Our sound is inherently derivative of our favorite music — we love a lot of the work that came out of the 60’s and 80s, so that’s probably reflected in our music. Sometimes we’ll try to steer a certain song in a certain direction, but we’ve found that our favorite songs we’ve written tend to “write themselves” (as Paul McCartney would say). We try not to get in the way of that.
A young band with a mature sound, The Ceremonies always create an electric, riveting atmosphere for their crowds, make them feel alive and on fire. One concert, and you’ll be hooked for good. Their melodies go from upbeat to slower tempo; meaningful songs are there, shining and evoking beautiful sing-a-longs. Their sounds represent different stages in their lives from experiences, heartache and self discovery. Often described as “‘80s New Wave nostalgia meets cutting-edge alternative rock”, this band based in Los Angeles has recently been signed by Capitol Records (The Beatles, Arcade Fire, Depeche Mode…) and are going straight to the top of your playlist:
Why did you choose the name The Ceremonies?
Ceremonies are gatherings not limited to any single experience on the spectrum of emotion. They can range from an uplifting wedding to a saddening funeral; the word is all inclusive. We chose the name because we like the notion that our songs and the art we make are not limited by a single lens or genre– they are as all-encompassing as Ceremonies. Each show is presented as a ceremony in its own right– an event not just to entertain you, but to make you think. We also have a few other reasons for electing the name: in Lois Lowry’s The Giver there is something called “the ceremony of 3” where the children begin dream-telling. Matthew Mark and Michael all have the initials MC, which is an acronym for Master of Ceremonies… which we found to be a bit serendipitous :).
As brothers, we’ve grown up playing music together. Matthew was in a bunch of different bands throughout his adolescent years; Mark and Michael would fill in during band practice whenever needed. As we got older, we more frequently performed acoustically at charity and school events, and finally just decided to pursue it together.
What bands inspire you?
We’re inspired by a lot of older music, specifically anything rooted in 80’s new wave and post punk. Bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, the Cure, and the Smiths. Vocally we’re also heavily influenced by 60’s bands like the Beach Boys and the Beatles. But since we can’t live in the past (despite our efforts), we make sure to add our contemporary pop sensibilities into our music, which is influenced by pop artists like Michael Jackson.
Are you involved in any other types of art?
In addition to being a band, we like to consider the Ceremonies as an art collective; we try to be hands-on in every aspect. We write and self/co-produce our songs, we also direct, shoot, film, and edit a lot of our videos. We are thoroughly involved in every element of our art and work to see our creative vision through in every medium. Matthew and Michael went to art school after completing high school, Matthew for design and Michael for abstract painting. All three of us paint, and we actually self-published a book of poetry and drawings (which we sell at our shows.)
How’s the song writing process? Do you write together?
We’ve experimented with all kinds of song writing processes: we write together, we write individually, a combination of both, with different producers, etc. Sometimes one of us will have a song idea, pitch it to the others, and then as a group we’ll collaborate and flush it out. Other times we’ll work together start to finish, or a song might even be written primarily by one of us. Every song is different, we try to just follow the path of least resistance to encourage creativity, wherever it may lead.
One of the most beautiful things about lyrics is they can be open for interpretation. But to give you a general answer, our songs tend to be guided by the feeling of nostalgia. Thematically, we probably write most about perspective…something that continually shifts throughout life; whenever you discover a new one, you become so enveloped in it that it becomes easy to forget there will be even more to discover down the line.
You’ve played at some legendary places such as the VIPER ROOM; what has been the most special venue you’ve performed at so far?
The most special venue we’ve performed at so far was when we opened for the Fratellis at the Fonda in Los Angeles. As locals to LA, we’d grown up going to and seeing some of our favorite artists at the Fonda. Naturally, we always wished we could switch places with them on stage. That performance was charged with a sentimental energy that was rooted in our upbringing, which just made it extra special.
You’re currently based in LA; do you feel like it’s the right place for your music, or is there any other spot where you feel more comfortable performing?
