Recently, I was able to conduct an interview with the members of Super Water Sympathy from Shreveport, LA. The band consist of brothers Billy and Clyde Hargrove on bass and guitar, Ryan Robinson on drums, Jason Mills on keys and Ansley Hughes on lead vocals. Creating a genre called "water pop", SWS released their debut album VESPER BELLE earlier this year. If you love meditative, dreamy pop, you will love Super Water Sympathy.
How did you come up with the name of your debut album "VESPER BELLE"?
(Billy) "It was inspired from our lead singer, Ansley. She is a re-incarnation of the evening girl".
How did the band come together?
(Billy) "My brother, Clyde, and I decided to try one more to form a band. We were in a band in college together at LSU in Baton Rouge. It had been a good 5 years since that project came to a close. I played guitar in past bands but started working on getting use to the bass as my brother would resume role as lead guitarists. We decided that if we do this...We MUST have a female singer to make it different and interesting since all prior bands we were in had male vocals.
Clyde and I in the meantime found a family friend, Ryan Robinson, (who was doing his solo project as a singer songwriter, to play drums. The three of us practiced and wrote for about two months on and off while going through female singers that either turned us down or were just not a good fit. It got to the point where Clyde was saying he'll just sing out of desperation of getting this thing to move forward. It was then that night, that our cousin told about a girl that he remembers from his highschool that was always singing and putting up Youtube videos. So we checked out here videos and stalked her on Facebook. We loved her vocals and then saw a picture of her with a snake on her head and we knew this was the girl. We messaged her that night and the rest is history..."
3.Having such a seasoned sound for not being together that long, what elements did you take from previous bands you may have been able to incoporate in SWS?
(Ansley) "This is a really hard question to answer, mainly because I'm not 100% sure on what gave Billy, Clyde, Ryan and Jason their inspiration. As for me, I get a lot of inspiration from who I believe to be one of the greatest female vocalists of our time - Regina Spektor. I really admire her extreme ability to have complete control of her voice. Everything from her breathing techniques, to her abilities to keep her vocals toned down when necessary, and knowing the right times to amp them up. So many female vocalists these days feel like they need to constantly be belting out a note in order for it to be good. In my opinion, when a vocalist is constantly belting and "showing off" all their fancy riffs and runs, it is equivalent to a problem you would have if any other band member was "solo-ing" the entire time. It takes over the song. It creates a distraction from everything else that is happening. One already knows who's singing when watching a band, so I think it's much more refreshing to hear all the elements work together to create a sound, rather than be forced to focus on one element. You should naturally focus on the vocals and hear the lyrics, rather than feel like you have to be. Regina Spektor also has some of the most original lyrics and phrasing I have ever heard, and we spend lots and lots of time on that element of our music".
4.Who brought the use of synthesizers into the mix?
(Clyde) "After a month of playing as 4 piece, we knew we needed a synthesis of sound so we contacted Jason Mills who used to record with Clyde in high school. The use of pads is VERY important to us".
5.How did you come about working with B.O.B on the song "CHANDELIER"?
(Clyde) "We were contacted by some label representatives after they heard "Cherokee" and asked us to do some writing sessions in New York with some of their producers. Soon, one of the songs, "Chandelier" , was pitched to B.O.B. and he placed it on his album, Strange Clouds".
6.What was it like to get invited to play Warped Tour?
(Ryan)"I learned how to play drums in punk bands when the post-punk movement was at its peak in the early 2000's, emulating some of the drummers from the same bands we will be touring with in July. If you would have told me I would one day be playing Warped back then, I would have probably set a school bus on fire with excitement. It's both a very validating and surreal feeling playing it now with SWS. And ironic as well, considering the said bands I was in at 16 were much more typical to the Warped line-up."
7.With having so many options at a festival like Warped Tour, what do you feel sets you apart from other bands that should give people incentive to come see SWS?
(Clyde)"Every band is unique and is set apart in their own special ways. However, I feel like we offer a more meditative approach to music at Warped Tour".
8.With being from Shreveport, LA, did you set out in your songwriting to depict the south west US or did it just happen to come out that way?
(Jason)"We have never thought that it depicts the southwest. If that is how you see it then that is what it is"!
9.Who came up with the "Water Pop" label?
(Billy) "just playing around when deciding on a genre on our facebook page and figured out, "hey that sounds nice when you say it".
We have been asked this.
10. What made you decide to record the new album in England?
(Billy) "We were trying to find a producer that had past projects that related to our sound. We were mainly looking for someone that knew how to handle heavy synth and eery sounds mixed with powerful vocals. We researched a bunch that were not just in England. We talked to others, but Cam seemed to just feel right and he was super cool right away. It has been a perfect match and we couldn't be happier that this whole process has worked out so well".
11. How similar is the sound of the new album compared to "VESPER BELLE"?
(Billy) "It is still "Water Pop" lyrically and sound composition wise. We feel we just took what did on our first album and added some jalapenos and cilantro to some already cooked taco meat. The synth is more powerful than ever as well as the waves crashing".
12. Last question: Which is a better depiction of Louisianna: True Blood or Swamp People?
(Billy) "Can we throw "Billy the Exterminator" into this"??