An Interview with Rome Hero Foxes

Behold, my first in-person, recorded interview! 🙂

C.J. and Emilio of Rome Hero Foxes started playing music together when they were just thirteen. Now made up of C.J., Emilio, Michael and Andrew, the Houston-based punk band released their sophomore record, 18 Summers, in 2018. Finding inspiration from Radiohead, Nirvana, and The Strokes, the guys are currently working on their upcoming third album, which they hope to perfect during their spare, pandemic-induced time. I saw Rome Hero live last summer with my sister, and was instantly drawn to their heart-wrenching lyrics, swirling guitar riffs and killer stage presence.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the guys over Zoom this week! We laughed a ton, discussed quarantine pastimes, their songwriting process, who they’d love to tour with and more.

Thanks to Rome Hero for sharing their stories with me. 🙂

Check out their Spotify here.

An Interview with Mom Jeans

Eric Butler, lead singer of alternative band Mom Jeans, strives to create the most genuine music possible for his fans, his best friends, and himself. “Music is so subjective, and I think the same song or the same show can mean different things to different people. We want people to just be comfortable feeling whatever they feel and letting that guide them,” says Eric. The guys describe themselves as a “loud, sad band from California,” and have been releasing a number of EPs in addition to two full-length albums since May of 2014. Mom Jeans is currently gearing up for a week of shows in Australia. I chatted with Eric about the band’s formation, the recent popularity of one of their songs on TikTok, the artists that inspired them and more.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how the band formed. You guys went to college together, right?

Eric Butler: Austin and I lived on the same floor during our freshman year of college. We had mutual friends and hung out a bit. He was mad chill and liked music and skateboarding. Eventually, I realized he liked a lot of the same bands as I did. Austin listened to Mobo, Joyce Manor, Fireworks, and a few others that I thought I was super cool for knowing. He also turned me on to a lot of bands I now love and we became really good friends after that. I think it was only a matter of time before we ended up playing in a band together just ‘cause that’s who we both are as people, so the fact that we found each other and managed to start THIS band is something I consider extremely lucky.

Bart joined the band in 2016 after Austin and I had played with his old band, Meet Me in Montauk, a few times. Bart helped us book our first few tours and even filled in on bass, so when I finally broke down and admitted that I needed another guitar player in the band, it HAD to be Bart.

Sam and I have been friends since high school. Sam has taught me everything I know about music and touring and being in a band. I play in his band Just Friends. Having him in this band is a literal dream, and it feels like a long time coming to be playing and writing alongside him.

Even though Austin and I are the OG members of MJ, I think its pretty fair to say that Bart and Sam have both contributed an insurmountable amount to this band. There’s no chance that we’d be where we are today without them. Even the shit they were doing for us BEFORE they were in the band. These guys are my team, my rid or die squad, my fashodie nation.

APP: What bands/artists especially inspired you in the beginning?

E: Mobo, Joyce Manor, The Front Bottoms, Transit, AF, Free Throw, Algernon, Walter Mitty, and Braid were the big ones. There’s also a ton of smaller California bands that don’t exists anymore or never made it big, but going to their shows is the reason I wanted to start a band. There’s a ton more, too. If you went to shows in SF, Oakland, SJ, or anywhere else in the East Bay from 2011-2017, you know.

APP: Since the band’s formation in 2014, you’ve shared your music on a lot of different platforms. (Bandcamp etc.) Do you feel this process has changed over the years? How are most fans discovering your music these days?

E: Today it’s mostly Spotify and iTunes, but we try really hard to have our music accessible on as many platforms as possible. This process has changed quite dramatically over the years, which can be good and bad. While I do think it’s cool that more and more bands/artists are getting attention via Spotify and YouTube, etc., it’s pretty sad that those are really the only avenues people listen with. Obviously there’s tons of streaming sites, but people typically only use one or two big services. This is a huge contrast to physically making and recording music, which is the easiest/most accessible it’s ever been. I hope that the spirit of DIY recording starts to permeate the industry again. I would like to see people go back to Bandcamp and other free sites which allow bands to get their music out to the world for free.

APP: How would you define your genre? A lot of people place label you as emo/punk.

