In mid-March, upstate New York’s Take One Car played at Muskegon, Michigan’s recently opened DIY venue The Donut Hole (check it out if you’re ever on my side of the mitten). By sheer serendipity of being on spring break, I was able to catch the gig, my second TOC show.
The crowd for the Muskegon show was disappointingly small – understandably, though, since it was a weekday in a podunk town in West Michigan. Still, I couldn’t help but think to myself, My God, this place should be packed! This band should be huge!
I only got into Take One Car by sheer chance. This summer they played at Hariet Brown (a venue/garage in our wonderful East Lansing, definitely hit up a show there) with Good Weather for Airstrikes (RIP), and I showed up just in time to see them blow the roof off of that tiny garage.
Though I only had six dollars to my name – which is to say, not enough money for a CD – the TOC guys were nice enough to hook me up with a copy of their most recent album, It’s Going to be a Nice Day at considerable discount. Take note, children: being polite will get you everywhere in this world.
IGTBAND is damned good – a truly unique combination of post-hardcore, atmospherics, guitar wizardry, indie rock, and super duper catchy guitar melodies. It’s like if Thrice forgot that they were Thrice decided to make an album that was half post-rock, alternating between melodic finger-tapped sections and super groovy, sludgy riffs.
Take a listen for yourself: IGTBAND and the rest of Take One Car’s music is available on their Bandcamp – at the sweet, sweet cost of “Whatever. Pay what you want, man.”
Pete Scholes, Take One Car’s guitarist extraordinaire, was gracious enough to sit down and answer a handful of my questions over the ol’ email.
How do you describe Take One Car’s music to the uninitiated?
For years, we had been calling it Indie-Rock. More recently, we’ve just been saying Alternative. It’s tough to pick out a label without using those over-hyphenated ‘mega genres’ and we never really knew where we fell in that spectrum, anyways. At best, I can say it’s heavy ambience.
How about the music itself – what’s the writing process like? What inspires you – musically or otherwise?
I don’t know that we ever had a ‘process’. Songs have happened in so many different ways that it’s tough to nail it down. Usually, one of us starts playing an idea and if it catches the ear of someone else, we’ll jam on it. The four of us are all equally involved in writing, it’s never been just one person writing for the group. Our biggest inspiration has been the desire to progress and to write a better song than the last.
If you had to pick one song to represent Take One Car’s music, which would you pick?
I suppose I would have to say, ‘The OceanSong’. [http://takeonecarmusic.bandcamp.com/track/the-oceansong] There’s a pretty good mix of things in there.
How did the band get together? Where’d y’all get the band’s name from?
The name came from a joke after our original bassist and drummer got into a car accident on their way to the first practice, which was almost 6 years ago. When I met Tyler [Irish, guitar/vocals], they already had a few songs written and that’s when we started playing together. Branden [Waite, bass] is Tyler’s cousin and we met Ryan [Saldarriaga, drums] through a sound guy from our area.
So, why do you do it? What drives you to want to play music? What made you decide that what you really wanted to do with your life was write, record, and perform music?
This is all I ever wanted since I was a little kid. I started playing when I was 6 and it wasn’t too many years after that I decided I wanted to be in a band. I never had any luck finding other people that it worked with until these guys. It’s an amazing feeling to have 3 best friends that share the same passion and drive, and I think that’s a truly rare find.
How frequently do you tour? How do you survive the slog of spending long hours in a van – which is to say, how do you maintain the energy and perseverance necessary to play so many shows?
We try to go out every 2-3 months for at least a few weeks. Having jobs back home makes it difficult to do much more than that, but we’re pretty lucky for how understanding they’ve been. We’re all best friends so it’s not too bad to be stuck in a van with everyone. Sleeping, working on new songs, or watching Ryan practicing magic tricks helps the time go by pretty quickly.The shows are what make it worthwhile so it’s pretty easy to get excited, even if you’re exhausted. We love playing music together and the fact that we’re able to do it on the road and have anyone show up makes us feel extremely lucky.
Be honest: how do you feel about playing gigs in Michigan? You plan to continue visiting us in the future?
We’ve had a great time so far! We’ve only managed to hit Detroit, East Lansing, and Muskegon but each one was a lot of fun. We’re definitely planning on coming back soon, hopefully with some of the awesome bands we’ve met in each city.
What about the upstate New York scene: How has coming from that area of the country informed what sort of band Take One Car is? What other bands from your neck of the woods should we be on the lookout for?
It’s been both good and bad. The best part about being from that area is how close we are to some awesome scenes like Philly, Boston, DC, and a slew of others on the coast. It’s been tough because there hasn’t been too much going on in our immediate area, at least until recently. In the last year, we’ve seen a real growth in the local music community and it has been great to be apart of it. Some bands we really dig playing with are City Streets Country Roads, DIA, Kid Jerusalem, and Far From Proper. They’re all incredible and we’ve become good friends with all those dudes.
What’s it like being a band in the age of the internet – where folk can download your album on Bandcamp, or conduct an interview like this over email? Hell, I checked your last.fm page the other day, and you had fans from Ukraine, Russia, and the Czech Republic begging you to visit their countries.
Personally, I think it’s incredible. The only drawback is that it makes you an even smaller fish in a much, much larger pond. Aside from that obvious hurdle, it has certainly helped us be heard by people who I’m absolutely sure would never know we existed had it not been for the Internet. Seeing people from anywhere, let alone another country, be into our music is an awesome feeling.
What’s your take on piracy? Obviously you’re selling your music on Bandcamp under the “pay what you want” model, so you’re clearly making a “statement” by doing that, and you’re not alone in selling your music that way.
We did the ‘pay what you want’ thing to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our last album, It’s Going To Be A Nice Day. It’s always great to make money, but all of us would prefer someone checking out what we do over making a few bucks. I love that I can download music for free but I still think it’s important to support the bands you like, preferably at the merch table.
How do you interact with fans, and bring in new ones? Is it simply playing live, talking to fans online or after the show, or what?
It’s a combination of all of those. We really enjoy meeting new people and talking to them after shows. It’s also great to be able to talk to people online who are from an area we haven’t played yet. It’s amazing how music can reach somewhere you haven’t physically been, that will always blow my mind.
Anything else you’d like to tell your adoring and soon-to-be-adoring fans?
Thanks for ever giving us the time of day.
The band’s Tumblr/website
Written By Logan Pedersen