Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nashville band Escondido bringing haunting "desert rock" sound to Chicago


Nashville band Escondido's "desert rock" sound has earned critical praise, including from director David Lynch.

Escondido,, comprised of Tyler James and Jessica Maros, will likely garner more fans when the band performs on June 15 as part of the Taste of Randolph Street festival. The band will play from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. on the East Stage, and more information is available at

I had the chance to talk to the band about its current activities.

Q - Great to talk to you. You have a pretty busy touring schedule this summer. Does it ever get hard being on stage every night? How do you think the songs from "The Ghost of Escondido" are translating live?

Jess - Thanks for having us! One of the hardest parts is the driving. It gets tough day after day when we haven't slept much and it's just us in my VW Wagon. Other than that, I could do this forever.

I love altering a show last minute and gauging the audience. Every night is a different night.

Tyler - We're touring as a three-piece right now, so it's been a fun challenge rearranging the songs to fit this set up. I'm not used to taking guitar solos so it's a blast to try and rip some licks.

But we're a rock band at heart and we hope to start bringing our guys out with us soon. That's when it's really magic.

Q - How was it performing on "Conan?" Do you think that appearance, along with your cameo on the show "Nashville," have garnered you new fans? Do you view such outlets as just another way to get your music out to more people?

Jess - Conan was the first outlet that gave us a chance to show what we do best. They really took the risk to have us on their show and I’m really grateful for it.

I’m not sure if we gained a ton of fans but I like how people are discovering us organically.

Tyler - "Conan" was a career highlight for sure but we're grateful for any opportunity to get our music out there.  

Whether it's Nashville, radio stops, in-stores, or just playing at a coffee shop, every little thing helps.  Sure there's some glamorous stuff here and there, but for the most part it's the hard work in between that makes the difference.

Q - Director David Lynch took to Twitter to proclaim his love for your song "Black Roses." How did you react to that? Are your humbled to have his adoration?

Tyler -  I'm a huge David Lynch fan so obviously it meant a lot.  I once recorded a song based solely on the bass tone from the "Twin Peaks" theme.

Jess - The morning he posted that our phones went crazy. Ironically, he was one of the inspirations for  the "Black Roses" video we did with director Erik Lang so its funny how the world works sometimes. 

Obviously I’m honored, it’s a real treat when you see people that inspire you take notice.

Q - Escondido has been described as “If Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name stepped into a vintage El Camino and turned on the radio, Escondido would come blaring out of the speakers." Do you think that's an accurate description? How would you describe your music?

Tyler -  Ha ha.. that's a great description that we hope to live up to. Our record does have a desert flare, but it's rooted in the classics. The song is king and comes before anything else.

Jess -  I love Clint Eastwood and old westerns, but our music definitely goes beyond that influence.  We just say "desert rock" because it's easy.

Q - In sitting down to make "The Ghost of Escondido," what were your goals and do you think you achieved them?

Jess - My individual goal was to write songs that I could sing every night and never get sick of them. To write a song that is 100% true to who I am. Escondido is a magnified version of that. 

As a band? To capture a true and genuine moment on tape. I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

Tyler - I agree with Jess... just being true to ourselves, make something genuine. I also wanted to stand on my own as a producer and make something I'd take seriously if I was just a listener.

Q - The album was recorded in one day, which seems incredibly fast. Did the process go better than expected?

Tyler - We did a lot of pre-production and had the right musicians in the room, so I knew we could do it.  The time constraint was just another tool we used to get the sound of the record. 

It's exciting when everyone knows that each note and beat played will most likely be on the record. I was half expecting to rent some more studio time so it felt good to walk out with the record in hand.

Jess - It went way better than expected.  I think once we started we knew we could pull it off.

Q - Jessica, you found success as a clothing designer. What made you want to make music again? Will you be trying to balance both in your life?

Jess - As a clothing designer, I felt like a little secluded in being artistic. With music I get to enjoy the instant rewards. 

Making someone sing along to a song, seeing the instant response. With fashion, someone buys a garment and instantly replaces it. 

I feel a little more in my element with music. I don’t have to be backstage anymore. I’m trying to balance it, it's been really hard. 

I only sew for the band now. I make necklaces for our merchandise table and sew mine and Tyler's outfits.

Q - Tyler, you've been in the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and made music as a solo artist. How did those experiences shape you as a musician? How do you view your musical chemistry with Jessica?

Tyler - I spent all of my 20s just learning how to tour, how to write songs and produce records.  I didn't used to work as hard as I do now and it's taken a lot of trial and error.  

My time with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes opened my eyes to the joys of collaboration. I wouldn't have been looking for teammates if I didn't have that experience. 

 Jess and I balance each other well. She's got something special and I love making music with her.  She writes simple music and I lean complex, so our recordings are a mixture of both.

Q - What are the band's short-term and long-term goals?

Jess - In the short term we'd like to continue to put on the best show we can every night and start bringing our whole band out with us. In the long term we'd like to make our next record and just continue to tour. I love it.

Tyler - To add to that, I just want to make the best music I've ever made. Brian Wilson made Pet Sounds in his 20s.

There's no excuses anymore.