SB: So you guys are brothers, so growing up what music were you exposed to and inspired by?
Michael: Well, I think one of the most inspiring things growing up and led us getting into music was going to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Californication tour in the year 2000 or 1999 in New Orleans with our dad.
Ben: It was, yeah, our first rock show, I guess and I forget how long ago it was, but the Foo Fighters were opening
Michael: Yeah, they were the openers at the time
Ben: “Learn to Fly” was a really big song at that time, and we just gravitated towards, I don’t know what it was.
Michael: Yeah you know, we were ten or eleven years old at the time and uh, to go to an arena rock show was pretty powerful.
Ben: It was a pretty impressionable moment for us, and then after that, like why wouldn’t you wanna do that?
Michael: We were really lucky to have a great guitar teacher, named Travis Morgan, who, one thing he did was always encouraged us to you know, to join bands and do stuff. If during our lessons, we wanted to record, he would let us do that and set us up. He recorded our first EP when I was in the fifth grade and Ben was in the seventh grade. We were really lucky to always have people around that encouraged us, like our parents were supportive and said if you want play music, do it. We were like, yeah we do and did it.
SB: Nice, and a lot of people may or may not know you guys used to be in the band Apache Relay, which broke up a couple years ago, so what made you want to start Airpark?
Michael: Well we both have a lot of passion, drive and love for music, which didn’t end when Apache Relay broke up, so we wanted to pursue this one hundred percent. We have toured for so much of our lives, that not touring felt weird.
Ben: We both get a little too antsy in Nashville for too long, if we aren’t touring
Michael: It’s like cabin fever in your own life.
Ben: Yeah that’s part of it, so you know we were always planning on playing music after and we are grateful for that time that band was active and doing things, but we always definitely wanted to continue in our own way after and we are excited to do so and things have been really amazing so far and refreshing.
SB: Awesome, I’m glad you guys are still making great songs. I read online that your band has an interesting background and I feel like it stands out amongst all the other band names I see online, so could you give me the background of Airpark?
Ben: Well that’s good to hear, thanks. We tossed around a couple names for a while, stuff like that, but I think that name dawned on Michael. We live in east Nashville and next to an airpark, yeah it used to be a private airport or something, then it went out of business and the city preserved it to be for recreational stuff. People bike over there and stuff, we spend time there and it’d didn’t seem too over thought.
Michael: I was literally on a jog one day and uh, I saw signs with the name on it and I ran by one and thought it’d be a sweet band name.
Ben: It came kind of naturally and so, we didn’t overthink it, so that’s how we got there.
SB: cool, well it’s a solid name! So I’ve read online that people have described your music as minimalistic, is that something you guys would say you would use yourselves or just a word others may use?
Michael: Well with this EP, the shift toward minimalism was incredibly intentional. A lot of these songs are written with me on drums and Ben on guitar. It’s not something we have really tried a lot in our musical pasts, we have always had big productions and kind of gravitated toward that, but we thought it’d be an interesting challenge to switch things up. But as for future projects, I’m not sure how minimal those will be, there will be elements of that, but we will see what feels natural.
Ben: Yeah, yeah I’d second all of that. It was intentional and we like the challenge. We like that maybe the minimalism would inform the aesthetic of the songs. We like the idea, of more emphasis on grove and less layering of a bunch of stuff on the songs, so it was something we were interested in trying.
SB: Gotcha, I feel like it is a good mix things and sounds full. So your EP comes out soon, could you tell me about the recording and production process?
Michael: Yeah Absolutely, so we were lucky enough to have worked with Gavin Paddock, who also produced the last Apache record and lives out in LA and works there as well, but we flew him to Nashville for this EP and uh, he stayed with us for a week and went Ocean Way studio B in Nashville and recorded the entire EP in a week with Gavin, who also mixed it as well and it was a collaborative effort. I think we have spent just about the most time in the studio with that guy than just about anybody and the last Apache record took six months to make, so we just have a great working relationship and for us, that sometimes leads us to heightened creativity. When you go in the studio and nobody knows one another, your trying to figure everyone out. When it’s your bro, you are like “Alright, let’s do this, does this suck or is it cool?”
Ben: Yeah, I think to further what mike’s saying, there’s just a lot of respect and trust there and we felt comfortable. It’s so crucial in a creative environment to speak straight and he’d tell us if he didn’t like something and we’d do the same for him. It felt really healthy and exciting to do, and yeah, we felt really lucky to record the first EP like we did, in that studio with that sound engineer. Then to co-produce it with him, was just awesome.
SB: And do you guys have a track on the record that was your favorite to record and then one that was the most difficult?
Michael: I think both our favorites, well my favorite off the record is “Plenty to Pine For” , which is track 3 off the new EP and featured in the teaser video.
Ben: Yeah, I think “Plenty to Pine For” is our favorites and finishing a music video for that as well and will hopefully will get some more attention and then we have the first single out. It’s a tongue and cheek, heart break jam and Michael’s vocals are really well displayed in and there’s a lot of space, I don’t know, it really captures what we wanted in the way we wanted it to so, that’s our collective favorite!
The most difficult to record would be, was maybe, uh…
Michael: I can speak for most difficult to write, would be um I think for me personally was “All The Time” and I spent a couple months on those lyrics and didn’t want them to fall by the wayside. I knew there was going to be a strong groove there and the groove could hold the song together, but spent a lot of time on the lyrics to make sure the song was tight, so that was the most difficult probably.
SB: and that was the single you guys released, right?
SB: Then, so you guys have been in groups for a long time together, so have you mastered the art of making a real, honest song or has it been a developing process?
Ben: Yeah, I think it’s constantly evolving. There are some songs Michael does by himself and then some I do or some we do together, so there’s not a specific way we do things and it seems they come as they come.
Michael: I think that’s what keeps it honest too, instead of the fifty-fifty method each time, I don’t know if it would serve the song. Sometimes the fifty-fifty is a perfect thing, while other times you may need to work on this part or work on that, flush it out and bring it back.
Ben: We also revise each other’s work a lot, which is nice too. Like Again, Michael can speak pretty straight with me and be like I don’t like that lyric or that’s a better bridge or whatever the case may be. So, that’s an important aspect of the relationship that we haven’t really talked about much. If we do stuff on our own, we try to present it to the other and have them edit it if you will.
SB: Yeah, I find in general when speaking to bands, they often say that the song writing process is evolving and pretty collaborative, which makes complete sense. So, you guys are half way through your tour, do you have a favorite show or road memory?
Michael: Norfolk, we played this place called Toast, in Norfolk, Virginia with Eric Slick-whose is the drummer of Dr. Dog, he just put out a solo record and a guy named Nate Sacks and the Life Hacks. The guy that promoted the show, Josh Hoplin, did a great job and that show was amazing, it was a full room.
Ben: Yeah a full room and really enjoyed it, everyone was hospitable and kind. Eric Slick’s set was fantastic and we are fans of his work, it was an awesome night and it was an indoor/outdoor venue. The weather was perfect; it was a Saturday night and everything kinda lined up.
Michael: Now that I think about it, that’s my favorite show we have done so far.
SB: And how have people been reacting to the new material?
Ben: It’s been positive so far, but we also recognize that most people come to the show know us from our past band, Apache Relay, we acknowledge that and like that. So, we have mixed in a couple Apache tunes into the set, but put them through the Airpark filter to make things cohesive for the set. We’d wanted to honor that and the people who like those tunes. It’s part Apache and Airpark stuff, along with a few songs from Summer Buttons, which is Michael and I’s side project with Kellen Wenrich, who was in Apache and Summer Buttons as well. So um it’s a little bit of everything and a real mix.
It’s been a good reaction, we haven’t had any produce thrown at us yet.
Michael: haha, not yet, I mean I’m hungry, so if anyone did throw it at us..
SB: and will an eventual full length have a similar sound to the EP?
Michael: Well actually the plan is to release Early Works, Volume two in early fall and then a full length next year, so this is a early project. So, when we release the full length, we want to be sure we have built it up and gotten some attention from people hopefully. It’s important for the best interest of the music and helping us get out there.
Ben: Yeah we thought felt it was important to put out digestible amounts of music for new music versus just putting out a full length and then nothing for a couple years, so let’s just do four songs at a time and try to put out two eps this year, with a full length next year. It’s a new project, so we didn’t want to over whelm people or have our music get lost in the mix because there’s so many bands putting out new music. So, shorter, consistent releases was the thought versus one long release.
SB: Yeah I feel that’s really the way a smarter way of doing it and people can really absorb the songs that way. Thanks so much for sitting down with me and already excited for the next EP!
Michael: Yeah, thanks for the interview!
Ben: no problem, thanks.
Listen to “Early Works, Volume I” by Airpark below.