Since day one, the four-piece indie rock band has strategically focused on building their audience and networked with the best of the best, all towards building their sound, skill and fans.
Now, after recording two studio albums and building a die-hard audience at the Bowery Presents, a NYC-based music venue conglomerate, the group has decided to head out west to expand their audience and dedicate more time to their craft.
The decision comes just months before finalizing their third studio album, to be released sometime in early 2015.
I spoke with lead singer Samantha Rex, keyboardist Jan Christansen, guitarist Peter Hur and drummer Bob King last week to discuss their upcoming move to Los Angeles and for a little insight into the local music scene.
Where did The Attic Ends start?
Jan: Pete and I played together in a band many years ago, and we were itching for a chance to play again and that’s when I met Samantha. I heard her voice at an open mic and I though she really had an incredible voice, and that it would be very special to have a full band and some musicians behind her. I immediately asked Pete if he wanted to come jam with this singer that I met. The three of us started playing and we wrote a bunch of material together.
After writing a bunch of material, we decided that we needed a drummer to take this thing out of the living room and onto the bigger stage. She invited Bob. After the first practice with the four of us, we were really enthused about going forward. Now it has been five years, a couple of albums and a lot of shows, primarily in New York.
What does the future hold for this band?
Jan: Right now we have a trip coming up in Los Angeles, so we are going to spend three months out there. That will be the first time that we are all focusing exclusively on music – in New York you have to work to keep the dream – and this will be the first time we are carving out some time to pursue music full time. We are really excited about that.
We’ve done really well in New York in the time that we’ve been here, and now we want to replicate, but really give the best hours of our days to music and just blast our music out to a wider audience. That way we can tour more extensively and get the good word of The Attic Ends out there.
What is it going to be like to say goodbye to New York?
Bob: It’s exciting because we’ve all been here for quite a while. You think of New York, not to be cheesy, but if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. I think there is a little bit of truth to that and we feel like that without music.
New York is a really tough town, there’s a lot of competition for entertainment and any time you try to get a crowd together, you’re up against Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, depending on who is in town. We have a CMJ thing this week and my girlfriend and her cousin are going to be coming straight from the Allman Brothers concert at the Beacon Theater. We’re really up against the heavyweights out here.
We feel like we have really given it a good show out here and we’re happy. I feel like we filled up our cups with enough of paying our dues, working hard to play hard and at the end of the day everything is really expensive. We’re on the train, doing our commute, working a day job and working a night job as a musician. Leaving is a little bittersweet, but it’s exciting that we can also leave a little something behind.
What makes it most difficult to be a band in New York?
Samantha: Playing in New York is not only a dream, but it’s a burden at the same time. The ins and outs of having to promote; the rents are high and there is a big need to fill the venue. Every year that passes I feel that music is less important and filling a room is more important. They need to feel that way because they need to pay their rent.
It used to be 10 years ago – I’ve been here 14 years – you could just walk into any venue and I was always guaranteed to see great music. Now, it’s just getting harder to sift through and trying to find inspiration throughout the city in other bands. Everyone is just so tired. You have to promote and you can’t play every week like you want to. Instead you have to play every six weeks because a venue won’t take you on if you don’t promote and bring the right amount of people.
Where is it more conducive for bands in the city to play?
Samantha: Those places do exist. We are just all on a mission to play certain venues to climb up and gain respect. For instance, at the Bowery Presents, you start at the bottom and work your way to Mercury Lounge and up to the Bowery Ballroom. In order to do that, you have to bypass really awesome venues to build that kind of reputation and play bigger venues for more people to hear you.
Bushwick is booming, and there are a lot of cool little places bringing in live music. Forest Point is just a couple blocks from our place, the owner owns a little restaurant and wants to bring music to the city in another area for instance. And that is exciting, but we have put our focus on playing shows in Manhattan. We’ve been strategically trying to play venues to build an audience and grow, and to do that you have to let go of those cool little places and having your friends come out.
That’s one of the reasons why we want to leave, so we can play that little bar, then play a bigger venue and back to another bar and just play as much as we can and reach as many people as we can.
What kind of advice can you give a band starting up right now in NYC?
Samantha: If you really believe in your music and you have something you want to say or share, then just don’t stop or let things get you down. Just keep going. You can’t fail if you don’t stop.
Jan: We grew a little tired of that strategy of not playing shows too often. I think we’ve enjoyed a lot of success of headlining the Bowery Ballroom mostly because we didn’t over play in New York. Don’t play too often and really work with the venues in being up front with how many people you can bring and grow your fan base to move from small to bigger venues.
You also have to be able to get your practice in. You want to do it all the time and keep getting better and better. We also did a lot of cross-training with little acoustic gigs at a little café and get your chops up. You can get a free dinner and maybe a couple bucks, but really do it to meet some people and make some fans that might come to your show at the bigger venues. I would say diversify and be strategic.
How do you write your music?
Samantha: We like to start out with a jam, usually at the beginning of our rehearsal. Usually it starts out with someone playing a melody or singing – or Steve will start playing a guitar lick – all just for fun. It’s now been five years of writing together and every single song we have written has been the four of us in the same room, jamming it out and finding out what parts work. We give the creative freedom to whoever is writing that part in the song and trusting and always encouraging the other person’s ideas and creative thoughts.
I’ve never had anyone in the band say they don’t like that lyric or they don’t like that lick. It’s been pretty incredible. They laugh but we really feel like we are all part of every song. It’s just really enjoyable for us to play every song because we are so in touch with it.
Catch The Attic Ends in their final performance in NYC – for now - at Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St., on November 15 at 9 p.m.