Way back in April I attended a super fun show at Solar Culture in downtown Tucson. The second band to play was local band The They, who make unabashedly loud and incredibly creative ambient rock. Utilizing three guitarists, a five-string bass, and a drummer who is also a vocalist, The They has a very unique sound. It is clear that they are all dedicated, talented musicians, and their passion for music shines though in their intricate songwriting. I was especially impressed by the guitar work and the layers of sound that can be achieved by three guitarists with a host of effects pedals at their disposal. After their set, I went outside the venue to interview the band about their sound, influences, and plans for the future.
I would like to apologize to the band and the world for taking a million years to publish this interview. If you find this interview interesting, check out The They's upcoming show at Groundworks on August 12 at 7 pm!
Here is the interview transcript:
Ruby: I’m Ruby, I’m here with kamp student radio, and I’m interviewing The They, a local Tucson band.
You guys did great tonight! Do you want to start by introducing yourselves and saying what you play?
Colin: I’m colin I play bass and also guitar, but mainly bass.
Stephen: I’m Stephen, I play guitar.
Brennan: I’m Brennan and I also play guitar.
Quinn: I’m Quinn, I’m the drummer and the vocalist.
Kolton: I’m Kolton, I play guitar and I twist some knobs on the first song.
Ruby: Nice! A lot of guitar, I like that you guys have three guitarists, that’s cool. I also like that you use a five string bass, that’s fun.
Brennan: Do you also like the five string guitar?
Ruby: I didn’t notice that but that’s cool. So what do you guys have against the high E string That’s my first question.
Kolton: I have nothing against it, mine just broke.
Brennan: Mine just like, vibrates against my finger and I didn’t like it so I took it off.
Ruby: That’s fair, I understand that.
Kolton: Then I was tuning up for a song before and mine just snapped and I never put another one on.
Ruby: That’s happened to me before. So I looked you guys up on Spotify, I found a single called “Fuzzinator”
The They, in various wordings: That’s not us!
Ruby: That’s not you? Okay, I wanted to confirm. Do you guys have stuff out on streaming?
The They: Not yet, we’re working on it.
Stephen: We have a studio that we’re gonna show up at pretty soon to start getting some recordings in, so hopefully we’ll have some stuff released soon within the next couple months.
Ruby: Are you thinking singles or an EP?
Stephen: Yeah, and then we’re also thinking we might record some stuff on tape and sell those at some of the shows and have some limited releases. Just trying to get some stuff recorded and ready to go, we’ll see what happens.
Kolton: We actually got this show recorded on a cassette, so we’re gonna be making some copies and hopefully sell them at another show, maybe even tonight if we have time.
Ruby: Cool, I should get a cassette player. So I really liked your set tonight! What are your band’s influences, either musically, lyrically, or in life in general?
Colin: So I play jazz, I come from a jazz background. That’s where most of my stuff comes from. The upright bass, fusion, funk, that idiom.
Stephen: I don’t know, I go all over the place but me for I think a main influence is I grew up on Pink Floyd pretty hard so that’s a huge influence of mine personally. I think that Radiohead’s a big one, and then there’s just a bunch of different genres I think.
Ruby: Cool! Its good to have a variety.
Brennan: The They [met with laughter from the rest of the band]. I don’t know, I wanted to say bands that I like.
Ruby: it doesn’t have to be bands, it can be anything.
Brennan: I’d say music theory, like chords and structure. I guess I learned piano first, and then started playing like, math rock. I saw this video called “How to play Midwest Emo/Math Rock in 2 minutes”, I took some chords from there and went with that, mostly, and I haven’t branched out.
Ruby: Love that, I respect it.
Quinn: I’d say post-rock and surrealist writing, like Kafka.
Kolton: For me, I’ve been getting into the whole “mu-core” and stuff like that for the past couple years. So anything like that, like Radiohead, American Football, Slint, Duster, and Alex G [this list was met with quite a ruckus from the rest of the band and my fellow KAMPer Bennie].
Stephen: obviously we have a bunch of ambient influences in there too, like Aphex twin of
Bennie: I dressed up as Aphex Twin for last Halloween and nobody got it. It was really sad.
Kolton: We would have loved that!
Stephen: You should have pulled up to our show on Halloween.
Kolton: I was napoleon dynamite.
Colin: And then I was subsequently napoleon dynamite for something else.
Kolton: I just gave him the shirt.
Ruby: It's all about sharing. Sharing is caring.
Colin: We also have like. Taking a piece of technology and using it in a different way. So with the loop pedal, I had the volume off but its still idle and recording, and so we utilize those. When you turn the volume up its like an ambient wash of sound. I think a lot of it comes from trying to use technology that we have in different ways. Kolton has a delay pedal that makes weird spaces noises.
Kolton: Yeah like all those [imitates sci-fy laser] sounds.
Stephen: There’s a pedal that we don’t even know what it does.
Ruby: Do you guys have anything that you want your listeners to take away from your music?Like a main point?
Brennan: I wish they would take it all away, honestly. [agreement and laughter from the band]
Quinn: Maybe just to reflect and not feel so secure about everything. [laughter from the band]
Quinn: Up the anxiety, up the existential dread.
Ruby: So you want to take stuff away from your listeners, not the other way around.
Quinn: Well yeah, it’s more of a purge. We can all just share the angst, pass it around.
Ruby: Do you guys think that Tucson and the Tucson music scene has influenced you in any way?
Stephen: For sure! The Tucson music scene kind of works in its own way and there’s a community of people that surround it that’s like different from any other city for sure. It’s definitely influenced the way we interact with other bands. Its definitely given us insight into how shows work, and its really nice to just see the itinerary and all that. And there’s also plenty of other excellent bands in the scene that influence us just by existing.
Kolton: I wanted to start performing live when I was in high school, probably junior year, I think, when I saw Carnival. They’re now called Blue Haven. I thought they were super good and I was like “I wanna play a show before high school ends”. It just kind of never came to fruition but we’re doing it now! It’s a pretty exciting time.
Ruby: That’s all the questions I have for you guys, any final notes?
Stephen: Have you heard of The They?
Ruby: I’m not familiar.
Stephen: We’re them.
Ruby: Cool! Wow, that’s crazy.
Quinn: I think that’s it. We’re gonna be more active coming up because we are kinda done writing.
Brennan: We’re making shirts, we’re making stickers, we’re making tapes
Quinn: Another thing to take away from the band is our shirts.
Ruby: Thank you guys for talking with me, I appreciate it.
You can follow The They on Instagram @thetheyband, and catch their amazing liveshow at Groundworks on August 12th!