An Interview With Post Animal

Words from Kevin Sterne
Photos from Rachel Zyzda


Chicago’s Post Animal are in the thick, sticky center of their summer tour and recently made the pilgrimage back to their hometown for two long-awaited shows at West Fest and Subterranean. Comprised of long-haired rockers Dalton Allison (bass, vocals), Jake Hirshland (guitar, keys, vocals), Matt Williams (guitar, vocals), Javi Reyes (guitar, vocals), Joe Keery (guitar, vocals) and Wesley Toledo (drums), Post Animals pulls from contemporary and classic rock influences while adding their own psychedelic spin.

I was welcomed by humble dudes Dalton, Jake and Matt for a sit down in band’s van while Woods played on the West Fest stage behind us. We discussed their current tour, the Chicago scene, and their much-anticipated new album.

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What does it mean for you guys to be playing Chicago’s West Fest

Jake: I think today specifically we were all looking forward to playing West Fest. We’ve all come to West Fest for many years, and other Chicago festivals as well. We’ve seen a lot of people that we really like play here, and around this specific time of day. We’ve been in the audience for this experience. So to be out here and playing and having people show up. Just seeing people smile has been an out-of-body experience for me.

Dalton: And just now, standing on this stage and looking out, you can see the John Hancock Center, and I work at a Best Buy at the ground level of that. To be on a stage, at West Fest, and looking out and seeing my employer has been a crazy last hour.


Who are some bands that you’ve seen play West Fest in the past?

Jake: Mild High Club!

Dalton: Lemon Twigs played like the same exact time slot that we just played. So that was crazy.

 

You all are in the midst of a national tour. How’s that going?

Dalton: The tour is insane. It’s the first time we’ve played outside of the Midwest. We’re going to more places than I ever imagined. More cities, more physical, actually locations than I ever thought I would travel in my life. That’s been the craziest thing for me.

 

Any memorable or favorite places you’ve played on the tour?

Dalton: In DC, we played the 9:30 club and Black Jack. Thalia Hall in Chicago.

Jake: It’s surreal playing these shows like in Tampa, and these weird places that I’ve never been to.

 

Any crazy tour stories?

Matt: Some pool swimming. Some family meals.

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So, let’s address the elephant in the room: word is there’s a new record.

Jake: It’s done, actually. We’ve been sitting on this thing a long time.

 

Can you talk about the recording process, and how that all went down?

Matt: Our friend Emily has a lake house in Watervliet, Michigan. Right on Paw Paw Lake. And we spent about eight days there tracking all the instruments. Writing some and recording. And Dalton spent time mixing it and producing it. And then he co-mastered with our friend Adam Thein.

 

In terms of the writing process, how does that go?

Jake: Some people come to the table with close to completion songs. And we kind of synch ourselves into a part that’s already been written, or modify it slightly. Then there’s other people who write more of a skeletal idea, and bring it to everyone to have them fill in the gaps. Say, someone writes a song, but doesn’t write a bass line. Then Dalton will work on writing the bass line. And sometimes we’ll just jam stuff out. “When I get Home” was a jam.

Matt: I was on the drums for that one. I didn’t write the drum part, but I was playing drums when they wrote the song.

Jake: I was on keys. Dalton was on bass. And even the vocals were just melody sounds, we didn’t have lyrics yet.

Dalton: There are probably like 3-4 songs on the record that we were just jamming and mumbling into the microphone. “You’re Not There” was like that. We kind of just mumble what it feels like it should be and then write the lyrics later.

 

The new music video single, “Special Moment,” is that going to be on the record?

Jake: It’s the first song on the record.

 

How’d that come to fruition? Because that is some dynamite screenwriting, kind of American Psycho-like.

Jake: Yeah, dude. Totally. That’s all credited to Alec Basse. He came to us with a number of ideas. And we we’re perusing one that we liked. Then he basically took the reigns. With the two music videos we have, we try to get people we trust, and then give them full control. Because none of us are directors, and we don’t pretend to be. We’re actually working on another music video right now. It’s almost completely hands, and that’s worked out for us really well so far.

 

 

Let’s talk about the Chicago scene and the evolution of your music. How you would describe the Chicago scene right now, and how you fit in with it?

