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Good Luck And Good Night: Erin Slaver On JD & The Straight Shot’s New Album!

Good Luck And Good Night: Erin Slaver On JD & The Straight Shot’s New Album!

JD & The Straight Shot – Photo by Kristin Harlowe

When violinist/fiddler Erin Slaver picked up her instrument at the tender age of three, she had no idea of the places it would take her. Her passion for music would lead her to Stony Brook University, where she spent her college years immersed in classical music, festivals and performing in orchestral concerts. Along the way, she participated in Jazz, Baroque, and Quartet ensembles, contributing to her versatility as a musician and instrumentalist. She studied with such renown pedagogues as Phil Setzer (from the Emerson Quartet) and Soovin Kim. In 2010, she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors in Music and went on to complete a year of graduate school (also in classical violin performance) but took a leave of absence to move to Tennessee. The move to Nashville ignited her passion for songwriting. With her deep-rooted love of music and performance, Erin has continued to carve out her own niche in Music City. She has toured with Martina McBride, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Sam Palladio, and Katie Armiger playing fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar and singing background vocals. Additionally, she has played back-up for artists including Rod Stewart, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, Jennifer Nettles, Il Divo, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Scotty McCreery,  Lauren Alaina among others.

As a member of JD & The Straight Shot, Erin Slaver continues expand her creative palette and explore new musical territory. The band recently finished pouring their heart and soul into the making of their vibrant sixth studio album, ‘Good Luck and Good Night.’ The band is an absolute powerhouse, comprised of vocalist/guitarist Jim Dolan, guitarist Marc Copely (B.B. King, Rosanne Cash), bassist Byron House (Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton), drummer/percussionist Shawn Pelton (Sheryl Crow, Levon Helm, Saturday Night Live band) and violinist/fiddler Erin Slaver. ‘Good Luck and Good Night,’ an all-acoustic record, was produced and mixed by Copely (Toby Lightman, Owen Danoff, Upright Man) and engineered by Chuck Ainley (Mark Knopfler, George Strait, Lee Ann Womack) at Soundstage Studios in Nashville. Influenced by artists like The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and The Beatles along with traditional Irish folk music and classical music, ‘Good Luck and Good Night’ delivers a huge sound, steeped in the quiet fire of American roots, music, and the swagger of rock n’ roll. 

The sparkling title track featuring a child chorus crescendo, is a thoughtful commentary on the divisive state of news reporting today, and the scorching lead single, ‘Run For Me,’ showcases unbridled energy, galloping rhythms and expansive sonic layers. ‘Moonlight’ entrances with soaring melodies, while the banjo-and-fiddle-driven burner ‘Ballad of Jacob Marley’ re-tells the tale of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Story about greed and the ability to change. The beauty of Maya Angelou’s words shines in the contemplative ‘Never Alone’ based on her poem ‘Alone,’ the gospel-infused, foot-stomping ‘Redemption Train’ sings of salvation, the melancholy, moving ‘Tonight’ touches on the terrors of domestic abuse and the graceful ballad ‘I Know, You Know, I Know’ addresses the secret passions of love that cannot be.

JD & The Straight Shot is currently roaming the nation in support of ‘Good Luck and Good Night’ and continues to dazzle crowds along the way. No stranger to touring, the band has hit the road in the past with luminaries such as The Eagles, Keith Urban, Don Henley, Dixie Chicks, Jewel, Joe Walsh, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and more. 

Icon Vs. Icon’s Jason Price recently caught up with Erin Slaver to discuss her journey as an artist, the making of JD & The Straight Shot’s ‘Good Luck & Good Night’ and the challenges she has faced along the way!

How did music first come into your life and what went into finding your creative voice as an artist?

My mother enrolled me in a Suzuki music program for violin when I was three years old and I loved it, training classically from the time I was a child throughout my college years. I also grew up playing music (country/bluegrass/jazz) with my father (a guitarist). As a father-daughter duo we’d perform on weekends and give concerts throughout our community. Because of my mixed musical upbringing, my creative voice as an artist was influenced by a vast array of genres and musicians. I’d say I truly discovered who I was as a creative artist when I also began songwriting.

Who has had the biggest impact on you and your work as musician? 

From jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli to bluegrass fiddler Mark O’Connor and classical composers (Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky) I’ve been influenced by performers and music all across the spectrum. But the people who had the greatest impact on me were my music teachers. I idolized them, and still do. Without their encouragement and guidance, I don’t know where I’d be.

What made you want to pursue your passion professionally and did you have any reservations about taking the plunge?

I had spent my childhood and early adult life performing with my father, playing in bands and making music. After 5 years of music school and a lifetime of experience performing, the transition into music as my career seemed like the most natural next step. I may have had reservations, but I couldn’t imagine any other way!

You’ve come a long way from the early years as a musician. Looking back, what are your fondest memories of your leaner years as a professional musician and how did these experiences impact the artist we see today?

I’m 29 this year. Is it okay that I still consider these my ‘early’ years? ;) But yes, starting out in the music industry (in Nashville) is terrifying, and also amazingly exciting all at once. They say ‘half the fun is getting there’ and it’s true, the unpredictable, spontaneous life of young musician in a city like Nashville can bring you all kinds of opportunities. You find yourself in the middle of a world you thought only existed in movies.

What got the ball rolling for ‘Good Luck And Good Night’ and made now the right time for a new record?

We had the songs! We were selfishly hoarding a great collection of new music we really loved, and it became clear it was time to put it out for the rest of the world to enjoy!

For those haven’t heard this record, how does it compare and contrast to the work JD & The Straight Shot has done in the past?

We have all been touring and cowriting together now for several years and this is our second album to capture our strictly acoustic sound and arrangements. It’s groovy in a way that reflects our vibe together as a live band. Marc (our music director and lead guitar player) was behind the board producing, so there was a very intimate and familiar ear guiding the sound. We also spent some time touring and playing a lot of these new songs live before we took them into the studio; we wanted the music to feel “lived in”… By the time we were making the record, we all had a pretty good sense of what what was going to work and what wasn’t.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for the album and gathering the right mix of tunes?

We write together during our time spent on the road and in rehearsal. If someone has an idea for a new song they’ll bring it in to the rest of us and usually we all finish it together. For this particular record, we drew a ton of songwriting inspiration from our time spent touring in Europe (Ireland/the UK to be exact).

What were the biggest challenges the band encountered while bringing the album to life?

Collaboration isn’t always easy. Since we were all working together and everyone shared equally in the process, it was easy for conflicting opinions and ideas to arise. Of course we had our producer, Marc, to help guide our direction, but the end result still required a lot of patience from everyone involved and willingness to not only try many different ideas, but also make compromises.

They say you learn something from each album you put out? Is does that hold true with this one?

I agree! The lesson I believe we all learned this time? Don’t rush. Take time, enjoy the process, re-do things if they don’t come out sounding how you envisioned them, and then re-do them again. If you don’t get it right the first time, that’s okay. It’s all part of the learning process, and leads you to eventually find what it is you’re looking for. I can’t believe the difference from the first takes of our single “Run for Me” to the final track we released. We didn’t give up until it was exactly what we all knew it could be!

You have lived with the songs on this new album for a while now. Which ones resonate with you the most at this point in time?

I have a soft spot for “The Ballad of Jacob Marley”. I love the energy of the track and the gang vocals on the chorus. It makes you want to stomp your feet. Plus, our bassist / multi-instrumentalist Byron House plays the tastiest lick on banjo that sucks you right down into purgatory. You can feel the weight of the chains and the heat of the fire. I also just love our cover of Three Dog Night’s “Shambala.” The harmonies are strong and full, and the song is just so….. happy.

You have worked with the other members of JD & The Straight Shot for years now. What do you bring out in each other creatively?

We have been working together for quite some time, and we all know each other’s strengths. We encourage one another to focus on these strengths when collaborating, setting up an environment that allows each of us to truly shine creatively.

You have worked with some amazing artists through the years, as well as the players in JD & The Straight Shot. What do you consider the keys to a successful collaboration?

I believe the key to a successful collaboration is a willingness to share your best ideas, but still be willing to make compromises.

JD & The Straight Shot will be touring throughout the Fall and Winter. What can we expect from the live show?

We take our performances very seriously and always strive to sound our best. Before we go on stage we like to stand in a circle and sing through our harmonies, just to make sure everything is sounding good! You can expect to have a lot of fun. Oh, and there will be some foot-stomping, hand-clapping, down-home old-fashioned good-time MUSIC.

