It is amazing, having only formed one year ago, that a band can have such a developed, mature sound -- usually something only bands who have been together for years can master. But there’s an explanation for that -- the members of Someone In Two Cities have been playing music for roughly 30 years combined. And for several of those years, playing in pairs with members of what would become this band. It was actually “just by chance” that the guys came together to form the electrifying alternative indie pop-rock group (a genre they call their own) in March of last year.
The gentlemen of Someone In Two Cities are all Wheaton North High School grads, but didn’t form the band until college, which guitarist and lead vocalist, Christopher William Corey Bryant, attributes to the band’s maturity and meaningfulness. Along with Bryant, guitarist Jared Buttry, bassist and vocalist Ben Yost, and drummer and back-up vocalist Tim Reimer, have all played together independently of the band for many years. They also have numerous other bands and music projects under their belts, each bringing a unique ingredient to Someone In Two Cities' sound.
I met up with three-fourths of the band (Tim was ill and couldn’t make it to the interview) at downtown Wheaton’s own .
When asked how they would describe their sound, the guys scrambled a little bit trying to find the right words. The first ones out of Buttry’s mouth were “Easy listening.” Bryant followed that with, “We are an alternative rock band that loves our dance influence.” Bryant then reminisced about being in previous bands that couldn’t get the crowds dancing, “For us, the most important thing is getting our listeners to move,” he said. They all agreed that their sound is “Easy listening” and something that people of all ages can enjoy, “We’re trying to appeal to a broad crowd. Not just the younger, but the older audience as well,” Bryant said. “It’s not too complex. We make everything flow and fit together,” said Buttry. “It’s fun rock that’s not over the top,” Bryant added, “It’s very simple, very short. We really, you know, focus on up beats.” They then came to the conclusion that their genre is “alternative indie pop-rock.” I would even fit them into powerpop/twee, but listening to their music, you can’t ignore their alternative rock influences.
As for influences, the boys agreed Two Door Cinema Club is their main influence. They also mentioned that people have told them that they sound like The Strokes and Modest Mouse. The influence of early Strokes is clear in many of their songs. They said that they all share admiration for the Bare Naked Ladies, though they do not think they sound like them, agreeably so. Buttry and Bryant professed their love of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, which Yost quickly made note that he does not share the same affection for. “Fine, fine. As guitarists, we love our girl-pop,” Bryant said. Yost was pleased with the distinction.
After asking what inspires them to write their music, it became apparent that the song-writing process is unique to each member. Bryant, who writes most of the lyrics, said that his life inspires him the most. “It’s pretty broad and cliché of me to say, but in all honesty, there is nothing I’m more familiar with than me and who I am,” he said. When writing music, Bryant points to life events and how they make him feel for inspiration. “It’s really kind of magical how much emotions play in the music side. When I’m writing music I like to pick out one event... one certain experience that I can look back at and let it all out,” he said. Song-writing is deeply personal to Bryant. “It’s almost as if I’m holding a conversation with myself. In a way, I’m the most self-centered, arrogant person,” he said. (And I added that the best musicians are self-centered, so he shouldn’t have any remorse). Lastly, he said, “I’m going through my own therapy and people enjoy it.”
For Yost, the song-writing process is more about fitting the pieces together. “I came in later [to the band], so they already had a bunch of songs,” he said. “I love playing the bass and I battle with two guitars and a drummer. I do get lost a little bit,” said Yost. “I like to make it move. I’d say what inspires me is perfection, honestly. I want it to all fit,” he said. Buttry started off his answer with a compliment to his fellow band-mate, “Chris is amazing. He will just start singing, some of it doesn’t make sense, some does, but he’ll just find a sentence and stick to it and work on it and it’s so much fun to watch,” he said. After a couple of “Aw”s both from the band and this reporter, we were back to business. “We’re good at writing our own music and playing together,” Buttry said. “I try to play with [Bryant’s] vocals a lot, emphasizing his vocals.” But what really inspires Buttry? “Family, friends, the enjoyment of playing. It’s totally different than any other experience. This is the first band I’ve gone on stage with and done recording with, so it fuels me to continue,” he said. Then, giving a more personal answer, “What really fuels me to keep going is my family. They’re so supportive and they are always there. They will come to any show they can. Family -- That’s my answer.”
They all agreed unanimously that their favorite show they’ve played was their first one. Bryant started out with a little background story of how he got the idea for their first gig. Bryant is involved with the transition school program affiliated with , which is a program for disabled young adults to learn life skills and how to become independent. Bryant had heard that they were having a Christmas party with a talent show at , and got the idea to have Someone In Two Cities participate in the show. “For everybody in the band, it was an immediate ‘Yes!’ once I brought it up,” Bryant said.
It was a special experience for the band, one they will never forget. “It was the most welcoming place, full of the most loving people,” Bryant said, “We gave them a chance to do something they usually wouldn’t be able to experience, the chance to see live music.” Bryant said that it was important to the band to start off within the Wheaton/DuPage community and to give back to it in the process. “We did more than play music, we gave them a life experience. And they taught us a lot too.” Buttry added, “We also got to see their talents, it was really cool.” Bryant was touched by the support of everyone at the event, “They are so supportive of each other at the transition school. And they gave us so much support, it was awesome.” Yost interrupted, “They gave us not just support, we also got hugs and thank yous,” he said. The band enjoyed the show so much, they can’t wait to do it again. “We were so appreciative of them and they appreciated us, and it’s definitely something we would like to do again,” Bryant said, the rest agreed. “It was a really good place to start -- a gymnasium at a church,” Yost concluded.
Since their first gig, Someone In Two Cities has played several shows atin downtown Wheaton, as well as at The Legion Underground (Pub Yahoo) in Carol Stream. While looking for gigs, the boys used some unconventional techniques to get their demo out to the public. “We basically did canvassing...” Yost said, laughing. “We would go to Ultra Foods and pass out demos,” he said, “We like to have a stack of demos everywhere we go.” If you haven’t had the chance to see Someone In Two Cities play at La Spiaza, you’ve certainly missed out. Their fans pack the coffee shop every time they play. They wow the crowd with their originals and a fantastic cover of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Their acoustic set is surely something not to be missed.
The band has been busy the past few months, recording their first EP, a six-song compilation. Following release of the EP, they plan to have a full-length,12-song CD to be released later in the year, “Late summer or early fall is our goal,” Bryant said. Yost added that the band will start work on their first music video “right away,” the song they have chosen for the video is “NIKO.” They will be working on this video with Bill Keith, a film major at College of DuPage.
Someone In Two Cities will release their first EP at their next gig, at La Spiaza on Saturday, March 5th. As always, the show is free.
If you’d like to see Someone In Two Cities again, they will be playing a show with another amazing local band, Shortwave Suburban, on March 20th, at Walter Payton’s Roundhouse in Aurora.
For more show information and to hear songs by Someone In Two Cities, visit their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/someoneintwocities or their MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/someoneintwocities. The band is all over social media, so you can also follow their updates on Twitter: @Some1in2Cities, and take a look at their YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/someoneintwocities.
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