Badass Band 46- Chasing Mars

This badass band is the Tim Burton of my of bands thus far, with their style of electronic rock and whimsical mesmerizing vocals. Chasing Mars will win you over with their dark and unique sound.

I heard about Chasing Mars through another Badass Band from the Chicago area, Pinto and the Bean. I started following them on Twitter as a reminder to check them out. Before I even got to the music, they won me over through their Twitter banter and commentary. The reason I specifically mention this is because many bands don’t think it’s a big deal to make a presence for themselves on Twitter other than posting a show, WRONG. Fans eat up just the regular tweets about whatever because it allows them to get to experience a band’s personality. Note that bands! Anyway, Chasing Mars does this well.

Soon after, I did move onto their website and the first song I listened to was ‘Spiderwebs.’ I was stoked there was a video to accompany it. The song itself is based on a metaphor about spiderwebs that anyone can easily relate to, ‘The spiderweb that’s new, a trap that’s set for you, and you get caught. Just hanging there to die…There’s nothing you can do while the blood is sucked from you…” What I really liked about this song though is that the actual sound of the instrumentation matches the lyrics so well. The vocals are deep and velvety rough (Yeah, it sounds weird but go listen and see if you can describe it any better!) which keeps your ears at attention throughout the duration of the song. It’s the whole package, a killer song accompanied by the musical atmosphere that it creates. As for the video for ‘Spiderwebs’, it is dark, cheesy, and fun, which is another reason I categorize them as my Tim Burton of bands. I went on to listen to the rest of their EP which features three other songs, ‘Bits & Pieces’, ‘Waiting Underground’ and ‘Until We’re Dead’. Each song is quite different from the last in its variations of strings, keys, computer infusion, and rhythms. All keep you under the Chasing Mars spell.

The band is comprised of Sean Goes- Vocals, Keys, Programming, Neven Armic- Vocals, Strings, Computer, and Sam Brown- Drums. These guys are the perfect combo in creating what they call ‘Galactic Electro Rock’. They have recently been on a search for a Bass player, and I hear they have some big things in the works, so I’m going to stop babbling here and let the guys of Chasing Mars speak for themselves. The gents were gracious enough to take time to answer some questions for BBB. Read on to find out why they’re ‘homesick for the future’, what their favorite live shows are, and what they are working on now.

When and why did each of you start playing?

Sean- I’ve been playing music since I took up trumpet when I was 11.  Being creative always interested me more than anything else so the trumpet was a great outlet. In high school I started teaching myself guitar and piano and started writing songs.  My dreams of being a professional trumpet player evaporated quickly when I realized how much more fun it was writing and playing songs.

Neven- I started on violin  when I was about 4 or 5.  When  I was in seventh grade I went to  my friends house, He had just gotten  a guitar for his birthday and he  let me play it, As soon as I  held the guitar I knew that I needed  to learn guitar instead of violin.

Sam- My dad sparked my interest for music.  When I was six years old he asked me what instrument I would like to learn, but I was too busy drumming on the couch to pay attention.  Drums were a good choice.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?

S- As a very young kid I only listened to whatever my Mom listened to which was pretty much only the Beatles. Then one day I heard Green Day on the radio. The song was ‘When I Come Around’ and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever heard. From there I discovered other alternative rock that most kids were listening to. Offspring, Weezer, No Doubt, Oasis, Pearl jam, Live, Red Hot Chili Peppers…etc. Then, in my late teens, Radiohead, Coldplay, the Flaming Lips and Bjork changed my whole understanding of music.  But currently my tastes are all over the place.  I like indie rock, hip hop, electronic or whatever. My ears are always thirsty for something new and different. Currently I’m obsessed with Kid Cudi. My tastes haven’t changed over the years as much as they’ve expanded. I still think ‘When I Come Around’ is a great song.

N- All sorts of music, when I was very young I would stay up late at night and listen to the oldies station, as I got older I would listen to everything from the Beatles and Led Zeppelin to Jazz and even world music.

Sam- I was one of very few first graders .  Nirvana and Green Day were my favorite bands throughout elementary school.  Sometime around fifth grade my dad and I, both became huge Radiohead fans.  We’ve now seen them nine times together, soon to be ten.

Which musicians do you admire? Why?

S- As a performer more than a musician, I admire Wayne Coyne. The way he leads an audience is amazing and inspiring. I admire anyone who does something new and does it well. I know he probably doesn’t need anymore praise but Thom Yorke is so good it’s damn near ridiculous. I want to know what planet he’s getting his ideas from. All of Radiohead for that matter but as a piano player/vocalist I identify with him more.

N- I always respect the musicians who can evolve throughout their careers instead of just repeating the same things over and over.

Sam- Jimmy Chamberlin of The Smashing Pumpkins has always been a favorite drummer of mine.  He plays very musically, but with incredible power.  The Smashing Pumpkins were a different band after he joined.  Greg Saunier of Deerhoof is a more recent favorite.  He’s one of the most creative drummers around today.  He will drastically alter his setup, deliberately making himself uncomfortable, to force new approaches to the instrument and kick-start the creative process.

How did you all meet and why ‘Chasing Mars’?

N- We all met at high school, You’ll have to ask Sean about that one. I immediately liked the name when I heard it.

S-I met Neven at a friend’s house shortly after I was out of high school.  He seemed much younger at the time so I didn’t really start hanging out with him til I moved back to Chicago from Portland, Oregon in 2006. Neven and I started writing songs for what became the band Chasing Mars. I don’t know how Neven knew Sam, but we brought him in to record some drums and immediately clicked. He made everything better.

The name ‘Chasing Mars’ was the result of over a year of trying to come up with a good name. We came up with so many bad names and eventually decided it would be great if we could just come up with a name that didn’t suck. On my way to Neven’s to work on music I came up with the name Chasing Mars. I told Neven that I heard a new band called ‘Chasing Mars’ and asked if he heard of them. He said no but seemed interested so I told him it was actually a ruse and a band name idea. We slept on it and the next day we still liked it.

Sam- I met Neven in high school Sean through him.  We jammed several times while I was still in Chicago, but never started any serious projects.  It wasn’t until I went away to school that Neven and Sean officially started Chasing Mars.  After hearing the music, I just had to come home and join the band.

Do you get nervous before a show?

S- Yes! Being well prepared has never lessened my nerves but I think that’s a good thing. I’m nervous but excited. I love performing!

N- Not really, practice make s perfect. I’ve been playing in front of people for a long time so I usually get pretty excited right before we go on.

Sam- Nerves are rarely in issue pre-show.  If anything I’m just excited to play.

Any rituals before a show?

S- I would love to tell you tales of strange rituals but our ritual is a check list. Just have to make sure we have everything we need. Other than that I just try to cultivate a happy, fun mood. It’s hard to bullshit a crowd. If you’re having a bad time they probably won’t like it. If you’re having fun it’s easier for them to have fun too.

N-Nothing special really.

Sam- Aside from setting up, I usually play some rudiments on my leg, and make sure my drums are in tune.

Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.

Sam- Visually, we have lots of lights, spiders, and sparkly drums.  We typically pick more energetic songs to play live, and try to keep the crowd involved in the action.

S- The rhythm is big, the synthesizers can get weird, the lights are fun and we have a good time. We love obsessing over details and playing well but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Life is temporary so we love it when people make time to hang out with us for a night and let it all out. We try to leave it all on stage.

N- We like to have fun and draw people in so we have some lights and stuff but if you haven’t seen us play live then you’re missing out. I’d rather you come see for yourself than try to put it into words.

How does your creative process typically work?

S- The process itself is creative so there’s no one formula that will always work. Sometimes writing songs is the easiest thing in the world. Other times its like giving a cat a bath. However the process, it’s always worth it when you create something that people love. I think of all the hard work that went into all of the music that I love so much and it motivates me to keep going.

Sam- I typically write drum parts on the fly at band practice.  Sometimes I will even have an idea for the part in my head, and have to teach myself to play it.

N- It’s different from one song to another. When I write a song it usually happens in a few different ways. Either I sit down and improvise something that I like (melody and chords) and then slowly build upon that, other times a fully formed song comes out in a matter of minutes with lyrics and everything. Those are the rare songs that when I look back on they seem magical.

What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?

Sam- We were recently featured on XRT’s Local Anesthetic.  That was a great surprise for us.

N- Not sure that we’ve had ours yet. I think careers in music form from many little breaks rather than one huge break, I think the idea of an overnight sensation is a myth, at least in the current climate of music.

S- The greatest opportunity I’ve had is to work with such talented, cool people like Jon Smith who engineered and mixed our album, Larry Beers who played drums for a few of our recordings or Justin Schmidt who played bass with us briefly but changed our music forever, not to mention Neven and Sam who I’m lucky to work with every day. We haven’t had the kind of breaks you see in a movie where one phone call changes everything but I think we’re already very blessed.

