3rd and Lindsley

HAVING FUN AND LOOKING FORWARD WITH DANIEL ELLSWORTH
January 20, 2016 11:06 am

 

Daniel Ellsworth and The Great Lakes are making strides.

Building off the success of their first two records, Civilized Man and Kid Tiger, the Nashville-based indie rock band is gearing up for a whirlwind of activity this spring. Front man and keyboardist Daniel Ellsworth sat down with us and gave us the scoop on their new single and music video, their imminent EP, the recording of their next album, and his new side project.

 

Daniel, Thank you very much for sitting down with me.

Yeah man, absolutely.

So we’ll start with two questions I like to ask everybody I interview. First, how’d you get your start playing music?

I started playing when I was young. Both my parents play guitar. I originally got into through the church with them, they both were involved. Then when was I was about eight I wanted to start taking piano lessons. I think I’m the only kid that wanted to do that—that wasn’t forced to start taking them.

Yeah I wanted to play drums, but my mom made me take piano.

Ok, yeah yeah! You get it. That was it, that was where I got my start. The church was a big part of it. I never really thought of it as “church” because my parents played music there. Church was more about music than a religious thing for me. So that was really the beginning. Everyone in my family is musical. My uncle is a blues pianist, I have cousins that are also doing music professionally and things like that. So it’s just in the family.

OK, so the second question is the one I like to think of as the tricky one. What is your goal with the music you play now? What are you trying to do or accomplish by playing music?

I think the goal is spend every day making the music that we want to make. I hope that we continue to make music that resonates with people, but as long as it’s resonating with us and we’re still getting to do it every day… that’s the goal. To keep that up.

So you’re from Minnesota, and the guys are from all over the Midwest.

Yep. A couple guys from Ohio. Our drummer is from Kansas.

What brought you guys together and then to Nashville? Or was it the other way around?

Well school brought the drummer and I here years ago, that’s where we met. We didn’t start playing music together until long after school, but that’s what brought us here. The other two guys we met just through mutual friends as they moved down here. Our guitarist was down here for one summer and the drummer and I played in sort of a pick-up band together. So we ended up grabbing him after he finished his PhD at Indiana.

A PhD in music?

It was in Ethnomusicology. Actually he just walked for that. He just finished his dissertation.

So let’s talk about your newest single, “Always/Never.” Tell me a little about the song.

Sure! It’s the first track from an EP that we’re putting out in March. We made the EP with the same guy we did our last record, Kid Tiger, with. It’s kind of a continuation of that. It was tracked the same way, it was recorded at the same place—all those things. So it feels like a natural extension [of our last record]. We wanted to release something—we’re heading back into the studio in a week, so we wanted to be rolling out an EP while we’re not on the road.

“Always/Never”—funny story with that song. We wrote that and tracked it for our first album, Civilzed Man, and it just wasn’t right. The arrangement didn’t fit and we were just sort of done with it. I thought “Well maybe we can use it for something, someday.” Then we were working stuff up and decided to totally erase everything we did and build it back up. So it’s kind of an old song, but new now.

You did an EP as opposed to an album because you felt it was an extension of Kid Tiger?

Yeah. We had some additional songs and it felt like we should do them with the same person, in the same studio.

And you felt they didn’t belong on a new album.

Yeah I think so. It’s this group of songs where they’re each kind of their own thing. They fit together, but it didn’t feel like something that was part of an album.

I want to ask about the “Always/Never” music video because it’s very fun.

[laughs]

What was the idea behind that? I watched a couple of your other videos and this one is much simpler, at least in concept.

Well, we did a two day video shoot, and ended up having to scrap it. Which happens sometimes. It was fine, we just decided it wasn’t the right thing for the song. We thought “Ok, we did this, and we spent this to do this thing, and now we’re left without a video… Do we need to have something by the time the song comes out?” We decided we wanted to and I just had this idea… I’ve always wanted incorporate animal masks into a video, because they’re always funny to me. It’s just always funny. So I said “Alright guys, just hear me out. Let’s try this. It might not work, but it’s gonna be easy.” And we could do it with like no budget, just do it on a phone. So that’s really what it came from. We did something like six takes. Someday I want to put out all the different ones, the video we put out is the one that’s the most… together. Uhhh… so you can imagine what the other ones are like. [laughs]

So there are five people that are in the video, as opposed to the four people that are typically in the band. Is that like a big secret?

It’s funny, I didn’t think about that at all. There’s actually only… maybe I’m giving away the secret here, but it’s an unintentional secret. There’s actually only three band members in the video. Our bass player lives in Ohio. He was down for the other shoot, but he couldn’t get down for this one—it was very last minute. It was like “Hey what’s everyone doing tonight, let’s go do this.” So for us, it was fine if it was two people, or three people, or eight people. We just decided to see who was around, and watch them do something.  It ended up just being two other friends of ours, and we didn’t think anything of it. But everyone just assumed it was the four band members and then was like “Who the fuck was the zebra!?”

It’s really a fun video. Seems like it was a lot of fun to make.

Yeah we just drank a bunch of whiskey and started filming.

Did you choreograph beforehand? Or just come up with it on the spot?

Yeah, I… I said… the chorus…. I’ll say it—I choreographed the chorus. I’ve never said that phrase before for anything! And then for the verse when every animal comes in I just said “Pick one dance move that inspires you, and do that the whole time. Don’t change it.” [laughs].

It does give a kind of surreal effect to it. They just keep going, and another comes up, and they just keep going…

[laughs] Yeah and then the end is a bit of release.

How is it playing with a bass player that lives in Ohio?

It’s good. It’s not too far. There are bands where people have much further commutes. He’s really good about getting down here pretty often. He meets us on the road, but he’s down here for writing and rehearsals and things like that.

So the EP comes out in March?

Yeah, March 11th.

Are you going to have more singles out before then?

Our second single will come out Feburary 12th. I think it’s a Friday…. [It is].

Are you doing a release show?

Yeah, March 13th at 3rd and Lindlsey. It’s the Lightning 100 Sunday Night, live-on-the-radio thing. And then we’re headed to SxSW straight from the show.

You also have a show coming up here in town on January 27th at The Basement East. Anything special about that?

Well everyone in the band is now working with BMI, who is putting on the show. It used to be two of us were with ASCAP, but now we’re all with BMI. Then there’s also the radio station Alt 98.3, the other sponsor for the show. They’ve been playing our song in heavy rotation, so that’s been great. It just worked out! BMI just asked if we wanted to play, and our bass player was scheduled to be in town for recording, so it just worked. We’re stoked about it.

So are there thoughts or plans for this next album? Any sort of new direction you’re going in?

Not really. For the past year or so when The Great Lakes haven’t been on the road I’ve been working on a side project with a guy named Kyle Andrews. He’s sort-of an electronic-alt-indie-pop guy. Artist and producer. I approached him with some songs that I’ve had that definitely weren’t for a four piece rock band. We’ve wanted to collaborate for some time, so we just tested the waters a bit to see what happened, acnd it went really well, it was a lot of fun. So about a year later now we’ve got a full record.

What’s that band called?

It’s called Chaos Emeralds. It’s cool. The first track we’ll be releasing later this month or February sometime. We’re playing our first show this month too, the 23rd at The High Watt [opening for Tanlines]. It’s been a lot of fun—doing something totally different. An electronic thing way out the realm of the four piece rock band. Kyle and I have worked really well together, and he brings really interesting perspective and sounds to songs. So The Great Lakes are going to go in with him at the producer wheel. He’s got a brand new studio that he just built, so we’re going in with him at the end of this month to try it out and see what happens. I’m really excited about it—to bring his take to more of a rock band setting.

Sounds very cool.

Yeah we’re looking forward to it for sure.

Frank Turner
December 16, 2015 10:34 am

He used to scream when he sang. He still does sometimes, but only on the side.