We feel fortunate to have been raised in LA because we see it as one of the cultural hubs of the country. It’s known for its forward-thinkers and trend-setters, and always feels like everyone is hungry for something new. So yes we think it’s the right place for our music.
There’s an inexplicable exchange that goes on between those in the audience, and those on stage. The performer always feeds off the energy of the crowd. How we feel on stage can largely be affected by how the audience feels — but at the core of the performance is the connection of family members making music together. And that has a very strong effect on our fun-o-meter.
The fact that you’re siblings, makes it easier to stay together as a band or actually more difficult?
Since we’ve grown up together, we’re all very close. Naturally, we sometimes fight.. as all siblings do! But we also know that despite any ups and downs, we never let anything get between us. Our parents raised us to always put family first, and that’s something we’ll honor our whole lives.
With which band or artist would you like to collaborate?
David Byrne. He’s a huge inspiration for us, not only as a musical icon with the Talking Heads and all his solo work, but also as an author, director, actor, and all-around artist. He does everything we aspire to do, and does them incredibly well. He’s like a renaissance man in the field of creativity.
You’re often compared to established bands such as Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs; how do you feel about it?
Honestly, we’re fine with any comparisons that people want to make. We never let a comparison affect how we identify ourselves. We’ve been told we sound A LOT like one band by one person, and then another will say we sound NOTHING like that band. So it’s all a matter of perspective… in our opinion 😉
Typically we get tagged with the indie pop or alt rock sticker. But honestly, in this field, we are so living in a post-genre era. There is so much music out there and there are so many different blends of styles that music is just becoming one giant melting pot of genres. Genre’s in our opinion, were really just something to help classify music at the beginning; they are sort of like colors. You start with the primaries– red blue and yellow, and then mix them together to get orange, purple and green. When you get beyond tertiary stages, they become rather difficult to name.
What’s the craziest experience you’ve had while on tour?
Our craziest experience on tour was one night after a show in Philadelphia at the airport. Everyone was frantic to unload the bus because we were illegally parked, and minutes away from missing our flight, but somehow Michael managed to stay in a quiet slumber in his bunk. Not until we had our ID’s out, and were checking into our flight did we realizie Michael was still asleep on the bus, headed to Tenessee with the bus driver (unbeknownst to both of them). We called him in a panic, luckily he answered his phone! He immediately ran to the front of the bus and it scared the bejeezus out of the driver. Despite being dazed and confused he managed to hail a cab back to the airport and jump on the plane with us. This night was the cherry on top to a nightmare week, during which the same bus driver got into 3 different accidents; the first of which involved hitting the Fratellis’s tour bus in New York before we had even been introduced, the second of which involved plugging up a tunnel in Chicago, ripping the A/C unit off and tearing a giant hole in the roof of the bus (it was also raining, and required a police escort to unplug the hundreds of cars), and the third which involved completely leveling a light pole (and making a MAJOR divot in the vehicle) in the parking lot of a radio station in Cleveland.
Have you been on tour beyond the USA? Are you planning on playing in Europe?
We’ve done two tours of the US, both of which dipped into Canada: Toronto and Vancouver. We have still yet to play in Europe! But are hoping to have some dates over there in 2017. It would be our first time ever in Europe, so we’re stoked to finally visit. Most of our favorite music comes from across the pond so to go back to their roots is something we’ve all always wanted to do.
What’s coming up next from The Ceremonies?
Music! Music! Music! We’ve written A LOT since our last release, and are very eager to get the new material out for everyone to hear. Within the next month we plan on releasing a second EP, in addition to music videos (one of which we’re currently working on with Milk studios here in LA), and performing both locally and internationally.
Our goal as a group has always been to encourage ourselves and others to live with an open perspective. To give people an opportunity to have a genuine and profound experience. We’d love for fans to come in to our Ceremonies seeing the world one way, and to leave them seeing it another. What we strive for with our Ceremonies is a rebirth of wonder — revitalizing imagination. Our dream would be to know that fans are confirming just that.. analyzing and interpreting the many facets of the show, music, and art and to leave thinking.
KEEP UP WITH THE CEREMONIES: