Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Interview with Tom Conrad from EMPIRES

Eduardo Sayago

Arts & Life | 11 May 2011

You may not know the band Empires but that will change very soon. The Chicago natives, which consist of Tom Conrad (rhythm guitar), Ryan J. Luciani (drums), Max Steger (lead guitar), and San Van Vleet (vocals) are vying for the cover of Rolling Stone thanks to a competition, “Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star?”, held by the magazine. If successful, they will be the first unsigned band to grace the cover as well as receive a recording contract from Atlantic Records.
“Morale is very high (amongst the band),” said Tom Conrad during a phone interview with the DePaulia. “We have gained a lot of exposure since we entered the contest.” Last month, the number of contestants went from 16 acts to four, with Empires being one of them. Empires performed in front of a panel, which included musician Patrick Stump and members from Atlantic Records and Rolling Stone. “(There was) lots of energy, lots of intensity, I thought it was awesome,” announced RS senior editor Toure. “We try to be ourselves during the performance,” Conrad said. Hopefully that will allow them to enter into the top two. The winner of the contest will be announced on August 1st.
Before the contest that placed them into the spotlight, Empires was rocking out in the Chicagoland area. After forming together, they released their debut album, Howl, in 2008. The album racked up 70,000 downloads from the band’s site, The style on the album is high energy pop-punk. When the band began recording Bang last year, they decided to change the sound. “Howl was more of a crafted studio piece,” said Conrad. “When we began working on Bang, we wanted it to be more fleshed out, more of a live performance feel.” After three months of recording and writing, Bang was ready to be unleashed into the world. The album has a raw, intense sound that sounds familiar yet sounds original. Van Vleet’s vocals are full of depth and passion, almost as if he is living through the actions of the song every time he performs. It’s exciting listening to each track, especially “Damn Things Over”, “Bang”, and “Hello Lover”.
Conrad has taken the Rolling Stone competition with a grain of salt. “It’s a crazy contest,” he said. “We haven’t thought much about it.” Empires prefer to continue to practice and perform just as they have been doing for many years now. But they still would like their music to reach new audiences. “Any artist who say they don’t want their work to be seen (or heard), they’re lying,” said Conrad.
On May 21st, Empires is set to perform at Beat Kitchen in Chicago. While Beat Kitchen is a great place for a concert, this location is a significant part of the band’s history. This is first time they performed in front of a large audience. Many people went to check them out after hearing buzz from friends who had seen them perform in either basements, houses, or during practice. While we may not know yet if Empires will be on the cover of Rolling Stone, we do know that they are well-deserving of their newfound exposure and subsequent success. #

Voting for the band continues until Friday May 13th at

Tickets for their show are available for $10 at

Vote here. Give them 5 stars guys!

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