For the past ten years he’s been singer-songwritering. But just because there’s a melody, it doesn’t mean Frank Turner doesn’t want you yelling along. Quite the opposite. His new album Positive Songs for Negative People shows Turner’s hardcore roots creeping back out from underneath his folk growth.

He keeps a mental tally of every show he’s played since he started his solo career.

Turner came through Nashville last week. He played to a sold out crowd at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Tennessee. I got to talk to him before he took the stage and notched one more tally in his mental bedpost.

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fangirlfotos.com

So which number show with this be tonight?

Tonight is show number 1,800 on the nose. I have an in-store this afternoon at Grimey’s Records and that’ll be 1’799.

How’d you get your start playing music?

Rock n’ roll wasn’t really a part of my life growing up because my parents didn’t believe in it. Then I just sort of stumbled across it when I was about ten. And just straight away wanted to be involved…which I think is kind of a personality thing to a degree as well. It felt like something that I wanted to try my hand at. And my parents got me one of those 60 buck Strat-copy starter packs, comes with a little amp, from like a department store for Christmas. My next door neighbor got a drum kit and we played together. And that was twenty-fuckin-three years ago… Jesus Christ. Long time ago.

What is your goal with the music you make? What are you trying to accomplish with your songs?

Well you can answer that question on a lot of different levels – which is, I suppose, why you ask it. Well, you know, I’m trying to make a living. That’s the most mundane level. But I’m mean I’m trying to create art that I think is worthwhile. And I’m trying to express myself. And most of what I do falls somewhere between those two poles.

I saw a quote from you that pointed to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska as an inspiration in your shift from hardcore music to what you do now.

Yeah, it’s funny that piece of information has… it’s not that you’re wrong, it’s just that [that bit of info] has slightly assumed a life of its own. Basically there was a period in my life, because I grew up listening to metal and punk and hardcore, where I didn’t have anyone guiding me through the history of popular music. So I knew everything there was to know about Agnostic Front before I’d ever heard a Bob Dylan record. Nebraska was a moment for me, but it was really a whole series of records. The American Recording Series by Johnny Cash was probably more important. It was that idea of being able to create meaningful and, I suppose, heavy and intense art, that didn’t involve taking your shirt off and screaming.

Yeah I figured it couldn’t have been as simple as just Bruce.

Yeah, the other thing that is worth mentioning is that Springsteen is obviously very famous in the UK, but he’s not quite as culturally ubiquitous [as in the US]. So as far as I knew growing up, Springsteen was Born in the U.S.Aand that was it. That’s all I knew. And I’m still not an enormous fan of that song. And particularly if you’re listening to Minor Threat. That song did my fuckin head in. So a big part of the Nebraska thing was just finding out that he had that kind of depth as an artist. It was news to me.

So your music sits somewhere on the spectrum between the folk-acoustic world you’ve entered into and the hardcore-punk world you came from. And over these past ten years, you’ve been everywhere on that spectrum, back-and-forth. Do you ever find there is a tension between a direction you want to go, and another one you feel like you should go?

I don’t really do “shoulds” for reasons other than my own desire, really. It’s funny, because I think you’re right with the punk and folk thing. Folk-punk gets thrown at me quite a lot. Which is fine, I think it’s a reasonably accurate description. And that’s all good. But the there’s a big part of me, the older I get, the more I want to use the words rock ‘n roll to describe what I do. Simply because stylistically and structurally it’s guitar, bass, drums, and piano. It’s three and a half minute long songs. And it’s not enormously different from Sun Studios and Elvis Presley. There’s an expansiveness to what you can do as a Rock n’ Roller that I think is really cool.

I’d say your new record is maybe the easiest to categorize as just Rock n’ Roll.

It’s definitely the rock end of my spectrum.

So let’s talk about the new record. It’s a little over ten years now you’ve been doing the solo thing…

Yeah… [Nervously groans]… [Laughs]

And it appears to me that you’ve had a pretty steady climb. Which these days is almost unusual. These days a lot of people explode over-night. It seems with you, each year I hear about you just little bit more.

