Family Animals is a power trio from Scranton in Pennsylvania that very successfully deliver a mix of styles such psychedelic rock, alternative, folk, indie, progressive, funk, and blues, making their sound highly eclectic, but also accessible. In 2015, the band released their second studio album titled “I Must Have Missed It” which currently they promote live.
Drummer Anthony Viola spoke for Prog Sphere.
Define the mission of Family Animals.
To create music without boundaries, express ourselves and have fun.
Tell me about the creative process that informed your album “I Must Have Missed It” and the themes it captures.
For ‘I Must Have Missed It’, Jesse wrote the basis for each song and then as a band we somewhat worked out the arrangements. Some Jesse had all in advance some, some we worked out ourselves. We sat down as a band a specifically picked these 9 songs, recorded them ourselves and worked out all the arrangements, trying to see what we need and don’t need. It captures themes of being big and small in relation to the universe and finding inner peace, to name a few.
What is the message you are trying to give with “I Must Have Missed It”?
We aren’t really trying to give any message, if anything it’s more personal expression that’s open to interpretation.
How did you document the music while it was being formulated?
We practice at least twice a week for over 10 years now. We work out the songs by jamming to them and once we have the structure down we lay them down, at Winkhole studios; our studio we’ve slowly worked on over the years.
Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?
We’d say so, we carefully picked out the songs we thought conveyed the same atmosphere and worked out the order and the pauses carefully.
Describe the approach to recording the album.
Usually we start with laying down the drums, sometimes more than that at once live (guitar, bass). Then lay down bass, guitar, vocals, horns, pianos, strings… Whatever we want. We don’t have any crazy awesome equipment by any means but we make what we do have work. We didn’t do anything in any specific order, we recorded in the spare time we had over the period of about a year and a half or so.
How long “I Must Have Missed It” was in the making?
We are usually always working on stuff Jesse has, he’s always writing. So we work on each song individually and then we looked back and try to pick the best ones that would make a cohesive album. Some of the songs were brand new at the time (“a world within a world”) some were almost ten years old (“Sobby bobby blues”). The recording process took about a year and a half but in our spare time between working and what not. But we wanted to get everything as good as possible so we took our time.
Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?
We didn’t really sit down and write these nine songs, we are constantly working on songs. So overall this album wasn’t more heavily influenced by anyone in particular, but our music itself is influenced by wide variety of different musicians; Zappa, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Bowie, Jack White, Primus, Fleet Foxes, Gogol Bordello, Aesop Rock, The Doors, just off the top of my head to same a few.
What is your view on technology in music?
As much as I love analog and the sounds it produces the equipment now a days is so costly it’s not really in our budget. So we record digitally and the technology is outstanding. We use logic but any DAW gives you so many options musically. Technology made a whole new world of recording music, now we can utilize these programs to do whatever we want when it comes to editing, effects, panning, mixing, recording..anything really. We love it.
Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?
It’s hard to see ourselves objectively. We are harsh critics on ourselves always striving to get better. But hopefully maybe the lyrics or music itself might someday inspire good.
What are your plans for the future?
To do what we’ve always been doing: making music, recording music, playing music, and having fun doing it as three brothers.
“I Must Have Missed It” by Family Animals is available from Bandcamp.