On April 1st, What The Sound Presents left Ann Arbor for the first time to throw a concert at the Burlington Bar in Chicago, Illinois. The bill consisted of two Michigan bands and two from Chicago. All bands rocked a fresh and impressive talent including one by the name of Beauty School. Chicago-based Beauty School is a spunky indie pop quartet featuring members from Philadelphia, Denver, Vancouver, and suburban Chicago. The band formed when Max and Javier put up a post on Craigslist which drew Caitlin and Sarah to the group. Together, Beauty School have released three tracks under Demos this past December and are choosing to premiere "Pushover" exclusively on What The Sound.
Unlike Beauty School's first three tracks which were self-recorded, "Pushover" was recorded at Atlas Studios in Chicago. Atlas has recorded material in the past for members of Alkaline Trio, Blink-182, and many other notable names. "Pushover" is an absolute delight and we hope you all enjoy. "Teenage Dominoes" which is a new track that appears in this interview is the b-side to "Pushover". Follow our interview to learn more about how the band formed, each member's personal inspirations, acts who they want to tour with, and much more. Hear Beauty School's "Pushover" for the first time in the upper right corner.
What The Sound: How has living in Chicago shaped your music? Is it hard to be a band in a big city like Chicago because there are so many other acts?
Sarah: The Chicago music scene is very welcoming. It's wonderful. You can draw an audience in all corners of this city. I think it's been good to us so far. We haven't been a band for very long, and already the music scene has embraced us.
Max: I feel like you can get things going very quickly in Chicago and that's part of there being a very active and large music scene. There's so much going on here. Getting shows is pretty easy.
Caitlin: The other bands who we've played with have been so supportive. We find that at shows, we're all genuinely excited for each other, which is a really cool feeling, because I know that's not the case everywhere. I think Chicago has a really friendly scene for as big a city as it is. It's very small in some ways too.
WTS: Beauty School released the three Demos tracks in December. When did Beauty School form?
Max: About a month before that. I think we got together early November, and from there, we put it together fairly quickly. There were songs floating around and we just kind of got together, did some recording, practiced some stuff and put out those recordings a couple weeks after that.
Caitlin: We've been very lucky; we all just really like each other's ideas. So everything moves pretty quickly when one of us has an idea for a song - people just play off of that. It's worked out really well.
WTS: What's your songwriting process like?
Sarah: Yeah, so, Max and Javier have been our main songwriters, but it's a wonderfully collaborative process in a lot of ways too. Absolutely. A lot of the songs are originals by Max and then we've got a few by Javier. Caitlin and I haven't traditionally been songwriters but are very excited about taking a stab at that. In a lot of ways, it's been very collaborative.
Caitlin: Sarah and I come from a very different background. We were in choir in high school and we've learned that we write from a completely different direction from the one that Max and Javier write from. We write melodies and words first. They start with chords and structure. So, as we've started to write together, it's been really fun to have them start something for us to build off of and then vice versa. It's been a really cool experiment with songwriting, starting from different foundations.
Max: Absolutely. We started doing songs that were already written and ready to go, and then I started coming up with more songs after I met Caitlin and Sarah, songs that were tailored to the sound that we were driving towards as a group. But yeah, we've been working together now on ideas that Caitlin and Sarah have come up with. We're all approaching it from a different sides, as Caitlin said. It's really exciting.
WTS: I'm curious how The Deli found you guys?
Max: We put the Demos on Bandcamp and on Facebook, and I submitted those to the Deli, and that was that. They have a link where you can send your stuff to.
WTS: Where did you come up with "Beauty School" as a name?
Max: It came maybe hours before we decided to release the Demos. We needed to settle on a name before we made a site. I think we went back and forth on it for about a week before settling on Beauty School.
Caitlin: We all kept throwing out ideas and nothing felt right for all of us, there was no unanimous thing.
Javier: "Captain Goopy", "Bryce & The Balloons"
*laughs from all*
Javier: We went through a lot of names, it was tricky.
Caitlin: For my day job, I'm a hair and makeup artist, and I had gone to beauty school. But that wasn't how Max came up with it.
Max: I just had it kicking around in a notebook full of hypothetical band names. I think I had it in there spelled with an “-ie.” “Beautie School.”
Caitlin: When he proposed it, he said he wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a band that had a name that was so closely related to my profession. But I was like, 'Weirdly, I love it'. There are so many ways that you can take those words, both independently and together, that I feel really resonate with us.
WTS: I think your sound matches the name of the band. What will "Pushover" be a part of?
Sarah: We're all interested in putting together an EP or an LP. An LP would be just terrific. We're just focussed on playing out and getting some music out on the interwebs for now! I feel like we have so many things in the works, as far as preparing for new shows and writing an EP or an LP, that we're currently evaluating exactly what we're going to do. We're really excited to release this single and feel like it's super upbeat which is great for the warmer weather coming up.
WTS: Caitlin, do you have any vocal inspirations?
Caitlin: Oh yeah! If we're talking about current artists who are putting out music these days, Lana Del Rey is definitely high on the list. If we're talking long term inspirations, I would say Stevie Nicks. Incredible. Everything she's ever done is gold to me. Also, I like Florence & The Machine vocally, and I love singing Amy Winehouse. She is obviously an icon and an inspiration. Honestly, the singers who have a little bit of a weirdness and a little bit of soul are the ones who really resonates-with me.
WTS: Sarah, what about drummers that you like?
Sarah: I've always been a really huge White Stripes fan and Death Cab fan. I really appreciate math rock. I'm a big Maps & Atlases fan.
WTS: Javier and Max, who has influenced your songwriting?
Javier: The Eagles when they’re not terrible.
Max: Javier and I were in the car once and there was a song on the radio. Javier said it was his songwriting jam, and when I told him it was the Eagles, he couldn’t believe it.
Javier: Yeah, it was “One of These Nights.” Also Michael McDonald and Steely Dan for that soft rock jazzy groove. And I’m really into Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album.
Max: After meeting Caitlin, I listened to Dusty Springfield for a week, even though we hadn’t talked about Dusty Springfield at all. I also wasn’t sure if Caitlin was going to come sing with us again. In any case, I listened to Dusty and wrote two completely new songs with Caitlin’s voice in mind. A week or so later, we all got back together, gave those songs a shot, and now they’re in our regular repertoire.
WTS: What's an embarrassing music taste of yours? Any middle school jam that you look back at and laugh about?
Sarah: Man, I was a huge Hanson fan. Huge! From ages 7 to 12, I was the world's biggest Hanson fan. I still love reminiscing about Hanson. And honestly, they still put on a great show.
Javier: I was deeply into Pearl Jam. Otherwise, my taste has always been impeccable.
WTS: Bands like All American Rejects I was super into when I was in middle school. Now, I'll listen to them if need be, but don't usually.
Caitlin: Wow! You're so young. Now that I think about it, when I was in middle school, their first album came out and I totally loved it. I still remember driving around the streets of Chicago with my dad and playing that album off of a CD player that was plugged into a tape player. I loved that shit! That's pretty embarrassing, I guess. Honestly, for me, I had older brothers who were 10 and 13 years older than me so most of my music taste was not embarrassing at all. I was like 6 years old singing Green Day. I'm not embarrassed by that, that was a good album.
Sarah: When I moved to Chicago for college I thought I had to acclimate to what Chicago considered “good musical taste” versus what Colorado high schoolers considered “good taste.” Different worlds. In Colorado? Dave Matthews. Huge! I graduated from loving Hanson to loving Incubus for a very long time. That's all Colorado. When I came here and said I was really into Incubus people were like, “What'd you just say?”
Max: The one thing I can admit to anybody is that, whenever I have to write a paper or do an extended amount of work, I can only listen to one thing. And that is the first three Coheed and Cambria albums. In a row.
WTS: Is there any particular artist who you guys want to go on tour with?
Max: I would love to tour with Waxahatchee. They're from Philadelphia, I'm from Philly.
Sarah: I would love to tour with tUnE-yArDs.
Javier: Ohhhh shit. Yeah, that would be so good.
Caitlin: Oh my god, yeah.
Caitlin: So, I would love to tour with Dressy Bessy, they're friends of Sarah's. Otherwise, if you want to talk big, big names, I feel like Best Coast would be a good crowd for us. Then, if we're talking about local friends, well she's in LA now, but I would love to tour with my best friend Margaret who goes as faux Margaux. Because she is fucking amazing and if we opened for her, I feel like everybody would jam out to us, then jam out to her, and we'd all be happy.
Javier: I really love this band Babes, from LA, and it’d be sweet to tour with them.
WTS: Where did you record your three Demos tracks?
Max: We recorded it ourselves in our practice space in West Chicago.
WTS: Was "Pushover" recorded there?
Max: Nope. We did that at Atlas Studios.
Caitlin: We most definitely have to give out a shout-out to Dan. He's a dude who grew up in the same town that I did. You actually interviewed a band, Meat Wave, who are also from the same town. Crystal Lake. This guy, Dan Tinkler, works out of Atlas Studios in Chicago, and Atlas has recorded amazing bands and they have such an incredible space. When we decided it was time to record the song, I reached out and he said "Yeah! You guys should definitely come in!" I always thought the world of him and after we went in and worked with him, we were all like "this is the best day ever."