Dalton: When we were playing house shows, most of the bands we were playing with were garage bands. But then we met all these dudes that are in Woongi and The Voluptuals, and the guys that are more on the experimental side, and formed a friendship with them. Then we have our friends in the Evening Attraction that we play house shows with. I think there’s this psych rock thing going on, but a little heavier. People focus on being a little heavier and more groovy.

 

Listening to the studio recordings and then hearing you live, I’m finding a harder-rock, more rock and roll aspect to the music compared to maybe a few years ago when you were playing shows at Schubas and Double Door. I’m wondering about that transition. 

Jake: A lot of the stuff on the new record is leaning more towards rock and roll, heavy rock and classic rock. There’s still some psychy stuff, but were not trying to pigeon hole ourselves as psych rock. I wouldn’t say that the main thing that pops out is psychodellic in terms of describing this record.

Dalton: We’re a rock band with psych influences more so than a psych rock bands.

 

Having toured and played together live, has the live sound transitioned to this record more?

 Jake: I think so. I think the record might actually influence the live sound. I think in us writing this last record, we realized some stuff that we wanted to do and now are translating that live. We’ve even taken some of our old songs and retooled them to be a little more in this style. It’s kind of an identity change for us, not a huge change but definitely a change in identity over the last year.

 

So where’s Joe right now? I feel like I just saw him in a Dominos commercial.

Dalton: He’s running wild on everyone’s TV screen. We’re not sure if he’s real anymore. I haven’t seen him in person in a while. 

Jake: I see him at the gym.

Dalton: He’s one of the most beautiful people.

 

Was he part of the recording process for this record?

Jake: Absolutely.

Dalton: He’s been on every recording. He played drums on Water Activities. He plays guitar on four of the songs on Garden Series.

Jake: But he was definitely part of the recording. One-sixth of the playing and song writing on the record. He’s definitely still a huge part of who we are.

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What’s next for you guys?

Jake: We’ve got another month of touring. And that hangs heavy. We aren’t looking too far past that.

Dalton: We’re trying to meet with people who can help us “take the next step”—whatever that may be.

 

You guys unsigned?

Dalton: We are.

 

Have there been conversations? 

Dalton: A few, but you never really know.

Jake: We haven’t had THE conversation.

Dalton: People seem so interested in real life, but then you don’t hear from them for a while. And you’re like, okay, let me lower my expectations.

Jake: But we are really happy. I feel like we’ve finished a record that we’re happy with, going on a tour that we’re happy with. So we’re pretty content with where we are. We’d love to work with people who could take it to another level, but for the moment we feel good.

Dalton: We’re not over-reaching by any means. It’s going well, we feel really good with the opportunities we’ve already been given.

Jake: And we get to decide everything. Everything we’ve ever done has our full, entire stamp of approval. And that’s a really good feeling.

 


Kevin Sterne is a writer and journalist based in Chicago. He writes about music, craft beer and culture for Shuga Records, Substream Magazine and other places (like here). His super weird and highly offensive fiction has appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Praxis Magazine, Word Eater, Defenestration and many other places you’ve never heard of. Kevin is the creator of a really terrible magazine called LeFawn.

 

Get to Know: Sedgewick

The three members of Chicago’s own Sedgewick have been through quite the journey since they first released their debut EP Gardens in 2015. First off, the group expanded when Jake Hawrylak joined founding members Sam Brownson and Oliver Horton. Secondly, the group has worked to broaden and reinvent their style of music. Cumulating influences from all different corners of R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, and Alternative genres and sub-genres, the trio have built a sound that’s completely their own. With this distinct new sound comes a rebirth of sorts and a fresh slate for the group to take their music to different venues around their hometown and on tour.

Last month before Brownson, Hawrylak, and Horton took the stage at SPACE in Evanston to support Family and Friends, I met up with them to talk not only about their new album, but the journey leading up to it. Find out which groundbreaking albums inspired them, what challenges they faced, what they love about the Chicago scene and more in our talk with Sedgewick.

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Sedgewick backstage at SPACE last month

THE NEW ALBUM HASN’T GONE ACCORDING TO PLAN…

But not in a bad way, the band say. While the album that the three members of Sedgwick set out to make may have been left behind long ago, the band are all extremely proud and happy with how their finished product has come out, even though it’s far from what they first envisioned. Oliver Horton shared his take on the recording process saying, “It’s been really exhausting. It’s a lot of hard work. But it’s gratifying work. It feels really good to get these in some sort of place where we can send them off to people and be really proud about it. I’m super proud of it. I really think it’s gonna accomplish what we want it to. A lot of planning for this has just all sort of fallen by the wayside. What we planned to do with it.” Horton continued on to reflect about the effect on the band that this change in route had, saying, “That alone has created a bond between the three of us that we’ve never had before. Sort of dealing with that, dealing with that totally unexpected has caused us to grow deeper together. I think that’s really starting to show up in the record. It’s been really interesting. Just rolling with the punches and seeing what we can come up with.”

Jake Hawrylak echoed that sentiment on the recording process, adding, “It’s been very eye opening. It’s been very enlightening in a lot of ways. Hands down the biggest thing any of us have been a part of, not just in terms of budget, but in terms of scope. In terms of sounds… I think where we’re at on a personal level too.” Sam Brownson weighed in on the biggest challenges of the process, saying for him the mixing proved to be the most difficult. “The hardest thing is to draw the line for yourself and as a group and saying this expresses what we want it to. And also being ok with saying if it doesn’t we can’t control how it’s gonna affect someone that listens to it. It’s a lot of trusting instincts. I’ve learned how to sit down over the course of recording and just do what feels good,” Brownson said.


THEIR INFLUENCES RANGE FROM BON IVER TO FRANK OCEAN 

In addition to the departure from Plan A, the band have also had a departure from the strictly folk sound of their EP. Their live set opening up for Family and Friends incorporated so many layers and took so many twists and turns. Before they performed, the band gave a little bit of insight as to where that influence stems from.

Brownson shared his influences, saying, “When the Dirty Projectors record came out, I….that changed how I thought about mixing. I’ve also been listening to a lot of hip hop music lately… Like SZA and Kendrick Lamar’s new record. From a mixing perspective, the space that those records create are very influential.”

Hawrylak also found some specific influence from Kendrick Lamar and other artists. He shared his insight on specific records that made his year, adding, “It’s been interesting to me to watch a lot of the bands we play with and a lot of Chicago industry people who keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something likeDamn. comes along. Or A Seat at the Table or Blond and they’re very much—[they] needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative. Or on the non-hip hop side, the new Fleet Foxes that just came out is very much a record. The songs exist in their own framework, or one thing at a time. But there’s this specific arc that I think it captures. Which is so much of what was enjoyable when I really started to get into music. The records and getting lost in the world it creates. 22, A Million, the Bon Iver record, huge one for me last year.”

Brownson interjected to say that they listened to that Bon Iver record a lot while making their record. Hawrylak continues, “‘Creeks’ was one of the more frustrating songs I’ve ever heard. That was a sound that we wanted on the record. Then that came out and we were like that’s exactly what we were trying to do.” Tying back into the change in path for the album, Brownson says, “It’s also a credit to how much space this record has spanned for us. Cause we were in the studio when 22 A Million came out. Since then, Dirty Projectors. Damn. I just remember seeing like all that stuff came out and saying wow, this has been a journey.”

Hawrylak says the band are also able to measure their own personal growth through these records and how they’ve evolved for him as a listener. “Blond is a great example. That record meant something very different to me when it came out to like a year later. Particularly to that album, half of the songs I loved and half of them were like ah whatever. Then in that year, I’ve come around to see what was brilliant about those other songs,” he said. Brownson echoed that, saying, “I think that over the course of the year…the advantage of making a record over the course of a long time is that you internalize what’s going on around you. You can’t help but be influenced by the trends, or the energy and culture going around. I feel like that was very–initially you think you want to get it out right away. Which, I think there’s merit to that, but I also think there’s something about sitting and letting it marinate and you as a creator, listen and try to understand its relevance. So that’s been very cool.”


