Spotlight On: Western Affairs
Interviewed By: Stephanie Williams
After nearly three years of trying to conceptualize the band, it wasn’t until this year that the members of Western Affairs wanted to take their celestial, synth-driven rock tunes to a more serious level.
Western Affairs is a relatively new band, but their mature sound puts them outside of the rookie status. Songs like “Control” and “1999” off of their soon-to-be released EP 2000 act almost as missing parts to the 2001: Space Odyssey movie soundtrack, with both tracks stylized similarly to set the intergalatic and almost foreign tone and pace.
While the band is anticipating their EP release show at the Black Cat next Tuesday, May 29th, DMD took a few moments to catch up with Western Affairs (composed of Alex Lee, Davis Connors and Andrew Monborne) about what it took to get the band to where it is now, what local bands are on their radar, and a little dose of science fiction.
Catch Western Affairs next: Tuesday, May 29th at Black Cat (Backstage). Doors 8p.
Find more info about Western Affairs here
D.C. Music Download: How did everyone in the group meet each other? How long has the band been around for?
Alex: The idea of Western Affairs has existed for more than three years. It hasn’t been until this year that it became serious. Davis and I were in the same crowd of musicians in high school and we used to play shows with each other. Davis originally joined Western Affairs as the drummer, but wanted to contribute more melodically so he switched to guitar and synth. Davis brought in Andrew into the band to replace him in drums and our line-up hasn’t changed since then.
DMD: How did you end up with the name “Western Affairs”?:
Alex: The name doesn’t really matter, it just stuck when I thought of it. It really could have been anything.
DMD: While putting together you EP, how was the collaboration process like with songwriting-and how long did it take to compose all the tracks?
Davis: I like to think of Alex as the main songwriter and myself as more influential on the production side of things. Alex will come up with the shell for a song, and I will add texture and details. The way we are writing now is very conventional for a “rock band” in that we write songs based on our live performances and try to capture it in a recording later. A lot of songs that work live don’t translate well on record. We ran into this problem which kept us from finishing the EP earlier. The songs were written by Alex about a year ago, but were not fully developed until this past winter.
DMD: What’s the meaning behind the EP’s title 2000?
Alex: During the space race and years before, people were always looking at 2000 as a distant future that held mysterious conveniences like flying saucers, time travel, and other science fiction. On our song “1999”, the lyrics describe discontent for a present self and a longing for the future-but in reality, the year 2000 doesn’t really bring much change to 1999- or years prior.”2000″ is the lyrical response to “1999”. It can also be interpreted as a reprise. The other songs in the EP are a collection of past and present anxieties.
Davis: When I think of songs from the EP, I see certain scenes from 2001: a Space Odyssey in my head. I like to think this is what Alex was thinking of when writing lyrics to the songs, but in reality it’s not.
DMD: As a relatively new band, what has been the best piece of advice you’ve gotten thus far (and from whom)?
Davis: All advice we have received after these past few months have been equally valuable. All the bands we have played with have been so encouraging and supportive. We didn’t expect elaborate answers from the members of these various bands when we asked questions. These bands include Royal Canoe, Wildlife City, The Sea Life, Port St. Willow and more.
DMD: What’s the inspiration behind the song “Control”? Also, if you could come up with a music video for this song, what would the visuals be like?
Alex: Like almost all the songs on the EP, “Control” comes from my everyday anxieties. I haven’t really given a music video much thought but my friend was thinking of making a stop motion for us. Our drummer, Andrew, has a few ideas for future visual productions for our music that I hope we can release soon. He does all of the artwork for us.
DMD: Bands that are on your radar right now? Any from D.C. bands?
Alex: Ra Ra Rasputin is my favorite local band. Those guys are amazing. Other local bands that I like are The Sea Life, Hume, Protect U and Teen Mom.
Davis: We’re all fans of Sockets Records, especially bands on the label like Hume, Deleted Scenes, Buildings, America Hearts and Cornel West Theory. No one else in the band is really into Dischord bands, but I love Q and Not U, Fugazi, Black Eyes and other bands represented on that label.
DMD: After the EP release, any other upcoming projects/gigs/tours that you want fans to know about?
Alex: I go to school here in D.C., but Andrew and Davis will be leaving soon so we’re just going to make the best of this summer and play and write as much as possible. Next year we plan to do a lot more writing, and try to play whenever possible. Touring would be ideal, but I think we’re a little too late on planning that.
Preview “1999” and “Control” below: