Straight from the pages of the new issue of RAGGED, we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive excerpt from our featured story with Infantree! Be sure to grab the full issue download (for free!) for the rest of the article and more photos with the band. (Full issue download here!)
Summer in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles is notoriously hot and endless. Sitting at a gastro pub patio, the Calabasas natives who make up the alternative folk-rock outfit Infantree take the heat in stride as they discuss making their sophomore album Hero’s Dose, their busy work regimen and the themed eateries they frequent on the road (Cracker Barrel: the unanimous winner). However, what the boys, all in their early 20s, can’t seem to keep calm about is the fact that comedian/actor Jim Gaffigan is also here. “He definitely saw me looking at him,” whispers Jordan Avesar. “We for sure had that awkward moment of eye contact where he knew I was looking at him.”
This level of star-struck giddiness seems a bit unexpected when you remember that the quartet is preparing to go on tour with Neil Young and considers Journey vocalist Steve Perry a friend, but the band doesn’t let any of that show.
“A lot of luck and nepotism got us where we are today,” jokes Matt Kronish as he tackles a burger that’s hopelessly falling apart.
“It’s very strange,” adds Alex Vojdani. “We don’t really know how or why our lives are like this right now!”
While it might seem unbelievable knowing that the band’s next tour will end playing the Voodoo Music Experience festival in New Orleans, there is no doubt that hard work, actual talent and a profound love of music is what got the foursome out of Kronish’s home five years ago. “We wanted to take it more seriously than just playing in [Matt’s] basement. If we were actually going to do this, we realized that we had to do it now…or we were going to have to go to college!” jokes Vojdani.
The high school jazz band rejects with a deep affinity for classic rock and hip-hop decided that they needed to go big instead of getting advanced degrees, even toying with the idea of moving to London to gain an underground following.
Settling across the Pond was a bust, but the band was not. Vojdani, Kronish, Avesar and Donald Fisher completely immersed themselves in recording their debut album, 2010’s Would Work (pun definitely intended) through countless late nights, two recording tracks and one lowly laptop. Vojdani looks back fondly: “We were positive that our time in the basement would directly help us sell out shows and make millions of fans, but that was not the case.”
Kronish adds that another factor to the band’s slow start was the fact that they actually had to record Would Work twice because the hard drive crashed (“We were like, ‘Backup? We don’t need that! What is this? NASA?’”).
“It was still good to have such a high standard of practicing,” continues Vojandi. “Slowly but surely, we started to get a response.”
For Infantree, the best reception came in the form of a contract from Neil Young’s label, Vapor Records, and the chance to record their sophomore album in a real studio. “The last time we were in the studio, we wanted to sleep there,” says Kronish. “We didn’t have the intention of actually recording anything. We just wanted to spend more time there!” That night, the boys ended up recording “What You Wanna Do,” the first track on Hero’s Dose—a solid release that blends timeless themes of adolescent love and anguish with modern influences like Grimes and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.
It’s spontaneity and unity that continues to make the band so unique. “Our philosophy was to have everything be completely even for all four of us from the ground up. We wanted to be a band without anyone out in front,” stresses Vojandi. By sharing all publishing and writing credits, Infantree practice what they preach. Through their infectious beats (Vojandi urges to “think disco”) and dazzling three-part harmonies, they are united in sound and vision even with three songwriters in one group.
“You can’t just sit down—unless you are Lennon and McCartney—play a chord and immediately all think the same exact thing. We try, but someone has to start each song on their own,” Kronish says. Vojandi knows this from writing the title song of their latest album: “It’s a really personal and bitter song. I wrote [“Hero’s Dose”] right when we felt like we were selling ourselves out.” He ensures listeners that Hero’s Dose, as an album, was much less discouraging.
(Continued in the new issue of RAGGED…)
posted by Staff