watch. Then I’d say maybe go to someone’s roof if you know someone with a cool roof, unless it’s raining. There’s nothing better than watching the sun set over the skyline and bridges. But that’s kind of where my idea of the perfect evening devolves, because the best NYC night out would be unpredictable and you’d end up a lot of places you didn’t expect, like random apartments and bars you’ve never been to, or other boroughs from where you live. I will say that later, when you’re crawling home, I would get tacos or halal from one of the trucks, depending on where you are. That’s the classic NYC night-ender.

RZ: On a similar note, who are some of your favorite NYC bands at the moment that you would recommend to your listeners?

Widowspeak: Well, we just moved back into town, so I can’t totally speak to any of the newer bands that are just starting out (as we haven’t seen ‘em yet), and also a bunch of the NYC bands are now somewhere-else bands, but EZTV, and also there’s this band Poppies I like, Cut Worms, our friend Renata Zeiguer, who used to be in a band with Rob, is incredible. Other than that there are a bunch I’m not thinking of, I’m really glad to be back in the area though, lots of new bands to hear.



Listen to Expect The Best in full here, or grab the physical record in the shop or on the webstore!

You can also see Widowspeak at The Empty Bottle on 9/13 with Clearance and Luke Henry & Hunnybear. Grab tickets here.


This interview was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine.

Catching Up With: White Mystery

If you’re at all familiar with the Chicago music scene, you’ve undoubtedly seen White Mystery out and about over the years. The sibling duo of Alex and Francis White still manage to pack a serious punch with all of their live performances, despite only being a two-piece band. In addition to developing a full live show between the two of them, Alex and Francis have remained completely hands on with all aspects of the band, from management to booking tours to sending press releases…they do it all. In between all of that hustle, the pair still find time to put out an album every year on April 20th. Their latest, Fuck Your Mouth Shut, marks their eighth studio album, and their ninth is on the way in 2018. In the midst of working on new music, playing shows, and gearing up for tour, the duo developed their own TV show called (you guessed it)… White Mystery TV! The show has featured artists from all corners of the local Chicago scene and just wrapped its first season (but more on that later). Before White Mystery start their tour along the east coast and midwest Friday, September 1st, we chatted with Miss Alex White after their set at The Slippery Slope Anniversary party last weekend. Here are six things you need to know to get caught up with White Mystery!

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Credit:  Diane Alexander White

THEIR INFLUENCES PROVIDED “PERMISSION BY EXAMPLE”

While strolling down memory lane trying to pinpoint what first inspired her to pick up an instrument, Alex White describes two distinct childhood memories. “When I was pretty young, my mom would take me to the dollar store, called Amazing Savings. And they had discount tape cassettes of oldies music. Like all the great one hit wonders from the 60’s, and I really really loved those songs,” Alex recalls. She continues describing her journey to rock ‘n’roll, saying, “Afar as the moment that inspired me to start playing rock ‘n’ roll….And I’ve said this a couple times too because it was just that distinct of a moment that I remember… I was in fourth grade, and my parents were repurchasing their old record collections on CDs ’cause CDs were like a new invention, you know? I heard The Who for the first time, and the album was Who’s Next by The Who. It’s the classic song “Baba O’Riley,” which is like [singing] ‘Teenage Wasteland…’ And that song just really connected with me. Where I was like I need to play guitar, this is so cool!”

The inspiration continued through Alex’s teen years, where she found influence in other bands. “If you flash forward a little bit…Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. I heard Sonic Youth and I was like I can do this! This is so great, this is so powerful. It’s a female singer, she’s playing guitar, it’s experimental…I really believe in permission by example. You see something and you’re like oh yeah, I could do that! Maybe better, or differently. And Sonic Youth really did that for me when I was about 14 or 15,” Alex says. She also reveals that some of her artistic and musical talent stems from somewhere down her family tree. “My mom played piano as a very young person, but her job is being a photographer. My grandfather, who passed away when I was like 5, really young, he played mandolin. So he never showed me how to play, and I don’t even have memories of him playing…But, I’m convinced that I’m genetically predisposed to having really fast fingers and that kind of thing. So while I didn’t know him very well and he never taught me, I feel that the heritage lended to it,” she says.

THEY’RE ALWAYS UP FOR THE DIY HUSTLE

In addition to rocking the stage all by themselves, Alex and Francis White know how to work the DIY system as a band…and man do they work hard! Talking about the benefits and challenges that they face being an independent band, taking on multiple roles, Alex says, “Well like anything there’s pros and cons to being DIY. The biggest pro is that when you take on multiple roles, like when you become the management, the licensing agent, the booking agent, and the art director… and the the creative force, you can make a career out of it.” She continues to give major props to her brother Francis, saying it’s very much a partnership. For any struggling musicians or music industry professionals, just remember Alex’s “permission by example” principle and look at how she has earned a living with White Mystery.

“This has been my job full time for 7 years. It’s a very bohemian lifestyle. I work really fucking hard and all day long, but in the comfort of my own home or on tour with a laptop,” Alex continues, vouching for the DIY lifestyle.  However, she does also recognize the potential downfalls. “The disadvantage is that it can be very challenging to penetrate these very established systems. Something like Lollpalooza…While we play big ass shows in Chicago, we played in Japan, we’ve been in Sundance Film Festival movies. We’ve played with Patti Smith and The Stooges many times. We played Riot Fest…for some reason it’s been damn near impossible to get into Lolla, while we’ve put 8 albums out,” Alex continues. She still manages to see the positive side of the situation and brace herself for the challenges, adding, “So there’s certain things, but I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.”

VIDEO GAMES INSPIRED WHITE MYSTERY TV

Well kind of…For the past month, White Mystery have invited different artists and musicians around Chicago over to talk, play music, and play video games. All while broadcasting live; hence the name White Mystery TV. Talking about the origin of this clever concept, Alex says, ” I have to give my brother Francis credit for it. He plays a lot of video games, and there’s this network called Twitch. It seems like a lot of people in the rock scene aren’t very familiar with it…It’s the second largest streaming service on planet earth. World wide.” Alex continues on to say that there’s been times on tour where she and Francis wished they could share their view with friends and family back home. “Before Facebook Live and Instagram Live…it was more like us driving through the Swiss Alps thinking this is so crazy and so beautiful, I wish we could show people back home what this looks like,” she says.

The inspiration to launch WTV also stemmed from their past work on a White Mystery film, called “That Was Awesome.” Alex says their past work on that film coupled with their desire to share their experiences beyond their live concerts helped push the project forward. “We’re realizing wow, our worldwide audience is able to watch us. So while there might be 100 people at the show, there might be 1000 people watching,” she continued. Talking more about the show itself, Alex says, “It took a long time to develop it because of the technology required to make the infrastructure. It’s not like ‘Hey I have an iPhone..” let me hold it up to something. It’s a little more sophisticated. So when people are watching they’re getting a little more of the Wayne’s World basement thing, but what we’ve done is bring all of our favorite musicians on. So people are like wow, that’s so great you have so many cool local musicians. Like The Orwells…Mario [Cuomo] was one episode one. Twin Peaks are freakin’ huge!” The show has also had rappers like ShowYouSuck, Joseph Chilliams, Mykele Deville, as well as newer buzzy bands like Bunny and Post Animal. “We’ve been trying to represent the city of Chicago so that we can share what’s going on here with our audience in like Germany and Japan. It’s been a really cool thing and they’re all archived on YouTube so you can watch them again. They’re like each 3 hours long,” Alex concluded. Make sure you tune into Season 2 when it starts!

THEY’VE WITNESSED THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE CHICAGO SCENE

Speaking of representing the local Chicago scene on White Mystery TV, Alex and I also discussed some of her favorite parts of the scene at the moment, and how it has gone through cycles. “Chicago is a very special place. I’m born and raised here in the city. Having gone to New York and LA and San Francisco…Chicago is a very supportive, cooperative scene. There’s a lot of idea exchange and support,” Alex says. 

“I guess what I love most is the mutual support people give each other, and that goes across the arts. That goes to comedians. DJs. Actors and Actresses. Everybody is like ‘I’d love to help you with that.’ It’s not this cut throat thing. There’s friendly competition where we push each other higher. But the community is full of support,” she continued. 

This principle of helping each other out and lifting each other up can be seen just on White Mystery TV alone, when genres are mixed and collaborations extend to poets and performing artists, not just musicians. It’s also demonstrated in Lollapalooza performances here, like when Joey Purp showed up for a song with Whitney. “It’s genre bending,” Alex says before shouting out her favorite venues in the city. “I love the Empty Bottle. The DIY scene is very, very strong. There’s a new one every time. I’m kind of older than a lot of people in the scene. So how you were saying ‘Wow, Chicago’s really popping right now…” I’ve seen several cycles take place. There was a point when I was younger when a place like The Empty Bottle would not book rock shows. They would only book very kind of indie stuff. I’ve seen it with highs and lows. And it’s always good, and there’s always stuff happening, but there’s definitely times where it’s thriving and that’s cool to watch,” she says.

“I try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason, and I just kind of stick to my vision, and good things always happen when you do that. You’re gonna have challenges. Be prepared for the challenges.”

— Alex White on Being a DIY Musician

THEY STAY ENTERTAINED ON THE ROAD BY READING WIKIPEDIA PAGES

Since they’re gearing up for tour (starting tonight), Alex and Francis discussed how they stay entertained on the road and what they’re looking forward to on this particular run. Although Francis had been loading out for most of the interview with Alex, he jumped in for this question. 

“Reading Wikipedias is a very interesting way to observe a story of a person or place or event,” Francis chimed in about their road trip habits. Off the back of that, Alex says, “I read books to him for hours at a time. I recently read the entire Mount Everest Into Thin Air book to him. I read the whole thing. We read Wikipedias…He drives, and I’ll read. Hours will go by. We’ll be like oh my gosh, you know that was 3 hours. Sometimes you read these biographies of like James Brown and you’re like crying at the end. You’ve started with the moment they were born and gone through their whole life, to the moment they died. It’s very emotional to go on that trek.”

Although they educate themselves on the road by reading, the biggest lesson from touring and playing music is unrelated to Wikipedia and books. “I never really had to learn this lesson, it was just something we knew, but don’t leave your guitar or money in the car. Don’t leave your passports. Or the stuff you need. Ever,” Francis says. Alex and Francis both emphasized the importance of knowing when to stick together and not splitting up while on the road. 

As far as where they’re most excited to play on this run? “Meltasia,” both of them said in unison when I asked. “I’m looking forward to Meltasia, but I’m mostly looking forward to the drive into Meltasia cause for my sister and I, it’s always a really special drive where we blast Led Zeppelin…we’re going deep into the woods, further and further and further away. Usually all we have is a case of beer and that’s it. No tents, no water, and we just know we’re gonna hang as long as we can, and shotgun as many beers as we can. The build up to it is one of my favorite feelings throughout the whole year,” Francis elaborated. “It’s the anticipation of getting there. It’s the journey. A lot of people have told that to me in my life, and now I really, really believe that,” Alex chimed in. 

DESPITE HER VINTAGE STYLE, ALEX ADMITS SHE’S BAD AT THRIFTING

Again, if you’ve seen White Mystery around, chances are you’ve noticed Miss Alex White’s incredible retro inspired style, and no one pulls it off as well as she does! Fortunately for Alex, she’s able to acquire most of her clothes, she says, admitting that she’s not actually that great at thrifting. “A lot of my stuff just comes from my friends. I get a lot of custom made clothing now. When I went to The Grammys I had this amazing custom made jumpsuit. I was the Vice President of the Recording Academy for the Midwest. So I’d go to the Grammys and get to walk the red carpet with all these cool clothes,” Alex reveals.

Alex also gave her mom props for being a great thrifter, even though that didn’t pass down to Alex.  “What I love shopping for is shoes. These shoes, they’re just really practical and comfy, just wood platforms…I’ve had so many versions of this kind of shoe. We were in Beverly Hills and we played on late night television, The Carson Daly Show. After we were walking around Beverly Hills. I was like oh, a shoe store, cool! I go in there and find these, they’re made in Portugal, I was like oh, I like ‘em…once in awhile treat yourself. So I bought these shoes, I left the store, and I look at the storefront and see this is like an old lady shoe store. I just bought shoes from like an orthopedic shoe store,” she recalled. 

Alex’s once last piece of style advice? “I don’t buy vintage shoes…vintage clothes, but never vintage shoes. I was crossing the street once in a vintage pair of shoes, and my heel broke, and I wiped out on the street. I was like never again!”



Check out all of White Mystery’s tour dates below and keep up with them on social media.

White Mystery: FacebookTwitterInstagram

09/01/17   Experimental Procedures Chelsea, MI Details
09/02/17   Happy Dog Euclid Tavern Cleveland, OH Details
09/03/17   Arsenal Lanes Pittsburgh, PA Details
09/04/17   The Pharmacy Philadelphia, PA Details
09/07/17   St. Vitus Brooklyn, NY Details
09/10/17   Meltasia Fest East Durham, NY Details
09/11/17   Bug Jar Rochester, NY Details
09/13/17   State Street Pub Indianapolis, IN Details
09/15/17   Trumpet Blossom Iowa City, IA Details 
09/16/17   Farnam Fest Omaha, NE Details
09/22/17   Ingenuity Fest Cleveland, OH Details


Also- Listen to White Mystery’s 8th album Fuck Your Mouth Shut below or grab your own copy from the Shuga webstore here. (You can also scoop one up at the shop!)

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3z2grSnDNnDwZV8GvI5q9Y

This article was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine.