Berkeley’s Thorsen House — lodge of UC Berkeley’s Sigma Phi Society — was completely packed Friday night in anticipation of a lineup that consisted of three student bands, the first of which was The Drambles.
This group of four friends started off the night debuting new original tracks off their recent album Mantis Music (2015). The Drambles’s laid-back set was very fitting for its equally laid-back venue, a Thorsen basement full of dancing friends and fans, party haze, and good vibes. After their (literally) underground performance ended, members Anthony Stavrianoudakis (guitar, vocals), Jamie Aylward (drums), Michael Bigham (guitar, vocals), and Richard Adelstein (bass) took us upstairs where they gushed over recording live, reminisced about the beginnings, appreciated Berkeley’s music scene, and provided answers on the word (that turns out, is not really a word) “drambles.”
First, how’d you guys get started?
Jamie: Well, we all knew each other freshman year, then we decided to live together in an apartment on Southside, and we all kind of realized we all played four instruments that would go well together in a musical act.
Michael: Friends—friends first. Friends before the band, definitely.
So you guys had never thought about a band before?
M: Not when we met each other. We didn’t’ really realize it could happen until, like, sophomore year when we found ourselves in the same place and, like he said, realized we all could play these instruments.
J: You guys would play guitar sometimes freshman year in your dorm rooms, but that was just them two.
Would you call this fate?
M: Yes. Yes I would. [laughs] J: It can only be fate, I think.
M: You can quote me on that.
Okay, I will… [they laugh] What are your personal music inspirations?
J: Um, I like Charlie Watts a lot.
M: We all have very similar taste in music. That’s how we met initially, and I mean, we listen to a wide variety of stuff. But I’d say for the band, the main artists that influence us are probably Neil Young, Pavement, Granddaddy, uh—
J: The Rolling Stones.
So what are your guys’ plans for the future in regards to the band?
J: We’re trying to record, maybe in our apartment or maybe in a more proper studio. We just put up some songs on our Bandcamp that don’t sound bad, so we got those. But we’re not going to rest on our laurels quite yet. But yeah we’re just trying to play more shows and have a good time, eyes on the prize.
You mentioned your Bandcamp, and we love the sound of Mantis Music. Any more new releases?
M: Yeah. Mantis Music, the session we just recorded last Monday, was just put up this week, but like [Jamie] was saying: in the future definitely one of our goals is to just get in the studio and hash out some full band live recording.
J: Rip down some classic tape.
M: Maybe only overdub vocals, you know, just really hone our sets, and then just play it in our studio. That will hopefully be happening, maybe, in the next one or two months.
Oh, okay, so it’ll be soon?
M: Yeah, we have like 15 songs that we know down pat and then beyond that I think we have, like, 80 songs that Anthony has written, and I don’t know if you want to talk about that at all Anthony?
Anthony: Uh sure. Just since I was in high school I have been writing songs, and I guess sophomore year in college, I started recording them on the Garageband app on my iPhone, and so I record them and put them in groups of five or ten and then show them to these guys and then whichever ones really stand out or everyone likes those are usually the ones we’ll play, at least for the ones I write. And yeah, it’s a way for me to get that stuff… out of my head —
… to express yourself? [everyone laughs]
J: Anthony has a lot of different mediums.
So what is your recording process?
J: I think the recording process is kind of the same for most bands, but, you know, we sometimes record on an iPhone—live.
M: Everything is iPhone-based. [laughs] J: Yeah, we really take advantage of being in Silicon Valley. No, but the ones we just put up were recorded live. We were all in a room playing at the same time, they weren’t overdubbed or anything—one take. But I guess what we want to do is—we could record in our apartment but sometimes that’s hard, because it’s hard to be loud and for things to sound good. So either that or a cheap studio or get someone we know to do it. We just want to do it live, all playing at once, working off each other, that’s about it.
How do you feel about the music scene here at Berkeley?
R: We feel good about it.
M: [laughs] I don’t know, I think it’s really cool because a lot of our friends play in bands and a lot of our friends live in places where bands play all the time, so it’s really easy to get people to come to your shows or to have shows. People are really interested in music and there’s always stuff going on. But in the larger Bay Area we feel a little limited because we don’t have a car so we have to constantly ask friends to borrow their cars to come to shows, and also it’s difficult, I mean we’ve played a few gigs in actual clubs opening up for bands but that’s really difficult to lock down just because there are so many touring established bands that come through, so clubs aren’t looking for school bands, but luckily we have so many cool places to play here.
Any future plans for the band in general?
J: Keep on truckin’.
M: To just keep on keepin’ on.
Finally, why Drambles for a band name?
A: So, I wrote this song and I tried to think of a title for the song and I was just trying to find a collection of syllables that really fit what the song was about, and I landed on “Drambles.” So that was just a song title.
Is that a real word?
A: Well it’s not in the dictionary, but it’s on Urban Dictionary.
So it’s not a real word.
A: We were trying to think of band names and went through a lot, and then I think Jamie — I don’t remember — suggested “The Drambles,” and it worked. Everyone was down with it.
M: Even if it is a made up word, it fits our style really well, and like you guessed, it’s not a real word.
But what’s the made-up word’s made-up definition?
M: I mean it doesn’t really —
A: It’s just a sound.
J: It just sounds like a drone and a ramble.
M: But it’s kind of great that it’s not a real word because when you Google our band name, we are the first three or four results. I guess our future plans would be to just dramble on, to just keep dramblin’ on.
Article by Myra Farooqi