As the school year nears its end, students begin to cram for whatever their classes may bring, whether it be final exams or grade-breaking projects. In the meantime, the new student DIY music scene prepares for their own stretch of end-of-the-schoolyear house shows, hoping to leave the 2016-17 year off with a thunderous bang. Picking up where we last left off, I talk with two more bands that have become mainstays in these said houses: Lime Forest and The Apothecaries. We talk about their beginnings, what music means to them, and the growing community that has helped this music scene flourish.
“It was unexpected to see people saying "I’d like to come and watch the shows' and be into original music, you know?"
- Larry Sheridan of Lime Forest
Lime Forest is the psychedelic alt-rock project of Rick Sniegowski. Although the songs are his own, the experience is shared with four of his close friends, with each member bringing their own unique flavor to the musical mix. I was able to catch these guys fresh off of a jam session to explore their origins and talk about the evolution of the current music scene.
Smile Politely: Who is Lime Forest?
(all band members proceed to point to Rick Sniegowski, sitting in the corner of the room).
SP: Rick, what would you say Lime Forest is?
Rick Sniegowski, guitar/vocals: I would say that it's a name for the songs I make, but I also think of it as a destination, or like a place in my imagination.
SP: When did you guys get started?
Alex Woodworth, guitar: Rick and I had a radio show called “Lime Forest” that started in Fall 2014. We would do bits every week where we would record an original song using GarageBand and stuff. We would have friends and other guests come in too. 50 minutes of it would be playing music that we liked, mostly rock music, but then ten combined minutes of the show would be voiceovers, which ended up being songs that would be composed mostly by Rick.
SP: Where would the show be broadcast?
Rick: It was through my sister’s website actually. It was called Wholesome Radio, and I think they eventually changed the URL to something like “wholeso.me”. I had quit The Threads and then started playing with these two dudes from Spain, Kevin (bass) and Oriol (drums), which was was like the first iteration of Lime Forest. Kevin left because he wasn’t really involved, Oriol switched from drums to bass and then we got Arnav to play drums and Alex to play guitar.
Alex: Oriol then went back to Spain because he was just here for the year.
Rick: I had recorded an EP over Christmas break and when we came back to school, that was when we all started playing together. After recording our last full-length album this past summer, we had Larry come in to play bass, and even though I had keyboards on the album, I wanted Shaymus to play so we just incorporated a third guitar.
SP: When did you guys start playing these house shows?
Rick: Spring of 2016. First show we had was with The 92’s. I knew that whenever we would get a house, I would want there to be shows.
Alex: When we first moved into our house (Audible Meats) in the Fall of 2015, we had some big parties, so we knew that we could bring in a lot of people. Seeing all that I think contributed to the idea of us wanting to have shows here.
Larry Sheridan, bass: The more we played, the more people were like “dude, can my band play?” It was there that you knew that the demand for house shows were there, on both sides of the spectrum. It was unexpected to see people saying “I’d like to come and watch the shows” and be into original music, you know?
SP: It sounds like there’s a lot of support for all of you guys.
Rick: We’ve had so many people complement the shows, saying “this is some real shit here, it’s organized!” Big shoutout to Colin, the fourth roommate of Audible Meats, because he helps out setting the place up and runs the bar.
Arnav Chevula, drums: Whenever I come here or any other venue, there’s an undeniable larger diversity of people that aren’t just coming from Urbana and stuff.
Alex: There’s definitely a crowd that does come to like every show, but there’s also a fair amount of rando's. Given the size of the crowds, though, people are really respectful.
SP: Besides Audible Meats, what are some other venue names that you have played at?
Larry: We’ve played at places like the Pi Lambda Phi house, Chez Bon Bon, Blips and Chitz, and Kitties and Cocktails.
SP: What do you guys have coming up next?
Rick: We just played at a Sofar Sounds Show in Chicago, and we’ll have a video of us playing one of songs called “Lemon Tundra” coming soon. I’m excited, it sounds really fucking good. We also have a show at Audible Meats with Jarring and Mush on April 22nd and a show on May 3rd.
SP: What is music?
Alex: Organized, humanly sound.
Arnav: I don’t know what music *is*, but you know its music when you bump it into the aux and you’re like “oh shit!”
Shaymus Alwan, guitar: I never try to take it too seriously, so I would say fun, interesting noise patterns.
Larry: It’s like beauty is in the eye of the beholder: whatever the listener finds as music, that’s what it is.
“It’s definitely a community. The fact that everybody is so supportive of each other is really what makes it tight”
- Sammy Gessesse of The Apothecaries
Blending elements of funk, jazz, rock, and hip-hop into a wicked style all their own, The Apothecaries have made house show guests turn the basement into a dance floor. Since their beginnings as a rock band class in Allen Hall under the direction of Chris Beyt, the group branched off to the house show scene by themselves, performing unique arrangements of hits like “Come Together” by The Beatles and “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd + Gucci Mane to go along with a growing catalog of original songs. I got a chance to chat with the band in an isolated study room deep within Allen Hall to get an idea of what makes these guys play the music that they define as “so hot that it’s cool”.
Smile Politely: Who are the Apothecaries?
Seth Graham, drums: Really, it’s just some homies that take elements from our favorite genres of music, put it together and have fun. Some of our stuff doesn’t have a structure, but that’s what makes it fun, it’s like having a free flow.
SP: When did you guys first start hearing about these house shows?
Seth: We found out about house shows here around last year. I thought they were a myth; I never went to a show until I started playing with these guys. We started off at the Lambda House, and from there it was a dream come true.
SP: Would you guys call this a true music scene?
Noah Schwartz, vocals: if it already wasn't, it’s developing into one.
Seth: I think once you see similar bands playing on the bills together and you see it consistently over time, that’s when you see a scene develop. Even though our sound is a lot different than the other bands, we still get along very well, we still talk about each others shows, we see each other play, so I would say its a scene.
Sammy Gessesse, guitar: Seeing the same faces with some new faces, it’s definitely a community. The fact that everybody is so supportive of each other is really what makes it tight.
Seth: One of the things that is most satisfying to me is seeing the people rise and grow together, whether it’s the bands you play with, the ones who come out to show, or even your own band, it’s just really fun and gratifying.
Noah: I’d like to give a shout-out to Lime Forest because they saw us at one of our first house shows and came up to us asking to play at every show that they would play, so that was a big way of us getting involved in the scene.
Sammy: I’d also like to give a shout-out to Jet Fuel and the Steel Beams with Juan Chapa specifically getting us our first house show gig. We probably wouldn’t have found out about the scene until much later if it weren’t for those guys.
SP: Funniest moment at a show?
Noah: Our old bassist Alex got some Peppermint Schnapps before a Christmas themed-gig at Chez Bon Bon, so his natural reaction was to take his bass and tape it to look like a candy cane and bring candy canes to the show while wearing a onesie. When he told us that he was going to be doing all of that, our reaction wasn’t like “no!” but it was more along the lines of “uh…okay… sure?” So we got on stage and he had this whole bit planned where he was gonna throw candy canes into the crowd in this basement that has an extremely low ceiling. He yells into the mic “I thought we were all gonna wear onesies, what happened?!” and then proceeds to lob a bunch of candy canes at the crowd, hitting them.
Joey Parker, keyboards: The funniest part was that after the candy hit the crowd, they immediately fell on the ground so there was just a bunch of broken candy canes in their wrapping all over the floor.
Noah: I don’t think one person ate any of the candy.
Joey: We showed up to our next show at Chez Bon Bon like three months later and there were the leftover candy canes in the room where we keep our instruments.
Sammy: They were good.
SP: What do you guys have coming up next?
Joey: Right now we have some studio dates coming up over summer break, so hopefully we’ll have some recordings ready by the next school year.
SP: What is music?
Sammy: It’s very much expression and communication. Sometimes I’ll be walking and I’ll have a melody in my head or thinking about a chord progression and that will be all that’s going through my head. The same way that I reflect on my thoughts, sometimes I reflect through my music.
Seth: To me, music is the universal language of [removed] and it’s fun!
Noah: Expression, communication, and collaboration.
Aditya Kashyap, bass: The thing that I like most about music is just the fact that it’s universal in its ability to transcend language, differences between people, and current times. It’s just able to communicate different ideas in ways that everybody can understand. It has so much variety that anybody can get what they want through music, no matter what.
Joey: Music is a moment. It’s the most “now” form of art because everything happens in the moment, and when it’s done, it’s gone. I love that improvisational aspect of music. I think that's why we all focus on it so much, because it’s such an amazing feeling to be experiencing it.
Be on the lookout for Part III next month, where I keep up my talks with bands that have been rocking the new student music scene in C-U.