- “And then I just wanted to scream at them too, you know?”
It’s an early summer evening and we’re sitting with Chicago rock band Audiences on the back porch of their Lakeview home/recording space.
Singer/guitarist Billy Jesus is remembering the surreal experience of playing Lincoln Hall on a Saturday night for the first time, only their fourth show as a bonafide band. Alone on stage he faced a screaming crowd and, ever the equalizer, felt the desire to scream along with them. Billy Jesus was ultimately joined on stage by the rest of the Audiences members: bassist/singer Brian Suarez, drummer Bob Is and guitarist Stephen Kraniotis.
Arlington Heights natives and friends from high school, Brian, Billy (née Dan) and Stephen met Bob after graduation. With Bob in a band with Billy, and Brian and Stephen similarly connected, Audiences was the result of “cross-pollination,” describes Suarez.
Cross-pollination turns out to be an accurate description of what the foursome would come to create. It comes down to the songs being very different, explains Suarez, “it really has to do with the melting pot of our influences growing up. Simple, but really weird.”
Parental influence ranged from Elton John and Sinatra to Led Zeppelin and disco tapes to Greek music and jazz; first cd purchases varied from Metallica to Limp Bizkit to Hanson to Deep Blue Something (“I was hooked on that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” shit,” admits Billy). And let’s not forget the Star-Spangled Banner. Yet somehow this all coalesces into a solid sound and a collection of songs that will one day become their first album. Work on their debut has become the top priority for Audiences as they have developed a rhythm and writing process that begs a larger, for lack of a better word, audience.
We’re reaching the end of our interview and the conversation has turned to performances and stage personas, or the band’s lack thereof. It is the crowds that Audiences draws – of friends, of family, of friends of family and family of friends – that keeps the band true to their name. The weird people that show up? They just add to the atmosphere and, frankly, might one day be friends of the band as well. Spend twenty minutes with these guys and it’s no surprise that their shows foster such relationships, no surprise that the camaraderie and comfort they have with each other crosses that so often impermeable barrier between act and audience. That’s not to say they are communists (“we’re Chicago American rock”), but no one is held up on a pedestal. When it comes down to it, Audiences is the part of the crowd that is having the most fun, and they only hope that will include you.
Listen to their single “Ghosts” or catch Audiences Thursday June 14 at Lincoln Hall.