Friday, November 07, 2008

Interview - The Little Ones

And now the hat trick! After a live review and album review for the new album "Morning Tide", Atlas and the Anchor is proud to present an interview with Brian Reyes, the bassist for The Little Ones. Brian took the time to answer all of my questions with such detail. Find out about what they listen to in their tour van, their famous All-Star Filipino Karaoke side project, how their Southern Californian roots influenced the album art work, and more!

Atlas and the Anchor: I just saw you play at the Southgate House in KY, which was great. Where is your favorite place to play?

Brian Reyes: This is a pretty hard question because we've been fortunate enough to travel to many places the last two years all of which have their own charm. I don't think we have a favorite place to play but we do have very good memories in different towns. One of the memories that stick out have to include playing in Barcelona, Spain for the first time earlier this year. For some reason, the beautiful scenery, food, and culture of the place combined with a very receptive crowd to make a great show extra special. I'm always surprised when we go to places so far away and the crowd know the words to our songs. It puts things into perspective and never did I think we would be fortunate enough to experience it.

AA: I know Ed and Ian were in Sunday's Best, "Poised To Break" is still one of my favorite albums. Were any of the other members in any bands prior to Little Ones that they aren't too ashamed to admit?

BR: "Poised to Break" was one of my favorite Sunday's Best albums too. But maybe I am a little biased because my brother was the lead singer. =) Before TLO, Lee (keyboards, bass) and David (Drums) played in a band in San Diego called Jack's Broken Heart. They were able to tour and had quite a devout following. As for me, I never really played in bands that were able to tour. So you could imagine how excited I was when we able to first start hitting the road and playing in front of people from other towns.

AA: Are any of you working on any side projects we should know about?

BR: No side projects to speak about really unless you count my brother and I's All-Star Filipino Karaoke group. We sing at such fine filipino eateries as Max's Fried Chicken in Glendale, CA as well as our Aunt's house in West Covina.

AA: People compare you to other bands and make assumptions about your influences for the band. Who do you say you were influenced by?

BR: Whenever I read reviews or articles people seem to point to bands like the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie. Just to be mentioned in the same breath of such great acts is a very flattering. We do listen to those bands but we primarily listen to older music. If I had to say who we're influenced by, I would say that we are influenced by good pop song-writing. This doesn't mean pop in the manufactured modern sense of Britney Spears or The Jonas Brothers, but more along the classic lines of Ray Davies, Graham Nash, Harry Nilsson and of course Brian Wilson. These songwriters took the pop structure of verse-chorus-verse and elevated it to an art form. Their songs worked on two levels. First, they were catchy. When you listen to an old Kink's song or Beach Boys song, you can't get the melody out of your head. If you listen closer though, their songs always had some interesting musical things going on in the background. Whether it be interesting chord changes, rhythms, or use of percussion, their songs showed great craftsmanship which we try to do on all of our tunes.

AA: Name one current and one older song you wish you had written.

BR: Current Song: "Grounds for Divorce" Elbow
Older Song: "You Can't Do That" Harry Nilsson

AA: What are you listening to in the tour van?

BR: Right now, we're listening to Elbow's Mercury Award Winning Record "Seldom Seen Kid." To us, they suceeded in making a complete record. One that you can put on and listen to the whole thing. This is a pretty rare feat in today's age of iTunes downloadable singles and I think it really inspires us to keep getting better at writing songs.

AA: Who are some of your favorite bands to play with and/or who would you like to collaborate with?

BR: We've become very close to a band from New York called The French Kicks. Their new album "Swimming" is amazing and I can't stop listening to it. We would definately love to collaborate with those guys any time. In fact, at the end of our tour in 2006, we all played "Cecilia" as an encore. We would also love to play with bands like Death Cab for Cutie and The Flaming Lips. I think those bands have the same outlook as us not just in terms of music, but what it means to play and travel as a band and as a family. It would be an awesome opportunity to open up for bands like those two.

AA: How difficult was it to be in label limbo and how did it affect the writing of the album?

BR: You know what, when we heard that we were being let go from our EMI contract, the album had already been in the can. We heard the news in January and the album was suppose to come out in April of this year. So in terms of writing songs and recording them, the process was already complete. It was a weird time because we were all ready and excited to support the album and we were now faced with the uncertainty of how or even if the record was going to be released. Fortunately, EMI was kind enough to give us back the masters to the songs and we had all but decided that we would probably self-release "Morning Tide'" on our own Branches Recording Collective Label. To us, it was back to where we started with our first EP "Sing Song." This wasn't a bad thing at all but lo and behold, John Rubelli and Alex Patsavas from Chop Shop Records came along and heard about our situation. They met with us about releasing "Morning Tide" and we saw that they were true fans of our music and very excited about the record. We always want to work with people who believed in what we were trying to do, and they showed that they did so here we are now.

AA: Please explain the art direction and/or meaning for the covers of the last two releases, Terry Tales and Morning Tide.

BR: My brother Ed and I are born and raised Los Angelenoes. Lee, David, and Ian are born and raised San Diegans. As a result, I think the culture of Southern California influences what we do musically. Throughout the record, you can hear this whether it be in the lyrics or some of the sounds that we came up with. So when we saw Klaus' initial artwork for "Morning Tide," with the water goose creature being prominent, we all thought it summed up visually what we were trying to do as a band. Also, there's a certain fairy-tale and mythic feel to the artwork and that really appealed to us. After all, we're not trying to re-invent the wheel musically, we're just trying to lead the listener to a place where things aren't taken too seriously and one can escape for a little while the dark insecurities of the real-world we live in now.

AA: When do you plan on writing and recording for the follow up to "Morning Tide"?

BR: I think after this West Coast tour, we'll probably take a break for the holidays and then start practicing again. We're always working on new song ideas whether it be over at my brother Ed's or individually. So once we are all able to get in the same room full-band style, I'm sure we'll start banging out new tunes. I'm excited where our sound is going to go because you have to remember that the songs on "Morning Tide" are a year to a year and a half old so obviously the new songs will have to reflect some of the things we've experienced since that time.

AA: Did you ever get the fried chicken you wanted after the show? (Editor's note: Brian's brother, Ed asked the crowd at the Southgate House if they knew where to get good fried chicken)

BR: Actually, we didn't get that fried chicken. Instead, we stopped at a gas station and totally raided the Johnsonville Bratwurst steamer. That's what happens when you're crying out in van full of sweaty dudes with a 13 hour drive ahead. It isn't pretty.

Atlas and the Anchor would again like to thank Brian for taking the time to answer my questions! For more information: and


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