Fives is a band from Baltimore, Maryland that got together in 2009. I discovered them a few days ago after posting something on Instagram and getting a message from Marc (vocalist of the band) on the picture I posted.
I had a listen to their stuff and well… LOVED IT!
I messaged Marc asking if I could interview him/the band, and well, here’s it goes!
1) Nicole: So, I came across you guys after you (Marc) wrote a comment on one of my Instagram pictures that was a photo with the following sentence:
“Give me one song, one song only that means a lot to you, I will listen to it, then I will know you much better” – which to you wrote back: “You Go On by.. Well us. ;)”
I listened to it and well, here I am, writing to you!
Can you tell me a bit about the band, FIVES?
Marc: Sure! First I just wanted to thank you talking with me and for giving us the chance to reach your audience.
Our music is quite eclectic actually, but we describe ourselves as an acoustic rock/indie pop band. Each member of the band has a pretty different background in music and I think it has really helped us come up with a sound that’s current, yet distinguishable from everyone else. We’re from Baltimore, Maryland and have been together in some form or another for six years now. We’re currently in the studio working on a new EP and so far it’s pretty exciting.
2) Nicole: I read that the band was formed back in 2009 by Marc (vocalist) and Matthew (keyboard), but now you’re a 5 piece band, how did that happen, or what did you think was missing and/or necessary for you guys now to be five?
Marc: It’s a bit of a winding, crazy path from when I first met Matt to now, but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. I started a band in college and Matt actually came in and auditioned with us. That band eventually broke up but Matt and I were always on a similar page musically and found our way back together after a few years. We knew that we wanted to put a full band together and we ended up finding some really good musicians to play with.
3) Nicole: Talking about 5, if you were 2 back in 2009, what were you called?
Marc: I know it’s weird but it was actually never only the two of us. We went looking for the best musicians in our area and we were lucky enough to have many of them join our band. It wasn’t too long after Matt and I reconnected that we had a full band again and we’ve been FIVES from then on. As for the name, it really has nothing to do with the number of guys in the band. It was a very democratic process actually. We each put a few names in a hat, picked out one each, and then picked one from the remaining options. We got lucky with the name FIVES though. You could be doing an interview with a band called Mourning Would.
4) Nicole: How has your perception of music and what you want to express changed over the years?
Marc: That’s a really good question. Our goal has always been to get our music in front of as many people as possible. It’s important to keep up with how music is evolving but it’s just as important to remember where you came from and why you became a band in the first place. If you listen to some of our older recordings, those were songs I wrote back in 2003-2007. I think they’re great songs and we still play a lot of them live, but we had to be willing to grow musically and experiment with new ideas. It’s been both nerve-racking and rewarding at the same time. As for what we want to express, that hasn’t changed. We strive to write songs that make people think about their own experiences. I might write a song based on what happens in my life, but it’s really about relating to the listener and trying to say what they’re thinking…with a pretty melody of course.
5) Nicole: A Brief History is your first EP and it came out in 2010, how would you sum up that album, what’s it about? (I was listening to Spin and I couldn’t not think about one thing: DAVE MATTHEWS BAND! Huge fan, love their music and vibe.)
Marc: A Brief History was a lot of fun to make since we mainly recorded everything live and in one take. We were only together for a few months before we decided to record those songs. We didn’t have a lot of time or money so there are a lot of elements to that record that aren’t perfect, but it did the job we needed it to do which was help us book our first few gigs. A Brief History was what enabled us to stand out on our own and show people that we were different. In some ways it will always be my favorite because you never get a second chance to make your first record, but I think it perfectly captures that period in the band’s history.
A lot of our first songs were written in the early 2000’s. They had that acoustic rock vibe, heavy DMB influence to them. I personally am a big Dave Matthews Band fan and it’s obvious when you listen to some of those older songs. I wrote what became A Brief History before I met anyone in the band, so the early music was heavily influenced by who I was listening to. Matt helped to arrange the songs which added some different elements, but the foundation for the songs came from me and my CD collection. There are a lot more people involved in the songwriting process now which has opened our music to different influences and new ideas.
6) Nicole: How do you guys work? (Do you write the music first, lyrics, jam together etc?)
Marc: We have kind of tried everything to be honest. Initially, I would write the songs on my acoustic guitar and then play them for Matt. We would adjust a few things and then bring them to the band. We would play around with different ideas and parts until we found something that fit nicely. Lately we’ve been writing a lot more in the studio as a group. We have access to different sounds and equipment in a studio environment and it naturally draws ideas out of you.
With this new EP we’ve generally been writing the music first and putting the songs together in a rough arrangement, sort of getting an idea of how long the verses will be, where should the chorus come in, does it need a bridge, etc. Then I would go into the vocal booth and basically say anything that came into my mind, just trying to come up with a strong melody. Sometimes I got lucky and we actually kept some of my gibberish, but for the most part those initial vocal tracks made no sense. It was important though because having a vocal track, even if I’m literally singing random sounds, can add the appropriate energy to a song and you can hear where syllables feel rushed or if there is too much empty space. This really helps me when it comes time to writing the actual lyrics. I wouldn’t go back and finalize the lyrics until basically everything else was finished. Then I would make the guys wait nervously to see what I would come up with.
7) Nicole: I saw that you guys played at SXSW last year, how was that?
Marc: Ok, this was a crazy trip. First, playing at SXSW was a tremendous honor. There are so many great bands out there and for us to be included in such a prestigious event was amazing. Getting there however was a whole different thing. We left Maryland at 7pm Thursday night. We drove to Huston, TX straight through. It took us, I think 25 hours, but we made it to Texas around 8pm Friday night. We spent the night at our drummer’s aunt’s house in Houston and drove to Austin, TX Saturday afternoon. Our set was scheduled for 8:30pm Saturday night. Of course everything was pushed back a bit so we finished our set around 9:30 or 10pm, drove the two hours back to Houston, and got back on the road at 8am Sunday Morning. We made it back to Maryland at 11am Monday. It was a marathon event but spending that much time in a van with your band can say a lot about what you’re made of.
8) Nicole: I see you guys are working on your next EP, You Go On is actually on it, My Gravity, too! Tell me a bit about your upcoming EP.
Marc: This EP really represents the next step for FIVES. We’re trying different things musically and going about the writing process in a way that’s new as well. There has definitely been a learning curve and we’ve tested each other a bit more than I think we initially expected, but I think it’s good to get beat up a bit when you’re in the creative process. This is really the first time each member has had the chance to put their stamp on things. We’re writing more together, we’re bouncing ideas off of each other, and we’re branching out of what has always been comfortable to us musically. I think we really have some killer songs on this EP and it’s because we’re all willing to grow and develop our music.
9) Nicole: Who are your musical influences? – Annoying question, I know, but I love knowing who musicians influences are so I can point out the similarities. For eg. You guys reminded me a lot of DMB and The Temper Trap!
Marc: Ha, it’s not an annoying question. Look, I wouldn’t be who I am as a songwriter and guitar player if it weren’t for Dave Matthews. That being said, there are so many other great bands that I play on a loop: The Beach Boys (God Only Knows is my favorite song of all time) The Killers, Mumford and Sons, Modest Mouse, John Mayer, Thirty Seconds to Mars… What’s cool is that the other guys have completely different tastes in music. I mean, we overlap on some, but we draw from gospel, 80s pop, the British invasion, jazz standards, you name it. I think that’s what makes this band special. We didn’t set out to be this way, it just works.
FIVES – You Go On
Check out FIVES, and follow the band on their social media sites: