The Livewires: Three College Best Friends Making Musical Tunes (Interview)

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The Livewires is a Rock N Roll band packed with high-energy tunes. They are three guys who became friends in college. They started up the band in hopes to be able to fund a place to live while they got their education and to also maybe get a few people to end up liking them and their music. It certainly has worked as they are fast paced and packed with lively performances. They all believe that rock n roll music should be loud and they prove that with their riffs and provocative melody. So come join them on their journey, hang on tight as the ride will be a crazy but exciting one!

 

Substream Magazine: I understand that you three were in college together when you started the band so you could afford to have an apartment and everything else a college guy requires. Did you guys happen to have a class together or did you meet some other way?

Brendan Martin: It is true we were all in college together. I was taking acting courses and getting lucky enough to land some roles in the plays they put on, and Sean was designing and running the lighting around then. We became involved…

Sean Gillies: Involved.

BM: … Involved together through those productions, and just hanging out, never doing drugs.

SG: Never doing drugs.

BM: We were cast together- this is when Sean took to the stage- in a short comedy called “Spider-Ham, Turn off the Pork,” written by Bezhad Farahbakhsh, brilliant man, and he needed a mock U2 band to perform several songs live on stage. So I got to be the Edge and he got to be whatever the bass player’s name is, and together we we’re in this band so we had rehearsals in classroom TA-28, and during these rehearsals we realized “hey, we can write music together that we like more than U2 songs…,” and we did. And then David here just came along-

David Kudelka: They walked into my garage one day and wouldn’t leave.

BM: [laughing] No, we wouldn’t.

DK: Sean introduces me to Brendan that night for a jam session and he picks up the guitar and he’s like, “hey man, I just learned this song called ‘We’re Gonna Groove’ that Led Zeppelin played,” and I’m like, “Holy Crap…,” and that was that.

BM: It was love.

DK: By God, it was love.

 

SM: In your own opinions, what makes your rock n’ roll music different from what is typically considered to be rock n’ roll? I fully enjoy it as I grew up listening to what could be considered ‘mainstream’ rock n’ roll, but looking for your own personal opinions and what you think gives it your own style as a band and individual, what you contribute to it.

DK: We don’t really care. We’re not trying to write accepted material, we’re trying to write stuff that keeps us entertained and engaged. We have contemporary influences that give it a different spin. Heavier influences, like Rage Against the Machine.

BM: It’s that thing, like I grew up listening to Bush’s Sixteen Stone and Green Day’s Dookie. Those were my first two albums. So for the rest of my life I’m going to have a slight, slight draw to something that in the smallest way recalls those, you know? Kind of Blue by Miles Davis I like too. So there you go. We have no direction.

 

SM: Do you have any upcoming shows or tours that you are going to be featured on? If so, which ones? Also, where can we go to listen to you perform live music?

SG: We’ve just gotten off a slew of shows in the downtown San Jose area, at venues like the Blank Club and the Caravan… we’re at the Coaster Bar in Santa Cruz on March 21st, and Winter’s Tavern in Pacifica on April 4th.

Barbara Wahli (Manager): The Milk Bar in San Francisco on March 12th, wait that’s sadly not happening due to SXSW.

SG: She’s right. That’s Barb, our manager. Hi Barb.

DK: Hi, Barb.

BM: Hi, Barb.

DK: We’ve played a few shows in San Francisco within the last while but we’re looking to create a scene and turn some heads around there soon. We’ve put a lot of concentration on San Jose because, you know, it’s our home town. And we’re a young band. We’re trying to put a lot of focus on one area, then move on, then come back before they think you’re dead.

 

SM: Do you have any music videos planned for any songs you play? If no, any plans to create music videos with your songs?

SG: We’ve actually shot an entire A roll sequence for our song “Sniper.” Our friend Jason- who we also met through the theatre department- works for CreaTV Studios in downtown San Jose so we set something up and filmed stage shots for the song. We had this idea that required all this closet material to be tossed and thrown all over the set, crap like clothes and towels and stuffed animals and baskets and what-the-hell and whatever, and then our concept gets floored and the idea suddenly can’t work, and now we have a sequence of us playing “Sniper” with god-damned laundry all over the place and we don’t know what to do with it.

