Two Cheers will be releasing a brand new album on July 21st, with ten tracks of Cure-laced head-bobbing goodness, and it is delectable, y’all. I had a lovely (and hilarious) chat with Bryan Akcasu, lead vocalist of Los Angeles-based band…at least they used to be Los Angeles-based…
Me: Hey Bryan! How’s it going?
Bryan: Well, I just drove all the way from California to Detroit, and we just got into our new house and there are some things to be done.
Me: Why did you drive all the way from Los Angeles to Detroit?
Bryan: Because we are moving here!
Eo8: Why in the world did you move to Detroit?
BA: Because it’s going to be great, that’s why! It’s a green, humid paradise here right now, I love it. I’m also originally from Michigan…I want to spend more time on music, and it’s really hard to do that in LA because it’s so expensive. I record all of my music myself, and I’m going to rebuild my studio here. Mitchell (Dill, guitarist for Two Cheers) is definitely done with LA, he’s just not sure where he’s moving yet. I’m 70% sure I can convince him to move here. I think he’s also considering Atlanta and Austin, and I’m going to send him a bunch of articles from the internet about how “awful” those places are, to help me out.
Eo8: What’s the Two Cheers story?
BA: I started writing and recording songs a long time ago, and then about a year and a half ago I started writing good ones. People started taking me more seriously, and then I met Mitchell through my fiancee; he’d kind of given up on playing music, but we started talking about music and playing together, coming up with new songs last June. In October we got our bass player and drummer and started playing shows. We just finished the album about a month ago.
Eo8: You recorded your new album, Splendor, in an apartment, was that challenging?
BA: It wasn’t challenging actually, I’ve got a system down, and I feel really comfortable recording. I have the gear I like, a handful of things I know how to use, and I go with it. The only real challenge at that point is figuring out how to make it not sound like you’re in an apartment. You can’t play very loud in a residential area, so I would use a technique called re-amping where I’d record the songs through my pre-amps and compressors directly into the computer, then I’d spend five hours in our rehearsal space and re-amp the songs through my mic’ed up amps, if something had to be loud. There are lots of ways to do it.
Eo8: Are there any songs from album that resonate with you more than the others?
BA: Lyrcially, “Splendor” is my favorite. I have like, two minds; I have one where I experience all my worries, and stresses and pet peeves, and all of that, and I have one where I look at things from a step back, to get a different view, it’s not good or bad, but I’m totally okay with it, and it helps me remember how awesome the world is, just the fact that everything is happening. Before I started feeling like that, I was depressed most of the time, but changing that way of looking at things changed my life. Production-wise I love the way “Desert Song” turned out; it sounds so huge and so, I guess I’d have to say epic, I don’t like using that word, but that’s how it sounds. I like something about all of them. The last song, “Strawberry” is also special to me, because that’s the first song that Mitchell and I really collaborated on, he came up with the main guitar riff and the melody of the verses, and what the lyrics should be about. It was really effortless, and made us realize we could do a whole album together.
Eo8: Speaking of doing a whole album together, what was the writing process like for you?
BA: I have a lot of loops on my computer that I’ve accumulated, and sometimes we’ll pick a loop or two and make a weird rhythm, then we come up with a chord progression, and work guitar parts out over them, and make the basic groove of the song. I’ll flesh it out into a whole song, freestyle some weird lyrics in there to get the phrasing right to figure out the flow, and then I’ll write lyrics that actually fit. It’s a lot of trial and error. What I care about most is the general feel of the song, and the overall chords progressions and the vocals, and some of the main melodic elements. Everything else, I don’t care too much about, like how exactly someone plays the bassline, or how someone plays the drums, I just let the other musicians interpret their parts in the music. That’s fun for me. Some people want to be in a really collaborative thing, but some people just want to rock out, you know? They just want to find a good band with a good singer and songwriter, and take something really basic and do whatever they want with it.
Eo8: Splendor comes out July 21st, any festivities planned to celebrate it?
BA: No festivities planned yet, but I’m going to try hard to put some festivities together. It’s pretty easy to do, all you need is some music and some alcohol and a place to have fun and some people. I think I can probably come up with something.
Eo8: Will there be a tour…more specifically, are you coming to Nashville?
BA: Yes, that’s on the list of things to do, and yeah! We are going to come to Nashville! Even if I have to play at your house, I’m coming to Nashville. I’ll do whatever I can do, I’m hoping by the end of 2015.
Eo8: Is there anything else in particular you’d like to tell my readers?
BA: Listen to our music and send me messages on Facebook about it and tweet about it, so I know you’re out there! The album is really meaningful to me, I think people are going to like it.