The promising rock outfit took a break from their busy schedules to chat with EMMIE Magazine at the Governor’s Ball Music Festival last week. Stream the their debut EP, Codeine, here, and take a peep at our candid conversation with them below:
So how does it feel to be in NYC?
Welles: We haven’t had the New York City experience, really. We’ve been over in Brooklyn. So it’s like yeah, you know, show up to the hotel, move around. We walked all the way to Guitar Center the other day; that was fun. We bought some guitar strings, went to some thrift stores. Thrifting is surprisingly cheap here. I know places in Nashville … that have got thrift stores that charge surprisingly more.
You’ve said that you “hate to experience anything that isn’t just the cold hard truth.” Would you say that your music is a reflection of that truth, or more of an escape from reality?
It’s not an escape. It’s addressing the cold, hard reality — with some pop-y melodies and some cool guitar picks. It’s not an attempt to “escape” by any means. If anything, it’s experiencing [life] as wholly as you can.
Your music blurs several genres, to say the least. Which artists/bands/musicians inspire your music the most?
The Beatles. Zeppelin, Sabbath, Bowie, Bob Dylan, T-Rex. And then a lot of new bands, also. Like Mac Demarco, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and the Merlocks. There’s a lot of good “stoner rock” from the nineties, like Kyuss, the Jesus Lizard … there’s so many more. I don’t even know where to start; I don’t want to leave anyone out.
How is the atmosphere of NYC different than that of your home state of Arkansas?
I reckon the people ain’t quite as kind, but I feel like they’re more honest, which is something that I can appreciate much more. Instead of someone simply being kind and then bitching about you behind your back. No one likes that. Like I said, I prefer the cold, hard truth. [Laughs]. These Northerners, y’know what I mean?
You’ve recently released your first music video, for your song “Life Like Mine.” What were some of your visual influences for the trippy, psychedelic video?
There were influences as far as the video goes, but it was also based largely around the tune and the mood of the song — taking these dark things and making them “happy.” So, what’s dark and happy at the same time? Well, a funeral, y’know. Especially if you reckon the person who died is going someplace else. So we lit a bunch of candles and made this big flowery display. It’s “Sgt. Pepper”-y. That’s really the closest thing I can think of. I think most of the influence came from the song itself. There have been things that have been done that look very similar—we didn’t do [our video] with those in mind.
You’re hitting a number of festivals this year — besides Governors Ball, you’ve got gigs at Bonnaroo and Austin City Limits coming up. How does a festival atmosphere compare to typical venue gigs?
You can’t get the same vibes [at smaller gigs]. That’s all there is to it. But there’s different things that a musician can take pleasure in. Sometimes, in the smaller club shows, you get to really enjoy the people in front of you. They’re so much more forgiving. You make a mistake and they’re looking at you and laughing, and you’re laughing at them. And it’s like, “Ha ha ha, look at us! We’re trying to do rock-and-roll.” Out here [at Governors Ball], you get to spend a lot of with your band on the stage, because you’ve got a good six, twelve feet in front of you before you meet anyone in the audience. You’re spending closer time with your band, and you’re feeding from other people. But at the same time, there’s so many people out there that are just, like, eating a corndog or adjusting their trousers. I’m trying not to look at those people, because they’re kinda making me laugh. [Laughs]. There’s characters at every festival. It’s a totally different crowd at a festival — we could talk about it for quite a spell. But I think that there’s two totally different things that you get to enjoy in those different settings.
You moved to Nashville from your home state of Arkansas to pursue your music career, eventually producing your debut EP, Codeine. Can you speak to what that first move was like?
I’m still coming through it, really. That’s a hard move to make. And it seems like everyone gets to do that—you gotta go from home to someplace else. Some people have less of a “home” than others, some people move around quite a lot — so they’re a little more adapted to it. But I think for me, it’s been really hard. But that doesn’t mean it’s been bad. It’s been very important, but very hard. Y’know what I mean?
When you first started making music, did you envision being where you are today?
No, absolutely not. Even if you get to where you wanted to go, it’s not what you thought it was. You’re still sore when you wake up. Like, you — the person — is still participating in [life], and that’s something you don’t anticipate when you’re daydreaming. You see some spirit form in yourself going through someone else’s shoes. You watch those big concerts and stuff, and you think it’s all easy. At the end of the day, you still have to have a glass of water and eat dinner. What a pain in the ass. [Laughs]. So yeah, it’s not the same.
What’s next? What does the future hold?
We’re waiting for a beached whale — and when we find it, I’m gonna crawl inside and come out from it and we’re gonna shoot the next music video. [Laughs]. We’ve got Bonnaroo, and then we’re waiting on a good tour. It would be kinda cool for a nobody band to go on a headline tour right now. We’d be playing for rooms of ten people, busting our asses, that sort of thing. It’s a grind. We’re grinding, but we’re having a blast the whole time.