With the alt rock scene monopolizing the borough of Brooklyn, and rapidly seething into the likes of all Manhattan venues, a band making big booming music fit for stadium rock is rare. Left to middle America. People that aren’t wrapped up in instances of cool or uncool, but enjoy music, and don’t mind if the booming sound speaks to more than the chain smoking mid-twenties.
“We aren’t cool,” Justin Wands, the lead singer of Echosuite confesses. “We just aren’t. And we don’t really have a problem with that. We know it.” Whether that’s true or not, the ex-opera singer has a helluva voice that rings clean on studio and computer speakers alike. They’ll be playing a show for their EP release of Our Noisy Culture, February 22nd at Mercury Lounge. The songs are inspired by loss of voice. What that means emotionally and physically. “I had this whole thing happen where I lost my voice for six months. In that time I wrote a lot of music because I didn’t know if I’d be able to sing again,” explains Wands. But he could. And when his voice came back fully he had a new understanding of music, beyond the classical.
How much of the music on this EP was written during the period when you had lost your voice?
All of this stuff was written pre-having a band, except for two songs. They were all sort of written in my bedroom at home. The more chill stuff especially, because it was just me writing alone at home at night.
What do the songs represent for you as a band?
These songs I think represent us doing something together, since we’re so new. We only started rehearsing in August. First show in November. This next show will be the first of the recordings we’ve done together. We tracked them all individually, but it’s funny, last Sunday Dave Grohl won a Grammy for a record he did in his garage. And he was like, “It’s really great that we can do that.” And that’s what every musician wants to do, they want to do it how The Beatles did it. But in the end, regardless of how you do it, as long as you do it honestly, it will reach the same amount of people. The real problem comes when you try to make it too perfect and it sucks the soul out of it. In the end it’s you and your music. You’re trying to capture a great performance.
Would you say your music is geared to the small venues of NYC or the big venus of the world?
I feel like some of the songs are more anthemic, and some of the songs are more vibey. I try to find the best production for the song. Some of the stuff tends to be more balladic, some are more rhythm-based. There are elements of alternative. There are elements of rock and pop too.
What is your demographic?
Anyone who will listen [laughs]. Literally. I don’t know anything about marketing or how you get certain people to listen to your music, ideally I’d like to be appreciated by everyone, but I know some people won’t and that’s ok.
What do you hope to happen with the EP release?
The idea was to do a demo in the beginning. Just have something to give to people to give them an idea of what our music is. The demo came out better than expected, but the idea is still the same, to get people the music. I don’t assume it’ll be something that will be released, but we’ll see. I don’t think I can do anything better than this in the state I’m in now. The EP will be called Our Noisy Culture.
The basic plan is to get the music to as many people as we can. I’d really like to settle in with a great management company. I think they’re as important as labels at this point. Who really sees the same path that we see for what we want to do.
What does Our Noisy Culture mean?
When I got my tonsils taken out last year I wasn’t really playing anymore. It was so painful. I was on 8 vicodins a day to deal with the pain. I had this white board I’d write on when people came to visit. I wrote all this crazy shit because I was high. When I came out of it I saw this crazy looking snowman with devil horns, and then Our Noisy Culture scribbled underneath it, and I just went with it.
You were a trained opera singer, and now you’re a rock singer. What’s that transition been like for you?
It was really weird. I started playing violin when I was 3 years old. I got classically entrenched. I was obsessed with opera, I loved Pavarotti. I only started listening to Radiohead in 2004. I was really only into classical music at that point. I went to school to be an opera singer. I got kicked out of college in North Carolina. Auditioned for Manhattan School of Music, got in but messed up the paperwork. Then I started interning at a studio and learned a little bit about recording. Started teaching myself piano and guitar. I had a crazy night in New York and ended the night just jamming with my friend while played guitar. I wrote this song in five minutes and that was It. It made me realize it was something I wanted to do. I wrote songs for myself.
The opera thing was interesting because you have a very particular way of singing when you sing opera, and it doesn’t necessarily translate when your’e singing modern music. With opera your goal is to be perfect, whereas modern music is for emotions. Technique is the primary goal. It’s musicality in the modern music. It’s about conveying your message to people. I had to unlearn a lot of stuff technically. Three years ago, when I got sick and lost my voice, for me it was my body telling me to stop what I was doing. It was like a set break. When I came out of that, it was this whole new appreciation for modern music and being able to sing and be elated about it. When you forget about the technique things come out differently.
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