Monday, February 18, 2013


Echosmith are (L-R) Graham, Noah, Sydney & Jamie.
     On their first ever record label tour, attached to support Owl City,  Pasadena-based Echosmith recalled their favorite stops along the way; one city especially was Lansing, Michigan, because growing up in Southern California, snow is a rarity that's only seen on television or in movies.  Of course, with this band of four, made up of three brothers and one sister with ages ranging from as young as 14 to 19, it's a given that these siblings will experience many more 'firsts' in their lifetime.  One other 'first' for the band, consisting of Jamie (19), Noah (17), Sydney (15) and Graham (14) was on December of 2011, when they signed their very first record deal with Warner Bros. Records.
     The past couple years has been one exciting adventure for  Echosmith.  Along with the record deal and touring with Owl City, the group recently landed a coveted spot on this summer's Vans Warped Tour (another first!).  But for these young siblings who grew up in a musical household, starting a band was not as obvious as it seemed.
     “We grew up…being around all sorts of different kinds of musicians and artists,” says Jamie.  “It was a really cool environment to grow up in. We never [played music] with the intent of forming a band. It was more coincidence.”
     While most kids spend their time going to  the mall, watching movies and just hanging out with friends, for this clan, at a very early age, their ‘normal’ childhood consisted of hanging out with artists and musicians in recording studios with their music producer father.
     “We just started jamming together…and started off by playing a lot of covers and different styles of songs,” says Sydney.
     So what began as simple jam sessions has turned into a full-fledged career that will eventually lead them to another 'first' - their debut album.   Recently the group took time out of their busy schedule to talk to Picksysticks about their new album, their life on tour,  street performing, their decision to be homeschooled and their thoughts of playing a sold out show at The Troubadour this upcoming Wednesday.

I first saw you guys street performing early one weekend at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.  Tell me about that.

Jamie: We’ve done it before and we’ve seen people do it.  We thought it would be fun to try out street performing and make a little extra money.

How do you think that prepared you for playing in front of people?  Were you scared that people wouldn't stop to listen?

Sydney: There’s always the worry that ‘Oh, what if nobody watches and nobody cares?’ But… usually it was pretty full and there was usually a really good crowd there.

Echosmith at Third St. Promenade
Echosmith performs at Santa Monica's Third St. Promenade.
Do you guys write your own music? What’s that process like?

Jamie: It’s a very collaborative process. I mean, we’re all in the room just writing and bouncing ideas off each other. No song comes along the same way. It’s always something different.  It might start with a guitar lick, a drum rhythm or lyrics or whatever it is. We like to mix it up and always keep it collaborative.

You guys are in the middle of a tour right now with Owl City. How’s that going?

Jamie: It’s been super exciting.  It was a lot of fun just to go play for his audience to see how they respond.
Noah: It’s been fantastic. We’ve been gaining a lot of fans and the people have been really enjoying the shows. We've been meeting them out at our merch table after and there have been long lines of people just coming over to meet us [after our shows].

How do you balance touring and school? 

Sydney: It’s definitely a challenge. We just figured recently that we’re all just going to be homeschooled; myself, Noah and Graham…It’s crazy but we know it’s a priority and we need to do it so we thought that homeschool was the best option.

I’d imagine you guys are so busy now (with touring, recording at the studio) When do you have time to hang out with friends and have a normal childhood?

Sydney: It’s kind of hard but you definitely get in some time with friends. We’re pretty good at balancing it but it’s definitely not a normal life for a teenager; so I’m not able to go to the mall with my friends every weekend which I’m ok with. I’d rather do what I’m doing than go to the mall.

Touring could be exhausting, how do you guys keep yourselves entertained on the road?

Noah: We do a lot of things. We obviously listen to a lot of music to pass the time.
Sydney: A lot of sleeping.
Noah: Yeah, a lot of sleeping. Sleeping and joking around and just having fun, making it as light and fun as possible.

And what have you guys learned while being on tour? 

Jamie: There’s a lot that we’ve learned about it. It’s cool to see a totally different city since we've lived in L.A. and grew up here.  You have to remember to pack a lot of things and…flying on a plane, you’ve got to be careful with what we bring and how you pack b/c it’ll get really expensive really quick.
Sydney: Not to bring any liquids.

What’s it like touring with your siblings?

