Q&A: Sexy Fights

Resting on the corner of Schubert and Kildare stands Kildare Studios; a 35,000 square foot warehouse and rehearsal home to artists across Chicago’s west side. Outside, on this particular day, stands Sexy Fights‘ synth player Phillip Shoemaker, our guide through the studio’s maze of endlessly winding hallways. With a few hundred twists and turns, Shoemaker enters a room to join bandmates drummer Bryan Hart, guitarist Russell Augustine and vocalist Jordan Rose Brzezinski.

After perfecting their sound and releasing their debut album, Too Far Out, the synth-driven psychedelic rock band is ready to draw in their much-deserved attention. In preparation for their upcoming show on June 23rd at Beat Kitchen, Listen Live and Local sat with the group to discuss their music, possible touring plans, smoke machines and glitter.

Listen Live and Local: You guys have been a band for about six years and your debut album was just released this past March. Can you explain your recording and release process?

Bryan HartThe timeline was sort of spread out. We put an EP out in our first year and a half. Then we put out some singles with our friends Chicago Singles Club. Then we recorded the album in 2014. Obviously, if money wasn’t a question, the process of that album would have been six weeks, [not] eighteen months. Well, two years if you want to consider writing the songs. But that’s the game of independent artists. It was a waiting game this past year and a half between recording and not wanting to just drop it on people.

Jordan Rose Brzezinski: We had a lot of friends who told us not to rush putting it out.

Phillip Shoemaker: It took awhile because we didn’t know what we were doing. Our main goal for a while was just to get the album out because we didn’t have anything solid. Our EP was okay, but after that, we just needed to draw attention to ourselves. We also had to narrow it down from eighteen songs [to] the twelve and it’s still over an hour. It’s good though because now we know how to do things better.

LLL:  What sort of things would you do differently with you next album?

Russell Augustine: Don’t start with an album. 

Shoemaker: I would like to do some EPs because you’re going to release them quicker [and] I think they stay more relevant. You sit on an album for so long and we’re already sick of it by the time other people are enjoying it. I mean I love it, but we’ve been [playing these songs] for two years already. So releasing some stuff around the time we write it would be nice. 

Hart: We were talking about this yesterday. We want to get a single together, record it, release it as soon as possible and then get Caitlin our PR master (Drunken Piano PR) on it. She just got our music video a Noisey premiere. If we could get any song to her, [and] if she finds the person to like it, we get so much press out of one song instead of slaving over twelve.

LLL: You guys released a music video for your single “Bending Light” and have a new one in the works. What was it like putting together your first music video and what can fans expect from your second? 

Hart: [The “Bending Light” music video] was a more professional film shoot with permits, insurance and a budget. Stephen Cone [director of the “Blending Light” video], was working on a million things so we had to hire him and make it very structured  He had the video’s storyline roughly sketched out, [taking] Jordan around a handful of different [Chiacgo] neighborhoods. Then this new one, from a filmmaker we know, Josh Patterson, is much more comfortable and free-form. It’s just kind of us performing; a much simpler concept. 

Brzezinski: We wanted to have a performance style video with as little resources as possible, but visually cool. It was inspired by Earth Wind and Fire and Michael Jackson videos. It’s very glam.

Augustine: What I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty impressed with how [Patterson] got what we were going for. I think it’s a good contrast to the first video. We had two fog machines.

Shoemaker: Three! Three fog machines. And glitter. So much glitter I had to go back twice to mop that loft.

Augustine: I had glitter on me for days. I still feel like I see sparks of it…

 

LLL: Now that you’ve got an album and music videos, any tour plans?

Shoemaker: [Touring] is a difficult hurdle. We really want to. Our main goal right now is to get up to that point. But we would need to go on tour with somebody. We’re not going to do the house show grind. We use to, but it’s not that fun. 

Hart: [House shows] have proven time and time again to be more trouble than ultimately worth. Not to say anything about any place we’ve played. I’d say we’re just kind of approaching touring as we’ve approached everything so far. Though it’s been slow and steady, it has ultimately been working. It would be great if it was working faster, but we’ve made some connections recently that could lead to a tour with a bigger act in a more professional setting, whatever that means. We’re not talking about getting flown out places or tour buses and shit, but just the kind of guarantee where we’ll be set up and we’re not going to have to worry about all the odds and ends. We need some kind of net before we take the jump.

LLL: As a band, there is probably a lot you still wish to accomplish, but what have been some milestone moments so far?

Hart: The last six months have probably been the most fulfilling. The press for the singles and the album getting out in March. [Also], Stephen Cone who did our “Bending Light video”, he just recently released a movie, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, [and] a couple of [our] songs are on the soundtrack. I’m a producer for that movie and every single screening that I’ve been to, one of the first questions have been [about loving] the music; and it’s to [Cone’s] credit for putting this almost entirely Chicago soundtrack together. People want to know where to get it, so he just put that on Spotify.

Brzezinski: We’ve had so many compliments and some very kind reviews which obviously were nice to hear. But even just people, my friends or acquaintances, who thanked me for making them feel a certain way or appreciated [our music], it’s always really humbling.

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