Meet rising Virginia-based band Avers!
Richmond might seem like an unlikely hometown for a psych rock band quickly gaining acclaim and nabbing slots on notable festival lineups (they’ll play Landmark’s inaugural event before heading down to Austin for ACL). Then again, the band’s origin itself was something of a chance occurrence. Members of several celebrated Richmond outfits (Alexandra Spalding and Adrian Olsen of HyperColor; JL Hodges of Farm Vegas) got together with The Head and the Heart’s drummer Tyler Williams with some studio jam sessions as the only goal. Now, with a debut album under their belt, a follow-up on the way, and an ever-expanding group of fans, Avers has become a full-time project with no sign of slowing down.
We caught up with Hodges recently for a quick Q&A. Dig our exchange below, and don’t forget to catch the band when they kickoff Sunday on the Jefferson Stage at 12:30pm.
Landmark: How do you think being from a city less recognized as a cultural access point (as opposed to somewhere like NYC, Chicago, or LA) affects your approach to music?
JLH: I think it makes it easier in regards to creating the music itself, but harder when it comes to being recognized or written about on a national level. Richmond can feel “quiet” compared to other cities that you mentioned, which is nice. Because there’s no real framework for what a Richmond band should sound like, it gives you carte blanche. In my opinion, people in NYC, Chicago, and LA should be paying attention to what is going on here in Richmond…because there is something happening for sure!
LMF: Tell us a little about the music scene in Richmond. Is there much exchange between bands in neighboring cities like D.C., Baltimore, or Norfolk?
JLH: The music scene in Richmond is a vibrant one. There are great acts in every genre of music. Every night of the week, great local bands are playing shows. There isn’t a “Richmond” sound per se, so bands aren’t afraid to be original and stay true to themselves. I think there’s some show swapping, etc. going on between bands from out of town and Richmond folks.
LMF: What are some of the perks of living in Richmond? It seems to be ripe for growing bands in a way that large cities aren’t necessarily.
JLH: Great food, cheap rent, and good support from other musicians and fans are three that come to mind.
LMF: Your debut album Empty Light was written and recorded (somewhat) simultaneously and shortly after the band formed. Are you finding that these songs have morphed a lot since being recorded?
JLH: We started recording before we were a “band,” so the songs have changed and morphed for sure. Most of what you hear on the record is us learning the song, and recording it immediately. Very instinctual, and loose. I think our live show, and the songs have become more intense since we started gigging. There’s a different energy when the 6 of us are on stage vs how we interact in the studio and i think that’s reflected in our performance.
LMF: You released a single in the spring and, more recently, a few demos. Is this all material that will be on the new album, or is this extra material?
JLH: The first single that we released in the spring, Vampire, will be on the new album. We have a bunch of material that didn’t make this album for one reason or another, and we are going to share some of these “Wasted Tracks” because we love them and want folks to hear them.
LMF: What’s the scrappiest meal you’ve ever eaten on tour? I’m talking extreme throes of hunger.
JLH: We put together some pretty good combos on tour for sure, like dill popcorn, and summer sausage. We do try to stay as healthy as possible and eat well though. Hitting the grocery store and getting some fresh food and healthy snacks seems to help. With that said, there are always ill advised tacos, and cold pizza.
LMF: What is that meal you long for the whole time you’re on the road that you can only get at that one place you love so much back home?
JLH: Anything from Mamma Zu, an Italian spot here in Richmond that we all love…or ramen from Toki Underground in DC, another favorite. We ran into Eric from Toki at SXSW and it was such a treat to hang with him and eat his delicious brisket ramen in Austin!
LMF: Are you excited to play Landmark since it’s in a region where you have a lot of support? And what does it mean to you to be on the fest’s inaugural bill?
JLH: We are thrilled to be a part of this festival! It’s awesome that our region now has a legitimate and exciting music festival to celebrate. Being included on the bill with bands like The Strokes, and artists like Drake, is slightly surreal for a young band like ours. It’s humbling, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the first one. Having a festival on our National Mall is super rad. What a setting! We all love DC and the support we’ve gotten there, so yeah I’d say we are pretty stoked!!!