It’s only Monday, but it’s never too early to start preparing for the weekend – especially when that weekend is a holiday weekend, much like the one coming up! So, what’s going on this weekend? Well, Distant Creatures, along with John Lawton, are going to be taking the Sky Stage … stage. We recently caught up with 3/5ths of the band to talk about how the band got off the ground, what happened to Dane’s old band, Ghost Hotel, and the differences between their music scene in Northern Virginia and the one we have right here in Frederick, Maryland. The fun begins at 7 p.m., friends. Make it a weekend to remember.
First, how did you get into music in the first place and how did Distant Creatures come together?
Chris: Distant Creatures came about when I posted an ad in Craigslist about forming a band influenced by Slowdive, Stars of the Lid, Swans, Dinosaur Jr., etc. Dane responded and that was start of this group. We’re a little different than what I probably was expecting then but I think we made some good music more in the jangle/dream pop realm. I basically came into music via the classical world, but when I was around 17 I realized, mostly through YouTube, that pop/rock music could have the same level of nuance and a similar atmosphere as classical music.
Mina: In the summer of 2008 I was experiencing a surprisingly awesome nervous breakdown that made me want to drop out of grad school and basically end everything I had to that point aspired for. I went to sleep one night asking the universe to tell me what to do and I had dreams all night of performing in front of large crowds. My ego assumes it’s music that I was directed towards, but it may have actually been sign language interpretation.
If I remember correctly, Dane, you were in Ghost Hotel. What happened to that band? And, with that said, what other Frederick bands have you been in and how does this current one rate next to any of your previous projects?
Dane: Sam, who was Ghost Hotel’s main songwriter, moved to New York City, so sadly, we couldn’t continue. We’re all still friends, though, and occasionally we’ve done shows with Luna and Cheshi, who also recruited ex-Ghost Hotel members. I learned a lot from being in that band, and that’s helped me build Distant Creatures into something special. Before Ghost Hotel, I played in a lo-fi indie pop group, The Capstan Shafts, for a few years.
How did you guys come up with the name Distant Creatures?
Dane: Distant Creatures is a song by a band called The Daysleepers, who were an early influence. I imagined we’d eventually come up with something better, but everyone seems to like it.
Mina: We don’t like to be specie specific. We identify as a wide range of live beings, and we are generally escapists, so that puts us far away a lot.
What’s your perception of the current local music scene as a whole?
Dane: Frederick seems to be a lot more supportive of its creative community than a lot of other places in the area and it’s small enough that it feels like everyone knows each other. You don’t get that in Northern Virginia, where most of our band lives.
Mina: Everyone’s getting too many haircuts. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
Which artists/bands are some of your major influences and why?
Dane: The Smiths, Exlovers and The Verve.
Mina: I like the sincere and often sad outsiders – Daniel Johnston, Smog, Kurt Cobain, Otis Redding, Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith. They made me feel less alone.
Chris: As mentioned before, Slowdive, Swans, Dinosaur Jr, Stars of the Lid, Labradford, the Cure, the Byrds, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twins, the Field Mice, Pale Saints, Can, Brian Eno, Leonard Cohen, Red House Painters. I’m probably forgetting quite a few but I like my jangle, melancholy and noise.
Can you give us names of some local bands we need to check out that we maybe haven’t seen yet? Who are you listening to the most these days?
Dane: Go Cozy and Young Scum are a couple of my favs. I think they might be from D.C. or Northern Virginia, but check them out if they get to Frederick.
Chris: I really like Frederick’s own Cheshi. It helps that Dane’s played in bands before with some of their members. I also play with the band Sam Cooper and the Sleepwalkers, who are a bit different, vibe-wise, from Different Creatures, but still somewhat psychedelic with some folk influence.
Can you recall your favorite-ever Frederick show? Who was it, when was it and what made it your favorite?
Dane: Probably the 2013 Artomatic at the old school building downtown. I was in Ghost Hotel then and we played with Carousel Rogues, Lilac Daze and Full Blush. It was a great lineup, surrounded by awesome artwork and the room felt like we were playing a high school dance.
What are some of your favorite venues to play and why?
Dane: The Rock & Roll Hotel has a big stage – I love the rooftop bar and they treat bands well. When I lived in Frederick, though, it was always Nola since it was an easy walk from my house and I can’t recall ever playing a bad show there.
What do you think is the most perfect song ever written and why?
Dane: Damn, tough question. I’ll go with Bowie’s “Life on Mars?”. There’s a little bit of everything. The music builds from a ballad to this dramatic cathartic release, the lyrics are interesting and Bowie delivers some of his best singing.
Chris: Umm, I really want to say “Ave Maria” by Schubert (laughs). I think it’s just an intensely beautiful piece of music even with just a singer and a piano. You did say song, but I’m going to say otherwise, for something more recent, an instrumental by Brian Eno called “An Ending (Ascent).” It’s poignant, idyllic and tragic.
Mina: “Moments In Love” by Art of Noise. Just listen – it’s hypnotic and sexy. I’ve told every corporation I’ve ever been on hold with to make it their hold music; I’m waiting for one of them to take my advice. I believe this would be my greatest gift to society if it ever happens.
And, finally, what can we expect from your upcoming show at Sky Stage?
Chris: The unexpected.
Dane: But besides that, you can expect jangley guitars, boy/girl harmonies and lots of reverb. We have our debut album out this week called “Snares In Safe Harbors” so we’ll be playing a lot from the new record.