Erin Slaver – Photo by Piper Rastello

You welcomed a new child last year. Congratulations! How has motherhood impacted you creatively and professionally? I’m sure there is a true art to the balance!

Thank you! Motherhood is the most wonderful experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But yes, there is definitely a new balance I’m having to find — not so sure I’ve mastered yet either. But it does make you more efficient. My time is limited, so when I practice, I make it count.

You have a lot of productive years ahead of you. Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?

I’d like to continue to develop as a songwriter and musician. I still feel I’ve only skimmed the surface and I know there’s a much deeper place I’d like to reach within my music and myself.

You can serve as a great inspiration for so many aspiring artists and young people. What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?

Never give up! It’s true what they say about those who persevere. It’s not easy and rejection is hard, but belief and hard work will always pay off, and the cream will always rise to the top.

Connect with JD & The Straight Shot on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit their official site, www.jdandthestraightshot.com,  for the latest news and tour dates! Visit www.erinslaver.com to learn more about her journey as an artist!

JD & The Straight Shot on Tour:

9/16 Cherokee, NC @Harrah’s Cherokee (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/17 Wilmington, NC @Cape Fear Community College Humanities & Fine Arts Center (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/19 Richmond, KY @EKU Center for the Arts (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/21 Frederick, MD @Fair (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/22 Northfield, OH @Hard Rock Rocksino (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/23 Huber Heights, OH @Rose Music Center at The Heights (w/ The Doobie Brothers)

9/27 Bloomsburg, PA @Bloomsburg Fair (w/ Chicago)

9/28 Stamford, CT @The Palace Theatre (w/ Chicago)

9/30 Gilford, NH @Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion (w/ Chicago)

*more dates to be announced

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LEFT TO THE CLOUDS: Sofia Donavan On Her Blossoming Career and New EP

LEFT TO THE CLOUDS: Sofia Donavan On Her Blossoming Career and New EP

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At only 18 years old, singer/songwriter Sofia Donavan is making quite a name for herself, continuing to turn the heads of critics and fans alike with emotionally raw and captivating songs. An amazingly talented performer, she started singing lessons at 8 years old and at the age of 13 she took up guitar and piano. After playing a song called “Soldier’s Letter” to her singing teacher and seeing her reaction, she realized that song writing was something she could pursue seriously.

Donavan started posting covers of popular songs on Youtube to begin building a small platform where she would later introduce her original music. During this time, she began to play at open mic nights and local songwriter venues in London. After winning a school competition, she had the opportunity to play at the Isle of Wight Festival and open up for a band in Shepherd’s Bush Empire. In 2013 she released her ?rst EP, Square One, independently and started to sell copies at shows.

After reaching out to an advertisement that asked songwriters to send songs in to be reviewed on a website called MusicXray, she received a response from musician and artist manager Brian Steen saying that he was interested in hearing more of her music. Through this relationship, she was introduced to the head of A&R for Windup Records: Diana Meltzer who then eventually led her to meet Jason Elgin who would produce the Left To The Clouds EP. After a lot of planning and skype discussions, she took a leap of faith ?ying to Birmingham, Alabama and recorded her second EP, ‘Left To The Clouds.’

Sofia Donavan’s ‘Left To The Clouds’ EP is a heart-felt collection of masterfully crafted modern Americana music that is infused with both raw emotion and intense vulnerability. The 5 tracks on the EP are a culmination of life, love, and hope, fueled by powerful lyrics and infectious melodies. The honest nature of songs like “If It Wasn’t For Love”, “Note To Tennessee”, “Rare As Gold” and the album’s title track captures the essence of the process and adventure of life, taking the listener on a journey where the music exists in it’s purist form.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon caught up with Sofia Donavan to discuss her musical influences, her journey as an artist, her musical evolution, inspirations and what we can expect from her in the near future!

You are just 18 years old but have been very successful in your still blossoming career. Let’s go back to the beginning. How did music first come into your life?

My parents used to play the Beatles and Bob Dylan a lot when I was growing up. Every Sunday they would play music and I would wake up to it because they would get up before me. I was an only child for about six years and I would come downstairs and dance and sing along to it. It was me entertaining myself when I was an only child! [laughs]

What influences had a big impact on you as an artist?

