If you haven’t used Bandcamp to discover new music yet then you’re really missing out. I can’t count the number of bands that I’ve discovered by spending hours clicking around the site. That’s how I discovered the musical stylings of Mount Pleasant, Michigan foursome, Backpacks. I was hooked for the opening of the first track, “Every Night,” off their new Still Life EP and knew that I had to review it (review coming soon). But just a review didn’t seem like enough so I reached out to the guys to see if they’d sit down for an interview. Guitarist Yong Los took some time out of his schedule to sit down and answer some questions.
First off, how did Backpacks get its start?
Yong Los: We started the summer after I graduated from high school (2013) and immediately went to writing and recording our first demo which is no longer available online. We were really inactive for a while, but all of a sudden we decided to give this music thing a shot. So we wrote more songs, played some shows, and ta-da: here we are!
You guys released your Revision EP back in January, how did those songs come together?
Yong: Those were some of the first songs that we ever wrote as a band. Before this EP, we looked to Austen (Reno) for song ideas, but one day I brought some songs to practice and we worked on them. I remember being super nervous about sharing those songs and singing in front everyone, haha.
You guys also released your Still Life EP this year and I have to say that I already hear a lot of growth from Revision. Did you guys change anything up as far as the writing and recording process for these tracks or is it just the result of playing together more?
Yong: Our writing process was more or less the same. I think that playing together more definitely helped us solidify our sound, but a lot of the change in writing happened through growing up and picking up new influences (both musical and not). Going into an actual studio also definitely helped. Our previous releases were all recorded in a basement and mixed by Austen, so going to The Elephant Room in Pontiac and working with Josh Frost was a lot different. But we had a blast working with him and we’re very excited about how its been received so far.
I read that the songwriting duties are split between you and Austen and while I feel like you guys have very distinctive styles, they come together nicely. How does your process work, do you guys write separately and then bring the finished product to the others or is it more collaborative?
Yong: We mostly just write the songs separately and then send the demos to everyone to play around with until we get together for practice. We try to write vocal melodies for the other, but for Still Life we didn’t have enough time to figure that all out.
Where do you guys draw inspiration from and how do you feel it influences your music?
Yong: Musically, our influences are all over the place. It varies a lot from member to member. Subject-wise I think our inspiration just comes from life and all the weird things that happen.
I just saw that you guys announced some tour dates, have you toured a lot in the past?
Yong: We haven’t gone out on a “real” tour yet, but we’ve played a lot of shows this past year and intend on playing even more next year!
What’s your favorite thing about touring?
Yong: One of the main reasons that we started this band was to travel, make friends, and eat good food. But if we had to pick a favorite out of the three, it’d probably be food. Food always wins.
There’s a lot of talent coming out of the mitten, do you guys have any favorite Michigan acts or any band from the state that you’d really love to tour with?
Lastly, what’s next for Backpacks after you guys finish the next string of live shows? A new EP or maybe a full length LP? More touring?
Yong: We have a four-way split coming out in the Spring through Save Your Generation Records which also features Hot Mulligan, The Tiny Ugly Germs, and Kayak Jones. We’ve also been writing some new stuff and have been throwing around some ideas, but who knows? We have a bunch of cool shows in the works and we hope to see you all there!
The guys also have some tour dates coming up so get out and support Backpacks if you can!
– 2/19 TBA
– 3/30 The Upper Room @ Grand Rapids, MI w/ Hodera, more TBA