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Time to Talk Indie Rock: Two Tours and Four Bands Weigh in on Their Genre of Choice

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If traditional rock music and alternative rock music had a baby, it would be independent rock—indie rock, for short. First coined in the 1970s, the term “indie rock” has evolved from its initial description of the bands’ independent labels (and was also synonymous with alternative rock through the 80s) to a more honed-in group of artists that strive to remain on the fringe to allow for true musical freedom. We caught up with Fake It and Anxious Arms, both from Sacramento, California, Impulse Control from Medford, and The Elephant from Ashland to see what makes a true indie rocker. They will all indie rock like it’s going out of style (or is it?) at the Eaden Ballroom in Grants Pass on July 8.


Band Name: Impulse Control

Courtesy of Impulse Control

Rogue Valley Messenger: Why that name?

IC: Tim wrote a whole list of band names in a notebook and John and Max picked their favorite. Perhaps the name refers to a sense of existence all three of us both strive for and actively run from.

RVM: How long have you been a band?

IC: Our first show was on Tim’s birthday at Club 66 in 2015. 

RVM: Where do you get your song ideas, and are they a group effort or individual?

IC: Tim fled to the Bay area and writes the new music on his own in some expensive apartment. The work is brought to the rest of the band where Max and John work their magic to make it sound like actual music.

RVM: What are you working on right now?

IC: After releasing our live album “Alive and Trying” in January of this year, Tim’s been working on booking this summer tour and learning how to pump his own gas. John plays in what seems like 15 other bands around the Valley, and Max seems to be at a reasonable 12.

RVM: How do you feel Indie Rock is being received by listeners right now?

Tim: Through their ears. In the future, however, we will be ingesting indie rock orally as tablets.

Max: Indie rock will always have a place in the hearts all millennials. 

RVM: Where do you hope to be in five years as a band?

Tim: On five years, Impulse Control will find minor success opening for Max and John’s other bands on their world-wide tours.

Max: In five years, I hope all dads across America will putting over-ear headphones on the bellies of their pregnant ladies so that the youth of the future will have a general idea of song structure and quality lyrics.


Band Name: Fake It

RVM: Why that name?

FI: Originally I endeavored for the project be an avenue for me to explore all my various musical/genre interests. To this day, I refuse to hide the fact that I am still fairly incompetent when it comes to music and all that it encompasses, so calling the project Fake It was supposed to be ironic in that it was “faking” knowing how to write various kinds of music. Similarly, the name also stemmed from observations I had made while becoming more immersed in the national DIY music scene through playing shows in my old band as well as booking touring acts in Sacramento. The all-too-common occurrences of “band member egos” and condescension that are unfortunately a part of this sect of music often impose themselves in interactions in an attempt to appear important/successful. This aspect also made the name appealing to me. (We get a lot of “fake it ’til you make it” jokes)

RVM: How long have you been a band?

Fake It. Photo Credit: Tyler Watley

FI: We have only been a “band” for about a year and a half. The band originally began as my solo project the summer of 2016 when I began writing songs apart from my band at the time. Our first two releases were a compilation of riffs/lyrics that I had written over the years and decided to turn into songs. My friends Steven Salem and Taylor Liebe joined on bass and drums respectively November of 2016, and Taylor tracked the drums found on our releases S.S. and Gray Matters. Taylor left the band late last year and Spencer Perry joined on drums in his place. Our most recent addition to our current lineup was our friend Jack Wittich on guitar. 

RVM: Where do you get your song ideas, and are they a group effort or individual?

FI: Lyrically our songs thus far mostly come from dissonance in how I perceive the world and ultimately seek to somewhat resolve said dissonance for my own benefit/understanding. That being said, since our last release my outlook has vastly changed and I am experimenting more and more with things like narrative storytelling as well as post-modern poetry within the context of songwriting. As far as the musical/sonic composite of our songs goes, they are very “feeling” based. I get a lot of shit from the other members because I usually respond to being shown new parts or being asked what I think should be played with, “Just play what FEELS good”. It hasn’t failed me yet, and it makes the songs a lot of fun to play live.

RVM: What are you working on right now?

FI: We are currently working on a new batch of songs for a release of indeterminate length. It has been my first time writing songs for this project with a group rather than just by myself and I’m excited for what the final project might be. We are also planning on touring the West Coast a lot for the duration of 2018. We plan on being back in Oregon in September.

RVM: How do you feel Indie Rock is being received by listeners right now?

FI: I recently had a conversation with a friend on the state of rock music and I feel like it applies to Indie Rock as well. If you can say that Rock or Indie Rock is dead in 2018, you honestly aren’t trying hard enough to find new music. The downside of the internet age/streaming is the over-saturation of music to be listened to by the average consumer. The upside is that there is an almost infinite amount of music to be discovered if one is willing to put in the time. 

RVM: Where do you hope to be in five years as a band?

FI: My dream for playing music is to simply have it pay for itself. I love touring, writing, and recording. I also really do enjoy the aspects of my life that do not revolve around music, like my family, education, and having a separate line of income. I would love to be able to go on tour/write a new record whenever the opportunity presents itself and to not have to endure any fiscal repercussions for doing it. 


Band name: The Elephant

The Elephant. Photo Credit: Niki Vernier

RVM: Why that band name? 

TE: It’s based off the old metaphor “The elephant in the room.” I always found some of our music and lyrical content to be a bit odd and liked the idea of the band/music itself being The Elephant in the room. 

SJW: How long have you been a band? 

TE: Dan and I have been playing music together off and on for the past 13 years under different band names. The Elephant started as a solo project while we were both going to different colleges, but in 2015 we both ended up back in Southern Oregon and now The Elephant has evolved into a mighty duo.

RVM: Where do you get your song ideas, as a group or individual? 

TE: Musically, this varies from song to song. There are some that we write completely together, others are a mash up of various riffs or ideas we have, and then some songs we write completely individually. We try not to limit ourselves with any specific sound or genre which makes the writing process really fun. I write all of the lyrics and have personally always found it to be the hardest part of making music. I never really know what to write about, so I end up taking random ideas and going full force with it. This will often lead to some very eccentric songs, but I think that’s a fair representation of what The Elephant is about. 

RVM: What are you working on right now? 

TE: Right now we are just trying to record all of our music so that it can be available outside live performances. We released our debut album “A Nautical Affair” in December and have put out a song a month from Jan-Apr. Not exactly sure what the next release will be, but I’ve got an EP idea in mind, so let’s see how this works out!

RVM: How do you feel Indie Rock is being received by listeners right now? 

TE: Indie Rock seems to be going stronger than ever these days. There are a ton of great bands, old and new, out there and even more people wanting to listen to it. The genre has such a wide appeal that it’s hard to listen to without tapping your foot. 

RVM: Where do you hope to be in five years as a band? 

TE: Still making music and playing shows. We’re constantly writing and recording demos in our house, but I would love to work in an actual studio with all that fancy equipment. I love all our home recordings, but I’d really like to be able to just work on songs in a studio environment with someone who is better at the technical side of recording music than I am. 


Band Name: Anxious Arms

Photo Credit: Ray Patrick

RVM: Why that name? 

AA: “Anxious Arms” is taken from a song title by The Jealous Sound, which was a 2000s-era emo band that influenced our music. 

RVM: How long have you been a band?

AA: We’ve been playing shows for around a year and a half, but we’ve started touring just this past year.

RVM: Where do you get your song ideas, and are they a group effort or individual?

AA: The ideas for the songs can come from many places. Most of the songs deal with becoming comfortable with oneself and the difficulties that can come from that. Lyrically I write all the songs and musically someone comes in with an idea and we jam it out.

RVM: What are you working on right now?

AA: We recently finished recording an EP at Nu Tone Studios in San Francisco this past April! It hasn’t been released just yet but we are super excited to get that out soon. Other than that, we recently put out a single from that EP that you can find on our Bandcamp, as well as Spotify/Apple Music/etc.

RVM: How do you feel Indie Rock is being received by listeners right now?

AA: The kind of music we play might not be on top of the charts, but there’s a bunch of cool bands out there and a ton of even cooler people who go out to shows and make it possible for bands like us to do what we do. I think as long as there’s people out there who continue to listen to music with an open mind, indie/underground rock is gonna have a home.

RVM: Where do you hope to be in five years as a band?

AA: On tour, but in a nicer van. 


Impulse Control | Fake It | The Elephant | Anxious Arms

6:30 pm, Sunday, July 8

Eaden Ballroom, 244 SW K Street, Grants Pass





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