By Serenat Kivilcim
Formed in late 2012, Brooklyn based electro-rock band Stereo Off morphed into a fully functioning quintet from a small solo project by Sebastian Marciano. In addition to Marciano, the group consists of Steve Williams (lead guitar/backing vocals), Niall Madden (bass/rhythm guitar), Darren Jones (drums) and Bridget Fitzgerald (keyboard/viola). Perhaps the most exciting and drawing feature of the band is the energy and anticipation that they bring to their live shows with their unique variations and kinetic presence. The new EP, The Long Hot Winter, explores new territory with a more experimental synth-pop feel and drawing upon influences from electronic music.
Black on the Canvas had the opportunity to chat with Stereo Off about their music, upcoming shows and more…
If I’m not mistaken, Stereo Off was formed in late 2012 as a solo project by Sebastian and then later turned into a five-piece band. How did this happen?
Stereo Off: Sebastian worked with various musicians from past projects, including Steve who he knew from college days, and Darren, who he worked with at the time. He also brought Bridget into the mix, with her multi instrumental skills. It started out as a sort of jam but Sebastian was working on some new songs at the same time. When looking for a bassist, he contacted Niall, who after a few years abroad and in other bands, was down to give it a try, but also ended up contributing many of the guitar and bass riffs moving forward. It was then that the pace of the band picked up and formed as a five piece, later with the name “Stereo Off”.
What kind of musical background do you guys have?
Stereo Off: Bridget is classically trained and went to Julliard, she plays Viola in several places. With that knowledge she’s been able to adapt to keyboard and lately some guitar as well. Sebastian’s musical background was more on the digital side of things, writing keyboard tracks, programming and mixing, particularly with his previous bands. Steve, Darren and Niall have all been in several bands prior and everyone aside from Niall attended music schools.
Do you each have your own ‘roles’ in the creative process?
Stereo Off: Most of the writing is done by Sebastian and Niall. Riffs are recorded, mixed and worked from. Sebastian will have a lot of prerecorded tracks waiting for more structure, or Niall will record a bunch of riffs and find a month later that they now sound totally different after Sebastian works on them.
How was the recording and producing process of your EP “ The Long Hot Winter”? Do you have any fun stories to share?
Stereo Off: Writing and recording it was great but post production was painful. We recorded the 2nd EP, The Long Hot Winter, almost a year ago, but while getting the files ready to be masters, the hard drive died as did the most recent backup. That had not only most of the EP songs, but countless other recordings past and unreleased. Maybe 100 plus songs. All back to sqaure one. This crash, plus the many markedly worse human tragedies happening around the globe at the time were the inspiration for the title, though the actual creation of it and the content is joyous. Lesson learned…make even more backups!
Let us talk about the video for “Bullet Time” from your debut EP, which earned spots at the Coney Island Film Festival as well as the New York Indie Film Festival. Could you elaborate on it? Did you enjoy the process?
Stereo Off: Definitely enjoyed working on this, as Niall has always had an interest in doing this, and both he and his friend Justin have worked on a few other short films to date, so this was a great opportunity. I always feel like songs have a story line to them, or a video visual that can fit, and this came to mind very quickly. Justin added a retro twist and homage to other films in it, we recruited great friends of ours who let us do this video for pretty much no budget. We’d like to do this again with the 2nd EP and a couple of videos are in the pipeline.
From where do you primarily derive your inspiration? Other musicians? Movies?
Stereo Off: Films are an influence, as well as general styles and genres that we are into. Not so much particular bands but styles of playing and production.
What are your favorite underground artists that deserve more attention?
Stereo Off: Some current indie and underground stuff we like are Cruture, Wild Nothing, Lyfelike, Monogold and Colour Guard.
What’s the overall effect you want to have on your fans during a live performance?
Stereo Off: “Holy shit, they rock live.” would be a much desired response. We have been told the songs are heavier live, or faster live, or that we move around more than expected. I think thats a good thing. We want the recordings to remind them of the live set and vice versa.
What’s next for Stereo Off?
Stereo Off: A third EP, then our first full-length LP. Tours in other countries, the remoter the better. Thanks for interviewing us also, check out more stuff at soundcloud.com/stereo-off/ and www.stereooff.com