Antennas Up's new album, The Awkward Phase, streetdate May 15, 2012.
RIYL: Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, Fun
'The Awkward Phase' is filled with bright, catchy, radio-ready, electro pop dance tunes.' - Kansas City Star
'Antennas Up is an energetic pop band.' - USA Today
'The Awkward Phase' offers up ten tracks of superb indie-rock, taking strong cues from electro-pop and turning quirkiness into something cool. - PureVolume.com
June 2012 'Artist of The Month' - The Deli Magazine
'The Awkward Phase,' showcases the bands diverse musical taste...and is highlighted by the variety of fresh sounds and experiments - CBS Streetdate
'Antennas Up is what pop music could – and should – sound like.' - GoodbyeBabylon.com
CMJ TOP 200 CHARTS
Antennas Up 'The Awkward Phase' (released May 15, 2012, Unsigned)...
7/17/12 - #144 CMJ
7/10/12 - #143 CMJ
7/3/12 - #134 CMJ
6/25/12 - #109 CMJ
6/19/12 - #94 CMJ
6/12/12 - #88 CMJ
6/5/12 - #92 CMJ
5/22/12 - #109 CMJ
5/15/12 - debuted on CMJ charts at #132
5/10/12 - debuted as #19 most added album on CMJ
November 2012 - "Pretenders" in CW's "Gossip Girl."
November 2012 - "Pretenders" in MTV's "Underemployed."
July 2012 - "Break Me Down" in A&E's 'The Glades."
June 2012 - "Don't Wait Up" in the independent film "Falling Overnight."
March 2012 - "Spaceship" and "Don't Wait Up" in the documentary film "Corporate FM."
December 2011 - "December" in online ad for The Buckle.
FESTIVALS - OFFICIAL PERFORMANCES
North By Northeast 2013
Middle Of The Map Fest 2013
CMJ Music Marathon 2012
South By Southwest 2010
Antennas Up is a band that lives where high-tech audio meets organic, honest songwriting. Formed in 2008, with a sound that uses vocoder, synths, computers, and guitar effects and is often compared to iconic pop bands like Phoenix and OK Go, the Kansas City foursome deliver
songs with high-energy hooks and soul-bearing twists on the human experience of clumsy moments and broken relationships. Nowhere is that more evident than on their newest LP The Awkward Phase.
Composed primarily in a remote cabin in Maine, The Awkward Phase captures the dance-driven, high-energy live shows the band is becoming widely known for and introduces a new set of musical themes and textures previously unheard from the electro pop-rock quartet.
Says lead vocalist Kyle Akers, “Up in Maine we wrote songs in about every way possible--just a guitar and a singer, the full band playing together, individuals writing parts and bouncing them around, and they all worked in their own ways. You can hear examples of each style of writing come out on the record.” From the blues-influenced anthem “Untitled (How Will I Know)” to the orchestral rock swells in “My Brain” to driving beats and space-reaching vocals in “Lose It.”
Antennas Up will be performing an official showcase at North By Northeast 2013 and has played official showcases at CMJ Music Marathon 2012 and South By Southwest 2010. The band has shared the stage with Girl Talk, Ha Ha Tonka, Barcelona, Electric Six, Jack's Mannequin, Matt And Kim, Company Of Thieves, Via Audio, The Constellations, Heypenny, Cash Cash and performed at over 30 Universities. Their music has been featured on CW's "Gossip Girl", MTV's "Underemployed", A&E's "The Glades", in ads for The Buckle, the bestselling (over 5 million downloads) Iphone App "Tap Tap Revenge 3", and in the movies "Falling Overnight" and "Corporate FM."
The Awkward Phase is...
-Engineered by The Ryantist (co-producer and engineer - Ha Ha Tonka 'Death Of A Decade', Antennas Up 'Antennas Up')
-Mixed by Mike Cresswell (mixing engineer - Lyrics Borne, Blackalicious, General Elektriks, Honeycut)
-Mastered by Bob Power (engineer and producer - Common, Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Citizen Cope)
Antennas Up currently endorses and partners with:
Loudtech (Ampeg, Mackie, EAW)
Istanbul Agop Cymbals
Management - Dain Estes, Broken Whistle Management -
Licensing - Downtown Music Service -
Publicity - Holly Garman, HMG Associates -
Legal - Jeff Worob, Serling Rooks Ferrara McCoy and Worob LLP - email@example.com
Kyle Akers - Vocals, Bass
Bo McCall - Vocals, Guitar
Jonny Universe - Vocals, Guitar, keys, Vocoder
The Ryantist - Vocals, Drums
Antennas Up - The Awkward Phase (release: May 15, 2012)
Antennas Up - Self titled (release: April 14, 2009)
Ink KC (KC Star's Weekly) Cover Story - Antennas Rising. Antennas Up Is Coming In Loud And Clear - 12/4/12
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Dec. 4 Timothy Finn The Kansas City Star This year has been very good to the Kansas City band A...Dec. 4
The Kansas City Star
This year has been very good to the Kansas City band Antennas Up.
“I’d definitely say it has been our most successful year so far,” said Kyle Akers, lead singer and bassist.
And here’s why: In May, the band released “The Awkward Phase,” its second full-length record and one filled with bright, catchy, radio-ready electro-pop dance tunes. About the same time, the band launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help promote the album on radio. That campaign helped the album stay on the college radio charts for 10 weeks, rising as high as No. 88.
In July, “Break Me Down,” a track from the band’s first album, “Antennas Up,” appeared in an episode of the A&E network’s “The Glades.” In October, Antennas Up performed at an official showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, a festival for taste-makers in the industry. Then, in November, the song “Pretenders,” a track on “Awkward,” was played during episodes of two shows: “Underemployed” on MTV and “Gossip Girl” on the CW network.
Amid all that, the band played a college showcase and more than 50 club dates, including four in New York, where it is cultivating a following.
There was a time in the music industry when that kind of momentum could attract attention and money from a large or independent record label and an opening spot on a tour with a national or regional band. But in 2012, the industry is profoundly different from 10 to 15 years ago. These days, bands like Antennas Up are required to do more grassroots work, to generate money and cultivate fans on their own and prove they’re revved-up and ready to hit the ground running before a label comes calling.
So instead of waiting to become the “next big thing,” bands like Antennas Up are calculating the big “what’s next?” There are many answers to that question. Picking the right ones can be as much a roll of the dice as a well-founded, strategic calculation. If the music landscape these days is populated with opportunity and options, it is also littered with ideas and endeavors that have failed or run out of steam.
Antennas Up became a band in 2008, when Akers, guitarist Bo McCall, drummer Ryan Whitehouse and lead vocalist Lonnie Coleman recorded “Antennas Up.” As that record was about to be released in 2009, Coleman left the band. Akers became the lead singer, and the band became a trio, temporarily.
“When Lonnie quit,” McCall said, “we were at a real crossroads. Those songs were written with his voice in mind. But we felt like we’d made a good record, so we released it.”
It was good enough to get the band a gig opening for Girl Talk at a college showcase at Purdue University in April 2010. But some reinvention was in order. Not long after that show, longtime friend Jon Ulasien joined the band as a vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player.
Later that year, the four retreated to Chickadee Lodge in Bethel, Maine, to work on “The Awkward Phase,” which would represent a change in sound.
“We wanted to get away from the funkiness of the first record and go more electronic,” Akers said.
“We all have different tastes in music,” Ulasien said. “We needed to figure out how to work together and meet in the middle. It led to some dynamic changes.”
The result was a collection of 10 bubbly and melodic pop/rock/soul dance songs that recall everyone from Phoenix and a few ’80s synth-pop bands (Spandau Ballet) to Hall and Oates. Live, the translation is a bit rawer but just as groovy and invigorating. Akers is an ideal frontman for this kind of band: a guy with a bright disposition and happy feet who appears to be having as much fun as anyone in the room.
It all comes together as an attractive package: a good-looking band with a first-class recording and appealing live show.
The question then became how to sell and promote the music and get people to the live shows. In August 2011, the band hired as its manager Dain Estes of the Vinefield Agency in Denver. Estes has a history in the Kansas City music scene, as a member of the band the Shaking Tree.
Antennas Up also enlisted Josh Kessler of the licensing agency DMS in New York to get its music placed anywhere: on TV shows or in films and commercials.
Estes acknowledged that there is no textbook strategy these days. “It’s like throwing darts at a board,” he said. “You have to keep trying different things. Obviously you want licensing opportunities and things like that, but one thing that’s really going to help this band is to get back out on the road.”
But not without a strategy. Estes said the band has enlisted a college booking agency because (a) those shows typically pay well and (b) those audiences typically respond favorably to the band’s music. The dart-board strategy doesn’t necessarily apply to hitting the road, he said.
“When gas is almost $4 a gallon, you can’t just go out and do any club shows like bands did five to 10 years ago,” he said. “That isn’t working anymore. You have to be smart.”
The strategy for 2013, he said, includes hitting the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in March to get in front of more industry people and setting up a tour opening for a national band.
“That’s the next step,” he said. “They’ve done everything else.”
Antennas Up has company in its quest to keep its momentum going and its success accelerating.
Among the company: Ha Ha Tonka, a Springfield band that has spent the past eight years becoming incrementally more popular in places like Denver, Chicago and Minneapolis. It recently spent several weeks on its first European tour, where it played to crowds as small as 30 people to more than 150.
“We’ve become good friends with them,” Akers said. “We share a lot of our experiences with each other, and they give us advice when we ask for it.”
Some of that advice is practical and falls in line with what Estes said, such as don’t hit the road randomly. Cultivate what works.
“As far as touring goes, it’s better to tackle markets you know you can get into easily,” said Lennon Bone, Ha Ha Tonka’s drummer. “It makes more sense to be smart financially and not spend a (lot) of money going out to California unless you know you have a good reason to be there.
“We’re in the kind of spot where we can hit Chicago knowing we can stop in places along the way, like Columbia and St. Louis. The same with Minneapolis.”
In 2007, Ha Ha Tonka signed with the independent record label Bloodshot Records in Chicago, a move that instantly gave the band brand status. Bloodshot has been around for almost 19 years, establishing itself as a marquee home for alternative country and roots-rock bands. Some of its bands and alumni are well-known: Neko Case, Ryan Adams, the Mekons, Alejandro Escovedo.
Ha Ha Tonka fits in because its sound is a blend of country, bluegrass, folk and indie-rock, a sound that draws comparisons to bands like Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes.
“(Bloodshot) has a very devout underground fan base that checks out every record and band it releases,” Bone said. “So you have almost an instant following.”
Like Antennas Up, Ha Ha Tonka uses other media to deliver its music to new ears. In March 2011, it was included in an episode of “No Reservations,” the Travel Channel food show starring Anthony Bourdain. The band is seen playing music, shooting some target practice, grilling meat and drinking beer with Bourdain. The episode aired later than originally planned, Bone said, which ended up being a bonus.
“It came on a week into a big tour,” Bone said. “A lot of people ended up coming out to our shows because they’d seen it.”
Ha Ha Tonka also has part of its song “Jesusita” in the theme song to the MTV show “Catfish.” “They have a collage of, like, 10 different songs,” Bone said. “Ours is third or fourth. It’s only like 8 seconds but it’s there.”
Song placement has become a quick and sometimes lucrative way for a band or performer to get well-known or wealthy quickly. British songwriter Alex Clare got a huge boost when Microsoft used his single “Too Close” in an ad for Explorer. The song has been “tagged” more than 4 million times worldwide by viewers using the song-identification application Shazam.
Clare told a Los Angeles radio station: “Nowadays, you have to do as much as you can to promote your music and the more various types of media you have. Before you just had radio, but now you can expose yourself on totally different grounds. It’s great.”
Akers said that after the two “Pretenders” placements, Antennas Up saw some movement within its social media. “We’ve gotten more than 50 ‘likes’ on Facebook in the past week,” he said, “and YouTube plays of the song went from 80 to more than 1,500.”
One fan on YouTube commented, “?‘Gossip Girl!’?” Another wrote: “OMG the show Underemployed brought me here.”
More than generating sales of albums or songs or “likes” on Facebook, such placements give bands like Antennas Up a sense of legitimacy. Bill Rusch is owner of Lease a Local, an independent music marketing and promotion company based in Kansas City. His firm is working with the Kansas City Latin-rock band Making Movies, which recently had a song placed in the MTV reality show “Teen Mom.”
“It’s a good resume-builder,” he said. “If you can tell other placement companies or people who choose music that you’ve had three songs on TV shows or a commercial or a movie, it helps to build the credibility of the band. It also scores points with booking agents.
“And it gives you something to tell your fan base on Facebook or Twitter. Then your fans get pumped up and tell their friends to watch the show. It’s something more exciting than just promoting your next club show.”
If there are cautionary tales to be told about all of this, Kristen May has one to tell. May was the lead singer for the Kansas City pop band Vedera, which signed with Epic Records in 2007. It released the album “Stages” two years later and promoted its music hard before and after the release.
Vedera headlined clubs and toured big venues opening for the Fray. It placed songs on the WB network show “One Tree Hill” and the MTV semi-reality show “The Hills.” In October 2009, concurrent with the release of “Stages,” the band performed live on “The Hills.” That week, the album reached No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts. In May 2010, Vedera performed on the talk show “Ellen,” hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.
All of that exposure stimulated interest and sales of albums and singles, she said. But the momentum didn’t last. In November 2011 the band announced it was going on an extended hiatus. May has since launched a solo career. In November she was chosen to replace Lacey Sturm in Flyleaf, a hard-rock band from Texas.
May said Vedera did about all it could to succeed, but after seven years, the band needed a break. Sometimes even the best strategies don’t work, she said.
“I think we did all we could do,” she said. “But we signed with Epic during a time of turmoil. They had three different presidents while we were there. And there was so much change going on in the industry back then. Timing can be such an issue.
“What we learned is you can’t rely on the corporate structure to do things for you. It works for the Katy Perrys and Lady Gagas. But for others, what works is touring all over the place, writing a bunch of songs, getting placements, doing Kickstarters and playing house shows. That’s more inspiring to me. And as long as you’re doing that and you don’t lose that feeling of inspiration, you can move your music for many years.”
Akers said Antennas Up would like to find the right label and get more songs placed in appropriate places. But if 2013 is going to be even better than 2012, he said, the next step is pretty basic: Hit the road and let the music find the right ears and get some new material out there.
“We put a lot of time and energy into the record,” he said. “We’re really proud of it. It’s what we need as a baseline. A good record, good videos, a good website and social media can put you way ahead of the game. But then you have to sell it live.”
Read more here: http://inkkc.com/content/antennas-up-is-coming-in-loud-and-clear-kc-band-is-making-noise-on-tv-and-on-the-road-can-it-keep-the-buzz-alive/#storylink=cpy
Deli Magazine - Antennas Up: June Artist Of The Month -5/30/12
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Antennas Up is one of our favorite Kansas City bands. Formed in 2008, the quartet showcases a range ...Antennas Up is one of our favorite Kansas City bands. Formed in 2008, the quartet showcases a range of genres in its music: funk, hip-hop, dance, electronic, and radio-friendly pop. The band is not afraid to take risks, but can execute its craft better than most bands in Kansas City, let alone around the nation.
The group's latest album, The Awkward Phase, was released on May 15 to favorable reviews.
The band also recently completed a successful Kickstarter project to get the album on airwaves across the country and more than exceeded the goal. Cheers!
Check out the first single from The Awkward Phase, "December."
Antennas Up is:
Kyle Akers: lead vox, bass
Bo McCall: guitar, vox
The Ryantist: drums, vox
Jonny Universe: guitar, keys, vox
CBS Streetdate - Antennas Up Put Their Many Sides On Display On New Album, “The Awkward Phase” -5/15/12
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Kansas City, Missouri natives Antennas Up are back with their first full length LP since their 2009 ...Kansas City, Missouri natives Antennas Up are back with their first full length LP since their 2009 self-titled debut. Their new album, The Awkward Phase, showcases the bands diverse musical taste in a far more developed way than their debut, and is highlighted by the variety of fresh sounds and experiments found throughout the LP. Click more below to check out an exclusive preview of the record and get a taste of what Antennas Up is all about.
Read more: Antennas Up Put Their Many Sides On Display On New Album, “The Awkward Phase” http://streetdate.radio.com/2012/05/14/antennas-up-put-their-many-sides-on-display-on-new-album-the-awkward-phase/#ixzz1wlz6m7bt
PureVolume.com - Antennas Up Premiere New Album 'The Awkward Phase' - 5/14/12
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We all remember [perhaps not so lovingly] that standard "awkward phase" we all went through. If only...We all remember [perhaps not so lovingly] that standard "awkward phase" we all went through. If only Antennas Up had dropped their tributary new album back then, we may have mustered through with much more joy and optimism. The Awkward Phase offers up ten tracks of superb indie-rock, taking strong cues from electro-pop and turning quirkiness into something cool. They've also made sure each of these songs hold up distinct personalities and experiment with unique soundscapes. Highlights include the anthemic and hand-clappy "Coming On", the dreamy, reverb-laden "Wormholes", the ambient-induced "My Brain", and the sing-along ready "December" which you can grab for free. Spin the album's premiere in full, and be sure to grab it when it drops tomorrow [May 15].
Dig This: Antennas Up – ‘The Awkward Phase’ - 5/12/12
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It seems these days that the term ‘pop music’ has such a dirty connotation to it, immediately elicit...It seems these days that the term ‘pop music’ has such a dirty connotation to it, immediately eliciting lemon-sour faces from the general independent music fan base. But if you look back to some of the golden eras of music and radio, it’s clear that pop music can be a wonderful thing if more bands can crack into the mainstream. One such band from Kansas City has all of the tools necessary to do just that. Antennas Up is a dance rock quartet that has enough pop sensibility in their mix of funk, rock, and dance to claim a slice of the national airwaves. Their sophomore album The Awkward Phase is set for release on May 15th, and it will without question garner them even more positive press that seems to be coming in droves these days from Boston to the West Coast.
The Awkward Phase kicks off with the head nod-inducing title track, which immediately puts the lyrical prowess and phrasing of the band. Bassist/Vocalist Kyle Akers has a voice that is similar to Nate Ruess of Fun., but thankfully Akers steers clear of autotune, allowing his mid-high register to showcase. ‘The Awkward Phase’ is a great lead off in that it really puts the full range of the band’s talents on display right out of the gate – the electronic tinges, the punctual, percussive lyrical phrasing, harmonized guitars, and interesting song structure. ‘Coming On’ follows and is a contender for best track on the record. It’s a hand-clappy anthem that could be comfortable in an underground rock club or on the dance floor. ‘December’ follows with a highly percussive groove, accented with a staccato guitar melody that lends a feel of angst to it. ‘Lights Out’ is probably the most straightforward rock track on the record, all the while maintaining the danceability that Antennas Up so deftly is able to achieve throughout the album. ‘Lose It’ sounds as if it could have been a B-side to a Michael Jackson record, with its silky smooth synth and vocoder touches added by The Ryantist. The fuzz guitar break at the 2:30 mark into the vocal break is magic. ‘Untitled (How Will I Know)’ is the strongest vocal work from Akers on the album and the vocoder return vocals from The Ryantist add a nice touch, working as the melody in the verse. It’s a bit of a slow blues feel with an R&B vocal vibe. ‘Wormholes’ glides along on a bouncy bass line provided by Akers that has a certain sense of wonder to the overall feel of the track, partially driven by the lyrical theme of the cut. ‘Pretenders’ is another contender for top track, boasting some massive melodies and a huge chorus. ‘Take Tonight Away’ is another high-powered dance rock track, built to make the listener move. The vocals on this particular track are extra tight, making this a candidate for the next single, no doubt. ‘My Brain’ closes out The Awkward Phase with a more deliberate pace, as if to gently thank the listener for their time, seeing them out the door with a smile.
At first glance, Antennas Up felt a lot like a guilty pleasure, but upon further examination and listening, it became clear that this band has a boat load of talent. Their live performance only further illustrates this point. Their sound is incredibly textured and what really impresses me is how tight and in tune with each other are. This is extremely interesting, extremely danceable, and extremely accessible music, built upon a foundation of sound technical musicianship and honest to goodness artists’ passion. Indeed, Antennas Up is what pop music could – and should – sound like.
USA Today mention SXSW 2012 Showcase - 3/18/12
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Not every band or musician plays Antone's or Stubb's BBQ when they come to South By Southwest. Lucki...Not every band or musician plays Antone's or Stubb's BBQ when they come to South By Southwest. Luckily, there's hundreds of stages of all different shapes, sizes and settings during the festival in Austin.
And you never know what you might hear when you elbow your way in to listen. During a few hours Friday night at the Midcoast Takeover, a showcase of more than 30 bands from the Kansas City area, an impressive array of musical styles was on display.
There was energetic pop band Antennas Up, hard rockers The Beautiful Bodies and The Hearts of Darkness – think Parliament-Funkadelic with an afro-Cuban vibe. Behind the bands, a 10-foot LED display sprouted light effects.
Boston Phoenix's Annual 50 States 50 Bands, Best New Bands In America - Antennas Up/Missouri - 7/4/10
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We think we can finally bury the concept, once and for all, of all things nerdy being considered an ...We think we can finally bury the concept, once and for all, of all things nerdy being considered an '80s throwback. Because, you know, these kids these days with their Internets and ADD and all have morphed popular culture into something far nerdier than even the wettest slide-rule dreams of any '80s certified dork. Which makes a band like KC's Antennas Up that much more palatable: songs about spaceships and videogames mix effortlessly with songs about pretty girls in miniskirts, all featuring un-ironic falsetto and infectious dance rhythms. The result? A multimedia assault that is soulful and powerful while still being doofy enough to appeal to the pocket-protector set.
BONUS BIT! It is a certain kind of kismet that a band made up of such unashamed dorks would get their big break with a song in a videogame — and that that game would be Tap Tap Revenge.
Riverfront Times Antennas Up Show Review - 4/30/10
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With a synchronized LED light show, suits and ties and kitschy props, AU enlivened audience members ...With a synchronized LED light show, suits and ties and kitschy props, AU enlivened audience members with its British invasion-inspired contempo-funk. The band's influences were easily traceable, but its talent was undeniable. Well-balanced sound combined with experienced musicians and vocals made the set soar. - Jane Armbruster
Antennas Up & Girl Talk at Purdue University - 4/18/10
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Purdue University will turn into a giant dance party tonight. Girl Talk will bring his famous mas...Purdue University will turn into a giant dance party tonight.
Girl Talk will bring his famous mash-ups of popular tracks as well as his manic live antics to Slayter Center on Stadium Avenue. The free show starts at 5 p.m.
Getting the stage warmed up for the popular electronic artist whose real name is Gregg Gillis will be Kansas City trio Antennas Up.
"I usually spin Girl Talk while breaking down (band equipment after a show)," said Antennas Up bassist Kyle Akers, 27, from his Kansas City home.
Today's gig could be the biggest for the band that blends electronic dance music with rock, funk and hip-hop. Akers said Antennas Up never played with Girl Talk before but he believes his band should blend well with Girl Talk's style. Chicago hip-hop artist Hollywood Holt will perform tonight as well.
2010 has been kind to Antennas Up so far. The band had a successful show at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
"Oh man, it is exhausting," Akers recalled the festival that features hundreds of bands. "We were gong nonstop from Tuesday on to the end. Our show wasn't until Saturday. We had a whole week going to panels and meeting up with friends' bands."
Akers said Antennas Up sets itself apart from the rest of the dance-friendly rock bands with its live show. The band, which includes guitarist Bo McCall and drummer The Ryantist, employ a tremendous light show and audio tracking that contains samples of robot and computer voices and other electric noises. Space helmets are often used in the live set, too, especially on the intergalactic romance tune "5P4C35H1P."
"It's always a new show. We want people to say 'What the heck did I just see?' " Akers said. "It makes a big difference in getting noticed."
Purdue bookers caught the band at the 2009 National Association for Campus Activities conference in Covington, Ky.
Fueled by the strength of its first self-titled album, Antennas Up has performed in Chicago and Indianapolis as well as college towns in Missouri and Kansas. Akers said the band will use the summer to write and record its sophomore release.
"We are ready to get new tunes and set list and move sound out there even further," Akers said.
Spinner Interview Antennas Up's Official SXSW Showcase - 3/11/10
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Antennas Up is ready to soar, and Spinner spoke with the band's lead vocalist and lyricist, Kyle Ake...Antennas Up is ready to soar, and Spinner spoke with the band's lead vocalist and lyricist, Kyle Akers, about their inspired musical adventure and their first trip to the SXSW Festival.
How would you describe your musical style?
We would say it's dancey, funky, pop music with a little bit of electronics thrown in.
And who are the members of the band?
Bo McCall is our guitarist/vocalist. The Ryantist is our drummer and programmer, and I play bass and sing lead vocals.
You met each other in college, but just when did you know you were a band?
Bo and the Ryantist were in marching band together, then Bo and I ended up taking voice lessons from the same college friend, and he introduced us. We'd all been playing in a bunch of different groups up to that point, and we just started playing together and found that we were becoming more and more confident in the sound we were producing. Plus we had a pretty cool songwriting style going on. One day we just said, "let's go for it."
How did you choose the name Antennas Up?
Actually we'd been to SXSW before to listen and support other friends who were playing, and one year we saw the great guitarist, Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, speaking. Somebody had asked him how he writes songs or gets creative, and he was talking about how he just sits down with his instrument and lets everything else just kind of go away. He puts his antennas up and just lets the ideas come to him, and he just picks them up from the outside. So when we were naming the band, we each wrote a list of ten names and had a democratic vote, and that's the one that stood out at the top. It was just a really cool quote from a really creative guy about how he creates music. And it happened at SXSW, so for us going there now to perform, it's kind of full circle.
Who are your musical influences?
For me personally, it may sound cliche, but Michael Jackson. I was always a huge fan of his. I loved all of his music and still do. There's Jamie Lidell from the UK. He's got a killer, soulful voice. There's Radiohead, the Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley; they're all big influences of mine.
And what are you doing to set yourself apart at the SXSW Festival?
We'll be down there the day before it opens, and we'll be hitting the streets with business cards and invites to the show. We want to meet as many people and see as many shows as we can. And we will be debuting at least one, if not two, new songs, so anyone who sees our show will be treated to a new world debut that no one has before seen or heard. We'll also have our full light show package with us. It should be a pretty great experience.
Why do you take such a huge multimedia production on the road with you?
We'd each been in other bands before we created Antennas Up, so we realized what it means to create a live show. You have to be able to connect with the audience on so many different levels. They buy the record, and they hear the song that way, then they come to a live show and they want something different. They don't want to just hear what is essentially a CD playing, so we thought about other ways we could enhance the live shows so that we're not just another band. We bring our whole lighting rig, and it's all synchronized with the music, and there's video and other things that set us apart. For example, we have one song where we all play drums against an instrumental track. It's what you have to do because there are so many great bands out there. You have to make yourself distinct and fun and exciting. You have to distinguish yourself.
The band is only a couple of years old, but your fan base is rapidly multiplying and your press is overwhelmingly positive. What do you attribute that to?
Well, honestly I'd say that a lot of it is from doing all the miles in all those other bands and all the musical projects we've done individually since 2001. When you do that you can refine the way you write music, the way you perform on stage, and the way you present yourself, until eventually, you can shed all of the failed experiments and come up with something that works. So for us as Antennas Up, we know who we are and who we want to present to the world. We are able to create a cohesive group, on all levels, and put that out there wherever we go.
What's in your SXSW survival kit?
Emergen-C, granola bars, water, gum, good socks and walking shoes because you're on your feet all the time, and phone numbers of good friends. There are so many parties and catered events that, if you plan it right, you can manage to eat and drink while you are at SXSW without ever paying a dime.
Do you have any surprises in store for SXSW?
We are just finishing up writing another song. It doesn't have a title yet, but we will be debuting it along with the one we wrote for the festival called, 'This Way.' And we will be releasing a new music video to one of our older songs. And of course, we'll wear fresh ties.
Is there anything you would like the world to know?
Well, the only thing that we really want to say is come out to the show, see us, meet us, and have a good time. Also, people can download or stream all of our music for free from our website. We want people to get to know us, so we make all of our music easily available. The truth? We love our fans.
Antennas Up Tap Taps Into Your Iphone - 10/14/09
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Since music consumers these days spend more time fingering their iPhones than their wallets at the m...Since music consumers these days spend more time fingering their iPhones than their wallets at the merch table at actual live shows, it's pretty dang smart for a touring regional band like our own Antennas Up to get its music on the all-powerful gadget of the day.
And as ff last week, iPhone and iPod touch users who download the megapopular Tap Tap Revenge 3 game from the iTunes App Store will be able to ply their digits to not one but three Antennas songs: "Don't Wait Up," "On the Line" and "PSA."
The Kansas City band will be competing against the likes of Fall Out Boy, Smashing Pumpkins and the Foo Fighters (to name a few) for play, but given that fewer than 200 tracks are available on the game as of now -- plus the fact that hundreds of thousands of users are expected to download the app -- the numbers are definitely favoring Antennas Up right now.
Congrats, boys! For those not familiar with the Guitar Hero-like game, here's a the official promo-video-like thing.
Antennas Up Pitch Interview - 4/07/09
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For a traveling band, a vodka sponsorship can be both a blessing and a curse. The men of Antennas...For a traveling band, a vodka sponsorship can be both a blessing and a curse.
The men of Antennas Up lived that dream — barely.
Bombora Vodka gave the Kansas City band two boxes of vodka to take on the road. "That was the drunkest tour we've had so far," says bassist and lead singer Kyle Akers. "Because of open-container laws, when you open a bottle you have to finish it."
Finish it could also be the motto for Antennas Up (originally called Distance to Empty), a band that has persisted for eight years despite two lead singers quitting at pivotal junctures. The band's debut record as Antennas Up is out nationally April 14, and it's proof that good things come to dedicated bands.
More focused and funky than anything Distance to Empty ever released, Antennas Up is brimming with radio-ready hooks and fresh production ideas. It sounds a lot like Jamie Lidell or Jamiroquai, if they'd grown up in the '90s and absorbed more Beck and Radiohead.
There's only one thing slightly confusing about the disc: It features a lead singer who's no longer in the band. Vocalist Lonnie Coleman quit last August, forcing the remaining trio of Akers, guitarist Bo McCall and drummer Ryan "the Ryantist" Whitehouse to do some soul searching.
"He quit the day we were listening to the masters," Akers recalls. "We all liked the record too much to let it go, so we were like, 'F it — let's put it out.'"
The decision was made easier by the fact that Coleman only wrote the lyrics to one song on the disc and none of the music. Akers had already tracked his vocals for most of the tunes before Coleman entered the picture. Coleman performed with the group for nearly a year before putting in his two months' notice — a requirement of Antennas Up's LLC contract (filed under the name Plastic Artifice Co.). That put Coleman in the awkward position of having to spend two months on the road fulfilling obligations for a band he was quitting.
"He just had his headphones on for the whole tour," Whitehouse recalls with a laugh. "He did a great job onstage, though. He was professional doing the job that he had to do."
If such contractual duties seem outside the realm of most local bands, consider that Antennas Up is no amateur act when it comes to the music business. The group's members enjoyed a run as full-time musicians from 2006 to 2008, bankrolling their primary passion for creating original music by playing in a cover band called DTE (after Distance to Empty's initials). DTE hit the road for 100 to 150 dates a year, approximately two-thirds of which were cover shows.
"DTE was kind of the training wheels," McCall says. "We saw what worked live and what didn't. The dancey stuff worked best, and we always loved playing it."
One thing that didn't work, they eventually realized, was the proggy material comprising Distance to Empty's all-original sophomore LP, Relaxcitement.
"It was like Tool that was not quite good enough to be Tool," Whitehouse says. "It lacked focus. There were lots of time changes, so people would start dancing and then they'd be like, 'Huh? We're in seven now?'"
McCall has an even more succinct explanation of his band's evolution.
"The music now is a lot less shitty," he says with a completely straight face, cracking up his bandmates. "We decided shitty wasn't quite our direction."
While the music may have changed, Antennas Up is still taking advantage of the groundwork they laid with Distance to Empty. The group is heavily involved with the college touring circuit, thanks to showcases they performed for the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). The rather hilarious audition process amounted to performing a 15-minute set in the wee hours of the morning for NACA talent scouts.
"You're performing alongside a list of stars like Lance Bass and Mr. Belding [Dennis Haskins] from Saved By the Bell," McCall says. "He still walks around with a Mr. Belding jacket, and he's gained about 150 pounds. We ended up at a bar where he was doing karaoke, and he was like, 'This is for everyone who went to Bayside High!' Then he sang 'School's Out for Summer.'"
Antennas Up did its own version of karaoke last October when the group enlisted a different singer for each song in a performance at the Riot Room. Singers from Ha Ha Tonka, the Abracadabras, Aubrey, Tide House, and Company of Thieves took turns singing the songs from Antennas Up. It was one of the brighter moments in a tumultuous year that also included a van breakdown and a foreclosed rental property.
Things appear to be looking up, however, with a two-week tour on the horizon and Akers firmly ensconced in the lead-singer role.
"From time to time, I'll feel pressure, but I've kind of abandoned that," Akers says. "I like it a lot more because the energy is the same between the three of us, and there are no question marks anymore."
If they can just lay off the vodka, Antennas Up might be headed for a breakthrough year.
|Jun 13, 2013 Thursday||TBA||North By Northeast Festival||Toronto, ON, CA|
|Jun 14, 2013 Friday||TBA||North By Northeast Festival||Toronto, ON, CA|
|Jun 15, 2013 Saturday||TBA||North By Northeast Festival||Toronto, ON, CA|