Avers: Not Another “Side Project”

Avers are a group of guys and a girl from Richmond.  They came together from a plethora of musical worlds (Americana, indie pop, folk rock, etc.) to make a...

Avers are a group of guys and a girl from Richmond.  They came together from a plethora of musical worlds (Americana, indie pop, folk rock, etc.) to make a psych record in a whimsically and balls-ily haphazard manner.  They are Adrian Olsen, Alex Spalding, James Mason, JL Hodges, and Tyler Williams (of The Head and the Heart).  They recorded a debut record, Empty Light, which is likely to drop later this year, but currently they’re out on a handful of live dates, which includes two Philadelphia stops, January 13th at Boot & Saddle, supporting Cloud Control and January 18th at Johnny Brenda’s, supporting Geology.  JL recently took some time to chat with me (on New Year’s Day nonetheless) about the band’s origins, methods, and the sounds that ensued.

Izzy Cihak: From what I understand, Avers seems to have come about rather quickly and a bit haphazardly.  What is it, specifically, that brought you together?

JL Hodges: Chance, I guess.  Nothing about this band was preconceived, except for a psychedelic concept.  A combination of people got together one night that had never played music with each other before – literally our first encounter was recorded and is the first track off the album, “White Horses.”  Everything just clicked and felt so good.  We kept getting together until the album was finished.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the band’s most significant influences and inspirations?

JL: Experimentation was key to this record.  With five writers all contributing to each other’s seedlings of songs, we had to trust the energy of the moment, or Brother Horse, as we like to say.  This band is really about that – trusting the moment, not over thinking it, and creating something from the collective.  More specifically, I think that we were influenced by our location.  We made the record at Montrose studios, which is housed on a circa 1789 farm just minutes from Downtown.  It’s a beautiful, easy place to be inspired.

Izzy: Your debut album, Empty Light, is about to be released.  What can fans and potential fans expect of your debut LP and when might they expect it to drop?  I’ve heard it and actually think it sounds like if Dischord Records did psych rock (Hopefully you don’t find that bothersome.)

JL: Wow! That’s really flattering to be mentioned with such a legendary label! Unlike most records, where bands come into the studio rehearsed and perhaps even lay down an instrument at a time, Empty Light was written and recorded simultaneously.  Lots of the tracks are live off the studio floor, within an hour of us first hearing a demo from one of the writers.  When overdubbing, we really made an effort to play multiple instruments at the same time to keep the music sounding real.  For us, this approach was really refreshing in an era of computer-corrected music.  As far as when it’s going to be released, we don’t really know. Right now we are just focusing on playing shows.

Izzy: You’re based out of Richmond, VA.  How is the music scene there?  I’m relatively ignorant of it, although I did spend a lot of my teenage years in Northern Virginia, outside of DC (which I realize is a completely different animal).

JL: I think Richmond is an awesome town.  There is a ton of local talent, and out-of-town folks who are moving to Richmond to start bands. There’s lots of diversity in the scene as well and I think it’s only going to get better. In addition to music there’s a great art scene, too.  Plus, it’s cheap.

Izzy: You’re playing a couple of upcoming shows with Cloud Control, including a date here in Philly.  I’m curious if you’re fans of the Australian indie rock outfit.  They’re actually one of my favorite acts of recent years.

JL: Yes, we recently discovered them and they are great.  Tyler heard about them through his friends in Grouplove, so we are definitely excited to meet them and do some cool shows.

Izzy: And what are your plans for Avers in 2014?  I know most (if not all) of you have other active projects.

JL: We are super excited about 2014.  We plan on releasing this record and playing as much as we can to support it.  This band is a lot of fun for all of us, so it really feels more like a priority than a side project.  

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.