Graham: It’s really crazy. I like it
Sydney: It’s really crazy. I think it’s a lot of fun because we’re so close. We all get along for the most part and  we’ll annoy each other sometimes but ninety-nine percent of the time we have a lot of fun together and we have a lot of the same interests in music and things to do so it makes it more fun.

Sydney, what’s it like being the only girl in the band?

I think it's pretty fun because when you’re the only girl you get a little bit more special treatment…I think it’s fun. I’m ok with it. I used to want a sister but now I’m perfectly fine with not having one.

Your musical influences are diverse. I’ve read you grew up listening to The Smiths, U2, Joy Division, Fleetwood Mac, Coldplay and Mumford and Sons?  What influences the band’s sound the most?

Jamie: We kind of pull different things from different bands. Things we love about Fleetwood Mac are their harmonies and then the things we love about The Smiths are the way their rhythm is…we kind of pull a bit from a lot of different kind of influences from different areas. It’s kind of hard to pinpoint one that’s more than the others.

Now, you’re working with Mike Elizondo (Tegan and Sara, No Doubt and Maroon 5). What’s it like working with him?

Jamie: It’s been exciting working with Mike. He’s worked with a huge variety of artists; from Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara to Eminem. It’s really cool to get his perspective when you’re collaborating with him and it’s been really exciting. The chemistry has really been great between us.
Sydney:  He [worked with] Switchfoot and Switchfoot has always been our favorite group growing up. It’s pretty cool to work with someone who works with a band that we we're in love with.  He has a lot of really good ideas and he’s a really nice guy. So it’s nice to have someone in the industry that’s nice and is really good.

You’re playing the historic Troubadour this Wednesday.  What’s it feel like, playing in such a historic place? 
Jamie: We’re super stoked to play The Troubadour. We have gone there as fans before, seeing bands that we like. It’s a really cool spot so we’re really excited to go and actually perform there to play for all…our friends and family out here.

And what should we expect from the new album?

Noah: Lots of upbeat songs. We've got a few slower songs, a variety of songs and hopefully things that people like.
Jamie: This first record is, kind of for us, about really defining and showing people who we are and what we’re about. So there’s a lot of variety on it.  You can hear our song “Come Together” – it’s a nice case of what’s to come.

When can we look forward for your new album? 
Jamie: We’re looking at this year. We’re real close to finishing it so we’re looking for late summer.

Well thank you for taking the time to speak with me and I look forward to your show this Wednesday at The Troubadour.

Echosmith heads out on the second leg of their tour with Owl City this weekend. And this summer, you can catch them when they perform at this summer’s Vans Warped Tour.  Check out their tour dates below along with their lyric video for "Come Together."

"Come Together" by Echosmith

2/24    House Of Blues (Cleveland, OH) *
2/28    The Rave (Milwaukee, WI) *
3/10    Knitting Factory (Spokane, WA) *
3/23    The Pageant (St. Louis, MO) *
4/05    Altar Bar (Pittsburgh, PA) *            
6/15    White River Amphitheatre  (Auburn, WA) ^
6/16    Portland Expo Center Parking Lot (Portland, OR) ^
6/19    Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre (Chula Vista, CA) ^
6/20    Pomona Fairplex (Pomona, CA) ^
6/21    Pomona Fairplex (Pomona, CA) ^
6/22    Shoreline Amphitheatre (Mountain View, CA) ^
6/23    Ventura County Fairground (Ventura, CA) ^
6/26    NMSU Practice Field (Las Cruces, NM) ^
6/27    Quail Run Park (Mesa, AZ) ^
6/28    TBA (Las Vegas, NV) ^
6/29    Utah State Fairpark (Salt Lake City, UT) ^
6/30    Sports Authority Field (Denver, CO) ^
7/03    Klipsch Music Center (Noblesville, IN) ^
7/05    The Flats At Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (Toronto, ON) ^
7/06    Darien Lake Performing Arts Center (Darien Center, NY) ^
7/07    PNC Banks Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ) ^
7/09    Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach (Virginia Beach, VA) ^
7/10    Merriweather Post Pavilion (Columbia, MD) ^
7/11    Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) ^
7/12    Susquehanna Bank Center (Camden, NJ) ^
* Opening for Owl City
^ Warped Tour (Ernie Ball stage)