10 Quick Ones with BRANDON EISENBEIS and DAVE ORTON from VARSITY WEEK – July 2017

According to a recent press release: “Los Angeles, California’s alt-pop quartet Varsity Week is thrilled to announce their debut EP, If Only You Knew, is set for release on June 23, 2017 via Another Century Records (Century Label Group/Sony). The five song EP was produced by Jim Kaufman [Atlas Genius, Night Riots, Anti-Flag] and Kenny Carkeet [Night Riots, Anti-Flag], and showcases Varsity Week’s impressive ability for crafting addictive pop hooks. As described by AXS, Varsity Week “fuses fun and talent to deliver a zestful sound in a way that only true indie artists can do,” with each track encompassing both a soulful and nostalgic sound, and a hint of 90’s alt-bubblegum flair.” We get vocalist Brandon and guitarist Dave to answer our 10 Quick Ones about the new release, their influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Dave: We poured over “If You Only Knew” for the last year or so, so we’re majorly stoked for people to hear it. I feel like the hooks really sink in on the second listen where you don’t notice the R&B undertones on the first pass—and that’s something we really aimed for. If you really know us, I mean like really, listen to “The Arsonist”. FUN FACT: Jim Kaufman’s little nephews sang the yelling bits in “$$$$”.

Brandon: Recording this EP was a lot of fun. I think most people would be surprised as to how naturally we recorded it. If you hear a synth, it’s a real synth and we played the part by hand. Same goes for literally all other instruments on the record. We really took an old school approach and did a record the way they used to do it. We played it. I think that’s really apparent in the recording and a big part of our sound, especially live. We also all played pretty much a little of every instrument during the recording process, as we each play everything, so that added to an already interesting recording process.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Brandon: I really always knew. My mom was heavy into Michael Jackson and Prince, and I just loved every second of it. I actually stayed into that vibe, until I found an old guitar under the house. Then I got into punk rock and stuff like that, from there it just went on and on.

Dave: My Dad plays guitar so it was always available to me, although we were never interested in the same shit—he definitely nurtured my interest. The rest just kinda fell into place, Brandon and I hooked up as teens and were kinda in and out of bands together ever since.

3. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Brandon: This is always a tough question. I’d have to say, as far as influences go (which to me are different than just my faves to listen to) in no particular order: Fleetwood Mac, NOFX, John Mayer, Prince, Soundgarden, HAIM. Strange mix right? Those guys and gals, in different periods of my life, probably affected my writing and playing the most.

Dave:  Yeah, damn dude. Only five? It changes so much depending on the year and how depressed I am. I’ve been listening to Ryn Weaver a lot lately, such an amazing voice and she’s such a fox. I love early Radiohead, Pavement was one of my favorite bands growing up. Single Mothers is probably the best band of our generation, Drew Thomson is a lyrical genius. Is that five? Queens of the Stone Age, five.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be?

Brandon: Right now? I’d probably have to say HAIM would be the most fun for me personally. 🙂 Other than that, I’ve been blessed to enough to cross a lot of those off my bucket list in the past year.

Dave: We’ve had some crazy writes this last year and half. I would fucking love to write with Josh Homme or Troy Van Leeuwen. I don’t idolize many players, but both guys are so filthy with originality and really make their style their own.

5. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before?

Brandon: It’s like the cars meets tlc.

Dave: A lot of people tell us they get a 1975-y vibe. Kinda like that but with more rock type undertones, and Brandon’s right—there are heavy TLC moments.

6. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

Brandon: Everyone has really low expectations of you, so it’s really easy to blow people away when you do normal adult stuff. Plus you get to express yourself in a really awesome way.

Dave: Creating something that someone can connect to on an emotional level, especially bringing that home live.  There’s nothing better than that.

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Brandon: Dave and I definitely do most of the cooking. As far as the drinking, Troy and Justin get first place, and we typically sing Weezer’s “Sweater Song” out loud once a year or so. Last New Year’s Eve, we had about 30 people singing it. Real nice.

Dave: Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Justin busts out the acoustic pretty often, for personal singalongs.

8. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

Brandon: To be honest, I’d probably still be in the arts. Tattoos, produce bands, that kinda stuff. Hustle.

Dave: I was always interested in marine biology and conservation.  I’d probably be out saving the world, one salmon at a time—but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

9. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”?

Brandon: Oh no. Every experience has got me to where I am today. No regrets. It either is what it is, or it is what you make it. 🙂

Dave: A major misstep? Nah, only kinda regret the things we didn’t do. Should of booked that show, should of bought that guitar, should of made a move. That kind of crap.

10. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Brandon: I’d have to say any Fleetwood Mac or Tom Petty records. So influential in so many ways. Hit after hit, and for the time, these were the best tones you could get. These records still sounds so warm and pleasing to the ear to this day.

Dave: It would have been awesome to see Siamese Dream come together. The Pumpkins brought back all the sick 70’s tone and paved the way for some seriously dope 90’s records.

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10 Quick Ones with BRANDON EISENBEIS and DAVE ORTON from VARSITY WEEK - July 2017

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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