E: We are a “guitar band.” 😊

APP: Your first full-length album, Best Buds, was released in 2016 on cassette tape. Why was it important for you to release your music in this way/format?

E: I mean, we originally released it on cassette tape because that was the only format we could afford to release it on. We didn’t have a label, we didn’t have any friends, and all the money we had was spent on making the album, so we definitely couldn’t handle the financial undertaking of pressing vinyl ourselves. Literally nobody cared about this band AT ALL until BB came out so we really started from scratch, haha.

APP: I was reading some fan comments on your Bandcamp page, and a lot of people are drawn to your relatable lyrics (as am I). How do you pick and choose which personal experiences you feel would translate well into a song?

E: To be honest, I don’t really. I just write what sounds correct/good to me. The more I let myself think about how another person will feel about or relate to what I’m saying, the less I like it. I feel that music and lyrics have to be entirely personal or there’s really no point.

APP: Going off of that last question, what do you hope fans will take away from your music?

E: Ultimately, we just want people to feel like we’re being genuine. Whether they like our music or not is honestly unimportant to me. We like playing shows because we like being around our friends and sharing the feeling we get when we make music together, not because we want to sell tickets, or feel cool or be “popular.” As long as nobody feels like we’re putting on an act or trying to make them feel or think any specific way, they can take away whatever they want from our shows. Music is so subjective, and I think the same song or the same show can mean different things to different people. We want people to just be comfortable feeling whatever they feel and letting that guide them.

APP: Dream collab? (Anyone, dead or alive!)

E: I’m obsessed with this band called The Beths from New Zealand, plus one from KY called White Reaper. Getting to meet/collab with members from either of those bands would be so sick.

APP: TikTok is a super popular new app among teens/college students right now. There’s a trend on there right now that uses the intro of your song “Heck You Bart, pt. II: Electric Boogaloo.” 10.7k people have posted videos using the audio clip! Check them out here. Thoughts on that? 😉

E: I have no love or hate in my heart for TikTok. I watch TikTok comps on YouTube because it reminds me of Vine, but I think the fact that it reminds me of Vine makes me sad and is the reason why I will never truly accept it.

Thanks, Eric!

Find Mom Jeans here:

Bandcamp

Instagram

Spotify

All photos are from the band’s social media.

2019 Concert Recap

As 2019 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the amazing artists I’ve had the privilege of seeing live this year. Bring on 2020!

Bad Suns, 3/1/19:

My first concert of 2019 was a blast. Christo Bowman, lead singer, put on an incredible show, and my friend and I witnessed it all from the front row. The band played all of the crowd faves (“Cardiac Arrest,” “Salt,” and “Off She Goes” to name a few), plus exclusive material from their latest album, Mystic Truth, which had not yet been released. My favorite song to hear live was their 2017 single, “This Was a Home Once.” The iconic guitar intro and relatable lyrics made for a perfect sing-along moment. Another memorable moment was when Christo stood on the crowd mid-show. Mind-bending to witness, and incredible to experience from the barrier.

The 1975, 4/27/19:

I mean…what can I say? Of course, this was my fave concert of 2019 by a long shot. The whole show was about 2 hours, but it felt like 2 minutes. Time flies when you’re ROCKIN’ out HARD to your fave band. The 1975 are incredible performers and surprise me every time I see them. This time, Matty belted his popular single, “Sincerity Is Scary,” while strolling on a treadmill set up on stage. This prop was meant to mimic the song’s music video. This tour focused more on graphics and stage lighting than the physical boxes that the band has included/emphasized in past tours. During their politically- charged single, “Love It If We Made It,” intense phrases and video clips of real-world issues flashed like strobe lights across the screen.

Heart, 9/3/19:

Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart were two prominent voices of my childhood. “Love Alive” was on repeat every Saturday while my family did weekend house cleaning. Hearing that song live during this concert, which included Ann’s killer flute-playing skills, was pretty surreal. Plus, the band did their famous rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Check out my videos here.

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Joseph, 9/15/19:

I’ve been following these talented Portland girls since the early days of I’m Alone, No You’re Not. I met them in 2016 when they were about to embark on a world tour with singer-songwriter James Bay, and they’ve blown up since then! This September concert, which was as small, acoustic show, was intimate and raw. Each of the girl’s voices shined through as they performed tracks from their latest record, Good Luck, Kid. Plus, they were just as sweet and friendly, 3 years later.

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The Paper Kites, 9/17/19:

The most chill concert I’ve attended all year. The stage was set as if we were being  serenaded from the band’s living room, complete with blinds placed on each side of the stage that cast long, moody shadows. This was the first ever show where I was given a “press pass” as a music blogger! That aspect definitely made the experience even more magical. My favorite song to see live was “Bloom.”

5SOS, 12/5/19:

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This concert was an unplanned, super fun, blast from the past. I was invited last minute to attend this show with my friend, which was actually a Chainsmokers concert with 5 Seconds of Summer as the opener. (We were there for 5SOS, obvi.) 5SOS, for those of you who are unfamiliar, were an insanely popular Australian boyband in 2014. In high school, my two best friends and I went to Seattle to see them, wore their merch, and followed them religiously on Twitter. Although they’ve died down in popularity since then, they’re still making great music. It was SO much fun to see them again, older, cuter (in my opinion) and still performing with so much energy on stage! Check out my videos of the show here.

Charlie Puth, 12/7/19:

Charlie Puth KILLED it. If you didn’t know, he’s gifted with perfect pitch, so his voice is as smooth as butter live and he can make any minor mistake seem intentional. Charlie introduced us to his adorable lab puppy, Charlie Jr., sung two of his hits, “Attention,” and “Mother,” and one Christmas carol during this small, acoustic show. It was a Charlie Puth Christmas!

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Concerts I’m attending in 2020 (so far):

Dermot Kennedy: 1/10/20: I can’t wait to see a full-length Dermot concert! I’ve only seen him live once, which was a small show where he did about three songs. I’m looking forward to hearing the new tracks off his 2019 record, Without Fear.

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Happy New Year, followers! I hope 2020 is filled with good music, loving friends/family, and new experiences. Even when things get hard, remember that you can always turn to music and the people it connects you to.

 

Xox

Sophie

Emo Meets Folk: A Chat with Alex Wieringa From Rare Candy

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“The best gigs happen when people are screaming lyrics back in my face,” says Alex Wieringa, front man of Rare Candy. The Chicago-based band, which Alex started when he was just a teenager, has developed a distinctive sound over time that blurs the line between punk-rock and folk. I discovered Rare Candy’s various EPs on Spotify last month, and I’ve been hooked ever since. (I’d even go so far as to say that RC is my fave band right now.) For this week’s post, I chatted with Alex about his skillful songwriting, inspiration, and newly found place in the emo genre.

A Perfect Playlist: Tell me a little bit about how you got started. How long have you been singing?

Alex Wieringa (Rare Candy): Rare Candy began as a solo passion project of songs that didn’t “fit the mold” of a previous band I’d been in. I was in my school choir from preschool until 8th grade, then I started playing real shows by myself when I was 19.

APP: You have a super unique sound. How would you define your genre?

AW: I’ve been tagging Rare Candy as a “folk-pop” band, and it seems to fit pretty well. I began playing in more pop-punk influenced band when in high school, but always had fun playing more blues and folk-style guitar. My uncle played in blues and country bands for as long as I could remember, so it was something that was familiar to me. Those two influences seemed to just mesh and come together naturally.

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APP: I’ve read in a few different places that Rare Candy fits into a new wave of emo music. Are there specific artists, emo or not, that have inspired you over the years?

AW: I think that Rare Candy unintentionally fits into the emo genre. The vibe of my music takes a direction that has been seen in bands like Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms, to name a few recent groups. I also took influence from bands such as Go Radio and Nevershoutnever when I was younger. I very much enjoy pushing what I can do guitar-wise in order to spice up the instrumentals on a more straight-forward melody. I’ve been a big fan of The White Stripes/Jack White, The Milk Carton Kids, and The Tallest Man on Earth for some time now, all of which have influenced my guitar playing.

APP: Your most popular single, “If You See Her, Tell Her I’m Over It” is one of my favorites. The song is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t ask you what it’s about. But if you had to sum it up in one sentence, what would you say?

