As I mentioned earlier, my request for new local music has been epic!!!! Another band I'm a new fan of, appearing in this blog, is "Among Us"! I'm digging their sound, but their personalities are pretty stellar too! I had so much fun sitting down with them, and getting to know the band as a whole. Please check out our interview below, and give Among Us some love! In addition, I will be spinning a track every night around 11:30pm from their EP, "Reflections" this week!!! So tune in, then show your support!
LINDSAY: How long has Among Us been a band, and how did it evolve?
Bryan Brenizer (lead singer, guitarist): Well we started around 2005. It was kind of wild actually. I sent a demo I had done up to a friend of mine in upstate New York. I had known him for a few years, and knew he played guitar and drums (I was living in New Jersey) so I asked him what he thought of the music. I was interested in seeing if he wanted to jam a bit and see what would come of it. A couple of weeks later, he asked me to come up to New York State because he had a surprise. I showed up at an address that he gave me for a rehearsal studio, and 3 other musicians are in the room along with him ready to jam. They had already learned the demo recordings! It was crazy! I just walked in, picked up a mic, and we started jamming. I couldn’t believe it. He had actually met these guys at a hard rock show in NY, started making small talk, and before we knew it, we were all jamming together. Within that summer of 2005, the boys from New York all packed up their things and moved to NJ, and Among Us began.
LINDSAY: Wow, that's an incredible story! How did you come up with the name for your band?
BB: This one is kind of funny yet boring (laughs), because at one point early on when we realized we needed a band name, we just sat in a room and started tossing ridiculous names on the wall to see what would stick. Nothing sounded right. Some were just plain silly. I had a friend that started coming up with names as well, and she recognized that this band was always all about making decisions together, writing together, and hanging out together. Everything we did musically and creatively was always "among us". And then we realized, “Among Us” was the name. Nothing special, but the name and reputation has stuck with us since 2005. (laughs)
LINDSAY: I understand! Trust me, naming my kid and kid to be has been pretty "intersesting". I see you guys have a list of places you've played out on your Facebook page, but where is your favorite place to play close to home? What about your favorite place and/or state to play away from home?
James Surprenant (drummer, background vocals): My favorite place I've ever played at, was actually close to home - Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. The sound is killer over there, and the experience is epic.
BB: Yeah agreed. Playing Starland Ballroom was a fantastic experience this year for us. I still have a special place in my heart as well, when we were invited years ago to play at CBGBs in NYC, just weeks before they closed their doors. It was a memorable experience to say the least.
LINDSAY: Do you guys tour and/or play out a lot? I see one gig coming up for Boston! Obviously I'm brand new to becoming a fan of yours, so tell me all that is Among Us outside of the studio.
JS: Recently, we haven't been playing out a lot, since we've been recording new stuff! We'd definitely like to get out on a local tour soon.
BB: Yeah this summer we took some time off to enjoy time with family and friends… one of our guys just became a daddy for the first time, so we wanted to relax for a little, hang out at the beach, get some surfing in went to some shows.. but aside from that, James and I have been writing a lot again, and we still practice and rehearse over the summer to keep things fresh.
LINDSAY: Sweet! Welcome to parenthood!! I see you put your first EP out in 2010, and have another out now, are these the only available albums of your work? Do you plan to write/make more? What are your goals with music production in general? How did you get such killer people to work with on your two productions?
BB: Yeah we had some random demos prior to getting to our first EP recorded and released in 2010, and now we have our newest EP “Reflections”, that came out this year. We’re always trying to out-do ourselves from the previous release or recording. Sometimes that is good, and sometimes it’s bad, because we are constantly putting more pressure on ourselves. I think it’s important to push the boundaries, but you have to know when to draw the line, or you’re never going to finish anything! (laughs) We were so fortunate to work with producer Travis Wyrick out of Knoxville, TN. I started sending him a few demos of our work, and he was actually a fan of our sound. He had produced some killer bands that I admired (P.O.D., Pillar, 10 Years) and I think working with him was just a fantastic experience for all of us. It brought us to a completely different level as a band.
LINDSAY: Do you guys have "day jobs" , or lives that enable you to be on the road whenever you'd like to be? Would you like to continue to tour always? Where would your ideal touring location be?
JS: Yes, we all have day jobs and work full-time to keep the bills paid, but we wish we had the ability to get out on the road whenever we'd like! I've never personally been on a tour. So, I relish the idea of even going on one. I would like to stay local and tour locally just so we four grown men aren't trapped in close quarters together on a long trip across the country.
BB: (Laughs) Yeah I have to agree with James. We all do get along so well, but we haven’t quite mastered the ‘all day every day’ lifestyle together, and I think that’s what keeps us sane (laughs). But,whenever the right show or opportunity is presented, we always stop and talk about it, whether local or a long distance to see if it makes sense. The truth is, we DO love to travel and meet new people, and play in different venues whenever we can!
LINDSAY: Describe the sound of Among Us, and have you ever been compared to anything mainstream that's out there already?
JS: I would describe our sound as edgy hard rock influenced by alternative rock, nu metal and even some 80’s metal. People at our shows have compared us to Breaking Benjamin or Chevelle.
LINDSAY: Where do you guys get your inspiration for your music? What goes into the writing process...Is it one person doing most of the work, or the group as a collaborative experience?
JS: A lot of things inspire me for our music - bands that I love to listen to have inspired me to write and play, experiences with friends and family, and sometimes even the world around us. Certain bands like Pantera, Breaking Benjamin, Queensryche, and Killswitch Engage have especially impacted my writing style, and they've definitely shaped my style of playing. Some of the song ideas begin in pre-production with me at my in-home studio. From there, Bryan and I put our heads together to finalize everything. Other times, Bryan will just come to me a bunch of ideas, and we go from there. The two of us write a lot of our music, but collectively as a band we always like to collaborate and create our sound together.
BB: I think I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from life experiences, people I’ve met along the way, past and present, and definitely world events. Lyrically, I try not to write and make the songs seem too personal, but more so our audience can relate to the material. Although they may come from my personal experiences, I like keeping things open to interpretation, so others can take the messages and apply them to their own lives. As far as the music inspiration goes, that comes entirely from the music I grew up on. I’ve always been a huge alternative rock, hard rock and grunge fan from the 80s and 90s. Older rock bands in the 80s like Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue got me listening at a very early age. Then the Seattle grunge scene inspired me to pick up a guitar and teach myself how to play. Bands like Helmet, Quicksand, Silverchair, Alice In Chains, and others have helped pave that rock style that I find myself writing every day now. Although I’ve been playing music since I was 6 years old, I think the 90s are what got me into playing rock and learning by design. As I’ve grown up, I’ve actually gone back and pulled out my dad’s old vinyl records, and been listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, and things like that so the inspiration is always flowing.
LINDSAY: Actually, I just noticed you have been working on a Fall LP?? Is this true? Where are you doing the production and with who this time?
BB: Yeah we’re in the process of recording our full length right now actually, and were just in the studio earlier in June. We plan to go back in again sometime in the fall, to hopefully finish everything up and then get this LP out for everyone to hear! We’re working with an amazing producer/writer and overall fantastic musician, Damien Starkey, out of Jacksonville, Florida. I kind of “met” Damien years ago just through social media, saw him perform in Philadelphia when he was on tour with Puddle Of Mudd, and we just never really lost touch when Among Us was ready to record again. Damien worked with us on our newest EP “Reflections”, and is helping us complete our full length this year as well. He has a wealth of musical knowledge that dates back to his days being in his band Burn Season, as well as playing in Puddle of Mudd. He’s worked with Saliva, and countless other rock bands over the course of several years. Honestly, his long and diverse resume in music and production is right in our wheelhouse as musicians, as he’s very familiar with our sound and what we’re looking to accomplish with this new record. (check out www.give2getmusic.com ) We’ll head to Red Attic Studios again this fall to finish up our album together, and then get it out to the masses for everyone to hear, and go from there. So amped!
LINDSAY: Overall, what are the main goals of your band as a whole?
BB: I think the more we write, record, play shows, and open for national acts, we’re truly loving what we’re doing right now, and accomplishing some goals already! Even with our personal lives and family priorities, we still always want to play, record, and continue to be creative musically, as much as we possibly can. Knowing and recognizing what got us here in the first place, we don’t want to lose what we’ve already built and created after so many years. We’ve been blessed to have connected with a huge range of musicians, producers, managers, booking agents, awesome on-air personalities, like at WDHA.. yeah you Lindsay! (laughs) , and ALL of these connections have helped bring us to where we are today. We’d love to just keep doing this until it’s really no longer fun … and honestly we don’t see that happening any time soon. (laughs)
Bonus: If a new original band in the music scene came up to you and asked you for a piece of advice, what would you tell them?
JS: Work hard, be critical of your music, and have fun!
BB: Agreed, ALWAYS have fun. Don’t quit what you love. I see too many new bands that quit before they begin because the music industry has changed so much over the years. Never stop being creative. You never know who is out there listening…
Double Bonus: Time to promote all that is Among Us ! Tell WDHA fans where they can find YOU!
Among Us will be playing more shows this fall, and currently is booked to play at the Hard Rock Café in Boston on Sept 15th with Silent Season. Information can be found on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/amongusnj Their EP “Reflections” can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, GooglePlay and other digital retailers.