Artist of the Month: this Building

Chris Kelley, one-half of the vocals for the band, this Building, the “Artist of the Month” was nice enough to do a Q&A with ESBMusic. Check it out below:

What are the names of the band members and what do they play?
     Nick Breining – Bass
     Chris Kelley – Vocals/Guitar
     Jesse Wolf – Vocals/Guitar
     Matt Nielsen – Drums

How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
    Nick and I have known each other since 2nd grade or something crazy, and we met Jesse in High School when we were in Claiming Nothing.  He was in a band called Forever Tomorrow at the time.  Oddly enough, Matt played bass in that band at one point also.

When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
     See above.  We chose Jesse and Jaime because we knew how talented of musicians they were and that they would bring something new to the table.

Each of you guys were in differnt bands together before. What motivated you to start a new band?
     Well, Nick and I(Chris) had been in a previous band called Claiming Nothing in High School.  I guess ever since we learned to play our instruments we wanted to be in bands.  Claiming Nothing ended after almost 5 years, and Nick and I didn’t feel like we were done with music.  We wanted something new.  I continued to write as did Nick.  Nick started a solo project in the fall of ’06 called this Building that was going to be a mix of acoustic/electronic music.  I soon joined in, and it didn’t take long for us to have to urge to play rock music and be on stage again, so we looked for two more members.  We found Jesse Wolf and Jaime Pelaez from another recently departed local band, and we became what we are today in the fall of ’07 with the exception of some line-up changes.

What’s the origin of that name of your band? Have you changed the band’s name before?
     The name “this Building” came to Nick in a dream he had.  He doesn’t remember what happened, but the name “this Building” just stuck out.  It is really open to interpretation from listeners as to what it means to them, but to me it’s an analogy or metaphor for life and relationships.  We do so much building in our lives, growing both emotionally and physically.  We build relationships, and we tear them down.  This Building, to me, encompasses all of life and that we are building every step of the way.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
     Rock/Power-pop.  I would say it’s a dual-vocalist rock group in the likes of Hidden in Plain View, Senses Fail, and All Time Low maybe.  That’s what people tell us anyway.

Who are your major influences?
     We all listen to a very broad array of music, and I think all of it has its influence on our music.  Jesse is into metal and rap.  Nick is into more indie music, power-pop, acoustic, and a little bit of electronic.  I mostly listen to power-pop, rock, and some screamo and electronic.  As for Matt, he is into a wide variety of music as well, but I think pop-punk/power-pop are his main influences.

Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
     We have played quite a few places, mostly in Wisconsin, but a couple shows in Minnesota.  We are currently working on getting a lot more shows with one coming up in Iowa.  We are also planning a Midwest/East Coast tour in the summer.  Aside from The Warehouse in La Crosse, WI, where we’re from, we love playing in Durand, WI.  We have played there three times, and the crowd is always great!  AND we love the pizza that we get there.

Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?
     We always play our entire EP “Are You Listening?”  Aside from those songs, we have only played one other song live so far, a new acoustic one.  We are currently writing a whole mess of songs that we hope to play live as soon as they’re polished.

Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?
     Nick, Jesse, and I all write.  Sometimes songs are collaborations and other times they are written mostly solo.  All of the songs deal with situations or experiences we’ve had in our lives in some way.  A big theme I think is searching within ourselves to find meaning and figuring out what path to take in life.  We simply try to communicate on a common ground with our listeners because we know that we aren’t the only ones to feel and experience the things we write about.  Every song can mean something different to each person that listens to it, and I think it is up to the listener to extract the theme themselves and figure out what it means to them.  The topics will always be about what we are thinking and feeling, so in that respect they will never change; however, the specific topics surely will depending on what’s happening in our lives.

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
     Songs either start with an idea in either lyrics, melody, or a  guitar riff.  One of us will have one of these ideas and present it to the group, and we work from there.  A lot of times it is a very complete idea with lyrics, melody, and music, but other times it’s just one line or one riff. 

The internet is a great way to promote bands. How do you feel about the new Myspace Music? Do you think the bands on major labels get a better share of the market?
     I think Myspace is great.  I don’t know much about the “new” myspace music, but I think Myspace has always been a great marketing tool for bands as well as the internet in general.  It’s amazing the things we can do that bands 20 years ago never even dreamt of.

What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
     Ha, we tend to call them practices as we can always find improvement.  We have been getting together lately on Wednesdays and Sunday nights, so I guess you could say it is a set time; although, it always depends on everyone’s schedule.  Typically, we play through the set once or twice and then spend the rest of the time working on new material or discussing band related items.  We usually just hang out for a while also.

How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
     It has evolved a great deal, especially in complexity and musicianship.  If your music isn’t evolving, then you’ve got some problems.  However, it should always evolve in a direction you are happy with, and we’re very happy with how our music has evolved.

I know your drummer left in the middle of recording your EP. Did that change the direction of the album?
     No, I don’t think so.  All of the drum tracks had been recorded, and the songs for the most part were totally finalized.  However, we will have to see how our new music turns out with a new drummer. 

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
     I would say our biggest challenge has been keeping a stable drummer.  We have had to teach our songs to multiple drummers, and it always takes time until you are playing tight again.  It has put a huge hold on new songs because we have to keep working on getting every other song down solid again.  Nevertheless, we have been writing a lot, and we hope to start working on new songs with our new drummer Matt soon.  I think we’ve been able to overcome the challenge though because we have kept everything moving forward.  We still played live shows with a fill-in drummer while we looked for a full-time replacement.

What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
     We simply want to play music for a living and be able to sustain ourselves financially.  We want our music to reach as many people as possible, and we hope that it can have some sort of an impact on them.  We want people to be able to relate to our music.

What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
     Have a strategy and plan.  Know what you want to do with your music and make sure everyone is on the same page.

I know you guys are from the cheese state, what is your favorite cheese?
     Ha, I’m not exactly a cheese connoisseur, but gouda is good.

Any last words? 
     Thank you!

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