THEY CONSIDER CHICAGO’S MUSIC SCENE ECLECTIC AND COLLABORATIVE

Although Hawrylak disagrees with some fellow Chicago musicians who think the record is dead, the band are all very appreciative of the collaborative scene that Chicago is known for. As far as his favorite musicians, he says, “ Astro Samurai is like one of the coolest bands I’ve seen. They call themselves ‘Third Eye R&B.’ They’re working on something special.” After Brownson interjected to show his appreciation for NoName, who they don’t know personally but very much admire, Hawrylak eagerly agreed that the Chicago poet and rapper is one of his favorites as well. Hawrylak continued on to say, “Saba is another one. We did a Sofar Sounds with David Ashley. He was the MC. He was really cool. For me so much of what’s cool is it’s rooted in poetry in a very particular way. NoName came up in the local After School Matters program. There’s a very distinct cadence to her flow that comes from that. It’s casual and maybe that’s what I like about the Chicago scene. It’s casual and eclectic. Like NoName is casually rattling off this fucking rapid fire, weird twist of images, then she starts singing and then she goes back. Jamila Woods is another one! Good god!”

Brownson then called attention to the spirit behind so many of these up and coming artists in Chicago, saying, “I think for me, the collaborative spirit and friendship. From what I read about NoName, she’s got a lot of people and this music community where they all look out for each other and help each other out. That’s just not the way I was brought up to think about the music industry. Just a group of friends getting together making good music? It was always like, sell your soul so you can continue to do this. Instead of saying no I want to have deep relationships with people. That’s part of the reason why I connect so deeply with her music, and Chance and Saba and all those people because they invite you in. It’s just this spirit of friendship.”

Horton concurred with his bandmates observations on the city’s spirit, saying, “It’s a small city! Especially considering the music scene.” Bouncing off that small city sentiment, Hawrylak said, “Look at like the people on Acid Rap. It’s all Chicago people. It’s the whole record. That was my first exposure to the scene. I was playing bass with a guy named Brendan Forrest, he goes by B. Forrest. He’s friends with a lot of the Sidewalk Chalk people, who connected me to Jude [Shuma]. When I met Brendan, he needed a bass player, and we got connected. He started showing me his tunes and first record he came out with, was every other track was with somebody. Now he’s working on a new one, and every track is about collaboration.”

Brownson wrapped up his take on the Chicago scene saying, “If you just are a good person, it pays off. Even if you don’t make big bucks, you’re gonna be happy with your relationships. If you decide I just want to make good art for the right reasons… I want people to hear it, but I’m not gonna fight and shove it down people’s throats to make a dollar.”

Horton chimed in with an influence of his who holds similar values, saying, “Another musician for me, is Jamie Chamberlin. He’s been a huge mentor to me. He has exemplified exactly what an old guy on the scene needs to be doing. I’ve seen a lot of musicians treat each other really poorly. It’s amazing to see a dog as old as him and how frequent he’s been on the scene, how lovely he is to be around. You can tell he’s an amazing human being. He honestly cares about you when you show up to a gig. Seeing that has made me realize what’s so amazing about music. Treating people with respect. Giving them integrity when you speak to them. Making sure everybody is held accountable for what needs to be said. I feel like that has really taken a ramp up at least in our band, as far as accountability and integrity. Seeing that roll around all these really cool scenes in Chicago is really interesting to me.”


THEY DESCRIBE THEIR LIVE SHOW AS INTENTIONAL DISORIENTATION

At the Friends and Family show, the band performed the entirety of the new album to the crowd. Talking more about the set, Hawrylak said, “We’re kind of doing the whole record backwards, which is funny. I think. I’m really liking the ones that sound bigger than they should. I like the ones that take people by surprise when we have a lot of other loops and stuff going on. We were just on tour back home where I’m from, in New Mexico. One of the cooler things that one of my friends said was that she didn’t know where anything was coming from after a while. It was hard to tell who was creating what sound. I think I like getting in that space of intentional disorientation.”

