Original photo courtesy of Lindsay Sack and Attic Wood. Note: Matt Haronian is not pictured and Luke Maguire, who is pictured, is no longer in the band.
Interview by Jake Goodman
Attic Wood could just be a new staple at overcrowded off-campus house shows or the blackened wood stage of the Upspace at PW. With their complete line up formed just two weeks ago, this Brown band has already recorded a demo and played two shows, hungry for more opportunity to display their “atmospheric yet punchy indie rock” sound. I recently met up with this nascent band (at a random bench near Perkins) to discuss their formation and their hopes for the future, and with some witty humor, Attic Wood is eager to introduce themselves to the Brown community.
The band is composed of Pedro Polanco (drummer), Julian Jerez (guitarist), Noah Chamberlain (guitarist, lead vocalist), and Matt Haronian (bassist). And we began by diving into the future-hall-of-fame tale of how the group met:
Pedro: So Julian and I are friends….we went to high school together in Cranston, which is south of here….we met in fourth grade, but we started playing together in middle school doing various failed and unsuccessful music projects...and then Noah and I met in our freshman year unit because we lived in Unit 2.
Noah: Yeah and so I was sitting in Pedro’s room one day and he was playing his little drum pad thing…and I was like you’re so good, let’s play music...so then Pedro was like I play music with Julian so come practice with us...we all got together in October of last year and practiced...and they had an interesting sound they were going for but I didn’t feel like I could get in on it...and we all felt the same way, so we kinda quit.
Pedro: I thought it was a matter of your availability...plus we didn’t call you back for four months (laughs).
Noah: And then I was watching a movie and I was like I want to do a band thing again, so I texted Pedro and Julian again...I don’t think I’m answering the question anymore...this is like the whole story of our development (laughs)....anyway, we formed in January officially, and then we added Matt this summer when he recorded our EP for us.
Julian: Between that time...we practiced with a bunch of different people who didn’t end up working…. (nods of approval)
Pedro: The four of us practiced for the first time together like two weeks ago...so this is the line up we have right now.
After the tale was complete, we segued into a conversation about their sound, what they think makes them stand out, and which artists they would compare themselves to:
Pedro: We all have a strong focus on atmosphere and texture that I think makes us more interesting than the sum of the parts that we are writing.
Matt: But with still a groove component to it….not trying to succumb to too much reverb that can often infect the genre.
Noah: I like the word dream pop, but I don’t know what it means, but I like it.
Pedro: I think dream pop is a good genre...but I don’t think we’re there yet.
Matt: Shoegaze influenced alternative (group laughs)
Pedro: There’s a clear and concise answer….to give a reference point, I think we’re similar to Deerhunter.
Matt: With an A or an E? (group laughs)
Noah: There are distinct fields of fan base within our band...some people like to focus on some parts of our sound..but from my perspective...we sound like Beach Fossils or DIIv...and small bits of Real Estate at times…
Pedro: I think there is a definitive difference...a lot of bands have groups of members that have a similar interest in music….but I would say our interests are fairly different and so everyone is bringing a different vision to the table.
Noah: Like the table we’re at (laughs)
We ended up discussing the band’s new EP recorded on campus in the Red Room at TF Green. As a MEME concentrator (Computer Music and Multimedia), Matt functioned as the producer of the demo. I asked the guys how recording went this summer:
Pedro: Noah and I applied to be RAs here, so we lived at Brown….and Matt, Julian, and I all live here during the summer anyway because we’re all from Rhode Island.
Matt: Yeah, I’m from Rhode Island, but I didn’t know them until last summer….but yeah, I was recording us for a record label that recently opened up on campus...Benevolent Records...and we did a fast recording process...all live and mostly single takes with overdubs of the vocals...we think of it mostly as a demo and we’ll do something more in-depth in the future...eventually we ended up releasing the EP on Bandcamp.
Noah: But it’s also on Spotify, Apple Music, and even Tidal (laughs)
Next, I asked them about the Brown music scene, how they navigate what the group thinks of as its lack of cohesiveness, and how they go about booking shows around Brown and Providence:
Noah: I was getting really really frustrated toward the end of the summer...after having written and recorded, I was reaching out to every band I knew on campus, asking for advice, where I could I play….I was getting responses like ‘I know these people here so they let me play’ but I didn’t know any of them myself...so out of more frustration than anything I decided I would put up my own show...and for spaces I thought of PW…and I asked friends there and they said okay...so we’re just finding success through pushing for it to happen no matter where and what is happening.
Matt: I guess you have to be a really strong self-advocate….you really have to reach out fairly aggressively (group approval)
Noah: That frustration is driving me to bring the music scene together...you know...Pedro and I were talking about gear rental from the BMC...we want to make that a thing….we want to make it possible for anyone to put up a show for everyone and anyone wherever and whenever...coming from the frustration we had...that’s how we manage.
Concerning future shows, Attic Wood is looking for shows on campus and in the greater Providence area. I thought they would have an easier time doing so, since they are locals, so I asked them about it:
Pedro: It’s good to have an audience...but we failed so hard already….we had a hard time succeeding outside of the campus area before we got to Brown...but I don’t know if that’s because we’re better now.
Julian: We’re definitely better...before we never finished songs or performed outside of our basement (laughs).
Matt: I think if we ever tried to go outside of the Brown cozy-little world...it would give us an advantage to be local because it gives you a bit of perspective on what different venues like and what they are like and what you can go for….if I’m someone from halfway across the country and I come here and say oh you know some friends are playing a show at AS220….well I don’t know what that means or I don’t have context for that...but having come from the state and having been in Providence a lot before coming to college, you get perspective about what types of gigs you can go for...I feel like that’s the advantage.
Pedro: We can also draw a crowd...like over the summer at our show...we had people from other towns in Rhode Island which never happens for the average Brown band that I’ve heard of.
Talking about Rhode Island so frequently, I asked them about the influence Rhode Island may have on their music:
Pedro: I really think that geographic location is super important, but I’ve never thought about it in my own perspective.
Noah: Can I jump in here? (Pedro nods) I think me being not from here whereas everyone else is...it’s a very different mindset...my music at home is in my room and it’s like how I’m just thinking to myself and I don’t need to make it for anybody...and being here...Rhode Island is similar to openness in terms of my creativity...because we’ve got the ocean and all these people that I live with….and if I’m making music I have no choice but to share it with people...I don’t know how it affects it….but it becomes...you know….it becomes period… (band laughs).
The guys told me that they are looking to re-record some of their tracks, in addition to a new set of tracks they are working, to begin a “well-defined recording project that sounds good”. They are looking to play more shows, while at the same time they are writing new songs and hoping to record.
I wished them luck for their show that night at PW, and with guitars on their back, joking with each other, the group of four headed back to the dungeon-esque practice rooms of TF Green, preparing for the impending blaring of amps, thrashing of drums, and straining of vocal chords that they love so much. Attic Wood is a refreshing reminder that even though breaking into a music scene feels so difficult, it’s always possible given the right amount of drive and energy, and maybe that’s what makes a music scene special — the open striving of musicians to simply share their talents and passions with an audience that slowly becomes receptive to their message. On those terms, I feel Attic Wood will be successful at Brown and beyond, and I hope they thrive.