We talked with Andy Schichter, guitar and keyboard player for Echo Nebraska, about their new album Send The Ships, how Canada could improve on supporting the arts, what he wants the audience to get out of their music, and more!
G: How did Echo Nebraska get started?
AS: Devan and Gunn were recording an album with their band, Amber Hills. I had just moved to Vancouver, where I landed an assistant engineer job on the recording. Devan had some material that didn't quite fit the band's sound, so I invited him over to my apartment to put together some demos. Over a year and a half, we had roughly 20 songs, with background vocals, sampled horns, all the bells and whistles. We decided to actually get this project going and go into the studio.
G: How would you describe your sound?
AS: I've been using the term economical folk-rock. Very distinct melodies, and having the fat cut out of songs. We're insanely influenced by The Beatles and their use of vocal harmonies. Even from the earliest demos, we went nuts with having backing vocals act as a forefront instrument.
G: Do you have a favourite song off the album to play?
AS: Pilgrim. We've opened our first couple of shows with it. It's one of our darker songs. It just has this visceral element to it, and showcases Devan's voice. Oddly enough, it's the last song on the EP, but it's been working as a nice introduction to a show. It catches folks off guard. Not to mention I get to drench my guitar in a reverse delay, so that's always fun.
G: Tell us about your first impression of the single, Hey, Allison.
AS: I remember went Devan sent me an iPhone recording of Hey, Allison, the single from the EP. I was in Victoria with my girlfriend for my birthday. We played it in the hotel room, and we were stunned. It was such a beautiful song. A couple of weeks later, he came over and we demoed the song. That's one song that stayed pretty much the same through the recording. Every song on the EP was adjusted slightly from the demoes, or new parts were written, but for Hey, Allison, it was just a matter of recording everything properly.
G: What are your biggest struggles as a relatively new band?
AS: Organization. It's like starting a small business. There's so much to do. Even something like mailing out the EP to campus radio stations. That's what I've been doing recently, so it's fresh on my mind. It's a couple days works to acquire the mailing addresses, and write out the packages. I could see why young bands neglect the business element of being in band. It's easy to get sidetracked, and can be quite boring, not to mention the cost can add up. An easy answer could be "getting played", but if you give yourself enough time, look at what other bands are doing, and can organize some of the chaos, you'll slowly get a few plays, and build some momentum.
G: What do you want the audience to get from your music?
AS: I'd like them just to feel happy. A simple as a concept as that sounds, it's the truth. Hopefully the music can put smiles on a few faces. I was listening to an interview with St. Vincent recently and when her and David Byrne were touring Love This Giant, it was kind of a revelation for her. Prior to that, she never considered a St. Vincent show making people happy. She wanted her shows to be an experience and her and the audience go somewhere together. She didn't assume people were going to her shows to kick back, unwind, and have a good time. I thought that was interesting. I imagine it's easy to forget that that's why people go to shows. It's something I'm always going to have in the back of my mind, from now on. I wouldn't mind people humming one of our tunes as they exit the venue.
G: What could our culture do to better support the arts?
AS: I think the attitude needs changing from up top, as art is one the cornerstones of a country's identity. For future generations sake, art gives perspective on a time period, and puts a society into context. We need to make sure parliament keeps art programs well funded, and that they provide opportunity for artists to share their work domestically, and on the wold stage. And help support CBC. CBC Music does an incredible job at highlighting our country's best and showcasing up and coming bands. I'd personally love to see a streaming service that's specifically for Canadian artists. It'd be so cool to just click on a city, and listen to a bunch of bands from that area. It could help grow music scenes. Someone please develop this app!
G: How do you feel the Canadian music scene is seen internationally?
AS: I know in the US, it's well-regarded amongst musicians. Mainstream, I feel like they don't always get our best stuff, which is understandable. That's just the nature of the industry. But I've talked to American bands who have done the festival circuit up here, and they're always blown away by the talent of even the smallest local acts. We have a lot of hidden gems. One thing I've noticed though, is that people don't always know that a band is Canadian outside of the country. Unless they do research on the band, they'll assume they're American. As for across the pond, judging by artists photos on Facebook who play overseas, it seems like they're well-received. We'll give you a better answer on our first world tour. We'll report back!
G: Thanks for the chat Andy!