What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?

S- We’re working on new recordings right now and hope to release some new content this year.

N- New music!

Sam- Right now, we are working on finding a new bass player, writing a music video for our new song, Alarms and Bells, and finishing the tracking and mixing on a five song EP.

Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?

Sam- We’re a band that appreciates simple songwriting, and using unusual sounds and instrumentation to make it sound fresh.  We are big fans of Radiohead, and that comes across in our music.  Our slogan is “Homesick for the Future”.

N- Homesick for the future.

S- I don’t want to beg anyone to listen to us but I can tell you that we don’t do anything half assed and if you’re looking for something new, I think we’d be a welcome addition to your mp3 player. You can download our album for free so, if you’re getting tired of your music collection, what do you have to lose?

I know you were looking for a new bass player, have you found one yet? If not, feel free to run an ad here:

Sam- We are still looking for a full time bass player: someone who likes our music, has experience with other bands, and can bring some new sounds to the table.

If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

S- If I want to change the music industry I should do just that. We’re in uncharted territory now and there’s no easy roadmap to success but I think you make your own way in this world. There’s a lot of great things happening in the music world today.

N- That’s a tough question, Right now things are pretty great. It’s easy to produce a great record, which sounds good, for very little money relatively speaking. I don’t know that I’d change anything.

Random Portion

One song you never get tired of.

Sam- Pavement’s Range Life.  Pavement has such a great catalog, but this song has always stuck with me.

N- Crazy, as performed by Patsy Cline

S- Heart of a Lion by Kid Cudi.

What is the best live show you have ever gone to?

Sam- Seeing Radiohead in St. Louis with my dad on the Hail to the Thief tour.  We were about 5th row in the pit, and I remember looking back at him thinking this is just so cool.  Seeing Phoenix play all of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix at the House of Blues with Neven is a close second.  There was so much energy in the crowd, the floor was literally pulsating.

S- Flaming Lips the 5 times I’ve seen them. Also one time I saw Ben Kweller when he was just 21 and he got completely wasted and played an amazing show. The whole band started improvising and going off on a tangent and at one point Mr. Kweller almost cried singing a song about his girlfriend. It was one of those special, unrepeatable shows I was lucky to be at.

N- Phoenix at the House of Blues.

Favorite things to do NOT musically related.

Sam- I’m an avid frisbee golfer, and I’ve just recently picked up skateboarding.  I also like to play video games on PC, and have been known to kill some time on reddit.com

N- Isn’t everything musically related? I like hanging out with friends and I love to read.

S- I love martial arts and fighting and I’m a huge UFC fan. I’m the only one in the band who loves sports. I also love lucid dreaming, video games and hanging out and being silly with my girlfriend.

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?

S- Wayne Campbell because he’s a regular guy, pursues his dreams and has a hot girlfriend.

N- Not sure.

Sam- Bill Murray.  Does Bill Murray count?

Best prank you have ever pulled?

N- There have been so many it’s hard to pick just one.

S- I’m not much of a prankster. The best prank I pulled was taping the kitchen sink hose so that when my brother turned on the sink he got sprayed. Childish, silly and unoriginal, but I thought it was hilarious.

Sam- In my freshmen year dorm I once swapped my roommates shampoo with sour cream.  He was a bit grumpy the next morning.

Prized Possession?

Sam- Obvious as it may be, I have to say my drum set.

S- My Kurzweil pc3x electric piano. I think it was made in outer space.

What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?

Sam- I used to babysit when I was younger.  That ended when the kid broke his arm.  Lately I’ve been working as the window and screen repairman at a hardware store.

S- You ask that as if being in the music industry could possibly supply me with enough money to survive. Wait… do people actually live off music??? I am still an industrial blacksmith.

If you only have 5 minutes on Earth to play one song that would have an impact on society forever, what would it be?

S- I don’t think songs change society and I don’t think that’s what music is for. Music is pure beauty and expression. It can feel good to express through music how you feel about something but actual change comes from hard work. John Lennon tried that. But if I had to choose a song… Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen because that song is beautiful.

Sam- Idioteque by Radiohead.  It’s certainly had an impact on me.

What is something no one knows about you, but you wish more people did know?

Sam- I make a pretty good drum teacher, and I would love to have more students.

S- I don’t wish more people knew me or anything about me but I do wish more people knew my music.

FIND CHASING MARS HERE:

Twitter: @chasingmars

Facebook: facebook.com/ChasingMars

Web: chasingmars.com

 

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