Certainly it’s been a bit unusual on that level. I feel very fortunate that I’m not one of those bands that gets one song and then just goes *bleh.*  A few bands have that happen to them and then they have more to say and more to give and the rest of it. But that’s pretty often the death knell of a band. And certainly we have a world where the music industry is very much predicated on immediate success. And I haven’t had that. I don’t really fit into a lot of people’s boxes. Which occasionally can work against me. Even now some of the labels… some of them don’t quite know what to do with me. But taking the long view on it, I think it works in my favor. I just don’t really fit into that many neat categories, which is a good thing I think.

There’s an unfortunate tendency with bands where the further they get from their roots, the less connected and emotional their music becomes. That is something I do not think at all about your new record. If anything I think the emotional feel and intensity is there more than ever.

Thank you.

How do you personally try to maintain that integrity or feeling throughout your career?

Well there’s so many things to say. Certainly when we were making the previous record, Tape Deck Heart, I definitely had that feeling that a lot of bands stop meaning what they say, or become more sweeping in their tone, in a way that is slightly obnoxious. Tape Deck Heart was an attempt to do the exact opposite of that, and to try and write the most experientially personal record that I could at that time. It seemed kind of perverse and interesting to me. To, at the moment when I should probably start writing concept albums about the feature, to actually write the most gut-stabbingly personal thing I could. But, there’s a real tension with me. It’s funny you mentioned the word roots, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot with the new record. On the one hand I feel extremely strongly and adamant that it is the duty of an artist to change. The idea that an artist should be linked somehow constantly forever-anchored to what it was when they first started out is bullshit. I don’t want to make the art I would have made when I was twenty three for the rest of my life, that’s ridiculous. And plus I’ve already made it! I was making art then and it exists. That’s the other thing I want to say to people. There are occasions where people will say to me, sort of accusatorily “well I prefer your earlier records.”  If I’m making a record that some people aren’t enjoying, that’s a bummer on some level. But it’s not like I’ve gone round to people’s houses and removed various records from their collection. [in a stern voice] “You can no longer listen to this one!”

That’s especially true coming from the punk and hardcore world where people can really take offense to change.

Yeah, it’s funny, because this new record is in some ways more “rootsy” for me, in that it’s more punk than anything I’ve really done in my solo career. But that’s not how my solo career started, it was me trying to get away from that, in a way. The thing is though, I’m totally fine having all these conversations. I think they’re good and well and interesting. But when I’m creating, when I’m writing, I think it’s really important not to have these conversations. I think one of the reasons a lot of bands disappear up their own ass, or lose their spark, is because they get used to being judged in the court of music criticism, and they become music critics before they’re musicians. And if you’re sitting there trying to figure out what Rolling Stone is going say about your songs before you’ve even fucking written them, or let alone recorded them, then of course you’re going to make bad art. So when it’s time for me to create, I think it’s really important to not think about any of that shit. It’s good not to think about how what I do relates to my roots or not.

You have a quote about working with Butch Walker, who produced your new album, saying you wish you had found him ten years ago. What is it that separates him from other producers you’ve worked with?

[Laughs] Well the first thing is that is a statement I slightly regret making. As I realized after making it, there’s a slightly implied dis to some of the other producers I’ve worked with, which was not my intention at all. I also think that counter-factuality about your own life is really boring. You know, “What would have happened if I’d done this album with guy.” Just fucking get on with your life, you know?

Having said all that, the thing is Butch is just an immensely talented producer. Also, I think that he and I have a lot in common as songwriters, and as performers, as well just a producer-artist kind of thing. With Positive Songs I had this idea about how I wanted to make the record, and I just couldn’t find anyone that I felt really grasped what I was saying on a level that would make it work. Of course when you have a conversation with a producer who the label is putting up, they’re going to tell you that they understand exactly what you mean and exactly what you’re driving at. But with all of them I was like “No you fucking don’t, shut up.” Whereas with Butch the minute we started talking about it, it was just like “Yeah?” “Yeah!” You know one of those conversations where you agree on everything for a long period of time. I really feel like he understands what I’m trying to do. In part, because it’s not a million miles away from what he’s trying to do.

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fangirlfotos.com

Listening to the record, it gets to “Silent Key,” and all of a sudden it’s this stunning female vocal. It’s placement on the record is a sort of shock of fresh air through the headphones. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

Well firstly I will join you in the celebrating the joy that is Esme Patterson, who sang that vocal part. She’s incredible. I knew I wanted to have a guest vocal part, I knew I wanted it to be a woman. I also wanted it to be an American, because she’s playing Christa McAuliffe, so it seemed respectful to try to get someone from the same country. So we kind of ran through a list of people, and the label was trying to get me to get someone with a “name” on the record. Which… I don’t want to be overly punk about this—that would be cool on some levels. But it didn’t come together.

So, Esme is signed with Extra Mile Recordings, the label that I work with in the UK. We’d done some shows together. At this point, we’d actually finished recording the record, we’d done everything apart from that vocal part. And it was starting to become a bit of an issue, logistically speaking. And I did a couple of shows with her in January and the minute she started singing it was like “Duh! This is the person who is supposed to do this. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that before.” It was fantastic. I taught her the part, took her down to the studio and she cut it in two takes.

It really is great. She has a blending voice with yours, but it’s also totally different.  And it’s so clear…

Exactly! It sounds like a fucking chiming bell! I love it. It just cuts through. And it’s effortless. The way she kind of slides into that first note… just uhh [fawns].

So I’d like to talk about your unreleased/B-sides recordings, The First Three Years, The Second Three Years, and those things. Why do you end up with so many unused recordings? And why then release them?

I dunno, I think most bands have a lot of material hanging around, and they choose to stockpile it, or not release it or whatever. It’s not that I have low-standards, per-say. I was recording yesterday, here in Nashville, just doing B-sides. I want my recordings to have a degree of verity to them. I’m not the best singer in the world, I’m not the best guitar player. We could do 400 takes and keep going until I get it absolutely 100% perfect, and there have been occasions when I’ve done that on records. But there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to do that. That doesn’t sound like me. It’s dishonest to a degree, you know? I’d like to think that as a performer and as a musician I have dirt under my fingernails. I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t mind knocking out a version and putting it out there, that’s cool with me.

So will you actually go into the studio to record B-Side tracks?

Sometimes, yeah. But sometimes it’s just the stuff hanging around. Another thing to mention is, I remember reading something years ago in an interview with Evan Dando, who is somebody I’m a huge fan of. He pointed out the word singer-songwriter (if that is the label that I have to bear in life, which apparently it is. It’s fine, it just makes me think of Jack Johnson, which makes me want to cut my own head off. But then again Neil Young is a singer-songwriter, and he’s punk as fuck. Anyway…). Singer-songwriter is a combination of two words. You can be a singer, you don’t necessarily have to write the songs.  I think interpretation is a really undervalued art. I spend a lot of time playing other people’s songs; that’s how I learned to play music, that’s how I learned to write songs. All the time I’m learning other bits and bobs. I mean yesterday I knocked down an Elvis cover and there’s a British Musical act called Flanders and Swann from the 40’s and 50’s. I knocked out a cover of theirs as well.

Which Elvis tune did you do?

Don’t Be Cruel.” But I’ve got a kind of weird plan for that one, so I’m not going to talk about it yet, because it’s controversial. The actual Three Years records that we had… the first one we did was because when you’re starting out you end up with a bunch of weird songs on weird compilations, and EPs and B-Sides or splits or whatever. And I thought, once all those original pressings are sold out, rather than Extra Mile or whoever having to constantly re-press all that stuff, let’s make it easier for people to get ahold of stuff. And then it just snowballed. Having said that, we just did The First Ten Years as a vinyl box set, which was a really fantastic thing to do, and hold as a physical product. At the same time, I’m not that interested in repetition, and there’s a part of me that thinks this might be an opportunity to get off that train. [Laughs]. I don’t know, maybe not. We’ll see.

So there’s a lot of bands that lean towards either being studio band or a live show band. You have this huge discography for just ten years, but on the other hand, you’ve won things like the AIM Best Live Act Award. It really seems like you are actively and excitedly living in both worlds.

I would say I pursue the live side of it with considerably more excitement. The studio is not my favorite place in the world. For a lot reasons. Part of me feels that there’s something slightly artificial about recording. Without being too melodramatic, it’s like pinning butterflies down in a photograph album. Songs continue to grow and live. Take a song like “Photosynthesis” off the second record we did. We’ve played that song every fucking day since we put the record out, and the way we play it now… I mean the structure of the song is the same, but the nuance and feel and the arrangement has mutated to the point where occasionally I’ll catch a brief snippet of the original recording and I kind of go “Fuck me, is that how people hear that song?”  The thing about playing live, and this is the thing that makes touring such an appealing way of life, is that every night is a chance to do it again. You get another go at playing the song the way it’s supposed to be. Whereas that recording that I made in 2007 or whatever it was… It’s still fucking there. [Laughs] On CD’s and iTunes accounts around the world. That constant ability to reinvent is really important to me.

I found another quote from you from the midst of your first big arena tour. You said “Life should never be lived in your comfort zone.” How are you pushing yourself out of your comfort zone now? How do you plan on doing that in days to come?

Well I stand by that comment strongly, but at the same time there’s a part of me that is very proud of the idea of continuing to do what I do, and the way that I do it, for a long time. And the more I do it, there are people who started touring with me who have gone off and done other stuff. And there’s part of me that wants to be the lifer, and go “Fuck you short timers! I wasn’t kidding!” I want to still be playing Nottingham Rock City when I’m in my 60’s. This is my world, it’s my craft, it’s the thing I know how to do. It’s the universe I want to exist in. I’ve spent a majority of my life on tour buses and in dressing rooms and I’m fine with that. That’s ok. Creatively though I’m in the middle of deciding quite how extreme I’m going to be as far as going outside of my comfort zone on the next thing I do. Because there’s part of me that wants to completely ditch everything now and do something completely different. It should be noted that this will be after this album’s cycle of touring is done, which is still a year and a half away. But there’s a part of me that wants to fuck everything off and make a soul album or a bluegrass record or something. I don’t want to repeat myself. I don’t want people to go “Oh yeah, I know what that Frank Turner guy sounds like. I don’t need to get his next record.” I want to do something weird. We’ll see, I might retract all of this.

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Photo by Atticus Swartwood

One thing that can unequivocally be said – Frank Turner has a comfort zone, and it is on stage. He took the stage with a confidence and comfortability that can only be earned over ten years and 1,799 performances. It was a full fifteen minutes of music before he stopped to say a word, and when he did he only added to the energy in the room. One would not be remiss in comparing him to a certain Boss (perhaps that’s why that quote is so popular…).

It is also clear that Turner benefited from his time in the hardcore scene. The stage presence of his band was fueled by the energy they all brought to the stage. On top of Turner’s songs having inlaid energy, the band brought even more to the performances.

But perhaps the clearest indicator of Frank Turner’s skill as a musician and performer is the audience. 3rd and Lindsley could not have held more people. And they were not just young rockers looking to get fired up. They were there, but those people’s parents were also there, dancing their asses off. And their kids. Not a song was played where there wasn’t at least one person singing along to every word. Many of the songs had huge groups of the crowd throwing fists in the air and belting. There is something in his music that just makes you want to do that.

Based on the size of the room and the statistics that exist in my head, there must have been someone jumping up and down on artificial hips.

But there was also a girl in the front row. I could see her from the balcony. She couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11. When Frank Turner walked on stage her eyes lit up like a Disney character. She clapped and cheered. She belted out choruses. She giggled when he said fuck. The look of happiness and wonder on her face was totally complete, and did not fade. Rather, it grew with each song. That girl had a better time than I think I’ve ever had doing anything.

If there is any truer measure of success in music than bringing people such pure delight, I don’t know what it could be.

READY OR NOT- MYZICA IS POISED TO BREAK OUT
November 9, 2015 2:46 pm

It’s official. The 80’s – so hot right now.

This is actually not news. This is a trend that has been building over the last decade and is now in full swing. For proof see Daft Punk’s 2013 Grammy Album of the Year, R.A.M. (hint: the secret ingredient is disco). Dozens of bands have been taking part in this trend, but one of the latest is Nashville’s Myzica. After forming in early 2014, Isaaca Byrd and Micah Tawlks produced a slick self-titled synth-pop EP that is quite easy to love. The band manages to do what many others operating in this space can’t (see: the new 1975 song). They take the best parts of 80’s synth pop and fuse it with everything that has come since. It’s a style that acknowledges that there is a reason 80’s music is going through its resurgence, but there’s also a reason some things got left in the 80’s.

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Photo by @Josh.redmon

The first song off the EP is the first Myzica song ever, “Ready or Not. It’s also pretty damn groovy. What separates this from other synth-pop songs of the 80’s and today is that it’s not overblown. They knew when to stop- when there were too many things going on. This is a trend that drives not only this song, but much of Myzcia’s music. The bouncy pocket of the verse in this song comes from the scarcity of the drums, bass and guitar. Each instrument is playing something reserved, yet interesting. The parts work together to build a tasty bed of greens for the Isaaca’s Raspberry-vinaigrette voice (sweet, with a bit of bite; adds significant color).

Friday the band opened for COIN at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. Their promising EP seeded high expectations that the band followed through on. Isaaca and Micah were joined on stage by Garreth Spinn on guitar and Dabney Morris on drums. The pair fit in nicely, playing the syncopated parts with energy and flare, but without overstepping their bounds. Morris did a nice job integrating the various electronic drum noises without losing the feel of the song, and Spinn impressed not only with his complex-yet-reserved rhythm guitar, but also with his spry dance moves.

A highlight of the set came with a performance of Myzica’s newest release, a cover of “I Was Made For Lovin You” by KISS. This is a perfect cover for them. The original is from the time period that the genre references, but not exactly from the genre itself. Their version is fresh and dancy, different from the original, but still fueled by its nostalgia. While this seemed to be missed by the significant portion of the crowd that was there for COIN (aka: in high school), it did release a blast of energy into the room.

The stellar performance was hindered by only a few things, and keep in mind, this is being pretty nit-picky. Firstly, the band would benefit from more dynamic lighting. You can’t blame them here too much, as they were not the headlining act and therefore didn’t get the full treatment. But the groovy, exciting music calls for a groovy, exciting stage atmosphere to match. Myzica could also benefit from having a higher quality sound maintenance. While the sound was by no means bad, it seemed like it was not the ideal mix for them. Again, the venue had to leave room for the headline to come on after and sound better/louder, but the issue was more the mix than the volume. Isaaca’s voice was clear, but the synth sounds didn’t quite match up with the acoustic ones. In particular, the electric drum sounds lacked the body and presence they needed to fill out the songs.

Finally, the band needs a pinch more stage presence. When the music is super active, this is not a problem. For instance, when Isaaca was singing, she was captivating. She carried an energy and excitement that was contagious. But when she stepped back from the mic, that energy melted away. While she shouldn’t be in the forefront for the whole show, the group could find a way to carry that intensity throughout the more “low-energy” parts of the set.

These “issues” might seem trivial to some, but they stood out because everything else about the group was so polished. They are great musicians with great songs. They have a cool look and a cool sound. With a few tweaks, their live performance could go from “a lot of fun” to “absolutely bonkers.”

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.