Wearhaus Featured Artist: Everything IlluminatedFebruary 25, 2014
Everything Illuminated (formerly Dead Serious) met early on in high school and have been together ever since, making music and performing. After spending their first year apart as they all went to separate colleges, Matt, Ilya, and Brian reflect on their change in the past year and their aims for the future as the same, yet very different band.
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Patty: Why the change from “Dead Serious” to “Everyone Illuminated?”
Matt: We stole it from a book called Everything is Illuminated but I don’t really see a real connection to the book. I think that it addresses our idea of telling a story of emotions, which is our goal when we write music. We want to you to leave us, live or on a record, feeling something new because that is what music can be!
Brian: It’s the collective spark of experience kind of growing into a general illumination. I mean it’s more of an abstract the way I see it.
P: How did that switch come about?
B: I feel like this is a different direction than Dead Serious. We initially considered carrying this on under the same name, but as we sat down with it, the lyrical idea was very different. I mean the process is the same but the music is different, the sound is different, and really our overall approach is different. Plus with members shifting and changing perspective, it didn’t feel appropriate to keep the name “Dead Serious.” We have a lot of influences, we have a lot of different experiences from living in different places because we’ve all gone off to college. Because of this, I think that still calling it “Dead Serious” is not necessarily a logical progression; it needed a change.
P: How do you think college has changed you guys?
M: I think that it’s been a cultural shift (for me at least), I’ve been in Boston, so being on the East Coast, there are actual seasons and people who come from different places. Hearing people’s stories changed the way I think of the world. It’d be difficult to go back into something like Dead Serious where we had a really singular issue focus where we’d read a headline and find something that upset us and use that as influence.
B: And that IS a really big part of our difference. I mean these guys were kind of core group in high school. We had very unilateral ideas. But as we went off to college, made different friends and had different experiences- Matt went off to Boston, I went off to the Northwest, and you learn and you grow as people I guess. Coming back, it’s all different.
Ilya: Basically, I believe it has opened a lot of doors in general to what kind of experiences somebody might actually feel. I personally had a lot of fun going into different disciplines such as philosophy, and it has opened a lot of doors, I’ve met a lot of new people, but I still like the core group within.
B: Yeah, the broadened academic interests also helped with our writing as well.
P: How did you guys meet?
M: Freshman year in high school. Heading down the story, it’s really who talked to whom first and we really met in the early weeks of high school pretty quickly. We all met in band class. I actually met Ilya in French class. Ilya was the goof off in the room. Coming from Jewish middle school, he was just the most bizarre person.
B: This band formed with Ilya, myself, and Ruben Tierie- with the exception of Ruben we all lied about our ability to play our instruments. I actually didn’t know how to play bass, nor did Ilya know how to play keyboard. So that fact that we actually developed into anything at all is nothing short of amazing. The idea is Ruben was the only one who knew how to play his instrument, and he brought Matt in because he was the only guitarist who could play.
P: Who are your musical influences?
M: We all have different influences that offer something to the creative process. For me, I’m a big fan of post punk like The Vipers, Joy Division, stuff like that. There’s a scene in Manchester in the 80s that I find really interesting. It’s taking something beautiful out of a place that’s a concrete jungle and that really influences me to get out of bed in the morning to write songs. I like The Smiths, Stone Roses, Chameleons, New Order and other people like that.
B: I’ve always been a big fan of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, those types of rock bands. Recently I’ve gotten into Pell Mell, The Residents, Tangerine Dream, kind of a broad base of interests. System of a Down I’ve always liked since middle school.
I: I’ve enjoyed Dream Theater, Blue Oyster Cult and The Smiths for quite a while. I got into bands like Ayreon.
P: How would you describe your music?
M: We’re still developing our sound a lot. As I said, this is a new idea and we’re still feeling that out but we’re sort of, to pin it to a genre, indie and post punk. What we want to do is we want to offer a broader range of emotion. At least for me, music comes a lot from where you’re born and what your environment is and what you’re exposed to. Regardless, what we’re trying to do is give a broader range of feelings and emotions that we can offer from our perspective, from the Bay Area, so that anyone from anywhere can listen to it and feel something.
I guess on a superficial level, it’s got a lot of short, catchy guitar riffs, driving bass and lighter keyboard. If you want a good indicator, check out one of our later Dead Serious songs called Panopticon.
P: What is your favorite part about being in a band?
M: I thought listening to the music, joining up with these guys was because I thought something was missing from music. I wanted to be a band on my ipod. It leads to a different expression of friendship. Being in a band with someone, you get to know them a lot better than just going to In n’ Out with them on a Friday. It’s like having a job, in the best possible way.
B: From the get go, I absolutely refused to play covers, I refused to do anything else. It’s always been an expression of us. It’s always been an expression of our ideas and our feelings. Those ideas and feelings have grown along with the band. It’s nice to have a voice and your own identity.
I: I first started just to be in the company of friends but i think about what it’s like to create and share experiences through music with the audience. I found it very fascinating and it’s really a unique experience, definitely something new and would be awesome to share.
P: What is the most embarrassing album that you guys own/know by heart?
M: I have to go with Snoop Dogg. That guy can write bass lines. I don’t even know what it is. It makes no sense to me, but he’s a genius.
I: I really like Rise Against. I used to listen to a lot of hardcore stuff. Before Rise Against, it was Appeal to Reason. I literally knew that album by heart.
B: That’s a really tough question. I don’t really feel embarrassed by anything. I sort of embrace whatever it is.
M: He’s pacing and making faces so…
B: I have no idea how to answer this. Those surf rock albums I have…The Woodies- Swimming in the Reverb.
M: That’s pretty embarrassing.
P: If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
M: Joy Division would be pretty fun. It’s a totally new thing, there’d be a sense of wonderment.
B: The Vipers.
I: I’d say Ayreon, just so I could say I’ve seen them live.
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