“We definitely want to be a band that will make you think, that will jar you and that you’ll either love or hate. We don’t want to be likable. You’re either going to love us or hate us; we don’t want to be in the middle.”
These words came at the end of a phone conversation with Gavin McDevitt of Washington Heights-based outfit Tribe Society, and if you’ve heard the band’s tunes, you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about; the sound (which is the product of an eclectic mix of each member’s own distinct influences) and overall aesthetic are bold, and you WILL be forced to take a stance on whether or not they’re for you, something that (in today’s world of non-committal internet-elevator music) is becoming rarer and rarer. (Fortunately, though, I think more people will be on the fan side of the fence when it comes down to it.)
During our conversation, McDevitt and I talked about Tribe Society’s beginnings, what it’s like to live with your band mates even when you’re NOT on the road, and about the good old days of the nineties, when music refused to take a backseat. Read up on all of that below, and then be sure to follow Tribe Society on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.
So I know you’ve all known each other for a while, but was there a specific moment in memory where you guys decided to put a ring on it and move forward with Tribe Society as a full-time thing?
Yeah, actually, a few of us met on the very first day of college in the dorms. It’s interesting, because we were friends a long time before we’d even anticipated making music together, and we were all in very different bands (some of us were in rock bands, some of us were in funk bands) so it was a lot of different genres happening. And when we came together after all those projects, we combined everybody’s musicality, which is what you hear in Tribe Society’s sound.
And you all live together now, yeah?
Yes, it’s pretty hilarious. If you saw the house, there’s just gear and synthesizers everywhere. Actually, the EP we’re going to be releasing was made at the house. It was all home-brewed.
Convenient! Now, because you live together and tour together and all of that…I mean, that’s a lot of time with each other. How do you balance that so that people have their alone time and don’t go crazy? And how do you create boundaries for when you’re working and not working?
It’s a cool thing, because it’s a lot of complementing personalities. But as far as creating music, a lot of us have individual home studios in our bedrooms, so someone could be working on a beat independently, and the rest of us can kind of jump in on it.
That’s a good, low-pressure set-up! And you just mentioned the EP a minute ago, but I know you’d also said you guys had started to work on a full-length. What can you tell me about that?
We’re just getting the mixes back for the EP, and we’re really excited about it; when we were setting out to make Tribe Society a thing, we were pretty purposeful that we wanted to make something grittier, angrier…stuff with balls, you know? Growing up in the nineties we listened to a lot of harder music in terms of attitudes (whether it be hip-hop, grunge, rock) and we feel like that’s an aesthetic that’s really missing today. So we want to bring some metallic and trashy and bold elements that are hard to find, that we wish were around us a little more.
Right. And obviously you want to focus on one thing at a time, but do you have any rough ideas about when we could be expecting the full-length?
We’re always writing and are fairly certain we know what it will look like and feel like as far as a full-length album, but I don’t actually know when that’s going to be released. We released a mixtape, though!
Yeah, I was going to ask you about Delirium Sonata as well! How did you settle on which covers to include on that?
Well the first one we chose was “Stoner” by Young Thug, because we just think that that dude’s a rock star; he dresses like he’s punk rock, he has a bold attitude, and he’ll even wear female clothing, which, if you look at some of the greatest rock stars of all time (Prince, David Bowie) they were wearing women’s clothing. There’s something about Young Thug that we thought was really fucking cool. (He also has a really characteristic vocal; I love a vocalist where you can immediately tell they’re doing their own thing.) So it was kind of like doing acrobatics figuring out how to cover Young Thug, because it’s a trap song in a totally different kind of genre, so that one took a while to put together, and it sounds like it has a lot of production on it, because it does. But that was one of the first ones we chose to do, and the rest of them (apart from The Beatles), you know, we grew up in the nineties and love that shit (Smashing Pumpkins, Eminem), so we just picked stuff that really spoke to us.
And because it is a mixtape and a continuous stream, is that something that you would consider playing from start to finish in a live setting? (Maybe you already have?)
Yeah, we’ve been talking about how to get that together. The idea is to put a projector in front of the band, and we’ll have a full-length visual that we’ll be releasing on YouTube for the mixtape. So we’ll play the whole mixtape from start to finish with the visual projected in front of us so we’re silhouetted behind it.
Sounds awesome! And speaking of live, you’ve got some shows on the horizon for this summer; do you know whereabouts you’re headed at this point, or is that still being solidified?
We’re headed out to LA, and then we’ll be back New York where we’ll be doing some more shows. Then we’re also doing some shows with X Ambassadors…some intermittent dates until we line up the right tour.
Right. And when you’re NOT on the road, how do you typically handle the sweltering New York summers? I personally can’t stand hot weather, so I will likely be stationed AC-side for about three months.
I don’t know, I love the summers in New York. We’re in Washington Heights and we’ll walk outside and there’s stray cats fighting, homeless dudes fighting…you’ll always see some shit that’ll make you want to make some weird music. [Laughs] It’s funny, I’m out here in LA and it’s beautiful and sunny, and I think it’d be amazing to live here, but then I imagine the music we’d make if we were out here full-time, and I don’t think I’d like it. [Laughs]