THIS IS SISTER CITIES
A band becomes interesting when each of the members’ unique influence is heard in their music. Like a cauldron of creativity, every member contributes their own “ingredients” in it to form a unique audio experiential concoction. A certain balance between the members should be achieved. And here is a band who has achieved that balance despite coming from different backgrounds — THIS IS SISTER CITIES.
Hello guys! Please introduce yourself. How is your 2012 doing so far?
Hi, we are Sister Cities: Brett (Guitar, Vocals), Spike (Bass, Vocals), Ana (Guitar, Keys, Vocals), and Keith (Drums). 2012 has been very productive for us so far… looking forward to the rest!
Sister Cities is a four-piece-band between three countries: Ireland, Mexico and the United States. How did you meet and came up with the name? What’s the story behind the name “Sister Cities”?
Brett: Spike and I have known each other since grade school. We met Ana on a trip down to Mexico at the hotel where she was working. Eventually she joined the band. We met Keith at one of our shows with our old drummer. We all talked after the show and he started helping us out. We all clicked and become close friends.
As far as the name goes, there’s not much of an interesting story. During the period when we were trying to think of a name I saw “Sister Cities” on a Welcome to Tempe sign. I thought it had a nice ring to it. Also during that time one of our more charismatic friends was throwing around phrases like “dig that soul sister”. To me, the name also reminded me of the mo’ town era − probably not the case for everyone anyone else, ha! Since then, our growth with the addition of Keith and Ana has created a melting pot of a band. The name now seems more appropriate than ever.
Ana, you were convinced by former drummer Courtney Robinson and singer/songwriter Brett Davis to leave all behind in Mexico and join the band in Arizona. Tell us, first-of-all, what were you doing in Mexico and what made you decide to leave and join them?
Ana: Well, First of all i just had finish high school and didn’t know what to study for (I was between communications and psychology) so I decided to take a break so I could have some time to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life. In the meantime, I decided to work in this huge resort down in Rocky Point called the Mayan Palace. I started as the activities staff so I was in charge to entertain the guests by doing the activities that were scheduled for the day, like bingo, beach volleyball, karaoke, and of course AQUAROBICS haha! One day, Courtney approached me and asked if I played the piano, because she saw me playing it at karaoke night. I said yes and after that we started talking about music. Then she introduced me to Brett and they told me they played in a band. I was secretly super interested on what their sound would be like. Then they asked me if I was interested to play keys with them. I never EVER thought that question would be asked to me. We talked about other stuff and had a good time.
One sunday, they went back to Arizona but I kept in contact with them. After a month they convinced me to go Arizona and visit them. So I did. I didn’t know them for that long but I felt really comfortable around them. We were at Courtney’s Christmas party and after a few drinks Brett, Spike and Courtney decided to play some tunes at the garage (that was the practice space at that time). When they started playing I immediately loved it, and pictured myself playing with them! Things with my family, friends, and just life in general weren’t going well at all, so I decided that I needed a changed in my life, a start over. So I moved to Arizona and started playing with my favorite people.
This may sounds so cliché but I do believe that things happen for a reason. I’ve meet my closest friends through this. And now I have the chance to express myself by doing what I love the most with the people I love the most too. MUSICA!
Keith, we all know that you were exposed to the music industry for almost two decades now. Coming from a popular late-eighties-early-nineties band “Power of Dreams”, what made you decide to manage Sister Cities and became their drummer ?
Keith: I first came across Sister Cities 3 years ago on a Thursday night at a random show in Tempe. Spike recently gave me the flyer from that show. I was actually closing out my bar tab and getting ready to leave when the band struck their first chord. I was stopped in my tracks and sat down in complete awe and watched their entire 30 minutes set. I couldn’t believe how amazing this band was. I moved here for a girl, not music and had never been impressed by any local bands I’d seen, but this was something really special. After the band got done, I sheepishly approached Spike, we talked for a few minutes, I said I would love to help the band get some better shows? And perhaps help in any way I could as I thought they were the best band in Phoenix. Spike gave me his number and the next day I met the band for coffee and we chatted about music and life and just got along really well. So, I started working on getting them better shows and introducing the band’s music to some of my music industry friends, D.J’s in the U.K/Ireland. The band were making friends as quick as everyone that heard the recordings, they absolutely loved them. I got the band a single deal with a U.K indie and we began to form a plan for an album and European tour.
Unfortunately around this time, the band’s then Drummer decided to quit the band which really changed things and as a result the remaining members took some time out. Ana returned to Mexico to begin her Bachelor’s Degree in Music and pretty much went on hiatus for the next 6 months. To be honest and to my complete dismay, I thought that was the end of Sister Cities. How could a band this good just stop? I had become friends with Spike and Brett over the previous year I’d been working with them, so we would hang out from time to time and drink a few beers and catch the odd show here and there. All the while encouraging them to get things going again. It wasn’t until Spiked called me, “Ana is coming back for the summer, will you play drums?” − that the band was ready to play shows and get things going again. At this time I was gearing up to move to NY and had a job offer, tough decision − NOT! It took me all of 5 seconds to think about it and said, “YES!” And that’s how I became Sister Cities Drummer.
But coming from the grunge era, how did you evolve to this genre you have now?
Keith: I’ve always had a very eclectic taste in music, plus, Power of Dreams were far from grunge. Power of Dreams were a band during the grunge era but we were an indie pop band. My taste in music is ever evolving, so adapting to Sister Cities music was in fact pretty effortless. We all share a lot of similar musical influences and favorite bands.
Looking back 2009 to present day, where do you guys think Sister Cities’ place in the music scene? Are you guys happy where you’re at right now? Where do you see yourself this year?
Spike: Right now Sister Cities is receiving a lot of love from the local scene here in Phoenix. Of course we are happy being home, but we want to expand our music to places other than home, other than the US even. This year we hope to play a lot of out of state shows, and continue to progress as a band.
Tell us something about Pockets-EP. Why did you call it Pockets? And how did you choose the songs (in terms of the creative process) to be included in this EP? What were the songs about? Any full length album soon?
Brett: Pockets has always been a word that reminds me of childhood. Pockets are places you can keep your secrets and hide from the world. I feel as close to the rest of the band as I did to my childhood friends. Part of what we all love about being in this band is that its a group writing effort. Writing songs together is pure fun and feeling based. We all come together and share ideas like kids do. Its very positive and I feel very lucky to be apart of it.
The songs were put together on the EP because they are best represented the way we were writing at that time. There is usually an underlying uncertainty in the lyrics. A general weariness with alot of highs and lows.
As far as plans for a full length, we are definitely going to record our next batch of songs. Not sure if it will be another EP or a new full length. We would love to put everything on vinyl though.
How would you guys describe your sound?
Brett: We like to use the phrase “dream pop”, although the other groups in that genre might disagree. Dream pop is usually more electronic based music. To us, it seems to fit.
All the songs from the Pockets-EP are all remarkable. But the one that really caught my attention was “Those Stars” I know it’s not your popular one but everything from composition to rhythm was properly executed. I like the intro, it is a perfect fit for the title and a perfect irony between words and melody. It is somewhat sad but at the same time encouraging, “Nothing can take what we have away, take what we have away”. Please tell us what inspired you guys to come up with this song. What was the composing process like? Did the song have some sort of personal meaning to each one of you?
Brett: Its my favorite song off the EP too! I’m glad you like it! The song started with a chord progression that Ana came up with. We had been going back and forth making slight changes for a while. We were having trouble with figuring out a cool strumming pattern. Once we did, everything else sort of revolved around the beat. Eventually the intro clicked and the rest of the song quickly fell into place. The lyrics start from an uneasy/anxious point of view but shift into a comfortable place. Sometimes things get tough but you have to look inside and pull out your strength. Also, realize what you have to be thankful for. There were also some big changes going on within our lives at the time and I think alot of that is reflected in the song. We all appreciate the contrast you can create with music. Like you said somewhat sad but encouraging at the same time. That’s how life is, if you think about it.
Writing this song together was one of the best times for us as a band.
What keeps you doing what you do, how do you “Perpetually Push Forward?”
Creating new music is what keeps us going. Making something we love to play and something people love to hear is the best feeling in the world. Perpetually pushing forward? I believe Lupe Fiasco said it best, “Kick, Push, Coast…”
What do you guys think of DOZE?
We all think DOZE is awesome! It is really cool that you guys showcase multiple avenues of the arts. All of the interviews we have read are written very thoughtfully, it is easy to see you guys really care. We are down for the direction and the positive message. KEEP IT UP!
…you want to perform for their open act.
Delta Spirit, Beach House, Camera Obscura, Best Coast, Lykke Li, The National, etc., there are so many bands we would love to play with!
…you want to collaborate with.
Slow Magic, Sun Glitters, Blackbird Blackbird, Washed Out, Phantogram, Lykke Li, and Apparat.
…hyped you up every time you hear them play.
Justice, Empire of the Sun, Delta Spirit, The National – hyped about alot of bands constantly!
Any Albums or Tours soon that you want to share to people. And where they can purchase it?
We have a small (two date tour) March 2 @ The Roxy and March 3rd @ The Tower Bar in San Diego. We will also be releasing something this summer. Still sorting out the details.
Interview by Don Fester
Follow Don Fester on Twitter @don_fester