The Family Crest chats post-“Beneath The Brine” music!
A few weeks ago, I was able to grab the chance to sit down with a band that I’ve seen grow over the past year, The Family Crest! Currently touring in support of their critically acclaimed release, “Beneath the Brine”, lead vocalist Liam McCormick took a few minutes to chat with me about the current tour as well as what they’re currently working on. What they’re currently working on is huge.
The band is currently working on a recording project he told me that includes last year, taking a month where they went all over the country to record people with many different instruments who wanted to be involved. The band live is a solid seven piece but in our interview, McCormick talked about the hundreds of people that have recorded with the band in the past. Read our new one below and keep your eyes peeled for new music and tours from the band!
Soft one to start, you’ve been touring pretty steadily lately. Maybe the three things you must have with you while on tour?
The three things I must live with. My iPhone because everyone assumes that being on tour is this really romantic, you’re looking out the window kind of thing. Writing lyrics. No. You’re looking at your iPhone, you’re watching House of Cards. You’re just trying to take your mind off the fact that you’re in this box that could explode at any time. So iPhone or media device, my suitcase. Okay, I’m extremely anal about packing. Don’t misconstrue that comment. Yeah I have like a really ridiculous packing system and a lot of people are like it’s amazing but why do you do that? I’m starting to figure it out and I think it’s because when you’re on tour, you have so little control of everything that goes on in your life. So it’s a way to like feel in control of something so that’s probably one of them. Number three? I guess my headphones.
With your media device?
With my media device so I can at least listen to stuff. Be in my own bubble.
Then you kind of talked about how you did miss about two weeks of this run but besides those dates obviously, how has this tour been going in particular with Jukebox the Ghost?
It’s been amazing. They’re extremely kind guys and really fun. You never know what you’re going to get going on tour with another band. Especially when it comes to their fans. Jukebox the Ghost fans are some of the most amazing people, honestly, that I’ve ever met. Just really loving and really supportive and really genuine and excited. They’re super excited about the music so it’s been a complete pleasure. So besides getting sick and having potential vocal damage and all sorts of stuff, it’s been great.
Then maybe “Beneath the Brine”, it’s been out for just over a year now. Are you currently working on a new record? you pretty steadily relapse new music.
I am, yeah. We’ve actually been working on a new record, I’ll call it a project, because it’s big. I’m not going to go deep in to it but we’ve been working on it for about two years now. Actually a lot of the material was written before “Beneath the Brine” and the idea for the record/project was from before “Beneath the Brine”. So yeah it’s been like a long writing thing and it’s been crazy. We did a recording project in May of last year. We went around the country recording anyone that wanted to be a part of it for a month and it was amazing but yeah it’s been really fun. Really, really excited about it. I’m really proud of it so far. Hopefully, I would love to see it released by spring of next year maybe. I’d love to see it earlier but I just want to make sure it’s perfect to us.
So is it like another LP or something different from that, I know you don’t want to say much.
I mean, our band. We’ve always had this very collaborative kind of spirit. We didn’t start as a band in the same way. Like we were a recording project. It was kind of supposed to be like a swan song. We had been in bands for a while and it’s a really grueling lifestyle. You can get pretty jaded and once you’ve stopped being in love with what you’re doing, with anything really, you should probably stop and do something else for a while. So we were kind of at that point and we wanted to make a record that we were really proud of. I loved collaborating with people. My bass player, John and I have started to groove here. We were like let’s just make a record and anybody that wants to collaborate, I’ll write a part for them and we’ll just make it happen. That kind of spiraled into the insanity that is this band and the first record had like a hundred people on it. So with that period, we kind of kept that open. With the newest record, we had so many people over the years all over the country now that were like I want to join the family. So it was kind of a way to get them in the family. It’s fun. We had all sorts of different instruments and all sorts of different skill levels. It was crazy.
And was it something where sometimes they like perform live with you when you’re in that city?
Yeah, absolutely. When you’re on a support tour, it’s a little harder because you don’t want to throw too much into the mix. There’s already seven of us on stage but yeah generally speaking when we’re doing headlining tours. I mean some of our closest friends are sort of extended family members. Like I’m actually really excited. We’re heading to DC to do a headlining show in a few days and one of our good friends Sam who always plays with us he’s a sax player. He started as a fan but now he’s a buddy of ours. It’s cool, you start having this family across the states that you get to see from time to time and share this performing aspect with. Then you meet new people that are their friends or people that you meet at shows and you develop more relationships. It’s really fun. Humbling honestly.
And you talked about how there are a lot of musicians involved but it’s been like these seven core members of the band, but you do set up these parts that they record. But when it comes to the songwriting itself, is it just between the seven of you or is it like you as the main writer?
I write all the music and compose all of the music. For us, it works easier that way because there’s so much going on. Like I said, I’m kind of a control freak. I’m just very lucky that I have the musicians in this band that I have. That kind of trust me to lead that aspect of it. It’s kind of crazy when you get these requests for random instruments that you’ve never written for. I remember I had a request from one of our friends in San Francisco who plays bassoon and he’s amazing. It was like one of those super nervous moments, you know, like writing for this guy. The day before, he said oh yeah I’ll do it and I can only do it this one day. So I had to learn how to write for bassoon and it was just literally looking up people on YouTube and being like that sounds right, okay! Okay, now I get it but it’s a really interesting way to learn how to compose. You do learn a lot because if you go into something feeling like you’re not an expert, anything, I honestly think the best way to learn anything that you’re doing. Even if you are good at what you do is to go in and feel like you’re not an expert and trust the people, especially in music. If I’m writing for a trombone player who’s been playing since he was eight, he’s going to know way more about that instrument then I will. So if he has a suggestion like this part’s a little high it will sound better in like a French horn, I’ll go for it. It’s a great way to learn about composition. It’s kind of nutty!
And for you obviously, you’ve been doing music for a really long time, be it yourself or with this big collective. Maybe for you, the first CD or first cassette you can ever remember getting as a kid and not the first concert you remember going to?
First concert I ever went to, the first concert I ever went to that I remember as a child was a folk artist named John McCutcheon. Who I still love but the first concert as a teenager that I went to that was mine was Tool. It was Tool and we like snuck our way into the pit and it was terrifying and awesome. First CD, that’s really embarrassing.
Maybe first cassette?
First cassette is less embarassing. First cassette was actually a mix tape. On one side, it was the Beatles’ ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Let It Be’ and on the other side, it was a bunch of like oldies. Burt Bacharach and all sorts of stuff like that but that’s the first stuff I remember listening to.
Then maybe to end it off, these shows are coming to an end. You have your headlining shows that you talked about. What’s coming up for The Family Crest? Just focusing on getting that project ready to go, being back on the road?
We’ll definitely be getting back on the road a few times this year but yeah when we get home, we’re diving in deep. I mean, mixing this alone is going to take a while but yeah I mean I think the main focus is going to be to get the record done. We’ll let our booking agent call us and be like alright, you’re going on tour and we’ll be like alright, great. We’re going but yeah, that’s pretty much it. Looking forward to the last few days. Looking forward to playing Boston!
You like playing Boston?
I do! I love Boston. We’ve spent a fair amount of time here and our drummer Charlie went to Berklee and he spent a lot of time here. So he knows where to go. Today we had a pretty long amount of time. We did a radio show this morning and my bass player John, his wife told him, he has to go to this Italian bakery called like Maria’s. She was like you have to get this cannoli. We did and it was pretty mind-boggling. It was amazing.