Instant Empire is a 6-piece indie rock band consisting of Scotty (Lyrics & Vocals), Doug (Keyboard and Percussion), Sean (Lyrics & Guitar), Aaron (Bass & Vox), Lou (Guitars & Vox) and Matt (Drums) from Denver Colorado. We really loved their music and vibe after checking out some of their latest material and we were delighted, despite their increasingly hectic schedule, when they agreed to be interviewed by Song Revelation. Read on and enjoy one of our most detailed and in-depth interviews to date!
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Aggressive indie rock – with an emphasis on lyrics, dynamics and melody
Q: What is your musical background?
We are a six piece, so our musical backgrounds are a bit all over the place. Sean, Lou, Aaron and Doug went to school for music in some form or another and all members of the band (other than Scotty) have been playing music for the majority of their lives. Scotty didn’t start playing/writing music until he was 27 and is self taught (or maybe just not taught at all – he wings it).
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
The last 12 months have been fun, manic, debaucherous … and surprisingly productive. A year ago we had written a few songs that all fit together well from a musical and lyrical standpoint. So we decided to put out a three-song EP with those songs (the EP was called Keep Up!). This was the third EP we put out in as many years. We recorded, mixed and produced Keep Up! in the fall of 2012 and released it in January of 2013. We also bought a van and started hitting the road. Our van is named Ishneeda. She’s seen most of North and South America (she apparently has made multiple excursions to Venezuela … we assume for drug runs or at least cocaine-induced benders of some sort). Ishneeda has over 333,333 miles. Yeah – she rides like a dream. We’ve been touring throughout a number of Midwest states (Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and New Mexico).
Q: Who inspires you musically?
All of our individual influences are really divergent and as a band we really don’t have one universal inspiration, you know? The only way to really answer this question is by the individual – so for the sake of brevity we’ll try to keep this as short as possible:
Scotty: Conor Oberst, Will Sheff, Isaac Brock
Doug: All things Robert Pollard
Sean: The National, Spoon, Dan Boeckner
Aaron: The Dear Hunter, Porcupine Tree, Steely Dan
Lou: Wolf Parade, mewithoutYou, White Rabbits
Matt: Led Zeppelin, Kurt Vile, Pavement
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
In no particular order: Desaparecidos, The National, Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade, The Dear Hunter, Portugal. The Man., Cursive, Rilo Kiley (RIP), Les Savy Fav, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Okkervil River, Radiohead, Guided by Voices, Bon Iver, etc.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
Well, if we’re going to dream here – then we’d pretty much kill to collaborate with any of the following: Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Robert Pollard, basically any of the members of The National, Casey Crescenzo, Jenny Lewis (seriously … let’s make this happen), Will Sheff, Karen O, what the hell – a super group with us, Justin Vernon, Prince, and David Bowie! We are in the process of collaborating with our favorite Colorado band – El Toro De La Muerte. Those dudes rock and we are going to be putting out a split single on vinyl with them. Rad.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
Dear Lord – this won’t be easy. We’ll give this a shot:
– Graceless, The National
– You Should’ve Seen The Other Guy, Nathaniel Rateliff
– Raging in the Plague Age, Les Savy Fav
– Sunday Morning Coming Down, Johnny Cash
– Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure, The Weakerthans
– Anything You Want, Spoon
– Filth and Squalor, The Dear Hunter
– Breezy, Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band
– Song for Zula, Phosphorescent
– Glad Girls, Guided by Voices
– A Suit in Space, El Toro de la Muerte
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
These days when we write, we typically start jamming on a riff or part that someone has come up with. If we like the part/riff, we start writing the foundation of the song all together in the practice studio.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
Ha – in this band it’s got to be lyrics. Scotty and Sean are lyric-obsessed. I mean, melody is obviously essential, but lyrics are a defining characteristic of this band.
Q: Where are you based?
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Denver (and Colorado in general) is awesome. Surrounded by mountains and what feels like an exploding music scene these days. It’s a youthful, active city and we are proud to represent the 303.
Q: What are you currently working on?
We are in the process of writing our first full-length album. We’ve released three EP’s over the last three years and now’s the time to put out our first LP. We are stoked about the new songs we are writing and hope to be going into the studio in the fall at some point. I think this band finally knows what sound we are going for (raw – loud – aggressive indie rock) and the writing so far is going really well.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
We’ve been lucky to have opportunities to play with bands like Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, and The Parlotones, but the highlight so far is definitely the touring we’ve been doing over the last year. Being in the van, on the road, playing in new towns – it’s simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating. I think every time we finish writing a song it feels like the new best highlight, you know?
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?
We want to record our first full-length album and then see where that takes us. Hopefully play as many shows as possible after the new record is out. If everything goes perfectly, we’ll end up playing Letterman or something. If the new album sucks, we’ll likely find ourselves drunk in a dark, dank bar on the wrong side of town with our heads on a swivel … just waiting for the inevitable knife fight to begin.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
Yup. We’ve got the following shows on the books:
– September 6, The Riot Room (Kansas City, MO)
– September 7, O’Leavers Pub (Omaha, NE)
– September 13, Illegal Pete’s (Denver, CO) with Fierce Bad Rabbit
Q: What do you do to relax?
Strangely, belligerently yelling at one another seems to calm us all down. At any given time, you can likely hear one member of this band affectionately yell at another member of this band to “Shut the fuck up!”. We aren’t sure why … but it’s become a term of endearment. Other than that, we do exactly what you would think guys in a Denver band would do – we snowboard, ski, climb mountains and stumble from bar to bar on Colfax.
Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?
If you are talking about our ideal band tour – up and down the west coast is the dream, right? If you are just talking about a random vacation, I don’t know, maybe a beach somewhere with very few people, perfect water and magic coconuts that arrive in your hand filled with well whiskey. That sounds pretty ideal. We don’t have a beach anywhere close to here – so we’d go all in on the beach thing.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
Well, the first thing would be to tell them to write as much as possible and to play live as much as possible. Other than that – we’d tell them not to ignore the importance of marketing (or knowing the right people). If you know the right people, marketing can probably be ignored. We definitely do not know the right people, so smart and fun marketing of your band is important. People have never had more options for entertainment and if they don’t know that your band exists – you’ll never build a fanbase. We’ve probably done everything wrong from a marketing perspective, so really our advice would be proven things NOT to do.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
We’ve told you all this stuff about us – we’d really love to hear from your readers. Send us a message on Facebook or email us at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: From a great deal of musicianship, energy and some catchy songs Instant Empire have the whole package. We’re looking forward to listening to their latest album and watching as their success and fanbase grows.
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