A little over a month ago I was pretty amped about some local music artists I’d been introduced to, so I created a “Michiana Music” playlist on Spotify to be able to compile and share my favorite songs. We then did an Instagram post announcing its availability and asked our followers to let us know who else we needed to check out. A couple weeks later, we were made aware that the handle @official_lavine had a new release that day! I proceeded to listen to “Chasing Fountains” by Lavine probably eight times in a row.
After a brief DM convo with Lavine, miraculously getting everybody on a Zoom call at the same time, and some back-and-forth in a Google Doc - here we are announcing their second single “Hang on the Line” and getting to know the crew through our very first Q&A!
Self described, “Lavine is an alternative/pop-rock band that specializes in writing and performing original feel-good jams. By harnessing our advanced musicianship and love for personal expression, our music inspires and uplifts listeners who share that same passion in life.”
“Hang on the Line is a dense and introspective song that ponders the discordant relationship between the blissfulness of childhood and the bitterness of growing up. It’s about longing to rediscover your inner child, the “you” before life took over. Though the song’s driving beat and contentious tones convey a sense of distress and mourning, listeners can hear glimpses of serenity peak through the landscape as they hang on to their memories of the past.”
Available on all major platforms
I was going to make a joke about you being a Maroon 5 cover band but just found out Adam’s last name is spelled with an E instead of an A. What’s the story behind your band name?
Nic: It’s actually pronounced (love-eye-n) and not (Love-een) like in Adam’s case! “Lavine” is the name of the lake that the Ferguson brothers grew up on, it kinda represents the origin of the entire culture/vibe of the band. It’s where we like to hangout, write new songs, and just enjoy life. Also a fun tidbit we learned - it also means ‘avalanche’ in German.
I’m glad my bad joke attempt provided a nice segue into that important clarification! How did the idea to start a band manifest itself to the five of you?
Nic: Yeah, pronunciation gets us into a little bit of trouble with fans if they’ve never heard it pronounced.. We’ll be making a post about that next week likely lol.
Fred: Dylan and I started to jam together sometime sophomore or junior year in high school, and then the winter of our senior year, Ben and Dayne were home from college and we decided to try and write and record some songs with the little recording equipment we had. From then we just never stopped writing more. Interesting fact, on our first few demos we recorded, Dylan actually played drums.
Nic: I was then recruited in the summer of 2019 for some jam sessions and then joined the band officially. We all have a weird web of connection from before we officially formed the band. I was in the jazz band at Concord with Dayne, a poker group with Ben, and actually gave Dyl private lessons for drums a year or two before we ever formed the band. Fred and Dyl were in the jazz band together too. Somehow the stars aligned and we all ended up together in a band!
I wouldn’t have guessed the jazz background! Where did your interests in music start? Does your style draw any inspiration from artists who you’re fans of?
Dylan: We could write pages about the origins of our musical interests and influences because as a band we simply don’t limit ourselves. But as a guitar player my brother and I both started playing because of the blues legends such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Joe Bonomassa and the more modern John Mayer. You’ll find that each band member has a unique taste in music and artists so Lavine is a blend of many backgrounds, tastes, genres, regions and time periods. Our ability to appreciate good music is limitless because all of us have a good understanding of music theory. I think the idea of creating good music that’s well put together and enjoyable to play for us trumps specific inspiration or a specific genre that we have to stay in between the lines. If you notice in our new music as it releases there’s a good variation between our songs, and the idea is to highlight the depth of our talent as well as each individual band member.
Nic: Personally, my interest in music started at a young age. Both of my parents are proficient musicians - dad is a drummer, mom is a keyboardist so I came by it naturally. I actually got started in music as a concert percussionist and dabbled in piano so drum set is not my main instrument. I got into jazz drum set and loved it, and you can hear those origins and approaches in most of my playing in our songs, but that's a whole different convo regarding playing styles! Also, having artist inspirations is a whole convo to get into but I would say that I don’t draw inspiration from other drummers/bands - for me it’s more about playing for my guys and playing to what the song calls for. That's quite a unique approach not held by most drummers because it takes years to learn, understand, and implement into your playing - but is one of the first things taught in the world of concert percussion.
As far as inspiration, I tend to take influences and nuances from my experiences and knowledge in concert percussion and jazz rather than other artists. I think most of us are at a level of technical proficiency where we don’t “look up” to other artists for tips and ideas, rather we can develop our own signature styles and sounds and I believe that’s what makes us so interesting with such a unique sound. Four of us are experienced jazz musicians, with professional and technical ability not often seen in a “boy band” in their early 20s. And Ben our singer has an unmolested (for lack of a better word) style of singing that’s very raw and untampered with; I would even say that because he lacks in classic/professional vocal training that we’re able to get a much more unique and original style out of his voice and the way he sings. We have the ability to stand alone and be independent, we aren’t swayed by trends or popular techniques/genres or bands/musicians that came before us - we have a sound and a product that was built and developed by ourselves with very few influences, and that gives listeners the most pure exposure to our sound and what we can do. I firmly believe that influences turn into impurities in an artist's original sound. They lose their style/voice/original sound and can never recover from it (think all popular singers who start with a sound or style and 5 years later are making a completely different genre of music - Tswift, Justin Bieber). We really love our original sound so we do what we can to preserve it. It takes a great deal of acumen, ability, and respect to be unique in the music industry because it’s so easy to get sucked in. That's a really long and off-topic answer - but I love talking about these types of things lol
Nic, we need to get you on a podcast and just let you go! I asked about musical influences because you really do have such an incomparable sound. As someone without a great ear for instrumental variances (I’ll listen more closely for those nuances you mention,) Ben’s singing is what really stands out the most to me. You talk about his voice almost like you would an instrument. What’s your process been like for incorporating vocals into your tracks? From writing lyrics to delivery.
Nic: I agree about the podcast! Always down to talk music lol! Regarding those nuances, you’ll hear them excessively in the next release - it's probably our most interpretive song of the bunch. I’d love to walk through some of those as like a commentary or something after it releases. I’ll get off my horse and let the boys chime in here, I think Ben will give you some really cool insight to this question tomorrow when he gets a chance!
Ben: If you would've told anyone at our high school, including myself, that I would be singing in a rock band, everyone would be surprised. I didn’t sing much growing up and have always been a more soft-spoken type of guy. The start of me singing really was the culmination of a few friends jamming on guitar and messing around singing with a mic. It’s been a fun journey as I continue to grow more confident in my voice through making music. In terms of incorporating vocals into our tracks, it usually starts with someone sharing a cool guitar riff. Then we jam as a band and decide whether we think it has potential (it usually does.) As we’re jamming, I come in on the mic and start saying whatever comes to my head, sometimes gibberish, just trying to find a melody that goes well with the music. Finding the melody to sing is one of my favorite parts of writing new music. For me, a song truly becomes memorable the moment the vocal melody is combined with the instruments. After that, it’s just a matter of adding lyrics to that melody...and that’s where it gets hard. The process of writing lyrics is the most difficult because frankly...poetry ain’t easy. We usually write lyrics together as a band, and everyone has their own opinion about what justifies a “good lyric.” You can always count on Dylan or Fred to call out cheesy lyrics haha. But in the end, it’s us being particular about the lyrics that make our songs into something we’re proud to share.
Dayne: Yeah like the other dudes said, it’s usually the guitar riff or chord progression that comes first and then a lyrical melody. Sometimes we can have a great sounding progression that’s super fun to jam out but we can’t get lyrics or a vocal melody to sound good over the top, so we don’t try to force it. Ben’s really good at coming up with creative melodies and as we’re jamming a new song he’ll find one we like and then it’s just about putting some good lyrics to it, which I’m usually not much help with but am able to pitch in from time to time.
I love the group approach to songwriting! Your singles Chasing Fountains and Hang on the Line have this similar theme of “growing up” which is such a universally relatable experience (obviously) but something that all five of you are going through together not only as a band but a group of friends. Can you talk a little bit about the shared experiences and feelings that you hoped to convey through Hang on the Line?
Nic: Great connection between the themes of our songs and parallels to our growth as a band! I think the theme of growing up is proportional to almost every journey/process/relationship in life. It’s always fresh, young, exciting at the beginning and it seems like you’re on top of the world! But soon we come down from that thrill and are left trying to come to peace with what's left - trying to form some kind of valuable identity in the “leftovers”. For our journey and growth as a band, I would say that we didn't exactly follow that pattern. Rather, we started slower and casually over time built an identity and product that we’re still growing into today. There have been many stages of the band, what started as sporadic jam sessions between friends didn’t actually take the form of the “Lavine'' you see today until this past summer of 2020. We’ve only been collectively taking this thing seriously, planning for the future, seeing ourselves as a successful group of musicians - for about 6 months. For me, I didn’t see it as anything more than an extracurricular club that would fizzle out after we all graduated college - until we had a come to Jesus moment over the summer and realized how special this group is, how perfect an environment we’re in, and how flammable our music is.
Specifically regarding your question, during our songwriting process, there is usually a period at the beginning where we have a few lines down and we have a direction for where we want to take it, but we’re essentially scrambling to find and establish an identity for each song. “What is this song? Who is it for? Why do we feel like this song needs to exist? What are we trying to communicate?” and so for Hang on the Line, the image and identity we landed on was that of a little kid on a playground. The image of yourself as a little kid on a playground being amazed by how big, exciting, and fun everything is - specifically the big yellow slide. We wanted to write about the creation of those memories as kids and idolizing those moments in your life where you were innocent and unphased by anything in life.. and then as a grown-up, you revisit those areas and realize that the playground is super small, the slide is super boring, and you’re disappointed to see that some of your greatest times and memories in life equate to nothing more than a boring slide. And then it’s like an internal identity crisis: “how do I move forward from this? My best memories and happiest moments in life are ruined and now I’m questioning the validity of everything I thought about this place”. And it’s at that moment where the song starts and follows the thoughts of this moment. The lyrics and pattern of this song portray a constant battle between choosing to believe and hold on to those memories, the way you saw it as a child - or facing the reality of the situation and destroying the fabric of your childhood. It’s essentially a battle inside your head between knowing the truth, or going back to the truth of your childhood - and I think it’s a really powerful message.
On top of that, we do a lot of musical nuances and techniques that support this crisis. There are several technical things we do rhythmically, melodically, musically that communicate this. If we took the lyrics out of the song and just played the track, I think people would still interpret the same story. I think people would still recognize those themes, the feelings of stress and tension in the mind, the theatrical arrangement, and contrast of themes. I think it’s really well done lol.
Dylan: To add to Nic’s novel... I’d like to share my relationship with Hang on the Line. I came up with the chord progression of this song and I have a greater appreciation for the musicality aspect because it isn’t a simple pop progression or composition. Hang On The Line is non-diatonic therefore, it evokes emotion as the chords don’t stay in the same mode (musical stuff). The chromatic nature of the chorus really drives the moody and rude tone and although the song sounds aggressive the lyrical subject is quite innocent. This is a great contradiction that incites thought and it takes a couple of listens to discover all of the musical intricacies.
Very powerful stuff, as you say. I appreciate that your music (lyrically, rhythmically, melodically, etc.) evokes those kinds of thoughts and feelings, and I know others will as well!
Looking forward, how about you guys give a glimpse into what Lavine has coming up and where people can follow along.
Dylan- Our main social media platform is Instagram where we are highly involved with our followers. We announce everything that we have coming up through Instagram such as gigs and our next releases. As we’re limited in live shows, we have taken advantage of this time to build up a repertoire of songs and have a new single release every month. Be on the lookout for our new stuff and engage with us on Instagram!
Ben: This has been a great experience working with you to talk about who we are as a band. In terms of what’s ahead, we’re always making new music so you can expect to continue to hear new singles come out from Lavine. During this time that live music is a bit slower, we’ve put a lot of focus on engaging with fans through social media.
What a typical Lavine practice session is like 👇 Just so happens to be for Hang on the Line!