In my personal life, a lot of people on my mom’s side of the family are very musically inclined. That is the very musical side of the family. My uncle is also a musician. He would always say, “Follow your passion, even though it is a hard career, you should definitely go for it!” Those people in my personal life really pushed me to keep that dream going. Musically speaking, when I was 12, Taylor Swift was my complete idol! As I got older, I discovered her influences and found other people like The Civil Wars and got back into Bob Dylan as a 16- or 17-year-old as opposed to being a 6-year-old. Hearing it in a new context changed a lot of things. Those are just a few of the people who really influenced my music and my songwriting.

Sofia Donavan

Sofia Donavan

Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to pursue music as a career?

I started writing songs when I was around 13 years old. I think when I first played one of my songs, “Soldier’s Letter,” for my singing teacher at the time. She was very quiet and said, “This is pretty good, you should continue this.” That was the first time it turned into not only something I loved doing but something other people responded to. I think it was then when I realized this could turn into a career. “Soldier’s Letter” is on my first EP, “Square One.”

SofiaDonavan - "Left To The Clouds"

SofiaDonavan – “Left To The Clouds”

You have a brand new EP out now, “Left To The Clouds.” How do the two compare and contrast?

I would say that the first EP is a lot more acoustic. The production itself was very simple. I wasn’t really sure what sound I wanted to go for at that point, so I tried to keep it just a nice, supporting background band for my songs. This second EP has a much clearer focus with an Americana influence and a country influence in it. I got to play around, work with a lot more people and use a lot more instruments in the production. I think that it sounds a lot bigger and more professional.

What can you tell us about finding your sound and choosing that musical direction?

I had always been influenced by folk songwriters. Even though my sound isn’t very folk, lyrically that is how I found my voice through storytellers and beautifully written songs that use a lot of metaphors. Then I discovered country. Living in London, country is not a big thing, so I kind of did that by myself. Once I discovered country and folk, mixing those two genres really seemed to click. It seemed to really fit the production style to the words and stories I was trying to tell.

Did you have any goals or expectations for “Left To The Clouds” when you started building the EP?

I just wanted to grow. I loved working on my first EP. It was the first time I had any kind of experience in a recording studio. Once I had that, I was more comfortable with the process and knew what to expect, I felt I had a lot more freedom to not be shy and have more input into the project. Working with Jason Elgin, who was my producer for “Left To The Clouds,” was amazing. We got on very well and it was very clear what I wanted and what he wanted. Having input while being guided by someone who has had so much experience was perfect for what I wanted for this EP.

Sofia Donavan

Sofia Donavan

What are the biggest things you took away from working with Jason Elgin?

Working with him, you quickly see how meticulous and professional he is. I learned so much about precision and how every detail does matter. Going back and doing those extra takes really makes all the difference. I remember recording “Rare As Gold.” We had been singing it one way for a while and there was something missing from the performance. He came in and lit up all these candles and dimmed the lights. He created an atmosphere and that completely brought out this new performance from me. Working with someone who takes the time to feel out what you need to get the best out of you was really great.

What can you tell us about your songwriting process? How has it progressed from your first EP?

When I wrote my first EP, I would sit down and write music and lyrics at the same time. Usually, I would spend about two or three days finishing a song. Now, I can finish a song using the same process but, before I demo it or record it, I usually go back and visit it. I think about what I can change or make better. For example, “Note To Tennessee,” in my mind it was a finished song when I brought it to Jason. When we went into the studio, we had all of these new ideas about how we could change it or build on it. I have become much more open to changes in songs and not feeling it is done as soon as you put the pen down. A song can keep changing and evolving, especially when you are working with other people, even when you might have thought it was completed.

Sofia Donavan

Sofia Donavan

Your lyrics are very personal. Was it difficult to make the transition to work with other people and put yourself out there so openly on an emotional level?

At first it is definitely daunting to show people what are basically pages of your diary! [laughs] No one really knew the stories behind the songs. As you are recording, you get more comfortable and working 10 hours a day with the same people, so people will start to ask what specific songs are about. I really liked being able to tell these personal stories. I think that also helped the people I was working with to get where I was coming from or see one interpretation of the song that they may have not seen before. While it was definitely scary at first, I think it is totally worth it to let yourself be open and be that personal and get to that level of sharing a personal story.

Are you the type of artist who is always writing and where do you look for inspiration these days?

I am writing all of the time. I have a lot of ideas and I will put them down on my iPhone or write them on my laptop or in a little book that I have. Whenever I have a good week off or a few days off, that is when I will usually sit down and write five songs or something like that! [laughs] Something just comes out of me! There are definitely times where I can write a song very quickly and other times that take much longer. It is a combination of personal life, stories that I hear or being inspired by new music that I hear. Discovering new music can inspire me to change my lyrics up, change how I might tell a story or a melody. Discovering new music is a huge inspiration to me.

Sofia Donavan

Sofia Donavan

You lived with these songs for a while now, both in the writing process, the studio process and now playing live. Which of the songs resonates with you the most these days?

“Left To The Clouds” is a song that will never not resonate with me because it is basically overcoming the challenges you might face. It can be overcoming fear, anxiety or a person who is getting in the way of you achieving what you want. It is a song that, every time I listen to it, I think, “Wow. This is what I was saying and I didn’t even realize I was saying it when I wrote the song.” I think overcoming difficulties is something that will never get old and I will always be able to relate to that specific song.

You are still new to your craft but it is clear you are getting better with each passing day. That is inspiring to see. What do you consider your biggest creative milestones to date?

I am a huge lyric fan, so I think I try to get better at that with each song I write. As important as melody is and is the heart of the song, I always gravitate to the lyrics of songs when listening to music. That is what I think I have grown the most in and hopefully will continue to do so!

Where do you see yourself headed in the future musically and where are you in regards to new music?

I have been constantly writing. Jason and I are still in contact and I am always sending him my new songs to get feedback. I am working on getting good demos of everything I am currently writing. In the future, if I ever get the chance to record a full album, I would love to mix the aspects I loved from both EPs. I would love to have the Americana/country sound and also be able to have some quieter songs and moments that are as simple as a guitar and a voice. That is something you can do more easily with an album. You can explore your range in a good variety of songs.

Sofia Donavan

Sofia Donavan

What do you have planned for this summer? Anything fun in the works career-wise?

I am going to New York next week. I will be doing a songwriter’s seminar for 10 days. I am so excited! It is about co-writing and working with ASCAP and BMI, so that will be great. I am also going to do some shows there. Then I will be going down to Nashville the week after that, which I am very excited about! I will also be performing some shows there. Later this summer, I will be going to London and doing a show at The Troubadour. That is one of the first places I ever played because I grew up in London. Going back there now after having two EPs will be a lot of fun! I will also have a music video coming out soon for “Note To Tennessee.” That should be out in the next two months or so.

Are you involved with an charity work we could help shine a light on?

Right now I attend Middlebury College in Vermont. It is more of a support group than a charity but my friend and I run The Red Pen Group. We get girls in the community and females on campus to unite and become more active when it comes to politics and women having a voice on campus. That is something I am excited to be a part of on campus.

That sounds like a worthy cause. It is so cool to see you so focused and driven. I can’t wait to see where these roads lead you!

Thank you! I appreciate your support and will talk to you soon!

For the latest news, music and tour dates from Sofia Donavan, visit her official website at www.sofiaofficial.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang Reveal Alice In Chains Cover “Man in the Box”

Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang Reveal Alice In Chains Cover “Man in the Box”

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Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box” is a staple of ‘90s hard rock that no musician has dared try to genre bend – until now. Featured on the upcoming album Four Foot ShackLes Claypool’s Duo de Twang has created a rootsy, banjo-filled rendition of the track that completely turns the original version on its head. Listen + share it via SPIN HERE.

Out February 4th

Out February 4th

Upon listening to Four Foot Shack you’ll quickly discover that Les and Bryan made it a point to keep things as live-sounding as humanly possible. “It was very live,” admits Les. “In fact, it was a little difficult, with all the bleed of the stomping and the bass and the vocals. Every now and again you can hear the studio refrigerator come on or the dog barking at something outside in the background.  Once it was there, you had to kind of leave it.”

Head below to find out when Duo de Twang’s live show will be making its way to your town, including a unique NYC performance at the McKittrick Hotel’s Sleep No More Experience; tickets for all shows can be pre-ordered HERE, and Four Foot Shack can be pre-ordered HERE.

Tour Dates

2/27 – New York, NY – The Heath at McKittrick Hotel
2/28 – Woodstock, NY – Bearsville Theater
3/1 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
3/3 – Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
3/4 – Millvale, PA – Mr. Smalls Theatre
3/6 – Kent, OH – The Kent Stage
3/7 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
3/8 – Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
3/12 – 3/14 – Austin, TX – SXSW

Album Pre-Order
iTunes
Website
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Epic Americana: The Brevet Offer A Look At Their Past, Present and Future!

Epic Americana: The Brevet Offer A Look At Their Past, Present and Future!

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The Brevet, comprised of the talents of Aric Chase Damm, Michael Jones and? David Aguiar, are from the sunny socal suburbs. The young American band is comprised of: a filmmaker, an actor, a computer nerd, and a shoeless organic dog toy maker. They have a mutual love for making powerful music in their mobile home park studio that hugs the 405 freeway. They are passionate about spilling their hearts through cinematic sounds in order to motivate yours. By combining Americana rock, sweeping orchestral tracks, gang vocals, unforgettable choruses, and connective emotional lyrics, The Brevet have put together a unique one of a kind sound that serves to be the soundtrack of your life. The Brevet released their album ”Battle of the Heart’ on April 30th and have already been met with great success. The track “Let Go” was featured on an episode of The CW’s ‘90210’ and “Start To Begin” spent a week as the feature song on ‘Baseball Tonight.’ The hard work and dedication to their craft has begun to turn the heads of critics and fans alike, cementing them as a band to watch in 2014! Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with the band for a quick Q&A about their musical past, present and future!

'Battle of The Heart'

‘Battle of The Heart’

Take us back to your earlier years. What are your first memories of music in your life?

For me (Aric), the earliest memory I have of music really impacting me was the first time I heard Elvis. I was probably 5. I just remember how powerful infectious his voice was when I first heard it. After that, was wanted to be Elvis.

For me (Michael), I remember my first recital when I was 5. I played some simple tune on the violin to a huge crowd. That’s when I found out that I love performing.

How were your biggest influences as a musician and performer?

Definitely Elvis, The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, NEEDTOBREATHE, The Fray and Mumford & Sons.

What made you take the plunge and pursue a career in the music industry?

Aric and I started writing together in middle school. Our musical influences came from different angles, but the music started melting together in organic ways. After college we found ourselves struggling to find comfort in day jobs and decided to just go for it. We ultimately decided that we didn’t want look back at our lives and have any remorse for not going for what we truly loved doing. It’s a passion we’ve all had since a young age, so it was really a no brainer when we got an opportunity to start creating together.

The Brevet

The Brevet

How did the band initially form?

It really started in 7th grade when we (Aric & Michael) got our first guitar/piano lessons, but our style didn’t get solidified until late college. Every summer since high school, we would write/record together and would bring in friends who wanted to play. Through college, we scored a couple films that Aric was acting in while he was in theatre, I spent a ton of time in various DAW programs producing different styles – eventually our sound developed into something we could recognize as our own. We developed a vision to create music that was inspired by film scores and cinematic themes.

Who are the players involved and what does each bring to the table for a project like this?

Aric, Michael & David make up The Brevet. Aric does main vocals, guitars, and anything we experiment with. Michael is on the piano and mainly does the production work. David is on drums and percussion. A lot of our roles are blended, at times we’ve each played other instruments as needed. We each come in at a different angles, which helps bring a ton different influences to the table. Most of the time we over-produce and draw things back to tailor the song, it’s a luxury for us to be running our own studio as we can really take the time to experiment with the recordings. David comes from a very jazz influenced background as a session drummer, this brings in that live energy into our tracks. While Michael has some of a jazz background too, he was trained classically on the piano which has been key for the cinematic imagery. Aric’s theater influences have shaped the way he creates our lyrical content and our sonic imagery.

In terms of production, Michael and Aric have spent years developing and learning what works best for the styles we’ve made. All the time we’ve spent in the studio has really shaped our sound. We started recording/producing in middle school when we wanted to put out our first album and the experimentation/learning hasn’t stopped since. We’ve aspired to achieve sounds that are just as big, full, rich, moving and beautiful as any of our influences, while keeping true to our original sound.

The Brevet

The Brevet

For those who may not know, what is the band name all about and why did you chose it?

The “Brevet” rank was a position given to soldiers (mostly in the civil war) out of honor and merit. They usually didn’t receive any extra pay or compensation when given the rank. The word represents what we are all about. We don’t want to do this to gain any kind of acclaim. We just love making music that has a purpose and moves people.

