Live in Chicago: Office

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words by Meredith Tucker
photos by Susana Meza

Semi-local band Office performed a vibrant indie pop set with catchy, simple lyrics and timeless melodies. Now a collaborative effort that stemmed from the solo project of frontman Scott Masson, this fun five-piece group produces upbeat pop songs with clever vocal dynamics and more musical depth than meets the eye. With two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards/cowbell, the male/female background vocals provide a unique musical conversation. Not promising anything other than what they can deliver, despite self-described epic pop in their past, Office come together to bring solid, uncompromising synth-infused and diverse rock and roll. If you missed the set or want to hear it again, head over to our fourteen day Streaming Archive.

I chatted with members Scott Masson (rhythm guitar, vocals, piano), Tom Smith (guitar, vocals), Erica Corneil (drums, vocals), Jessica Gonyea (synth, vocals, percussion), and Justin Petertil (bass) about the band, their recording process, and their plans for the future.

MT: How did Office come into being?

Scott: We all met each other through mutual friends. We work together. We play together. We hang out on the monkey bars together. We celebrate delirium.

MT: What do you consider is your focus?

Scott: Our focus is songwriting. Good songs and good productions. Whatever that entails. That could mean a pop song, a cabaret song, an … explosion , as long as it’s good.

Jessica: A musical experience.

Tom: That’s what we call ourselves at the border.

Scott: It’s pop, really.

MT: How long have you guys been playing together?

Tom: It’s been three years next month.

Jessica: Been in Chicago long enough to call it home.

Scott: Songs are usually already written by the time it reaches rehearsal. One person write s the song, usually Tom or I, and we bring that song in its complete form. It’s been marinating in our heads for awhile and when it gets to the band it’s like “There you go!” and the band takes it into their own hands.

Jessica: Some parts slowly evolve, we each take our own parts.

Scott: The orchestration and the vibe is built by the band. If our song doesn’t work on the instrument that it was written on it wasn’t meant for the band. We don’t get together and “jam”. The only time we jam is when equipment breaks.

Tom: …like on stage, it keeps us from telling bad jokes.

Scott: We’re nice, nice people. We love a good laugh. We don’t take ourselves very seriously. We take the music very seriously –

Jessica: But not much else. We’re like the table that always says bye to the waitress when we leave a restaurant and nobody really understands why. We’re just nice and we have fun.

Scott: We have big freak-nasty plans for the future. We just put out an album called A Night at the Ritz on Scratchy/New Line Records. We have our next written. Our band is slightly unconventional in the sense that it works more like a collective. I like that element of having a project where people have that thing that they add to it. The word band to me seems limited to rock and roll and we don’t like being limited. Tom does a lot of the visual art for the band and that’s what we’re about, visual aspects of music and interesting ideas for photography and that kind of thing. We’re sort of the curators of these ideas. Jessica and Erica are like Djs so they represent us in the club.

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