When James from Carry The 4 approaches IDIOTEQ with another request to drop a couple of lines about a new artist he supports via his PR, it’s always a pleasure, but this time he hit the jackpot. He recently introduced this new record from Chicago alternative quartet COMMONWEATHER and I must say it really struck me. Drawing from all kinds of rock subgenres and pleasing fans of FURTHER SEEMS FOREVER, TAKNG BACK SUNDAY, DAYLIGHT, NO SUN, or even the newer softer ambient variations from DEFTONES, COMMONWEATHER delivered an impressive, smart effort, ambitious enough to enthrall more demanding listeners that seek unique textures and musical structures.
Since forming in late 2014, Chicago rockers COMMONWEATHER have developed a loyal fan base across Illinois with two promising-but-short EP releases – most recently last year’s “Smoke & Decay” – whetting the appetite for what fans can expect from EP #3 this Spring. Taking inspiration from a range of musical backgrounds, elements of emo, indie and alternative are delivered with a fuzzy and ambient shoegaze shine, COMMONWEATHER’s songmanship and musical depth comparable to that of many of their more experienced peers. Crediting BAYSIDE and BALANCE & COMPOSURE as major influences – something that bleeds through with the band’s searching and thought-rendering tones and subtle punk injections – the release of “Apparitions” a catalyst for COMMONWEATHER to further enhance their stock in a buoyant Midwest alternative music scene.
Hey there guys! How are you? How’s Chicago been doing this fine Spring?
Hey, what’s up! Thanks for taking the time to interview us. It’s been pretty good, a little chilly but a lot of great shows to play and see so it’s all good.
I’ve never been to The Windy City. How would you comment on your local independent music scene? What is your opinion on its evolution, both as a spectator and as an artist?
The music scene is great around here, there’s a lot of people willing to go out of their way to see local shows and whatnot. Plus there’s just so many people in the city that it’s easy to find people who dig music and want to become a part of the scene.
Can you share some insights on the best spots and venues worth checking out while on a trip to Chicago? What are your favourite parts of the city and why?
For venues, definitely check out The Beat Kitchen or Subterranean, both really awesome and intimate venues. For spots in general, I’d say head over to Wrigleyville and experience the bar scene and night life, and then see the sights on Lakeshore.
How about your local fellow artists? Any cool names we should check out this year?
Definitely! Check out ON A HIGH WIRE, ACTION/ADVENTURE, LAKEFRONT, HOMESAFE, GARDENS, COASTLINES, CUPCHECK. That’s just a few, there’s so many great bands around here it would take too much time to name them all.
Ok, so let’s learn more about your stuff, shall we? :) I feel like one thing that makes COMMONWEATHER really distinctive is the way you mix all your influences and create this specific moody ambience, without losing the edge and powerful dynamics. Can you talk about how the process on ‘Apparitions’ was different from your previous work and other experience in composing and performing?
With Apparitions we wanted it to feel like you are listening to a story, to make if fluid and engaging from start to finish. This mind set definitely changed the way we wrote, constantly redoing songs and changing certain aspects to blend all the songs together. Also a big thing was the tones, we spent a lot of time on each pedal we used making sure the tone matched the mood of that song.
Did working on such tunes influence your sensibility?
These songs definitely did cause us to get in touch with more complex and personal emotions that we all felt. I think there’s at least one song on the EP for each of us that really hits home and is very cathartic to play.
What are your influences in terms of that sound? Apart from other artists, what else do you guys draw from?
We were influenced heavily by the 90’s grunge scene, and all the bands that spawned out of that. Apart from artists we draw a lot from the people closest to us. We like to share their stories and their emotions as much as we like to share our own.
Why did you guys decide that for that title? Please tell us more about the themes and issues you’ve decided to explore in your lyrics.
We decided on “Apparitions” because the EP is really about loss; whether it be the loss of your mental health, a loved one, ones battle with addiction, or simply your happiness, it’s about loss. And these losses follow us around and hang over us like phantoms, in turn creating a hollow shell of ourselves, or an apparition. So we felt that Apparitions really set the tone of the EP and encompassed the meanings of the songs.
Does sharing your views and observations through music help you understand where you are and improve your knowledge about the world?
I think it’s a pretty grounding experience to share what we see and feel through something like music, and have people appreciate it. It’s definitely helped us connect with people on an emotional level and influence us to try and understand other’s problems.
Is there any special track, a sentence or a meaning on this record that you hold especially true to your heart?
For me (Alec) it would be the song “The Devil You Know”. It’s a very personal song about addiction and the struggles it puts those afflicted by it, and their surrounding support through.
Photo by Ashley Osborn.
Where do you want us to listen to this album? What’s the perfect place and mood to dive into it?
A cool day in the woods would nice, the album gives off a very lonely fall/winter vibe.
What are you looking forward to exploring in your future releases?
We definitely want to delve into some faster and upbeat songs, just making it a little more fun to play live for us and the crowd.
Ok, so what are your plans for this year and beyond? Can we expect some live shows from COMMONWEATHER in 2016?
We’re always playing shows, so there’s going to be plenty in 2016! We’re also back to writing again so I’m sure in the semi-near future there will be another EP to listen to.
Lastly, how do you like to spend your time when you’re not pushing forward this band?
We all have pretty different hobbies, personally I (Alec) like to play video games, read, drink good beer, and hang out with my dog.
Great, thanks a lot for your sharing some thoughts with us! Cheers from Warsaw!