For those who may not be familiar with your work quite yet, what can they expect sonically?

People have been labeling our sound as “EPIC AMERICANA” which we find awesome! haha. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from listeners who also love our influences. We definitely admire the musicality behind Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Kings of Leon, etc., but we do aspire to create original music with cinematic intentions.

You have released your album “Battle of the Heart” earlier this year. What were you expectations going into the process of creating the album?

We really didn’t have any expectations. I guess we all just wanted to make music that we all could be very proud of. The fact that people have been receptive to our music is extremely humbling. The goals we set once this happened pushed us to rise to the occasion. We really wanted to get one of our songs placed on tv.

How did the title come about and what does it mean to you personally?

The title came about during a time when we were still very new to the idea of, “just going for the music career”. I felt that we were going through much of what most people go through a some point in life which, is making a decision of the type of life they would like to live. Many of us have come or will come to a crossroad where they face a question; “do I take a more wearisome and unsteady road that is what makes me truly happy OR do I take the road that may be more stable?” I think everyone has felt or will feel that at some point in their life. It’s truly a battle of the heart.

The Brevet

The Brevet

What can you tell us about your songwriting process and how you bring a tune to life?

There has been a constant theme throughout the album. Much of the writing is organic, depending on the mood we want to write for. Sometimes Aric gets locks himself in his room and writes out the big ideas and we tweak them at the studio, sometimes I throw together an idea on the piano and record it on my iphone. Much of the collaborative songs is Aric and myself on our instruments brainstorming emotional sounds, then the melodies follow, and lyrics after that. Bottom line, a good idea is a good idea. We push ourselves to make the best.

Looking back on the entire process of bringing it to life, what stands out at as the biggest challenge in creating this album?

Time management. We all had our own separate lives we were trying to start, and getting into the groove of making music week in and week out was tough. Now we have the routine down, and we’re much more comfortable with what it takes.

What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself during this intense process?

We learned that if we push ourselves, focus and work hard every week, we are able to achieve the goals we’ve set out to accomplish.

Any plans for a return to the studio in the near future? If so, where are you in the process of creating new material?

We have the luxury of spending a lot of time with our music and haven’t taken any breaks since we released Battle of the Heart other than a few trips to the mountains.

The Brevet

The Brevet

What are your tour plans at the moment?

None yet! We’re excited to be adding the new material to our live set. We’re getting ready to go full force in 2014!

What are your favorite songs to play live these days?

“Start to Begin” and “Let Go.”

Is there something you hope people come away with after they catch one of your live performances?

Just that we aren’t trying to put on any personas or trying to be something we aren’t. We just want the music to speak for itself and hope people come away feeling moved and inspired in one way or another.

Are there any video plans in the making?

We will be filming our first music video next month, which we are extremely excited about!

What do you consider your biggest milestone so far?

I think it would have to be getting our song, “Let Go” on The CW’s 90210. That was a pretty defining moment for us as a band because prior to that we had no idea what people thought of our music.

The Brevet

The Brevet

How do you feel you have evolved as a musician since first starting out?

Our musicianship has evolved independently, but more importantly we’ve learned how to collaborate so well because of how long we’ve played together. Aric and I are able to anticipate the direction of a song we’re working on, and our vision is almost always the same.

What are some of your musical bucket list items?

Doing a global tour, winning Grammies, going platinum, taking over the world – just simple stuff like that.

What bands are out there right now that have made you stand up and take notice?

Churchill, Lord Huron, Ben Rector. There’s so much talent out there its unbelievable.

What is the best piece of advice that you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music in the industry’s current climate?

Go for it. There’s no right or wrong way to attack it these days and the world is at your fingertips.

What is your New Year’s Resolution for 2014 and what are you most excited about when you think about the year to come?

We really want to play SXSW, do a great music video and play more shows. We’re most excited about gaining more traction for our music.

Anything you want to tell your fans before I let you go?

We’re overwhelmed by the love you guys have given us, we hope to see you all in 2014. Please keep spreading the word about us and thank you all for being such great fans so early in the game!

The album is available for purchase on iTunes and can be streamed on The Brevet’s Soundcloud. For more on The Brevet, be sure to visit them on their socials.

The Brevet Official Sites
http://www.thebrevet.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TheBrevet
https://twitter.com/thebrevet

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