Earlier this summer, DJ Bawston Sean from Grand Palace in Murfreesboro came on Out the Other to guest-DJ and introduced me to Jared Micah and Hats. The band is a four-piece comprised of Jared Micah, Brady Purnell, Stephanie Eatherly and Keller McDivitt, and their new album TCHTOB will be released on September 11. The record is unlike anything else I've heard come out of Nashville - it's ambitious and experimental, and includes everything from the more traditional guitar, bass and piano to horns, strings, bells, toy pianos and toy drums. Honestly, I tend to shy away from the more experimental side of the music world, but there's something about TCHTOB that both brings out the more adventurous listener in me and still manages not to alienate the more timid aspects of my taste. Does that make any sense? No? Just listen and maybe you'll know what I mean:
In addition to playing Next Big Nashville, Jared Micah and Hats will be playing a free in-store at Grimey's on September 11 to celebrate the release of TCHTOB. To learn a little more about the band, I submitted a few questions to both Jared and Brady, who together provided answers that were both informative and entertaining, and in one case maybe a little disturbing (I was kinda asking for it with that last question though).
To start, can you give a little background on the band?
Jared: I'm really sick of most music, as far as sound that is categorized as music. In my music I've always tried to just create what I thought was missing from the rest. In this I intended to create a sort of breath of fresh air. I attempted this a couple of years ago with my first full length record, released through the Angel or the Airbag collective. Later I was encouraged to perform live in support of it, but I had a lot of anxiety and hangups about recreating the same songs over and over in front of people who could care less. I went ahead and compiled Hats, which over the years have been a variety of numerous friends, but Brady, Stephanie and Keller have had the longest involvement. After the first record we started writing new material together and became a band singularly, and not me with a backup band, and I like it much better this way. Being able to create meaningful things with a group of people is really hard to do, and we seem to have the chemistry to execute our ideas quite successfully. It's like being able to have group sex but really be passionate and serious about it.
Brady: I joined the band last year when Jared and Steph needed someone to go on tour with them. I kinda figured it'd be a short-term thing but I ended up joining after the tour was over because I was really enjoying the style of music. At that point I was becoming sick of most music and Hats was something new and unique. We've been writing songs since I joined the band. We had originally just planned on doing a simple EP to tour on during the summer and as we started compiling stuff, we had enough material for a full length. It took a little longer to release than anticipated but we are very happy with the results.
How long have you lived in Nashville, and if you're not from here originally, why did you decide to move?
Jared: I came to Murfreesboro from Dyersburg, TN. I forgot why. I lived in an attic and was later evicted for not paying rent for more than 6 months. Then I moved to Nashville.
Brady: I moved to La Vergne 13 years ago but moved to the city last March. I pretty much moved because I hate rush hour traffic.
Please describe your music in five words or less.
Jared: Bullshit. Not really. No. Bullshit.
Brady: It doesn't sound like Sufjan (or Bright Eyes).
What can we expect from your live performance (both at Grimey's for the record release, and at Next Big Nashville)?
Jared: We'll be playing in full technicolor instead of black and white this time.
Brady: We're also playing with a mini orchestra and will probably finish the entire set. If we're feeling vigorous, we will stop halfway through and take turns demonstrating our new dance that mixes the macarena and the hokey pokey. If you haven't seen us before, which is about everyone, you might get to see some cardboard castle if we decide to make a new one. (The original was attacked on our last tour and didn't survive the barrage of meatballs and beer bottles that were launched at it with catapults.)
What do you think is the best thing about the Nashville music scene?
Jared: That all things come to an end. But underneath the surface there is a magnificent growth of amazement taking place in houses and small galleries where truly groundbreaking things are being done. Probably my favorite acts in middle Tennessee are Dead Hippies and Baby Teeth Thieves.
Brady: There seems to be lots of good things happening which is finally drawing attention to Nashville for music other than Christian and Country. There's a lot of support in general. We're really new to the Nashville scene. We've mostly played the Murfreesboro house show/experimental scene.
What other bands would you recommend checking out during Next Big Nashville?
Jared: Next Big Nashville has done a horrible job catering to the experimental music scene, so everything I love wasn't invited. Do check out the Grand Palace stage. It's worth the bracelet.
Brady: I'm really hoping to see Save Macaulay. She plays the same night as us across town. I also like Umbrella Tree. My sister played clarinet on their first album.
It's been 100 degrees out for much of the past few weeks - what's your favorite way to cool off in Nashville during the summer?
Jared: I like to dip my penis in liquid nitrogen.
Brady: Air conditioning. I mean, we're musicians. We stay inside as much as we can.
Jared Micah and Hats will be playing Next Big Nashville on Saturday, September 8 at 9:30 p.m. at Mercy Lounge. Visit http://www.nextbignashville.net to view the full festival schedule and purchase a five-day wristband for $30.
The band will also be playing a free in-store show at Grimey's on Tuesday, September 11 at 6 p.m.