Although they managed to create this layered and intense live set now, Hawrylak admits it’s quite challenging to get there at times. “The way we play the songs live is a little different.  For better or for worse. We’ve been running into a lot of problems with sound guys when we pull out this upright, these synthesizers, all this gear…they’re like what the hell? And they’re immediately mad. Then after check, they start to kind of get that it’s supposed to be a little different. With the record we’re kind of trying to balance how do we make it it’s own thing that’s still a faithful representation in the live set. Cause we have strings and a choir and all this other stuff on the record. Live, it’s just the three of us,” he said.

Brownson mentions some highlights of their recent live shows. Talking about their recent tour, he said, “We got to see Jake’s hometown. The music was incredible. The shows were incredible. But I think we all kind of had time to just spend time together as people and talk more about what and why we do music. Why we love and respect ourselves. Why it’s important to do that. In the process getting to know Jake and also Oliver who was going through some stuff. We were all going through stuff together. That relationship is a huge part of why this record feels so good and it’s a huge part of why the show is how it is because of this energy.”


“Industry people keep talking about how the record’s dead. That everybody just needs to start releasing singles or songs. Then something like ‘Damn.’ comes along. Or ‘A Seat at the Table’ or ‘Blond’ and they’re very much—-needed to be records. There’s a very specific narrative.”

— Jake Hawrylak on making a proper record

THERE’S A LOT MORE TO COME IN 2017 FOR SEDGEWICK 

The band is obviously ready to get the record out to listeners, but they’re also ready for what goes along with a proper album release. Hawrylak elaborates, saying, “I am excited about putting out the record. It’s been a long time coming and it’ll be good to have it out in whatever form. I’m most excited about the new perception we can give people of ourselves. A lot of the songs on the EP were just completely different from where we are going with the record. I wasn’t in this band for the EP, so I can’t say much more than I like the songs. But I’m really proud of what this record has become. I’m really proud of a lot of the journey that became of it. I want to share it! We did three different tours to wet our feelers in the name of this record. I’m kind of ready to start going out and bringing it to people.”

Horton reveals what he’s most excited for with the upcoming release, and even afterwards saying, “I’m really psyched for scheduling and doing the PR and making sure we’re really super ready to have a huge release show. We’re really looking forward to cultivating something that nobody has ever seen before. Maybe more importantly, I’m getting super stoked to get back in the creative process with these people. Whenever that is, I think the next whatever it is, it’s gonna be much more webbed together. It’s gonna feel really good to create something again. These songs at this point are like…we’ve recreated them so many times. One of the tunes is four or five years old. We’re ready to just wipe the slate and start over.”

The band continue on to say they’re currently performing songs that have been around for over three years, but they still feel fresh thanks to arrangements they’re worked out. They also admit they’re at peace with the process taking as long as they need, saying, “We’re no longer at the point where we just want to put out the record when it’s done. We kind of want to raise some interest. And do it right. Put it in the right hands.”

The trio don’t have a definite release date, but they’re just enjoying the process. “That’s really important. I’m looking forward to having a fresh ear for new things and I feel like this record has been–what’s great about it is, this whole thing is a process. [The record] reflects the process. The process has led us to some really cool things for the next project as well. That’s what this record is– it encapsulates an evolution in itself. I’m excited to share that,” Brownson concluded.

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Sedgewick performing at SPACE

Sedgewick will performing at The Beat Kitchen this Sunday, August 6th to celebrate the release of their single “To Fold” from the upcoming album. Tickets start at $10 and you can grab them here.



This article was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine. Read the original post here

 

A Chat With: Middle Kids

With its relatable narrative-style lyrics and addictive, blaring dance-around-your-room guitar riffs, it’s no wonder Middle Kids‘ song “Edge of Town” has racked up over 8 million Spotify plays. Fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Hannah Joy, the Sydney based trio has been steadily picking up steam with their equally as catchy and relatable self-titled EP. Joy sings her stories with a sense of conviction and a hint of a twang, blurring the edges of the genres tagged to their music. In the middle of recording their debut full length album, which will undoubtedly expand on these existing themes, Joy and her bandmates Tim Fitz and Harry Day are taking a break to tour America, playing festivals and shows across the country. Before they hit Chicago next week, we talked to Joy about Elton John recommending their song, incorporating a banjo into their music, jet lag, and so much more! Tune in and get to know Middle Kids now.

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Photo Credit: Maclay Heriot

 

Rachel Zyzda: You’re in the middle of recording your debut album, and you’ve posted a bit on social media… that it will be all new material from the EP and you’re even putting banjo on some tracks! What else can you tell us about the new songs, and where did you find yourself drawing inspiration from?

Hannah Joy: Ha, yes the banjo does get a feature! It’s small but mighty. I’m really excited about the new songs, they are mostly quite intense. Sometimes I think I should chill out a bit, and I am trying, but I’m not sure how. There are some ballady, reflective moments though, so hopefully that will allow it to breathe some. A lot of the inspiration comes from my own experiences and stories I hear from friends. Musically though, many lines came actually from being on the tour and recording little sound bites on my phone.

RZ: How has the recording process been so far? Any fun studio stories?

HJ: The process has been pretty intense, we’ve built this album in a really piecemeal kind of way. We recorded drums up at this country house so we could play away into the night. And so much was recorded in Tim’s and my home, so for the last few months I have been living snaked in microphone chords and an endless stream of scraps of paper all through the house.

RZ: You’ll be taking a break from recording to come tour the states this summer, including some major festivals like Lollapalooza and Osheaga Music Festival. Which cities are you most excited to visit and play in?

HJ: We are so very keen to hit the road. I’m excited to be in Chicago in the summer because it’s so beautiful, but we were there in the winter last time. Super keen for ACL because we consistently have extremely good times in Texas. AND Atlanta because we are playing at a venue called Purgatory and that intrigues me.

RZ: Do you prefer playing festivals or smaller gigs, and why?

HJ: The smaller gigs are very special because it allows for a collective experience with us and the audience. But it is friggin fun to run around like a madman at a festival. But not really sure as to preference, they are both so good.

RZ: Have you gotten a chance to check out the lineups for the festivals you’re playing? Are there any acts that are on the top of your list to try to watch during the festivals?

HJ: YES. Broken Social Scene and Liam Gallagher at Osheaga, Chance and The Lemon Twigs at Lolla, gosh so many, can’t breathe.

RZ: Since you’re coming all the way from Sydney for this summer tour, what are some of your tips for staying entertained on long haul flights and how do you deal with jetlag?

HJ: OK I have learned to equip myself with many activities for entertainment. Some are: Yahtzee, crochet, cards (we like to play 500, black maria and go fish), UNO. I also got a Kindle, which I was resisting for a long time, but now I have embraced it and it is rocking my world.

RZ: Elton John added your music to his Beats 1 playlist, which I’m sure has got to be a career highlight, but what have been some other highlights since you released your debut single, “Edge of Town”?

HJ: I think touring has been the biggest highlight, I mean getting to travel to different parts of the world and connect with all different kinds of people is seriously amazing. Playing on Conan was very cool too because we don’t have television like that in Australia. We were wide eyed the whole time.

RZ: You recently covered “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and “Fill In The Blank” by Car Seat Headrest. What was it about these songs that made you want to create your own version of them?

HJ: I liked these songs for different reasons – I love the melody of “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, it has sung to me for a very long time. “Fill in the Blank” is a special song in the way that it conveys existential angst, something I am very familiar with.

RZ: Any ideas on what your next cover song will be?

HJ: We cover songs all the time because why only play our songs when there are thousands better out there to play. But not sure what we will release next.

RZ: You’re one of our favorite new bands. Who are some of your favorite new acts?

HJ: Heh thank you. Some of my new favorites are a punk band from Ballarat called Good Boy, Andy Shauf is amazing…maybe not so new but still pretty fresh, The Lemon Twigs are tres cool.


Chicago, you have several chances to catch Middle Kids in August. In addition to a sold-out after show with Mac DeMarco at Concord Music Hall on August 5th, the trio will be performing in WKQX‘s Sound Lounge on August 1st. Finally, they’ll also be playing twice at Lollapalooza– once at the Pepsi Stage at 2:50 PM and again in the Toyota Music Den at 6PM on Thursday, August 3rd.

See all of Middle Kid’s upcoming tour dates hereand listen to their self-titled EP in full here.

This interview by Rachel Zyzda was originally posted on ANCHR Magazine. Read the post here