Shadow of Whales is one of those band names that you just don’t forget. You read it or hear it and you’re kind of just like, “Huh?”
You might recognize the quirky name from my latest playlist, or even one of my most recent tweets, ’cause I’ve been blowin’ up their mentions big time lately. The band – lead singer and guitarist Josh Flores, lead guitarist and back up vocalist Chris Fraga, bassist and back up vocalist Jeremy Boyum, keyboardist and guitarist JD Vazquez, and drummer and back up vocalist Caleb Flores – met through various outlets: bible study, school and, ya know, birth (Josh and Caleb are brothers). Josh and JD, on the other hand, met when Josh gave a lecture at JD’s high school. He spoke to JD and his classmates about how to juggle being in a band while going to college.
Eventually, Josh dropped out of college and left the bands he was in. After a thorough voting process to choose a name, Shadow of Whales was born.
Defunct bands and quirky names aside, Shadow of Whales are ready to take on their upcoming shows. In the lead up to their much-anticipated appearance at the eighth annual South by So What?! festival (alongside some of my favorite bands like Circa Survive, Mayday Parade and The Maine), I had the pleasure of chatting with Shadow of Whales via Skype. During our convo, two of them (*cough* Jeremy and Chris *cough*) were accidentally wearing matching shirts and JD briefly showed off his chest hair. We chatted about man buns, music and what percentage hipster each of them are. Needless to say, they’re some characters. Read the rest of the craziness below:
Syd: Lets address the elephant (er, whale) in the room: how did you come up with your name?
JD: Well, you know.. there’s this thing in my skull called a brain… [laughs] The name actually came a long time before the band materialized. I had this dream one night, it was kind of surreal and odd, and in essence I was walking through the city and when I looked up I saw these whales in the sky above me. When they swam/flew — I know this is weird, I was not on drugs, I promise — when they were over me and they cascaded the sun it just left me with this feeling of humility and awe. And I woke up, put that dream into a poem, put that poem into a book. When we were discussing band names I brought that up because it seemed to kind of fit that vibe we were going for.
Syd: Are there any bands on the South by So What?! lineup that you’re excited to see/meet/run into?
Chris & Jeremy: Radio City!
Chris: We’re wearing their shirt currently! (Remember those matching shirts I mentioned? Yeah, I wasn’t jokin’. –Syd)
Caleb: I’m excited to meet Driver Friendly. They’re also from Austin, TX area. I’ve talked to them a couple times online and they’re really cool guys.
Josh: Red Jumpsuit [Apparatus], Hawthorne Heights, Circa Survive. I’ve heard amazing things about Balance & Composure and Frank as well.
JD: We’re open to meet everyone.
Jeremy: Basically all the bands that are playing the same day as us are like bands that we know and that we’re really excited to play with – it’s just crazy. And then some of our friends are even on the line up that are here from Austin, Radio City being one of them, and The Minds of Machines is playing the next day. They’re both awesome bands and really great people so we’re excited that we’re sharing in this opportunity together.
Syd: Lets talk about your music and your writing process. Is there anything in particular that inspired your self titled EP?
Jeremy: Theres like a million things that inspired us, I feel like. We all have different influences and different backgrounds in music that all kind of showcased itself a little bit in the EP. We’re all writers, we’re all singers, so a lot of that came out to be what the EP is. A good portion of it was written before the band was formed, some of it was written after. The parts that were written before, we all had our own take on it and we all tweaked it with our own little versions. Really there’s just a ton of influence that went into it.
Syd: How about new music – are you guys gonna be playing anything new at your upcoming shows?
Josh: We’re recording our new EP, it wont be released until later on this year, summertime hopefully. We’re gonna be playing three tracks from it, really. “Waiting,” “Runaway,” and “Live it Up” from our new EP.
JD: They definitely seem to be crowd favorites so we’re excited to play them.
Syd: Because I’m all about pop culture, I just have to ask: what’s your favorite most recent pop culture moment?
All: SNL 40! SNL 40 was fantastic.
JD: So if anyone from SNL is watching we would love to play for your show. (apparently JD forgot that I am the only one watching… awks. –Syd).
Caleb: Kanye West, too. He’s an inspiration to us all.
Syd: Anything else you’d like to add?
Caleb: JD used to have a man bun.
JD: That’s true! And then I cut it and everyone was like, “OMG, man buns.” We should say thank you to our fans, I think we owe them that much. We know there’s a lot of you guys out there and we try to talk to you guys, to as many of you as we can but you know we just love you guys so freaking much.
Catch the band at one of their upcoming Texas shows or on any of their social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. While you’re at it, listen to the band’s 2014 self-titled EP on Spotify or SoundCloud. Basically, you need to follow this band in some way, shape or form.
You won’t regret it, and that’s a promise.