The lights are lowered in a back room of Music Garage with only a faint glow projecting from the back wall to illuminate the faces of Chicago’s alternative pop-rock group, Even Thieves. Vocalist Adrian Day removes his cap and pulls on the hood of this gray sleeveless hoodie, walking from wall to wall, microphone in hand, as the rest of the band prepares for rehearsal. Slowly, each member falls behind their instruments; Vincent DePierro on guitar, Jeremy Atwood on keys, Tyler Leninger on drums and Joseph Paul Chouinard on bass. A spot among the members remains open for guitarist Olivia Garza, who was unable to make rehearsal.
Each member silently acknowledges one another, signaling their readiness before the room erupts with sound and commotion. This may be only a rehearsal, but to an outsider, the performance is as riveting as any legitimate concert.
This particular practice is a three-song run through for the Toast to the Coast competition which was held at Chop Shop in early August. Even Thieves was one of five live bands and nine total acts competing for a spot to play during Chicago’s North Coast Festival. While the band did not ultimately win, they were honored to have made it as far as they did.
“I was surprised we were chosen to play,” says Chouinard. “It was just for fun, but I actually think it’s kind of cool. It’s something we can of put on our resume that says “people want to see this band.'”
The live rehearsal songs sound slightly more alternative than the recorded versions found on their EP Lost Days, Stolen Nights, which features four songs that fall somewhere along the dance rock spectrum. Songs, like the single “Breakdown” with its electric synth opening and catchy lyrical lines, give a distinct essence of new wave.
Some newer compositions have a rougher edge, leaning into post-punk. The songs are still catchy and synth heavy, but the dance pop vibes feel more evenly balanced with heavier bass and drums. Part of this may be contributed to the band’s discovery of their sound and direction; part of it may be a reflection of the difference between a live show and mastered material. Both are equally compelling, but according to Day, the latest material is more representative of Even Thieves as a band.
Also featured on their EP is their first major single “Follow You.” As a song that speaks toward the band’s personality, it’s only natural that “Follow You” has evolved into their first music video. Shot in Even Thieves’ rehearsal space, the video is a simple, yet visually compelling view of what’s it’s like to experience Even Thieves live.
“To be totally honest, I really love watching it,” says Day. “I feel like it gives people a taste of who we are. There’s a lot of movement and energy. As a band of six people, I hope it comes across that we’re this boiling pot on the stage.”
With a sound that doesn’t quite fall into any one genre, finding a bill of other Chicago bands with similar music has been both a challenge and a blessing. The group has played alongside popular Chicago bands, such as The 92s, and though their sounds are different, playing with them has opened doors to new fans and support. Even though playing with diverse bands brings their music to new ears, Day says he misses being part of a cohesive scene and the connection with like-minded artists.
“We’ve yet to find a group of bands that we coincide with,” says Day. “I strive for that [connection].” But that isn’t to say the group isn’t willing to connect with different scenes. “We reach out to other bands a lot and try to embrace other bands. I think because we all kind of come from different musical backgrounds, we find connections in other bands that don’t necessarily sound like us,” says Day.
As with any band looking to make a successful career out of their passion, Even Thieves sees connections as a necessary force to reach the next level. This is why the band has been working on reaching out to labels and west coast professionals to explore potential opportunities. Even though there are many possibilities for greatness in the works, the main focus is recording and releasing their full-length album which they have been slowing tracking at IV Lab Studios.
“Ideally [we] would like to put out something that is reflective of who we are,” says Day. But the process of perfecting this vision to a tangible release hasn’t come effortlessly. “Sometimes that’s the probably with recording. Sometimes you work out the songs live and you work out the songs in the practice space. Then you get down to recording and by that time you’ve played these songs [so many times] and they’re nauseating.”
This insight at first may come off strong; to think that a band can become rundown by their art. But really it speaks to the band’s keen sense of perfection. It’s sensed they want audiences to enjoy their music. They want to make sure that what they are putting out is the best material they can deliver. It’s a testament to their work ethic. While they may strive to hit worldwide recognition one day, they want to do so with music they can proudly stand behind (aka, they don’t have the qualities of a sellout). And that’s the drive that sells great music and lays the foundation for an iconic band. So while there is no official release date for their full-length album as of yet, there are plenty of upcoming shows to keep fans satisfied.
Even Thieves next show will be on Friday, August 19th at Subterranean (Downstairs). The night will also include performances by Forfeit, Lurking and Belonger.
Photo Credit: Mark Dawursk