It takes a five piece Brooklyn band like Milagres to turn heads for all the right reasons. The quintet of Kyle Wilson, Fraser McCulloch, Eric Schwortz, Chris Brazee and Steve Leventhal shun the notion of mimicry. They first tell me that “Milagres is Milagres.” But, their claim is rightfully placed. The forced dissonance typical of the indie bands today is shunned for the placid vocals of Kyle Wilson that compliment the supporting melodic pop rock and staccatoed synth. Add to that, the members have a down to Earth sense of humor. It’s refreshing, at least until they inevitably become mainstream. But I can’t be selfish now can I?
They’ve been winding down their national “2011 Spring Tour,” (admittedly an uninventive name) in New York, and it’s been a daily concerted effort to dissipate their seeds of musical addiction that will germinate into converted fans. Add to that, in Fall of 2011, they’re slated to drop a bombshell in the form of “Glowing Mouth,” their already completed sophomore album, pending artwork. But if you’ve missed them the first time around, don’t fret, they’re planning a second tour to promote upon releasing “Glowing Mouth” under their new record label, Kill Rock Stars.
Musebox talked to the entertaining Kyle Wilson and Eric Schwortz on their band’s beginnings, deciding on the name Milagres (which they themselves suggest you not to do), their take on the music industry, and on jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge if all doesn’t go according to plan (what matters is that they suggest you to have a backup plan for your music career).
Check Milagres out in Brooklyn tomorrow, April 21, at The Rock Shop at 8 P.M.
Musebox: Who is Milagres?
Milagres: Milagres is Milagres. The band consists of Kyle Wilson (lead vocals, guitar), Fraser McCulloch (bass, keys, backing vocals), Eric Schwortz (guitar, electronics/percussion, backing vocals), Chris Brazee (keys, synths) and Steve Leventhal (drums, percussion).
MB: How did the band begin?
M: Milagres began as another band with a few of the same people, which in turn began as yet another band with a few of those same people. Ultimately the band became this band of these particular people, who in some cases were the same people as before and in other cases were not. Kyle was always there.
MB: How did you meet each other?
M: Some of us have almost always known others of us. Others of us met through mutual friends in college.
MB: Why the name Milagres and what does it mean?
M: Milagres is quicker to say and requires fewer letters to type than the other band that names we have had. It literally means ‘Miracles’ in Portuguese, but it means other things too, especially in Brazilian culture. It is also a place in Brazil.
MB: How did your label Kill Rock Stars pick you up?
M: We told a friend about the band, and that friend told two friends, and they told their friends, and so on…
MB: How has the tour been? Does the tour have a name?
M: We have been cleverly referring to it as the “2011 Spring Tour.” It’s been going very well, so far. We’ve seen a lot of familiar things and a lot of unfamiliar things. Some of the unfamiliar things have made us laugh, because of the fact that they are unfamiliar. We’ve met a lot of really nice people and pets.
MB: What instruments does your band play?
Eric: We mostly play guitars, basses, drums and keyboards, but also use electronic instruments and tambourines. The tambourines were mostly made by the Latin Percussion brand, and the guitar strings are mainly D’addario. Oh, and Dunlop guitar picks.
Kyle: Eric plays Jackson and Hamer guitars, Fraser plays a fretless Carl Thompson 7 string bass, Chris plays Korg Triton and Yamaha Motif keyboards, Steve plays Roland V drums and I play Peavey guitars.
MB: What’s a couple of words that you would use to describe the personality of Milagres?
Eric: The personality of the music is reflective, circuitous and cinematic.
Kyle: As people I think we’ve got a little bit of everything.
MB: How would you say that you distinguish yourself from the rest of the musicians and bands out there in the claustrophobic industry or is that something you don’t really think about?
M: We don’t actively try to distinguish ourselves unless we find ourselves doing something that someone has already done before and done better. We make music that we love and hope that other people love it too.
MB: What’s it like to have an all male band? It seems to be the trend to have a single female voice or presence in a group of your number.
Eric: Is that the trend? We’re certainly not the first all male five piece rock band, right? It would be nice to have some diversity in the band, but for one reason or another, this is what came together, and it seems to work pretty well.
Kyle: I think we are sorely lacking female energy. It wasn’t a decision we consciously made to be an all male band – it just happened that way.
MB: What types of emotions do you want your fans to feel when listening to your music?
M: Despair. Exhilaration.
MB: If you had the chance to have your music featured in a commercial, what company would it be and how would the commercial look like?
Kyle: I think we’d really like to be featured in a commercial for recruitment into the armed services. There could be soldiers running through the desert and climbing up stuff, jumping out of helicopters and airplanes, saving our country from the axis of evil and whatnot. I think our songs would really suit such an ad campaign.
Eric: Crystal Clear Pepsi or Q-Zar, the laser tag place. Both would look pretty futuristic.
MB: Doesn’t it get frustrating to know that there are ears out there that would love your music, yet it’s so difficult to reach them?
Eric: As long as things are going in the right direction, that is a frustration I don’t think we should pay much attention to. Either those people will eventually hear our music or they won’t. We’ve been working hard for several years to get it out there. We’re doing our part.
Kyle: It feels like a period of transition for the music industry and it is kind of exciting to see how things will turn out in the end.
MB: What genre of music could you not listen to for an extended period of time?
Kyle: The Foo Fighters
Eric: Music that has been slowed down by 1000%.
What are musicians that you’ve taken to and influence your music? Is there a cover or collaboration that you’d love to pursue?
Kyle: We are huge fans of Billy Joel. Especially anything that he did after, say 1990. I think we’d die to work with him.
MB: Do you have a backup plan in the back of your mind for your music career in case it doesn’t pan out?
Eric: Backup plans are for cowards. If this doesn’t work out, we’re all going to jump off the Brooklyn bridge.
MB: What are some ways that you’ve promoted Milagres?
Eric: Myspace seems really big right now. We’re throwing all of our eggs into that basket.
MB: What are your thoughts on Myspace?
Kyle: It makes my computer crash. I’m serious. When a band posts a link to their Myspace page and I can’t find them anywhere else I end up not checking them out at all.
MB: Is there anything that you’re working on and would like to inform your fans about? When will your album be released?
M: Our new album, Glowing Mouth, is all finished. We’re developing artwork with a very talented person named Stephanie Butterworth, and Kill Rock Stars will release the record on multiple formats in September of this year. We’ll be on tour everywhere again when it comes out.
MB: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Eric: Work on a backup plan in case music doesn’t pan out.
Kyle: Don’t use any of the following words in your band name: black, wolf, antler, bear, the, conspiracy, theory, plan, kids, kid and milagres.