Native Alaskans Boone Howard and Eric Ambrosius will bring their sound south a few degrees, together with keyboardist Nate Sickler, on November 30, recording live at the Banana Stand with The Woolen Men. Boone Howard explains how two Alaskan gents managed to meet up south of the (Canadian) border, his approach to song writing (or lack therof), and how to plant a bass guitar in a ceiling with one easy move!
How long has the band been together in its current form? How did it come together?
Eric and I have been playing in bands in Portland and Alaska since 2007. We met in our first PSU class and ended up both being from Alaska. We even had some mutual friends. Long before I met him, one of my Alaskan buddies used to talk about how great a drummer he was, so I pretty much wanted to start a band with him as soon we ended up in the same town. Nate is an old friend who plays with the band whenever he can. He, Eric and I all play in an Alaskan-based band called By Rail too.
How would you describe your sound? What are your key influences?
We say that all our songs sound stylistically different because we do whatever we want, but realistically we just don't have very good songwriting chops. It's a lot easier and more fun at this point to string a bunch of weird riffs together than to try to sit down and write a real song. We aim to play like bands who can pull off the unusual elements while still writing great songs, bands like MGMT, Wolf Parade, Beck… people also forget how fucking weird the Beatles were. Paul McCartney has the most ridiculous ideas that fit perfectly into awesome pop songs.
Tell us your thoughts about recording live. What makes you interested in recording live?
I actually really, really hate recording music. I appreciate all the great things you can do while recording, but at the same time too many options and mixes will stress me out. It's a nice relief to just play a song, accept it for what it is and move on.
What's your favorite memory of a live show? Least favorite?
In high school I tried to spin my bass around my shoulder while playing in front of like five people in this shitty, already embarrassing show situation. It flew off and knocked a chunk out of the roof and nobody was too stoked about it. That is both my favorite and worst memory of playing live ever. I fell down about 20 stairs carrying a bass amp right after that.
We're lucky enough that we've actually had you grace the Stand once already. How did the last Banana Stand show go for you guys?
Great man. We got a little sauced with the other band and played some fun songs that we had just written. It was sloppy as shit but all our friends were there hanging out drinking whiskey. It snowed that night and I walked home with Nate. Good times.
What are your favorite live albums?
Nirvana's From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah is the only live album I have really listened to and it's awesome. Also, that Thin Lizzy album has seemed pretty badass the few times I've heard it offhand.
What other projects are you all involved with?
I tour as the front-of-house sound engineer with a band called Portugal the Man. Eric plays drums for World's Greatest Ghosts.
What are you working on lately?
Trying to improve my live sound skills, improving my ability to read in noisy areas, finding a wife.