What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Kyle McCarter (the drummer) and I (Will Sacks, Bass & Vocoder) met in 2014 through a Craisglist gig, of all places. We worked together in that project for a few months, but after that fell apart, we knew we had to start something up again. You can’t fight that type of rhythm section chemistry. So we started assembling the team. Andrew Koehler (the keyboardist) and I had co-founded a 13-piece funk group by the name of Bo Peep and the Funk Sheep in college. Andy had moved back to Chicago after graduation, and got the musical itch. I called him and tried to persuade him to move to New York, and in a total leap of faith moment, he packed his bags and moved here to chase this dream. We called in Noah Ross (the guitarist and primary bassist) after our guitarist at the time left to be a counselor at a summer camp. Andy and I had gone to college with Noah, and had long admired his technical and technological capabilities as the guitarist in Los Elk. Noah had moved back home to New York after graduating from Skidmore, and took the reins. Noah’s sensitivity and flexibility are a key reason why we’ve made it to where we are now.
We were, at that time, a no-nonsense funk band. After going through multiple vocalists, we understood that the four of us had undeniable chemistry that made it hard for a fifth member to join. We were toying with me singing, and found that it was hard to play the type of basslines I wanted to and accomplish what I wanted to vocally. The thought of being an instrumental band didn’t exactly thrill me. So I tried using this crazy thing called a vocoder which actually combines the shape and filtering of my singing voice with the tone of my instrument.
Now, the reason why I brought up Noah’s technical and human facilities before is that, with the introduction of the vocoder, we had no one covering bass frequencies. We started toying with Boss’ OC-2 Sub Octave pedal, particularly the “Poly” setting that pitches the lowest string on the guitar down to the bass range. You can imagine how difficult it must be to learn a new instrument. Now imagine learning a new instrument while having to keep up with the old one. On top of all that, he mixed our new single “Intern.” He’s an incredible person.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Our newest single, “Intern,” focuses on the humor and humility in being a 25-year old intern. There’s something so incredibly funny about begging someone to work for them for free, and I wanted to write a song that captures that emotion. We decided to shoot the music video at Relix Magazine, the office I used to intern in, for maximum believability.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Musically, everything we do is because of Herbie Hancock. No one would be out here playing music like ours without him, plain and simple.
Non-musically? Larry David, fresh home-baked baguettes, spicy mustard, John Mulaney, and Frank Pepe’s pizza.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Not a lot of people can say they’re really doing something new musically. I can’t think of any other group writing indie-disco songs about things like internships and disappointing your dad, let alone doing it with a talking bass vocoder and a guitarist doubling on guitar and bass at the same time. It’s about finesse and risk-taking, and we always record live.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
We are a live-first act, which is why all of our releases have been recorded and performed live, together, in the same room. There’s so much unexpected magic that happens when you track together live, and we’re always trying to bottle the sauce at the source.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
At my 4th Grade talent show, I had the brilliant idea to play “I’m a Believer”, then-famous by the band Smash Mouth for their rendition in the movie Shrek. Well, this may have worked out if I hadn’t just started playing guitar two weeks prior. On the day of the show, I completely clammed up. Instead, I asked the crowd of mixed parents and peers, “Do you want to make me hear my guitar talk?”
To the 9-year-old version of myself, making a guitar talk meant bending the notes wildly in and out of tune. Sixteen years after the fact, I’ve finally made good on that ridiculous promise through the bass vocoder.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Well it’s not out yet, but I’m really excited about our next single, “Disappointed.” Lyrically and instrumentally, it’s a left-turn. I don’t want to spoil too much, but every time we’ve played it live it’s been an absolute hit, and I’m really excited to record it.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
“Disappointed” is coming out May 24th. We’re talking to a few people to collaborate with, so definitely stay tuned for more updates on that one.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity.
Why the vocoder?
I’ve always been obsessed with the relationship between sound and emotion. The vocoder is a beautiful problem because you have to intend every ounce of emotion you get out of it. The instrument by itself doesn’t come with a soul. So it’s become a search to humanize the mechanical, and I’ve really enjoyed taking that adventure.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Woolly Mammals: