The first time I heard Audiences was during a soundcheck at Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in August of 2011. It was a sound that I couldn’t exactly put my finger on but it was something that I knew was going to bring them a lot of attention in the Chicago music scene. Nearly a year and a half, one EP, and a slew of shows in some of Chicago’s most well-known venues later, Audiences has brought attention to themselves in a scene where bands tend to piggyback on one another’s sounds and styles. I was able to sit down with Audiences at Chicago’s Double Door and discuss how the band got to where they are today, their future plans, and what it’s like to be a permanent fixture in the Chicago music scene.
MVRemix: How about you introduce yourselves…
Stephen Kraniotis: I’m Stephen, I play guitar
Brian Suarez: I’m Brian, I play bass.
Billy Jesus: Billy. Singing guitar.
Bobby Is: I’m Bob, I play the drums.
MVRemix: Where did you get the name audiences?
BI: We did a song called “Audiences.”
BJ: Actually I remember this really clearly. I was thinking about this the other day in a weird way, actually. Seriously, we had this song called “Audiences” and we’d been playing the shit out of it and we didn’t really know what we were going to do with it. We don’t play it anymore-
BS: We were called Bad Moon at the time.
BJ: But yeah, then Brian one day was like “Dude, you know what? We should be called Audiences.” Like, I remember. He screamed it from his bedroom.
BI: No, I’m pretty sure we were like “We should be called Audiences and the song should be called ‘Bad Moon.’”
BJ: Yeah, that’s right… And we did do that!
BS: So we would have a lot of house shows.
BI: And people would come and play.
BJ: We were named Audiences before our first show.
SK: There was a lot of people involved that inspired us a lot and we were just like, alright.
BS: And just like he (Billy) says on stage, is that, you know, “We’re all Audiences.”
SK: It’s like paying homage.
BS: You’re trying to connect with people, and musicians are always trying to connect with people, and it’s just so different saying “Oh, I’m going to the Audiences show!”
MVRemix: When did you start playing together as a band?
BI: What is 20-
BJ: July 2010.
BS: November 2010?
BJ: So me, Brian, and Stephen all grew up playing together in weird basements in the suburbs. The three of us grew up playing together and we went to high school together, and I learned how to sing, sort of. Maybe from the same entity. And Bob and I played in a little thing before this.
BI: I actually don’t even know these guys last names.
SK: And then, like, we were just kind of just kind of picking up instruments.
BJ: Something ended and then something bigger started.
SK: I used to play bass. On the song called “Audiences” I played bass.
BS: I never played bass before this band.
SK: And he learned.
BS: I learned how to play bass for this band because I wanted to be in a band.
SK: And we were just kind of dicking around in the apartment.
BS: Yeah, that’s the weirdest thing. It was a kind of an organic thing.
BJ: I kind of thought this was going to live in the living room and die in the living room and then we got a few shows.
BI: Big shows!
BJ: Yeah, bigger than us.
BI: It just escalated quickly.
BJ: Yeah, we just got to do some shit that was bigger than us.
MVRemix: What were your influences when you first started Audiences?
BS: Big Bird.
BJ: Do you hear the guy doing vocal warm ups in the next room? That was my biggest influence. The guy you could hear through my walls in my apartment.
SK: Probably the people we were just surrounded by made us want to start a band. Just the people hanging out in the apartment, it was very much a party house then. People were just picking up instruments.
BJ: Nothing positive or negative was happening. It was just noise.
BI: We all come from different backgrounds. It was interesting the first two songs. I come from a very heavy metal, death metal background. So somebody would be like “Hey, let’s play this bluesy riff.” And I’d just be like “Fuck yeah, let’s put some double bass with that!”
BJ: Double bass!
BI: Or something ridiculous. So I think just, going over the first few songs we learned each other better and learned how to write music to assist everyone’s strengths.
BS: I used to be in an emo band that opened for Fall Out Boy at Knights of Columbus on a six band bill. I guess 90’s stuff too?
SK: I’d say every one of us has different influences.
BJ: Tool was in the 90’s.
SK: Yeah, that’s why we sound so much like Tool.
BI: Not like 90’s pop.
SK: Okay. We all have very different influences which helps us have this spontaneously unique sound.
MVRemix: Would you say that everything you just threw at me continues to influence you and help you create music now?
BS: Actually, you’re always listening to new music and you’re always going to find new stuff that you like, or dislike or whatever. But I think that you hear stuff that you’re putting out and there’s this bar that you’ve set that at one point maybe you didn’t think you would reach but you did. Now you get to get set that bar even higher.
SK: It always keeps being different. It evolves.
BS: I think all of us could just play shit that we couldn’t play when we started. The songs that we’re writing right now or aren’t playing yet or aren’t recorded yet, are songs that we could have never come up with when we started. We just got better.
BI: When I first started hanging out with you dudes, I’d go to a party and I’d be like “Holy shit. What is this music?” Because I wouldn’t know, I had listened to death metal. And after a while after hanging with you, I started learning your catalogs and all that. So now we could say “Hey listen to this song!” And everyone is like “Oh. Okay!”
BJ: Everyone’s listening to crazy shit. Bob and I have been jamming bluegrass for the past two weeks, exclusively. Legitimately! Like, Doc Watson. Like, I can’t get it out of my head.
BS: Because we come from different backgrounds, we tend to inspire each other.
BI: It’s good because if we all listened to punk rock we’d be playing punk rock.
BS: There’s some bands that just have that one genre. I don’t know, like, The Strokes is a good example of a band who took that one thing and this album that’s coming out is like a breakthrough. We haven’t reached that. You still have to establish that stuff and it does keep influencing us.
SK: It goes along with the thing like, I wasn’t a lead guitarist, Brian wasn’t a bassist, Billy wasn’t a singer, really. Bob wasn’t an indie rock drummer.
BS: No one felt comfortable in the roles we were playing.
SK: So it’s basically been learning where we belong and we’re now kind of figuring out, so let’s take some things from there and there.
BJ: Except Bob because he just plays his drums like, all the time.
BS: But ultimately those are the things that continue to influence us. We’re not all just listening to one thing. There’s some bands we’re always going to agree on but everyone listens to their own shit.
BI: It’s better when we don’t agree on a band.
BJ: When has that ever really happened though?
BI: One time Brian was like “You should listen to this Creed song.”
BJ: But that never actually happened.
MVRemix: Since Audiences started playing, you haven’t really left Chicago but have made a pretty good name for yourselves out here. Did you ever expect that?
BS: No way.
BJ: Absolutely not. So many bands that we know because we’re playing with them are on the road and they ask us where we’re from and we’re just like, “We’re from here.” Because we have that pride.
BI: It’s most exciting because when we first started we were doing the Chicago thing and then we started talking about going on the road. Like, oh we can do this and that, but thinking about getting as big of a following in Milwaukee or Ohio or any other city. Like being that intimate to a crowd in a city we don’t belong in-
BS: We went and played in DeKalb and that was our first shirt outside of Chicago and that was 90 miles outside of the city.
BJ: I think we can make the name in Chicago and then it’ll just bleed.
SK: We never expected anything to come of this.
BJ: It’s really hard to make a name for yourself in the city because there are a thousand people making music and it’s really humbling, there’s no pride in it whatsoever. It’s just so humbling to get on stage and play at places like tonight. This is a really big deal for us. Like, the first time we ever played Double Door this was a huge issue. I said to Stephen when we walked in here earlier and got our fucking badges, “Do you remember the first time we played here? This was the first time we ever got a fucking badge.” It was insane and we felt nuts and now it’s like “Where do we get our little badges and things.”
SK: Not that we don’t appreciate it.
BS: No, not that we don’t appreciate it. It’s just like, it’s crazy.
BJ: And then we can learn more about the people who put these things on. Like, we love local venues. We learn about it because we play a venue so many times, whereas a touring band doesn’t do that. They know the production person the day of and they’ll never talk to them again. But we know the production guy from the last time we played here because he’s the house guy and he took care of us and he always does. So when you play in those venues, you’ve got that sense of-
BI: They ask you back. Like, they ask you back.
BJ: Yeah! Then it’s fun.
SK: You just gain a sense of community and obviously we need to grow here first. We’re not ready to spread our wings yet.
MVRemix: The part of the scene in Chicago that Audiences is a part of is a pretty tight knit group. Do you think that’s helped create the fan base that’s helped you get known throughout the city?
BS: Of course.
BI: Well, here’s a good story that’s about 17 minutes long, so sit down and relax. But when we first started playing those house shows people would come over.
BJ: And they didn’t have to pay.
BI: Right, and I didn’t know anyone but now they’re our good friends and they come here. Every show we go to we meet a new person and they come back.
BS: Fans become friends.
BI: I hate when people are like, “How many fans do you have, man?” And we don’t even really know. We just know the people that come.
BS: Don’t you think that’s more of the essence of Audiences? We love the people that come to the shows. That’s why we make the music, because of them.
BJ: Playing those crowds and playing in the niche that is this mock community, it’s kind of fun. Sometimes you get to play with some people who are really neat.
BI: It’s kind of culty in a way.
BJ: Sometimes you’re loading in and you’re loading in with people who you’ve seen a hundred times.
BS: That’s what I mean. This band that’s playing right now, they’re from California and they load in and are never going to see these people again. But like, we load in and get to see people we know and it’s comforting. I don’t think a lot of bands have that because they tour. You have to make that choice to give up and go out and do it right away.
BI: That’s why we’re never going to tour.
MVRemix: What’s your dream show to play then?
BS: The Vic.
BJ: Yes! That’s it! I want to be able to load the gear in from the house and walk it next door.
BS: But with who? A national touring act. It’s that easy. Because if we’re playing at the Vic would you guys even care who? Like, it’s a band we know, so would you even care?
SK: I wouldn’t care.
BJ: And because we live so close and I mean, once you’re on their radar.
BI: This is kind of negative in a way, but when you’re not responsible for the draw you get to play in front of new ears and it’s a lot of fun.
MVRemix: Future plans, dreams, and aspirations?
BI: We’re going to put out this album and try really really hard-
SK: At putting out the best album we can.
BJ: We want to tour. You know, in fall.
BI: In fall? Like, when the leaves are changing colors?
BJ: Just listen. People say we’d be good on the college scene.
BS: You know, we’re just going to try our best to put out the best album we can because we don’t really like the one we have out now.
BJ: That’s a great answer.
You can keep tabs on Audiences via their Facebook, Twitter, and website. They will be releasing a Split EP with fellow Chicagoans Apollo House through AEMMP Records on April 9th and will be releasing their first full length album later this year.