We speak with Jessie and Alex on touring, living together and storytelling
In an ever changing and seemingly increasingly dispassionate musical landscape, it’s refreshing to hear something (or anything at all) that can still resonate with me. A piece of music that hits hard in the gut and pierces even harder in the heart. A new sound that can somehow take you to a place you’ve never been, yet be comforting enough to make you feel at home. Truth be told, it happens less and less with every passing year. As I fast approach 30 I seem to continually gravitate further away from seeking that oh-so-important feeling and more toward trying in vain to sustain my weary soul and tired ears on what I already know and love, which is no way to live, folks. NO WAY TO LIVE.
Enter Autumn Creatures, 45 minutes north of Pueblo in Colorado Springs. A good friend and fellow music fan put their name in my ear months ago, but it wasn’t until a chance conversation with Autumn Creatures drummer Christian Andrew Gutierrez – who himself stays plenty busy in a plethora of other acts in and around Colorado Springs – was my interest piqued.
The members of Autumn Creatures, Will Gress, Alex Merrill, Christian Gutierrez, Josh Austin, Jessie Richardson, Ashley Parker and Courtney Harrell are storytellers – plain and simple. The music itself alternates between shimmery piano laden winsome and powerfully dense and ambient post hardcore, sometimes melding the two together with a masterstroke of shoegaze influenced pop. Poignant and beautiful monologues pervade throughout the groups’ music, working in tandem to create striking narratives on the human condition.
I spoke with Jessie Richardson and Alex Merrill
Autumn Creatures recently got back from a tour in Japan. How did that come about? Was the cultural dynamic similar as far as underground (punk and whatnot) subcultures go?
Alex Merrill: The Japan tour was something we started talking about last fall on our first tour. I used to live out there and I knew some friends that could book us a small tour so we decided to save up our money and go. It was an amazing time! Japan is a really awesome place with really awesome people. Im thankful we got the experience of DIY touring internationally so early on. It opened up our world a little bit.
Jessie Richardson: The cultural dynamic of Japan was so incredibly interesting. It’s something you just have to experience to fully understand. Our tour was very much ‘DIY’. We played shows with all types of bands; djent, metal core, math rock, punk and pop punk. There are so many great bands from Japan. The work ethic and the attention to detail in their culture creates a super dynamic and interesting music scene. It was inspiring, to say the least.
The spoken word pieces that start off most of the tracks on the new record are fantastic, and really pull you in. Were they always part of the plan, or something that came along as you were writing the music?
AM: Thanks! Storytelling was something we decided at the very beginning. Its a core part of the band. We’ve always written with that in mind.
JR: The music allows you to interpret and connect with the written story in a different way. Connecting people though emotions is a powerful concept.
Speaking of the new record, It’s your first full length. How did it differ from having done shorter EP’s beforehand? Was the preparation any different?
AM: Actually we consider Blue Forest an EP as well. Our previous EP was a bit shorter than this one, but it was also the first batch of songs that we had ever written and we were still in the process of learning to be a fully functioning band. We approached writing Blue Forest with a much clearer vision of what we wanted to do as band and the message we wanted to deliver.
JR: We all moved into a house to write Blue Forest. It was quite the experience.
The music of Autumn Creatures is alternately heavy yet sparse, cinematic and shimmering all at once sometimes. Do new songs start off with a riff idea that someone has, or is it more of a group effort all around?
AM: Our songwriting process has undergone quite an evolution from when we first started. Previously, we would structure out entire songs with guitars, piece them together and fill in the blanks. Now, its much more collaborative. We’re better at communicating with each other so we’ve able to talk about dynamics and how to best arrange the song. We also jam a lot more now which is something that we previously hadn’t done.
JR: Yeah, living in a house definitely helped out.
Your band has an author listed in the member section, which is something I’ve never seen before. Who are they? Do they write just the spoken word portions, or do they collaborate musically as well?
AM: As far as the written/spoken story goes, we have a friend up in Denver who has taken our ideas and penned them. Her name is Courtney and we’ve worked with her on both our albums. It also gives us a bit of 3rd party inspiration when writing music. We get to see our idea in someone else’s words and it helps us creatively.
Does the band have any big plans for 2015? Anything to promote?
AM: We have some things we’ve been talking about but nothing definite yet. There will be more to say soon hopefully.
Being in a band is a thankless job sometimes. Well most of the time. Have any of you ever hit the “that’s it, I quit music forever” wall? How do you get around it? Do you see playing music as a forever thing?
AM: I can’t say that I’ve never thought about calling it quits. For me, being in a band is stressful because of how much it can take away from other parts of my life. When the balance is off for anyone in the band we take breaks. We’re all best friends so everyone is really understanding about it. I don’t think I could ever quit for good though. Im far too in love with it.
JR: I got close just before we started writing Blue Forest. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing. Weed helps. Life is hard sometimes. It’s all about finding the light in the darkness that is life.
Last question; What’s the better party food, pizza or burritos?