Saturday, April 26, 2014

Share with Me Saturdays - Alicia Bower Part 2

"No matter what happens, we're doing this together."

Happy Saturday, all! Earlier this month, we met Alicia Bower through her Share with Me Saturdays survey. I had the pleasure of hanging out with her (and Casey!) over Valentine's Day weekend in Omaha. Their powers combined created the Love Technicians.

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie

We traveled to town to see Love Technicians play on Valentine's Day. When you read Alicia's words about how she and Casey are totally in love with each other, I completely see it and agree wholeheartedly when they perform together.

I ALSO totally see it and agree wholeheartedly when they are just sitting in our hotel room talking with us the day after their performance.

Outside of being the Love Technicians, Casey and Alicia have their own projects, too!

Alicia is currently attending University of Nebraska - Omaha. She earned her Master's degree in Psychology and is currently working on her PhD in Psychology (with emphasis in development). In the midst of all that, she's also helping teach classes, which all sounds very beautiful and tiring.

Casey Crawford is a stand-up comedian. He says it was the first thing was good at. I won't cover his whole story here; I'll save that talk for another time. I will definitely concur that he's good at his comedy craft.

They both agreed that Love Technicians is their favorite project to work on together. They feel like it's the one thing that lets them do what they want regardless of whether people like it or not. As Casey says, "Music is the one thing we're doing that no one's asked us to stop doing yet."

While we were getting settled in, I made Alicia show me the one of the contraptions she uses at her shows. It's called an Omnichord.

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie

Classy: So. Tell me about the Omnichord.
Alicia: Well. It's a Suzuki [Classy: Suzuki 70something, I think is what she actually said. My notes are awesome, as you will continue to see throughout this session]. We were inspired to look for one after watching Black Cab Sessions with My Morning Jacket. We got really lucky and found this one on Craigslist. The lady selling it was asking for way less than it was worth. She just found it in her basement.
Classy: What was Love Technicians before the Omnicord?
Alicia: Folk band.

Then we lost my photographer (AKA, husband) to the Omnichord for awhile while we kept talking. It is a lot like an autoharp, with beats, I guess? Alicia says she doesn't use the beats from the Omnichord, though. She has a loop machine for that.

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie

Casey and Alicia first met in a band in college (through another mutual friend, Bird, seen drumming in photo way above there). During the early part of their relationship, Alicia had stopped drinking, so they were looking for something new to do on the weekends. That ended up looking like making music together as a couple.

Casey brought lyrics and guitar parts to the effort; Alicia added keys. They mentioned over and over again how they were able to play to their strengths (and downplay their weaknesses) when they worked together.

Alicia continues to focus on song "ideas" and composing loops.
Casey is the lyricist.
They acknowledge these are their strengths.

They actually went on a song-writing retreat together as part of a "camp host" trip to Yosemeti. Casey brought with him existing songs he had written for his acoustic guitar. From that experience, a lot of ideas emerged. Ideas and ideas and ideas.

As we continued talking, they often stopped to make clarifications about what was an "idea" and what was a "song."

Classy: So, what's an "idea" versus a "song" to you?
Both: A full song is intro + chorus + outro; there's a sense of resolution. What Alicia usually creates are "ideas," so we'd say a song is idea + idea + idea.

They described a long artistic process of working with (and rejecting) ideas. While there's a lot of fighting in their process, they know it was all worth it when the song finally comes together.

Classy: When do you decide a song is ready for a crowd?
Both (really, both. They say the same things): When we finally both agree that it's ready.

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie

Casey and Alicia gather lots of inspiration from bands they like, but lamented not being able to ever replicate their sound. Casey explained, "There are the bands you like and want to sound like...and then there's what we actually sound like.

"Every song starts out wanting to sound like another band, but ends up not sounding like them--It sounds like five different OTHER bands, but ultimately like the Love Technicians."

When Love Technicians started performing live, Casey and Alicia decided they wouldn't be the kind of musicians that (arrogantly?) relied on bugging the sound guy to turn up their monitors and have elaborate sound-checks. They had rehearsed these songs so many times, they were ready. They knew how to play the songs together. 

But the reality was that outside of their practice space, they just couldn't hear each other and couldn't stay together. "Eventually, you get so tired of fucking up and you finally say, 'Yeah, I need a little more in the monitor.'"

They say that song debuts rarely go well.

"The first time with a song at a show is always a train wreck. Second time, something finally clicks. Third time, perfect."

As their ideas have become more elaborate (and beyond their current gear's capacity for rock-ing), they've introduced other musicians in their live shows. So, now we sometimes get to see Bird playing drums, and there was even a trumpet player at the show we saw.

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie
This didn't actually happen in the hotel room.

At the time of our talk, the Love Technicians were finally getting ready to go into the studio. They had been avoiding this process for a long time, acknowledging that recordings are just the snapshot of songs at that particular time. Is this the version of the song we really want to have recorded forever? What if we keep changing the song after that? 

So, maybe they finally gave into peer pressure. I, for one, am ready to have some Love Techs on my iPod (or other non-brand-specific MP3 player).


Like with everyone else I've talked to, I invited them sit and sketch while we talked. Casey and Alicia were finally the ones that joined me without hesitancy. I explained that the source of my sketching comes usually from a sad place; I draw to see my ridiculous brain out loud. I encourage people to draw from some place that they feel angry or anxious. 

Photo Credit: Tim Gillespie

When we finished what Casey referred to as "band therapy," they saw that they had each drawn about their OTHER occupation. That felt really affirming for Love Technicians. 

Both of their other occupations involve crowds of people interpreting what they are doing, but what they do with the Love Technicians is what they both love to be doing together, and they just don't have the same anxieties as they do in their other lives.

Casey and Alicia were both currently set with their Classy hats, so I didn't get to give them a new one this time around, but I feel like I'll get a chance to again someday.

Follow the Love Technicians on Facebook to keep posted on shows and their new album!

Album, you guys! You rock!

-C McG

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