Avers are a band I once described as sounding like, “if Dischord Records did psych rock.” The group is still very young and hailing from Richmond, VA, but they’ve already established a solid fanbase in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. They’ve already played three shows here this year (a spot supporting Cloud Control at Boot & Saddle, a spot supporting Geology at Johnny Brenda’s, and a headlining show at B&S) and they’re already back for their fourth.This Tuesday, July 8th, Avers will be kicking off their first full-scale tour with a headlining set at Johnny Brenda’s. I recently got a chance to chat again with JL Hodges of Avers (whom I first met this January) about Philly and why we’ve been lucky enough to get to see so much of the band.
“We love Philadelphia. It’s one of the first places we played as a band. It’s kind of like Richmond – people are into it and enthusiastic and moving around… We’ve been trying to hit DC, New York, and Philly a lot. We’re excited to come play Johnny Brenda’s again. It’s a place we think is an awesome, awesome, awesome venue. It’s kind of the perfect size for us. Even if there’s 50 or 60 people there, it feels good.”
Avers are a “supergroup” of sorts. They came together quite recently, from fairly disparate genres (bands such as The Head and the Heart, The Mason Brothers, Farm Vegas, Hypercolor, and The Trillions) with the idea of putting out a psychedelic album. Their debut, Empty Light, was recorded by the end of 2013 and officially came out this April. I ask JL about how the band and the record came about and he tells me that it kind of snuck up on all of them, happening more quickly and organically than they could’ve imagined.
“It didn’t start out as a band. We were just trying to make some noise in the studio. We didn’t know each other well at the time. The band dynamic is interesting. We’ve all been in bands and fronting bands for a long time, but there’s no ego. We just put the record out. With other releases from other projects, we would generally have some idea if there’s going to be an audience, but we put this record out having no idea if there would be an audience. I mean, we’re super into it, but we didn’t know whether other people would be into it.”
Fortunately for the band, the past six months have proven that there are a lot of people who are into it, affording the band the opportunity to play live shows at some of the mid-Atlantic’s best venues and even get some air time on the radio. I ask JL about how all this has felt and he’s pretty ecstatic about the response the band has garnered.
“Seeing people at multiple shows and coming out and saying they really like it is great. I think there’s a lot of diversity on the record, so even if someone may not get one or two tracks, there’s a reasonable chance they might like a portion of the album. And radio has been relatively good to us. It’s been on the radio, which is really cool, in like a geeky, little kid way. Like, hearing out songs on the radio, where I’m just used to hearing other people’s songs is really cool for me.”
Despite the live dates that Avers have played sporadically throughout 2014, Tuesday at Johnny Brenda’s will be the first night of what could be considered their first proper tour, which spans twelve dates throughout July and then has them performing at the Hopscotch Music Festival (Raleigh, NC) and Fall Line Festival (Richmond) in September. JL tells me he is anxious for the tour, both to see what Avers is like as an actual “touring band” and to see some of the cities on the schedule: “We’re just excited to get to go out on the road. It’s the first time we’ve been out for more than three days or so, really. I’ve never been to Columbia, South Carolina, so I’m excited to go there and we’re going to Atlanta and I’m a huge hip-hop fan, so that’s cool.”
Hopscotch will likely prove to be Avers biggest show yet. This year the insanely eclectic festival is going to be headlined by Spoon, St. Vincent, Mastodon, and De La Soul and also feature Philly heroes The War on Drugs and PHILTHY MAG favorites Potty Mouth and Coke Weed. Hodges tells me that he’s really excited to see some of the band, but he’s equally excited about the opportunities the day spent there could offer: “It’ll be our first festival as a band. I’ve never been to it, but I’ve heard great things about it, with a bunch of genres and I’m just excited to get out there and meet people and network. I’m pumped to see Spoon, right after they released a record and I’ve never seen St. Vincent, so I’m really excited for that.”
Although all the members of Avers have their own additional music projects, JL and the rest of the band are all intent on making the band a priority and continuing to pump out. He tells me that he’s really excited for the band’s debut to get a vinyl release in the near future and that the band will likely tour again in the fall but that their top priority is making new music, which is already well in the works.
“We’re constantly writing new songs. I mean, we don’t really get the chance to tour regularly, so I think it’s important that we’re always creating new music. Our goal is to have 40 songs recorded before we put out our next record, so we can pick and choose more. Our first record was literally the first ten songs we came up with.”