Welcome to the twelfth edition of “Tell All Thursdays”, where we seek to go beyond the song and find out more about the artist. Through conversation with the artist, perhaps we’ll obtain more insight about the songs we enjoy so much. If you are fans of surf rock, or even music that has many shades of a Beach Boys sound, look no further than USC’s finest (except for fellow blogger Dylan of course), The Miracals! Read ahead for the actually story for their name change (it’s not as cool as the original story), stick around for a preview of their latest music direction and ambitions.
1) So let’s rewind back a bit. Can you tell us about the controversy over your former band name The Smiles?
- Specifically how were you informed of this problem and what was your initial reaction?
Well, here’s the real, brief version of the story. It wasn’t anything related to a dentist, it had to do with another band in our area who had a very similar name to us, but the real problem was that they had it first. We held out as long as we could, but they were serious so we decided to change it. We were all really bummed out, we really liked the name. We didn’t want to say anything about that band because we didn’t want to be negative and we didn’t want fans to be negative. Plus down the line there was a possibility of having more legal issues, as The Smiles isn’t the most protected name…
- Besides getting out of a potential legal problem, were you guys gifted with anything else for making this sacrifice?
Nope. The name change hurt our following and our image, and it’s taken us a while to recover from that, and we’re still recovering. It was a great name and we were sad to see it go. The good I guess is that we really had some time this year to work on who we are as a band and what we want musically.
2) Unfortunately you guys lost out on a great band name, The Smiles, and I was wondering how the Miracals was founded in order to replace it.
We made a big long list of names. We wanted to be a “The” band, so we rolled with that. It came down to a few names, and we basically just voted on it, using a complicated system that we made up. It was awesome.
3) With the departure of former band member Brendan, you guys said that you were working with other guitarists who could sing, citing that “the more voices, the better”. What was the process like trying to find new band members?
Ha, still trying….we’ve got a permanent temporary replacement, Mike from another band Chasing Kings. He’s a great guy and we like him a lot as a friend, so it’s been a good fit, but he’s committed to another project first, so he’s not in the band officially. We really liked Brendan’s style and he’s a hard person to find a replacement for. We’re just still trying to find someone, but it’s hard because we move fast as a band and have a lot of new songs all the time. Plus we’re like…still really in school, so it’s hard to balance all of that. Hopefully now that we’re graduating we’ll have plenty of time to jam with more cool dudes. We would like someone that is cool, is good at guitar, can write, can sing, and kind of looks like us. It’s a pretty tough position to fill.
4) So based off of the interview last year, y’all said that John graduated from USC and was committed to staying in LA another year to wait for Will and Mark to graduate. First things first, what were your guys’ majors? Do any of these areas of study have any impact on your commitment to music or vice versa?
Yeah, John is a badass. John majored in English and Philosophy, and Echo and I are getting our degrees in May, in Music Industry and Popular Music Performance, respectively. I think we’re all pretty committed, and it helps that my degree is in music performance and songwriting and all that good stuff, and Echo’s is in Music Industry. John’s never been one to be in the music industry world, but he’s a prolific songwriter and is very committed to being in the band and writing.
5) Shifting gears over to your most recent release Give Me A Chance EP, how would you describe the work in five words?
Good songs, unhappy with result
6) What was your guys’ favorite song off the EP and why?
I think collectively the favorite is Pretend, though I really like IDRLI but that may be because it is a little bit dearer to me. I think all of the songs are pretty strong (except Girlfriend), but kind of what I hinted at earlier, a lot of things combined in a way that didn’t with Hermosa and in the end we were kind of unhappy with how everything sounded and where we were as a band then. It was definitely a good experience though. We’re gonna start working on a new record soon, and we’re really excited about that and can hopefully use the things we’ve learned in the past few years to make it something we’re proud of.
7) Regarding the “Pretend” music video, can you guys talk about the experience shooting your first real professional video? Lovely video too, who came up with that concept?
We got extremely lucky with the video. This guy, Dave Seger, virtually approached us and asked if we’d be interested in a music video. We’ve got a couple offers for that before, but they had all fallen through. We were pretty stoked to work with Dave though, as he’s established and works for one of my favorite shows, Community.
Dave and his partner in crime Mike Karnell proposed the idea to us over pizza, and it was honestly kind of hard to comprehend with just words BUT the idea sounded awesome and they were driven and we agreed to do it.
The experience was crazy. The location changed at the last minute, and when we got there, there was a crew of about 8 people. Dave did this because he wanted a music video for his reel, and so he did it for free. We were pampered, I had a girl who wiped sweat off of my face between takes and everything. We just kind of messed around on set and let the people who knew what they were doing tell us what to do.
We got so lucky, the result is so awesome. It makes us look like we are cool, which is unusual for us.
8) I’ve noticed that for the past two EPs, you guys have released them in late fall, but your sound is more indicative of the summer sound. Is there any particular reason for this time period?
Well we actually released Hermosa in May of 2010, but it didn’t really pick up steam for a few months. We recorded GMAC in the summer and we wanted to have it out by the end of summer but these things always take much longer than expected. We also had the name change thing to figure out and a release strategy to plan with that, so we waited till November, when everything was ready. We’re still reflecting on whether or not we liked the way we handled the release. We’d love to put something out in the summer, though it might be like spring of next year. Who knows. We’re actually planning on recording three songs before we start work on the album, so maybe those will be out (actually…it’ll probably end up being released in the fall).
OH and blue. That’s funny because we’ll release it in these upcoming summer months, but the whole thing was done in the wintertime and the tracks are much darker than Hermosa or even GMAC, so we’ll see how that goes.
9) Listening to the FRNZ demo track, I was pleased with the sound, even though it was only a demo, but I tip my hat off to you guys for the music video. Where do you see the band going in musical direction, and how does FRNZ reflect this direction?
Thank you! Yeah, that took a few days of editing and mixing, but it was super fun. I’m really trying to get Final Cut Pro X under my fingers, so it was a good exercise. FRNZ is a good indication of what’s coming up, I think. We’re hoping to record a more formal version of it. It was one of the songs we’ve written recently that has energized us as a band.
Where the band is going is interesting. John and I, as solo writers, are definitely maturing, but we’ve always found that the sound of the band is kind of determined by the songs we write together. FRNZ was written together. I’d love to be a high-energy live band, with the type of tracks heard on Hermosa and FRNZ and a few of our really new songs, but John and I are also decent mid-tempo writers. So we’ll see, I can’t really answer that question.
10) Hopefully we’ll be able to do this interview again about a year from now, so I must ask. In the next year, what would you guys want to accomplish by then (Both personal and band achievement wise)?
Haha cool, that’d be sweet. I want to graduate college (two weeks!) and get some sort of job so that I can actually support myself, personally. Musically with the band, we want to put out a real record that serves as a definition of who we are. We’re probably gonna re-record some old songs and put some new songs on there too. We’re pretty excited for this next year, we’ll all be out of school and hopefully we’ll be able to start working really really hard. We’re excited to grow in this next year. And hopefully find a lead guitarist who works with us!