Interviewed & Photographed by: Hibo Muse
On their one year anniversary Early Eyes, a five-piece vibey band located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sat down with What The Kids Want to talk about their growth as a band. The band consists of Jake Berglove (lead vocals/guitar), Wyatt Fuller (drums), Des Lawrence (bassist/vocals), John O’Brien (guitar), and Joe Villano (guitar). Early Eyes is another big name in the Minnesota local music scene, along with The Happy Children and Remo Drive. We chatted about stage diving, musical inspirations, and got distracted by cute dogs along the way.
What The Kids Want: You guys have been a band now for a little over a year. How has your music performance matured over that course of time?
Des: A lot.
Jake: I think we started off just kind of like with the mentality of “we should just make music!” Then we made a bunch of songs and they were all songs, for the most part, that we were super proud of and we dig. But then like as soon as we have the initial output out, which was Minutes, we had the opportunity to really think about what we were doing and really refine what we were going for. We started to care more and more about arrangement, as opposed to structure of a song. It used to be like, “this chorus is banging” but now we’re like, “the transition from the chorus to the verse is banging.” So like we started to really like sit down and do work. When we first start a song, we’ll workshop it for weeks, before we actually, play it live and really try to nail it.
Des: Having three guitarist helps.
Wyatt: Having a drummer helps. Having a bassist helps.
Jake: Having a band helps.
Joe: I think individually everyone has matured instrumentally.
John: I have been in the band for the shortest amount of time and I feel like I have gotten better at what I do.
Wyatt: Fuck yeah!
WTKW: Have you noticed any changes to yourself between now and before you were a band?
Wyatt: My ego has gone out of the roof.
Des: I think I’ve matured a lot as a person slowy because, I came into college as a freshmen, as most people do. As a freshmen, you’re kind of like, “I don’t know who I am or who all these people are but I’m gonna be me and be friends with these people.” I have matured a lot since the beginning of college and since the beginning of this band.
Jake: I’ve gotten so much more confident, but not in like an ignorant way like “ugh I’m so cool, I play music!” Like, no, that’s bullshit. If you play music you’re not any cooler than anyone else. But in short, certainly of myself, I know what I’m doing and what life’s about, well I mean no one knows what life is about. I know what I want to be and I’m trying to be it.
WTKW: What is the writing process behind your songs typically like? How do you decide what stays and what goes?
Jake: I’ll get the skeleton, so I’ll like write the chords, lyrics, vocal melody, and all that stuff. Then we bring it to practice and everyone else really composes the song around the small element I brought in. I’ll like write the structure and it sounds like a “singer-songwriter dude with an acoustic guitar” song and I’ll bring it to band practice and everyone else will be like, “maybe we should try this here or do this here-”
Des: You make it funky as shit!
Jake: -Yeah and make it funky!
Des: Jake plants the seed and then Joe, John, Wyatt, and I and also Jake, come in and water it and give it the nutrition it needs and give it sunlight. Then it blossoms into a flower.
Wyatt: That’s why all of our songs are named after plants.
Jake: For the second part of the question, it’s honestly during the heat of the moment. Like does it feel good to play it right now?
Joe: It also changes every time we play a song.
John: A lot of our parts are kind of improvised, like we have the general idea, but I have never played an Early Eyes song the same exact way twice. That’s part of just like being new to the songs. If it is a newer song, you kind of like trying everything out. It’s gonna be up in the air until you record it and then after you record it, it’s gonna start changing again. The song only exists as an abstract concept.
WTKW: What influences your sound as a band? Do you find it unique compared to other artist?
Des: Surface reality.
John: I feel like we’re all into different kinds of music and that kind of manifests itself in the way we each play our instruments.
Jake: We all listen to Tatsuro Yamashita. He’s a Japanese, jazz fusion, singer-songwriter and it’s unbelievable. Listening to him has inspired and increased the complexity. So instead of playing a C major 7, you could play C major 7/9. The chords are getting denser and the music is getting a little bit fuller and little more articulate.
Joe: Wyatt Fuller.
