Interview by Ana Gomez
If you haven’t heard of The Takers and Leavers yet, you’d better start listening to them before they’ll be everywhere these next few years! This four-piece indie rock group hailing from South Florida is made up of Garrett (bass), Cairo (guitar). Kevin (drums), and Alex (vocals and guitar). I recently sat down with them at a local coffee shop to learn some more about them prior to their next big show this Friday in Fort Lauderdale, where they will be sharing the stage with Vesperteen.
What The Kids Want: This is a pretty basic one, but what artists (or anything in everyday life) do you find inspiration from for your music?
The Takers and Leavers: Chichi, Shag’s (Alex’s) dog, he inspired one of our songs, which is like the most popular [Dog]. That’s something lowkey, not a lot of people know. He’s inspiration for a lot of things that we do. For Cairo and Shag, they both like The Strokes a lot, so The Strokes are a really big influence. Everybody’s always saying we sound like them a little bit here and there. As for me personally (Kevin), I listen to a lot of John Mayer. I like the drumming on John Mayer records a lot. For coming up with ideas for songs and things, we’ve been influenced a lot by newer alternative, indie-rock stuff. Me (Cairo) being the lead guitarist, I’m super influenced by classic rock.
WTKW: Last year you released your debut EP. Talk a little about the making of it, what was that process like?
T: We had one guy who was producing it/helped recording it, and we stopped working with him. I (Alex) didn’t know anyone else, so I went on Craigslist and found one guy, Nick Tuttle. He was the first person I found, and it was perfect. We recorded “The River” first, and everything was done really on the fly. We would literally record one song, go the next day and start writing the next song, and then by the time we went back the next week, we would have the song finished. We would write the songs week after week, and also book sessions without having something written. I (Garrett) pretty much joined the band when we were recording. (Kevin) He literally came in the studio and played the main riff for The River, and we were like “okay, got it, done”. It kinda worked out.
WTKW: The first time I’m seeing you guys will be this Friday with Vesperteen. How does it feel to open for him?
T: Xaxo, the other band on the bill, were looking to book a show in Fort Lauderdale, so they came to us. None of us really knew Vesperteen. It was funny because we didn’t know who he was, all we knew is that he was coming. As it got closer, we started researching him, and we were like “Oh shit, he’s on tour with Twenty One Pilots, like what are we doing? How did this happen?” Obviously he’s playing big shows to a lot of people, and if he watches us and thinks we’re good, it kind of says something about us. It’s kind of nerve racking, kind of exciting.
WTKW: By the end of last year you’d already released the EP. By the end of this year, what do you guys hope to do?
T: We want to have an album recorded by the end of the year, but not released. Once it’s all produced, we’ll try to send it to managing/booking people and try to have them help us distribute and put our name out there. That’s kind of like our main goal. Right now, we’re just working on getting the structure for the album laid out, figuring out what songs we’re gonna do, what we want them to sound like, the name of the album, stuff like that. Might be a little while, sorry. It’ll definitely be worth the wait. In the meantime, we’re definitely trying to play as many shows as possible with people like Vesperteen.
WTKW: So what about more long term goals, after this year and the debut?
T: Hopefully make it big! That’s the goal for sure. We wanna tour forever. A milestone would be to get on MTV, because that’s like a childhood dream, you know. Another would be to get on Jools Holland. We wanna play a Tiny Desk on Sirius XM too. We also wanna play Revolution Live [popular music venue in Fort Lauderdale]. That would be a very fun venue. Hopefully within the next year! Before the end of 2018, we’re selling out Revolution Live, I’m calling it.
WTKW: What do you think about the local music scene, and what are your favorite local artists?
T: There’s a lot of really good punk down here. I haven’t heard too much other stuff coming out of here that I think is like “Oh wow, that’s great!”. We like Day By Day, and just a bunch of bands nobody knows or cares about. Castafellas are the band to go to. The Heyfellows, they aren’t a real thing anymore, but we liked them. Sunghosts are pretty good. KIDS is awesome. We like Deaf Poets too. This band is probably my (Garrett) favorite up and coming band, right here.
WTKW: We kind of talked about this before, but what’s your dream venue or festival to play?
T: Coachella, for real. That’s like the dream. I (Kevin) said “I just wanna play drums, and be in an indie band, so we can play Coachella. That’s why.” Also, we want to play Red Rocks. It’s gorgeous. Madison Square Garden, that’s fucking up there though! We wanna play The Grammys. Bowery Ballroom too, in New York City. One thing I really wanna do (Kevin) is tour Japan. That would be fucking cool. Just because we’re in Japan, and they don’t even speak our language, so the fact that people would pay to see us would be cool. Plus it’s fucking Japan! Just anywhere outside of the United states would be really cool.
WTKW: What’s the farthest show you’ve played?
T: Deland is the farthest for sure, at Delandapalooza. The thing is you don’t go to Deland, you get stuck in Deland. When we were there, we got the car towed and had to stay another day. All of our equipment and everything was in there. Some bands spend the night in a motel and wake up with their van completely empty, everything gone. We could’ve really been screwed over, but we got lucky.
WTKW: Along the same lines, has anything really awkward, embarrassing, or funny happened while you guys were performing?
T: One time Shag was whipping around the guitar and just completely fell, knocked over his amp and everything. That was a good time. And it’s on video and on YouTube, you can look it up. Also just breaking strings in general, it’s pretty funny. Shag is the king of breaking strings. He’s the string slayer.
WTKW: Are there any last things you guys want to say?
T: Check out the Castafellas, those are our boys. Also, we need to get people there and excited for the Vesperteen show! It’s gonna be a lot of fun.