UTG INTERVIEW: The Walking Sticks

the walking sticks

Maryland’s dream-pop three-piece, The Walking Sticks, are beginning to make waves on the East Coast and will eventually continue that trend working their way out West, but for now they’ll be supporting their forthcoming EP, Send The Night, due out December 10.

Chelsea and the twins, Max and Spencer, took some time to speak with us about their new effort, their significant change in sound since Chelsea’s inclusion, and what we can expect to see from the band in the near future, so read through the jump and get the scoop from The Walking Sticks, one of the best looking bands with a promising sound that may not yet be on your radar.

I know The Beatles was already taken, but why The Walking Sticks in particular as opposed to some other insect?

Max: To be honest, we weren’t thinking about the bug when we called ourselves the Walking Sticks. We hike a lot and have always used walking sticks. The bug was an added bonus.

If you don’t mind, can you tell us how the three of you originally got connected and how you came together as a band?

Spencer: Chels came to see my brother and I perform in DC at the 9:30 Club about seven years ago. After the gig, we exchanged digits and started writing music together. For awhile we couldn’t officially play in the same group because Chelsea’s label wouldn’t allow it at the time. Two years ago, Chels got out of her deal and joined our group.

You two just had a birthday, right? What did you all do for that?

Spencer: We met up with some friends on H street in DC and hung out at the Rock & Roll Hotel. We spent the night dancing/ and making fools out of ourselves and keeping a random sketchball away from Chelsea’s ass.

Chelsea, do you do any art outside of upgrading your own instruments? You seem rather talented with a brush. A paint brush that is. Not that your
hair or teeth aren’t nice…

Chels: Thanks for the compliment. Well, Spencer collects flat rocks for me, and I draw funky owls on them. We pass them out to friends and I’m going to start selling them at shows for a few bucks. My brother Owen is an artist and is far more talented with the paintbrush than I.

I hear a lot of different influences in your music; pop, classic rock, and some dreamy soul for instance. Any bands or artists in particular that you feel have played a heavy role in how your sound develops? What did you all grow up listening to?

Max: There a couple bands that really influenced the new direction: Radiohead, Here We Go Magic and Tame Impala. After our first album, World So Bright, we got an old Casio keyboard from a friend at a yard sale and started experimenting with synth sounds and drum loops. A lot of the songs off Send the Night started around that keyboard, and it definitely played a heavy role in our development. All three of us grew up listening to many different styles of music. Max and I were obsessed with the first Third Eye Blind album. Chelsea’s first love was Frank Sinatra.

So your new EP, Send The Night, will be coming out next month. There are some very obvious differences between it and your full-length, World So Bright as you noted. Can you elaborate a bit on the change in sound and what influenced the new direction?

Spencer: Writing songs on the Casio keyboard was so fun and new to us. We sort of just ran with that sound. Also, listening to other current groups
like Haim, the War on Drugs, and Beach House, influenced our new direction.

Do you see yourself exploring that folksy Americana sound again in the future or have you put that behind you entirely? I feel like Chelsea’s voice would work perfectly with it as well and add a great element to what you had already established.

Max: Maybe someday but probably not anytime soon. We’ve written a lot since finishing the EP, and the new tunes are more in the same vein as Send the Night for sure.

Chels: We’ve already written a bunch of new tunes, and have been playing them out live. You can watch us perform two of the new ones on YouTube, “Take me Up” and “I’ve Had Enough.”

Can you tell us the story behind the video for the title track? There’s a triple threat of topless-ness which is, of course, easy to notice, but what else is going on and how does it relate to the song?

Spencer: A few months back we were playing an outdoor, green festival, and this awesome girl started hula hooping to one of our songs. After the gig, she told us she also did fire dancing. We all agreed that the juxtaposition of the two -fire dancing and hula hooping- would compliment the different aspects of the song. The verse always felt dark and strong, while the chorus felt light and fun. Besides that, we tried to find imagery that lined up with the melody and lyrical content of the tune.

You have some one-off shows until the end of the year but do you have any touring plans in the works in support of the new release?

Max: Right now, our focus is to book a ton of gigs in DC and become more involved in the growing DC synth scene. We plan on touring in the Spring but haven’t set anything in stone yet.

Overall, what can we expect from the band in the next year? Any big plans?

Max: You can expect a whole batch of new songs and more music videos. Also, I’m trying to convince Spencer and Chelsea to shave their heads.

What do you feel sets The Walking Sticks apart from current bands with a similar sound?

Spencer: I think we will always incorporate some three part harmony in our tunes- we covered Fleetwood Mac and CSNY too many times to ever stray too
far from that nest.


Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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