With charming melodies over electronic pop rock, Philadelphia’s Find Vienna have garnered the attention and earned the adoration of music lovers from coast to coast.
Led by vocalist Patrick Mencel, Find Vienna have been dubbed “Philly’s Buzz Band” and have racked up numerous local music awards, including Best Band, Best Lead Singer, Best Drummer and Best EP for their release In Your Favorite Colors.
The EP, which was released in November of ’09, has seven tracks of beautifully-crafted pop numbers, placing FV somewhere between Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie. Mencel’s vocals are soft and ambient against the more industrial sounding instrumentation, complete with driving drums, melodic picking, piano chords and the faint sounds of tambourines and acoustic guitars.
In addition to touring the country, Find Vienna have also shared the stage with The Script, The Ataris, Mae, Parachute and more. While they’ve been actively considering signing to a label, they’ve had their music placed in MTV shows like The Real World, True Life and The City!
With big choruses, dynamic instrumentation and pristine production, each track on the record is radio-ready. The group has been working on new music, and will hopefully be putting out a new album in 2011.
Be sure to check out some of the tracks from In Your Favorite Colors below! You can also purchase the whole album on iTunes.
OurStage artist Xoe Wise is not one to sit still. Having lived in various parts of the US and tried numerous hobbies and activities, she ultimately realized that her heart was set on making music. Her laid-back and soulful tunes have reached the Top 10 four times here on OurStage, including a Number 1 win in the Pop Channel last February.
Twenty-year-old Xoe has had a busy year. She filmed a music video, released a full-length record, played at the Microsoft Store and is slated to play a massive benefit concert for Michigan cancer foundation Believe in Miracles in 2011. We caught up with the quirky and passionate singer-songwriter to hear about her life, her music and how the two continually inspire each other.
OS: You started getting involved with music at a young age when you took up the flute. What eventually made you decide to pick up the guitar and become a singer-songwriter?
XW: As a kid, it’s almost silly how many foods, instruments and dreams I tried out before I decided to stop eating everything on trees and stop pushing the concept that a kid could really grow up to be a mermaid. While this may seem semi normal for a little kid, the scattered passions and curiosity that was in my heart grew strong into my high school years where my plans ended up towards a soccer scholarship in SC. Sometimes I’ve wondered what it would have been like…I’ve learned to respect the destiny of my realizations though…the love I feel for sound and art held intensity, leading it to surface past a million other activities I felt decent love for. I do remember my dad having a guitar in his woodshed and I would write songs for baby goats we were raising. As moving as those goat songs probably were, I don’t consider that my origin of songwriting. Like everything, singing and songwriting’s surfacing point parallels love. We can go through events and relationships bitter and confused, but at some point, even by contrast of another human being, love will surface. It’s not that flute wasn’t enough for me at the time, but eventually my heart fell deeply in love with music, so deeply that I wanted to ask it to marry me, scream it from the rooftops, or become a musician perhaps.
OS: Your music is very influenced by the beach, but you’re currently living in Chicago. Without the beach close to you, how do you spend your free time in the city?
XW: This question is so important because I had to ask it to myself after moving here. In a lot of ways I’ve been able to write about the sea, and feel its intensity and importance from a new perspective. I have a huge interest in geographical relationships. Do some people need to be in the sun? Feel the salt? Humid air? Does it have to do with our ancestors or experiences? There are places, people, and smells that we feel at home with and sometimes it hits us later in life. The idea of a soul mate transcends into the world of geography. Where I sit and write music and who I sit with, are very similar questions. This long distance relationship with the East Coast has helped me know the world better through its resonating and haunting memories, therefore again I write. More specific activities in the city consist of open mics, running, spending time with my god moms and friends, making tea, writing, I daydream on my apartment floor a lot. I like finding weird spots and imagining who and what was there before. If this is too heavy for some of you who wanted to be my friend until you realized how much I’m absorbed in thought…I also like eating sour straws…no talking…just eating…walking around hardware stores and listening to music while I pretend to need something. In the end I always leave happy with a few random plants and bolts. I take some classes at a schoolhouse too.
OS: You recently released your first full-length album, called Echo. What would you say are some of the main themes of the album?
XW: Echo in the end became not only relevant to this album, but future albums, past albums, in fact all art. There were some great people bringing this album to life. My godparents helped connect this dream to reality, my mastering master Collin Jordan, Arthi Meera doing some great vocals, Chris Blasingame on pedal steel, and Ryan Neuschafer engineering. I collaborated with an amazing producer. His name is Ethan Stoller and he is one of my greatest friends. They say that Cancers and Leos don’t get along but we truly had some solid musical chemistry. His wife, who is just as fantastic for listening to Echo for months, is also a Leo and they are are a beautiful couple. Anyway, both of our minds helped to make this album with talk of heartbreak, some hope, falling in love, a lot of talk about driving, summer in cars..some of it is for everyone’s imagination. “This is our love, thought you should know, this is the sound of our love’s echo” is a line from the song “Echo.” It’s hard to remember what happened, but somewhere inside of me, something knows, that love has an echo. A song is an echo of love. This is why it’s hard to pinpoint themes; because essentially the songs are as far as I could go with labels of feelings. I do believe this album is a testimony to trusting love as well. Love can take us away from our comfort zone and sometimes things turn wild and unforgiving. Relationships can create confusion as to what we even want, and make us really dig into ourselves. Love also can take away this pain. In a round about way I think that represents how we HAVE to love ourselves and believe in ourselves.
OS: You have a music video for the song “Before Waves.” Can you tell us the story behind the video?
XW: The song “Before Waves” regards a love story where two people fall in love by the ocean. The lovers do not realize their connection to the warm air and sea until returning to where they first met. I think we constantly do this in life. We feel something and then explore it more and watch our heart expand its senses to other beauties of the earth. Things we don’t even realize impact us, will resonate in our souls and play a role in our destiny. The video was directed by Ryan Eakins with help editing from his friend Lev. Ryan and my God moms and my friend Casey contributed to stunning ideas like Ryan’s concept of our walk creating words. The idea of our journey painting love in sand absolutely parallels this love story. Emily Blood is a character in the video who not only did beautifully on camera but is one of the most hilarious and life filled people I’ve met. Her presence added to what love is.
OS: Some of your influences include singer-songwriters like Joshua Radin and Ingrid Michaelson, which is clearly heard in your music. Are there any artists that people would be surprised to learn inspire you?
XW: I do have a pool of artists that inspire me. Jason Reeves, John Mayer, Andy Davis; they are all amazing. On a more surprising note perhaps I’ll mention Yann Tiersen. I have a large fascination with accordions. When I first saw the film Amelie, I would blast the soundtrack on my way to surf early mornings. Also Joí£o Gilberto and Stan Getz give me quite the Brazilian comfort I need sometimes. On a completely different side of things, Jimmy Rodgers truly entertains me and makes me want to eat popsicles and play scrabble or something like that. I have a huge respect for some artists I’ve found along the way of really long YouTube journeys. Chelsea Lee, JayMay, are some brilliant upcoming artists. When I’m thinking of the sea I’m inspired by Mishka. People laugh at me for this one, but Taylor Swift and Frank Sinatra are absolutely on a ton of my playlists together…just the two of them…that’s another story…love story…ha.
OS: You’re playing a benefit concert in March with Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay. Can you tell us more about that?
XW: Yes this is a very moving and exciting event. Believe in Miracles is a non- profit organization based out of Troy, MI, that helps children fighting life-threatening illnesses by granting them wishes. The mission of Believe in Miracles is to enrich the lives of these children by bringing joy and hope to their lives. On Wednesday, March 2, 2011, Believe in Miracles will host its 1st Annual “Believe in Miracles: A Benefit Concert” with performances by singer-songwriters Jonathan Clay, Zach Chance and myself in the O’Rena of Oakland University in Rochester, MI. The goal is to raise $15,000 for the organization and have 1,500 people from the university and surrounding communities in attendance. All profits will go directly to Believe in Miracles. I am proud to be part of this concert and am looking forward to being a part of art’s healing ways. You can also get more information on the Facebook event page.
OS: You also played at the Microsoft Store. How did that opportunity come about? How did you feel about playing on the same stage that John Legend and Colbie Caillat have played on?
XW: The Microsoft store was so much fun. All the staff treated me wonderfully during their grand opening weeks where they were featuring musicians. My manager reached a development specialist for the store and we went from there. There may be a future appearance there as well. It’s fantastic to have had the opportunity to play shows where I feel connected to great artists like Colbie and John. All three of us have been best friends since the third grade where we would do word searches and jigsaw puzzles together. Just joking…and I’m not sure that third grade is a jigsaw puzzle kind of age anyway.
OS: Are you a Mac or a PC?
XW: (Laughs) PC.
OS: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans on OurStage?
XW: Well, I think it’s important to live a romantic life. I’ll send that out to everyone. Be romantic in everything you do. If you’re picking a flower, treat the flower nicely. If you’re walking across the street talk about the beautiful eyes you see. Treat yourself this way too. Tell lots of knock knock jokes.
Check out Xoe’s video for “Before Waves” below!
If you’re sick of hearing Mariah Carey and the same old traditional holiday songs on repeat, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve assembled a playlist of holiday songs”some originals and some covers”courtesy of our amazing OurStage rock artists. You can listen to each song in the player below!
1. Gidgets Ga Ga, “Christmas Wish” Chicago powerpop trio Gidgets Ga Ga dons acoustic guitars, tambourines and sleigh bells for this Christmas original.
2. Eddie de Pool, “Greensleeves” Eddie de Pool shows off his shredding skills on this holiday classic.
3. Allred,“Start Over” This somber Christmas tune is about forgiveness, growing up and loneliness during the holidays, but it’s Owl City feel makes for a warm delivery.
4. Wormburner, “(Christmas) Bells of St. Ignatius” In the style of Foxy Shazam, Wormburner brings us a shuffling Christmas song about the holidays in New York City.
5. Endway, “Leaves Fall On Christmas” Beginning like a traditional carol, this song soon explodes with electric guitar energy from one of Boston’s best upcoming rock bands.
6. Austin Renfroe, “Brand New Christmas” Singer-songwriter Austin Renfroe brings us a soulful and passionate pop rock Christmas song about appreciating the holidays.
7. WHY, “Can’t Everyday Be Like Xmas?” Canadian rockers WHY ponders the question every child asks during the holidays on this acoustic track.
8. The Hudson Branch, “White Christmas” The Chicago indie band’s acoustic spin on the Irving Berlin classic is perfect for a quiet December night.
9. Ryan LaPerle, “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home” Hailing from New Hampshire, singer-songwriter Ryan LaPerle gives another Christmas classic an impressive acoustic makeover.
10. My First Tooth, “Sleet & Snow” What would the holidays be without the hope for snow? Indie pop group My First Tooth ends our playlist with a beautiful original song dedicated to winter weather.
Make sure to leave us a comment and let us know what songs are on your holiday playlists! And don’t forget to check out more holiday songs in our Holiday Channel!
Last month, OurStage teamed up with the Goo Goo Dolls and Clear Channel to offer upcoming artists a chance to open for the band on a future tour date. Artists across the US entered their music into 10 regional SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTSâ„¢ Competition Channels for their chance at making it into the Finals. The Top 50 artists from each of the regional channels are now competing in the SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTSâ„¢ National Finals Competition Channel.
The 1990s saw many bands come and go, but the Goo Goo Dolls have proven that they are here to stay. With their new record, Something For the Rest of Us, the Dolls are back on tour and ready to take the world by storm”again. We got a chance to chat with bassist Robby Takac about the new album, the tour and what it’s like to spend 25 years in one of the most recognized bands in the world.
OS: The new album, Something For The Rest of Us, was written to be a voice for the average person dealing with difficult times. What inspired that concept?
RT: Difficult times, I think! I think when you try to put a record together that talks about what happened for the last few years since you’ve done that last, you take a look at the stuff around you and if you’re doing something that’s relatively honest to what’s going on at the moment…I think you can’t help but to feel what some other folks are feeling right now. I think if you look at the news, or if you read the newspaper at all, and you see the things that are going on out there…obviously the general sentiment within the country right now is that things are a bit tougher than they have been in years prior. I think that concept itself is something that is pretty universal at the moment, aside from that top 1% that keeps making more and more money. And I think if you take a look at that entire scenario that I just mentioned, there’s a huge problem there. I’ve been asked, “What does ‘the rest of us’ mean?” and I think it’s pretty much everybody at this point. I think all the major decisions that are being made at this point are made to benefit that top 1% and that’s a very scary thing, because there’s not a huge remedy or any outcome other than this getting worse if we don’t change that idea. So, I think we really just took a look at what was going on around us and did our best to represent that.
OS: Instead of working with one engineer and one producer for the whole album, the band opted to work with numerous people. Why was that decision made?
RT: That wasn’t really a conscious choice. We made the record with Tim Palmer…we went and started it on our own and then we brought Tim on after a few months of work. We worked with Tim at our studio in Buffalo and then we went back out to L.A. and finished the record with him there. He moved to Austin and we had some time between when we finished the record and when we were going to put it out, so that gave us some time to listen to it and start to think to ourselves, there’s some things that we would probably would have done differently. So we ended up spending some time working on some stuff on our own with some of the guys in our touring band and a couple of opportunities opened up…we always wanted to work with Butch Vig, he’s been a friend of ours for a long time and we never really had the opportunity. He’s a staff guy over at Warner Brothers now, so we were able to work with him and do a song with him…and a friend of ours, John Fields, who we were always interested in working with…we were able to go in and record a song with him. That’s really the only song that we recorded from scratch; “Home” is that song. We went in and actually recorded that song when the record was done, we recorded one extra and it turned out to be that one. I think it ended up being the single because it was just the freshest in our mind, the most current-sounding. So that’s what we ended up leading with.
