Interview with The Old Adage

There’s a catchy new single that has been caught in my head for weeks now and I’m happy to say that I’ve been lucky enough to sit down with the band that created it for an interview. Brother and sister duo Mimi and Nino Chavez, aka The Old Adage, have been crafting hook laden ear worms together since 2012 and their new single, “Red,” is just another step toward becoming the next big thing out of Detroit.

Let’s start with a little The Old Adage history for those that are just discovering you guys. How did the band get its start?

Mimi Chavez: Well actually before we were The Old Adage we were called Mimi & Nino. We did that for a couple years until we got a drummer. We felt bad being Mimi & Nino because to us it wasn’t just our band anymore. We tried to come up with something that wasn’t already a band name, which was actually pretty hard! Back then we listened to a lot of harder rock and 89X radio. Nino really liked the song ‘Becoming the Bull’ by Atreyu at the time, and in that song they had a line that said “grab the bull by the horns, The Old Adage goes.” He mentioned the name to me and Immediately I fell in love with it. He didn’t like it so much at the time, but I did a lot of convincing and eventually we both decided it would be a good name for us. We grew up in a super musical family so before any of our bands we always had to be in some sort of music class or lesson throughout our childhood. That led up to me really getting into singing, and Nino really getting into guitar. We were both obsessed with music throughout highschool. Nino would play his guitar for hours everyday, and I would sing for hours everyday. Then towards the end of my highschool career we started writing together. We started to open up for one of our friends’ bands a lot at a local cafe at the time ‘Cafe Classics’ which no longer exists and then started to get a lot of our own shows locally. We kept writing and pretty soon we wanted to release something ‘Official’ and start something a little more serious.

Being siblings, how long have you two been writing music together and what is the breakdown of work? Does one of you do more lyric writing and one more music writing?

Mimi: We’ve been writing music together about six years now. It really is so different every time. We like to say its half and half, and we also like to joke about who is more of the song writer/music maker. It really is pretty equal though. A lot of the times recently I will come up with a melodic line and lyrics and Nino will contribute lyrics and ideas to that, and then we will both sit down and write the music to it. Other times he will come up with lyrics and we will work from that, and sometimes we will just write completely together. We feel the songs we start from scratch together on usually turn out best. Sometimes we start out with a beat, sometimes we start out on guitar, or a moving synth or bass part. Now, we actually write most of our stuff (music wise) on the computer which is kinda weird.

Where does newest member, James Humason, fit into the mix and has adding a third member to the band changed the dynamic of things?

Mimi: James is actually no longer a part of the band. He is a good friend of ours til this day. He was in our band for a year or so and was the reason we changed our name, so we put credit where it is due. And yes, he changed things up very much. Adding James really helped us grow as a band into something more relevant. We were just us two on guitar and keys. Adding James helped us write more complicated songs, and eventually that led us to better production.

I know you guys started out with an acoustic / rock sound and have moved to a more layered, electric sound. Can you describe the evolution of your music a bit? Was it something that happened organically or a conscious decision to change things up a bit?

Mimi: It happened very organically. It was a constant evolution. When we added James it was completely new. We were a band instead of just an acoustic duo. For a short period of time James was super busy with football, work, and school so we ended up having to play a lot of shows by ourselves. There was a point where I was playing a kick drum, had two toms set up on the sides of it, set my keyboard on top of the toms, and played kick, snare, keyboard, and sang while Nino played guitar and sang. That actually worked out pretty well for a while. It was a funky thing, but people seemed to enjoy it. After that we bought a drum machine and played a long with that. That was the real starting point of our more electronic sound. That led up to us tracking things out and buying synthesizers. So it all gradually led up to our sound now, which is still changing. I don’t think it will ever stop changing.

Personally, I can’t stop listening to your new single. What was the writing process like?

Mimi: We are glad to hear that! Well actually this one was a really interesting one. I had written a song by myself about a year ago. I really wanted to make it a song, but it wasn’t all there in Nino’s eyes (we pick on each other a lot). So we were in Mexico visiting some of our family last December. We had a lot of down time so we made it a point to write during those two weeks. I brought up the song, and what happened was we basically devoured it. We came up with a completely new song out of that song, and maybe kept half of a verse and bridge part lyric wise. The music changed completely. That was one I originally wrote on synthesizer, but then while in Mexico we wrote the ‘new’ song on guitar. Nino came up the guitar parts, I believe I came up with the melodic lines, we wrote the lyrics together, and when we got home we wrote the music together as well.

I know you guys recorded “Red” in your new and soon to be public studio, was the recording process any different in a space that is completely your own as opposed to previous recording sessions?

Mimi: Yes and No. We’ve only ever recorded in home studios, so it was very similar in a way. Our studio is in our basement as well. It WAS very different because most of the time recording it was just me and Nino. We have a lot of fun when we record. We are brother and sister and already make fun of each other a lot, but its even better when we get to recording. We mess up a lot and laugh at it and its just a really good time. We recorded the Matches EP at our studio, which was all already written, but a lot of vocal parts that we have in there were random coincidences. In one of our songs, “Before The Suns,” there is a part where I’m saying “Yeah right” which was me saying “yeah right” to the take because in my opinion it was terrible. We kept it! Now we mostly record our songs while we are writing them, not after.

With the new single now out in the world, what’s next for The Old Adage? Is there another EP on the horizon or perhaps a full length LP? Are there any plans to tour in the future?

Mimi: There is another E.P. or L.P. in the works right now. We aren’t 100% sure on which avenue we will go. It all depends on how many, in our opinion, great enough songs we come up with. We have a ton of songs working though, maybe 15-20 we are considering to continue with, so it depends on how many we get to and can finish by the end of this year. Our new Release will be April 1, 2016. We are doing an 8 date tour next month, mostly to New York. We are also planning a one month-er for April for our new release.

You can pick “Red” up on Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes.