I first heard of Andreas when Brian Dahl (vocals/guitar) contacted me about an ad I had put out looking for performers. After listening to the few tracks they had on their website, I booked them for Raz Mataz’s second Music Almost Famous concert series in May.
It was a no-brainer. The tunes were fun and exciting and upbeat – the kind of music that makes road trips more than just eight aimless hours in a car with no air conditioning.
They played our show and blew away everyone in the audience. Everyone’s been asking me where they can get their hands on music by Andreas. They’re working on an EP, I’d say. Now, that EP is in sight. The band is set to launch their self-titled debut on August 9.
In the meanwhile, I sat with (most of) the band – Dahl, Jennifer Lockman (keys), Jason Brandow (guitar), and Mike Medhurst (drums); Adam Payne (bass) sent his regards, but couldn’t make the meet. We chatted about what it was like recording the new EP (something they did on their own), and what we can expect next from Andreas.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): You guys have played some iconic Toronto venues, like the Drake Hotel. What has been your favourite, so far, and why?
Jennifer: So far? The Hard Rock Cafe. That’s been my favourite.
Brian: Yeah, that’s probably my favourite, too.
Jason: I liked the Drake. That might be my favourite so far.
Brian: I think we sounded the best at the Drake.
Jennifer: But as far as overall energy and performance, the Hard Rock Cafe was a really great gig.
RMM: What makes a great performance?
Brian: Energy. And talent probably helps.
Jason: A lot of crowd energy, mostly. That’s what we feed off of. When the crowd’s not really into it, it’s really hard for yourself to get into it, as well.
RMM: You’re working on a new EP. What updates can you give us?
Brian: Making the EP sucked.
Brian: Recording it was a terrible, terrible process. Anyone who’s thinking of becoming a musician and doing that should think twice and not even bother. I think we’re probably a few weeks off [from releasing the EP]. . .
RMM: Do you have a title for it?
Brian: No, I don’t think we’ll have much of a title for it. Just the band name.
RMM: So what has the recording process been like?
Jennifer: No, it’s been great. . . It’s had some challenges, that’s all.
Brian: We’re perfectionists, so that’s a lot of the problem. We spend a lot of time moving things on the computer screen.
Jennifer: Because we’ve been trying to do it ourselves, so the learning curve has been huge.
Jason: I think one of the biggest challenges has been that we’ve tried to record the songs with a couple of different producers and each time we get [the songs] back, we haven’t really been happy with the results. So, we’ve been trying to take it into our own hands and do it ourselves. So now we’re trying to learn how to be engineers and producers and mixers, while at the same time trying to record music.
RMM: Have you been recording at home?
Brian: That’s how we started. I met Jay and we wrote a bunch of songs that we tried to get recordings of, and we tried to find other band members to perform together. So that’s another problem, too; a lot of these songs we wrote a couple of years ago, so this is the eighth time that we’ve had to go into the recording process with some of these songs. So, the patience is getting thin. . .
Jason: We’ve recorded the same songs multiple times. It’s not just, we’ve recorded once and got it done, and this is the track and it’s done. This has been three, four, sometimes five times recording the same songs.
Jason: Definitely. I mean, we’ve reshaped them even as we go for the fourth, fifth time. We find new tracks, new parts or new arrangements, or things like that. So they have evolved, they have been reshaped.
Brian: Structurally, it’s all the same.
RMM: Do you see yourselves, with those particular songs, changing them throughout your career? Or will they ever be done?
Jennifer: I don’t think they’ll ever be done, but we’ll have a sense of how we want it to go.
RMM: We’ll talk about the writing process a little bit. Is there a principle writer, do you write together. . . ?
Brian: It’s mostly Jay and I, at this point. We wrote all of the material, for the most part, before we had a band. So we’ll come up with the structural for all the songs, mostly together, and then when we have something, we’ll bring it to the rest of the band and everybody contributes their parts. . . [Jason] deals mostly in the guitar parts and I deal in the melody, we kind of split it that way.
RMM: Do you think you’ll be bringing n even more band members, do you see a massive band?
Jennifer: Full orchestra! A big choir, dancers and acrobats. . .
RMM: Well, you need dancers . . . .
RMM: Your music spans such a wide variety of genres – you’ve got blues elements, you’ve got hard rock elements. . . . What influences that span?
Jennifer: Having five people in the band with different opinions and different directions.
Brian: Really bizarre and eclectic tastes in music. When we first got together, I think Jay wanted to write a bunch of Dave Matthews songs, I wanted to write a bunch of Elvis songs, but at the same time Alice Cooper and Bon Jovi, So it was just a pure, eclectic mix, it didn’t make any sense. Who knows how the songs would have come out. . . .
Jason: I think when you break it right down for all of us, most of us listen to mostly classic rock. When we look back at most of the albums that we’ve owned or the music that we listen to on a daily basis – or even the drive in. I mean, Jenny was driving in a different car, but we were both listening to the same radio station because we liked the same song that was playing, which was a Led Zeppelin song. So when you get down to it, it’s mostly classic rock that’s influenced the band. Even though we like a lot of eclectic stuff, as well.
RMM: How is performing on stage different from recording?
Jennifer: It’s not even the same. Like performing is. . . I love performing. It’s completely different.
Brian: Yeah, [performing] is a sink or swim type of thing, which I like. You kind of just need to get out there and not suck for 35 minutes. Because you’re allowed to suck when you’re recording. But I like that whole idea where a performance is sink or swim. You need to perform well or you’ll get booed off the stage. So there’s a lot more nerves involved in [performing].
Jennifer: But we always pull it together. We’re always listening to each other. I think there’s only been one night when we were off –
Brian: But we weren’t really off, we just had a terrible, terrible audience.
Jason: Some tech issues. . . .
Brian: But we were great!
Jennifer: But, with the performing part of it, we get better every time. We’re tighter as a band, the energy gets bigger; we feed off each other.
Jason: The recording and the writing is almost like preparation for the show. You buff all your parts, you practice it inside out, but as soon as you get on stage, it becomes unconscious. You internalize it.
Jennifer: Which is great that we’ve recorded the songs a million times because now we all know the songs inside out.
Jennifer: Finish the EP.
Brian: Then we start getting a little bit more of a following. And it’ll help now that we finally have something to sell. Everything’s kind of up in the air until we see what we can do with the EP.
RMM: Are you going to plan a tour on the EP?
Brian: I’d like to. It would just be a matter of schedules to work with, making sure there are no conflicts in schedules.
Mike: We’re also working on a new website right now. It’s going to be. . . it’s been in the works for a long time. It’ll have a new look, easier to use. . .
Brian: We’ll be able to update it, which will be nice.
Jennifer: It’ll be more interactive.
Jason: It was the same process as the album. We had someone do the website for us. And, again, we couldn’t update it and we couldn’t control it and make it the way we wanted it to be. So that’s when Mike decided to take it into his own hands and make a new website and build it from scratch again. So now it will look how we want ourselves to be perceived.
For more on Andreas, check out their brand-spankin’-new website, at www.andreasband.com, and be sure to pick up a copy of their new EP, available August 9 on iTunes.