Toronto’s Down With Webster “Party For Your Life” tour opening for Hoodie Allen earlier this year took the U.S. by storm and this talented group are shaking things up in the electro pop fused hip hop world. Down With Webster plays New York City tonight (7/22) The Studio at Webster Hall and Chicago at Subterranean on July 24, 2014. Bassist and one of the founding members Tyler Armes spends some time talking about what they learned on tour with Hoodie Allen, their music video “Chills,” connecting with fans, and magic.
I open by asking Tyler Armes how the tour went with Hoodie Allen and his reply reminds me that musicians are fans too. “The tour was amazing. …We’ve been fans and friends with Hoodie for a couple years and so we’ve been looking forward to an opportunity to get to do shows. I think that he’s a great artist and his crowd and fans are just really passionate and really open and so we were excited to have a chance to play with him in front of his audience because it’s such a good fit for us.”
The comparison between Hoodie Allen’s music and Down With Webster’s music can be seen in how they both mix up their genres with multi-element songs that draw from various styles that woven all together create a memorable sound. Says Armes, “As much as there is similarities in the music it’s also just the energy is similiar with hip hop with a live band and really high energy, really fun and just the whole tour felt like a party.”
When I asked Tyler Armes what was most memorable about the tour he replied, “Day in and day out we were just blown away by how great the audiences were from the first night that we got up on stage there would be a full room and so it’s just really special always for us to get in front of a new audience, new fans, people who haven’t heard the band before and be able to see that our music and the live show goes over. It was so great every night after the show being able to just hang out and meet with as many people in the audience as possible I think is the most special thing for us on a tour like this.”
Of Hoodie Allen’s work ethic Armes says, “His work ethic stands out so much. I think that everybody from our band–we generally pride ourselves on making ourselves as accessible to the audience and fans as possible just knowing how important that is for growing and developing as an artist–but day in and day out to see somebody else who has established themselves more especially in the U.S. but still goes to such great lengths to connect with his audience is really impressive whether you’re watching a twitter feed or the way that he’s taking photos with everybody walking through the venue on the way there or taking a photo with people who waited in line for the longest each day. There’s just so many different ways that he’s just really able to be creative and connect with his audience and I think that is one of the things that makes him such a special artist.”
Just as Hoodie Allen has found a way to straddle social media to connect personally with fans, so too has Down With Webster. With over 500,000 followers on facebook and nearly 100,000 followers on twitter the band tries to reach out to all of their fans in one way or another. Explains Armes, “For us from the band’s inception, even in the earliest days way back on My Space we just realized that for a band that has six people in it there’s really a lot that we can do in terms of being able to connect both on a personal level with people and also just to know that there’s no boundaries or borders for social media. Being from Toronto originally and being able to try and connect with people in the U.S. or fans who are fans of similar artists it’s something that we were always really excited about and having the opportunity to get our music heard as far and wide as possible. …We just want to make ourselves as accessible and available as possible for the people who are enabling us to do what we love each and every day which is to be out and playing music.” In fact as soon as our interview was over they tweeted me to say thank you. These boys work hard and don’t miss a fan, an opportunity or a beat.
As Down With Webster moves forward and their tours grow, I ask Tyler Armes which emerging bands they love that we might see opening for them one day. He mentioned Air Dubai [http://www.airdubaimusic.com/] and Aer [http://www.freshaermovement.com/] and adds, “Hopefully there’s a couple of bands we can get together with and look to do a run with some other young and emerging talents this fall.”
One of my favorite Down With Webster songs is “Chills.” Check out the music video here. I ask Armes about the lyric I love, “the magic you inspire” and if anyone has inspired magic in him. He asks me for a few minutes to think about it so we move on to my curiosity about the transparent hands in the music video. He explains, “We like the juxtaposition of people hiding their emotions or things they do to deal with them but [also] the idea that when you know someone well enough you can see through, you can know what’s sort of really going on underneath. For us it was just a way to visually represent that idea of your emotions showing through in spite of your best intentions to hide or conceal them.”
I laugh and admit that even when I’m trying to conceal my feelings and communicate via text message, reading what I wrote back later I always see that my real feelings show through. “For sure,” agrees Armes and adds, “the truth whether it’s passive aggressive whether it’s sarcastic generally ends up coming through. I think that people sort of aren’t aware sometimes of how adept people are to picking up real sort of subtleties and especially with people they’re in ongoing conversations and relationships with. You could think it’s just writing a line or two lines of a text message but the reality is that you become so accustomed to reading to hearing somebody the way that you would hear their voice or the way that they would normally speak that the smallest little subtleties you can pick up on even if they’re being underhanded about it.
Of the party that inspired the morning after comment made by lead singer Patrick “Pat” Gillet “we partied for our lives last night,” along with the ensuing song and album title “Party For Your Life” I comment, “sounds like a fun night.” Armes agrees, “We excel at fun. We’re fun magnets.”
And who inspires magic in Down With Webster? “We’re all inspired by each other creatively and as musicians and like to feed off–somebody will have a great idea that can be the spark for what inspires somebody else to pick up and continue and write a song. I think we’re inspired by our parents and our loved ones and everybody who’s been so encouraging and nurturing of our being able to pursue our dreams as musicians. Some of us are inspired by the relationships with women in our lives. There’s no shortage of places to find magic.”
WE ASKED TYLER ARMES OF DOWN WITH WEBSTER
If you had to choose one song title to describe your personality–any song in the world–which would it be?
“Party For Your Life”
What is the last album you downloaded or purchased?
Bombay Bicycle Club “So Long See You Tomorrow”
If you could go back and see your favorite artist or band play live who would it be?
Do you have a charity that is close to your heart?
Ronald McDonald House