Wearhaus Featured Artist: My Body Sings ElectricFebruary 28, 2014
My Body Sings Electric is an indie/alternative/pop band that will blow your pants (or jorts, because according to Brandon, hipsters wear jorts) off. Brandon Whalen, the lead vocalist of the band, has a distinctively gritty voice that immediately draws listeners in. On tour with Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin) right now, Brandon chatted with us for a bit from his tour bus about the band’s shift in music from hardcore alternative to a more listener friendly vibe, as well as what it means to be a “hipster.” Their album Part 1: The Night Ends is out now!
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Be their best friend and follow them on Twitter.
Check out one of their songs, “New Friends,” off their new album!
Patty: How did you guys meet?
Brandon: We met from just playing around the Denver music scene about 7 or 8 years ago. My band had played with our guitarist’s band and then a few months later they were looking for a singer so I joined their band. After a couple more shifts in members, we finally landed on this line up about 5 years ago.
P: How’d you guys come up with the name “My Body Sings Electric?”
B: It’s a play off of a Walt Whitman poem, actually, called “I Sing the Body Electric.” I think I’d just graduated college right before we started this band, so I was in an English class at that point and Walt Whitman was one of the writers that stuck with me throughout all of the thousands of dollars I sent on my education. I’m glad I at least got a band name out of it.
P: What’s it like touring with Andrew McMahon right now?
B: It’s amazing. His staff is really really professional and they’ve got everything really tied down to a very neat schedule, which is helpful for us because we just know when we need to arrive and be ready to play and it makes our lives a little bit easier. And beyond that, they’ve just been really nice, excellent people towards us the entire tour. Andrew and the rest of the band have been coming into the venue and watching our sets when we’re playing even when we’re opening and yeah, it’s been great. They’ve had awesome things to say about our music so it’s been really exciting.
P: Your music has changed a lot since 2007. What caused that change?
B: I think a lot of it was just our own personal preferences and musical interests changing over the years. With all that growing up and kind of shifts in what we like and what we listen to, it had a big effect on us when we wrote all our new stuff.
P: Has there been a change in the songwriting process/creative process as well?
B: In the past we were free-for-all with some of that stuff. Now we tend to look at our songwriting as a pretty structured process now. The structure sits there, and you’re finding ways to fill in the gaps that are there. It actually makes things a little faster that way. Still, we leave plenty of room to do things differently and add in parts that keep it fresh.
P: Do you think the change in music style has also changed your fanbase?
B: I think it’s definitely helped. The new music is a little bit friendlier for the general listener I think, which sounds really lame but it’s a matter of taste. It’s a whole lot more work to really get your songwriting and your music down to the very bare essentials that need to be there and make it as perfect as you can make it. Iit’s more acceptable to get our music out to a wider audience, but it’s a whole lot more work to get it there, but it’s a better product in the end.
P: Do you guys still play your old stuff at concerts?
B: There are a couple songs from our full length record that we play. We don’t play anything from the early days of the band. We released an EP a long time ago but we don’t play that stuff anymore just because it feels extremely out of place.
P: Why do you call your friends your “best friends?”
B: “Best friends” is just our moniker for the way we act and interact with our fans, the way we treat each other and just the way we approach our music, so it’s kind of like how Lady Gaga calls her music community “Little Monsters.”
P: How long have you guys been touring?
B: This has probably been the busiest year we’ve had to date. But we’ve been touring for the last 3 years. We’ve been now 6 or 7 tours, mostly in the western US, if you count SXSW, that’s closer to 8 or 9 tours. We’ve been staying pretty busy, but this is the busiest it’s been so far.
P: Do you guys get sick of each other?
B: Yeah, definitely. Any kind of small annoyance or pet peeve you may have becomes a million times magnified once you’re in a band 9 or 10 hours a day with the same five people. It’s just that the situation kind of lends itself towards you being annoyed with each other and pretty much all of that pressure and stress is going to build up and end up blowing up usually over nothing. We’re good enough friends to get past any of that stuff anyway though, so it’s good.
P: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
B: My biggest pet peeve…ooh who do I want to pick on is the real question. Jeff, our guitarist, has this thing where he doesn’t wash his feet or wear socks. It’ll be 3 or 4 days straight of us being like “dude your feet are pretty stinky,” but he’s got a pretty high shame threshold with the feet smell, so he can go a good 2 weeks. We’ll just have to sit through it until we’ve annoyed him enough to go and take care of it, but he still doesn’t wear socks- oh, he’s wearing socks now, that’s crazy.
P: What do you guys do in your down time?
B: Downtime, we’re usually home working, we’re not quite to the level of doing it entirely full time even though we’re spending a lot of our time on the road right now. When we’re home, our schedules are pretty much filled to the brim with seeing parents and nieces, etc. Actually this weekend will be our first off weekend of the summer, and it got filled up with us shooting our first music video. Trying to make up for lost time is a big thing when we’re home.
P: Music video? For what song?
B: We’re going to do a video for our song “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”
P: What’s the idea so far?
B: We’re going to be throwing a bunch of colorful substances at each other and shooting fireworks at each other. A lot of slow motion.
P: I was listening to a couple of your guyses Idobi podcasts, and something really interesting came up- binge eating?
B: Oh yeah, binge eating is one of our favorite things to do on the road.
P: Do you guys go out of the way to look for perfect binge eating venues?
B: We definitely hop onto Yelp, no matter what city we’re in. If we’ve got time to go eat, we’ll just kinda pick whatever looks like a good local spot with good food, good reviews, and go check it out. Usually it ends up being Thai food for some reason, but we’ve been all over. And sometimes you just want to go full on-gorge and stop at a buffet. We’re not above hitting a country buffet in the middle of nowhere on the way home if we’re just feeling like a gorge session.
P: What city has the best food for binge eating, in your opinion?
B: I’m a big pizza guy, so any time we can go somewhere with awesome pizza, that’s a really good food to stuff yourself full with, cause you got the meat, but you also got the cheese, and then you get your carbs with the bread. It’s really the whole package.
P: What is the greatest number of slices of pizza you’ve eaten at once?
B: If it’s a really sturdy New York style slice of pizza, one is like a snack, two is like, I can probably stop here and be okay, but then once you get to three, you’re really full, but if you really want to go for it, you’ve got to have four.
P: Your genre of music, along with alternative, is also indie. “Indie” is often associated with hipsters, do you think you guys are hipsters?
B: We are definitely hipsters. Anybody that goes out of their way to care about what they look like. Anybody that worries about being cool. Anybody that will do their hair in the reflection of their car window before walking into a place they know people are going to be, is probably a hipster. So I would say we definitely fall into the category of hipster. It goes hand in hand with being in a band too. You have to play the part and look the part if you’re really going to make a run at being a musician.
P: What are your favorite songs to play live?
B: Favorite song to play live right now is probably “New Friends.” That’s off of our new record. It’s got a cool almost hip hopish vibe and it’s very dancy. And we recently just wrote a really awesome outro to that song live. It’s just really energetic and really loud and it’s just so much fun to play right now.
P: How are the fans on this tour?
B: The fans are definitely out to see Andrew McMahon on this tour. Which I was kind of expecting. So we’ve gone above and beyond in trying to involve people in the show every night. Lots of throwing water into the audience, high fiving everyone, encouraging the fans to sing along. We’ve even written in little parts that are sing alongs just to get people to repeat what we’re singing and we’re doing a lot of crowd interaction stuff because we knew we’d have to bring people out of their shells.
P: That sounds hard. Has it been pretty successful?
B: We’ve had a lot of success with that. We’ve been playing as a live band for so long that we’re really comfortable with working an audience that way. We’re just such a high energy band that in a setting that’s not ripe for it, it’s kind of off-putting if it’s a picnic vibe and we’re totally going 100% all out. So we’re trying to be really humorous and endearing and open on stage so people can get involved with what’s going on. It’s basically part stand up comedian part musician.
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