Interview: Titans Of Siren

Published on 18 April 2022 at 08:20

1: How did you decide on the name, “Titans Of Siren”?

The first Kurt Vonnegut book that I ever read is a book called "Sirens of Titan." We ended up flipping the name out of respect and to avoid copyright issues. I'm a huge fan of science fiction and was so inspired by the storytelling ability and cynicism of Vonnegut. He has a very dry sense of humor, which is something I can appreciate because a lot of humor nowadays is over the top and can get a little too raunchy. Anyway, in this book, he describes the largest engineering feats by human beings (Kremlin, Great Wall of China) were created as simple correspondence to an alien race in order to assist with an important delivery across space. I thought it was perfect to reflect Titans of Siren as a band name because rock music takes a lot of cynicism and a type of honesty and transparency that can't be found in all genres. Also, Titans of Siren is an epic sounding name, and it reflects the spacey vibes on some of the songs on "Dopamine," but it will be a little more apparent on our next releases.

2: What inspires you to create?

My inspiration to create comes from a handful of very specific experiences I had with music. Without going too deep down the rabbit hole, during my most vulnerable moments in my upbringing (even now I guess), it seemed like there was always a song that made me feel connected to the world and like feeling exposed was ok. Music helped me in a way that words cannot describe. I felt like it was the most powerful connecting force in the world, and I still do. The idea that I could have that type of positive impact on someone else's life is what keeps me motivated to create more art. Admittedly, I want to keep getting better as a musician and songwriter in order to increase the odds of creating that connection with someone.

3: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a creative profession?

Keep going. Keep creating. Don't be discouraged by those who appear to me more popular or successful than you. I was just talking to a Grammy winner last week about how he knows when someone is going to be successful. It basically all comes down to not worrying about playing to empty clubs and bars, and not being afraid to be authentic. Putting yourself out there for everyone to judge is scary, but do it anyway. Success is relative, but you never know who is watching and what will catch fire when you least expect it to. Also, surround yourself with driven people because they will motivate you even more to keep going. It's all simple advice, but it's unbelievable how easily people will give up when they aren't gaining as much popularity as they think they should. The irony is that popularity is the last thing that was on their minds when they started.

4: Do you feel open minded about what you listen to? Do you like going out of your comfort zone?

I feel like there aren't any boundaries on what music I like when it is authentic and has conviction. "Royals" by Lorde is a great example of that. It's a pop song, and I still listen to it tons. It calls out lots of other pop stars and their fake agendas and I LOVE IT. Music doesn't have to have huge drums and distortion for me to like it, Admittedly though, I've been pretty closed minded about veering out into other genres lately. Not that mainstream rock has been great (it hasn't), but the stuff that has been forced upon me by Spotify is essentially a cash grab and just isn't good music to my ears. A "comfort zone" is hard to gage when it comes to music because I like the music that I can most closely relate to. I love Americana too, because it is where country music needs to go. It's real music and talks about real issues (see the lyrics for Jason Isbell's "Elephant"). Being located in Nashville, I guess that there is a time and place for Pop Country, but it has gotten laughably out of hand to the point where even the most trend-chasing consumers are starting to see that it is garbage.

5: What outlets do you find out about music from? (Record stores, magazines, samplers, etc.)

Honestly, right now it has been primarily word of mouth. It's exciting because it's a very organic way of finding artists you like.  You talk to your friends who are in bands that you adore, and then you see who they are playing with and who they want to play with.  Then you go out to shows with other friends because they heard from someone that the artist playing tonight at this venue is awesome. The network just kind of grows like that. It's pretty refreshing.

6: How do you think the internet has impacted the music business?

This is a loaded question, but I'll try to keep it short. It has never been easier to get your music out there and market it to specific audiences. That's for sure, and I consider that a blessing. Generation Clash may not have heard of Titans if it wasn't for the internet, so that is just any other way that the internet has helped our band. 

To change gears - Unfortunately, there are no gatekeepers and barriers to entry, so the market is oversaturated with garbage - heck Titans may fit into that definition of garbage for some. Another thing is that, I think lots of artists have fallen victim to the social media algorithm. Look, having followers is great - it means that more folks are aware of your art. However, when you throw out your brand and creative intellect in order to post selfies, and gain more followers, to me, it seems like you are in the game for the wrong reasons and prefer popularity over your artistic integrity. 

I think that major record labels were scrambling there for a bit because the tables had turned and their artists didn't dominate the industry for a second. Now that's gone and everyone is familiar with streaming services, so major labels can just pay loads of money to advertise and force me to listen to their "suggested songs" and bombard me with ads for the latest, greatest, 20 year-old pop star. 

7: What band/artist do you think everyone should listen to?

Hum. Their huge hit is called "Stars." They are a band out of Illinois, primarily from the 90's. Their singer has a slightly unorthodox voice, but the musicianship of their records is mind blowing. They actually came out with a new album last year, and people loved it - me included. Outside of Hum, I'd say The Weird Sisters, Echo Pilot, and Year of October. Those 3 bands are from Nashville, and they all make great music.

8: What motivates you to check out a new artist?

Word of mouth and/or a great live show. I've been lucky enough to meet artists and people in Nashville who are authentic and great musicians. They also know me as a musician and really know what catches my ear, so I've gotten great suggestions from all of them. I think branding is important too. I think a lot of bands think their music will speak for itself or magically find people from all corners of the earth, which isn't really the case. If I see a band who is taking their marketing, promotion, and visual branding as seriously as their music, then I listen to them because they tend to be involved in music for the right reasons. Granted, that approach can get slightly convoluted with more popular bands because those bands tend to have teams running their socials behind the scenes. It's all subjective I suppose. 

9: Who was the first band/artist that became your favorite band?

In middle school, I started listening to rock music because my brother enjoyed it, and I could relate to it. He also listened to rap (DMX, Ludacris), but as a 5th grader going to middle school in the middle of a farm town, needless to say, rock music was more relatable to me. It started with pop-punk (Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, etc.) and then grew into more traditional rock like Foo Fighters and RHCP, who I love to this very day.

10: What was the inspiration for your song “Dunk Island”?

This story tends to be funnier without context, so I'll dive right in. It's loosely based on an acid trip that I had on a private beach on Dunk Island, Australia - lyrics "I tab a tab, something that looks like sugar glued to a piece of paper." I didn't actually have a bad trip as the song would suggest, but I was listening to lots of Car Seat Headrest at the time and I kind of took the idea from their song, "Destroyed by Hippie Powers." 

I worked in Australia for a bit after graduating from college, and a group of us workers decided to take a weekend trip to this small island off of the coast. It was a gorgeous setting and an awfully fun time. After taking the tab of acid at sunset, I stayed up with some locals until 4 am that night (morning I guess?) after my coworkers had decided to go to sleep. The one thing that wasn't brought to my attention until the next day was that everyone at the campsite thought I was dead because the majority of them were under the influence that night too and they couldn't find me hanging out with the local Australians. Needless to say, the next day everyone was relieved when I crawled out of my tent in the morning and wasn't found dead on the beach. 

The point of the song and story is not to encourage drug use or anything like that. It was more of a "when in Rome" thing.


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