The in sound
In Head Audio
In the beginning, nobody knew. There were no signs. No grand pronouncements. No indications of what was to come. The clouds didn’t open. A light didn’t shine down. A booming voice didn’t utter a thundering commandment, instructing the crowd to pay attention.
Then they played.
Suddenly, people took notice. Some ambled toward the front of the stage, dancing, swaying and jumping to the music. Some merely nodded their heads. Some simply put down their drinks and watched. In between songs, people started talking:
“Who are these guys?”
“Are they the headliner from Washington?”
“That was amazing.”
The crowd at Tonic could be excused for not knowing the band was In Head Audio. Though the band formed almost two years prior when lead singer and guitarist Robert Cross met synth player Liz Hollister and decided that the songs he had written for his solo project were enhanced by Hollister’s contributions, this was only their second show. During those two years, the band auditioned numerous other members, eventually adding lead guitarist Mike Mumford, bassist Jeff Ribas and percussionist Jerod Collmar.
“They just opened up the songs, a lot like Liz did in the beginning, and just took them to a whole other level,” said Cross.
The two-year journey wasn’t easy on Hollister, who had previously been in a band that she says “always played without really practicing. Since we were all musicians, we always got through it. It was never bad, but it was never amazing.”
Hollister now admits the wait, though difficult, was the right decision.
“I was always the impatient one, I always wanted to play,” she said. “But Robert didn’t want to do it ’til it was just right. He kept saying that first impressions are important. I’m glad we waited because if we didn’t, our songs wouldn’t have been ready.”
The band’s show at Tonic, which was closer in quality to something you would see at vaunted indie rock festivals like South by Southwest, proved the wait was worth it. By the time the band finished, there was a noticeable buzz in the room. Some came up to the stage to congratulate them, while others wondered if the headlining band could match their intensity. Many band members said they rely on the crowd to help them provide that intensity.
“As much as we make the music for ourselves, we make it for other people, too,” said Mumford. “So if the crowd isn’t into it, we’re missing a huge component of what we’re about.”
“When we play, I like to see the crowd’s reactions, see their body language, see them dancing,” said Cross. “When we can do that, it just makes it so easy to get into the moment and lose ourselves.”
The band has already done initial work on an album with Tom Gordon of Inspired Amateur Productions. While the band says that Radiohead’s sound is the base for much of what they do, Gordon likens their sound to “an interesting blend of modern, droney pop, yet almost vintage synth pop. The music comes in like waves of water, but the drums, bass and keys put order to the chaos with an interesting dichotomy of tones and patterns.”
Mumford says the final album will be different than their live performances.
“If you listen to our recordings there are so many subtleties that we could only create in a studio because we have like 20 tracks with little background noises. Our recorded stuff definitely has a different feel to it.”