photo by Doron Gild
Review by Sheryl Witlen
Interview by Jim Beckmann
Photos by Doron Gild
KEXP’s annual CMJ week long broadcast from New York City was jump started this morning with a visit from local band, The Epochs. Breaking in the Gibson Studio bright and early with their sharp, loud electronic mix of melody and bass it was an excellent start to a promising week of exciting live performances. The Epochs are brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay who have been coming together as a creative writing force since their childhood days. The year 2004 saw dramatic changes for the band with Kevin Smith (bassist) and Kotchy (drummer) joining the brothers to widen their sound and join them as they relocated to Seattle. The story to follow is that of a demo left on the steps of KEXP which was quickly accepted and loved by the station and city. In 2006 the band decided to give New York another shot and re-established themselves within the Brooklyn community.
The band chatted with me after the performance about the being a New York band today, their time in Seattle, and the future of The Epochs.
Jim: So you guys are a New York band but you went up to Seattle to record your album and live for a while. Why?
Hays: Play in a different space and have a different crowd.
Ryan: Partly personal.
Ryan: Yeah, it is complicated.
Jim: But now youâ€™re here in New York.
Kevin: Weâ€™re a band from here but none of us are actually from here. We donâ€™t all even live in New York now. Weâ€™re all over the place.
Jim: Now that youâ€™ve been a band from both scenes, what are the differences playing in Seattle and in New York?
Hays: I think people go out to shows in Seattle more on a whim. Whereas here, if you play a show that nobody knows about, like at Pianos, people come out for the band that goes on before you or after you. But theyâ€™re not going to come listen to you.
Ryan: Itâ€™s pretty over saturated here but itâ€™s more diverse. It just really different. Both are really cool. It seems like Seattle is very supportive, per capita, as far as the number of people in the city who support music. Itâ€™s probably one of the greatest cities in the U.S. that supports music, but it doesnâ€™t have the diversity that New York has.
Jim: What bands in New York do you like or who would you play with given the chance.
Kotchy: Jesse Harris.
Hays: Yeah, Kotchy is a big Jesse Harris fan.
Kotchy: And I like Kudu and Dub Trio.
Ryan: I donâ€™t even know whatâ€™s coming out of New York that I listen to.
Hays: I feel more connected to a lot of bands in Arlington (VA) like Slumber and Zulu Pearls because itâ€™s a smaller scene. Here, some bands might be from Brooklyn but some people live in Philly. Itâ€™s almost like being a New York band means you play a few shows in the city now and then.
Ryan: New York is like this vacuum. Itâ€™s all changing. I think that the next great artist, like Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen, that would have come out of here, wouldnâ€™t actually be here. People on the East Coast are finally realizing that there are other places to be. The scenes are growing in Philly, D.C., Providence and Baltimore. People are realizing that thereâ€™s no way they can move here. Itâ€™s too expensive. And big bands here like Animal Collective might go to Baltimore once they can make it.
Jim: Two of you are brothers, so youâ€™ve been writing songs for a while, so how do you all come together to make music. Whatâ€™s your process?
Kevin: Itâ€™s a work in progress.
Hays: Itâ€™s always different. Sometimes we record a lot of electronic stuff. Sometimes a song will start with a beat or a loop, and then weâ€™ll bring other elements in. Other times itâ€™s a traditional rock and roll kind of thing.
Ryan: Like that last song is like a layer cake with all of us adding different stuff. But sometimes a song comes to the band almost done from the outset.
Jim: Fans are going to want to know about the album. When itâ€™s going to come out and how can they get it?
Hays: January 22nd.
Ryan: Weâ€™re releasing it ourselves. It will be in stores in Seattle and available on iTunes also.
Kevin: And on the website too.
Jim: And whatâ€™s the title?
Hays: Itâ€™s self-titled actually. We had a title, but thatâ€™s kind of old now.
Kotchy: Most of us have been together for about three and a half years.
Ryan: Itâ€™s been a long process of us being in Seattle and moving back.
Kevin: People in the industry tell you that this is going to happen and thatâ€™s going to happen, but then itâ€™s another six months.
Hays: Weâ€™ll probably put out another thing pretty soon because we have so much.
Kevin: Like that fourth song (â€œPicketâ€) that we played isnâ€™t on the album.
Ryan: Itâ€™s a KEXP exclusive!