Yes, My Body Sings Electric may be an up and coming indie rock band you’ll be hearing plenty from in 2014, but first and foremost, they are five BFFFs (Best Fucking Friends Forever). Grounded in resolve to make a name for themselves, MBSE are finally witnessing their hard-earned spot in the industry take off, and are ready to let it catch fire with the release of their sophomore full-length, Part 1: The Night Ends on February 25th. Above all these, the quintet from Denver, CO, have stuck by each other through a series of highs and lows that has only strengthened their bond and determination to keep the band going. Brandon Whalen, lead singer of MBSE, was able to catch up with Substream in the middle of their album release tour to talk about the new album and the friendship that keeps them going.
Substream Magazine: You guys just kicked off The Night Ends Tour for your album release. How’s it going so far?
Brandon Whalen: Tour is going really great so far. We’ve met so many incredible people. We’re already looking forward to the next tour.
SM: What’s your favorite part about touring?
BW: Playing music for people is the best feeling. It’s hard to describe, but it’s quite like a drug. Being on tour and getting to do it every night really puts your life into perspective and helps us focus on doing what we love to do.
SM: You recently loaded up a few of your wives and girlfriends in the van with you for a few stops. What are some of the pros and cons of having your significant other on the road with you?
BW: We actually don’t bring the girlfriends or wives on tour with us, not yet. It’s really hard to be away from the people you care about, but there is an understanding on their end that we’re working toward something important here as meager as the return may seem in the present. Plus, a van is no place for more than 5-6 people to live for more than a few days.
SM: Who have been some of your favorite bands to go on tour with?
BW: We’ve been lucky enough to play some road dates with several of our favorite pals from Denver. In The Whale are always fun to be around. The Epilogues push the limits of the human body. The Denver scene is always strong in Austin for SXSW so every time we play there it’s like a big reunion with a bunch of our good friends.
SM: This tour is all for your new album, scheduled to be released on February 25th. How is this album different from your previous ones?
BW: We’re much more focused on writing great songs and telling interesting stories these days. Our previous record, Changing Color, was more focused on being very musically interesting whereas the new record is more focused on making great songs as a whole. That’s not to say we aren’t trying to do interesting things instrumentally on The Night Ends, but we really tried to be measured and intentional with the instruments this time around.
SM: Take me through MBSE’s process of writing The Night Ends.
BW: It was intense. We normally rehearse twelve hours a week, but we were easily doing double that during the busiest weeks. We began writing in summer of 2012 and did pre-production on eight songs, but at the beginning of 2013, we scrapped all of those songs and wrote twenty new ideas. We put ourselves on a short deadline to finish the record, and we were going through a ton of material, so we implemented a very rigid writing process. There were rules in place to keep us from wasting time when we were stuck on something, we documented and recorded rough versions of everything onto Soundcloud, we went through two full pre-production sessions on our twelve favorite songs, and only eight of them made the record. The entire time we got feedback from friends and producers to see what got people excited. It was a great experience, but a lot of stress and work.
It’s kind of a transitional record for us. Everyone in this band is entirely wrapped up into building upon what we have as a group. It’s a rollercoaster of great news one week, bad news the next. Meanwhile we’re also in transitional phases in our lives. We’re in the second half of our 20s. We’re nervous about our future. We’re anxious about growing up and becoming better men. We feel guilty about the time we’ve wasted, the money we’ve spent, the relationships that could have been. All of that experience of growing up as these pseudo-bohemian hipster musicians, whatever you want to call us, is definitely reflected in the stories and emotion of the album. It’s much more complex than our last release.
SM: What’s your favorite song on the album?
BW: You’ll get a different answer from all of us. “New Friends” is my personal favorite. It’s written as a self-reflective story. It’s how I picture all of my friends and family talk about me when I’m not around. I wanted people to know what it feels like to be doing what I’m doing, so I wrote those lyrics from their perspective about myself.
SM: How have your fans been responding to the new material?
BW: Our fans are pumped! They’ve heard a few songs and gotten a taste and the response has been pretty incredible so far. A lot of them are telling us we’re the next 3OH!3, Air Dubai or whatever to come from Denver. It seems like high expectations as moment. In all honesty, we have no idea what the future holds, but we are going to work our fucking asses off to make sure it’s good.
SM: A few months ago, you MBSE decided to create a podcast called Best Friends. Best Podcast. On YouTube. What made you want to start a podcast?
BW: The way the music industry works these days you need to be in constant contact with your fans. You have to release new material, videos and content almost constantly. On the other hand, you also need to create a personal relationship with as many people as possible. The podcast is great for us because we get to showcase our personality — which I think is a huge asset. We get to be extremely candid and personal about ourselves and our lives, plus we can record as many episodes as we want. It was our way of putting more of ourselves out there for our biggest fans to experience.
SM: On one of your podcasts, you all talked about being avid concert goers. What’s your favorite concert you’ve been to recently?
BW: As a group, we all went to the Denver stop of the Finch “What It Is To Burn” tour. Finch is a band that deeply inspired all of us to pursue this career so we went as a group to see the show and basically fangirl our faces off all night. Also, our buddies in Dance Gavin Dance were on that tour and we’ll take any chance we can get to hang out with those guys.
SM: You’ve all been together since 2007. How have the five of you grown and changed personally and as a band since then?
BW: It’s incredible how much we’ve grown up over the years. We were very childish and irresponsible in our early days, something that is never good for a band. We’ve all almost become grownups in that time, and it’s really helped us focus on our priorities and become a hard working band. I think our music benefits as a result. As a group we’re much more business-minded and much more worried about our product; live shows, records, merchandise. All of it has to be the best it can be.
SM: The biggest thing I’ve noticed about your band is that you’re really proud of the lasting friendship you’ve maintained. What’s the key to keeping your relationship strong with the four other guys?
BW: We’ve been through a lot together. Everything from crying fits and drunken arguments to utter joy and elation. We’ve eaten a lot of chicken wings in that time. Part of the process of growing up together has taught us to treat each other with respect, to be grateful for one another and what we’ve built so far, and to put a lot of value on our little band and the adventures we share. For most bands it’s a short ride. We want to make it last as long and to be as positive as we possibly can.
SM: What’s one of your favorite memories with MBSE?
BW: South By Southwest 2013 was a really incredible experience. We played five gigs over four days. On the last day we had two back to back gigs. On the way to the final set we were tired and cranky but we loaded into a filled-to-capacity venue and proceeded to play one of the most energetic and passionate shows of our lives. The crowd ate it up. We completely cut loose. It no longer mattered that we were tired or that we had a sixteen hour drive home. All that mattered was we were in the zone and that crowd was right there with us. We’ll never forget it.
SM: What is the ultimate goal for MBSE?
BW: It’s simple. We want this band to be our full-time job. We want to cover all of our bills and costs with what we can do with our music.
SM: What are your plans for 2014?
BW: 2014 will have more touring now that we’ve got a kick-ass booking agency behind us. We also plan to finish writing the follow-up to Part 1: The Night Ends.
SM: Thanks Brandon. Good luck with the album!
BW: Thanks for the awesome interview and welcome to life as one of our #BESTFRIENDS.
Part 1: The Night Ends available on iTunes February 25th!
Interview by Stephanie Roe