Philadelphia based band Civil Youth are out promoting their brand new album Conversations and we had the chance to talk with them after their set at The Garage in Burnsville, MN. The trio's performance was full of energy, despite them arriving a little late and definitely sleep deprived. The crowd was small but that didn't stop them from having fun as they interacted with each other and the young tweens dancing at the base of the stage.
Michael Kepko - Keys/Vocals
Daniel Chapman - Guitar
Evan Seeberger - Drums
Shannon Rae: For those who are newly hearing of your band, how would you describe the sound of Civil Youth?
Michael: Oh that’s tough. Um, alternative/prog-pop?
Daniel: I mean there’s some hard rock, some hip hop some rap elements, there’s ambient guitars- I mean it’s kind of difficult to pin-point one exact genre when we’re influenced by so many and we try to incorporate all of them into our music and live set.
SR: Alright, fair enough. If you were to direct a new listener to one song of yours that you feel would best represent the band, what would it be and why?
Michael: ‘Dark Debts’ for sure-
Evan: For all the reason’s Dan said. I think it’s the best representation of all of the different sounds that we have. It has heavy stuff, hip hop stuff, it’s ambient. It has a lot of the different things that we try to capture in our music.
SR: Your newest album Conversations released in May, how does this effort differ from your other albums?
Michael: With the new record it was more of a collective process, with the writing and recording, everyone was really involved in some aspect one way or another and I think that’s what really made it the most cohesive album that we have so far.
Evan: It’s the most full band effort so far, for sure.
SR: You self-produced this album, what was that process like?
Michael: It was really focused.
Evan: We definitely this time around let the creative process kind of work for itself, we didn’t really try to push anything. But at the same time we would be like ‘we’re going to write to day and this is our time block to write’ and we would see what would happen in like a ten hour or eight hour block. You do what comes naturally and if you only get a verse done you get a verse done, sometimes you get a full song done, so it was very controlled. We just kind of kept adding to it. As we worked on new songs we would go back to old songs and try to make things compatible and cohesive as possible.
Daniel: I think one thing also that really helped this album was that, for previous albums a lot of the writing was done within the studio and during the recording process itself, while with this record almost every one of the songs was demoed out previously. There are songs on the record that are almost verbatim of the demos and there are other songs where we went a little more creative so to say and dumped more into it to see what we could do. Kind of like throwing you-know-what at a wall and seeing what sticks.
SR: What would you say is the hardest element of being independent artists?
Michael: I think really getting the exposure and filtering things out. There’s so much great music out there, and you just want people to care. So I think just being able to filter the music.
SR: Okay, so what is the best part?
Evan: It’s kind of a catch twenty-two. The hardest part about being independent artists and just artists in general right now is also the best part, its so easy to put music out. The best part about being artists is that we can control what we do, we can release things whenever we want and its so easy to do that with the internet and the digital age. But the struggle is, as Mike was saying, everyone can do that. As a listener if I want to listen to a certain kind of music I have to go through hundreds of thousands of bands to find what I maybe want to listen to.
SR: So Mike, you have a story about the demon you saw while on tour is what lead to the album’s title ‘Conversations’. Do you believe in these things or sum it up to an “imagination gone wild”?
Michael: The thing is, I’m crazy-
Daniel: I can second this statement!
Michael: I don’t really believe in that kind of thing, it was more or less an episode of sleep paralyses, just from being on the road so much and not being able to sleep. The anxiety of touring and not sleeping I think just made me see some stuff. I’m a weird dude.
Evan: I saw some stuff too-
Michael: Evan did see some stuff so I’m not that crazy.
Daniel: I think they’re both lunatics haha.
SR: Okay, so most bands have this amazing answer to this question that they never get asked, so what’s a question you want to be asked?
Evan: So actually this is a Minneapolis story. A lot of bands don’t like getting asked this question, “Whats your craziest tour story, your road’s so crazy?” and it’s not! You drive down highways, that’s all you do, but last time we played Minneapolis we played at The Pour House. The crunk-core scene band Broke Inside, they’re like a band from the mid-2000s. They somehow got double booked so their tour package came in and essentially opened up our show so all of their fans were there and they played before us and it was like their “return tour”. It was just a really funny night. There was a fraternity and a sorority that came in wearing like 1920’s flapper clothes, so they were up on the balcony dancing to this really weird heavy music from 2008-
Michael: Swaying and snapping over the hand rails-
Evan: -it looked like something out of the Great Gatsby, but it didn’t sound like it. So yeah, we really like when people ask us what was the craziest night on tour because we that story to tell.
SR: Right on. So any shows planned after this summer?
Michael: Well all summer we will be on the road and we have an unannounced tour in the fall but other than that we have a huge summer tour going. If you want to see us just go to civilyouth.com/tour and hopefully you will find your city.
SR: What’s been your favorite city so far?
Michael: I love St. Louis, but that’s just me. How about you guys?
Daniel: I mean it’s really tough because each city sincerely does have their own element and their own energy within every show, and yet not every show is the same also. In my opinion I agree with Michael, with this tour so far I think St Louis was one of the craziest with the crowd really getting into the music and chanting lyrics to us, and everything in between. Even with Coco, the guy we go through for the shows, he’s just the best guy in the world, we love him. Coco I love you if you read this!
Evan: Yeah, St. Louis is always crazy but for sure this tour so far every date has been the best show we’ve played. Like we are just playing better shows and they are more consistent and there’s more people out at them. People are liking the new music, so I’m not going to pick favorites.
SR: Okay, so any final remarks?
Evan: We have a new album and we like it when people listen to it. If you hate it let us know, if you like it let us know as well.
Michael: You’re taking the serious route, I was going to say meet us at Ihop-
Evan: If you can go back in time and be there, that’d be cool
Daniel: I guess back to Evan’s remark, if you hate it come to a show and listen to the set. If you still hate it come tell us!
Full CIVIL YOUTH Photo Coverage Here.
Read our review on Conversations Here.