Introducing Echo Nebraska

I recently received an email from a band calling themselves Echo Nebraska who asked that I check out their music. I listened to their track ‘Hey, Alison’ and I liked what I heard so I wanted to find out more about the band. This band from Vancouver consists of Devan Christodoulou (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Karen Hefford (Keyboards/Backing Vocals), Stacy Mack (Drums), Gunn Park (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Andy Schichter (Guitar/Keyboards). I thought I would ask the guys a few questions to learn more, I caught up with Andy from the band and this is what he had to say.

How did the Echo Nebraska come together and is their a story behind the name?

I met Devan and Gunn shortly after moving to Vancouver from Ontario. They were recording a record with their band, Amber Hills and I was the assistant engineer on the project. During studio downtime, Devan would be strumming on the acoustic and playing non-Amber Hills songs, but they were super catchy and I hadn’t them before. I asked him what he was playing. He mentioned that he had a whole number of songs that didn’t quite fit the band’s sound, but he wanted to eventually do something with them. I invited him over to my home studio to lay down some demos (which at the time was all my gear sprawled in the living room. The first song we ever did was ‘I’ll Get it Right’ which is on the EP. We just started recording more and more demos, with too much production for what they were. We had a lot of fun with the instrumentation! After a year and half, we were like, “OK, let’s do something with these songs and put together a group.” Gunn was onboard. Then we rounded up the rest of the lineup. Stacy was a former roommate of Devan. Karen joined the band recently, so she didn’t play on the EP, but has taken the live show to a new level.

As for the name, Devan wanted something with Echo in the title. I had just watched the Alexandre Payne movie, Nebraska, and always liked the idea of having a city, or state in the band name.. Obviously Springsteen’s record of the same name was a big influence in there as well. We just put the two words together, and thought it had a nice flow to it. The EP’s name, Send the Ships, was actually an early band name that Devan came up with, but we figured it sounded more like an album title.

Your music has a blend of so many sounds, how would you describe the music you create and who are your influences?

We’ve been floating around the term “economical folk-rock”. Songs that are the light-hearted in nature, and have a strong melody. It’s funny, a lot of our songs, we can tell you the direct influence for songs. Fleet Foxes for ‘Hey, Allison’; Grizzly Bear with ‘Pilgrim’. A new one we’ve working on takes its inspiration from Paul McCartney’s, ‘Monkberry Moon Delight’. The Beatles are by far the biggest influence for the band’s sound. Everything from their harmonies, and punchy bass lines. For me, the game changing moment, was when I first head Pet Sounds at 14 years old. After that, I started paying attention to the production on records, and it blew my mind that it was the Beach Boys. My dad used to always have them playing in the car, when he drove me to swimming lessons. I was like, ‘This is the same group?!?”

What is the bands favourite song from the new EP and why?

I can’t speak for all the members, but I love playing Pilgrim. I know Devan’s mentioned before that it’s his favourite too. We’ve used it as an opener for our first couple of shows, and it kind of takes folks by surprise. The only song we’ve released prior to the EP is ‘Hey, Allison’, which is tad different. So for the people who only know that song, it’s a twist on what people think we might sound like. Also, I get to drench my guitar in a ton of reverse delay and reverb. Not going to lie; that’s always fun.

Is there anyone you’d like to write a song with, or collaborate with?

Oh man, if I say Paul McCartney, that’s a cop out because who wouldn’t want to be a part of a recording session with him? I think it’d be really cool to collaborate with an incredible brass arranger, or strings arranger. Recording Devan solo on acoustic, with a string section behind him, à la ‘Yesterday’ would be so rad.

What’s the future plans for your music?

Touring’s going to be a big part of the near future. Vancouver can get pretty insulated as a music scene. You have to drive a fair amount outside the city to hit another town. It gets expensive to tour, but we just have to be smart about not always playing the same venues over and over again. We want to grow the band, and we look forward to planning tours and shows outside the city. I will say, BC has a ton of killer festivals, big and small. I’d certainly love to play a few this summer.

The guys have recently released their EP ‘Send the Ships’ and as I’m writing this review, you can guess that it sounded great. The reason why this EP really stood out for me was its overall sound which has this laid back warm feel about it. Each song has a foundation that is influenced by folk, country and rock sounds which are supported by amazing vocal talents. The music has a retro feel that adds so much to the bands sound which is one of the many reasons that I am a fan. Each song gives the listener a wonderful vocal display not only with Devan’s outstanding voice but with some great sounding harmonies.

Every song sounds so good but ‘Hey, Alison’ and ‘Nice Philosophy’ stand out. However, it is the song ‘Pilgrim’ that steals the show on this EP for me. This is an audio journey that makes the listener fall into the song, thanks to how good these guys sound together and the amazing vocals. Overall, this is an impressive debut that you need to have in your life. Head over to their Bandcamp page to hear ‘Send the Ships’ EP in full (click HERE) where you can also purchase a copy.

If you want to find out more about this amazing band including their gigs then visit their website at EchoNebraska.com. To my friends across the pond, I hope you get the opportunity to hear these guys perform their music live and feel free to tell me how good they sound. As a fan, I will be following their progress with their music on their social media sites at Facebook or Twitter.

As always, if you like the sound of Echo Nebraska then help support their music. It’s our duty as a fan!