In this edition of the Indie Spotlight, we talk to Andy Schichter, of Echo Nebraska.
Echo Nebraska has released their first EP, "Send the Ships"(which I've had an opportunity to check out and love it, by the way) this week.
Andy and I took a moment to talk about songwriting, recording, gear and more.
Echo Nebraska is: Devan Christodoulou (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Karen Hefford (Keyboards/Backing Vocals),
Stacy Mack (Drums), Gunn Park (Bass/Backing Vocals), Andy Schichter (Guitar/Keyboards)
Rusty Frets: So, what's the story of how "Echo Nebraska" came together?
Andy: It’s funny, at first there was no thought to forming band. I had just moved to Vancouver from Ontario and met Devan and Gunn while they were recording an album with their band, Amber Hills.
Devan had a number of songs that didn’t quite fit their sound, so I invited him over to my apartment to record demos of these more folky numbers.
It was several months of doing that before we began discussing putting together a group. We had a bunch of songs that we thought were studio ready, so narrowed it down to 5 and got to recording.
Gunn was on board with what our intentions were, and has been just a tremendous asset with his knowledge of theory, and attention to detail.
Stacy was former roommate of Devan’s that we brought in to play drums in the studio, and he turned out to be a fantastic fit. Karen’s a recent addition to the band.
We knew we needed a keyboard player to handle some of the overdubs from the record, and wanted another voice in there. We lucked out by just throwing a feeler on Craigslist.
Rusty Frets: As the band has come formed (and now grown), are you all juggling full-time jobs, family, etc? If so, how is all that working out so far? (Any tips for others trying to do the same?)
Andy: Yep, we all have full-time jobs, or are students. We’re still a new band, so there haven’t been any conflicts in terms of going on tour. For rehearsals, we work around everyone’s schedule.
We have a shared rehearsal space with a couple of other bands, so it’s just a matter of looking at the Google calendar and figuring out what works for everyone.
We’ll map out a few weeks at a time, so we’re not scrambling every week to find time if something comes up.
Rusty Frets: Who are some of your influences and what do you think you've borrowed from those influences? (secondarily, Who do think influences you the most musically that the general listener wouldn't necessarily pick up on?)
Andy: Honestly, I could probably tell you the distinct influences for each song, right down to the tambourine part. The Beatles are the undercurrent throughout our music. I’ll give you some examples about certain influences, though.
The single, ‘Hey, Allison’ we were going for a Fleet Foxes vibe. More specifically, ‘Helplessness Blues’. ‘Pilgrim’, we were influenced by Grizzly Bear. ‘Out of Time’, I always thought of that one having a Spoon groove.
We were influenced by George Harrison when recording ‘Nice Philosophy’ with the guitar bits. We have this song called Chain of Command. It’s not on the EP, but we did a demo for it, and it’s now in our live set.
When Devan showed it to me he told me he wanted a Paul McCartney ‘Monkberry Moon Delight’ vibe to it. We can be extremely specific with the influences.
Rusty Frets: Tell me a bit about the new release. Any tour/shows planned?
Andy: Send the Ships is our debut. We recorded it at the studio I work out of called Blue Light Studio in Vancouver.
The 5 songs you hear on the EP one ones we thought would be a good introduction the band.
The first big show we have planned is our EP Release Show on February 6 in Vancouver. We’re currently in the process of planning a tour in BC.
We’re also very excited about creating a variety of sets. BC has a great folk community, so to strip down our set and have a more unplugged type of show, can be very encouraging.
Rusty Frets: The recording process... did you record/mix yourselves? studio? Any tips for those wanting to record themselves (if you've done that)?
Andy: Yep, we produced the record ourselves. I engineered the recordings and mixed. Then we had Philip Shaw Bova run the tracks through some lovely tape for added warmth during the mastering process. It was very different working on a project for myself as opposed to others. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, and look forward to doing that some more.
Rusty Frets: Who handles most of the songwriting process? What has that looked like so far?
Andy: Devan writes all the songs. At first, it was just Devan and I getting together to finalize the structure and instrumentation. We’d build the songs one instrument at a time. More recently, Devan’s brought new songs to rehearsals where we’re figuring out the songs as band. For me, it’s a totally different method of working, but I love it. I’m learning a lot. I tend to produce a lot of solo artists, where I’ll kind of take a similar approach to working with Devan and add individual instruments, then we’ll access what we have, and eventually go into the studio. I’ve learned a lot since working with the newer material. You have to adapt much more quickly to the song at hand.
