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Indie Rock

Interview: Looking For Alaska

Last week, we introduced you to Looking For Alaska, an indie rock band from Memphis, Tennessee. If you haven’t already checked out their debut EP Everything We All Wish We Could Be, download it for free here or purchase the EP from iTunes. We got a chance to talk to the members of Looking For Alaska (Chad, Calvin, Joshua, Garrett, and Chris) and here is our interview.

For our readers, could you please state your names and what you do in the band?

Chad Turner: I sing and yell.
Calvin Lauber: Lead Guitar
Joshua Cannon: Rhythm Guitar
Garrett Galtelli: Bass
Chris Chamoun, pronounced, Shamoon: Drums/Percussion

How did Looking For Alaska come to be?
Garrett: Well, we had all grown up listening to local bands. We all pretty much spent most of our youth at a now-extinct venue here at home called The Skatepark of Memphis. Life was fun. We were all casual acquaintances in the beginning and watched each other’s bands play, and over the years we grew fond of one another’s different styles and spawned a small family of diverse musical preferences. That pretty much began with a local record label here in Memphis called Smith Seven Records. We called ourselves “The Underground Revolution” and that’s exactly what we were. After several years, bands would come and go and tour and what-not, but they always came back to visit from time to time. Looking For Alaska consists of 5 members of this family. I call us a family because that’s what these guys mean to me. They are my family, they are my brothers. I joined this band because I feel that music is by far, the most inspirational styles of media out there, and I think I speak for everybody in the band when I say, if you can make music, you can inspire.

As you may already know, “Looking For Alaska” is the name of a rather controversial book by John Green. Is this where you came up with your band name?

Joshua: Yes, the name of our band is completely based off of the novel by John Green. I would love to give you an extremely incredible answer. I’d love to tell you something incredibly deep and awe-inspiring, but to be completely honest, I just fell in love with the novel. I remember reading it, and I could not put it down. It was the first novel I have ever read that made me cry. It was just really powerful to me. John Green is an incredible writer. I have read all of his novels, and I love each of them for different reasons. I know the chances are slim (I’m just a hopeless-Nerdfighter), but if you read this John, hats off to you. You are incredible.

Getting back to the novel, I remember reading it and as I started to cry, I felt that if a novel could hit my heart this heavy and over-whelm me with such incredible intensity that it deserved to be a band name. If I can be semi-cheesy for a second, I wanted to capture the same intensity that the novel placed upon me with the music of whatever project I found myself in next. Just like the novel inspired me, I wanted to be able to inspire people with our music. So, I made a promise to myself that I would name whatever band I got into next “Looking for Alaska.” When this band came along, it happened.

So, maybe the name didn’t come from what the novel was in itself, but more from the impact that the novel actually had on me.

Who would you say are your main influences?

Chad: Jesus Christ, Shane Claiborne, John Perkins, Aaron Weiss, Ryan and Richard Dalton, Chuck Christensen, and Gordon Ramsay!
Calvin: My family, Moving Mountains, Thrice, As Cities Burn, Copeland, The Dangerous Summer, Gatsby’s American Dream,
Moneen.
Joshua: Bear vs. Shark, John Cusack, Alkaline Trio, Say Anything, Manchester Orchestra, hot wings, The Office, The Sopranos, That ’70s Show, Elvis Costello, Green Day, The Avett Brothers, Christopher McCandless, Motion City Soundtrack, Coach Dodd, and most importantly, my grandfather, James Cannon. He’s the entire reason I picked up a guitar and am the man I am today.
Garrett: David Bowie, Sam Beam, Kevin Drew, Brenden Canning, Victor Wooten, and of course, My Grandfather, who taught me many things about music and how it changed the world throughout the years of his life.
Chris: Thrice and that is it.

What’s your songwriting process like?
Chad: Calvin doodles on guitar, and I think it sounds cool, so we jam on it until a song emerges. Then, the other fine gentlemen make it better than Calvin and I ever could by ourselves.
Chris: It is a lot of fun actually. I love everything our lead guitarist Calvin and vocalist Chad come up with because it always surprises me. Then Josh our rhythm guitarist does his thing. Then Garrett and I do our thing. So it all works out pretty good.

Do you have any new material planned?
Calvin: Definitely. In the middle of writing a full length album!
Chad: As long as there is breath in our lungs and love in our hearts, we will create expressions of ourselves, no matter what form it takes!

Any big plans for the next year?
Chris: To tour, and go out of town and see the rest of the world while playing music.
Calvin: Lots of touring, recording and releasing our full length.

What’s your favorite thing about playing music?
Garrett: Knowing that I’ve gotten together with a group of friends and made something as a team that the people and us can enjoy.
Chris: Touring, headbanging, getting sweaty, seeing my friends play, getting compliments, staying at La Quinta, throwing drumsticks at people, spitting on people. That’s just a few.
Calvin: The feeling it gives me. When I play a show everything else disappears and it’s just emotion and good feelings.
Josh: I think the answer to that is in the question itself. Playing music. That’s what I love the most. When people seem to dig it, that’s always a plus, as well.
Chad: Music is the one thing that unites us all. Feeling that oneness with my brothers and sisters is why I play!

What has been your favorite experience as a band so far?
Josh: Staying in the La Quinta when we went on tour. In the middle of the night, Garrett throws his body up out of his bed and begins to scream about “cookies and milk” in anger. Dead asleep. Last exorcism style.
Terrifying and hilarious all at the same time.
Calvin: Playing with our buds Camillo The Ocean across TN!

Imagine that you have sold out Madison Square Garden or another dream venue, with thousands of people screaming for you guys. What would be going through your heads at that moment?
Chris: I would faint.
Chad: We don’t deserve this, but I’m happy to bring some joy to this messed up world!

I would like to personally thank you for your time. Any last words for our readers, your fans, etc?
Chad: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Never a truer word has been spoken!
Calvin: Thanks everyone for reading this! Check us out if you haven’t already and try to come out to a show if we play near you!
Chris: I love you.

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