Band of the Day

2011.10.08

Generationals

A New Orleans-based duo with indie rock tunes that bounce merrily along
And when it all comes crashing down, what can you do to find what you're looking for?
lyrics from When They Fight, They Fight

Generationals are an indie pop band from New Orleans, Louisiana. Grant Widmer (vocals, guitars) and Ted Joyner (vocals, guitars) formed the band in 2008 after the dissolution of their former indie group The Eames Era - which had seen modest success after having had a song featured in the TV show Grey's Anatomy. The band's name is influenced by the 2008 American presidential election, specifically the media's reference to the generational gap between voters. Pulling from '50s R&B, '60s soul, '70s punk and '80s new wave, the Generationals' sound is a modern reflection on timeless eras. Their compositions tend to be upbeat and melodic, with bright guitar hooks and rhythmic percussion driving the songs forward. Generationals have released three recordings since their formation in 2008, beginning with their 2009 LP Con Law, released on Park the Van Records. Their second release was an EP entitled Trust, which was put out by Park the Van in 2010. 2011's Actor-Caster, also on Park the Van, is the group's most current album.

Earlier this year, New Orleans-based indie rock duo, Generationals, released their second album, Actor-Caster. While their 2009 debut Con Law had more of a 60s-influenced feel, with songs like “When They Fight, They Fight,” Actor-Caster bounces across different styles while maintaining the same level of catchiness. Opening track “Ten-Twenty-Ten” is straightforward indie rock, and rollicks merrily along with plenty of handclaps along the way. “I could see [actor Vin Diesel] being a wrestler and [“Ten-Twenty-Ten”] being played when he walked out into the arena,” answers Grant Widmer (vocalist/guitarist), when asked which Generationals song he'd cast in a movie. Speaking with Widmer before their headlining performance at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, he explains how Generationals' music is meant to be social. “I haven’t really thought of it as solitary music. It's kind of designed to be played at shows and in rooms full of people,” says Widmer. Songs like “Yours Forever,” a synth-heavy, futuristic take on 50s doo wop music, have a multi-faceted sound that makes their music so pleasantly fun to listen to. Although their music is meant to be social, Widmer feels that the prominence of social media makes bands too transparent. “We know almost on a minute-to-minute basis what a lot our favorite artists are doing now,” he says. “I remember when Belle and Sebastian first started getting big, they kind of made a point to stay away from doing any press at all. For a long time, no one knew what they looked like, and they very rarely had videos out or pictures taken. That was only 15 years ago, and now I feel like that would be completely unheard of. You can't even really live in that universe anymore.” Still, despite shying away from social media, they've manged to build a healthy following, and have even had some commercial success, with songs in appearing in various commercials, TV shows, and films. However, even with some commercial success, Widmer and his bandmate Ted Joyner (also on vocals and guitars) still have day jobs when they're not on the road. “There's a pretty decent film industry [in New Orleans], and I've personally worked in art departments, mostly doing set dressing and props and furniture moving. And Ted is an architect, so he's done some designs for movie sets,” says Widmer. And as a young band on the road, they sometimes have to make some sacrifices to save money. “We eat terrible food, and we only buy regular unleaded gas. We used to stay on people's floors and couches, and we still do sometimes, but when we don’t we have found some cool websites that help us,” explains Widmer. “We are six adult males in your living room, so it's really hard to roll up at someone’s house, whether you know them or not, and say “BOOM! We’re here!” he jokingly explains. No matter if they're staying on your couch, or your listening to their music on your iPod, Generationals make the kind of music that always sounds fresh.

Earlier this year, New Orleans-based indie rock duo, Generationals, released their second album, Actor-Caster. While their 2009 debut Con Law had more of a 60s-influenced feel, with songs like “When They Fight, They Fight,” Actor-Caster bounces across different styles while maintaining the same level of catchiness.

Opening track “Ten-Twenty-Ten” is straightforward indie rock, and rollicks merrily along with plenty of handclaps along the way. Other songs, like “Yours Forever,” are more like synth-heavy, futuristic takes on 50s doo wop music—and it's this multi-faceted sound that makes their music so pleasantly fun to listen to.

Before their headlining performance at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Grant Widmer, who makes up half of the band (his partner-in-crime being vocalist/guitarist Ted Joyner).

Band of the Day: Question: If you could control someone’s first Generationals listening experience, what would be the ideal set up?

Grant Widmer: Maybe like after they just got a new job or just won some money! Our music is sort of tailored for being social. I haven’t really thought of it as solitary music. It's kind of designed to be be played at shows and in rooms full of people.

Band of the Day: Going off the social aspect of music, how important do you think it is for bands to use social media?

Grant: I don’t really think it's important, and I think some people don’t do it at all but I don’t like them any less for not doing it. I think most bands have made themselves available to be followed or to be micro-followed. We know almost on minute-to-minute basis what a lot our favorite artists are doing now, and I was thinking about that and it was kind of weird. I remember when Belle and Sebastian first started getting big, they kind of made a point to stay away from doing any press at all. For a long time, no one knew what they looked like, and they very rarely had videos out or pictures taken. That was only 15 years ago, and now I feel like that would be completely unheard of. You can't even really live in that universe anymore.

Band of the Day: One of your fans on Facebook said: “at any given point in time I have some of your lyrics stuck in my head.” So which Generationals song lyric is your favorite, and which song are you most proud of?

Grant: I certainly don’t have any one favorite child--they all have their good qualities and bad ones. Any one that I’ve worked on that somebody thought of more than just the one second that they were hearing it, I feel like it's been successful!

Band of the Day: What was the first music video you fell in love with?

Grant: “Thriller” (by Michael Jackson)–there was nothing like that ever (before), it was like a movie coming out! And “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (by Nirvana) was another big game-changer, and also “Estranged” by Guns N' Roses where Axl jumps off the side of this big ocean liner. So those three are huge.

Band of the Day: And what was the last music video you fell in love with?

Grant: Actually the band that is on tour with us now, Gardens & Villa, have a video for their song “Black Hills.” I feel like it’s the best video I’ve seen in years! It's so great, it’s all in super slow (motion). They are in their truck and are chasing this kid on his bike, and they have this obelisk in his bike, and it's kind of like “ET!”

Band of the Day: Your album is called Actor-Caster, so if you had to cast a Generationals song as a TV theme song or in a movie, which song would it be?

Grant: I think “Ten-Twenty-Ten” for when Vin Diesel appears on camera. I could see him being a wrestler and (that song) being played when he walked out into the arena.

Band of the Day: Nice choice! So as a younger new band out on the road, you’re not always surrounded by luxuries--what are your best money saving tips?

Grant: We eat terrible food, which saves a lot of money, and we only buy regular unleaded gas. We used to stay on people's floors and couches, and we still do sometimes, but when we don’t we have found some cool websites that help us. We are six adult males in your living room, so it's really hard to roll up at someone’s house, whether you know them or not, and say “BOOM! We’re here!” (laughs) That’s a big impact, so we stick to small hotels and motels and use Priceline to get good rates.

Band of the Day: Has it sunk in yet that you can actually make a living as a musician, or do you still have day jobs?

Grant: It hasn't sunk in yet! I mean, we live in new Orleans, we have gigs, and there’s a pretty decent film industry, so we do pick up (other) jobs. I’ve personally worked in the art department, mostly doing set dressing and props and furniture moving. And Ted is an architect, so he does some designs for movie sets and has done some draft work for some pretty big films, so we do that when we are home.