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Interview: Leo Son of The Q-Tip Bandits

Written by Music

Through the power of the internet, I managed to sit down and share a few messages with Leo Son, the co-front person of indie-rock/pop outfit The Q-Tip Bandits. With their debut EP Ain’t It Great set for release later this week we talked name origins, European tours, and more down below.

To see our review of the EP, please click here!

How did you all get into playing music? At what point in your lives did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career?

Music has been a part of all of our lives. Whether it was our parents playing music in the house, making us take lessons as children or playing in school bands or rock bands with friends, music has been something ever present for all of us. A big influence in my decision to pursue music as a career was having a loss of sense of self and finding solace in music and wanting to create that same sort of sonic safe space for others. I can’t speak for the others on this, but I think it’s safe to say we all have found friendship, community and home in music and we want to share that as much as we can. 

How would you describe the Boston music scene for people who might not be familiar?

The Boston music scene, to me, feels like a small pond with big fish. There are so many incredible and inspiring acts from all corners of the musical spectrum all packed into Boston’s ‘little big city’ feel. I think the thing that stands out to me the most about the Boston scene is that it has more depth than width. It’s a place where I have gleaned priceless wisdom from those around me without being lost in a sea of noise. 

You’ve described yourselves as a mixture of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Hippo Campus, and have also covered MGMT’s “Kids” on your YouTube channel. What other acts would you say have inspired your music, and why?

Other acts that comes to mind immediately are Foster the People, Matt Kim and Ripe. Like the bands already mentioned, we are inspired by the way they can take the imagery and depth of their lyrics and deliver them in an honest, bright and joyful way all while making us want to dance. When it comes to other influences and inspirations, it’s hard to pinpoint. Each member in the band has their own unique taste in music. There are bands like the Chili Peppers that Claire, Dakota and I share love for and have listened to since we can remember and play a big part in our stage presence, but there are also bands that we’ll play for each other that we’ve never heard of before.

Their cover of MGMT’s hit single “Kids”
Source: The Q-Tip Bandits on YouTube
I think it’s really cool that you’ve integrated brass instruments into your band setup, which isn’t always the norm in Indie music. Why would you say this makes you stand out to other bands in the circuit?

I’m glad to hear that you think it makes us stand out! We didn’t always have horns in the band, the idea came up while we were putting the finishing touches to our debut single “Willow”. We got together for rehearsal a couple weeks before our last session and wrote the parts and since then we haven’t turned back. It’s always a party when there’s horns!

You’ve been performing together as a band since early 2018.  If you could go back then and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

That’s a great question! I don’t think we would really change much, everything that seemed like a setback in the moment has led us to where we are now and we wouldn’t have it any other way. If we could choose one thing to tell our younger-selves it would be: “Make spreadsheets, you’re gonna LOVE them!”

You’ve returned recently from a Western European tour. How would you describe tour life? Were there any locations that personally blew you away – in terms of culture, music, environment etc

Being on tour definitely toggles between exhausting and exhilarating. Our Europe tour this past spring was the first time we had to catch buses and planes to get to our next stop, which was thrilling and also a whole new kind of stressful! But it’s incredible to get to meet people from all over the world and be able to connect with them through our music.

Of all the places we traveled to, the English culture stood out to us in particular. We were greeted with such kindness when we arrived, and it was fascinating to get to see famous landmarks in real life that we had previously only seen on screens.

One moment we particularly like to recall is the time we accidentally drove past Stone Henge on our way to the next gig. It was pretty mind blowing to us. We can’t wait to get back on the road again this summer.

They embarked on a number of European shows last year
Source: Instagram @theqtipbandits
Ain’t It Great is set for release on April 10th. With a combination of mellow jazz and funk beats, it’s going to be a fantastic EP. With that in mind, could you describe the process your band has towards making a song. What inspires your lyrics? Do you create the lyrics before the instruments are recorded?

Thus far, Claire and I have shared the responsibility of bringing in new songs to the band. Something that is first written with just voice and guitar or bass. Then we get together as a band to arrange the songs, working out the structure, stops and grooves and brainstorming ideas for the horns. We don’t believe the song is “complete” until we’ve all played it together. Our lyrics are inspired by themes of coming of age and self-discovery/acceptance. We try to carry the feeling and the message that life is imperfect and chaotic, but it is meant to be enjoyed.

What’s the story behind the name of the band?

We’re here to clean your ears and to steal your hearts!

Thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions! Do you have anything you want to say to the people reading this article?

We hope that if you’re reading this and have taken the time to listen through our EP that it has brought you as much joy that it has brought us in the process. Cheers!

Feature image credit – Holy Smoke Photography

Last modified: 9th April 2020

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