Local folk-pop band Band Concord sat down with us to chat about their creative process.
Everyone in the band is from Virginia. How do you think the area has influenced or inspired you in ways you might not have been living elsewhere?
Andrew: It’s really helped being in the New River Valley because a lot of people are into folk music and bluegrass. They see a banjo, they see a violin, and they see a bass and they are immediately drawn towards it, which helps us gain attention. We have that more poppy sound, but we can also strip down and be the folk band that people also enjoy. The pop aspect of our music is geared more towards people our age – more towards a college crowd.
Alex: We’re nestled in the mountains, and as we started to play shows and play on the air, we could see what people responded to better, and we started to steer towards that.
Jason: To have a base like a university to work off of, it’s really easy to start something like this. I can just imagine trying to start something like this at Virginia Beach, or Richmond, or northern Virginia... there’s so much there, it’s so dense, whereas here you have a fresh plate.
A photograph of a young girl graces the front cover of your new album, “Youth.” Is there a story behind that design?
Spencer: That’s my sister. We were trying to think of what we wanted as a theme for the album. The narrator in those songs was younger. “Youth” made sense. I thought that it was funny, my sister standing there, practicing to be a flower girl – a big day for two people getting married, and such a huge thing in a relationship – yet she probably had no idea why she was dressed like that or holding petals. I thought it was ironic, this little girl who has no idea what she’s doing, with so much going on around her. And so, that was the idea behind the photograph for Youth.
The songs in “Youth” have a nostalgic undertone. How does a band craft their memories into a song that only lasts a few a minutes?
Spencer: That’s the difficulty in song writing. You could write a journal or a book about your life – there’s just so much to say. In a song you’re kind of limited – you have to be specific, and I always want to share the memory in a way that people can relate to.
Jason: When you write songs, it’s not necessarily just about you and what you want to put down on the page for the song. It’s about what you want to have people relate to in your experience.
Spencer: That’s really been my main goal since I was younger and started writing: to give people a different viewpoint on situations, to help them in any way I could.
What is the creative process in crafting new songs?
Alex: At first, you just have a very minimal skeleton of what’s going on, and then you have to trust that everyone is going to fill in their part.
Andrew: It’s up to everybody in the band to step forward and put their own quality towards it. It’s great too because we’ve had songs that we’ve been playing for a year and somehow they still just change. From week to week, we all find something else to kind of shape it.
Jason: You build upon everything you’ve heard and everything that’s come before you. It’s just in this little microcosm. You like something, and you listen to it, and it becomes a part of your musical vocabulary.
Alex: It’s also really interesting because we come from completely different musical backgrounds, ranging from very classically trained to free folk. We’re getting to a point now where we all agree on ideas. It just kind of happens naturally. There’s not much disagreement.
Do you design merchandise because you enjoy it, or because it’s important?
Spencer: Oh, it’s very important.
Andrew: I do enjoy doing it, but it’s super important. I think one of the biggest things about being a musician is being able to stay relevant with the people and the times as well. If you look at music trends, you see that folk and folk pop have a really strong power in like 2012, and then it started going on decline. It kept the same feel, but it would twist in order to stay relevant, and so we have to do the same thing, but we have to do it with design too. You can’t just have a website that’s outdated.
Spencer: Font changes style, types of pictures change style, and how you edit pictures changes style.
Andrew: It’s constantly changing.
What has been your experience with design?
Jason: It’s a whole other element of how you can reach people.
Andrew: Spencer and I are more on the design side. The band posters and photography from our friends helps us in designing products, whether it’s t-shirts, logos, or the website. I would love to look back on our first couple of websites. I was so proud of them, and they were so bad. I think our colors were like purple and yellow for the website? And there’s a cover photo of someone walking into the sunlight at the duck pond. It’s just a really bad picture, just a really bad cover idea. Now, I’m constantly looking for new things to tweak, if not just revamp the whole thing.
Alex: He changes the website like every two months.
What is the future?
Alex: The first year, we definitely found our roots. We found our comfort on stage. We have a good foundation, and now it’s about growing and stepping outside of our comfort zone. It’s about going to cities we haven’t been to before, to fans we’ve never met before, plan some weekends and shows, recording in Tennessee...
Jason: The next step is moving out of this area. We’re immediately in Blacksburg. Now, it’s all about growing beyond where we are.
Interview by Kevin Garcia, Austin Ledzian, and Brooke Warrington
Photographs by Luisa Lacsamana and Austin Ledzian