A conversation with the members of Back to Yours, a Georgetown “fun rock” band with organic roots that is releasing their debut album, Where Are We Going, on May 1.
The album serves as an homage to their time in college together, from its title alluding to the ever-pressing question of post-grad plans, to its cover art as a play on what was supposed to be their final show at Georgetown this spring.
Their answer to the question, where are you going? Supposedly, it’s hidden in the album somewhere.
Keep reading, pre-save their debut album, and maybe you’ll find out.
PART 1. MEET THE BAND
PART 2. THE INTERVIEW
On how they met-----
Aiden: Dan, Jiaan, and Bryce all went to high school together in NY and when I got here freshman year, I met Dan through some mutual friends and we ended up deciding to live together sophomore year. Our sophomore year, Jiaan transferred in, Bryce came, and we started hanging out with Tommy a lot more so they were pretty much always at our apartment. Naturally from there, we just discovered that all of us had a passion for music.
Jiaan: It all kinda started when we were playing music in the apartment together.
Aiden: Yeah, it annoyed a lot of the neighbors and we got a lot of taps on the ceiling and on the floor and on the wall.
(This is what inspired the last song on their new album --"Merry Christmas and Goodnight")
Tommy: From there, we learned that there’s a class at Georgetown called Guild of Bands. It’s a 1-credit class that you can audition for with any type of music and if you get in, you work on your music throughout the semester and meet once a week with a professor who gives you constant feedback. At the end of the semester, you’re given the opportunity to perform at a big end-of-year concert and you also get an hour in a recording studio, which is a super cool opportunity. So we signed up for that, not really expecting much from it, and
that’s what kicked it all off.
Bryce: The “Feeling” recording, which is the first song we put out, was actually recorded during one hour in the studio. We recorded it on, like, the second take and it was done in an hour.
Describe the new album in 3 words-----
Jiaan: Do we each have 3 words?
Tommy: Well I think I have one that everyone’s going to agree on: Nostalgic.
Aiden: Yeah, definitely that’s a good one.
Jiaan: For us, especially.
Aiden: I mean, mostly for us. *laughter* A lot of the songs in the album are songs that we’ve been playing at our live shows and performances over the past 2 years that we’ve slowly built up. At this point, a lot of the songs are very familiar because we have practiced them so many times and played them so many times, and anyone who has been to multiple of our gigs has definitely heard them.
Jiaan: We need 2 more words though.
Tommy: Inviting? For any fan of indie rock-type music, I think there’s something in the album for them.
Tommy: Yeah, accessible.
Bryce: Tommy’s the word guy. *laughter*
Jiaan: The last one’s gotta be something about the energy. Loud.
Tommy: Loud! Aiden: Loud!
Jiaan: So our 3 words are nostalgic, accessible, and loud.
*much laughter ensues*
On recording their debut album-----
Jiaan: Making music, we’ve all realized, is a privilege. If you don’t have the money to make music, then it’s really, really hard to do. Buying software, buying an interface, buying instruments -- all of that costs money.
Tommy: We were super fortunate to be able to play enough shows and to make enough money to pay for a lot of the studio time because the hours really rack up.
Jiaan: The fact that people have come out to our shows and paid that contribution, and bought t-shirts, for us, none of that is going into our pockets. We are putting all of it back into the music and that feels so wholesome. It is such a beautiful positive feedback system.
On how they've been impacted by COVID-19-----
Bryce: Post-spring break we had 7 shows lined up in the next 9 weekends, and they were anywhere from DC to Michigan, so it was definitely a huge loss. For every one of those shows, there are 10-30 emails going back and forth organizing logistics so it felt like all that work went down the drain. We’re trying to reschedule some of them, but it’s definitely tough letting go of all of those opportunities.
One of the shows that got canceled was set to take place at DC’s Union Stage on May 14.
Dan: The Union Stage show was sort of planned to be our final performance at Georgetown before we all dispersed and separated, so the album cover is kind of a fun play on that show getting cancelled.
(As of now, the band is trying to reschedule that show for their graduation, whenever that gets postponed to.)
Aiden: Obviously it sucks -- all of us were really looking forward to these next few months, but I think all of us are of the opinion that we are super grateful that we’re still college students and we aren’t really dependent on this for our livelihood. There are so many artists out there who are, and without live shows, a lot of artists are really struggling right now.
On their post-graduation plans-----
Jiaan: Let’s see when we graduate first.
Jiaan: We’re staying together until further notice.
Aiden: It’s definitely going to become a lot harder, but I don’t think this is something that any of us want to abandon or give up.
Aiden: So I definitely don’t think it’s over, but it’s going to have to take some kind of new form I think.
Bryce: We did agree it would end before we became 40 year olds playing covers at a bar, though. *laughter*
Sounds like a good endpoint to us too, but until then, we are happy to hear they won’t be giving this up anytime soon.
On their relationship with the Georgetown community-----
Tommy: We want people to know that the community does exist at Georgetown. So if you make music or have any interest in doing it, just do it. Go for it.
Jiaan: It’s actually the best place ever for doing that. At Georgetown, when you find it within yourself to create or you find it in a group to create with, you become so much closer with that community. I think the takeaway from our album is probably that the community is there if you take advantage of it.
Bryce: Something valuable about that too, is that there are not that many people doing what we’re doing in the space that we’re doing it in, so you stand out immediately if you decide to go for it.
Aiden: And honestly, we were pretty bad when we started.
Jiaan: Yeah, the thing that was awesome though was that we didn’t want to stop. I think it’s unfortunate at our school that there are so many bands that start up and sound so awesome together, but then somebody goes abroad or somebody has too much work one semester, or anything can happen and they stop. We got really lucky because none of us went abroad. Things might have been different otherwise.
We found their commitment so admirable because even with our small projects, we are constantly struggling to balance our commitments and make sure our creative impulses don’t go neglected. Through this interview, it became evident that the band’s success can be largely attributed to their unwavering dedication to their musical passions and to each other.
Jiaan: Mostly, at the end of the day, it’s because of the people who came to our shows. We have those same moments when weeks will go by and we won’t do anything, but when a show is around the corner, we all get this drive that kicks in like, shit, we have to play. And what’s so great about that is that I don’t think I’m going to remember the times when I’m studying in my room; I’m going to remember those times when we’re locked in the basement playing music for hours on end.
Aiden: And as far as what we want people to get out of our music, is just to have fun. Dance to it.
PART 3. SOME FUN(?) QUESTIONS TO ENTERTAIN THE BORED MIND
One of our favorite songs of yours is "Mango." So, you're caught in the produce aisle and there are no mangoes to be found. What do you go for next?
Bryce: Papaya. The close cousin of the mango.
Aiden: Fiji apples. Yeah...wait. FUji. Fuji apples.
Tommy: I think I would go for a peach.
Jiaan: I would go for a watermelon. A whole watermelon just to make myself feel better about the mangoes not being there.
Caitlyn: You guys have a nice fruit salad going on with that.
Jiaan: Yummy yummy.
What's the most useless fact you know?
Bryce: Dude, Aiden, you’re so good at these. Aiden’s a jeopardy king so he should know some.
Aiden: We can definitely think of a better thing.
Bryce: Well, we thought of Pangaea so…
It’s okay, Zoom University has us all grasping for brain cells.
Jiaan: What’s the coolest fact that you know that’s absolutely useless?
Bryce: Lions hunt in the dark - I was watching a Nature special the other day. Lions kill 70% of their prey in the dark.
However, Aiden seemingly thought that he might someday be cohabitating in the dark with some lions and disputed the uselessness of this fact.
Caitlyn: We can change it to what’s the most useful fact you know, and we can put the lion one down. *laughter*
Jiaan: You can also put Pangaea down.
Dan: Also, I’m pretty sure the total weight of the band is about 700 pounds.
Aiden: There we go!! And combined, we’re 30 feet tall exactly.
And finally, if you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would you choose?
Aiden: We could do Homecoming. Kanye.
(The band covered Homecoming on Georgetown’s Homecoming)
Dan: Oh for sure, easily.
Aiden: Or Kendrick Lamar.
Bryce: How are we adding value to Kendrick or Kanye?
Hey, maybe Kanye’s looking to add some indie rock to Sunday Service.
Dan: Nah, we’re collabing with Kanye, that’s final choice.
Bryce: I would collab with Mustard Service.
Aiden: I want to play a song with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers on trumpet.
Bryce: The band Summer Salt, that would be a cool collab.
Tommy: Also Sammy Rae - I love her. We had a chance to play with her and I’ve been in love with her ever since. She has the most amazing voice ever. It’s like silk.
Should we send this interview over to her?
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Back to Yours a little bit more -- we definitely did! Look out for their new album of catchy tunes and funky inspirations coming out May 1st.
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