AW: In one sentence: “I’m definitely not over it, but I very much want to be, so I’m going to fake it till I make it.” (P.S. It’s all love now, though.)

“You’re the kind of girl that makes me wish that I had never even met you. I miss you every day, and even though you’re not around I don’t resent you.”

APP: Each of your songs is its own story. Is there one song/story that means the most to you?

alex guitarAW: There are a few songs that I hold very close to me. “Sweet Potato Taco” got its name when my two best friends and I were taking a break from recording and we had, you guessed it, sweet potato tacos. But it was also written at a time where I was missing someone dear to me and it is undoubtedly one of the most positive and happy songs I’ve written. “Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads” is probably one of my favorite stories. It’s just a very powerful realization of not blaming myself for things that go wrong, and a story of moving forward and sharing blame. These are two songs that stray from my usual “sad as fuck” vibe.

APP: Fave movie soundtrack?

AW: “Tarzan.” Phil Colins is an absolute madman. He could write a song about anything and still twist your heart into pieces while making you want to sing along to every word.

APP: There are a few of your songs that have flat-out made me cry. Your lyrics, which convey specific stories and experiences, are also incredibly relatable. When you’re writing a new song, how do you hone in on that emotional aspect of the story and craft a song?

AW: Thank you so much, I’m flattered. I always do my best to never force lyrics or a song idea. In order to keep my stuff genuine, I immediately jot down any interesting ideas I come up with. Sometimes, I’ll bang out an idea in an hour. Other times, a song will take weeks. Being patient gets stressful and annoying, especially when I’m sitting on one song for so long, but it’s the key to my writing. I always write what I would want to listen to had I been going through the same situation from an outside perspective. I enjoy my own songs very much, which makes it that much more fun and easy to say what I want to.

APP: Tell me a little bit about your latest record, Turnip Head. Where did the name come from?

AW: The songs on Turnip Head were all written around the same time. The song “Dry Clean only” very much would have fit on the earlier EP, Cream Soda, but the rest of the songs are much more mature in guitar style and in lyrical content.

“Turnip Head” is the name of a character from the movie “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki introduces the character as an enchanted Scarecrow who follows Sophie, the protagonist, along on her journey. He’s always silent and bouncing around, lending a hand while he can. We find out later that he was cursed and far from his homeland, and also that he’s in love with Sophie. Long story short, I thought he was a cute concept and related to him in an odd way. A long journey and a happy ending.

APP: Fave song lyric of yours?

AW: My favorite lyric I’ve written is: “you always hated being woken up, I should have spoken up and said just what was on my mind that day you packed your things,” from “Queen of Autumn.” It’s just very intimate, genuine and vulnerable. The entirety of that song is such a tender topic and heavy situation. The lyric “are you living, or just trying to stay alive?” also hits home. My favorite line to perform is: “I know I said I’d call but to be honest I just got a little faded.” Because lol true. Plus, I always scream it at the top of my lungs every time, and normally the crowd does too.

APP: What’s next for Rare Candy? Are you working on a new record/planning to tour soon?

AW: I’m writing all the time. I have a new single in the works simply for the sake of steadily releasing material. A small tour is coming up in the winter, and then more recording next year. Always keeping busy for sure.

~

Thanks so much, Alex!

Find Rare Candy:

Instagram

Spotify

 

Now Playing: Summer 2019

Hello, readers! Welcome back. 🙂

Huge life update for those who don’t already know: a little over a week ago, I graduated from the University of Oregon! Changes, changes.

Among others, one change is a shift in my music taste. Don’t get me wrong, The 1975 and alternative tunes will forever be my #1, but I’ve recently opened myself up to a few genres I’d never considered exploring before. Curious about what I’ve been jamming out to? Read on.

“Forever” – The Lonely Biscuits

This song hooked me with just the first line: “The car’s break lights sorta look like a heartbeat. Between the windshield wipes, wish you were in the front seat.” Paired with an alluring electronic guitar riff that eventually builds and becomes loud and biting, this lyric really struck me. It captures a familiar experience–driving through the city late at night with that one special person. The glow of  traffic/break lights illuminate their face in bursts, and you’re happy to just be there.

I consider this track to be a love song that was written after the death of a relationship. It features an echoey sound bite of a woman, seemingly on the other end of a phone line, saying “hello?” following the first verse. The sense of confusion yet eagerness in her voice makes me wonder if these two people haven’t spoken for quite some time.

Simple yet stunning, this track has easily become one of my summer favorites. The punk-esque vocals are definitely different from what I’ve listened to in the past, but the fantastic imagery and sick guitar keeps me coming back for more.

“Slip Away” – Perfume Genius

This song was featured in Booksmart during the pool scene. I love Perfume Genius, and I was thrilled to hear his voice make an appearance on the soundtrack! (Plus it’s perfect for that scene.) Like many Perfume Genius songs, this track builds up slowly and beautifully, then explodes with sound and color.

“Chest Piece” – Rome Hero Foxes

My sister and I went to see these guys perform at Lola’s Room in Portland a few weeks ago, and it was so fun. Followed by Heart Attack Man, Glacier Veins and Sincere Engineer, this was the first pop-funk/emo live show I’ve attended…and to my surprise, I loved it! The crowd was lively, the bands were engaging, and the music was LOUD. This song, “Chest Piece,” is off Rome Hero Foxes’ latest album, 18 Summers.

“A Part of Me” (ft. Laura Whiteside) – Neck Deep

This is another seemingly “off-brand” track for me. I came across it in sort of an unusual way–it was included in a playlist made for me during my last term in college when things weren’t going so well. Despite that, the song still makes me smile. I swoon every time I hear lead singer Ben Barlow describe the girl he loves, even after they are no longer together: “I like her ’cause she’s smart, headstrong and independent, she puts me in my place, but I don’t know where I stand.” You don’t hear  girls described this way very often in music.

The lyric that really tugs at my heart strings, though, is: “And if only I could find the words, or muster up the nerve to tell her…I’ll never forget her, and she’ll always have a part of me.” I’ve always believed that each person you meet who meant something to you leaves a part of themselves behind, even after things change or you no longer speak.

“Take Me As You Please” – The Story So Far

This is another new pop-punk favorite of mine. I found it on Spotify last month, and for some reason, it sounded super familiar. I couldn’t figure out why, until I texted a link to my friend, who I figured would also enjoy it. A few minutes later, he texted me back: “Sophie. I showed this song to you like 6 months ago and you loved it then.” Oops! I guess I forgot. It was fun re-discovering it, though. The harmonies are stunning.

“Atlas: Two” – Sleeping At Last

Have you ever taken the Meyers Briggs personality test? Similarly, the Ennegram test is “a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types.” Sleeping At Last, a musical project led by multi-instrumentalist Ryan O’Neal, created a song for each of the nine personality types which he sings from the various perspectives. My song, “Atlas: Two” (I’m a type 2, the Helper) made me tear up a little. Want to know which song Ryan wrote for you? Take the test here, then find your song here.

 

Golden Days (album) – Haley Johnsen

Killer vocals, breathtaking lyrics, and a kind heart…that’s Haley Johnsen, a local Portland artist who is on the RISE and seriously KILLIN’ IT. (She recently toured the U.S. with band Joseph and later Big Wild, plus her latest album features a duet with Allen Stone!) If it’s not already obvious, I simply adore Haley.

I was stoked for the release of her brand new album last month, Golden Days. I attended her record release show at the Doug Fir, and was thrilled to see the entire venue FILLED with fans, family, and friends. Hearing her perform the dreamy new tracks from the front row was so much fun–a few of my favorites on Golden Days are: “Cinderella,” “City Of Me,” “Everything Comes Back Again,” and “I’ll See You Around.”

“Mausoleum” -Seryn

Absolutely in love with this track at the moment. It was used in a UO Graduation 2019 video, and I think of my school every time I hear it. Watch below!

Seryn is a four-person band from Texas, often described as having a “big sky” sound. What also drew me to this track was the song’s intro, which sounds a lot like another fave of mine, “Razor” by Foo Fighters.

 

Enjoy these tunes and your summer!

xoxo

Sophie