The Sapiens
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The Sapiens

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"A melodic rock fare that puts a modern twist on ‘70s post-punk trimmings."

Chicago’s rock quintet The Sapiens' second EP entitled Vs. the Hornet shows the band’s chops for arousing ‘70s post-punk brashness and kinetics reminiscent of vintage Elvis Costello, but with modern rock shavings reflective of Baby Teeth, Hot Hot Heat, and Bloc Party. The vocal wails of lead singer Evan Sears have the emotive clutching of The Who’s Roger Daltrey as the spontaneous synth effects and sleek keyboard phrases of Matt Witt fill in the spaces between the roguish guitar licks of Charlie Nadler and the rumbling dance-rock grooves of the rhythm section by bassist David Veller and drummer David Fine. The Sapiens show themselves to be a band that likes their rock with raw edges and vocals with an untamable spirit and uncontained heat. Produced by Chris Harden, the EP has a retro rock feel, but after a while I grew to appreciate the band’s post-punk gusto and rough finish.

Starting the disc off with the rip roaring tune “Push Me,” The Sapiens set the stage for a rock fest that includes heady rhythmic slamming and rabid vocal shredding. The underbelly of synths on “Fill the Void” create a melodic-pop bedding that holds up the dance-rock pulses which recall of Bloc Party and Hot Hot Heat. Tracks like “Every Corner” and “Cry” deliver melodic movements with gusto while shaping slopes that take the listener on a wild ride. “Desperate Measures“ has emotive vocals that clutch the melody with the tight squeezing action of The Who‘s Roger Daltrey, while the final track “Waitress, Waitress” has a melodic rock fare that puts a modern twist on ‘70s post-punk trimmings. The keyboard sequences which endow “Waitress, Waitress” with a glazy, dreamy feel, transpire into a bedroom-pop texturing liken to Baby Teeth. It is the track that is most likely to succeed by combining the best of the band’s ability to produce retro rock textures with modern rock fastenings.

The Sapiens' current release Vs. the Hornet is the follow up to their debut disc Sorry, We Don’t Make the Rules from 2006. Their music revives the raw, unchained energy that catapulted rock artists like Elvis Costello and The Who while incorporating a dance-rock vibe reflective of modern bands like Hot Hot Heat and Bloc Party. The Sapiens' effort is admirable, but there is a lot more room for growth. Their music is attractive, but it has its limitations as the band gears it towards a retro feel with punk-rock verve. A full length album for The Sapiens can either prove to be mundane and repetitive or highly productive for them depending on where they choose to tap into their creative resources.

-Susan Frances, Absolute 12/22/07 - Absolute

"10 new Chicago acts that should be heard from in 2008"

Quite possibly the most stylish band in town right now, with the spiffiest suits since the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, these five musicians have been pinging on my radar for some time: They play with the punk ferocity of overly caffeinated teens while writing songs with the sassy sophistication of Elvis Costello or Ray Davies. - Chicago Sun-Times

"Around Every Corner"

Above all else, The Sapiens sound is energy, fall outta your chair, break the door down, kick the window, jerk the wheel fierce, punching energy — a rough-hewn pop style, a catchy sort of chaos. - Real Detroit Weekly

"How the Sapiens secured a spot in the Chicago spotlight"

Garnering buzz around Chicago can be about as easy as competing for dominant face time in a "Where's Waldo?" cartoon: Amid a sea of equally qualified, similarly sounding rock apprentices, it's not only hard to avoid simply falling through the cracks but also to clinch an identity that stands out from the rest. Add in an industry where new-band supply exceeds hipster demand - not to mention cash supply for CDs - and bands find themselves loose in a playground of fabulous possibilities, and reduced chances of follow-through.

OK, the local scene isn't that grim. But it's not easy. Just ask the Sapiens, one of the more increasingly buzz-worthy names on the Chicago rock circuit thanks to an energetic, rough-edged dance-punk EP called "Vs the Hornet" and a little bit of revelatory press. They started out as Columbia College acquaintances with penchants for varied music influences (singer Evan Sears' musical interests span Motown and Amy Winehouse-laden contemporary soul, as well as old-school punk via gravelly voiced Tom Waits). That was two-and-a-half years ago.

Since then, they appeared on a significant, Chicago-focused must-see list, and "Vs the Hornet" collected its fair share of good reviews. The crew of five friends also played (and sold out) well-known local clubs such as Schubas in Chicago, so perhaps it's no surprise that they landed a spot on the venue's Amplify showcase of local up-and-comers with the Rikters. But no matter how many times a bystander hears their name, the Sapiens find themselves engaged in an ongoing conversation about vying for fans and keeping them coming back for more.

"I think there are bands that have an album and it sounds great, but their live shows are not," guitarist Charlie Nadler says. "I think that's the trend of the industry; your album supports your tour now and not the other way around. - You can't just sit home and bank on your record sales."

When Nadler, originally from St. Charles, saw the Sapiens in their original four-piece form two winters ago, they were sans guitarist but just as spastic on stage as they are now.

"I was impressed, because they're all totally characters," he says, now filling the full-time guitar role in the band, which includes keyboardist Matt Witt, bassist David Veller and drummer David Fine. "They were going crazy on stage."

Just about the time Nadler joined the band, the Sapiens headed into the studio to record the EP that solidified their buzz and attracted more new fans to their live show, which, in turn, put them on the map for their signature suit-clad performances. They had three days, limited cash and a whole lot of material. As Nadler puts it, "There wasn't time for screwing around. And we tracked like 10 songs, so we were just like flying through it."

Hence the kind of full-force, dance-rock energy piped through "Vs the Hornet," the album that critics have equated to circa-'70s Elvis Costello and the Rolling Stones. But bigger news these days is this: Just when you think you know the Sapiens and their onstage craziness, they go ahead and change it. Yes, the Sapiens consider their breakthrough EP as merely the stepping stone to a more-focused, juiced-up sound, which they plan to feature in their forthcoming third offering, due out in July.

One main single and two supporting songs, which Nadler says invoke punk roots and the band's "weird Sapiens style," will anchor the release. And while Nadler considers "Vs the Hornet" more of a "budget EP," the new three-song disc wasn't rushed.

"We actually had a little time to do some proper work on it, and Brian (Zieske) at Gallery of Carpet was able to produce us," he says. "I think the difference is pretty huge."

In keeping with the Sapiens' signature breakneck core and punk underbelly, the morphed style hangs onto their backbone, aptly utilizing beat-popping synths and drums to form the dance-ready package that Chicagoans first recognized in indie bands such as the Redwalls. But they've widened that style, Nadler says, concentrating on unifying all members' varied influences.

"It's becoming less segmented; we're all just kind of doing everything, and it's working better, I think," he says. "We're focusing on songwriting and song melodies. When I first saw (the Sapiens), it was entirely a synth-driven band. I don't know; I'm biased because I'm the guitarist. The rhythm section is tighter."

The Sapiens originally wanted to release the third EP as a full length, but decided to hold off in favor of giving fans something new as soon as possible. A lot of the writing for the full-album release is already finished, and Nadler insinuated that a year-end release isn't out of the question. That said, the Sapiens' main focus continues to be the one thing that Nadler considers their stand-out feature amid the area's saturated music market:

"Our live show is the thing. We haven't had like a big album that we're all about; it's more about the show. That's why we dress up and try to go crazy on stage."

- Daily Herald

"The Band of the Week"

When I say Chicago music scene what is the first thing that comes to mind? I suppose it would depend on your age, but for me the early 90's were not as much about Seattle as they were about Chicago. There were about a couple of bald headed guys (Billy Corgan & Josh Caterer), Certain Distant Suns, Jesus Lizard, Veruca Salt, and so on. Today the scene is much more eclectic, when critics compile their lists of bands to watch in Chicago they may include a few hip hop acts, or an r&b singer, or a hazy folk singer, but there are a few bands in this city who still hold dear the sounds that made Chicago the place to be. These bands, like The Sapiens, acknowledge their roots, but move forward in style and sound.

The Sapiens are a young band from Chicago who recently released their latest ep, Vs. The Hornet. The play straight rock 'n roll, and play it fashion. The suits that they wear add an extra touch of class to this up-and-coming band.
- What to Wear During an Orange Alert

"The Sapiens"

Chicago indie band The Sapiens, have just released a brand new single called "Rind". Known for their high energy show, the Sapiens have also been known for conveying the same energy into their recorded songs; Rind is personally one of my favorites song this week not only because it adds a nice level of adrenaline into my blood, but also because the song brings back a nostalgia of old school indie rock.
myspace site
- IndieHere

"Vs. The Hornet (Album Review)"

Chicago natives The Sapiens go after rock and roll with a different approach then the competition. With Vs The Hornet, The Sapiens have captured the energy of a live show and retained the intricacies of a produced product. The Sapiens songs are hectic, yet tightly woven. "Void" seems the likely product of a group of young men that not only understand the music of the Rolling Stones, but the energy of the soul music that made Brian, Mick and Keith get started in the first place. While "Void" is still a rock song, vocalist Evan Sears digs deep and throws his inner soul out in the open, sounding more like Little Richard on speed than Julian Casablancas or Brandon Flowers. What makes The Sapiens such an interesting listen is that the music is very now and very forward thinking yet its appeal has a broader range than most contemporary alternative bands of today. The keyboard and synth work by Matt Witt adds an amazing layer to the rock and roll ground work set by the rest of the band. Witt is allowed to coloring outside of the lines because of the breakneck work by guitarist Charlie Nader and the wrench tight rhythm section of bass guitarist Dave Veller and drummer Russ Mallard. "Dirty work tricked onto the willing, digest reality for a frown and a schilling" is an example of the lyrical integrity of vocalist Sears on the track "Every Corner". Here The Sapiens let the chorus soar with one of the catchiest melodies of Vs. The Hornet, creating an emotional 'shout it out' high point of the EP. The track "Desperate Measures" takes The Sapiens out of their fast paced comfort zone and lets them shine as they take hold of a mid-tempo piece and exhibit levels of musical maturity not heard in most young bands. The depth and playing on "Desperate Measures" combined with its restrained energy make it the standout track on Vs. The Hornet.

"You know I've got something just for you," Sears closes "Desperate Measures" with, and he and The Sapiens do with Vs. The Hornet. Check them out at:

4.5 stars (out of 5)
-Justin Scro - Cashbox Magazine

"College Town Tour Guide"

The Sapiens

Although the Sapiens’ music is pleasantly chaotic, the group’s fashion style and live show are even better. The electro-rock quintet manages to pump out dance-worthy tunes and get sold-out crowds worked up in a sweat, all while wearing incredibly snazzy, matching suits. Even more appealing, the five musicians -- all of whom are Columbia College alum -- take a DIY approach to everything from their outfits to their promo work. The group is a favorite amongst local concert-goers, but be sure to catch the band while it’s still within arm’s reach: With the release of its second album, "The Rind," in summer 2008, it looks like the Sapiens may outgrow this city fairly soon. -


Rind Single - 2008, Self-Released
Vs. The Hornet EP - 2007, HEYOU! Records
Sorry, We Don't Make The Rules EP - 2006, Self-Released



Chicago dance rock band The Sapiens have carved out their niche by sticking to the original plan: write high-energy songs with strong pop sensibilities, create a unique and instantly recognizable sound, and make it impossible not to dance at the live shows -- even if it's an impromptu acoustic set at a middle-of-nowhere bar when the van breaks down (yes that happened).

Starting out as a foursome in November 2005 in Chicago, The Sapiens have been busy morphing and intensifying ever since. Currently a five piece, the boys in suits have not strayed from their goal of developing a completely uninhibited sound that draws on influences ranging from Franz Ferdinand to The Kinks.

Following their May 2006 debut EP “Sorry, We Don’t Make the Rules”, The Sapiens continued to build a loyal following in Chicago by playing venues such as Double Door and Abbey Pub, including sold out shows at renowned clubs like Schubas and Beat Kitchen.

In January 2007, The Sapiens headed to Manny Sanchez’s IV Lab Studios to record their second EP with producer Chris Harden. “Vs. The Hornet” (HEYOU! Records) mastered by Doug McBride at Gravity Studios (Rod Stewart, Kill Hannah, Buddy Guy) was released this May 29, 2007. The EP garnered a healthy amount of attention from the press and blogs, and the songs were played on Chicago-land radio stations such as WXRT as well as on college radio around the country.

The buzz really took off when, in February 2008, prominent critic Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times named The Sapiens one of the "10 Chicago Bands to Watch in 2008". In spring of 2008, with producer Brian Zieske (The Hush Sound, The Academy Is...) The Sapiens recorded "Rind" -- a three song single that showcases the band's progression towards sharpened songwriting. "Rind" was released at Metro on July 25th.

The Sapiens intend to continue touring in support of the latest release.