Interview with the band: Owls & Aliens

MM: Thank you Owls & Aliens for talking to us today. It has been a while since we heard from the band. “Mercy” was your first release, correct? What has been going on?

Dakotah Webb: It has been a while hasn’t it! Yeah it was, we released Mercy in May of last year, and originally we were lined up to play a bunch of shows on the West Coast to promote that release, but obviously, we weren’t able to do that. So instead, we took the time to plan and get ready for when things picked up again; we did a lot of research on the industry, practiced every single week making sure to be ready to record our debut album when possible, found MVK Music Group and somehow got signed by them, and we shot a music video, which we finally released that video and song last Friday (August 13th).

MM: Congratulations on signing on with MVK Music Group. How did that come about?

Dakotah Webb: I basically cold called them! Because we weren’t able to record and because we weren’t able to play any shows, I started doing research on different things that we could do to help expand the band and get our name out there more, and I was looking to see if there was anyone out there that could see our potential and would want to work with us. I found MVK and I really liked what they stood for and it really looked like they genuinely cared about their artists. After checking out the other bands, it looked like we would be a good fit so I emailed them, and at first, I didn’t hear back for a while, but after I followed up, Brian started calling me and the rest is history! 

MM: The story behind “You Can’t Save Everyone” certainly has some deep emotional feelings. Talk to us about the song and how all the parts grew together.

Dakotah Webb: The song started with a riff that Travis wrote a long time ago, and then one day he showed it to Dustin in his grandma’s basement. Travis wasn’t very sure of it, but Dustin saw a lot of potential so we started running with it. We built the drums and bass around it after that, and it really started to come together once we figured out that half-time breakdown section after the solo. Jeff actually hated it at first, because it’s a pretty punk rock riff that is the polar opposite to him. There was one practice where we almost scrapped the song, but eventually, he came around to it. Now he loves it, it’s one of his most favorite solos to play. Dustin wrote all those lyrics about realizing you have to move on from things that you can’t do anything about. There is only so much you can do for a person, and if they aren’t willing to help themselves then there really is nothing you can do about it. So for your own sake and theirs, you have to let go. 

MM: Do you think that the song and video and lyrics all just came together by happenstance or is it like it was all meant to be?

Dakotah Webb: All of our songs are meant to be, we pour our hearts and soul into everything we play and write. But the timing was pretty wild when we shot the music video, because the day before we were scheduled to do the shoot, I found out my mom had Stage IV cancer that had spread all over her body, and that she needed emergency surgery the next day (which was the day of the video shoot) if she wanted to live. So I was freaking out and felt so hopeless, I didn’t know whether I should cancel the shoot and go to the hospital and be with my mom, but if we did, there was no telling when we could reschedule because it was just before winter and where we live, we get a lot of snow so it was basically like today or not at all. My mom insisted that I go through with it, and because of that and the support from my bandmates, I did, but it was a really weird feeling. It made me realize there really was nothing I could do to save my mom, whether I was there at the hospital or not. So for me, the song took on a whole new, deeper personal meaning that I think was something I needed to go through. 

MM: Where did you all record “You Can’t Save Everyone”?

Dakotah Webb: We recorded it in Sacramento, CA at Fat Cat Recording Studios with Sean Stack. Shout out to Sean, we love working with that guy and can’t wait to get back over to him in Austin (he relocated since we recorded the song). 

MM: Is the studio recording place a place you consider to bring the right vibe to what you want to produce continually?

Dakotah Webb: With Sean absolutely! He really understands our sound and what we are going for and he makes the whole recording process smooth and efficient. He comes from a very diverse background, not just like recording metal and stuff like that, so he’s able to come at it from different angles and that was something that was really important to us because we aren’t really like any of the bands out there right now. We can’t wait to get back over to him and finish the rest of what we started with him. It’s really all about finding the right producer and the right space that makes you feel confident and comfortable and thankfully, we’ve found that. 

MM: If you were to give life a note, as you have all observed it so far, what would it be?

Dakotah Webb: Hot Sauce & Rock ‘N Roll!!!

MM: Who has been some of your most influential musicians and who has struck you as close to your writing style?

Dustin Carter: Gerard Way, Chester Bennington, Ollie Sykes, Eddie Vedder, Hayley Williams, Freddie Mercury, Danny Worsnop, Stephan Jenkins are just a few for me, but I could name a million more that have influenced my songwriting and lyrics.

Jeff Martinez: Jake E Lee, Angus Young, Steve Clark of Def Leppard, and Randy Castillo.

Travis Siebecke: The first for me was Billie Joe Armstrong. When I first started playing guitar, I would basically just sit in my room and learn Green Day songs. Kurt Cobain was another big influence on me, he showed me you don’t have to be technical to write good songs. Travis Barker and Tom DeLonge for sure, Tom was actually the guy who influenced me to just plug straight in to my amp and not use any pedals. Jerry Cantrell, Billy Corgan, John 5, Jim Root, are a few more, and Deftones changed the game for me as far as heavier music goes, and playing in drop D.

Nicholi Ohbronovich: Uh, Idk Tiny Tim.

Dakotah Webb: There are so many it’s tough to say! For me, guys like Dave Grohl, Chad Smith, Tre Cool, Jack White, Jimmy Chamberlain, Taylor Hawkins, Travis Barker, obviously Jon Bonham and Neil Peart, have always been huge influences on me. As I’ve aged, I’ve gotten more and more into heavy music though so guys like Matt Mingus of Dance Gavin Dance and Matt Greiner of August Burns Red have become more of an influence on me.

Owls & Aliens: It’s tough to pinpoint musicians that are close to our writing style because we are a combination of all those influences we just talked about put together.

MM: Is there anyone you would like to write with?

Dakotah Webb: We have so much material of our own that we have to sort through, that we aren’t even thinking about that right now haha.

MM: Describe a typical writing session for the band.

Dakotah Webb: It just kind of depends on the song really, but basically someone usually has a small idea they bring to the table, and we build it from there. Most of the time it starts in an acoustic setting.

MM: Any particular instrument or instruments used most using when writing?  

Dakotah Webb: We are a pretty typical rock band: guitars, bass, drums, vocals, maybe a little keys in there and throw in some shakers, what more do you need?? We have thought about bringing in a kazoo though.

 MM: With each song written, do you sense your writing abilities become easier or are each time like its starting over point?

Dakotah Webb: Like we were saying, it really just depends. Some songs just come together instantly and effortlessly. Other times, it takes a while and we might get stuck on a section for a bit. It definitely takes a lot of work though, and honestly just playing the songs over and over again until it makes sense.

MM: So far in your musical careers – what do you think you have learned the most about yourselves personally, and about yourselves musically?

Dakotah Webb: I have learned that it’s really easy to make your passion feel stressful and get overwhelmed by everything when you start trying to make it a full time thing. It’s easy to let the worries and fears get in the way of the joy of playing and writing music. You have to learn to let go of things and remember why you do it in the first place, which is for the love of playing. Musically I’ve learned that I’ll never stop learning or trying to improve my playing style, there is no limit.

Dustin Carter: Personally, I’ve learned that music is what I’m good at, it just happens naturally as I’m always writing songs. It’s my comfort zone, where I actually feel like myself, unlike anywhere else in life. As far as musically, I’ve learned more from my failures than anything. As you go, you learn what not to do and figure out how to do things more smoothly.

Travis Siebecke: Ive learned how versatile my playing can be with the right group of guys, I didn’t realize that before I started playing with these guys. And like Dustin said, I realized how this is really what I’m supposed to do. Before this band, I had a lot of doubts about my music but it’s really lifted my confidence.

Nicholi Ohbronovich: Kinda like how everyone else was saying, I’ve learned that this is what I want to do for my life, I found my meaning and passion. Musically, I’m just constantly trying to get better and there is no cap to my playing.

Jeff Martinez: I’ve learned how to remain humble because everything can go away just as fast as it comes. That and you have to walk with confidence even if you can’t see the road that far ahead.

MM: What’s coming up next for the band, what can we expect?  Have tour dates and next releases been announced yet? And we would love to speak with you again soon.

Dakotah Webb: We just released our new song and music video “You Can’t Save Everyone” last Friday. Next month, we head to Texas to finish recording our debut album with Sean, and hope to have that out by the beginning of 2022, with a few more singles and music videos released along the way. Right now, we are in the midst of planning a bunch of West Coast dates for the fall, and we are also planning a coast-coast tour for next year after we release the album. Thanks, guys, we’d love to chat again too, just hit us up!

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