Us and Them takes raw rock to the next level
In April of 2014, Ian Kendall, Mike Crecca, Grayson Schweers and Michael Rasile solidified a bond over a love for the raw sounds of Led Zeppelin.
Earlier that year, in January, Ian, Mike and Michael began to talk about their musical influences as well as jam together.
“Me, Michael and Ian just started playing Zeppelin in garages,” said Crecca. “I think our first [potential] name was Let’s Just Play Zeppelin.”
It can be very difficult to try to place the band’s sound in a genre with the wide range of influences from each member. The bands that altered the way they looked at music were distinct to each member. Some bands mentioned were the heavy-metal Coheed & Cambria to simple and clean rockers, The Smiths.
“It’s ambient-infused indie-rock-pop with death-metal breakdowns,” said Kendall, the band’s vocalist and guitarist in an attempt to put the band’s sound into words.
Us and Them could be compared to Led Zeppelin’s ever-elusive genre. Although Led Zeppelin is labeled as a hard-rock band, their occasional departures from hard-rock with their folk pieces are what make them a band that has stood the test of time.
It did not take long after Ian, Mike and Michael got together that they became passionate for their new project.
“We got approached by [an audio engineering major] and he asked us if we wanted to record something for his project in his Audio 1 class,” said Rasile. “We said ‘Yeah that’d be great’ but we needed a bass player and Grayson lived across from me in [the dorms] so I talked to him and we wrote a song from there.”
To get a feel of their personalities go to the “Band Interests” section on their Facebook page. They sarcastically attribute their positive attitudes to “piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, long walks on the beach and roundabouts.”
Those who have been to one of their live shows is familiar with their personalities when they joke between songs as well as their energy and how they connect with each other on stage.
“That’s what makes being a part this band so great,” said Kendall. “Even during a live show we are able to improvise our parts, play together and sound like we have played it a million times.”
During the summer of 2014, Michael, Mike, Ian and later Grayson recorded what would be the culmination of the months of jamming together.
On Sept. 23, the band released its first full-length album, “Interstates.” It was named because of the bands’ connectedness despite being from different areas of the country along with their unique personal influences. It was also recorded in two different states and produced in a third.
Even with members of the band going home for the summer to New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, respectively, the band still made it a priority to release the album in the first part of the new school year.
“The whole idea of the record is a change of mindset that I had between first coming to college and after my freshman year and how much I changed as a person as a result of that,” said Kendall.
The album’s lyrics with the continuous theme of love and development are as honest as they can get which shows how the band’s hearts and souls are etched into each track. Ian croons in “Chlorine,” “You stole my heart but I don’t want it back, it’s yours until the start of the second act.”
The song structure of the first track “Shotgun Seat” and how it seamlessly transitions into the second track shows how the band aimed to make a piece of music that flows together.
“Pheromones” with its Alex Turner-like vocal effects and style along with the in-your-face instrumentation with the prominent, aggressive guitar perfectly introduces the heavier portion of the album.
Then the album makes an interesting transition with an almost emo-anthem track, “Chlorine” with its melodic guitar and thoughtful lyrics paired with cathartic vocals. The track seems like it was made to be played to a crowd of people screaming out the lyrics.
Kendall’s love for pop-punk bands like Say Anything? is manifested in his vocal and guitar style in tracks such as “Empty Love” and “Exodus.” The instrumentation and effects on each song makes each track a brand new sound all while being able to be blended together perfectly.
“We all spent a lot of time listening and critiquing the entire album to get it just how we wanted it to sound and it finally came exactly as we had planned,” said Schweers. “I could not be happier with it.”
Many of the songs continue into each other and the feel of each song is similar to the tracks surrounding it which makes it a much more cohesive than most rock albums. The band seems very interested in making art rather than just churning out head-bangers.
Just like their heroes Led Zeppelin did on their albums, each song on “Interstates” has its distinct style, but with smooth as silk transitions.
“It’s a full piece of music and there’s not one song that we’re not really proud of over the others because we are proud of every note and every second on that album,” said Rasile. “It’s a 30 minute album so it’s nothing that is going to take up your entire afternoon.”
The band’s main goal was to get their sound into the minds of anyone who will have them.
“The album is up for free online. We don’t want your money. We just want your ears and hopefully your emotions come with that,” said Kendall.
“When freshman year started I was told by an upperclassman not to start a band the first semester and I’m so glad I listened because how we formed the band was very slow and organic,” said Crecca. “What makes us the most unique from other Belmont bands is the unity and how well we work together.”
As for the future of the band, each member has nothing but excitement for what is to come.
“There’s no Us and Them can be, it’s Us and Them is,” said Rasile.
This article was written by Ellen Pelerossi.