Before Animal Eyes releases their new album May 12 at Mississippi Studios, we sat down to discuss the band’s Alaska roots, their marriage-level friendships and whether art-pop is an appropriate descriptor for their sound.
A portion of Tribe Mars lives together in a house in South East industrial Portland. I enter and a very distinct, Portland-esque smell fills the air. I’m lead up not one but two staircases that open up to a loft bedroom. There’s a large coffee table covered in the wiring diagrams of Rob’s car (he’s trying to fix it himself). The diagrams look like something out of The Matrix and give my humanities-geared head a mini panic attack. The band and I sit down and discuss their year-and-a-half long process of writing and releasing their first self-titled album. The band itself is like a big family, joking and calling each other out during the entirety of the interview. Along with the album we discuss zodiac signs, lucid dreaming, their various side projects and our favorite sci-fi authors. Tribe Mars is an eclectic bunch of individuals and this is definitely translated via their music.
ELEVEN: I gave a listen to the mixes that you sent over and they sound fantastic. Is that what the final album will be?
Tribe Mars: We just sent off those recordings to be mastered. Not all those songs will be on the album. We recorded fourteen and there will be eleven or twelve on the vinyl.
11: Who is doing the mastering for this album?
TM: Adam Gonsalves, he works for Telegraph. Our sound engineer Adam Sweeney suggested him. He’s Cascade Record Pressing’s go-to guy.
11: Where did you guys record it?
TM: It’s been a long time; we started at The Map Room a year-and-a-half ago. We also did some tracking at our sound engineer’s house. We also recorded some stuff here as well. Adam Sweeney’s place is called The Rabbit Hole, and he mainly invites people he’s worked with to come record there. It’s nothing official.
11: This is your first full-length album, what’s the general feeling about releasing this?
TM: It’s been so long in the making, we’re just ready to get it out. We’re excited and we’ve learned a lot but we’re thinking about the next project. We’re going to be most excited when it’s out on vinyl. We’ve been playing these songs now for so long, we haven’t like saved them for the release. One of the things that make our music appealing and one of the things that I love so much is that we created this together. Even though sometimes it might get repetitive, or it can be hard to have an objective perspective of these songs, when we’re on stage and we’re interacting with each other it’s an overwhelming feeling. The dynamic we have on stage is so cohesive–it’s a blast. It’s so fun to play these songs in front of our friends and family. We know each other so well, like I know when Robert is going to put a hit on Santigie’s verse. It’s something that is really special. The record almost feels weird because they (the songs) sound exactly the same but each live performance is a little different.
11: How does the writing process go for you guys? Does one person write the demos and then you all work off that?
TM: Generally most of the time, someone has like the beginning of a concept and then we just jam on that for a while and try to write other parts around it. Everyone writes his or her own parts as we go. It evolves pretty quickly while we’re all together. It’s very collaborative. We’ve written songs in day or sometimes even more. We’ll go through little spurts where we come out with a bunch of stuff. We all have pretty similar sounds, and it’s interesting to see how the whole band reacts to each other. Everyone gets to put his or her own sound or spin on it. We all have really strong personalities, so writing has to happen that way. We’re all very opinionated.
11: How did you all come together as a band?
TM: Andre, Shawn and Santgie had been jamming together; we met through some mutual friends. Andre was at Roadside Attraction and there was a piano and he started jamming and then Brett came out of nowhere and asked if he was in a band and they just started talking and hanging out, and Brett and Robert were telling me about how Aaron plays some funky stuff so then a few months later we got together and jammed and we immediately wrote a song and it kind of started snowballing from there. We found Vaughn at the Firkin!
11: Is there a release date set for the album?
TM: Spring 2018 maybe? We want to be able to shop it around.
11: Do you have a label in mind?
TM: We’ve had some people talk to us but basically we’re just waiting for now. We’re not ready to jump on anything yet. We want to do it right. We were going to self-release and then we got hit up and we met with this label and the one thing we learned from talking to them, there’s a lot of behind the scenes publicity and promotion that we just can’t do ourselves because we don’t have those connections and we want our music to reach a greater audience. This is our first big release so we’re still learning. We want it to reach as many people as possible.
11: On your website you guys mention spiritual practices and aliens, can you elaborate on that for our readers?
TM: Once we came up with the name Tribe Mars, we came up with this mystical backstory of these elders from planet Mars.
11: Is this the human form you assumed on planet Earth? Do you look much different on Mars?
TM: Yes. We traveled through our spirits to embody these vessels on Earth. The elders choose the vessels. The elders know more about the plan than we do. We’re just here to carry it out. The message is love. We have to show the earthlings where they come from, which is love. Music is the unifying force of the universe. Even more so than gravity. We have a song called “Ode to Phobos,” it’s about astral projection. That’s definitely part of our story. We’re communicating through different levels of consciousness.
11: What’s next for Tribe Mars?
TM: Touring is something we’ve definitely talked about. A concept album is something we want to do. Working on new music. We’re also looking forward to embarking on the next project, because we’ve been working on this album for so long. We want to spread the message of self-discovery, however you get there.
You can download Tribe Mars’ first single “Sun Raisin” off their self-titled album on Bandcamp.