Rusty Frets: I really enjoyed the "Hey, Allison" video... Tell me a bit about how that all came together.
Andy: Thank you! It was lot of fun to film. It came together on very short notice. My brother, who was living in Toronto at the time, had planned on coming to Vancouver to cover the Squamish music festival. When his company nixed those plans, he decided to still use that weekend to come out this way, and film a video for us. The concept of the video was Devan’s and it channels the lyrics. As soon as the script was finalized, we focused on getting everything ready. My girlfriend did all the paintings you see in the first half of the video. She had a great time as well. It was pretty much, ‘Let’s go to the art store and buy supplies to paint a dozen pieces. It’s on the band!” ‘Allison’ is played by Nicole Munõz, who’s a talented actress, currently on Once Upon a Time, and Defiance.
Rusty Frets: Could you give us a breakdown of gear that you are using? (of course a guitar shop would ask you that, lol)
Andy: Ah the fun stuff! Up until going into the studio to record Send the Ships, my gear purchases were primarily for recording. My board is still pretty simple, mind you: Fulltone OCD, Keeley 4 Knob Compressor, Boss DD-20 Delay, Diamond Tremolo, and a Korg Pitchblack tuner, powered by the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus. My guitar is a Fender American Standard Tele that I run through a 40W Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue. Then I use a MIDI keyboard with my laptop using Mainstage. Devan has a Larrivee acoustic, an Epiphone Casino, and a VOX AC30. He uses a Radial Twin City to switch between the two guitars, and an EHX Holy Grail for his Casino. Gunn plays a ’66 Fender P-Bass that he runs though an Eden WT550 Traveler Head, and D410XLT cabinet. He also has a DBX compressor in his rig. Karen’s playing a Casio Privia PX-150. I must say though, the real hero of our gear list is Gunn’s van for lugging all of this around town.
Rusty Frets: In terms of marketing your music, what have you found to be the most productive/useful? Live shows? Social media? Any Tips?
Andy: We took a unique approach to social media and initially marketing the band. There was a conscious decision to hold off mentioning anything about the band until we had everything in place. A few friends and family members knew that we were up to something, but it was until the physical copies of the CDs were being shipped to us that we even created a Facebook page, let alone playing shows. We’ve all made records before and know how long they can take. We started recording in April, and didn’t announce that we existed until late-November. There’s really not much you can say during that process to keep people interested. We saw no point in petering into existence. Once we had the album all pressed, a music video ready to go, social media graphics, a proper bio, photos, we were able to go, “Hey, we’re a band. Here’s our single. Our album’s going to be out this day. We have show this weekend, and a music video out next week.” Right away, you have something to offer and you can build off the buzz that’s generated. That was important to us. Obviously that’s different than most bands. Generally, you would play a few gigs first, then go into the studio, so you’re social media pages would already be created. We went into the studio well before we ever played live. We were able to hit hard right off the bat, by having a ton of content ready to go when we announced the band. All the classic rules to social media would be my tips. Don’t auto post. Understand the differences between Facebook and Twitter. Know how to tag properly. Don’t yell at your fans telling them to buy your music, or constantly sharing the same links over and over again. Curate interesting content to share. There are lots of things you and do to keep things fresh online. For shows, it’s important to work with the live sound engineer. When you’re first starting off, chances are you’ll get lots of line checks, so it’s good to mention right off the bat if you want, for example, a lot of reverb on the backing vocals. Or for a particular song, a slap back on the lead vocals suits your sound. Then in terms of practicing, make sure you’re jamming in a good room. The PA can get nice and loud to hear all the vocals clearly. That’s something we struggled at first with three singers in the group.
Rusty Frets: Any tips that you might have for artists/bands that want to take this gig seriously?
Andy: Be organized and professional. It’s so hard to do in such a chaotic industry, but it makes a world of difference. Everything from creating contact lists, to being responsive on emails, to setting aside a few minutes each day to brainstorm opportunities. It’s the little things that go a long way.
- Special thanks to Andy and the rest of Echo Nebraska for taking the time to make this interview possible, and best wishes for the EP release and concerts this year.
I look forward to hearing from you guys as this continues to develop!
Be sure to support these guys and check out their album and video!
Also, be sure to add these guys on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website too! Here are the links!