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Behind the Noise: Interview With Denver's Funky Alt-Rock Duo Elektric Animals

Edited by Metztli Mengani

The members of Elektric Animals standing in front of a pinkish tan wall wearing fun sunglasses.
Photo Credit: Seth Beamer

Electric Animals have been shaking up the scene in Denver, Colorado, since 2018. With their throwback sound of 80s and 90s rock mixed with pop, the duo has been making an unforgettable impression ever since by making old-school cool in the modern age. They're releasing their EP, A Bear And The Bull, on April 19th, 2024. We got the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Will Hubert (drummer) and Nick Sanders (vocalist) to talk about their new EP, their evolution as a band, and future goals moving forward.


Iceis: Before we get into anything too deep, I thought we would start out with a few fun questions. My first one for you guys is if you could have been responsible for creating a TV show theme song, which one would you choose?

Will: Cheers.

Nick: Oh yeah, that's a good one. I think I'd probably go with the Full House theme song.

Iceis: That’s so iconic. Everybody knows it.

 

Iceis: The next one is, if you were going to be stranded on an island for a month, what are the three most important things you need to bring with you?

Will: Probably those tablets that can make saltwater drinkable. Do those exist? I feel like that [is] a thing.

Iceis: I was about to ask you [if] that [is] a thing.

Will: Okay, so maybe it's not tablets. Maybe the tablets just clean dirty water. But there is some way that you can [drink] saltwater. I guess you just have to boil it down.

Iceis: Yeah, I think you get the same thing just [by] boiling [it].

Will: Okay. In that case, [I’m bringing] flint so I can start fires.

Iceis: Fair. [What are] the other two items?

Will: A big hat so I don't burn my face off. And a tent.

Iceis: That's fair. Those are all functional.

Nick: He took mine. I was gonna say a tent of some sort, so I [wouldn’t] have to make a tent. And then probably a pot to boil water in and a machete or something to chop down trees, coconuts, and stuff.

Iceis: That would be very useful. Besides, how are you going to get the wood for the fire if you don't have [a machete]?

Will: Yeah, well, I don't know. I only have three things.

Iceis: Just punch the tree until it disintegrates. You’ll be fine. Or, you'll just meet up on the island and combine forces, and then you'll both be set.

Will: Yeah, I think with all six of our items, we'd be all right.

Nick: Sorry, man, you're on your own.

 

Iceis: [The] next one is, what is one trend of the past or present that you don't think is talked about enough?

Nick: I think about [how] when I was a bit younger, the deeper the V-neck you wore [meant how much] cooler you [were]. I don't think we talked about that [and] how deep the Vs really got [enough].

Will: Yeah, that was the thing for sure. Style-wise, people don't talk about the fedora crazes.

Iceis: Oh, yeah.

Will: I still have a ton of the small-brim Ska fedoras.

Iceis: Bucket hats have made a revival in this day and age, apparently, so maybe the fedora can be next.

Will: Yeah, good. I still [have] them.

Iceis: You’re prepped to be trendy before the trend starts.

Nick: Yeah, you might want to start now.

Iceis: Maybe he will be the trendsetter.

Nick: Yeah, you’re the first one.

 

Iceis: [The] next one is, on a road trip what are some of the most important songs that need to be on the playlist?

Nick: For me, I wouldn't even say [certain] songs. [There are just certain] artists [in general I’d need on the playlist]. I would definitely want Third Eye Blind [and] INXS [on there]. [I need the] super, upbeat, happy vibes. Maybe a 90s alt-rock playlist. That'd be my go-to for driving.

Will: I would say early 80s new wave. [I’d] definitely [add] The Cars for sure. A bunch of The Cars. [I] love their hits. [I’d also add] Haul Notes, The Cure, [and] Depeche Mode.

Iceis: All good picks.

 

Iceis: And [the] final one is if you could teleport to be anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Will: Somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea. Probably a Greek island.

Iceis: I was about to [ask], are [you] talking about an island? Or, [do] you want to teleport straight into the Mediterranean ocean?

Will: It depends [on] if there's a boat that I could land on. But [otherwise, I want to teleport to] land to start, and then [I’ll] work my way down to the coast.

Iceis: Okay, okay.

Nick: Immediately, my mind went, “I just want to be somewhere near water.” If I could just snap my fingers and be there. But [I’d] like [to teleport to] New Zealand.

Iceis: Ooh, that’d be pretty!

Nick: Yeah, I've never been there, and I've always wanted to [go] But I don't want to go on that plane ride. So, I'd love to just be there.

Iceis: That is valid. 'Cause that’s a long ride.

Nick: I can't remember [exactly how long] it is, but it's something really long.

Will: Yeah, it’s something like seventeen hours.

Iceis: Oh, yeah. No, I don't want to be [on] a plane for seventeen hours.

Will: That'd be rough.

Iceis: Yeah!

Nick: Teleport.

Iceis: Exactly! We'll just find a way to teleport in the future, and we will make this happen.

Nick: Yeah, I'll just wait it out.

Iceis: There you go. Teleportation [is] coming at you by 2030.

Nick: That’s soon.

 

Iceis: Moving on to both of your backgrounds. I feel like everyone has a distinct moment when they fall in love with the art of making music, and they realize that that's something that they want to do more full-time. What did that moment look like for the both of you?

Nick: The moment when I wanted to do it was pretty early on. [Sometime in] high school, I'd say [when I was in] ninth grade. I didn't really know if it would be feasible, but I knew that I really wanted to do it. During that time, the big pop punk craze [was] coming out. So, [bands] like Good Charlotte and New Found Glory. All those bands I was in love with. The thing about them is they were just like me. They reminded me of me [by being] the way they were. They were younger guys, so it made it more real to see that they could do stuff like that, if that makes sense.

Iceis: It does!

Will: I remember mine pretty vividly. For my thirteenth birthday, I got a Barnes and Noble gift card. And instead of buying a book, I bought [the] The Best of Led Zeppelin CD. I brought that home and put it on. The first track [I listened to was] ‘Good Times Bad Times.’ The drums are so powerful. [At the time], I [already] thought I wanted to be a drummer, but that solidified that.

Iceis: Hell yeah! Well, first of all, [it] is news to me that Barnes and Noble [used to sell] music. I was not aware of that.

Nick: Yeah, they might still [sell music]. I don't know if they still do, but I remember that.

Will: Probably not, ‘cause nobody's buying CDs. They might have a small vinyl section, but I'm sure they don't sell CDs anymore.

Iceis: The sad realization that CDs are no longer popping. Unlike me, [who] impulse buys every vinyl and CD I can.

Nick: Yeah. Speaking of trends, that's probably one I should have said. CDs [need to come] back.

Iceis: It'll be a collector's item for people.

 

Iceis: Looking [back] at when you started Elektric Animals back in 2018, what was the initial mindset when you were starting the group? And what did you want to achieve within that when you started?

Nick: We have been in bands our whole lives. [We were always] just moving from band to band. I think when we first started this one, we just wanted to completely [write] whatever music [came] to us that that we wanted to write. Before [this] band, I was in a [different] band, and we started to do more new wave 80s [synth] keyboard stuff. I think when we started this band, we just wanted to be rock and roll [with lots of] guitars and not put a limit on it or a direction. I think we all just wanted to go for the gold, too. We were all very motivated. So, I made sure I picked guys in the band [who] really wanted to do it as a full-time career and not just a hobby. I think that was a big thing [when we were] picking members.

Iceis: Oh, I could write a whole rant about genres and subgenres and how stupid [how we classify] some of our subgenre subgenres [is] because we're classifying things for no reason. But when you're able to push that out and say, “Hey, let's make something cool. I don't know what we’re making, but we're doing something, and we don't need to confine ourselves to this.” I feel like those are usually the songs, albums, and bands that actually get somewhere.

Nick: Yeah, for sure.

 

Iceis: Compared to where you are now with that initial mindset, how do you feel like your mindset and goals have evolved or changed at all?

Nick: I think our music [has] evolved [by] incorporating more [influences from] the [styles of] music we've played throughout our lives. I think [we were] pretty much a rock band when we first started. And now, we're experimenting and letting things go. [We’re} using a lot of like keyboard synths, drum machines, [and] whatever [else] we want to. We're pretty free with it all. I think that's how it evolved. [We used to have] more [of] a rock purist mindset when we started, and now it's more like, “Let’s create whatever we want, and let people decide what we are.” Like you were saying, let’s not put a genre or a subgenre [on it].

Iceis: We're going to talk about your new EP in a moment. With that [in mind], I was thinking [each song on it] has a specific vibe and atmosphere to it, but they’re all cohesive in a way. But they’re not repetitive, which is something that I think is really important when you’re making albums and EPs. When you have to listen from start to finish, you don't want to be bored, but [at the] same time, you want something cohesive.

Nick: Yeah, exactly. [There’s] a balance [to] it. And I think we had a lot of fun, too. I think that's another thing that [has] changed [and] evolved. We were pretty focused and driven when we first started, [and] it was like, “We want to make it, we want to tour, [and] we want to do this.” Then we lost the fun of it. I think now, with this new EP, Will [and I] really had a lot of fun. [We] didn't really put pressure on what it needed to be. It was more just like, “Have fun, and write [about] why we write [and] why we love music.”

Iceis: Yeah. Obviously, the more experience you [get] with making music, you got to allow yourself to experiment more because you [learn] the boundaries that you can break. You don’t [want to] do something totally outlandish, and it ruins whatever you're creating, so you have to be mindful. [Now, you can be like], “Hey, I think we can put this in here, and I think we can do this other thing now because we have the knowledge.”

Will: Yeah, we [have] plenty of experience, for sure. We [have] put out a lot of songs in the last twenty years. [We’ve been in bands] since we were [around] thirteen [or] fourteen. We've learned a lot, and it feels good. I feel more free [with the things] we're doing now. I'm not worried about how it's going to be perceived.

Iceis: That's always the magical moment that I think [every] artist strives for.

 

Iceis: You [both] draw so many different inspirations from different genres and subgenres, but what elements do you feel like consistently define your sound currently?

Will: I think our chord progressions are simple for the most part. A lot of it is single-note guitar work. There's nothing being played that your average player can't replicate, but we layer it in a way that makes it special, and what Nick has to say is special. [He has] a knack for putting melodies on top of music. We have a good combination between the two of us.

Iceis: Yeah, and sometimes simple is the best way to go. It doesn’t need to always be something super dazzling and out there. Sometimes, you can say more with something simple than you can with some confusing, mind-blowing guitar solo that lasts for ten seconds in the middle of a song.

 

Iceis: [A Bear And The Bull] is your first EP, [but] you've been putting out singles for a while. What made you realize that now is the right time to put out an EP?

Nick: I think [with] our last set of songs, we considered it an EP, but it was more like a bunch of singles that we had put together to make a collection of work. This time, we really wanted to make song one to song seven this cohesive journey that made sense together. We wanted to do that with every song on the EP. We wanted to make it this cohesive [body of] work that all [fits] together in some weird way. [Rather] than it just being five [or] six singles that we released before just plopped together.

Iceis: So, what we were talking about earlier, [about having] a cohesive transition from beginning to end.

Will: Yeah. [And] I think a big part of why we have an EP now is because we went out on a limb and decided to keep making music [with] just [the] two [of us]. And [then] a few people finally believed in us and made that possible. So, without Open Your Ears Records, we wouldn't have been able to afford [to record] seven songs. Even if we had seven absolute hits written, we couldn't have recorded all that without the help of the label and having other people outside of us believe in us. So, that's a huge part of it, [too].

Iceis: Well, shout out to Open Your Ears Records once again.

Nick: Yeah, definitely [a] shout out [to them].


Iceis: Going forward, I’m assuming you would eventually want to do a full LP. What do you think would align for that to be the right time and moment? What do you think you would want to do with that album?

Will: We've already got a couple of songs we want to put onto the full album. We never really stop writing. Right now, we're rehearsing for shows and booking shows to fill out the summer. But as soon as the summer slows down, the festivals are over, and the city events are over, I don't see why we wouldn't be right back in the studio tracking the full-length album starting this fall.

Iceis: That’d be exciting!

Nick: A lot of times, when we release singles, we'll release a single, and then we'll move right to the next one. And [then] we'll want to release another one. So, we want to spend a good amount of time on this EP and really, really [promote] it the right way. [We] just [want to have it around] a little bit longer than we [usually]. [We] just [want] to really show people these songs because we're really proud of them, and I think it's important to do.

