Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chicago band Audio Content working on new album, will perform July 25 at Debonair Social Club

On its latest album, "Mostly Right...All The Time," Chicago band Audio Content strived to write the most honest album it could.

The members of Audio Content are currently working on the band's fourth album. Audio Content will perform July 25 at Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

Flocks & The Lookout and Sarah Eide & The Borderland Band also are on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10.

I had a chance to talk to Audio Content lead vocalist Derek Drake about the band.

Q - Great talking to you. The band released its EP "Mostly Right...All The Time" last year. What were your goals for the EP and do you think you accomplished them? Is there a meaning behind the album's name?

The single motivation when we set out to write "Mostly Right...All The Time" was "challenge." How can we do  better than "Come Home," our previous album?

We challenged ourselves to write and record the album to a click. We generally write with lots of dynamic, so the click posed a tremendous challenge.

On a personal level, I wanted to be honest. No bullshit. No beating around the bush.

The title sort of just came about during a conversation we were all having. It is about the Challenge we as men have.

We think we are right, when most of the time, we are just full of shit.

Q - How do you think the band has evolved since first forming? How would you describe the band's chemistry?

The synergy we have when approaching new material is hands down unlike any other creative experience I've had. I can tell almost immediately if a song will work.

It seems like Ravi and Tim write material. Many of our earlier songs I wrote in less than 30 minutes. My thinking at the time was what it written is written.

Now I take my time. I challenge myself to not suck. So far, so good. I think. 

Q - Tell me about your upbringing. Was it hard growing up gay in a strict religious household? How do you think your experiences have impacted your songwriting? 

I was born in a small little town called Ford Heights. It's south of the city, close to the Indiana border. 

My parents had me at very young age. My mom was 13 and my dad was 15 when they got pregnant with me. So in a way I grew up with my parents.

My grandmother was very strict and extremely religious. Every day I was in church. Literally, every day.

I wasn't allowed to listen to "devil" music. The Cranberries' album "Zombie" changed my life.

I was a freshman in high school when I heard it for the first time. From that day on I would listen to "those stations" trying to hear that song.

As a result, I was exposed to other songs. The songs I write typically have some element of spirituality or religion. There are many "gospel" songs on our album.

The song "Atonement" from the album "Come Home" is gospel. That was about me getting over one of the pastors molesting me and the things that happened to me post that experience.

Everything I write is something I have experienced or has happened around me. My grandmother told me once, "why go to hell for a preference?" I had to go through exorcism to get rid of my gay demons.

The pastor that participated in the exorcism is the one that was giving me his gay demon. The song "We Go On" is the by product of that situation. Gospel.

My family has since come around. My grandmother, though still a heavy Bible banger, doesn't take issue with who I am.

Q - What do you think of the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding gay marriage? Do you see it as another step toward equality?
My husband and I were married back in 2012. We have a 5 year old. This ruling validates our existence in the world of family and parenthood.

Prior to this, if we wanted to move to another state, we would have to consider our family not being able to exist without modifications. This is BIG. Imagine someone telling you that your family doesn't matter.

I think the progress we have made is bittersweet. To think that in a 2015 America, people are finally allowed to marry another adult. That is crazy to me.

The part that is most disheartening is that it wasn't a unanimous decision by the court. To think that there are judges sitting on the highest court in the land that believe, legally, my husband and I should not be married but my friend that is on his third marriage is all good...blows my mind.

Q - The Soundgarden influence is strong in the band. Why do you think that band has had such an impact on Audio Content's music?

I don't know if it's so much that particular band and their influence on us as much as it is the era that Soundgarden was most influential on the music scene. We are all over 35, so we grew up during a time when bands really used melody and sonic talent to create songs. 

We are very much driven by melody and mood, and I believe that is where the comparison to Soundgarden might be strong.

Q - What are the pros and cons of being an independent band? Do you think the positives outweigh the negatives?

The obvious pros to being and independent band is we call the shots on the type of music we make and the image we put out. There is nothing like being in control of your own product.

The con to that end is having a vast support system to take care of the daily grind of getting that product out into the ears of the listener. We're all family men, so making the time to write, practice and improve is a valued commodity.

We come ready and prepared. The majority of the time. We know that our time is valuable so we use it wisely.

I think that is a huge component of being independent. No one is making you do it. We do it because we love it.  

Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think Audio Content fits into it?

The Chicago music scene is  very diverse. In just looking at the bands of our friends, there is punk, metal, rock, pop rock, blues, alt-rock, avant garde and some questionable sounds.

The thing that makes the Chicago scene great is that there is room for everyone. I just wish original bands got as much love on the scene as the cover bands.

Audio Content is just as diverse. With influences in gospel, rock, pop and classical we fit right into the conundrum of the Chicago scene.

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

In the short term, we are preparing for upcoming shows and finishing up album #4. Long term, we continue to work on the stage performance. Always be changing.

Are the transitions fluid? Is there continuity between the songs? Does our set tell a story or is it all over the place?

When people leave our show are they thinking to themselves, "Damn that rocked!" These are a few of the questions we have to ask ourselves.

Success lives in the answers. If we can come to practice every week, play these songs and still fall in love, we have achieved what we have set out to achieve.

Rock good and hard.