OneEDM interviews Aqueous

After forming in Buffalo in 2006, Aqueous has earned a reputation as one of the most promising improvisational rock bands in the country.  Aqueous is known for their “groove rock” stylings. The band consists of guitarist Mike Gantzer, guitarist/keyboardist David Loss, bassist Evan McPhaden, and drummer Rob Houk. Together, they have developed a unique sound characterized by meticulous compositions and rich exploratory jams. Their music easily transitions from laidback, in-the-pocket grooves to furious, high-intensity peaks. Originally, three of the Aqueous band members were longtime friends, with the exception of Rob, the drummer. Rob was found at a later date through a nationwide drummer search. In a live setting, the group’s undeniable technical prowess truly shines, making for dynamic performances that bring fans back night after night.

Whether they’re headlining and selling out venues across the U.S. or performing stand-out sets at notable events like Electric Forest, Summer Camp, The Peach Music Festival, Jam Cruise, and Suwannee Hulaween, it’s clear that fans across the country are clamoring to hear more from the Buffalo-based group. With the hype growing, Aqueous is on the brink of making a huge breakout as the project enters its second decade of existence.

OneEDM recently had the chance to sit down with Evan and Dave from Aqueous and talk about their music, life, and upcoming events.

OneEDM: How did you guys meet?

Dave: Originally, there were the three of us: Me, Evan here and then Mike our Guitarist. We all met in high school and we graduated in 2007. We’re from the suburbs of Buffalo. Our drummer Rob is from Cincinnati; he joined a couple years ago.

OneEDM: How did you find him, considering he is from Cincinnati?

Evan: Well, our last drummer before Rob quit.

Dave: We have had a lot of drummer issues. It’s always a drummer thing. I don’t know what it is.

Evan: We put it out on Facebook.

Dave: Yea just kind of like online. Kind of like an international search.

Evan: It was funny too because he was the last person to submit a video for us.

Dave: He just ended up being the right guy. He ended up working out.

OneEDM: How did you get started making music?

Dave: We were all kind of friends before we really started playing music. Our friendship just kind of morphed into us playing together. We all liked classic rock, and we played music similar to Jimmy Hendrix. For example, we played Led Zeppelin covers, and we played Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd was probably the biggest one for us; it brought us all together.

OneEDM: What was your first instrument?

Evan: I played the trumpet for half a year when I was in elementary school.

Dave: I do guitar. I picked up the keyboard a little bit last year just to add some layers and sound. Recorder! Everyone’s first instrument. You play that when you’re like in military school. Everyone had to play that. I actually still have one. I was cleaning stuff out of my parents and I brought it home, and I just wanted to have it. It will never serve a purpose but I have it.

OneEDM: What do you think of Electric Forest so far? How does it compare to other festivals?

Dave: It’s crazy. We did it once two years ago in 2016. This year has been awesome so far. It’s huge! Just when you walk through the woods. We play the observatory stage, it’s in the woods, and immersed in that. It’s cool. You can kind of get lost back there.

Evan: I like that it is very art oriented and art inclusive. There is a lot of everything here.

Dave: There’s like a little bit of everything. You could almost just walk around and not even know what’s going on and enjoy the things that are happening around.

Aqueous performing on the Observatory stage at Electric Forest.

OneEDM: What has been your favorite venue to play at?

Dave: New Years at Town Ballroom in Buffalo. That is probably my favorite show that we have done. We are from Buffalo and we used to see a lot of great shows there and a lot of shows kind of inspired us. So it was cool to be able to headline our own show there. It has a really cool energy.

Evan: Agreed. That is probably going to be a collective answer.

OneEDM: What would be a dream venue to play at in the future?

Dave: Town Ballroom was a dream venue! That’s why it is our favorite because it was a dream venue at one point. I feel like the go-to answer that everyone would say is Red Rocks. But it is true. It’s not any less true even though it is cliche.

Evan: I think  Bonnaroo would be sweet.

Dave: Bonnaroo would be dope. We actually haven’t made it to California yet. I would like to play on the west coast. I haven’t done it yet.

OneEDM: What would be your biggest musical inspirations?

Dave: There’s a lot of stuff. Like we were saying when we started, it was like the classic rock. Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles. My parents didn’t like The Beatles. As we went on, we got into the jam band scene. We go it into Moe. and those guys. Now we listen to all sorts of stuff.

Evan: We all have an appreciation for different things. That is what makes our music. It is what makes it fun to play with everyone. Everyone has a different style. I went to Southland Academy.

Dave: The hip-hop stuff. That is influencing some of the direction that we go in, especially some of the jams. We listen to everything, we like pop, we like rock. The Beatles. We get a little heavy sometimes. We try to blend it all together. A little bit of everything.

OneEDM: You mentioned hip-hop. In what ways did hip-hop influence your music?

Evan: The beats of hip-hop.

Dave: Just like that vibe, that feel. We want to maybe have a guest rapper on one of our tracks eventually. We have talked about it.

OneEDM: Is there a rapper in particular?

Dave: Nothing that we have released yet.

Evan: There’s obviously dream rappers and stuff. Kendrick Lamar.

OneEDM: When it comes to making new music, who does what? How do you go about it?

Evan:  It’s pretty inclusive. Usually, someone comes up with an idea or has a rough idea of a song that they put together. We then hash it out in practice.

Dave: We make demos, which is usually pretty helpful. Mike will come up with a song and sometimes it is more complete than other times. He’ll then send it to the rest of us and we can kind of learn and at least get somewhat familiar with it, get some ideas, and then we’ll go to practice. We’ll hash it out into the different parts. We’ll all usually contribute in some way to pretty much every song. Sometimes it will be like Evan will write a whole half of a song that I started. Sometimes I will write half of a song and Evan will write the second half of the song, just because the part he had fit with it. It’s always different, so we like to have everyone be invested in it.

OneEDM: Do you guys generally work together or do you work separately and then piece it together?

Dave: Evan will come up with something on his own that is more or less complete and he will bring it to us. So to start it may be on their own and then everyone will have their input on it. We’ll work on it altogether. A couple times there is a jam that we did that inspired a song. Usually, they’ll hear that and someone will take it and work with it from there.

Photo by: Keith A Griner

OneEDM: When has been your biggest accomplishment? What are you most proud of?

Dave: We just sold out Bluebird Theater in Denver. That felt like a really good accomplishment. I’m really happy about that. Definitely, Town Ballroom on New Years was great.

Evan: We have an album coming out in the fall and we’re pretty proud of that. It’s a collective agreement on things we all wanted to hear.

Dave: I think it’s the happiest we have been after the album was recorded. Not that we haven’t been happy before. It’s just a really good step in the right direction for us.

OneEDM: What can we expect in that album?

Dave: A little bit of everything. We tried to continue with songs. Kind of what I was saying before with influences from different styles.

Evan: I feel in the jam scene too, you hear a lot of the songs before the album comes out. This one we tried to keep songs off, that we are not playing live until the album comes out.

Dave: It’s the first time we have done that, so there’s like one or two songs on there that people may have heard before. But the rest of it is all completely new music. We’ve been itching to play it, but we haven’t yet. We want people to hear it in that context first. If you hear it live first, you kind of have a certain impression or feeling about it and sometimes when you go to the record it is a little different because you are used to how it is live.  We’re kind of going the other way. We haven’t done it yet, so we’re excited to go that route.

OneEDM: What have been some of your biggest challenges? How have you overcome them?

Dave: That’s just a life question. I could say anything. It’s a very broad topic… Probably going back to the drummer thing, finding Rob. We had a lot of issues finding a good fit and Rob kind of saved the day.

Evan: Road travel. Being on the road all the time. It’s tough. There are people back home, and finding a good balance.

Dave: That is something any touring band can relate to.

OneEDM: How do you find a balance with that?

Dave: It’s not easy.

Evan: You just need to have good support at home. All of our friends and family are supportive. It’s not like we feel bad leaving home all the time. But it’s always good to be home.

Evan: At least with the schedules, we try to be home as much as possible. It’s a fine line.

OneEDM: What is one tip you have for a new band that wanted to break into the music industry?

Dave: You’re not going to make any money. Just get that off the gate. You’re going to be poor for a long time. You’re going to eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches.

Evan: The way we did it is we kind of ground out tours when we were younger for a long time. I feel that the way that social media is evolving, you don’t really have to do that anymore. You can make your social media presence big and then crush it.

Dave: Like building a hype about yourself. Using social media to your advantage. Which people do anyway, but there is a way you can go about it to really capitalize on something.

Evan: These days you don’t really have to grind out tours when you’re new. You can put videos out to make yourself look bigger than you are.

Photo by Strawberry Island Dweller

OneEDM: On your Facebook page you have Nintendo listed as a band interest.

Dave: That’s been on there for a long time and we just left it. It is a band interest. I’m the only one left that has prospective Mario characters on stage. I have a warrior that sits on my anthem. You and Mike bought it from China.

Evan: When we were younger, when we first started the band, we were always playing Mario Cart and Mario Party, Super smash brothers. It got heated. There were a couple moments where it got pretty intense. Classic Nintendo 64 player games. That’s what we were involved in.

Now we have a band Switch, so we have been passing that around. Mike is like a huge Nintendo nerd too. He’s a big Zelda nerd. I like Zelda too. We all kind of do. Video games are amazing. Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong. All of that fun stuff.

OneEDM: What do you like to do when you are not making music?

Dave: Video games.

Evan: Netflix and chill.

Dave: I go on hikes a lot.

Evan: Travel.

Dave: Me and my fiance like to take trips. We have a friend that lives out in Arizona, so we went out there and saw the Grand Canyon. He lives in the suburbs of Phoenix. We started there, went up through Sedona ended up to the Grand Canyon. It was a really nice good trip.

OneEDM: If you could change one thing in the music industry what would that be?

Evan: The more you get into it, the more you realize, it is kind of business. However, I don’t know if I would change that. It’s just the way things are. More of a gripe, I guess.

OneEDM: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Dave: We’re always putting out live shows on Every show we play comes out on there. We’re working on the new album. We have a big fall tour. We’ll also be here for weekend two of Electric Forest.

OneEDM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?

Dave: Most of the stuff has been covered. The new album is pretty important. Also the upcoming fall tour.

Evan: I’m a really good break dancer.

Dave: Evan is the handsome one in the group.

Evan: We’re really excited about the album coming up. We have big New Years plans.

Connect with Aqueous

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