Nashville is the biggest small town. It’s a contradiction as in sometimes it feels like you’re far from being a thread in the fabric of the city and sometimes it feels like you’re the needle tying it all together. I think the people that feel this way most are the many bands emerging in the Nashville scene with pop and rock roots.
Us & Them is a prime example.
Remember that thing I said about Nashville being a small town, well that’s my friend Meghan’s hand featured in that video right there ^ (shout out, Meghan!)
I got to talk to Michael Crecca (guitar) about how the band formed and where they’re headed next.
“We met our freshman year at Belmont University, and have been collectively incubating this project ever since,” he explained. “As we’re sure most bands can relate, coming up with a name is a painstaking process, so we locked ourselves in a car one night until we came up with something good enough to stick.”
Us & Them is the kind of band that you listen to and instantly feel like you relate. Their music brings a nostalgic feel; like taking a drive down the same route you frequented in high school. I have a feeling that you might be able to guess some of their influencers when listening to their music – I know I had my own hypothesis after listening to, “Something Real” – but Michael set it all straight.
“We were all raised on classic dad-rock in the early years, but soon branched out to discover everything from Queens of the Stone Age to Michael Jackson and Fall Out Boy… really anything we could get our hands on. Every new influence that pops up eventually finds its way into our sound, from Bon Iver to Kendrick Lamar. But we’re all secretly still trying to be Led Zeppelin.”
As far as their own music that seems to still resonate the most with them, Michael says,
“Live, we still play two of the first songs we ever wrote — one is called ‘Up, Up, Away’; it’s a smooth ride through a spaghetti bowl of time signatures that always keeps us guessing [when performing] live. The challenge of learning that one essentially brought us together. And we often close shows with a song called ‘Exodus,’ which is a sing-along-crowd favorite. Some of the new stuff is starting to bring out the feels as well, but a lot of it remains untitled.”
Is there a song lately that you heard and wished you wrote?
“Just about everything off of Pinegrove’s ‘Cardinal,'” he confessed. “Bon Iver’s new record is astounding but we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought ourselves able to write something that off-the-wall. I’ll also throw in a shout-out to ‘Mr. Brightside,’ which I think we can all agree was one of the best songs of the early 2000’s.”
“It’s a little different each time, but it all revolves around patience,” Michael spoke about the band’s writing process. “It usually starts with a spark; something we suddenly latch onto in the middle of a jam, or something that comes to one of us alone. The music almost always comes first, the only exception being a lyric or two that comes right out with it and sticks like glue. From there, the idea goes through a painstaking vetting process where we play it over and over again different ways until the song becomes refined, is given a solid structure, and a vocal melody is decided upon. Lyrics come last — you can put words over music, but you can’t turn words into music.”
If there’s one thing Us & Them want you take from their music, it’s a sense of emotional relatability.
“More than anything, we want people to receive our music and take it home with them; to make it a part of them. That’s a big part of the name ‘Us & Them’ — we play to create a personal bond through our music and the emotions tied together within the music. If everyone listening achieves a collective feeling, and everyone is able to carry that feeling around with them wherever they go, then we’ve done our job.”