All good things must come to an end, and in this case it was the current line-up of The Mae Shi. They’re one of those bands that switches their members, Guns & Roses style, quite regularly anyway but this time there’s a silver lining; while Tim & Jeff Byron are continuing as The Mae Shi, the three previous members have split off to form Signals. We spoke to Jon to see what was up in their world.
How has life as Signals been so far?
It’s just like it has been for the last couple years; Bill, Jacob and I all live in the same place, so it’s just us spending too much time together.
Sadly (weather-wise and the fact that I can’t go to shows in LA) I live in England so haven’t been able to witness it, but what has the live reception been like so far?
It’s been great! Starting a new band is all fun in the sense of live shows. Without a name that people know you get the chance to surprise people again, and I don’t mean impress them, it’s more about people’s stand-offish demeanor while they’re trying to pick up on our energy. It makes for more nerves you gotta dance-off when there are over one hundred people and not one will get closer than twenty feet from the stage. But yeah, the reception’s been good; after I’m done jumping around and making loud, stupid noises in the microphone, people tend to warm-up, and they have been very encouraging.
Are there plans to record anytime soon? I’ve heard the ‘Uniforms clip’ and it’s quite a departure from your previous sound and the video of you guys playing at The Smell, are you planning on exploring new styles with Signals?
Whatever comes to us is the plan so far. We are pretty confident that we can turn anything into something we’d want to share with the world. So as for recording, yeah, we will have different kinds of things coming out here and there; we have been blessed with a bunch of awesome friends who like putting out records. We are in the process of recording as I write this actually.
How long have Signals existed? Sorry for the massive naivety but the blurb on your Myspace is super confusing; I didn’t think you were together in 2007?
Bill and I met Jacob back in 2006 on a mini-tour through Arizona and Southern California, and have been his LA house parents since. We’ve been planning all this since 2006, then The Mae Shi stole us for a bit, and now we get to be our own bosses. I think the 2007 reference you are making may have just been something ridiculous we put on out Myspace.
I don’t want to dwell on the issue but how was the Mae Shi show at the Pitchfork Festival for you guys?
AWESOME! We got t hang out with so many rad people. Our friend Meghan came with us and Kid Static let us stay with him and his cats, who I had a dream could psychically communicate with me. Then the weekend just went from watching shows to hanging out with my buddy Bobby from the Chicago band Vacations. Lots of staring at grass and sitting under trees and we played a show after eating a whole bunch of pizza. AWESOME!
How have you found it writing as a three piece? If I can gain anything from the Myspace Rush seem to be an influence! Is the three piece formation in the vein of Rush helping you channel some of their vibes?
Bill writes most of the song, then Jacob and I finish them…well Jacob, Computer and I (Jacob’s computer is the fourth member, and his iPhone has an honorary position as well). Ok, so here’s the thing about Rush; we woke up one morning, on October 22nd actually, the day we were supposed to play at House of Blues in West Hollywood. I couldn’t remember our login for Myspace so I tried to google it. The google search displayed a blog entry for a Rush cover band called Signals that had disbanded after playing a show at another House of Blues venue. I thought it to be a funny sort of omen; we embraced it by stealing it for our bio. I know Signals is the name of a Rush album, I don’t really know it though…and I really like the song Freewill.
Who, of your contemporaries are influencing you at the moment? Do you find inspiration in art and literature as well as music and general life, especially in writing lyrics?
General life always. My friends make my favorite music, and that makes me bias. I prefer live performance to recordings and real life over Behind the Music. Though, I am guilty of writing stuff based on Dante, Phillip K. Dick and daytime TV. Bipolar Bear are the best band right now and have been for the last year(s). Abe Vigoda blows my mind with their ever-changing sounds. Then we have our other projects that keep us keeping it real: Man’s Assassination, Man, Holi Buffaglo, and Apple Brains (nutritious kiddie-punk). Signals is a lot of stuff that we want to do in our other projects but can’t because it just doesn’t work; it’s turned into an overflow of sorts.
Any plans to pile in to a van and tour within the next year? Maybe even come to this side of the ocean?
I’m planning to do all that, all year next year, if I can get my guys away from their real lives!