On the same day it released its latest album, the Grand Rapids band talked shop for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted songs by The Bootstrap Boys, The Accidentals, Danielle Cosby and more.
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Combining “a sense of disbelief” over jarring worldwide events with an exploration of innovative ways to approach and execute pop music
In a nutshell, that’s the thrust of the latest recording project by Grand Rapids’ soul-pop band August, which releases its latest album, “Through the Looking Glass” today.
“It’s been the culmination of a lot of feelings. We musically and lyrically tried to represent some of that,” offers singer and keyboardist Olivia Vargas, noting that the eight-song collection was written and recorded during the COVID pandemic.
“Like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ we found ourselves in what felt like an altered reality or a different dimension.”
To reflect that, says guitarist Michael Pierce, the band aimed for a different way to express their take on pop music: “How can we make it new? How can we change that a little bit, or make it different and explore different routes through form and also with time?”
So, the college-trained musicians (Vargas, Pierce, singer Marissa Peak, drummer Bailey Budnik and bassist William Wright) leaned on varied time signatures – ¾, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 6/8, 9/8 and 11/4 – to represent “a distortion of normal life” while retaining the infectious and melodious foundation of August’s soulful pop.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, August showcased two tracks from the new album – “Second Chances” and “No Turning Back Now.” Listen to “Second Chances” here and scroll down for the full interview and radio show podcast.
LISTEN: “Second Chances,” August
As Vargas puts it, the past year-and-a-half “has been hard on everyone. I think we can agree in this band that one of things that got us through was making music. … A lot of reflection comes out in these songs.”
Not only did that mean creating fresh material for the follow-up to the 2020 EP, “Chaos & Comfort,” but also investing more time into rehearsing and honing their skills.
That will be on display in Grand Rapids this weekend, with the band playing Turnstiles in Grand Rapids at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday) with Loren Johnson, and The Pyramid Scheme at 8 p.m. Saturday with Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps and KJ & The Good Time Family Band. Tickets for The Pyramid Scheme show are $8 in advance, $10 day of show; details here.
“We are so excited to be playing again,” Vargas says. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time so there’s obviously just an immense amount of excitement.
“These past years have been so incredibly hard on musicians, but we believe it gave us a stronger drive to pursue our goals because we experienced what it was like to not be able to create music together or play for a live audience.”
That adversity also has reinforced the band’s passion for its art.
“This is what we do. This is our thing,” Pierce insists. “We’re going to do what we do no matter what.”
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which focuses on local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured fresh tracks by The Go Rounds, The Bootstrap Boys, Danielle Cosby (this week’s musicians’ pick by August), The Gasoline Gypsies, The Accidentals, Avocadsquad, Bermuda Teenager, Willamena and Groove Ground. Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (9/3/21)
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