Interview with Wesley Powell from BELIEVERS; New EP out NOW!
Believers are a 5-piece indie band hailing from Columbia, MO, and the first song on their new self-titled EP release features flowing water during the open. This nature theme runs through the remaining 5 songs, and everything about that band seems to be rooted in a very natural, flowing, atmospheric vibe. It’s great to listen to when you’re writing up interview for bands you just heard about. But seriously, it’s also very good, and should have fans of mellow indie-rock tapping their toes.
The band is currently on the road for a tour of the East Coast, and I hope they make a lot of new friends and fans on the road. The music doesn’t really lend itself to being produced by aggressive personality, and if their personal demeanor is as pleasant as their music, it will undoubtedly be a very enjoyable hang. For you vinyl lovers, you may be able to score a copy of their new EP on very limited hand-printed jackets at their website (if it hasn’t sold out yet, that is).
I got in touch with guitar/vocalist Wesley Powell to discuss their new release, some of their future plans and ambitions, and the music scene in Columbia.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and is everyone from Columbia, MO?
W- Hey hi hey. This is Wesley writing to you from the Heartland. Thanks for lending an ear/eye.
Believers. We are: Wesley Powell [singing, guitar, this and that], Tyler Powell [singing, guitar, that and this], Travis Boots [bass], Taylor Bacon [drums, auxiliary percussion], and Josh Cochran [drums]. At the moment, we all reside in Columbia, but Taylor is the only native… The rest have been naturalized.
G- Right on. How long has Believers been around and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
W- Tyler and I have been chipping away at this project for a little over four years now, first moving to Austin together to collaborate, then working by proxy from either side of the Atlantic. While in Austin/New York/Eindhoven, we’d compiled hours and hours of sketches and sapling songs, but still needed band to realize them. For the last year and a half, we’ve been living and working from here in Columbia, but it wasn’t until we got the help of our friends [above stated, sub Pete Hansen for Josh Cochran] a year and a half ago that we were able to get out of the basement and begin to play out.
I should mention that, to light a fire under our pants, we booked our first show at the True/False film festival without even having a band. The deadline helped. That first show provided that long time coming ‘click’ moment, it felt right to finally hear those songs outside of a pair of headphones.
G- Haha nice! I think that’s how Metallica got started, too! Working under pressure can certainly force you to get movin’ and shakin’!
So tell me a bit about Columbia, MO… How is the music scene in your town and how are the responses at your shows?
W- Columbia has a small artistic/creative community. It’s by no means over-saturated with music, so it’s fairly easy to become familiar with most of what’s going on.
Because there aren’t too many bands, you can’t take them for granted; most people are exposed and open to things they wouldn’t otherwise be. The Hairhole [our community DIY venue and our practice space] is a cultural hub and hosts all sorts of bands. It’s a great avenue to be introduced to all sorts of bands coming from various stylistic and geographic roots.
Playing in Columbia rules! Nothing can beat home field advantage. Our community here is real supportive, real responsive, real encouraging at our shows and around town.
G- That’s great! I can’t say I’ve ever been there before, but it’s nice to know that the people are digging the shows and showing support!
Now, you just self-release a brand new 6 track EP, and it sounds great! Can you tell us a bit about the writing and recording process for the EP? Are you working on any other releases right now or do you have any more plans to head back to the studio soon?
W- Real glad you’re enjoying our little record. As with a grand majority of the songs we play, those six were spawned of earlier recordings from Tyler and myself, dug up from the archives and fully fleshed out with the band. It feels good to go through the archives and begin fleshing out the songs I/we’ve always been hoping to finish, some for as long as five years.
We’re usually bent on doing things ourselves and for this record we did all but the mastering ourselves, gleaning advice from friends and books to work through the engineering and mixing side of things. We had just a few mediocre mics at our disposal, but I think we made do.
Most tracks were laid down our space in the Hairhole. It’s a small wonder we were able to somehow find the time to do it, considering we were working around five people’s weekly schedule. It was frustrating and took almost SIX months, but we learned quite a bit for the next recording round, which we’ll hopefully commence shortly after returning from tour. Though this time we’re planning to work with an engineer. Lighten the load.
G- Personally, I think you did a great job with what you had at your disposal, and I’m sure next time what you learned from this recording will translate over. So can you tell us a bit about where did you found/find the inspiration to write your new material?
W- Don’t know really. Here and there.
G- Hmm fair enough. What about having fun?! Are you guys a party band, or generally pretty mellow? How do you guys spend your time when you aren’t recording or touring?
W- I suppose it depends on the context, but I think we’re really either. If the night is right and we’re all in the pocket [the vibe between the five of us is right and the audience is into it and all that], we may starting creeping in on party territory, bouncin’, sweatin’, though none of us are really party hounds.
As far as free time, we do different things, nothing too consequential. The most exciting/notable extra-curricular is Hitt Records, Taylor’s newly opened record store. If you somehow find yourself in the neighborhood, you ought to pop in to 10 Hitt Street, pick his brain, and buy some records.
G- For sure! Digging is one of my favorite hobbies, so I’m sure if I find myself in Columbia, I’ll be rifling through wax as I always do!
So, how about hypotheticals? Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could solidify Believers’ dream lineup, who else would be on it with you?
W- There are a few defunct bands I’d like to see or play with, Brightblack Morning Light in particular. They’re a family favorite. Dream lineup? No idea. We’ll see who/what comes.
G- Nice and open ended. I can dig it. Would you tell us about the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
W- How’s about most disastrous. Mike and Molly’s, Champagne-Urbana December of last year. That night was sandwiched between two show cancellations; it ended being a straight up shit-show for an audience of five that fell on my birthday. All of our gear went haywire and we couldn’t play most of our set. The next day our van broke down and we had to throw down beaucoup bucks to rent a van just to get back home. Paying our dues I suppose.
Playing Mike and Molly’s again the eleventh. Cross your fingers for us.
G- Oof… Yea I would chalk that one up to taking your lumps. Every musician goes through it at some point. Good story, though, and fingers crossed for you guys!
Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
W- I don’t think I’m in any position to give advice; I’m still floundering, still as baffled by what to make of myself as most twenty somethings. I can’t say I have to clear an idea of what I’m doing or how to do it, I only know that writing songs brings me the most satisfaction and to continue doing so seems to make sense at the moment.