Back In The Atmosphere; An interview with William Erickson and Jenny Wood of Team Tremolo

William Erickson is a busy guy, as are his bandmates in Team Tremolo. Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, each member juggles multiple musical groups, notably The Travel Guide and the solo project of the band’s vocalist, Jenny Wood. Merging one another’s eclectic backgrounds into something new, Erickson and Wood, along with members Kristyn Chapman, Caleb Drummond, and Thayne Coleman wrote and recorded Intruder, the band’s first EP as Team Tremolo. The EP debuted August 29, 2017 on the group’s Bandcamp page and is quickly turning heads.

Team Tremolo started as a demo project in 2013 as a vehicle for Erickson to explore his love of ’90s era shoegaze artists, but eventually evolved into something that was capable of living and breathing as a new band. Recruiting instrumentalists from The Travel Guide, it became clear that the band was ready to play out and start producing and broadcasting their material. The inclusion of Wood as the group’s vocalist further evolved their stylistic direction, blending in elements of grunge artists like Sonic Youth. Working with renowned engineer Micajah Ryan (Bob Dylan, Megadeth, and Guns N’ Roses), Team Tremolo refined their unique sound and meticulously finished their debut EP.

Ghettoblaster’s Andrew Humphrey recently caught up with Erickson and Wood to discuss the debut. This is what they told him.

You all share a lot of overlapping projects. What’s it like juggling these different groups while creating an entirely new band?

William Erickson: Honestly it’s easier than it would seem. Since we all share so many rehearsals and gigs with each other throughout the other bands, our schedules generally line up pretty well. The biggest thing is just planning stuff way in advance, and taking turns doing things.

For example, one band might be recording, while another is writing, and another is rehearsing and gigging every week. We took a break from shows for about six months while recording and that really made it easy to focus on getting the album done while still adhering to everyone’s schedules.

In the beginning, writing Team Tremolo songs was my respite from doing the other bands. It was what I did in my down time, so it’s always been pretty laid back. I’ve always taken this band at a pretty slow pace, and that helps keep the stress levels down. Other than that, music is always fun for me, so it’s never too stressful because at the end of the day it’s what I want to be doing.

What do you think most distinguishes this project from past works?

Jenny Wood: I’m able to be uninhibited in this project. For my own band, lyrical and guitar hook placement and fan song style preference is always in my peripheral. I am a huge early ’90s grunge fan and was always in heavy guitar bands as the lead vocalist, in the vain of Tool, Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, A Perfect Circle, so being able to set aside that obligation to sing for Team Tremolo allows me creative vacation from my material and feeds my vocalist-only grunge hunger: The Gits, Kate Bush, Deftones.

How did the two of you cross paths and what made you decide to start writing together?

WE: I first met Jenny through my older sister when I was about 14. Jenny had just moved back from Nashville and I was just getting started with music. She was a friend of my sister’s, and my sister told me I needed to be playing with her.

I actually ended up playing my very first show opening for her with my old band, and from then on we’d stay friends. A few years later I filled in on drums for a gig of hers, and after that she asked me to join her band. After about a year of working with her on her songs and getting into a groove with writing, I thought she’d be a great fit for Team Tremolo so I just asked if she was interested. I showed her the songs and she immediately got it.

JW:  I met Will about the time that I moved back to Wichita, seven years ago after living and playing in the Nashville, Tennessee, indie scene. I heard Will’s guitar playing and was intrigued by his chord voicings, and I also watched him play drums for The Travel Guide a few times. Knowing his work ethic and our parallels in music taste, I knew being in a band with him would be solid.

What sources of inspiration helped craft the lyrics for the EP?

WE: Most of the time I get inspired by a certain mood or feeling. When I was writing for this album I was watching a ton of X Files and reading books on the occult, and that definitely helped shape the general atmosphere of what I wanted to say. I’d be watching TV or reading a book and I’d just get this particular vibe that would spur an idea for a line or a phrase, or even an entire idea for a song.

I try to think of every song as its own story, within its own world and having a unique atmosphere. I generally like dark imagery and cryptic language. I like those weird, foreboding allegories that send a chill down your spine. There’s something about all that subversive stuff that I’ve always liked. I don’t like to be too straightforward. I prefer when people have to dig a little. I feel like that helps people attach their own meanings to songs, which for me is something I’ve always preferred as a listener.

JW:  Will wrote most of the lyrics on the EP. The lyrics I wrote, he and I worked on together for the most part. My lyrical contribution came fully after hearing Kristyn and Will’s guitar tones during the recording. Lyrics that were drafted before we went into the studio ended up changing to work more with the guitar lines.

Guitars had a huge influence in lyrics and vocal delivery commitment, especially in the back and forth chatter between my voice and their guitars. As far as lyrical content, we were both motivated to keep the phrases cryptic. Speaking for myself only here, the lyrical intention was to amplify the intolerance of falsehood, and people’s ability to forgive themselves for deceptive living.

What was it like working with Micajah Ryan on the EP?

WE: Micajah is basically my musical dad. I’ve been working with him on various projects out of Air House, where he works and where we recorded the album, for the past five years or so and he’s hands down the best engineer and producer I’ve ever worked with. Micajah has this rare gift of being able to tell you that you suck without hurting your feelings. He is excellent at constructive criticism, and doesn’t BS you at all or try and fluff up your ego. If you played it bad, he’ll let you know. If you’re rushing a bunch, he’ll probably ask you how much coffee you drank that morning. Little stuff like that is what sets him apart in my opinion. He’s full of hilarious stories and quips from days in LA working with big bands, and even if there’s palpable tension in the room we’re only ever one rockstar story away from laughing our asses off and getting back to work.

What’s the best way for fans to get their hands on a copy of Intruder?

WE: Intruder will be available for download on our Bandcamp page, or they can purchase cassette tapes through This Ain’t Heaven’s website or from us in person at a show!

What’s next for Team Tremolo?

WE: I’m currently in the process of writing and demoing the next album, but I’m always thinking about writing. That’s a never-ending process for me. We’ll be doing some light regional touring, but since two of us in the band are still in school, we pretty much have to wait until summer for big tours. We’re planning a small mini-tour to get down to play SXSW as well.

(Visit Team Tremolo here: https://www.facebook.com/teamtremoloict/.)

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