OS: What were some of the second-round changes made before the release?
RT: Korel Tunador, our touring singer and keyboard player, came in and played an awful lot of stuff. We went back in and re-sang some background vocals and just kind of tightened stuff up a little bit more. I think we just felt like the record could have been a little bit more focused than it was, and so we spent the time going through all the tracks and finding the things that worked and fixing the things that didn’t….we put real strings on stuff, too. Originally, we had sampled strings on some of the songs, so we went in and recorded some real strings, as well. Most of the changes were fairly minor, but I think when you put them all together, it was a pretty large amount of changes, although they’re barely discernible, probably, to most people.
OS: The Goo Goo Dolls have been a touring band for 24 years. When going out in support of a new project, how does the band balance out promoting the release while also honoring the older material?
RT: I think we know the songs that have made their way into normal life for folks through the radio, or walking through the supermarket, or whatever it might be. I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on what those songs are, so we try our best to get those thirteen, fourteen songs in that we’re pretty sure that someone has come there to hear and might be disappointed if they don’t. We do our best to work in about half of the new record, about six songs, and then throw in a couple that we think are gonna be big numbers in the show that aren’t necessarily the most popular on a mainstream level. Those moments that we think are representative of what we can do that are a little bit outside of what people know of us.
OS: How have Goo Goo Dolls fans changed over the years?
RT: Some of them got older, many of them have had children and they’ve been bringing them to the shows, which is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen over the years. There are some kids that come to see us play, they’re fifteen, sixteen-years-old and they don’t know the world without this band. I mean, not that they focus on it all day and night, but we just always have been. If their parents were fans, our records have been around their house. If their parents were fans in college, then they’re maybe a little bit more knowledgable about what we did…but at the least, they’ve heard “Iris” somewhere, so they have some sort of connection to what we do, be it good or bad. I think having those concepts gone on within what we do, the crowds have gotten pretty varied. There are kids, there are older people there…we don’t draw 4,000 goth kids, we don’t draw 4,000 housewives, we don’t draw 4,000 accountants or 4,000 hipster kids…it’s like we draw 1,000 of each of those to the show. And I think that’s what makes our crowd pretty interesting.
OS: Many OurStage artists have named Goo Goo Dolls as a big influence in their careers. What advice would you offer to them?
RT: Make sure you like what you’re doing, because you might be doing it 25 years later. Be as honest as you can…at some point, you might get called on it. And aside from that, remember that success”monetary success or commercial success”is a by-product of doing something well. The success is not the product, and I think that’s what you need to keep in your mind. Just because you’re doing something and you are not making great financial strides, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And I think that that, to me, is the most important thing you can keep in your mind. It’s your craft, it’s your art, it’s your ideas and if those are good ideas, not whether anyone else likes them”that’s a whole ‘nother issue. But I think you’ve got to hold that stuff close to your heart and know for yourself that you’re doing the right thing.
Continue to judge in the SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTSâ„¢ National Finals Competition and you could win big, too. The fan who earns the best predictor score in the channel will win two tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls perform live along with a meet and greet with the band!
Check out this video of “Broadway” from the Clear Channel Radio performance we attended in NYC! Also, make sure you check the tour dates below the video to see the Goo Goo Dolls on tour this fall.
10/6 Stranahan Theater -Toledo, OH
10/7 Indianapolis, IN – Murat Theatre
10/10 Green Bay, WI – Weidner Center
10/ 11 Sioux Falls, SD – Augustana College
10/ 15 Myrtle Beach, SC – House of Blues
10/ 16 Chattanooga, TN – Tivoli Theatre
10/ 18 Montclair, NJ – The Wellmont Theatre
10/ 19 University Park, PA – Eisenhower Hall
10/ 20 Kingston, NY – Ulster PAC
10/ 23 Latrobe, PA – St Vincent College
10/ 24 Mansfield, PA – Decker Gymnasium
10/ 26 Portland, ME – State Theatre
10/ 28 Fairfield, CT – Pitt Center
10/ 30 Salamanca, NY – Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel
11/ 07 Glasgow, UK – Academy Glasgow
11/ 08 Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK – Academy Newcastle
11/ 09 Leeds, UK – Academy Leeds
11/ 11 Birmingham, UK – Academy Birmingham
11/ 12 Manchester, UK – Manchester Academy
11/ 13 London, UK – Academy Brixton
11/ 15 Norwich, UK – Norwich UEA
11/ 16 Bristol, UK – Academy Bristol
11/ 17 Leicester, UK – Academy Leicester
11/ 20 Liverpool, UK – Academy Liverpool
11/ 21 London, UK – HMV Forum
12/30 Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino
12/31 Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino