by Mely Duong
Behold, a family like bond that echoes in their musical chemistry, Step Sisters is a grunge pop progressive band from Nashville with an eclectic sound reflective of their four diverse members. Although their mainstay influences include Zeppelin, ELO, Nirvana, Sabbath, and the Beatles, they are able to transcend a traditional rock genre because of their prevailing motto. “Okay, how can we fuck [this basic song] up in a great way that no one expects,” states guitarist/vocalist Adam Swafford. With that, it is inevitable that the band will stir up the music scene with their memorable hooks and hypnotic melodies.
Although the band was established in 2014, it is only now on February 26th, 2016 that they will release their debut EP, Thick. When asked why, they admitted they already had four songs recorded by the end of 2014 and then continued to record five more songs in 2015. With a total of nine songs recorded, through meticulous honing and tweaking, they were able to put forth their best five songs. Over this long process, their songwriting has become more intense. Their live stage experience has helped to contribute to the process and onstage improvisation has helped to direct their creativity in the recording process. Furthermore, the competitive nature of the Nashville music scene has inspired them to constantly improve themselves.
Interestingly enough, every single band member contributes to the musical content. “Sometimes one person will come in with part of a song or an almost completed song and we all put something into it to make it a ‘Sisters’ tune…[other times a cool beat or riff is expanded upon],” comments Swafford.
However, generally speaking, Clint Wilson sings and writes lyrics the most in addition to playing the guitar. Adam Swafford plays most of lead guitar, sings, and also contributes to the lyrics. Matt Johanson plays bass and Nate Smith rounds out the rest of the band with his drum act. Together, they have faced some minor challenges, one being recording through a mobile setup. The posed problem is finding space thus forcing them to find interesting sounding places such as warehouses and theaters. Another problem is lack of funding, leading them to renting microphones and preamps, which stretches their budget a little bit in an effort to expand their “sonic horizons.”
When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of this debut album, the band refused to divulge or admit to any and leave the critiquing to their audiences. Surely, each person will have a different perspective on the EP. However, “Whatever that recording is, is a statement of where we were for that time. And we think this EP gives a pretty distinct statement.”
The objective of this EP was to provide the audience with a classic quartet lineup and a full, rich musical experience. Some of the songs written by Swafford address personal experiences or current events. For example, the song “Witness” is a response to the Ferguson trial and controversy. Moreover, this is a testament to the societal oversaturation of media and the constant influx of negative events thrown at society. Not all songs on this EP are as tumultuous and thought provoking. “Your Picture” is a purely fun song. On the contrary, the song that best captures their sound and the song perceived to be the best per Swafford would be “Dumb Love”. The entire project was produced by the band itself, completely their own hard work with the contribution of Ben Weber who aided in basic tracking. “We all have such love and admiration for classic recordings so we like to get interesting but keep the analog style in mind.”
The band hopes that the audience will soak in this EP and are excited to share what they do with everyone. To learn more about Step Sisters, check out their Facebook page.