Jake: We’ve been listening to a lot of jazz on the most part, Joe and I. Like Latin jazz.
Des: Kamasi Washington’s album is very good.
Jake: I listen to D’angelo. John listens to D’angelo a lot. Wyatt listens to… God knows what?
Wyatt: The 1975.
Jake: The 1975 and [mocking] Twenty One Pilots.
WTKW: A couple of you guys are also still in school! Do you have any tips on balancing the band between school and/or work?
Des: When you get home from class, at about 3:45, just do all your dang homework. I do a pretty decent job of it and then I have fun for the rest of the night.
Jake: The best way to balancing of being in a band and being in school is to not do any of your homework and just do the band thing.
John: Yeah, so then your band will be so good that you can drop out of school and make a bunch of money with your super lucrative band.
Jake: Because we all know music is the best way to make money, right now!
John: Honestly if you’re not a musician… you’re just not.
Jake: Stocks? Who needs that when you can play a G chord on the guitar! Okay actually though, real talk, learning is cool too. Like music is really fun and stuff but there’s still a lot of value in education. When I do French homework, it sucks that I have to do French homework but I get to speak French at the end of it. Or like if I’m doing journalism homework, I know that I’m learning more about being media literate and that’s cool too!
John: Also it helps to take classes that you’re invested in because I don’t really do that.
WTKW: What local bands have you been inspired by?
All: The Happy Children!
Wyatt: The Happy Children is the best band in the world.
John: The Happy Children inspired me a lot after I first saw them. The vision of The Happy Children and Normal Parents is very uncompromising and so definitely them. The dudes behind it are putting everything and every part of themselves into the music. I think that’s very admirable. Even before joining Early Eyes, I was like damn these guys are doing something that’s very valuable. Now it’s just really exciting to kind of be working in the same field, side to side with them. They’re pretty good.
Des: It’s an honor to be in a music community with people who are as ambushes and talented as Caleb Gabriel Hinz, Mitchell “Middle Name” Seymour, and Jon “Middle Name” Lindquist.
Jake: The Happy Children influenced my music more than any other band in the world, ever has. Not in the musical sense, but just in like an attitude and in developing your ideas. Also being capable of uniting people and being a movement more than just like, “we’re in a band and play cool songs and that’s what we do!”
WTKW: Any advice for young artists that are entering their local music scene?
Jake: Be nice. That sounds so dumb and cliché but honestly if you go to local band shows and you support them and are kind to the community, then people will treat you with the same respect. That’s what happened with The Happy Children, the first time we saw them a show, we’re like “wow you guys are really good and we really liked it! Thank you!” Des and I were there.
Des: It was at a fashion show in an art gallery, in Saint Paul. We were there to see Good Luck Finding Iris, who also slayed and killed it. We saw these goofy dudes just running around and drinking lots of water.
Jake: Caleb had his pants off at one point!
Des: Caleb was wearing his beanie over his hood and it was so silly! So they take the stage and we’re like “who are these bozos. They start playing “Drop the Starfish” and from that second the drum beat started we were like “okay we need to be friends with these guys.” I walked up to Caleb after the show and told him how impressed I was and then he gave Jake and I free hats. The rest is history.
John: It’s cool to be nice and I think the culture of the way people consume music online, at least in some circles, people try to take pride in things that they don’t like and things they do like. People think they’re above this or that and eventually, if you take that to heart, like a young person trying to get into the music scene, you’re gonna act like you’re above something. You don’t need to be doing that and that’s gonna bite you in the ass. If you talk a bunch of shit and try to get into a music scene, nothing good will come of it. Also for building a healthy scene, you gotta have respect for everyone and not tolerate people who don’t have respect for everyone. I feel like a lot of people let things slide. They’re like “separate the art from the artist”. If you have examples of abusive behavior going on in scenes, it’s kind of best for everyone to not tolerate that at all. That’s kind of what happens in like every scene, people get wrapped up way too much in the music and they don’t get that good musician can be really shitty people. You kind of have to balance your values a little bit. But yeah be nice and if everyone is nice none of that shit has to happen.
