Tribe Society Opens Up On Their Inspirations, Successes and Latest EP, Lucid Dreams
Every once in a while, an artist comes along with a sound and style that strikes me as both nostalgic and innovative. These are my favorite types of musicians. Artists who can take classic elements from the music we’ve grown to love over the years, and add their own insight and nuance to create something truly riveting. One such band that I’ve come across is a five piece ensemble hailing from Washington Heights, New York known as Tribe Society. This group is currently gaining a swelling fan base and they have enjoyed great deal of success 2015. After opening for legendary group Incubus at SXSW earlier this year, Tribe Society dropped their highly acclaimed Lucid Dreams EP, which features their mesmerizing lead single “Kings” (featured above) as well as a massive collaboration with Kieza entitled “Pain Told Love.” With thought-provoking lyrics, masterful instrumentation and undeniable genuineness, Tribe Society is a breath of fresh air in a landscape that seems to be moving towards uniformity. I recently had the chance to chat with Gavin McDevitt, the band’s lead singer, about the group’s recent success and what they have planned for the future.
Sensible Reason: Where did the name Tribe Society originate and what meaning does it have amongst band members?
Tribe Society: Like any band choosing a name, we came up with a hundred options. We originally wanted to name ourselves after some B horror movie…but most of the options were lame so we went with Tribe Society. Tribe Society has an eerie cultish undertone. We liked the sound of it…and again, the other options were stinky.
SR: Hailing from Washington Heights, I’m sure your New York City roots has had a strong impact on your music. Can you describe NYC’s influence on your creative process?
TS: One of my favorite things to do in NYC is see live comedy. Not only is it one the art forms I respect the most, comedians have always had the guts to talk about issues honestly. The way comedians can tackle social commentary with ease has always made me think. America needs comedians, the world needs comedians. I once heard a great quote “Humor is a rubber sword – it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” Where music may fall short in 2015 of the underlayer of social commentary that it used to be rich with, comedy always delivers. This is inspiring to me as an artist!
SR: You have incredibly politically charged lyrics that give your music an undeniable authenticity. How important is it that you convey a powerful message to your listeners?
TS: We are definitely a group of guys with strong opinions and a lust for galvanizing listeners. The EP we released has a lot of empowering topics, not necessarily directly political, but we are looking forward to delivering an album that will stir it up! (Almost complete!)
SR: Your music feels like a combination of 90’s alternative rock blended beautifully with elements of electronic music, which results in a truly refreshing sound. How did you find this balance and who are some artists who have inspired you?
TS: Thank you. We’ve always loved artists that combine live instruments and real sounds and instruments WITH production. Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, The Beatles, Kendrick Lamar.
SR: Your track “Pain Told Love” is a powerful ballad, rife with masterful instrumentation, magnetic lyrics and a massive feature from pop star Kiesza. Can you describe what it was like making this collaboration with such a huge name?
TS: Thank you. Kiesza jumping on the track was totally unplanned. We happened to be in the studio at the same time as her and her producer (Rami Afuni) had previously played her a demo of the song. She pointed out that she really liked the song and started humming the melody. We all thought it sounded really good in her voice and asked her if she wanted to jump in the booth and give it a shot. She replied with “I have to leave for my flight overseas in 30 minutes, let’s do it!” She nailed the song in only a few takes, really a talented singer.
SR: I’m slightly obsessed with your huge single “Kings.” Furthermore the song’s video is enigmatic and thought provoking to say the least. Can you give some insight into the meaning and impetus behind this marquee track?
TS: Everyone we talk to about the song has their own interpretation of it. If we defined the song we would never hear another, and honestly, all the interpretations we’ve heard are dope so we will leave it open ended. The music video is a call it to the modern day oligarchy we live in. I honestly wish there were more artists calling this type of bullshit out. Popular culture has taken an unfortunate discourse where consciousness or social narrative is last priority, far behind vanity, the selfie, blah blah, etc etc.
SR: When you take a look at the current musical landscape it’s easy to get discouraged by the way artistic vision seems to take a back seat to commercial success. How do you stay focused on creating music that remains genuine yet incredibly infectious?
TS: I hear you. If we wanted money we would’ve gone into banking. We just create what we are into. We hear hooky melodies. It’s just in us. It’s never about trying to write something for commercial appeal. Maybe the infectiousness comes from growing up listening to Cleveland Rock radio, my mom’s Beatles records, my dad’s Irish folk catalogue.
SR: You’ve got a very busy August coming up with a slew of shows all over the east coast. What’s your favorite part of hitting the road?
TS: The worst part of the road is getting stuck eating some shitty fast food ‘option’ when there is nothing else around. The best part is making new friends, fans, and just discovering new cities. Like, who would’ve thought that Fargo fucking kicks ass? People there party hard, enjoy life and really respect live music.
SR: 2015 has already been a huge year for you guys with the release of your Lucid Dreams EP. What’s on the horizon for Tribe Society?
TS: We have been making some really cool videos that will be out soon; an acoustic version of “Kings” that we recorded live in a really cool spot in Central Park. We also just finished up our first remix of another artist that’ll be out in a week.