AThe art of music is random and abstract: there are no schematics to build a better bass line or formulas to concoct the perfect chorus. Last November, Brandon Whalen (vox), Nick Crawford (guitar), Jeff Fedel (guitar), Jason Bower (bass) and Ben Scarboro (drums) of Denver, Colorado’s My Body Sings Electric released their Franklin Tapes: Side A EP which the band described as “…the most raw and honest music…” they have ever made, will follow it up with Franklin Tapes: Side B EP on February 26th and they don’t care whether you like it or not. No, really, we asked Nick. This musical thing is all about them: their words, making the music they want to make and doing it in their garage. Some folks really are just simple like that.
High Voltage: If it’s even possible, describe My Body Sings Electric in one sentence. Not the music: the band.
Nick Crawford: When you connect with the music from this band of lovable misfits, you’ll feel as if you just met your five new best friends. I stole this directly from our bio. Lazy move, I know, but it immediately popped in my head.
HV: Since the first response is usually the correct response, not mad at it. One of the reasons we’re chatting is that great, yet surprisingly on the cheap, video you made for your song, “Unimpressive” which was too good not to be our Video of the Week. Whose idea was it to attempt stop-motion and I’m guessing it was a bit more challenging than expected?
Nick: It’s funny, the morning of the day we shot the video, we still had no idea what we were actually going to do. We knew we were inspired by Walk the Moon’s 7 in 7 series. They shot and edited a new video every day, for seven days in a row. We figured we could do something similar and save ourselves a lot of time and money, but still create something that was a good representation of our personalities. For some reason, stop motion struck us as an even easier route than actually filming and we thought it would be more unique, too, so that was an easy decision. It also helps that Brandon is really great with a computer. He edited the video while we were in the van on a tour.
HV: You’ve mentioned that song and all the songs on The Franklin Tapes: Side A and Side B EPs are your musical conversation inspired by how difficult your last tour was. What was the most difficult aspect of that tour?
Nick: Well, I think it’s more than just one specific tour that led us to that point: it was a culmination of them all. The struggle is different for each of us individually, but we’ve all made incredible sacrifices to keep the wheels turning on this thing and I think the EP is a shedding of the frustrations we’ve faced along the way.
HV: And those frustrations are par for the course more than ever, particularly for independent artists. Most of us are aware of how drastically the music industry has changed: it’s a different business model that’s forcing artists to think and work much differently than, say, 15-20 years ago. What has kept you all from walking away from it?
Nick: Yeah, we’re aware of the disadvantages in our age but at the same time there are also more opportunities, especially for a band at our level. We have to adjust and be creative, and so does everybody else. It’s a pretty level playing field, for the most part. And regardless, music is something we’ve done naturally our whole lives; it’s instilled in us. We’ve hardly made much money from music – and that’s not saying we don’t want to – but if we don’t, we’ll always still make music. It would be awkward and foolish not to, and some of us can attest to that: Jason. But there will always be time for music. You don’t start out as an artist looking at the music industry as a business opportunity, studying the business model, or at least we didn’t. That came later down the line. We started out playing as kids who, for some reason, had an apt for it and are now stuck with it forever.
HV: Your EP art is really simple but striking: the view of that empty, open road at dusk. But what may be the most striking thing about it is the commentary at the bottom: “We made this album in our garage, and we don’t care if you don’t like it.” Other than being your truth, where’d that come from and why did it wind up on the EP?
Nick: Thank you. We thought a picture of our view of an empty highway was a good symbolic image of the theme. Brandon is pretty good with a camera; the same one we used for the video, I might add. He’s always lurking around snapping photos when we’re on the road. And on that note, I wanna mention he has also been compiling an epic photo catalog of the disgusting bathrooms we are sometimes reduced to using on the road. It’s called A Pot To Piss In. I think it’s hilarious. One day I hope to see it as a book in an Urban Outfitters or something.
As far as the bold statement goes, it’s basically us saying to the music industry, we’re doing this, whether it’s with or without you. We’re gonna write and try to put out good music without the help of a label and without spilling a large chunk of money into a high end studio: we tracked the EP in our practice space in my garage. It sounds a bit selfish, but this release was all about us. It’s something we felt we had to do, whether it turned out good or bad.
Oddly enough, I think Drake inspired us to post a message on the cover with his “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” mixtape.
HV: Two immediate takeaways from that are – apparently – Drake is more influential than some of us thought and every band should have a Brandon. Now “Everybody’s Dead” is on Side B and it’s more than a little critical of our home base, Los Angeles, CA. You have to tell us about that song but trust that no matter what you say, I already know.
Nick: Well, let me first state, we have a lot of great friends that we respect and admire in LA, and we actually love going to California, but I don’t think we want to live there permanently…unless, we’re talking about San Diego, and then maybe we’d consider it. I don’t much care for winter and I assume it’s basically summer all year round there, so I’m kind of into it.
Anyways, there is an actual story behind the song. To keep it short, we spent about a week in Hollywood playing some shows and showcasing for managers. Needless to say, the results were less than rewarding, and I think we all came away feeling mentally exhausted by the experience and probably holding a bit of a grudge, too. “Everybody’s Dead” is about that experience.
HV: Can’t begin to imagine the amount of artists who have had that very Californian experience. Now counter that with what’s pretty damned amazing, personally or professionally, about Denver.
Nick: I’m just gonna say what I know everyone around the world wants and expects me to say: “Legal weed, bro. Everybody’s so chill. You wanna dab?”
HV: Alrighty, then. Most of your fans know this but for those who don’t, you guys have your own little weekly podcast – The Awful Truth – where you pretty much shoot the musical shit with whoever the day’s guest is. It’s a very loose affair complete with rounds of Would You Rather…?, sound effects and topics like gear and dream tours. Who would you really like to have as guests – bands, industry folks – and what topics would you love to dig into?
Nick: I’d love to have B.o.B and Neil Degrasse Tyson on so we can once and for all settle this debate over whether the earth is round, flat, or maybe even more of a pear shape. Maybe B.o.B will admit on our show that his proclamation was all a well-designed publicity stunt aimed to draw attention from untapped demographics, in order to sell more records. That would be a real juicy episode of The Awful Truth.
HV: And probably launch your radio career as the next Howard Stern. Now we’re only one month into the new year, so what are you looking forward to in 2016?
Nick: I think we are planning to release a bunch of B sides this year, and I’m excited to share some of the songs that a lot of people probably haven’t heard. I actually still really like a lot of those songs.
HV: That sounds great as a music fan who always appreciates those rarities. Looking back, what did you accomplish in 2015 that you are particularly proud of?
Nick: We turned our practice space into our personal studio, and were able to make an EP that we’re really proud of. Its been a goal of ours for a long time.
HV: Well, congratulations on the studio and making the EP in it! I love learning what musicians, themselves, are actually listening to, so what’s your current soundtrack sound like? Yes, I’m going to judge but ignore that because it’s just the nature of my job.
Nick: Hippo Campus “Dollar Bill”
Darwin Deez “Melange Mining Co.”
Facing New York “Coming Up”
The Speed of Sound in Seawater “Winter Solstice Baby”
Blackbear “I Needed You”
Pell “Vanilla Sky”
G Eazy “You Got Me”
Joyner Lucas “Ross Capichioni”
Anik Khan “Nomad Man”
Pryde “Boys on the Road”
HV: Well damn. The only things I recognize are Hippo Campus and G Eazy. Questions, comments, concerns?
Nick: This pretty much says it all:
HV: Can’t remember the last time I was stunned silent but that did it! So let’s end this little chat with a message to your fans, family and friends.
Nick: “Never let anyone sign your checks!” – Heavyweights, 1995