WTKW: You guys had a tour over this summer. What were your favorite experiences from that tour?
Des, Joe, Jake, Wyatt: Athens, Ohio!
Des: We really liked it. It was like our least legit show of the tour, it was just a house show. The audience, you could tell they were all really music because they were super receptive of very note we played. If we played a good note they would go “ahh dang”. It was cool.
Joe: It was the most wholesome experience I have ever had. Everyone in a room, a sweaty, tiny room and experiencing something together. It was the first time I was ever present in something so intimate and everyone is on the same wavelength.
Jake: People were so nice! We went to check out the town because had 4-5 hours to kill before the show started. We went downtown and grabbed coffee and it started pouring rain while we were there. We’re like shit, now we have to walk home and it’s like a mile. The person who lived at the house, she called and was like, “hey do you want me to pick you guys up? I noticed it was raining and I don’t want you to walk all the way back.” Then she came and pick us up, it was awesome!
Des: It was dummy lit. After the show, we’re hanging out and getting into our cars, we’re starting to drive away and I give them a little “beep beep” and everyone goes like, “Yeah! See ya! Safe travels! I love you guys!”
John: The show in Detroit was really good for me because I was only on half of the tour at the time since I could only make like a handful of dates. The show was good because I’m from Michigan, not Detroit but around the area. Being able to show everyone that I grew up with that this is what I’m doing now in Minnesota. That was a very fulfilling moment. Des did that in Madison. I don’t know it’s kind of like flexing on everyone but also it’s good to feel appreciated different people who came into your life at different points. It’s pretty badass.
WTKW: Has anyone stage dived at one of your shows? What are your opinions on that?
Jake: I fucking love stage diving. I’ve done probably like four stage dives that were dope and everyone carried me around and cheered. From those four I probably have tried to stage dive at like ten but eaten shit and hit the floor.
Joe: Has anyone tried to jump on stage and crowd surfed?
Jake: No one has jumped on stage but I have jumped off stage and sometimes people catch me and it’s awesome. I go around the room and everyone is like “fuck yeah” and it’s sick. Other times, you taste wood.
Joe: Eat shit
Jake: Yeah it’s really embarrassing honestly. It happened at our release show!
John: You also don’t wanna say into the mic “everyone I gonna stage dive”. You sounds like a clown.
Jake: Yeah so you just go for it and people aren’t ready. Okay honestly real talk, I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t do at a show, but if someone is going to stage dive, be there to catch them. It’s fucking dangerous to jump off the stage and have no one to support them.
Des: Also I’d like to quote a wise tweet from Sam Mathys [drummer of Remo Drive] that goes something like, don’t dive on your stomach because then people have to grab your legs, junk, and stuff. It’s very uncomfortable for you and for them. If you just dive and turn over on your back in the air it’s just a flat surface. It’s like carrying a board.
John: I feel like we don’t make stage dive music but you can stage dive to any music. People will mosh to anything these days, it’s 2017.
Jake: People mosh at Mac Demarco.
John: Honestly, if you like music, you just mosh to it.
Des: We encourage soft moshing.
John: I don’t think any hands should be thrown
Wyatt: We discourage the Arthur meme.
WTKW: Finally, should we be expecting an album or another EP soon? Any shows?
Jake: Expected EP for sure.
John: Next year for sure. It’s in the works. It’s in like the very preliminary stages. We have several songs that we think would be good on an EP. We’re developing a plan and we kind of know where it’s gonna go and how it’s gonna work. We’re not gonna release it if it’s not incredible.
Jake: We have a producer and an engine who we want to work with and we trust. As of right now, we’re setting up dates just to get in the studio and planning out the time frame of when we’re gonna record it. Expect cool shit. Expect more instruments, string section, keys.
John: Gang vocals, tubas, full orchestras, cover album.
Jake: Goat hooves.
Wyatt: A song with Fetty Wap.
John: We’re gonna have like six normal songs and then like a drone piece.
Wyatt: Yeah that’s two and a half hours long.