DK: We gave all the stuffed animals to Brendan.

BM: I got them all back, yes.

DK: We’re now being introduced to someone through Barbara and we’ve seen his work and we like it, so we may just take a totally new direction and go from scratch, but we gotta decide soon.

BM: Yes, if you have any ideas of what to do with a crapload of laundry, let us know.

SG: But we won’t set ourselves on fire.

BM: No, we won’t.

DK: But we will set ourselves free.

BM: Yes, we will.

 

SM: How old were you all when you started playing your instruments? For you Brendan, since you also do vocals, how old were you when you began to sing? Did any of you ever take lessons? What made you want to learn to play your instrument or learn to sing?

BM: I got started on the violin really young and hated it. I took guitar lessons from this guy though our church when I was young and hated it. When I was sixteen I started playing bass and I was taking lessons with this awesome instructor at Music Village and I loved it. He taught me to play the kind of stuff I wanted to. He inspired me to study. After a year of bass- and I remember this clearly- I got a little curious and found my brother’s acoustic guitar, got a list of open chord formations, and when I played an open E minor (the easiest one), I swear- on the upstroke- I realized: This is me. This is what I do. The singing thing I just learned to do ’cause I had to. I’m still working on it. Both of them, of course.

DK:  I had tinkered with a toy drum set at about age 6, so TECHNICALLY I’m the child prodigy of this group…but in all seriousness, I was still realizing manhood (nothing’s changed) when I first sat down at the drums. I was influenced by rock-n-roll at an early age and by the time I spent my first few minutes behind the kit (at a friend’s house down the street), I was dying to learn Zeppelin. I started taking lesson from Kevin Coggins at Lemmon Percussion and bought a used Pearl Export kit. The kit was 8 pieces with about 5 cymbals, which I widdled down to a standard jazz/rock setup like Bonham’s. I learned a lot from Kevin, most importantly the discipline of practicing and technique, but what I was more focused on was playing along to records. I drummed along to Zeppelin, The Who, the Stones, Wolfmother, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs…the list goes on and on.

SG: One day, I was handed a bass, and was told to learn how to play it.

 

SM: Your songs all seem to have a different sound to them which is nice and keeps the sound exciting. Most bands don’t typically do this, why did you decide to create a new sound for the songs you have created? It’s a good thing to do I think to keep people on their toes about the music and to give it a twist as you never know what the next song could bring. 

BM: I love having a diverse sound. You’re right, that it keeps people interested, and it also really matters to us that we keep ourselves interested. Sometimes we get on a kick where we just jam and pick out some fun, bluesy riffs and make something of them, sometimes we have the thing planned from the start. We’ve written a couple nice piano pieces recently, which is something new for us. We like exploring new directions, and rock ‘n roll can be so many things.

 

SM: Out of all the bands you consider an influence, if you could only pick two, who would be your top two bands? The ones you would consider your “parents” as far as where you get your most influences from. Why did you pick them? Is it the guitar riffs, drums, vocals, lyrics, etc? 

DK: We have to say Zeppelin. And then we wonder, who would Led Zeppelin have to sleep with to create a Livewires baby? If The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jimi Hendrix had a thing, and then their baby made sweet love with Zeppelin… eh. There you go.

SG: While Jim Morrison sat in the corner and quietly studied the experience. That’s it.

BM: We pull from so many influences, it’s often hard to say. David’s a huge Bonham fan. We all have our heroes.

 

SM: Which of the four songs on your Soundcloud is your favorite? I understand it to be your EP. Correct me if that is wrong. 

DK: “Clouds on Clouds.”

SG: “Sweet Tea.” Yeah.

BM: “Clouds on Clouds.” Probably. Maybe. And yes, you’re right, it is our EP. We’re gearing up for an album and looking forward to it.

 

 

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Interview by Rae Wade