Iceis: Yeah, and it lets people sit with the songs for a bit, digest [them], and really form opinions. Moving forward, when you put out new stuff, they can be like, “Oh, yeah, I remember this EP. [That] was really sick. This is probably going to be cool, too!”  I feel like if you're just doing single after single, people don't get enough time to sit with something because there's always something new to replace it.

 

Iceis: [When] creating this EP, what did the creative process look like from start to finish?

Will: Our creative process is pretty smooth these days. We will work on demos every morning and send them back and forth to each other. We work at our respective home studios. We'll write a verse and a chorus, and if that's really strong, then we put that in the [pile of] potential songs we're going to take to the studio. And then when it's time to go to the studio, we go back through all the demos that we made, we listen to all the strongest ones, and [then] decide what's going to make the cut or not. And sometimes, a song that you didn't think was super strong becomes your favorite one [a couple of months later]. Or maybe not. Maybe one [that] you loved has lost its spark [a couple of months later]. So, we catalog a lot of demos before we record.

Iceis: [It’s] always good to prep, and then you have something to build off of when you go into the studio. So, you’re not going [in] blind with it.

Will: Oh, yeah. We have [almost] everything worked out before we start recording.

 

Iceis: Comparing that to how your process was for some of your past work, what do you feel like are some of the similarities and differences with it?

Nick: I think a big difference is [that] in past work, we'd write a song, we [would] fall in love with it, and then we'd have to record it. We'd be like, “No, we got to record the song. We have to.” I think [with] this body of work and our demos, we never [got] too attached [when] we [wrote them]. We love the idea, and then we move on. It’s like, “[If] we don't choose that song, it's okay. If we don't record that song, it's fine.” [We’re] just not falling too in love with the song because it might not be the right one. It might not be the right fit. [It] might not be the right sound. [We’re] being more open. We're more open to that idea. This time around, songs not becoming recorded songs just [became] ideas that [floated] away with the wind.

Iceis:  Sometimes, you just have to do that. You’ll have a million and one ideas before you get that really great idea.

Will: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Iceis: For this EP, you worked with Lincoln Parish. How much of the guitar stuff did he do for this EP?

Will:  He [played] lead guitar on every song except for ‘Too Soon.'

Iceis: Oh, Nice! How did that collab idea come up?

Will: I just messaged him on Instagram. I saw he had a studio that he works out of every single day in Nashville, and he's a total pro. We just reached out, [we were] like, “Hey, we're taking on the project as a two-piece. We really love our songwriting, and we're great musicians, but neither of us [is] really a lead guitarist.” I play guitar, [and] Nick plays guitar. But we just like his style a lot, and he was already a big inspiration [for] us already. I just reached out and asked if he would be willing to do [the guitar parts for us]. It started off with just one song, and then he liked it so much that he was like, “Feel free to send me anything you have.” So, we sent the rest of the songs as soon as they were ready, and he knocked it out of the park every time. We never really had any notes for him. He just sent back great work. And then our producer put it into the [songs].

Iceis: Hell, yeah. That's a big win, though. Shout out to you for sliding into the DMs. It worked out for you.

Will: Oh, yeah. The songs are really cool with him on it.

 

Iceis: What was the creative dynamic like working together with him for that?

Nick: [It was] like how Will [and I] work. He’ll have an idea, put it down, and [send] it to me. And then I'll lay [down] my idea and send it back. It was the same thing with Lincoln. We had the majority of the song done, sometimes the whole song done, and we [would] send it to him. He would take a few days [to work] on it, and then he [would] send it right back. We'd listen through [it] and get excited about all the stuff that he added and put in there. He did multiple takes [for] everything. So, if we didn't like something, he'd have another idea he already had in there that we could try out. We just pieced it together the way we liked it. It was a really smooth, easy thing to do. [it was] very natural.

Iceis: Hell, yeah. That’s cool. It sounds like you guys worked well together, which is always nice when you're trying to create something. Sometimes, having too many cooks in the kitchen can be a little disruptive. So, [it's] really cool that it worked out as seamlessly as it did.

Nick: We’ve had too many cooks in the kitchen for a majority of our careers in this band. So, it is a nice change that everything's a little [smoother] and more easygoing.

Will: Yeah, even with two people, Nick and I really have to pick and choose our battles to keep the train moving. But we've known each other for so long, we just fight like brothers. So, I think that's a big part of why we get along so well and can keep things going. [We don’t] have to worry about that problem.

Iceis: [In] any healthy friendship, there's always some point where you butt heads. At least a little bit. That’s natural, and if you don't have that in your friendship, you need to find other friends.

 

Iceis: With Lincoln doing what he did for [this] EP, what do you personally feel like he brought to elevate this EP that you might not have otherwise? Because I'm sure, you could’ve asked a lot of guitar players to contribute to this.

Will: Yeah, definitely. We know a lot of guitar players in Denver, and we hire them to play with us live. Any one of them could have [played] lead guitar on [the EP]. But we love Cage The Elephant, especially the first three albums that [Lincoln] did with the band. When I'm writing, I want my music to be as cool as that. So, there really [wasn’t] a better choice for me [other] than having Lincoln on guitar for our songs.

Iceis: It's always cool when you get to work with someone that's really influenced [and] inspired you in some sort of way. [It’s a] full circle moment.

Nick: Yeah, it really was for both of us. I remember early on, we [wanted] to write a Cage-style song. [We wanted to] write cool Cage The Elephant [type] of rock. So, it is a full circle moment getting him on it.

Iceis: Hell yeah!

 

Iceis: I have a sentence here that has two blanks in it that I would like for you to fill in for me. “A Bear And The Bull is the best EP to listen to when you’re going to blank because blank.”

Nick: “[A Bear And The Bull is the best EP to listen to] when you're going to drive because you're happy.

Will: Ah, I [am] gonna say, “[A Bear And The Bull is the best EP to listen to when] you're going to dance, because why not?”

Iceis: [Those are] both perfectly good answers.

Nick: Yeah, one of my favorite things to do is drive. I [won’t] even have anywhere to go, but [I will] blast music [while driving]. I think it's an EP that you can do that [with] easily.

Iceis: Yeah, most definitely. Or, you can combine it and say, “A Bear And The Bull is the best EP to listen to when you're going to dance and drive because you're happy. Why not?’

Nick: Even better.

Iceis: Although I don’t condone dancing and driving. That might be a bit difficult.

Will: You can just move around a little bit.

Nick: Yeah, there you go.

 

Iceis: Going off of this EP, what are some things you'd like to hopefully achieve with this momentum?

Will: I want to get on the road. I think Nick feels the same way. We want to get out there, and we want to find our people. We want to reach people and give [them] something that [they] will enjoy. And [in return], they give energy back to us. We [want to] keep that going for as long as we possibly can.

Iceis: Yeah, I know y’all have been hitting the Denver area quite a bit for quite a while now. Have you gotten the chance to experience somewhat of a tour or something out of state?

Nick: Yeah, we recently got to go on a little mini tour with [The] Unlikely Candidates. We went to Phoenix, Roswell, and I think Grand Junction, which I know is still [in] Colorado. But hey, [we’re] getting out [there]. [And we did] Colorado Springs. So, it was a little taste of the road. I think that's [when] we both were like, “Alright, we [want] to do this more.” So, hopefully, sooner [rather] than later, we can take this act full-time on the road.

Iceis: Hopefully, this will open some doors for you. It sounds like you're slowly we're making your way there. So, that's exciting.

 

Iceis: Before we get to the end of this, is there anything that I, or someone else, hasn't asked you? Or, anything in general that you just want to talk about? [It] doesn't have to be music-related. It could be about anything.

Will: I just hope everybody's going to do all right with how tough things are getting in the world. There's a lot of ugly stuff happening. It makes it hard [for me] to justify to myself making art in a world like this. I think a lot of people feel that way.

 

Iceis: Besides this new EP, is there anything you guys are looking forward to either professionally, personally, or both?

Nick: I'm really looking forward to summer because it's festival season and [there will be] outside shows. I love that atmosphere, and I love playing that stuff. Hopefully, we can get on some good ones. Having this new EP come out right in time for summer, I'm hoping it's going to be a summer anthem for some people.

Iceis: Well, you've got some songs on there that I’m like, “This is very beach party-esque. I feel like I would hear this watching a teen beach summer movie.”

Nick: Yeah, I can see that for sure.

Will: Yeah, we should land some publishing deals then. I'm ready to start playing shows again. We've [taken] the last six months off [from] playing live. And that's something that I feel connected to. I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing when I'm entertaining and performing. I'm ready to get back to that.



Electric Animals

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